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Title: Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland - Volume 15
Author: Various
Language: English
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                     WILSON'S TALES OF THE BORDERS

                            AND OF SCOTLAND.

                HISTORICAL, TRADITIONARY, & IMAGINATIVE.

                            WITH A GLOSSARY.

                               REVISED BY

                           ALEXANDER LEIGHTON

              ONE OF THE ORIGINAL EDITORS AND CONTRIBUTORS.


VOL. XV.

LONDON:

WALTER SCOTT, 14 PATERNOSTER SQUARE

AND NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE.

1885.



CONTENTS


THE RECOLLECTIONS OF A VILLAGE PATRIARCH, _(JOHN MACKAY WILSON)_

THE OLD CHRONICLER'S TALES, _(ALEXANDER LEIGHTON)_

    THE DEATH OF JAMES I

THE CURATE OF GOVAN, _(ALEXANDER CAMPBELL)_

GLEANINGS OF THE COVENANT, _(PROFESSOR THOMAS GILLESPIE)_

    I.--THE GRANDMOTHER'S NARRATIVE
    II.--THE COVENANTERS' MARCH
    III.--PEDEN'S FAREWELL SERMON
    IV.--THE PERSECUTION OF THE M'MICHAELS

THE STORY OF TOM BERTRAM, _(OLIVER RICHARDSON)_

THE COTTAR'S DAUGHTER, _(ANON.)_

THE SURGEON'S TALES, _(ALEXANDER LEIGHTON)_

     THE CASE OF EVIDENCE

THE WARNING, _(ALEXANDER BETHUNE)_

GRIZEL COCHRANE. A TALE OF TWEEDMOUTH MUIR, _(JOHN MACKAY WILSON)_

SQUIRE BEN, _(JOHN MACKAY WILSON)_

THE BATTLE OF DRYFFE SANDS, _(ANON.)_

THE CLERICAL MURDERER, _(ALEXANDER LEIGHTON)_



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



THE RECOLLECTIONS OF A VILLAGE PATRIARCH.



There is no feeling more strongly or more generally implanted in the
human breast, than man's love for the place of his nativity. The
shivering Icelander sees a beauty, that renders them pleasant, in his
mountains of perpetual snow; and the sunburned Moor discovers a
loveliness in his sultry and sandy desert. The scenes of our nativity
become implanted on our hearts like the memory of undying dreams; and
with them the word _home_ is for ever associated, and

    "Through pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
    Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home."

We cannot forget the place where our eyes first looked upon the glorious
sun; where the moon was a thing of wonder, the evening companion of our
childish gambols, joining with us in the race, and flying through the
heavens as we ran! where we first listened to the song of the lark,
received the outpourings of a mother's love upon our neck, or saw a
father's eyes sparkle with joy as he beheld his happy children around
him; where we first breathed affection's tale or heard its vows, and
perchance were happy, wretched, blessed, or distracted, within a short
hour. There is a magic influence about nativity that the soul loves to
cherish. Its woods, its rivers, its hills, its old memories, fling their
shadows and associations after us, and over us, even to the ends of the
earth; and while these whisper of our early joys, or of what we fancied
to be care ere we knew what care was--its churchyard tells us we have a
portion there--that there our brethren and our kindred sleep. We may be
absent from it until our very name is forgotten; yet we love it not the
less. The man who loves it not hath his affections "dark as Erebus." It
is a common wish, and it hath patriotism in it, too, that where we drew
our first breath, there also we should breathe our last. Yet, in this
world of changes and vicissitudes, such is not the lot of many. While I
thus moralise, however, I detain the reader from the Recollections of
the Village Patriarch; and as some of the individuals mentioned in his
reminiscences may be yet living, I shall speak of the place in which he
dwelt as the village of A----.

The name of the patriarch was Roger Rutherford. He was in many respects
a singular old man. He was the proprietor of three or four cottages, and
of some thirty acres of arable land adjoining to them. He was a man of
considerable reading, of some education, and much shrewdness. His years,
at the period we speak of, were fourscore and four. By general consent,
he was a sort of home-made magistrate in the village, and the umpire in
all the disputes which arose amongst his neighbours. It was common with
them to say, instead of going to law, "We will leave the matter to old
Roger;" and the patriarch so managed or balanced his opinions, that he
generally succeeded in pleasing both parties. He was also the living or
walking history or chronicle of the village. He could record all the
changes that had taken place in it for more than seventy years; and he
could speak of all the ups and downs of its inhabitants. What Byron
beautifully says of the ocean--

    "Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow"--

might have been said of the memory and intellect of the patriarch. He
had also a happy art in telling his village tales, which rendered it
pleasant to listen to the old man.

It was in the month of August, 1830, and just before the crops were
ready for the sickle, old Roger was sitting, as his custom was (when the
weather permitted), enjoying his afternoon pipe on a stone seat at the
door, when a genteel-looking stranger, who might be about fifty years of
age, approached him, and entered into conversation with him. The
stranger asked many questions concerning the village and its old
inhabitants, and Roger, eyeing him attentively for the space of a
minute, said, "Weel, ye seem to ken something about the town, but I
cannot charge my memory with having the smallest recollection o' ye;
however, sit down, and I shall inform ye concerning whatever ye wish to
hear."

So the stranger sat down beside the patriarch on the stone seat by the
door, and he mentioned to him the circumstances respecting which he
wished to be informed, and the individuals concerning whom he wished to
learn tidings. And thus did the old man narrate his recollections, and
the tales of

THE VILLAGE.

I have often thought, sir (he began), that A---- is one of the bonniest
towns on all the Borders--indeed I may say in all broad Scotland. I
dinna suppose ye will find its marrow in England; and I dinna say this
through any prejudice in its favour, or partiality towards it, because I
was born in it, and have lived in it now for the better part o'
fourscore and four years; but I will leave your own eyes to be the
judge. It is as clean as the hearth-stane of a tidy wife--and there
certainly is a great improvement in it, in this respect, since I first
knew it. There is the bit garden before almost every door, wi'
vegetables in the middle, flowers alang the edges, a pear or cherry tree
running up the side o' the house, and the sweet, bonny brier mixing wi'
the hedges round about. It lies just in the bosom of woods, too, in the
centre of a lovely haugh, where the river soughs along, like the echo of
the cooing of the cushats in the plantations. The population is four
times what it was when I remember it first, and there are but few of the
old original residenters left. There have been a great many alterations,
changes, and improvements in it, since I first kenned it; but young folk
will have young fashions, and it is of no use talking to them. The first
inroad upon our ancient and primitive habits was made by one Lucky
Riddle taking out a license to sell whisky, and tippenny, and other
liquors. She hadna carried on the trade for six months, until a great
alteration was observable in the morals o' several in the parish. It was
a sad heart-sore to our worthy minister. He once spoke to me o' having
Lucky Riddle summoned before the session. But says I to him--"Sir, I am
afraid it is a case in which the session canna interfere. Ye see she has
out a king's license, and she is contributing to what they call the
revenue o' the country; therefore, if she be only acting up to her
regulations, I doubt we canna interfere, and that we would only bring
ourselves into trouble if we did."

"But, Roger," quoth he, "her strong drink is making weak vessels of some
of my parishioners. There is Thomas Elliot, and William Archbold, or
Blithe Willie, as some call him for a by-word; those lads, and a dozen
o' others, I am creditably informed, are there, drinking, singing,
swearing, fighting, or dancing, night after night; and even Johnny
Grippy, the miser, that I would have made an elder last year, but on
account o' his penuriousness, is said to slip in on the edge o' his foot
every morning, to swallow his dram before breakfast! I tell ye, Roger,
she is bringing them to ruin faster than I can bring them to a sense o'
sin--or whatever impression I may make, her liquor is washing away. She
has brought a plague amongst us, and it is entering our habitations--it
is thinning the sanctuary, striking down our strong men, and making
mothers miserable. Therefore, unless Lucky Riddle will, in the meantime,
relinquish her traffic, I think we ought, in duty, to prohibit her from
coming forward on the next half-yearly occasion."

I was perfectly aware that there was a vast deal o' truth in what the
minister said, but I thought he was carrying the case to a length that
couldna be justified; and I advised him to remember that he was a
minister o' the gospel, but not o' the law. So all proceedings against
Mrs Riddle were stopped, and her business went on, doing much injury to
the minds, bodies, purses, and families, of many in the village.

It was nae great secret that there were folk, both in and about the
town, that had small stills concealed and working about their premises,
and that there wasna a night but they sent gallons o' spirits owre the
hills into England; but, by some means or other, government got wit of
these clandestine transactions, and the consequence was, that a gauger
was sent to live in the village, and three armed soldiers were billeted
on the inhabitants, who had to provide beds for them week about. Naebody
cared for having men wi' swords and firearms in their house, and they
preferred paying for their bed at Lucky Riddle's. They were regarded as
spies, and their appearance caused a great commotion amongst young and
old. I often feared that the spirit of murmuring would break out into
open rebellion; and one morning the soldiers came down from the hills,
carrying the gauger, covered wi' blood, and in a state that ye could
hardly ken life in him. One o' the soldiers also was dreadfully bruised
about the head, and his sword was broken through the middle. They
acknowledged that they had had a terrible battle wi' a party o'
smugglers, and rewards were offered for their apprehension. But, though
many of our people were then making rapid strides towards depravity,
there was none of them so depraved as to sell his neighbour, as Judas
did his Master, for a sum of money. None o' us had any great doubts
about who had been in the ploy, and some o' our folk werena seen for
months after; and, when inquiries were made concerning them, their
friends said they were in England, or the dear kens where--places where
they could have no more business than wi' the man o' the moon--but when
they came back, some o' them were lamiters for life.

The next improvement, as they called it, was the building of a strong,
square, flat-roofed house, like a castle in miniature, wi' an
iron-stancheled window, and an oak door that might have resisted the
attack of a battering-ram. This was intended to be a place of
confinement for disorderly persons. A constable was appointed to take
care of it, and it often furnished some o' Lucky Riddle's customers with
a night's lodgings. Persons guilty of offences were also confined there,
until they could be removed to the county jail.

The next thing that followed certainly was an improvement, but it had
its drawbacks. It was the erection of a woollen manufactory, in which a
great number o' men, women, and bairns, were employed. But they were
mostly strangers; for our folk were ignorant of the work, and the
proprietor of the factory brought them someway from the west of England.
The auld residenters were swallowed up in the influx of new comers. But
it caused a great stir about the town, and gave the street quite a new
appearance. The factory hadna commenced three months, when a rival
establishment was set up in opposition to Lucky Riddle, and one
public-house followed upon the back of another, until now we have ten of
them. As a matter of course, there was a great deal of more money spent
in the village; and several young lads belonging to it, that had served
their time as shopkeepers in the county town, came and commenced
business in it, some of them beneath their father's roof, and enlarging
the bit window o' six panes--where their mother had exposed thread,
biscuits, and gingerbread for sale--into a great bow-window that
projected into the street, they there exhibited for sale all that the
eye could desire for dress, or the palate to pet it. Yet, with an
increase of trade and money, there also came an increase of crime and a
laxity of morals, and vices became common among both sexes that were
unheard of in my young days. Nevertheless, the evil did not come without
a degree of good to counterbalance it; and, in course of time, besides
the kirk, the handsome dissenting meeting-house, that ye would observe
at the foot of the town, was built. Four schools, besides the
parish-school, also sprang up, so that every one had education actually
brought to their door; but opposition at that time (which was very
singular), instead o' lowering, raised the price o' schooling, and he
that charged highest got the genteelest school. Then both the kirk and
the meeting-house got libraries attached to them, and Luckie Riddle
found the libraries by far the most powerful opposition she had had to
contend wi'. Some of the youngsters, also, formed what they called a
Mechanics' Institution, and they also got a library, and met for
instruction after work hours; and, I declare to ye, that even callants,
in a manner, became so learned, that I often had great difficulty to
keep my ground wi' them; and I have actually heard some of them have the
impudence to tell the dominie that taught them their letters, that he
was utterly ignorant of all useful learning, and that he knew nothing of
the properties of either chemistry or mechanics. When I was a youth,
also, I dinna ken if there was a person in the village, save the
minister, kenned what a newspaper was. Politics never were heard tell of
until about the year seventy-five or eighty, but ever since then, they
have been more and more discussed, until now they have divided the whole
town into parties, and keep it in a state of perpetual ferment; and now
there are not less than five newspapers come from London by the post
every day, besides a score of weekly ones on the Saturday. Ye see, sir,
that even in my time very great changes and improvements have taken
place; and I am free to give it as my opinion, that society is more
intellectual now than it was when I first kenned it; and, upon the
whole, I would say, that mankind, instead of degenerating, are
improving. I recollect, that even the street there, ye couldna get
across it in the winter season, without lairing knee-deep in a dub; and
now ye see, it is all what they call macadamised, and as firm, dry, and
durable, as a sheet of iron. In fact, sir, within the last forty years,
the improvements and changes in this village alone are past all
belief--and the alterations in the place are nothing to what I have seen
and heard of the ups, and downs, and vicissitudes of its inhabitants.

The patriarch having finished his account of the village, thus proceeded
with the history of the individuals after whom the stranger had
inquired.


THE LAIRD.

Ye have asked me if auld Laird Cochrane be still living at the Ha',
which, for three centuries, was the glory and pride of his ancestors.
Listen, sir, and ye shall hear concerning him. He was born and brought
up amongst us, and for many years he was a blessing to this part of the
country. The good he did was incalculable. He was owner of two thousand
acres of as excellent land as ye would have found on all the Borders;
and I could have defied ony man to hear a poor mouth made throughout the
whole length and breadth of his estate. His tenants were all happy,
weel-to-do, and content. There wasna a murmur amongst them, nor amongst
all his servants. He was a landlord amongst ten thousand. He was always
devising some new scheme or improvement to give employment to the poor;
and he would as soon have thought of taking away his own life as
distressing a tenant. But the longest day has an end, and so had the
goodness and benevolence of Laird Cochrane.

It will be eight-and-twenty years ago, just about this present time,
that he took a sort of back-going in his health, and somebody got him
advised to go to a place in the south that they call Tunbridge
Wells--one of the places where people that can afford annually to have
fashionable complaints go to drink mineral waters. He would then be
about fifty-two years of age; and the distress of both auld and young in
the village was very great at his departure. Men, women, and children
accompanied him a full mile from the porter's lodge; and when his
carriage drove away, there was not one that didna say, "Heaven bless
you!" On the Sabbath, also, our minister, Mr Anderson, prayed for him
very fervidly.

Weel, we heard no more about the laird, nor how the waters agreed wi'
his stomach, for the space of about two months, when, to our surprise, a
rumour got abroad that he was on the eve of being married. Some folk
laughed at the report, and made light of it; but I did no such thing;
for I remembered the proverb, that "An auld fool is the worst of all
fools." But, to increase our astonishment, cartloads of furniture, and
numbers of upholsterers, arrived from Edinburgh; and the housekeeper and
butler received orders to have everything in readiness, in the best
manner, for the reception of their new leddy. There was nothing else
talked about in the village for a fortnight, and, I believe, nothing
else dreamed about. A clap of thunder bursting out on a New-year's
morning, ushering in the year, and continuing for a day without
intermission, could not have surprised us more. There were several
widows and auld maids in the parish, that the laird allowed so much
a-year to, and their dinner every Sunday and Wednesday from the Ha'
kitchen; and they, poor creatures, were in very great distress about the
matter. They were principally auld or feckless people; and they were
afraid, if their benefactor should stop his bounty, that they would be
left to perish. Whether they judged by their own dispositions or not, it
is not for me to say; but certain it is, that one and all of them were
afraid that his marrying a wife would put an end both to their annuities
and the dinners which they received twice a-week from his kitchen.

I dinna suppose that there was a great deal the matter wi' the laird
when he went to Tunbridge Wells. Like many others, he wasna weel from
having owre little to do. But he had not been there many days, when his
fancy was attracted by a dashing young leddy of four or five-and-twenty,
the daughter of a gentleman who was a dignitary in the church, but who
lived up to, and rather beyond, his income, so that, when he should die,
his gay family, of whom he had four daughters, would be left penniless.
The name of the laird's intended was Jemima, and she certainly was a
pretty woman, and what ye would call a handsome one; but there was a
haughtiness about her looks, and a boldness in her carriage, which were
far from being becoming in a woman. Her looks and carriage, however,
were not her worst fault. She had been taken to the Wells by her mamma,
as she termed her mother, for the express purpose of being
exhibited--much after the same manner as cattle are exhibited at a
fair--to see whether any bachelor or widower would make proposals. Our
good laird was smitten, sighed, was accepted, and sealed the marriage
contract.

The marriage took place immediately, but he didna arrive at the Ha' wi'
his young wife till the following June. When they did arrive, her
father, the divine, was wi' them; and, within a week, there was a
complete overturning of the whole establishment, from head to foot. They
came in two speck-and-span-new carriages, shining like the sun wi'
silver ornaments. They brought also a leddy's-maid wi' them, that wore
her veils, and her frills, and her fal-de-rals; and the housekeeper
declared that, for the first eight days, she didna ken her mistress from
the maid; for miss imitated madam, and both took such airs upon
themselves, that the auld body was confounded, and curtsied to both
without distinction, for fear of making a mistake. They also brought a
man-servant wi' them, that couldna speak a word like a Christian, nor
utter a word but in some heathenish foreign tongue. Within a week the
auld servants were driven about from the right hand to the left, and
from the left to the right. The incomers ordered them to do this and to
do that, wi' as much insolence and authority as if he had been a lord
and she a leddy.

But, in a short time, the leddy discovered that all the auld domestics,
from the housekeeper and butler down to the scullion wench, some of whom
had been in the house for twenty years, were little better than a den of
thieves; and, at the Martinmas term, a new race of servants took
possession of the Ha'. But this was not the only change which her young
leddyship and her father brought about within a few weeks. Her nerves
could not stand the smell of vegetables, which arose from the kitchen
when the broth was cooking for the widows and their families, the auld
maidens, and other helpless persons in the village and neighbourhood, on
the Sundays and Wednesdays, and she gave orders that the _nuisance_
should be discontinued. Thus, sir, for the sake of the gentility and
delicacy of her leddyship's organ of smelling, forty stomachs were left
twice a-week to yearn with hunger. At that time the labouring men on the
estate had seven shillings a-week, with liberty to keep a cow to graze
in the plantations; and those that dwelt by the river-side kept ducks
and geese, all of which were great helps to them. But her leddyship had
an aversion to horned cattle. She never saw them, she said, but she
dreamed of them, and to dream of them was to dream of an enemy! The
laird endeavoured to laugh her out of such silly notions, and appealed
to her father, the dignitary and divine, to prove that belief in dreams
was absurd. His reverence agreed that it was ridiculous to place faith
in dreams, but he hinted that there were occasions when the wishes of a
wife, though a little extravagant, and perhaps absurd, ought to be
complied with; and he also stated, that he himself had seen the cattle
in question rubbing against the young trees, and nibbling the tender
twigs; besides, there were walks through the plantations, and, as there
might be running cattle amongst them, he certainly thought, with his
daughter, that the grazing in the woods ought to be discontinued. His
authority was decisive. Next day, the steward was commanded to issue an
order, that every cottar upon the estate must either sell his cow, or
pay for its grass to a farmer.

This was a sad blow to the poor hedgers and ditchers, and those that
work with the spade. There was mourning that day in many a cottage--it
was equal to taking a meal a-day off every family. But the change that
was taking place in their condition did not end there. The divine, like
another great and immortal member of the sacred profession--the
illustrious Paley--was fond of angling; but there the resemblance
between them stopped. I have said that he was fond of angling--but he
was short-sighted, and one of the worst fishers that ever cracked off a
hook, or raised a splash in the water. Once, when he might have preached
upon the text, that he "had toiled all day, and caught nothing," he was
fishing on the river, about a mile above where we now are, when he
perceived the geese and ducks of a cottager swimming and diving their
heads in the stream. It immediately occurred to the wise man that his
want of success arose from the geese and ducks destroying all the
fish!--and he forthwith prevailed upon his son-in-law to order his
tenants to part with their poultry.[1] This was another sair blow to the
poor cottagers, and was the cause of their bairns gaun barelegged in
winter and hungry in summer. The gardens, the avenues, the lodge,
everything about the place, was altered. But, to crown all, the lease of
three or four of the laird's tenants was out at the following Martinmas,
and their rents were doubled. Every person marvelled at the change in
the conduct and character of the laird. Some thought he had gone out of
his wits, and others that he was possessed by the evil one; but the
greater part thought, like me, that he was a silly, hen-pecked man.

[Footnote 1: Absurd as this may seem, it is a FACT.]

A few months after her leddyship arrived, she gave birth to a son and
heir, and there were great rejoicings about the Ha' on the occasion, but
very little upon the estate; for already it had become a place that
every one saw it would be desirable to leave as soon as possible. As the
young birkie grew up, he soon gave evidence of being a sad scapegrace.
Never a day passed but we heard of his being in some ploy or other; and
his worthy mother said, that it showed a spirit becoming his station in
life. Before he had reached man's estate, he was considered to be a
great proficient in horse-racing, cock-fighting, fox-hunting, gambling,
and other gentlemanly amusements; but as to learning, though he had been
at both school and college, I dinna suppose that there is a trades lad
connected wi' the Mechanics' Institution here that he was fit to hand
the candle to. His grandfather, the divine, sometimes lectured him about
the little attention which he paid to his learning, but the young
hopeful answered, that "There was no necessity for a gentleman who was
heir to five or six thousand a-year, and whose father was seventy years
of age, boring over books."

They generally resided in London, and were never about the Ha', save
during a month or two in the shooting season. We heard, however, that
they had fine carryings on in the great city; that they kept up a
perpetual course of routes parties, and assemblies--that the estate was
deeply mortgaged; and the laird, from the course of dissipation into
which he had been dragged, had sunk into premature dotage. It was even
reported that Johnny Grippy, the miser, had advanced several thousand
pounds upon the estate, at a very exorbitant interest.

At length their course of extravagance, like a lang tether, came to an
end. Creditors grew numerous and clamorous; they would have their money,
and nothing but their money would satisfy them. The infatuated auld
laird sought refuge in the Abbey at Holyrood; and his son went on racing
about and gambling as formerly, borrowing money from John Grippy when
down here, and from Jews when in London, and giving them promises and
securities that would make the estate disappear, when it came into his
possession, like snow in summer. Her leddyship came down to the Ha',
and, to my certain knowledge, was refused credit for twenty shillings in
a shop in the village here, which was then kept by a son of one of the
cottars that she and her father had caused to part wi' their kye and
their poultry. This was what the young man called "seeing day about wi'
her leddyship."

The auld laird hadna been twelve months in the Abbey, when, finding
himself utterly deserted by his wife and son, he sank into despondency,
and died in misery; rueing, I will make free to say, that ever he had
set his foot in Tunbridge Wells. His young successor, in gratitude to
his mother for her over indulgence, and the example she had set him,
turned her from the Ha' on his taking possession of it, and left her to
seek refuge in the house of her father, the divine; and we never heard
of her in this part of the country again. The career and end of the
young laird I will state to ye, as I notice the histories of the
minister and Ne'er-do-weel Tam. And now for that of


THE MINISTER.

A more excellent, worthy, and sincere man than Mr Anderson never entered
a pulpit, or preached words of hope and consolation to sinners. He was
not a flowery orator or a fashionable preacher; but he was plain,
simple, nervous, earnest. His homeliness and anxious sincerity riveted
the attention of the most thoughtless; and, as a poet says,

    "They who came to scoff remain'd to pray."

I remember when he was first placed amongst us as minister of the
parish: he was a mere youngster, but as primitive in his manners as if
he had just come from the plough instead of a college. His father was a
farm-steward upon the estate of the then member for the county; and the
patronage being in the crown--as it is called--it was through the
interest of the member that he got the kirk. About twelve months after
he was placed, he took a wife; and his marriage gave great satisfaction
to the whole congregation--at least to the poor and middle classes, who
of course were the great majority. And the reason why his marriage gave
such satisfaction was, that his wife was the daughter of a poor hind,
that he had taken a liking to when he was but a laddie and her a lassie;
and he had promised her, when they came from the harvest-field together
(for while he was at the college, he always wrought in the
harvest-time), that, if he lived, and was spared to be a minister, she
should be his wife. I am sorry to say that such promises are owre often
neglected by young people, when either the one or the other of them
happens to get their head up in the world. But our minister thereby
showed that his heart was actuated by right principles, and that he
preferred happiness to every mercenary consideration. It showed that he
was desirous of domestic comfort, and not ambitious of worldly
aggrandisement. She was a bonny, quiet, discreet creature; and, if she
hadna what ye may call the manners of a leddy, yet her modesty and
good-nature lent an air of politeness to everything she did. Her
constant desire to please far more than counterbalanced for her want of
being what is called weel-bred; and, if she had not gentility, she had
what is of more importance in a preacher's wife--a pious mind, a
cheerful and charitable disposition, and a meek spirit; and whatever she
was ignorant of, there was one thing she was acquainted with--she

    "Knew her Bible true."

But after their marriage, he took great pains in instructing her in
various branches of learning; and in that she made great proficiency, I
am qualified to give evidence; for, when I have been present at the
dinners after the sacramental occasions, I have heard her dispute wi'
the ministers upon points of divinity, history, and other matters, and
maintain her ground very manfully, if I may say it.

I believe that a happier couple were not to be found in Great Britain.
She bore unto him fourteen children, but of these, all save two, a boy
and a girl, died in infancy; and in giving birth to the last, the mother
perished. It was on a Sunday that she died; and I remember that, on the
following Sabbath, her widowed husband entered the pulpit to preach her
funeral sermon. His text was, "Why should we mourn as those who have no
hope?" He proceeded with his discourse, but every few minutes he paused,
he sobbed; the big tears ran down his cheeks; and all the congregation
wept with him. At last he quoted the words, "In the morning I preached
to the people, and in the evening my wife died!" His heart filled--the
tears gushed from his eyes--he could say no more. He sank down on the
seat, and covered his face with his hands. Two of the elders went up to
the pulpit, and led him to the manse; and the precentor, of his own
accord, giving out a psalm, the congregation sang it and dispersed.

I have mentioned to ye his two surviving bairns--the name of the laddie
was Edward, and of the lassie, Esther. Edward was several years older
than his sister; and, from his youth upwards, he was a bold, sprightly,
fearless callant. Often have I observed him playing the part of a
captain, and drilling the laddies of the village into squares and lines,
like a little army; and as often have I heard him say, that he would be
nothing but a sodger. His father (as every Christian ought to do)
regarded war as a great wickedness, and as an abomination that disgraced
the earth; he therefore was grieved to see the military bent of his
son's inclination, and did everything in his power to break him from it.
He believed, and correctly too, that Edward had too much pride to enter
the army as a common soldier, where he would be little better than a
slave, and have to lift his hat to every puppy that wore an epaulette on
his shoulder or a sash round his waist. The minister, therefore, was
resolved that he would not advance the money to buy his son a
commission.

Here I must notice Johnny Grippy, who had never been kenned to perform a
generous action in the whole course of his existence. He was a man that,
if he had parted wi' a bawbee, to save a fellow-creature from
starvation, wadna, through vexation, have slept again for a week. If ony
body had pleaded poverty to him, he would have asked them--"What right
they had to be poor?" It would have been more difficult for him to
answer--"What right he had to be rich?" Johnny never forgave Mr Anderson
for prohibiting him from being made an elder; and, in his own quiet, but
cruel way, he said he would see that he got satisfaction, to the last
plack, for the insult. Now, what do ye think the miser did? He
absolutely offered young Maister Edward money to buy an ensign's
commission, at the moderate interest of ten per cent., and on the
understanding that he would gie him four years' credit for the interest,
and that he wadna request the principal until he was made a captain.
This proposal was made for the sole and individual purpose of grieving
and afflicting Mr Anderson, and of being revenged on him. The silly
laddie, dazzled wi' the bright sword and the gold-laced coat of an
officer, and thinking it a grand thing to be a soldier--fancying himself
a general, a hero, a conqueror in a hundred fights--swallowed the
temptation, took the offered money on the conditions agreed to; and
through the assistance of a college acquaintance, the son of a member of
parliament, purchased a commission in a foot regiment. All this was done
without his father's knowledge; and when Johnny Grippy witnessed the
good man's tears as he parted with his son, his cold heart rejoiced that
his revenge had been so far successful, and for once he regretted not
having parted with his money without a sure bond being made doubly sure.

In a very few weeks after Edward Anderson joined his regiment, he
accompanied it abroad; and twelve months had not passed when the public
papers contained an account of his having been promoted to the rank of
lieutenant on the field, on account of his bravery.

But listen, sir, to what follows.--It was on our fast-day, that the news
arrived concerning a great victory in the Indies. We were all interested
in the tidings, and the more particularly, as we knew that our
minister's son was at the battle. His father and his sister were in a
state of great anxiety concerning him, for whether he was dead or
living, they could not tell. The weather was remarkably fine, and as a
great preacher was to serve some of the tables, and preach during the
afternoon's service, the kirk was crowded almost to suffocation, and it
was found necessary to perform the ordinances in the open air. A green
plot in front of the manse was chosen for the occasion, and which was
capable of accommodating two or three thousand people. It was a grand
sight to see such a multitude sitting on the green sward, singing the
praises of their Maker, wi' the great heavens aboon them for a canopy!
its very glory and immensity rendering them incapable of appreciating
its unspeakable magnificence, and rendering as less than the dust in the
balance the temples of men's hands. It reminded me of the days of the
Covenant, when the pulpit was a mountain side, and its covering a cloud.
Mr Anderson was a man whose very existence seemed linked wi' affection
for his family. He had had great affection in it, and every death seemed
to transfer the love that he had borne for the dead in a stronger degree
towards those that were left. His soul was built up in them. All the
congregation observed that he was greatly agitated various times during
his discourse. It was evident to all that apprehensions for the fate of
his son were forcing themselves upon his thoughts.

The postman at that time brought the letters from the next town every
day about one o'clock. Mr Anderson was serving the first table, and his
face was towards the manse, when the postman, approaching the door,
waved his hand towards Miss Esther, who sat near it, as much as to say
that he had a letter from her brother. The father's voice failed,
through agitation and anxiety, as he saw the letter in the postman's
hand, and abruptly concluding his exhortation, he sat down trembling,
while his eyes remained as if fixed upon the letter. I myself observed,
as the postman passed me wi' it in his hand, that it was sealed wi'
black. I regarded it as a fatal omen, and I at first looked towards the
minister, to see whether he had observed it; but I believe that his eyes
were so blinded wi' tears that he could not perceive it; and I then
turned round towards Miss Esther; who I observed hastening to take the
letter in her hand. At the sight of the black seal, she almost fainted
upon the ground; and I saw the poor thing shaking as a leaf that quivers
in the wind. But when, wi' a hurried and trembling hand, she had broken
the seal, she hadna read three lines until the letter dropped upon the
ground, and, clasping her hands together, wi' a wild heart-piercing
scream, that sounded wildly through the worship of the people, she
exclaimed, "My brother!--my brother!" and fell wi' her face upon the
ground. The spectators raised her in their arms. Her father's heart
could hold no longer. He rushed through the multitude--he snatched up
the fatal letter. It bore the post-mark of Bengal, but it was not the
handwriting of his son. He, too, seemed to read but a line, when he
smote his hand upon his forehead, and exclaimed, in agony, "My son! my
son!--my poor Edward!"

His gallant boy was one of those who were slain and buried upon the
field; and the letter, which was from his colonel, recorded his courage,
his virtues, and his death! All the people rose, and sorrow and sympathy
seemed on every countenance save one--and that was the face of the auld
miser and hypocrite, Johnny Grippy. The body seemed actually to glut,
wi' a malicious delight, over the misery and affliction of which he, in
a measure, had been the cause; and, though he did try to screw his mouth
into a form of pity or compassion, and squeezed his een together to make
them water, I more than once observed the twittering streak of
satisfaction and delight pass owre his cheeks, just as ye have seen the
shadow of a swift cloud pass owre a field of waving grain. I hated the
auld miser for his very looks and his attempted hypocrisy; and, forgive
me for saying so, but I believe, if at that moment it had been in my
power to have annihilated him, I would have done it. The man who does
the work of iniquity openly or through error, I would pray for; but he
that does it beneath the mask of virtue or religion, I would
exterminate.

It was many weeks before Mr Anderson was able to resume his place in the
pulpit again; and his daughter, also, took the death of her brother
greatly to heart. The whole parish sought to condole wi' them, not even
excepting young Laird Cochrane of the Ha', who had not then come to the
estate. I firmly believe, sir, that he was a predestinated villain from
his cradle, for he showed symptoms of the most disgusting depravity more
early than ever laddie did. The aulder he grew, when he was in the
country, he went the more about the manse, and Esther was nearly about
his own age. She was a lassie that I would call the very perfection of
loveliness--simple, artless, confiding, but not without a sprinkling o'
woman's vanity. There was a laddie, the son of Thomas Elliot, or
Ne'er-do-weel Tam, as he was commonly called, that was very fond of her;
he was a fine, deserving callant, and all the town thought she was fond
of him. But the young laird put himself forward as his rival, and the
one was rich and the other poor. The laird of the Ha' sent daily
presents of geese, turkeys, and all sorts of game in their season, to
the manse; and he also presented rings, trinkets, and other fine things
to Esther; while the other, who was considered a sort of poet in the
neighbourhood, could only say, as a sang that I hear them singing
now-a-days says--

    "My heart and lute are all my store
    And these I bring to thee."

The laird was also an adept in flattery, in its most cunningly-devised
forms. Now, sir, it is amazing what an effect the use of such means will
ultimately produce upon the best-regulated minds. They are like the
constant dropping that weareth away a stone. Though unconscious of it
herself, Esther, who was but a young thing, began to listen with more
patience to the addresses of the heir of the Ha'; and she occasionally
exhibited something like dryness and petulance in the presence of poor
Alexander Elliot--for such was his name. At the very first shadow of
change upon her countenance, his spirit became bitter wi' jealousy, and
he rashly charged her wi' deserting him for the sake of the young laird
and the estate to which he was heir. This was a tearing asunder of the
silken cords that for years had held their hearts together. He was
proud, and so was she--they became distrustful of each other, and at
length they quarrelled, and parted never to meet again. I have heard it
said, that it was partly to be revenged on Alexander that Esther gave an
ear to the addresses of the laird; but that is a subject on which I
offer no opinion. All that I know is, that Alexander enlisted, and went
out to join his regiment in the West Indies. The laird followed Esther
like her shadow; and every one, save myself, said that there would be a
marriage between them. Even her worthy father seemed to dream in the
golden delusion; and, I am sorry to say, that I believe he was in no
small degree the cause of finally breaking off the intimacy between her
and Alexander Elliot. She was, as I have informed ye, a sensitive,
confiding lassie; and the laird, who had a honeyed tongue, succeeded not
only, in the long run, in gaining her affections, but in making her to
believe in his very looks; for, being incapable of falsehood herself,
she did not suspect it in others, and least of all in those who had
obtained a place in her heart.

The young villain went so far as, in her presence, to ask her father's
consent to their marriage; and the auld laird being then dead, the
minister agreed. It was not long after this, that the scapegrace went to
London, and Esther began to droop like a flower nipped wi' a frost.
Half-a-dozen times in the day her father found her in tears, and he
endeavoured to comfort and to cheer her; but his efforts were
unavailing. It pained his heart, which had already been sorely chastened
by affliction, to behold the youngling, and last of his flock, pining
away before him. The young laird neither returned nor wrote, and he
suspected not the cause of his daughter's grief. The first hint he got
of it was from his elders assembled in session. The old man in agony
fell back--he gasped, he smote his breast, and tore his grey hairs. In
his agony he cried that his Maker had forsaken him! The elders sought to
condole wi' him, but it was in vain; he was carried to the manse, and he
never preached more. His heart was broken, and, before a month passed,
the thread of life snapped also.

Wi' the weight of her own shame and sorrow, and her father's death, poor
Esther became demented. About nine weeks after her father's funeral, she
gave birth to a still-born child; and it was a happy thing that the
infant and its mother were buried at the same time, in the same grave.

Such, sir, is all that it is necessary for me to inform ye concerning
our late worthy minister; and of the young laird ye shall hear more
presently, in the history of


NE'ER-DO-WEEL TAM.

I never kenned a lad that I entertained a higher regard for than Thomas
Elliot. His father left him fifteen hundred pounds, laid out upon a
mortgage at five per cent. interest, and bequeathed in such a way that
he couldna lift the principal. There was a vast deal of real goodness
about his heart--he was frank, liberal, sincere. Every person that
kenned him liked him. His first and greatest fault was that he was owre
open; he laid bare his breast, as it were, to the attack of every enemy
that chose to hurl a shaft at it. He was a fool for his pains; and, I
daresay, he saw it in the end. There was always some person taking the
advantage of the frankness of his disposition. But the thing that ruined
him, and fixed the by-name on him, was, that he became a sort of fixture
in Luckie Riddle's parlour. His chief companion was a lad of the name of
William Archbold--a blithe, singing chield, that was always happy, and
ready at onything. Thomas and he were courting two sisters--Jenny and
Peggy Lilly--the daughters of a small farmer in the neighbourhood, and
both of them were bonny, weel-respected lasses. The folk in this quarter
used to call William Archbold _Blithe Willie_. He was a blacksmith to
his trade, but quite a youth; and come upon him by night or by day,
Willie was sure to be found laughing, whistling, or singing. He hadna a
yearly income like Thomas Elliot; and, strange to say, he got the blame
of gieing him a howff at Luckie Riddle's. But that was a doctrine which
I always protested against; and I said it was much more likely that, as
Thomas was fu'-handed, while his neighbour had to work for his bread,
the man of money led the blacksmith to their howff, and not the
blacksmith the man of money. One thing is certain, that both of them
were far oftener at Luckie's than was either good for their health,
wealth, or reputation. One night, it seems, after having drunk until, if
"they werena fu', they just had plenty," they reeled away to see the two
sisters, their sweethearts. Jenny didna wish to quarrel wi' Thomas,
because he had the siller; but Peggy turned away wi' scorn from Blithe
Willie, and said, that she "never again would speak to one who was no
better than a common blackguard, and who neither had regard for himself,
nor for any one connected wi' him." What more passed between them I
canna tell, but it is said he turned sober in an instant; and, certain
it is, that night he left the town, and has never been more heard tell
off.

Thomas Elliot and Jenny were married, but she died the second year after
their marriage, leaving to his charge an infant son, who was kirsened by
the name of Alexander. Thomas, after his wife's death, tried many things
(for while she lived she keepit him to rights), but he neglected them
all. He began twenty things, and ended nothing. He was to be found in
Luckie Riddle's in the morning, and he was to be seen sitting there at
night. Before he was forty, he became a perfect sot; and I used to ask,
"Wha leads him away now." The fact was, he was miserable save when he
was in company; and, for the sake of company, he would have sat sipping
and drinking from sunrise to sunset, without ever perceiving that in
that time he had been sitting wi' twenty different companies, each of
whom had remained maybe half-an-hour, and left him bibbing there to make
a crony of the customer that last came in. But this course of life could
not last long. He had mortgaged the mortgage that his father left him,
until, although he could not lift it, he had almost swallowed it up; and
at the age of forty-four he fell into the grave like a lump of diseased
flesh--a thing without a soul!

I have informed ye that he left a son, named Alexander, behind him. He
was a laddie that was beloved by the whole town; and it was him that
frae bairnhood was set down as the future husband of Esther Anderson,
our minister's daughter. I have already told ye how he enlisted, when he
fancied that she was drawing up wi' the young laird, and slighting him.

Now, mark ye, sir--for this is one of the most singular things in the
history of our village--about three years after the melancholy deaths of
Esther and her father, the laird, wi' a pack o' young men as thoughtless
and wicked as himself, came down to the Ha'. It was plain as noonday
that the murder of a young lassie, her bairn, and her honoured father,
had never cost the young libertine a thought. He returned to all his
former profligacy, as a sow returns to its wallowing in the mire.

He was returning, towards evening, with three or four of his companions
from an otter-hunt, and was within a quarter-of-a-mile of the Ha', when
he was met by two strangers--the one a youth, and the other a man of
middle age.

"Stand!" cried the young man, sternly.

"What do you want, fellow?" inquired the laird, proudly.

"Dismount," retorted the other, "and take this," presenting to him a
pistol. "I come to avenge the murder of Esther Anderson and her father;
and," added he, "wi' your blood to wash the bruise ye have inflicted on
my wounded heart. Did ye think, because her brave brother was with the
dead, that there was none left to revenge the ruin of her innocence?
Beneath the very tree where we now stand, she plighted me her first vow,
and we were happy as the birds that sang upon its branches, until ye, as
a serpent, crossed our path. Dismount, Laird Cochrane, if ye be not
coward as weel as villain."

"Alexander Elliot," replied the laird, "are ye not aware that I am a
magistrate, and have power to commit ye even now as a deserter. Begone,
sir, and take your hand from my horse's head; for it becomes not a
gentleman to quarrel wi' such as you."

"Dismount, ye palsy-spirited slave!" cried Alexander, "and choose your
weapon and your distance. Let your friends that are wi' you see that ye
have fair play. Dismount, or I will shoot ye dead where ye sit." And as
he spoke he dragged him from his horse.

It was an awful tragedy to take place in a peaceable corner of the earth
like this. The stranger that accompanied Alexander took the pistols, and
addressing one of the gentlemen that were wi' the laird, said, coolly,
"This business must be settled, sir, and the sooner the better. Choose
ye one of these weapons, and let the principals take their ground."

They did take their ground, as it was termed, and their pistols were
levelled at each other's heart. Guilt and surprise made the laird to
tremble, but revenge gave steadiness to the hand of young Elliot. Both
fired at the same moment, and with a sudden groan the laird fell dead
upon the ground.

Some said that the earth was weel rid of a prodigal; while others
thought it an awful thing that he should have been cut off in such a
manner, in the very middle of his iniquities and career of wickedness;
and it was generally regretted that he should have fallen by the hand of
a lad so universally respected as Alexander Elliot. Such, sir, was the
end of the young laird; but what has become of Alexander is more than
any one in these parts can tell. I have just now a few words to say
concerning


JOHNNY GRIPPY.

The Grippys were a very remarkable family; and it was a common saying,
that they were weel named. There were originally three brothers of them;
and when I first kenned them, they were ragged, barelegged callants, but
every one of them as keen as a Jew, and as hard as a flinty rock. Two of
them were in the cattle line; and, through stinginess, cheatery, and
such-like means, they amassed a power of money. But both of them died,
and being unmarried, their brother Johnny became sole heir to their
property. He was a man that would have walked ten miles to pick up a
farthing. He keepit a shop, or what the Americans would call a _store_,
in the village, for he sold everything, new and auld, good, bad, and
indifferent--eatable and wearable, or for whatever purpose it was
wanted; for everything ye could think about was to be had for money at
the shop of Johnny Grippy. Of late years, it was weel ascertained that
he dealt extensively in sending whisky into England, and in such a way,
too, that neither the dirdum, the risk, nor the loss could land at his
door. But he had dealings in many concerns, both here and elsewhere.
Wherever he heard of anything by which there was money to be made, he
always endeavoured to get his finger in. It was affirmed that he was
connected wi' some wealthy trading companies about London, and that he
had ships upon the sea. I know for a positive fact, that he went up to
the great city every year, and that he actually begged his way there and
back again. But it is my opinion that he made the greater part of his
wealth by lending out money to usury. By this means a great deal of
property fell into his possession, for he was as cruel as a starving
tiger. He was a despiser of both justice and mercy, and all he cared
about was--"_I maun hae my bargain_." That was always his answer, if
onybody offered to intercede wi' him for ony poor creature that he was
distressing.

The auld knave endeavoured to cover his avarice wi' the cloak o'
religion, and, as I have already informed ye, sought to be made an
elder; and, as ye have been made aware, he never forgave our late worthy
minister for the slight and disappointment, but, even against his
nature, parted wi' money to obtain a cruel revenge. It would tire you,
if I were to inform you of the one-thousandth part of Johnny's meanness,
and the instances of his ravening avariciousness, or the misery which he
caused in the habitations of both high and low. Indeed, I may say, that
he grew rich through the ruin of others; and he sought out objects of
misery on which he might fix his devouring talons, even as a vulture
seeketh out a dead carcase.

At an enormous interest, he lent money to the auld laird; and he
cunningly permitted the interest to accumulate, year after year, until
the laird's death. He also advanced sums to the young laird at a rate
even more usurious, and got the entire title-deeds of the estate into
his hands as security; and when the laird fell in the duel wi' Alexander
Elliot, he seized and took possession of Ha' estate, and all that was
thereon, claiming them as his! The whole parish was thunderstruck wi'
astonishment.

The next kin to the young laird threatened to throw the case into the
Court of Chancery.

"Let them," said Johnny, laughing in his sleeve, "they will live lang
that live to see it settled there--and _I will hae my bargain_."

Weel, the case was thrown into Chancery, and Johnny did not live to see
it settled, for settled it is not until this day, and what some one said
of eternity might be said of it--it is "beginning to begin."

I think ye heard that John had acquired a habit of slipping owre to
Luckie Riddle's on the edge of his foot for a dram before breakfast. He
took a strong liking for her strong bottle, and by way of saving the
expense of the dram, he left off the practice of taking a breakfast; and
when the single dram increased to two and three in the day, he confined
himself to one meal, and that of the poorest and scantiest kind--a
potato and salt, or maybe a herring as a luxury. But it was more than
suspected that the potatoes on which he lived were not all honestly came
by; for I myself have seen him in a field amongst other folks', stooping
down and fingering at the drills, and slipping the potatoes into his
coat-pocket; and when asked what he was doing, he would have said (quite
collectedly, for there was no possibility of confusing him), "Ou, I am
just looking what sort of crop such-a-one is going to have this year."

But the miser's love of drink increased upon him, and the more he spent
on liquor, the more he hungered himself. He became a living skeleton,
and in the depth of a severe winter, he was found sitting dead behind
his desk, with the copy of a letter before him, in which he had
instructed his man of business to sell off, immediately, the husband of
Peggy Lilly.

"The husband of Peggy Lilly!" interrupted the stranger, who had hitherto
listened to the records of the Patriarch in silence--"who was he?"

"That," resumed the old man, "seems to interest you, and wherefore I
cannot divine, as I have no recollection of your face; but, if ye have
patience and hearken, ye shall hear all that I can tell ye of the
history of


PEGGY LILLY.

Peggy was allowed to be the bonniest lass in all the parish; but she
was as prudent and sedate as she was bonny, and everybody wondered that
she keepit company wi' William Archbold sae lang as she did, after he
had gien himself up to a habit o' dissipation; though she, perhaps,
thocht as I did, that it was mere thochtlessness in the young man, that
he was just drawn awa by his friend, Thomas Elliot, and that, if he were
married, he would reform. Luckie Riddle's sign, however, was a black
sight to him, and I doot it has been a heart-sore to puir Peggy. The
difference that the subject gave rise to between them, was perhaps
unlucky for the happiness o' baith parties. In the vexation o' the
moment, she uttered words o' harshness which her heart did not dictate,
and, in leaving as he did, he acted rashly.

When we heard, however, of William Archbold's having left the town, and
the cause of his leaving--that it arose from Peggy having spoken to him
as if disgusted at his conduct--we laughed, and said he would soon come
back again. She thought the same thing; but weeks and months succeeded
each other, and now five-and-twenty years have passed, and the lad has
been no more heard of. How deeply Peggy grieved for her conduct, and
mourned his absence, was visible in her countenance.

About ten years after her sister's death, her parents, who had both
become very frail, were thrown out of their bit farm, after several very
unfortunate seasons in it, and they were left entirely dependent upon
her exertions for their support. They were reduced to very great
straits, and many a time it was a wonder to me how they lived; but late
and early did she toil for their maintenance; and, poor hizzy, the
sorrow that fell upon her face for the loss of William Archbold never
left it.

At that time a very decent man, who had taken a small farm in the
neighbourhood, began to pay attention to her, and often called at her
father's house. She heard his request, that she would marry him, wi' a
sigh--for she hadna forgotten Blithe Willie. But her father and mither
looked at her, wi' the tears in their een, and they besought her night
and day, that they might see her settled and provided for. She at length
yielded to their solicitations, and gied him her hand; but she was
candid enough to confess to him, that her affection couldna accompany
it, though her respect and duty should.

So far as the world could judge, they seemed to live happily together,
and Peggy made an exemplary wife; but there was always like a quiet
settled melancholy on her countenance. Their farm was too dear taken,
and about a year after they were married, it became the property of
Johnny Grippy. Ye have already heard what sort of man he was, reaping
where he had not sown. He exacted his rent to the last farthing, or
without ceremony paid himself double from the stock upon the farm.

Peggy's husband became unable, though he struggled early and late, to
make up his rent, and having fought until his strength was exhausted,
and his health and heart broken, he sank down upon his bed, a dying man;
and Johnny, causing the sheriff's-officer to seize all that was upon the
farm, made them seize also the very bed upon which the dying man lay. He
in fact died in their hands; and Peggy was turned out upon the world, a
friendless widow, with two helpless infants at her knee; and a sore,
sore fight she has had to get the bite and the sup for them, poor
things, from that day to this.

"But," replied the stranger, with emotion, "there is one left who will
provide for her and her children."

"Who may that be?" inquired the patriarch.

"William Archbold," answered the other.

"Preserve us!" said the old man, in surprise; "I daresay I have been
blind not to have recognised ye before--ye are William!"

"I am," replied the other--"Blithe Willie, as you once termed me.
Peggy's cutting and just rebuke roused my pride, and filled me with
self-abasement at the same instant. In a state of mind bordering on
madness, I left the village, where I considered my character to be
blasted for ever. I went to London, and there engaged to go out to
India. I was there fortunate in business, and in a few years became
rich. I there, some years ago, discovered Alexander Elliot (the son of
my old companion), whose regiment had gone to the East, and not to the
West Indies, as you supposed. I purchased his discharge, and employed
him as a clerk. He requested permission to visit this country, and it
was granted; but I knew not the deadly nature of his errand. It was
during that visit that he so fatally avenged the ruin of poor Esther. He
is again in India, and prospering. But you say that Peggy has been
married--that she is a widow--a widow!"

"Yes; a widow, sir," answered the patriarch; "and if ye be single, I
think ye canna do better than make her a wife."

"No, no!" said William, drawing his hand across his eyes; "I cannot; I
will not glean where another has reaped. But here is a bank-order for
five hundred pounds; let it be conveyed to her; but let her never know
the hand from whence it came."

"Hoots! nonsense, Maister William!" said the old man. "See her again,
for auld langsyne, at ony rate, and gie her it yersel."

What course William Archbold would have adopted I cannot tell; but at
that moment Peggy passed down the street, and spoke to the old man as
she passed. William started to his feet, he stretched out his hand, he
exclaimed, "Peggy!"

She was speechless--tears gushed into her eyes. Old love, it is said,
soon kindles again. Be this as it may, within six weeks Peggy left the
village in a coach as the wife of William Archbold, and her children
accompanied her.



THE OLD CHRONICLER'S TALES.

THE DEATH OF JAMES I.


The scrupulous, we might almost say affected, regard for what they
conceive to be historical truth, on the part of many historians, leading
them to admit nothing into their veritable histories but what has been
"proven," and proven in such a manner as to please themselves, has been
productive of at least this effect--that many a fact in history has been
consigned to the regions of fable and romance, because supported only by
that evidence which has hanged millions of God's creatures--namely, the
testimony of witnesses. The weight of tradition, often the very best and
truest evidence, in so far as it combines experience and faith, is, in
the estimation of historiographers, overbalanced by a fragment of paper,
provided it be written upon, and the writing be formed after some old
court-hand or black-letter style; though, after all, the valued
antiquarian scrap, formed by the operation of one goose quill, moved by
one hand, and that hand impelled by the mind of one frail mortal, may be
merely a distorted relic of that very tradition which is so much
despised. We do not profess to be fastidious in the selection of
authorities. Tradition, in our opinion, ought to be tested by the
experience of mankind: where it stands that test, it ought to be
received as a part of veritable history; and sure we are that, if by
this mode anything may be thought to be lost in point of strict truth,
it will be well balanced by what is gained in point of amusement. It is
upon these principles we have selected, and now lay before our readers,
an account of a well-known catastrophe of Scottish history, much more
full in its details than any that has yet been offered to the public.

In the beginning of the winter 1436, Sir Robert Graham (whose nephew,
Patrick Graham, had been married to the daughter of David, Earl of
Strathearn, and who himself bore that dignity) appeared at the royal
residence of Walter Stuart, Duke of Athol, his kinsman (the latter being
uncle to Patrick, Earl of Strathearn's wife), in a state of disguise.
The night was far advanced when he arrived, and the duke was called from
his bed to see the visiter, who had been for some time under the ban of
the stern authority of his sovereign, James I. The duke knew well what
was the main object of the knight, though he was entirely ignorant of
the special intelligence that the latter had to communicate to him. They
met in the large wainscoted hall, which in brighter days had resounded
to the merry sounds of the wassail of King Robert's sons, but which,
ever since the accession of the reigning king, had echoed nothing but
the sighs and groans of the persecuted victims of James' vengeance
against all the relatives and supporters of the unfortunate house of
Albany. The duke and the knight were now both old men, though the former
was much in advance of the latter; they were both grandfathers--the
grandson of the duke being Sir Robert Stuart, chamberlain to the king,
and the grandson of the latter being Malise Graham, who had been
disinherited of his Earldom of Strathearn by the unwise policy of the
monarch; but old and grey-headed as they were, they, true to the
character of the age in which they lived, retained that fierce spirit of
vengeance which was held one of the cardinal virtues of the creed of
nobility and knighthood of that extraordinary period.

As the duke entered the hall, which was lighted only by a small lamp
that stood on the oaken table at which the inhabitants of the castle
dined, he required to use well both his eyes and his ears, obtuse as
his external senses had become by age, before he was apprised of the
situation occupied by the knight, who, musing over his schemes of
revenge, did not observe the duke enter. He was roused from his reverie
by the hand of his old friend, applied by way of slap to his shoulder,
as if for the purpose of wakening him from sleep--a power that seldom
overcomes the restless spirit of vengeance.

"The arm of King James," said the duke, "reaches farther than mine, and
a smaller light than that glimmering taper, that twinkles so mournfully
in this ancient hall of the Stuarts, enables him to see farther than is
now permitted to these old eyes; and yet you are here on the very
borders of the Lowlands, and within a score miles of the court, where
the enemy of our families holds undisputed sway. Are you not afraid of
the Heading-hill of Stirling, which still shows the marks of the blood
of the murdered Stuarts?"

"I have come from the fastnesses of the north," said Graham, as he took
off his plaid, which was covered with snow, to shake it, and exhibited a
belt well stored with daggers and hunting-knives--"I have come from my
residence among the eagles, like one of the old grey-headed birds with
which I am become familiar, to warm the cold blood of a mountain life
with some of the warm stream that nerves the arms of my enemies of the
valley."

"Or rather," replied the duke, smiling, "you have come to ask an old
fox, with a head greyer than that of an eagle, to hunt with you, and
guide you to the caves of your foes; but you have destroyed your scheme
of vengeance, by advising your principal enemy of your intention. Why,
speaking seriously, did you write such an epistle to the king? You have
lived among your grey-headed friends to little purpose, when you have
used one of their feathers as an instrument for telling your victim that
another is to fledge the arrow that is to seek his heart's blood. Such
an act may be said to be noble, when the avenger is to give his enemy a
fair chance for his life; but that you do not intend to do, for your
vengeance (which must be glutted in secret, if it is to be glutted at
all) is not to be stayed by the forms of the laws of chivalry. James is
now on his guard. You have told him you intend to slay him--and slay him
now if you can!"

"And, by the arms of the Grahams of Kincardine, I _will_, Athol--I
_will_, I _shall_! Is it your grace who would dissuade me from my
purpose of revenge, merely because the fire is so furious that it sent
forth a gleam on the victim that is destined to feel its scorching
heat?--you, who have within these few minutes brought up to our burning
imaginations the bloody scene of the Heading-hill of Stirling, whereon
perished so many of your kinsmen--you, whose dukedom has been first
wrested from you, and then bestowed on you in _liferent_, because you
are _old_--you who should" (here he spoke into the ear of the duke) "be
_king_!"--pausing. "Who does not know that Robert III., your brother,
was born out of lawful wedlock? His father never married Elizabeth More;
but who could doubt that Euphemia Ross, your mother, the widow of the
famous Randolph, was joined to him in lawful wedlock? The people of
Scotland know this, and they are sick of the bastard on the
throne"--pausing again, and looking earnestly at the duke through the
gloom of the large hall. "Is it to be tolerated that legitimacy is to be
longer trampled under foot by bastardy? Too long have you overlooked
your right of blood; but it is not yet too late for ample amends. The
usurper has done all in his power, by oppressing you and slaying your
friends, to force you to assert and vindicate your indefeasible right,
and gratify a legitimate revenge. In these veins," seizing the old man's
shrivelled wrist, "runs the blood of _the Bruce_! What a thought is
that!--what heart could resist its impulse? what brain its fire?"

After whispering, with great earnestness, this speech into the ear of
the old duke, Graham paused again, and looked at him. The words had
produced the effect which they might have been expected to produce on
the mind of one who had long dreamed over the same thoughts and
purposes, and been fired by the same feelings, but who had been
prevented, by unmanly fears, from obeying the dictates of his judgment,
the call of his ambition, and the spur of revenge. The energetic manner
in which the old fancies had been roused by the wily Graham threw him
into a reverie, the result of which the knight did not think fit to
wait. He had already, to a certain extent, succeeded in stimulating the
lethargy of age, and sending through the shrivelled veins of the scion
of royalty the blood that owned the influence of the passion-struck
heart; it was now his purpose to keep the ground he had gained, and push
for more; and as the duke still stood muffled up in his morning-gown,
and his chin upon his folded arms, the tempter proceeded--

"Your grace has often declared to me," he continued, "that you have
faith in our Highland seers, and believe the sounds of the _taisch_, as
given forth by the inspired visionary."

"Who can doubt these things?" replied the old duke, looking seriously,
and continuing his musing position. "I certainly never had the
hardihood. I have seen too many instances of their verification, to be
sceptical on that head. The fate of the family of Albany was foretold by
a seer many months before the execution of Duke Murdoch and his sons.
But what has this to do with my persecution, or with my being king of
Scotland? God knows, I have at this moment visions enough!--your remarks
have roused my sleeping mind; yet I could almost say I dream."

"This dark hall, that little flickering lamp, and my presence at this
late hour, may well produce an illusion; but I deal in no fancies. I
have only truths to tell, and deeds to do--ay, and such deeds as may
well cross the rapt eyes of the seer; Scotland has not seen such for
many a day, sad and sorrowful as have been the fates of her kings. Will
your grace hear _your_ fate from the lips of a seer?"

"I would rather hear that of my enemy, who rules this kingdom with a rod
of iron," replied the duke.

"You will hear the fates and fortunes of both," said Graham--"ay, even
as is seen the scales of justice, which, as the beam moves, lifts one,
only to depress the other. If you will accompany me to a shepherd's hut,
back among your own hills of Athol, you will hear what time has in store
for you and King James."

"I will," replied the duke, anxiously; "but age requires rest. I was
hunting all day, and feel weary. Let us postpone our visit till
to-morrow evening."

"Ah!" cried Graham, "the _hunter_ may say he is wearied, but the
_hunted_ has no title to speak the language of nature. If we go at all,
we must go _now_. The visions of the seer come on him during night. At
the solemn hour of midnight, futurity is revealed to him--to the hunted
outlaw, whose bed is among the heather, there is not vouchsafed the
ordinary certainty of seeing even another sun. Come, dress--I will lead
your grace's horse through the hills. We have no time to lose--the old
enemy is beforehand with us, and our grizzled locks mock the tardiness
of our revenge. Come!"

"My weakness leaves me under the charm of your words, Graham," said the
old duke. "Tell Malcolm to get my horse in readiness; meanwhile, I will
dress, and be presently with you."

The duke went up to his bedroom, and Graham sought the servant, who
proceeded to obey his directions. He came again back to the hall, and
folding his arms, walked to and fro, muttering to himself, stopping at
times, and raising his hand in a menacing attitude, as if he were
wholly engrossed by one feeling of revenge, and then resuming his musing
attitude. The duke, dressed, belted, and muffled up in a large
riding-cloak, again roused him from his reverie. They proceeded to the
courtyard, where the duke mounted, and Graham, taking the bridle into
his hand, took the horse away into a by-path that led to the hills.
After proceeding forward for about an hour in the dark, they observed a
small light glimmering in the distance, and coming apparently from the
window of some cottage. For this Graham made as directly as the
unevenness of the ground would permit; and in a short time they arrived
at the door of the small dwelling, from the window of which the beam of
light shot out amongst the darkness, suggesting the idea of life, and
probably some of its comforts (at least a fire), amidst the dead
stillness of a winter night in so dreary a situation.

At the door of this cottage, Graham rapped in a peculiar manner; and
without a word being spoken, it was opened by a young man clad in the
Highland garb. The two friends entered. The scene presented to them was
the ordinary appearance of a mountain hut in those days: a small fire of
peats burned in the middle of the apartment, and sent out the light
which, beaming through the small aperture in place of a window, had
attracted the eyes of the guests. In a corner, a small truckle-bed
stuffed with heather, part of which protruded at the side and end, and
covered with a coarse blanket or two, contained an old woman, with a
clear, active eye, which twinkled in the light of the fire, and moved
with great rapidity as she scanned narrowly the persons of the guests.
In another corner was the bed of the young Highlander, composed simply
of a collection of heather, and without blanket or covering of any kind.
The guests seated themselves on two coarse stools that stood by the
fire; holding their hands over the flame, to receive as much as
possible of the heat to thaw their limbs, which the freezing night air,
co-operating with their advanced years, had stiffened and benumbed.
While they were engaged in this preliminary but indispensable operation,
the young man, who appeared restless and confused, placed another stool
before the bed of the old woman, so that, when seated upon it, his back
would be supported by the side of the bed, and his face in some degree
concealed from the gaze of the guests, who, being on the other side of
the peat fire, could, through the ascending smoke, see him only
indistinctly and at intervals.

With the exception of a few words that had passed between the young
Highlander and Graham--and which, being in Gaelic, were not understood
by the royal duke, who, though formerly Lord of Brechin, and resident in
the north, had been too long in leaving the royal residence of his
father, Robert II., to acquire the language--there was nothing for some
time said. The guests continued their manual applications to the peat
fire, and the young Gael, who had for some time been seated on his
stool, threw himself occasionally back on the fore part of the bed, then
brought himself forward again, and at intervals muttered quickly some
words in Gaelic, accompanied with sounds of wonder and surprise, from
all which he suddenly relapsed into quietness and silence. While these
strange operations were going on, Graham directed the attention of the
duke to the uncouth actor, and whispered something in his ear which had
the effect of rousing him, and making him look anxiously through the
smoke, to get a better view of the strange gestures of the youth. The
old woman in the bed made, in the meantime, efforts as if she intended
to speak; but these were repressed by a sudden motion of the youth,
whose hand, slipped back, was applied as secretly as possible to her
mouth, and then, in a menacing attitude, clenched and shaken in her
face.

"Is your hour come yet, Allan?" said Graham, in a deep and serious
voice.

"He says no," answered the old woman, with a sharp, clear voice, from
the bed, translating the Gaelic response of the youth; "but he sees
signs o' an oncome."

"Is it to be a mute vision, Allan?" again said Graham; "or see you any
signs of a _taisch_?"

"He thinks," said the woman again, as translator, "he will see again the
face and feir o' a dead king, wha will speak wi' sobs and granes o' him
wha will come after him, and sit in the browden and burniest ha' o'
Scone's auld palace, whar he will be crowned."

Silence again succeeded the clear notes of the woman's voice; the young
man's movements and gestures recommenced; and the old duke's attention
was riveted by the strange proceedings which, to an absolute believer in
the powers of the seer, were fraught with intense interest. The
prophetic paroxysm seemed to approach more near: the body of the seer
was bent stiffly back, and leaned on the bed; his eyes were wide open,
and fixed upon a mental object; his hands were extended forth; his lips
were apart; and every gesture indicated that state of the mind when,
under the influence of a rapt vision, it takes from the body its nervous
energy, and leaves the limbs as if under the power of a trance.

He remained in this condition for fully five minutes; and then, throwing
his arms about, he cried out some quickly-uttered words in Gaelic, which
the old woman translated into--"It comes! it comes!" After a pause of a
few minutes, during which the most death-like silence prevailed
throughout the cottage, he began to move his hands slowly through the
air, from right to left, as if he were following the progress of a
passing creation of the mind; and, as he continued this movement, he
spoke, in a deep, tremulous voice, with a kind of mournful, singing
cadence, the Gaelic words, which were continually translated by the old
woman.

"There comes slowly, as if frae the womb o' a cloud o' mountain mist,
the seim o' a turreted abbey, wi' the tomb o' the Bruce and the
monuments o' other kings, amang which a new grave, wi' the moul o'
centuries o' rotten banes lying on its edge, and mixed wi' the skulls o'
dead kings, and arm-banes that ance bore the sceptre o' Scotland!--It is
gane!--the seim has vanished, and my eye is again darkened!"

A deep silence succeeded, and lasted for several minutes. The speaker's
hands again began to move from right to left, and slowly-uttered words
again came from his lips!

"The cloud throws back its misty faulds, and shows the wraith o' a
gowd-graithit bier, movin to the wast; the Scotch lion is on the lid,
and a shinin halbrik, owre whilk waves the royal pennon o' Scotland,
begirt wi' gowd, is carried afore, by the king-at-arms. A warlock, auld
and shrivelled, wi' a white beard, touches wi' his wand the coffin; the
lid lifts, and the head o' a king, wi' a leaden crown, rises frae the
bier! A _taisch_! a _taisch_!--hark! the lips o' the dead open and move,
and he speaks the weird that never deceives! '_Hail, Walter, King o' the
Scots!_'"

This extraordinary statement was accompanied by a kind of yell or
scream, that rung through the cottage, and pierced the ears of the
listeners. Silence again followed, and lasted several minutes, during
which the seer was quiet. The duke was apparently entranced, and Graham
looked wonder and surprise. The seer began again to move his hands, and
speak as before.

"The cloud throws back its misty faulds, and my eye follows the seim o'
the royal chair o' Scone, wherein sits" (a loud scream of surprise broke
from the seer) "Walter, Lord o' Brechin that was, Duke o' Athol that
is--King o' Scotland that will be!"

These words were no sooner uttered, than the duke started from the stool
on which he sat, and showed strong indications of surprise and
confusion. His belief in the predictions of a seer was, as was common in
that age, unbounded, and when he heard himself pronounced King o'
Scotland his mind, freed from all manner of scepticism or doubt,
reverted to the circumstance of the doubtful legitimacy of his
half-brothers; the aspirations and day-dreams he had so long indulged
seemed in an instant to have received the stamp of truth; the prospect
of having his ambition at last gratified, by wearing the crown which his
enemy now bore, inflamed his mind, and the coldness and lethargy of old
age seemed to have been supplanted by the fire and energy of youth.

"Is the vision complete?" said he to the old woman, as he saw the seer
gradually regaining his upright position, and resulting his natural
manner, like one who had come out of a fit.

"Ay," replied she. "Allan is himsel again; but, if ye are the Duke o'
Athol, as I tak ye to be, I could rede ye, before our reddin, never
mair, aiblins, to meet on this side o' time, something that wad make
your auld een glimmer through the smeik o' that ingle mair swith and
deftly than could a' the visions o' the seers o' Scotland."

Graham looked alarmed at this unexpected speech of the old woman; and
Allan, the seer, slipping gently his hand behind her back, stopped her
mouth, and produced silence. The duke and Graham left the cottage--the
latter exhibiting a wish that the former should not remain longer, after
the object was attained for which they had made their visit. They
returned in the same way they had come; and for some time the duke was
so much occupied with the thoughts of the extraordinary vision he had
got declared to him, that he rode forward, still led by Graham, without
uttering a word. The night was, if possible, darker than it was when
they left the castle; and the stillness of a lazy fall of snow reigned
among the hills, unbroken by a single sound, even of the night-birds.

"It is then ordained above," said the duke at last, in a low tone--"my
lot is already cast among the destinies, and all the dreams of a long
life are at last to be realised. I can scarcely believe that I have been
awake for this last hour; yet what can be more certain than that I am
now suffering the cold of these hills, a bodily feeling which dreams
cannot simulate? 'Walter, King of Scotland!' Ha! it sounds as well as
James--we are both the first of our name. It is tardy justice, but it is
justice accompanied by retribution; and when is the blood too thin and
cold to feed the fire of revenge? When do the pulses of the old heart
cease to quicken at the thought of a just retribution? When is the head
too bald to bear a crown lined with purple velvet? My spirits, frozen by
age and this cold night, are thawed by the fire of these visions of
vengeance, and dance in the wild array of youthful delight. Ha! he took
from me the fee of my dukedom, and gave me, because I was _old_, the
usufruct, the liferent: I shall now have the usufruct of a
_kingdom_--_his_ kingdom by courtesy, _mine_ by right. Hark, Graham! How
is this vision to be realised? The seer pointed to James's death--who is
to kill the tyrant?"

"I with this hand shall strike the blow," replied Graham. "My plans are
already laid, and I wanted only your cooperation and assistance; for
why, you know, should I be so improvident as to kill one king, until
another is ready to take his place?"

"I cannot speak lightly of this affair," said the duke, in check of
Graham's levity. "What are your plans? The fewer co-operators in a
conspiracy the better."

"I know it," replied Graham. "Your grandson, Sir Robert Stuart, whom
James has foolishly retained as chamberlain, while he has taken from him
his chance of succeeding you in your dukedom, waits for your command to
give us access to the royal chamber. The king is to celebrate the
Christmas holidays at the monastery of the Dominicans in Perth; he comes
to the point of our dagger, held by a hand nerved by a thousand wrongs,
to plunge it into his bosom. I can command the services of Sir John
Hall, and Christopher and Thomas Chambers, who cry for revenge for the
murder of their master Albany; three hundred caterans are at my service,
ready to do the work of death at my bidding; and all that was required
to complete my schemes was the consent of your grace, now happily
obtained, to the act which is to right you, to revenge you, to crown
you."

"If the king is to be at Perth," replied the duke, after a pause, "I
shall be at the revels of Christmas. My grandson Sir Robert, who, as
chamberlain, may be said to be the keeper of the king, can let your
three hundred caterans into the monastery, and the work may be finished
with a facility which seldom attends the execution of the purposes of
revenge."

"Your grace has anticipated my very thoughts and words," replied the
wily Graham. "Heaven aids the work of a just retribution on the head of
the tyrant. Mark the supernatural coincidences. When was the vision of
the seer presented to the living senses of the avenger of his own and
his country's wrongs--the executioner of a tyrant, and the successor who
is to occupy his throne--as if to urge him to his duty? When did the
groaning victims of royal cruelty get a chamberlain to turn for them the
key of the tyrant's sleeping room? And when were the suspicions of
remorse and guilt of the wrong-doer so opportunely lulled, as to give
room to a confidence which brings him to the dagger's point?"

"Walter, King of Scotland!" ejaculated the duke, who, during Graham's
speech, had been musing over the sudden change in his fortunes. "Ha!
how many acts shall I have to repeal! how many nobles to right! how many
wounds to bind up of my bleeding country! Graham, you shall be Earl of
Menteith, and your grand-nephew, Malise, shall have, instead of that
earldom, his own Strathearn. How my mind burns with the thoughts of
turning wrong into right, and taking the weight of the royal sceptre out
of the scales of justice!"

By this time, the pair had arrived again at the palace of Athol. Their
plans were completed: the duke retired to dream of his crown and
sceptre, and Graham returned to seek a heather bed, in his retreat,
beyond the reach of his enemies.

Some time after, he met Allan, the seer, whose surname was Mackay, among
the hills. The Gael had apparently gone in quest of his employer, and
seemed to have some important object to attain, by travelling so far as
he had done to meet him.

"I peg your honour's pardon," said the seer, as he came up to Graham;
"te katherans are to pe at te red stane in te howe o' te hills, on te
saxth. I hae seen a' te praw fallows, wha are as keen for te onset as te
eagles o' Shehallion. Ye will meet them, dootless, and keep up the fire
o' their pluid, pe te three grand powers--te speeches, te peat-reek, and
te pay. Hoo did I manage te duke? Te play was weel played, your honour,
though Allan Mackay pe te man who says it; and te mair's my credit, that
I never pefore acted to seer in presence o' te son o' a king. Ugh--ugh!
put it was a praw performance, and are that deserves to pe weel paid
for. Hoo muckle did your honour promise to gie me for my remuneration?
Te sum has clean escaped my memory."

"It was five merks, Allan," said Graham.

"I peg your pardon, your honour," said Allan. "It was shust exactly
seven; and little aneugh, seein I had my mither's mouth to keep close,
for fear she wad peach te secret to te duke, pesides te grand story o'
Dumferlin Appey, and te funeral, and te taisch, and te Palace o' Scone,
to invent and perform. King Shames's actors are petter paid for
performin his 'Peebles to te Play.' Maybe your honour can pay me te
seven merks shusht now?"

"I cannot quarrel with you, Allan," said Graham; "but our bargain was
five. Here's your own sum, however. Since that night, I have had
apprehensions about your mother's steadfastness. You must watch her, and
prevent her from going from home. Women have been the ruin of all plots,
since the beginning of the world."

"That was shust what I was to speak aboot, next after the payment, your
honour," said Allan. "She's awa owre the hills already, Cot knows whar."

"What!" cried Graham, in great agitation--"has she gone away without
your knowledge, and without telling you whither she was going?"

"That's shust the very thing I hae to inform ye o'," replied the
phlegmatic Gael. "Te last time I saw her was on Wednesday morning, when
she was warstlin wi' the winds that plaw ower te tap o' te hill o' Gary.
A glint o' te risin sun showed me her red cloak is it fluttered in te
plast, and, in a moment after, a' my powers o' the second sight couldna
discover her. But we've ae satisfaction; she's no awa to the duke. Put
maybe" (turning up his eye slyly) "she's awa to King Shames. I would
follow her, and pring her pack, put I require te seven merks I hae got
frae your honour for other necessary occasions, and purposes, and
necessities; and a pody canna travel in the Lowlands, whar there's nae
heather to sleep on, without pawpees."

"Death and fury!" cried the agitated Graham, "are all my long-meditated
schemes of revenge, are the concerted purposes for cutting off a tyrant
and righting a nation, to be counteracted by the wag of an old woman's
tongue? Allan" (lowering his voice), "you must after your mother--dog
her through hill and dale, highway and city vennel; seize her, by force
or guile; prevent her from seeking the presence of the king, or those
who may have the power of communicating with him; and get her back to
her cottage, on the peril of all our lives. Here's money for you"
(giving him a purse), "and here is a passport to the confidence of Sir
Robert Stuart, the king's chamberlain, one of our friends, who will
co-operate with you in preventing her from approaching the royal
presence."

"She's a Lowlander, your honour," said Allan, putting the money in his
pocket; "and maybe she's awa to see her praw freends o' the south, whar
she gaes ance a-year, shust about this time; put, to oplige, and favour,
and satisfy your honour, I'll awa doon te Strath o' te Tay; and, if I
dinna find her wi' her relations in Dundee, there may be some reason,
and occasion, and authority for your honour's apprehension, and for my
crossin te Tay and te Forth, to prevent her frae payin her respects to
Shames, whilk she wad think nae mair o' doin than o' speakin in te way
she did to te Duke o' Athol."

"Away--away, then!" cried Graham; "and remember that your head's at
stake as well as that of the best of us. So look to yourself."

Graham went away to an appointed place, where he was to meet Sir John
Hall, who was to accompany him to the meeting of the caterans, and Allan
went back to the cottage, and, taking out some necessaries, proceeded to
Strath Tay. He arrived at the town of Dundee next evening; and, having
ascertained that his mother had crossed over to Fife, had no doubt that
she was away to Edinburgh for the purpose of communicating to King James
what she knew of the conspiracy of the north. He therefore also crossed
the Tay, proceeded through Fife, and, after considerable delay,
produced by ineffectual inquiries after an old woman in a red cloak, he
arrived in Edinburgh on the third day after he had set out from his
cottage. He had procured no trace of his mother, and all his wanderings
and searchings through the Scottish metropolis were unavailing--he could
neither see nor hear of her; and he therefore resolved to wait upon Sir
Robert Stuart, to put him on his guard, lest she might, by her cunning,
escape also his notice, and get access to the king by means of some
subtle story told to the usher. He had no difficulty in getting access
to Sir Robert, who was, about that time, too much occupied with secret
messengers from the seat of the conspiracy in which he had engaged, to
hesitate an instant about consenting to see the Gael, who, he doubted
not, came from Sir Robert Graham, or his grandfather, the duke--both, he
knew, deeply engaged in the secret affair. Having been admitted, Allan,
as he walked up to the end of the apartment where Sir Robert was seated,
looked cautiously around; and, seeing no one near, assumed an attitude
and demeanour somewhat bolder, but still suited to the secresy of his
message.

"Has your honour seen an old woman in a red cloak, apoot te precincts o'
te king's residence?" said he, in a whispering tone, as he slipped
Graham's token--a piece of paper with ciphers on it--into Sir Robert's
hand.

"Sir Robert has himself written me about that beldam," said the
chamberlain. "She is in our secret, I understand--an extraordinary
instance of imprudence, which I must have explained to me. Meantime, the
danger must be averted. I have not seen her. Have you, sir?"

"No," answered Allan. "I wish I could get a climpse o' her. It's te very
thing I want. She would never see te face o' te king, if she ance
crossed my path--tamn her!"

"What would ye do with her?" inquired the chamberlain, eagerly. "I wish
we could get her out of the way. You know what I mean; a sum of money is
of no importance in comparison of security--real, absolute, undoubted
security--from this plague. You understand me?" And he touched his
sword, to make himself better understood.

"Understand ye!--ugh, ugh, your honour," cried the Gael, "there was nae
occasion for touchin te sword; your words are sharp aneugh for gettin to
my intellects. You mean" (whispering in the chamberlain's ear) "that for
a praw consideration and remuneration, I might kill te auld hag. Eh!
isn't that it, your honour?"

"Supposing, but not admitting, that that was my meaning," said the
chamberlain, cautiously, "what would you say to the proposition?"

"Say to't, your honour!" said Allan. "Ugh! ugh! Let your honour say te
word and pay te remuneration, and te auld harridan is dead twa hoors
after I get a climpse o' her. Of course" (looking knowingly into the
chamberlain's face), "your honour would protect me till I got to to
hills. Te work itsel is naething--an auld wife's easy kilt--it's no pe
tat te remuneration should be measured--it's pe te risk o' hangin. Was
it ten merks your honour said?"

"I did not mention any sum," said the chamberlain; "but you may have
twenty, if you relieve us of this fear in the manner you have yourself
mentioned."

"Ten in hand, I fancy," said the Gael--"word for word, your honour. If I
trust you ten merks, you may trust me te trifle o' killin an auld
wife--a mere pagatelle. I hae kilt twenty shust to please te Wolf o'
Padenoch's son, Duncan."

"But do you know the woman?" said the chamberlain.

"I think I do," answered Allan. "There pe nae fear o' a mistake; put, if
I should kill ae auld wife for anithor, whar's te harm? The right ane
can easily be kilt afterwards."

The importance of being entirely relieved from the danger that thus
impended over the heads of the conspirators was very apparent to Sir
Robert Stuart. He knew well the character of James: a hint was often
sufficient for him; and the statement of a woman, if it quadrated with
known facts and suspicions, would be believed; inquiry would follow; one
fact would lead to another, and the whole scheme be laid open. He
therefore eagerly closed with Allan's offer; the ten merks were paid;
and it was agreed upon that the murderer should receive his other ten
merks, as well as harbourage and protection, upon satisfying the
chamberlain that the deed was executed. Well pleased at having made so
easily a sum of considerable magnitude in those days, Allan went to look
for his mother--not, it may readily be conceived, for the purpose of
killing her, but simply with the view of getting her out of the way,
until the king had set off for Perth, which he understood he would do in
a few days.

He wandered round the skirts of the town, musing on his good fortune,
looking at the novelties that presented themselves to his view, and
keeping a sharp eye for a red cloak. In this way he passed the time
until the grey of the twilight; when, as he sauntered along the foot of
the Calton Hill, he saw, lying in a sequestered spot, his aged parent,
wrapped up in her red cloak, and apparently in a sound sleep, into which
she had, in all likelihood, fallen, from the excessive fatigue to which
she had been exposed in her long journey to the metropolis. The
affection of the son produced only an involuntary sigh, and a musing
attitude of a few moments. He hastened to the residence of the
chamberlain; and, as he passed the door of a flesher who was killing
sheep, ran in, and, without saying a word, dipped his sword in the
blood, and then proceeded on his way. He got instant admittance to his
employer, who was sitting alone, occupied by the thoughts of the mighty
and dangerous enterprise on which he had entered. Slipping up to him,
with an air of great secresy, he stood before him.

"She's dead!" said Allan, looking into the face of Stuart, with an
expression of countenance in which triumph and cunning were strangely
blended.

"You are a most expeditious workman," replied the chamberlain; "but
where is the evidence of our being freed from this plague?"

"Will her heart's pluid satisfy ye?" replied Allan, holding up the sword
covered with the sheep's blood. "Waur evidence has hanged a shentleman
before noo. Ye'll pe ken there's twa kinds o' pluid in te human body--a
red and a plack: te ane comes frae flesh wounds o' te skean dhu, when
it's bashfu, and winna gang far ben; and te other follows te plow o' te
determined dirk, when it seeks te habitation o' life in te heart itsel.
Does yer honour ken te difference? What say ye to that?" showing him the
sword. "I'm sure ye never saw ponnier plack pluid i' te heart o' a
courtier o' King Shames."

"You are getting ironical in your probation," said the chamberlain. "I'm
no judge of the difference of veinous and arterial blood; but, if I
were, how am I to be satisfied that this is the life stream of the old
woman?"

"Nae other auld plack teevel could hae kept it sae lang in her gizzard,"
replied the Gael. "Put there pe mair evidence. An honest man's like
gowd--he rejoices in te fiery furnace. I'll show ye te pody o' te
treacherous hag hersel, wha would hae sent us a' to te head o' her clan,
Satan, if I hadna peen beforehand wi' her. She lies on te Calton yonder,
as quietly as if she were in the Greyfriars; and if your honour will
accompany me, ye may satisfy yersel o' te absolute truth and verity o'
my statement."

"The dead body cannot be long there," answered Sir Robert, "without
being discovered; and by approaching the spot we may subject ourselves
to suspicion, especially if you were previously seen hounding about the
place."

"Ugh! ugh! Is that a' your honour kens o' a Gael's prudence?" replied
Allan. "Think ye I wanted to let your Edinburghers see how neatly we
Gaels can strike pelow te fifth rib? Na! I was working for te ten merks,
and te salvation o' mysel, your honour, and Sir Robert Graham; and if te
auld witch hersel wasna inclined to spake o' te affair, it didna pecome
me to say a single word. She took it as quietly and decently as I'll
receive te ten merks (and whatever mair my expedition merits) frae te
hands o' yer honour. Put te night's fa'in, and there's nae danger in
lookin at te pody o' a dead wife. Come, your honour, and trust to me for
your guide."

The chamberlain, pleased with the issue of his negotiation, was
notwithstanding fully aware of the danger to which he was exposed by his
connection with the murderer. He hesitated about examining the evidence
of the murder; but how otherwise could he have any faith in the
statement of the Highlander? And his peace of mind, as well as the
safety of his colleagues, would repay the slight risk he ran in taking a
cursory view of the body of the murdered woman. He resolved, therefore,
on accompanying Allan to the spot; and having requested the Gael to go
before, he secretly followed him, until he saw his guide stop, and point
with his finger to the spot where his mother lay. Still under an alarm,
which the increasing gloom might have in some measure allayed, he walked
irresolutely forward, and having seen the body of the woman wrapped up
in the red cloak lying extended on the ground, he had not the slightest
doubt that she was dead, having been killed by the stern Gael. He
instantly retreated; and having waited for the approach of Allan, paid
him twenty merks (being ten in addition), and requested him to fly with
all expedition to the Highlands. Allan received the money, counting it
with a nonchalance which surprised the chamberlain, and bidding him
good-night, walked away to waken his mother, and take her to a warm bed,
while the other went home, delighted that this great danger had been so
easily averted.

Some days afterwards, the king and queen set out for Perth--Sir Robert
Stuart, now freed from all alarm, having preceded them, for the purpose
of making the necessary preparations at Dundee for the reception of his
royal master and mistress, and for their journey along the north bank of
the Tay to Perth. The royal party arrived at Leith about twelve o'clock
of the day, for the purpose of embarking in a yacht, which was to carry
them across the Forth. A large assemblage of people was present,
collected from Edinburgh and Leith, to see the embarkation; among whom,
the courtiers, dressed in their gay robes, were conspicuous, as well
from their dresses as the air of authority they assumed, on an occasion
which some of them might suspect was to be the last in which their
monarch would ever require their attendance. The sounds of the carriages
and horses, of a tumultuous crowd, and of those actually engaged in the
embarkation--with the crushing of anxious spectators, and the efforts of
the military to insure order, and make room for the progress of the
party towards the yacht--produced the confusion generally attending such
a scene. The queen had been escorted forward to the side of the vessel,
and been assisted on board; and the king was on the eve of taking the
step which was to remove him from the pier into the yacht, when an old
woman, wrapped in a red cloak, rushed forward, and, holding up two
spare, wrinkled arms in the face of the monarch, cried, in a wild and
prophetic manner--

"James Stuart, receive this warning! It is not made in vain, however it
may be received. If you cross the Scottish sea, betwixt and the feast o'
Christmas, you will never come back again in life."

Having said these words, she waved her hands, and disappeared. Struck
with her solemn and impressive manner, and her extraordinary
appearance, James started, and stood for a moment mute. Recollecting
himself, he called out to a knight to follow, and question her. He
obeyed; but ere he could make his way among the crowd, Allan Mackay had
seized his mother (for such she was), and hurried her beyond the reach
of the courtiers. The event struck James forcibly. He concealed it from
his queen; but, during the passage to Kirkcaldy, he was remarked to be
silent and abstracted--a mood which remained on him during a great part
of his journey. At Dundee, he repaired to the palace, in St Margaret's
Close, where he still meditated secretly on the strange warning, and
compared it with the denunciation and threat contained in the letter he
had some time before received from Sir Robert Graham. After retiring to
his chamber, he sent for Sir Robert Stuart, to commune with him on
matters of importance. The message alarmed the guilty chamberlain, who
conceived that the conspiracy of the north had been discovered, in spite
of his murderous effort to conceal it, by the death of the Highland
woman. He repaired to the presence-chamber, trembling, and full of
fearful anticipations.

"Sir Robert," said the king, as the chamberlain approached him, "I am
filled with gloomy apprehensions of a violent death, that will prevent
me from re-crossing the Forth. Have you heard anything of late of my
bitter foe, Graham, who has denounced me? Are you certain he is not
hatching against me some bloody conspiracy in these fastnesses of the
north?"

The question went to the heart of the conspirator. He gave up all for
lost, and guilt supplied all that was awanting in the king's speech to
fix upon him the reproach of plotting against the life of his sovereign.
Happily, James did not observe his agitation, having relapsed, after his
question, into the gloomy despondency in which he had for several days
been immerged. All the resolution of the guilty man was required to
enable him to utter a solitary question.

"What reason has your majesty," he said, "for entertaining these fears,
apparently so unfounded?"

"I have been warned," replied the king, in a deep voice, "surely by a
messenger from Heaven. As I stood on the pier of Leith, ready to step
into the yacht, a strange woman, muffled up in a red cloak, approached
me, and holding out her hands, warned me against crossing the Forth, and
said that if I did, I would never come back alive. Her manner was
supernatural, her voice hollow and grave-like. She disappeared, and,
notwithstanding the efforts of my messengers to seize her, could nowhere
be found. I cannot shake this vision from my mind. Every one knows that
I despise superstitious fears; but that very circumstance makes my gloom
and despondency the more remarkable."

This speech struck another chord in the mind of the guilty courtier. No
doubt had remained in his mind that the old woman in the red cloak,
mentioned by Sir Robert Graham, had been by his orders killed; he had
seen her blood on the fatal sword, and he had seen her body lying
lifeless on the ground. Who, then, was this second old woman in the red
cloak, that had made such a fearful impression upon the king? Had Heaven
not taken up arms against him, and re-incorporated the departed spirit
of the murdered woman, for the purpose of her humane object being still
attained? Had not the king himself, the most dauntless of men, said the
figure was supernatural? And, above all, was it not certain that there
was a just occasion for the interposition of Providence, when one of the
rulers of the earth, who have often been protected by Heaven, was about
to fall a victim to a cruel purpose, in which he himself was engaged?
These thoughts passed through his mind with the rapidity of light, and
struck his heart with a remorse and fear which made him quake. James
looked at him with surprise; but attributed his agitation to the
strange tidings he had communicated regarding the supposed supernatural
visitation. Relieved, however, from the fear of personal danger produced
by the king's first announcement, the guilty chamberlain endeavoured to
shake off his superstitious feelings, and, summoning all his powers,
contrived to put together a few sentences of vulgar scepticism,
recommending to the king not to allow the ravings of a maniac (as the
old woman undoubtedly was) to disturb his tranquillity, or interfere
with his sound and philosophical notions of the government of the
universe.

The king proceeded to Perth, and subsequently overcame the feeling of
apprehension and despondency produced by the supposed apparition; and
the chamberlain got again so completely entoiled in the details of his
conspiracy, that the affair passed from his mind also. By the time the
festivities of Christmas came to be celebrated, the apprehensions of
evil had died away, just in proportion as the real danger became every
day more to be dreaded. The power of the chamberlain was now exercised
vigorously, and with ill-merited success. He contrived to gain over to
his side many of the royal guards; while Sir Robert Graham was not less
successful in his organisation of the external forces, composed of wild
and daring caterans, ready, on being let into the palace, to spread
death and desolation wherever they came. Meanwhile, the Duke of Athol
dreamed his day-dream of royalty, and indulged in all the intoxicating
visions of state and power, which he thought were on the point of being
realised. Yet the conspiracy was confined to a very few influential
individuals--the duke himself, Graham, Stuart, Hall, and Chambers being
almost the only persons of any distinction or authority who had been
asked to join the bold enterprise; and these, it is supposed, would not
have ventured on the scheme, had they not been blindfolded by personal
cravings of insatiable revenge, which prevented all prudential
calculations of consequences.

As the revels approached, the chamberlain took care to prevail upon the
king to send an invitation to those of the conspirators who were
considered to be so much in favour at court as to be entitled to that
mark of the royal favour; while especial care was also taken to get the
invitations to the _real_ friends of the king so distributed, that there
should, on the night intended for the murder, be collected in the
monastery as few as possible of the latter, and as many of the former as
the king could be prevailed upon to invite. There would thus be
insidious enemies within, at the head of whom would be the Duke of
Athol; and fierce foes without, led by the furious and bloodthirsty
Graham, to the latter of whom, by the bribing of the guards, a free
passage would be opened to the sleeping apartment of the king, where the
bloody scene was intended to be enacted in presence of the queen.

It was on the night of the 20th of February that the conspirators had
resolved to execute their work of death. All things were carefully
prepared: wooden boards were placed across the moat which surrounded the
monastery, to enable the conspirators to pass unknown to the warders,
who were placed only at the entrances; and the extraordinary precaution
was taken by the chamberlain, to destroy the locks of the royal
bedchamber, and of those of the outer room with which it communicated,
whereby it would be impossible for those within to secure the doors, and
to prevent the entrance of the party. Meanwhile, in the inside of the
monastery, a gay party was collected, consisting of young and gallant
nobles and knights, and crowds of fair damsels, dressed in the glowing
colours so much beloved by the belles of that age. In the midst of this
happy group were the traitors Sir Robert Stuart and his aged
grandfather, Athol, who looked and smiled upon the scene, while they
knew that, in a few minutes, that presence-chamber would in all
likelihood be flowing with the blood of the king who sat beside them,
and become, through their means, a scene of massacre and carnage.

Of all the individuals in the royal presence-chamber on that night, no
one was more joyous than the merry monarch himself. A poet of exquisite
humour, as well exemplified in his performance of "Peebles to the Play,"
he was the life and spirit of the amusements of the evening, which
consisted chiefly of the recitation of poetical stories, the reading of
romances, the playing on the harp to the plaintive tunes of the old
Scottish ballads (the touching words being the suitable accompaniment),
the game of tables, and all the other diversions of the age. In all
this, the king joined with (it is said) greater pleasure and alacrity
than he had exhibited for many years. In the midst of his jests and
merry sayings, he even laughed and made light of a prophecy which had
foretold his death in that year--an allusion perfectly understood by
those who knew of the apparition of the old woman in the red cloak,
whose warning, though not forgotten, was now treated with his accustomed
levity. In playing at chess with a young knight, over whose shoulder the
grey-bearded Athol looked smilingly into the face of the king, his
jesting and merriment were kept up and exercised in a manner that
suggested the most extraordinary coincidences. He had been accustomed to
call the young knight "the king of love;" and, in allusion to the
warning, advised him to look well to his safety, as they were the only
two kings in the land. The old duke started as he heard this statement
come from the mouth of one on the very eve of being consigned to the
dagger; and for a moment thought that the conspiracy had been
discovered; but a second look at the joyous merry-maker left no doubt on
his mind that his jesting was the mere overflow of an exuberance of
spirits.

At this moment a hundred wild and kilted caterans, armed with swords and
knives, and thirsting for blood, were lurking in the dark angles of the
court of the monastery, directing their eyes to the blazing windows of
the presence-chamber, and listening to the sounds of the revels. The
conspirators within knew, by a concerted signal, that Graham and his
party were in this situation, and looked anxiously for the breaking up
of the entertainment; but the king was inclined to prolong the
amusements, and the hour was getting near midnight. While the king was
engaged in play with the young knight, Christopher Chambers, one of the
conspirators, was seized with a fit of remorse, and repeatedly
approached the royal presence, with a view to inform James of his
danger; but the crowd of knights and ladies who filled the
presence-chamber prevented him from executing his purpose. The
amusements continued; it was now long past midnight, and Stuart and
Athol heard at length the long-wished-for declaration of the king, that
the revels should be concluded.

Just as James had uttered this wish, the usher of the presence-chamber
approached Stuart, and whispered in his ear that an old woman, wrapped
up in a red cloak, was at the door, and requested permission to see and
speak with the king. The guilty chamberlain, who was on the point of
giving the fatal signal, heard the statement with horror, and recoiled
back from the usher; but the die was cast, and even the powers of heaven
were disregarded amidst the turmoil of wild thoughts that were then
careering through his excited mind. "Bid her begone--thrust her from the
door!" he whispered in the ear of the usher, and applied himself again
to the dreadful work in which he was engaged.

Soon after this, the king called for the parting cup, and the company
dispersed--Athol and Stuart being the last to leave the apartment. With
the view of going to bed, James and his queen now retired to the
sleeping chamber, where the merry monarch, still under the influence of
high spirits, stood before the fire in his night-gown, talking gaily
with those around him. At that moment, a clang of arms was heard, and a
blaze of torches was seen in the court of the monastery. The quick mind
of the king saw his danger in an instant; a suspicion of treason, and a
dread of his bloodthirsty enemy, Graham, were his first thoughts. Alarm
was now the prevailing power; and the ladies of the bedchamber, rushing
into the sleeping room, cried that treason was abroad. The queen and her
attendants flew to secure the doors; the locks were useless; and the
certainty of having been betrayed by his chamberlain now occupied the
mind of the king. Yet, though he saw his destruction resolved on, he did
not lose presence of mind. He called to his queen and ladies to obstruct
all entrance as long as they could, and rushed to the windows. They were
firmly secured by iron bars, and all escape in that way was impossible.
The clang of arms increased; and the sounds of the approach of armed men
along the passages came every instant nearer and nearer. The ladies
screamed, and held the doors; the king was in despair; and, seizing a
pair of tongs from the fireplace, with unexampled force wrenched up the
boards of the floor, and descended into a vault below, while the ladies
replaced the covering.

A slight hope was now entertained that he might escape. The vault
communicated with the outer court; but, unfortunately, the passage had
been, shortly before, by the king's own orders, built up, to prevent the
tennis-balls of the players in the tennis-court, to which the passage
led, from rolling into the vault (as they had often done), and being
lost. There was, therefore, no escape. Meanwhile, Graham and his
caterans rushed towards the bedchamber, and having slain Walter
Straiton, a page they met in the passage, began to force open the door,
amidst the shrieks of the women, who still, though weakly, attempted to
barricade it. An extraordinary circumstance here occurred: Catherine
Douglas, with the heroic resolution of her family, thrust her arm into
the staple from which the bolt had been taken by the traitors, and in an
instant it was snapped asunder. The conspirators, yelling like fiends,
and with bloody daggers and knives in their hands, now rushed into the
room, and cowardly stabbed some of the defenceless ladies, as they fled
screaming round the apartment, or trying vainly to hide themselves in
its corners and beneath the bed. The queen herself never moved: horror
had thrown its cataleptic power over her frame; she stood rooted to the
floor, a striking spectacle--her hair hanging over her shoulders, and
nothing on her but her kirtle and mantle. In this situation, she was
stabbed by one of the conspirators, and was only saved from the knives
of others and death itself, by a son of Graham, who, impatient for the
life of the king, commanded the men to leave such work for that which
was more important. The king was not to be found; and a suspicion gained
ground that he had escaped from the sleeping room by the door. A search
was therefore made throughout the whole monastery, in all the outer
rooms along the corridor, and in the court; and had it not been that
Stuart assured them that it was impossible the king could have escaped
beyond the walls, the search would have been relinquished in despair.

Meanwhile, the citizens and the nobles who were quartered in the town
heard the tumult, and were hastening to the spot. The king might yet be
saved; for his place of escape had not been discovered, and rescue was
at hand. Alas! his own impatience brought on his head the ruin that
seemed to be averted. Hearing all quiet, he fancied that the traitors
had relinquished the search, and called up from the vault to the ladies,
to bring the sheets from the bed and draw him up again into the
apartment. In attempting this, one of the ladies, Elizabeth Douglas,
fell down into the vault. The noise recalled the murderers. Thomas
Chambers, who knew all the holes and recesses of the monastery, suddenly
remembered the small vault, and concluded that James must be concealed
there. He therefore returned; the torn floor caught his eye; the planks
were again lifted, and a blazing torch was soon held down into the dark
hole. The king and the unfortunate lady, who lay apparently breathless
beside him, were seen; and, glorying in his discovery, the relentless
ruffian shouted aloud with savage merriment, and called his companions
back; "for," as he said, "the bride was found for whom they had sought
and carolled all night." A dreadful scene was now enacted in the vault,
in the hearing of the queen, who, with her attendants, was still in the
apartment. Sir John Hall first leaped down; but James, strong in his
agony, throttled him, and flung him beneath his feet. Hall's brother
next descended, and met the same fate; and now came the arch-enemy, Sir
Robert Graham. Like a roaring tiger, he threw himself into the hole, and
James, bleeding sore from the wounds of the Halls' knives, was overcome,
and fell, with the stern murderer over him. The wretched monarch
implored mercy, and begged his life, should it be at the price of half
his kingdom.

"Thou cruel tyrant!" said Graham, "never hadst thou compassion on thine
own noble kindred; therefore expect none from me."

"At least," cried James, "let me have a confessor, for the good of my
soul."

"None," replied Graham, "but this sword!" Upon which he stabbed him in a
vital part; but the king continued to implore so piteously for mercy,
that even Graham's nerves were shaken, and he felt inclined to fly from
the dreadful scene.

His companions above noticed this change; and, as he was scrambling up,
leaving the king still breathing, they threatened him with death, if he
did not complete the work. He at last obeyed, and struck the king many
times, till he died.

The story of the Highland woman who appeared to King James, which to
historians has so long been a subject of mystery, is thus, by our
chronicle, cleared up. We may afterwards do the same good office to
other curious and doubtful parts of Scottish history; but, in the
meantime, as it may be satisfactory to know the fate of those bold
conspirators who executed so desperate a purpose as that we have
narrated, we may mention that the queen never rested till she had
brought them all to justice. Never was retribution so certain, so ample,
so merited, and so satisfactory to a whole nation; for James's alleged
harshness was confined to the nobles, and never extended to the people,
who loved the royal poet, and revered their king. Sir Robert Stuart and
Thomas Chambers were first taken; and, upon a confession of their guilt,
were beheaded on a high scaffold raised in the market-place, and their
heads fixed on the gates of Perth. Athol next suffered; and, as he had
sighed for a crown, his head, when it was severed from his body, was
encompassed by an iron one. Graham was next seized; and, after the
manner of the times, was tortured before his execution in a manner which
we cannot describe. Hall and all the others suffered a similar fate; and
it was alleged that not a single individual who had a hand in the
terrible tragedy was allowed to escape--thus justifying the ways of God,
where vengeance, though sometimes concealed, sooner or later overtakes
those who contravene His laws.



THE CURATE OF GOVAN.


Do any of our east or south country readers know anything of the little
village of Govan, within about two miles or so of Glasgow? If they do,
they will acknowledge, we daresay, that it is one of the most
prettily-situated little hamlets that may be seen. We mean, however,
solely that portion of it which stands on the banks of the Clyde. On a
summer evening, when the tide is at its height, filling up the channel
of the river from side to side in a bumper, and is gliding stilly and
gently along between its margins of green, there cannot, we think, be
anything prettier than the scene of which the little picturesque village
of Govan forms the centre or principal object. The antique row of houses
stretching down to the water, widened, at this particular spot, into a
little lake, by the confluence of the Kelvin; the rude but picturesque
salmon fisher's hut in the foreground; the river winding far to the
west, and skirting the base of the beautiful hills of Kilpatrick, that
form the boundary of the scene in that direction--all combine to form,
as we have already said, a scene of more than ordinary beauty.

Such, as nearly as we can describe it, is the local situation and
appearance of Govan at the present day; for often, often have we been
there in our younger years, and never shall we forget the happy hours we
have spent in it. Pleasant, indeed, was the walk of a summer's evening
on the banks of the Clyde--pleasant was the feast of kippered salmon,
for which the village was celebrated; but pleasanter than all were the
looks--the kindly, _pawky_ looks--the civility and the homely but shrewd
wit of David Dreghorn, the honest, worthy, and kindhearted landlord of
the ----. We are not sure if his house had a name; but it was not
necessary; for well and widely was David known, and by none was he known
by whom he was not esteemed and respected.

But there were other landlords in Govan before David's day--not more
worthy or better men, but of older date--yes, as far back as the time of
James V. At that period, the principal, indeed the only, hostelry in
Govan was kept by one Ninian, or, as he was more commonly called, Ringan
Scouler. The house--a small, plain-looking building with marvellously
few windows, and these few marvellously small in size and wide
apart--was situated at the extreme end of the village, which terminates
at or near the margin of the river. All trace of it has long since
disappeared; but we have pointed out its precise locality. It commanded,
as those who know the spot will at once believe, a delightful view, or
rather series of views. The front windows looked up the Clyde, the back
windows down; and those in the gable commanded the Kelvin and the
woodland scenery (more so then than now) around and beyond. The sign of
his calling, which hung above the door of Ringan Scouler's little
hostelry, was then, as it still is, that of several of his brethren in
trade in the village--the figure of a salmon, painted in its natural
colours on a black ground. Ringan's emblematic fish, however, was not a
very shapely animal; but there was enough of likeness remaining to place
beyond all manner of doubt that it was meant to represent the "monarch
of the flood." Mine host himself was a quiet-mannered, good-humoured,
and good-natured person, with just such an eye to the one thing needful
as admitted of his cherishing this temperament, and of keeping a
comfortable house over his head. Perhaps his propensity of the kind just
alluded to went even a little further in its objects than this. We will
not say that, with all his quiet wit, and good-humour, and kindness,
and apparent carelessness about the main chance, he was not a pretty
vigilant marker of it. But what then? It was all in a fair and honest
way; and he gave his urbanity of manner as an equivalent.

Ringan, at the period of our story, was about fifty years of age, of a
fresh, healthy complexion, and shrewd cast of countenance; the latter
being lighted up by a couple of little, cunning, grey eyes, deep set
beneath a pair of shaggy eyebrows, which, again, were surmounted by a
head of hair, prematurely grey--a constitutional characteristic; for
neither his years nor his cares warranted this usual indication of the
pressure of one or other, or both of these causes. Ringan was, moreover,
well to pass in the world; for, being a man of at least ordinary
prudence, and having as excellent business, his circumstances throve
apace. His business, we have said, was excellent. It could not be
otherwise; for it was not in the nature of man to pass Ringan's door
without entering it. His good things, in the shape of liquor and
provender; his quaint, sly jokes, spoken almost under breath, which, in
his case, added to their effect; his cunning, smirking, facetious look
and manner--were all and each of them wholly irresistible; and all the
king's lieges who passed within a mile of his door, and who had a penny
in their pockets, felt them to be so.

Such was Ringan Scouler, the landlord of the Grilse and Gridiron--for we
forgot to say, in its proper place, that the culinary implement just
named appropriately figured at one end of the board. The list of
Ringan's regular customers, which was a very extensive one, included the
curate and schoolmaster of Govan, both drouthy cronies and sworn
friends, although there was not a night in the world that they did not
quarrel; but this was more the effect of Ringan's ale than of any
inherent pugnacity of disposition in the belligerents themselves. This
quarrel, however, was so usual and so regular, that Ringan could tell
to a measure of liquor when it would commence.

In summer, these worthies generally occupied a little room that
overlooked the river; but in winter, or when the weather began to get
chill, they took possession of a corner of the kitchen, the most
cheerful apartment in the house at that season, as it was always kept in
most admirable order. The walls were white as snow, the floor strewed
with bright white sand; immense rows of shining pewter plates and jugs
of the same metal glittered on the rack; and a rousing fire crackled in
the old-fashioned chimney. Nothing, in short, could be more tempting to
the wayfarer, on a dark, cold, and drizzly night, than a casual peep
through the blazing windows into Ringan's cheerful kitchen; and nothing
could in reality be more comfortable than that kitchen, when you were
once into it. In a corner of this snug apartment was to be found
regularly, every evening, say, from October to May, between the hours of
seven and ten, Mr Walter Gibson, curate of Govan, and Mr John Craig,
schoolmaster there. Before them, and near to the fireplace, stood a
small fir table, and on this table invariably stood a large pewter
measure of ale, and three horn tumblers with silver rims--one for each
of the persons just named, and a spare one for the use of the landlord,
who joined their potations as often as the demands on his attention to
the duties of the house permitted.

Out of all the evenings, however, which the curate and schoolmaster
spent in Ringan Scouler's, we can afford to select one only; but this
shall be one on which something occurred to diversify the monotony of
their meetings, otherwise distinguished only by the usual quarrel, the
usual humdrum conversation (which, though sufficiently interesting to
themselves, would, if recorded, afford very little entertainment to the
reader), and the usual consumption of somewhere about a gallon of mine
host's double ale. The particular evening to which we have alluded
shall be one in the latter end of the month of October, and the
year somewhere about _anno_ 1529. It was a raw, wet, and cold
night--circumstances which greatly enhanced the comforts of Ringan's
kitchen, as both the curate and schoolmaster very sensibly felt. Having
each turned off a couple of horns of their good host's home-brewed, the
conversation between the two worthies began to assume a lively,
desultory character.

"I was up in the toun the day, curate," said the schoolmaster--a thin,
hard-visaged personage, with a good deal of the failing said to be
inherent in his craft--conceit. "I was up in the toun," he said--meaning
Glasgow.

"Were ye?" quoth the curate--in personal appearance and manner the very
antipodes of his friend; being a stout, homely-looking man, of blunt
speech and great good-nature; his age, about forty-five. "And what saw
ye strange there, Mr Craig?"

"Naething very particular, but the braw new gatehouse o' the archbishop.
My certy, yon's a notable piece o' wark! His arms are engraven on the
front o't--three cushions within the double tressure. Man, curate, can
ye no contrive to warsle up the brae a bit? I'm sure waur than you's
been made a bishop."

"I'm no sae ambitious, Johnny," replied the curate. "If I were rector o'
Govan, I wad be content. But St Mungo himsel wadna get even that length
noo-a-days without a pouchfu o' interest--and I hae nane."

"The mair's the pity," said the schoolmaster, filling up his horn
tumbler; "but there's nae sayin what may happen yet."

"Indeed, is there no, Mr Craig," interposed Ringan, who made at this
particular moment one of the party. "Ye may get promotion, curate, whan
ye least expeck it, and may find a freend whar ye didna look for him.
There's mony chances, baith o' guid and ill, befa' folk in this warld."

While the curate's friends were endeavouring, by these vague and
sufficiently commonplace but well-meant remarks, to inspire him with
hopes of better days, it was announced to the party that the ferry-boat
was bringing over a passenger. By the way, with regard to this
particular, we forgot to say before that there _was_ a ferry across the
Clyde, just below Ringan's house; and, as the passengers were not then,
as they are now, very numerous, there was always a degree of interest
and speculation excited by their appearance.

"Wha can he be?" said Ringan. "Some o' oor ain folk, I fancy. It'll be
Jamie Dinwoodie frae Glasgow fair, I'll wad a groat. He's come roun by
Partick, instead o' comin doun by the water-side."

"The deil o' him it's, at ony rate, Ringan," said the schoolmaster.
"Jamie's been hame twa hoors since, and as fou's a fiddler."

All further speculation on the subject of the passenger was here
interrupted by the entrance of that person himself; and it was with some
disappointment the speculators found that, to judge by his appearance,
he was not worth speculating about; for he was very meanly dressed--nay,
worse than meanly--his attire was beggarly; so much so, indeed, that
there was a general belief that he was a mendicant by profession,
although, perhaps, of a somewhat better order than common. His apparel
consisted of a threadbare and patched short coat or surtout, of coarse
grey cloth, secured round his middle by a black belt. On his legs he
wore a pair of thick blue rig-and-fur hose or stockings, as a certain
description of these _wearables_ are called in Scotland. They are now
nearly extinct, but may still be seen occasionally. Those on the legs of
the stranger were darned in fifty places, and with worsted of various
colours. His shoes were in no better condition than his stockings, being
patched in nearly as many places. On his head he wore an old broad blue
bonnet, which, with a pair of sadly dilapidated inexpressibles, and a
rough newly-cut staff, completed his equipment--the whole unequivocally
bespeaking a very limited exchequer. On his entrance, the stranger,
perceiving the respectable quality of the guests assembled in the
kitchen of the Grilse and Gridiron, reverently doffed his bonnet, and
apologised for intruding on the "honourable company."

"Nae apology necessary, freend," said the curate, rising from his seat,
to allow the poor traveller, who was dripping with wet, to approach
nearer to the fire. "Come awa--nae apology at a' necessary. This is a
public hostelry; and, if ye can birl your bawbee, ye've as guid a richt
to accommodation as the best in the land."

"Thanks to ye, honourable sir," replied the stranger, meekly. "I wish
every ane were o' your way o' thinking; but I find this auld coat and
thae clouted shoon nae great recommendations to civility onywhere."

Saying this, the stranger planted himself in a chair before the fire,
and ordered the landlord to bring him a measure of ale.

"Tak a moothfu o' this in the meantime, honest man," said the curate,
handing him his own goblet; "for ye seem to be baith wat and weary."

"Ou, no--no very weary, sir," replied the stranger, taking the proffered
goblet; "but a wee thing wet, certainly. I hae only come frae Glasgow
the day."

"Nae far'er?" said the curate.

"No an inch," replied the other.

"Tak it oot, man, tak it oot," said the former, as the latter was about
to return the goblet, after merely tasting it. "It'll warm your heart,
man, and I'm sure ye're welcome till't."

The stranger, without any remark, did as he was bid, and drained out the
cup. In the business of this scene, the schoolmaster took no part, but
maintained a haughty distance; his pride evidently hurt by the intrusion
into his society of a person of such questionable condition--a feeling
which he indicated by observing a dignified silence. This difference of
disposition between the two gentlemen did not escape the stranger, who
might have been detected from time to time throwing expressive glances
of inquiry, not unmingled with contempt, at the offended dominie. The
displeasure of his friend, however, did not deter the kindhearted curate
from prosecuting his conversation with the stranger, who eventually
proved to be so intelligent and entertaining a person, that he gradually
forced himself into the position of an understood, though not formally
acknowledged, member of the party. Being full of anecdote and quaint
humour, such as even the schoolmaster could not altogether resist,
although he made several ineffectual attempts to do so, the laugh and
the liquor both soon began to circulate with great cordiality; and in
due time songs were added to the evening's enjoyment. In this species of
entertainment the good-humoured curate set the example, at the earnest
request of Ringan, who asked him, and not in vain, to "skirl up," as he
called it, the following ditty, which he had often heard the worthy
churchman sing before:--

    "In scarlet hose the bishop he goes,
      In the best o' braid claith goes the vicar;
    But the curate, puir soul, has only the bowl
      To comfort him wi' its drap liquor, drap liquor,
          To comfort him wi' its drap liquor.

    "Right substantial, in troth, is the fat prebend's broth,
      And the bishop's a hantle yet thicker;
    But muslin kail to the curate they deal,
      Sae dinna begrudge his drap liquor, drap liquor,
          Sae dinna begrudge his drap liquor.

    "Gie the sodger renown, the doctor a gown,
      And the lover the long looked-for letter;
    But for me the main chance is a weel-plenish'd manse--
      And the sooner I get it the better, the better,
          And the sooner I get it the better."

"Faith, and I say so too with all my heart, sir," said the stranger,
laughing loudly, and ruffing applause of the good curate's humorous song
on the table. "I'm sure I've known many a one planted in a comfortable
living, who, I would take it upon me to say, were less deserving of it
than you are."

"That may be, honest man," replied the curate; "but, as I said to my
freend here a little ago, when he made the same remark, I hae nae
interest; and withoot that, ye ken, it's as impossible to get on, as for
a milestane to row its lane up a hill."

"Indeed, sir, that is but too true, I fear," said the stranger; "yet the
king, they say, is very well disposed to reward merit when he finds it,
and has often done so with out the interference of influence."

"Ou, I daur say," replied the curate; "he's gude aneugh that way--na,
very guid, I believe; but I hae nae access to the king, and it'll be
lang aneugh before my merits, if I hae ony--which I mysel very much
doot--'ll find their way to him. He has owre mony greedy gleds to feed,
for the like o' me to hae ony chance o' promotion. No, no, freend--

    "Curate o' Govan I was born to be,
    An' curate o' Govan I'm destined to dee."

"Ha, ha!" exclaimed the stranger, laughing; "a bit of a poet, curate."

"In an unco sma' way, freend," replied the worthy churchman.

"Excuse my freedom, sir," rejoined the stranger; "but pray how long have
you been curate of this parish?'

"Nine years, come Martinmas next."

"And no prospect of advancement yet?"

"Just as muckle as ye may see through a whunstane; and ye ken it taks
gey sharp een to see onything through that."

"Nae doot," replied the stranger; "but the king, though he cannot see
through a whunstane farther than ither folk, has pretty sharp eyes, and
ears, too, sir, and baith hears and sees things that every one is not
aware of. You may, therefore--who knows?--be nearer promotion than you
think. Isn't the rectorship of Govan vacant just now?"

"Deed is't, freend," said the curate; "and if I had it, I wadna ca' the
king my cousin, though he were my uncle's son. But it'll no be lang
vacant, I warrant; some o' thae hungry hingers-on aboot the court 'll be
clinkin doun intill't in the turnin o' a divot. It's owre canny a seat
to be lang withoot a sitter."

"It will not be long without an incumbent, I daresay," rejoined the
stranger; "but I'm not sure that you're right, curate, as to the
description of person that will obtain it. But will your friend here not
favour us with a verse or two? It is his turn now."

"Ou, I daresay he will," replied the curate. "Come, Johnny, gie's yer
auld favourite."

With this request, the schoolmaster, who was now considerably mollified
by the liquor he had drank, readily complied, and struck up--

    'Let kings their subjects keep in awe,
      By terror o' the laws;
    For me, I fin' there's naething like
      A guid thick pair o' tawse.

    'Let doctors think to store the mind,
      By screeds o' rules and saws--
    Commend me to the learning that's
      Weel whupp'd in wi' the tawse.

    'Let lawyers, whan they wad prevail
      In fine words plead their cause--
    The _argumentum_ still wi' mo
      Is thae bit nine-taed tawse.'

Suiting the action to the word, the dominie, on repeating the last line,
whipped the formidable and efficacious instrument he spoke of out of his
pocket. Whether, however, it had actually nine toes or not, or whether
that assertion was merely a poetical flourish, none of those present
took the trouble of ascertaining.

"By my troth, sir," said the stranger, when the schoolmaster had
concluded, "it's a pity that such a thing as tawse was not in use
outside the school as well as inside. There are many children of the
larger growth in the world who would be greatly improved by its
application."

"Come, landlord," now said the curate, "it's your turn now;--and it'll
be yours belyve, freend," he added, addressing the stranger. "Up wi't,
Ringan--up wi't, man."

"Ye'se no want that lang," said the jolly, good-natured landlord of the
Grilse and Gridiron, with one of his quiet, cunning shrugs of the
shoulders and pawky leers of the eye; and off he went with--

    "A flowing jug, a reaming jug,
      'S a glorious sicht, my dear boys;
    It waukens love, it lichtens care,
      And drowns all sorts of fear, boys.

"Come, gentlemen, chorus.

                    "Fal de ral, &c.

    "Your sober man's an arrant fool,
      His spirits are all sunk, boys;
    Give me your honest, jovial soul,
      That night and day is drunk, boys.

"Chorus, gentlemen.

                    "Fal de ral, &c.

    "You tell me that his outward man
      Is shabby, spare, and thin, boys;
    But you forget to reckon on
      The comfort that's within, boys.

"Chorus.

                    "Fal de ral, &c.

    "Then, whether I be here or there,
      Or this or t'other side, boys,
    May streams o' ale still round me flow,
      As broad and deep's the Clyde, boys!

"Chorus, gentlemen.

    "Fal de ral," &c.

At the moment the landlord of the Grilse and Gridiron had completed his
temperance-society lyric, and ere the tribute of applause which was
ready to be paid down on the nail to him for it by his auditors could be
tendered him--the feelings of the whole party were directed into another
channel, by the information that a boat-load of passengers had just
landed at the ferry. On receiving this intelligence, Ringan hurriedly
rose from the table, and ran to the door, to see what portion of the
human cargo was likely to come his way--and right glad was he to find
that he was about to be favoured with the company of the whole. They
were one party, and were approaching Ringan's house in a string. On
entering the kitchen, they were found to be three men and two women. The
former were apparently farmers--two of them elderly men, and one of them
a young, loutish-looking fellow, of about two-and-twenty. The women were
mother and daughter--the latter a beautiful girl, of about eighteen or
twenty years of age. The whole of these persons were well known to the
curate, schoolmaster, and landlord; and the consequence was a general
cry of recognition, and a tumultuous shaking of hands.

"How are ye, curate?" "How are ye, Clayslaps?" "Glad to see you, Mr
Craig!" "As glad to see you, Jordanhill!"

"And hoo are _ye_, guidwife?" said the curate, advancing towards the
elder of the two females, and taking her kindly by the hand--"and you,
Meenie, my bonny dear," he said, turning towards the daughter--"hoo are
ye? and hoo," he added, with an intelligent smirk, "is Davy Linn o'
Partick? But hoo's this?" he said, more seriously, and now peering into
her face--"there's a tear in yer ee, Meenie. What's wrang, lassie? Hae
ye lost yer leman? Has Davy no been sae kind's he should hae been?"

Poor Meenie made no reply to the worthy curate's half-jocular,
half-serious remarks. Her heart was sad; and to her dismal and
heart-withering was the errand on which she and her friends (for, of the
men of the party, one was her father, the other her uncle, and the third
her intended husband) had come to Govan. While the curate spoke to her,
she held down her head to hide the tears that were fast falling from her
beautiful dark hazel eyes; but she could not conceal the heaving of her
bosom, from the sobs which she was endeavouring to suppress.

"She's a camstairy cutty," said her father, Adam Ritchie of Clayslaps,
frowningly, "and most undutifu, no to submit to the wishes o' her
parents wi' a better grace."

"Surely every bairn is bound to obey with cheerfulness those to whom
they owe their being," said the curate; "but there are some cases,
Clayslaps, where it wad be cruelty to impose restraint, and unreasonable
to expect ungrudged compliance."

"Weel, weel, curate," replied Adam Ritchie, impatiently, "we'll speak o'
thae things anither time. In the meantime, landlord," he said, turning
to Ringan, "bring us in some brandy; for we're baith cauld and wat, and
a thumblefu o' the Frenchman'll do us nae harm."

This order was speedily complied with. A small pewter measure of the
liquor desired, accompanied by a small silver drinking-cup or quaigh,
was placed on the table; and the whole party, including the former
occupants of the kitchen, soon began to get cheerful and somewhat
talkative, with the exception of Meenie Ritchie. In all that had
hitherto passed, he of the clouted shoes and darned hose had taken no
part, but had kept his eye steadily fixed on Meenie, with a look of
deep interest and compassion. At length, as if urged on by the
increasing energy of those feelings, he rose, went up to her, and
clapping her kindly on the shoulder--

"I wish, my sweet lass," he said, "it were in my power to lighten that
bit heartie o' yours; for it seems to me to be sore burdened wi' some
grief or other; and I am wae to see't."

"And what business hae ye to interfere, freend?" said her father,
angrily. "If the lassie's in grief, whilk she has but little reason to
be, she has them aboot her here wha hae a deeper interest in her than ye
can hae, and a hantle better richt to be her comforters."

"Sma' comfort she's like to get amang ye, be ye what ye like to her,"
replied the stranger, doughtily; "and, if it's onything I can richt her
in, tak my word for't, honest man, I'll do it with but small regard to
your displeasure."

"My troth, ye're no blate, sirrah, to tell me sae--her ain faither,"
said Clayslaps, reddening with anger; "but I advise ye, freend, neither
to mak nor meddle wi' oor affairs, else ye may repent it. That lassie,
sir, is my dochter; and there's her mother, and there's her uncle, and
there's her husband to be; sae ye may see hoo very little your
interference is needed here."

"Weel, weel," replied the stranger, now retiring to his seat, "if
there's only fair play going, I'm content; but I like to see that
everywhere and on all occasions."

"So, Clayslaps," said the curate, here interfering, "is't to be a match
after a'--is't?"

"Indeed is't, curate," replied the former. "Meenie's come roun at last,
and is convinced her parents wadna advise her against her interest. Sae
we have just come here this nicht for the express purpose o' gettin a
cast o' your office; and I consider it the luckiest thing in the world
that we hae foregathered wi' ye sae cannily, curate."

"Indeed, ay, curate," here chimed in Meenie's mother with that ready
volubility and a little of the incoherence of her particular class and
character, "we're just gaun to close the business at ance, and be dune
wi't. I'm sure, muckle trouble and thocht it has cost us, curate. Ye ken
Davy o'Partick, that was rinnin after Meenie, and wha the fulish,
thochtless thing had sic a wark wi', hasna a plack in his purse--neither
maut nor meal, neither hoose nor ha'; and were we gaun to throw awa oor
lassie, wi' fifty merks o' tocher in her pouch, forbye what she may get
whan the guidman and me's raked i' the mools, on a landless, penniless
chiel like that? Na, my certy--we kent better than that, curate; and
we're just gaun to gie her to the young laird o' Goupinsfou there, wha
can lay down plack for plack wi' her, and has a bien house to tak her
to, forbye."

"But," here interrupted the curate, at the same time looking towards
Meenie, "are ye quite sure, Mrs Ritchie, that ye hae brocht your dochter
to see this matter in the same prudent licht that ye do? I maun say, I
doot it. And besides, guidwife, what's a' the hurry in marryin the
lassie--she's but young yet."

"That's a faut that's aye mendin, curate," replied Meenie's mother; "and
we think the suner she's oot o' harm's way the better. He's but a
reckless chiel that Davy, and there's nae sayin what he micht do. Maybe
rin awa wi' her afore mornin; for he has heard an inklin o' oor
intentions. Sae we just cam slippin awa in the dark, to get the business
settled withoot his kennin."

During all this time, poor Meenie Ritchie sat the picture of misery and
suffering. She had never, since she entered, once raised her head, but
continued wrapped up in the silent wretchedness of despair; painfully
and forcibly showing how little she partook in the anxiety of her
parents to accomplish the impending union. Meenie was evidently, in
short, a victim to parental authority; and this all present felt and
saw, and none with more compassion than the worthy curate who was to be
the unwilling instrument of her doom.

"To be plain wi' ye, guidwife," said the kindhearted churchman, when the
former had gone through her somewhat unconnected, but sufficiently
intelligible, story, "and you, Clayslaps, and the rest o' ye that's
concerned in this business, I dinna like it, and I will not marry these
persons but with the full and free consent of both."

"But ye may not refuse, curate," said Meenie's father, somewhat testily.
"She has consented already, and will consent again."

"In that case, certainly, I may not refuse," said the curate, going up
to the afflicted girl, and taking her kindly by the hand. "Meenie, my
dear," he now said, addressing her, "are ye here for the purpose o'
being united to Goupinsfou, o' yer ain free will and accord?"

The poor girl made no reply.

The curate repeated his question, when her father sternly called on her
to answer. Thus urged, she uttered a scarcely audible affirmative.

"Then, since it is so, Meenie," said the curate, dropping her hand, "I
may not decline to effect the union. Do you desire, Clayslaps, that the
ceremony should be immediately performed?"

"As sune's ye like, curate," replied the latter.

"And the suner the better," added Meenie's mother.

"Our worthy landlord here, then," said the curate, "will prepare an
apartment for us, and we will retire thither and unite this young
couple. In the meantime, freends," he added, addressing the schoolmaster
and he of the darned hose, "we had better settle oor lawin."

The schoolmaster instantly drew from his pocket his share of the
reckoning, while the stranger pulled out the foot of an old stocking,
which had been ingeniously converted into a purse, and was about
undoing the bit of twine with which it was secured, when the curate
placed his hand on his arm, to arrest his proceedings, saying--

"The ne'er a bodle, freend, ye'll pay. This'll be the schule-maister's
and mine."

"The ne'er o' that it'll be, curate," replied the schoolmaster. "Every
ane for himsel. Plack aboot's fair play. Let every herrin hing by its
ain head. The deil a bodle I'll pay for onybody."

"Then I will," said the curate. "I'll pay for this honest man here; for
it may be he canna sae weel spare't." And he laid down his own and the
stranger's share of the reckoning.

"Many thanks to ye, curate," said the latter; "but there's no occasion
for this kindness. I have, indeed, but little to spare; but that gives
me no claim whatever on your generosity."

"Say nae mair aboot it, freend," replied the curate--"say nae mair aboot
it, man. Ye'll maybe pay for me in a strait, some ither time. It's but a
trifle, at ony rate--no worth speakin aboot; sae ye'll obleege me by
giein me my ain way."

"Well, well, since you insist on it," said the stranger, again tying up
the stocking-foot, "I winna press the matter. Many thanks to ye."

The important affair of the reckoning settled, a general movement was
made amongst the party to adjourn to the apartment which had been
prepared for the celebration of the marriage ceremony. Taking advantage
of the momentary confusion created by this circumstance, the curate's
new friend touched him on the elbow, led him aside, and whispered into
his ear, "Delay the ceremony as long as you can. The poor girl, you see,
is about to be sacrificed. Perhaps I can prevent it."

The curate nodded assent, although it was but the result of an impulse
of his kind nature; for he could not conceive how any one--particularly
such a very humble personage as he who had spoken to him--should have
the power to stay an event of the kind, and under the circumstances of
that which was about to take place. Still, as the request was in
accordance with his own feelings, and as he did not know what this very
odd person might have it in his power to do in the matter, he resolved
to do what he could to comply with it. Having made the communication to
the curate just recorded, the stranger suddenly and hurriedly left the
apartment. Whither, and the purpose for which he went, we shall
ascertain by following him.

On leaving the house, he hastened down to the river side, and having
called the ferryman out of his temporary habitation, a little hut
erected on the bank, "Friend," he said, "do you know Davy Linn
o'Partick?"

"Brawly that," replied the ferryman. "No a better or decenter chiel in
the country side than Davy. A warmhearted, honest fellow!"

"Glad to hear it," said the inquirer. "Well, then, since that is the
case, you will have no objection to do him a service, I daresay?"

"It would be ill my part, if I had," replied the man; "for he has done
me twa or three services that I wadna willingly forget."

"Then across the water with you, and up to Partick as fast as if the old
one were after you, and tell Davy to come here directly--to come along
with you--if he would not lose Meenie Ritchie for ever."

"Feth, that'll mak him rin, if onything will," said the man, who knew of
Davy's attachment to Meenie.

"And stay, sir," continued the stranger, without noticing the
interruption; "take this"--producing a small gold ring--"and go, at the
same time, to the bishop's castle, up the way, there, on the Kelvin, and
request some one of the domestics to put it into the hands of Sir John
Elphingstone, who is residing there just now with the bishop. He will
instantly come out to you; and, when he does, tell him that the person
who sent it desires to see him here immediately, and requests that he
may come along with you. And now, my friend," he continued, "that you
may do all these errands with the greater good-will and despatch, here's
a gold Jacobus for thee."

The man took the coin, though not without a look of surprise at the
donor, whom he evidently thought a most unlikely person to deal in gold
rings and Jacobuses. He, however, made no remark, but prepared to
execute the mission with which he had been intrusted; and was just about
to push off his boat, when his employer called out to him--

"I forgot to say, friend, that when you have brought over your
passengers, you will desire them to wait in your hut here until you have
acquainted me with their arrival. You will find me in Scouler's
hostelry."

With this order the boatman promised compliance, and pushed off; when
his employer returned to the inn, and, planting himself before the
kitchen fire, anxiously awaited the return of his messenger.

The curate, in the meantime, was faithfully performing his part, in
promoting delay, by the aid of story and anecdote, although he felt as
if it were a hopeless case. While thus employed, the landlady, a lively,
active, bustling body, happening to come into the room, he suddenly
stopped in the middle of a story, and exclaimed, laughingly, "Mrs
Scouler, hae ye been makin ony brandy parritch lately?"

"Tuts, Mr Gibson, will I never hear the end o' that?" replied the
hostess of the Grilse and Gridiron, good-naturedly, and hurrying out of
the apartment, to escape the further banter of the facetious churchman.

"What aboot the brandy parritch, curate?" exclaimed the guidwife of
Clayslaps, on the hostess leaving the room.

I'll tell you that (replied the curate). Ae morning, pretty early, last
summer, there cam a serving man, mounted on horseback, to oor freend
Ringan Scouler's door here, and said he belonged to Lord Minto; and that
he had been sent forward by his master, who was on the road comin frae
Arran through to Edinburgh; to order some breakfast to be prepared for
him. But what, think ye, was the breakfast ordered for his lordship?
Why, it was parritch--plain, simple parritch; for it seems he prefers it
to a' ither kind of food for his morning meal. Weel, however much
astonished Mrs Scouler was at this order, she readily undertook to
prepare the dish desired, and the man departed. But he had no sooner
gone, than it occurred to her, that parritch for a lord ought to be made
somewhat differently from those intended for a plebeian stomach. But
wherein was this difference to consist? There was no choice of
materials, no variety of ingredients, no process of manufacture, but
one, that she had ever seen or heard tell of. At length, after racking
her brain for some time, to see if she could not strike out something
new on the subject, it occurred to her that, if she would substitute
brandy for water, the desired object would be accomplished, and a lordly
dish produced. Acting on this bright idea, the guidwife immediately
emptied a bottle of brandy into the parritch-pot, and proceeded with the
remainder of the process in the usual way. By the time his lordship came
up, the parritch was ready, and a dish of them placed before him. Little
suspecting--although he thocht they looked a wee thing darker than they
should do--that there was anything wrong, his lordship took a thumpin
spoonfu to begin wi'; but he no sooner fan' the extraordinary taste they
had, than he jumped from his seat, threw doon the spune, and sputtered
the contents o' his mooth a' owre the table, thinkin he was poisoned.
He then ran to the door, and called oot violently for oor guid hostess
here. In great alarm she ran hastily up the stair, and inquired what was
the matter.

"The matter, woman!" exclaimed his lordship, in a towering passion.
"What's this you hae gien me?" pointing to the parritch; "what infernal
stuff is that?"

Mrs Scouler, surprised at his lordship's want of discernment, explained
to him what she had dune; when he burst out a-laughing, told her that
the taste of a peer and a ploughman were precisely the same, and
requested her to make him just such a mess as she made for her ain
family. This was accordingly dune; whan his lordship, payin sax prices
for his hamely breakfast, set off in great good humour, telling Mrs
Scouler, however, at parting, never to put brandy in his parritch again.

The curate, having concluded his episodical anecdote, proceeded with the
story which he had interrupted to relate it; but was beginning to be
secretly uneasy at the long delay which was taking place in the
operations of his friend of the darned stockings. From this feeling,
however, he was in some measure relieved by the latter's sending for
him, after a short while, and begging of him to gain but other fifteen
minutes, if he could, when he pledged himself that such an event would
occur as would, in all probability, save Meenie Ritchie from the fate
that threatened her.

"But what is the event ye allude to, freend, and what is't ye propose to
do in this matter that'll produce the effect ye speak o'?" said the
curate, looking doubtingly at his new acquaintance.

"Patience a little, my good sir," replied the latter, smiling, "and ye
shall know all. In the meantime, trust to my good faith, and you will
find that I can do more, perhaps, than my appearance would promise.

"Be it even so, then," said the curate; "but observe I cannot possibly
put the ceremony off beyond the time you have mentioned; for a' but the
puir lassie hersel are gettin restlessly impatient."

The curate now returned to his party, and again had recourse to his
store of anecdote, which was an inexhaustible one, to protract the
performance of the ceremony. In the meantime, the boatman, faithful to
his trust, was diligently executing the missions confided to him. On
entering the house of Davy Linn's father, he found Davy sitting
disconsolately by the fire, his head resting on his hand, and his eyes
fixed, in thoughtful gaze, on the burning embers. He was thinking of
Meenie Ritchie--there could be no doubt of that; for poor Davy thought
of little else. Formerly, these thoughts had been pleasant to Davy; but
at this moment they were sad and heart-withering; for he had heard some
rumours of her parents intending to marry her to another; and he now,
therefore, considered her as for ever lost to him.

"What the mischief, Davy, man, are ye sittin gloomin and glunchin at
there?" said the ferryman, whose name was Archy Dawson, slapping the
person he addressed on the shoulder--"up, man, up!--I hae guid news for
you--at least what I think's likely to turn oot sae."

Davy, who had hitherto been so engrossed by his own gloomy reflections,
as either not to have heard or not heeded the entrance of Archy Dawson,
now rose from his seat, and, confronting the former, asked, with a faint
smile, what the news was.

"Is there naebody in the hoose but yersel, Davy?" inquired Archy,
looking cautiously round the apartment.

"Nane at this moment," replied Davy; "but there'll be some of them here
belyve, I daursay."

"Weel, before they come, Davy, I'll tell you what's brocht me here the
nicht." And Archy proceeded to relate the particulars of his mission.

Davy made no reply for some time; but the clenching of his teeth showed
that some fierce spirit had been roused within him by the intelligence.
At length he said--"Ay, I see how it is; they have stolen a march on me.
Oh, if I had known this but an hour since, they should have had more
guests at the wedding than they counted on, although some of them might
not have been very welcome."

"Maybe, maybe, Davy," said Archy; "but it's likely no owre late yet; sae
come awa as fast's ye can, man, and let's see what this business'll turn
oot to, and I'll tell ye the rest o' my story as we gang alang."

Davy, although without knowing distinctly why or wherefore now left the
house with his friend Archy, when the latter, as promised, acquainted
him with the other mission he had to execute--namely, the delivering the
ring to Sir John Elphingstone, at the bishop's castle, whither Davy
subsequently accompanied him.

On arriving at the lordly mansion of the prelate, Archy inquired of a
servant if Sir John was there, and was told that he was.

"Then," said he, "be sae guid, freend, as tak up this bit trantalum o' a
thing till him, and I'll wait whar I am till I hear frae him."

In a few minutes after Sir John appeared, and, accosting Archy, said,
"Well, my friend, what commands have you brought along with this?"
producing the ring.

"The person that gied me that, sir," said Archy, "desired me to tell you
to come along wi' me."

"And, pray, where are you from, friend?"

"Ou, no far awa, sir," said Archy; "just frae Govan, owre the way
there."

"Very well, I'll accompany you. But who's this you have with you?"
inquired the knight, looking at Davy Linn, who stood close by.

"That lad's name, sir," said Archy, "is Davy Linn; he belangs to
Partick, up there, sir. He's a fine lad, Davy--a fine, decent, canny
lad, sir."

"I have no reason to doubt it," replied Sir John; "but what does he here
with you?"

"Dear me, sir," said Archy--"he was sent for, too, by the same chield
that sent you the ring. I was desired to bring ye baith."

"Oh, indeed," replied Sir John--"that's enough; let us proceed, then."
And the three immediately set off for Govan. On their arrival on the
opposite bank of the river, Archy, leaving them there, hastened up to
Ringan Scouler's, and intimated to his employer that he had executed his
mission, and that the persons he had sent for waited him in his hut. On
receiving this information, the former hastened down to the ferry
station; and, after a brief interview and hasty explanation with Sir
John and Davy, of which we leave the sequel to show the import, returned
with equal haste to the hostelry, and now pushed boldly into the
apartment occupied by the marriage party. The time stipulated with the
curate had expired; and the latter, finding he could no longer delay the
discharge of the duty he was called upon to perform, had already
commenced the service.

"Friend," said the intruder, with a degree of boldness and familiarity
in his manner which he had not before assumed, and at the same time
laying his hand on the arm of the curate, to arrest his attention,
"pray, stop a moment, if you please, till I speak a word with the
bride's father." Saying this, and now turning round to the person to
whom he alluded, "May I ask, Clayslaps," he said, "if your objection to
your daughter's having the man of her choice is his want of fortune?"

Clayslaps looked for a moment at the querist with an expression of
extreme surprise, but at length said--

"I dinna see what richt, freend, ye hae to put such questions;
nevertheless, I will answer't. It is; and a guid and sufficient ane
it'll be allooed, I think."

"Is it your only one? Have you no other fault to lay to the young man's
charge?"

"I hae nae faut to charge him wi'," replied Clayslaps, crustily and
reluctantly. "The lad, for ought I ken to the contrary, is weel aneugh
in ither respects. But he's nae match for my dochter."

"Your wife has said," continued the querist, "that your daughter's
portion is fifty merks, which is to be met by a similar sum on the part
of the young man whom you intend for her husband. Now, friend, if Davy
could produce two merks for her one--that is, a hundred to her
fifty--what would you say to having him still for a son-in-law?"

"Why," said the bride's father, "that wad certainly hae altered the case
at ae time; but it's owre late noo."

"Not a bit--not a bit," replied the propounder of the question--"better
late than never."

"But young Goupinsfou has lands as weel as siller," rejoined Clayslaps.

"True, I believe," said the other speaker; "but suppose Davy could
produce you evidence of his being a laird, too--say--let me see"--and he
paused a moment--"say he could show you that he was laird of a hundred
acres of the best land within half-a-dozen miles of Partick, what would
you say then, guidman, to having Davy for your daughter's husband?"

"What's the use o' talking this nonsense?" said the Laird of Clayslaps,
impatiently; "everybody kens that Davy Linn's baith landless and
penniless, and likely aye to be. Sae, freend, hae the guidness to
retire--for your company's no wanted here--and let the ceremony
proceed."

"Not so fast, laird, if you please," returned the person addressed; and
then, turning to the bride's mother, "What would you say, guidwife, to
Davy for a son-in-law, if he had all the property I have mentioned?"

"Ou, indeed, man, it wad surely hae altered the case athegither--there's
nae doot o' that. I wad hae had nae objection till him, had that been
the case--neither wad her faither, I am sure. But, as the guidman has
said, what's the use o' speaking o' thae things, now, at ony rate? Davy
has naething, and Goupinsfou has plenty, and that maks a' the
differ--but, my faith, an unco differ it is."

"No doubt; but, if we remove this differ, guidwife," rejoined the
stranger, "perhaps we may yet prevent two fond hearts being separated;
and, to end this matter at once," continued the speaker, but now in a
serious tone, "_I_ will pay down a hundred merks on Davy Linn's account,
as a free gift to him, on the day after he has become the husband of
your daughter, and _I_ will put him in possession, as a free gift also,
of a hundred acres of the best land within six miles of Partick, on the
same day, and on the same conditions."

"_Ye'll_ pay doon a hunner merks to Davy Linn, and _ye'll_ gie him a
hunner acres o' land!" exclaimed Clayslaps, in the utmost amazement, and
looking at the threadbare coat, clouted shoes, and darned hose of the
man of promises, with the most profound contempt and incredulity. "And
whar the deil are _ye_ to get them?"

"Never ye fear that, freend," replied the latter, laughing; "I'll find
them, I warrant you."

"Let's see the siller," said Clayslaps, triumphantly.

"Why, you certainly have me there, Clayslaps. I have not the money on
me, indeed; but I will find you instant security for it, and for the
entire fulfilment of my promises. Landlord," continued the speaker, and
now turning to Ringan, who was one of his astonished auditors, "please
to say to Sir John Elphingstone, whom I presume you know is to be found
in the next room, that it will be obliging if he will step this way a
moment."

We will not stop to describe the amazement that was felt by all, and
expressed on every countenance in the apartment, on the delivery of this
extraordinary message. Sir John Elphingstone was well known to every one
there as a gentleman of large possessions and highly honourable
character; and how he came to be at the call of such a person as he who
had sent for him, or how he came to be in the house at all at such a
time, was matter of inexpressible surprise to every one present. The
whole affair, in short, was one of impenetrable mystery and perplexity
to all, including the worthy curate. We will not, however, wait to
describe the feelings of the party on this occasion, but go straight on
with our story. Neither will we do so, in any case--thinking it much
better to leave such matters wholly to the reader's own imagination.

The summons that called Sir John into the presence of the marriage-folks
was immediately obeyed. In an instant that gentleman entered the
apartment, with a smile upon his face, all the party standing up and
receiving him with the most marked reverence and respect.

"You'll excuse the liberty I have taken in sending for you, Sir John,"
said the person who had called him, on the former's entrance; "and I
certainly would not have taken that liberty, had I not known how much
pleasure it gives you when an opportunity is afforded you of doing a
generous thing. Here, Sir John, is a young woman about to be sacrificed
at the altar of Mammon. Now, I know that you would not permit this if
you could help it. Neither will I; and, to prevent it, I have promised
to the intended bride's father here, that I will give one hundred merks
and one hundred acres of land to the husband of Meenie's choice, Davy
Linn of Partick--a very deserving young man, I believe--on the day after
she is married to him. Now, Sir John, will you become my security to
Clayslaps for the fulfilment of this promise?"

"Most assuredly," said Sir John, smiling; "let me have pen, ink, and
paper, and I will give him my written obligation to that effect."

The materials were brought, and the obligation drawn out; Clayslaps and
all the others being too much confounded by what was passing to offer
any interruption or make any remark. When the paper was written, it was
handed to Meenie's father, who, almost unconsciously--for he did not
seem to know very well what he was doing--read it over. On concluding
the perusal,

"A'richt aneugh," he said--"a'richt aneugh. Od, this _is_ a queer
business. But it's a' owre late, guid sirs. We canna be aff wi'
Goupinsfou at this stage o' the affair, and in this sort o' way. It
wadna be fair nor honest, and wad look unco strange like. Besides, ye
canna expeck that he would submit to't himsel."

This was certainly a reasonable enough supposition, but it happened to
be an unfounded one; for Goupinsfou was not only an ass, but a most
abominably mean and selfish one; and Sir John, aware of this, thought he
knew a way to reconcile him to the loss of Meenie.

Going up to Goupinsfou, he took him aside, and whispered in his ear, "I
say, laird, you've long had an eye, I know, to the bit holm on the
Kelvin, below the Gorroch Mills."

"It's a bonny spot," interrupted Goupinsfou, cocking his ears.

"It is," replied Sir John. "Well, then, it shall be yours, if you give
up all claim to the hand of Meenie Ritchie, and give me in writing an
entire quittance on that score."

"Dune!" exclaimed Goupinsfou, instantly, wisely calculating that he
could readily find another wife, but might not so readily get another
offer of the piece of land he so much coveted. "Dune, Sir John!" he
exclaimed, grasping that gentleman by the hand with the selfish
eagerness that belonged to his character; but, desirous of glossing
over the meanness of the transaction, he placed his acquiescence on
another footing than that of bribery, by adding, "I wadna like, I'm
sure, to force the lassie to marry me against her will. I gie her up wi'
a' my heart."

Having obtained the brute's consent to resign the hand of Meenie, Sir
John turned to the party, and informed them that their worthy friend,
the Laird of Goupinsfou, out of consideration for the feelings of Meenie
Ritchie, which he feared were not favourable to him, resigned all claim
to her hand, and left her at full liberty to marry whom she pleased.

"Weel, that's certainly sae far guid," said Clayslaps; "but still I'm no
athegither reconciled to this business. It looks----"

"Toots, guidman," here interposed his wife, "the thing's a'richt aneugh.
Havena ye Sir John's haun o' vrit for the promise made by
this--this"--and she looked at the person she meant, and would have said
_gentleman_, but another glimpse of the patched shoes directed her to
the words--"_honest man_, to gie Davie the land and siller spoken o';
and what mair wad ye hae? Davie's a discreet, decent, well-doin lad,
everybody kens, that will mak, I'm sure, a guid husband to Meenie; sae,
just let them e'en gang thegither."

She would scarcely have said so much for Davie an hour before; but she
said it now, and it was all well enough.

"Weel, weel, guidwife," said Clayslaps, "since it is sae, we'll see
aboot it. There can be nae harm, however, in delayin a day or twa, at
ony rate, till we think owre't."

"No, no--no delay," exclaimed the meddling stranger; "delays are
dangerous, guidman. Nothing like the present moment. Let us strike while
the iron's hot. Landlord," he said, turning round to Ringan, "send Davie
Linn here."

In a second after, Davie Linn rushed into the apartment, flew to Meenie,
and caught her in his arms. "Mine yet! mine yet, Meenie!" he exclaimed,
rapturously. It was all he could say; and, little as it was, it was more
than she he addressed was able to express. During the whole night,
indeed, she had not opened her lips, and seemed to have been scarcely
conscious of what was passing around her. This was the effect of deep
misery; and the result was now nearly the same from an excess of joy.

"No delay now, curate," said the intermeddler. "Set to work as fast as
you can, and buckle these two together. No objection, I fancy?"

"Oh, none in the world," said the curate; "I'll fix them in a trice. But
I say, freend," he added, laughing, "I'm thinkin what a fule I was to
pay your reckonin the nicht--ane wha maks the merks flee like drift snaw
on a windy day, and gies awa lumps o' land wi' as little thocht
as--as--as I settled your lawin. Feth, but it was fulish aneugh o' me,
and ye're a queer ane, be ye wha ye like."

"Not so very foolish, perhaps, as you think, curate," said the person
thus addressed, "and that it's possible ye may find. At any rate, it's
no lost what a friend gets, you know, curate; but, in the meantime, will
you proceed with the ceremony, if you please. And, guidman," he added,
turning to Clayslaps, "will ye allow me to give away the bride?"

"I ken nane here that has a better richt," replied the latter, now
thoroughly reconciled to the sudden and most unexpected change in his
daughter's destiny which had taken place. "Ye may either gie her awa or
tak her yersel, just as ye like; for, by my faith, ye seem to be a guid
honest chiel, be ye wha ye like, as the curate says."

"Well, then, since you place her at my disposal, I here give her to
Davie Linn o' Partick--and may he always continue to deserve her!"

This conveyance of the fair Meenie, the curate lost no time in
legalising and confirming. When the ceremony was completed, "Now," said
the stranger, "if there be a fiddler or piper in all Govan who will
play to us for love or money, let him be brought here instantly, and
we'll finish as well as we've begun. By St Bride, we'll have a night of
it! What say you, Sir John?" And he turned to that gentleman with a
smile. "Will you condescend to honour us with your presence, and with as
much good-humour as you can conveniently spare?"

"Oh, most certainly," replied the latter, laughing, "with all my heart."

The desired musician was procured, and made his appearance. The room was
cleared, creature comforts were ordered in, in unsparing abundance, and
such a night of mirth and fun ensued as, we believe, has not been seen
since in the little village of Govan, and perhaps not often anywhere
else. The curate danced and frisked about like a three-year-old; Sir
John conducted himself with no less animation; but neither of them had
the smallest chance with the gentleman in the darned hose. He kept the
floor almost the whole night, whooping and hallooing in a most spirited
manner, and dancing fully half the time with the bride, and the rest
with her mother, the guidwife of Clayslaps, relieved occasionally by a
turn-out with some young girls of the neighbourhood, whom the landlord
of the Grilse and Gridiron had hurriedly brought together, on the
principle of "the more the merrier." But time and tide wait on no man.
Morning came, and the revellers prepared to depart to their several
homes. The marriage party, including the bride and bridegroom, and Sir
John Elphingstone, proceeded to the ferry, to which they were
accompanied by him who had performed the principal character of the
night. Having seen them all embarked, and having wished the young
married couple every happiness, he stood on the shore for an instant,
waved them a final adieu, retired by the way of the village, and was
seen no more.

Within a week after the occurrence of the events just related, the
worthy curate of Govan was surprised one day by receiving a letter from
the Archbishop of Glasgow.

"What's wrang now?" said the curate to himself, as he opened it. "My
dismissal, I suppose, for the irregularity o' my conduct at Ringan
Scouler's the ither nicht."

It was not exactly so, as the reader will perceive. The letter ran
thus:--

     "At the recommendation of a high personage, I intend appointing
     you to the vacant rectorship of Govan. You will therefore
     repair immediately to me, either at my palace at Glasgow or my
     castle at Partick, that I may confer with you farther on the
     subject.

     "DUNBAR, A. B. OF G."

"Whe-e-e-ou!" ejaculated the curate, with a long-drawn expiration, when
he had read this very pleasant document--"I smell a rat. 'Od, but it was
stupid o' me no to think o't afore. I'm sure I micht hae kent him; for
I've seen him twa or three times; but then he was in a green frock-coat
o' the finest claith; a velvet bonnet, wi' ruby and feathers, was on his
head; a chain o' gowd, worth five hundred merks, if it was worth a
bodle, round his neck, and a gaucy sword by his side. Still I ought to
hae kent him, for a' his clouted shoon and darned hose. But the cat's
oot o' the pock; and, my word, a bonny beast it is!"

What does the good curate's hints and allegorical allusions mean?
inquires the reader. Why, it means that the worthy man suspected--and we
have no doubt his suspicion was perfectly correct--that the person in
the darned hose was no other than James V., King of Scotland.



GLEANINGS OF THE COVENANT.



I.--THE GRANDMOTHER'S NARRATIVE.


Notwithstanding the researches of Woodrow, and the more recent
enlargement and excellent annotations of Dr Burns, we are quite
conscious that a volume somewhat interesting might still be collected of
additional and traditional atrocities, of which no written record
remains, nor other, save the recollections _of recollections_--in other
words, the remembrance which we and a few others possess of the
narratives of our grandmothers whilst we were yet children. Our own
maternal grandmother died at ninety-six--we ourselves are now in our
sixtieth year; so that, deducting eight or nine years for our age
previous to our taking an interest in such concerns, we have our
grandmother existing before (say) 1695, which, deducting eight years of
infancy, brings us to 1703, which is only twenty-five years posterior to
the conclusion, and fifty-three to the commencement, of the atrocious
twenty-eight years' persecution. It is then manifest, from this
arithmetical computation, that our own grandmother, on whose truthful
intentions we can rely with confidence, came into contact and
conversation with those who were contemporaneous with the events and
persons she referred to. This surely is no very violent or unsafe
stretch of tradition; but, even though it were much more so, we would be
disposed to yield to it somewhat more consideration than is generally
done. Now-a-days, the pen and the press are almost the only recorders of
passing and past events and circumstances; but, in the age to which we
refer, this was not the case. The children of Israel were bound by a
holy and inviolate law to record _verbally_ to their children, and
those again to theirs, what the Lord had done for their forefathers. And
on the same principle, and under the same comparative absence of written
records, did our grandmothers receive from their immediate predecessors
the revolting disclosures which they have handed down to us. There are
here but two links in the chain--those, namely, which connect our
grandmothers with their parents, and with us; but, had there been
twenty--nay, fifty or a hundred links--we should not, on account of the
high antiquity of such a tradition, have been disposed to dismiss it as
altogether groundless, and not implying even the slightest authority. In
illustration of this, we may adduce the facts, sufficiently well known
and authenticated, which were disclosed about thirty years ago at
Burgh-head, the ultimate extent of Roman conquest in Scotland. In that
promontory, now inhabited by a scattered population, there remained,
from age to age, a tradition that a Roman well had existed on the
particular spot. There being a lack of water in the place, the
inhabitants combined to have the locality opened, with the view of
disclosing so useful and essential an element. They dug twenty and even
thirty feet downwards, but made no disclosures; and were on the point of
giving up the search, when the father of the late Duke of Gordon
happening to pass, and to ascertain their object and their want of
success, very generously supplied them with the means of making a
further excavation. At last, to their no small surprise and delight,
they came to a nicely built and rounded well-mouth, with a stair
downwards to the bottom, and the bronze statues of Mercury and other
heathen gods stuck into niches. This well remains to this hour, and may
be visited by the traveller along the Moray Frith, as an indisputable
and indelible evidence of the value of traditions in ages when almost no
other means of record existed. True, such traditions are deeply
coloured and tinged by the prejudices of the age in which they
originated--allowance as to exaggeration must be made for excited
feelings and outraged opinions; but still the groundwork may in general
be depended on. The old, and perhaps vulgar, proverb, "There is aye SOME
water where the stirkie drowns!" applies in this case with a conclusive
force; and we may rely upon it, even from the collateral and written
evidence of parties and partisans on all sides, that nothing which mere
tradition has hinted at can exceed, in characters of genuine cruelty and
downright bloodshed and murder, those historical statements which have
reached us.

True, a writer lately deceased, whose memory is immortal, and whose
writings will survive whilst national feelings and the vitality of high
talent remain, has given us a somewhat chivalrous and attractive
character of the most distinguished actor in the atrocities of the
fearful time; and it is to be more than lamented--to be deplored--that
an early and habitual, and ultimately constitutional, leaning to
aristocratic and chivalrous views should have induced such a writer as
Sir Walter Scott to draw such an interesting picture of the really
infamous "Clavers"--of him who, for a piece of morning pastime, could,
with his own pistol, blow out a husband's brains, without law or trial,
and that in the presence of his wife and infant family! But the great
body of historians are on the side of truth and tradition; and the
recently-published, and still publishing, Life by Lockhart has unfolded,
and will yet unfold, those leanings of the great novelist which have
occasioned so lamentable a deviation from real history.

Under the shelter, then, of these preliminary observations, we proceed
with such notices and statements as we have heard repeated, or seen in
manuscripts which have (as we believe) never been printed. And we shall
give these notices and statements as they were given to us--surrounded
by a halo of superstition, and involving much belief which is now,
happily or unhappily--we do not say which--completely exploded.

Oh, my bairn! these were fearful times!--(Grandmother _loquitur_)--ay,
and atweel war _they_. My own mother has again and again made my hair
stand on end, and my heart-blood run cold at her relations.

Ye ken Auchincairn, my bairn; and maybe, whan ye were seeking for hawks'
nests, ye hae searched the Whitestane Cleughs. Aweel, ye maybe hae seen,
or maybe no--for young hearts and een like yours (O sirs! mine are now
dim and sair!) tak little tent o' sic-like things; but, my bonny bairn,
though tent it ye didna, true it is, and of verity, that, at the very
bottom o' that steep and fearfu linn, there is a rock, a stane like a
blue whunstane; and owre that stane the water has run for years and
years, and the winds and the rains of heaven hae dashed and plashed
against it; but still that stane remains (dear me, I'm amaist
greeting!)--it remains stained and spotted _wi' bluid_. And that bluid,
my dear bairn, is o' the bluid that rins in yer ain veins--it is the
bluid o' William Harkness, my own faither's brother. Weel, and ye shall
hear; for my mother used to tell me the langsyne stories sae aft, that I
can just repeat them in her ain words. Weel, it was the month of
October, and the nights were beginning to lengthen; and the puir
persecuted saints, that had taen to the _outside_ a' simmer, and were
seldom, if ever, to be seen in the _inside_, were beginning to pop in
again nows and thans, when they thought Dalyel, and Johnston, and
Clavers, and Douglas, and the rest o' the murdering gang, war elsewhere.
Aweel, as I am telling ye, yer granduncle cam hame to his ain brother's
house; it might be about the dawn o' the morning, whan a' the house,
except his brother, were sleeping, and he had got a cog o' crap whey on
his knee, wi' a barley scone--for glad, glad was he to get it; and he
had just finished saying the grace, and was conversing quietly like,
and in whisper, wi' his ain brother, when what should he hear, but a rap
at the kitchen-door, and a voice pouring in through the keyhole--

"Willie Harkness! Willie Harkness! the Philistines are upon ye! They are
just now crossing the Pothouseburn."

I trow when he heard that, he wasna lang in clearing the closs, and
takin doun the shank, straight for the foot of the Whiteside Linn, where
the cave was in which he had for weeks and months been concealed. It was
now, ye see, the grey o' the morning, and things could be seen moving at
some distance. Just as my uncle was about to enter the bramble-bushes at
the foot o' the linn, he was met by a trooper on horseback.

"Stand!" said a voice, in accents of Satan; "stand, this moment, and
surrender; or your life is not worth three snuffs of a Covenanter's
mull."

My uncle kent weel the consequences of standing, and of being taken
captive; and ye see, my bairn, life is sweet to us a'; sae he e'en
dashed into the thicket, and, in an instant o' time, and ere the dragoon
could shoulder his musket, he was tumbling head-foremost (but holding by
the branches) towards the bottom of Whiteside Linn. There lay my worthy
uncle, breathless, and motionless, and silent, expecting every moment
that the dragoon would dismount and secure him. However, the man o' sin
contented himsel wi' firing several times (at random) into the linn. The
last shot which was fired took effect on my uncle's knee; the blood
sprung from it, and he fainted. As God would have it, at this time no
further pursuit was attempted, and my uncle was lame for life. The blood
still remains on the stane, as witness against the unholy hand that shed
it. But, alas! we are a' erring creatures; and who knows but even a
dragoon may get repentance and find mercy! God forbid, my wee man, that
we should condemn ony ane, even a persecutor, to eternal damnation!
It's awfu--it's fearfu! But that's no a' ye shall hear. When the
trooper came up to the house, and joined his party, he repeated what had
passed, and a search was set about in the linn for my uncle; but William
had by this time crippen into his cauld, dripping cave, over which the
water spouted in a cascade, and thus concealed him from their search;
sae, after marking the blood, and almost raving like bloodhounds with
disappointment, they tied up a servant girl--whom they had first abused
in the most unseemly and beastly manner--to a tree, and there they left
her, incapable, though she had been able, of freeing herself. She was
relieved in an hour; but never recovered either the shame or the
cruelty. She died, and her grave is in the east corner, near the large
bushy tree in Closeburn kirkyard. "Blessed are the dead which die in the
Lord; for they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them."

Muckle better, my dear, was her fate, though seemingly a hard one, than
that o' the ungodly curate o' Closeburn--o' him wha was informer against
the puir persecuted remnant, and wha, through the instrumentality o' his
spies and informers, had occasioned a' this murder and cruelty. Ye shall
hear. He--I mean, my bairn, the curate--had been hurlin the folk,
whether they would or no, to the kirk, for weeks, in carts and
hurdles--for oh, they liked his cauld, moral harangues ill, and his
conduct far waur. He had even got the laird to refuse burial in the
kirkyard to ony who refused to hear his fushionless preaching. Puir
Nanny Walker's funeral (she who had been sae horribly murdered) was to
tak place on sic a day. The curate had heard o' this, and he was
resolved to oppose the interment. But God's ways, my wean, are not as
our ways, nor his thoughts as ours; in his hands are the issues of life
and of death; he killeth and he maketh alive--blessed be his name, for
ever, amen! Weel, as I was telling ye, out cam the curate, raging,
running, and stamping like a madman; coming down his ain entry like a
roaring lion, and swearing--for he stuck at naething--that Nanny
Walker's vile Covenanting heart should never rot in Closeburn kirkyard.
Aweel, when he had just reached the kirk stile, and was in the act o'
lifting up his hand against them who were bearing the coffin into the
kirkyard, what think ye, my bairn, happened? The ungodly man, with his
mouth open in cursing, and his hand uplifted to strike, instantly fell
down on the flagstanes, uttered but one groan, and expired! Ye see, my
bairn, what a fearfu thing it is to persecute, and then to fall into the
hands o' an angry and avenging God. Oh, may never descendant o' mine
deserve or meet wi' sic a fate! But there is mair to tell ye still. Just
at the time when this fearfu visitation o' Providence took place, the
family o' Auchincairn war a' engaged wi' the Buik, whan _in_ should rush
wha but daft Gibbie Galloway, wha had never spoken a sensible word in
his life--for he was a born innocent, he and his mither afore him! Weel,
and to be sure, just about this time, for they compared it afterwards,
_in_ Gibbie stammered into the kitchen, whar they war a' convened, and
interrupted the guidman's prayer, wha happened at the time to be prayin
to the Lord for vengeance against the ungodly curate:--

"Haud at him," said Gibby--"haud at him! he's 'ust at the pit-brow!"

Ay, fearfu, sirs--thae war awfu times!



II.--THE COVENANTERS' MARCH.


The narratives of the Rev. Mr Frazer of Alness, as well as those of
Quentin Dick, William M'Millan, and Mr Robert M'Lellan, Laird of
Balmagechan--all sufferers by, and MS. historians of the same events--we
have carefully perused; and it is from a collection of these hitherto
unpublished MSS. that the following paper is composed.

Mr Frazer had gone to London about the end of the year 1676, and had
continued there till 1685, when he was seized, along with the Laird of
Balmagechan, in Galloway, whilst they were listening to the instructions
of the Rev. Mr Alexander Shields, the celebrated author of the "Hynd let
loose," and forwarded by sea, under fetter and hatchway, to Leith. After
a variety of tossing and council-questioning, as was the order of the
day at this time, they were marched from the Canongate Tolbooth, along
with upwards of 200 prisoners, to Dunnottar Castle in Kincardineshire.

Of the sudden and unexpected summoning which they experienced, the
reverend autobiographer speaks in these terms:--

"We were engaged, as was usual with us in our Babel captivity, in
singing a psalm. It was our evening sacrifice, and whilst the sun was
sinking ayont the Pentlands. The voice of a godly and much-tried woman,
Euphan Thriepland, ascended clear and full of heavenly melody above the
rest. The prison-door was suddenly thrown open, and we at first
imagined--alas!--that our captivity had ended; but it was not so. The
Lord saw meet to put us to still severer trials. We were marched, under
the command of Colonel Douglas, to Leith. This poor woman, who was
labouring under great bodily weakness, pled hard and strove sair for
leave to stay behind. But she was mounted behind a corporal, and, amidst
many an obscene jest and much blasphemous language, conveyed to the pier
at Leith."

Next morning, we find the whole prisoners put up in the most indecent
and uncomfortable manner in two rooms of the Tolbooth at Burntisland,
and undergoing an examination before the Laird of Gosford, as to their
opinions of allegiance and absolute supremacy. Forty acknowledged King
James as head of our Presbyterian Church, and superior lord over all law
and authority in the kingdom; and the forty-first was standing in the
presence of the oath administrator, with his hand uplifted, and in the
very act of following the example of his brethren, when his aunt, Euphan
Thriepland, _alias_ M'Birnie (for her husband's name was such),
advancing with difficulty towards the table, thus proceeded, with
violent gesticulation, and in a firm tone of voice, to address her
nephew. Here we use the words of the Laird of Balmagechan, who has given
the whole scene with singular force and fidelity:--

"Jamie M'Birnie, what's that ye're about? Down wi' yer hand, man!--down
wi' yer hand, this moment!--or ye may weel expect it to rot aff by the
shackle-bane, man! Ye're but a young man, Jamie, and muckle atweel ye
seem to require counsel. Had Peter M'Birnie, yer worthy faither--now
with his Maker--stood where I now (though with tottering joints and a
feeble voice) stand, he would neither have held his peace nor withheld
his admonition. He would rather hae seen that hand--now stretched oot to
abjure Christ and his Covenanted Kirk--burning and frying in the hettest
flame, than hae witnessed the waefu sicht I now see. It's weel wi'
him!--oh, it's weel wi' him, that his eyes are shut on earth, and that,
in heaven, there is nae annoyance; otherwise, sair, sair would his heart
hae been, to see my sister's wean devoting himsel wi' his ain uplifted
hand to Satan. O Jamie, what says the Bible? It says awfu things to you,
Jamie--it says, 'If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, for it is
better to go into heaven with one eye, than that the whole body'--Jamie,
mark that! the whole body--'should be cast into hell fire.' And is not
an eye dearer than a hand, and must not the dearest member be
sacrificed, if it stand in the way of the soul's salvation? Ye may own
King James, and muckle thanks ye'll get for't; and ye may abjure and
renounce Christ, and ye'll sune see wha will gain or lose by that. And
ye may adhere to the king's curates, or to the bishops' curates, and
starve at the breast o' a _yeld_, a milkless mither; but tak tent that
ye dinna feed and nourish in your bosom a fearful _worm_, that winna
die nor lie still, but will gnaw and gnaw as lang as the fire burns and
isna quenched."

Jamie M'Birnie's hand continued to fall gradually during this address,
and, when his aunt had concluded, his arm hung pendulous and seemingly
powerless by his side. At this instant, a young woman of uncommon
personal attractions was seen hurrying from a boat which had just
landed. She had scarcely set foot on shore, when a commotion was
observed in the court, and a face full of anguish and despair was
presented to the party assembled in the Tolbooth. The Laird of Gosford,
after cursing the aunt for an old Covenanting hag, had just put the
question of abjuration to Jamie for the last time. Jamie now remained
inflexible, and was immediately ordered to be handcuffed, and marched
with the rest to Dunnottar Castle. Hereupon, as the Laird of Balmagechan
expresses it--The maiden, who was fair to look upon, pushed herself
suddenly forward, and rushed into the arms of her lover--for such he
behoved, from her words and her conduct, to be.

"O Jamie, Jamie, tak the oath--tak the oath--tak ony oath--tak onything;
do a' that they bid you do; say a' that they bid ye say--rather than
leave yer ain Jeanie Wilson to break her heart wi' downright greeting. O
Jamie, we were to be married, ye ken, at Martinmas; and I have athing
ready, and the bit house is taen, and ye can work outby, and I can spin
within, and--and--but, O Jamie, speak, man, just speak, and say ye'll
tak the oath. Haud up yer hand!" Hereupon she lifted his seemingly
powerless right hand, till it came to a level with his head. "Look
there, sir," addressing Gosford; "look there--swear him, man, swear him,
man; he's willing, dinna ye see, to swear--what for dinna ye swear him?"

Being informed that the oath must be voluntary, and his hand not be
propped, with great reluctance, and looking in Jamie's face with a look
of inexpressible persuasion, she whispered something in his ear which
was inaudible, and retired a few paces from her station. No sooner,
however, had she done so, than the hand, as if by the law of
gravitation, resumed its former position, and a loud scream indicated
that the young heart of Jeanie had found a temporary stillness in
insensibility. The poor creature was borne out of court, amidst some
sympathy even from the hardened and merciless soldiery; and Jamie, now a
stupid, passive clod, was handcuffed, and ordered to march.

Lieutenant Beaton of Kilrennie commanded the detachment to which was
intrusted the execution of the higher orders. They were all compelled to
walk, with the exception of Euphan Thriepland, who was mounted, as
formerly, behind a corporal, together with a poor lame schoolmaster,
whose feet were closely and most cruelly tied down to the sides of a
wild and unbroken colt. Upon these two helpless and tormented beings,
principally, did it please and amuse the commander and his men to
exercise their wit and expend their jeers. At one time the schoolmaster
was likened to a perched radish, and again he was "riding the stang" for
his sins. Euphemia was designated "Dame Grunt," in humane allusion, no
doubt, to the painful position which she occupied _à la croupe_, and
which compelled her frequently to groan. Again she was accosted as the
"mother of all saints," and the "true Blue Whigamore." One observed that
the dominie would look wonderfully handsome in boots (referring, no
doubt, to the instrument of torture); and another observed that the lady
would wondrous well become a St Johnstone's cravat--namely, a halter.
The foot-soldiers, who were armed with long pikes, made excellent
application of their weapons; and ever and anon, as some weary wretch
lagged behind, or some hungry or thirsty one seemed inclined to turn
aside to procure food or drink, the "_argumentum a posteriori_" was
applied vigorously and unsparingly. The people of Fife, who were
universally favourably disposed toward the prisoners, flocked in upon
their retired and out-of-the-way route with every kind of provision and
refreshment; but, instead of being permitted to bestow them where they
were needed, they were met with taunts, and in some cases with blows;
and the food which was intended for the prisoners was uniformly devoured
by their tormentors, or wasted and destroyed in the very presence, and
under the very eyes, of those who were almost famishing for hunger. A
strolling piper, who happened to be crossing their route, was sportively
enlisted into their service, and compelled, like Barton at Bannockburn,
to play, very much to his own annoyance, such tunes as "The Whigs o'
Fife," well known to be offensive to the friends of the Covenant.

"It was, indeed," says the Rev. Mr Frazer, with more of naïvete and
good-humour than might have been expected--"it was, indeed, an uncommon
sight to behold a large and mixed company of men and women, but
indifferently clad and ill-assorted, marching over muirs and hill-sides,
with a roaring bagpipe at their tail; the piper puffing and blowing, and
ever and anon casting a suspicious look behind, towards the pike points,
which were occasionally applied to his person in a manner the least
ceremonious possible." Might not this group form an appropriate subject
for an Allan, a Wilkie, or a Harvey? About dusk the party had skirted
the Lomonts, and were billeted for the night in the poor, but
pleasantly-situated, village of Freuchie. Each head of a family was made
answerable with his property and life for the persons of those prisoners
who were committed to his charge. And it is worthy of notice that not
one of those poor oppressed and insulted sufferers--who were all day
long endeavouring to escape--once attempted to implicate a single
individual amongst all their kind and hospitable landlords.

Upon rallying their numbers next morning, it was found that one aged
individual, a forebear of ours, of the name of Watson, had died of
over-fatigue; and that the poor schoolmaster was so much injured by his
horsemanship, that he could not possibly advance farther. When they
arrived at the south ferry of the Tay, the tide did not serve, and a
most cruel and barbarous scene was exhibited. A young man, the son of
the Rev. Mr Frazer, with the view of making interest for his father's
release, had endeavoured to escape during the night. He was challenged
by a sentinel in passing along the rocks, and not answering instantly,
was immediately shot dead on the spot. His head was cut from the body,
and with the return of day, presented to the unfortunate and horrified
parent, with these words, "There's the gallows face of your son!" Mr
Frazer's own reflections on this scene deserve to be extracted from his
written manuscripts:--"O my Charles! my dear, heart-broken Charles! thy
mother's joy and thy father's hope, and prop, and comfort! To be thus
deprived of thee, and for ever! But I am wrong, very wrong: I had thee
only as a loan from the Lord; and I know well that he gives--

    'And when he takes away,
    He takes but what he gave.'

Thou hast perished in the ranks amidst the soldiers of Christ; and I
doubt not that when the Captain of our salvation shall appear, thou wilt
appear with him."

It would only fatigue and disgust the reader to give one tithe of the
atrocities which were perpetrated during the whole march to Dunnottar
Castle. Really, the manuscript narratives here concur in such statements
as are calculated to make us conceive favourably of Hottentots and
cannibals: children torn from their mothers' arms, and transfixed on
pike points; a woman in labour thrown into a pool in the North Esk;
lighted matches applied betwixt the fingers of old Euphan Thriepland,
because she ventured to denounce such atrocities, &c. &c. &c. Come we,
then, after three or four days' march, to Dunnottar Castle.

The Castle of Dunnottar stands upon a rocky peninsula; and at the time
of which we are writing was only accessible by a drawbridge. It has been
in successive years the scene of much contention and bloodshed. It was
here that Sir William Wallace is said to have burned to the death not
less than four thousand Southrons in one night. It was within these
fire-seared and blackened walls that the unfortunate Marquis of Montrose
renewed the horrors of conflagration; and it was here, too, that the
brave Ogilvy so long and so determinedly defended our Scottish regalia
against the soldiers of the Commonwealth. It was, too, from out these
walls, that Mrs Granger, wife of the minister of Kinneff, conveyed away,
packed up and concealed amidst a bundle of clothes, the emblems of
Scottish independence; and that, after having concealed them till the
Restoration, at one time beneath the pulpit, and at another betwixt the
plies of a double-bottomed bed, she returned them, upon the accession of
Charles II., to Mr Ogilvy, who, along with the Earl Marischal and keeper
of the regalia, Keith, were rewarded for their fidelity, the one with a
baronetcy, and the other with the earldom of Kintire; whilst neither
this woman nor her husband, nor any of their posterity, have once yet
been visited by any mark of royal or national gratitude:--

    "Hos ego versiculos feci, tulit alter honores."

It is thus that the great man stands in the light of the small, and that
the royal vision is prevented from penetrating beyond the objects in
immediate juxtaposition.

This Castle of Dunnottar, which had so recently been honoured as the
receptacle of the regalia, was now about to be converted into a state
prison, and, like the Bass, to become subservient to the views of an
alarmed and fluctuating council, at a time when the rebellion of the
unfortunate Monmouth in England, and of the haughty and ill-advised
Argyle in Scotland, had set the whole kingdom in a ferment, either of
hope or apprehension. Mr Frazer's narrative of the entrance of the
prisoners into the castle, upon Sabbath the 24th day of May, 1685, is
sufficiently graphic and intelligible:--

"We passed along," says he, "a narrow way or drawbridge, and from thence
ascended under a covered road towards the castle, which stands high up,
and looks down upon the sea from three of its sides. A person in the
garb of a jailer, with a bunch of large and rusty keys in his hand,
opened a door on the seaward side of the building, and we were very
rudely and insultingly commanded to enter. 'Kennel up, there, kennel up,
ye dogs of the Covenant!' were amongst the best terms which were applied
to us.

"The Laird of Balmagechan being amongst the last to penetrate into this
abode of stench, damp, darkness, suffocation, and death, a soldier made
a lunge at him with the point of his pike. Balmagechan was a peaceable
man and a Christian; but this was somewhat too much--so, turning round
in an instant, and closing at once with his insulting tormentor, he
fairly wrested the pike from the soldier's grasp, and, splintering it in
shivers over his head, he added, 'Tak, then, that in the meantime, thou
devil's gaet, to teach thee better manners!' The apartment into which,
with scarcely room to stand, 177 (our numbers having thus diminished
from 200, on the march) human beings were thrust was, in fact, dug out
of the rock, and, unless by a small narrow window towards the sea, had
no means of admitting either light or air. As the night advanced, the
heat became intolerable, and a sense of suffocation, the most painful of
any to which our frail nature can be exposed, seemed to threaten an
excruciating, if not an immediate death. In vain we knocked, and called
upon the guard, and implored a little air, and asked water, for God and
mercy's sake. We were only answered by scoffs and jeers. At last nature,
in many instances being entirely worn out, gave way. Some turned their
heads over upon the shoulder of the persons nearest them, as if in the
act of drinking water, and expired--others lost their reason entirely,
struck out furiously around them, tore their own hair and that of
others, and then went off in strong and hideous convulsions. Happier
were they, at this awful midnight hour, who entered this dungeon with a
feeble step, and in a wasted state of bodily strength; for _their_
struggle was short, and their death comparatively easy--_they_ died ere
midnight. But far otherwise was it with many upon whom God had bestowed
youth, health, and unimpaired strength. They stood the contest long; and
frequently, after they appeared to be dead, awoke again in renewed
strength, and ten times increased suffering. After the fatal discovery
was made, that the door was not to be opened, the rush toward the
opposite window became absolutely intolerable. The feeble were trodden
down, and even the strong wasted their strength in contending with each
other.

"Morning at last dawned, and our prison-door flew suddenly open. The
governor's lady had learned our fate; and, even at the risk of giving
offence to her lord, she had ordered us air and water, whilst _he still
slept_. 'O woman, woman,' exclaims Mr Quentin Dick, in his MS. before
me, 'thou art, and hast ever been, an angel. What does not man--what do
not we owe thee?'"

In a word, more than the half perished on that dreadful night, and
amongst those who were ultimately liberated by order in council, were
the individuals who have been particularised in this narrative.

Reader, we inquire not into thy political creed--we ask not whether thou
art a Whig or a Tory, a Conservative or a Radical--we can allow thee to
be an honest and conscientious man, on all these suppositions: all we
ask of thee is this, "_Art thou a man?_" The inference is inevitable.

Perhaps some may wish to know what became of Euphan Thriepland, Jamie
M'Birnie, and Jeanie Wilson. We are happy that, owing to an accidental
occurrence, we can throw some light upon the subject. Last time we were
in Dumfries-shire, and in Closeburn, our native parish, we read upon the
door of a change-house, in the village of Croalchapel, this inscription,
"Whisky, Ale, and British Spirits, sold here, by James M'Birnie." The
coincidence of the name revived my long-obscured recollection of the
past, and led, in fact, ultimately to the whole of this narrative. We
learned, from an old bedrid woman, the grandmother of this James, that
he of Dunnottar celebrity had returned to Edinburgh and married Jeanie
Wilson; that he had taken auld aunt Euphan home to their dwelling; and
had been employed for several years after the Revolution, as a nursery
and seeds-man, in Edinburgh; that, having realised a competency, they
had ultimately retired to their native parish of Closeburn, and had
tenanted a small farm called Stepends; that their son had been a drover,
and unsuccessful even to bankruptcy; and that the family were now
reduced to the condition which we beheld.



III.--PEDEN'S FAREWELL SERMON.


We believe there never was such a sad Sabbath witnessed, as that upon
which nearly four hundred of the Established clergy of Scotland preached
their farewell sermons and addresses to their several congregations. It
was a day, as the historians of that period express it, of "wailing, and
of loud lamentation, as the weeping of Jazer, when the lords of the
heathen had broken down her principal plants; and as the mourning of
Rachel, who wept for her children, and would not be comforted."

On the 4th day of October, 1662, a council, under the commission of the
infatuated and ill-advised Middleton, was held at Glasgow; and, in an
hour of brutal intoxication, it was resolved and decreed that all those
ministers of the Church of Scotland who had, by a popular election,
entered upon their cures since the year 1649, should, in the first
instance, be arrested, nor permitted to resume their pulpits, or draw
their stipends, till they had received a presentation at the hands of
the lay patrons, and submitted to induction from the diocesan bishop. In
other words, Presbytery, which had been so dearly purchased, and was so
acceptable to the people of Scotland, was to be superseded by Prelacy;
and the mandate of the prince, or of his privy council, was to be
considered in future as _law_, in all matters whether civil or
ecclesiastical. It was not to be supposed that the descendants and
admirers of Knox, and Hamilton, and Welsh, and Melville could calmly and
passively submit to this; and accordingly the 20th day of October--the
last Sabbath which, without conformity to the orders in council, the
proscribed ministers were permitted to preach--was a day anticipated
with anxious feelings, and afterwards remembered to their dying day, by
all who witnessed it. It was our fortune, in early life, to be
acquainted with an old man, upwards of ninety, an inhabitant of the
village of Glenluce, whose grandfather was actually present at the
farewell or parting sermon which Mr Peden, the author of the famous
prophecies which bear his name, delivered on this occasion to his
parishioners. We have conversed with this aged chronicler so frequently
and so fully upon the subject, that we believe we can give a pretty
faithful report of what was then delivered by Peden.

I remember well (continued, according to my authority, the old
chronicler)--I mind it well, it seems but as yesterday--the morning of
this truly awful and not-to-be-forgotten day. It had been rain in the
night-time, and the morning was dark and cloudy--the mist trailed like
the smoke o' a furnace, white and ragged, alang the hill-taps. The
heavens above seemed, as it were, to scowl upon the earth beneath. I
rose early, as was my wont on the Sabbath morning, and hitched away
towards the tap o' the Briock. I had only continued, it micht be, an
hour in private meditation and prayer, when I heard the eight-o'clock
bells beginning to toll. Indeed, I could hear, from the place where I
was, I may say, every bell in the presbytery. The sound o' these bells
is still in my ears--it was unusually sweet and melodious; and yet there
was something very melancholy in the sound. I thought on the blood of
the saints by which these bells had been purchased; upon the many souls,
now gone to a better place, who had been summoned to a preached gospel
by these bells; and I thought, too, on the sad alteration which a few
hours would produce, when the pulpits would be deserted by the worthy
Presbyterian ministers who filled them, and be filled, it micht be, by
Prelatical curates--wolves in sheep's clothing, and fushionless
preachers at the best. Even at this early hour, I could see, every here
and there, blue bonnets, and black-and-white plaids, and scarlet
mantles, mixing with and coming forth every now and then from the broken
and creeping mist. The Lord's own covenanted flock were e'en gaun awa to
pluck a mouthfu (it micht be the last) o' hale-some and sanctified
pasture.

The doors o' the kirk o' New Luce had been thrown open early in the
morning; but, owing to an immense concourse of people, a tent had been
latterly erected on the brow face, immediately opposite to the
kirk-stile, and the multitude had settled, and were, when we arrived,
settling down, like bees around their queen, on all sides of it. Having
advanced suddenly over the height, and come all at once within view of
this goodly assembly, I found them engaged, as was their customary, till
the minister's appearance, in psalm-singing. A portion of the
Thirty-second Psalm had been selected by the precentor, and he was in
the act of _giving out_, as it is termed, these appropriate and
comforting lines--

    "Thou art my hiding-place; thou shalt
      From trouble set me free;
    And with songs of deliverance
      About shall compass me"--

when Peden made his appearance above the brow of the adjoining linn,
where he had probably been engaged for some time in preparatory and
private devotion. He advanced with the pulpit Bible under his arm, and
with a rapid, though occasionally a hesitating, step. All eyes were at
once turned upon him; but he seemed lost in meditation, and altogether
careless or unconscious of his exposed situation. His figure was
diminutive, but his frame athletic and his step elastic. He wore a blue
bonnet, from beneath which his dark hair flowed out over his shoulders,
long, lank, and dishevelled. His complexion was sallow, but his eyes
dark, keen, and penetrating. He had neither gown nor band, but had his
shirt-neck tied up with a narrow stock of uncommon whiteness. Thus
habited, he approached the congregation, who rose up to make way for
him, ascended the ladder attached to the back-door of the tent, and
forthwith proceeded to the duties of the day.

"Therefore watch and remember; for the space of three years I ceased not
to warn every one, night and day, with tears."

These words of the text were read out in a firm, though somewhat shrill
and squeaking tone of voice; and as he lifted up his eyes from the
sacred page, and looked east and west around him, there was a general
preparatory cough, and adjustment of position and dress, which clearly
bespoke the protracted attention which was about to be given. And,
truly, although he continued to discourse from twelve o'clock till
dusk, I cannot say that I felt tired or hungry. Nor did it appear that
the speaker's strength or matter failed him--nay, he even rose into a
degree of fervid and impressive eloquence towards the close which none
who were present ever heard equalled.

"And now, my friends," continued he, in a concluding appeal to their
consciences--"and now I am gaun to warn ye anent the future, as weel as
to admonish you o' the past. Ye'll see and hear nae mair o' puir Sandy
Peden after this day's wark is owre. See ye that puir bird" (at this
moment a hawk had darted down, in view of the whole congregation, in
pursuit of its prey)--"see ye that puir panting laverock, which has now
crossed into that dark and deep linn, for safety and for refuge from the
claws and the beak of its pursuer? I'll tell ye what, my freends--the
twasome didna drift down this way frae that dark clud, and along that
bleak heathery brae-face, for naething. They were sent, they were
commissioned; and if ye had arisen to your feet, ere they passed, and
cried, 'Shue!' ye couldna hae frichtened them oot o' their mission. They
cam to testify o' a persecuted remnant, and o' a cruel pursuing foe--o'
a kirk which will soon hae to betak hersel like a bird to the mountains,
and o' an enemy which will not allow her to rest, by night nor by day,
even in the dark recesses o' the rocks, or amidst the damp and cauld
mosses o' the hills. They cam, and they war welcome, to gie auld Sandy a
warning, too, and to bid him tak the bent as fast as possible; to flee,
even this very nicht, for the pursuer is even nigh at hand. But, hooly,
sirs, we maunna part till our wark is finished; as an auld writer has
it--'till our work is finished, we are immortal.' I hae e'en dune my
best, as saith an apostle, amang ye; and I hae this day the consolation,
and that's no sma', to think that my puir exertions hae been rewarded
wi' some sma' success. And had it been _His_ plan, or _His_ pleasure, to
have permitted me to lay down my auld banes, when I had nae mair use
for them, beneath ane o' the through-stanes there, I canna say but I wad
hae been content. But, since it's no His guid and sovereign pleasure, I
hae ae request to mak before we separate this nicht, never in this place
to meet again." (Hereupon the sobbing and the bursting forth of hitherto
suppressed sorrow was almost universal.) "Ye maun a' stand upon your
feet, and lift up your hands, and swear, before the great Head and
Master o' the Presbyterian Kirk o' Scotland" (there was a general rising
and show of hands, whilst the speaker continued), "that, till an
independent Presbyterian minister ascend the pulpit, you will never
enter the door o' that kirk mair; and let this be the solemn league and
covenant betwixt you and me, and betwixt my God and your God, in all
time coming! Amen!--so let it be!"

In this standing position, which we had thus almost insensibly assumed,
the last prayer or benediction was heard, and the concluding psalm was
sung--

    "For he in his pavilion shall
      Me hide in evil days,
    In secret of his tent me hide,
      And on a rock me raise."

I never listened to a sound or beheld a spectacle more overpowering. The
night-cloud had come down the hill above us--the sun had set. It was
twilight; and the united and full swing of the voice of praise ascended
through the veil of evening, from the thousands of lips, even to the
gate of heaven. Whilst we continued singing, our venerable pastor
descended from the tent--the Word of God in his hand, and the accents of
praise on his lips; and at the concluding line he stood fairly and
visibly out by himself, upon the entry towards the east door of the
kirk. Having shut the door and locked it, in the view and in the hearing
of the people, he knocked upon it thrice with the back of the pulpit
Bible, accompanying this action with these words, audibly and distinctly
pronounced--

"I arrest thee in my Master's name, that none ever enter by thee, save
those who enter by the door of Presbytery." So saying, he ascended the
wall at the kirk-stile, spread his arms abroad to their utmost stretch,
and in the most solemn and impressive manner dismissed the multitude.

Although Peden was thus banished from that pulpit to which, during the
civil wars, he had been elected by the unanimous voice of a most
attached people, he did not thereupon, or therefore, refrain entirely
from exercising his function as a minister of the Gospel; but, having
betaken himself to those fastnesses which lie betwixt Wigton and
Ayrshire, he was in the habit of assembling, occasionally, around him
the greater part of his congregation, as well as many belonging to the
neighbouring parishes. In the meantime, after several months' vacancy, a
young and half-educated lad from Aberdeen was appointed by the
government in the capacity of curate. This person was, of course, hated
by the parish; but this hatred was exalted to abhorrence, in consequence
of his immoral and unclerical life and conversation.

William Smith and Jessie Lawson were the children, the first of a
respectable farmer, and the other of a pious, though poor widow woman.
There had been some difficulties in the way of the lovers--

    "For the course of true love never yet run smooth;"

but these had at last been removed, and the young couple were about to
be united, with the consent of relatives, in the honourable bands of
matrimony. But the young and dissolute curate had caught a glimpse of
Jessie; and, having been fascinated by her beauty, had not been backward
in signifying, both to mother and daughter, his honourable (for they
really were so in this case) intentions. Janet, however, was too sound a
Covenanter to give her consent.

"Na, na," she continued; "my bairn, I wot weel, has been baptised by the
holy Mr Welsh, and she has lang sucked in the milk o' the true and
Covenanted Word, frae worthy and godly Mr Peden, and it will ill become
her to turn her baek on her first lover, for the sake o' ony yearthly
concern whatever."

In the meantime winter drew on, with its frosts, and its blasts, and its
snows, and the lovers became more and more anxious to be united in the
bands of hallowed love, in consequence of the pressing and importunate
addresses of the curate. Here, however, a difficulty occurred, which
was, however, overcome, by bribing the schoolmaster, as session-clerk,
to proclaim them to empty benches, and by obtaining Peden's consent to
perform the marriage-ceremony on their producing the requisite evidence
of proclamation. The place appointed was the Bogle Glen, and the time
midnight, on the second day of January, 1684. The night--for such
meetings were usually held during night--was stormy; there being a
considerable degree of snow-drift; but Peden was not easily diverted
from his purpose; nor was his audience unaccustomed to such exposures.
So the night-meeting for religious worship took place beneath the Gleds'
Craig, from the brow or apron of which the minister officiated. Beneath
him, huddled together under plaids, stood his devoted and attentive
congregation, whilst the moon looked down at intervals on a landscape
over which a frosty wind was ever and anon carrying the snow-drift.
Beside the speaker were arranged, on chairs and stools, some young women
bearing children to be baptised, and the youthful couple about to be
united in marriage. The usual service proceeded, and the voice of psalms
was heard amidst the solemn stillness of the midnight hour. The
children were next baptised from an adjoining well, which presented
itself opportunely, like the waters of Meribah, from a cleft of the
rock. The young people had just been united, and Peden was in the act of
pronouncing the usual benediction, when the tramp of horses' feet was
suddenly heard; and, in an instant, a discharge of muskets indicated but
too surely the nature of the assault. All was challenge, capture, and
dispersion; through which the screams of the young bride and the
menacing voice of the curate were distinctly heard.

About four o'clock of the same eventful night, the manse of New Luce was
discovered to be on fire, and some hundreds of figures were seen
congregated in frantic and menacing attitudes around it. At last a form
was discovered, bearing off from the flames something which appeared to
be inanimate. The curate's screams were heard from his bedroom-window,
and, by the assistance of the military, who had now arrived, he was
relieved by a rope from his critical situation; and the young lovers
were next morning discovered, safe and uninjured, in their own home, and
in each other's arms.



IV.--THE PROSECUTION OF THE M'MICHAELS.


The miseries of war are not confined to the battle-field and the actual
return of the killed and wounded. There is an atmosphere of wo and
intense suffering, which hangs dense and heavy over the whole theatre of
war--the devastation and horrors of a wide-marching enemy, advancing
like the simoom of the desert, and converting into a howling wilderness
the peopled and rejoicing district. Life is extinguished by terror and
deprivation, as well as by the sword; and with this difference, too,
that the former process is so much the more severe that it is protracted
and defenceless. Civil war is, in this respect in particular, the most
revolting of all. The animosities and resentments of opposing parties
are greatly exasperated by proximity of situation and community of
country; and the revenge of the stronger directed upon the weaker party
is uniformly marked by many atrocities. Of this character was,
unhappily, the latter period of the domination of Charles II., together
with the whole four years of the Papistical infatuation of the second
James. Men, women, and children were not only shot, drowned, and spiked,
but thousands who escaped this extreme fate, were so worn out by
watchings, and cold, and hunger, and mental anxieties, as to fall under
the power of diseases from which they never recovered.

An instance illustrative of these remarks occurred, according to
invariable tradition (partly oral, and partly written), in the Pass of
Dalveen, one of the wildest and most sublime localities in
Dumfries-shire. In the days of which we speak, there were no
mail-coaches, nor did the public road from Edinburgh to Dumfries pass,
as now, through that most fearfully sublime ravine; all _then_ was
seclusion and solitude in that mountain retirement, where the winds met
and mingled from many a converging glen; and the eagle and the raven
divided the supremacy above. The site of the shepherd's shieling is
indeed still ascertainable by the depth of verdure which marks the
departed walls; and the traveller may see it by the burn-side, almost
half-way down the pass.

The family which, during the latter period of the eight-and-twenty
years' persecution, occupied this humble dwelling was named M'Michael.
There were two brothers of that name; Daniel, who was a bachelor, and
Gilbert, who was married, and the father of a son, now a lad of ten or
twelve, and two daughters, still younger. The mother of these children
was a M'Caig, a name immortalised in the annals of persecution. The two
brothers, Gilbert and Daniel, had rendered themselves peculiarly
obnoxious to the spite and revenge of the curate of Durrisdeer, by
their refusing to attend ordinances; and their obtaining baptism, and
even, as times and occasions offered, the _sealing_ ordinance of the
Supper, from the hands of worthy Mr Welsh. Besides all this, when hard
pursued one day in the pass, Daniel and Gilbert had defended themselves
against a whole troop of Douglas' dragoons, by occupying the rocky
summits of the Lowther Hills, and precipitating loose and rebounding
rocks on the pursuers beneath. It was on this occasion that "Red Rob,"
of persecuting notoriety, had his shoulder-blade dislocated; and that
Lieutenant James Douglas himself, in his extreme eagerness to scale the
steep, had two of his front teeth dislodged.

Winter 1686 was peculiarly severe, and the proximity of Drumlanrig
Castle, the residence of the Queensberry Douglases, rendered it
exceedingly unsafe for the two obnoxious brothers, in particular, to
visit their home, unless it were by snatches, and at the dead hour of
night. The natural consequence of all this was, that both brothers lost
their health, and that Gilbert, in particular, who was constitutionally
infirm, contracted, or rather exasperated, a bad cough, which threatened
serious consequences. It is quite true that a warm bed and the comforts
of home might have done much for the complaint; but Gilbert's ordinary
bedroom was the damp extremity of a hollow in a rock, without fire, and
with his plaid alone as a nightly couch and covering. It was on a cold
and drifty day in the month of January, that Gilbert, in the presence of
his family, and under hourly apprehension of a visit from the barbarous
Douglas, called his family around him, and, leaning upon the bosom of
his beloved wife, addressed them in words to the following effect:--

"My dearest wife, my dear children, and my beloved Daniel, stand round
me, for I am dying." Thereupon there was much weeping, and the poor
woman had to be carried out of the room, nearly insensible. This pause
was employed by Gilbert in secret prayer and ejaculation--

"Lord, lettest thou thy servant depart in peace!--Lord, comfort the
widow and the fatherless!--Lord, give strength for trial, and faith for
dying like a Christian!"

When the poor widow had been so far recovered as to be able to return to
the bedside, the dying man proceeded, with frequent pauses and much
weakness, thus:--

"I hope I may say, though at an infinite distance, with the apostle
Paul, I have fought a good fight. I have kept the faith--the faith of my
Saviour, of his holy apostles, and of our Covenanted Kirk. I have kept
it in bad report, as well as in good--in the day of her extreme
suffering, as well as when godly Mr Brown was minister of Durrisdeer.
They have driven me from my humble but happy home, and from my wife and
children, to the mountain and the cave; but I have ever said--

    'I to the hills will lift mine eyes,
    From whence doth come mine aid,
    My safety cometh from the Lord.'

And I have ever found it so. I have been shot at, pursued, hunted like a
wild beast, and exposed to disease, and pain, and extreme
weakness--whilst I was, unless at intervals, denied the voice that
soothes, the truth that cheers, and the looks of sympathy that mitigate
in the extremest suffering; and I am now, if it shall please God to
withhold for a little the foot of the merciless and the ungodly--I am
now about to close my testimony by sealing it with my latest breath."

This exertion was too much for his exhausted strength, and it seemed to
all that life had fled; when, after a few short and heavy respirations,
he again proceeded--"Lord, give me strength for this last, this parting
effort in this our covenanted cause!--Now, my dearly beloved, I leave
you; for I hear my Master's call, and the Spirit and the Bride say,
Come! I leave you with this last, this dying advice: Let nothing deprive
you of your crown, hold fast your integrity; for He whom you will serve
will come quickly, and terrible will his coming be to all his enemies."

"Enemies, indeed!" vociferated Lieutenant Douglas, who had unperceived
entered the apartment: "those enemies, friend Gibby, are nearer, I trow,
than ye wot, and ready, with leave of this good company here, to take
special care that his majesty's enemies shall be suitably provided for.
Come, budge, old Benty, and you too of the lion's den. Come--my lambs,
here, will be more difficult to manage than the _lions_ of your Jewish
namesake. Come, Mr Dan--up, and be going; for the day breaketh apace,
and it will be pleasant pastime just to give us a stave of the death
psalm under the old thorn, on the brae face yonder. Red Rob's shoulder,
here, has sworn a solemn league and covenant against you; and, as to my
two front teeth, they are complete nonconformists to Whigs and Whiggery,
through all generations. Amen!"

In vain was all this profane barbarity poured on the ears of the dead
man; old Gilbert had breathed his last at the very first perception of
Douglas' presence--his God had in mercy withdrawn him from his last and
most severe trial.

"Look there! look there! look there!" were the first articulate accents
which crossed the lips of the distracted widow; "look, ye sons o'
Belial--ye men o' bluid--on the pale and lifeless victim o' yer horrid
persecution. Ay, aff wi' him!" (for Douglas had now approached the bed,
as if to ascertain that no deception had been practised upon him)--"aff
wi' him, to the croft, or to the maiden, or to the thorn-tree! shoot
him, head him, hang him--ah!--ha!--ha!--ha!" (Hysterically screaming.)
"He has escaped ye a'. Yer bullets canna pierce him; yer flames canna
scorch him; yer malice canna reach him yonder." (Pointing at the same
time upwards.) "There, even there, whar ye and yer band shall never
enter, the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary, ay, thank God!
the weary are at rest. Rest _here_, indeed, they had none; but _there_
they shall rest, when ye shall lie tormented!"

"Come, come, Mother Testimony, give us no more of your blarney. Let us
only over the shank yonder, and you and your whelps there may yelp and
howl till the day of judgment, if you please. But as for you, friend
Dan," (speaking ironically, and imitating the Covenanting language and
manner), "does the Spirit move thee to budge?--has the Lord dealt
bountifully with thee?--and will he 'save thee from six troubles, yea,
from seven?' Come, come, friend," taking him rudely by the arm, and
pulling him, with the assistance of Red Rob, towards the door. "The
Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come;' there is a _maiden_ longing for thy
embrace--yea, a maiden whose lovers have been many, and whose embrace is
somewhat close. But she, having taken up her residence in the guid town
of Edinburgh, is afar off; but, lest thou shouldst feel disappointment,
my lambs here have become somewhat frisky of late, and they will be most
happy to give thee a little matrimonial music, to the tune of 'Make
ready, present, fire!'"

Daniel M'Michael had long been accustomed to view death as a messenger
of peace. His days--now manifestly numbered--had been sorely troubled.
His faith in his Saviour was, with him, not a fluctuating, but a fixed
principle; like Stephen, he might ascend to see heaven opened--and his
soul was long absent in fervent prayer. He prayed for a persecuted kirk,
for a persecuted remnant, for his friends, and for his enemies, even
those whose hands were raised against his life.

"The guid Lord," said he, "forgive ye, for ye know not what ye do. The
thief on the cross was forgiven; David, the murderer, was forgiven; and
e'en Judas himself may have obtained mercy. Oh, ye puir, infatuated,
godless band! it is not for myself that I pray--it is for you; for, when
the day of wrath arrives, where will ye flee to? To the hills?--they
will be cast into the sea. To the rocks?--they will have melted with
fervent heat. To the linns and the glens?--but where will ye find them,
in that great and notable day of the Lord----"

Daniel was proceeding thus, when Red Rob struck him over the head with
the handle of his sword.

"Down to the earth with thee and thy everlasting jaw. We want none of
thy prayers and petitionings. We are King Charles' men, and our God is
our captain, our reward our pay, our heaven is our mess-room, and our
eternity an hour's kissing of a bonny lass."

Here the commander interfered, and the poor victim was raised, though
scarcely able to stand on his legs, from the stun of the blow.

"And now," said Douglas, "for the last time, wilt thou conform, and
preserve thy life, or die?"

The poor man groaned, and fell on his knees. The band was removed to a
distance, and in a few seconds the smoke rose white and whirling from
the hill-side. The work of death was done!

There is a small clump of old thorns which faces the high-road from
Dumfries to Edinburgh, as it enters the Pass of Dalveen from the south.
At the lower extremity of this woodland patch, there is a grey rock or
stone, covered with a thick coating of moss. It was whilst resting
against this stone, that Daniel M'Michael was shot, about half-an-hour
posterior to the cruelties which have been narrated.

A stone, with a suitable inscription, has been placed over the mangled
remains of this good man in the churchyard of Durrisdeer; whilst a
marble and gilt monument, of the most elegant and tasteful character,
occupies the whole of the aisle or nave of the church. The latter
monument perpetuates the memory and the virtues of the noble family of
Douglas; whilst the former rude and now mutilated flag-stone mentions an
act of atrocity perpetrated by a cadet of the family. In that day when
the secrets of families and individuals shall be made known, it shall be
manifested whose memory and virtues best deserve to be perpetuated.

The eldest daughter of Mrs Janet M'Michael or M'Caig was married, after
the Revolution, to the second son (John) of Thomas Harkness of
Mitchelslacks, from whom, in a lineal descent, the author of these
scraps derives his birth. Is it to be wondered at, then, that we feel,
through every drop of blood and ramification of nerves, a devotedness to
the great cause of constitutional freedom and rational reform? But we
hope the cause of political liberty may never be mixed up with the
concerns of that Church which our ancestors founded on the dead bodies
of martyrs, and cemented with their blood. We may return to this subject
again, for we have yet many recollections to record.



THE STORY OF TOM BERTRAM.


Poor Tom Bertram! His story is a sad one; and yet I love to talk of it.
It affords me a melancholy pleasure, in my old age, to conjure up the
memories of the past, and to recall those happy days when Tom and I
enjoyed together the freshness of youth and friendship. We were born in
the same village of Roxburghshire, educated at the same Border school,
entered as reefers together in the Honourable East India Company's
service, and for fourteen years we were shipmates and firm friends.
_His_ voyage of life has long been over; and my crazy old hulk must
founder ere long. But a truce to reflection. I must proceed with my
story; and, if I do make myself tedious by my digressions, forgive the
fond garrulity of an old sailor, who loves to linger upon every trifling
recollection of a lost and valued friend.

Tom Bertram was an orphan, the son of a respectable farmer in
Roxburghshire, who, on his death-bed, left his boy to the care and
protection of my maternal uncle. It was impossible to live long in Tom's
company without loving him. He was frank, daring, and active--a stranger
to fear, and yet gentle and affectionate in the extreme; and when I add
to this, that he was one of the handsomest youths ever beheld, can it be
wondered at that he was an object of favour and admiration to all our
village belles? Tom, however, laughed and joked, and talked sentiment
with them all; but his heart remained untouched--his _time_ had not yet
come: and it was with a merry heart, and pleasant anticipations of the
future, that he took his seat beside me on the coach that was to convey
us to London. I will pass over our first impressions of all the
novelties we saw and heard there: suffice it to say, that the
consciousness of being among strangers and aliens made us cling with the
fonder warmth to each other; and every voyage we made together only
served to strengthen the ties of our mutual regard. Years had passed by,
and we had both risen gradually, though slowly, in our profession, and
had always contrived to get appointed to the same ship. The last voyage
we sailed together, I was fourth, and Tom fifth, mate of the Cornwallis,
Indiaman; and we were both in the same watch. Every one acquainted with
board-ship affairs knows how perfectly compatible the greatest intimacy
and familiarity are with the strictest discipline; and how habitually
and instantaneously the frankness of friendly intercourse gives place to
the formality of nautical etiquette, whenever the duty of the ship
requires their alternation. Tom and I were like brothers; but he never
forgot that he was my junior officer, and never by any chance took
advantage of my friendship for him by ill-timed familiarity. One fine
moonlight night, we were lying becalmed within the tropics, whistling
and invoking St Antonio in vain, for no breeze came. Beautiful are those
calm tropical nights to the lovers of the picturesque, though sadly
trying to the patience of the mariner. The _watch_ were all lying in
various attitudes about the decks in deep slumber; the helmsman was
standing at his post--but whether asleep or awake was of little
consequence, for the rudder was powerless; there was not a cloud in the
dark blue sky, and the moon and stars were shining with almost dazzling
brightness, and looking provokingly placid and happy; the surface of the
sea was smooth as the smoothest glass, and in its undulating mirror gave
back a vivid reflection of the brilliant canopy above; there was a long
silvery path of light from the horizon to the ship; and the scene was
altogether uncommonly beautiful, and uncommonly provoking to the officer
of the watch. And there, in the midst of all the splendour and beauty
of nature, lay our noble ship, one of the finest specimens of man's
proud art, helpless and powerless as a new-born babe--rolling, and
tossing, and tumbling about--her lofty prow rising and falling as if
doing homage to the majesty of ocean; while the moon and stars seemed to
smile in quiet scorn at her unwieldy movements. Oh, the tedium and
weariness of a calm night-watch at sea!--the anxious look around and
aloft, to see if any _cat's-paw_ is ruffling the water, or if any stray
air has found its way into the _flying-kites_; the low, impatient
whistle; and the common but unintelligible and unaccountable ejaculation
of "Blow, good breeze, and I'll give you a soldier!" Bertram was
standing at the gangway, with his arm and head resting on the rail, and
muttering to himself. I approached him just in time to hear--

    "For then sweet dreams of other days arise,
    And memory breathes her vesper sigh to thee."

"Ah, Tom, sentimentalising? I have some hopes of you now. Who is the
object of your vesper sigh, if it is a fair question?--which of the
thousand-and-one flowers in your garden of love has left the memory of
its fragrancy in your heart?"

"Nonsense, Harry," said he, colouring; "I have something else to do than
to pine and sigh for a lady's love. What a lovely night it is!"

"Yes," said I--"lovely enough for a high-flying, sentimental lover, but
anything but pleasing to a plain, straight-forward fellow like myself.
But, joking apart, Tom, you have not been yourself this voyage; you go
through your duties actively enough, it is true, but evidently quite
mechanically. Your heart is elsewhere. Do not be afraid of making me
your confidant--I will not betray you; trust your secret sorrow,
whatever it may be, to _me_; if I cannot assist, I can at all events
sympathise with you."

"Thank you kindly, Harry," said he--"I believe you from my heart. You
have made a right guess for once in your life. I _am_ in love."

"Well, make a clean breast of it at once, and tell me who your Dulcinea
is; that, if I have the felicity of her acquaintance, we may hold
eloquent discourse of her charms together."

"Well, Harry, you remember Miss ----"

"Holloa! there's a breeze coming at last--beg your pardon, Tom," said I,
springing up on the poop for a better view; and there it was, sure
enough, coming up on the larboard quarter, with a cool, fresh, rippling
sound, roughening the surface of the swell before it.

"Forecastle there!"

"Sir?" replied Tom.

"Rig out the foretopmast and topgallant-studdingsail booms, Mr Bertram,
and bear a hand with the sails."

"Ay, ay, sir."

"Maintop there!--rig out the topgallant-studdingsail boom!"

"Ay, ay, sir."

"All ready with the stunsails forward, sir," cried Bertram.

"Very well. Forward there the watch!--run the stunsails up. Forecastle
there!--swing the lower boom!"

"Ay, ay, sir."

In twenty minutes the ship was under a cloud of canvas, and moving
rapidly through the water, the ropes were all coiled down, and the watch
again on their beam-ends.

"Stea-dy!" called the quartermaster.

"Steady it is!" answered the man at the helm.

"I told you so, Bill," muttered one of the afterguard to his
neighbour--"I knowed as how we'd have a breeze when I throwed my old
shoe overboard."

"Now, Tom," said I, "make an end of your confession. You asked me if I
remembered Miss----what's her name?"

"Kate Fotheringham."

If a thunderbolt had fallen at my feet, it could hardly have startled me
more than did the unexpected mention of that name. I _felt_ myself turn
pale--the blood seemed to creep and curdle in my veins, and a sensation
of mortal sickness and faintness came over me.

Tom observed my emotion, and exclaimed, in great alarm--

"Harry, how ill you look! What is the matter with you?"

"Nothing," said I--"a sudden spasm--but it is gone."

And, with desperate resolution, I gulped down the emotion which almost
choked my utterance, and listened with patience while Tom proceeded,
with all a lover's enthusiasm, to expatiate upon the charms of his
mistress. He had so long confined his feelings to his own bosom, that,
when he gave them free vent, their sudden and torrent-like out-pouring
was almost overwhelming. Rapidly and fervidly did he depict his first
sensations; glowingly and fondly did he dwell upon the personal charms
and mental amiabilities of his adored one; and, in _burning_ words, he
expressed his happiness in the certainty that he was beloved again.
Alas, poor fellow! he little knew that every kind expression of his
mistress went like a dagger to the heart of his friend! And yet so it
was; for, in the innermost recesses of my heart, hidden from all mortal
knowledge save my own, I had enshrined an idol--and that idol was Kate
Fotheringham. 'Tis true, I had bowed before it in vain. I had offered up
to her the incense of my first love; it had filled the temple, but made
no impression upon the divinity. My love was hopeless, but constant. But
it is necessary that I should explain myself; and to do so I must go
back.

The Rev. Thomas Fotheringham was minister of the Parish of L----, and
the father of two beauteous daughters, of whom Kate was the youngest.
She was indeed a lovely creature--full of life and animation, sparkling
and joyous; her complexion was delicately brilliant, and her bright blue
eyes shot forth their playful glances from the covert of the most
beautiful flaxen ringlets in the world. When she shook back her hair
from her forehead, and her laugh,

                        "Without any control
    But the sweet one of gracefulness, rung from her soul,"

and displayed teeth of pearly whiteness, she was indeed a thing to be
wondered at and admired.

Mr Fotheringham had been an intimate friend of my father, and I had gone
to spend a few weeks at L---- Manse, on my last return home. When I had
seen Kate some years before, she was a pretty, interesting child, and
used, in her playfulness, to call me her sailor husband: how great was
my surprise, when I met her again, to find the playful child transformed
into the tall, graceful, elegant woman! It was impossible to see Kate
Fotheringham without admiring her beauty: I soon found that it was
impossible to know her without loving her. She was as good as she was
lovely, and was almost adored by the poor of the parish, to whom she was
like a ministering angel. Her great delight was in distributing food and
clothing to the poor and needy; and her sweet smile and soothing tone of
sympathy were balm to the melancholy mourner, and to the bruised and
broken spirit. Was it wonderful that, living as I did in the most
friendly intimacy with such a being, listening to her praises from all
quarters, hearing the sweet music of her voice as she warbled the simple
melodies of her native land--was it wonderful that I loved her? Yes! I
more than loved her. Love is too tame, too commonplace a term for my
feelings. I adored her--I bowed my heart before her very footsteps: but
I felt that I was not loved again. The very frankness and innocent
familiarity of her manner towards me, while it fascinated, maddened me;
for I knew that I was wilfully deceiving myself; that she looked upon me
as a friend--a brother--nothing more. Fool that I was!--knowing all
this--knowing, in my own secret heart, that every day, every hour, I was
only storing up bitterness for myself--I still fluttered round the flame
that was consuming me. At last, one evening, my long-suppressed feelings
burst forth. Some expression of Kate acted as a spark to the train of
passion that was lying smouldering within my breast, and----I know not
what I said--but my heart was in the words; I only know that I was
miserable. Kate was agitated, surprised, and affected. She esteemed and
admired me, she said; but her heart was not her own. We parted with
mutual sorrow, and with a promise, on her part, never to mention the
occurrences of that evening; and with a determination on mine to smother
my feelings, and with firm resolve to tear her image from my heart for
ever. Weak and vain resolution!--that image will go with me to my grave.

Tom went on to tell me that he had gone, with my uncle, his guardian, on
a visit to L----, three years before, and that he had not been long
domesticated there before he felt the influence of those charms which
had proved so fatal to my peace. He was the constant companion of the
young ladies in all their rambles, had witnessed their various deeds of
unostentatious charity and benevolence, and was in the habit of
listening with pleasure to the warm and unsophisticated praises lavished
upon them by every dependant and cottager around them. His heart had
hitherto resisted the fascinations of beauty, and he had learned to look
upon it as a "pretty plaything," accompanied, as he had hitherto seen
it, with superficial accomplishments and frivolous employment. But here
was all his fancy had ever pictured of female loveliness and amiability
combined; and he felt that, with such a companion, he might reasonably
expect to realise his brightest dreams of mundane happiness. He
consulted my uncle, who had always loved him as a son, and who intended
him to be his heir; and laying before him the state of his affections,
told him that he waited but for his consent to prosecute his suit. My
uncle was delighted with his confession, and with the object of his
choice, and gave him his consent and blessing; at the same time giving
him to understand that Kate should not marry a beggar. Kate's heart,
almost unconsciously to herself, had long been his; and she was too
frank and artless to attempt to veil it from him when he made his
proposals. It was agreed that their marriage was to take place when he
returned from his next voyage, and that, in the meantime, their
engagement was to be kept secret.

Oh, how I had envied my happy rival! How often had I longed, with eager
curiosity, to see the man who had gained the heart of such a glorious
creature! And now he stood before me--the dearest friend of my heart,
from whom I had never had but one concealment--he whom I had loved as a
brother, and watched over with more than a brother's love--was the being
who, unconsciously, stood between me and happiness--who had blighted and
withered the fondest aspirations of my heart. Oh, the conflict of
feelings within me! Had he but confided in me sooner, what misery might
he not have spared me! Thank Heaven! friendship and justice conquered at
last. I resolved to keep my secret, though my heart should break; his
knowledge of it could not benefit me, but would only distress and grieve
him, and, perhaps, cast a cloud over that friendship which was now the
chief remaining solace of my life. It was with a smiling face,
therefore, but with an aching bosom, that I shook hands with Tom that
night; and well did I keep my secret, for he died in ignorance of it.

As we were going into the mess-berth next morning to breakfast, we met
Ben, the servant, looking as grave as an owl, with a face as long as the
maintop-bowline.

"What's the matter, Ben?" said Tom.

"O sir! we'll soon know what's the matter: the cow died this morning!"

Tom burst into a roar of laughter, and asked what that had to do with
his long face.

"It's no laughing matter, sir," said the man; "I never knew any good
come to a ship when the cow died: but we'll see before long."

We were both much amused at the man's newfangled superstition, as we
thought it, as we had never before heard of this.

"I have been told a story," said I, "of a cat influencing the destinies
of a ship, but I never heard a cow so highly honoured before."

"A cat!" said Tom--"what do you mean?"

"It's an old story," said I; "but, as you seem not to have heard it, I
will enlighten you on the subject:--

Some years since, one of His Majesty's crack frigates had greatly
distinguished herself, on the Mediterranean station, by the smartness
and activity of her crew, her state of excellent discipline, and her
great success in capturing prizes. For some time her good fortune seemed
to have deserted her; day after day passed away, and not a _tangible_
sail was to be seen; the time began to hang heavy on the hands of the
crew, and discontent and disappointment were legible in their
countenances. This state of things could not last long. The captain, a
good and gallant seaman, perceived that the spirit of disaffection was
busy among his crew, and determined to check it in the bud.

"Call the hands out, if you please, Mr Steady," said he to the first
lieutenant.

The hands were called out; and when assembled on the quarterdeck, the
captain addressed them to the following effect:--

"My lads, you used to be as active and cheerful a set of fellows as I
would wish to command; I used to be proud of you, for you seemed to take
pleasure in your duty; but now you go about the decks sullen and
discontented, and only work because you dare not disobey. If you have
any grievances to complain of, come forward like men and say so, and I
will redress them, if I can; but I tell you, once for all, I will have
no sulkiness; and by Heaven! if I can't drive it out of you in any other
way, I'll flog it out of you."

After a short pause, one of the captains of the forecastle stepped out
from the crew, and twirling his hat in one hand and scratching the back
of his ear with the other, said--

"Please your honour, we haven't no grievances.'

"Then what the devil's the matter with you all?"

"Why, sir----" said the man, hesitatingly.

"Go on," said the captain--"I won't bite you."

"Why, then, sir," replied the captain of the forecastle, "we've never
had no luck since you took that 'ere black cat on board."

The captain could not help laughing. "Well," said he, "that evil can
soon be remedied. Midshipman, tell my steward to throw the cat
overboard."

"O sir!" said the man, in great alarm, "do not throw him overboard--that
would be worser still."

"Then, what the deuce do you want me to do with him?"

"Why, if your honour would send him ashore as he came aboard, in a
boat."

"What a set of cursed ninnies!" muttered the captain. "Well," said he,
"you have often exerted yourselves to please me, and it is but fair that
I should do something to please you for once in a way."

The frigate stood in shore, and hove to, a boat was lowered, and the
unlucky cat, safely deposited in a bread-bag, was sent under charge of
a midshipman to be landed at the nearest point. The boat returned in due
time, and was hoisted up, the sails were filled and trimmed, when the
man at the mast-head hailed the deck--

"A strange sail in sight ahead, sir!"

"All hands make sail in chase!" was the cry; and, before night, the
cat-haters had taken a valuable prize.

"A strange coincidence, certainly," said Tom, "and most unfortunately
calculated to strengthen the men in their superstition. I hope we shall
have no such confirmation of Ben's panic about the cow."

We had a glorious breeze that morning on the quarter; the long swell,
which had been so smooth and glassy the day before, was broken into
short waves, which came rushing, and curling, and bursting under the
ship's counter; the sky was covered with light mackerel clouds; every
stitch of canvas we could carry was spread; the sails were all asleep,
and the ship snoring through the water;--there was every appearance of a
steady breeze, and of continued fine weather. A little after mid-day,
the captain came on deck, and said to the officer of the watch, "Mr
Freeman, what do you think of the weather?"

Mr Freeman, with a look of surprise, replied, "I never saw a finer day,
sir; and there is every appearance of a steady breeze."

"Well," said he, "that's my opinion too; yet the glass is falling
rapidly. I do not understand it. Send for Mr Sneerwell." And the chief
mate made his appearance. He agreed in thinking that there was no sign
of change in the weather.

"Well," said the captain, "my glass has never deceived me yet, and I
will believe it now against my own opinion, and in spite of favourable
appearances. You will pipe to dinner, if you please; and, when the
people have had their time, call the hands out to shorten sail."

"Ay, ay, sir! Pipe to dinner!"

The breeze began gradually to freshen; and, by the time we had swallowed
our dinner, we were glad to get our stunsails and lofty sails in as fast
as possible. A small dark cloud had appeared on the weather-beam, which
gradually spread and spread, till the whole heaven was covered with an
ominous darkness, and the wind increased so rapidly that there was
barely time to execute the orders which followed each other in quick
succession from the quarterdeck. Before one reef was taken in in the
topsails, it was time to take in another; the courses were reefed, the
mainsail furled, the topgallantyards sent on deck. Before midnight, we
were under reefed foresail and close-reefed driver; and, before the
morning watch, were hove to under stormstaysails. Tom had exerted
himself greatly during the gale; and, when aloft in the maintop, had
been struck on the temple by one of the points of the topsail which was
shaking in the wind while reefing. The blow, though from so small a
rope, had stunned him; and, when he recovered, he was obliged to be
assisted down to his cot, where the doctor took a good quantity of blood
from him. About this time, an epidemic disorder had shown itself among
the crew, which spread rapidly, and in a short time our sick list
amounted to six or seven-and-twenty. At first, the disease was not
fatal; but, after a time, death followed in its footsteps, and the
mortality became quite alarming and dispiriting to the survivors of the
crew. The only officer who was seized with the disorder was my friend
Tom, who had hardly recovered from the weakening effect of loss of
blood, and whose constitution had been much shaken by severe illness
abroad. Long and doubtful was the struggle between life and death; but
at length the crisis of the disease was over, and he began slowly to
recover. Oh! how often did I vow, while watching by his sick-bed, and
bathing his burning hands and brow, never again to go to sea with one
for whom I felt more than a common regard! I thought it would be almost
better to renounce the communion of intimate friendship altogether, than
again to expose myself to the risk of such grief as I now felt in the
prospect of losing my friend. Tom did no more duty for the remainder of
the passage of five weeks, and was still very feeble when we arrived in
the Downs. During that time, however, he used often to come on deck in
my watch; and, if there were no particular ship's duty going on, we
indulged in long conversations about the past, and in pleasant
anticipations of the future. But, on whatever topic our conversations
might commence, they always ended in the same subject--L---- Manse and
its inmates. Kate Fotheringham, Kate Fotheringham, was the everlasting
theme of Tom's tongue; even if I had never seen her, I might almost have
painted her picture from his vivid descriptions of her.

"You forget, Tom," I have often said, "that I have seen this paragon of
yours; you need not give me such a minute description of her."

"You _have_ seen her, Harry! I _always_ see her; her image is in my
heart. It is out of the fulness of my heart that my mouth speaks. Oh!
let me talk of her--the very sound of her name is like music to my ear.
Kate, Kate Fotheringham--is it not a sweet name, Harry?"

"The name is pretty enough; but, my dear fellow, you are allowing your
passion to run away with your senses altogether. For her sake, as well
as your own, you must endeavour to restrain the violence of your
feelings, which, in the present enfeebled state of your health, might
produce fatal effects."

"Fatal!" said he--"nothing can be fatal to me as long as Kate
Fotheringham's love remains to me. But, oh Harry! if I were to lose
that, what would become of me?"

I was alarmed and distressed by the depth and violence of Tom's
emotions; but I thought it better to allow him to express them
unreservedly, than to run the risk of adding to their intensity, by
endeavouring to check and repress them. Among other plans for the
future, he dwelt with much pleasure upon the prospect of giving our
friends at L---- an agreeable surprise, by coming upon them
unexpectedly, before they had heard of our arrival in England.
Circumstances favoured us in this project. Our passage had been a quick
one; and, the wind favouring us after we had passed the Downs, we ran
right up the river at once. In consequence of our unexpectedly early
arrival, there were no letters awaiting us; but we were not anxious on
that score, as our last accounts were favourable. The day after our
arrival at Blackwall, we obtained leave of absence, and set off (under
the rose) for the north. When we arrived at the nearest town to L----,
we left the coach, intending to hire a chaise or gig to take us on to
the manse; but there had been a run on the road that day, and there was
no conveyance to be obtained. Tom's mortification was extreme. I wished
to remain till next day; but his impatience prevented his listening to
reason.

"It's only a few miles, Harry! We can walk."

"In your present state," said I, "such an exertion may be prejudicial to
you."

"I see you don't like to stretch your legs, Harry. I will go by myself;
you can follow to-morrow!"

I had nothing further to say; so we ordered our baggage to be sent after
us, and set off together. When we arrived near L----, instead of
following the sweep of the road, and crossing the river by the bridge,
by way of a short cut, we struck across the fields, and waded the
stream. The moon was shining brightly, and the whole scene was flooded
with light. On the summit of a green bank, sloping down to the river,
lay the churchyard, near which stood the church, a venerable Gothic
building, shaded by old and solemn-looking trees, standing like
sentinels over the slumbers of the tomb. Our path to the manse lay
through the churchyard; and a feeling of sadness and of awe crept over
us, as we saw the cold beautiful moonlight resting on the well-known
graves of many of our early friends.

"Ah!" said I, "the churchyard has, at least, _one_ tenant more since our
departure. Whose can this handsome monument be?"

My eye glanced at the inscription, and a cold shudder came over me.

"Come on, Tom!" said I; "we have no time to dawdle here."

"Let me read this epitaph first."

"No, no," said I, trying to force him away. But it was too late--he had
seen enough: and with a cry of unutterable anguish, he fell fainting in
my arms. Poor Tom Bertram! Long years have passed, but that scene is
fresh in my memory--my heart bleeds for him still! I laid him gently on
the grass beside the tomb--the dying, as I thought, beside the dead. The
tears blinded my eyes, as I endeavoured to read the sad inscription on
the stone--"Sacred to the memory of Catherine, youngest daughter of the
Rev. Thomas Fotheringham, minister of this parish." The long panegyric
that followed--what had I to do with it then? I ran down to the river,
and bringing some water in my hat, I dashed it in Tom's face, and after
some time had the happiness to see him revive. He stared wildly at me,
and exclaimed--

"Where am I?--Harry!"

"Here I am, dear Tom!"

"Oh! I have had such a dream!" His eye-glance fell upon the
tomb.--"Merciful Heaven! is it true?" And leaning his head upon my
breast, while his face turned deadly pale, he gasped for breath. At
length, a burst of sorrow, such as I had seldom witnessed, relieved his
over-wrought feelings; he sobbed and wept as if his heart were flowing
out of him. I did not attempt to check or to console him; sorrow like
his was, in its first bitterness, too deep and withering for
consolation. Alas! I needed comfort for myself!

At length, the first violence of his feelings was exhausted, and he
suffered me to lead him, unresistingly, to the manse, where we were
received with the greatest kindness and sympathy by the sorrowing
family. There we heard the sad particulars of our loss. Kate had fallen
a victim to consumption some months before; the letter containing the
melancholy news had not reached us. Poor Tom, exhausted by previous
illness, and overcome by the dreadful shock he had experienced, was
obliged to take to his bed. I hastened back to my ship, where I was
detained some weeks. When I returned, Tom was dying. He knew me; and
with a faint smile, and a hardly perceptible pressure of my hand, he
murmured--

"I die happy, Harry. She prayed for me on her death-bed!"



THE COTTAR'S DAUGHTER.


The parties to whom the following tale refers being still, we believe,
alive, we must warn the reader that, though the story be true, the names
employed are fictitious; but we beg also to add, that in this
circumstance alone is the tale indebted to invention.

Young Edington of Wellwood was the son of a gentleman of large fortune,
residing in Roxburghshire; but we shall not say in what particular part
of that district. The noble residence of Wellwood--a huge castellated
pile, rising in the midst of embowering woods and wide-spread lawns of
the smoothest and brightest verdure--sufficiently bespoke the wealth of
its owner; or, if this was not enough to give such assurance, the crowd
of liveried menials that might be seen lounging about its magnificent
portals, together with the splendid equipages that were ever and anon
rolling to and from the lordly mansion, would have carried this
conviction to the mind of the most casual observer.

The presumptive heir to all this grandeur was young Wellwood, who was an
only child. At the period of our story, Harry (for such was his
Christian name) was about four-and-twenty years of age. His education
had been completed at Oxford some three years previous to this; and the
interval had been spent in a tour on the Continent, from which he had
now just returned, to reside some time with his father, before going
abroad, to fill a high official situation, which the latter's great
influence in the political world had procured for him.

Young Wellwood was a man of elegant figure, accomplished, and of
singularly fascinating manners--recommendations of which he too often
availed himself to accomplish very discreditable purposes, as the sequel
of our story will show. He was not naturally of bad dispositions--we
could almost say quite the contrary; nor did he love evil for
its own sake; but his passions were too powerful for his moral
principles--unsupported as these were by any auxiliary resolutions of
his own.

Such, then, was young Edington of Wellwood; and, having thus briefly
sketched his circumstances, situation, and character, we proceed to
advert to the humble heroine of our tale.

At a short distance from Wellwood House, there is a pretty little
village, which we shall take the liberty of calling Springfield. It is
situated in a romantic dell or hollow, and occupies either side of a
broad, clear, but shallow stream, that runs brawling through its very
centre. Steep rocks, and in other places abrupt acclivities covered with
verdure, and the whole overhung with "wild woods thick'ning green," form
the boundaries of the narrow glen in which the village is situated. From
this village, bands of young maidens--daughters of the labouring people
by whom it is inhabited, and of others in poor circumstances--were in
the habit of repairing to Wellwood House every morning during the summer
season for supplies of milk; the excess of the dairy being sold at
little more than a nominal value to every one in the neighbourhood who
chose to apply for it. Amongst the young girls who used to frequent
Wellwood House on this errand was Helen Gardenstone, the daughter of a
poor widow woman who resided in Springfield. She was a girl with an
appearance and manners of a kind rarely to be met with amongst those in
her humble station in life. Her beauty did not lie in the mere glow of
health, or in regularity of feature alone. Both of these, indeed, she
possessed in an eminent degree; but the chief captivations of her truly
lovely countenance were to be found in the peculiar sweetness, grace,
and native dignity of its expression, which the meanness of her
circumstances had been unable to abase. In short, even the style of
Helen Gardenstone's beauty, unaided by fashion, art, or education, as it
was, was such as the daughter of the haughtiest peer of the realm might
have been proud to own. But nature had not expended all her skill and
pains on the countenance alone. She added a figure every way worthy of
its loveliness; a figure whose elegance and fine proportions the simple
but coarse garments she wore might impair, but could not conceal; and
she finished the work by bestowing on this favoured creature a mild,
gentle, and generous disposition; a heart formed for cherishing all the
better qualities of female nature; and a degree of intelligence much
surpassing that usually found amongst those of her years and class. Such
was Helen Gardenstone, the daughter of the widow.

To resume our narrative. It was on a fine summer's morning, at the
period to which our story refers, that Helen's mother came to her
bedside, and, shaking her gently by the shoulder--for she was sound
asleep--said, in a kindly tone--

"Helen, dear, it's time ye were awa to Wellwood for the milk."

Helen opened her bright eyes, smiled in her mother's face, started from
her couch, and was soon ready to perform the morning duty to which she
had been called.

"But I'm thinkin I'm late this mornin, mother," she said, on observing
the advanced appearance of the day.

"Ou, ye're time aneugh, dear," replied her mother; "I didna like to
wauken ye sooner, as ye were up sae late last nicht, and sae sair
fatigued wi' the washin."

"Tuts, mother," rejoined Helen, "that was naething. Ye should hae made
me jump at the usual time. I declare, there they're comin back!" she
abruptly added, having caught a glimpse of some of the village maidens
returning with their pitchers of milk; and with this she hurried out of
the house, with her little tin can, and, tripping lightly over the road,
she soon reached the avenue leading to Wellwood House.

Helen was, indeed, later than usual on this morning; and one consequence
of this was, that she had to go alone--for all those who used to
accompany her had already been to Wellwood, and had returned; another
consequence, and one fraught with much that was deeply interwoven with
the future destiny of the unsuspecting girl--that all the inmates of
Wellwood House were astir, and amongst these young Wellwood himself, who
was sauntering in the avenue that led to the house at the very moment
Helen entered it. They met. Wellwood, who had never happened to see her
before, was struck with her extraordinary beauty. He threw himself in
her way. He addressed her in flattering language. He watched her return
from the house, learned everything from the artless girl regarding her
situation and circumstances; and, from that hour, she engrossed all his
thoughts, and became the sole object to which he devoted the dangerous
powers of fascination which nature had given him, and art had improved.
Nor did he exercise these powers in vain. Helen ultimately fell a victim
to his wiles, and became the prey of the spoiler.

The story of the poor girl's misfortune soon spread abroad. It became
the talk of the village; and many a burning face, and many an agonising
pang, it cost her as she passed along, and heard the sneers, and taunts,
and heartless jests to which that misfortune subjected her.

"The graceless cutty!" said one--and we must here remark that the
merciless persecutions of this kind to which she was exposed proceeded
almost entirely from those of her own sex--"nae better could happen her
wi' her dressin and her airs. No a madam in a' the land could be at
mair pains snoodin her hair than she was."

"Atweel, that's true," said a second; "and see what she has made o't,
the vain, silly thing!"

"Made o't!" exclaimed another of these vulgar and heartless traducers;
"my certie, she'll mak weel o't, I warrant ye. Young Wellwood 'll gie
her silks and satins by the wab, and siller in gowpens. She'll no
want--tak my word for that. We maun toil late and early, cummers, for
our scanty mouthfu, and our bits o' duds; while the like o' her eats and
drinks o' the best, without ever fylin her fingers."

"This'll bring doun her pride, I'm thinkin," said a fourth. "I aye
thocht she wad hae a fa', and was ne'er owre fond o' oor Mary gaun wi'
her. Folk speak o' her beauty; but, for my part, I never could see ony
beauty about her."

"Nor me either," chimed in a fifth; "I aye thocht her a puir, glaikit,
silly-looking thing."

Much of such conversation as this the poor unfortunate girl frequently
overheard; and much more of a similar kind was said which she did not
hear. In short, there was not one, at least of her own sex, who
expressed the smallest sympathy for her unhappy condition, or felt for
her misfortune--not one who attempted to soothe her sorrows, or to
lighten the burden of the poor girl's miseries--not one to treat her
error with the lenity which their own liability to deviate from the
straight path of moral rectitude ought to have inspired:--no, the poor
girl's persecutors seemed to think that the abuse and defamation of her
character shed an additional lustre on their own, and that, by her fall,
they themselves were exalted. Strangers were they to the god-like
sentiments expressed by him who says--

    "Teach me to feel another's wo,
      To hide the fault I see;
    That mercy I to others show,
      Such mercy show to me."

When we said, however, that there was not one who felt for poor Helen's
unhappy situation, we ought to have made a single exception. There was
_one_ who felt for her, and that most acutely. This one was her mother.
The widow sorrowed, indeed, over the fall of her child, and many a
bitter tear unseen did it cost her--but she pitied and forgave.

"Dinna mourn that way, my puir lassie," she would say, when she found
Helen, as she often did, weeping in secret. "God 'll gie ye strength to
bear up wi' your sorrows. He tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, Helen,
and e'en will He saften the grief in which your young heart is steeped.
Though a' the warld should abuse ye, Helen, and desert ye, and scorn ye,
your mother's arms and your mother's bosom will aye be open to receive
ye; for weel do I ken, though everybody else should be blin' to't, that,
for a' that has happened, ye're guileless, Helen, and far mair sinned
against than sinning."

The uniform kindness of her mother, and the charitable and
Christian-like spirit in which she treated her erring daughter, greatly
consoled the unfortunate girl under her affliction, and was the means of
saving her, for a time, at any rate, from utter despair--we have said
for a time only, because it was ultimately unequal to support poor
Helen's spirit against the sneers of an unfeeling world. Returning home
one evening from a place at a little distance, where she had been on an
errand of her mother's, Helen overheard, from amongst a group of women,
some such conversation regarding her as we have already quoted; but more
severe things still were said on this occasion than we have recorded,
and, amongst these, the last and worst name which can be given to the
erring of her sex was applied to her. Helen heard the horrifying word;
and no sooner had it reached her ear, than a sense of self-debasement,
of shame, and despair, which she had never felt so acutely before,
seized upon her, and nearly deprived her of her reason. The ground
seemed to reel under her feet, and it was with the utmost difficulty she
was able to make out her mother's house. Her walk was unsteady, and she
was pale as death when she entered.

"Mercy on me, Helen! what's the matter?" exclaimed her mother, running,
in the utmost alarm, to the bed, on which the latter had flung herself,
in an agony of shame and horror, the moment she had entered the house.
"What's the matter, Helen?" repeated the latter, in a soothing tone.
"Has onybody been using you ill?" she inquired; for she knew that her
unfortunate daughter was often exposed to such insult and abuse as we
have already noticed.

"O mother! mother! I can stand this nae langer," was the indirect, but
sufficiently intelligible, reply of the weeping girl, who, with her face
buried in the bedclothes, was now sobbing her heart out. "I can stand it
nae langer. I canna live, mother--I canna live under this load o' shame
and reproach. I ken I am a guilty and a sinfu creature; but, oh! will
they no hae mercy on me, and leave me to the punishment o' my ain
thochts and feelings? Is there nae compassion in them, nae pity, nae
charity, that they will thus continue to persecute me wi' their
merciless tongues? I hae offended my God; but, I'm sure, I hae never
offended them in thocht, word, or deed; and why, then, will they drive
me to distraction this way? I canna live under it, mother--I canna live
under it!" again exclaimed the unfortunate girl.

"They can hae but little o' the milk o' human kindness in their bosoms,
Helen, that wad add a pang to them ye are already endurin, my poor
lassie," said her mother, leaning over her with the utmost tenderness
and affection. "They surely canna be mothers themsels that wad do a
thing sae cruel and unfeelin. I'm sure it wad melt the heart o' a
whunstane to look on that puir wae-begone face o' yours. But never mind
them, Helen, dear--keep up your heart. Guid has come before noo oot o'
evil; and there's nae sayin what may be in store for you yet."

To this attempt at consolation Helen made no reply; but that night--and
it was a wild and a wet one--she left her mother's house, stealing out
while she slept; and, when morning came, she had not returned, and no
one knew whither she had gone. Days, weeks, and months passed away, and
still Helen Gardenstone came not, nor was any trace of her discovered;
but it came at length to be generally believed that the poor deluded and
distracted girl had terminated her miseries by committing suicide--that
she had buried her sorrows in the waters of the Molendinar--the name of
the stream or river that ran through the village, and which had many
deep pools both below and above it.

These were, indeed, actually searched for her body, but to no purpose;
though this was accounted for by the circumstance of the river's having
been much swollen at the time of Helen's disappearance, by several
previous days' rain. The body, then, was conjectured to have been
carried down to the sea.

The report of Helen's sudden disappearance, together with rumours of the
supposed catastrophe which it involved, soon reached young Wellwood;
and, libertine as he was, the appalling intelligence plunged him into
the deepest distress. When first informed of it, he grew deadly pale,
and would fain have disbelieved the horrid tale, which made him
virtually and morally, though not legally, poor Helen's murderer. But,
when he found he could no longer doubt the truth of the rumour, remorse
and contrition seized him, and, for some days thereafter, he confined
himself to his room on pretence of sudden indisposition, to conceal the
distraction of his mind, which wholly unfitted him to mingle in
society.

The vision of Helen, invested with all the personal beauty and mental
innocence in which she had first met his sight, appeared before him
during the feverish reveries of the day, and in the disturbed slumbers
of the night. Anon, the scene would change, and the dead form of the
victim of his lawless passion would stand before him, bearing all the
horrid marks of the peculiar death she had died--her face rigid and
ghastly pale--her wet dishevelled hair hanging wildly around it; and her
clothes drenched with the waters in which her miseries had been
terminated. Such were the harrowing pictures which the disturbed
imagination and guilty soul of young Wellwood summoned before his mental
eye, to madden and distract him. In time, however, these dreadful
visions began to abate, both in frequency and force, and he was
gradually enabled to take his place again in society; but a settled
melancholy was now visible on his countenance--for the fatal catastrophe
of poor Helen's death, though latterly less vividly present to him than
at first, still pressed upon his spirits with a weight and constancy
that produced a very marked change on his general demeanour.

Soon after the period to which we have now brought our story, Wellwood
proceeded to the place of his destination abroad, to occupy the official
situation which his father's influence had procured for him. Here he
remained for two years, when some business connected with the duties of
his appointment called him to London. One of the first persons on whom
he called, on his arrival in the metropolis, was a gentleman of the name
of Middleton--a young man of fortune, and of excessively dissipated
habits, whom he had known at Oxford, and who had been the companion of
all his debaucheries (and they were frequent and deep) during his
residence at that seat of learning. In this last respect young Wellwood
was now somewhat improved; but it was otherwise with his old friend, who
still pursued, with unabated vigour and unsated appetite, the wild
career of dissipation in which Wellwood had so far accompanied him. The
renewal of their acquaintance on this occasion terminated in the renewal
of the scenes at Oxford; and, led on by his companion, Harry largely
indulged in all the fashionable excesses of the capital. These excesses,
however, even with all the outrageous mirth and jollity with which they
were associated, could not restore to him the peace of mind he had lost,
nor even banish from his countenance that expression of melancholy to
which it had now become habituated, and which did not escape his friend
Middleton, who frequently urged him to tell him the cause of it; but for
some time Wellwood evaded the inquiry. At length, however, the secret
was wrung from him.

"I say, now, Harry," said Middleton to him one evening, as they sat
together over a bottle of wine, "won't you tell us how you came by that
Puritanical face of yours. It's not the one you used to wear at Oxford,
I'll be sworn, and where you have picked it up I can't imagine; but it
certainly does become you amazingly. That melancholy gives you quite a
sentimental air. Couldn't you help me to a touch of it? I think it would
improve me vastly."

"Middleton," replied Wellwood, gravely, "I wish you may never have such
cause as I have, both to look and to think seriously; and, in order that
you may judge for yourself whether I have not good reason, I _will_ now
inform you of the cause of that melancholy which has so frequently
attracted your notice, and has so much excited your curiosity." Having
said this, Wellwood proceeded to tell his friend of the dismal story of
Helen Gardenstone; and, when he had concluded, "Worlds on worlds," he
exclaimed, energetically, "would I give, Middleton, were I possessed of
them, to restore that sweet unfortunate girl again to life; and these,
ten times told, would I part with, to be relieved of the guilt of having
wronged her."

To the melancholy tale of Helen's death, and to the repentant
exclamations with which it was wound up, Middleton replied with a loud
laugh.

"And is this all?" he cried out. "Is this the cause of that most
lachrymose countenance of yours, Harry? Shame, shame, man! I thought you
were a fellow of more spirit, a man of more mettle, than to be affected
by such a very trifling affair as that. Why, how the deuce could you
help the silly wench drowning herself? You did not push her into the
water. Tuts, man! fill up your glass, and think no more of it; and now,
'pon my soul, Harry," he continued, "that I know the cause of your
dismal phiz, and find it to be a matter of moonshine, I'll cut you for
ever, if you don't, after this night, hold up your head, and look like a
man. There, fill up," he said, pushing the bottle, from which he had
just helped himself largely, towards his companion, who, without making
any remark on what had just been addressed to him, seized it with
avidity, and, as if in desperation, poured out and swallowed an entire
tumbler of the liquor it contained.

We need not follow out the scene. The night terminated, as it usually
did with those boon companions, in a deep debauch; but it was ultimately
marked by an event for which the reader will be as little prepared as
Wellwood was. On returning to his lodgings, accompanied by Middleton,
who slept at the same hotel, at an early hour of the morning--and a
bitterly cold and snowy one it was, for it was the depth of winter--the
two friends, as they came shouting and bawling along, under the
influence of the wine they had drunk, were attracted by seeing four or
five persons gathered together on the street, and evidently surrounding
some object of interest.

"I say, Harry, let's see what this is?" said Middleton; "perhaps we may
knock some sport out of it."

"Why, I don't mind," replied the former; "but doubtless it's some
drunken or starving wretch, enjoying the cool night air."

"Why, what's the matter here?" said Middleton, bustling into the middle
of the assemblage, followed by Wellwood.

"Vy, it's a young voman and a child as is a-starving, and has never a
home to go to," said one of the bystanders. And such, indeed, was the
truth.

A miserable being--not, however, in her attire, which, though bespeaking
poverty, was yet clean, whole, and even decent--was seen sitting on the
steps of a stair, seemingly in the last stage of exhaustion, with a
child, a boy of about two years of age, closely wrapped up in her cloak,
and strained to her bosom, to protect it from the piercing cold of the
night.

"My good woman," said Middleton, stooping down close to her--for even he
was affected by the piteous sight--"where are you from?"

"I'm frae Scotland, sir," was the reply, in a voice of singular
sweetness, but evidently enfeebled by suffering.

Wellwood caught in an instant the dialect of his native land; and he did
not hear it without emotion--neither were the soft musical tones of the
voice lost upon him. They resembled, strongly resembled, those of one
whom he dared not even think of; and these circumstances combined,
instantly excited in him a deep interest in the unhappy being before
him. He now also approached her, and, taking her kindly by the hand, was
about to address her in soothing language, looking at the same time
closely to her face, when, without saying what he intended, or indeed
saying anything, he slowly raised himself again from the stooping
posture to which he had had recourse, his face as pale as death, and
trembling violently in every limb. In the next instant, he staggered as
if he would have fallen. Middleton ran to support him, and, thinking he
had been seized with some sudden illness, slowly led him to the distance
of a few paces from the persons assembled round the destitute female.

"What's the matter? what's the matter, Harry?" said the former, on their
getting out of hearing of any one. "My troth, but you do look ill,
Wellwood!"

"_That_," replied the latter, in a sepulchral voice, and with a look
that increased the alarm of his companion--"_that_," he said, pointing
to the spot where the unhappy woman sat, and without noticing
Middleton's inquiry, "is no being of flesh and blood. It is a vexed
spirit, Middleton, come to haunt me for the injuries I did it when in
the body--come to destroy my peace, and to realise the horrid dreams of
my guilt. It is--it is, Middleton"--and he gasped for breath as he
spoke--"the spirit of Helen Gardenstone."

"Nay, that I'll be sworn it isn't," replied his friend, who now thought
he had gone deranged. "It's a _bona fide_ human being, I warrant you,
Harry, and I'll bring you proof of that directly." Saying this, he ran
to the object of his friend's terror, and inquired her name. She gave
it. Middleton was confounded--he hastened back to Wellwood, and, as he
approached him, "By Heaven, Harry!" he said, "you are so far right--the
woman's name is really Helen Gardenstone."

Regardless of the situation in which he was, and equally so of those who
might witness the strong expression of feeling which he meditated,
Wellwood instantly dropped on his knees, and, in one brief sentence of
mingled piety and joy, thanked God that he was not altogether the guilty
wretch that he had conceived himself to be; for he now felt assured
that, whatever might have been the train of circumstances that had led
to this singular occurrence, the person whom he had thus found a
houseless and destitute wanderer on the streets of the metropolis was,
indeed, no other than Helen Gardenstone.

On recovering a little from the tumultuous feelings which had at first
overwhelmed him, Wellwood's next thought was how to succour the
unfortunate girl and _his_ child, as he had no doubt it was. The first
idea which occurred to him on this point was to have Helen instantly
conveyed to his hotel--and on this idea he subsequently acted; but,
thinking the present neither a fit time nor place to discover himself to
her, or to give her an opportunity of recognising him, he deputed the
task to his friend Middleton, who readily undertook it, whilst he
himself kept aloof. On reaching the inn, Wellwood retired to his own
apartment, while Middleton saw to the comforts of his unfortunate
charge. These provided for, he rejoined his friend, whom he found
wrapped in profound meditation, with his elbow resting on a table.

"Well, Harry," he said, on entering the apartment, "this is a devilish
queer affair, an't it? But, in the name of all that's perplexing, what
do you propose doing now?"

"I'll tell you all about that in the morning, Middleton," replied
Wellwood, gravely, "after I shall have slept on it. In the meantime, I
thank you for your attention to the poor girl."

"Faith, to tell you a truth, Harry," rejoined Middleton, "I would have
done as much, and a great deal more, too, on her own account, let alone
yours; for she's certainly as pretty a girl as ever I clapped eye upon.
A gentle, beautiful creature 'tis, Harry. But what the deuce are you to
do with her, again say I."

"Why, I have not quite made up my mind on that subject," said Wellwood;
"but I'll think of it, and we'll see what the morning brings forth."

Saying this, he retired to his own sleeping-apartment, where he spent
half the night in thinking what should be his next proceeding with
regard to Helen; and the result of his cogitations on this subject was a
resolution of a very extraordinary kind.

On the following morning, when he and Middleton met--

"Well, Harry," said the latter, "what's to be done now? What has been
the result of your night's reflections regarding Helen? What do you now
propose doing with her?"

"I propose to marry her, Middleton," replied Wellwood, gravely. "It is
the least thing I can do in reparation of the injury I have done
her--the misery and scorn I have entailed on her; and besides,
Middleton," he went on, "I should be perjured in the face of Heaven if I
did not, for I swore a sacred and binding oath that I should make her
mine; and it was by trusting to that oath that poor Helen fell."

"Ha! ha!--a particular good joke, Harry," exclaimed Middleton; "and----"

"No joke whatever, Middleton," said Wellwood, interrupting him; "I am in
serious earnest. I will do the girl the only justice now in my power. I
will do what my heart and my conscience tell me is right in this matter,
and defy the sneers of a selfish and censorious world. On this I am
firmly determined, let the consequences be what they may. My mind is
made up, Middleton."

"You're mad, Harry," said the latter, now becoming serious in his turn,
on seeing that his friend was really in earnest--"absolutely and
absurdly mad."

"It may be so, Middleton," replied Wellwood, calmly. "That is a point I
will not dispute with you; but I am nevertheless firmly resolved to do
what I have said. I will take my poor little boy to my bosom, and his
mother shall become lady of Wellwood. It is all the reparation I can
make her, and it shall be made. Will you assist me in going through with
this romantic business, Middleton?" he added, smiling.

"Why, Harry," replied the latter, "I certainly should not like to desert
you in a time of need; but----"

"No buts, Middleton," interrupted his friend. "Will you, or will you
not?"

"Why, then, if you _are_ resolved, Harry, on this desperate, and, I must
call it, singularly absurd step, I will," rejoined Middleton. "But what
will your father say to it?"

"Why, from him, certainly, my marriage must, far a time, at any rate, be
concealed; but of this more afterwards. In the meantime, will you go to
Helen, and tell her that an old acquaintance desires to see her; and
conduct her hither?"

Middleton readily undertook the mission, and departed to execute it. In
a minute afterwards he returned, leading in Helen by the hand. On seeing
Wellwood, she uttered a piercing shriek, and fainted in the arms of
Middleton, her little boy clinging to her in all the terror of childish
affright. Wellwood rushed to her assistance, and, in the tenderest and
most soothing language he could command, endeavoured to restore her to
consciousness. This of itself gradually returned, and a scene followed
which we will not attempt to describe. Wellwood, pressing Helen to his
bosom, told the bewildered but delighted girl that it was his intention
to repair the injury he had done her, by offering her his hand. He next
flew to his boy, took him up in his arms, bathed him with his tears, and
bestowed upon him, while he caressed him, every tender epithet he could
think of.

Our story is now coming naturally to a close; and we will not prolong it
by any unnecessary or extraneous details. In three days after this,
Helen--having been previously provided with everything suitable to the
rank in life to which she was thus suddenly and most unexpectedly
promoted from the lowest depths of wretchedness and destitution--became
the wife of Henry Edington, Esq. of Wellwood. In three days more, Mr
Edington received intelligence of his father's sudden demise, which
rendered it necessary that he should proceed instantly to Wellwood. In
this journey his wife and child accompanied him; and the next appearance
of Helen Gardenstone in her native village was in a splendid carriage,
as the lady of Wellwood, in which character she subsequently acquired an
extensive reputation for benevolence, and for the practice of every
social virtue. Helen, in short, became an exemplary wife, and conferred
on her husband, who continued to regard her with unabated affection till
the day of his death, all the happiness of which the marriage state is
capable.



THE SURGEON'S TALES.



THE CASE OF EVIDENCE.


The following narrative was given to me by the executors of Miss
Ballingal, whom I attended for a short time previous to her death:--

I shall not now, I hope, be long upon the face of this earth. It is
sinful to wish to die; but, when the spirit is weary of the trials of
this evil world, and the body broken, and the bones stricken to their
dried marrow with pains, surely a poor mortal may indulge the wish, that
God's time of release may not be postponed beyond the power of bearing
the weight of life. My years, if mentioned, would not, perhaps, appear
to be many; but _age_, in the sense in which I take it, cannot be
calculated by circumvolutions of the sun. There is an age of the spirit
independently of that of the body; and to calculate that, we must have a
measure of the effects of misfortune, and pain, and injury, on nerves
toned in all the keys that rise in gradation, from the sensations of
creatures a little above the brutes, to the sensibilities of individuals
a little lower than the angels. In this view, I am indeed aged as the
sons of Levi; for my soul, like the people of Pharaoh, has been smitten
with boils and blains, by the poisoned bite of the serpent tongue of
civilisation. The spirit of the Indian under his plantain-tree, lives
till the body is sick of it; and with a mistaken humanity, he is exposed
in the desert, that the wants of the flesh may kill the spirit that
yearns to live, and to rejoice again in the return of the seasons, with
their fruits and flowers; but the spirit of civilised man or woman is
often dead long before the mortal tenement exhibits any decay; for,
though spotted fever and limping palsy have passed on, and touched not
the flesh, the spirit has been visited by plagues a thousand times more
deadly, that rise from the refinements of civilised life. It is these
that have made me aged, and weary of remaining longer here; and I am not
doubtful that, when I record what I have suffered from two
causes--first, my own--yes, I affirm it--my own goodness; and, secondly,
the evils inherent in the state of society in which we live--every one
will acknowledge that I have little more to wait for on this side of
time, and that the sooner I am dissolved, the better it may be for
myself, and those who sympathise in griefs that death alone can
alleviate.

Brought up in the manse of C----, by a pious father, the clergyman of
the parish, a learned man--and by a mother, a woman of many virtues, who
wished her daughter to be as good as herself--I enjoyed all the
advantages of breeding and education; which, if turned to good account,
make the ornaments of society. I cannot, and never will, admit that
these advantages were lost upon me, though they have tended to make me
miserable. I was accounted fair; and I believe that my beauty--a gift so
much valued--has had also a share, and no inconsiderable one, in the
production of the peculiar evils under which I have suffered, and still
suffer. I was--what none knew so well as myself--sensitive to a degree
bordering on diseased irritability; but my sensitiveness was of that
higher kind, which, courting and receiving impressions and impulses from
virtuous thoughts and elevated feelings, tends to elevate rather than
depress. The fine culture I received from my father, co-operating with
my refined sensibilities, produced in me the most exquisitely minute
perceptions of moral good and evil; so that I came to have the same
delicate feeling of the graceful or the distorted in morals, that some
_born_ musicians are said to possess in regard to the tones of harmony
in the world of sounds. This is not self-praise--it is truth wrung out
of me; for, though possessed of many qualities which might have
nourished vanity, the disrelish I ever felt of the exhibitions of a vain
spirit in others would have been effectual in quelling my own, even if I
had had any to quell, which assuredly I never had. I believe that the
strong view in which morals were presented to me by the precepts of my
father, would have operated to the production of a fine and healthy
effect in one formed for the busy world; but in me, who seemed to have
been formed with a connate, aspen-like, trembling sensitiveness of the
traces of good and evil, his instructions, continued from day to day,
and enforced by the power of his own example and that of my sainted
mother, tended to give my original perceptions so strong and holy a
sanction, that, at a very early period, I had become a kind of
worshipper of good. Virtue has a lovely aspect to all, even to those who
tremble at her beauty, from the contrast of their own ugliness; religion
has the power of making her more beautiful; and systems of morals,
clothed in fine language, are effective in training many hearts to a
high love of this emanation from God. But I was, and I am yet, different
from any individual whose moral perceptions are merely strengthened by
these aids. I do not know if I make myself intelligible, but I myself
feel the distinction I wish to impress: morals were to me that species
of passion which in many exhibits itself only more perceptibly in regard
to some other object--such as poetry, painting, sculpture, or
music--with perhaps this difference, that while these natural
_illuminati_ are merely annoyed by an exhibition of distortion, I was
pained--sorely, miserably pained--by vice, in whatever form it was
exhibited to me. I was not contented with the ordinary appearances of
purity. The jealousy-offering was ever in my hand; and I was always
sighing to see it waving before the goddess, and offered upon the altar
of virtue. I looked upon the individual in whom the "water that causes
the curse" became bitter, as a creature who was rotten, and had become a
curse among the people.

Entertaining these sentiments, I loved to expatiate upon the beauties of
my favourite subject, with a glow of eloquence that struck even the
godly visiters of the manse with surprise and admiration. I often, also,
in my visits among my father's parishioners, exhibited the same warm
enthusiasm, couching my sentiments in the gorgeous clothing of a young
fancy enamoured of a deified personification of what I conceived to be
the only true good and the only true beauty upon earth. But I was no
apostle under the influence of a proselytising spirit; for I only
visited the virtuous, because I loved them, and those of an evil
reputation I avoided with a thrilling horror, as creatures diseased and
dangerous to approach. Those who believed me a religious enthusiast--and
there were many who entertained that opinion of me--knew nothing of my
real nature; for, though my father's precepts had had all due effect
upon me, religion, far from being the origin of my feelings, lent merely
a sanction to them, showing the final cause of my enthusiastic views,
and turning them to that account in the contemplation of an after world,
that ought to have been at all times their end and object. I was rather
a lover of virtue for its beauty: my feeling was an impassioned taste,
luxuriating on every virtuous act, and dwelling with inexpressible
delight on every cultivator of my favourite subject. A consequence of
this was the horror of vicious persons, which I possessed to a degree
that made my father suspect that my passion was not the religious one,
which is unavoidably accompanied with pity for the misguided votary of
sin, and a straining effort to reclaim him to the paths of virtue. He
was to a certain extent right; but I question much if, with all his
learning, he possessed knowledge enough of the various peculiarities of
human nature, to enable him to analyse my character, or to understand
the peculiarities of one under the dominion of a passion for ethics.

I was, moreover, of a remarkably tender constitution of body--the
consequence of early weakness, as well, perhaps, as of that irritable
temperament which fed and was nourished in turn by the high-strung
sensibilities of my spirit. Up to the age of fifteen, I was subject to a
species of fit, or nervous syncope; and I always found that, after an
attack of these enervating prostrations of my physical powers, my mind
recurred to my favourite subject with greater keenness, supplying my
excited fancy with brilliant images of virtuous sacrifices, such as I
had read of in the old classic authors, which I could read in the
original; and these, again, swelled my heart, lighted my eye, and lent
an eloquence to my tongue, which dwelt on the daring of Mutius, the
sacrifice of Lucretia, the heroism of Brutus, the friendship of Damon,
and the determination of Virginius. Exhausted by the swell of emotions
produced by these subjects, I fell back upon the quieter, but no less
delicious, theme of a Howard's philanthropy; and ended with the
contemplation of those instances of private charity which had come under
my own eye. I never felt happier than when in these moods; and my
mother, who knew my passion, contributed to its gratification, by
directing me to such recorded examples of worth as she knew where to
find among my father's books.

Possessed of these views and feelings, so unsuitable to the cold maxims
of the world, and with a weak and irritable constitution, I was ill
prepared for the loss which was now, when I was in my twentieth year,
impending over me--the death of both my parents, who, attacked by the
same disease--some putrid species of typhus--died within a week of each
other, leaving me, their only child, as much unprovided for in regard to
worldly wants, as I was unfitted for making up the deficiency by my
personal exertions. My father left nothing but the furniture in the
manse, which was all required to pay up some advances of stipend which
had been made to him by several of the heritors, and which the extreme
scantiness of his income necessitated him to have recourse to. I was a
beggar, imbued with notions to make the people of the world admire and
pity, and gifted with a countenance so beautiful (why need I spare the
vain word, when I now admit that age and pain have made me ugly?), that,
with art, might have realised a fortune, or, with folly, might have
ruined me. I sought the protection of a spendthrift uncle and a good
aunt--the latter resident in the town of Stirling, an old lady of
fortune, a Mrs Greville, who admired my principles, and possessed
generosity enough to enable her to offer to repay the pleasures of my
companionship by her house and her friendship. My tender frame, operated
upon by the intense grief I had felt in the loss of my parents,
sustained a shock which would have proved fatal to me, if the assuasive
attentions of that angelic being had not contributed to the recovery of
my health. Her protection was much, her kindness valuable; but above all
was I blessed in the possession of a friend who reduced to practice,
though she could not _feel_ as I felt, the principles of virtue I had so
long cherished with the fondness of a ruling passion. But my situation
was now changed. In my father's manse I saw little of the world; but
what came under my observation was congenial to my mind, and gratified
my feelings by the exhibition of goodness as well of deed as of
sentiment. The evil I saw was out-of-doors, and I eschewed it as a
serpent which would beguile by the spiral turns of its insidious lines
of beauty, and the shining hues of the colours of false loveliness. In
our society at home, or in the houses of the parishioners, it never came
under my experience, except by the report of crimes which grated on my
irritable feelings, and pained me to a much greater extent than people
of ordinary sensibilities may well comprehend. In my new residence, I
was necessitated to mix with the world. My aunt saw much company,
composed of the mixed inhabitants of the town, and I accompanied her to
various parties where the _fashionable_ vices were cultivated, as all
fashionable things are, with an affected contempt of honest plainness
and unadorned simplicity.

Though my aunt was herself a good woman, and admired the high-coloured,
and, it may be, unnatural views I took of human life, she never
understood the secret parts of my mental constitution, but took me
simply for one who entertained a somewhat strong sense of the beauty of
a good life, and who therefore could mix with society of acknowledged
honesty as the world goes, without allowing the frailty of human nature
to interfere with my own views, and far less with my comfort and peace
of mind. My beauty made her proud of me; and I was soon introduced to
scenes which stirred all the antipathies that, as the result of my past
modes of thinking and feeling, lay strong within my heart, and ready to
be called forth by a departure in others from the rules of life I had so
long loved. The first view I got of the mysteries of card-playing--in
the house of Captain Semple, of Tennet, who lived in town, only a few
doors removed from where I lived--produced an effect of pain upon me
similar to that which Mozart declared he felt when his harmony was lost
in discordance. They played for what they called high stakes; and there
was exhibited, on a lesser scale, the keen avaricious eye, the forced,
choking laugh, the lying smile, the trembling hand, and burning brow of
the gambler of the London grade. The whole family engaged in this play.
I recollect, at this distant period, the effect produced upon me by the
agonised countenance of the beautiful Catherine Semple, the eldest
daughter, when she lost a high stake, and yet turned the expression of
the worst look of the devil into a smile far more hideous than that
which it concealed. Nor was the effect less painful that was produced
upon my high-wrought sensibilities by the cruel triumph that burned in
the beautiful blue eye of Esther her sister, who had pocketed the
hard-won earnings of a poor surgeon, and seemed to feed on the poisoned
garbage of his depression and disappointment. The face of her mother,
who looked on, partook alternately of the expression of those of her
daughters; and while I, a stranger, beheld with pain the first
principles of goodness subverted, and the fairest samples of God's
creatures penetrated to the core by the worst feelings of our fallen
nature, she, their parent, sympathised with a daughter's deceit and
revenge, or gloried in her triumph over what might be the approaches of
ruin to a fallen creature. I went home after that exhibition dispirited
and miserable; the chords of the moral harp, that had so long responded
to the sweet sounds of a virtue imagined, felt, and dreamed of, as a
beatific vision, were disrupted and torn asunder; and I imagined that
the individuals who had thus laid upon it their sacrilegious hands were
worthy of a hatred unqualified by pity, as destroyers of the most
beautiful fabric ever erected by God's love. These were not the gloomy
views of the monastic ascetic, or the religious enthusiast--for I was
neither. I was, indeed, peculiarly formed; but I knew not my
peculiarity, and even now I could scarcely abate one ray of the
effulgence that, if you please, blinded me to the factitious virtues of
the _juste milieu_ of a bad world's morality.

Some nights afterwards, I accompanied my aunt to the house of Mrs Ball,
also a neighbour, and one who could afford to live in a style that, in
such a town as Stirling, might be conceived to be high. She had a
daughter, Anne, and a son, George, an attorney, both accomplished and
handsome, and wearing on their faces the external appearances of
simplicity and goodness. The recollections of Semple's family were still
busy with my heart, and I trembled to approach another assemblage of
fashionable people. I was placed in the midst of a large tea _coterie_,
and expected to hear a conversation suited to the views of human life I
so fondly cherished. Stories of generosity, of age assuaged, bereavement
ameliorated, want supplied, and hunger and nakedness fed and clothed,
must, I thought, issue from such a quiet-looking assemblage of people,
brought together apparently for no other purpose than to promote the
cause of their own happiness, which surely might be best done by
contemplating the means of the happiness of others. Having had one of my
fits in the fore part of the day, I was more irritable than usual; but
having got, in some measure, quit of the pain produced by the moral
discordance that had, some days before, grated so painfully on my weak
nerves, I expected to be able to join in a conversation which could not
fail to embrace a part of my favourite theme. I was again destined to be
made miserable. I was placed in the midst of a species of moral
cannibals, who preyed ruthlessly and jestingly on the misfortunes and
miseries of their fellow-creatures. Pecuniary embarrassments,
matrimonial disagreements, detections of dishonesty, elopements,
infidelities--everything that might render an individual worthy of pity
or hatred--was treated in the same tone of concealed satisfaction. The
burst of loud laughter followed on the heels of the whine of hollow
sympathy; the sneer mixed its cutting sarcasm with the lying tribute to
suffering worth; and through all, over all, in all, there was the spirit
of evil, in its worst, its ugliest form, rejoicing--secretly, no doubt,
but not the less certainly--in the defection of mortals from God's law,
and their devarication from my standard of moral beauty.

I experience a difficulty now, though then it would have been easy for
me to describe what I felt on the occasion of this new display of this,
to me, the ugliest parts of the hated system of evil which prevails in
the world. The beautiful visions I had formed in my day-dreams, and
which I had cherished as the source of my greatest happiness, appeared
to me to have little or no relation to earth, or to earth's inhabitants;
and a gloomy melancholy stole over me, and retained the dominion of my
mind, in spite of every effort to shake it off. I endeavoured to make my
feelings understood by Mrs Greville; but she, though participant in my
views of moral perfection, could not comprehend why the turpitude of men
should have the effect of making a good person incapable of enjoying
what was truly virtuous in nature, and far less why it should produce a
gloomy misery in those who were themselves truly good. What people
cannot comprehend, they sometimes state to others, for the sake of
assistance to their understandings; and my aunt, in the openness of her
heart, stated my peculiarities to some friends, who coloured them to
suit their fancies, and then communicated them to the families of the
Semples, the Balls, and several others. My views, as I afterwards
learned, were considered by these people as an impeachment of their
morals; and I was set down as an arch-hypocrite, who wished to rear a
character for goodness on the ruin of the reputation of others. The
state of despondency into which I fell, precipitated me into a
succession of my old nervous fits, and it was not for some time that I
was again prevailed upon to visit the scenes where my feelings were
exposed to such causes of laceration; but when I did again accompany my
friend in her accustomed visits, I found that I had become unwelcome:
oblique sneers, short, cutting taunts, and pointed insinuations, were
directed against me; and though I then knew nothing of the cause, I
felt, with that trembling sensitiveness which was peculiar to me, the
poignancy of the poison of a hatred that was scarcely attempted to be
concealed.

In the little intercourse I had as yet had with the new world of sad
reality into which I had entered, I had heard the characters of good
people so fearfully belied and reviled, that I attributed the painful
treatment I thus received to the same malevolent spirit that dictated
the malicious scandal which seemed to penetrate almost every family I
had yet visited. I inquired for no cause in myself; for I had done or
said nothing to create merited individual hatred. It was the working of
the same spirit of evil that generally prevailed, extended to me, a poor
orphan, living on the dependence of a kind relation. It was one thing to
see evil done towards others, and to feel it applied to one's-self; and
the pain I formerly felt was increased by the dread that I might yet be
thrown upon that world which presented to me such fearful indications of
cruelty and vice. It will soon be seen whether it was my good or evil
fortune, at this gloomy period, to meet with one who appeared really to
understand the constitution of my mind, to appreciate the exalted views
I entertained of virtue, and to sympathise with me in the pain produced
by the discordance between the actual state of society and what I so
fondly wished it to be. Augustus Merling, proprietor of a fine property
called the Park, yielding him about £1500 a-year, and who lived, for a
great part of the year, in town with his widowed mother, visited my
aunt, and often saw me. I have said I was possessed of much beauty, and
the fact is undoubted; but there was still about me that aspen-like
sensitiveness, derived from the nervous attacks to which I was enslaved,
operating on a mind of originally fine structure, that the very look of
man or woman, if boldly thrown upon me, whether from curiosity or
confidence, made me shrink intuitively, and look confused or abashed;
and I never could conceive that all the beauty I possessed could make
amends for or overcome the prejudices against me originating in that
cause. I was in this respect, however, entirely wrong. My sensitiveness
gave me an interest in the eyes of Augustus, who, the moment he saw me,
was so struck with the beauty of my face, and that very shrinking of my
manner, that he inquired at Mrs Greville every particular concerning me;
and got such an account as, he himself afterwards confessed, increased
his curiosity by the mystic obscurity in which my aunt's inability to
understand me had wrapped all the peculiar attributes of my mind. He had
felt some anticipative impression of a sympathy between our thoughts and
feelings; and our intercourse--for he sought me the more fervently the
more I retired from him--soon satisfied him he was right in his estimate
of my character. I am certain he understood me thoroughly, and I believe
he was the only individual I had yet met who fathomed the mysteries of a
heart only too good and pure for the world in which we live. But, if I
was surprised and pleased with this, what may be conceived to be my
feelings, when I at last found, in a beautiful youth of fortune, the
very moral counterpart of myself, with all my exalted views of my
beloved and cherished goodness and moral loveliness! Often as the pen of
poet has been employed in the description of the feelings of mortals
under the influence of the tender passion, sublimed by the elevating
power of virtuous purity, I am satisfied that small approach has been
made to the reality of the love that soon bound me and Augustus together
as creatures made after the same model, and yet different from all
mankind. If other matters did not hurry me forward, I could exhibit the
thrilling details of a bliss which is thought to be peculiar to the
regions above. I would only be afraid that the analysis would require to
be carried so deep into the attenuated fibres of constitutions so seldom
seen and so little understood, that I would be charged with my imputed
error of applying unearthly visions to things of earthly mould. Love has
become a by-word, because it is too often mixed with the impurities of
vulgar natures; but such love as ours might tend to elevate and throw
over the rapt fancies of imaginative beings a forecast of that exquisite
bliss which awaits mankind in the regions of heaven.

But, even in this sweet dream, the evil of the world was destined to
follow me. I had taken from two ladies the object of their love or
ambition. Catherine Semple and Anne Ball, whom I have already mentioned,
had been severally intended by their mothers as the wife of Augustus--a
match to which the young rivals themselves were as much inclined as
their mothers, as well from the personal qualities of Augustus, as from
his wealth and property. I was hated by these ladies before as a
hypocrite. I was now the successful rival apparently destined to blast
all the cherished hopes of their love or ambition--and yet guiltless of
even the thought of the earthly and debased feelings of what is known as
rivalship. Our love was soon known to both the families, chiefly through
the medium of George Ball, who acted as the man of business of Mrs
Greville, and in that capacity was often a visiter at the house. The
effect of the intelligence was intense and stirring; and, through the
simple medium of my aunt, I heard myself denounced as one who carried
virtue on my face and tongue; simulated nervous sensibility, to give
effect to my affected distaste of vice; and who yet bore within my
bosom, for a heart, the poisonous cockatrice, whose eggs were the guile
and deceit that work more evil in the world than open-faced, unblushing
vice. These statements were corroborated by what I myself saw; for when
I again met the young ladies--and it was more by chance than
intention--I was struck by the intensity with which they, even in the
presence of others, expressed by look and manner the hatred they carried
in their hearts against me, guiltless as I was of thought or deed
inimical to them or any other mortal on earth. The enmity thus flared
upon me, with such strength of feeling, was experienced in the height
of the delicious dream of love in which I was entranced; and, softened
and mellowed as I was with the sweet enjoyment of the actual experience
in Augustus of the visions of perfection I had so devotedly cherished, I
felt again, and in an increased degree, the pain which the workings of
evil seemed fated to produce in me.

About the same time, another source of uneasiness rose at my side, in
the person of George Ball. Whether actuated by love, or interest, or
both, I know not--but I afterwards had reason to suppose he wished
Augustus detached from me, to be free for his sister--this individual
took the opportunity of my aunt's absence, and made, on his knees, warm
professions of attachment to me. He declared that he was dying for me,
and implored me to give him a test of his affection. I looked at him and
trembled. He it was who had reported the affection of me and Augustus,
and, with the knowledge that I loved and was beloved by another, he thus
attempted to burst the bonds of a holy and elevated connection--to make
me ungrateful, perfidious, and base; and to render him in whom all my
happiness was centred miserable and wretched. My frame of mind was too
delicate for indignation; a slow creeping feeling of loathing was the
form in which the contemplation of evil produced an effect on me, and
the sickening influence seldom failed in reducing me, for a time, to
gloom and nervousness. I cannot describe my conduct on the occasion of
this new discovery of the workings of the prevailing demon; but I
believe that I hurried from the apartment with such an expression of my
feelings depicted upon my countenance, as must have told him, more
eloquently than words, the disgust he had roused in me, and the pain
with which I was penetrated. The former he might understand, the latter
was beyond the reach of his intelligence.

I found an assuagement of these evils in the bosom of Augustus, where
lay the microcosm, that pure moral world I delighted to contemplate; but
the illness of Mrs Greville, which shortly after supervened, called upon
me to exercise actively those virtues of gratitude and kindness which
formed a part of the scheme of my morality. Night and day I waited upon
my benefactress, with the fondness of affection, and the fidelity and
unwearied steadfastness of principle. Between her and my Augustus my
time was passed; and I know not whether I felt more satisfaction in the
theoretical contemplation I enjoyed along with him, of the beauties of a
good life, than in the practical application of our views to the
amelioration of my aunt's feelings in her illness, and to the
contribution to her ease and satisfaction. Yet all my assiduity seemed
to be of little avail; she gradually grew worse; and there seemed to
come over her, at times, sorrowful anticipations of what might befall
me, in the event of her death, mixed with, if not suggested by,
recollections of the manner in which I had been treated by the families
whose daughters aspired to the hand of Augustus. These thoughts were
busy with her one day, and she had sent for George Ball to make her
will. Before he came, she was visited by the mother of Augustus; and
before the latter departed, Miss Catherine Semple and Miss Anne Ball
also came. I sat by her bedside, watching, through tears of sympathy,
every indication of pain or solicitude. It was a strange meeting, and
presented an opportunity for a declaration of sentiment on the part of
my aunt, that, ill as she was, she could not let escape.

"Martha," she said, looking in my face, and taking my hand into hers,
"oh, that I possessed the virtues of your clear, untainted mind!--for
then I should be prepared to meet the bright beams of that light of
heavenly glory which searches to purify, and shines to enlighten, and
bless, and make happy. Your trial may be now, or rather when I am gone;
but your triumph will come when you are as I now am. People have tried
to injure you" (she looked steadfastly at the two young ladies); "but,
if Mrs Merling remains your friend, the viper-tongue of scandal or
reproach cannot touch you. The terms on which you stand with Augustus I
know, though I never can be able to comprehend all the beauty of your
mutual views and sentiments on that subject which is gradually opening
upon me by the medium of a light from above. You have rivals" (looking
again at the two young ladies); "but they are bold mortals who would
dispute the victory with angels."

These words came to me like the "fountain which was opened to the house
of David," for it banished from me many fears; but to Catherine Semple
and Anne Ball they were as adders' tongues; and the eliminated poison,
indigested, was thrown out upon me by every expression of hatred they
could call up into their countenances. Mrs Merling was silent, but
looked upon me with that sweetness which resulted from those angelic
views of heaven-born goodness she had communicated to Augustus. That
look was to me an ample panoply against the scorching, revengeful fire
of the eyes of my rivals, who, having expended all the force of their
malevolence by the side of their prostrate and apparently dying friend,
departed in wrath. In a short time, a servant came from George Ball, and
stated that he was from home, and would not return till next day. My
aunt appeared disconcerted by the intelligence, but said she would not
employ another, as he alone knew the state of her affairs. Mrs Merling
kissed me, and told me to be of good heart, for that, while she loved
her Augustus, she must continue to love me, who was his counterpart, and
therefore (she added, with a soft smile) more of heaven than of earth.
She departed, stating that she would return in the evening, to ascertain
how my aunt then was. These assurances of friendship I required to
sustain me amidst this trying scene; for my old complaint had been
exhibiting an activity among my nerves, which shook me to the heart,
and predisposed me for the pain of the endurance of enmity on the one
side, and the solicitude of a friendship, on the eve of being ended for
ever, on the other. I was sitting convulsed by conflicting emotions,
with my hand on my forehead, when Mrs Greville again spoke.

"I feel worse, my beloved Martha," she said, "and am solicitous about
the return of George Ball. I would send for another, but that I would so
much prefer my usual man of business. So far, at least, I can insure
your safety, my love, in the event of anything happening to me before
his return. Hand me that box that lies on the top of my escritoire."

I complied, by fetching and laying the box on the bed. My aunt took a
key that lay under her pillow, and, opening the secretary, exhibited a
great number of jewels, which she had got on the death of her husband,
who had been a jeweller on a great extent in London, and left her the
treasure as her share of his fortune. Some of these she had disposed of,
and laid out the proceeds in the purchase of heritable property, on the
rents of which she lived; and the remainder, along with an inventory,
written in her own hand, she had deposited in the box, of which she had
always taken the greatest care. There were other valuable articles
besides the jewels in the box; her title-deeds were there, and some
bank-cheques, for money she had saved out of her rents. She lifted up
two or three pearl-necklaces, and other articles, to enable her to get
to a string of diamonds, apparently of great value.

"These," she said, "were valued by James" (so she always spoke of her
husband) "at four thousand pounds. They were intended as the portion of
my little Agnes, who died only one week before her father. Who has a
better right to them than you, my dear Martha?--take them, and along
with them the necklaces, which I think are worth a hundred guineas
each. The loose jewels in this interior box you may also take; they are
of no great value, but they will suit you as articles of dress, when you
become the wife of Augustus Merling. Take and place them all in your own
trunk. If I get better, I will trust to your returning them to me
_without a request on my part_, and the inventory may be left here, to
show what you have got. When George Ball comes, I shall make him put a
clause in my will, to accord with this act and my sentiments."

She then locked the box, and I, with tears of gratitude in my eyes, went
and placed the jewels in my trunk, and returned to the bed of my
benefactress.

"You must look to your treasure, Martha," she continued. "I have guarded
it well, having had occasion to doubt the honesty of Magdalene" (the
maid-servant), "who, I fear, knew too well what that box contained. I
missed a beautiful brooch last year, and would have discharged her, but
that I had no evidence against her. Look well to the key of your trunk."

I could not reply to these statements of my aunt. My heart was full, and
my tongue would not express the feelings of gratitude with which I was
penetrated; but she understood me, and was content. Shortly afterwards,
she said she felt worse, and I despatched Magdalene for Mrs Merling, who
came within half-an-hour, accompanied by Augustus, who sat in an
antechamber, anxious to see me. The first look that Mrs Merling directed
to her old friend detected the symptoms of approaching death, and she
communicated to me secretly the melancholy information. She seemed
anxious about the attorney; but the situation in which I, who would be
benefited by the will, and her son, who was so near, stood in relation
to each other, produced a delicacy which prevented her from showing any
anxiety on the subject. The medical man, who came soon after, held out
to us a very faint hope, and even hinted that he himself was surprised
at the sudden change that had taken place upon her. The unfavourable
symptoms increased towards night, and the intelligence of her illness
brought Mrs Ball, to get her curiosity satisfied, and her feelings of
humanity excited. She had been informed by her daughter of what had
taken place in the forenoon, and had scarcely entered, when she alluded,
in a sneering tone, to Augustus, whom she had seen in the anteroom as
she passed. We sat round the bed of my dear relative, who began to
exhibit symptoms of a wandering state of mind--a circumstance less
noticed by the others than by me; and having heard that Augustus was in
the house, she requested to see him. I ran for him--he came and bent
himself over the sick-bed, to administer some of the soothing sentiments
of a mind replete with the balm of "the spirit of grace and
supplications" which was poured on the house of David. She asked him to
be seated, and, raising a little her body, she pointed to the box, which
stood on the top of the escritoire, and wished it brought to her, that
she might give Augustus a ring as a keepsake. Mrs Merling, who sat next
to it, obeyed the request, and brought the box. With trembling hands the
patient sought for the key, and having found it, tried to insert it in
the lock; but she was unable, and Mrs Merling assisted her. The box was
opened, and my aunt, now in a state of delirium, ran a wild eye over its
contents, and, raising her hands to heaven, cried--

"Where are my jewels? I have been robbed. Wretches, tell me where are
those jewels which I have guarded for twenty years?"

The excitement was fatal--she fell back, and expired. The confusion
which followed this sudden and as yet unexpected event drowned for a
time the effect resulting from the extraordinary exclamation. The women
were busy in various ways, and Augustus ran to support me, who at
first, staggered by the exclamations, was rendered senseless by what so
immediately followed. I swooned in his arms, and, when I recovered,
found myself in my own parlour, with Mrs Ball leaning over me. Augustus,
alarmed by the length of time I remained insensible, had hastened away
for the doctor, and left me to the tender mercies of the mother of my
rival. When I looked up, the first object that met my eyes was my trunk,
where were deposited the jewels I had got gifted to me by my aunt; and,
by the power of association, I heard ringing in my ears the words, "I
have been robbed." The air seemed thick, from the impediment which my
swelling heart offered to my powers of respiration, and, holding out my
hand, I pushed away her who held me. The resistance offered to my hands
directed my attention to the face of Mrs Ball, who, smiling, with a
cutting satire, which spoke her suspicions--

"Who robbed your aunt, Miss Martha?" inquired she. "Why did you faint
when she mentioned the loss of her jewels?"

"Ha!" answered I, with an exclamation, rubbing my forehead, and still
searching in my mind for a full recollection of all that had taken
place; "I wish my aunt to explain, in presence of Mrs Merling, and you,
and Augustus, her extraordinary words. Come, come--let us go to her--she
must explain, she must free me of the imputation."

"Your aunt is dead, young woman; you saw her die," she replied, with
more bitter irony. "You have not yet recovered yourself. It was her
death-bed confession. Why did it shake you so? _You_ never can be
suspected."

In an instant the full truth flashed upon me, and I saw that the death
of my aunt precluded all hope of getting her statement recalled. I felt
a horrible load upon my heart, and gasped for breath. The thought that I
had _already_ allowed to pass the proper opportunity of stating the
truth burned my brain with the pain of a seething iron. The force of
truth was strong in me, and I struggled at this late period to tell all
that had occurred; but, when I looked up in the face of my malicious
tormentor, I could not speak, and I now felt that those sensibilities
which made me so exquisitely alive to the sense of virtue had become my
enemies. The thought of being suspected--and my confession that the
jewels were in my trunk would amount almost to a conviction--seemed
worse than death in its direst form; yet I essayed again and again to
tell the truth, and still I failed to pronounce one intelligible word of
explanation. Mrs Ball, finding me recovered, left me, as she said, with
her accustomed satire, to the attentions of Augustus Merling, who at
that moment entered the room with the surgeon. He was delighted to see
me recovered, and asked me, in tones that sounded in my ears more
grating than risped iron, how I felt. I answered, with difficulty, that
I was better. The doctor gave me some stimulant, and he and Augustus sat
down by my side, talking on the subject of the sudden change that had
taken place in my aunt's disease, which no one had thought fatal. I sat
silent, and expected every moment that Augustus would have mentioned
something regarding the statement made by my aunt in reference to her
jewels; but he never approached the subject--a circumstance which seemed
to me extraordinary; for it was impossible, I thought, that so striking
an incident could have escaped his memory; and as the presence of the
doctor could form no reason (but rather the opposite) against a
recurrence to the subject in his presence, I thought I had grounds for
supposing that my presence formed the cause. The moment this thought
entered my mind, I shook throughout my whole system. The question rose
incessantly upon me, Why does my presence prevent him from disclosing so
startling and important a circumstance? The answer appeared plain and
simple--Because he suspects me. At the time these thoughts were passing
through my mind, my eye caught again my trunk, and I now saw very
plainly, from the position of the key, which, having been handled
carelessly, was hanging from the keyhole, that some one had been there.
I recollected that, when my aunt grew worse, I ran to her, and left the
key in the lock, and now suspected that Mrs Ball had opened it while I
was in a state of insensibility. As I fixed my eye on the trunk, I heard
Augustus stop in the middle of a sentence; and, turning upon him a
timid, furtive glance, I thought I saw him look at me earnestly, with a
different expression of countenance from any I had ever yet seen him
assume. The doctor seemed to notice the break in the conversation, and
to take it as a hint to retire, which he did almost immediately, to the
great increase of my misery. I was now left alone with Augustus, and my
whole mind became, as it were, concentrated in my ear, to hear him break
the subject which had become so awfully interesting to me. I was silent,
and he, too, apparently, was inclined to be gloomy--a state of mind so
inconsistent with the usual habitudes of a spirit ever in the
contemplation of the fair side of human nature, that I looked upon it as
inauspicious. I had forgotten entirely--so completely was my mind
absorbed by the frightful subject before me--that he might respect the
sorrow incident to my situation, and hold it too sacred for an abrupt
and officious condolence. At length the soft accents of sympathy stole
from his lips; and had they been as "the ointment of spikenard," they
would have aggravated my pain; for he avoided--it appeared to me
studiously--all reference to the conduct of my aunt. I knew not what
words to use in my inane replies; and the more studiously he seemed to
avoid the subject, the more difficult, the more certainly impossible, I
felt the task of approaching it myself. I felt now, more heavily than
when in the presence of Mrs Ball, the weight of the _time_ that had
already been allowed to elapse without an explanation; and every minute
that passed added to it immeasurably. My aunt's statement, standing
alone, was powerful, almost insuperable; but, joined to the lapse of
time between the charge and the denial--for what could it be now but a
denial?--it would appear to be proof strong as holy writ. All this I
felt with such soul-prostrating effect, that every effort I made to
broach the subject was strangled in my throat, by the sympathetic power
of a heart loaded with the shame of a suspicion that _never_ could be
disproved. In addition to all this, what I had already suffered had
produced indications of a coming accession of my nervous affections; and
thus overcome by shame, terror, and physical debility, I sat beside my
comforter as one in whose ears are knelling the strokes of the hour of
execution.

Augustus rose to depart; and, at this moment, his mother, who had been
occupied dressing the dead body, came in to ascertain how I was. She
looked wistfully at me as I sat pale and trembling, and I thought I saw
her motion to Augustus to leave us together. He went out, and shortly
after, my fit came upon me, and retained me in its ruthless grasp for a
considerable period. I never had recovered from an attack to a
perception of such realities as were now before me; and the more
conscious I became, the more dreadful seemed my condition. My first
thoughts were directed to the speech of Mrs Merling; and I soon found
that she too avoided making the slightest allusion to my aunt's
death-bed declaration. If the circumstance was strange in Augustus, it
was more so in his mother, a female, not so apt to be forgetful of a
matter where curiosity might have been expected to be roused to the
highest pitch. I was now more and more convinced that both acted from a
sense of delicacy towards me, on whom the whole weight of the suspicion
of my aunt's declaration doubtless rested. I felt the same load on my
breast as before--the same difficulty to approach the fearful subject;
but now my energies were overcome by another cause, for the moment I
began to struggle with myself, with a view to overcome the choking
impediment presented to a declaration, I was attacked by my nervous
ailment, and laid senseless in the arms of my friend. This occurred
several times within an hour, at the end of which period--with the fatal
secret still in my bosom--I was so overcome with misery and pain, that I
was obliged to be consigned to my night-couch.

I lay for several days in a state of weakness, which was continued by
occasional attacks of my complaint, by the weight of the peculiar misery
with which I was affected, and, by the disturbing effects of horrid
dreams, the consequence of the states of both my mind and body. These
last assumed often the character of nightmare, in which the form of my
aunt was always (though dreadfully distorted) apparent among others;
but, dreadful as these were, I would have borne all their weight, and
endured all their agony, rather than have suffered what always awaited
me when I succeeded in wrenching my consciousness out of the grasp of
the nocturnal fiend. Mrs Merling attended me, and Augustus was incessant
in his requests to know how I was. My aunt was, in the meantime, buried;
and Mrs Merling, who communicated to me the intelligence, seated herself
by my bedside, with the view, apparently, of opening to me some subject
that lay near her heart. I looked at her and trembled.

"Martha," said she, "I am going to speak to you on a subject of great
delicacy; and it is because I know you are possessed of as much good
sense as generous feeling, that I will take the liberty of doing it
after the manner of a friend."

She paused, and looked at me, as if her heart had been overpowered with
pity. I expected now the long-dreaded announcement, and lay motionless,
almost senseless, to hear the pronunciation of my doom.

"Your aunt was no sooner laid under the ground," began Mrs Merling,
"than her heir-at-law--who is, as you know, your uncle by the mother's
side, James Battie, one of the worst men that our part of the country
has ever seen--came and demanded possession of the house, with the
articles therein; to all which, and indeed to everything which belonged
to the good old lady, he has an undoubted right, seeing that she left no
will. The keys are accordingly to be delivered this evening to his
agent, who, by the by, is Mr George Ball, and who has likely been
selected in consequence of his having acted in that capacity for your
aunt, and therefore acquainted with her concerns. Every lock and drawer
in the other parts of the house was sealed up before the funeral; and it
was only on the representation that you were lying here in a state of
distress, that this room has not been entered. It is therefore necessary
that you remove from this house this evening; and as I and my son know
you have no home, no friends, and, I fear, no means, we have resolved to
take from you no denial to our request that you permit yourself to be
removed to our house, where, allow me to say, my dear Martha, I hope to
see you in the character of a respected and beloved daughter-in-law."

This announcement satisfied me that neither Mrs Merling nor her son had
any suspicions of my being possessed of my aunt's jewels; and, so far as
regarded these individuals, I had no reason for the apprehensions that
had assailed me; but alas! how long could they remain in that state of
mind, when, as it had appeared, Mrs Ball's son was appointed the
attorney of the heir-at-law? That fact appeared decisive of my ruin. I
could not contemplate the probable evils that might result from it,
without exposing myself to the danger of another fit of my ailment; and
making an effort to reply suitably to Mrs Merling, I, with great
difficulty, rose and got myself dressed, and removed with my trunks to
the residence of my new benefactress, where I might have enjoyed all the
happiness of which my nature was capable of, had I not taken with me the
burden that still pressed upon my heart. Augustus seemed to realise some
fond dream in having me under his mother's roof as his intended wife. He
renewed our former studies and conversations; wooed my heart, in many
forms, and with numerous allurements, to the calm, virtuous enjoyments
of love; and seemed to make a total sacrifice of himself, his pursuits
and feelings, to the reclamation of me to my wonted participation in his
sentiments, and sympathy with his high-souled aspirations. These
benefits, this worship, that offer of happiness, only tended to render
me from hour to hour more incapable to unburden to him my mind. The
burden pressed upon me with the weight and horror of an incubus. I
forced myself repeatedly from the presence of him I loved above all
earthly things, and wept in my closet over a fate which held before my
eyes a fair heaven, imparted the capabilities of enjoying it, and the
burning wish to reach it--and yet guarded it with a demon whose visage
was the chosen birthplace of terror. My struggles to impart the
intelligence had become weaker and weaker, as the lapse of time rendered
any declaration I could make less and less worthy of credit. If I had
had the feeling of guilt, I would have naturally taken means, by
removing the articles, to avoid detection; but, filled though I was with
the forebodings of ruin and shame, none of the ordinary means of
avoiding my fate ever occurred to me; and, though they had, my mind,
filled with pure and elevated sentiments, would have shrank aghast at
the devices of guilt.

What I had already suffered produced such an effect upon me, that I was
reduced to the condition of a sickly, lingering creature, destitute of
the sustaining power that enables the most wretched of mortals to
support their existence, and continue on this stage of crime and misery.
Even my cherished views of the grace and beauty of my favourite ethics
ceased to yield me any pleasure; all my thoughts, hopes, and feelings
were absorbed by the one great and ever-present conviction, that I was
liable to be suspected--nay, proved--a robber; and every ring of the
door-bell sounded in my ears as the prelude to my ruin. My condition was
soon noticed by the solicitude of my benefactors, who, by inviting
company to the house, endeavoured to drive away what they termed my
sorrow for my aunt. Mrs Ball and Anne Ball were of these parties. They
looked at me as if they enjoyed some signal triumph; and though, by
crouching into the corner of the room, I tried to avoid them, they
seemed to take a delight in following me, and contrasting the hilarity
of their joy with the gloom of my melancholy. Shall I ever forget the
looks of these women? When shall their words fade from my ear? Anne Ball
put a question to me--Why did I not wear my aunt's diamond necklace? I
swooned, and was carried out. What a night was that!

In the morning I forced myself to the breakfast table, though I could
scarcely walk that length. Augustus had, for several hours, been
studying some portions of Plato, where that philosopher, as he said,
arrays, in the most beautiful language of any nation on earth, the most
exalted ideas of man's capabilities in the great field of
heaven-directed virtue that ever fired the brain of the philosophic
philanthropist. Ill as I was, I listened to his description of what he
had read; but every word was a dagger whose hilt was set with rubies,
whose point sought my heart. The thrilling and swelling emotions which
would, at one time, have obeyed the sounds of his voice, attuned to such
music of moral spheres, seemed to fall back upon my heart and suffocate
me. The bell of the outer door now rang with considerable vehemence, and
I heard the steps of several individuals enter. I thought I heard my own
name mentioned, and shortly the step of one person, the others
apparently remaining below, was heard upon the stair. The parlour-door
opened, and George Ball, holding in his hand a paper, stood before us.
He bowed to Augustus and his mother; but to me he threw only the glance
of a cunning, triumphant eye. My heart was still; every muscle,
voluntary and involuntary, seemed bound up in the grasp of a spasm; and
freezing fear, in place of breath, when my lungs played not, sustained
me as a statue is sustained. George Ball spoke--

"I trouble your family this morning, Mr Merling, on a matter of
business. I hold in my hand a warrant of the sheriff to search the
repositories of Miss Martha Ballingal, resident in your house, for
certain jewels of great value, which belonged to Mrs Greville, her aunt,
and an inventory of which was found in the empty box where the articles
were deposited. Mrs Greville, as you and your mother both know, declared
on her death-bed that she had been robbed of these jewels; there was
another witness who heard the same declaration; and the empty box, with
the inventory, corroborated the statement of Mrs Greville, who, indeed,
could not have been wrong in a matter which so nearly concerned herself.
Now, the heir-at-law has good reason to suppose that these jewels, and
particularly a diamond necklace, several pearl ones, and a number of
loose jewels, all as set forth in the inventory, are in the trunks of
Miss Ballingal; and the sheriff has accordingly granted a warrant for
the purpose of having her repositories examined. I have stated these
things to you at once, because the lady is under your protection, and I
would not have conceived it fair to search lockfast places in your
house, without first making this intimation to you personally."

Augustus looked at George Ball for some moments without speaking. He had
been taken by surprise, and the communication had roused in him such a
conflict of feelings, that he was entirely unmanned. A short time
brought him to the power of a reply. Mrs Merling sat as one entranced. I
was still able to maintain my position, but was ready to fall at a
single turn of this extraordinary ceremony.

"We were aware, sir," replied Augustus, "that Mrs Greville had lost or
been robbed of her jewels, because we heard her declare so; but, in duty
to the feelings of Miss Ballingal, who is beyond suspicion, we have
refrained from alluding to the subject, until some light should be
thrown upon the manner in which the articles were carried off. The
repositories of the maid should have been searched. As to Miss
Ballingal, that lady, I will take upon me to say, will cheerfully lay
hers open to your inspection."

I heard no more that I could understand. A confused sound of men's
voices, and of their feet passing and repassing, fell on my ear, and
stifled screams of a female mixed at times with them, and died away into
hollow moans. I do not know what time elapsed; but I found myself in my
own apartment alone. I tried to lift myself up and look around. My
trunks were open; the place where the jewels had been was ransacked; the
jewels themselves were gone. I went to the door, and tried to open it;
but it was locked, and the rough voice of a man answered by requesting
me to remain quiet. It was not the voice of Augustus or of George Ball.
I had never heard it before. Presently the door was opened with a loud
noise, and three men entered. They threw a shawl over me, and placed on
my head my bonnet, which was lying near me; for they said that I was
unable to do these offices for myself. They took hold of my arms, and
proceeded to direct me outwards. I passed through the room where we had
been breakfasting. Mrs Merling sat in one corner, with a handkerchief
over her face, and loud sobs burst from her. Augustus had buried his
face in his hands, and I heard heavy groans forcing themselves from his
convulsed bosom, in spite of all his efforts to restrain them. They
never looked at me. A feeble cry of "Augustus!" came involuntarily from
me as I was hurried forward, and I could see his hand waving as if he
disowned me in sorrow. In a few minutes more, I was lodged in a prison.

The cell to which I was consigned was dark and loathsome, as all Scotch
jails then were, and as many of them still are. A small grating looked
out into a yard, where sick debtors were allowed space to walk. A small
stream of light came in at this aperture, and exhibited to me all the
horrors of my place of confinement--the pallet of straw, a broken chair,
and fragments of iron chains, which had been used for the purpose of
binding felons. I cannot describe what I felt, as my eye glanced, in the
dim light of the cell, over these articles; yet they added nothing to my
pain. I may even say with truth, that they had rather the power of
diminishing it--the lowest condition of despair sometimes drawing from
an additional evil a species of frozen insensibility, which is felt as a
relief. For two or three days I scarcely moved; my meat lay by the side
of my pallet, and I saw crowds of hungry rats come and eat of
it--fighting with each other over the vessel, and turning, at times, and
looking at me, apparently without terror. The sight of these creatures
at one time would have made me fly and scream, from an involuntary fear
of them, to which I had all my life been subject; but I now sat and
looked at them with apathy, though they approached so near to me that I
could have seized them with my extended hand. This fit of inanity
gradually wore off; but it was succeeded by a condition a thousand times
more fearful; for, as if the restrained blood had obeyed some impulse
of reacting nature, my veins began to beat violently, my temples
throbbed, and the thoughts that had been frozen or fixed in one gloomy
direction began to career violently--touching all subjects in their
progress; retracing every painful circumstance of my lot; contrasting my
former happiness with my present misery; foreshadowing my trial, my
condemnation, my execution or banishment; and then, again, mixing up a
thousand images, leaving me in a state of wild confusion, incapable of
distinguishing one thing from another. This was the beginning of a
fever. I was insensible for many days--had been bled and
blistered--despaired of--and recovered from the brink of death, to meet
a fate a thousand times more dreadful. My trial, as I understood, was
put off until I should be in a condition to be able to sit upright in
the dock. When I became able to speak, I was waited on by a man of the
law. I knew not who sent him, but suspected that he came at the bidding
of Augustus, who probably thought I might yet be brought off. I told the
man the truth; and requested him to ascertain whether my aunt was in her
senses when she made the declaration on her death-bed. He answered, that
he had already made inquiries on that subject, but that none of the
witnesses would admit that she was otherwise than sane; and the
circumstance of her having been on her death-bed militated against me.
He seemed to pity me, but held out no hope. I asked to have one meeting
with Augustus, but knew not whether my message reached him. He never
came; and I had no relatives to take a part for me in my defence.

The day of trial came; and I was removed in a carriage to the
justice-hall, and placed at the bar. No one could have known me. I was
the mere ghost of what I was; and would have fallen from my seat, had I
not been supported by two officers who sat by my side. I answered the
judge's question of guilty or not guilty without rising, according to
custom; and the words were no sooner out of my mouth, than I fainted.
When I recovered, the trial had begun. The sound of the witnesses'
voices seemed to come to me through some other medium than the ear; for,
though seemingly unconscious, I yet heard. Mrs Ball appeared, and swore
to the statement of Mrs Greville. The maid-servant identified the
jewels. Augustus Merling was put into the witness-box. He spoke the
truth--what he had heard my aunt declare. His mother was also there, and
she spoke the truth--what she had heard my aunt declare. What availed my
story against such evidence? What jury could hesitate on a point so
clear? I was condemned, and sentenced to transportation beyond seas for
seven years; but my sentence was commuted for a year's imprisonment. How
I bore that--where I have lived since my release--under what name, what
privations, what agency, what madness--is it necessary for me to say?
Twenty years have passed; and I am still a living, sensitive being. I
have seen the children of Anne Ball and Augustus Merling, and I have
also seen their parents, though they knew me not. O God! when shall I be
relieved?

Such is the narrative of Miss Ballingal. I have no reason to think she
was ever righted. I saw her die. I believe in the expression of an eye
fixed on a world of spirits. I have also often seen a smile of triumph
as the soul fluttered to depart.



THE WARNING.


Among the inhabitants of Blackenburn, which was once the scene of some
incidents in the following story, Nanny Ferly was perhaps the most
extraordinary. If man, woman, or child had caught a cold of a week's
standing, she never failed to discover a strong similarity between their
case and the case of some one else who had died of consumption. Whether
the complaint were toothache, or headache, or heartache, she seemed
always certain that the symptoms were fatal; though sometimes she rather
left people to infer the truth from certain significant hints which she
gave them, than told it plain out. Upon these occasions, she would shake
her head, turn up her eyes, groan audibly, and say, "Ay, ay, a fever
often begins that way; and I've kenned mony a ane carried to their end
by a sma' beginning." She believed as firmly in the existence of ghosts,
wraiths, warnings before death, and, in short, all sorts of supernatural
agency, as she believed in the truth of her Bible; and in these, along
with her talk of "illnesses," "deaths," and "burials" (births and
baptisms were not among her favourite subjects), she found the means of
satisfying the craving of a morbid appetite for excitement, which she
possessed in an eminent degree.

In the house which stood next to Nanny's lived Nelly Jackson, who was
rather a shrewd, thinking woman, and in some respects the very
antithesis of the former. She had brought her husband four children,
most of whom were grown up. They had, however, upon several occasions,
been seriously indisposed; but their mother, who already knew Nanny's
propensity for peopling the other world, and who, with a creditable
degree of penetration, guessed the effect which the ominous shake of her
head, and her usual "ay, ay," were likely to have upon the mind of a
distressed person, carefully prevented her from getting to their
presence while they were ill; and though Nanny did not fail to foretell
their fate, in her usual significant way, among her other neighbours, by
some mistake they all recovered. Nanny accounted herself not only
neglected but insulted, by not being allowed to exercise her benevolence
in visiting the sick at all seasons; Nelly, on the other hand, having
seen her predictions falsified in the case of her own children, began to
doubt that neither her foresight nor her piety were superior to those of
others; she even ventured to speak rather slightingly of both, affirming
that "nothing gave Nanny greater pleasure than to see her neighbours
dying;" which speeches were borne to the ears of Nanny; and thus, though
they neither came to fistycuffs nor high words, there was little love
between them.

Next to Nelly, on the other side, lived Margaret M'Kenzie, her husband,
and a daughter, whose name was Mary. Margaret was an honest,
industrious, and, in most respects, a sensible woman; but, from the
circumstance of having been accustomed to listen to it for a length of
time, her neighbour Nanny's belief in the preternatural had acquired a
considerable ascendency in her mind, and often influenced her thoughts;
so that she might be regarded as a sort of medium between the two
characters already described. She had born to her husband a son and a
daughter; the former of whom had learned a trade and left them: but
Mary, who when young was rather a delicate girl, had always been kept at
home. To accommodate and keep her as comfortable as possible, a small
apartment, with a chimney and a back window, had been fitted up in the
_ben end_ of the house; and in this little sanctum, besides assisting
her mother with the household concerns, she had earned her own
subsistence with her needle for several years. Her constitution, of
late, however, had greatly improved; and at nineteen--the time at which
our story commences--she was a healthy, handsome, and, upon the whole,
rather a good-looking young woman.

From the days of their childhood, a close intimacy had subsisted between
her and Jenny Jackson, who had been her playmate and confidant from the
earliest period of her recollection. But somewhat more than a year
previous to the time here referred to, Jenny had arrived at that age
when it is common for parents in a certain station to send their
daughters to "service out amang the farmers round," as Burns has phrased
it, that they "may learn something of the world." This, at least, is
almost always assigned as a general reason for such a step, and almost
as often taken for granted. There are, however, several adjuncts, which
nobody ever thinks of mentioning, and sundry little motives of a private
or personal nature, which are not without their influence in determining
both the parents and the girls themselves upon the propriety of going
abroad. In the first place, when a young woman comes to be married--and
most of them have a sort of presentiment that, at one time or other,
they will have the _misfortune_ to be so--she is always expected to
provide, or bring along with her, a certain share of the furnishing of a
house. Her share having been fixed by a sort of conventional laws, there
is no escaping from it: at least there can be but little prospect of an
honourable settlement in life without it--the other sex having, in
general, enough to do with their own part of the concern, and being by
no means more disinterested than the "true love" ballad-makers have
represented them. To enable her to make this provision, the parents of a
portionless lass can seldom do more than lend her some little assistance
in the way of advice and management, leaving her to procure the
wherewithal, or, in other words, the money with which the furnishing of
houses, and everything else, must be purchased by her own industry. Thus
left, service in the country, and some regular occupation, such as the
art of weaving in the towns, are the only alternatives; and to one or
other of these she must early devote her attention, if she intends to be
in the field of matrimony within a reasonable time.

To those who are acquainted with the tactics of the tender passion, it
is, moreover, known that a bashful lover seldom cares for seeking the
society of his fair one in the presence of her parents, while the fair
one herself as seldom cares for being seen in the society of a lover by
these relations. In such matters, a great deal of deceit, or, to speak
more properly, of concealment, must be practised. There is a luxury in
keeping all those delightful feelings, hopes, fears, fancies, and
follies to one's-self; more than half the excitement of the thing, and
consequently more than half its pleasure, would be destroyed if the
secret were too soon divulged; and for some such reason, perhaps, your
enamoured swain fears the eye of a mother, as being an interested party,
and likely to be quick-sighted, more than that of any other human being.
Whatever be the cause, the effect which it produces seems to be
tolerably well understood by a very great majority of marriageable young
women; and out of pity, as it would appear, for the failings of the
other sex in general, and those of bashful young men in particular, they
are sometimes willing to afford wooers an opportunity of seeing them in
a less embarrassing situation.

Influenced by one or other, or both or neither of these reasons,
motives, or whatever the reader chooses to call them, Jenny Jackson,
with her mother's consent, engaged herself as a servant at a place
called Heatherinch; and after having been nearly three quarters of a
year in her place, she represented the advantages of "going to service"
in so favourable a light, that her young friend, Mary M'Kenzie, felt
inclined to listen to any proposal which might give her a chance of
similar advantages. Such a proposal was not long awanting; for it
appeared that Jenny really had a situation in her eye, and that her
previous discourse had been intended to prepare her friend for accepting
it. Shortly thereafter, Mary was accordingly engaged to go at the
ensuing Martinmas in the capacity of a servant girl to Cairnybraes,
which was a farm lying at the distance of only a mile or so from
Heatherinch; and she promised herself a whole world of satisfaction in
being again so near her friend.

Here the reader will, no doubt, be inclined to think that Jenny was
perfectly disinterested in these matters, and that she could have no
motive for doing as she had done, except a wish to promote Mary's
happiness. But, alas! how much of disinterestedness, charity,
benevolence, and even piety itself, would disappear, if we could only
apply the science of chemistry to the heart! Neither acids nor alkalis,
however, can be brought to act upon it; and as for the crucible, the
copple, and the fusing-pot, they are out of the question, so that a
chemical analysis is not to be expected; and in the absence of such
tests, we can only judge of causes from effects; or, in other words, we
must judge of the heart from actions and appearances. Be it known then,
that, within the first half-year of Jenny's service, two young men, who
were also servants on the farm, had taken it into their heads to
manifest rather more than an ordinary attachment to her. This she told
not; but people do not expect to be told of such matters, and in the
present instance they ascertained, or rather guessed, the truth, without
any evidence from her. Their names were Andrew Angus and James Duff.
Like herself, they were both engaged to remain for another year; and
though Jenny might have managed their attentions and their addresses
without much trouble, had they been only lodged at a tolerable
distance, she found it rather distressing to have them constantly so
near her. In this emergency, it occurred to her that it were better to
have one of them "taken off her hand;" for the performance of this feat,
her friend, Mary M'Kenzie, was the most likely individual she could
think of; and for Mary's future lover Andrew was set apart.

At the appointed time, Mary came to reside at Cairnybraes; but, as seeds
cannot vegetate unless they are put into the ground, so neither can
young people acquire an affection for each other unless they are brought
together. Jenny could not muster courage enough to tell Andrew to "go
and see Mary;" she did not like to bid Mary "come and see him;" and,
therefore, she had recourse to manoeuvring. The host of the Gazling
Inn, on considering the case of his humble brethren, and the few
opportunities they had of enjoying themselves, had agreed to give a
New-year's entertainment to as many of them as could afford to pay
half-a-crown. According to the advertisement on this occasion put forth,
the said brethren, for their half-crowns, were to have the privilege of
bringing an equal number of _sistren_ along with them. It was farther
stipulated, that they should have a sufficiency of tea, sugar, bread,
and butter set before them, or rather dealt out to them; a man with a
fiddle and a fiddlestick was also to be provided, for those who might be
inclined to dance; after which, all and sundry were to have as much
liquor as they should choose to drink and _pay for_. Such an opportunity
was by no means to be neglected, and the only matter of importance which
Jenny had now to decide upon was, how she might procure a partner for
Mary with whom _she_ was not likely to fall in love. Andrew must be
managed cautiously, lest he should become restive, and more stubbornly
attached to herself than he had been before. He had no previous
acquaintance of Mary, and it were both awkward and indelicate, she
argued, to send him off to seek a woman to whom he had not so much as
spoken on any former occasion. She, moreover, did not like the idea of
_dismissing_ him, which would have been implied in such a proceeding.
She therefore deemed it best to bring the _candle to the moth_, as if by
accident, and allow him to flutter around it till he was fairly singed.
For this purpose, a neighbouring rustic, called Ritchie Drycraig, was
selected as one who was likely to perform his part, and, at the same
time, leave Mary's heart free to be impressed with the image of another.
By a slight exercise of maiden ingenuity, a little coaxing, and some sly
hints, Ritchie was induced to set forth on his mission. The expected
evening came--the various parties made their appearance--and so far all
was right.

Burns has told us, that

    "there is an ending quote. The best-laid schemes o' mice and men
             Gang aft agley;"

and fortunate it were for the world, if mice and men were the only
portions of society to whose schemes accident might give a wrong
direction; but, alas! there is no perfection on this earth, and the
schemes of women miscarry almost as often as those of their neighbours.
Contrary to all reasonable expectation, and to everything like rational
conduct, Andrew took no notice of Mary, while James Duff seemed to
regard her with considerable attention, and "puir drucken Ritchie"
appeared to be perfectly bewitched by her presence. With respect to Mary
herself, it was easy to see that she was rather pleased than otherwise
with those indirect attentions and little notices which, in the course
of the evening, she received from the said James Duff; and,
notwithstanding his previous attachment to Jenny, it almost appeared
that he would have volunteered his service to conduct her home. But vain
was every attempt of the kind. Even if the maiden had been willing to
accept of such service, from Ritchie there was no possibility of
escaping. Mary had little skill in these matters; she could not manage
them after the manner of well-bred damsels, and her only alternative was
to allow him to carry her off.

At first Ritchie was "a' crack thegither;" but scarcely had they got
beyond the precincts of the Gazling Inn, when the conversation began to
flag, and, after a considerable silence, which his companion had in vain
endeavoured to break--

"Mary," said he, prefacing his discourse with sundry hiccups, "I've fa'n
in love wi' ye."

"Fa' out o't as fast as possible, then," said Mary, attempting to laugh,
though she really began to feel alarmed.

"Oh, Mary, Mary!" again began the maudlin young man most pathetically to
plead. "Oh, Mary, if ye only kenned what a heart I have, and how aften
I've lookit at you when I never spake a word, ye wad never bid me do
that."

"Lookit at _me_," rejoined the other, affecting to be greatly surprised;
"and pray what may the price of a _look_ be? If looks are to be made
debts, I doubt my little property, which consists only of the claes on
my back, will soon fail, and I must become a bankrupt."

"Ah, Mary," persevered her undaunted wooer, "ye ken brawly what I mean;
but you surely never kenned what it was to be in love, or ye wad never
jeer a body that way."

"Love, they say, is warm," replied Mary, "and I would rather be _in it_,
or in my master's kitchen, or in my bed, or anywhere else, than _out_ in
this cauld night; so, if you do not walk faster, I shall be forced to
run away and leave you."

"My dear Mary," said he of the Drycraig, mending his pace a little,
though it was evident he did so with great reluctance--"my dear Mary, I
could gang at the gallop, or I could gang like a snail, or I could gang
owre a linn and drown mysel, or owre a craig and brak my neck, or speak,
or haud my tongue, or do ony other thing on earth, for your sake, if ye
would only allow me to love ye, and say ye loved me again."

"Weel, I must confess you would do a great deal for me," said Mary,
beginning to enjoy his extravagance--teasing as he had become--and
scarcely able to refrain from laughing at him; "you would really do a
great deal; but take my advice for the present: keep your head above
water, and your neck hale as lang as ye can; neither gang owre the linn
nor the craig, but the neist time you are in a company, let fewer linns
gang owre your _ain_ craig; and, in the meantime, neither speak of love,
nor haud your tongue a'thegither, but _gang at the gallop_!--that will
please me best; for my mistress must be angry at me for staying out sae
late. Or, stop! I might run a race with you for a penny--the loser to
pay the stake--and then, I can tell you some other time whether you are
to love me or not. Maidens, they say, should aye be mealy-mouthed at
first."

As she uttered these words, she secretly determined, if possible, never
to give him another opportunity of making such a proposition. She also
resolved to bear with him for the present, and leave him to learn her
real sentiments from her future conduct. A crisis, however, was
approaching which she had not foreseen, and for which she was wholly
unprepared. Her protector, who had drank rather too liberally at the
Gazling Inn, was now beginning to be in such a state that he would have
almost required a protector himself. The moment he heard Mary's
light-hearted declaration, his emotion seemed to overcome him, he made a
dead stand, and exclaimed, in the most piteous accents--

"I canna gang anither fit!"

"Foul fa' you and your feet baith," said Mary, forgetting the resolution
which she had formed only a minute ago, and nearly losing her
good-humour at the same time. "I tell ye," she continued, "that I should
been hame lang syne, and d'ye think that I can bide here the hale night
to hear you haver nonsense."

"O Mary, Mary!" rejoined the man of exclamations, "this sets the crown
on a' my misfortunes, and I'll never do mair guid. Twice owre this same
night I saw you looking at Jamie Duff: ye love him, and no me. O Mary,
Mary, Mary!" and therewith he threw himself down upon the earth, or
rather in a puddle of dirty water by the road-side, at full length, and
began to weep and groan, in great tribulation. When his inarticulate
wailings would permit, he again muttered half sentences about walking
over the linn or the craig, and he even threw out hints of an intention
to leave the world in that most ungentlemanly manner in which the law
sometimes disposes of very dissolute characters. As the liquor with
which he had been drenching his system had no doubt heightened the
effects of his sensibility, his sensibility now heightened the effects
of the liquor; and between them he was soon in a sad state of mental as
well as bodily distemperature.

Mary, who had little experience in these matters, would have readily
given all the worlds which all the Alexanders and Cæsars on earth ever
conquered, had she been mistress of them, for some one to assist her in
conducting him to any house where he might find shelter for the night,
or perhaps, as she thought, a bed on which he might breathe his last.
Fortunately for her, she soon heard the noise of footsteps approaching;
and, in a few minutes more, she had the satisfaction of seeing, or
rather hearing, James Duff, with his convoy, which was not a
merchantman, but a marriageable woman, bear down upon her.

James had been left in quiet possession of Jenny Jackson, in consequence
of Andrew--who was certainly the most enamoured lover--having got
rather fuddled; from which circumstance he had been left at the inn to
sleep off his debauch; and, though the hands of the former were already
full, he did not appear offended, nor even greatly distressed, at the
accident which gave him an opportunity of again meeting Mary. He
immediately lifted the fallen man from the ground, on which he was still
lying in a half-senseless state, and, with the assistance of the two
maidens, who, in this instance, lent their aid, "nothing loth,"
conducted him to the nearest house, where they left him to recover from
his drench.

Mary was now for running home as fast as possible, but the gallantry of
her new acquaintance would not permit him to think of allowing her to go
alone; he therefore proposed that she should go with them to
Heatherinch, which was but a short way out of her road, and, after
seeing Jenny safely lodged, he would accompany her at least a part of
her journey. To this proposal Jenny was far from giving a hearty
sanction, but the other seemed determined for once to take his own way.
She had her own reasons for wishing not to thwart him openly, and, after
some trifling demurs, she acquiesced. James, accordingly, escorted Mary
as far as her master's barn-yard, which was certainly the most
considerable part of her journey; and here, notwithstanding the
lateness, or rather earliness of the hour, and her previous hurry to get
home, they spent they knew not how long on the leeward side of a _strae
stack_, conversing on various subjects, which to them, and to the whole
world, might have been deemed of very little importance; and, though
neither of them spoke one word of love, or made the slightest allusion
to that interesting subject, it was almost morning before they thought
of separating.

The night adventure, thus happily got over, produced no bad
consequences; but it was not long before Mary was again threatened with
the addresses of Ritchie Drycraig. To these, however, she had sagely
determined not to listen, if she could by any possibility do otherwise;
and when, according to the established rules of society, he presented
himself at her bedroom window between the hours of ten and twelve P.M.,
making his presence known by a gentle rap upon the glass and a low
whistle, she was under the necessity of feigning sickness oftener than
once to get quit of him. But this, as it afforded her an excuse for not
seeing him, so it gave him a pretext for returning to inquire after her
health; and to avoid him, in a short time, it would have become
absolutely necessary for her to lie constantly in bed. This would not
do, and a new expedient was tried. Next time he made his appearance, the
new moon gave a faint and uncertain light, which seemed to suit her
purpose very well; and from the half-opened window she whispered in his
ear a terrifying tale of a ghost, which had been lately seen walking
under the shelter of a hedge immediately in front of the house. She
pointed out the very bush from which it had emerged; and just as she
concluded, the obedient ghost made its appearance, wrapped up in as much
white drapery as the wardrobe of any ordinary ghost could be supposed to
contain. But the terrified lover, instead of taking to his heels, as the
damsel had expected, thrust his head and shoulders in at the window,
which she had raised a little for the purpose of speaking to him; and
the next moment he stood bolt upright in the room beside her. This was
mending matters with a vengeance. The very plan which she had adopted to
drive him from the _outside_ of the house, had driven him to the
_inside_ of it; and, what was worse, she was left with him alone. From
the odour of his breath, it was evident that he did not lack
inspiration; and finding himself snugly housed, with the "maid of his
heart" beside him, notwithstanding the terrors of the ghost, he was
beginning to talk of love; and had it not been for the other servant
girl, who came in shortly after, it is probable he might have reached
the "linns" and the "craigs," as he had done on a former occasion,
before he had thought of stopping. She, however, assured him that she
had heard her master stirring above-stairs--which, by the by, is always
a formidable announcement to an enamoured swain--and warned him to make
what haste he could in getting home. But this information, though it
increased his perplexity to an immeasurable extent, and effectually
silenced him upon the former subject, gave him neither strength nor
courage to face an inhabitant of the other world alone, and at the
ominous hour of midnight. Judging that it were better to fight within
walls than without them, whether the enemies were spiritual or temporal,
he continued to keep his position; nor was it till the other servant
girl had persuaded one of the young men who slept in the house, and who
was supposed to set some value on her own good opinion, to leave his
bed, and promise to conduct Ritchie beyond the haunted neighbourhood,
that he could be prevailed upon to depart.

The hiring time at last came round; the whole of the servants on
Cairnybraes were engaged for another year, and Mary's master and
mistress were anxious that she should remain also. They had every reason
to be satisfied with her integrity, industry, and general good conduct;
and when she did not readily accept of their terms, they even went so
far as to offer her a slight advance of wages, but to no purpose.
Application was next made to her father and mother, in the expectation
that they might succeed in persuading her to remain where she was. They
readily consented to use their influence, never dreaming that she would
reject any request which they might proffer; but, for the first time in
their lives, they had the mortification of seeing their wishes
disregarded. For no persuasion, and upon no condition, could she be
prevailed on to engage for another year; and, what was still more
strange, she would assign no reason for leaving her place. Her
unaccountable humour in this respect gave rise to a number of
conjectures as to its cause, of which one or two may be noticed in
passing.

Some people said that the ghost had scared her as well as Ritchie
Drycraig; others supposed that she must have a "lad" about the
bleachfield, who found it inconvenient to come so far to see her; but
the most general opinion was, that she wished to bring either the
foresaid Ritchie, or James Duff, both of whom were regarded as a sort of
_danglers_, or distant admirers, to an explanation. Here be it remarked,
that this is a subject upon which young women in general can only endure
silence with any degree of patience for a limited time. Some, as a
matter of course, will hold out for a longer and some for a shorter
season, just as their natural temper may chance to be ardent or
otherwise. But, assuredly, the patience of the most plodding maiden on
earth, if her heart should happen to be infected with the tender
passion, will come to an end; and then, neither man, woman, young, old,
or middle-aged, can tell what measures she may adopt, or what agency she
may employ to bring forth the important secret. Some novelist or other
has said--in spleen it would almost appear--"that in the higher circles
there is a regular system of managing these matters--that the whole had
been reduced to a science; and that an initiated damsel understands how
to play her part in the important concern of getting a husband nearly as
well as she understands a game at cards!" This, if true, must be an
immense acquisition to young ladies; but, as the "schoolmaster" has not
yet been so far "abroad" as to bring the discovery down to the country
girl and the village maiden, these are wholly left to their own
shifts--and shifts, at times, they must try. But, as to these, the
present writer would be almost wholly ignorant, were it not for certain
of the sex themselves, whom he has heard declare that a quarrel about
something or nothing is one of their most natural expedients, and, as
such, is frequently resorted to with good effect. Next in order,
according to the above-mentioned authorities, is a _flitting_ or
separation, which is to last for a length of time: such a step seems to
throw the parties concerned at once upon their beam-ends; and before
they can trim their ballast again, the secret may chance to "spunk out."
Thus there was, at least, a show of reason in some of the conjectures
just alluded to. But after having noticed these things, that the reader
may judge of their probabilities and improbabilities for himself, to
keep up the dignity and the veracity of history, he must now be told the
truth.

By this time, Mary was completely tired of the tricks and shifts by
which she had endeavoured to evade the persevering _Ritchie_, who,
whenever his _dry-craig_ was moistened with the _water of life_, or any
other strong water, was certain to pester her with his visits and
importunities. She also considered it highly dishonourable in herself to
encourage any feelings in James Duff which might have a tendency to
seduce him from his allegiance to another; and, to be free from these
annoyances and temptations, with which she knew not how to contend, she
honourably and resolutely determined to return home.

At the Martinmas term Mary accordingly took up her abode again with her
parents at Blackenburn. The day on which she returned was wet and
stormy, and she caught a cold, which kept her rather indisposed for
three weeks. The most fearful in such cases, however, could have seen no
reason for apprehending the slightest danger, till Sabbath morning
ushered in the fourth week. But, on this particular morning, though Mary
felt much better, her mother appeared uncommonly thoughtful, or rather
seriously alarmed. From her husband and daughter, however, she
endeavoured to conceal her perturbation as much as possible, and as soon
as her neighbour's door was opened, she went to inquire for Mrs Jackson.

"How are ye this morning?" said she, as she entered.

"No that ill!" was the reply. "How are ye yoursel?"

"I may be thankfu, I've no reason to complain!" said the other, in a
tone which was in itself a complaint.

"Dear me, Margate," rejoined Nelly, "what's wrang? I have not seen ye
look so ill for many a day, as ye do this precious morning. Something is
distressing ye, I doubt."

"May the Lord have mercy upon me and mine!" ejaculated Margaret, wiping
away a tear as she spoke; "but, saving His holy will, I fear I have
_owre_ guid reason to be distressed."

"Sorry am I to hear that!" responded Nelly, catching almost
unintentionally the low impressive tone of her neighbour. "But what
is't, woman, if I may speer?"

This was exactly what Margaret wanted, to enable her to unburden her
mind; and she now proceeded to tell the cause of her distress. Some time
about midnight, or it might be toward morning, she could not be certain
which, she had been awakened from her sleep, by what she described as "a
sharp rap upon the window, followed by a lang laigh sough, like the wind
whistling in a toom house." She rose stealthily from her bed, to
ascertain, if possible, the cause of these unwonted noises, and, while
she stood irresolute in the middle of the floor, she heard a low, husky,
indistinct voice, which, she said, "resembled that of a dying man,"
pronounce the word _Mary_. "At hearing that voice," she continued,
"every hair on my head stood on end, and my very flesh shook as if it
would have fa'n from my banes; but a mother's affection for her ain
bairn, and my anxiety anent Mary's distress, made me desperate; and, to
be satisfied whether it was onything earthly which had uttered that
word, I opened the door, and there I saw her wraith standing at the
window as clear as ever I saw hersel!--Oh sirs! oh sirs! That sight gars
my flesh a' creep whenever I think on't! It was a' dressed in white
except the head, and that was as black as our Mary's, and it's black
aneugh, ye ken. It was just about her size, too, as nearly as I could
guess; but as soon as it saw me it glided round by the end of the house,
without moving foot or hand, and was out of sight in an instant. And
now, let a' the doctors, and a' the neighbours on earth say what they
will, I believe that my Mary, poor thing, is fa'en into a decline, and
that this was naething but a _warning_!--Wo's me!--wo's me!"

"Hout, woman!" said Nelly, who had listened to this mournful
recapitulation, not without some indications of doubt as to its
authenticity--"hout, woman; yesterday was _pay-day_, as they ca't, among
the bleachers, and I'll warrant the wraith was just some scamp frae the
bleachfield, wha had gotten himself half-fou, and wanted to get a
while's daffin wi' the lassie, Sabbath morning though it was."

"O Nelly, Nelly!" rejoined the other, "I wonder to hear ye speak at that
rate, after what happened in Nanny Ferly's last summer!"

Finding that she was not likely to meet with much sympathy here,
Margaret left the house rather abruptly. But her mind was in a state of
perturbation which forbade her to rest, and she hastened forthwith to
Nanny Ferry, her next neighbour, to whom she told the same story, word
for word, and had the satisfaction--if satisfaction it can be called--of
seeing every circumstance listened to with the deepest attention, and
every syllable believed as readily as if it had been part of a sermon.

"Ay, ay, Margate," said her auditor, when she had heard the story to an
end, "it's a warning, shure aneugh; and that will be seen before lang;
for I never kenned a warning fail. I'll mind that nicht as lang as I
live, when the warning came for my sister's dochter, Lizzy Lawmont; and
weel I wat she was as dear to me as if she had been my ain bairn--though
I've aye been spared the fashery o' bairns. Aweel, the doctor said she
was greatly better; and sae, as I was complainin at the time, she was
taen ben the house, to let me get some rest; and Lizzy Duncan--glaikit
hizzy! as she has turned oot--cam to sit up for the nicht. The doors
were baith steekit, and the lamp was blawn out in the expectation that
she would fa' asleep, and I was lying waukin, with the _worm in my lug_,
when I hears a rap at the windock, just as ye heard it, and something
said _Lizzy_, as laigh and as plain as I'm saying it enoo. Aweel, I
startit up, expecting to find the dear lassie a corpse, but it was some
time before I could gang ben to see; and when I did gang ben, I found
her waukening frae a sleep; and Lizzy Duncan said she had sleepit mair
than twa hours. But, from that minute, I kenned brawly what was to
happen, and from that minute she grew waur and waur, till the neist
nicht about ten o'clock, when the speerit left her weel-faured clay to
the worms. Sae, Margate, never build yoursel up in Nelly's nonsense
about _lads_; she's a puir haverin body; and, as shure as the sun rises
and sets, your Mary is gaun fast from this world, e'en as my Lizzy gaed
before her."

The poor mother was affected to tears by these lugubrious observations.
The propriety of apprising Mary of her approaching fate was next
adverted to by Nanny. Margaret did not adopt her views of the matter at
first; but when the culpability of allowing her daughter to indulge in
the vanities of the world, when so near her end, was represented to her,
she gave her consent, with a flood of tears; and, after making some
arrangements for communicating the necessary information, they parted.

The day, for one in the middle of winter, appeared to be uncommonly
inviting, and Mary, who now fancied herself quite well, proposed going
to church. To this proposal she expected a number of objections from her
mother, but she was rather agreeably disappointed, for Margaret only
observed, in an unusually solemn tone, that "folk should gang to the
kirk as lang as they were able," and she accordingly went. When the
congregation was dismissed, the air was almost as mild as if it had been
summer; the sun shone faintly but cheerfully upon the faded scene,
giving an unwonted appearance of warmth to the southern slopes and sunny
side of the hedges. Some feathery songsters were still warbling their
"wilde notes" from the leafless trees, and, on her way home, Mary felt
her spirits cheered, and her whole frame invigorated, by the fresh air
and the universal calm. The scene, the season, and the sacred day, alike
seemed to "woo the heart to meditation;" and she was proceeding a short
way in advance of the other worshippers, doubtless wrapped in some
reverie, when her thoughts, whatever they might be, were dissipated by
Nanny Ferly, who, puffing and panting from the effects of rapid
travelling, now came up and addressed her from behind.

"That's a braw gown ye have on the day, Mary," were her first words,
uttered in a tone of more than sepulchral solemnity.

"Nae brawer than ordinary," was Mary's reply.

This did not appear to be exactly the answer which had been anticipated,
and Nanny--who, like other far-sighted individuals, had no doubt
calculated the chances of the conversation, and provided herself with
sentiments suitable to the occasion--seemed to feel rather _out_. She
soon recovered, however, and adjusting her sails to the wind, proceeded
upon a new tack.

"I was just thinking, as I came up behint you," she went on, "what vain
and frail creatures we a' are! We labour to deck out our bodies in
dainty claes, and to appear strong and healthful, and engaging in the
eyes of others, when we should be thinking of our winding-sheets and our
coffins, and meditating on the worms which are shortly to prey upon us
in darkness. And maybe at the very time when we are bestowing the
greatest care upon thae worldly vanities, death may be hovering owre
us, with his hand stretched out to smite, and giving us _warning_ to
prepare for our last gasp, and that sma' house which is theekit wi' the
lang grass o' the kirkyard."

"A' that may be true," rejoined Mary; "but what, if I may speir, has
gi'en sic a kirkyard turn to your conversation the day? I am better now,
I assure you, and I hope you dinna think that, because I had the cauld
aught days since, and because I have on a new gown the day, I maun die
neist week."

"That's just the way with foolish young creatures in general, and you
amang the lave," resumed her companion, waxing yet more solemn in her
tone and manner of speaking. "They aye keep the day of distress and of
death far away from themselves: but death stays not his dart for their
folly, and the messenger will come at his time, whether they will think
of his coming, or whether they will keep their thoughts fixed upon
worldly vanity."

"What _is_ the meaning of all this?" said Mary, who now began to feel
somewhat alarmed. "Has anybody persuaded you that I am really dying, or
that I am not as likely to live as others of my age, because I have had
a slight cold, from which I am now perfectly recovered? Tell me at once
for I can endure your mysterious hints no longer."

"Then I must tell you the truth," said Nanny, whose voice had now
reached the uttermost pitch of solemnity which it could compass--"I must
tell you the truth, though I had meant to prepare you, but in part, for
what is before you. And think not lightly of it, I beseech you, for it
is indeed a terrible thing to go down to the grave in the bloom of
youth, and to be a feast for _snails_ and worms, when we are promising
ourselves many days of worldly enjoyment. But, as I said, I maun e'en
tell you the truth, as I telled my ain dear Lizzy Lawmont, when she was
on her death-bed; and weel it was that I did tell her without delay;
for, from that minute, puir Lizzy postit to her grave."

Here she went over the whole story of the _warning_, with such
additions, emendations, and exaggeration, as were necessary to give it
its full effect. In this department of literary science she displayed a
power of contrivance and an ingenuity which might have done honour to a
professed _story-teller_. But in the present instance her art seemed to
be almost thrown away; for, after she had given the finishing touch to
the picture--and she did it with a master-hand--

"Is that a'?" said Mary, with a smile, which showed that her heart was
greatly, if not wholly relieved--"is that a'?" she repeated, in a tone
which made her fellow-traveller turn her eyes to heaven with a feeling
of pious indignation.

"Ay, that's a'," rejoined Nanny, with a degree of pique in her manner
which she could not conceal; "and little effect it _a'_ seems to hae
upon you! But I maun go and spier for auld John Gavel, wha has been sair
distressed for mair than a fortnight; and sae, guid-day." As she spoke
the last word, she left Mary to pursue her journey alone, and turned
down another road, with the friendly intention, no doubt, of persuading
Mr Gavel that he was beyond all hope of recovery.

Wonderful as it may seem, after what had happened, Mary continued to
enjoy good health, and what was still more unaccountable, excellent
spirits, for a whole fortnight. Without making any direct allusion to
the _warning_, from which she evidently wished to keep at as great a
distance as possible, she did everything in her power to dissipate her
mother's apprehensions on that subject; but at the end of this period,
the fears of the latter were again awakened in all their force, and as
soon as the neighbours were astir, she again hastened to lay the burden
of her distress before Nanny Ferly.

"O Nanny, Nanny!" said she, wringing her hands, as she entered the
domicile, "sic a night as I've passed? If the Lord should give me
strength to endure, I must not complain; but, I fear, if thae awfu
things continue to happen about our house, I'll no stand it lang, or if
I do stand it, I'll surely lose my reason."

"What have you seen or heard?" inquired Nanny, eagerly, as soon as she
could get in a word.

"I've heard as muckle as micht drive a mither oot o' her senses," was
the reply; "and it has driven rest frae my bed, and ilka Sabbath-day's
thocht out o' my head. But, to tell ye what it was:--Some time after
midnight, I heard the very same sharp rap at the window that I heard
yesternight was a fortnight; and, as I've never sleepit sound since that
awfu nicht, I started up, and listened. Aweel, after awhile, the rap was
repeated, but naething spake; and then I heard a deep, low sound upon
the window-frame, which I could compare to naething save the noise of
bringing in an empty coffin; and then Nelly Jackson's dog gae a bark,
and I heard nae mair. I was aye trying to convince mysel that it micht
be only a trick the first time, and this conviction gathered strength
when I saw the lassie keep her health frae day to day; but I doubt, I
doubt, something _is_ gaun to happen now!"

"Ay, ay!" was Nanny's response; and as she spoke her voice assumed its
gravest tone; "it's owre like something _will_ happen, and that before
it's lang. Puir John Gavel's wife heard a soughing i' the lum twa nichts
afore he died; and I telled baith her and him what wad happen, and
happen it did, sure aneugh."

Unquestionable as these warnings had been considered, their fulfilment,
to Nanny's great discomfiture, did not follow so speedily as had been
expected. The new-year season again came round, without anything
extraordinary having happened; and with it came Jenny Jackson's wedding.
Jenny's scheme, like the "schemes" of the before-mentioned "mice and
men," had entirely failed. With a degree of vanity which may be easily
pardoned, she had been led to suppose that James Duff was really
attached to her, while he, in reality, only bestowed some attention upon
her for the purpose of _plaguing_ Andrew, and to amuse himself when he
had nothing else to do; but, from the evening on which he first saw Mary
M'Kenzie, he had become less and less assiduous in these attentions,
till, in the end, she began to grow fearful of "losing the market"
altogether, and was glad to accept an offer of marriage from Andrew,
almost as soon as it was made. But, though the said James, in country
phrase, had _drawn back_, he had carefully avoided everything like a
quarrel; and, as they had been fellow-servants, and had, moreover, been
upon the most friendly terms up to the very day on which they parted, he
was invited to the wedding.

Passing over the ceremony, and all that concerned it, Mary Mackenzie was
also among the wedding guests, and she did not appear to be forgotten by
James Duff; for he embraced the first opportunity which presented itself
of renewing their old acquaintance, by placing himself beside her. Upon
this occasion, she appeared to receive him with more open frankness than
she had ever done before, while he appeared highly gratified with the
change of sentiment which she now manifested towards him. For a time,
they carried on a sort of exclusive conversation, in very low and
confidential tones; and, when Mary afterwards complained that she felt
uncomfortably warm, from the number of people congregated in the small
room, James proposed to take a walk in the open air. This proposal was
readily agreed to; and, the evening being calm and still, though dark
and cloudy, they sauntered for some distance along the road, in the
direction which led out of the village. James did not seem to suppose
that any one would expect their return; he seemed to have forgotten
everything except his companion; and he would have wandered on,
neglectful alike of the distance from home and the lapse of time, had
not Mary ventured to remind him of the possibility of their being missed
from the company, if they should prolong their walk, and hinted the
propriety of immediately returning.

This hint--gentle in itself, and sounded, or rather whispered in his
ear, by a voice the very gentlest imaginable--nevertheless, seemed to
strike him as something wholly unexpected; and, while they turned to
retrace their steps, he appeared rather at a loss what to say. The truth
was, he had been thinking for some time past of introducing a subject in
which he felt he was deeply interested; but, as he had never in his life
before had occasion to introduce such a subject to the notice of a
woman, he knew not how to begin, and hence his inattention to the matter
of miles and furlongs, and the length of their walk. Fearing, however,
that another opportunity equally favourable might not soon occur, or
perhaps he might be influenced by the idea that some one more favourably
situated might supersede him--it matters little which--at length he did
make out to declare his affection; with what tones, or in what words,
has not been recorded.

The days, at this season of the year, being nearly at the shortest, and
the nights at the longest, the evening's festivity was early begun, and
the bridal merriment had lasted at least five hours before ten o'clock.
By this time, James Duff, who had a number of miles to travel before he
could reach his master's farm, and who, moreover, had to attend his work
next day, began to think of taking his departure. But, while the mirth
and festivity had been proceeding within, the weather had been getting
gradually more and more stormy without. For the last half-hour, the wind
had been howling furiously and loud around the house; the few stars
which were visible "sent down a sklintin light;" the clouds, previously
accumulated, had begun to career overhead; and, at the time spoken of,
a blinding fall of snow came on. James, however, would have proceeded on
his journey; but Mary, as soon as she saw the state of the weather,
insisted on the propriety, or rather necessity, of his stopping till
morning. With her wishes in this respect he declared himself ready to
comply, if she could only find some place of shelter where they might
pass what remained of the night, and promise to keep him company. But
with this she was not to be satisfied. Though he seemed to set little
value on his health, she said that she could not consent to see him
wilfully throwing it away. The night was now piercing cold; and as he
must be fatigued with his previous journey, and would have to work hard
next day, she insisted on being allowed to provide him with a bed. Beds,
however, were not easy to be found in the neighbourhood--there being in
most of the houses no more accommodation than what was necessary for the
families they contained; but the ingenuity of woman, when really and
fairly set to work, is seldom baffled. She soon recollected a female
acquaintance who slept alone; and, by taking up her quarters with this
individual, her own bed would be left for the reception of him for whose
comfort she now seemed to consider it her duty to provide. This
arrangement completed, she conducted him to her mother's, where no
opposition was offered to her scheme; and, after placing a light for him
in her own little room, and bidding him an affectionate good-night, she
left him to his repose, which, as the sequel will show, was not destined
to be unbroken.

Both pleased and excited by the occurrences of the evening, the blood
coursed his veins too rapidly to admit of sleep for a time. He had,
however, closed his eyes, and a dream had begun to operate upon his
imagination. It was a dream of a house which he could call his own, a
clean hearth, and a cheerful fire, with himself snugly seated in an
arm-chair on one side of it, and Mary sitting on the other, knitting a
stocking; and, ever as he addressed her, bending on him a pair of
smiling eyes. Alas! what is the happiness of man, in most instances,
save a dream--sometimes a waking one, sometimes a sleeping one--but
seldom real! From this pleasing illusion he was awakened by a noise at
the window; and the house, clean hearth, cheerful fire, arm-chair, along
with Mary and her stocking, at once disappeared in darkness. He heard
her name repeated in a low whisper; and, after a considerable pause, the
noise increased. Upon this occasion, it appeared to be something worse
than an ordinary _warning_--bad as that might be--for it continued. At
first jealousy took possession of his heart. "Could it be possible that
Mary was making a dupe of him, while she really preferred another? And
could it be that _other_ who was now making a noise for the purpose of
awakening her?" These were questions which, in his first surprise, he
naturally put to himself, without being exactly able to answer them.
Something more serious, however, than the awakening of young women
seemed to be in the wind, and his next thought was of robbers. This
idea, upon farther consideration, he was also forced to reject; for he
had remarked that, except the bed upon which he was lying, a table, a
small mirror, and some trifling articles of female attire, there was
neither chest, chest of drawers, nor anything else in the apartment
which could possibly conceal treasure; and it was not likely that
practised robbers would put themselves to much trouble for beds, tables,
and six-inch mirrors. Upon these things he had ample time to reflect;
for the operations at the window neither appeared to be scientific nor
successful. They consisted of a sort of half-cautious rubbing and
scratching, which was kept up with little intermission; and at last he
felt inclined to think that the whole might be the work of some one who
had sat too long at the bottle, and, after being deserted by his
companions, had forgotten to go to bed. But, then, unless he were in
some way or other connected with Mary, or unless his visits at least
had, on some former occasion, been sanctioned by her, what reason could
he have for selecting that particular window as the scene of his
nocturnal operations? A certain degree of reviving jealousy, mingled
with a strong feeling of curiosity, now took full possession of the
doubtful lover's mind; and having, to his own astonishment, remained so
long silent, he resolved to await the issue without uttering a word.
Fortunately he had heard nothing of warnings, and but little of ghosts;
the little which he had heard he entirely discredited; and, by
attributing the whole directly to _natural_ and not _supernatural_
agency, he felt strengthened to abide by his resolution--a circumstance
which could have hardly occurred, had he held, in its full perfection,
the doctrine of the _visibility_ of spirits.

The noise continued for nearly an hour and a-half; and when it ceased,
after something like a gentle wrench bestowed upon the window-frame, he
heard a foot cautiously approaching the bed on which he lay; and, by
compressing his lips with a desperate effort, and almost stifling his
very breath, he suppressed an involuntary inclination to start up, and
either place himself in a posture of defence, or give the alarm. In
half-a-minute more, he felt a cold, rough, clammy hand pass over his
face. A freezing sense of terror, which had nearly converted him from
his scepticism with respect to ghosts, shot directly to his heart, and a
chill perspiration was bursting from his brow; with the next breath he
had probably started to his feet, and attempted to fly; but at that
instant he was relieved by hearing a voice with which he was well
acquainted, in soft and tremulous accents, pronounce the word _Mary_.
That he might be certain as to the identity of the speaker, he waited
till he heard the name repeated, and then spoke.

"Friend," said he, in a stern voice, "I doubt you seek one who is not
here;" and, as he spoke, he made an attempt to grasp the former speaker.
But his words, few and commonplace as they were, had produced a more
instantaneous effect upon that individual than the most powerful
exorcism of a Catholic priest ever produced upon rats, mice, or any
other pest of humanity. The moment the first syllable sounded in his
ears, he made a hasty retreat; and after the intruder was gone, the
little that remained of the night passed without farther disturbance.

Mary had felt too much oppressed with tumultuous, yet happy feelings, to
sleep during the night, so that there was little danger of her being
late in rising; and, according to a promise made on the previous
evening, she was at her mother's cottage some hours before daylight. In
a few minutes the fire was lighted up, and she was proceeding to cook a
slight repast for the stranger, when he himself made his appearance in
that apartment which might be called the kitchen. She saluted him by
inquiring "how he had rested?" and he answered her with an attempt at
civility; but his eye did not meet hers as it had done on the previous
evening; and altogether there was an alteration in his manner which
struck her forcibly. She next begged him to be seated; but, instead of
complying with her request, he looked at his watch, and then represented
to her the necessity of his being gone immediately. She seemed anxious
that he should stop till she could set before him the victuals which she
had been preparing, simply, as she said, "that he might not go abroad so
early with an empty stomach;" but her entreaties were thrown away; and,
when nothing could persuade him to delay his journey only for a few
minutes, she accompanied him out in a state of perplexed feeling not
easily described. She had walked by his side to some distance without
anything having passed between them, except some trite observations
concerning the weather, which was now fair--the fall of snow having
only lasted for a short time--when, unable longer to endure this state
of suspense, she asked, in a hesitating tone, if "anything had occurred
during the night to disturb him?"

"I have been a fool!" was his tart reply; "but I am at least wise enough
to repent of my folly in time. I was loth to believe the evidence of my
own senses when they testified against you, and I even tried to argue
myself into a belief of your innocence, but your question puts the
matter beyond a doubt; and now, farewell for ever!"

Mary would have remonstrated with him as to the rashness of his
conduct--she would have told him what she knew. The warmth of a lately
awakened affection, a woman's pride, a woman's delicacy, and a feeling
of indignation at being thus suspected, were all at strife in her bosom;
and it can scarcely be matter of surprise, if for some seconds they
deprived her of the use of speech. As he was turning to depart, however,
she mustered as much resolution as to repeat the word "farewell" firmly,
which was all she could say.

When left alone, Mary felt so much agitated, that it was some time
before she could endure the thought of being seen. Darkness and solitude
seemed to accord best with the state of her feelings, and to afford her
the only consolation which she was capable of receiving. In this state
of mind, it was some time before she could think of returning home; and,
when she did return, a new scene of mystery and confusion awaited her.

At the door she met her mother, who, with a countenance uncommonly
solemn, was just coming out. Margaret, who, from having slept more
soundly than was her usual, had only heard the concluding part of the
nocturnal noises, was again in a great distress. She believed them
nothing less than a _third warning_; which, according to vulgar
superstition, is an infallible proof; and on the present, as on former
occasions, she was hastening to communicate this fresh confirmation of
her fears to Nanny Ferly. But she was immediately recalled by her
husband, who, on returning from the yard, whither he had been to
reconnoitre the morning sky, for the purpose of ascertaining what sort
of weather they were likely to have for the day, declared, "that their
back-window had been taken out, and that Mary's room had certainly been
robbed." On being made acquainted with this circumstance, great was the
good dame's consternation; and yet it were difficult to say whether she
would not have preferred the loss of her daughter's property, or any
other property which might be in the house, to those distressing fears
which she had hitherto entertained for the loss of that daughter
herself.

"God be thankit!" she exclaimed, after a short pause--"there was but
little to rob."

A strict examination was now instituted, to ascertain if property had
not been abstracted from other parts of the house; but in this
examination Mary took little share.

"What's the lassie doin dreamin there, as if she were bewildered?" cried
her mother at last, with some impatience. "Ye're a bonny ane indeed, to
stand as unconcerned as if ye were the steeple, when the hale house is
turned heels owre head to see how muckle that scoundrel has carried aff
wi' him."

This seemed to awaken her from her reverie.

"Mother," said she, firmly, "you may spare your bad names; for whatever
he _may do_, he will neither rob nor steal; and, so far as I can see,
the scoundrel of whom _you_ complain has carried off but little."

Mary's assertion was strictly and literally true; for, after the closest
search, it was found that the whole of the mortar which secured the
little window on the outside had been carefully displaced by means of a
large nail, or some other iron instrument, and the window itself set
down upon the ground without any of the glass being broken; but nothing
was missing, and not a single article seemed to have been so much as
moved from its place. Great was the wonder which now rose as to who the
depredator could be, and what motive he could possibly have had for
acting so strange a part. Mary was strictly questioned as to the time
and manner of her guest's departure; but her evidence tended in no way
to clear up the mystery. After much conjecture had been wasted to no
purpose, as daylight grew broad, a hat was discovered under a
low-growing apple-tree, which appeared to have been brushed by the
branches from the head of the depredator while he was making his escape.
It was carefully examined; but it bore no distinctive mark except the
letters "A. A.," and "R. D.," in the crown, neither of which could be
deciphered. Mary was again questioned as to its owner; but she only
said, "It might belong to anybody, for anything she knew;" and, in the
true spirit of discovery, it was carried by her mother to the house of
the new-married pair. No sooner had Jenny Jackson--now Mrs Angus--seen
it, than she exclaimed, "Whaur is Mary? whaur is Mary?" Mary was sent
for.

"Whether is Ritchie or Jamie gaun to get ye noo, Mary?" she inquired, in
an ecstasy of triumphant feeling. "I doubt it's Ritchie, after a', for
this is his hat--the very hat he bought from Andrew before he gaed to
the bleachfield; and Andrew said it was naething but you that took him
there. See, there is baith their names--A. for Andrew, A. for Angus, R.
for Ritchie, D. for Drycraig."

The whole was now out. Ritchie, from having lain down and fallen asleep
without his hat, was thrown into a fever, which, after having brought
him very near the grave, cured him effectually of his drunken habits and
his maudlin affection at the same time. Though James Duff had departed
in wrath, he soon returned in softened feeling; and, in less than a
year, he was married to Mary Mackenzie. Nanny Ferly was an incurable;
but the ridicule to which she was subjected upon this occasion made her
more cautious in the selection of her subjects And thus ends our story
of The Warning.



GRIZEL COCHRANE.

A TALE OF TWEEDMOUTH MUIR.


When the tyranny and bigotry of the last James drove his subjects to
take up arms against him, one of the most formidable enemies to his
dangerous usurpations was Sir John Cochrane, ancestor of the present
Earl of Dundonald. He was one of the most prominent actors in Argyle's
rebellion, and for ages a destructive doom seemed to have hung over the
house of Campbell, enveloping in a common ruin all who united their
fortunes to the cause of its chieftains. The same doom encompassed Sir
John Cochrane. He was surrounded by the king's troops--long, deadly, and
desperate was his resistance; but at length, overpowered by numbers, he
was taken prisoner, tried, and condemned to die upon the scaffold. He
had but a few days to live, and his jailer waited but the arrival of his
death-warrant to lead him forth to execution. His family and his friends
had visited him in prison, and exchanged with him the last, the long,
the heart-yearning farewell. But there was one who came not with the
rest to receive his blessing--one who was the pride of his eyes, and of
his house--even Grizel, the daughter of his love. Twilight was casting a
deeper gloom over the gratings of his prison-house, he was mourning for
a last look of his favourite child, and his head was pressed against the
cold damp walls of his cell, to cool the feverish pulsations that shot
through it like stings of fire, when the door of his apartment turned
slowly on its unwilling hinges, and his keeper entered, followed by a
young and beautiful lady. Her person was tall and commanding, her eyes
dark, bright, and tearless; but their very brightness spoke of
sorrow--of sorrow too deep to be wept away; and her raven tresses were
parted over an open brow, clear and pure as the polished marble. The
unhappy captive raised his head as they entered--

"My child! my own Grizel!" he exclaimed, and she fell upon his bosom.

"My father! my dear father!" sobbed the miserable maiden, and she dashed
away the tear that accompanied the words.

"Your interview must be short--very short,", said the jailer, as he
turned and left them for a few minutes together.

"God help and comfort thee, my daughter!" added the unhappy father, as
he held her to his breast, and printed a kiss upon her brow. "I had
feared that I should die without bestowing my blessing on the head of my
own child, and that stung me more than death. But thou art come, my
love--thou art come! and the last blessing of thy wretched father----"

"Nay! forbear! forbear!" she exclaimed; "not thy last blessing!--not thy
last! My father shall not die!"

"Be calm! be calm, my child!" returned he; "would to Heaven that I could
comfort thee!--my own! my own! But there is no hope--within three days,
and thou and all my little ones will be----"

Fatherless--he would have said, but the words died on his tongue.

"Three days!" repeated she, raising her head from his breast, but
eagerly pressing his hand--"three days! Then there _is_ hope--my father
_shall_ live! Is not my grandfather the friend of Father Petre, the
confessor and the master of the king? From him he shall beg the life of
his son, and my father shall not die."

"Nay! nay, my Grizel," returned he; "be not deceived--there is no
hope--already my doom is sealed--already the king has signed the order
for my execution, and the messenger of death is now on the way."

"Yet my father SHALL not!--SHALL not die!" she repeated, emphatically,
and, clasping her hands together. "Heaven speed a daughter's purpose!"
she exclaimed; and, turning to her father, said, calmly--"We part now,
but we shall meet again."

"What would my child?" inquired he eagerly, gazing anxiously on her
face.

"Ask not now," she replied, "my father--ask not now; but pray for me and
bless me--but not with thy _last_ blessing."

He again pressed her to his heart, and wept upon her neck. In a few
moments the jailer entered, and they were torn from the arms of each
other.

On the evening of the second day after the interview we have mentioned,
a wayfaring man crossed the drawbridge at Berwick, from the north, and
proceeding down Marygate, sat down to rest upon a bench by the door of
an hostelry on the south side of the street, nearly fronting where what
was called the "Main-guard" then stood. He did not enter the inn; for it
was above his apparent condition, being that which Oliver Cromwell had
made his head-quarters a few years before, and where, at a somewhat
earlier period, James the Sixth had taken up his residence when on his
way to enter on the sovereignty of England. The traveller wore a coarse
jerkin fastened round his body by a leathern girdle, and over it a short
cloak, composed of equally plain materials. He was evidently a young
man; but his beaver was drawn down, so as almost to conceal his
features. In the one hand he carried a small bundle, and in the other a
pilgrim's staff. Having called for a glass of wine, he took a crust of
bread from his bundle, and, after resting for a few minutes, rose to
depart. The shades of night were setting in, and it threatened to be a
night of storms. The heavens were gathering black, the clouds rushing
from the sea, sudden gusts of wind were moaning along the streets,
accompanied by heavy drops of rain, and the face of the Tweed was
troubled.

"Heaven help thee, if thou intendest to travel far in such a night as
this!" said the sentinel at the English gate, as the traveller passed
him and proceeded to cross the bridge.

In a few minutes, he was upon the borders of the wide, desolate, and
dreary muir of Tweedmouth, which, for miles, presented a desert of
whins, fern, and stunted heath, with here and there a dingle covered
with thick brushwood. He slowly toiled over the steep hill, braving the
storm, which now raged in wildest fury. The rain fell in torrents, and
the wind howled as a legion of famished wolves, hurling its doleful and
angry echoes over the heath. Still the stranger pushed onward, until he
had proceeded about two or three miles from Berwick, when, as if unable
longer to brave the storm, he sought shelter amidst some crab and
bramble bushes by the wayside. Nearly an hour had passed since he sought
this imperfect refuge, and the darkness of the night and the storm had
increased together, when the sound of a horse's feet was heard,
hurriedly plashing along the road. The rider bent his head to the blast.
Suddenly his horse was grasped by the bridle, the rider raised his head,
and the traveller stood before him, holding a pistol to his breast.

"Dismount!" cried the stranger, sternly.

The horseman, benumbed, and stricken with fear, made an effort to reach
his arms; but, in a moment, the hand of the robber, quitting the bridle,
grasped the breast of the rider, and dragged him to the ground. He fell
heavily on his face, and for several minutes remained senseless. The
stranger seized the leathern bag which contained the mail for the north,
and flinging it on his shoulder, rushed across the heath.

Early on the following morning, the inhabitants of Berwick were seen
hurrying in groups to the spot where the robbery had been committed, and
were scattered in every direction around the muir; but no trace of the
robber could be obtained.

Three days had passed, and Sir John Cochrane yet lived. The mail which
contained his death-warrant had been robbed; and, before another order
for his execution could be given, the intercession of his father, the
Earl of Dundonald, with the king's confessor, might be successful.
Grizel now became almost his constant companion in prison, and spoke to
him words of comfort. Nearly fourteen days had passed since the robbery
of the mail had been committed, and protracted hope in the bosom of the
prisoner became more bitter than his first despair. But even that hope,
bitter as it was, perished. The intercession of his father had been
unsuccessful--and a second time the bigoted and would-be despotic
monarch had signed the warrant for his death, and within little more
than another day that warrant would reach his prison.

"The will of Heaven be done!" groaned the captive.

"Amen!" returned Grizel, with wild vehemence; "but my father _shall_ not
die!"

Again the rider with the mail had reached the muir of Tweedmouth, and a
second time he bore with him the doom of Cochrane. He spurred his horse
to its utmost speed, he looked cautiously before, behind, and around
him; and in his right hand he carried a pistol ready to defend himself.
The moon shed a ghostly light across the heath, rendering desolation
visible, and giving a spiritual embodiment to every shrub. He was
turning the angle of a straggling copse, when his horse reared at the
report of a pistol, the fire of which seemed to dash into its very eyes.
At the same moment, his own pistol flashed, and the horse rearing more
violently, he was driven from the saddle. In a moment, the foot of the
robber was upon his breast, who, bending over him, and brandishing a
short dagger in his hand, said--

"Give me thine arms, or die!"

The heart of the king's servant failed within him, and, without
venturing to reply, he did as he was commanded.

"Now, go thy way," said the robber, sternly, "but leave with me the
horse, and leave with me the mail--lest a worse thing come upon thee."

The man therefore arose, and proceeded towards Berwick, trembling; and
the robber, mounting the horse which he had left, rode rapidly across
the heath.

Preparations were making for the execution of Sir John Cochrane, and the
officers of the law waited only for the arrival of the mail with his
second death-warrant, to lead him forth to the scaffold, when the
tidings arrived that the mail had again been robbed. For yet fourteen
days, and the life of the prisoner would be again prolonged. He again
fell on the neck of his daughter, and wept, and said--

"It is good--the hand of Heaven is in this!"

"Said I not," replied the maiden--and for the first time she wept
aloud--"that my father should not die."

The fourteen days were not yet past, when the prison-doors flew open,
and the old Earl of Dundonald rushed to the arms of his son. His
intercession with the confessor had been at length successful; and,
after twice signing the warrant for the execution of Sir John, which had
as often failed in reaching its destination, the king had sealed his
pardon. He had hurried with his father from the prison to his own
house--his family were clinging around him shedding tears of joy--and
they were marvelling with gratitude at the mysterious providence that
had twice intercepted the mail, and saved his life, when a stranger
craved an audience. Sir John desired him to be admitted--and the robber
entered. He was habited, as we have before described, with the coarse
cloak and coarser jerkin; but his bearing was above his condition. On
entering, he slightly touched his beaver, but remained Covered.

"When you have perused these," said he, taking two papers from his
bosom, "cast them into the fire!"

Sir John glanced on them, started, and became pale--they were his
death-warrants.

"My deliverer," exclaimed he, "how shall I thank thee--how repay the
saviour of my life! My father--my children--thank him for me!"

The old earl grasped the hand of the stranger; the children embraced his
knees; and he burst into tears.

"By what name," eagerly inquired Sir John, "shall I thank my deliverer?"

The stranger wept aloud; and raising his beaver, the raven tresses of
Grizel Cochrane fell upon the coarse cloak.

"Gracious Heaven!" exclaimed the astonished and enraptured father--"my
own child!--my saviour!--my own Grizel!"

It is unnecessary to add more--the imagination of the reader can supply
the rest; and, we may only add, that Grizel Cochrane, whose heroism and
noble affection we have here hurriedly and imperfectly sketched, was,
tradition says, the grandmother of the late Sir John Stuart of
Allanbank, and great-great-grandmother of Mr Coutts, the celebrated
banker.[2]

[Footnote 2: Since the author of the "Tales of the Borders" first
published the tale of "Grizel Cochrane," a slightly different version of
it appeared in "Chambers' Journal." There is no reason to doubt the fact
of her heroism; but we believe it is incorrect, as is generally
affirmed, to say that she was the grandmother of the late Sir John
Stuart of Allanbank. We may state that the author of these tales
received a letter from Sir Hugh Stuart, son of Sir John referred to,
stating that his family would be glad to have such a heroine as Grizel
connected with their genealogy, but that they were unable to prove such
connection.]



SQUIRE BEN.


Before introducing my readers to the narrative of Squire Ben, it may be
proper to inform them who Squire Ben was. In the year 1816, when the
piping times of peace had begun, and our heroes, like Othello, "found
their occupation gone," a thickset, bluff, burly-headed little man,
whose every word and look reminded you of Incledon's "_Cease, rude
Boreas_," and bespoke him to be one of those who had "sailed with noble
Jervis," or,

    "In gallant Duncan's fleet
    Had sung out, yo heave ho!"--

purchased a small estate in Northumberland, a few miles from the banks
of the Coquet. He might be fifty years of age; but his weatherbeaten
countenance gave him the appearance of a man of sixty. Around the collar
of a Newfoundland dog, which followed him more faithfully than his
shadow, were engraved the words, "Captain Benjamin Cookson;" but, after
he had purchased the estate to which I have alluded, his poorer
neighbours called him Squire Ben. He was a strange mixture of
enthusiasm, shrewdness, courage, comicality, generosity, and humanity.
Ben, on becoming a country gentleman, became a keen fisher; and, as it
is said, "a fellow feeling makes one wondrous kind," I also, being fond
of the sport, became a mighty favourite with the bluff-faced squire. It
was on a fine bracing day in March, after a tolerable day's fishing, we
went to dine and spend the afternoon in the Angler's Inn, which stands
at the north end of the bridge over the Coquet, at the foot of the hill
leading up to Longframlington. Observing that Ben was in good sailing
trim, I dropped a hint that an account of his voyages and cruises on
the ocean of life would be interesting.

Ah, my boy (said Ben), you are there with your soundings, are you? Well,
you shall have a long story by the shortest tack. Somebody was my father
(continued he), but whom I know not. This much I know about my mother:
she was cook in a gentleman's family in this county, and being a fat,
portly body--something of the build of her son, I take it--no one
suspected that she was in a certain delicate situation, until within a
few days before I was born. Then, with very grief and shame, the poor
thing became delirious; and, as an old servant of the family has since
told me, you could see the very flesh melting off her bones. While she
continued in a state of delirium, your humble servant, poor Benjamin,
was born; and without recovering her senses, she died within an hour
after my birth, leaving me--a beautiful orphan, as you see me now--a
legacy to the workhouse and the world. Benjamin was my mother's family
name--from which I suppose they had something of the Jew in their blood;
though, Heaven knows, I have none in my composition. So they who had the
christening of me gave me my mother's name of Benjamin, as my Christian
name: and from her occupation as _cook_, they surnamed me Cookson--that
is, "Benjamin the Cook's son," simply Benjamin Cookson, more simply,
Squire Ben. Well, you see, my boy, I was born beneath the roof of an
English squire, and before I was three hours old was handed over to the
workhouse. This was the beginning of my life. The first thing I remember
was hating the workhouse--the second was loving the sea. Yes, sir,
before I was seven years old, I used to steal away in the noble company
of my own good self, and sit down upon a rock on the solitary beach,
watching the ships, the waves, and the sea-birds--wishing to be a wave,
a ship, or a bird--ay, sir, wishing to be anything but poor orphan Ben.
The sea was to me what my parents should have been--a thing I delighted
to look upon. I loved the very music of its maddest storms; though,
quietly, I have since had enough of them. I began my career before I was
ten years of age, as cabin-boy in a collier. My skipper was a
dare-devil, tear-away sort of fellow, who cared no more for running down
one of your coasting craft than for turning a quid in his mouth. But he
was a good, honest, kindhearted sort of a chap, for all that--barring
that the rope's-end was too often in his hand.

"Ben," says he to me one misty day, when we were taking coals across the
herring pond to the Dutchmen, and the man at the helm could not see
half-way to the mast-head--"Ben, my little fellow, can you cipher?"

"Yes, sir," says I.

"The deuce you can!" says he; "then you're just the lad for me. And do
you understand logarithms?"

"No, sir," says I; "what sort of wood be they?"

"Wood be hanged! you blockhead!" said he, raising his foot in a passion,
but a smile on the corners of his mouth shoved it to the deck again
before it reached me. "But come, Ben, you can cipher, you say; well, I
know all about the radius and tangents, and them sort of things, and
stating the question; but blow me if I have a multiplication-table on
board--my fingers are of no use at a long number, and I am always
getting out of it counting by chalks;--so come below, Ben, and look over
the question, and let us find where we are. I know I have made a mistake
some way; and mark ye, Ben, if you don't find it out--ye that can
cipher--there's a rope's-end to your supper, and that's all."

Howsever, sir, I did find it out, and I was regarded as a prodigy in the
ship ever after. The year before I was out of my apprenticeship, our
vessel was laid up for four months, and the skipper sent me to school
during the time, at his own expense, saying--

"Get navigation, Ben, my boy, and you will one day be a commodore--by
Jupiter, you'll be an honour to the navy."

I got as far as "_Dead Reckoning_" and there, I reckon, I made a dead
stand, or rather, I ceased to do anything but study "_Lunar
Observations_." Our owner had a daughter, my own age to a day. I can't
describe her, sir; I haven't enough of what I suppose you would call
poetry about me for that, but, upon the word of a sailor, her hair was
like night rendered transparent--black, jet black; her neck white as the
spray on the bosom of a billow; her face was lovelier than a rainbow;
and her figure handsome as a frigate in full sail. But she had twenty
thousand pounds--she was no bargain for orphan Ben! However, I saw her,
and that was enough--learning and I shook hands. Her father had a small
yacht--he proposed taking a pleasure party to the Coquet. Jess--for that
was her name--was one of the passengers, and the management of the yacht
was intrusted to me. In spite of myself, I gazed upon her by the hour--I
was intoxicated with passion--my heart swelled as if it would burst from
my bosom. I saw a titled puppy touch her fingers--I heard him prattle
love in her ears. My first impulse was to dash him overboard. I wished
the sea which I loved might rise and swallow us. I thought it would be
happiness to die in her company--perhaps to sink with her arm clinging
round my neck for protection. The wish of my madness was verified. We
were returning. We were five miles from the shore. A squall, then a
hurricane, came on--every sail was reefed--the mast was snapped as I
would snap that pipe between my fingers (here the old squire, suiting
the action to the word, broke the end off his pipe)--the sea rose--the
hurricane increased, the yacht capsised, as a feather twirls in the
wind. Every soul that had been on board was now struggling for
life--buffeting the billows. At that moment I had but one thought, and
that was of Jess; but one wish, and that was to die with her. I saw my
fellow-creatures in their death agonies, but I looked only for her. At
the moment we were upset, she was clinging to the arm of the titled
puppy for protection; and now I saw her within five yards of me still
clinging to the skirts of his coat, calling on him and on her father to
save her; and I saw him--yes, sir, I saw the monster, while struggling
with one hand, raise the other to strike her on the face, that he might
extricate himself from her grasp.

"Brute!--monster!" I exclaimed; and the next moment I had fixed my
clenched hands in the hair of his head. Then, with one hand, I grasped
the arm of her I loved; and, with the other, uttering a fiendish yell, I
endeavoured to hurl the coward to the bottom of the sea. The yacht still
lay bottom up, but was now a hundred yards from us; however, getting my
arm round the waist of my adored Jess--I laughed at the sea--I defied
the hurricane. We reached the yacht. Her keel was not three feet out of
the water; and with my right hand I managed to obtain a hold of it. I
saw two of the crew and six of the passengers perish; but her father,
and the coward who had struck her from him, still struggled with the
waves. They were borne far from us. Within half-an-hour I saw a vessel
pick them up. It tried to reach us, but could not. Two hours more had
passed, and night was coming on--my strength gave way--my hold loosened.
I made one more desperate effort; I fixed my teeth in the keel--but the
burden under my left arm was still sacred--I felt her breath upon my
cheek--it inspired me with a lion's strength, and for another hour I
clung to the keel. Then the fury of the storm slackened;--a boat from
the vessel that had picked up her father reached us--we were taken on
board. She was senseless, but still breathed--my arm seemed glued round
her waist. I was almost unconscious of everything, but an attempt to
take her from me. My teeth gnashed when they touched my hand to do so.
As we approached the vessel, those on board hailed us with three cheers.
We were lifted on deck. She was conveyed to the cabin. In a few minutes
I became fully conscious of our situation. Some one gave me brandy--my
brain became on fire.

"Where is she?" I exclaimed--"did I not save her?--save her from the
coward who would have murdered her?"

I rushed to the cabin--she was recovering--her father stood over
her--strangers were rubbing her bosom. Her father took my hand to thank
me; but I was frantic--I rushed towards her--I bent over her--I pressed
my lips to hers--I called her mine. Her father grasped me by the collar.

"Boy, beggar, bastard!" he exclaimed.

With his last word, half of my frenzy vanished; for a moment I seized
him by the throat--I cried, "Repeat the word!"

I groaned in the agony of shame and madness. I rushed upon the deck--we
were then within a quarter-of-a-mile from the shore--I plunged
overboard--I swam to the beach--I reached it.

I became interested in the narrative of the squire, and I begged he
would continue it with less rapidity.

Rapidity! (said he, fixing upon me a glance in which I thought there was
something like disdain). Youngster, if you cast a feather into the
stream, it will be borne on with it. But (added he, in a less hurried
tone, after pausing to breathe for a few moments), after struggling with
the strong surge for a good half-hour, I reached the shore. My utmost
strength was spent, and I was scarce able to drag myself a dozen yards
beyond tide-mark, when I sank exhausted on the beach. I lay, as though
in sleep, until night had gathered round me, and when I arose, cold and
benumbed, my delirium had passed away. My bosom, however, like a galley
manned with criminals, was still the prison-house of agonising feelings,
each more unruly than another. Every scene in which I had borne a part
during the day rushed before me in a moment--her image--the image of my
Jess, mingled with each. I hated existence--I almost despised myself;
but tears started from my eyes--the suffocation in my breast passed
away, and I again breathed freely. I will not trouble you with details.
I will pass over the next five years of my life, during which I was
man-of-war's man, privateer, and smuggler. But I will tell you how I
became a smuggler, for that calling I only followed for a week, and that
was from necessity; but, as you shall hear, it well-nigh cost me my
life. Britain had just launched into a war with France, and I was first
mate of a small privateer, carrying two guns and a long Tom. We were
trying our fortune within six leagues of the Dutch coast, when two
French merchantmen hove in sight. They were too heavy metal for us, and
we saw that it would be necessary to deal with them warily. So, hoisting
the republican flag, we bore down upon them; but the Frenchmen were not
to be had; and no sooner had we come within gunshot, than one of them
saluted our little craft with a broadside that made her dance in the
water. It was evident there was no chance for us but at close quarters.

"Cookson," says our commander to me, "what's to be done, my lad?"

"Leave the privateer," says I.

"What!" says he, "take the long boat and run, without singeing a
Frenchman's whisker! No, blow me," says he.

"No, sir," says I; "board them--give them a touch of the cold steel."

"Right, Ben, my boy," says he. "Helm about there--look to your
cutlasses, my hearties--and now for the Frenchman's deck, and French
wine to supper." The next moment we had tacked about, and were under the
Frenchman's bow. In turning round, long Tom had been discharged, and
clipped the rigging of the other vessel beautifully. The commander,
myself, and a dozen more, sprang upon the enemy's deck, cutlass in hand.
Our reception was as warm as powder and steel could make it--the
Frenchmen fought like devils, and disputed with us every inch of the
deck hand to hand. But, d'ye see, we beat them aft, though their numbers
were two to one; yet, as bad luck would have it, out of the twelve of us
who had boarded her, only seven were now able to handle a cutlass; and
amongst those who lay dying on the enemy's deck was our gallant
commander. He was a noble fellow, sir--a regular fire-eater, even in
death. Bleeding, dying as he was, he endeavoured to drag his body along
the deck to assist us--and when finding it would not do, and he could
move no farther, he drew a pistol from his belt, and raising himself on
one hand, he discharged it at the head of the French captain with the
other, and shouting out, "Go it, my hearties!--Ben! never yield!" his
head fell upon the deck; and "he died like a true British sailor." But,
sir, the other vessel that had been crippled at that moment made
alongside. Her crew also boarded to assist their countrymen, and we were
attacked fore and aft. There was nothing now left for us but to cut our
way to the privateer, which had been brought round to the other side of
the vessel we had boarded. She had been left to the care of the second
mate and six seamen; but the traitor, seeing our commander fall, and the
hopelessness of our success, cut the lashings and bore off, leaving us
to our fate on the deck of the enemy. Our number was now reduced to
five, and we were hemmed in on all sides--but we fought like tigers
bereaved of their cubs. We placed ourselves heel to heel, we formed a
little circle of death. I know not whether it was admiration of our
courage, or the cowardice of the enemy, that induced them to proclaim a
truce, and to offer us a boat, oars, and provisions, and to depart with
our arms. We agreed to their proposal, after fighting an hour upon their
deck. And here begins my short, but eventful history as a smuggler. We
had been six hours at sea in the open boat, when we were picked up by a
smuggling lugger named the Wildfire. Her captain was an Englishman, and
her cargo, which consisted principally of brandy and Hollands, was to be
delivered at Spittal and Boomer. It was about daybreak on the third
morning after we had been picked up; we were again within sight of the
Coquet Isle. I had not seen it for five years. It called up a thousand
recollections--I became entranced in the past. My Jess seemed again
clinging to my neck--I again thought I felt her breath upon my
cheek--and again involuntarily I exclaimed aloud, "_She shall be mine_."
But I was aroused from my reverie by a cry--"A cruiser--a cutter ahead!"
In a moment the deck of the lugger became a scene of consternation. The
cutter was making upon us rapidly; and though the Wildfire sailed nobly,
her pursuer skimmed over the sea like a swallow. The skipper of the
lugger seemed to become insane as the danger increased. He ordered every
gun to be loaded, and a six-oared gig to be got in readiness. The cutter
fired on us, the Wildfire returned the salute, and three of the cutter's
men fell. A few more shots were exchanged, and the lugger was disabled;
her skipper and the Englishmen of his crew took the gig, and made for
the shore. In a few minutes more, we were boarded by the commander of
the cutter, and a part of her crew. I knew the commander's face; his
countenance, his name, were engraved as with a sharp instrument on my
heart. His name was Melton--the Honourable Lieutenant Melton--my
enemy--the man I hated--the titled puppy of whom I spoke--my rival for
the hand of my Jess. He approached me--he knew me as I did him. We lost
no love between us--I heard his teeth grate as he fixed his eyes on me,
and mine echoed to the sound.

"Slave! scoundrel!" were his first words, "we have met again at last,
and your life shall pay the forfeit! Place him in irons!"

"Coward!" I hurled in his teeth a second time, and my hand grasped my
cutlass, which in a moment flashed in the air. His armed crew sprang
between us--I defied them all--he grew bold under their protection.

"Strike him down!" he exclaimed; and, springing forward, his sword
entered my side--but scarce was it withdrawn, ere _his_ blood streamed
from the point of my cutlass to my hand.

Suffice it to say, I was overpowered and disarmed--I was taken on board
his cutter, and put in irons. And now, sir (continued the squire,
raising his voice, for the subject seemed to wound him), know that you
are in the company of a man who has been condemned to die--yes, sir, to
die like a common murderer on the gallows! You start--but it is true;
and, if you do not like the company of a man for whom the hangman once
provided a neckerchief, I will drop my story.

I requested him to proceed.

Well, sir (continued he), I was lodged in prison. I was accused of being
a smuggler--of having drawn my sword against one of His Majesty's
officers--of having wounded him. On the testimony of my enemy and his
crew, I was tried and condemned--condemned to die without hope of
pardon. I had but a day to live, when a lady entered my miserable cell.
She came to comfort the criminal, to administer consolation in his last
hour. I was in no mood to listen to the admonitions of the female
Samaritan, and I was about to bid her depart from me. Her face was
veiled, and in the dim light of my dungeon I saw it not. But she spoke,
and her voice went through my soul like the remembrance of a national
air which we have sung in childhood, and hear in a foreign land.

"Lady!" I exclaimed, "what fiend hath sent thee? Come ye to ask me to
forgive my murderer? If _you_ command it, I will."

"I would ask you to forgive your enemies," replied she, mildly; "but not
for my sake."

"Yet it can only be for _your_ sake," said I; "but tell me, lady, are
you the _wife_ of the man who has pursued me to death?"

"No--not his wife."

"But you will be?" cried I, hastily; "and you love him--tell me, do you
not love him?"

She sighed--she burst into tears.

"Unhappy man," she returned, "what know you of me, that you torment me
with questions that torture me?"

I thrust forth my fettered hand--I grasped hers.

"Tell me, lady," I exclaimed, "before my soul can receive the words of
repentance which you come to preach--tell me--do you _love_ him?"

"No!" she pronounced, emphatically; and her whole frame shook.

"Thank God!" I cried, and clasped my fettered hands together. "Forgive
me, lady!--forgive me! Do you know me? I am Ben!--orphan Ben!--the boy
who saved you!"

She screamed aloud--she fell upon my bosom, and my chained arm once more
circled the neck of my Jess.

Yes, sir, it was my own Jess, who, without being conscious who I was,
had come to visit the doomed one in his miserable cell, to prepare him
for death, by pointing out the necessity of repentance and the way to
heaven. I need not tell you that, the moment my name was told, she
forgot her mission; and as, with my fettered arms, I held her to my
breast, and felt her burning tears drop upon my cheek, I forgot
imprisonment, I forgot death--my very dungeon became a heaven that I
would not have exchanged for a throne--for, oh! as her tears fell, and
her heaving bosom throbbed upon my heart, each throb told me that Jess
loved the persecuted orphan--the boy who saved her. I cannot tell you
what a trance is; but, as I clung round her neck, and her arms encircled
mine, I felt as if my very soul would have burst from my body in
ecstasy. She was soon convinced that I was no criminal--that I had been
guilty of no actual crime--that I was innocent, and doomed to die.

"No! no! you shall not die!" sobbed my heroic girl--"hope! hope! hope!
The man who saved me shall not die!" She hurried to the door of my
cell--it was opened by the keeper, and she left me, exclaiming,
"Hope!--hope!"

On that day his then Majesty George III. was to prorogue Parliament in
person. He was returning from the House of Lords; crowds were following
the royal procession, and thousands of spectators lined Parliament
Street, some showing their loyalty by shouts and the waving of hats and
handkerchiefs, and others manifesting their discontent in sullen silence
or half-suppressed murmurs. In the midst of the multitude, and opposite
Whitehall, stood a private carriage, the door of which was open, and out
of it, as the royal retinue approached, issued a female, and, with a
paper in her hand, knelt before the window of His Majesty's carriage,
clasping her hands together as she knelt, and crying--

"Look upon me, sire!"

"Stop! stop!" said the king--"coachman, stop! What! a lady kneeling,
eh--eh? A young lady, too! Poor thing--poor thing--give me the paper."

His Majesty glanced at it--he desired her to follow him to St James's. I
need not dwell upon particulars: that very night my Jess returned to my
prison with my pardon in her hand, and I left its gloomy walls with her
arm locked in mine.

And now you may think that I was the happiest dog alive--that I had
nothing more to do but to ask and obtain the hand of my Jess--but you
are wrong; and I will go over the rest of my life as briefly as I can.

No sooner did her father become acquainted with what she had done, than
he threatened to disinherit her--and he removed her, I know not where. I
became first desperate, then gloomy, and eventually sank into lassitude.
Even the sea, which I had loved from my first thought, lost its charms
for me. I fancied that money only stood between me and happiness--and I
saw no prospect of making the sum I thought necessary at sea. While in
the privateer service, I had saved about two hundred pounds in
prize-money. With this sum as a foundation, I determined to try my
fortune on shore. I embarked in many schemes; in some I was partially
successful; but I persevered in none. It was the curse of my life that I
had no settled plan--I wanted method; and let me tell you, sir, that the
want of a systematic plan, the want of method, has ruined many a wise
man. It was my ruin. From this cause, though I neither drank nor gamed,
nor seemed more foolish than my neighbours, my money wasted like a
snowball in the sun. Though I say it myself, I was not an ignorant man;
for, considering my opportunities, I had read much, and I had as much
worldly wisdom as most of people. In short, I was an excellent framer of
plans at night; but I wanted decision and activity to put them into
execution in the morning. I had also a dash of false pride and
generosity in my composition, and did actions without considering the
consequences, by which I was continually bringing myself into
difficulties. This system, or rather this want of system, quickly
stripped me of my last shilling, and left me the world's debtor into the
bargain. Then, sir, I gnashed my teeth together--I clenched my fist--I
could have cut the throat of my own conscience, had it been a thing of
flesh and blood, for spitting my thoughtlessness and folly in my teeth.
I took no oath--but I resolved, firmly, resolutely, deeply resolved, to
be wise for the future; and, let me tell you, my good fellow, such a
resolution is worth twenty hasty oaths. I sold my watch, the only piece
of property worth twenty shillings that I had left, and with the money
it produced in my pocket, I set out for Liverpool. That town, or city,
or whatever you have a mind to call it, was not then what it is now. I
was strolling along by the Duke's Little Dock, and saw a schooner of
about a hundred and sixty tons burden. Her masts lay well back, and I
observed her decks were double laid. I saw her character in a moment. I
went on board--I inquired of the commander if he would ship a hand. He
gave me a knowing look, and inquired if ever I had been in the _trade_
before. I mentioned my name and the ship in which I had last served.

"The deuce you are!" he said; "what! you Cookson!--ship you, ay, and a
hundred like you, if I could get them."

I need hardly tell you the vessel was a privateer. Within three days the
schooner left the Mersey, and I had the good fortune to be shipped as
mate. For two years we boxed about the Mediterranean, and I had cleared,
as my share of prize-money, nearly a thousand pounds. At that period,
our skipper, thinking he had made enough, resigned the command in favour
of me. My first cruise was so successful, that I was enabled to purchase
a privateer of my own, which I named the Jess. For, d'ye see, her idea
was like a never-waning moonlight in my brain--her emphatic words,
"Hope!--hope!--hope!" whispered eternally in my breast--and I did hope.
Sleeping or waking, on sea or on shore, a day never passed but the image
of my Jess arose on my sight, smiling and saying, "Hope!" In four years
more, I had cleared ten thousand pounds, and I sold the schooner for
another thousand. I now thought myself a match for Jess, and resolved to
go to the old man--her father, I mean--and offer to take her without a
shilling. Well, I had sold my craft at Plymouth, and, before proceeding
to the north, was stopping a few days in a small town in the south-west
of England, to breathe the land air--for my face, you see, had become a
little rough, by constant exposure to the weather. Well, sir, the
windows of my lodging faced the jail, and, for three days, I observed
the handsomest figure that ever graced a woman enter the prison at
meal-times. It was the very figure--the very gait of my Jess--only her
appearance was not genteel enough. But I had never seen her face. On the
fourth day I got a glimpse of it. Powers of earth! it was her!--it was
my Jess! I rushed downstairs like a madman--I flew to the prison-door,
and knocked. The jailer opened it. I eagerly inquired who the young lady
was that had just entered. He abruptly replied--

"The daughter of a debtor."

"For Heaven's sake!" I returned, "let me speak with them!"

He refused. I pushed a guinea into his hand, and he led me to the
debtors' room. And there, sir--there stood my Jess--my saviour--my
angel--there she stood, administering to the wants of her grey-haired
father! I won't, because I can't, describe to you the tragedy scene that
ensued. The old man had lost all that he possessed in the world--his
thousands had taken wings, and flown away, and he was now pining in jail
for fifty--and his daughter, my noble Jess, supported him by the labours
of her needle. I paid the debt before I left the prison, and out I came,
with Jess upon one arm, and the old man on the other. We were married
within a month. I went to sea again--but I will pass over that; and,
when the peace was made, we came down here to Northumberland, and
purchased a bit of ground and a snug cabin, about five miles from this;
and there six little Cooksons are romping about, and calling my Jess
their mother, and none of them orphans, like their father, thank Heaven!
And now, sir, you have heard the narrative of Squire Ben--what do you
think of it?



THE BATTLE OF DRYFFE SANDS.


The power of custom to render the mind indifferent or insensible to
danger, has never been better exemplified than by the mothers, and
wives, and daughters of the ancient Borderers. They were wont to regard
without apprehension the departure of their dearest relatives upon
perilous expeditions--neither expressing nor experiencing any feeling
except a wish for the success of the _raid_. Nay, as we have elsewhere
stated, the fair dames of these stern warriors and marauders not
unfrequently hinted that the larder needed replenishing, by placing on
the table a dish, which, on being uncovered, was found to contain a pair
of clean spurs; or by making the announcement that "hough's i' the pot;"
or by calling, within hearing of the laird, on the herds to bring out
THE COW; or, in short, by the thousand-and-one means which the ready wit
of woman could devise. Rapine and war were the sole business of the
chiefs and their retainers; and matrons and maidens, if they had wept
and wailed whenever their natural protectors went "to take a prey,"
would have been thought just as unreasonable as some of our modern
ladies, who will not allow their husbands to proceed about their daily
avocations, without bestowing on them tears, kisses, and embraces, in
superabundance.

The mistress of Thrieve Castle, Lady Maxwell, possessed her full share
of that masculine character which was deemed befitting in a Borderer's
wife; and, although she had mingled in the gaieties of the unhappy
Mary's court, that sternness which was part of her inheritance as a
daughter of the house of Douglas had not been perceptibly diminished in
the course of her residence at Holyrood. The aggrandisement of her
husband's family was the perpetual subject of her thoughts; and whatever
affected their honour or their interest was felt as keenly by Lady
Maxwell as by the most devoted follower. At the time to which this
narrative relates, her meditations ran even more frequently and fully
than usual in their accustomed channel.

About ten years before James VI. succeeded to the throne of England, the
hereditary feud which had for generations subsisted betwixt the Maxwells
of Nithsdale and the Johnstones of Annandale broke forth with redoubled
violence. Several of the lairds, whose possessions lay within the
district which was disturbed by the contentions of these two races, had
sustained serious injury from the incursions of marauders from
Annandale, and, in consequence, had entered into a secret compact,
offensive and defensive, with Lord Maxwell. This transaction reached the
ears of Sir James Johnstone, who forthwith endeavoured to break the
league which had so greatly extended his rival's power. The petty
warfare betwixt the two barons was carried on for some time, without
producing any very decisive result. The compact was still unbroken, and,
to all appearance, the Maxwells were rapidly acquiring that ascendency
which would soon render resistance hopeless. But the worsted party
obtained the aid of the Scotts and other clans from the midland
district. Lord Maxwell, on the other hand, rallied around him the barons
of Nithsdale, displayed his banner as the king's lieutenant, and
hastened to attack his opponents in their fastnesses.

Although Lady Maxwell entertained no extravagant dread with regard to
the safety of her husband and son, or even with regard to the result of
a conflict for which such ample preparations had been made, she could
not suppress a feeling of impatience, when the afternoon of the second
day after the departure of the expedition arrived without bringing any
intelligence of the result. She endeavoured, however, to check the
melancholy course of her thoughts, by supposing that the pursuit of the
enemy had occasioned the delay; but then she deemed it strange that her
husband had sent no messenger with the tidings of his success; and again
she pleased herself with the reflection, that he had reserved for
himself the agreeable duty of announcing the happy issue of the
conflict.

The shades of evening were descending, when Lady Maxwell, with her
little daughters and younger son, proceeded to the battlements of the
Thrieve. This ancient stronghold--which was a royal castle, though the
keeping of it was intrusted to the family of Maxwell--was situated on a
small island formed by the river Dee, in the centre of a muirish tract
of country. Its gloomy appearance was, and still is, in harmony with the
surrounding desolation; but it is now no longer the abode of man, and is
left, a monument of departed greatness, to moulder away. Lady Maxwell
had not continued long to gaze over the wilderness which stretched
around, when she observed a band of mosstroopers approaching from the
east; and the light was still strong enough to show that these warriors
had not the appearance of a host returning victorious from battle. On
the contrary, their steeds were jaded; they seemed themselves to be
exhausted with toil; and, instead of the shouts of laughter which
usually burst from the merry bands of Borderers, silence seemed to
prevail in their ranks. "Pray God nothing evil hath happened!" exclaimed
the lady, in alarm. And scarcely had she descended to the hall of the
castle, when her eldest son, a youth of twenty years, stood in her
presence--but he stood alone. The loss which she had sustained flashed
across her mind in an instant. "Your father! where is my husband?"
ejaculated Lady Maxwell, wildly. "But I need not ask--I know it all--he
will return no more. Is it not so?"

The silence of her son showed her that she had guessed aright. But,
although her heart grew sick, and her limbs waxed weak, she suppressed
her emotion, and hastened to her chamber, there to give vent to her
grief in solitude. Meanwhile, preparations for the evening meal were
made; the exhausted soldiers ranged themselves beside the table which
extended through the baronial hall; and their young master occupied the
seat of his father--though, at the moment, he could have wished that
some less trying proof of his self-command had been exacted. But it
would have been deemed a want of hospitality, had he not remained beside
his guests, of whom some were barons inferior only to himself in
consequence.

When the hunger of the half-famished troopers was somewhat appeased, the
events of the morning began to form the topic of conversation--which,
however, was carried on only in whispers. Lord Maxwell, it seems, had
encountered his opponents at the Dryffe Sands, not far from Lockerby, in
Annandale, and had been defeated, partly in consequence of the cowardice
of his confederates, whose alliance with him had been the sole cause of
the renewed hostility. He was struck from his horse in his flight; and
although he sued for quarter, the miscreant by whom he was assailed
struck off his hand, which had been stretched forth as the sign of
entreaty, and mercilessly slaughtered the unfortunate baron. Many of his
followers perished in the fight, and most of them were cruelly wounded,
especially by slashes in the face.[3] The young Lord Maxwell and his
friends (having left a sufficient body of men to repel any immediate
invasion) proceeded to the castle of the Thrieve, situated in the
recesses of his family possessions, and a very considerable distance
from the scene of the conflict, for the purpose of concerting measures
with regard to the further prosecution of hostilities.

[Footnote 3: This kind of wound is called a "Lockerby lick"--the place
which bears that name being in the immediate vicinity of the field of
battle.]

After the deliberations of the evening were concluded, and the wearied
soldiers had gone to rest, Lady Maxwell summoned her son to her
presence, and asked what course it was intended to adopt.

"Orchardstone talks of a bond," replied young Maxwell.

"A bond of alliance! And did you listen to him?" said the lady, looking
keenly at her son; "did you let him repeat the word? An eye that shrinks
from the gaze of another tells no good tale; a cheek in which the blood
ebbs and flows within a moment, betrays no stout heart. It must not be.
Peace! who would talk of peace to one who has just suffered bereavement?
Talk not to me of peace--talk not to me of bonds. Talk of revenge.
Remember that the blood of him who has been treacherously slain flows in
your veins. You had no craven heart from him--you have none from me. Why
then do you stand mute and wavering?"

"Madam, you have forestalled me," said the youth. "I will have revenge.
The king----"

"What! would you play the spaniel to James?--a craven sovereign, worthy
of a craven suitor. Boy, will you break my heart outright? Will you doom
me to disgrace, as the mother of a coward?--make me curse the day in
which I was wedded, and the hour in which you were born? This comes of
the monkish tricks taught you by that old man whom your father brought
to his house, not to make a coward of his son, but to shelter a
trembling priest from persecution."

"Madam, let me speak, if it please you. I am no coward--no craven,"
exclaimed the young lord, proudly. "I am not a child that needs to be
chidden with the rod or with harsh speeches; and my father's blood boils
as fiercely in my veins as the blood of the Douglas in yours. Our
deliberations are not at an end, and by daybreak to-morrow they will be
resumed."

"Nay, but, my son, you say not that you will seek revenge," cried Lady
Maxwell; "you speak of those petty barons, whom you demean yourself so
far as to consult. Your father told them what was his will, and never
asked what was theirs. It was theirs to obey."

"Why do you speak so hardly of me?" asked the youth. "Have I not borne
myself like my equals and my race? But you shall not want revenge--you
shall not want the heart's blood that you ask. This house, these lands,
these vassals, are yours, until revenge is yours. They will be employed
in the pursuit of revenge. No lady shall hold your place; my life shall
have but one object, till that object is accomplished; my being shall
have but one end; my thoughts shall have only one aim; my heart will
delight in only one hope."

"Stay, stay, my son," interrupted Lady Maxwell, in a calmer tone than
had hitherto marked her address; "you have said enough--ay, more than
enough--to satisfy my doubts. I would not remain sole lady of this
castle."

"The oath is recorded in heaven, and may not be recalled," was the
answer of the young lord.

Lord Maxwell, after receiving a maternal benediction, retired to his
chamber; and, notwithstanding the difficulties which he knew it would be
his lot immediately to encounter, the fatigue of the day was more than
enough to insure him a good night's rest. His slumbers continued
undisturbed, until the old man to whom reference has already been made
came to his bedside early on the following morning. This person was a
clansman, who had entered the church, and had embraced the doctrines of
the Reformation. About ten years before the death of Lord Maxwell, that
nobleman had quarrelled with the Earl of Arran, who at that time was the
reigning favourite of James VI; and he had then brought his learned
clansman to the Castle of the Thrieve. The rude warden of the west
marches--for Lord Maxwell held that office--had no taste for the
religious exercises which his namesake, John, wished to introduce into
the household; and it may be said that the baron's favour for
Presbyterianism was owing to the single circumstance that Arran was an
object of detestation common to him and to the ministers. But, although
few listeners could be found for the discourses of the aged preacher,
his assiduity had enabled him to impart a share of his knowledge to his
patron's son and heir, who in some measure repaid him for his care, by
regarding him with strong feelings of respect and attachment.

When Lord Maxwell had dressed himself, he proceeded to the study of his
aged friend, who had requested an interview with him at that early hour.

"I fear your rest has been broken by my impatience," said the minister;
"but, as I was anxious to see you before your comrades were astir, it
was not easy to do otherwise."

The young baron assured him that he was completely refreshed, and begged
him to mention the cause of his anxiety.

"You will pardon me," said the old man, "if I intrude a word or two of
advice upon you. The rules of Border morality require you to avenge the
death of your father. I have oftentimes shown you wherein these rules
were wrong; and you have owned that what I have said was true. Are you
now ready to act upon your own independent judgment, to forego your
desire for revenge, and to enter into alliance with Johnstone? Will you
permit those barons who are now asleep beneath the roof-tree of your
house to make you do what you know and feel to be wrong?"

"It may not be," said the other; "my fathers have died on the
battle-field, and I must not die in my bed. But I am bound by a solemn
vow--by all that I hope and enjoy--to seek revenge, by day and by night,
by all honourable means; to risk life, lands, liberty--ay, happiness in
this world and the next--before I abandon the pursuit."

"Ay, but, my son," replied the aged minister--"for so would I call thee,
who are dearer to me than life--a vow or oath which has an evil object
in view may be honourably broken. The honour is in breaking, not in
keeping it."

"The oath is no longer in mine own keeping; and I would not break it,
even if I could. It may be that an evil oath should be broken; I pretend
not to skill in these matters. But I feel," said Lord Maxwell, in an
energetic tone--"I feel that this oath of mine cannot be broken. I have
not taken it in haste; and sooner would I wish that my head, severed
from my body, were placed over the gate of Johnstone's castle of
Lochwood, there by turns to blacken in the sun and bleach in the rain,
than I would now break my vow in one particular."

"Alas! for thee, my son!" exclaimed the minister, in the tremulous
accents of age and of distress. "I deemed that thou wouldst prove an
honour to thy kind and thy country; that for thee might be reserved the
task of healing the wounds of this distracted land."

"Forgive me, my second father," said the young baron, taking his aged
friend by the hand; "my doom is fixed, but my deeds must be done within
a narrower sphere. My objects are not like those of princes. Blood has
been shed, and it must be wiped away; life has been lost, and it must be
avenged. My father has perished miserably--yet not miserably, for he
died on the field of battle. His blood cries aloud for vengeance."

The aged minister's grief would not allow him to utter the prayer that
passed from his heart to heaven on behalf of his erring pupil. Lord
Maxwell silently wrung the hand that was enclosed in his own, and
hastened to meet the barons, who had now assembled in the hall, and only
waited until their host should assume his place, before beginning their
morning's repast.

Considerable division of opinion existed in the councils of the
Nithsdale barons, with regard to the propriety of putting an end to the
disturbances, by entering into league with Sir James Johnstone; but the
determination with which Lord Maxwell avowed his intention of calling
upon them all to act in conformity with their previous letters of
_manrent_, soon put an end to the deliberations of the morning, and
immediate steps were taken for pursuing the warfare with renewed vigour.
Sir Robert Maxwell of Orchardstone, who was married to a sister of Sir
James Johnstone, but who had, nevertheless, taken the part of his chief,
Lord Maxwell, in the recent disputes, was permitted to remain inactive;
but his contingency of men was required as rigorously as that of any
other baron who had bound himself to give all support to the head of the
clan. Day after day incursions were made by these hostile tribes into
the territory of each other; their hatred hourly waxed stronger; those
courtesies which even mosstroopers sometimes practised were thrown aside
with shameful indifference. Rapine and crimes of every complexion were
of daily occurrence; villages were burned without compunction; neither
age nor sex was spared; slaughter and conflagration were now the end and
aim of the freebooters, instead of plunder. No redeeming ray was cast
over the horrors of this continued warfare, by any of those
circumstances which sometimes show the hearts of men in their more
favourable aspects; and to describe the progress of events in this
district of country for the course of many succeeding years, would serve
only to weary and disgust with a repetition of the most fearful
atrocities.

Is it wonderful that a familiarity with scenes of blood should steel
the heart of the young baron, and make him deaf to the voice of
compassion or remonstrance? Need it be said that cruelty became the
characteristic of his mind? that his temper became harsh, his
disposition imperious, and his spirit as untameable as it was fiery?
Neither the threats nor the entreaties of his sovereign himself could
make Lord Maxwell lay aside his vindictive purpose: the former were
despised, because they could not be executed; the latter were unheeded,
because they were as dust in the balance, compared with the revenge
which the young chief had vowed to obtain. The appointment of his
experienced rival to the wardenry of the middle marches, about five or
six years after the battle of Dryffe Sands, made the cup of bitterness
overflow. Lord Maxwell took advantage of Sir James Johnstone's absence
to ravage that baron's territory with greater ferocity than ever; and,
on the pretext afforded by this last fearful inroad, he was prohibited
from approaching the Border counties. The mandate was scorned, because
it could not be carried into effect; and these hostile tribes continued
to lay waste the territories of each other, until King James ascended
the English throne, when, in the course of a year or two, the power of
that monarch was so much strengthened, that he was, ere long, enabled to
place under the command of Sir James Johnstone a force which was found
sufficient for the purpose of expelling the refractory Lord Maxwell.

The fugitive baron, half-frenzied with anger and disappointment, was
invited by his kinsman, the Marquis of Hamilton, to take up his abode in
Craignethan Castle, a stronghold situated in the most fertile district
of Clydesdale, upon a rock which overhangs the river. The marquis and
his father (who had died a short time before the arrival of Lord Maxwell
at Craignethan) had always supported their relative whenever differences
arose betwixt him and the court of King James; and this support was
tendered, not so much from the coarser motives which, for the most
part, lay at the foundation of noble friendships in those days, as from
regard to Lord Maxwell, whose better qualities had not been so totally
obscured in the course of his brief but bloody career, as to prevent him
from becoming an object of affection among his own kindred and
dependants.

But neither the marquis, nor his mother (who still lived to relate,
rather for her own amusement than for the edification of her hearers,
the achievements of her race), nor his sister, the Lady Margaret, could
devise any means of dispelling the gloom which marked the countenance
and deportment of their guest; and he seemed even to hate the very
amusements with which his friends endeavoured to draw his thoughts away
from the bitter recollections that were the daily subject of his
contemplation. His only enjoyment seemed to consist in traversing the
romantic scenes which lay around; and scarcely a day passed without a
visit to some of those spots in which the rude magnificence exhibited by
nature in the rocks and ravines, was contested with the gentleness and
beauty that characterised many patches reclaimed from the waste by the
industry of the neighbouring husbandmen. At other times he would roam
through the woods until he lost himself in their mazes, and his mind was
roused into activity by the effort to retrace his steps.

A beautiful dell, in which all sorts of scenery were harmoniously
combined, was a favourite haunt of the baron; and here he often
stretched himself at mid-day beneath the shadow of some vast oak or
beech, that he might meditate in solitude and in silence on schemes for
retrieving his affairs--for restoring him to his possessions in their
full extent and without restraint--and, above all, for consummating that
revenge which was still ungratified, notwithstanding all the rapine and
slaughter of eight years.

As he was one day engaged in such contemplations--profaning with evil
thoughts the retreats which seemed to have been consecrated by nature to
peace, and holiness, and all good affections--his attention was arrested
by a song familiar to Borderers, and composed by one of the men who had
been executed for the murder of Sir James Johnstone's predecessor in the
wardenship of the middle marches. But, although the associations which
were awakened in the mind of Lord Maxwell on hearing "Johnnie
Armstrong's Last Good-night,"[4] were of a mixed nature, the sweet tones
of the singer, and the allusions to the Border, made him forget, in the
delight of the moment, the more painful meditations which had been thus
agreeably interrupted. The delicious dream lasted only for a minute; the
voice of song was hushed; and although the baron, with curiosity to
which he had for years remained a stranger, started alertly from the
ground, that he might discover the sweet disturber of his thoughts, he
was too late; for no one save himself stood within the dell, where he
had sought solitude, though, as it turned out, he had not altogether
found it.

[Footnote 4: "The music of the most accomplished singer," says
Goldsmith, in his "Essays," "is dissonance to what I felt when an old
dairymaid sang me into tears with 'Johnnie Armstrong's Last
Good-night.'" Of this ballad only two stanzas (which are subjoined) have
survived till modern times. The beauty of these only deepens the feeling
of regret at the loss of the rest.

    "This night is my departing night,
      For here nae langer must I stay;
    There's neither friend nor foe o' mine
      But wishes me away.

    "What I have done, through lack o' wit,
      I never, never can recall:
    I hope ye're a' my friends as yet--
      Good-night, and joy be with you all!"]


His reveries were now at an end for the time; and he returned to the
castle with that reluctance which every man feels when he is about to
mingle in society, without possessing the power of deriving delight from
his intercourse with human-kind.

In the course of the evening--which was usually devoted by the guests of
the marquis to sports, varied by occasional conversations on all sorts
of subjects, from lively to severe--a keen dispute arose betwixt a young
French count and one of his comrades with regard to the merits of
Scottish music. After arguing, and stating, and re-stating their
opinions, until they found that the one could not convince the other,
they agreed to refer the point to Lord Maxwell, who seemed to be the
only person not talking, or listening to talk, at the moment; and they
then proceeded to give specimens at once of their own vocal powers and
of the beauty of the music peculiarly prevalent in their respective
countries. After the trial was completed, a round of laughter greeted
the competitors, whose performance, it may be supposed from this
reception, was none of the most beautiful. The umpire, when asked to
deliver his award, only shook his head.

"Though I don't pretend to say which is the _better_ singer," said Lord
Maxwell, "I will undertake to convince our foreign friend that Scottish
melodies are at least equal to the music which he adores; but you, my
lord, must aid me, otherwise this mighty dispute must remain unsettled."

"Speak your wish," said the marquis, "and it shall be gratified, if I
can help you."

"You have sometimes told me that I do nothing but mope about your woods
and ravines, scarcely opening my eyes or my ears; but to-day, at least,
it was not so. My day-dreams were agreeably dispelled by some
songstress, who had escaped, however, before I could discover whether
the lips which breathed such melody were as sweet as the song. Could you
only hear "Armstrong's Good-night" warbled as I heard it to-day, your
disputes would soon be at an end. Perhaps some of the village girls
may----"

"No village girl, my lord," exclaimed the defender of Scottish music.

All eyes were in a moment fixed upon Lady Margaret, whose blushes had
betrayed her. The ballad was once more sung; and need it be said that
the disbeliever in Scottish melody became a convert, and, like other
converts, became even more zealous than his old antagonist in praises of
the song and of the songstress? Lord Maxwell began to chide himself for
not having sooner discovered that Lady Margaret was not only endowed
with a sweet voice, but possessed of great personal attractions. He had,
indeed, frequently heard her sing, but the right chord had never been
touched before; and it was only when the ballads with which he was
familiar, and which were the native growth of his own province, fell
upon his ear, that attention was awakened, and the full beauty of the
vocal powers possessed by his unseen charmer was perceived.

Margaret Hamilton was now in her eighteenth year, and possessed that
irregular beauty, glowing with life and health, which wins the heart
more readily than the most faultless but chilling perfection of feature.
The high intelligence and elevated feeling which met "in her aspect and
her eyes," her bright complexion and raven ringlets, made her such a
being as the imagination delights to portray and contemplate, though the
beautiful vision which flits across the mind seldom has a living, and
breathing, and moving counterpart in the material world.

The excursions of Lord Maxwell were not now so solitary as they had been
before the occurrence of the incident already mentioned; and a walk
without a companion was now the exception from the general rule. That
companion--need it be recorded--was Margaret Hamilton. Every scene that
deserved a visit--every wondrous work of nature or curious work of man,
within a range of several miles around Craignethan Castle--was pointed
out by Lady Margaret for the admiration of her brother's guest. Nor was
it long before the admiration bestowed upon the lifeless scenes which
they contemplated in common was transferred to each other by the
animated observers themselves. They rapidly proceeded through all the
stages of that fever which, in its crisis, is called love. The feuds,
and animosities, and revenge, of the Nithsdale baron were for a time
forgotten; those better affections which had been cherished by the
preceptor of his youth--the gentler feelings which produce the
courtesies and kindnesses of life--the intellectual tastes which had
long lain uncultivated, and had indeed borne many weeds under the
influence of harsh passions--all these began in some measure to revive;
his spirit, freed for a season from the operation of those motives which
had hitherto guided it with so much power, appeared to be softened; his
demeanour lost somewhat of its sternness; and a new passion seemed
gradually to be expelling all those fiercer emotions by which he had
hitherto been governed.

But these delightful days could not last for ever; and the marquis,
although he was pleased when he first saw the change in the deportment
of his relative, felt that the intimacy of his sister and his kinsman
could not last long without ripening into attachment. Yet he attempted
to soothe his disquietude by the usual excuse that his apprehensions
were outrunning the reality; and he delayed all interference until
interference was in vain. Besides, he was himself about to enter into
the state of wedlock, and could not be in a very fit condition for
treating the affections of others with anything like severity. Autumn
had arrived before the marquis introduced the subject. He rallied his
kinsman on his bachelorship.

"But why may not I remain a bachelor, and be as happy as you?"

"What!--I would Lady Margaret heard you. Could _she_ not make you change
your mind?" said the marquis, keenly eyeing Lord Maxwell.

The baron gave no reply; for the words died on his lips. The blood
forsook his cheek; the fire was quenched in his eye; even his stature
seemed to lessen; and he looked as if Heaven in its wrath had struck him
with its thunderbolt. The oath which he had sworn, and which he had
broken even by his sloth in lingering at Craignethan Castle, recurred to
his mind in all its force:--one aim, one hope, one affection, one
object--revenge, bloody revenge, on the head of the clan that had slain
his father, was all for which he had vowed to live, until the deed of
death was accomplished, or he himself was laid in the dust. He
remembered, with loathing unspeakable, the words which he had uttered;
his heart felt crushed within him; and he stood without speaking a word,
until his horrorstricken friend seized him by the hand, and roused him
from the fearful reverie into which he had so suddenly fallen.

"I thank you--I thank you," cried Maxwell, abstractedly; "but I forget.
Your roof can shelter me no more. I must leave you now--ay, this very
instant."

"But, my dear friend," said the marquis, interrupting him, "why do you
speak of departure? I did not mean offence, and let none be taken."

"Nay, nay, I am not offended at aught: you have reminded me of my duty;
and every moment that I stay here is a moment lost. I must to horse."

"But not without telling me why you leave me so abruptly. You say I have
not offended you; and yet you talked not of departure until this moment.
If the reason be one that can be told, why should you conceal it from
your warmest friend?"

"My father's death is unavenged. I have loitered here like a dull slave
shrinking from his task. I have forfeited my faith--I have broken my
oath. I must redeem the one, and fulfil the other."

"What task? what faith? what oath?" ejaculated the marquis, hurriedly.

"I have told you the task--to revenge my father's death! I have sworn
that, until the life's-blood of his foe be sprinkled on the earth, I
will not rest by day or by night--I will not enjoy land, power, or life
itself, except as the means of accomplishing my purpose. I will remain
unwedded--I will possess no hope in earth or in heaven, save one--the
hope of revenge. I have broken my faith; for I have not laboured without
ceasing, but have lazily sojourned under this roof. That faith must be
redeemed by the fulfilment of my vow. Should the fair lady of whom you
spoke," he added, in a tone little elevated above a whisper, "deign to
look down on one so unworthy, she will see me a suitor at her feet
whenever my first duty has been discharged."

The remonstrances of the marquis could avail nothing, and Lord Maxwell
sallied forth from Craignethan Castle. The prohibitions of his sovereign
had no power to prevent the baron and his vassals from renewing
hostilities against their hereditary enemies. The awakened chief
hastened, despite the royal mandate, to his native possessions; the
joyous news of his return spread, in a day, from Thrieve Castle to the
remotest hamlet in Eskdale--for the authority of the Maxwells extended
over the vast district of country which lies on the Scottish side of the
Solway. Immediate preparations were made for an incursion into
Annandale. But these movements did not take place without the knowledge
of Sir James Johnstone, who, on his side, mustered his vassals, and
obtained reinforcements of royal troops, for the purpose of protecting
his own territory, as well as enforcing obedience to the will of his
sovereign, by compelling Lord Maxwell once more to retire from the
Borders. The Lord of Nithsdale proceeded on his expedition, with the
view of pursuing his opponent into his fastnesses in the hills; but his
schemes were baffled by Sir James Johnstone, who selected a rising
ground not very far from the scene of the bloody conflict of Dryffe
Sands, as an advantageous position for receiving the attack of his
enemy. Lord Maxwell had expected that he would have taken his opponent
unawares--that he would have found Johnstone's retainers scattered, and
his territory undefended; but, nevertheless, with characteristic
impetuosity, he resolved to risk a battle; the disgrace of retreating
without striking a blow, the dismay which anything like vacillation was
likely to produce among his retainers, and those motives which addressed
themselves more directly to his passions, all weighed with him, even
though he learned that his force was inferior to that of his foe.

The conflict was severe and protracted; but, although Lord Maxwell's
followers fought with desperate courage, they were unable to keep their
ground against the large and well-appointed force arrayed against them.
Their leader rallied them once and again; animated them by his own
example; called on them to bear themselves as they were wont; reminded
them, by one or two words, of former conflicts bravely fought; and did
all that he could to secure victory. But his efforts were in vain, and
his retainers fled on every side, after the battle had been contested
until not a man remained without a wound. He, however, did not join his
followers, though they tried to hurry him from the field; but he
disengaged himself from their grasp, and, frantic with disappointment,
rushed into the midst of his adversaries. The cry, "Take him alive," was
instantly heard; and Lord Maxwell, overwhelmed by numbers, and exhausted
by his unremitting exertions, was the prisoner of Sir James Johnstone.

But he was not now permitted to choose his own place of retirement; and,
after remaining for some days in Annandale, he was conveyed to
Edinburgh, and immured in the castle. Solitude, instead of soothing his
passions, made them more vehement than ever; and the desire of revenge,
which had been originally produced on the death of his father, now
derived additional energy from his sense of personal injury and
suffering.

It could not be supposed that the fate of Lord Maxwell could be regarded
by his friends with that cold indifference which is the general feeling
among men when misfortune overtakes their neighbours. The ties of
clanship had not lost their strength in the days of King James; and
other ties, which had been knit under happier circumstances, were not
forgotten in the hour of danger. Lady Margaret Hamilton, who, like
persons of the same rank, usually resided in Edinburgh during the winter
and spring, heard of the imprisonment of the baron with grief, which, it
may be, was not ummingled with joy at the anticipation of his presence
in the same city; and the resolution that she would endeavour to procure
his release was scarcely formed, when she found an agent and coadjutor
in the person of a retainer of Lord Maxwell, commonly called Charlie o'
Kirkhouse. This freebooter, who was the baron's foster brother, was
devotedly attached to his chief; and he would have earnestly petitioned
the authorities to place him in attendance on Lord Maxwell, had he not
recollected that he would thereby, in a great measure, be prevented from
assisting that nobleman to escape. Charlie, though a shrewd fellow, had
been more in the practice of executing than devising schemes; and as he
thought it scarcely possible for himself, single-handed, to effect his
object, he proceeded to the Marquis of Hamilton's, for the purpose of
obtaining an interview with Lady Margaret, who, as he supposed, would
readily give him all the aid in her power. Charlie made his application
on the pretext that he wished to visit his chief, and suggested that the
marquis could facilitate his free and frequent admission. But Lady
Margaret recommended him rather to enlist in the royal service; and, as
he would then be received into the castle, he would be better able to
assist Lord Maxwell in any attempt to escape; while, at the same time,
he would be able to co-operate with her in any schemes which she might
devise for effecting the same object. By dint of perseverance, Charlie
overcame the proverbial and preliminary difficulty of making the first
step; and, by abusing his chief for a tyrant and everything that was bad
(his peculiar dialect told too many tales), he next endeavoured to win
the confidence of his superiors, and thus remove the only obstacles
which prevented him from obtaining access to the prisoner. This,
however, was a much more tedious process than he imagined. Will
o'Gunmerlie, a follower of Johnstone, who was stationed in the castle by
his chief, with the view of making up for the deficiencies in point of
vigilance on the part of the constituted authorities, retained the
clannish dislike of the Nithsdale soldier, and thwarted him so often,
that he began almost to despair of success; but he still hoped, by
ingratiating himself with some of the superior officers in the garrison,
that all obstacles would ere long be overcome.

While he was one day on guard, in the immediate neighbourhood of Lord
Maxwell's prison, one of his comrades approached, accompanied by a
youth, whose bonnet was pulled down upon his brows, and whose face was,
in consequence, for the most part concealed from view.

"Wha's this, Charlie, think ye?" said the soldier, laconically.

"I canna say I ken," replied Charlie, closely scrutinising the stranger.

"Hae ye nae guess wha he is?" repeated the soldier.

Charlie shook his head.

"Am I not," said the youth, stepping up to the perplexed sentinel--"am I
not Lord Maxwell's brother?"

"His brither!!!" exclaimed Charlie, in a tone which can only be
represented by a regiment of notes of admiration.

"Yes--his brother," repeated the youth, at the same time slightly
raising his bonnet so as to give Charlie a peep of a very fair
complexion. "Look at me again."

Charlie's wonder ceased in a moment.

"I daurna dispute what you say."

"Then he is Lord's Maxwell's brother!" said the conductor of the youth.

"Wha else should he be?" replied Charlie o' Kirkhouse, at the same time
resuming his duties.

Leave of admission was soon obtained for the youth; and, in the course
of a few minutes, he stood in the presence of Lord Maxwell. The room
into which he was introduced was small and gloomy--for the light was
admitted only by a single loophole, guarded by a bar of iron; and
everything showed that this was, indeed, a prison. The tenant of this
apartment was engaged at a table, placed as near the scanty window as
possible, and covered with books and papers, which he seemed to be
intently studying.

"Your brother, my lord," said the jailer. "I will return in
half-an-hour," he added, turning to the youth, whom he then left
standing in the middle of the room.

"My brother Charlie?" exclaimed Lord Maxwell, starting up, and hastening
to meet his visiter. "I thought you had been in London. But how? you are
not my brother. Charlie was a strapping fellow when last I saw him,
and--excuse me--you have the advantage."

But, instead of answering, the youth blushed "celestial rosy red, love's
proper hue"--and that so deeply, that even through the gloom the baron
saw the glow on the cheek.

"What! a youth--and to blush!" said he, eyeing his visiter keenly; "it
cannot be; and yet who should it be but----"

"You have not forgotten 'Johnny Armstrong's Good-night,'" whispered the
youth.

"Nor that voice," added the baron, saluting his pretended brother. "What
good spirit has brought you here, my dear Lady Margaret?"

"I have brought you the means of escape: you can disguise yourself in my
cloak and hat; the jailer will not know the difference in this dismal
light, or rather darkness; the sentinel at the end of the court is
Charlie o'Kirkhouse, who may be sent as your guide and guard to the
gate; the cloak and hat will deceive the rest, whose recollection is
doubtless by this time faint enough to favour the attempt."

"It must not be; for, even though no evil were to result from the
attempt, I would not have you subjected to the rudeness of menials."

"Say not so, my lord, for nobody will dare to injure me. I never made a
request before, and I may never make another."

"Nay--not so, I hope; but it cannot be that I should meanly leave you in
my stead. Forgive me, my dear lady, if I refuse to avail myself of the
means of escape which you propose; but deem me not so selfish as to
value my own freedom above yours--as to skulk in disguise from these
walls, and leave you here exposed to the insults of the angry underlings
deputed by a suspicious enemy to watch my every movement."

"Would that I could prevail upon you, my dear lord," said Lady Margaret,
affectionately, "to make the attempt; and would that I could prevail
upon you to cast aside your schemes of vengeance, to devote your
energies to the cause of your country, and to hear in your halls the
sounds of merriment rather than the wailings of sorrow over friends
whose lives have been lost in feudal warfare."

"Would that I could prevail upon myself," rejoined Lord Maxwell, "and
be content to pass my years in peace and in happiness, with none save
one to care for. But I forget myself: these things cannot come to pass."

"And why not?--why may they not now? If you will sign a bond, disavowing
all intent of renewing your hereditary warfare with your hereditary
foes, you would be placed at liberty; and my brother will pledge his
life and land for your word."

"No more--tempt me no more; my will was weak and wavering; but I have
not yet renounced my vow. You have spoken of my hereditary foes--shall I
be the first of my race to cast away my heritage? Happiness is a dream:
I know it now--for this moment--though bolts and bars retain me
here--though the sun's blessed ray scarce reaches me--though I have
passed my days in tumult and trouble, which will accompany me till life
has reached its close. But this is all a dream: in a little while, you,
my dear lady, will leave me; and with you, the dream will depart."

"Is there no hope left? Is your heart closed against me? Is your ear
deaf to my prayer? Will you not hasten from these horrid walls? Will you
sign no bond?"

"Never--never: I would as soon sign my own death-warrant, or yours; for
to sign my own would not wring my heart. I will sign no bond: I will
give no pledge. I need no man's honour to be gauged for my forbearance.
Pardon me, if I seem rude, and rough, and stern. I would that the time
were come when it might not be so--that my destiny were accomplished;
for it may be that, by brooding over schemes of vengeance, our minds are
filled with strange presentiments. When one deed has been done--when my
first task has been completed--when my vow is fulfilled--happiness may
yet be in store."

Neither the tears nor the entreaties of Lady Margaret could prevail on
the inflexible baron; who, however, declared his resolution to try some
other means of escape; and with this view suggested the propriety of
ascertaining what assistance could now be rendered by Charlie o'
Kirkhouse. Lady Margaret, as she was conducted from the baron's cell,
communicated to the trooper the joint wishes of his chief and of
herself.

Lord Maxwell now occupied his mind with projects of escape; and closely
examined the aperture which admitted a scanty portion of light into the
apartment; but its construction presented almost insuperable obstacles.
Nothing daunted, however, he resolved to try whether, by displacing a
part of the wall, he might not be able to open a passage; but the rate
at which the work advanced was so slow, that a whole lifetime would have
been required to accomplish his object.

As he had one evening arranged the rubbish according to his usual custom
before meal-times, so that his operations might not be visible to the
jailer, that functionary entered; but, instead of quietly placing on the
table the viands which he bore, he addressed himself, in an under tone,
to Lord Maxwell: "Would you like to escape, my lord?"

"Charlie o' Kirkhouse, as I'm a living man!" exclaimed the baron. "How
got you here?"

"Hush--you shall know afterwards. Let us change dresses; I will remain
in your stead."

"But you must not run into danger on my account."

"Danger! What danger? They dinna care to meddle wi' sma' gentry like me.
You maun do as I bid you."

"Well, well, Charlie," said the baron, nothing loth to seize the
opportunity of escape, undeterred by any feeling of delicacy in the
event of his substitute being discovered, and satisfying his scruples
with the reflection that Charlie's insignificance would protect him from
insult or injury.

The exchange was forthwith made; and so well had Charlie selected the
hour, that Lord Maxwell received no interruption, except from the sentry
at the outer gate, who wanted to crack a joke with his friend Charlie
o'Kirkhouse. Though the soldier looked somewhat suspicious when his joke
was acknowledged only by a "humph," yet nothing further occurring to
strengthen his suspicions, he quietly resumed his measured tread.

The baron soon provided himself with a horse; and the following morning
found him at Thrieve Castle.

Meanwhile, Charlie o'Kirkhouse, who remained the tenant of Lord
Maxwell's apartment, was missed by his comrades; but the story of the
sentinel, that he had seen "the Nithsdale trooper in a huff trampin'
doun the toun," satisfied them for the night. The jailer--who had a
second key, and thus was able to obtain admission--was taken aback on
visiting the cell on the following morning, when he found himself rather
roughly hugged by the prisoner, who thrust him head over heels into a
recess filled with what was, in courtesy, called a bed. Before the
astounded functionary could open his mouth, he heard the door locked,
and found himself a prisoner. He shouted, kicked, and thumped on the
door, and made all the din in his power. Charlie found the key in the
door at the end of a passage which led to the cell, and which had
prevented him from making his escape in the night-time; but his dress
attracted the notice and suspicion of some officers. He was seized
without delay. His excuse, however, that he had been "a guizardin" would
have served his purpose, had not the imprisoned jailer, by dint of
clamour, brought some of his comrades to the door, and let them know the
state of the case. Charlie was immediately pursued; and, as he had not
reached the castle gate, he was captured without difficulty.

"A pretty fellow you are," said Will o'Gunmerlie, "ye leein scoon'rel!
but yese get your ser'in for lattin aff yon villain, that ye used to
misca' waur nor ony Johnstone. Here. Habbie, Dandie, gie him a roun'
dizzen--and sync arither--and sync anither."

Charlie o' Kirkhouse fidgeted a little on hearing this order issued, and
he would fain have made another attempt to escape; but it was in vain.
"Come ane, come a'," he recklessly cried, when no hope was left, "I
carena; four dizzen's nae waur nor ane." The punishment was inflicted
with full vigour by Will o' Gunmerlie's ministers of justice; and the
luckless Charlie was thrust out of the castle, to find comfort and
shelter where he might.

Meanwhile, Lord Maxwell tried to raise the barons of Nithsdale; but the
times had changed so greatly since the accession of James to the English
throne, that the lairds felt themselves more independent than they were
of old, when their only choice was either to join the standard of some
powerful chief, or to suffer their possessions to be spoiled by his
retainers. Besides, they were weary of contests with their neighbours;
and most of them peremptorily refused to comply with the baron's wishes.
His wrath may be more easily conceived than described. After spending
some weeks in ineffectual attempts to overcome the resolution of his
refractory vassals, he applied to Sir Robert Maxwell of Orchardstone
(who, as has already been stated, was connected by marriage with Sir
James Johnstone), for the purpose of obtaining an interview with his
antagonist, and of trying whether that baron could not be prevailed upon
to intercede for him with the king. The aged knight, gratified at the
conciliatory disposition shown by Lord Maxwell, fixed time and place for
a meeting between the two chiefs, who accordingly hastened, each with a
small body of attendants, to the confines of their respective
territories, with the view of holding an amicable conference. Leaving
most of their attendants at some distance, Sir Robert Maxwell of
Orchardstone, Sir James Johnstone, accompanied by Will o' Gunmerlie, and
Lord Maxwell, accompanied by Charlie o' Kirkhouse (who had recovered
from the effects of his whipping), proceeded to enter on the business
which had called them together.

"I houp ye're nane the waur o' bein i' the castle, Charlie," cried Will
o'Gunmerlie, sneeringly.

"Nae thanks to you; I'll hae it oot o' yer hide some day. Tak ye tent,
ma man; ye've taen gude whangs o' ither folk's leather--look to yer
ain."

"Ha! ha! ha!" was the only reply of the other.

"Dinna anger me," vociferated Charlie, in a nettled tone, looking at his
pistol; "I tauld ye ye would get yer ser'in. There's nocht to hinder me
frae giein ye't noo. There--tak that!" And in a moment the freebooter
raised his pistol, and shot the unsuspecting Will o'Gunmerlie, who
rolled from his horse in the agonies of death.

Sir James Johnstone, on hearing the shot and the groans of his murdered
attendant, turned about to see what had happened, and (in the words of
the old chronicler) "immediately Maxwell shot him behind his back with
ane pistoll chairgit with two poysonit bullets." The unfortunate chief
fell from his horse; and, although he lingered for some time, his wound
was mortal. He lived, however, so long as to declare his wishes with
regard to various weighty matters, and to utter a word of consolation to
Orchardstone, whose grief was rendered agonising by the recollection
that his credulity had been the means of hastening the death of Sir
James.

Lord Maxwell immediately proceeded to the Castle of the Thrieve, where a
large company was assembled, for the purpose, as they thought, of
celebrating the reconciliation betwixt the two clans, and also the
marriage of the chief with Lady Margaret Hamilton, who had been
conducted thither by her brother. On Lord Maxwell's return, he sought a
private interview with the marquis--told him what he had done--asked him
to communicate the circumstances to the bride, and learn whether she
would be wedded to a man whose hand was newly stained with blood.

"But he has slain his enemy in honourable battle," said Lady Margaret;
"he has borne himself like a true knight; and, even though he may now
depart for a season, the king has pardoned more heinous offences."

When the reply was reported to the baron, he muttered, with that
sneering the which betrays the bitterness of the heart--"In honourable
fight!--most honourable! Would it had been so!--But I will not now
undeceive her."

The nuptials proceeded; the festivities were commenced, and continued to
a late hour. Early on the following morning, the baron left his weeping
bride, and, with his faithful retainer, Charlie o'Kirkhouse, hastened in
disguise from his own home and country.

Notwithstanding all the efforts of the Marquis of Hamilton and other
friends of the expatriated Baron of Nithsdale, no pardon could be
extorted from King James--whose virtue seems for once to have been proof
against all the temptations and threats which his most powerful Scottish
subjects could hold forth. Lord Maxwell's peace of mind was gone; for
all that was dear to him--his country and kindred--were at a distance;
the engrossing object of his thought for many years past had been
attained; and his memory would not allow him to forget that his revenge
had been accomplished by meanly assassinating his enemy. After he had
remained for about three or four years, wasting the prime of his days in
exile and in misery, he learned that Lady Margaret was in bad spirits;
then in bad health; then that her life was despaired of; and he
resolved, at all hazards, to revisit Scotland. But, before his voyage
was ended, Lady Margaret had breathed her last--heart-broken in the
midst of those enjoyments--wealth, power, and rank--which are fondly
supposed, by those who possess them not, and by not a few who do possess
them, to be the infallible means of securing human felicity. The only
object which made life worth retaining, in the estimation of Lord
Maxwell, was thus snatched from him; and he would have immediately
delivered himself up to justice, had it not been for the remonstrances
of his faithful attendant, Charlie o'Kirkhouse. The family of Sir James
Johnstone, as well as the constituted authorities, hunted the baron over
the whole country; until, after frequently enduring the extremity of
distress, he was seized in the wilds of Caithness, to which he had
ultimately been driven. The indefatigable industry of his hereditary
foes pursued him even to this distant retreat; and he was brought to
Edinburgh, where, once more, he returned to his old quarters in the
castle.

Among the friends who came to visit him, with the view of concerting
measures for his defence, was the Marquis of Hamilton.

"Do you know that they mean to rob Charles of his birthright?" said the
baron, on the entrance of his friend. "Oh, my good lord, such deeds
would never have been done, had some of your ancestors filled the seat
of the mean-spirited prince who rules this unhappy country."

"Hush, hush, my friend!" said the marquis; "speak nought like treason. I
know it all. My lord treasurer, or his deputy, cannot want the estates;
and you must therefore submit to a charge of fire-raising as well as of
murder."

"May my curse or my blessing--for I know not which is more likely to
bring the worse consequences--rest upon them all, if they take from my
race their own inheritance, because I, forsooth, have sent a hoary
villain a little before his time to his account!"

"Speak not so harshly, kinsman; your sense of your own sufferings makes
you unjust. Men say that these sufferings have been self-inflicted; but
I will not say so. I come to learn if in aught I can mitigate them."

"Mitigate them, did you say? I ask no mitigation; for my life is now a
burden. I ask no pity; I ask no sympathy I have but one possession which
I can still call my own; it is not inherited; I cannot transmit it; it
is my sole luxury, my sole treasure--and it is one which you will not
covet. I have nought but my own misery that I can call my
own--self-inflicted it may be; I dispute not about a word. But if it be
self-inflicted, so much the more is it my own property. Forgive me, my
lord, if I seem rude and hasty in temper; but I have scarce slept under
a roof since, after long absence, I last touched my native soil, until
last night, indeed, when I harboured here. I have been hunted by hounds
of human breed; I have skulked in mosses, forests, and caverns, as
familiarly as you have trodden the courts of palaces. Need you wonder I
am worn to what I am--a mere skeleton-a wretched, decrepid thing--more
like a being returned from the grave, than a living man?"

"It is but too true," said the marquis; "yet is there nought you would
wish me to do? No token of affection to send to your friends----"

"Nothing--nothing."

The time of trial at length arrived, and Lord Maxwell was indicted for
the crimes of murder and of fire-raising. The introduction of the latter
charge was the cause of bitter complaint on the part of the prisoner;
for he well knew that the object of the public authorities was to obtain
the forfeiture of his estates; and the treasurer-depute, Sir Gideon
Murray, was supposed to have instigated them to combine this minor
accusation with the other. The crime of fire-raising, according to the
ancient Scottish law, if perpetrated by a landed man, constituted a
species of treason, and inferred forfeiture. The purpose of public
justice, however, was, on this, as an other occasions in the same reign,
sullied by being united with that of enriching some needy favourite. No
difficulty was felt in proving either of the charges; the former,
indeed, was not denied; and the latter was established by the evidence
of some sufferers in the course of the first outrages committed after
the battle of Dryffe Sands. The baron was found guilty of both crimes,
and sentenced to be beheaded. Every effort was made to obtain pardon for
him; but the king and his counsellors were inexorable.

On the night before the execution, Sir Robert Maxwell of Orchardstone,
who was now very far advanced in years, visited his kinsman and chief,
under the guidance of the Marquis of Hamilton.

"And it has come to this at last!" exclaimed the old man. "Would to
heaven, my dear lord, you had listened to the prayer of your humble
clansman, eighteen years ago. Brief time is left to make your peace.
Some holy man may be able to soothe your mind, ruffled though it be."

"Mock me not, dear uncle," said the baron, in a tone of bitterness which
startled the old man with horror. "Torture me not with talk about peace
and holy men. They cannot give me peace--they cannot give me happiness
on earth or in heaven. I am content with the share I have enjoyed. One
gleam of sunshine has crossed my path--one fair flowret has blessed my
sight--one spring has gladdened the weary wilderness--one human heart
has been mine; and though it is mine no longer--though the flower has
been blighted, and the bright gleam of happiness, now departed, has only
made me more sensitive to the succeeding darkness, and the spring is
dried, and the human heart lies in the dust--I ask no more. My cup of
bliss is full--one drop has filled it. My heaven has been already
enjoyed--no dotard can bring me tidings of weal or wo; I cannot part
with it. Leave me, good uncle and good cousin. I would bless you, but my
blessing might prove a curse."

His sorrowing friends left him as he wished. He was beheaded on the
following morning.

His estates, which had been forfeited, were granted in part to the
treasurer-depute, a favourite of the king; but, after the lapse of a few
years, the attainder was reversed, and the honours and estates conferred
upon his brother.



THE CLERICAL MURDERER.


The story which has been told of John Smithson, the minister of Berwick,
who was, in the year 1672, executed for committing a crime which has
seldom stained the hands of the ministers of the religion of Christ, is
as true as it is extraordinary. There are connected with it some
circumstances which have communicated to it a character of even deeper
interest than what generally invests tales of blood. Sympathy for the
victim, disgust and hatred towards the perpetrator, and a general
feeling of horror at the contemplation of the crime, are the usual
emotions excited by the commission of an aggravated murder; but there
are sometimes afforded, by these melancholy exhibitions of the weakness
and sinfulness of our fallen nature, certain lights, "burning blue,"
which lay open, with their mysterious glare, recesses in the heart of
man which no philosophy has ever been able to reach and develop.

It was remarked that Smithson was one of the best of sons. His aged
mother was supported by him for a long period, and at a time when he
could very ill spare the means. Indeed, such was his filial affection,
that he once travelled fifty miles in one day, to get payment of a small
sum of money that had been due to his father; and to procure which for
his mother he required to beg his way to the residence of the creditor.
When he returned, he presented to her the whole sum; and when asked upon
what he had supported himself on the journey, he replied that the cause
in which he was engaged procured him the means of subsistence, for he
was not refused alms by a single individual whom he had solicited.

It was in consequence of his kindness to his father and mother that he
was assisted by a rich friend to acquire education fitted for his
becoming a clergyman. For this patron he ever afterwards felt the
strongest esteem; and his gratitude kept pace with his affection. He
attended his friend on his death-bed, and administered to him that
knowledge and consolation which the clerical education he had received
enabled him to bestow on his dying benefactor. Nor did he consider that
the gratuitous assistance which had thus been extended to him could be
repaid alone by affection towards the vicarious giver, but declared
that, as it came from Heaven, so ought the gratitude of his heart to be
directed to the origin of all gifts that are bestowed on the deserving.

Gratitude is not only its own reward, but the cause often of the means
of its own increase; for Smithson's benefactor was so pleased with his
attention to him when dying, that he left him a large legacy in his
will, which relieved him from that state of dependence which he found
had limited his means of doing good. He soon afterwards married a very
beautiful woman, and got himself placed in the church of Berwick.

His ministerial duties were performed with the greatest devotion and
zeal for the welfare of the people intrusted to his charge. His
attention to his parishioners was unremitting--his prayers for the dying
or the sorrow-smitten were fervent--and the poor and aged not only
tasted of the consolations afforded by his pious sympathy, but often had
their wants relieved by his charitable hand. No mortal eye could
discover in this any insincerity, far less any cloak put on to cover
evil already done, or any false assumption of a good and devout
character, to avert the eye of suspicion from deeds intended to be
perpetrated.

His character had indeed, in other respects, been tried, and found not
awanting. A relation of his had died, and left a large sum of money to
be divided among his nephews and nieces. The money was recovered by
Smithson, and upon the young heirs arriving at majority, was divided
among them with so much honesty, that they all combined in addressing to
him a letter, wherein they extolled his character for justice, honour,
and piety, and attributed to him all the qualities of a saint.

In addition to all this, his conjugal character was unspotted. His
attentions to his wife were what might have been expected from a good
husband and a minister of the gospel; the breath of scandal never dimmed
the purity of his fidelity; nor could the most querulous exacter of
conjugal obligations have found any fault with the manner in which he
fulfilled, not only the duties of a husband, but the more generous and
less easily counterfeited attentions of the lover. His wife seemed to be
grateful for his kindness, and respected his official character as much
as she loved those private virtues, from which she was much benefited.

On a Sunday previous to that on which the Sacrament was to be dispensed,
he preached in the church of Berwick. His text was the sixth
Commandment--"Thou shalt not kill." His sermons, always animated and
vigorous, and possessing even a tint of devout enthusiasm, were much
relished by his congregation; but on that day he outshone all his former
efforts of pulpit eloquence. He painted the character of the murderer
with colours drawn from the palette of inspired truth; the cruel,
remorseless, bloodthirsty heart of the son of Cain was laid open to the
eyes of his entranced audience; the feelings of the victim were
described with such power of sympathy, that the tears of the
congregation fell in ready and heartfelt tribute to the power of his
delineation; his own emotion, equalling that of his people, filled his
eyes with tears, and lent to his voice that peculiar thrilling sound
which calls forth, while it expresses, the strongest pity. The man of
God seemed inspired, and he communicated the inspiration to those who
heard him. His hand was observed to tremble; his eye was bloodshot; his
manner nervous, tremulous, excited, and enthusiastic; his voice "broken
with pity," and at times discordant with the overpowering excess of his
emotion. His whole soul seemed under the influence of divine power; and
his body, quailing under the energies of its nobler partner, shook like
a thing touched by the hand of the Almighty.

On that morning the preacher had murdered his wife. By the time the
congregation came out, the news had begun to spread. Nobody would credit
what they heard, while they exclaimed that his sermon was strange, and
his manner remarkable. A determination not to believe was mixed with
strange insinuations, and the town of Berwick was suspended between
extravagant incredulity and unaccountable suspicions. But the report was
true, and the fact remains as one of those occurrences in life which no
knowledge of the heart of man, though dignified with the proud name of
philosophy, has been, or perhaps ever will be, able to explain.


END OF VOL. XV.





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