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Title: Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland - Volume 16
Author: Various
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland - Volume 16" ***

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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. XVI.

LONDON:

WALTER SCOTT, 14 PATERNOSTER SQUARE

AND NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE.

1885.



CONTENTS.


THE LEVELLER, _(JOHN MACKAY WILSON)_

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

    THE DEATH OF JAMES III.

GLEANINGS OF THE COVENANT. _(PROFESSOR THOMAS GILLESPIE_)

    V.--THE RESCUE AT ENTERKIN
    VI.--THE FATAL MISTAKE
    VII.--BONNY MARY GIBSON
    VIII.--THE ESKDALEMUIR STORY
    IX.--THE DOUGLAS TRAGEDY

THE COUNTESS OF CASSILIS, _(ALEXANDER CAMPBELL)_

THE HAPPY CONCLUSION, _(ANON.)_

MR SAMUEL RAMSAY THRIVEN: A TALE OF LOVE AND BANKRUPTCY, _(ALEXANDER
LEIGHTON)_

THE MAN-OF-WAR'S MAN, _(JOHN HOWELL)_

THE ANGLER'S TALE, _(OLIVER RICHARDSON)_

PERSEVERANCE; OR, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF RODERIC GRAY, _(JOHN MACKAY
WILSON)_

THE IRISH REAPER, _(JOHN MACKAY WILSON)_

GRACE CAMERON, _(ALEXANDER CAMPBELL)_

THE MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE, _(ANON.)_



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



THE LEVELLER.


How far the term, "A Leveller," is provincial, or confined to the
Borders, I am not certain; for before I had left them, to become as a
pilgrim on the earth, the phrase had fallen into disuse, and the events,
or rather the cause which brought it into existence, had passed away.
But, twenty-five or even twenty years ago, in these parts, there was no
epithet more familiar to the lips of every schoolboy than that of a
_Leveller_. The juvenile lovers of mirth and mischief displayed their
loyalty, by _smeeking_ the houses or burning the effigies of the
Levellers; and he was a good subject and a perfect gentleman, who, out
of his liberality and patriotism, contributed a shilling to purchase
powder to make the head of the effigy go off in a rocket, and its
fingers start away in squibs. Levellers were persecuted by the young,
and suspected by the old. Every town and village in the kingdom had its
coterie of Levellers. They did not congregate together; for, as being
suspected individuals, their so doing would have been attended with
danger; but there was a sympathy and a sort of brotherhood amongst those
in the same place, and they met in twos and threes, at the corners of
the streets, in the fields, or the workshop, and not unfrequently at the
operating rooms of the barber, as though there had been a secret
understanding in the growth of their beards. Some of them were
generally seen waiting the arrival of the mail, and running across the
street, or the highway, as the case might be, eagerly inquiring of the
guard--"What news?" But if, on the approach of the vehicle, they
perceived it decorated with branches, or a flag displayed from it, away
turned the Levellers from the unwelcome symbols of national rejoicing,
and condoled one with another in their own places of retirement. They
were seldom or never found amongst rosy-faced country gentlemen, who
walked in the midst of their fellow-mortals as if measuring their acres.
Occasionally they might be found amongst tradesmen; but they were most
frequently met with at the loom, or amongst those who had learned the
art and mystery of a cordwainer. The Leveller, however, was generally a
peaceful and a moral man, and always a man of much reading and extensive
information. Many looked upon the Leveller as the enemy of his country,
and as wishing the destruction of its institutions: I always regarded
them with a more favourable eye. Most of them I have met with were
sincerely attached to liberty, though they frequently took strange
methods of showing it. They were opposed to the war with France, and
they were enthusiastic admirers, almost worshippers, of Napoleon and his
glories. They could describe the scene of all his victories--they could
repeat his speeches and his bulletins by heart. But the old Jacobins of
the last century, the Levellers of the beginning of this, are a race
rapidly becoming extinct.

I shall give the history of one of them, who was called James Nicholson,
and who resided in the village of T----. James was by trade a weaver--a
walking history of the wars, and altogether one of the most remarkable
men I ever met with. He had an impressive and ready utterance; few could
stand before him in an argument, and of him it might have been truly
said--

    "In reasoning, too, the parson own'd his skill,
    And, though defeated, he could argue still."

He possessed also a bold imagination and a masculine understanding, and
both had been improved by extensive reading. With such qualifications,
it is not a matter of wonder that he was looked up to as the oracle, the
head, or king, of the Levellers in T---- (if, indeed, they admitted the
idea of a king). For miles around, he was familiarly known by the
designation of Jemmy the Leveller; for though there were others of the
name of James who held similar sentiments in the village and
neighbourhood, he was Jemmy _par excellence_. But, in order that the
reader may have a correct representation of James before him, I shall
describe it as I saw him, about five-and-twenty years ago. He then
appeared a man approaching to sixty years of age. His shoulders were
rather bent, his height about five feet eleven, and he walked with his
eyes fixed upon the ground. His arms were generally crossed upon his
breast, and he stalked with a long and slow step, like a shepherd
toiling up a hill. His forehead was one that Spurzheim would have
travelled a hundred miles to finger--it was both broad and lofty; his
eyebrows were thick, of a deep brown colour, and met together; his eyes
were large, and of a dark greyish hue; his nose appertained to the
Roman; his mouth was rather large, and his hair was mixed with grey. His
figure was spare and thin. He wore a very low-crowned and a very
broad-brimmed hat, a short brown coat, a dark striped waistcoat, with a
double breast, corduroy breeches, which buckled at the knees, coarse
blue stockings, and strong shoes, or rather brogues, neither of which
articles had been new for at least three years; and around his body he
wore a coarse half-bleached apron, which was stained with blue, and hung
loose before him. Such was James Nicholson as he first appeared to me.
For more than forty years he had remained in a state of single
blessedness; but whether this arose from his heart having continued
insensible to the influence of woman's charms--from his never having met
with one whom he thought he could safely take "for better, for
worse"--or whether it arose from the maidens being afraid to risk their
future happiness, by uniting themselves with such a strange and
dangerous character as Jemmy the Jacobin, I cannot tell. It is certain,
however, that he became convinced that a bachelor's life was at best a
_dowie_ one; and there was another consideration that had considerable
weight with him. He had nobody to "_fill his pirns_," or "_give in his
webs_;" but he had to hire and pay people to do these things, and this
made a great drawback on his earnings, particularly when the price of
weaving became low. James therefore resolved to do as his father had
done before him, and to take unto himself a wife. He cast his eyes
abroad, and they rested on a decent spinster, who was beginning to be
what is called a "_stayed lass_"--that is, very near approaching to the
years when the phrase, a "_stayed lass_," is about to be exchanged for
that of an old maid. In a word, the object of his choice was but a very
few years younger than himself. Her name was Peggy Purves, and it is
possible she was inclined to adopt the language of the song, and say--

    "O mother, onybody!"

for when James made his proposal, she smirked and blushed--said she
"didna ken what to say till't"--took the corners of her apron in her
fingers--hung her head--smiled well pleased, and added, she "would see!"
but within three months became the wife of Jemmy the Leveller.

James became the father of two children, a son and daughter; and we may
here notice a circumstance attending the baptism of the son. About three
weeks after the birth of the child, his mother began to inquire--

"What shall we ca' him, James? Do ye think we should ca' him Alexander,
after your faither and mine?"

"Haud yer tongue, woman," replied James, somewhat testily. "Goodness me!
where's the use in everlastingly yatter-yattering about what I will ca'
him? The bairn shall hae a name--a name that will be like a deed o'
virtue and greatness engraven on his memory as often as he hears it."

"Oh, James, James!" returned Peggy, "ye're the strangest and perversest
man that ever I met wi' in my born days. I'm sure ye'll ne'er think o'
giein ony o' yer heathenish Jacobin names to my bairn!"

"Just content yersel, Peggy," replied he--"just rest contented, if ye
please. I'll gie the bairn a name that neither you nor him will ever hae
cause to be ashamed o'."

Now, James was a rigid Dissenter, and caused the child to be taken to
the meeting-house; and he stood up with it in his arms, in the midst of
the congregation, that his infant might publicly receive baptism.

The minister inquired, in a low voice, "What is the child's name?"

His neighbours were anxious to hear the answer; and, in his deep,
sonorous tones, he replied aloud--

"GEORGE WASHINGTON!"

There was a sort of buzz and a movement throughout the congregation, and
the minister himself looked surprised.

When her daughter was born, the choice of the name was left to Peggy,
and she called her Catherine, in remembrance of her mother.

Shortly after the birth of his children, the French Revolution began to
lour in the political horizon, and James Nicholson, the weaver, with a
fevered anxiety, watched its progress.

"It is a bursting forth o' the first seed o' the tree o' liberty, which
the Americans planted, and George Washington reared," cried James, with
enthusiasm; "the seeds o' that tree will spread owre the earth, as if
scattered by the winds o' heaven--they will cover it as the waters do
the sea--they will take root--they will spring up in every land: beneath
the burning sun o' the West Indies, on the frozen deserts o' Siberia,
the slave and the exile will rejoice beneath the shadow o' its branches,
and their hearts be gladdened by its fruits."

"Ay, man, James, that's noble!" exclaimed some brother Leveller, who
retailed the sayings of the weaver at second hand. "Losh! if ye haena a
headpiece that wad astonish a privy council!"

But, when the storm burst, and the sea of blood gushed forth like a
deluge, when the innocent and the guilty were butchered together, James
was staggered, his eyes became heavy, and his countenance fell. At
length he consoled his companions, saying--

"Weel, it's a pity--it's a great pity--it is bringing disgrace and guilt
upon a glorious cause. But knives shouldna be put into the hands o'
bairns till they ken how to use them. If the sun were to rise in a flash
o' unclouded glory and dazzling brightness in a moment, succeeding the
heavy darkness o' midnight, it wad be nae wonder if, for a time, we
groped more blindly than we did in the dark. Or, if a blind man had his
sight restored in a moment, and were set into the street, he would
strike upon every object he met more readily than he did when he was
blind; for he had neither acquired the use o' his eyes nor the idea o'
distance. So is it wi' our neighbours in France: an instrument has been
put into their hands before they ken how to use it--the sun o' liberty
has burst upon them in an instant, without an intermediate dawn. They
groaned under the tyranny o' blindness; but they hae acquired the power
o' sight without being instructed in its use. But hae patience a
little--the storm will gie place to the sunshine, the troubled waters
will subside into a calm, and liberty will fling her garment o'
knowledge and mercy owre her now uninstructed worshippers."

"Weel! that's grand, James!--that's really famous!" said one of the
coterie of Levellers to whom it was delivered; "odd! ye beat
a'thing--ye're a match for _Wheatbread_ himsel."

"James," said another, "without meaning to flatter ye, if Billy Pitt had
ye to gie him a dressing, I believe he wad offer ye a place the very
next day, just to keep yer tongue quiet."

James was one of those who denounced, with all the vehemence and
indignation of which he was capable, Britain's engaging in a war with
France. He raised up his voice against it. He pronounced it to be an
unjust and an impious attempt to support oppression, and to stifle
freedom in its cradle.

"But in that freedom they will find a Hercules," cried he, "which, in
its very cradle, will grip tyranny by the throat, and a' the kings in
Europe winna be able to slacken its grasp."

When the star of Napoleon began to rise, and broke forth with a lustre
which dazzled the eyes of a wondering world, the Levellers of Britain,
like the Republicans of France, lost sight of their love of liberty, in
their admiration of the military glories and rapid triumphs of the hero.
James Nicholson was one of those who became blinded with the fame, the
splendid success, and the daring genius of the young Corsican. Napoleon
became his idol. His deeds, his capacity, his fame, were his daily
theme. They became the favourite subject of every Leveller. They did not
see in him one who laughed at liberty, and who made it his plaything,
who regarded life as stubble, whose ambition circled the globe, and who
was the enemy of Britain: they saw in him only a hero, who had burst
from obscurity as a meteor from the darkness of night--whose glory had
obscured the pomp of princes, and his word consumed their power.

The threatened invasion, and the _false alarm_, put the Leveller's
admiration of Napoleon, and his love of his native land, to a severe
trial; but we rejoice to say, for the sake of James Nicholson, that the
latter triumphed, and he accompanied a party of volunteers ten miles
along the coast, and remained an entire night, and the greater part of a
day, under arms, and even he was then ready to say--

    "Let foe come on foe, like wave upon wave,
    We'll gie them a welcome, we'll gie them a grave."

But, as the apprehension of the invasion passed away, his admiration of
Napoleon's triumphs, and his reverence for what he termed his stupendous
genius, burned with redoubled force.

"Princes are as grasshoppers before him," said James; "nations are as
spiders' webs. The Alps became as a highway before his spirit--he looked
upon Italy, and the land was conquered."

I might describe to you the exultation and the rejoicings of James and
his brethren, when they heard of the victories of Marengo, Ulm, and
Austerlitz; and how, in their little parties of two and three, they
walked a mile farther together in the fields or by the sides of the
Tweed, or peradventure indulged in an extra pint with one another,
though most of them were temperate men: or, I might describe to you how,
upon such occasions, they would ask eagerly, "But what is _James_ saying
to it?" I, however, shall dwell only upon his conduct when he heard of
the battle of Jena. He was standing with a brother Leveller at a corner
of the village when the mail arrived which conveyed the important
tidings. I think I see him now, as he appeared at that moment. Both were
in expectation of momentous information--they ran to the side of the
coach together. "What news?--what news?" they inquired of the guard at
once. He stooped down, as they ran by the side of the coach, and
informed them. The eyes of James glowed with delight--his nostrils were
dilated.

"Oh, the great, the glorious man!" he exclaimed, rubbing his hands in
ecstasy, and turning away from the coach; "the matchless!--the
wonderful!--the great Napoleon! There is none like him--there never
was--he is a sun among the stars--they cannot twinkle in his presence."

He and his friends received a weekly paper amongst them; it was the day
on which it arrived. They followed the coach to the post-office to
receive it; and I need not tell you with what eagerness the contents of
that paper were read. James was the reader; and after he had read an
account of the battle, he gave his readers a dissertation upon it.

He laid his head upon his pillow, with his thoughts filled with Napoleon
and the battle of Jena; and when, on the following morning, he met two
or three of his companions at the corner of the village, where they were
wont to assemble for ten minutes after breakfast, to discuss the affairs
of Europe, James, with a look of even more than his usual importance and
sagacity, thus began:--

"I hae dreamed a marvellous dream. I saw the battle of Jena--I beheld
the Prussians fly with dismay before the voice of the conqueror. Then
did I see the great man, arrayed in his robes of victory, bearing the
sword of power in his hand, ascend a throne of gold and of ivory. Over
the throne was a gorgeous canopy of purple, and diamonds bespangled the
tapestry as a firmament. The crowns of Europe lay before him, and kings,
and princes, and nobles, kneeled at his feet. At his nod he made kings
and exalted nations. Armies fled and advanced at the moving of his
finger--they were machines in his hand. The spirits of Alexander and of
Cæsar--all the heroes of antiquity--gazed in wonder upon his throne;
each was surrounded by the halo of his victories and the fame of ages;
but their haloes became dim before the flash of his sword of power, and
the embodiment of their spirits became as a pale mist before the majesty
of his eyes and the magnificence of his triumphs. The nations of the
earth were also gathered around the throne, and, as with one voice, in
the same language, and at the same moment, they waved their hands, and
cried, as peals of thunder mingle wi' each other, "Long live the great
emperor!" But, while my soul started within me at the mighty shout, and
my eyes gazed with wonder and astonishment on the glory and the power of
the great man, darkness fell upon the throne, troubled waters dashed
around it, and the vision of night and vastness, the emperor, the
kneeling kings, the armies, and the people, were encompassed in the dark
waves--swallowed as though they had not been; and, with the cold
perspiration standing on my forehead, I awoke, and found that I had
dreamed."[1]

[Footnote 1: Many in this neighbourhood, who read the Leveller's dream,
will remember the original. Twenty years ago, I heard it related by the
dreamer, with all the enthusiasm of a staunch admirer of Napoleon, and I
have preserved his words and imagery as closely as I could recollect
them.]

"It is a singular dream," said one.

"Sleeping or waking, James is the same man," said another, "aye out o'
the common run. You and me wad hae sleepit a twelvemonth before we had
dreamed the like o' that."

But one circumstance arose which troubled James much, and which all his
admiration, yea, all his worship of Napoleon could not wholly overcome.
James, as we have hinted, was a rigid Presbyterian, and the idea of a
man putting away his wife he could not forgive. When, therefore,
Napoleon divorced the gentle Josephine, and took the daughter of Austria
to his bed--

"He hath done wrong," said James; "he has erred grievously. He has been
an instrument in humbling the pope, the instrument foretold in the
Revelation; and he has been the glorious means o' levelling and
destroying the Inquisition--but this sin o' putting away his wife, and
pretending to marry another, casts a blot upon a' his glories; and I
fear that humiliation, as a punishment, will follow the foul sin. Yet,
after a', as a man, he was subject to temptation; and, as being no
common man, we maunna judge his conduct by common rules."

"Really, James," said the individual he addressed, "wi' a' my admiration
o' the great man,[2] and my respect for you, I'm no just clear upon your
last remark--when the Scriptures forbade a man to put away his wife,
there was nae exception made for king or emperors."

[Footnote 2: I have often remarked that the admirers of Napoleon were
wont to speak of him as _the great man_.]

"True," said James--"but----"

James never finished his "but." His conscience told him that his idol
had sinned; and when the disastrous campaign to Russia shortly after
followed, he imagined that he beheld in its terrible calamities the
punishment he had predicted. The sun of Napoleon had reached its
meridian, the fires of Moscow raised a cloud before it, behind which it
hastened to its setting. In the events of that memorable invasion and
retreat, James Nicholson took an eager and mournful interest. Thoughts
of it haunted him in his sleep; and he would dream of Russian deserts
which presented to the eye an unbounded waste of snow; or start,
exclaiming, "The Cossacks!--the Cossacks!" His temper, too, became
irritable, and his family found it hard to bear with it.

This, however, was not the only cause which increased the irritability,
and provoked the indignation, of James the Leveller; for, as the glory
of Napoleon began to wane, and the arms of the British achieved new
victories in the Peninsula, he and his brethren in principle became the
objects of almost nightly persecution. Never did the mail arrive,
bearing tidings of the success of the British or their allies, but as
surely was a figure, intended to represent one or other of the
Levellers, paraded through the village, and burned before the door of
the offender, amidst the shouts, the groans, and laughter, of some two
or three hundred boys and young men. The reader may be surprised to hear
that one of the principal leaders of these young and mischief-loving
loyalists was no other than GEORGE WASHINGTON, the only son of our
friend, James Nicholson. To turn him from conduct, and the manifestation
of a principle, so unworthy of his name, James spared neither
admonition, reproof, nor the rod of correction. But George was now too
old for his father to apply the latter, and his advice and reproof in
this matter was like throwing water in the sea. The namesake of the
great President never took a part in such exhibitions of his father, and
in holding his principles up to execration and contempt; on the
contrary, he did all in his power to prevent them, and repeatedly did he
prevent them--but he entered, with his whole heart, into every proposal
to make a mock spectacle of others. The young tormentors knew little or
nothing of the principles of the men they delighted to persecute--it was
enough for them to know that they were _Levellers_, that _they wished
the French to win_; and although James Nicholson was known to be, as I
have already said, the very king and oracle of the levelling party in
the neighbourhood, yet, for his son's sake, he frequently escaped the
persecution intended for him, and it was visited upon the heads of more
insignificant characters.

One evening, James beheld his son heading the noisy band in a crusade
against the peace of a particular friend; moreover, George bore a long
pole over his shoulder, to the top of which an intended resemblance of
his father's friend was attached. James further saw his hopeful son and
the crowd reach his friend's house, he beheld him scale the walls
(which were but a single storey in height), he saw him stand upon the
roof--the pole, with the effigy attached to it, was again handed to him,
and, amidst the shouts of his companions, he put the pole down the
chimney, leaving the figure as a smoke-doctor on its top.

James could endure no more. "Oh, the villain!--the scoundrel!" he
cried--"the--the----" But he could add no more, from excess of
indignation. He rushed along the street--he dashed through the crowd--he
grasped his son by the throat, at the moment of his springing from the
roof. He shook with rage. He struck him violently. He raised his feet
and kicked him.

"What is a' this for?" said George, sullenly, while he suffered even
more from shame than his father's violence.

"What is it for!" cried James, half choked with passion; "ye rascal!--ye
disgrace!--ye profligate!--how can ye ask what is it for?" and he struck
him again.

"Faither," said George, more sullenly than before, "I wad advise ye to
keep yer hands to yersel--at least on the street and before folk."

"Awa wi' ye! ye reprobate!" exclaimed the old man, "and never enter my
door again--never while ye breathe--ye thankless----"

"Be it sae," said George.

James returned to his house, in sorrow and in anger. He was out of
humour with everything. He found fault with his daughter--he spoke
angrily to his wife. Chairs, stools, tables, and crockery, he kicked to
the right and left. He flung his supper behind the fire, when it was set
before him. He was grieved at his son's conduct; but he was also angry
with himself for his violence towards him.

A serjeant of a Highland regiment had been for some time in the village
on the recruiting service. He was to leave with his recruits, and
proceed to Leith, where they were immediately to embark on the
following morning. Amongst the recruits were many of the acquaintances
of George and his companions. After the affair of the effigy, they went
to have a parting glass with them. George was then about nineteen. He
had not yet forgiven his father for the indignity he had openly offered
to him--he remembered he had forbidden him his house. One of his
companions jestingly alluded to the indignation of the old man--he
"wondered how George stood it." The remark made his feelings more
bitter. He felt shame upon his face. Another of his companions enlisted;
in the excitement of the moment, George followed his example, and,
before sunrise on the following morning, was on his road to Leith with
the other recruits.

Old James arose and went to his loom, unhappy and troubled in his
spirit. He longed for a reconciliation with his son--to tell him he was
sorry for the length to which his temper had led him, and also calmly to
reason with him on the folly, the unreasonableness, and the wickedness,
of his own conduct, in running with a crowd at his heels about the
street, persecuting honest men, and endangering both the peace of the
town and the safety of property. But he had been an hour at the loom,
and George took not his place at his (for he had brought him up to his
own trade); another hour passed, and breakfast time arrived, but the
shuttle which had been driven by the hand of his son sent forth no
sound.

"Where is George?" inquired he, as he entered the house; "wherefore has
he no been ben at his wark?"

"Ye ken best," returned Peggy, who thought it her time to be out of
humour, "for it lies between ye; but ye'll carry on yer rampaging fits
o' passion till ye drive baith the bairns and me frae 'bout the house.
Ye may seek for George whar ye saw him last: but there is his bed,
untouched, as I made it yesterday morning, and ye see what ye've made o'
yer handiwark."

"Oh, haud yer tongue, ye wicked woman, ye," said James, "for it wad clip
clouts. Had Job been afflicted wi' yer tongue, he wad needed nae other
trial!"

"My tongue!" retorted she; "ay, gude truly! but if ony woman but mysel
had to put up wi' yer temper, they wad ken what it is to be tried."

"Puir woman! ye dinna ken ye're born," replied James; and, turning to
his daughter, added, "Rin awa out, Katie, and see if yer brother is wi'
ony o' his acquaintances--he'll hae been sleeping wi' some o' them. Tell
him to come hame to his breakfast."

She left the house, and returned in about ten minutes, weeping, sobbing,
wringing her hands, and exclaiming--

"George is listed and awa!--he's listed and awa! Oh, my poor George!"

"Listed!" exclaimed James, and he fell back against the wall, as though
a bullet had entered his bosom.

"Listed! my bairn, my darling bairn, listed!" cried Peggy. "O James!
James!--ye cruel man! see what ye've done!--ye hae driven my bairn to
destruction!"

"Woman! woman!" added he, "dinna torment me beyond what I am able to
endure. Do you no think I am suffering aneugh, and mair than aneugh,
without you aggravating my misery? Oh, the rash, the thoughtless
callant! Could he no forgie his faither for ae fault?--a faither that
could lay down his life for him. Haste ye, Katie, get me my stick and my
Sunday coat, and I'll follow him; he canna be far yet--I'll bring him
back. Wheesht now, Peggy," he added, "let us hae nae mair
reflections--just compose yersel. George shall be hame the night--and
we'll let byganes be byganes."

"Oh, then, James, rin every foot," said Peggy, whose ill-humour had
yielded to her maternal anxiety; "bring him back whether he will or no;
tell him how ill Katie is; and that, if he persists in being a sodger,
he will be the death o' his mother."

With a heavy and an anxious heart, James set out in pursuit of his son;
but the serjeant and his recruits had taken the road six hours before
him. On arriving at Dunbar, where he expected they would halt for the
night, he was informed that the serjeant, being ordered to push forward
to Leith with all possible expedition, as the vessel in which they were
to embark was to sail with the morning tide, had, with his recruits,
taken one of the coaches, and would then be within a few miles of
Edinburgh. This was another blow to James. But, after resting for a
space, not exceeding five minutes, he hastened forward to Leith.

It was midnight when he arrived, and he could learn nothing of his son
or the vessel in which he was to embark; but, weary as he was, he
wandered along the shore and the pier till morning. Day began to break;
the shores of the Frith became dimly visible; the Bass, like a fixed
cloud, appeared on the distant horizon; it was more than half-tide; and,
as he stood upon the pier, he heard the _yo-heave-ho!_ of seamen
proceeding from a smack which lay on the south side of the harbour, by
the lowest bridge. He hastened towards the vessel; but before he
approached it, and while the cry of the seamen yet continued, a party of
soldiers and recruits issued from a tavern on the shore. They tossed
their caps in the air, they huzzaed, and proceeded towards the smack.
With a throbbing heart, James hurried forward, and in the midst of them,
through the grey light, he beheld his son.

"O George!" cried the anxious parent, "what a journey ye hae gien yer
faither!"

George started at his father's voice, and for a moment he was silent and
sullen, as though he had not yet forgiven him.

"Come, George," said the old man, affectionately, "let us forget and
forgie. Come awa hame again, my man, and I'll pay the _smart_ money.
Dinna persist in bringing yer mother to her grave, in breaking yer
sister's heart, puir thing, and in making me miserable."

"O faither! faither!" groaned George, grasping his father's hand, "it's
owre late--it's owre late now! What's done canna be undone!"

"Why for no, bairn?" cried James; "and how is it owre late? The ship's
no sailed, and I've the smart-money in my pocket."

"But I've ta'en the bounty, faither--I'm sworn in!" replied the son.

"Sworn in!" exclaimed the unhappy father. "Oh mercy me! what's this o't!
My happiness is destroyed for ever. O George! George, man! what is this
that ye've done? How shall I meet your puir wretched mother without ye?"

George laid his head upon his father's shoulder, and wrung his hand. He
was beginning to experience what hours, what years of misery may proceed
from the want of a minute's calm reflection. The thought of buying him
off could not be entertained. The vessel was to sail within an hour--men
were needed; but, even had no other obstacles attended the taking of
such a step, there was one that was insurmountable--James Nicholson had
never in his life been possessed of half the sum necessary to accomplish
it, nor could he have raised it by the sale of his entire goods and
chattels; and his nature forbade him to solicit a loan from others, even
to redeem a son.

They were beginning to haul off the vessel; and poor George, he now felt
all the bitterness of remorse, added to the anguish of parting from a
parent, thrust his hand into his pocket, and, as he bade him farewell,
attempted to put his bounty-money in his father's hand. The old man
sprung back, as if a poisonous snake had touched him. The principles of
the Leveller rose superior to the feelings of the father.

"George!" he cried, "George! can my ain son insult me, and in a moment
like this? Me tak yer blood-money!--me!--me! Ye dinna ken yer faither!
Before I wad touch money gotten in such a cause, I wad starve by a
dyke-side. Fling it into the sea, George!--fling it into the
sea!--that's the only favour ye can confer upon yer faither." But,
again, the parent gained the ascendency in his heart, and he
added--"But, poor chield, ye meant it kindly. Fareweel, then, my
man!--Oh, fareweel, George! Heaven be wi' my misguided bairn! Oh! what
shall I say to yer puir mother? Fareweel, lad!--fareweel!"

The vessel was pulled off--and thus parted the father and his son. I
shall not describe the feelings of James on his solitary journey
homewards, nor dwell upon the grief of his wife and daughter, when they
beheld that he returned alone, and that George "was not."

It was about two years after his son had enlisted, that the news of the
peace and the abdication of Napoleon arrived. James was not one of those
who partook of the general joy; but while he mourned over the fall of
the man whom he had all but worshipped, he denounced the conduct of the
allied sovereigns in strong and bitter terms of indignation. The bellman
went round the village, calling upon the inhabitants to demonstrate
their rejoicing by an illumination. The Levellers consulted James upon
the subject, and his advice was, that they ought not, let the
consequences be what they would, comply with the request or command of
the authorities, and which had been proclaimed by the town-crier; on the
contrary, he recommended, that at the hour when the illumination was to
commence, every man of them should extinguish the fires in his house,
and leave not a lamp or a rushlight burning. His advice was always akin
to a command, and it was implicitly followed. The houses were lighted
up--the illumination was general, save only the windows of the
Levellers, which appeared as in mourning; and soon attracted the
attention of the crowd, the most unruly amongst whom raised the cry of
"Smash them!--send them in!" and the cry was no sooner made than it was
obeyed; stones flew thick as hail, panes were shivered, sashes broken,
and they ran from one house to another carrying on their work of
destruction. In its turn, they came to the dwelling of James--they
raised a yell before it--a stone was thrown, and the crash of broken
glass was heard. James opened the door, and stood before them. They
yelled louder.

"Break away!" said he, contemptuously; "ye puir infatuated sauls that ye
are--break away, and dinna leave a hale pane, if it's yer sovereign will
and pleasure! Ye silly, thoughtless, senseless idiots, how mony hunder
millions has it cost this country to cram the precious Bourbons on the
people o' France again?--and wha's to pay it, think ye?"

"No you, Jemmy," cried a voice from the crowd.

"But I maun toil frae mornin till night to help to do it, ye blockhead
ye," answered James; "and ye hae to do the same, and yer back has to
gang bare, and yer bairns to be hungered for it! Certes, friends, ye hae
great cause for an illumination! But, as if the hunders o' millions
which yer assistance o' the Bourbons has added to the national debt were
but a trifle, ye, forsooth, must increase yer county burdens by breaking
decent people's windows, for their sake, out o' pure mischief. Break
awa, freends, if it's yer pleasure, the damage winna come out o' my
pocket; and if yer siller is sae plentifu that ye can afford to throw it
awa in chucky-stanes!--fling! fling!" and withdrawing into the house, he
shut the door.

"Odd! I dinna ken," said one of the crowd, "but there's a deal o' truth
in what he says."

"It was too bad to touch his windows," said another; "his son George has
been in the wars, and the life o' a son is o' mair value than a pund o'
candles."

"Ye're richt," cried a third.

"Hurrah for Jemmy the Leveller!" cried another. The crowd gave a loud
cheer, and left the house in good humour; nor was there another window
in the village broken throughout the night.

Next day, James received the following letter from his son. It was dated

     "_Toulouse, April 14, 1814._

     "HONOURED FATHER AND MOTHER,--I hope this will find you and my
     dear sister well, as it leaves me, thank Providence for it. I
     think this war will soon be over now; for, whatever you may
     think of the French and their fighting, father, we have driven
     them from pillar to post, and from post to pillar, as the
     saying is. Not but that they are brave fellows, and clever
     fellows, too; but we can beat them, and that is everything.
     Soult is one of their best generals, if not their very best;
     and though he was in his own country, and had his positions all
     of his own choosing, I assure you, upon the word of a soldier,
     that we have beaten him out and out twice within this
     fortnight; but if you still get the newspaper, you will have
     seen something about it. You must not expect me to give you any
     very particular account about what has taken place; for a
     single soldier just sees and knows as much about a battle as
     the spoke of a mill-wheel knows about the corn which it causes
     to be ground. I may, here, also, while I remember, tell you
     what my notions of bravery are. Some people talk about
     courageous men, and braving death, and this and that; but, so
     far as I have seen and felt, it is all talk--nothing but talk.
     There are very few such cowards as to run away, or not to do
     their duty (indeed, to run away from the ranks during an action
     would be no easy matter), but I believe I am no coward--I
     daresay you think the same thing; and the best man in all T----
     durst not call me one; but I will tell you how I felt when I
     first entered a battle. We were under arms--I saw a part of the
     enemy's lines before us--we were ordered to advance--I knew
     that in ten minutes the work of death would begin, and I
     felt--not faintish, but some way confoundedly like it. The
     first firing commenced by the advanced wing; at the report, my
     knees shook (not visibly), and my heart leaped within me. A
     cold sweat (a slight one) broke over me. I remember the
     sensation. A second discharge took place--the work was at
     hand--something seemed to _crack_ within my ears. I felt I
     don't know how; but it was not courageous, though, as to
     running away or being beaten, the thought never entered my
     head. Only I did not feel like what you read about _heroes_.
     Well, the word '_Fire_' was given to our own regiment. The drum
     of my ear actually felt as if it were split. My heart gave one
     terrible bound, and I felt it no more. For a few moments all
     was ringing of the ears, smoke, and confusion. I forgot
     everything about death. The roar of the action had become
     general--through its din I at intervals heard the sounds of the
     drum and the fife. But my ears instantly became, as it were,
     '_cased_.' I could hear nothing but the word of command, save a
     hum, hum, something like a swarm of bees about to settle round
     my head. I saw nothing, and I just loaded as I was ordered, and
     fired--fired--fired!--as insensible, for all the world, as if I
     had been on a parade. Two or three of my neighbours were shot
     to the right and left; but the ranks were filled up in a
     twinkling, and it was not every time that I observed whether
     they were killed or wounded. But, as I say, after the third
     firing or so, I hardly knew whether I was dead or living; I
     acted in a kind of way mechanically, as it were, through a sort
     of dumfoundered desperation, or anything else ye like to call
     it; and if this be courage, it's not the sort of courage that
     I've heard and read about--but it's the only kind of courage I
     felt on entering on my first engagement, and, as I have said,
     there are none that would dare to call me _coward_! But as I
     was telling ye, we have twice completely beaten Soult within
     these fourteen days. We have driven them out of Spain; and, but
     for the bad winter weather, we would have driven them through
     France before now. But we have driven them into France; and as
     I said, even in their own country, we have beaten them twice.
     Soult had his army all drawn up and ready, upon a rising
     ground, before a town they call Orthes. I have no doubt but ye
     have some idea of what sort of winter it has been, and that may
     lead you to judge of what sort of roads we have had to wade
     through in a country like this; and that we've come from where
     nobody ever had to complain of being imprisoned for the
     destroying of toll-bars! I think that was the most foolish and
     diabolical action ever any person in our country was guilty of.
     But, besides the state of the roads, we had three rivers to
     cross before we could reach the French. However, we did cross
     them. General Picton, with the third division of the army,
     crossed or forded what they call the _Cave de Pau_ on the 26th
     of last month, and we got over the river on the following day.
     Our army completed their positions early in the afternoon, and
     Lord Wellington (for he is a prompt man) immediately began to
     give Soult notice that he must seek different quarters for the
     night. Well, the action began, and a dreadful and sanguinary
     battle it was. Our third division suffered terribly. But we
     drove the French from their heights--we routed them. We thus
     obtained possession of the navigation of the Adour, one of the
     principal commercial passages in France; and Soult found there
     was nothing left but to retreat, as he best might, to Toulouse
     (from whence I write this letter), and there we followed him;
     and from here, too, though after hard fighting, we forced him
     to run for it. You may say what you like, father, but Lord
     Wellington is a first-rate general--though none of us
     over-and-above like him, for he is terribly severe; he is a
     disciplinarian, soul and body of him, and a rigid one. We have
     beaten all Bonaparte's generals; and I should like to meet with
     him, just to see if we can beat him too. You used to talk so
     much about him, that if I live to get to Paris, I shall see
     him, though I give a shilling for it. What I mean by that is,
     that I think the game is up with him; and four or five Irish
     soldiers, of my acquaintance, have thought it an excellent
     speculation to club together, and to offer the Emperor
     Alexander and the rest of them (who, I daresay, will be very
     glad to get rid of him on cheap terms), a price for him, and to
     bring him over to Britain, and exhibit him round the country at
     so much a-head----"

"Oh depravity!--depravity!" cried James, rising in a fury, and flinging
the letter from him. "Oh, that a bairn o' mine should be capable o'
pennin sic disgracefu language!"

He would allow no more of the letter to be read--he said his son had
turned a mere reprobate; he would never own him more.

A few weeks after this, Catherine, the daughter of our old Leveller, was
married to a young weaver, named William Crawford, who then wrought in
the neighbourhood of Stirling. He was a man according to James' own
heart; for he had wrought in the same shop with him, and, when a boy,
received his principles from him. James, therefore, rejoiced in his
daughter's marriage; and he said "there was ane o' his family--which
wasna large--that hadna disgraced him." Yet he took the abdication and
the exile of Napoleon to heart grievously. Many said that, if he could
have raised the money, he would have gone to Elba to condole with the
exiled emperor, though he should have begged for the remainder of his
days. He went about mourning for his fate; but, as the proverb says,
they who mourn for trifles or strangers may soon have more to mourn
for--and so it was with James Nicholson. His son was abroad--his
daughter had left his house, and removed to another part of the
country--and his wife fell sick and died. He felt all the solitariness
of being left alone--he became fretful and unhappy. He said, that now he
"hadna ane to do onything for him." His health also began to fail, and
to him peace brought neither plenty nor prosperity. The weaving trade
grew worse and worse every day. James said he believed that prices would
come to nothing. He gradually became less able to work, and his earnings
were less and less. He was evidently drooping fast. But the news arrived
that Napoleon had left Elba--that he had landed in France--that he was
on his way to Paris--that he had entered it--that the Bourbons had fled;
and the eyes of James again sparkled with joy, and he went about rubbing
his hands, and again exclaiming, "Oh, the great--the godlike man!--the
beloved of the people!--the conqueror of hearts as well as countries! he
is returned! he is returned! Everything will go well again!"

During "the hundred days," James forgot all his sorrow and all his
solitariness; like the eagle, he seemed to have renewed his youth. But
the tidings of Waterloo arrived.

"Treachery! foul treachery!" cried the old man, when he heard them; and
he smote his hand upon his breast. But he remembered that his son was in
that battle. He had not heard from him--he knew not but that he was
numbered with the slain--he feared it, and he became tenfold more
unhappy and miserable than before.

A few months after the battle, a wounded soldier arrived at T---- to
recruit his health amongst his friends. He had enlisted with George, he
had served in the same regiment, and seen him fall at the moment the cry
of "The Prussians!" was raised.

"My son!--my poor son!" cried the miserable father, "and it is my
doing--it is a' mine--I drove him to list; and how can I live wi' the
murder o' my poor George upon my head?" His distress became deeper and
more deep; his health and strength more rapidly declined; he was unable
to work, and he began to be in want. About this period, also, he was
attacked with a paralytic stroke, which deprived him of the use of his
right arm; and he was reluctantly compelled to remove to Stirlingshire,
and become an inmate in the house of his daughter.

It was a sad grief to his proud spirit to feel himself a burden upon his
child; but she and her husband strove anxiously to soothe him and to
render him happy. He was still residing with them when the radical
meetings took place in various parts of the country, and especially in
the west of Scotland, in 1819. James contemplated them with delight. He
said the spirit of liberty was casting its face upon his
countrymen--they were beginning to think like men, and to understand the
principles which he had gloried in, through good report and through bad
report--yea, and through persecution, for more than half-a-century.

A meeting was to take place near Stirling, and James was sorrowful that
he was unable to attend; but his son-in-law was to be present, and James
charged him that he would bring him a faithful account of all the
proceedings. Catherine knew little about the principles of her father,
or her husband, or the object of the meeting. She asked if it would
make wages any higher; but she had heard that the military would be
called out to disperse it--that government would punish those who
attended it, and her fears were excited.

"Tak my advice, Willie," said she to her husband, as he went towards the
door; "tak a wife's advice for ance, and dinna gang near it. There will
nae guid come out o't. Ye can mak naething by it, but will lose baith
time and money; and I understand that it is likely great danger will
attend it, and ye may be brought into trouble. Sae, dinna gang, Willie,
like a guid lad--if ye hae ony regard for me, dinna gang."

"Really, Katie," said Willie, who was a good-natured man, "ye talk very
silly. But ye're just like a' the women, hinny--their outcry is aye
about expense and danger. But dinna ye trouble yersel--it's o' nae use
to be put about for the death ye'll ne'er die. I'll be hame to my
four-hours."

"The lassie's silly," said her father; "wherefore should he no gang? It
is the duty o' every man to gang that is able; and sorry am I that I am
not, or I wad hae rejoiced to hae stood forth this day as a champion in
the great cause o' liberty."

So William Crawford, disregarding the remonstrances of his wife, went to
the meeting. But while the people were yet assembling, the military were
called out--the riot act was read--and the soldiers fired at or over the
multitude. Instant confusion took place; there was a running to and fro,
and the soldiers pursued. Several were wounded, and some seriously.

The news that the meeting had been dispersed, and that several were
wounded, were brought to James Nicholson and his daughter as they sat
waiting the return of her husband.

"Oh, I trust in goodness that naething has happened to William!" she
exclaimed. "But what can be stopping him? Oh, had he but ta'en my
advice!--had ye no persuaded him, faither! But ye was waur than him."

James made no reply. A gloomy apprehension that "something had happened"
was stealing over his mind. He took his staff, and walked forward, as
far as he was able, upon the road; but, after waiting for two hours, and
after fruitless inquiries at every one he met, he returned, having heard
nothing of his son-in-law. His daughter, with three children around her,
sat weeping before the fire. He endeavoured to comfort her, and to
inspire her with hopes which he did not himself feel, and to banish
fears from her breast which he himself entertained. Night set in, and,
with its darkness, their fears and their anxiety increased. The children
wept more bitterly as the distress of their mother became stronger; they
raised their little hands, they pulled her gown, and they called for
their father. A cart stopped at the door; and William Crawford, with his
arm bound up, was carried into his house by strangers. Catherine
screamed when she beheld him, and the children cried wildly. Old James
met them at the door, and said, "O William!"

He had been found by the side of a hedge, fainting from loss of blood. A
bullet had entered his arm below the shoulder--the bone was splintered;
and on a surgeon's being sent for, he declared that immediate amputation
was necessary. Poor Catherine and her little ones were taken into the
house of a neighbour while the operation was to be performed, and even
her father had not nerve to look on it. William sat calmly, and beheld
the surgeon and his assistant make their preparations, and when the
former took the knife in his hand, the wounded man thought not of bodily
pain, but the feelings of the father and the husband gushed forth.

"Oh!" he exclaimed, "had it been my leg, it wad hae been naething; but
my arm--I will be helpless for life! What am I to do now for my puir
Katie and my bits o' bairns? Guid gracious! I canna beg!--and auld
James, puir body, what will come owre him! Oh, sir," added he,
addressing the surgeon, "I could bear to hae my arm cut through in
twenty different places, were it not that it deprives me o' the power o'
working for bread for my family!"

"Keep a stout heart, my good fellow," said the surgeon, as he began his
task; "they will be provided for in some way."

"Grant it may be sae!" answered William; "but I see naething for as but
to beg!"

I must here, however, take back my reader to 1815, and from the
neighbourhood of Stirling direct their attention to Brussels and
Waterloo. George Washington Nicholson, after the battle of Toulouse, had
been appointed to the rank of serjeant. For several months he was an
inmate in the house of a thriving merchant in Brussels; he had assisted
him in his business; he, in fact, acted as his chief clerk and his
confidant; he became as one of the family, and nothing was done by the
Belgian trader without consulting Serjeant Nicholson.

But the fearful night of the 15th of June arrived, when the sounds of
the pibroch rang through the streets of Brussels, startling soldier and
citizen, and the raven and the owl were invited to a feast. The name of
Napoleon was pronounced by tongues of every nation. "He comes!--he
comes!" was the cry. George Nicholson was one of the first to array
himself for battle, and rush forth to join his regiment. He bade a
hurried farewell to his host; but there was one in the house whose hand
trembled when he touched it, and on whose lips he passionately breathed
his abrupt adieu. It was the gentle Louise, the sole daughter of his
host.

The three following days were dreadful days in Brussels; confusion,
anxiety, dismay, prevailed in every street; they were pictured in every
countenance. On one hand were crowded the wounded from the battle, on
the other were citizens flying from the town to save their goods and
themselves, and, in their general eagerness to escape, blocking up their
flight. Shops were shut, houses deserted, and churches turned into
hospitals. But, in the midst of all--every hour, and more
frequently--there went a messenger from the house of the merchant with
whom Serjeant Nicholson had lodged, to the _Porte de Namur_, to inquire
how fared it with the Highlanders, to examine the caravans with the
wounded as they arrived, and to inquire at the hospitals, if _one whom
Louise named_ had been brought there.

Never was a Sabbath spent in a more unchristian manner than that of the
18th June, 1815, on the plains of Waterloo. At night the news of the
success of the British arrived in Brussels, and before sunrise on the
following morning the merchant in whose house George Nicholson had been
lodged, drove through the _Porte de Namur_, with his daughter Louise by
his side. At every step of their journey appalling spectacles presented
themselves before them; and, as they proceeded, they became more and
more horrible. They were compelled to quit their vehicle, for the roads
were blocked up, and proceeded through the forest _de Soignes_, into
which many of the wounded had crawled to die, or to escape being
trampled on by the pain-maddened horses. On emerging from the forest,
the disgusting shambles of war, with its human carcases, its blood, its
wounded, and its dying, spread all its horrors before them. From the
late rains, the field was as a morass. Conquerors and the conquered were
covered with mud. Here lay heaps of dead--there, soldier and citizen dug
pits to bury them in crowds, and they were hurled into a common grave,

    "Unknell'd, uncoffin'd, and unknown."

Let the eyes turn where they would, there the ghastly sight of the
wounded met them; nor could the ear be rendered deaf to the groans of
the dying, and the cry from every quarter and in every tongue of "Water!
water!"--for the wounded were perishing from thirst, and their throats
were parched and their tongues dry. There, too, prowled the plunderer,
robbing the dead--the new-made widow sought her husband, and the mother
her son. To and fro rushed hundreds of war-horses, in foam and in agony,
without curb or rider--others lay kicking and snorting on the ground,
their broad chests heaving with the throes of departing life, and
struggling as though they thought themselves stronger than death.

Louise and her father were shown to the positions that had been occupied
by the Highland regiments. They inquired of every one whom they met, and
who wore the garb of Old Scotland, if they could tell them aught of the
fate of Serjeant Nicholson; but they shook their heads, and answered,
"No."

Louise was a beautiful and interesting girl, and the bloom of nineteen
summers blushed on her cheeks; but they were now pale, and her dark eyes
were bedimmed with tears. She leaned upon her father's arm, and they
were passing near a field of rye, which was trodden down as though a
scythe had been passed over it. Many dead and dying Highlanders lay near
it. Before them lay a wounded man, whose face was covered and disfigured
with blood--he was gasping for water, and his glazed eyes were
unconscious of the earnestness and affection with which they gazed on
him.

"It is he!--it is he!" cried Louise.

It was indeed George Nicholson.

"He lives!--he breathes!" she continued. She bent over him--she raised
his head--she applied a cordial to his lips. He swallowed it eagerly.
His eyes began to move--a glow of consciousness kindled in them. With
the assistance of her father, she washed and bound up his wounds, and
the latter having procured a litter, he had him conveyed to his house
at Brussels, and they accompanied him by the way. Louise watched over
him; and in a few days his wounds were pronounced to be no longer
dangerous, though he recovered slowly, and he acknowledged the affection
of his gentle deliverer with the tears of gratitude and the glance of
love.

As soon as he had acquired strength to use a pen, he wrote a letter to
his father, but he received no answer--a second time he wrote, and the
result was the same. He now believed that, because he had been a humble
instrument in contributing to the fall of a man, in whose greatness his
father's soul was wrapped up, he had cast him off, and disowned him.

The father of Louise obtained his discharge, and intrusted him with the
management of his business. He knew that his daughter's heart was
attached, with all a woman's devotedness, to the young Scotchman, and he
knew that his affection for her was not less ardent. He knew also his
worth; he had profited by his integrity and activity in business; and
when the next anniversary of Waterloo came, he bade them be happy, and
their hands were united.

There was now but one cloud which threw a shade over the felicity of
George Nicholson, and that was, that he had never heard from his
parents, and that his father would not acknowledge his letters; yet he
suspected not the cause. Almost six years had passed since he became the
husband of Louise, yet his heart yearned after the place of his birth,
and in the dreams of the night his spirit revisited it. He longed once
more to hear his mother's voice, to grasp his father's hand, to receive
a sister's welcome. But, more than these, he was now rich, and he wished
to remove them from penury, to crown their declining years with ease and
with plenty; nor could a son entertain a more honourable ambition, or
one more meriting the blessing of Heaven.

Taking Louise with him, they sailed from Antwerp, and in a few days
arrived in London; from thence they proceeded towards the Borders, and
the place of his birth. They had reached Alnwick, where they intended to
remain for a few hours, and they went out to visit the castle. They had
entered the square in front of the proud palace of the Percys, and in
the midst of the square they observed a one-handed flute-player, with a
young wife and three ragged children by his side, and the poor woman was
soliciting alms for her husband's music.

The heart of Louise was touched; she had drawn out her purse, and the
wife of the flute-player, with her children in her hand, modestly, and
without speaking, curtsied before her.

George shook--he started--he raised his hands.

"Catherine!--my sister!--my own sister!" he exclaimed, grasping the hand
of the supplicant.

"Oh, George!--my brother!" cried Catherine, and wept.

The flute-player looked around. The instrument fell from his hand.

"What!--William!--and without an arm, too!" added George, extending his
hand to the musician.

Louise took the hand of her new-found sister, and smiled, and wept, and
bent down, and kissed the cheeks of her children.

"My father--my mother, Catherine?" inquired George, in a tone that told
how he trembled to ask the question.

She informed him of their mother's death, of their father's infirmities,
and that he was then an out-door pauper in T----.

He relieved his sister's wants, and, with Louise, hastened to his
birth-place. He found his father almost bedridden--a boarder at
half-a-crown a-week in a miserable hovel, the occupants of which were as
poor as their parish lodger. Old James was sitting reading a newspaper,
which he had borrowed, when they entered; for his ruling passion
remained strong in the midst of his age and infirmities. The rays of
the setting sun were falling on his grey hairs. Tears had gathered in
the eyes of his son, and he inquired--

"Do you know me?"

James suddenly raised his eyes--they flashed with eager joy--he dropped
his paper.

"Ken ye! ken ye!--my son! my son! my lost George!" and he sank on his
son's bosom.

When the first burst of joy had subsided--

"And wha is this sweet leddy?" inquired James, gazing fondly at Louise.

"Your daughter," replied George, placing her hand in his.

I need not further dwell upon the history of the Leveller. From that
hour he ceased to be a pauper--he accompanied his son to Brussels, and
spent the remainder of his days in peace, and amidst many of the scenes
which he had long before read of with enthusiasm.

But, some reader may ask, what became of poor Catherine and her
flute-player? A linendraper's shop was taken and stocked for them by her
brother, and in it prosperity became a constant customer. Such is the
history of James Nicholson the Leveller and his children.



THE OLD CHRONICLER'S TALES.



THE DEATH OF JAMES III.


In these enlightened times, when man has become so wise that he thinks
he knows everything, it is a practice with writers of legends which
border on the supernatural, to give a plausible solution of any
difficulty which occurs, and to reconcile, if possible, all mysterious
appearances with the ascertained and familiar ways of God's providence.
We are very far from discountenancing the study of physical causes,
recommended by Lord Bacon, and followed now-a-days with so much zeal,
and we might say, with so much impatience of what was at one time called
the wisdom of the world; but we may very humbly remark, that, as all
extremes transcend truth, the stickler for the old philosophy and the
exclusive supporter of the new are equally wide of their aim, if they
think that these respective studies comprehend severally all the ways of
Providence. The votary of superstition, who trembles at an omen, is not
farther distant from the path to eternal and immutable truth, than is
the conceited biped who, with rule and compass, dynamics, and
differential calculus, thinks he can measure and define all the powers
of nature. How little is it known to him who makes the _visible_ the
measure of nature's existence and power, that every step he makes, or
thinks he makes, in his progress, the farther he removes from the great
landmarks of those great truths on which is founded our holy religion.
James III. was killed in open day: who killed him? History is mute; but
tradition is eloquent, and fearfully impressive. The reign of this
unfortunate monarch was marked by more rebellion and murder than any
period of the same extent in the history of Scotland. Other reigns
exhibited, perhaps, more attacks on the part of England--more battles
and greater devastation; but the period we have mentioned stands
unrivalled for intestine commotion, faction, rebellion, plotting, and
counterplotting, and all the other effects that flow from a
weakly-exercised authority on the part of a king over subjects, the
greater part of whom, trained to arms and tournaments, and taught to
hate and despise humane attainments, could find no relief from the ennui
of idleness but in the stir of strife, whether exercised against their
external enemies, or their internal compeers, who stood in the way of
their ambition. Many have been the complaints which Scotland has made
against the invasions of England, and the sordid views of the English
monarchs which produced them; but little has been said against the
renegade conduct of many of her sons, who, with matricidal views,
endeavoured to put an end to her independence as a nation, by leaguing
with her enemies, and corrupting the loyalty of their brethren. It may
be doubted whether the successive treasons and rebellions of Mar,
Douglas, and Albany, and their consequent alliances with the King of
England, did not produce more evil to Scotland than ever resulted from
the unaided invasions of all the English monarchs together; yet such is
the inconsistency of man, that, even at this day, the cadets and scions
of these renegade families presume upon the honours of their birth, and
get their presumption admitted and countenanced by those who would
despise the industrious benefactor of his country.

There cannot be a doubt that it was entirely owing to the weakness of
the third James, that the noble enemies of order and justice, the high
barons, wrought so much evil to their country. A late historian, of some
beauty of diction, and great command of historical erudition, but
perhaps deficient in what is called the philosophy of history, has
endeavoured to support James against the censures of Leslie and
Buchanan; but his own narrative disproves his arguments, and leaves the
responsibility of a nation's sorrow at the debit of the weakness,
favouritism, and tergiversation of that unfortunate king. The rebellion
at Lauder--where his favourites, Crighton the mason, Rogers the
musician, and Ireland the man of letters, or rather of magic, were
hanged over the buttress of the bridge--was entirely produced by the
disappointment of the lords, who saw their places at court occupied by
mechanics, while they, too much inclined for tumult at any rate, were
left without civil distinctions and employments to occupy their minds
and incline them to peace. But, although the weakness of James may have
formed an excuse for the nobles to rise against him, what shall be said
for the conduct of his son, James IV., who headed the subsequent
rebellion against his own father, which ended so mournfully at the
battle of Sauchie Burn? It was unnecessary to add the cry of public
reprobation to the voice of a crying conscience; the prince conceived
himself to have been the murderer of his father, and never had a day's
rest or happiness on earth after the mysterious death which his
rebellious conduct had produced.

We have outlived the days of superstition, and we do not, we dare not,
believe what has been handed down to us on the subject of this
self-imputed parricide--but we are at liberty, as veracious chroniclers
of tradition, to narrate what were at one time supposed to be the ways
of a mysterious Providence, in punishing the unfilial conduct of a son
who, after experiencing the unlimited kindness of a parent, took into
his hand arms, which, by another, though unknown hand, were used against
that parent's life. Let the sceptical sons of modern philosophy
repudiate our narrative, as their sublime knowledge of the workings of
physical powers inclines them to shut their eyes against the dark
obscure beyond. We profess to believe that negation of light is not
exclusive of existences, and that, though light may be necessary to
enable us to see what is permitted us to see by the decree of Him who
made us, there is also ordained an alternation of darkness, whose
dominion being co-extensive with the light, carries a borrowed
conviction of existences, which, extended by analogy to unknown things
and regions, may make us abate our scepticism and humble our pride of
knowledge.

When the nobles who had committed the daring acts of rebellion and
murder at the Bridge of Lauder--among whom were Lords Gray and Hailes,
the Master of Hume, and Shaw of Sauchie--found that the king was not
inclined to extend to them letters of pardon, they set about devising a
scheme whereby they might force that safety to themselves and their
property, which they had not been able to procure by entreaty and
supplication. Their plan was subtle in its nature, and dexterously
executed; but, like all schemes of a similar kind, failed of that
success which the high hopes of political schemers point to, as the mean
of their elevation to rank and power. They resolved upon taking
advantage of the youth and versatility of the young prince, James, Duke
of Rothsay, and endeavouring to overcome his sentiments of filial love
and duty by the engrossing passion of political ambition, get him to
join them in their designs against the power and authority of his
father. By setting, in this way, the son against the parent, they would
give weight and power to their faction, and take away the responsibility
and guilt of rebellious leaders, which could not attach to operations
commanded by the heir-apparent of the throne. Unfortunately the
disposition of the young prince was predisposed to the reception of the
insidious whisperings of ambition. All the faculties of his mind were in
a high degree precocious; and his sentiments kept pace with his
intellectual powers, in suggesting wishes which his abilities might
gratify, and which his prudence was not able to suppress. These
tendencies had, it is supposed, been noticed by the rebellious schemers,
who, with the example of a prior Duke of Rothsay before them, could not
well have calculated upon overcoming the instinctive feelings of a son,
without some indications that these were weaker than they are even
generally found to be in the sons of kings.

This plan was begun to be put into execution, by getting the prince
prevailed upon to visit the Castle of Stirling, at that time under the
governorship of Shaw of Sauchie. He had no sooner arrived, than a great
display was made by the lords, who were assembled there for the purpose
of the most obsequious homage and the most impassioned affection, with
the view of stimulating those feelings of a desire of power, which
already had vindicated too much force in his youthful mind. A banquet
was prepared in honour of the heir-apparent, at which there were
assembled almost all those nobles who stood in fear of his father, from
having had a participation in the murder of the favourites at Lauder.
The most fulsome flattery was poured into his youthful ear; and the
conduct of his father, in resigning himself to the studies of astrology
and to the power of the professors of that occult science, treated with
a levity which bordered on derision and laughter. This was the true
chord to strike in the heart of the prince, who, filled with the highest
enthusiasm of chivalry, despised, as worthy of the supremest contempt of
an honourable man-at-arms, and far more of a king, all such applications
of the human intellect. He did not hesitate to declare, in the midst of
the nobles, that he did not approve of the conduct of his father, who
ought, as he thought, to have cultivated the knowledge of arms, and left
witchcraft to old wives, and astrology to old men. These sentiments were
lauded by the company, and the young man, buoyed up with the conceit of
a knowledge superior to that of his father, seemed to be far advanced in
the preparation he was undergoing for bolder sentiments and unfilial
resolutions. Well may philosophers lament the evil nature of man. Few
criminal purposes can be suggested to the human heart, without finding
in its hidden recesses some chord which, with eldrich notes, gives a
response often unknown to the will, but affording good proof that the
attuning and predisposing power of an evil angel has been at work in
that organ on which depends the salvation or perdition of mortals.

When the designing nobles saw that the young prince was so far prepared
for their purposes, they got him engaged, under cover of a recess of the
great hall, in a conversation with some of the leaders, and, in
particular, with Gray and Hume, who took the active part in the
demoralisation of the youth. The plan adopted by Gray, in conducting the
conversation, was the result of experience, and the very triumph of
cunning. He had noticed the self-complacent smile of the flattered
prince, when the elder nobles conceded to him their opinion, and
deferred a subtle point to the analysing powers of his boyish judgment;
and he took advantage of the weakness of vanity, to forward his schemes
of ambition.

"Your highness has doubtless been informed," said the arch diplomatist
to the royal boy, "of the reason why your royal father hath refused to
us, in this last parliament, the satisfaction of an act of pardon for
our conduct at Lauder, now five years old--notwithstanding that we have
been all that time in his power, and have not been troubled with any
trial for our crime or misdemeanour."

"I have understood," said the prince, "that my father's imprisonment and
misfortunes originated from the affair at Lauder. Is not that a good
enough reason for refusing the pardon?"

"When I tell thee, young prince," said Gray, "that at Lauder the king
lost his architect, his musician, his astrologer, and magician, all of
whom I assisted in hanging over the buttress of Lauder Bridge, will your
highness remain longer of opinion that our refusal of a pardon is owing
to the imprisonment of the king?"

"No, my lord," replied the prince; "I believe I must renounce that
opinion upon second thoughts; and I do it upon my recollection of what I
have seen and heard of my father's sorrow for the fate of his
favourites, and resentment against their executioners. He sigheth by
night and by day for his brave and stately draughtsman, Earl Cochrane,
his sweet-toned Rogers, and his erudite Ireland. I do, on my conscience,
believe he sorrows more for these men than for his own imprisonment."

"And doth your highness approve or condemn our conduct, in hanging these
favourites over Lauder Bridge?" said Hume.

"Why, I think a rope was too good for them, and a pardon not enough for
the executioners," replied the prince; "you should have had a bounty on
each head of the varlets. If my exchequer were not so empty, I would
award ye a recompense myself. But I have heard that some of ye played
into the hands of Gloucester, Albany, and Douglas, in that affair of
Lauder. What say ye?"

"Thou hast been deceived," said Gray. "Archibald Bell-the-Cat was,
doubtless, for the English king, but we stood true to our country. It
was the favourites alone we wanted to punish--and we did punish them; an
act which, apparently, thy father is determined not to forgive. What
then are we to do? Wilt thou, the heir-apparent, stand aside and see
those who freed thy father from the shackles of favouritism, and saved
our country from the domination of a court of mechanics, consigned to a
cruel punishment, or what is worse, to the terrors of Damocles?"

"Never!" cried the fiery youth; "I applaud your conduct, and could
recommend to you some more work of the same kind; for my father has got
another court of mechanics. Scarcely a nobleman is allowed to approach
him. The Archbishop of St Andrew's, Schevez, has not forgotten his
rudiments of astrology he learned from Spernicus at Louvaine--for the
teaching of the king keeps up his own knowledge; and Cochrane, Rogers,
Hemmil, Torphichen, Leonard, and Preston, whom you so beautifully
suspended over the old bridge, have been replaced by others, no less
elevated in their birth, and no less learned in the arts. My father is
lost. Scotland is ruled by the stars. The birth of every year hath its
horoscope. Chivalry declineth in the land. The glory of the Bruce is
forgotten. There is much work before me, and I wish it were well begun,
for I cannot doubt that by your services it will be well ended."

"Thou speakest like the wisdom of the oldest of us," said Gray; "and I
am urged, by some of the concluding words of thy speech, to put a
question to your highness--yet I tremble at my own boldness."

"Speak, good Gray," said the prince; "my father will not pardon you and
your associates, after your work of good service is finished--I will
pardon thee before thou beginnest."

"Is it the opinion of your highness," said the wily baron, "that a king
who is ruled by the stars (the _moon_ as a _fixed_ one not excepted) is
fit to govern this kingdom, which has heretofore obeyed the statutes of
parliament and the sword of the knight?"

"Upon the honour of my order of knighthood," cried the prince, "thy
question goeth home into the heart and marrow of the matter, and my
answer shall not be behind it: I opine not."

"And doth not the situation in which we stand," said Hume--"we, the
greater number of the nobles in the land, liable every instant to
forfeit our lives to an aspect of the heavens--to be hanged for hanging
the favourites of the king five years ago--render it imperative on us to
seek, in the spirited and knightly heir-apparent, a substitute for him
who is declared unfit to rule, without danger to the country and ruin to
us?"

"Assuredly," answered the flattered prince. "If the king is not deposed,
you will be deposed, and I shall be scandalised by the sight of a
star-gazing king, and a host of dangling nobles at the end of ropes not
so fine as the silk cords of Cochrane the mason's tent, which he
requested for the special convenience of his noble craig. What will ye?"

"That thou shouldst head our party," said Gray, "and be our king in
place of thy father, who is unfit to govern this kingdom, and unwilling
to pardon his friends."

"I object not," replied the prince. "The king, my father, can be cared
for tenderly. Let him be sent to my palace of Rothsay, where he can gaze
on the heavens from sunset to sunrise, and send me daily an astrological
express, to enable me to govern the kingdom by this heavenly wisdom."

"All hail, our king!" now cried the voices of a hundred knights and
nobles, who, on a signal, had hurried from the table, and surrounded the
prince. "All hail, James the Fourth, King of Scotland, and our lawful
sovereign!"

And the whole assemblage kneeled before the young prince, who received
the homage with every feeling of gratified pride.


While this extraordinary scene was in the course of being enacted, in
the midst of a brilliant assemblage, and the eulogistic flattery of the
interested actors, James felt no compunctions of broken filial duty and
ruptured affection. Swelled with the pride of his new and
suddenly-acquired honour, the thought of the price at which its
confirmation must be bought--the deposition and degradation of an
up-right and humane, though weak, king, and that king his father--never
interfered with the flow of his gratified and excited feelings.
Everything was now grand, hilarious, and hopeful; and a far vista of
wise legislative and noble knightly achievements, claimed the rapt eye
of his mind, when his attention could be taken off the brilliant scene
before him. His experience of the mind of man and the operations of
fate did not inform him that there is a mysterious agreement between the
one and the other, whereby their results are mutually and wonderfully
magnified, and the individual who studies himself is brought to tremble
at the height of joy, as the precursor of a cause ready to plunge him
into the depths of melancholy anticipation and sorrow. We are told that
kings are great examples in the hands of a teaching Providence; and
hence our authority for approaching, with greater confidence than we
could do in relation to ordinary individuals, the cause of the change
that awaited the feelings and aspirations of the young prince on the
night of his anticipated honour.

About twelve o'clock he was attended to his chamber, the royal apartment
of the castle, by Shaw of Sauchie, the governor, and several of the
nobles, who, after conversing with him for some time, left him, locking
the door after them as they departed--a measure, they explained to him,
as being necessary for his own safety, in the midst of so much
dissension and distrust as prevailed at that time among the nobility.
The circumstance did not alarm the royal prisoner, though he could not
but think it strange that, on the first night of his installation, his
palace should be converted into a jail, and the king of his country
should be the jail-bird of the seneschal of one of his own castles. Free
of all sense of personal danger, he contemplated the temporary privation
of his liberty rather with a disposition to being amused than annoyed,
and lay down to court that rest which joy, equally as sorrow, banishes
from the pillow of mortals. His thoughts took now a direction the very
reverse of what they had followed during the day. The image of his
deceased mother, Queen Margaret, forced itself on his mind. Her pious,
reserved, and meek manners, with her devotion to her consort and her
affection to her eldest son, all sanctified and made more lovely and
interesting by her death, softened his heart, and filled his eyes with
the tears of a son's love; while his undutiful conduct that night, in
agreeing to the dethronement of his father, silently censured, as it
appeared to be, by her gentle spirit, called up a feeling of remorse,
which wrung his heart with pain, and added to the tears which he was
already shedding in profusion. If left to his choice, he would now have
undone what he had been so ready to perform at the request of factious
and interested men; and, if the door of his apartment had not been
locked, the strength of his feelings might have urged him to seek for
safety and forgiveness at the feet of his injured parent.

The hour was far advanced, but the restlessness of his fevered fancy
still prevented all rest. The apartment was dark, no attendant was
within call, and he was necessitated, though a king, to yield obedience
to a power which no mortal can resist; the feelings of love, sorrow,
regret, remorse, and repentance--as applicable to the parent who was
lying in a royal sepulchre, and to another who was virtually, in so far
as regarded his intention, deposed and degraded--alternated, became
stronger, decayed, and revived again with a painful and harassing
vacillation. He heard the warder call two o'clock; again all was silent
as before, and his thoughts were about to fall into the same painful
train, when he heard the iron bar of the door of his apartment gently
drawn, and saw enter the figure of an old man, with a long grey beard, a
grey cloak, which reached to his feet, and was bound by a blue belt, and
holding in his hand a taper, which, glimmering with a fitful light,
exposed very imperfectly the strange and fearful-looking object who held
it. James's eyes were fixed upon him intensely, and the lustreless orbs
of his visiter repaid the looks with as intent a gaze, and made a thrill
of superstitious terror run over his body. The figure continued the gaze
as it approached the bed, which, having reached, it stood silent,
holding up the lamp in the face of the trembling youth, and apparently
taking care not to change the set of its features, or the direction or
manner of its look. This attitude enabled James to scan narrowly the
features of the individual: they appeared to be somewhat sinister,
though he could not say where the precise expression lay, or what it
truly was--seriousness seemed to degenerate into sternness, and that
again into malignity, which was again relieved by some traces of
kindness and patronising protection. A deep scar on the right cheek, and
what by doctors is called a staphylomatic eye, in consequence of its
resemblance to a white grape, had a great share in the production of the
uncertain expression which was so difficult to read. Having thus stood
for some time at the side of the bed, looking into the face of the
prince, and holding the glimmering lamp so as to suit its imperfect
vision, the figure lifted solemnly its left hand, and, in a low and
somewhat guttural tone of voice, said--

"What is the duty of a son to a parent, of a subject to a king, of a
creature to the Creator?"

James was silent; the question was threefold, and implied censure,
which, co-operating with his fear, prevented reply.

"What doth he deserve," proceeded the figure, "who disobeyeth his
parent, deposeth his king, and rebelleth against the laws of God?"

The terror of an apparition working on a predisposed mind was every
moment receiving an augmentation of strength; and the young prince, in
place of replying, grasped the bedclothes firmly around him, and eyed
the speaker with nervous looks.

"Thou answerest not," continued the speaker--"and why? Pride and
self-approbation are gifted with the loquacity of the joy which, they
say, chattereth only when the sun shineth; but wisdom is represented by
the owl, whose reign is in the still hours of night. Yesterday thou
couldst speak of being a king--ay, a king over thy father and thy
father's subjects--and a king in the verity of traitors' tongues thou
art; yet where is thy authority, when even the tongue of royalty
cleaveth slavishly to the parched mouth of the conscience-stricken, and
preventeth thee from seizing these dry bones" (holding forth his hands),
"and consigning this head of grey hairs to the Heading Hill of Stirling?
The king or the prince who is enslaved by his conscience oweth the
duties of villeinage to the worst and hardest of masters. The chain is
forging, the forge is in action, the hammer and the anvil hold in their
embrace the connecting link of a king's bondage. The eagle flies over
Schiehallion to-day, and to-morrow the spurning pinions quiver in the
grasp of the hand. The exulting, swelling heart of virtue hath not yet
collapsed. There is time to rouse thyself, and throw off the tyrant
whose power thou feelest even now. Return to thy allegiance. Love and
obey thy father; aid him against his foes. Refuse--and be thrice
miserably damned."

The figure turned, and retreated from the bed. The door was opened, shut
and locked. Nothing was to be seen, and nothing heard. Roused from his
fear, James sprung up, and cried--

"Whether of mortal mould, or a mere borrower on occasion of our rude
forms of earth, return, and say whence thy commission, and of what
import. If a mere messenger of man, I'll heed thee not; but, if thou'lt
give me proof that James of Scotland, my royal father, enjoys the
protection of the King of All, I'll on the instant renounce my new-born
honours, hail him king, thee my good angel, and be once more plain James
of Rothsay."

No answer was returned to the call of the prince; he listened for a time
at the door of the apartment, and, hearing no sound, returned to bed,
where, after tossing about for several hours, he fell into a sound
sleep. Towards morning he dreamed that the figure again visited him, and
communed with him on the crime of filial disobedience--the fancied
apparition and the supposed conversation being in the dream so clearly
developed, that, when he awoke, he felt the greatest difficulty in
endeavouring to segregate the real from the imaginary appearances. He
had even doubts whether he had actually seen the figure, or whether the
first scene was not that of a dream as well as the second; and he knew
of no mode other than that of having recourse to simple conviction, of
satisfying himself on this interesting point. He was not contented with
the proof afforded by his consciousness, the very _ne plus ultra_ of
human probation, and resolved on making an application to the warder,
with the view of getting some confirmation of the evidence of his
senses.

He had scarcely made his resolution, when Governor Shaw unlocked the
door, and entered the apartment. Full of the thoughts he had been
indulging and canvassing with so much anxiety since he arose, the prince
told his visiter what he thought he had seen during the night, but
candidly admitted that he had had also a vision in a dream approaching
so nearly to the reality of the waking sense, that he could not take
upon him to say that the first appearance was _undoubtedly_ a real
natural exhibition of a mortal existence. The governor listened with
great attention, and anxiously inquired what was the subject of the
conversation that passed between him and the old man. The prince
narrated to him, as nearly as possible, the words used by the figure,
and admitted that he himself had no power to reply, till after the
visiter was gone and the door locked. Shaw was evidently much moved by
the recital, and, in a confused and hurried manner, endeavoured to
convince James that he had had a visit of nightmare--an affection with
which he was probably, in consequence of his extreme youth, as yet
unacquainted, but a mysterious operation of nature, quite sufficient to
produce in a young and fervent mind that semi-consciousness of reality
which had apparently perplexed him so much. He recommended to him to
banish the affair from his mind, and, above all, to say nothing of it to
the warlike nobles in the castle, whose very objection to the rule of
his father was founded on the latter's faith in dreams, auguries, and
astrological nostrums--a true sign of a weak intellect.

This latter part of the governor's statement, which was delivered with
much gravity, produced a great effect upon the mind of James, whose
contempt of his father's occult, astrological, and oneirocritical
practices was the cause of his disobedience, as well as its apology. He
trembled at the thought of incurring, on his own part, the censure which
had been heaped on his parent, and felt anxious to escape precipitately
from the subject he had broached, as well as from his own thoughts,
which, mixing up reality and imagination in inextricable confusion,
produced nothing but doubt, irresolution, and anxiety. If he had been
anxious, on the entry of Shaw, to tell him the wonders of the night, he
was now more anxious to undo what he had done, and remove from the mind
of the governor any suspicion that he inherited from his father his
hairbrained propensity to believe in dreams and divinations. Changing
the style of his speech, as well as the expression of his countenance,
he attempted to make light of his nocturnal adventure, and laughed off
the clinging belief with an effort which was not unnoticed by his wily
visiter. The power of early prejudices in overcoming the convictions of
truth, effected a partial triumph; but there still clung to the mind of
the youth a feeling of a struggling conviction, which his forced laugh
and his expressed contempt of all supernatural beliefs had little power
to affect. He felt, however, the necessity of maintaining absolute
silence on a subject so intimately connected with his dispute with his
father, and Shaw undertook to say nothing of the occurrence, which he
affected to think had been properly treated by the noble mind of the
young prince.

The scheme of this unnatural rebellion being persevered in with great
determination and asperity, a court was held next day in the Castle of
Stirling, where all the ceremonies of a royal levee were gone through
with studied state and affected etiquette. The Earl of Argyle was
reinstated in the office of chancellor, which had been conferred by his
father on Elphinston, Bishop of Aberdeen. A negotiation was opened with
the English king, Henry VII., who, having had a dispute with the old
king as to the restoration of Berwick, very readily entered into the
views of the son, and agreed to grant passports to his ambassadors, the
Bishops of Glasgow and Dunkeld, the Earl of Argyle, Lords Lyle and
Hailes, with the Master of Hume, who were, in fact, the heads of the
rebellious party. The boldness of these proceedings, quadrating with the
weakness of the king's actions, spread disaffection among the people of
Scotland far and wide; and it was soon rumoured that the monarch, afraid
of the disposition of his subjects towards the south, had proceeded to
Aberdeen, and issued orders for the array of Strathearn and Angus, and
all his friends in the north who still retained their allegiance. If the
son soon found himself at the head of a large force in the south, the
father was as successful in the north. Athole, Huntly, Crawford, and
Lindsay of Byres, joined his standard; and to these were soon added
Buchan, Errol, Glammis, Forbes, and Kilmaurs--so that the two ends of
the kingdom were completely arrayed against each other, and the
antagonist forces were headed by a father and a son.

The monarch having thus vacated the capital, and betaken himself to the
north, an opportunity was held out to the son to lay siege to the Castle
of Edinburgh; and orders were given to the troops to proceed in that
direction. During all this time the mind of the prince had been kept up
by the insidious counsels of the rebel lords, who represented the
unfilial work in which he was engaged as conducive to the benefit of the
kingdom, which would receive the blessings of his wise legislation. The
youth was flattered by these statements; and the details of an army, by
occupying his thoughts, banished from his recollection the night scene
of the Castle of Stirling, which, as time aided the efforts of his
sceptical wishes, gradually appeared to assume more and more the
character of a false and delusive dream. Meanwhile, Hume and Hailes, and
others who had been sent as ambassadors to England, returned with
intelligence that Henry was favourable to their cause--a circumstance
which still farther flattered the vanity of the youth, and prevented him
from giving way to the feelings of instinctive duty and affection
towards his father. Proceeding gradually forward, the rebel army came to
Blackness, near Linlithgow, where they encamped.

The army of the king, in the meantime, came up, and the unusual sight
was exhibited of two parts of a nation, headed by a father and a son,
contending for a throne, arrayed against each other, with reciprocal
feelings of enmity and views of mortal conflict. The benevolent heart of
the father relented, and terms of accommodation, as prepared by Huntly
and Errol, were sanctioned by his signature, but prevented from being
properly submitted to the son by the rash conduct of Buchan, who thought
he would be able to extinguish the rebellion by one blow. A skirmish was
the consequence, in which the earl gained some advantage; but, though
the triumph was magnified into a victory, the rebel forces were as
strong as ever, while the sight of kindred blood on the swords of the
warriors of either side of the field sickened the hearts of brave men,
who, in other circumstances, would have been fired by the token of an
advantage over an enemy. The wish for an accommodation was increased on
the side of the king and his troops, and the former terms of
accommodation were submitted to the rebel prince, who was still under
the leading-strings of the arch traitors by whom he had been led into
this unseemly and unnatural position.

The terms of accommodation were extremely favourable to the insurgent
forces, as, without exacting any condition but that of laying down their
arms, the king agreed to admit them to favour and grant them pardons for
present and bygone offences; yet great dissension existed amongst the
rebels on the subject of the acceptance of the offer of peace, and the
prince, urged on by Gray, in whom he had the greatest confidence, headed
the party who were inclined to stand out.

"I for one," said the youth, "receive nothing by these terms but the
mighty boon of forgiveness, which will neither add to my honours nor
contribute to my ambition. By being the friend of my royal father, I may
be gratified by getting a view of Venus through his astrolabe; but I
would rather, upon the honour of a knight, be his lieutenant in the
government of this part of the planet Earth called Scotland. It is clear
that my father is as unfit to rule the kingdom as was the father of the
former holder of my title of Duke of Rothsay, Robert III, who made his
son lieutenant-general--and why should I be debarred from what is my
natural and legitimate right? It will be for the good of you all that I
am appointed to that office, insomuch as the friendship of a ruler
invested with all the power is better than the pardon of a king who has
none."

These sentiments were opposed by many of the lords, and in particular by
the Earl of Argyle.

"By these terms of accommodation," said he, "we get all we have been
fighting for, or can expect from a victory gained through the blood of
our countrymen and kinsmen--a free pardon for the execution of the
favourites at the Bridge of Lauder, and a restoration to the favour and
confidence of the king. We cannot force a lieutenantcy in favour of the
prince who is at present our king, otherwise than by committing his
royal father to close confinement--for what self-denying ordinance could
prevent a sane and free king, not deposed by his subjects, from
exercising his authority in opposition to that of a lieutenant forced
upon him against his will, and acting against his wishes? The crown, as
surely as a coffin, will come to one prince by the course of nature, and
better wait for a regular inheritance, than anticipate a right by
rebellion, spoliation, and force."

Other arguments were used by other nobles, and the convention retired to
their tents without coming to any determination. The night was clear and
beautiful; the sky shone with cerulean brightness; a clear full moon
shot her silvery rays "over tower and tree;" and every twinkling star in
the blue firmament seemed to rejoice in the opportunity of getting its
weak beam thrown upon the green earth, and adding its small mite to the
general exuberance of the smiles of the whole heavenly host. The noise
of the convention of angry nobles having ceased, and the men, wearied by
bearing arms all day, having retired to rest, there was nothing to
disturb the silence which reigned coordinately with the serene light,
and made the scene more impressively beautiful. When left to himself,
the young prince felt the contrast between the appearance of nature,
thus arrayed in her fairest smiles, and beautified by calmness and
composure, and the position of a father and a son, lying in wait for an
opportunity of engaging in the strife of war, and of even shedding each
other's blood, by the vicarious hands of those they were leading on to
the fight of kindred against kindred. His heart softened; the feelings
of nature returned for a time, and vindicated the authority they should
never have lost. His versatility was exclusive of a permanent
establishment in his bosom of affection and duty, but it was, as it
generally is, a pledge of the strength of the reigning emotion, for the
time, which, in proportion to the shortness of its duration, was intense
in its action, and engrossing in its extent. Having thrown himself on
his couch, he resigned himself to the influence of these feelings; the
poetical enthusiasm which is generated by a contemplation of nature in
her beautiful moods, and, in his instance, called forth by a survey
(through the opening of his tent) of the shining heavens and the
sleeping earth, came in aid of the instinctive emotions which occupied
his bosom; and he could not restrain the expression of what he felt.

"I have sat on the knee of him against whom I am arrayed in preparation
for mortal fight, and I have seen the tear rise in his eye, as, looking
first at me, and then at my departed mother (bless her pure spirit,
which dwelleth in that ether!), he felt proud of the pledge of their
loves, and hopeful of the virtues of a good king, to succeed him when he
died. What would have been his emotions, if he had been told by some of
his occult divinations that the boy he cherished and wept over would
lift his hand against his life, and endeavour to pluck the crown from
his living head? How dreadful, at this moment, appears to me my position
and my conduct! Almost in my view, my parent lays his head on the pillow
of a field-tent, uncertain whether his son and his son's friends may
permit him to awake again, to view the beauties of that moon, and all
that she discovers to the eye of man! Heavens! and I, conscious of my
ingratitude, know its baneful effects on a parent's mind, and yet do not
rise instantly and throw myself at his feet! Cruel versatility of nature
under which I stand accursed! Where shall I find the elements of
consistency, the true parent of happiness? Alas! I obey only the
impulses of constitution. Would that, at this auspicious moment, I had
an opportunity of acquiring again the matter of these terms of peace!
The feelings of a son, roused by conscience, would suggest an eloquence
before which all the specious views and paradoxes of Gray and Hume would
disappear, like vapours before the light of that shining queen of the
heavens."

He lifted his eyes as he spoke, to look again at the bright moon, and
saw before him, palpable to his waking intelligence, the identical
figure which had appeared to him in the Castle of Stirling. The light
brought out his form in full perfection, and a long shadow thrown upon
the floor of the tent gave an additional evidence of his presence; the
scar upon his cheek and the staphylomatic orb were apparent, and proved
his identity; and his look and manner indicated a purpose similar to
that he had announced on the occasion of his prior appearance.

"He whom the gods wish to destroy," said the figure, "is first by them
deprived of reason; and thy disregard of my counsel showeth that thou
art bent on thine own ruin. Thy father lieth there" (pointing his
finger)--"I will lead thee to his tent; and, see! there lieth beside
thee on that couch a sword. What need of more? Why not in pity end his
woes and life together? That bright moon will glory in the sight of a
son imbruing his hand in the blood of a parent--her light will be
incarnadined by the running stream of life--but water will wash the
hands of the parricide. Come, follow! Dost thou hesitate? Why, then,
this warlike array?"

"Fiend or angel," cried the prince, "which art thou? Are the counsels of
heaven couched in irony, or am I advised by a messenger of hell? Give
thy thoughts another and a clearer form, and satisfy me that thou art
well commissioned for the counsel of youth, and I will hail thee friend.
Of sage advisers, with hair as white as thine, and speech as strange,
circuitous, and wild, I have enough--my soul is torn by their contests
for the mastership of my royal will. I'd give an earldom of ten thousand
acres for ten words winged with the wisdom of above. Speak!--what art
thou?"

"All that is good comes from the skies," replied the man; "and mortals,
to attain it, are not required to trust alone to the vicarious powers
which live in that blue light of the moon's silver glory. The triumph of
God's wisdom soundeth through man's heart. Thou hast heard it, and
heeded it not. The soft and solemn notes of goodness, suited to the
gravity of knowledge that tendeth to salvation, have not awakened thee;
and the harsh tones of stimulating irony have, as a last resource, been
tried on the obdurate heart of filial disobedience. Why more? Hast thou
forgot our meeting in the Castle of Stirling? Renounce thy vain
speculations on the origin of my mission and the nature of this form,
which, thou seest, casteth a shadow on the ground, and listen to the
counsel which is independent of the tongue of man or angel that
pronounceth it. Agree to thy father's terms; hasten to his bosom, fall
on it, weep away the dregs of thy disobedience, and rejoice in the
composing and healing virtues of the fatted calf."

Having said these words, the figure glided quickly out of the tent; and,
though James immediately rose and followed, he could see no trace of the
extraordinary being who thus haunted him, and counselled him, apparently
for his good. He called some of his attendants, and asked of them if
they had seen any person leave his tent; but they answered in the
negative; and, though he personally searched among the tents, and even
visited the camp of the sutlers, he could find no trace of the
mysterious counsellor. He returned to his tent, and again threw himself
on his couch. This vision was at least no dream. All the powers of Shaw,
and all the sceptical raillery of those who laughed his father's
credulous belief in dreams and divinations to scorn, could not, he was
satisfied, drive from his mind the effects produced by the appearance
and language of this extraordinary visiter. He began to think that the
wisdom of his father, whose maxim was, that there is more in nature than
man's shallow philosophy can fathom, was truer and better lore than the
self-sufficient and profane knowledge of his noble advisers; and, though
he had no evidence that the figure was an unincorporated essence, but
rather suspected that it was made of flesh and blood like himself, there
was an impressiveness and solemnity in his thoughts and manner of
delivering them, which justified the maxim he had himself delivered,
that wisdom may come from heaven by other means than the mediation of
celestial messengers. The train of reflections which followed were grave
and sage; the feelings of a son who had injured his father, and wished
to make amends, acquired an ascendency where they should never have lost
their power, and a resolution to agree on the morn to the terms of
accommodation offered, and thus obey the counsel of the mysterious
visiter, was formed before slumber overtook his distracted mind.

Early in the morning, the council of nobles again met, and the
discussions were resumed as to the expediency of accepting the offers of
peace. The prince sat listening to the arguments in a mood of gloomy
abstraction, from which he appeared to struggle to get free, and, at
last starting up, he put an end to the strife of contending tongues by
delivering solemnly his changed opinion.

"We have all heard," he said, "that there is great wisdom in night
counsel (_consilium in nocte_)--forgive me--I do not say in dreams, or
visions, or consultations of the heavens, but in the weighing of
rational arguments in the balance of the judgment, when there is no
disturbing cause to shake the scales, and no prejudice to add a false
weight to the deductions of a biassed reasoning. I stand in a position
different from you all. You are fighting against your king, I against
my father. You are seeking what is offered to you by the terms in
question; I am fighting for what death or superannuation alone can
bestow--a king's crown or a vice-regent's tiara; and I am offered what I
scarcely deserve--an indulgent father's forgiveness and affection. Why
should I hesitate, when, by standing out, I may lose the crown and my
father's love, while, by acquiescing, I insure the one at present, and
retain the other by a sure expectancy? The words of Argyle have sat on
my heart all night. If I live till my father die, a crown and a coffin
are equally certain to me; and I shall put on the one and lie down in
the other with feelings better befitting the heir of a kingdom on earth,
and one in heaven, by acting as becometh a good son, than those that can
result from a consciousness of disobedience. Our commissioners,
therefore, have my authority for agreeing to the terms of peace."

This speech, so different from the one of the previous day, was received
with loud murmurs of dissatisfaction from the leading rebels, who
calculated with certainty on the steadiness of a youth, who, having been
untrue to his father, might safely have been suspected of a tendency to
a dangerous vacillation as regarded his new colleagues. The numbers on
the side of the prince were, however, great--perhaps amounting to a
majority--so that the discontented nobles were obliged to suppress their
chagrin, and permit the commissioners to go through the ceremony of
accepting the terms of accommodation. The treaty was therefore concluded
in the course of the day.

The monarch, acting upon the supposition that everything was amicably
settled, withdrew his army, and retired back upon Edinburgh, where, in
the excess of his gratitude to those who had brought about a result so
beneficial to the kingdom, and so gratifying to the feelings of a
father, he bestowed upon several of the nobles and knights substantial
marks of his royal favour. The Earl of Crawford was created Duke of
Montrose, Lord Kilmaurs was raised to the rank of Earl Glencairn, and
the Lairds of Balnamoon, Lag, Balyard, and others, received grants of
land. All was settled, as the weak, but good, monarch thought, amicably
and lastingly. Yet how vain are the anticipations of mortals! At the
very time when a species of jubilee was celebrating in Edinburgh, on the
re-organisation of the court and the restoration of peace and
tranquillity, the uncompromising rebel lords were triumphing in another
victory over the mind and sentiments of the prince. The versatile youth
having survived the solemn impression made on his mind by his nocturnal
counsellor, was as ready as ever to listen to the rebellious advice of
the nobles, who, trusting to their power over him, had secretly kept
together the army, which they had merely cantoned in various parts of
the south. The monarch had scarcely rested himself in the Castle of
Edinburgh, when he was informed that the same fierce faction had resumed
their ambitious schemes, and were again assembled, with the prince at
their head, in more formidable array than before.

The instant this intelligence reached Edinburgh, the king's friends who
had remained in the city urged him to re-assemble his army without
delay, and put a total end to the insurrection, by a quick and decisive
blow. The loyal nobles were active in their measures, and collected, in
a very short time, their retainers; while summonses were issued to all
those who had returned home, and especially the lords of the north, to
assemble their clans, and meet the king's troops at Stirling, whither
his majesty intended to repair in person. The commands were most readily
obeyed; the popularity of the cause of the father against the son was
very great, and had considerably increased since the breach of faith
which the latter and his rebel colleagues had displayed in not adhering
to the late solemn treaty; and in a very short time the royal army
exhibited an enlargement of its ranks, which justified expectations of a
speedy settlement of this unnatural strife. Abandoning the Castle of
Edinburgh, the monarch approached Stirling, where, having placed himself
at the head of his army, he met and attacked with considerable spirit
the forces of his son, which having dispersed, he forced them across the
Forth, and immediately after demanded admittance into his Castle of
Stirling. This request was refused by Shaw, the governor; and before
preparations could be made for forcing a surrender, or, indeed, before a
decision was come to whether an attack should, in the circumstances, be
resorted to, intelligence was brought that the antagonist forces had
re-assembled, and were encamped in strong array on the level plain above
the bridge of the Torwood.

Upon hearing this intelligence, the monarch immediately advanced against
the insurgents; and having no longer any faith in the breakers of solemn
covenants, encountered them on a track of ground known at present by the
name of Little Canglar, situated upon the east side of a small brook
called Sauchie Burn, about two miles from Stirling, and one from the
field of Bannockburn. The royal army was drawn up in three divisions,
under the advice of Lord Lindsay--the first composed of the northern
clans, under Athole and Huntly, forming an advance of Highlandmen, armed
with bows, daggers, swords, and targets; the rear division, consisting
of Westland and Stirling men, under Menteith, Erskine, and Graham; and
the main battle, composed of burghers and commons, being led by the king
himself. On the right of the king, who was splendidly armed, and rode a
tall grey horse, presented to him by Lord Lindsay, was that venerable
warrior and the Earl of Crawford, commanding a noble body of cavalry,
consisting of the chivalry of Fife and Angus; while on his left Lord
Ruthven, with the men of Strathearn and Stormont, formed a body of
nearly five thousand spearmen. On the other hand, the rebel lords
formed themselves also into three battles: the first division, composed
of the hardy spearmen of East Lothian and Merse, being led by Lord
Hailes and the Master of Hume; the second, formed of Galwegians and the
hardy Borderers of Liddesdale and Annandale, being led by Lord Gray;
while the middle, composed of the rebel lords, was led by the prince,
whose mind, recurring again to the vision of Stirling and Blackness, was
torn with remorse, and compelled him to seek some relief--alas! how
small could the means afford!--by issuing an order that no one should
dare, in the ensuing conflict, to lay violent hands on his father.

A shower of arrows (as usual) began the battle, and did little execution
on either side; and it was not till the Borderers, with that steady and
determined valour which practice in war from their infancy enabled them
to turn to so good account, advanced, and attacked the royal army, that
the serious work of the engagement could be said to have begun. But the
beginning was more like an ending than the incipient skirmishing of men
not yet warmed into the heat of strife. The onset was terrible, and the
slaughter so great, that the Earls of Huntly and Menteith retreated in
confusion upon the main body, commanded by the king, and threw it into
an alarm from which it did not recover. After making a desperate stand,
the royal forces began to waver; and the tumult having reached the spot
where the king was stationed, he was implored by his attendant lords not
to run the risk of death, which would bring ruin on their cause, but to
leave the field while yet he had any chance of doing so with safety. The
monarch consented reluctantly, and, while his nobles continued the
battle, put spurs to his horse, and fled at full speed through the
village of Bannockburn. On crossing the Bannock, at a hamlet called
Milltown, he came suddenly upon a woman drawing water, who, surprised
and terrified by the sight of an armed horseman, threw down her
pitcher, and flew into her house. The noise terrified the noble steed,
which, flying off and swerving to a side, cast his rider. The king fell
heavily, with his armour bearing him to the ground, and being much
bruised by the concussion, swooned, and lay senseless on the earth. He
was instantly carried into a miller's cottage by people who knew nothing
of his rank, but, compassionating his distress, treated him with great
humanity.

Having put the unfortunate monarch to bed, the inmates of the house
brought him such cordials as their poverty could command. In a short
time he opened his eyes, and earnestly requested the presence of a
priest.

"Who are you?" inquired the good woman who attended him, "that we may
tell who it is that requires the assistance of the holy man."

"Alas! I was your sovereign this morning," replied he.

On this the poor woman ran out of the cottage, wringing her hands, and
calling aloud for some one to come and confess the king.

"I will confess him," answered an old man in a grey cloak, tied round
the waist with a blue sash. "Where is his majesty?"

The woman led him to the house, where the monarch was found lying on a
flock-bed, with a coarse cloth thrown over him, in an obscure corner of
the room. The old man knelt down, and asked him tenderly what ailed him,
and whether he thought that, by the aid of medical remedies, he might
recover? The king assured him there was no hope, and begged the supposed
priest to receive his confession; whereupon the old man, bending over
him, under pretence of discharging his holy office, drew a dagger, and
stabbed the unresisting victim to the heart; repeating deliberately his
thrusts, till he thought life was extinct.

On hearing of the death of his father, James was inconsolable. He
ordered all search to be made for the murderer. No trace of him could be
found--the only evidence that could be procured against him was the
description of his person by the old woman of the cottage, and the
dagger with which the deed had been committed. The woman was taken
before James, that he might receive the evidence with his own ears. The
room in which he led the evidence was purposely darkened. The dreadful
state of mind into which the _quasi_ parricide was cast, exhibiting
alternately remorse, terror, grief, and shame, would have consigned him
to absolute seclusion, had he not thought that he would make some amends
for his crime, by endeavouring to discover the murderer of his parent.
He threatened the most exemplary vengeance; and, while he sat wrapped in
gloom, in an apartment darkened almost to night, his emissaries were
active on every hand, in endeavouring to find some clue to the murder.
The old woman was placed before the king, and the dagger put into his
hands.

"What is this?" he exclaimed, as he looked at the instrument, which
still retained upon its blade the blood of his father's heart. "God's
mercy! It is my own dagger!--ay, that very dagger I wore and lost upon
that dreadful day!"

The words were uttered in a low tone, and rendered, by the king's
dreadful excitement, unintelligible. Partly recovering himself, he cast
his eyes on the woman and the two courtiers that sat beside, and seeing
them occupied in arranging the materials for taking down the
precognition, he thrust the dagger among the folds of his robes, and sat
and trembled, as if the finger of an avenging God was pointing him out
to the world as the murderer of his father. He was several times on the
point of swooning, as he thought he observed Lord Gray, who was present,
following with his eye his extraordinary motions, and searching with a
keen look for the dagger.

"We had better have the dagger for the woman to speak to," said Gray.
"Your majesty hath examined it, I opine."

"Proceed with the precognition, my lord," said James, hesitatingly. "I
shall retain the dagger, and examine it in private. My grief chokes me.
I cannot put the questions. Proceed, my lord."

The king trembled as he uttered these words, and Gray and the other
courtier looked at each other, as if they held a mental colloquy as to
his strange conduct. They proceeded in the examination of the woman, in
which they went over several incidents already communicated.

"Are you sure the dagger was that carried by the old priest who stabbed
the king?" said Gray.

"I'm sure it is," answered the woman. "It fell frae him as he hastened
out o' the cottage. It was the bluid on't that first tauld me o' his
cruel act; for I thought the king's granes cam frae the pains o' his
distress."

"You got a good sight of the old man, then, I presume?" continued Gray.

"A far better sight than thae closed shutters will allow me to hae o'
his majesty, wha sits there," replied she.

James started, and looked fearfully at the witness.

"Describe the man," said Gray.

"He was a tall man," replied she, "dressed in a lang grey cloak, which
was bound round the middle by a blue belt. I observed a deep scar on his
right cheek, and his left ee was like a white grape."

This description, which was exactly that of James's night-visiter, came
upon him like the ghost of his murdered father. He fainted. Lord Gray
ran to his assistance; and, as he supported him, the dagger fell out
from among the folds of the robes. James remained insensible for some
time. As he recovered, his eye fell upon the bloodstained instrument,
that was now in the hands of Gray; and, stretching out his right hand,
he convulsively seized it, took it from the baron, and again secreted it
in the folds of his robes. His manner was wild and confused.

"Take away that woman," he cried; "she has no more to say; and if she
had, I am not in a condition to hear it. She talks strange things about
a man that hath a gash on his cheek and an eye like a grape. I cannot
listen to these things. The words burn my brain. She must be a
sorceress. I shall have her sent to the stake."

"She is an honest dame, your majesty," said the other courtiers, "and
beareth an excellent reputation where she resideth."

"Thou liest!" cried the king. "Take her away! take her away! I must be
alone. These windows are not darkened enough. Hath the smith forged my
penance-belt? See to it, Gray. My soul crieth for pain, as he who hath
been burned crieth for fire to cure the pain of fire. I did not lose my
dagger at Sauchie. It was a lie forged by a renegade. I have it still,
and will show it thee on the morrow. Let me rest. This brain requireth
repose."

The lords hurried away the witness, and left the king to his
meditations. He was seized with one of those extraordinary fits of
terror and remorse that afterwards visited him at regular intervals.
When the fit left him, he summoned up courage to publish an account of
the person who killed the king, and offered a large reward for his
apprehension. In this description, he followed the account of the woman
as well as his own experience; the fearful marks were set forth with
great care; and no one doubted but that an individual, so strangely
pointed out by nature, as differing from other men, would be instantly
seized and brought before the throne. While this hope was vigorous, the
king was in misery. He feared a meeting with the mysterious being who
had tracked him in his rebellious course. Every sound roused him, and
made him tremble. But the time passed, and the hope died. No such
person was ever seen or heard of; and James was left, during the
remainder of his life, to the terrors of a conscience that never slept.
We do not pretend to reconcile the conduct of this mysterious personage,
in first dissuading the prince from opposing his father, and then
killing the latter with the former's dagger; but James himself put a
construction upon it which accorded with the state of his mind and
feelings. He wore around him, ever after, an iron chain, as penance for
being the cause of the death of his father--conceiving that Providence
followed that extraordinary course we have detailed for punishing him
for his filial disobedience. Some say the same figure appeared to him
before he went to Flodden. A reference to our forthcoming story, "The
Death of James IV.," may clear up this point. The legends are clearly
connected, and make one history. They are, however, both equally
mysterious and obscure. In both, the figures boded for good, and yet
evil came. They were fearful demonstrations of a secret power, that
worketh "in strange ways." Inscrutable at the time, the mystery has
never been cleared up. We have done something--yet how much remains in
darkness!



GLEANINGS OF THE COVENANT.



V.--THE RESCUE AT ENTERKIN.


The Pass of Enterkin is well known to us. How often have we passed
through it in the joyous season of youth, when travelling to and from
the College of Edinburgh! It is a deep and steep ravine among the
Lowther Hills, which separate Dumfries from Lanarkshire; through which a
torrent pours its thousand-and-one cascades--

                "Amidst the rocks around,
    Devalling and falling into a pit profound."

The road, which is a mere track, winds along the banks of the torrent,
ever and anon covered and flanked by huge masses of rock, which have
been shaken from the brow of the mountain, or been excavated, as it
were, and brought into high relief, by the roaring flood. About the
middle of this pass, as if it were for the express purpose of relieving
the thirst of the weary traveller, in a wilderness "unknown to public
view," and at a distance from any human habitation, there sparkles out,
from beneath a huge mass of grey-stone, a most plentiful and refreshing
fount or well of spring-water. How often have we enjoyed the refreshment
of this spring, in the society of the companions of our travel and of
our early days! Here we reposed at noon, making use of refreshments, and
indulging in all the wild and ungoverned hilarity of high spirits and
bosoms void of care. Yet, even amidst our madness, we could not help
viewing, or at least imagining that we viewed, a blood-spot on the very
rock from which the water burst in such purity and abundance, and
recollecting the sad narrative with which that stone was connected--for
we were all Closeburn lads, and had heard the tale of the Pass of
Enterkin repeated by our nearest and dearest relatives. Fletcher of
Saltoun says, "Let me make the popular songs of a country, and any one
who pleases may make the laws." We would go a little farther, and say
that, in youth, the character is decidedly formed by traditionary lore;
and that thus mothers contribute, far more than they are aware of at the
time, to the formation of the future character--to the happiness or
misery, through life, of their children. At least we know this, that we
would not give what we learned from our mother, for all that we have
ever attained either by private or public study. But to our story.

It was during a drifty night in the month of February, 168-, that a
party of ten individuals were travelling up this awful pass. The party
consisted of six dragoons, who had dismounted from and were leading
their horses, and four country people, three males and one female, whom
they were driving before them, bound as prisoners, on their way to
Edinburgh. The drift was choking, and they had ever and again to turn
round to prevent suffocation. There were other and imminent dangers. At
every turn, the road, from the eddies of the drift, became invisible;
and they were in danger of losing footing, and of being precipitated
many fathoms down into the bottom of the roaring linn beneath. The
soldiers were loud in their curses against their commanding officer,
Captain Douglas, who had sent them, under command of a serjeant, on this
business, at such an unseasonable hour, in such a tempest, and along
such a difficult road; whilst the poor nonconformists--for such they
were--employed their breath, in the intervals of the blast, in singing a
part of the 121st Psalm:--

    "I to the hills will lift mine eyes,
      From whence doth come mine aid;
    My safety cometh from the Lord,
      Who heaven and earth hath made."

This employment was matter of scoffing and merriment to the soldiers,
who said they would prefer a good fire and a warm supper, with a kind
landlady, to all the hills in Scotland. They continued, however, captive
and guard, to advance, till they arrived at a spot somewhat sheltered by
a rock, beneath which the snow had melted, and presented a black
appearance amidst the surrounding whiteness. It was manifest that this
was a well of spring-water; and the serjeant called a halt, that the
soldiers might partake of some refreshment from a flask of brandy which
he had wisely provided. The poor prisoners were not so well supplied,
and were admonished by the licentious and cruel-hearted soldiers to
refresh themselves with a stave. Amidst the prisoners there was a young
woman of great beauty, the daughter of the Laird of Stennis, or
Stonehouse; whom, because she had refused to betray her own father, and
had intercommuned, as they termed it, with a young man in her
neighbourhood, to whom she was promised in marriage, they were dragging
onward to Edinburgh, to stand her trial, along with her uncle, Thomas
Harkness, Peter M'Kechnie, and John Gibson. After the soldiers had made
several applications to the flask, one of them, manifestly intoxicated,
put his arms around the maiden's waist, and, using language improper to
be mentioned, was in the act of compelling her to admit his unseemly and
dishonourable addresses, when all at once a musket was fired, and the
soldier fell down, gave one groan, and expired. This was clearly a
signal which had been anticipated by the survivors, for in an instant
they were out of sight, with the exception of poor John Gibson, who was
shot through the head as he was making for the linn beneath. There was
an intended rescue; for several more shots were fired from behind the
rock, and one of the surviving soldiers was severely wounded. However,
the three remaining prisoners had escaped for the time, probably through
their better knowledge of the road, which at this point leads to a
fordable part of the torrent. This was the famous rescue of Enterkin,
mentioned in Woodrow, in consequence of which the whole lower district
of Dumfries-shire was laid under military law; and Grierson, and
Douglas, and Dalzell of Binns, went about like roaring lions, devouring
and murdering at their pleasure. The rescue had been planned and
conducted by William M'Dougal, the young Laird of Glenross, who, knowing
the route the soldiers would take, and arranging the thing with Mary
Maxwell, had resolved upon a rescue at this very spot. The impertinence,
however, of the soldier had accelerated the catastrophe; for Robert
M'Turk, one of his own servants--whom, along with a young band of seven
or eight from Monihive, he had associated with himself in the
plot--observing the indignity to which Miss Maxwell was exposed, could
not wait orders, but killed the brute on the spot. Poor Robert suffered
for his rashness; for a volley was immediately fired in the direction of
the shot, which proved immediately fatal to him, and wounded, though
slightly, one or two of his associates. William M'Dougal, immediately
observing the affray, followed Mary, who, according to a preconcerted
scheme, had fled into the linn; and, detaching themselves from the other
two, for purposes of safety, they, with great difficulty, gained the
summit of the Lowther Hills, from which the snow had drifted into the
hollows; and, after various efforts to secure shelter, were compelled to
sit down amidst the cold drift, and under the scoug of a peat-brow. Poor
Mary was entirely overcome; but her lover was strong and resolute; and,
having provided himself with sufficient refreshments, these two attached
lovers felt themselves comparatively comfortable, even amidst the snow
and the tempest. Burns talks of "a canny hour at een," and Goldsmith of
"the hawthorn shade, for whispering lovers made;" but here was the bare
fell; the cold snow accumulating in drifted wreaths around their
persons; and yet Will never kissed his Mary with greater good-will; nor
did Mary at any other time--not even in the snug "chaumer ayont the
close"--cling so closely to the breast or to the lips of her faithful
lover and the saviour of her life. But what was to be done? The tempest
continued unabated. It was twelve o'clock, and the moon was up, though
only visible at intervals. There was no house known to them nearer than
the shieling at Lowtherslacks, about two miles distant. The hollows were
heaped up with drift, and it was scarcely possible to clear or to avoid
them, in directing their course towards Lowtherslacks. What was to be
done? They might have kindled a fire with Will's musket; but where were
the combustibles? In spite of French brandy, a chilliness was gradually
coming over them; and they were upon the point of falling into that
fatal state in such a situation--namely, into a sound sleep--when their
attention was aroused by the barking, or rather howling, of a dog in
their immediate neighbourhood. At first Will sprung to his gun; but,
upon reflection, he began to divine the cause; and, whilst raising his
voice to invite the approach of the dog, the animal was literally
betwixt his shoulders. It was manifestly in a great state of alarm, and
looked and pulled at his clothes, as if inviting him to follow it. This
was immediately done; and the couple were led on, across the moss, into
a ravine or hollow, on the further side of which, where the snow lay
deep, the dog began to scrape and work most vigorously. In a little the
end or corner of a shepherd's plaid made its appearance, and ultimately
the full-length figure of a man, who was still warm, and breathed as in
a deep and refreshing sleep. With much difficulty the reclining body was
aroused into perception, and he was made aware of his danger, and help
which had thus miraculously arrived. There being still some of the
cordial remaining, it was immediately applied to the awakened sleeper's
lips; and, after a few minutes of mutual inquiry, it was resolved to
attempt the road to Lowtherslacks, whence the shepherd had come, in
quest, and to secure the safety, of his master's flocks. This, however,
would have been almost impossible, had not the shepherd's son, with a
young and stout lad, been in the neighbourhood, and actually in quest of
the perishing man. With much difficulty, however, and through some
danger from scaurs and deep wreaths, the party at last reached the
shieling, where a half-distracted wife and a daughter, woman-grown, were
thrown into ecstasy by their safe arrival.

Such accommodation and refreshment as the house could afford was freely
and kindly given; and Mary Maxwell slept soundly, after all her troubles
and escapes, in the arms of the shepherd's daughter.

Next morning brought light, a keen frost, a clear sky, and many serious
thoughts regarding the safety of all concerned. The shepherd was not
ignorant of the risk which he ran; and the guests were equally aware of
the danger to which this hospitable family was exposed, in consequence
of an act of humanity, or rather of gratitude. It was resolved at last,
that, till the weather mitigated, Mary Maxwell should remain in hiding,
in the corner of a ewe bught, in the neighbourhood, having her food
supplied from the house, and coming out occasionally, during the
darkness of night in particular, to join the family party. This small
erection had been made to shelter one or two ewes, which had felt the
severities of a late spring, during lambing time. It was lined with
rushes, built of turf, and scarcely visible even when you were close
upon it, in consequence of a high wall, into a corner or angle of which
it was fixed, like a limpet to a rock. William M'Dougal bore away by a
glen which opened into the Clyde; and, having promised to return for his
beloved Mary when occasion should suit, he was seen no more for the
present.

Leadhills was the nearest inhabited abode to this lonely shieling; and
any little necessaries which so humble a cottage required were obtained
from this village. In consequence of this intercourse, it was early
known at the shieling of Lowtherslacks, that the strictest search had
been made, and was still making, for the prisoners, and for the rescuers
at the Pass of Enterkin; that several had been taken, and marched off to
Edinburgh; but whether William Macdougal was of the number or not was
not ascertained. In fact, it was more than dangerous to make any direct
inquiry respecting any particular individual, as attention was thus
drawn to his case; and informers were kept and paid all over the country
(under the superintendence of the Aberdeen curates), to give information
to the military, even of the most casual surmise. It was during a dark
night, about a fortnight after Will M'Dougal's disappearance, that he
reappeared at Lowtherslacks, and spent the whole evening in company with
his beloved Mary and her kind entertainers. He had learned, he said,
whilst in hiding at Crawfordjohn, that the soldiers had been called off
to quell an apprehended insurrection at Glencairn, and had taken this
opportunity of revisiting the spot which was so pleasantly associated in
his mind. He had been observed, however, in crossing the hills, which
had now escaped from a part of their covering, and information had been
lodged with Grierson at Wanlockhead of the fact. The truth was, that the
report of the absence of the dragoons from the hill country was a mere
device to bring forth the poor nonconformist from his hiding-place, and
to expose him the more readily to surprise. The fireside of
Lowtherslacks was never more cheerfully encircled than on this memorable
evening. The peats burned brightly, and the sooty rafters looked down
from their smoky recesses, with a placid gleam, on the happy group.
About twelve o'clock, it was judged safe to separate--Mary to return to
her straw bed in the sheepfold, and William to make the best of his way
back to his retreat at Crawfordjohn. Next morning, an hour before
daybreak, and under the dim light of a waning moon, saw this solitary
cottage surrounded with armed men on horseback. The inmates were
immediately summoned from their beds, and a strict and unceremonious
search for William M'Dougal commenced. The father, the son, the wife,
the daughters, and the herd-lad, were all turned out, half naked, to the
croft before the door. Never, perhaps, was there a more fearful and
melancholy gathering. That moon,

    "Well known to hynd and matron old,"

in her last quarter, hung on the southern horizon, ready to shroud
herself from such unhallowed doings in the mountain shadow. Above them
was the famous burial-ground, where, time out of mind, the suicides of
two counties had been enearthed. The earth was partially blackened by a
thaw, which still continued; but vast wreaths lay in the hollows, and
looked out in cold and chilly brightness from their mountain recesses.
Grierson insisted, in terms peculiar to himself, on the old shepherd and
his family giving information of the retreat of M'Dougal, who had been
traced but last night to the neighbourhood. It was mentioned by one of
the dragoons, that he even saw the herd-lad foregather with a figure,
which he took to be William M'Dougal, on the hill-top; but he was too
distant, and without his horse, else he would have given chase.

The young man was interrogated, but refused to give any information on
the subject. Grierson lost all patience, swore a round oath, and,
presenting his pistol, shot him dead on the spot. The report of firearms
brought up two figures, scarcely discernible in the dubious light, from
the fold-dyke. The one was a female, the other a male. O God! they were
those of Mary and William, who, being unable to withdraw himself from
his beloved, had ensconced himself, along with her, amongst the rushes
of the little cot. They came rushing on in frenzy, exclaiming that they
were there to suffer--to be shot--to be tortured; but entreating that
their kind and innocent entertainers might not suffer on their account.
"So ho!" exclaimed Grierson, "we have unkennelled the foxes at last;
secure them, lambs, and let us march for the guid town of Biggar; we
will reach it ere night; and then, ho! my jolly lovers, for
Edinburgh--sweet Edinburgh! Can you sing, my sweet maiden,

    'Now wat ye wha I met yestreen?'

It's a pretty song, my neat one; and all about Edinburgh, and Arthur's
Seat, and love, and sweet William. You will certainly give us a stanza
or two by the way? It beats your covenanting psalm-singing hollow." And
then he sang out, in a whining covenanting tone--

    "'Wo's me, that I in Meschech am
      A sojourner so long;
    Or that I in the tents do dwell
      To Grierson that belong.'

March, march, devils and devil's dams; we have now picked up a goodly
company of these heather-bleats--these whistling miresnipes of the
hills--no less than eight; we will march them, every clute, in at the
West Port, to glorify God at the head of the Grassmarket. March! It is
broad day, and we have a pretty long journey. As for you" (speaking to
the shepherd), "old sheep's-head and Moniplies, we will leave you and
your good friends to do the duties of sepulture to this bit of treason.
There is good ground, I am told, hard by, where the weary rest. You can
all cut your own throats, to save us the trouble, and your churchyard
accommodation is secured to you. Good-by, old Lucky and young Chucky! I
have no time at present to doff my bonnet and do the polite; and your
joe, there, is past speaking, I suspect, much more past kissing.
Good-by! good-by!" said the monster, waving his sword, and laughing
immoderately at his own savage wit.

The body of Sandy Laidlaw was indeed carefully interred--not where
pointed out by Lag, but in the churchyard of Leadhills, over which a
small headstone still retains the letters, "A. L., murdered 1687." Poor
Leezy Lawson, who was indeed the betrothed of Sandy, never saw a day to
thrive after this dreadful morning. She went out of one strong
convulsion into another for many hours; and then sank into a lethargic
unconsciousness, which terminated in mental and bodily imbecility, which
ended, in less than twelve months, in death. Her body lies alongside of
that of her lover; but there is no intimation of this fact on the stone;
and all marks of the presence on earth of these two once living and
happy beings has passed away--_etiam periere ruinæ_--their very dust has
perished.

The court at Edinburgh was crowded on the trial of the state prisoners,
particularly of those who had been concerned in the rescue at Enterkin.
There Lauderdale sat, after an evening's debauch, with his long hair
hanging uncombed about his shoulders and over his brow; with his
waistcoat unbuttoned towards the bottom; his face round, swollen, red,
and fiery, and his eyes swimming in every cruel and unhallowed
imagining. Poor Mary Maxwell, trembling, weak, and worn out with
travelling on foot, was placed at the bar, and M'Kenzie, the king's
advocate, proceeded against her. Her indictment was in the usual style.
She was accused of harbouring nonconformists; of intercommuning with
outlaws; of conspiring and aiding in the hellish rescue at Enterkin,
where murder had been committed; and in continuing, after all due
warning, to hold intercourse with the king's enemies. But the proof of
all this was somewhat deficient; and even in these awful times, such was
the respect for public opinion, that the court durst not, in the absence
of some direct evidence, pronounce sentence of death. She, as well as
William M'Dougal, against whom there was still less evidence, were
remitted to Dunnottar Castle--of which march and unheard-of misery we
have already told the tale--and were to have been exported thence, in
due time, to America; but mercy and King William intercepted the cruel
sentence: and William M'Dougal and Mary Maxwell were permitted to return
to their native glen in peace. The M'Dougals of Glenross are sprung from
this root, and still continue a respected name in the valley.



VI.--THE FATAL MISTAKE.


Old Elspeth Wallace lived, at the time of which I am about to speak, in
a sequestered spot in the Parish of Dalry, in the district of Carrick,
Ayrshire. She was a widow woman, but not in indigent circumstances.
Through the kindness of the family of Cassilis, she had a cow's grass, a
small croft, a pickle barley, which, in due time, and under the usual
process, was converted into small drink, or tippenny, as it was called
in those days.

    "Wi' tippeny," says Burns, "I fear nae evil."

She had, besides, a good large kailyard, from which she contrived to
support her cow during the winter season. In fact, Elspeth's whole
riches consisted in her cow and an only daughter, who, however, was out
at service in a neighbouring farm town. This cow and Elspeth were
constant companions, and it was difficult to say which was most
essential to the other's happiness. The first thing Elspeth did, after
her duty to her God, was to attend to Doddy; and the first look Doddy
gave over her shoulder was towards the door through which Elspeth was
expected to enter. During the fine days of summer, Elspeth might be seen
conversing with her cow as with a rational being, whilst Doddy was
engaged in plucking, or in ruminating. If Elspeth went for a day from
home, Doddy was quite disconsolate, and would roam about the house and
park, as if in quest of her companion. In fact, these two sentient
beings had become, as it were, essential to each other's happiness. The
small circumstance of rationality had been overlooked, and the common
instinct of kindly feeling had united them completely. There was just
one other inmate of this sequestered apartment--a large, sonsy, gaucy
cat. This animal partook in all Elspeth's meals and movements; ceased
purring when Elspeth prayed, and went afield and returned at Elspeth's
heels like a colly-dog. To be sure, there was a little jealousy on
Doddy's side, when pussy seemed to occupy too much attention, for she
(_videlicet_ Doddy) would come up and smell at pussy as she sat on
Elspeth's knee, and then, shaking her head and snorting, make off
quick-step to a distance. Nevertheless, these three--we dare not say
this triumvirate, for fear of the etymologists--got on exceedingly well,
and with fewer disputations and quarrellings than generally occur
amongst the same number of rationals. Elspeth had been married for one
single year and fifteen days, as she often mentioned. Her husband had
been gardener at Collean, and had been killed on the spot by the fall of
a tree, which he was assisting in felling. Jenny, or, as she was
familiarly called, Jessy, Wallace was born a few days after this
mournful accident, and had been reared with much care and affection.
Necessity, however, removed her, at the age of fifteen, from her
mother's roof, but to no great distance; and she would frequently come
to visit her mother of a Saturday evening, and return next day to her
post of duty. Such was the state of things at Blairquhan, in the year of
our Lord 1678, when the Highland Host was let loose upon the western
district of Scotland, in particular. Bonds! bonds! bonds! were then the
order of the day; the proprietor must give bond for his tenantry, the
tenantry for their servants, the father and mother for their children,
and the brother, even, for his sister. These bonds were certifications
to prevent those who were, or were presumed to be, under your authority,
from attending conventicles, hill-preachings, and prayer-meetings--in
short, from committing any act which could be construed into a
resistance to the most despotic and cruel executions that ever vexed an
oppressed people. This Highland Host, as it was familiarly called,
consisted of an army of half-naked and wholly savage Highlanders of the
name and clan of Campbell, from the County of Argyle. Their only object
was pillage, their only law the gratification of the lowest
propensities, and their only restraint their officers' pleasure. "When
the Highlanders went back," says Woodrow, "one would have thought that
they had been at the sacking of some besieged town, by their baggage and
luggage. They were loaded with spoil; they carried away a great many
horses, cows, and no small quantity of goods out of merchant ships. You
would have seen them with loads of bedclothes, carpets, men and women's
wearing apparel, pots and pans, gridirons, shoes, and other furniture,"
&c. Such was the nature and character of the Highland Host, which, at
the date to which we have referred, overspread, and oppressed, and
outraged from Greenock to Galloway, from Lanark to the town of Ayr.

Elspeth Wallace and her daughter were sitting, of a Saturday's night, by
the side of a comfortable peat-fire. It was a hard frost, moonlight, and
in the month of February. Their supper consisted of boiled sowans, with
a small accompaniment, on such occasions, as that of beer and bannock.
Elspeth had just got her pipe lighted, and was beginning to weigh the
propriety of her daughter accepting of a proposal of marriage, when the
door opened, or rather gave way, and in burst "her nane sel," in all the
glory of filth and nakedness. There were two figures on the floor, in
Highland plaids; but with a very scanty appointment of nether garments.
There was no commanding officer present; and these two helpless women
were left to the mercy, or rather the merciless pleasure, of these two
Highland savages. In vain did Elspeth expostulate, and represent the
cruelty of their conduct. They but partially understood what she said,
and replied in broken English. Their actions, however, were
sufficiently demonstrative: for the one laid hold of the poor girl, who
screamed and expostulated in vain; and the other unloosed the cow from
the stake, and tying the old helpless woman to the same stake from which
they had unloosed the cow, they immediately began their march up the
Glen of Blairquhan. Poor Jessie Wallace soon learned that she was
destined for the closet of my Lord Airley, then commanding in the
district, who had unfortunately seen her, marked her beauty, and
destined her to ruin; and that the cow was the price at which the
services of these two savages had been procured. It was difficult to say
which of these brothers (for brethren they were, not only in iniquity,
but by blood) had the more difficult task--he who dragged onwards the
camstairy and unwilling brute, or he who half-dragged, half-carried, the
resisting and struggling maiden. The Sabine rape was playwork to this.
Donald swore, and Archibald cursed; but still the progress which they
made was little, and the trouble and labour which they were subjected to
were immense. At last matters came to a dead stand: Doddy absolutely
refused to march one inch further; and Donald proposed that, since
"matters might no better be," they should "slay te prute" at once. So,
having secured Jessie's ankles by means of her napkin, and placed her
upon a rock in the midst of the mountain stream, with all suitable
admonitions respecting the folly of even meditating an escape, Archibald
and Donald set to work to carry their deadly purpose into execution on
Doddy. But how was this to be effected? Doddy, very unaccountably, as it
seemed to her nightly visiters, would neither lead nor drive, nor in any
way be art and part in her own destruction. Having held a council of
death, and having resolved to carry over the hill as much as they could
of Doddy's flesh, they immediately set to work in compassing the means
of destruction. But these were not so much at hand as might have been
wished. They had neither nail nor hammer, else they would have given
Doddy a Sisera exit; nor had they even an ordinary pocket-knife. They
were totally destitute of arms, by order of their officer, as their duty
was not to kill, but to keep alive--not to conquer, but to spoil. What
was to be done? "Deil tak them wha hae nae shifts," says the old
proverb; but then it unfortunately adds, "Deil tak them, again, that hae
owre mony." So, at the suggestion of Donald, a large water-worn stone
was selected from the channel of the burn, and being tied up firmly into
the corner or poke of the Highland plaid, it was judged an efficient
instrument of death. Doddy, however, observed, and appeared, at least to
Jessie, to understand what was going on, and had taken her measures
accordingly. There they stood--Donald holding _on_ by the horns, and
Archy swinging and aiming, but hesitating, from the instability of the
object to be struck, to inflict the fatal blow. Again and again the
stone was swung, and the blow was meditated; but again and again did
Doddy twist and twine herself almost out of Donald's hands. At last,
losing all patience, Archy swung the great stone round his head, which,
when in mid-air, took a different direction from that which was
intended--or it might be that the error was owing to the sudden wresting
of Doddy; but so it was, and of verity, that the stone came ultimately
full swing, not upon the forehead of the cow, but upon the temples of
Donald, and felled him to the ground.

    "Wi' glowering een and lifted hands,"

says Burns,

    "Poor Hughoc like a statue stands."

It would be impossible, by any similitude or quotation, to give an
accurate picture of Archy Campbell, when he saw Doddy, free as air,
taking the bent and crooning defiance, and his own brother lying a
corpse at his feet, and all by his own hands. It is needless to say
that, in all bosoms, there are sympathies and calls of affection. The
trade upon which Donald and Archy were employed was a bad one; but they
had great brotherly affection; and it was indeed, as has been repeated
to us, an affecting sight to behold Archy's grief on this occasion. He
leaned over, he embraced, he kissed his brother, he raised up the dead
body to the wind, he braided back the hair, he wiped the foam from the
lips, he burst at last into tears, and fell down, apparently lifeless,
on his brother's corpse. So deeply has God imprinted himself on our
natures, nothing--not even Lauderdale cruelty--could entirely erase his
image.

Poor Jessy escaped, in the meantime, to her mother, and was married in
the course of a month. The present member of Parliament for the Ayr
Burghs is her lineal descendant.



VII.--BONNY MARY GIBSON.


The summer of 168- was wet and ungenial; the little grain which Scotland
at that time produced had never ripened, and men and women would shear
all day, and carry home the greater part of the thin and scanty upland
crop on their backs. The winter was issued in by strange and marvellous
reports--men fighting in the air--showers of Highland bonnets--and
eclipses of no ordinary occurrence. In fact, the northern lights, which
for centuries had disappeared, had again returned, and were viewed by a
superstitious people with much dread and amazement. The end of the world
was anticipated and confidently predicted, and the soul of man sank
within him under the pressure of an awakened conscience. Besides,
political events were sufficiently distressing: the battle of Bothwell
Brig had been fought and lost by the friends of Presbytery and religious
freedom; and strong parties, under the command of demons, denominated
Grierson, Johnstone, Douglas, and Clavers, scoured the west country, and
Dumfries-shire in particular, making sad and fearful havoc amongst God's
covenanted flock. It appeared to many, and to Walter Gibson of
Auchincairn in particular, that, what betwixt the pestilence induced by
want and bad provisions, and the devastations brought on the earth by
the hand of man, life was not only precarious, but a burden. Men rose,
went about their wonted employment, and retired again to rest, without a
smile, and often without exchanging a word. Young men and young women
were seen constantly perusing the Bible, and taking farewell of each
other, with the feeling that they were never to meet again. The cattle
were driven into the farmer's stores from the outfields, and there bled
every three weeks. The blood thus obtained was mixed and boiled with
green kail from the yard, and this, with a mere sprinkling of meal, was
all the subsistence which could be afforded to master and servant, to
guest and beggar. A capacious pot, filled with this supply, stood from
morn to night in the farmer's kitchen, with a large horn spoon stuck
into the centre of it; and every one who entered helped himself to a
heaped spoonful, and retired, making way for a successor. If the summer
had been ungenial, the winter was unusually severe. Snow and frost had
set in long before Christmas, with awful severity. The sheep were
starving and dying by scores on the hills; and the farmer, with his
servant band, were employed all day in digging out the half and wholly
dead from the snow wreaths. The strength of man failed him; and the very
dogs deserted their masters, and lived wild on the hills, feeding on the
dead and dying. It was indeed an awful time, and a judgment-like season,
unparalleled (unless perhaps by the year '40 of the last century) in the
annals of Scotland. Five hundred human beings are said to have perished
of hunger merely within the limited district of Dumfries-shire, besides
many hundreds whom the plague (for such it was deemed and called) cut
off.

It was on a cold frosty night, with intervals of drifting and falling
snow, that a strange apparition made its way into the kitchen of
Auchincairn, in the hill district of the Parish of Closeburn. It was
naked, emaciated, and extremely feeble, and rolled itself into the
langsettle with extreme difficulty. "In the name of God," said Mrs
Gibson, "who and what art thou?" But the apparition only stretched out
its hand, and pointing to its mouth, signified that it was dumb. Food,
such as has been described, was immediately administered; and a glass of
French brandy seemed to revive the skeleton greatly. Walter Gibson, and
his wife Janet Harkness, were not the persons to deny shelter on such a
night and to such an object. Warm blankets and a great peat-fire were
resorted to; and the next morning saw the stranger much recovered. But
he was manifestly deaf and dumb, and could only converse by signs;--his
features, now that they could be clearly marked, were regular, and a
superior air marked his movements. He was apparently young; but he
refused to make known, by means of writing, his previous history. There
he was, and there he seemed disposed to remain; and it was not possible
to eject by force a being at once so dependent and so interesting. As he
gained strength, he would walk out with an old musket, which hung
suspended from the roofing of the kitchen, and return with valuable and
acceptable provisions--hares, miresnipes, woodcocks, partridges, and
even crows, were welcome visiters in the kitchen of Auchincairn. Without
the aid of a dog, and with ammunition which nobody knew how he procured,
he contrived to contribute largely to the alleviation of the winter's
sufferings. The family, consisting of one daughter about eighteen years
of age, a son about twenty-two, and four or five male and female
servants, were deeply impressed with the notion that he possessed some
unearthly powers, and was actually sent by Heaven for the purpose of
preserving them alive during the asperities and deprivations of the
famine and the storm. The winter gradually and slowly passed away, and
it was succeeded by a spring, and a summer, and a harvest of unusual
beauty and productiveness. The stranger was a wanderer in the fields,
and in the linns, and in the dark places of the mountains; and
it was observed that he had read all the little library of
Auchincairn--consisting of Knox's History, "The Holy War," "The
Pilgrim's Progress," and a volume of sermons--again and again. He had
clearly been well educated, and, as his frame resumed a healthy aspect,
he looked every inch a gentleman. Mary Gibson was a kind-hearted, bonny
lassie. There were no pretensions to ladyhood about her; but her sweet
face beamed with benevolence, and her warm heart beat with goodness and
affection. She had all along been most kind and attentive to the poor
dumb gentleman (as she called him), for it early struck her that the
stranger had been born such. But, all at once, the stranger disappeared;
and, though search was made in all his haunts, not a trace of him could
be found. It was feared that, in some of his reveries, he had stumbled
over the Whiteside Linn; but his body was not to be found. Newspapers,
in these days, there were none, at least in Dumfries-shire; and in a
month or two the family of Auchincairn seemed to have made up their mind
to regard their mysterious visiter in the light of a benevolent
messenger of God--in short, of an angel. Into this opinion, however,
Mary, it was observed, did not fully enter. But she _said_ little, and
_sung_ much, and seemed but little affected by the stranger's departure.

It was in the month of November of this destructive season, that, one
morning, long ere daylight, the close of Auchincairn was filled with
dragoons. There were fearful oaths, and plunging of swords into
bed-covers and wool-sacks, in quest of some one after whom they were
searching. At length Walter Gibson and his son were roused from their
beds, and placed, half-naked, in the presence of Grierson of Lag, to be
interrogated respecting a stranger whom they had sheltered for months
past, and whom Grierson described as an enemy to the king and his
government. Of this, both son and father declared, and truly, their
ignorance; but they were disbelieved, and immediately marched off, under
a guard, to Lag Castle, to Dumfries, and ultimately to Edinburgh, there
to await a mock trial, for harbouring a traitor. In vain was all
remonstrance on the part of the wife and daughter. Resistance was
impossible, and tears were regarded as a subject of merriment.

"Ay, pipe away there," said the infamous Lag, "and scream and howl your
bellyfuls; but it will be long ere such music will reach the ear or
soften the heart of my Lord Lauderdale. There is a maiden in Edinburgh,
my gentle wood-dove," familiarly grasping Mary Gibson's chin, and
squeezing it even to agony--"there is a maiden in Edinburgh more loving,
by far, than thou canst be; and to this lady of the sharp tongue and
heavy hand shall thy dainty brother soon be wedded. As to the old cock,
a new pair of boots and a touch of the thumbikins will probably awaken
his recollections and clear his judgment. But march, my lads!--we are
wasting time." And the cavalcade rode off, having eaten and drunk all
eatables and drinkables in the dwelling.

Mrs Gibson was a person of mild and submissive manners; but there was a
strength in her character, which rose with the occasion. She immediately
dried up her tears, spoke kindly, and in words of comforting, to her
daughter; and, taking her plaid about her shoulders, retired to the
barn, where she had long been in the habit of offering up her
supplication and thanksgiving to the God of her fathers. When she came
forth, after some hours of private communion with herself, she seemed
cheered and resolved, and addressed herself to the arrangement of family
matters as if nothing particular had happened. In a few days information
was conveyed to her that her husband and son had been marched off to
Edinburgh, there to await their trial, for the state offence of
harbouring a rebel, but really to gratify the resentment of the parish
curate, who had taken mortal offence at their nonconformity. Helen
Gibson had already resolved in what manner she was to act; and, leaving
her daughter to superintend domestic affairs, she set out, like her
successor, Jeanie Deans, on foot and unprotected, to Edinburgh, there to
visit her husband and son in their confinement, and intercede, should
opportunity occur, with the superior and ruling powers, for their life
and freedom. As she wandered up the wild path which conducts to
Leadhills, it began to snow, and it was with infinite difficulty that
she reached the highest town in Scotland, then an insignificant village.
Fever was the consequence of this exertion; but, after a few days' rest,
she recovered, and, though still feeble, pursued her way. At Biggar,
news reached her that four individuals had, a few days before, been
executed at the Gallowlee; and she retired to rest with an alarmed and a
dispirited mind. The snow having thawed, she pursued her way under the
Pentlands next day, and had advanced as far as Brighouse, at the foot of
these hills, when, overcome by fatigue, she was compelled to seek for
shelter under the excavation of a rock, upon the banks of a mountain
torrent, which works its way through rock and over precipice at this
place. Being engaged in prayer, she did not observe, for some time, a
figure which stood behind her; but what was her surprise, when, on
looking around, she recognised at once the well-known countenance of the
poor dumb lad! He was now no longer dumb, but immediately informed her
that he lived in the neighbourhood; and entreated his former mistress to
accompany him home to his habitation. Surprise and astonishment had
their play in her bosom--but comfort and something like confidence
succeeded; for Mrs Gibson could not help seeing the finger of her God
in this matter.

She was conveyed by her guide, now a well-dressed and well-spoken
gentleman, to his abode at Pentland Tower--a strongly-built edifice,
well fitted for defence, and indicating the antiquity of the family by
which it had been possessed. The place was to her a palace, and she
looked with amazement on the looking-glasses and pictures which it
contained; but, what was of more moment and interest than all other
considerations, she learned that King James had fled, and King William
had given "liberty to the captive, and the opening of the prison-doors
to those who were bound." Nay more, her mysterious landlord informed
her, that, having himself just obtained his pardon, he had only returned
from skulking about, from place to place, to his paternal inheritance, a
few days ago, and that, having heard of her family's misfortunes,
occasioned in some measure by himself, he had immediately repaired to
Edinburgh, had seen her husband and son, who were actually at that
moment in another chamber of the same house, on their return home to
Auchincairn. His rencounter with her had undoubtedly been providential,
as he had not the slightest idea that she could possibly be in his
neighbourhood.

The interview which followed, with all its interesting and fond
recognisances, I shall leave to the reader's imagination--only noticing
the kindness of the young Laird of Pentland Tower, in consequence of
which the father and son were compelled to delay their return to
Auchincairn for a few days, in the course of which a chaise one evening
drove up to the door, from which alighted, dressed in her newest attire,
and in all the pride of beauty and of a gentle nature, Mary Gibson.

The sequel can be easily anticipated. To all but Mary the poor
persecuted stranger had been dumb; but to her he had formerly confided
the secret of his birth, and his subsequent history; and in places "whar
warl saw na," they had again and again sworn truth and fealty to each
other. But, having learned that a search was going on in his
neighbourhood, the young "Laird of Pentland Tower" had assumed a new
disguise, and betaken himself to another locality, from which he was
drawn by the blessed change of government already alluded to, as well as
by his wish to dignify and adorn, with the name and the honour of wife,
"a bonny, virtuous, kind-hearted lassie," who long continued to share
and add to his happiness, and to secure the inheritance of Pentland
Tower, with its domains, to the name of "Lindsay."

Among the claimants who, a few years ago, contended for the honours of
the lordship of Lindsay, I observed a lineal descendant of BONNY MARY
GIBSON.



VIII.--THE ESKDALEMUIR STORY.


In the rural retreats of Eskdalemuir, the following narrative still
exists in tradition:--

A soldier belonging to Johnstone of Westerhall's company had a fall from
his horse, in consequence of which he was disabled for a time from
service. He was committed to the charge of a poor but honest family in
Eskdalemuir, near Yettbyres, where he was carefully nursed and well
attended to. This family consisted of a mother, a daughter, and two
sons, who were shepherds on the property of Yettbyres. The daughter's
name was Jean Wilson; and the soldier's heart was lost to Jean, ere he
was aware. In truth, Jean was a beauteous rosebud, a flower of the
wilderness, in her seventeenth year, and most kind and attentive to
their guest. To own more truth, Jean was likewise in love with the brave
and manly figure and bearing of her patient; but she never told him so,
being greatly averse to his profession and his politics--for he was one
of the persecutors of God's people, and Jean's father had been shot on
Dumfries Sands for his adherence to the Covenant. At last, however, and
after many fruitless attempts on Jean's part to convert the soldier, and
convince him of the evil of his profession, he was again summoned to his
post--and the shieling of Yettbyres assumed its wonted peaceful aspect.

In the midst of the Eskdale mountains a scene was exhibited of no
ordinary interest. A poor captive stood bound and blinded; a party of
five soldiers, under the command of a serjeant, was ordered out to shoot
him. The poor man had asked for five minutes of indulgence, which was
granted; during which time he had sung some verses of a psalm, and
prayed. It was night and full moon. It was in the midst of a mountain
glen, and by the side of a mountain stream; all was still, and peaceful,
and lonely around--but the passions of men were awake. There was a
voice--it was the voice of Johnstone of Westerhall--which commanded the
men to do their duty, and to blow out the brains of the poor kneeling
captive.

"If I do, may I be hanged!" exclaimed the serjeant, standing out before
his men, and looking defiance on his captain.

"What!" exclaimed Johnstone, "do you dare to disobey my orders?
Soldiers, seize Serjeant Watson, and bind him!"

In the meantime, partly through the connivance of the men, and partly
from the confusion which ensued, the captive had made his escape. To him
the localities of this glen were all familiar; and, by ensconcing
himself beneath and beyond a sheet of foaming water which was projected
from an apron-fall in the linn, John Wilson effected his escape for the
time.

The serjeant was immediately carried to head-quarters at Lockerby, and
tried by a court-martial for disobedience of orders. The court consisted
of Grierson of Lag, Winram of Wigton, Douglas of Drumlanrig, and Bruce
of Bunyean. The fact of disobedience was not denied; but the soldier
pled the obligations which he had been under to the Wilson family during
his distress; and his consequent unwillingness to become the instrument
of John Wilson's murder. Even Clavers was somewhat softened by the
statement, and was half-inclined to sustain the reason, when Johnstone
struck in, and urged strongly the necessity of preserving subordination
at all times in the army--and particularly in these times, when
instances of disobedience to orders were anything but uncommon. Douglas
of Drumlanrig seemed likewise to be on the point of yielding to the
better feelings of humanity, when Grierson, Winram, and Bruce decided,
by a majority, that Serjeant Watson should be carried back to the ground
where the act had been committed, and shot dead on the spot.

The poor serjeant's eyes were tied up, and the muskets of four soldiers
levelled at his head, when a scream was heard, and a lovely girl, in the
most frantic manner, threw herself into the arms of the victim.

"You shall not murder him!" she exclaimed; "or, if ye do, ye shall
murder us both. What!--did he not save the life of my poor brother, and
shall I scruple to lay down my life for him? Oh no, no! Level your
murderous weapons, and bury us both, when your wish is done, in one
grave! Oh, you never knew what woman's love was till now!"

He strained her to his bosom in reply.

"Keep off! keep off!" exclaimed a man's voice from behind. "Save, for
Heaven and a Saviour's sake, oh, save innocent life! I am the victim you
are in quest of--bind me, blindfold me, shoot me dead--but spare, oh,
spare, in mercy and in justice, youth and innocence, the humane heart
and the warm young bosom! Is not she my sister, ye men of blood?--and
have none of ye a sister? Is not he my saviour, ye messengers of
evil?--and have none of ye gratitude for deeds of mercy done? Surely,
surely" (addressing himself to Westerhall), "ye will not, ye cannot,
pronounce that fearful word which must prove fatal to three at once;
for, as God is my hope, this day, and on this spot, will I die, if not
to avert, at least to share, the fate of these two!"

It was remarked that a tear stood in the eye of Clavers, who turned his
horse's head about, and galloped off the field. The men looked to
Westerhall for orders; but he had turned his head aside, to look after
his superior officer. It was evidently a fearful moment of suspense. The
muskets shook in the men's hands; and, without saying one word,
Johnstone turned his horse's head around, and rode over the hill after
his superior.

The case was tried at Dumfries, and, hardened as bosoms were in these
awful times, many an eye, unwont to weep, was filled with tears, as the
circumstances of this fearful case unfolded themselves. Jean Wilson
never looked so lovely as when, with a boldness altogether foreign to
her general conduct, she confessed and exulted in her crime. The
serjeant admitted the justice of his sentence, but pled his inability to
avoid the guilt. John Wilson admitted his want of conformity, and urged
his father's murder as sufficient ground for his rooted hatred of the
murderers. The jury were not divided. They pronounced a sentence of
acquittal, and the court rang with shouts of applause. From that day and
hour Johnstone of Westerhall resigned his commission, and, betaking
himself to private life, is said to have exhibited marks of genuine
repentance.

The woods around Closeburn Castle are indeed most beautiful; and that
winding glen which leads to Gilchristland is romantic in no ordinary
degree. That is the land of the Watsons, the lineal descendants of this
poor serjeant, who, immediately after the trial, married sweet Jeanie
Wilson, and settled ultimately in the farm of Gilchristland, where they
and theirs, many sons and daughters, have lived in respectability and
independence ever since. That three-storey house which overlooks the
valley of the Nith, and is visible from Drumlanrig to the Stepends of
Closeburn, is tenanted by Alexander Watson, one of the wealthiest
farmers and cattle-dealers in the south of Scotland.



IX.--THE DOUGLAS TRAGEDY.


Upon the banks or shore of the Frith of Cree, at that point where it
would be difficult to say whether the sea or the river prevailed, stood,
in old times, a mud cottage, surrounded by a clump of trees. It was
quite a nest of a thing; and beautifully did the blue smoke ascend,
strongly relieved and brought out by the dark woodland. The ships in
passing and repassing, sailed close to the door of this lonely dwelling,
and would often, in fine weather, exchange salutations with its inmates.
These inmates were Janet Smith and Nanny Nivison--the one old, and
almost bedrid; the other young, and beautiful, and kind-hearted. Nanny,
who was an orphan, lived with her grandmother; and, whilst she
discharged the duties of a nurse, she was extremely efficient in earning
their mutual subsistence. In these days, spinning-jennies were not; and
many a fireside was enlivened by the whirr of the "big" or the birr of
the "wee" wheel. The check-reel, with its cheerful click or challenge at
every sixtieth revolution, was there; and the kitchen rafters were
ornamented by suspended hanks of sale yarn. There sat, by a good, warm
peat-fire, the aged and sleepy cat, winking contentment in both eyes,
and prognosticating rain, by carefully washing her face with her
fore-paw. There, too, in close alliance and perfect peacefulness, lay a
blind cur-dog, who had known other days, and had followed to the field,
if not some warlike lord, at least one of the lords of the creation, in
the shape of John Nivison, who had been shot on the south range of the
Galloway Hills for his adherence to the Covenant. His son Thomas, the
brother of Nanny, had been long outlawed, and was supposed, even by his
sister--his only sister--to have effected his escape to America. It was
a beautiful and peaceful evening in the months of harvest--all was
cheerfulness around. The mirthful band was employed, at no great
distance, in cutting down and collecting into sheaves and stooks the
abundant crop; and the husbandman, with his coat deposited in the hedge
at the end of the field, was as busily employed as any of his band. The
voice of man and woman, lad and lass, master and servant, was mixed in
one continuous flow of rustic wit and rural jest. The surface of the
Frith was smooth as glass, and the Galloway Hills looked down from
heaven, and up from beneath, with brows of serenity and friendship. One
or two vessels were tiding it up in the midst of the stream, with a
motion scarcely perceptible. They had all sails set, and looked as if
suspended in a glassy network, half-way betwixt heaven and earth. The
sun shone westward, near to his setting, and the white and softly-rolled
clouds only served to make the blue of a clear sky still more deep and
lovely. The lassie wi' the lint-white locks spread over an eye of bonny
blue--

    "The little halcyon's azure plume
    Was never half so blue!"--

might well assimilate to this sunny sky. Nature seemed to say to man,
from above and from beneath--from hill and from dale--from land and from
sea--from a thousand portals of beauty and blessedness--"Thou stranger
on earth, enjoy the happiness which thy God prepares for thee. For thee,
he hath hung the heavens in a drapery of light and love--for thee, he
hath clothed the earth in fragrance and plenty--for thee, he hath
spread out the waters of the great sea, and made them carriers of thy
wealth and thy will from land to land, and from the broad sea to the
city and the hamlet on the narrow frith." Thus spake, or seemed to
speak, God to man, in the beautiful manifestations of his love. But what
said "man to man?" Alas! true it is, and of verity, that

    "Man's inhumanity to man
    Makes countless thousands mourn."

The whole of the south of Scotland was, at this peaceful hour, overrun
with locusts and caterpillars--with all that can hurt and destroy--that
can mar, mangle, and torture--with rage, persecution, and
violence--profanity, bloodshed, and death. Oh, what a contrast!--Look,
only look, on this picture and on that:--Here all peace; there, Douglas,
Grierson, Johnstone, Clavers: here, all mercy and love; there, the red
dragoons, stained and besmeared with blood and with brains: here, the
comforts, and fellowship, and affection of home and of kindred; there,
the mountain solitude, the trembling refugee, the damp cave, and the bed
of stone! Truly, God hath made man in innocence, but he hath found out
many inventions, and, amongst others, the instruments of torture and of
death--the bloody maiden--the accursed boots--and the thumbikin and
torch, to twist and burn with anguish the writhing soul. And all this,
for what? To _convert_ the nation into a land of hypocrites--to stifle
the dictates of conscience--to extinguish liberty, and establish
despotism. But _tempora mutantur_: thank God! it is otherwise now with
the people of Scotland--and the sword of oppressive violence has been
sheathed for ever.

It was night, it was twelve o'clock, and all was silence, save that, at
intervals, the grating crake of the landrail or corncraik was heard,
like some importunate creditor craving payment, from breath to breath,
of his due. An image stood in the passage of the clay-built
dwelling--it was not visible, but there was silence and a voice--it was
a well-known voice. "Oh, my God, it is my brother!" Thus exclaimed Nancy
Nivison, whilst she threw herself, naked as she was, into the arms of
her long-lost and sore-lamented brother. The old woman was gradually
aroused to a conception of what was going forward; but her spirit was
troubled within her, and she groaned, whilst she articulated, "Beware, I
pray ye!--beware what ye're doing!--Douglas is as near as Wigton with
his band o' murderers. They have shot the father, and they will not
scruple to murder, by law or without law, the son. Oh sirs, I'm unco
distressed to think o' the danger which this unexpected visit must
occasion!" Thomas Nivison had, indeed, sailed for America; but he had
been shipwrecked on the Isle of Arran, not far from the coast of
Ireland, and had lived for months with the fishermen, by assisting them
in their labour. But hame is hame--

    "Oh, hame, hame, hame, fain wad I be!
    Oh, hame, hame, hame to my ain countrie!"



So breathes, in perfect nature and simplicity, the old song; and so
felt, amidst the bare rocks and stormy inlets of Arran, poor Thomas
Nivison. And for the sake of this humble home, this poor outlaw, upon
whose head a price had been set (as he had wounded, almost to death, one
of his father's murderers), had run, and was now running, incalculable
risks. Long ere daylight Thomas Nivison had betaken himself to a
hiding-place in the linns of Cree; but his visit had not escaped
observation. A smuggler of brandy and tea from the Isle of Man, being
engaged in what he denominated the free-trade, chanced to mark his
approach, and fled immediately with the news to Douglas at Wigton. The
troop surrounded the house by break of day; but the bird was flown.

What a scene was exhibited, in a few days, on this peaceful shore! Two
women, the one old, and scarcely able to support her head, and the other
young, beautiful, but stripped down to the waist, and tied to a stake
within flood-mark on the Frith of Cree; a guard of dragoons surrounding
the spot, and an officer of rank riding, ever and anon, to the
saddlegirths into the swelling flood, and questioning the poor sufferers
very hard. But it was all in vain; Thomas Nivison was neither betrayed
by sister nor by grandmother. In fact, they knew not, though they might
have their suspicions, of his retreat. Can it be believed in the present
times--and yet this is a fact attested by history as well as by
tradition--that these two helpless and guiltless beings were permitted
to perish, to be suffocated by inches and gulps amidst the tide? The
poor old woman died first. Her stake was mercifully sunk farther into
the stream. She died, however, speaking encouragement to her grandchild.

"It will soon be over, Nanny--it will not last long--it will not be ill
to bear--and there we shall be free" (looking up to heaven)--"_there_,
there is nothing to hurt or to destroy; and my father is there, Nanny;
and my mother is there; and my son--oh, my poor murdered boy!--is there!
and you and I will be there, and he, too, will soon, soon follow; but
his blood be on the guilty, Nanny, and not on us! We will not shed one
drop of it for all that man can give--for all that man can do--

    'For anything that man can do
    I shall not be afraid.'"

These were the last words which she spoke, at least which were heard;
for, in the beautiful language of Scripture, "she bowed her head, and
gave up the ghost." She was not drowned, but chilled to death. The case
was different with youth, strength, and beauty. Again and again was the
offer made to her, to spare her life, on condition of her betraying a
brother. Nature pled hard for life and length of days; and one of the
dragoons, more humane, or rather less brutal, than the rest, was heard
to exclaim--

"Oh, sir, she has said it--she has said it!"

"Said what?" responded Douglas, in a sharp voice. "Has she said where
her renegade brother is to be found?"

Hearing this question thus fearfully put, she exclaimed, in an agony--

"Oh no--no--no!--never--never! Let me go--let me go!"

    "The waters wild
    Come o'er the child!"



THE COUNTESS OF CASSILIS.


At a short distance from the ancient castle of Tyningham--the seat, at
the period of our story (the beginning of the seventeenth century), of
Thomas, first Earl of Haddington, a man remarkable at once for his
talents and successful ambition--there is a sequestered little spot,
enclosed with steep banks, now cleared and cultivated, but then covered
with natural wood, which, together with the abruptness of the rising
ground, excluded all view of the smooth strip of green sward that lay
between, until approached within a few yards' distance.

Here, in this lovely and retired spot, met, every evening, or at least
as often as circumstances would permit, two fond and happy lovers; and
here had they vowed a thousand times to remain true to each other while
life endured, under all changes of circumstance and time. One of these
personages was a remarkably stout and tall young man, of about
three-and-twenty, of a frank, bold, and sanguine expression of
countenance; the other was a young lady in the nineteenth year of her
age, possessing more than ordinary beauty, together with a singularly
graceful form and carriage. The first was no other--a personage of no
meaner note--than Sir John Faa of Dunbar; a gentleman who had already
established a high reputation for bravery and for superior prowess and
dexterity in all manly exercises. The other, more than his equal in
rank, was the Lady Jane Hamilton, daughter of the Earl of Haddington,
already spoken of.

It may be thought that such clandestine meetings between persons of such
condition as this was not altogether becoming in either. But there was a
reason for it.

The addresses of Sir John to the earl's daughter were not approved of
by her father, who, desirous of connecting himself with the older
peers--his own title being but a recent one--intended that Lady Jane
should marry the Earl of Cassilis: a stern Covenanter, and a man,
besides, of haughty and imperious temper, who had already made some
overtures for the hand of the Lady Jane.

The interviews between the lovers, therefore, were--no uncommon
thing--stolen ones; as the earl, aware of their attachment, had
peremptorily forbidden Sir John his house, and had as peremptorily
forbidden his daughter ever to see or hold any correspondence with him.
But love was stronger than the sense of duty; and the fair lady
continued to evade her father's injunctions, to elude his vigilance, and
to meet with her lover in the little dell between the woods as often as
occasion permitted or opportunity offered.

This intercourse, however, was carried on, on the part of the young
knight, at the imminent risk of his life; since, had his stern rival,
the Earl of Cassilis (who already considered himself as the affianced
husband of the Lady Jane, although he had never deigned to consult the
lady herself on the subject), been aware of his perseverance in his
suit, his death would have been inevitable. The proud earl would not
have brooked the insult; and it is not unlikely, had he known what was
going forward, that others besides Sir John would have felt his
vengeance. The lovers, therefore, were perfectly aware of the dangerous
game they were playing; but this circumstance, instead of damping the
ardour of their passion, had the effect only of increasing it, and of
endearing them still more and more to each other.

It will readily be conceived, from what has been related, that the two
rivals for the hand of the Lady Jane Hamilton entertained the most
deadly dislike of each other--for the Earl of Cassilis was not ignorant
of Sir John's pretensions; and this feeling never failed to evince
itself when by any chance they happened to meet--a circumstance which
more than once occurred.

On one of these occasions, they had even gone so far as to draw upon
each other, and were prevented from closing in deadly strife only by the
determined interference of some mutual friends who chanced to be
present.

"Beware, Sir John," said the stern earl, on the occasion we allude to,
at the same time returning his sword with violence into its
scabbard--"beware, Sir John, of crossing my path--you know the quarter I
mean--otherwise you may rue it. Remember, young man," he added, "I have
cautioned you."

"And remember, I have defied you," replied the undaunted youth whom he
addressed, "earl though ye be!" And he turned haughtily on his heel, and
left the apartment which was the scene of this occurrence. To this
defiance the earl made no reply; but those who were near him saw an
expression of deadly wrath on his dark stern countenance, that made them
at once congratulate themselves on not being the objects of it, and fear
the worst for him who was, should he ever be unfortunate enough to fall
into his power.

"And when, Sir John, will you return?" was a question put in a gentle
and faint voice--faint with emotion--by the Lady Jane Hamilton to her
lover, as they walked arm in arm in the little sequestered dell of which
we have already spoken, one beautiful summer evening shortly after the
occurrence of the circumstance just related. "When do you think you will
return?" she said, sadly, on being informed by her lover that the
following day was fixed upon for his departure for the Continent,
whither he had, for some time previously, intended going--an intention
of which the Lady Jane had been perfectly aware--to improve himself by a
few months' travel.

"This is June," said the young knight, in a voice scarcely less
tremulous than that of his fair companion. And he paused a moment, and
then added, "I will be home, my love, God willing, about the latter end
of October; and, believe me, Lady Jane, short as this time is, it looks
an eternity to me."

A lengthened silence succeeded, for both were too much engrossed by the
melancholy thoughts which their approaching separation gave rise to, to
prosecute the conversation. Another short, but sad and yet happy hour
quickly flew over the lovers, when the gathering shades of night
intimated to them that their interview must terminate. Feeling this, the
fond pair, for the thousandth time, solemnly pledged themselves, in the
face of heaven, to continue faithful to their vows, tenderly embraced
each other, and parted.

On the day following, Sir John set out for London, from whence he
proceeded to Paris, thence to Madrid, where suddenly all traces of him
were lost; and no after inquiries could ever elicit the slightest
explanation of his mysterious disappearance.

Weeks, months, and years passed away, but they brought no intelligence
of the fate of the unfortunate young knight. It was the universal belief
that he had perished by the hands of assassins; and in this conviction
all further inquiry regarding him finally ceased; while time, as it
passed on, produced its usual effects in lessening the general interest
in his fate, and in gradually obliterating the recollection of him from
the minds of his acquaintance. But there was one over whose memory time
had no such power--one who did not only fondly remember him, but who,
night and day, sorrowed for his loss through long tedious years. Lady
Jane Hamilton, although circumstances subsequently changed her destiny,
never forgot the first love of her young and affectionate heart.

Soon after the departure of Sir John Faa, the Earl of Haddington,
taking advantage of that circumstance, resolved, if possible, to
accomplish the marriage of his daughter to the Earl of Cassilis before
the return of the former; and fortunately, as he conceived, the latter
himself, as if actuated by the same motive, renewed at this moment
certain overtures connected with this matter which had lain for some
time in abeyance, and pressed his suit with the lady's father with an
urgency that would admit of no evasion or delay.

For full two years, however, after the departure of her lover, and fully
a year and a-half after the period when he was first believed to have
perished, neither the threats of her father, nor the importunities of
her noble suitor, could prevail on the Lady Jane to become the Countess
of Cassilis. At the end of this period, however, the broken-hearted
maiden--believing in the death of her lover, and unable longer to
withstand the incessant and remorseless persecution with which she was
assailed, daily and hourly, by her ambitious father--permitted herself
to be dragged to the altar, but not before she had been shown a letter,
whether forged or not is not known, from the English ambassador at the
Spanish court, giving assurance of the death of Sir John Faa, whom he
represented as having perished in the way generally believed--namely, by
the daggers of some bravos.

The marriage of the Lady Jane Hamilton to the Earl of Cassilis was
celebrated at Tyningham Castle, with all the magnificence and pomp which
the magic wand of wealth could call into existence. Its tall and
numerous windows blazed with light. Its liveried lackeys flew through
its illuminated halls, preciously burdened with silver trenchers, on
which smoked the rarest and the richest viands; or bore massive flagons
of the same precious metal, filled with the choicest wines; while its
gorgeous apartments rung with the joyous sounds of mirth and music. But
it was a striking thing to note, in the midst of all this splendid
pageantry, and in the midst of this crowd of merry faces, that the only
one who wore sad looks, the only one who appeared unmoved by this
stirring scene, and who took no share in the rejoicing that was going
forward, was she on whose account, and whom to honour, all this bustle
and magnificence had been created.

In a corner of the principal hall, where all the _élite_ of the night
were assembled, the Countess of Cassilis sat all alone, pale as death,
gazing with vacant eye on the moving and glittering spectacle before
her, and looking only the more wretched and unhappy for the splendour
with which she was attired. All the efforts of her father and her
husband were unable to compel her even to assume the appearance of a
becoming happiness; and, finding this, they at length refrained (from a
fear that perseverance on their part would lead to some more awkward
exposures) from insisting upon her taking any share in doing the honours
of the evening, and allowed her to occupy undisturbed the retired seat
which she had chosen, and to which, though frequently brought forward to
receive the congratulations of newcomers, she seized every opportunity
of instantly returning. Nor was the conduct of the unhappy bride during
the ceremony of these congratulations, brief though they were, less
marked by indications of the wretched feelings which overwhelmed her,
than on other more important occasions. Her pale and emaciated
countenance, the faint, forced smile, and the slight, cold, formal
courtesy, with which she acknowledged the wishes of the guests for long
life and happiness to the Countess of Cassilis, but too plainly showed
how little of the latter she anticipated, and how little of the former
she desired.

All the stirring and joyous revelry usual on such occasions,
nevertheless, went on; but it was soon interrupted by an occurrence that
threw a damp on the revellers, and finally hastened their departure. In
the very midst of the mirth and rejoicing, and at the moment when those
seemed to have attained their height, the whole assembly was suddenly
thrown into the utmost consternation, by a loud and piercing shriek
proceeding from that end of the hall where the Countess of Cassilis was
seated. All hurried towards the spot--some leaving the dance unfinished,
others hastily throwing down the untasted goblet--and crowded around the
sufferer from whom the alarming cry had proceeded. It was the bride.
Senseless, and extended on the floor, there lay the miserable Countess
of Cassilis. But what had happened to cause this extraordinary accident
no one could tell. It was ascertained that she had been sitting quite
alone when the illness, of whatever nature it was, under which she was
now suffering, had seized her; so that no sudden injury of any kind
could have befallen her. Her illness, in short, was quite inexplicable.
But, as she was about being removed, which was instantly done, there
were one or two around her who, hearing her muttering, as she was being
raised from the floor, "I've seen him! I've seen him!" more than guessed
the cause of the poor lady's sudden illness.

On the removal of the countess, there were some attempts made to revive
the revelries of the evening, and to re-infuse the spirit of mirth into
the revellers, which the occurrence just related seemed to have
dissipated; but in vain. After some ineffectual efforts of this kind,
the company broke up; and, long before the anticipated hour, the guests
were gone, the lights extinguished, and silence reigned in the halls of
Tyningham Castle.

On the day following this event, the Countess of Cassilis was removed by
her husband to Cassilis Castle, an old, heavy, gloomy-looking fortalice
on the banks of the Doon, in the shire of Ayr, where the unhappy lady
remained for four years, heart-broken, crushed in spirit, and looking
forward to the grave as the only termination of her sorrows. Her stern
husband took no pains to reconcile her to her destiny, nor did he even
show her any of those little kindnesses and attentions which are so well
calculated to win on the female heart, and which, had they been employed
in this case, might have induced the Countess of Cassilis, since she
could not love, at least to esteem, her lord. But the earl had obtained,
in a large accession of wealth, all that he desired or cared for in
uniting himself to the unfortunate Lady Jane; and the consequence was,
that, soon after his marriage, he neglected her, to pursue his schemes
of ambition and personal aggrandisement. Thus left alone, as she often
was, for weeks, nay, for months, in the lonely castle in which she had
been immured, the Countess of Cassilis might often be seen walking on
the battlements--almost the only species of recreation within her
power--in solitary sadness; at one time stopping to gaze, but with
listless eye, on the wide and romantic scene that lay around her; at
another, to look on the leaping and foaming waters of the Doon,
immortalised by the poet's song, and to think of the days that were
past, of her blighted hopes and untoward destiny.

Most appropriate to her, to her feelings and circumstances, would have
been the melancholy song of Burns, of which her present locality was
long afterwards to be the scene. Well might the poor Countess of
Cassilis have exclaimed--

    "Ye banks and braes o'bonny Doon,
    How can ye bloom sae fresh and fair!
    How can ye chant, ye little birds,
    And I sae weary fu' o'care!"

But this beautiful lyric was not then in existence, nor for nearly two
centuries after.

It was about the end of the fourth year after her marriage, and while
leading this solitary and melancholy life, that the Countess of
Cassilis, as she walked one evening, as was her wont, on the battlements
of the castle, was suddenly alarmed by seeing a numerous band of
gipsies approaching the building; and she was the more alarmed, that the
earl, with nearly all his immediate retainers, was at that moment from
home, the former being then in attendance on the Assembly of Divines at
Westminster. The countess, however, would have felt but little
uneasiness at the threatened visit of these wanderers, although they had
been even much more numerous than they were--for such visitations were
then of ordinary occurrence--had they presented the usual appearance,
and had the band been composed of the usual materials--that is, of men,
women, and children. But in this case there were none of the latter. The
whole were men--and all young, stout, active-looking men they were: and
hence the alarm of the countess.

Her fears, however, did not prevent her watching their motions for some
time, ere she descended from the battlements; and this surveillance
discovered to her that they were under the conduct of a leader, and that
they were approaching the castle with a very suspicious degree of
caution, and yet with a still more startling haste.

Strongly suspecting that the designs of the gipsies were evil, the
Countess of Cassilis hastened down from the battlements, and secured
herself within the walls of the castle. In the meantime, the band of
gipsies approached; but, instead of attempting any violence, they began
to sing some of the wild strains with which they usually sought to
attract the notice and excite the charity of those to whom they
appealed. Her apprehensions somewhat allayed by this pacific indication,
the countess ventured towards a window that overlooked the rude
minstrels, and was about to fling them a suitable guerdon, when, on
obtaining the nearer view of their leader which this step afforded, she
uttered a piercing shriek, and fell senseless on the floor. His disguise
had not been able to conceal from her--for sharp, sharp are the eyes of
love--that in the leader of the gipsies she had met with the lost
knight of Dunbar. In the next instant, the countess was in the arms of
the lover of her youth. He it was who acted as leader of the gipsies;
and the purpose for which he now came was to carry off, in the absence
of her husband--of whose absence he was aware--the betrothed of his
early years.

In place of having been assassinated, as was generally believed, Sir
John had been consigned to the dungeons of the Inquisition, in
consequence of some unguarded expressions regarding the holy office
which he had allowed to escape him when in Madrid; and in these dungeons
had he lain, from the time he was first lost sight of, till within about
six weeks of his appearance at Cassilis Castle. On his return home, he
had learned, for the first time, of the marriage of the Lady Jane to the
Earl of Cassilis; and this information having been accompanied by the
intelligence that the latter was then in London, had determined him on
the desperate enterprise in which he was now engaged. All this Sir John
now communicated to the countess, and ended with proposing that she
should fly with him.

"No, no, Sir John," said the now weeping and dreadfully-agitated
lady--"I cannot, I will not, do anything so unbecoming the daughter of
the Earl of Haddington and the wife of Cassilis. However unwillingly I
may have become the latter, I feel myself equally bound to consult his
honour as my own, and do nothing that might sully either. Go then, Sir
John," she continued; "oh, do depart from me--do leave me, and take with
you an assurance of my continued and unabated"--she paused for a moment,
and added--"esteem."

But vain, vain were the good resolutions of the unfortunate
countess--vain her determination not to take so hazardous, and perhaps
it ought to be added, so infamous a step as that proposed by her
desperate and unthinking lover. Love, almighty love, finally
prevailed--all the countess's resolutions melted away before the
energetic importunities of her lover, like snow beneath the midsummer
sun; and the succeeding hour saw her mounted on the mettled steed which
he had brought for the express purpose of carrying her away--

    "So light to the croup the fair lady he swung,
    So light to the saddle before her he sprung."

This done, exactly as the poet has described it, the ill-starred pair
commenced their flight, still attended, however, by the gipsy band which
Sir John had employed to aid him in the abduction, and which he thought
it necessary to keep around him till he should have got to a sufficient
distance to be relieved from all apprehensions of pursuit.

Leaving the guilty lovers to pursue their way, we shall return to
Cassilis Castle, destined to be almost instantly afterwards the scene of
another interesting and most ominous event. This was the unexpected
return of the earl, who, with a large body of retainers, suddenly rode
into the castle yard, within less than half-an-hour after the departure
of the countess and her lover.

Before he had yet got his foot to the ground, the earl was informed of
what had occurred.

"Gone, said you!--the countess gone, and with Sir John Faa!" exclaimed
the amazed and now infuriated nobleman, to the person who gave the
intelligence. "Impossible! Thou liest, knave!--thou wouldst deceive me,
and thou shalt hang for it." But, exhibiting a strange contradiction
between his conduct and his language, the earl, even while he spoke,
sprang again into his saddle, and fiercely calling on his retainers to
follow him, set off at full speed in the direction which the fugitives
had taken. Nor was his ride, though a rapid, a long one. At a ford
across the Doon, not many miles from Cassilis Castle, and still called
from the circumstance we are about to relate the "Gipsies' Steps," the
earl and his party overtook his unfortunate countess and her still more
unfortunate seducer.

On seeing the former approach, which the fugitives did with a degree of
amazement which could only have been equalled had they seen them drop
from the clouds, Sir John, his natural intrepidity not permitting him to
reckon on the fearful odds that were coming against him, prepared to
offer resistance; and in this hopeless resolution he persisted, although
aware that he could place but little reliance on the co-operation of
those around him--the gipsies showing but little inclination to fight,
from a well-grounded fear that such a proceeding would increase the
severity of their treatment in the event of their being taken; and of
this, from the overwhelming superiority in point of numbers of the party
coming down upon them, they had no doubt.

Dismounting now from his horse, Sir John assisted the countess to
alight; and, placing her at a sufficient distance to insure her safety
from any instant danger, the brave young man leaped again into his
saddle, and, drawing his sword, awaited the onset of his enemies,
determined to defend the fair companion of his flight so long as he
could continue to wield the good weapon which he now so resolutely and
proudly grasped.

In a few minutes after, the pursuing party were down upon the fugitives,
when the earl, singling out Sir John, exclaimed, as he rushed upon him,
"Have at thee, villain!" and with these words discharged a blow at him
which would have immediately unhorsed him, had it not been adroitly
warded off. But of what avail was the averting the stroke of one sword,
when there were many to contend with, and one single arm only to oppose
them; for the gipsies had not offered the slightest resistance. In an
instant, a score of weapons were flashing around the head of the
solitary combatant; yet long and obstinately did he continue the unequal
fight, and well did he prove his manhood, although it could have been
wished that it had been exhibited in a better cause. More than one of
Sir John's assailants fell beneath his sword, and numbers felt the
keenness of its edge, and the dexterity with which it was handled, in
their gaping wounds.

Such a contest as this, however, when it was one to fifty, could be but
of short duration. In a few minutes, Sir John was severely wounded,
unhorsed, and borne, or rather dragged down, bleeding and exhausted, to
the earth. The moment he fell, the points of some eight or ten swords
were levelled at his heart, and would have instantly transfixed it, had
not the earl called out to those who wielded them to desist.

"Don't kill him--don't kill him!" he shouted out, at the same time
forcing his way through the crowd that surrounded him. "I will clear
scores with him in another way," he added. "A dog's death is more
befitting him than a gentleman's." These were ominous words, and well
understood by all who heard them.

The earl now rode up, for the first time, to where his unhappy countess
stood, and assuming a mock gallantry as he approached her, but with a
bitter smile on his countenance, took off his hat, and pointing to Sir
John, who was now bound and placed on horseback, informed her that her
lover intended honouring his castle with another visit, and had
commissioned him to say that he would be glad of the Countess of
Cassilis' company. Having said this, he desired some of his attendants
to assist his wretched wife to get on horseback, when, leaving her under
their care, with instructions to see her safely conveyed to the castle,
he left her without farther remark or observation, to join the party who
surrounded the prisoners.

The whole cavalcade--the captives, consisting of Sir John and the whole
of the gipsy gang, being placed in the middle--now set forward for
Cassilis Castle. On their arrival there, the prisoners were halted
beneath a large plane-tree, which grew, and, we believe, still
flourishes, on a little knoll in front of the castle gate. All, both the
prisoners and their captors, knew full well what the earl meant by his
selection of their halting-place. The tree alluded to was one of dismal
notoriety; it was known far and wide by the name of the "Dule Tree"--a
name which it had acquired from its having been used by the Earl of
Cassilis as a gallows on which all offenders, within his jurisdiction,
who were condemned to death, were executed.

The prisoners were now drawn up in a line, and there kept until they had
witnessed, what was immediately exhibited, the fatal preparations for
execution; which consisted simply in fastening a rope, with a running
noose, to one of the lower branches, and placing a cart underneath it,
with a person standing in readiness by the horse's head to drive off at
a given signal.

When these very primitive preliminaries were gone through, all the
prisoners, including Sir John Faa, with the exception of one who was
left for instant execution, were marched into the castle, and shut up
with a strong guard in one of its apartments.

Everything being now ready for the performance of the dreadful tragedy
which was about to be enacted, the Earl of Cassilis proceeded to the
countess's chamber, and again assuming the mock air of politeness of
which we have already spoken, he bowed low as he entered the apartment,
and begged to inform the Countess of Cassilis that he had got up a play
for her divertisement, in which her lover, Sir John, had obligingly
undertaken to perform a principal part, and desired that she would
condescend to witness the pastime. Saying this, he rudely seized the
countess by the arm, and dragged her to an apartment where there was a
window that overlooked the place of execution.

Having placed the countess at this window, the earl made a signal to
those assembled beneath the "Dule Tree," and in an instant afterwards
the first of the unhappy captives was seen suspended by the neck,
struggling in the agonies of death. Another and another of these
miserable men followed in due time, until of the whole party their
unfortunate leader, Sir John, only remained.

On this ill-fated gentleman being brought out for execution, the earl
roused the attention of his unhappy wife, by calling out to her, with
savage glee, to look attentively, as her lover Sir John was now about to
play his part; and he had no doubt, he said, that he would do it
handsomely. The wretched lady glanced towards the fatal tree, and saw
him who had been her first, and was yet her only, love about to suffer
an ignominious death. The fatal rope was already about the neck of the
gallant, but erring young man, whose bearing, in this dreadful
situation, evinced all that unflinching fortitude for which he had
always been remarkable.

Just before being thrown off, he caught a glimpse of the countess's
figure at the window. He bowed gracefully towards her, kissed his hand
to her, and waved an eternal adieu. In the next instant he was
insensible to all earthly objects. These last proofs of the undaunted
young man's unalterable affection, however, of which we have just
spoken, were not seen by her for whom they were intended; for, although
at the window (she was forcibly held there by her savage husband), her
eyes were closed on the dreadful scene, and she herself wholly
unconscious of what at that fatal instant was passing before her.

The apartment from which the miserable Countess of Cassilis was
compelled to witness this dreadful tragedy is still pointed out by the
name of the "Countess's Room." In this chamber the unhappy lady was kept
a prisoner for several days after the execution of Sir John and his
followers, when she was removed to another of the family residences in
the town of Maybole, in Ayrshire, where she was confined during the
remainder of her life--the earl her husband, in the meantime, marrying
another wife.

Such is the story of the Countess of Cassilis and a veritable tale it
is.



THE HAPPY CONCLUSION.


"It's a' owre wi' us noo, guidwife," said William Waterstone, throwing
himself down in an arm-chair that stood by his own kitchen fireside, and
at the same time laying aside his staff and bonnet; for William had just
returned from a journey of ten or twelve miles, on which he had set out
that morning--"it's a' owre wi' us noo, guidwife," he said, in a voice
and with a look and manner of the deepest despair. "He'll no listen to
ony terms," he went on, "or to ony delay, but insists on haein the money
doun on the nail, and to the last farthin, or he says he'll roup us to
the door, and that within fourteen days."

But what misfortune was this that threatened William Waterstone? And who
was he? Why, we will tell you, good reader, beginning with your last
query first. William Waterstone was a small farmer in Teviotdale, and
one of the most honest, laborious, and worthy men in that part of the
country. But all his industry, prudence, economy, and integrity had not
enabled him, as, indeed, they could not, to cope with the disadvantages
of falling markets and a poor and over-rented farm; and he fell into
arrears with his landlord. It was in vain that poor William, who was now
getting up in years, being close upon sixty, toiled late and early,
assisted by his wife and daughter (his whole household), to reduce or
keep down the debt that was growing up against him. It was in vain that
he and they denied themselves every comfort to attain this desirable
end. The arrears, in place of diminishing, went on increasing; for the
farm, with all this toil and privation, could scarcely pay the current
expenses, let alone enabling its occupant to liquidate an extra debt.

But this state of matters with William, though sad enough, and such as
must, in any circumstances, have made him unhappy, would not have ended
in his utter ruin, as it now threatened to do, had the property which he
rented remained in the hands of his old landlord; for that person knew
his excellent character, respected his worth, and, perfectly aware that
he was doing all that man could do to discharge the claims he had on
him, showed him every lenity and indulgence; and would, in all
probability (indeed he had actually said as much), have forgiven him his
arrears altogether. Unfortunately for William, however, his generous
landlord just about this time died; and the property fell into other and
very different hands.

The first step of the new proprietor, or rather of his factor, though of
course done with the former's consent, was to ferret out all outstanding
debts; the next, to enforce their payment, without distinction of
persons or consideration of circumstances, by the most summary measures
which the law allowed. On this black list, and amongst the foremost,
stood the name of William Waterstone.

It was on the day preceding that on which our story opens, that William
first received intimation by a threatening letter, of the determination
of the new proprietor regarding the arrears which he was owing; and on
the next he went himself to the factor, who lived at the distance of
about ten miles, to endeavour to avert the proceedings with which he was
threatened, by entering into some arrangements regarding the debt. The
result of this interview is announced in the expressions with which
William seated himself in his arm-chair, as quoted at the outset of our
tale; for he had just at that moment returned from his unsuccessful
mission.

He had addressed himself to his wife; but what he said was equally meant
for the ear of his daughter--a young, beautiful, and interesting girl of
about nineteen, who was also present at the time.

On William's announcing the determination of the factor regarding them,
his wife, without saying a word, but looking the very picture of grief
and despair, flung herself into a chair opposite her husband, where she
sat for some time in silence, wiping away at intervals, with the corner
of her apron, the tears that forced themselves into her eyes.

After a short time, during which neither father, mother, nor daughter
had spoken a syllable, each being wrapped up in the contemplation of the
miserable prospects which lay before them, Mrs Waterstone at length
said--

"And is there, then, nae hope for us now, William, after a' oor toil and
oor fecht?"

"Nane--nane that I can see," replied the husband, after a lengthened
pause, in a voice rendered stern by despair, and at the same time
glancing towards his daughter, who, with her face buried in her apron,
was sobbing and weeping in a distant corner of the apartment. "Nane that
I can see," he again repeated. "There's nae help for us under heaven.
Naething for us noo, Betsy, but the meal pock."

"Weel, God's will be dune, William," replied the broken-hearted woman;
"since it is sae, we maun submit; although it is hard, at oor time o'
life, and after the lang and sair struggle we hae had to do justice to
everybody, to be thrown destitute on the warld. But ye ken it is said,
William, by the Psalmist, 'I have been young, and now am old; yet have I
not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread;' and I've
nae doot that, wi' God's assistance, we'll find these soothing and
comforting words verified in oor ain case."

To this William Waterstone made no reply, but remained gloomily absorbed
in his own dismal reflections. These were indeed bitter enough--and
bitter also were those of the partner of his bosom, on this melancholy
occasion; but they were light compared with those of their unhappy
daughter. It was on her that the threatened calamity was to fall with
its fullest force, and it was to her that it was to bring the largest
share of misery. But this requires explanation; and we proceed to give
it.

Marion--for such was her name--had long been wooed in vain by a wealthy
suitor who resided at a short distance from her father's house. This
person, whose name was Maitland, was a miller to business, and a
sufficiently respectable man; but he was precisely three times the age
of the young creature whose hand he sought. He was, besides, a widower,
with several children, and was otherwise by no means such an object as
was likely to attract the eye or engage the affections of a woman
younger than the youngest of his own daughters.

But John Maitland was wealthy--a circumstance which, though it was of no
weight whatever in the eyes of Marion herself, was of great consequence
in those of her parents. They, however, although they secretly wished
that their daughter would give a favourable ear to the miller's suit,
did not urge her, at least otherwise than by indirect allusions and
hints, to admit his addresses; and from even this, seeing that her
repugnance to him was unconquerable, they had latterly abstained
altogether. Notwithstanding Marion's coldness to him, however, and her
dislike of him, which she could not conceal, Maitland continued his
visits, and persevered in his suit, although to all but himself it
seemed an utterly hopeless one. But Marion's conduct in this matter did
not proceed solely from a dislike to Maitland. It was influenced by a
double motive--a repugnance to him, and love for another.

The favoured suitor, whose name was Richard Spalding, was a young man,
the son of a neighbouring farmer, who had everything to recommend him
but wealth, of which he had none. His father was in straitened
circumstances; and their united labours--for they tilled and sowed the
same fields together--were unable to improve them. Indeed, the situation
of the former was almost precisely that of Waterstone. They were
tenants of the same proprietor, and old Spalding was also in
arrears--arrears which he could not pay--to his landlord.

Having given this sketch of the situation in which Marion stood with
regard to affairs of the heart, at the period of our story, we recur to
the scene which that digression interrupted.

After another long and silent pause, broken only by the suppressed sobs
of the poor girl, and at times by heavy and deep-drawn sighs from her
mother, the latter again spoke.

"Oh, my John--my John," she said, "if ye but kent o' this, I'm sure, for
a' that's come and gane yet, ye wad stretch out a helping hand to us in
this hour o' distress!"

"Betsy!" exclaimed her husband, angrily interrupting her, and starting
to his feet with an unwonted energy of manner, "havena I often tell't ye
never to name that ingrate, that undutiful son, in my presence?--and how
comes it that ye have dared to disregard my injunctions, and that at a
time, too, when I'm overwhelmed, rendered desperate, wi' other cares?
How could ye, woman, add to my distress, by naming the base fallow
before me?"

These were harsh words from a father of his own child; but, so far as
circumstances could enable that father to judge, they were not
unmerited. William Waterstone's son--his only son--who had been bred a
millwright, had gone out to the West Indies some five or six years
previous to the period of which we write; and during the last three
years of that time his parents had never heard from him, although they
had learned that he was not only living, but rapidly accumulating a
fortune. A score of letters, at least, his father had written him
through the medium of the mercantile house by which he had been first
sent out (and which kindly undertook not only to have all his letters
forwarded to his son, but offered the same obliging services in the case
of communications from the latter to the former), without ever
receiving any answer; and this was the more unpardonable, that more than
one of these letters contained requests from John Waterstone's father
for a little pecuniary assistance to help him out of his difficulties.

These, however, were equally unattended to with the others; and it is
not, therefore, to be wondered at that old Waterstone should have
charged his son with ingratitude, and considered his conduct undutiful
and unnatural. This was, in truth, as we have shown, his father's
opinion of the young man; but, oh! what can weaken a mother's love? What
can wither the strong and deep-rooted affections of her bosom for the
child of her love? The conduct must be infamous indeed that could do
this.

Mrs Waterstone, although she did allow that her son ought to have at
least written them, yet thought, and, when she dared, spoke, of him with
the most tender regard. For his apparent neglect of them, she said, she
was sure there was some good reason, that would one day be explained to
the satisfaction of them all. What this reason could be she owned she
could not conjecture; but that was a circumstance which did not in the
least shake her faith in its existence. When her husband, therefore, on
the present occasion, upbraided her for naming her son, and accused him
of ingratitude and undutiful conduct, she, as she always did in similar
circumstances, stepped forward with the ready but unsatisfactory defence
alluded to.

"Be patient, guidman, I beseech you," she said--"be patient; and, oh,
man, dinna think sae unkindly o' the puir laddie. He'll be able, I
warrant, to gie a guid reason for a' this when----"

"Let me hear nae mair o't, Betsy," again interrupted William Waterstone.
"We've ither things to think o' enow. Here's ruin staring us in the
face, woman--ruin! ruin! utter ruin!" he repeated, in a tone of the
deepest and most bitter despair. "Naething can avert it. Without a
house to shelter us, as we will sune be, our auld heads maun be exposed
to the winds o' heaven and to the pelting o' the storm."

"Never, never, never!" at this moment suddenly exclaimed Marion, who had
hitherto been sitting, as already described, absorbed in grief, at the
further end of the apartment, with her face buried in her apron. "Never,
never, never!" she exclaimed, rushing towards her father, and throwing
her arms about his neck; "ye shall never be driven to that strait, sae
lang as the means are in my power o' preventing it! Mother, mother, dear
mother," she added--and now turning to the parent she named, and
throwing herself on her knees before her--"I can stand this nae langer!
I'll marry John Maitland, mother, and he'll lend as muckle siller as
'ill tak ye out o' this difficulty. He has often said that he wad help
my faither, if I wad promise to become his wife."

"My bairn, my bairn!" replied her mother, overcome with this instance of
her child's devoted affection; for well she knew the fearful extent of
the sacrifice she had offered to make. "My bairn, my bairn!" she said,
bursting into tears, and clasping her daughter closely in her
arms--"God's blessing be wi' ye for this dutifu conduct to your puir
parents, although it grieves me to the heart, my puir lassie, to see ye
driven by oor necessities to become an unwillin bride. But ye see, my
bairn, there is nae ither way o' savin us frae beggary in our auld
days."

"I ken it, mother--I see it," replied Marion, weeping, and as pale as
death; "and my mind's made up. Onything, onything will I endure rather
than see ye turned oot o' yer ain house, and thrown destitute on the
world."

"A faither's blessin and the blessin o' God be wi' ye, my dochter, for
this!" said her father, now interfering for the first time, and laying
his hand upon her head as she knelt before her mother. "Ye canna but
prosper, my bairn, for such conduct as this; and your marriage, though
in the meantime it mayna seem to you to promise much felicity, maun in
the end be a happy ane. It canna be otherwise. But, Marion," he added,
"I winna let ye mak this sacrifice till a' ither means hae failed me,
and till I find that the factor is really determined to carry his
threats into execution."

At this moment the latch of the outer door was raised, and Richard
Spalding, wholly unaware of the state of matters in William
Waterstone's, suddenly walked into the midst of the sorrowing family;
and great was his surprise on witnessing the scene of disconsolation
which presented itself. He guessed, indeed, in part the cause--for his
father, as has been already said, was also under the ban of the new
factor; but he little dreamed of the resolution to which it had driven
his beloved Marion.

This was now, however, soon to be made known to him. On Richard's
entrance, her father, who, as well as his wife, knew well of the
attachment between the young couple, after hastily saluting him, left
the apartment, and was speedily followed by Marion's mother; their
object being to give their daughter an opportunity of informing her
lover, with her own mouth, of the resolution she had come to regarding
his rival.

On being left to themselves, Richard went up to Marion, who, seated in a
chair, with her pale cheek resting on the back, looked the very image of
hopeless despair. On Richard's first entrance, she had not looked
towards him at all, nor exhibited any other symptom of a consciousness
of his presence. Neither did she yet offer any signs of welcome.
Astonished and alarmed at such unusual conduct, Richard took her
affectionately by the hand, and anxiously inquired what was the matter.
The poor girl burst into tears.

"Marion," said her lover, now greatly agitated and perplexed, "what in
all the earth is wrong? Will you not tell _me_, Marion?"

"O Richard, Richard, do not ask me. I cannot, I will not tell you," said
the distracted girl.

"Then you desire to make me miserable too, Marion," was the reply.

"No, no, Richard; but I cannot tell you what I know will break your
heart, as it has already broken mine. My peace is gone for ever,
Richard, but it has gone in a good cause."

"For Heaven's sake, Marion," said her agonised lover, "tell me, tell me
at once what you mean, and do not torture me longer with this strange
and unintelligible conduct. It's not using him well, Marion, who hopes
to be more to you, one day, than any other person on the face of the
earth."

"Never, Richard!--never, You can never now be more to me than you are at
this moment. That's a' owre, Richard. We maun meet nae mair. I'm gaun to
be the wife o' anither."

"Marion!" said Richard, his face now overspread with a deadly paleness,
and his lips quivering with emotion, "in God's name, what does this
mean? Have I done anything to offend you--anything to change your
opinion of me?"

"No, no, Richard, you have not," said the weeping girl; "but I maun
marry John Maitland, to save my puir father and mother frae ruin--to
save them frae bein thrown on the cauld charity o' the warld in quest o'
their bread."

And she now went on to detail the particulars of the situation in which
they stood, and concluded by mentioning the promise she had made to her
parents to accept of Maitland's addresses.

Poor Spalding stood the very personification of misery and wretchedness
during the recital of these circumstances, that laid prostrate all his
dearest hopes, and wrested from him that happiness which he had fondly
believed was within his grasp. For some time he made no reply to, or
remark on, what had just been communicated to him; but at length, taking
Marion again by the hand.

"Well, Marion," he said, with a strong effort to suppress the emotion
with which he was struggling, "this is dreadful news to me; but I do not
blame you; or, rather, I cannot but commend you for the step you are
going to take, although it be to the destruction of my peace and
happiness in this world. But is there no way of averting this evil? Is
there no way of saving your father but by your----" Here he suddenly
stopped short. His feelings overcame him; and he could not come out with
the two words necessary to finish the sentence; he could not bring
himself to add, "marrying Maitland."

"Nane, nane, Richard," said Marion, who well knew what he would have
said; "there's nae ither way left us--nane, nane, Richard."

"But," replied the latter, "your father said, Marion, you told me, that
he will not ask you to make this sacrifice, until he sees that the
factor is determined to proceed against him, and that there is no other
means of satisfying his demands. Now, as it will be some days before he
can ascertain the former, will ye promise me, Marion, that ye will take
all the time that circumstances will afford you before you commit
yourself further with Maitland? Will you promise me this, Marion?--and,
in the meantime, I'll stir heaven and earth to save you from the fate
that's threatening you."

This promise poor Marion readily gave; and, somewhat comforted by it,
Richard left the house, to try every method he could think of, to avert
the misfortune that threatened him. But, alas! what could he do? Where
was he to raise £150 some odds, which was the amount of William
Waterstone's debt to his landlord? Under the excitation of the moment
during his interview with Marion, and under the blind and bewildering
impulses excited by it, he thought he might, by some means or other,
accomplish it. But, on coming to act on the vague and indefinite notions
on this subject which first presented themselves to him, he found them
burst like soap-bells in his grasp, until even he himself, sanguine as
he was, became convinced that the pursuit was hopeless, and that his
Marion was indeed lost to him for ever.

In the meantime, the dreaded crisis approached. Step after step had been
taken by the factor in the process against William Waterstone, until at
length it arrived at a consummation. His effects were sequestrated, and
a day of sale announced. Still the poor man entertained hopes that the
last and final proceeding would not be had recourse to--that, in short,
no sale would actually take place; and in this desperate belief he had
still delayed committing himself with Maitland regarding his daughter,
although he had dropped some hints to that person of a tendency to
encourage his hopes. From this delusion, however, he was now about to be
roughly awakened. The day of sale arrived, and with it came the
auctioneer; and, as the morning advanced, several persons were seen
hovering about at a little distance. These were intending purchasers,
whose respect for poor Waterstone, and whose sympathy for his unhappy
situation, induced them thus to keep aloof, with the view of saving his
feelings as much as possible, until their purpose there should render it
necessary for them to approach nearer to the melancholy scene.

These appearances were far too serious to leave the slightest ground for
the indulgence of any further hopes from the lenity of the prosecutor;
and William Waterstone felt this. He saw now that the sacrifice which he
had thus delayed till the twelfth hour must be made--that his daughter
must pledge herself to become the wife of John Maitland; and with a
heavy heart he now put on his bonnet to go down to that person, to enter
into a full and final explanation with regard to this matter, and his
own distressed situation. Poor Marion's doom was now, then, about to be
irrevocably sealed. Her father was already at the door, on his way to
fix her destiny, when he was suddenly arrested by a person, wrapped up
in a travelling mantle, and who was about entering the house at the same
moment, seizing him by the hand.

"Father!" exclaimed the apparent stranger.

William Waterstone looked unconsciously for an instant at the person who
addressed him. It was his son.

"John!" said the father, at length, coldly, and returning the former's
eager salutation with marked indifference.

"Yes, John," replied his son, in a tone of surprise at his father's
reception of him; "and I thought you would have been more happy than you
seem to be to have seen him, father?"

"Why should I be happy to see you, John?" said the latter, gravely.
"What have you done for me that I should rejoice in the sight of you?"

"Not much, father, I confess," rejoined his son; "but I did for you what
I could; and it is my intention to do more."

William Waterstone smiled satirically. It was the only reply he
vouchsafed. At this moment, John's mother, who had heard and recognised
his voice, rushed out and enfolded her son in her arms.

"My son--my son!" she exclaimed. "Thank God, I see you once more before
I die! Ye'll explain a' noo. I'm sure, my John, and mak guid your
mother's words."

To her son, part of this address was wholly unintelligible. What
explanation was wanted he could not comprehend; and he therefore merely
said, smiling as he spoke, that if anything in his conduct wanted
explanation he would very readily give it.

"That ye will, my son," said his mother, "to the shame and confusion o'
them that entertained ill thochts o' ye."

"Well, well, mother," replied John, more puzzled than ever--"we'll put
all that to rights, whatever it is, by and by; but, in the meantime,
pray tell me what is the meaning of all this?" And he pointed to the
collection of farming implements and other articles, which had been
placed in front of the house, preparatory to the sale, and which, with
some other no less unequivocal circumstances, but too plainly intimated
what was about to take place.

"The meanin o' that, sir," said his father, sternly, "is very sune
tell't. We are gaun to be roupit out the day for arrear o' rent--that's
a'--a thing very easy understood; and ye're just come in time to see't.
Just in time," he added, bitterly, "to see your father and mother turned
out beggars on the world."

"What! rouped out! beggared!" replied his son, with a look of the utmost
consternation. "Then, surely, father, some great and sudden pecuniary
misfortune must have befallen you; or there has been grievous
mismanagement of some kind or other, to reduce you to this unhappy
state."

"Oh no," said the father, in a dry, sarcastic tone, "nae sudden
misfortune has befa'en me, nor has there been any mismanagement either.
Naething has happened but what ye a' alang kent very weel about. The
arrears o' rent, at least the greater part o' that debt, was standin
against me before ye went abroad; and I suppose ye ken very weel that
the prices o' farm produce hae been fa'in ever since; so that I dinna
see, sir, that ye need be sae very much surprised at my situation as you
seem, or pretend to be."

"I do not pretend, father. I assure you, to be more surprised than I
really am," said his son, "and I think I have some reason. Surely what I
sent you might have kept you out of debt at any rate."

"What _you_ sent me, sir," rejoined his father, sternly: "I should like
to ken what that was." And he again smiled sarcastically. "My troth, my
debts wadna hae been ill to pay, if that could hae dune't."

"And I must say," replied his son, "that they must have been very
considerable, and, I will add, more than they ought, if it could not."

"What do you mean, sirrah?" exclaimed William Waterstone, fiercely.

"I mean, father," replied John, now getting displeased in his turn,
"that the three hundred pounds, which I have been sending you regularly
every year, for the last three years, ought to have placed you in a
better situation than I now find you."

"_You_ been sendin me three hundred pounds every year, for the last
three years!" said his father, with a look of amazement; and then,
suddenly dropping this warmth of expression--"It may be sae, John," he
added, coolly and doubtingly, "and I hope, for yer ain sake, ye speak
truth; but I hae never seen a farthin o't."

"What! not of the money I have been remitting you?"

"Not a penny; but, _if_ ye sent me the money, as ye say, John," he
added, "how comes it that ye never answered ane o' my letters?"

"Your letters, father!" replied the latter. "Why, you have not written
me for the last three years, although I have despatched at least a score
of letters to you in that time, and have never had an answer to one of
them."

"Never saw ane o' your letters," said William Waterstone, dryly.

"This is a most extraordinary and unaccountable business," exclaimed
John.

"Queer aneugh," said his father, coolly, and plainly evincing by his
manner that he did not believe a word of what his son had said to him.

"The money I sent you, father," rejoined the young man, "was transmitted
you through the house of M., P., L., & Co., Glasgow. My letters were
also sent to their care, and how it has happened that neither have
reached you I cannot at all conjecture; but I will see into that matter
immediately. How were your letters to me sent father?" he added.

"Ou, of course, to thae folks, too," replied the latter. "It was yer ain
desire in the last letter I had frae ye."

"So it was, I recollect. Well, we shall have all this explained
presently; but, in the meantime, father, let me know what is the amount
of the debt that is just now pressing on you, that I may discharge it,
and put a stop to these proceedings."

"I'm no sure if we'll need your assistance noo," said his father,
coldly. "Your sister's gaun to be married to John Maitland, and I
believe he'll lend me as muckle siller as 'll clear my feet o' this
mischief, at ony rate."

"What! my sister going to marry old John Maitland!" said her brother, in
amazement. "Impossible! He cannot have been her own free choice."

"I did not say he was," replied his father; "but Marion's a dutifu
child, and would do that and mair to save her father frae ruin. But
there she is comin," he added (pointing to Marion, who was now
approaching the house, from which she had been absent since her
brother's arrival, of which, therefore, she knew nothing), "and ye may
speak to her yersel on the subject."

John ran towards his sister, and clasped her in his arms. She did not
recognise him for a second or two; but when she did, she burst into
tears, and--

"O John, John," she said, "this is a sorrowfu hoose ye hae come to; but
yer faither 'll hae tell't ye a'?"

"He has, Marion; and, amongst the rest, he has told me, what has
surprised me more than all, that you intend marrying old John Maitland."

Marion burst afresh into tears. "It maun he sae, brother," she said--"it
maun be sae. There's nae ither way o' savin my puir faither and mother
frae ruin."

"But there is, though, Marion," replied her brother. "Ye need not now
give your hand where your heart is not, for any such purpose. I have the
means of saving you from the necessity of making this sacrifice, and
gladly shall I employ them. I will pay our father's debts, Marion, and
make you once more a free woman."

We would fain describe the joy--the rapturous, the inexpressible
joy--with which these delightful words filled the bosom of the poor girl
on whose ravished ear they fell; but we are sure that such an attempt
would only interfere with the reader's more lively and vivid
conceptions, and we therefore refrain from it.

On the same day on which these events occurred, John Waterstone, having
previously settled his father's debt to his landlord with those sent to
look after the latter's interest at the intended sale, wrote to the
house through which the money he had transmitted to his father had been
sent, mentioning its non-delivery, and requesting an explanation of the
circumstance.

To this letter Mr Waterstone received, two days afterwards, the
following reply:--

     "SIR,--We have received, with very painful feelings, though not
     with surprise, yours of the 10th instant. The misconduct of our
     junior partner, which has placed us in a similarly distressing
     predicament with several others as with you, has been the cause
     of the gross irregularity of which you demand an explanation.
     Your remittances, together with other moneys to a large amount,
     were appropriated by this person (who has lately absconded) to
     his own use--a practice which we have since discovered he has
     been long addicted to. As we, however, consider ourselves bound
     in honour to make good all such claims as yours--the sums you
     transmitted having been advised to the firm, and the
     responsibility accepted--we beg to inform you that the money
     alluded to will be paid to your order, at our counting-house,
     on demand. We need scarcely remark, that the circumstance above
     mentioned will sufficiently account for the suppression of
     letters of which you also complain.--We are, sir," &c.

This letter John Waterstone lost no time in laying before his father,
whom it at once convinced of his son's veracity, and consequently of the
injustice he had done him. But it was to his mother that this proof of
her son's integrity and dutiful conduct brought the most triumphant joy.

"I was sure my John," she said, "wad never either forget or deceive us;
and weel did I ken, as aften I have said, that it wad a' be
satisfactorily accounted for, and that my laddie wad yet triumph owre a'
his backbiters, and shame them that misdooted him."

We have only now to add, that John's generosity, on the occasion of this
visit to his parents, which was only temporary, was not confined to the
latter, but extended to his sister, on whom he bestowed a portion that
enabled her and Richard Spalding to unite their destinies.

John returned shortly after to the West Indies, where he pursued a
prosperous career for ten years longer, when he came home an independent
man, and spent the remainder of his life in the place of his nativity.



MR SAMUEL RAMSAY THRIVEN:

A TALE OF LOVE AND BANKRUPTCY.


CHAP I.--A WAY OF MAKING MONEY.

All the world knows that Mandeville, the author of the "Fable of the
Bees," and Shaftesbury, the author of the "Characteristics," divided a
great portion of mankind on a question which is now no question at all.
That there are, assuredly, some instances to be met with of rational
bipeds, who exhibit scarcely any traces of a moral sense, and act
altogether upon the principle of selfishness, we do not deny; but this
admission does not bind us to the selfish theory, for the very good
reason, that we hold these creatures to be nothing better than a species
of monsters. Nor do we think the world, with the tendency to self-love
that prevails in it, would have been the better for the want of these
living, walking exemplars of their patron--the devil; for, of a surety,
they show us the fallen creature in all his naked deformity, and make us
hate the principle of evil through the ugly flesh-case in which it
works, and the noisome overt acts it turns up in the repugnant nostrils
of good men. Now, if you are an inhabitant of that scandalous freestone
village that lies near Arthur Seat, and took its name from the
Northumbrian king, Edwin--corrupted, by the conceit of the inhabitants,
into Edin--you will say that we mean something personal in these
remarks; and, very probably, when we mention the name of Mr Samuel
Ramsay Thriven, who, about twenty years after Mr John Neal introduced to
the admiring eyes of the inhabitants of the Scottish metropolis the term
haberdasher, carried on that trade in one of the principal streets of
the city, our intention will be held manifest. And what then? We will
only share the fate, without exhibiting the talent, of Horace, and shall
care nothing if we return his good-humour--a quality of far greater
importance to mankind than even that knowledge "which is versant with
the stars."

Now, this Mr Samuel Ramsay Thriven, who took up, as we have already
signified, the trade designated by the strange appellative introduced by
the said John Neal, was one of those dabblers in morals who endeavour to
make the whole system of morality accord with their own wishes. As to
the moral sense, so strongly insisted for by the noble author of the
"Characteristics," he considered it as a _taste_ something like that for
_vertù_, which a man might have or not have, just as it pleased Dame
Nature or Mr Syntax Pedagogue, but which he could pretend to have as
often and in as great profusion as it pleased himself. It was, he
acknowledged, a very good thing to have, sometimes, about one, but there
were many things in the world far better--such as money, a good house,
good victuals, good clothing, and so forth. It was again, sometimes, a
thing a man might be much better without. It formed a stumbling-block to
prosperity; and when, at the long run, a man had made to it many
sacrifices, and become a beggar, "rich in the virtue of good offices,"
he did not find that it got him a softer bed in an almshouse, or a
whiter piece of bread at the door of the rich. These sentiments were
probably strengthened by the view he took of the world, and especially
of our great country, where there is a mighty crying, and a mighty
printing, about virtue, magnanimity, and honesty, in the abstract, while
there is, probably, less real active honesty than might be found among
the Karomantyns--yea, or the Hottentots or Cherokees. Then, too, it
could not be denied that "riches cover a multitude of sins;" why, then,
should not Mr Thriven strive to get rich?

Upon such a theory did Mr Samuel Thriven propose to act. It had clearly
an advantage over theories in general, insomuch as it was every day
reduced to practice by a great proportion of mankind, and so proved to
be a good workable speculation. That he intended to follow out the
practical part of his scheme with the same wisdom he had exhibited in
choosing his theory of morals, may be safely doubted. Caution, which is
of great use to all men in a densely-populated country, is an
indispensable element in the composition of one who would be rich at the
expense of others. A good-natured man will often allow himself to be
cheated out of a sum which is not greater than the price of his ease;
and there are a great number of such good-natured men in all
communities. It is upon these that clever men operate--without them a
great portion of the cleverest would starve. They are the lambs with
sweet flesh and soft wool, making the plains a paradise for the wolves.
A system of successful operations carried on against these quiet
subjects, for a number of years, might have enabled Mr Samuel Ramsay
Thriven to have retired, with his feelings of enjoyment blunted, and his
conscience quickened, to some romantic spot, where he might have turned
poetical. An idle man is always, to some extent, a poet; and a rogue
makes often a good sentimentalist.

This ought clearly to have been the course which worldly caution should
have suggested as the legitimate working out of the theory of
selfishness. But Mr Thriven was not gifted with the virtue of patience
to the same extent that he was with the spirit of theorising on the
great process of getting rich. He wanted to seize Plutus by a _coup de
main_, and hug the god until he got out of him a liberal allowance. The
plan has been attended with success; but it is always a dangerous one.
The great deity of wealth has been painted lame, blind, and foolish,
because he gives, without distinction, to the undeserving as well as to
the worthy--to the bad often more than to the good. It is seldom his
godship will be coaxed into a gift; and if he is attempted to be forced,
he can use his lame leg, and send the rough worshipper to the devil.
Neither can we say that Mr Thriven's scheme was new or ingenious, being
no other than to "_break_ with the full hand"--a project of great
antiquity in Scotland, and struck at for the first time by the act 1621,
cap. 18. It existed, indeed, in ancient Rome, and was comprehended under
the general term of stellionate, from stelio, a little subtle serpent,
common in Italy. Always in great vogue in our country, it at one time
roused the choler of our judges to such an extent, that they condemned
the culprits either to wear the yellow cap and stockings of different
colours, or be for ever at the mercy of their creditors. But these times
had gone by, and a man might make a very respectable thing of a break,
if he could manage it adroitly enough to make it appear that he had
himself been the victim of misplaced confidence. So Mr Samuel having
given large orders to the English houses for goods, at a pretty long
credit, got himself in debt to an amount proportioned to the sum he
wished to make by his failure. There is no place in the world where a
man may get more easily in debt than in Scotland. We go for a decent,
composed, shrewd, honest people; and, though we are very adequately and
sufficiently hated by the volatile English, whom we so often beat on
their own ground, and at their own weapons, we enjoy a greater share of
their confidence in mercantile matters than their own countrymen.
Vouchsafe to John the privilege of abusing Sawney, and calling him all
manner of hard names, and he will allow his English neck to be placed in
the Scottish noose with a civility and decorum that is just as
commendable as his abuse of our countryman is ungenerous and unmanly. Mr
Thriven's warehouses were accordingly soon filled with goods from both
England and Scotland; and it is no inconsiderable indication of a man's
respectability that he is able to get pretty largely in debt. When a man
is to enter upon the speculation of failing, the step we have now
mentioned is the first and most important preliminary. Debt is the Ossa
from which the successful speculator rolls into the rich vale of Tempe.
There are some rugged rocks in the side of his descent to
independence--such as the examinations under the statutes--that are next
to be guarded against, and the getting over these is a more difficult
achievement than the getting himself regularly constituted a debtor. The
running away of a trusty servant with a hundred pounds, especially if he
has forged the cheque, may be the making of a good speculator in
bankruptcy, because the loss of a thousand or two may be safely laid to
the charge of one who dare not appear to defend himself. The failure and
flight of a relation, to whom one gives a hundred pounds to leave him in
his books a creditor in a thousand, is also a very good mode of
overcoming some of the difficulties of failing; and a clever man, with a
sharp foresight, ought to be working assiduously for a length of time in
collecting the names of removing families, every one of whom will make a
good "bad debtor." These things were not unknown to Mr Thriven; but
accident did what the devil was essaying to do for him, or rather,
speaking in a more orthodox manner, the great enemy, taking the form of
the mighty power yclept Chance, set the neighbouring uninsured premises,
belonging to Miss Fortune, the milliner, in a blaze; and a large back
warehouse, in which there was scarcely anything save Mr Thriven's
ledgers, was burned so effectually, that no person could have told
whether they were full of Manchester goods or merely atmospheric air of
the ordinary weight--that is, thirty-one grains to a hundred cubic
inches.

When a respectable man wishes ardently for a calamity, he arrays his
face in comely melancholy, because he has too much respect for public
decorum to outrage the decencies of life. Mr Samuel Ramsay Thriven
accordingly _looked_ the loss he had sustained with a propriety that
might have done honour to a widower between whom and a bad wife the cold
grave has been shut for the space of a day, and then set about writing
circulars to his creditors, stating that, owing to his having sustained
a loss through the burning of a warehouse where he had deposited three
thousand pounds' worth of goods, he was under the necessity of stopping
payment. No attorney ever made more of letter-writing than Mr Samuel did
on that day: in place of three shillings and fourpence for two pages,
every word he penned was equal to a pound.


CHAP. II.--THE INSCRIPTION.

"Well," said Mr Samuel Thriven, after he had retired to his house, "this
has been hard and hot work; but a man has a satisfaction in doing his
duty, and that satisfaction may not be diminished by a bottle of port."

Now the port was as good as Ofleys; and Mr Thriven's thirst was nothing
the less for the fire of the previous night, which he had done his
utmost not to extinguish, and as he was in good spirits, he, like those
people in good health who, to make themselves better, begin to take in a
load of Morrison's pills, drew another cork, with that increased sound
which belongs peculiarly to second bottles, and in a short time was well
through with his potation. "How much, now," said he, as he pretended, in
a knowing way, to look for a dead fly in the glass, which he held up
between him and the candle, shutting, in the operation, the left eye,
according to the practice of connoisseurs--"how much may I make of this
transanction in the way of business?--Let me see--let me see."

And, as he accordingly tried to see, he took down from the mantelpiece
an ink-bottle and a pen, and, having no paper within reach--he laid hold
of a small book, well known to serious-minded people, and which was no
other, in fact, than the "Pilgrim's Progress." But it was all one to Mr
Samuel Ramsay Thriven, in the middle of his second bottle, what the book
was, provided it had a blank leaf at the beginning or end thereof. It
might, indeed, have been the "Louping-on-Stone for Heavy-Bottomed
Believers," or the "Economy of Human Life," or the "Young Man's Best
Companion," or "A New Way to Pay Old Debts;" or any other book or
brochure in the wide republic of letters which the wisdom or wit of man
has ever produced. It may verily be much doubted if he knew himself what
book it was.

"Well, let me see," he said again, as he seized the pen, and held the
blank leaf open before him. "The three thousand pounds lost by the fire
is a very good item; I can easily make a very good list of very bad
debts to the extent of five hundred pounds; I have three thousand of
good banknotes in the house; and if I get off with a dividend of five
shillings in the pound, which I can pay out of my stock, I may clear by
this single transaction, in the way of business, as much as may make me
comfortable for the whole period of my natural life."

And having made some monologue of this kind, he began to jot down
particulars; laying on the table his pen, occasionally, to take another
glass of the port wine, and resuming his operation again, with that
peculiar zest which accompanies a playfulness of the fancy on a subject
of darling interest. So he finished his arithmetical operation and
dream, just about the time when the wine finished him; fell sound
asleep; and awoke about two in the morning, with a headache, and no more
recollection of having committed his secret to the blank leaf of the
"Pilgrim's Progress," than if he had never written a word thereon at
all.


CHAP. III.--THE FACING OF CREDITORS.

Of all men in the world, a bankrupt requires to wear a lugubrious look.
It is proper, too, that he should keep the house, hold out the flag of
distress, and pretend that he is an unfortunate mortal, who has been the
prey either of adverse fate or designing rogues. Of all this Mr Thriven
was well aware as ever man could be; no man could have acted the dyvour
better than he, even though he had been upon the pillory, with the
bankrupt's yellow cap on his head. Creditors kept calling upon him--some
threatening imprisonment, and some trying to cajole him out of a
preference; but Mr Samuel was a match for them all.

"It is all very well to look thus concernedly," said Mr Horner, a large
creditor; "but will this pay the two hundred pounds you owe me?"

"Would to heaven that it might!" replied Mr Thriven, drawing his hand
over his eyes; "but, alas! it is the peculiar feature of the misfortune
of bankruptcy, that a man who has been himself ruined--ay, burned out of
his stock by a fire that he had no hand in raising, and thus made a
beggar of, probably for ever--receives not a single drop of sympathy in
return for all the tears he sheds for his unfortunate creditors. Your
case concerns me, sir, most of all; and, were it for nothing in the wide
world but to make up your loss, I will strive with all my energies, even
to the urging of the blood from the ends of my laborious fingers, and to
the latest period of a wretched existence."

And Mr Horner being mollified, he was next attacked by Mr Wrench.

"It is but fair to inform you, sir," said the vulture-faced dealer in
ginghams, "that I intend to try the effect of the prison upon you."

"That is because the most wicked of nature's elements-fire--has rendered
me a beggar," replied Mr Samuel, rubbing again his eyes. "It is just the
way of this world; when fate has rendered a man unfortunate, his
fellow-creature, man, falls upon him to complete his wretchedness; even
like the creatures of the forest, who fall upon the poor stag that has
been wounded by the fall from the crags, man is ever cruellest to him
who is already down. Yet you, who threaten to put me in jail, are the
creditor of all others whose case concerns me most. The feeling for my
own loss is nothing to what I suffer for yours; and I will never be
satisfied till, by hard labour, I make up to you what I have been the
unwilling and unconscious instrument of depriving you of."

And having got quit of Wrench, who declared himself not satisfied,
though his threat, as he departed, was more feebly expressed, he was
accosted by Mr Bairnsfather.

"Your face, sir, tortures me," said Mr Samuel, turning away his head,
"even as one is tortured by the ghost of the friend he has murdered with
a bloody and relentless hand. All my creditors put together do not
furnish me matter of grief equal to your individual case. Do not I know
that you are the father of ten children, whom probably I have ruined.
Yet am I not also ruined, and all by a misfortune whose origin is beyond
the ken of mortals?"

"You have spoken a melancholy truth, Mr Thriven," replied the father;
"but will that truth feed my children?"

"No, sir; but I will feed them, when once discharged under a
sequestration," rejoined Mr Thriven. "Your case above all the others, it
shall be my care to assuage. Nor night nor day shall see my energies
relaxed, till this wrong shall be made right."

"Our present necessities must be relieved," rejoined "the parent."
"Could you not give us a part of our debt, in the meantime."

"And be dishonest in addition to being unfortunate!" ejaculated Mr
Samuel. "That, sir, is the worst cut of all. No, no. I may be
imprisoned, I may be fed on bread and water, I may be denied the benefit
of the act of grace, but I shall never be forced to give an undue
preference to one creditor over another. You forget, Mr Bairnsfather,
that a bankrupt may have a conscience."

After much more of such converse, Mr Bairnsfather retired. And the next
who came for the relief which she was not destined to receive, was Widow
Mercer.

"This is a dreadful business, Mr Thriven," said she, as she ran forward
in the confusion of unfeigned anguish.

"Dreadful, indeed, my good lady," answered he; "and who can feel it more
than myself--that is, after you."

"You are a man, and I am a woman," rejoined the disconsolate creditor;
"a woman who has struggled, since the death of her good husband, to
support herself and a headless family, who, but for their mother's
industry, might have, ere now, been reduced to seek their bread as the
boon of pity. But ah, sir, it cannot be that you are to class me with
the rest of your creditors. They are men, and may make up their losses
in some other way. To me the loss of fifty pounds would be total ruin.
Oh, sir, you will!--I know by that face of sympathy, you will make me an
exception. Heaven will bless you for it; and my children will pray for
you to the end of our lives."

"All this just adds to my misery," replied Mr Samuel; "and that misery,
Heaven knows, is great enough already. Your case is that of the mother
and the widow; and what need is there for a single word to tell me that
it stands apart from all the others. But, madam, were I to pay your
debt, do not you see that both you and I would be acting against the
laws of our country. What supports me, think ye, under my misfortune,
but the consciousness of innocence. Now, you would cruelly take away
from me that consciousness, whereby, for the sake of a fifty-pound note,
you would render me miserable here, and a condemned man hereafter. A
hotter fire, of a verity, there is than that which burned up my stock.
But I am bound to make amends for the loss I have brought upon you; and
you may rest assured that, as soon as I am discharged, I will do my best
for you and your poor bereaved sons and daughters."

And thus Mr Thriven managed these importunate beings, termed creditors,
in a manner that he, doubtless, considered highly creditable to himself,
in so far as he thereby spread more widely the fact that he had been
ruined by no fault of his own, at the same time that he proved himself
to be a man of feeling, justice, and sentiment. Meanwhile, his agent, Mr
Sharp, was as busy as ever an attorney could be, in getting out a
sequestration, with the indispensable adjunct of a personal protection,
which the lords very willingly granted upon the lugubrious appeal, set
forth in the petition, that Mr Thriven's misfortunes were attributable
to the element of fire. A fifty-pound note, too, sent his shopman, Mr
Joseph Clossmuns, over the Atlantic; and, the coast being clear, Mr
Thriven went through his examinations with considerable eclat.


CHAP. IV.--THE WINDFALL.

"These men," said Mr Thriven, after he got home to dinner, "have worried
me so by their questions, that they have imposed upon me the necessity
of taking some cooling liquor to allay the fervour of my blood. I must
drink to them, besides, for they were, upon the whole, less severe than
they might have been; and a bottle of cool claret will answer both ends.
And now," he continued, after he drank off a bumper to the long lives of
his creditors--"the greatest part of my danger being over, I can see no
great risk of my failing in getting them to accept a composition of five
shillings in the pound. But what then? I have no great fancy to the
counter. After all, a haberdasher is at best but a species of
man-milliner; and I do no see why I should not, when I get my discharge
in my pocket, act the gentleman as well as the best of them. All that is
necessary is to get the devout Miss Angelina M'Falzen, who regenerates
the species by distributing good books, to consent to be my wife. She
has a spare figure, a sharp face, and a round thousand. Her fortune
will be a cover to my idleness; and then I can draw upon the sum I have
made by my failure, just as occasion requires."

At the end of this monologue, a sharp broken voice was heard in the
passage; and Mr Samuel Thriven's bottle of claret was, in the twinkling
of an eye, replaced by a jug of cool spring water.

"Ah, how do you do, my clear Miss M'Falzen?" cried Mr Samuel, as he rose
to meet his devout sweetheart.

"Sir," responded the devout distributor of tracts, stiffly and coldly,
"you are in far better spirits than becomes one who is the means of
bringing ruin on so many families. I expected to have found you contrite
of heart, and of a comely sadness of spirits and seriousness of look."

"And yet I am only feasting on cold water," replied Samuel, letting the
muscles of his face fall, as he looked at the jug. "But you know, Miss
Angelina, that I am innocent of the consequences of the fire, and, when
one has a clear conscience, he may be as happy in adversity over a cup
of water, as he may be in prosperity over a bottle of claret."

"A pretty sentiment, Mr Thriven--la! a beautiful sentiment," replied
Miss Angelina; "and satisfied as I am of your purity, let me tell you
that our intercourse shall not, with my will, be interrupted by your
misfortune. I would rather, indeed, feel a delight in soothing you under
your affliction, and administering the balm of friendship to the heart
that is contrite, under the stroke which cannot be averted."

"And does my Angelina," cried Samuel, "regard me with the same kindness
and tenderness in my present reduced circumstances, as when I was
engaged in a flourishing trade, which might have emboldened me to hope
for a still more intimate, ay, and sacred connection?"

"Mr Thriven," replied the other, gravely, "I have called in behalf of
Mrs Mercer." Samuel's face underwent some considerable change. "I have
called in behalf of Mrs Mercer, who has reported to me some sentiments
stated by you to her, of so beautiful and amiable a character, and so
becoming a Christian, that I admire you for them. You promised to do
your utmost, after you are discharged, to make amends to her and her
poor family for the loss she will sustain by your bankruptcy. Ah, sir,
that alone proves to me that you are an honest, innocent, and merely
unfortunate insolvent; and to show you that I am not behind you in
magnanimity, I have paid her the fifty pounds wherein you were indebted
to her, and got an assignation to her debt. You may pay me when you
please; and, meanwhile, I will accept of the composition you intend to
offer to your creditors."

"Fifty pounds off her tocher," muttered Samuel between his teeth, and
then took a drink of the cold water, in the full memory of the claret.

"It scarcely beseems a man," said he, "to be aught but a silent
listener, when his praise is spoken by one he loves and respects. But,
is it possible, Miss M'Falzen, that my misfortune has not changed those
feelings--those--excuse me, Miss Angelina--those intentions with which,
I had reason to believe, you regarded me."

And, with great gallantry, he seized the fair spinster round the waist,
as he had been in the habit of doing before he was a bankrupt, to show,
at least, that he was now no bankrupt in affection.

"To be plain with you, sir," replied she, wriggling herself out of his
hands, "my intention once was to wait until I saw whether you would come
unscathed and pure out of the fiery ordeal; but, on second thoughts, I
conceived that this would be unfair to one whom I had always looked upon
as an honest man, though, probably, not so seriously-minded a Christian
as I could have wished; therefore," she added, smiling--yet no smiling
matter to Samuel--"I have, you see, trusted you fifty pounds--a pretty
good earnest--he! he!--that my heart is just where it was."

Mr Samuel Ramsay Thriven kissed Miss Angelina M'Falzen.

"But oh, sir," she added, by way of protest, "I hope and trust that not
one single spot shall be detected in your fair fame and reputation, and
that you will come forth out of trial as unsullied in the eyes of good
men, as you were pure in the estimation of one who thus proves for you
her attachment."

"Never doubt it," replied Mr Samuel. "Innocence gives me courage and
confidence."

He placed, theatrically, his hand on his heart.

"And what think you," added Miss Angelina, "of John Bunyan's book, which
I lent you, and which I now see lying here? Is it not a devout
performance--an extraordinary allegory? How much good I do by that kind
of books! Ha, by the by, Mrs Bairnsfather, good creature, wishes to read
it. So I shall just put it in my pocket. To be plain with you, she is
much cast down, poor creature, by the loss her husband has sustained
through your involuntary failure; and I have said that she will find
much comfort in the 'Pilgrim's Progress.'"

"A staunch book, madam," replied Samuel, seriously--"an extraordinary
allegory, worth a piece of the vellum of the old Covenant. I have
derived great satisfaction and much good from it. I have no doubt it
will support her, as it has done me, under our mutual affliction."

"Oh, how I do love to hear you talk that way," replied Miss Angelina.
"It is so becoming your situation. When do you think you will get a
discharge? I will answer for Mr Bairnsfather agreeing to the
composition; and you know I am now a creditor myself in fifty pounds. Of
course you have my vote; but you will tell me all about it afterwards.
Good-day, Mr Thriven."

"Good-day, Miss M'Falzen."

The which lady was no sooner out, than was the bottle of claret. In a
few minutes more Mr Thriven was laughing over his replenished glass, as
totally oblivious of the secret carried away by his lover, on the blank
leaf of the good old tinker's book, as he was on that night when he made
free with the two bottles of port as good as Ofleys.

"The matter looks well enough," said he. "I can make no manner of doubt
that my composition will be accepted; and then, with the two thousand
five hundred, at least, that I will make of my bankruptcy, and the round
thousand possessed by Miss Angelina M'Falzen, I can perform the part of
a walking gentleman on the great stage of the world."

"Is Mr Thriven within?" he now heard asked at the door.

"Ho, it is Sharp!" muttered he, as he shoved the bottle and the glass
into a recess, and laid again hold of the water-jug.

"Water, Thriven!" cried the attorney, as he bounded forward, and seized
the bankrupt by the hand. "Water! and Mrs Grizel M'Whirter of Cockenzie
dead, of a dead certainty, this forenoon; and you her nephew, and a will
in her drawers, written by Jem Birtwhistle, in your favour, and her
fortune ten thousand; and the never a mortal thought the old harridan
had more than a five hundred."

"The devil a drop!" cried Mr Samuel Thriven. "The devil a drop of water;
for, have I not in this press a half bottle of claret, which I laid past
there that day of the fire, and never had the courage to touch it since.
But _me_ her heir! Ho, Mr Joseph Sharp, you are, of a verity, fooling a
poor bankrupt, who has not a penny in the world after setting aside his
composition of five shillings in the pound. _Me_ her heir! Why, I was
told by herself that I was cut off with a shilling; and you must say it
seriously ere I believe a word on't."

"I say it as seriously," replied the writer, "as ever you answered a
homethrust to-day in the sheriff's office, as to the amount of stock you
lost by the burning of your premises--as sure as a decree of the
Fifteen. I say your loss had made her repent; so come away with the
claret."

Mr Thriven emptied the whole of the half bottle, at one throw, into a
tumbler.

"Drink, thou pink of an attorney!" said he, and then fell back into his
chair, his mouth wide open, his eyes fixed on the roof, and his two
hands closed in each other, as if they had been two notes for five
thousand each.

"Are you mad, Mr Thriven?" cried Sharp, after he had bolted the whole
tumbler of claret.

"Yes!" answered Mr Samuel Ramsay Thriven.

"Have you any more of this Bordeaux water in the house?"

"Yes!" answered Mr Thriven. "Open that lockfast" (pointing
to a press), "and drink till you are only able to shout
'M'Whirter'--'Cockenzie'--'Thriven'--'ten thousand'--'hurra!'--and never
let a word more come out of you, till you fall dead drunk on the floor."

The first part of the request, at least, was very quickly obeyed, and
two bottles were placed on the table, one of which the attorney bored in
an instant, and had a good portion of it rebottled in his stomach by the
time that Mr Thriven got his eyes taken off the roof of the chamber.

"Hand me half-a-tumbler!" cried he, "that I may gather my senses, and
see the full extent of my misfortune."

"Misfortune!" echoed Sharp.

"Ay!" rejoined Samuel, as he turned the bottom of the tumbler to the
roof. "Why did Grizel M'Whirter die, sir, until I got my discharge?"

"Ah, sir!" replied Sharp, on whom the wine was already beginning to
operate, "you have thus a noble opportunity of being the architect of a
reputation that might be the envy of the world. You can now pay your
creditors in full--twenty shillings in the pound, and retain five
thousand to yourself, with the character of being that noblest work of
nature--an honest man.'

"When a thing is utterly beyond one's reach," rejoined Samuel, looking,
with a wry face, right into the soul of the attorney, "how beautiful it
appears."

Sharp accepted coolly the cut, because he had claret to heal it,
otherwise he would have assuredly knocked down Mr Samuel Thriven.

"I beg your pardon, Mr Sharp!" continued his friend; "but I felt a
little pained, sir, at the high-flown expression of the great good that
awaits me, as if I were not already conscious of being, and known to be,
that noblest work of nature. The cut came from you, Mr Sharp, and I only
returned it. All I regret, sir, is, that my aunt did not live till I got
my discharge, because then, not being bound to pay my creditors one
farthing, I might have paid them in full, without obligation at all, and
thereby have proved myself what I am--a _generous_ man. No more of the
claret. You must away with me to Cockenzie, to see that the repositories
are sealed, and the will safe."

"By my faith, I forgot that!" replied Sharp; "a pretty good sign that,
if you are a generous man, I am not a selfish one. We had better," he
added, "let the claret alone till we return from Cockenzie. What think
you?"

Now Samuel had already told Sharp that he was to have no more of the
wine; and the question of the attorney, which was a clear forestaller,
would have angered any man who was not an heir (five minutes old) of
ten thousand. But Samuel knew better than to quarrel with the attorney
at that juncture; so he answered him in the affirmative; and, in five
minutes afterwards, the heir and the lawyer were in a coach, driving off
to Cockenzie. The bankrupt was, in a few minutes more, in a dream--the
principal vision of which was himself in the act of paying his creditors
in full with their own money, and earning a splendid reputation for
honesty. The sooner he performed the glorious act, the greater credit he
would secure by it; his name would be in the "Courant" and "Mercury,"
headed by the large letters--"Praiseworthy instance of honesty coming
out, in full strength, from the ordeal of fire."

"What has Miss Angelina M'Falzen been doing at the house of Mrs
Bairnsfather?" cried Sharp, as he turned from the window of the carriage
(now in the Canongate) to the face of Samuel, whose eyes were fixed by
the charm of his glorious hallucination.

"Lending her the 'Pilgrim's Progress!'" answered Samuel, as he started
from his dream.

Now Sharp could not for the life of him understand this ready answer of
his friend, for he had put the query to awaken him from his dream, and
without the slightest hope of receiving a reply to a question which
savoured so much of the character of questions in general; so he left
him to his dream, and, in a short time, they were at Cockenzie.


CHAP. V.--THE TEA-PARTY.

"Well, my dear," said Mr Bairnsfather to his wife, when he came home to
tea on that same afternoon of which we have now been narrating the
incidents, "I hope you are getting over our losses; yet I have no very
good news for you to-day--for all that Thriven intends to offer of
dividend is five shillings in the pound."

"It is but a weary world this we live in," said the disconsolate wife.
"We are all pilgrims; and there is for each of us some slough of
despond, through which we must struggle to the happy valley."

"What, ho!" rejoined the husband; "I have come home to tea, and you are
giving me a piece of Bunyan. Come, lay down your book, for Mr Wrench and
Mr Horner are to be here to get some of your souchong."

"And I," replied the good-wife, "asked Miss Angelina M'Falzen to come
back and get a cup with us. I could not do less to the devout creature;
for she took the trouble of going to Mr Thriven's to-day, and getting
from him the 'Pilgrim's Progress,' that she might bring it to me, to
reconcile me to the evils of life, and, among the rest, the loss which
we have sustained by her friend's failure."

"Poh! I hate all 'Pilgrim's-Progress'-reading insolvents!" rejoined the
husband, taking the book out of his wife's hands. "Go, love, and get
ready the tea, while I sojourn with the Elstow tinker in the valley of
humiliation, out of which a cup of China brown stout and some converse
will transport me to the 'house beautiful.'"

And Mr Bairnsfather, while his wife went to prepare tea, and his many
children were dispersed here and there and everywhere, got very rapidly
into "Vanity Fair," of the which, being somewhat aweary, as he said,
with a yawn, he turned the leaves over and over, and at last fixed his
eyes on the leaf that had once been, though it was now no longer, blank.
The awl of the Elstow tinker himself never could have gone with greater
determination through the leather of a pair of bellows, than did Mr
Bairnsfather's eye seem to penetrate that written page. Like the seer of
the vision of a ghost in the night, he drew his head back, and he
removed it forwards, and he shut his eyes, and opened his eyes, and
rubbed his eyes; and the more he did all this, the more he was at a loss
to comprehend what the writing on the said blank leaf was intended to
carry to the eyes of mortals. It was of the handwriting of Mr Samuel
Ramsay Thriven, for a certainty--he could swear to it; for the bill he
had in his possession--and whereby he would lose three-fourth parts of
two hundred pounds--was written in the same character. What _could_ it
mean?

"What _can_ it mean?" he said, again and again.

"How should I, if you, who are a cleverer man, do not know, Mr
Bairnsfather," said Mr Wrench, who was standing at his back, having
entered in the meantime. "I have read the 'Pilgrim's Progress,' which
Mrs B. says you are reading, more than once, and fairly admit that there
are obscure passages in it. But here comes Mr Horner, who can perhaps
unravel the mystery, if you can point out what limb of the centipede
allegory it is which appears to you to have a limp."

"By my faith, it is in the tail," said Mr Bairnsfather, as he still
bored his eyes into the end of the book.

"Let me see the passage," said Mr Horner.

And all the three began to look at the writing, which set forth the
heads and particulars of Mr Samuel Thriven's gain by his bankruptcy.

"A very good progress for a pilgrim," said Mr Horner; and they looked at
each other knowingly, and winked their six eyes, and nodded their three
heads.

Miss M'Falzen and the tea came in at this moment. The three creditors
were mute, and the devout spinster was talkative. Mrs Bairnsfather then
filled up and handed round the tea-cups (they sat all close to the
table), and her husband handed round to his two friends the book.

"What an interest that book _does_ produce," said Miss Angelina,
apparently piqued by the attention shown to the genius of the tinker.

"Come, now, Miss Angelina," said Mrs Bairnsfather, "confess that that
copy produces no small interest in yourself, considering the hands it
was in to-day."

"Fie! fie, ma'am!" rejoined the blushing spinster. "How could the touch
of a man's fingers impart a charm to mere paper. If Mr Thriven had
appended some pretty piece of devout or poetical sentiment to it, why,
you know, that would have made all the difference in the world, ma'am.
He is really an excellent man, Mr Thriven; though we have all suffered
in consequence of his loss, yet, I daresay, we all feel for his
unmerited misfortune."

The three creditors were too much absorbed in Bunyan even to smile.


"When did you lend this copy to Mr Thriven?" inquired Mr Wrench; and the
two others fixed their eyes, filled with awful import, on the face of
the devout spinster.

"Just the day before the fire," replied she; "and ah, sir! how delighted
I am that I did it! for he assures me that it has sustained him
wonderfully in his affliction."

The three men smiled, rose simultaneously, and retired to a parlour,
taking Bunyan with them. Their looks were ominous; and Mrs Bairnsfather
could not, for the world, understand the mystery. After some time, they
returned, and looked more ominously than before.

"It is worth three thousand pounds, if it is worth a penny," said Mr
Horner, seriously.

"Every farthing of it," rejoined Mr Wrench. "The most extraordinary book
I ever saw in my life."

"An exposition miraculous, through the agency of Heaven," added Mr
Bairnsfather.

Now all this time their tea was cooling, and the hostess examined and
searched the eyes of her husband and guests. Have they all got inspired
or mad, thought she; but her thought produced no change, for the men
still looked and whispered, and shook their heads, and nodded, and
winked, and left their tea standing, till she began to think of the
state of the moon.

"How delighted I am," ejaculated Miss M'Falzen; "for I never saw such
an effect produced by the famous allegory in any family into which I
ever introduced it. You see the effect of agitation in devout matters,
Mrs Bairnsfather."

"You know not half the effect it has produced on us, ma'am," said Mr
Horner. "It has electrified us--so much so, indeed, that we cannot
remain longer to enjoy your excellent society. You will, therefore,
ladies, excuse us if we swallow our tea cleverly, and go to promulgate
in the proper quarters the information afforded us by this wonderful
production."

"The sooner we are away the better," added Mr Wrench, drinking off his
cup. "We must call a private meeting, and lay it secretly before them."

"Certainly," added Mr Bairnsfather; "and you, Miss M'Falzen, authorise
us to tell the peregrinations of the book--into whose hands it has
been--and how it came here."

"Bless you, sir!" cried the devout spinster; while Mrs Bairnsfather kept
staring at her husband and guests, unable to solve the strange mystery,
"you do not know a tithe of the good that this little book has achieved.
It has been in half the houses in the Cowgate and Canongate. It is
relished by the poor, and sought after by the rich; it mends the heart,
improves the understanding, and binds up the wounds of those that are
struck by the hands of the archers. Oh! I agitate in the good work
mightily with it, and others of the same class; and may all success
attend your efforts, also, in so excellent a cause. Call meetings by all
means, read, expound, examine, exhort, entreat, and, hark ye, take Mr
Samuel Thriven with you, for his heart is in the cause of the
improvement of his fellow-creatures, and he knows the value of the
allegory of the devout tinker of Elstow.

"We cannot do without Mr Thriven," replied Mr Bairnsfather, with a
smile; and while Mrs Bairnsfather was calling out to them to take
another cup, and explain to her the meaning of their conduct, the
creditors rose all together, and, taking their hats and Bunyan, were on
the point of leaving the room, in great haste and manifest excitement,
when the door opened, and the soft voice of Widow Mercer saluted them.

"Have you heard the news?" said she.

"Does it concern Mr Thriven?" replied more than one.

"Yes, to be sure it does," rejoined she. "We will all now get full
payment of our debts; what think ye of that, sirs?"

"Hush, hush," said Mr Bairnsfather, in the ear of the widow. "Say
nothing of the 'Pilgrim's Progress.' You know Miss M'Falzen is a friend
of Mr Thriven's."

"The 'Pilgrim's Progress!'" ejaculated the widow.

"Alas! he is, of a verity, mad," rejoined Mrs Bairnsfather.

"The 'Pilgrim's Progress,'" again cried Mrs Mercer.

"Tush, we knew all about it," whispered Mr Wrench. "You also have seen
the book?"

"Yes," replied the widow, "I have, as who hasn't? but Lord bless
me!"--and she whispered in his ear--"what, in the name of wonder, has
the 'Pilgrim's Progress' to do with Mr Thriven having got ten thousand
pounds left him by Mrs Grizel M'Whirter."

The whisper was communicated to the two other creditors by Mr Wrench.
The three merchants, stimulated at the same moment by the same impulse
of joy, laid hold of the good widow, and whirled her like a top round
the room, snapping their fingers the while, and exhibiting other
perfectly innocent demonstrations of gladness.

"The most extraordinary method of proselytising," said the spinster,
"that I, who have carried on the trade of mending the species for many
years, have ever yet seen."

"It is all beyond my poor wits together," added the wife.

And beyond her poor wits the creditors allowed it to remain; for they
immediately went forth upon their intended mission. In some hours
afterwards, accordingly, there was a secret meeting in the "White
Horse," not less dangerous to Mr Samuel Thriven than was that held in
the Trojan one to old Troy.


CHAP. VI.--THE PAYMENT.

Now all this time, while Mr Thriven's creditors were in the "White
Horse," he himself was in heaven; for Sharp and he having found all
right at Cockenzie, returned, and sat down to finish the claret which
had been forestalled by the attorney before setting out. They resolved
upon consigning Mrs Grizel M'Whirter to the cold earth a day sooner than
custom might have warranted; and the reason for this especial care was
simply that Mr Samuel wished, with all the ardour inspired by the
Bordeaux waters, to make a grand and glorious display of his honesty, by
calling all his creditors together, and paying them principal and
interest--twenty shillings in the pound. They even, at this early
period, set about making a draft of the circular letter which was to
announce the thrilling intelligence.

"Heavens! what a commotion this will produce among the trade!" said
Samuel, as he threw himself back in his chair, and fixed his enchanted
eye on Sharp's copy. "It will electrify them; and, sir, the editors of
the newspapers are bound, as patrons of public virtue, to set it forth
as an example to others, to induce them to do the same in time coming.
And now, since we have discussed so much business and claret, we will
retire to our beds; I to enjoy the satisfaction of having resolved on a
noble action, and you the hope of making a few six-and-eightpences by
the death of Grizel M'Whirter of Cockenzie."

"_A few!_" cried Sharp, in an attorney's heroics. "You will see, when
you count them, I am not less honest or generous than yourself."

The friends thereupon separated, to enjoy in their beds the two
pleasures incident to their peculiar situations.

At the end of the period--less by one day than the customary time of
corpses being allowed to remain on the face of the earth--Mrs Grizel
M'Whirter was buried; and as her will contained a specific assignation
to the greater part of her money, the same was in a day or two
afterwards got hold of by Mr Thriven, and out went the round of
circulars to the creditors, announcing that on the following Thursday,
Mr Thriven would be seated in his house, ready to pay all his creditors
their debts, and requesting them to attend and bring with them their
receipts. Among these circulars was one to Miss Angelina M'Falzen--the
very woman he had promised, before he succeeded to Mrs Grizel
M'Whirter's fortune, to make a wife of; a pretty plain proof that now,
when he had become rich, he intended to shake off the devout spinster
who had attempted to reform him by lending him the allegory of the
Tinker of Elstow. The eventful day at length arrived, when Mr Thriven
was to enjoy the great triumph he had panted for--namely to pay the
creditors in full every farthing, with their own money; and at the hour
appointed a considerable number arrived at his house, among whom not a
few knew, as well as they did the contents of their own Bibles, the
nefarious device of the haberdasher. When the creditors were seated--

"It ill becomes a man," said Mr Thriven, affecting a comely modesty--"it
ill becomes one who resolves merely to do an act of ordinary justice, to
take credit to himself for the possession of uncommon honesty.
Therefore, I say, away with all egotistical assumption of principles,
which ought to belong to a man, merely (as we say in trade), as part and
parcel of humanity; for, were it a miracle to be honest, why should we
not tolerate dishonesty, which yet is, by the voice of all good men,
condemned and put down. The debts due to you I incurred, why then should
I not pay them? It makes not a _nail_ of difference that I lost
three-fourths of the amount thereof by fire; because, what had you to do
with the fire? _You_ were not the incendiaries. No; the fault lay with
me; I should have insured my stock, in gratitude for the credit with
which you honoured me. It is for these reasons that I now disdain to
take any credit to myself for coming thus cleverly forward to do you an
act of justice, which the will of Heaven has put in my power, by the
demise of that lamented woman, Mrs Grizel M'Whirter, and which you could
by law have forced me to do, though, probably, not so soon as I now
propose to do of my own free will and accord."

Mr Thriven paused, for a burst of applause; and Mr Bairnsfather, with a
smile on his face, stood up.

"It is all very well," said he, glancing to his friends, "for Mr Thriven
to pretend that no merit attaches to one who acts in the noble and
generous way he has resolved to follow on this occasion. Every honest
act deserves applause, were it for nothing else in the world than to
keep up the credit of honesty. No doubt we might have compelled Mr
Thriven to pay us out of the money to which he has succeeded, and to
this extent we may admit his plea of no merit; but the readiness, if not
precipitancy, he has exhibited on the measure, is not only in itself
worthy of high commendation, but, by a reflex effect, it satisfies us
all of that of which we probably were not very sceptical, that his
failure was an honest one, and that he is not now making a display of
paying us out of any other money than his own."

"Shall we not accord to these sentiments of our brother creditor?" said
Mr Wrench, rising with great seriousness. "How seldom is it, in the
ordinary affairs of life, that we find the true Mr Greatheart of the
'Pilgrim's Progress!' But when we do find him, shall we not say to him,
let him have his reward--and what shall that reward be? Empty praise?
No! Mr Thriven needs not that, because he has the voice of conscience
sounding within him--far more musical, I deem, to the ear of honesty
than the hollow notes of external applause. A piece of plate? Very good
for praise-devouring politicians to place on the table when the clique
is carousing and settling the affairs of the state, but altogether
unsuitable for the gratification of meek, self-denied, retiring honesty.
A book of morals? What say ye to that, friends? I throw it out merely as
a hint."

"And I second the suggestion," said Mr Horner, "with the amendment, that
there shall be an _inscription on a blank leaf_, setting forth in detail
the merits of the individual; and where could we find a better than the
allegory of the progress of the pilgrim, written by the tinker of
Elstow?"

A round of applause, fully suitable to the appetite of Mr Samuel,
followed Mr Horner's amendment. The process of payment commenced, and
was completed to the satisfaction of all parties; and when the creditors
went away, Mr Thriven sat down to consider the position in which he
stood. He had got applause; but he did not well understand it. Above
all, he could not comprehend the allusion to the book written by John
Bunyan.

"Well," he said, as he took up the "Mercury," "it is beyond my
comprehension; and, after all, the good people may only mean to present
me with some suitable gift, in consideration of the act of justice I
have this day done them. Let me see if there be any news." And he fell
back in his chair in that delightful _langueur d'esprit_ to which a
newspaper of all things is the most acceptable. "Why," he continued, as
he still searched for some racy bit, "did not Sharp undertake to get a
notice inserted, by way of an editor's advertisement of three lines, to
immortalise me, and pave my way to the hand of Miss Clarinda Pott?" And
he wrung the muscles of his face as if they had been a dish-clout filled
with the humour of his bile. At length his eye stood in his head, his
mouth opened, and he became what artists would call "a living picture."
The part of the paper which produced this strange effect consisted of
merely a few lines, to this import:--

"_New Light._--The matter which the fire in ----- Street failed to
illumine has, we understand, been illustrated by no less an individual
than John Bunyan, Tinker at Elstow. Everything may be reduced to an
allegory; the world itself is an allegory; and this scrap of ours is
nothing but an allegory."

Samuel laid down the paper.

"What can this mean?" said he. "If this be not an allegory, I know not
what is."

"Ah, sir, you are a man this day to be envied," said Miss M'Falzen, who
now entered. "You have proved yourself to be an honest man. I was sure
of it; and you know, Samuel, when all deserted you, I stuck fast by you,
and even gave the--the--excuse me, sir--the consent you asked of me,
while you had no prospect before you in this bad world other than
beggary."

"What consent, ma'am?" replied Mr Thriven, with a face that displayed no
more curiosity than it did love.

"Bless me, Mr Thriven, do you forget?--Is it possible that you can have
forgotten so _interesting_ an occasion?"

"I believe, by the by, ma'am, you have called for your debts," said Mr
Thriven.

"Debt!" ejaculated the devout spinster. "Why should there be any debt
between two people situated as we are. Why should not all claims be
extinguished by the mixture of what Mr Sharp calls _the goods in
communion_. If I take this money from you to-day, won't I be giving it
back after the ceremony. True, my small fortune is now nothing to yours;
yet I will remember with pleasure, and you will never surely forget,
that all I had was at your service when you had lost all you had in the
world; so, you see, my dear Samuel, if you have this day proved yourself
to have a noble spirit, I am not behind you."

"What is the exact amount of your claim, Miss M'Falzen?" said Mr
Thriven, with a determination to distance sentiment.

"And would you really pay it, cruel, cruel man?" said she, somewhat
alarmed.

"Certainly, ma'am," replied he, dryly.

"Are you serious?" said she again, looking him full and searchingly in
the face.

"Yes," answered he, more dryly than ever.

"Can it be possible that your sentiments towards me have undergone a
change, Mr Thriven?" rejoined she. "Ah! I forgot. You are now a man of
ten thousand pounds, and I have only one. The film is falling off my
eyes. O deluded Angelina!"

"Then you will see the better to count the money I am to pay you," said
he, attempting to laugh. "Fifty pounds, ma'am. Here it is; I will thank
you for Mr Mercer's bill."

"Well, sir, since it has come to this, I will none of the money. Alas!
this is the effect of John Bunyan's famous book. Good-day--good-day, Mr
Samuel;" and the spinster, covering her face with her handkerchief,
rushed out of the room.


CHAP. VII.--THE DENOUEMENT.

"Thus have I got quit of the spinster," said Mr Thriven, "and thus have
I too got quit of my creditors. But how comes this? She also talks of
Bunyan; everybody talks of Bunyan. But this paper? No, spite--spite--let
them present me with an inscription on a blank leaf. It will do as well
as a piece of plate. I will get the words of praise inserted in another
newspaper, and then begin to act the gentleman in earnest on my ten
thousand. I shall instantly engage a buggy with a bright bay; and a
man-servant, with a stripe of silver lace round his hat, shall sit on my
sinister side. Let them stare and point at me. They can only say, there
rides an honest man, who failed, and paid his creditors twenty shillings
the pound. Ho! here comes Sharp."

"What is the meaning of this?" said he, holding out the paper. "Some
wretched joke of an editor who would take from me the honour intended
for me by my creditors. I see by your face that you smell an action of
damages."

"Joke!" echoed Sharp. "That copy of Bunyan which Miss M'Falzen was
lending to Mrs Bairnsfather that day when we went to Cockenzie, is now
in the hands of the procurator-fiscal."

"Oh, the devout maiden lends it to everybody," replied Samuel. "She will
be to get the fiscal to reclaim sinners by it, rather than to punish
them by the arm of the law."

"Is it possible, Mr Thriven, that you can thus make light of an affair
that involves banishment?" said Sharp. "Did you really write on a blank
leaf of that book the details of the profit you were to make of the
burning?"

Samuel jumped at least three feet from the floor; and when he came down
again, he muttered strange things, and did strange things, which no pen
could describe, because they were unique, had no appropriate symbols in
language, had never been muttered or done before since the beginning of
the world, and, probably, will never be again. It might, however, have
been gathered from his ravings, that he _had_ some recollection of
having scribbled something about his failure, but that he thought it was
in the blank leaf of a pocket-book, the which book he grasped and
examined, but all was a dead blank. He then threw himself on a chair,
and twisted himself into all possible shapes, cursing Miss Angelina
M'Falzen, himself, his creditors, every one who had the smallest share
in this tremendous revolution from wealth, hopes of a high match, buggy,
servant with silver lace, even to disgrace, confiscation, and
banishment.

"You are renowned for the quickness, loopiness, subtleness, of thy
profession. Can you not assist me, Sharp? A man's scrawls are not
evidence of themselves."

"But, with the testimony of Clossmuns, who has returned from Liverpool,
they will be conclusive," replied the attorney, whose game now lay in Mr
Samuel's misfortunes. "Such evidence never went before a jury since the
time of the _regiam majestatem_.

"What then is to be done?" inquired Samuel.

"Fly! fly! and leave me a power of attorney to collect your moneys.
There is two thousand of Grizel M'Whirter's fortune still to
uplift--your stock in trade is to be disposed of--I will manage it
beautifully for you, and, in spite of an outlawry, get the proceeds sent
to you wheresoever you go."

"Dreadful relief!" ejaculated the other, "to fly one's country, and
leave one's affairs in the hands of an attorney!"

"Better than banishment," replied Sharp, grinding his teeth as if
sharp set for the quarry that lay before him. "What do you resolve
on? Shall I write out the power of attorney, or will you wait till
the officers are on you?" muttering to himself, in conclusion, "A few
six-and-eight-pences! I'faith I have him now!"

"Then there is no alternative?" rejoined Samuel.

"None," replied Sharp. "I have it on good authority that the warrant
against you was in the act of being written out, when I hurried here,
as you find, to save you. Shall I prepare the commission?"

"Yes, yes! as quick as an ellwand that leaps three inches short of the
yard."

And, while he continued in this extremity of his despair, Sharp set
about writing out the factory--short and general--giving all powers of
uplifting money, and reserving none. It was signed. In a few minutes
more, Mr Thriven was in a post-chaise, driving on to a seaport in
England. The news of the flight of the honest merchant, with all the
circumstances, soon reached the ear of the devout spinster, even as she
was weeping over the result of the interview she had had with her cruel
lover. She wiped her eyes and repressed her sobs, and congratulated
herself on the consequences of her devout labours. Mr Thriven was not
heard of again; neither was his cash.



THE MAN-OF-WAR'S MAN.


In the calm clear evenings of June and July, when the heat of the day
has been abated, it has been my custom to walk forth to brace my nerves
after the cares and fatigues of the day. Pent up for these thirty years
in one of the dingy shops of the Luckenbooths, I have toiled to gain
wealth enough to enable me to exchange the chimes of St Giles' bells for
the singing of the larks; but, alas! I fear my ears will be too hard,
and my eyes too dim, ere that time come when I may seek to enjoy the
melody of the songsters, or the verdure of their habitations. Gradually
already have they been becoming less cheering to me than they were in
those young sunny days of my apprenticeship, when I used to sally forth
as soon as I had given the keys to my master. I have still, however, the
impressions of memory; and this summer they are as vivid as when they
were real perceptions. While sitting at my desk, I wander, in fond
recollection, around Arthur Seat, and fondly think that such evenings in
June may be yet for me as I have enjoyed them. Such is the folly of men
of business. From the month I commenced for myself, the lark has been
singing less sweetly, and my loved haunts have been becoming less and
less engaging. Have the vocalists of these times degenerated, and the
fields become aged? The change cannot be in me; I am still in my vigour,
and a bachelor. Fifty-two is not an old man--so spoke the heart's
wishes--yet this fact is otherwise. Since that period when I took the
cares of the world upon my own shoulders, I have, in general, been lost
to everything else around me. The incubus of the counter and desk mounts
upon my shoulders, and whispers in my ears of bills and debts unpaid, or
to pay; and immediately, in place of the visions of my youth, ledgers
and slips of paper, spangled with columns of figures, occupy what were
once the sad recesses of love. Thus hag-ridden, yet still in search of
happiness, have I stalked over the loveliest of the lovely scenes that
abound around Edinburgh, almost unconscious of where I have been. And
what has been the reward of all my cares? I have accumulated three
thousand pounds, and some properties that yield what some would call
good interest; and the making of this has been the unmaking of the
sensibilities of enjoyment, without which it is nothing.

Such were my reflections before I had reached the last stile next to
Samson's Ribs. Early visions of Duddingston Loch had haunted me through
the day; and hence I had sought again the scene that so sweetly combines
the Alpine and champaign, as if they here met to embrace. I had passed
up through the valley between the Craigs and Arthur Seat, and continued
sauntering along the narrow road, like one cast forth by all the world,
gloomy and dissatisfied--my head leaning forward, my eyes fixed vacantly
upon the ground, and my hands at my back. Some maidens and their swains
were dancing beneath at the Wells of Weary,[3] to the measure of their
own "wood-notes wild." My heart was touched almost to tears. The demon
that drove enjoyment from my walks fled, and a flood of tender
recollections flowed in upon it. On that verdant spot, thirty-two years
before, I had been as happy and as joyous as the group before me,
dancing to the same heart-stirring air, with one I had loved with all
the fervour of a youthful heart, until the chilling influence of what
the world calls prudence damped my flame, but could not extinguish it.
She was now the dispenser of happiness and comfort to another, and the
mother of a lovely family--not so rich in what the world calls wealth;
how much richer was she in peace and joy! I had for years kept her
heart in suspense, until it sickened at my undecided courtship and
shuffling delays. I know she loved me better than all the world beside,
and would have consented to be mine, whatever had been my lot--faithful
and kind to me, also a soother of my soul, in all conditions, she would
have been. To riches I had sacrificed her and myself. Alas! I found now
their heart-searing consolations. Again and again have I striven to
persuade myself that I acted wisely in delaying our union. I at the time
even took praise for vanquishing the warmth of my love, that we might
feel less the delay. Alas! I knew not woman's heart. My coolness pained
and piqued her; and while I was all-intent upon acquiring wealth which
she was to enjoy with me, another was warming that heart which I had
chilled. She was wed unknown to me. I met the marriage party in the
church. What would I have given, to have been able to roll back the
wheels of Time, and throw upon them all my hopes of wealth, with the
curse which they deserved.

[Footnote 3: The Wells of Weary are now numbered with the things that
were. The terminus of the Dalkeith and Edinburgh Railway tunnel, at the
eastern end, has swept them away. They were the favourite resort, in the
olden time, of the love-sick swains and maidens of the city. Many a soft
tale of love was breathed there. It was a wild, sequestered spot--in our
recollection like an oasis in a desert, rendered lovely by the
neighbouring stillness and desolation.]

In this reverie I stumbled upon an artist. He was drawing the scene of
my dreams. A few words passed. He resumed; and I gazed upon the happy
group which he was ably sketching, till early recollections raised a
sigh almost amounting to a groan. The stranger started, and inquired if
I was unwell. The sincere and sympathising tone of his voice interested
me, and I requested to have the pleasure of looking at his sketch.

"You are most welcome," he replied: "but it is a mere scratch. I will be
enabled to do much better soon. I mean it for the foreground of a
picture I am painting, sir. I am one of the most fortunate fellows in
the world; I always get what I wish just at the moment I want it, or at
least soon after it."

This speech struck me as a most singular one from the person who made
it. He was apparently about thirty years of age, with an open, generous
countenance, which, though not handsome, exhibited the glance of the eye
and lofty brow that spoke intellect and feeling.

"I am no judge of painting or drawing further than of what gives me
pleasure," said I; and I looked upon his sketch with a melancholy
delight; for he had drawn the group as they really were--true to
nature--and fancy enabled me to see, in one of the females, her I had
lost. I spoke my praise in the warmth of my feelings; for I again
enjoyed the scene so much, that it conquered my love of money, and I at
once, and for the first time in my life, resolved to purchase a picture.

I looked from the sketch to the artist, to examine the man I was to deal
with, that I might judge how to make my bargain; for, strong as my
inclination was to have the picture, my mercantile habits were equally
strong. His dress was much the worse for the service it had seen; and
there was an appearance of penury about him that made me anticipate a
good bargain.

"Do you paint for amusement only," said I, "or do you dispose of them?"

"I paint for fame and fortune, my good sir," said he; "but I am yet only
a novice in the noble art, however long I may have been an admirer."

"Is your present work bespoke?" again said I.

"Oh no, sir," replied he; "but I will soon get it off my hands when it
is finished; for I am, as I told you, a fortunate man."

"How much do you expect for it?"

"If I had as much money as purchase a frame for it," said he, "I might
get five pounds; but, as that is not the case, I must take what I can
get from a dealer--perhaps a pound, or less."

For the first time for many years, I felt the generous glow of doing
good to a fellow-creature at the expense of my cash; but, if the truth
will be told, it was the recollection of the good and gentle Helen that
at this moment operated upon me.

"Well, sir, if you will sell me this sketch and the finished picture for
two pounds, I will be the purchaser," said I.

"I accept your offer," was his reply, "and I feel grateful for your
patronage, as I am yet unknown; but I feel confident I shall succeed at
length in this my present aim at fame and fortune. The goddess has
eluded me often, doubtless even when I was sure I held her in my grasp.
But that is nothing. I was happy, as I am at present, in the pursuit;
for all my life has been a series of anticipations supremely happy."

We had stood during this discourse; my eye was on him; and I could see
the glow that was upon his face. How strange to me it seemed: I, too,
had lived in anticipation of being rich, yet never felt the thrill, the
full joy, of hope which possession banishes. How justly may anticipation
and fruition be compared to youth and age!--the one, joyous and buoyant,
moves along the rough walks of life, with hope pointing the way and
smoothing his path; fruition, like an aged traveller, feeble and spent,
sees ever a length of way before him, rendered rougher by cares for what
he has attained, while all behind him is nothing. One of my gloomy fits
was coming over me--my mind was turning in upon itself, when he aroused
me, by inquiring where he should have the pleasure of bringing his work
to me. I gave him my address, and we began to return to the city. Long
before we reached the last stile, he had so won upon my regard, that I
invited him home with me to supper, under promise that he should give me
an outline of his life. He redeemed his pledge thus:--

My father, Andrew Elder (said he), lived in one of the villages not far
from town, where I was born. He was not rich, but well enough to do; by
trade a joiner, tolerably well read, of a shrewd and argumentative turn
of mind, and the oracle of the village, at a time when it was distracted
by the politics of the period, which ran high between the aristocrats
and democrats. The French Revolution had attained the climax of its
horrors, and the best blood of France was poured forth as water. Once a
democrat, he had changed his former opinions, and his antipathy was as
intense against the bloody miscreants who, in the public commotion, had
wriggled themselves into their bad pre-eminence, as his sympathy had
been strong at the commencement in favour of an enslaved people. I was
scarce seventeen--an anxious listener to all that passed in the shop
between my father and his opponents. All he said was to me true as holy
writ; and those hearers who doubted one word he said were deemed worthy
only of my pity. Well do I recollect--it was the beginning of May, 1794,
and our dinner hour; the newspaper had just arrived; a number of
neighbours were seated on or standing around the bench on which the
all-engrossing paper was spread. My father gave a shout of triumph, and
looked contempt upon the democratic part of his audience, who were
ranged on the opposite side. They again looked, their anxiety not
unmixed with fear.

"Hurrah!" cried my father, "the bloody monsters will soon be put down
and die by their own accursed guillotine. James, run into the house and
bring me my Gazetteer; I wish to see the map."

I was not slow to obey, for I was as eager to learn the cause of my
father's joy as the oldest politician present.

He read, with exultation, the arrival of the Emperor of Germany at
Brussels on the 9th of April, and his advance to Valenciennes, to join
the Duke of York, who lay there with the Allied Army under his command.
Then, opening Guthrie's well-thumbed volume, and laying it before his
auditors, he seized his compasses, as a marshal would his truncheon,
waved them in triumph, then spread out the map, measuring on the scale a
number of leagues to illustrate his demonstration.

"Now, attention, you blacknebs," he said, "and do not interrupt me;" and
immediately all eyes were bent upon the map. "Now, here is
Valenciennes," said he; "and here is Paris, the den of the murderers.
The Allies will be there in three weeks at farthest; what can stay them?
Tell me, ye democrats!" They hung their heads, as he struck the bench,
to give his demonstration force. "In four months," he continued, "the
king, Louis XVII., will be in Paris, to avenge his brother's blood; and
peace will be restored before the corn is off the ground. Hurrah!"

There might have been some grave humour in his earnestness, but his
prophecy made an impression on me he little dreamed of; while he spoke,
a voice seemed to sound in my ear that made me start--"Here is an
opportunity for you to see the world you have often wished for. The
contest will not last four months; you may enter the navy, which will be
paid off at the end of the war; be home before winter, and boast to your
father of all you have seen and done." The impulse was so strong that I
left the politicians in keen debate--for the dinner hour was not
expired--and, putting on my coat and hat, set off for Leith as quick as
I could walk. My only fear was that I might be too late to be received;
the account of the Allies having entered Paris might have arrived; peace
might be made before I could join, and my golden dreams be dissipated.

It was nearly dark before I reached the rendezvous upon the shore. A
throb of joy gave new spirit to me when I saw the union-jack hanging
over the door. I entered at once, and inquired if I was not too late to
go on board of a man-of-war?

"By no means," said the active Captain Nash, who was present at the
time. "Were you ever at sea, my spirited lad?"

"No, sir," said I; "but I hope that will be no objection."

"Oh, none in the least," said he. "You shall, in an hour or two, be put
on board the tender which sails for the Nore to-morrow. Here, mate, give
this volunteer something to drink his majesty's health."

I was now seated at a long table, at which were some of the most
forbidding individuals I had ever seen: several were evidently
intoxicated, spoke in phrases I could not comprehend, and uttered oaths
that made my heart tremble. I became bewildered; the situation in which
I had placed myself was not what I had anticipated. I loathed the liquor
they offered me, began to think I had done a foolish action, and wished
to be at my bench again, a free agent.

How long my mind continued in this state I know not; but I was soon
roused to a fuller sense of the situation in which I had so rashly
placed myself. I soon saw enough to make me weep. Six of the gang
entered, swearing, and threatening two young sailors, whom they dragged
in with them, and who, as well as several of their captors, were
severely cut, bruised, and bleeding. They had, doubtless, fought stoutly
to escape the gang. I was there a voluntary victim, and any little
fortitude that had until now sustained me fled, as I gazed upon the
painful sight. They were both about the same age, and stout, active
young men; they spoke not one word; but their countenances were sad,
gloomy, and desponding; and, at times, I could perceive a shade of
sullenness, bordering on ferocity, pass over their faces, as they lifted
their eyes from the floor towards the men who were busy removing the
stains of the conflict. In a short time after, we were taken to the
Ferry Stairs, and put into their boat. It was now, for the first time,
that I began to doubt if my father was correct in his eulogiums of
British liberty. I soon understood that the cases of these lads were
peculiarly hard; yet, after all, not so very hard as that of many I
afterwards knew. They were brothers, and belonged to Leith, where their
parents still lived. They had been absent three years upon a whaling
expedition in the South Seas; and, anxious to see their father and
mother (the former of whom was stretched on a sick-bed), had, with
circumspection, and in disguise, reached their home, when, only after a
few hours, some unfeeling wretch, for the paltry reward, became
informer, and the gang secured their prey. The sick, if not dying,
parent entreated in vain; and the mother's tears and groans, as she saw
her loved and manly sons struggling against an overwhelming force (for
what, my father oft had said, was the birthright of every British
subject), were equally unavailing. I kept my eyes on the two youths who,
for no offence, were thus treated as felons, and compelled, against
their wills and interests, to leave their homes, and all that they held
dear; yet, so strangely are we constituted, this train of thought passed
off, as I surveyed the clear night, with the full moon shining in a
cloudless sky, and reflected by the waters of the placid Frith. My young
heart even felt a glow of pleasure: I hoped the worst of my new life was
past, and that I would soon be again with my father, to recount to him
the sights I had seen.

When we reached the tall dark sides of the (to my inexperienced mind)
gigantic tender, all my regrets were fled, and expectation again filled
my breast. Having hailed, and been answered by the watch on board, the
two pressed men were forced to ascend from the boat, which they did with
an ease and facility that astonished me. I attempted to stand up, but
fell across the thwarts--the motion of the boat, inconsiderable as it
was, throwing me off my balance at every effort. Forced to hold on by
one of the gang, I had my ears filled with a volley of oaths. A rope was
at last lowered from the deck, and made fast under my arms, and thus I
partly climbed, and was partly hoisted up, until I could hold on by the
bulwarks--furnishing merriment to those on board, and greeted by no
kindly voice, my feelings were again damped. For the first time in my
life I felt that I was alone in the world, and must rely upon my own
energies for protection. Ordered below, I staggered, as I moved upon the
deck, like one intoxicated, still grasping at everything to prevent me
falling, and bewildered at all I saw and heard. How unlike were these
things to what I had found in books, or dreamed of in my enthusiasm, of
the noble navy of my country. My mind was all confusion. My native
language, spoken by those around me, was mixed with such terms and
phrases, that it was all but incomprehensible. When I reached the hatch,
and was in the act of descending the ladder, I missed my hold, fell to
the deck, and a laugh sounded in my ears--all the pity I received,
though I lay sick, stunned, and bruised among my fellow-creatures. I
crawled out of the way, lest I should be trampled upon by those who had
occasion to pass up and down. No kindly hand was held out to me; and
there upon the bare boards I passed my first night from home. Youth and
health triumphed, and I soon fell sound asleep.

Well, not to be too circumstantial, this rough initiation into my naval
adventures was of immense advantage to me. Follow out my course I must,
whether I now willed or not. I had the consolation of my father's
prophecy, that the war would terminate before the winter commenced; and
if I wished to see the world, I must take things as they come. It has
ever been my nature to look upon every event on the sunny side. I
anticipate pleasure even amidst privations and discomfort; and I have
thus enjoyed hours and days of happiness, when those who suffered with
me have been driven almost to despair. When day dawned, I was awakened
by the noise and bustle around me. I looked at the murky den in which I
had passed the night close by a gun-carriage. Some were extended on the
deck here and there; a greater number snugly hung in their hammocks were
the regular seamen; the others were landsmen like myself, unprovided
with anything--their all on their backs, and as ignorant of life at sea
as their purses were empty. I will not say that I was pleased with the
turn my adventure had assumed; yet I was not discouraged; I knew that
thousands passed their lives in the navy, and I would not be worse off
than my equals in rank. I arose, and, seated upon the gun-carriage,
began to be amused by what was passing around. As the day advanced, my
interest began to increase, and I formed a few friendships with my
fellows. One of these, a young seaman who had been impressed a few days
before out of a West Indiaman, was of vast service to me, in giving me
instruction how to conduct myself, and allowed me to sleep with him. I
had left home without one shilling; was provided with nothing, and must
remain so until rated in some ship after we reached the Nore.

No person who has not seen, can conceive the scenes of wickedness and
folly that are acted on board a tender, where all are crowded together
with no regular messes formed, and no routine of duty laid down to
engage the mind or dispel the tedium. The careless act their parts, but
the thoughts are forced in upon the serious thinker. Some sat in deep
abstraction, unconscious of all that was passing around them, fetching a
deep sigh occasionally, and looking mournfully at their merry mates;
others were walking backwards and forwards, with a restless cast of
countenance, like a caged animal; while here and there were small
groups, deep plunged in the excitement of gambling for small sums, and
swearing over their well-thumbed dirty cards; others were carousing in
secret, with ardent spirits, brought secretly on board, by boats which
were continually arriving from or departing for the shore with the
friends of those on board; and very many passed their time listlessly
leaning over the nettings, gazing upon the shore they were so soon to
see, perhaps, for the last time, yet caring not whether they ever saw it
again or not. At length the boatswain piped to weigh anchor. The
foresheet was shaken out, and we stood down the Frith. As the shores
receded from us, some became more sad, but the greater number seemed as
if a load had been taken from their minds. As for myself, I felt my
spirits increase as we gallantly bounded over the waters.

When we reached the Nore, I, along with several others, was draughted
into a frigate, which had received orders to sail for the West Indies.
As soon as I was rated, I received from the purser what necessaries I
required, which was placed to my account to be deducted from my wages. I
felt my importance much increased as I put on my new dress and got my
station on board; yet a qualm of disappointment came over me as I
thought of the distance I was to be carried from home, and I began to
doubt if I could return to Scotland before winter, when the peace I had
anticipated would take place. My sailor life presented many features
that belied my expectations. At this time a war-ship was managed in the
most tyrannical manner, by the caprice of the captain and
first-lieutenant. The rattan of the boatswain was in constant play; and
it often seemed as if he struck the men more for his own gratification
than their correction. Standing at the foot of the rattlins when they
were ordered aloft, he invariably struck the last, whether in ascending
or descending. This was to make them look sharp. The same course was
followed in regard to every duty to which he called them; and a dozen or
more of lashes were often given for what the most microscopic eye could
not have detected as a fault: the cat was seldom out of use, and never a
day passed without several punishments. A chit of a midshipman, if he
took an umbrage at a man, would order him to stand while he mounted a
gun-carriage to strike him about the head or face; and if the gallant
fellow moved on, he was reported to the officer on duty as mutinous,
tied to the grating, and received a dozen or two. Our provisions too
were very scanty, and not of the best quality; while a complaint would
have been mutiny. Before we reached the Island of Jamaica, custom
overcame disgust. I saw, besides, that it was the rule of the
service--officers were not, in their station, better off than the men;
midshipmen were cobbed or ordered aloft with as little compunction or
inquiry as the men were flogged. The only individual on board who stood
not in fear of some other alongside was the captain; yet he feared the
admiral, and the admiral crouched to the Lords of the Admiralty, who
succumbed to the ministry, who crouched to the king; and, as a landsman
on board a man-of-war, all being in a circle, I was next to him again to
complete it. The whole I saw to be an intricate system of coercion and
discipline; and I submitted with all the cheerfulness I could; but there
was a messmate of mine, who claimed the sympathy I disregarded. Poor
James! I am to this hour sad when I think of him. Who or what he was I
never knew; for his years, he was the best learned and most intelligent
person I have ever met with in the world. Every genteel accomplishment
was his. About two years my senior, he was an age in advance of me; and
I looked up to him with a reverence I have never felt since for any
human being, as we have sat on a gun-carriage, I listening to the
knowledge that flowed from his lips, and which he took a pleasure in
imparting to me. Thus, when it was not our watch, he stored my mind with
truths and information, both ancient and modern, the benefit of which I
feel even now. An exquisite draughtsman, he taught me the rudiments of
the art, and practice has done the rest. Yet he was secret as the grave
as to the cause of his sorrows; and though he knew that I wished to be
acquainted with his history, not through idle curiosity, but to console
him, if in my power, he shunned the subject. That he was born to a rank
far above that in which I knew him, both the officers and the men
allowed. He was prompt in his duties from an innate sense of honour; and
there was a lofty bearing in all he did--not the effect of an effort,
but of natural impulse--that extorted the respect of his shipmates;
though, of all men, sailors are the quickest at perceiving peculiarity
of character among themselves, and an appropriate sobriquet is generally
the consequence. To his officers he was as politely humble as the
strictest rules could require; but this manner was so different from the
uncouth and crouching humility of the other men, that a stranger would
have conceived he was the superior returning the civility. His soul was,
indeed, truly Roman, and superior to his fate. Whether that fall was the
effect of circumstances over which he had no control, or voluntarily
chosen, from some secret reason, he would never avow. Once I heard him
sigh heavily in his sleep, and murmur the name Matilda; from which I
suspected he had been crossed in love, and was now a victim of consuming
melancholy, which seemed only lightened by his activity, or when he was
storing my mind with information. Books we had none; but I felt not the
want. His memory was well stored and tenacious, and he was always ready
for whatever subject was the study of the time for which we were at
leisure. I feel conscious I learned much more, and infinitely faster, by
this oral method, than if I had had the volumes, and read them myself.
His vigorous and intelligent mind epitomised and digested my mental
food--imparting to me thus the spirit of volumes, which I might in vain
have endeavoured to comprehend after long study. But, to proceed:--

With this mixture of pleasure and suffering, we reached Kingston and
cast anchor off the harbour, where we had remained only for a few days,
when we sailed to cruise in quest of a French frigate, which had taken
several of our merchantmen. We continued to range the seas for nearly
three weeks, in quest of the enemy, without gaining either sight or
intelligence of him, and had almost given up all hope, when, one
afternoon, a dense fog came on, which obscured the horizon, and we could
not see two lengths of the ship from her decks. It continued thus until
a little after sunrise next morning, when a gentle breeze sprung up,
which cleared all around, and, to our surprise, we saw a French
forty-gun frigate about six or seven leagues to windward. We mounted
only thirty guns. The odds were fearfully against us; but the captain
resolved to engage the enemy. The boatswain piped all hands to quarters,
the drum beat to arms, the bulkheads were taken down, and all was clear
for action in a few minutes--every gun double-shotted, and the match
waiting the orders to fire. James and I were stationed at the same gun
on the quarterdeck, when I saw the enemy, under a cloud of sail, bearing
down, with his formidable range of guns bristling his sides. I felt my
breathing become short, and a strange sensation took hold of me, as if I
doubted whether I could command another full respiration. I looked at
James--there was a melancholy shade of satisfaction on his countenance,
and I thought I saw a languid smile lurking around his lips, along with
a sternness in his eye, that imparted to me a bold feeling of assurance.
I stood with the ramrod in my hand. The interval of suspense was short.
The Frenchman, as he ranged alongside, within pistol-shot, hailed us in
good English to strike. The captain, who stood near me, looking over the
nettings, with his speaking-trumpet in his hand, lifted it to his mouth,
and roared--

"Ay! ay! I'll strike by and by;" then passed the word--"Now, my lads,
give them a broadside."

Scarcely was the order given, when our little frigate quivered from the
recoil, and we were enveloped in smoke; but I could hear the crash of
our shot on the sides and rigging of the Frenchman, which did not return
the fire for a minute or two.

"Well done," shouted the captain. "Another of the same."

And by the time the Frenchman fired his first volley, we were ready. The
salute was simultaneous and fearful. The enemy did awful execution: five
of our gun-ports were torn into one, and several of our men killed and
wounded. I have little recollection of what followed for some time--the
smoke was too dense for observation, and my exertions in working our gun
were too unremitting to allow of extraneous attentions. At length the
shot in the locker being expended, I called for more; and, on looking
round, saw my companion, James, lying extended behind the gun, bleeding.
There was not one moment to spare--the balls were supplied as quick as
called for--and, at the sight of my wounded friend, my dogged resolution
was roused to revenge. I urged those who were still able for duty to
redouble their fire.

"Well done, Elder!" said the captain; "you are a noble fellow."

At this moment, a small splinter struck my hand, as I withdrew the
rammer, and almost divided my forefinger and thumb. I plucked it
out--the blood poured--but I felt less pain from that source than from
my mouth, which was so dry and parched, that I would have given worlds
for a drop of water.

"For God's sake," I cried, "bring me a mouthful of water, for I will not
leave my gun."

You may smile at my folly, for who was there to serve me? Yet,
patience--the captain, who kept the quarterdeck, as cool as if we had
been lying at anchor; nay, cooler, for he was then always finding fault,
or in a passion--heard me, and taking a lime from his pocket, cut it in
two, and put one-half into my mouth, as I was ramming home the charge.

"Here, my lad," said he, "you deserve it, were it a diamond;" and put
the other half into my cut hand. The sting of the pain almost made me
cry out. He smiled, and said it would cure it; then remarked to the
first lieutenant, who had just come up to him, "I have often heard that
the Scots fight best when they are hungry, or see their own blood; there
is an instance; look at Elder's hand, and see how he works at his gun."

At this moment I heard a crash--it was our foremast nearly gone by the
board.

"These Frenchmen fire well," he said, with the greatest coolness.

"That stroke is very unfortunate," replied the first lieutenant; "but it
cannot last long."

"No," said the captain; "they must either strike soon, or blow us out of
the water. How is my ship below."

"Much cut up, sir; but our remaining hands work their guns well. The
enemy must have suffered severely."

I can convey no impression of the calmness with which these few words
were spoken in the middle of this carnage and noise. We had already, as
I afterwards learned, been engaged two glasses. All conception of the
time, from the first broadside until the last gun was fired, seemed to
have been banished from our minds. Scarcely had the conversation between
the captain and lieutenant finished, when the Frenchman's mizzenmast
fell forward, their fire began to slacken, and we, in a clear interval,
could see a bustling on board.

"Boarders, arm," shouted the captain; then, in a lower voice, to one of
the officers--"They are either going to run for it, or board us; were
our rigging not so much cut up, she might be ours." It was at this
moment he first showed his impatience:--"Aim at her rigging," he
cried--"she shuns the contest--ten guineas to the gun that disables
her;" but her sails began to fill, and she bore away before the wind,
leaving us too much disabled to follow her.

When the first firing ceased, I felt so fatigued and faint, from the
loss of blood and the pain of my hand, that I leaned upon my gun, almost
incapable of exertion. A double allowance of grog was now served out to
the survivors. I felt revived, though still unable for duty, and went to
the cockpit to see James, who had been carried there, and to have my own
hand dressed. A cockpit scene has been often described, but description
is a burlesque of the reality. We had twelve killed, and twenty wounded,
more or less severely. I found my poor friend lying upon a mattress,
calm and resigned--no groan or sob escaped him. One of his legs had been
broken and cut by a splinter, and there was a wound from a musket-ball
in his shoulder. Both had been dressed by the surgeon, who was a humane,
active, and skilful man. When my own scratch was cleaned and dressed,
all my attention was bestowed upon James and others. An hospital was
rigged out, and every care humanity could suggest paid to the wounded;
and our otherwise austere captain was as mild and kindly by the side of
the victims as a nurse. James lay, for the most part, silent and in deep
thought. When he did speak, it was of indifferent subjects; and, to my
frequent inquiries how he felt his wounds, he replied, that they engaged
not his thoughts further than that he feared he might recover.

"That I do not wish," said he. "It is long since I received the wound
that is destined to prove mortal, independently of these disruptions of
the flesh, which merely confine me to this sick-bed, and are come rather
as a remedy. Elder, think not I am ungrateful for your kindness: I thank
you from my heart. There is one favour you must promise to do me; and I
feel assured I may trust you."

"Name it," answered I; "and if I should die in the attempt, I shall not
fail to do all in my power to accomplish your smallest wish." He pressed
my hand, which was grasped in his.

"Enough, Elder," said he; "all I request is easily done; yet I was not
the less anxious to find one whom I could confide in. As soon as this
oppressed heart ceases to beat, you must take this locket and ring"--and
he uncovered his bosom, upon which they lay, besmeared with his blood.
Smiling, he continued: "The blood is a proper envelope for them; and I
am only so far happy that I was not killed out-right--for then they
might have fallen into hands which would have done them no justice.
These baubles and I must be forgotten together, whether I die here at
sea, or survive until we reach Jamaica. You must, when I am to be
consigned to my abode of peace and rest, place them where they lie at
present. You will do this for me?"

I pressed his hand, for words were denied me. My tears fell upon his
pale face, as I stooped to kiss his forehead; a sigh was all that passed
between us; but our eyes told more than our lips could have uttered. I
left him alone, to enjoy his own reflections, and went upon deck. In a
few hours the surgeon's worst fears were realised; tetanus came on, and
he died the following morning in my arms. I fulfilled his last request,
and his body was launched into the restless ocean on the day before we
reached Kingston. His man-of-war's name, as the seamen call it, when
one--a different from their real one--is assumed for any reason that
requires concealment, was James Walden, by which he was rated in the
ship's books. Next day, when his effects, scanty as they were, were put
up for sale, I bought a small prayer-book, which I had often seen him
use, for less money than I have seen a few needles and a little thread
bring at the mainmast. Amongst all that he possessed, there was not a
single scrap of paper, or anything by which I could be led to guess who
he was. On a blank page of the prayer-book there was written, in a
small, beautiful female hand, "Matilda Everard;" but whether it was
written by the individual he had once mentioned in his sleep, or some
other, it was impossible to say.

We had spoken, on our return to Jamaica, several merchant vessels, so
that the account of our action with the French frigate was before us. We
were, accordingly, received as conquerors--the sailors complimented in
the streets, and our officers invited to all entertainments. As for
myself, I felt alone after the loss of my friend, and fretted a little
at the news of peace not having been yet received. I had not yet called
my father's political sagacity in question. It was now the month of
September; our frigate was once more, if possible, in better trim than
she was before the action; we had our water on board, and everything
ready for sea to cruise amongst the French islands. All was joy and hope
of prize-money. We were to have sailed next morning, when the accounts
of Admiral Howe's glorious victory of the first of June arrived, when
all became a scene of excitement and exultation. Salutes were fired;
every vessel was hung with as many flags as she could muster, along her
stays, from the bowsprit to the taffrail. Kingston was to be illuminated
in the evening; and we requested leave, and were allowed, to have an
illumination on board of our ship. My spirits recovered in some
degree--every one was of opinion that the republicans of France never
could recover the blow they had received--my father's prediction was
verified--and I would soon be free, and at home. During the afternoon,
which was as lovely as a warm day in Jamaica can be, all was bustle on
board, each mess procuring candles, and each striving who could exhibit
the greatest number. The ingenuity of one of our number was exercised on
some empty barrels, which, with their bottoms pierced, filled with
lights, and placed opposite the port-holes, shamed the bottles and
candles of the others, and gave us the victory. Just before sundown, all
was ready. As soon as all the candles were lit, every port was opened;
and our little frigate and the other ships of war produced a sight truly
beautiful--sitting upon the waters, which reflected the glare like
glowing furnaces, and sending all around their so regular and intense
beams. Meanwhile our decks were crowded with dancers, who, footing it
away to the music of our fiddles, exhibited, in the strange mixture of
white European and dark Kingston girls, all brought out in full relief
by the lights, one of the most extraordinary scenes I had ever seen. At
a late hour the lights were doused, and all was as still as death; and
the late refulgent vessels floated a number of black masses under the
moonbeams.

Next morning found us under weigh, and the Island of Jamaica sinking
under our stern. I missed my friend sadly, having formed no new
intimacy; for there was not one on board, in my estimation, to supply
his place. He had formed my mind for higher enjoyments than could have
been relished or shared with me by any of my shipmates; yet we had on
board a mass of talent, in all its variety, debased, no doubt, by evil
passions and low dissipation. There were, indeed, among us some rough
but honest, unsophisticated children of nature; but they were like
jewels dug from the mine, placed in a package with flints, and shaken on
a rough road, losing by attrition their asperities, but taking no
polish. A few, too, there were who had, with care, been bred by their
parents for higher objects, but had sunk from their station, by vice and
folly, even to a lower level than the standard of our crew. I had thus
small choice, and fell back on the memory of the pleasures I had enjoyed
in the conversation of my friend. We had been out from port about three
weeks, without seeing anything save one or two of our merchant ships,
and one from Liverpool bound for New York, with passengers, from the
latter of which we impressed six stout young men, who were on their way
for the New World. Such are the miseries of war, that liberty is invaded
and all human ties severed by the necessity it engenders. The case of
one of these young men was truly hard. He was on his way to New York, to
take possession of some property left him by an uncle, who had died
there the year before; and his intention was to remain and settle upon
his late uncle's farm. A few days before he had left his native village,
in Ayrshire, with a young woman whom he had long loved, and at last
married. Their all had been expended in their passage money and outfit,
but young hope, love, and joy, were the companions of their voyage,
until our boat, under the command of our second lieutenant, appeared as
the demon that was to put these to flight. The crew and passengers were
mustered upon the deck, and many forced from their hiding-places, where
they had stowed themselves away below among the cargo. George Wilson
(for that was his name), fearful for his Jane, had remained by her side;
he was ordered into the boat; his supplications were as nothing; and the
tears and agonies of his young wife, if possible, less. It is a fact
worthy of the consideration of the philosopher, that the actions of men,
forced to perform an unpleasant duty, are often fretted into greater
harshness by appeals to feeling. We were short of hands, and, goaded by
necessity and duty, I verily believe that some who seized the youth more
sharply when he was attempted to be taken from them by the female, would
not have been slow to weep for her in other circumstances. There was
another case not less cruel--that of an only son of a family, called
Grant, who were emigrating, consisting of a father and mother, two
sisters, and this young lad, their hope and stay. He too was ordered
into the boat. I noticed the two as they came up the ship's side. It is
seldom that human nature is exhibited under such circumstances of
trial. Description, in such cases, is almost impertinent. It may be
doubted if the young men themselves are then conscious of one-half of
the evil that had befallen them: they were stupid with despair.

But I did not know what was awaiting myself. Some few days after this
event, we were standing under easy sail, listlessly gazing over the
immense expanse of waters, with all eyes sharp for a sail of some kind
or other, to break the monotony of our listless life. The look-out from
the mast-head sang out--

"Sail, ahoy!"

"Where away?" cried the officer on duty.

"Nor-west, on our lee-beam."

"Can you make her out?"

"Nay, sir; she is yet hull down; but she appears English rig, as her
top-royals rise out of the water."

"Stretch every inch of canvas; haul taut," cried the officer.

And her bows were crowded by the anxious seamen. There was now an object
to engage their attention, while the captain and officers kept their
glasses steady in the direction pointed out. In a short time, the points
of her masts and sails began to appear above the horizon, like black
patches, where the bounding line between the ocean and sky terminates.
We continued our progress for several hours, manifestly not making fast
on her; yet we could see that her sails rose almost imperceptibly out of
the water. She kept her distance so well that the captain became excited
and piqued. The wind blew pretty fresh, and we were both on a wind. She
was now made out to be either a privateer or a merchant vessel; but her
superior sailing led strongly to the opinion that she was the former.
Our deck guns were now run aft to raise our bows, and every effort that
skill could put to account was tried. Still we gained but slowly upon
her; and the afternoon was far advanced without our being satisfied of
more than that she was an enemy; for she must have seen us for some
hours, and our ensign was flying at our royal mast-head. Now great
masses of gorgeously-coloured clouds began to gather around the
brilliant luminary in the far west. It was close upon sundown, when the
darkness almost immediately follows in the twilightless latitudes. The
tall masts of the chase were between us and the brilliant scene, like a
dark spirit crossing the path of heaven. The captain, striking the
bulwarks of the quarterdeck with his hand, said aloud--

"I'd give a hundred guineas to have her within range of my long
eighteens at this moment, or when I shall see your beams again in the
morning." He looked to the broad disk of the sun, which was just sinking
in the dense mass of resplendent clouds, while his last rays shot like
long broad ribands over the edge of the highest, and undulated upon the
long swell that was raised by the breeze, which covered its top with
masses of white foam, resembling flocks at play in an immense meadow.

Anxious to obtain the last glance of this magnificent panorama, I had
got upon the nettings in which the hammocks are stowed, and stood so
long holding on by the mizzen-rattlins, absorbed in pleasing dreamy
thoughts, not unmixed with regret, that it was quite dark before I was
conscious of the change. My mind had again turned in upon itself, and
the lovely harvest nights of my regretted home came before me, more
chastened in their grandeur, but not the less lovely on that account.
Wilson and Grant were conversing in whispers near the spot where I
stood, talking of their blighted hopes, as if they felt that nature, in
the grand aspect she now exhibited, looked lovely in mockery of their
woes. We still held on as we had done through the afternoon--the surges
rising and sprinkling our foredeck as we passed swiftly through the
waters, urged on by an increasing gale. Weary of my position, I was in
the act of descending to the deck, when, by some accident, I lost my
hold, and fell overboard, striking against the dead-eyes, and wounding
my tongue so severely in my fall that it was bit through. When I rose to
the surface, stunned and confused, the water was hissing in my ears, and
my mouth full of blood. I attempted to call out for help; but my efforts
were vain. My tongue was unfit for its office; I only uttered
unintelligible sounds, not to be distinguished amidst the noise of the
waves. Still hope was strong in me, for I could hear the cries on deck,
"A man overboard!" though I could distinguish no object in the darkness.
The sounds became faint and more faint. The vessel's way was so great,
she shot from the spot like a bird; and I could at intervals see the
lights that they had hung out as I rose to the top of the waves, which I
buffeted with all my energies. The frigate had evidently laid to. I
strove to make for the lights. I saw, far astern, a boat had been
lowered, and hope again braced my nerves. Could I have called out, I had
been saved; for I heard their voices shouting for me, and even the plash
of their oars; but I was dumb. My tongue had almost instantly swelled so
as to fill my mouth; yet still I struggled amidst the waves to reach the
source of the sounds. At that moment they could not have been many yards
distant from me, if I could have judged from the distinctness with which
I heard them call. At last they ceased for a few minutes, as if in
consultation. Moment of horrid agony! I was in the grasp of inevitable
death, and those who were anxious for my rescue were within hail, and
that hail I could not utter. The struggle for life is not easily
terminated, and my exertions were almost superhuman. A flash, and the
report of a gun now fell on my ears, and it came as my doom; it was a
signal for the boats to return. I felt as if my arms had become
powerless. My heart failed, and I was sinking, when again the stroke of
the oars revived me. Again I attempted to shout--vain effort! "Poor
Elder!" I heard uttered by my shipmates, amidst the sweltering of the
waves that were about to engulf me. The oar-dip gradually died away--and
where was I?

Tired and exhausted, and almost suffocated by the water and blood that
flowed from my tongue, I turned upon my back, but sunk deep in the water
from the weight of my jacket and trousers, and thus floated at the will
of the swell, that often almost turned me over. I attempted to pray, but
could not collect my thoughts. All I could say was, "Lord be merciful to
me--a sinner!" I almost felt as if already dead; for all energy had
fled, both mental and bodily; and the little I did to place me on my
back, when the surge turned me over, seemed the involuntary efforts of
sinking nature. In this state I was aroused from my stupor by my coming
in contact with a hard body. I stretched forth one of my hands, which
had been crossed upon my breast, and grasped it with the energy of
despair. It was a large hencoop, which had been thrown over in the hope
that I might reach it until the boat arrived. New life began to revive
in my heart. I got upon it; and, taking my silk neckerchief from my
neck, which I fortunately had on when I fell, lashed myself to it. My
thoughts now became, in some degree, collected, and a slight beam
cheered the gloom of that fearful night, as I floated, a miserable speck
of human nature, on that boundless, unfathomable waste of troubled
waters. I thought that I was not forgot by my Creator, who had in his
mercy sent me this assurance in my last extremity, frail as it was, to
be the means of my deliverance. It was now that my whole soul poured
forth in prayer; and tears, not of anguish, but of love and gratitude,
flowed from my eyes, as I was drifted along before the wind, and tossed
by the waves. Through that long and dreadful night, nothing but this
pious feeling could have sustained me; for my limbs were benumbed and
cramped; my tongue still almost filled my mouth, and pained me.

Day at length dawned; but it did not bring with it renewed hope. I had
prayed and longed for it, in the expectation that I might be seen and
picked up by some vessel; but my heart did not rise in my bosom as the
beams of the sun shot over the waters around me. No sight met my eyes
but the sky, bounded at a short distance around by my low position in
the water. The breeze had considerably abated, the sea was much
smoother, and the fears of a lingering death by hunger and thirst began
to assail me. As the morning advanced, my faith in my deliverance began
to fail, and terrible thoughts crowded upon my mind. I tremble yet when
I revert to them. It seemed as if the great tempter of mankind had been
with me in this hour of trial, and whispered in my ears thoughts foreign
to my nature. I even began to doubt the mercy and goodness of God;
despair was again busy with me, and my clasp-knife suggested a short and
ready remedy for my misery. I clutched it in my hand, and opened it; but
my hand was stayed; my feelings had again undergone a revolution. I
dropped the instrument, and wept. I now thought I heard a rushing sound
in the air, and looked up. An immense albatross, with his huge extended
wings, was suspended over me, attracted by the strange sight I
exhibited. In any other situation, would I have been alarmed at the
sight of a bird? Now, my heart sunk when I saw the creature circling
high above my head. I thought he was examining the object previous to
his pouncing upon it. I thought he might strike my head, and my woes
would be ended: he might alight, and tear me piece by piece with his
strong-hooked bill. The terror of the waters was merged in that of my
new enemy; and such is man, that, though I had reconciled myself to the
one, I felt my courage and resolution rise within me when I saw a
visible and tangible enemy to grapple with. His circles round me became
more and more narrow; and, as he descended, I seized my open knife. This
precaution was, doubtless, unnecessary. The bird probably only wanted to
ascertain what strange inhabitant of the waters now appeared to it.
Still, however, it kept up its surveillance, receding now by large
circles, and again approaching me, only again to betake itself to a
greater distance, and again to renew its approach. I cannot tell how
long this continued: but a full hour, at least, must have passed--during
all which time I remained under the unaccountable apprehension that I
would, unless I defended myself, fall a victim to this gigantic bird of
prey. At length he took a long sweep, and I saw him sailing away on his
solitary journey, as if he despised the poor object he had left alone on
the waste of waters.

From the scorching rays upon the exposed part of my body, I began to
suffer much, and my thirst became excessive; my strength gradually
declined, and by the time the sun reached his meridian, I had again made
up my mind to my fate, commending my soul to its Maker, through my
Redeemer. I closed my eyes, as I thought, for ever upon all earthly
things. I had lain thus only a short time, when, raising myself up as
far as I could upon my raft, and gazing around upon what I thought was
to be my tomb, an involuntary cry of joy burst from me. There was a
vessel in sight; my weakness and misery were forgot. I saw them lower a
boat; and from that moment my mind became a tumult of thoughts and
sensations, which I have often since attempted in vain to analyse. The
horrors of my late situation were still upon me, and I could with
difficulty persuade myself that my delivery was real.

So exquisitely soothing was the feeling that now possessed me, that I
feared to open my eyes or move, lest I might break the spell that was
upon me, and awaken in the misery I had so lately endured. But I even
tired of enjoyment, for my position became irksome. I attempted to turn,
but the effort was so painful, that a groan escaped me. A gentle hand
wiped the perspiration from my brow, and inquired if I wished to be
turned. The sound of that voice was like a beam of light upon my
bewildered mind. I opened my eyes, and saw a young female in widow's
weeds standing by the side of my cot.

"Generous being," I said, "is it to you that I owe my deliverance?"

A sad smile passed over her face as she gazed at me, and said, "I am
happy to see you restored to recollection; but you must not speak." And
she gently withdrew from the side of the cot.

I wished much to make inquiries; but felt so weak that I did not
persist, but sunk again into the same dreamy state. It is of no use
detailing the events of the few days that were passed in this helpless
state. By the kind nursing of the female and the kindness of the
captain, I slowly recovered, and learned that, by the merest accident, I
had been discovered by them as I floated upon the waves; and that, had I
not been seen to move when I had raised myself up, they would have
passed me; and that I was now on board the Betsy and Ann of Leith, bound
from Quebec to that port. My heart overflowed with love and gratitude to
that merciful God who had delivered me; for what the kind captain called
accident, I felt in my heart was his loving-kindness; now I firmly
believe there is no such thing as what men call chance or accident. We
are taught by Scripture that all things are ordered and directed by the
Creator of the universe, from the fall of a sparrow to the fall of an
empire; and, in the eye of Omnipotence, nothing is great or small, all
being directed to one great end.

I was now able to leave my cot for a short time, but not the cabin. The
young widow was ever by my side, to minister to my wants. I felt much
for her sorrows, which she bore with pious resignation; but I had no
power to minister to her comforts as my gratitude prompted me, when I
observed her, as I lay in my cot, weeping in silence, when she thought
me asleep. It was the third day after I was picked up, as I sat in the
cabin, and felt myself much recovered, that I gave her an account of my
leaving home, and my adventures since. She sat and listened with
interest, and seemed much affected by my account of my friend, James
Walden. She sighed heavily as I proceeded, and her tears fell fast. When
I mentioned his untimely death, she uttered a piercing cry, and fell
insensible upon the floor. I cried loudly for help; and her servant and
the captain, who were on deck, came quickly to my aid. After some time
she recovered, but was so ill that she was forced to be put to bed by
her maid. Her mind seemed quite unsettled by what I had said of my
friend's death; for she spoke strangely and incoherently, unconscious of
what she uttered; often repeating, "James, I shall never see you more.
How could I hope? I wished, but dared not hope, humbled as I was--yet
frown not on me so; I am more to be pitied than hated." Thus she
continued during the greater part of the day.

Towards evening, she became more composed, but was so ill that she could
not leave the state-room without the support of her servant, which she
did contrary to the remonstrances of the captain; only replying--


"What is life now to me but a dreary blank? O that I were at rest under
these rolling waves! O Mr Elder! have you strength to tell me all you
know of James before my heart bursts?"

I could myself have wept; but her eyes were dry, yet heavy and languid;
her face pale as marble, with a ghastly composure upon it, more
heart-moving than clamorous grief. Again I went over every circumstance,
and concluded by regretting the prayer-book, as the only article I
valued, left on board. She heard me the second time without altering a
muscle of her face. When I finished, she said--

"I was Matilda Everard; these fingers wrote the name upon the
prayer-book, which I gave to James Everard, my cousin. Walden was the
name of his mother; he was an orphan, the ward of my father; I am an
only daughter. We were brought up together. I was my father's only
child--an heiress; he had little more than his own abilities to depend
upon. I was a spoiled child, thoughtless and volatile. I loved him then
as a brother. He was some years older than I; he loved me as never man
loved woman. I sported with his misery; for I knew not love. My father
discovered his passion, and banished him from the house. I regretted him
as a brother--no, not as a brother--as a playmate. His feelings of
honour were so high, he took no covert means to meet me again; but I saw
him often at church, and elsewhere. I used to kiss my hand to him; but
we never exchanged words. Urged by my father, I married a rich merchant.
He was much older than I. The cold, haughty, and money-making habits of
my husband first turned my thoughts to James. I contrasted the joy that
used to beam in his eyes, when I smiled upon him, with the indifference
of my husband; and my love, once that of a sister, became all that James
could have desired, had I been still a maid. Upon my marriage, James
disappeared. Neither my father nor any one else knew where he had gone.
It is now three years--long, long years--since then. Circumstances
called my husband to Quebec, that, if not looked after, might involve
him in ruin. Jealous and morose, he took me with him. Months of misery I
dragged on there. My husband sickened and died. I am now on my way to my
father; but I feel we shall never meet. My heart, I feel, is broken, and
life ebbs fast. Farewell! and may you be blessed for your kindness to
James. Bury me in the waves; I long to sleep by his side."

Having taken farewell of the captain, she retired, and we never saw her
again in life. Some time after, agreeable to her request, she slept with
James under the waves of the Atlantic. For some days I was much affected
by the melancholy event; but my spirits, with my health, gradually
returned. A few weeks more would bring me to my father's house, and I
resolved never again to trust to any political prognosticator, even of
my own father, for I had never known him so much deceived before. I had
been eighteen months away, and the war, so far from being over, was, if
possible, fiercer than ever; and the democrats of France were carrying
murder and desolation wherever their armies went.



THE ANGLER'S TALE.


Never did boy long more anxiously for the arrival of the happy day which
was to free him from the trammels of school discipline than I, a
grey-haired man, always do for the return of bright and beautiful
summer--that happy season when all nature seems to sympathise with the
fortunate citizen who can escape from the confinement, bustle, and
excitement of the crowded haunts of men, to soothe his spirit and forget
his cares amid the beautiful scenery and calm retirement of the country.
I always allow myself, if possible, a holiday in the summer months; and
with rod in hand, and knapsack on back, I wander wherever whim or chance
may lead me. Oh! the delight I experience, when the city is left far
behind me!--the buoyancy, the springiness of feeling, with which I
whistle along my path, rejoicing in my freedom! The very birds seem to
welcome me with their song; the fields, the streams, all seem breathing
of delight; I forget my grey hairs; and the spirit of youth and the
freshness of youthful feeling are again upon me.

In one of my fishing excursions, a few years since, I became
accidentally acquainted with a worthy farmer of the name of Thompson,
who lived on the banks of the Esk, in the neighbourhood of the
beautifully-situated town of Langholm. He was a good, though by no means
a rare, specimen of the class of men to which he belonged--a shrewd,
sensible, well-informed man, frank and friendly in his address, and with
an air of quiet, unobtrusive independence.

He made up to me with such kindness and hospitality, and was so cordial
and pressing in urging me to repeat my visit, that I have ever since
made his comfortable house my head-quarters during the fishing season.
His cottage was beautifully situated on a gentle rise, surrounded by
lofty trees; immediately below ran the winding Esk, dashing and foaming
over a bed of limestone, and spanned, at a short distance, by a lofty
bridge of one arch, commanding a view of the ruins of the famed tower of
Gilnockie. The neat and cheerful exterior of the cottage bespoke
comfort and plenty within; and kinder and more hospitable people never
existed than its inmates. Elsie Thompson, the good-wife, in her plain
but neat "mournings," and her close white mutch, mild and gentle in her
manner, looked the very personification of benevolence and hospitality.
She had been a very handsome woman; but the hand of affliction had been
heavy upon her, and had left its marks upon her careworn features: four
of her children had been carried off by a contagious disorder, and her
sole remaining comfort, besides her husband, was her daughter.

Ellen was one of the loveliest creatures my eye ever rested upon. Hers
was a face of sunny beauty. The braids of her rich brown hair rested
upon a brow of more than common whiteness, from beneath which her large
blue eyes sparkled with the light of pure and innocent joyousness. The
whole of her features bore the impress of light-hearted mirth; and yet
at times a passing shade of sadness flitted across them, which, while it
softened their beauty, gave an additional charm to their expression. But
it was not Ellen's beauty alone that rendered her interesting: a
kinder-hearted, more attentive and affectionate daughter never existed;
her whole soul seemed to be wrapped up in her parents; her every action
had reference to some wish or habit of theirs. She was equally exemplary
in the performance of all her household duties, and was the pride and
blessing of her parents.

Ellen and I soon became intimate; for, in the country, untrammelled by
the forms of etiquette, acquaintance soon ripens into friendship.
Fortunate was it for me that my days of romance were over, or she would
have been a dangerous companion; as it was, I could gaze upon her as I
would upon a beautiful picture, admiringly, not lovingly. Many a happy
evening have I spent, sitting in the mild summer sunset, under the shade
of the large beech-tree at Edward Thompson's door, listening to the
brawling of the foaming waters, with Ellen by my side. It was at such
times that I more particularly remarked the melancholy I have before
mentioned. Her thoughts were evidently far from the scene she looked
upon, and a tear would sometimes steal down her cheek. Whenever I asked
her the occasion of her grief, she would answer, with a languid attempt
at a smile, "Oh, naething ava!" and immediately began to talk in a
strain of forced liveliness and indifference. I saw that she had some
secret cause of unhappiness; but, as she did not volunteer her
confidence, I did not consider myself justified in attempting to force
it, and set her unhappiness down in my own mind to that general and
all-powerful disturber of youthful feelings--love for some absent one.

Last summer, I had been engaged in my favourite amusement of fishing,
and had wandered some distance down the Esk, when certain inner warnings
admonished me that it was time to recruit my energies. As I am rather an
epicure, however, and enjoy my crust with more _gout_, the more
beautiful the scenery by which I am surrounded, I resisted the cravings
of appetite until I had reached a situation the beauty of which tempted
my stay, and then, laying my rod on the bank, I proceeded to examine the
contents of my knapsack. It was high noon; but the sun was partially
shrouded by light fleecy clouds, and threw a softened light on the green
bank on which I seated myself. Immediately at my feet ran the clear
stream, fringed a little higher up with willows and trees of a larger
growth; opposite to me were the rich woods and lawns of Netherby; to the
left, on the other side of the river, was a picturesque, ivy-covered,
turreted building, called the fishing tower; to the right, far down the
river, were seen the bridge and buildings of Longtown; and in the
distance, the beautiful hills of Cumberland. The high-road was only a
few yards distant, immediately behind me; but I was shut out from its
view by a substantial stone wall, with a neat gate opening to the
water-side. Scarcely had I seated myself, when I heard the sound of
coming footsteps on the high-road. The sound ceased; and, turning round,
I saw a traveller looking over the green gate behind me. I am a great
disciple of Lavater, and flatter myself, notwithstanding the many
mistakes I have been led into, that I can sometimes read a man's
countenance, almost as well as a "written book." To me, a good
countenance is always a letter of recommendation, and one to which, in
spite of the whisperings of prudence, I always pay instant attention.
There was something particularly prepossessing in the countenance and
appearance of the stranger. He was a young man of about six-and-twenty,
with a laughing dark eye, hair black as the raven's wing, and a
complexion bronzed by exposure to sun and clime. He was dressed like a
sailor, in a neat blue jacket, a narrow-rimmed glazed hat, and with a
small bundle on the stick over his shoulder. Seeing me look round, and
encouraged, I suppose, by the friendly interest with which I regarded
him, he remarked upon the fineness of the day, and asked if I had had
good sport.

"Yes," replied I, "tolerable; and now I have a tolerable appetite. Will
you come and join my mess?"

"Thank ye kindly, sir--wi' a' my heart. I've travelled far to-day, and
I'll be a' the better of an _elevener_."[4]

[Footnote 4: A nautical term for a forenoon whet.]

After a hearty and simple meal, washed down with a dram of Connal's
best,[5] and a draught of pure river water, I lighted my cigar, and,
giving my new messmate one, to keep me in countenance, I lounged in
luxurious ease upon my grassy couch, while he seated himself with modest
frankness beside me.

[Footnote 5: Langholm Distillery.]

"Your face tells of other climates, my friend," says I; "it was not an
English sun that bronzed it thus."

"It's five years noo, sir, sin' I left the banks o' the bonny Esk; and
weel ye ken that a wanderer by land and sea sees mair in a year than a
man that aye sits at the ingle-cheek will in his lifetime. Gude be
thankit, I haena felt muckle care or sorrow mysel! but I hae had my ain
share o' hardships."

"You seem not to have forgot your mother-tongue, however. You are a
native of this part of the country, I suppose?"

"I am, sir; and though I've been lang aneugh amang the Englishers to hae
been half English mysel, I couldna mak up my mouth to speak their
daft-like lingo; and noo the sicht o' my ain dear river, the thocht that
I'm but a few miles frae my ain hame, has dung what little I did ken o't
clean oot o' my head."

"I wonder you are not in a greater hurry to get onwards," said I. "I
think, if I were in your situation, I should be eager to reach my home
as soon as possible."

"Oh, sir, I maun gang and see puir Geordie Gordon's folk before I gang
hame. It's ill news I hae to tell them, and I maun wait till the
gloamin."

"And who is Geordie Gordon?"

"He was the kindest-hearted o' messmates, and the best o' freends. A
better seaman, or a kinder, never stepped atween stem and stern o' a
ship. Puir Geordie!" And he hastily passed the sleeve of his jacket over
his eyes.

"Suppose you let me hear some of your adventures," said I; "it will pass
away the time, and I should like much to know something of the ways of
you sailors, and the customs on board a ship."

"Oh, sir, I hae nae adventures to tell. Could you but hae heard puir
Geordie--he was the lad for spinning yarns, as we ca' it."

"Well, but you can tell me what took you first to sea, and what you
thought of the life of a sailor after you had joined a ship."

"Weel, sir! I'll just begin at the beginning, and tell ye a' aboot it;
and if ye're wearied wi' my clavers, ye maun just tell me:--"

There was a large family o' us, and a happy family we were--for my
faither was an industrious farmer, weel to do in the world, and weel
respeckit by a' wha kenned him; and my mither was a kind-hearted, worthy
woman, wha dearly lo'ed us a', but never let her luve blind her to our
fauts. She aye taught us that idleness was the root o' a' mischief, and
that we needna fear man as lang's we did our duty to our Maker.

I was about seventeen when Geordie Gordon cam hame frae the sea, to see
his folk, wha lived in our parishen. A heartsome and a weel-faured lad
was Geordie, wi' a merry ee, and a laugh--I maist think I hear't
noo--that cam ringing frae the heart. He was a favourite wi' auld and
young; and mony was the bright ee that blinked o'er on him as he sat in
the kirk wi' his roun blue jacket, and his checkit sark, and his smiling
happy face. Jenny Birrel was his sweetheart; a blithe lass and a bonny
was Jenny, and guid as she was bonny. Wae'll be her heart when she hears
what has happened her Joe!

Weel, sir, I was like the lave--I likit Geordie, and Geordie likit me,
and we were aye thegither. It garred my vera heart loup to hear him spin
yarns, as he ca'd it, about the dangers he had escapit, and the unco
sichts he had seen; till, frae less to mair, I felt an eager wish to
gang wi' him on his neist voyage, and to witness the wonders o' the
deep, and to veesit forran lands. Besides, I saw that a' the lassies
thocht mair o'ane who had been leading a life o' danger and hardship,
than o' the douce lads wha keepit following the pleuch, or thumping wi'
the flail a' the days o' their lives. And I thocht that my ain wee Joe
wad lo'e me better, and that I micht earn something to mak us
comfortable; and that, after I had seen a' the ferlies o' forran lans, I
wad come hame laden wi' braws to mak her my wife. Bonny wee thing! I
wonder if she minds me yet! In storm, in darkness, in danger, I never
forgot _her_.

Sair did my mither greet when I tell't her I was for awa wi' Geordie;
and aft, aft did she beg me to change my min'.

"Stay at hame, Tam, my bairn," said she, "and tak care o' yer auld
mither. A' the lave are gane but yersel, and if ye gang too, what'll
become o' us!" But I wadna be persuaded; the spirit o' change was upon
me, and gang I wad.

"I winna hinder ye, my bairn," said my faither; "if yer min' is made up
to gang for a sailor, gang, and His blessing gang wi' ye. Ye'll be as
safe in the midst o' the raging sea as ye wad be by yer ain fireside, as
lang's ye trust in Him."

But the warst was to come. I maist repented o' my determination when I
gaed for the last time to the trysting tree, whar I had sae aft met my
dear lassie. She was there, wi' her face buried in her hans, sabbing as
if her young heart would break. Oh, sir, it was a sad sicht to me!

It was a bonny nicht: the moon was at the full, and the stars were a'
glinting roun' her; there wasna a cloud, but on our ain hearts; the hail
holm was ae bleeze o' licht, amaist as licht as day; the leaves were
just soughing o'er our heads; and the soun' o' the burn wimpling near us
cam clear upon our ears. Our hearts were owre sair for muckle speaking;
she sabbit, and I tried to comfort her--but a' in vain. I wanted comfort
mysel; and at last I could stan' it nae langer--I just grat in company.

But this couldna last for lang. We vowed to be leal to ilk ither; and,
wi' ae last kiss, I forced mysel awa.

Neist morn, Geordie Gordon and I took foot in han' and awa to Leith, and
frae that worked our passage to Lunnon. Weel, sir, it's an awsome bit
that Lunnon! The streets just like hedgeraws, and the kirk steeples like
poplar-trees; and then the folk as thrang on the planestanes on a
week-day as if a' the kirks were scaling at ance! Ye'll hae been in
Lunnon, I'se warran, sir? Min', I'm just telling ye hoo I thocht and
felt then, for I ken better sin' syne. Then the ships a' crooding on ane
anither, like sheep in a fauld, their masts as thick as the trees in yon
wud: and the muckle barges wi' but ae man to guide them; and the wee bit
cockleshells o' wherries skimming alang, loaded wi' passengers sitting
amaist upon the water; and the noise o' men, and the thunner o'
carriages, and the smoke o' ten thousand chimlas! 'Od, sir, I used to
think Car'il a grand toun, but it's naething ava to Lunnon.

Weel, sir, ae day, Geordie and me were walkin on a place they ca' Tower
Hill--whar there's a grand auld castle they ca' the Tower o' Lunnon,
where they say a sodger chiel, o' the name o' Julius Cæsar, was beheadit
langsyne, in the time o' ane o' our auld Scottish kings--when a
weel-faured, sonsy-looking chiel, dressed like a provost, wi' a hat on
his head might serve a duke, cam up till us, and seeing us glowering
aboot, and just doing naething ava, began colloquying wi' us.

"It's a fine day, my lads," said he, looking as blithe as the sun in a
May morning. "You seem to be strangers in London. I like your honest
looks; and, as I am an idler myself, I will go with you, if you like,
and show you the lions."

"The lions! 'od, sir, are there ony lions hereawa?" said I.

"Many that you know nothing of," said he, stuffing his pocket-napkin
into his mouth, to keep the dust oot, I thocht. "Come with me, and we'll
drink to our better acquaintance."

Wi' that he taks us into a bit public near by, and tells us to ca' for
what we likit; and then he crackit awa, and was unco jocose and blithe.

"Have you got plenty of money, lads?" said he at last. And we lookit
like twa fules, for Geordie had but twa shillins left, and I had nae
mair mysel. He saw, for he had a gleg ee in his head, that we werna weel
provided; so cried he, "Never mind, my boys--I'll stand treat; the
landlord o' this house is my friend; you can have whatever you call for,
and stay with him as long as you like."

Wi' that he ca'ed for mair drink; and, frae ae thing to anither, what
wi' laughing and drinking, we got gey and fou, and were weel pleased to
win till oor beds.

"Troth, Geordie, lad," says I, "I think we've lichted on oor feet this
time; it's no every day in the week we'll meet sic a freend."

"I dinna ken what to mak o' him," said Geordie, wha kenned mair aboot
the warld than mysel, as he had been three years sailing atween Dumfries
and America; "he's owre ceevil by half. I've aye heard tell that there's
a set o' born deevils in Lunnon. It's a' vera weel as far as it's gane;
but I'm feared for the aftercome."

Weel, the neist morning, oor kind freend ordered breakfast for us, and
then asked us if we'd like to tak a walk and look aboot us. "But," said
he, "you must have better _toggery_ than that you have on." And wi' that
he took us into a shop, where he ordered a jacket and trousers for each
o' us; and, when we had putten them on, we cam oot, looking as braw as
the best. In the coorse o' oor cracks, we had tell't him we wanted to go
to forran parts.

"Well," said he, "there's a fine East Indiaman at Gravesend, just going
to sail for China. I can get you a berth on board of her."

Now, though Geordie and I were baith keen to gang to sea, yet we wanted
to choose oor ain ship; and, besides, we had resolved no to gang in ane
o' the East India Company's ships; for the lads on board the smack,
coming frae Leith, had tell't us to keep clear o' the Indiamen, for that
they were manned wi' the sweepings o' Newgate, and that there was mair
flogging on board o' them than in the navy.

"We're no for sailing in a Company's ship, sir," said I; "we'll choose
for oursels."

"Very well, lads," said he; "but before we part, we must '_square
yards_,' if you please. Pay me what you owe me." And, wi' that, he pulls
oot a bill as lang's my airm, for sae muckle meat, sae lang lodging, and
sae muckle for claithes.

"'Od, sir," said I, "did ye no treat us? Ye ken vera weel we haena a
bodle to pay ye wi'."

"Then you must either tramp to prison, or go on board the Indiaman. What
say you?"

"Weel, if we maun gang, we maun, and there's an end o't; but ye ha'ena
behaved to us like a gentleman and a Christian."

"A gentleman and a Christian!" said he, girning; "why, you Scotch
noodle, I'm a crimp!"

("And what, in the name of wonder, is a crimp?" said I, interrupting Tom
in his long-winded story.

"A crimp, sir!" said Tom; "d'ye no ken what's a crimp? Why, sir, a crimp
is, ye ken--a crimp _is_--hoot, he's just a crimp."[6]

"Very satisfactory, certainly," replied I. "However, go on with your
story.")

[Footnote 6: A crimp is a person who receives a certain sum of money
from shipowners for procuring sailors to man their vessels.]

Neist morning, Geordie and I, wi' mony ithers, were put into a Gravesend
boat, and sent down tae a bit ca'ed Northfleet, whar the Indiaman was
lying at the buoys. She was the first large ship I'd ever seen--and eh!
but I was astonished. I hae seen mony a ane since, and far bigger anes;
but she aye seems to my min' the biggest o' them a'. She was ca'd the
True Briton; and grand she did look, wi' her tall masts, and her colours
a' fleeing abroad, and the muckle guns peeping out o' the holes in her
sides they ca' ports. When we speeled up her sides, it was maist like
munting a hill; and when we got on board, I was fairly 'mazed, and stood
glowring frae the gangway as if I were bewitched, till a chiel, wi' a
face like a foumart, and a siller pipe hanging round his neck wi' a
black riband (he was a boatswain's mate), ca'd out to me--

"What are you staring at, you great fool? Come down from the gangway!"

And wi' that he gied me a pu' by the jacket, that maist garred me fa' on
the deck. My bluid was up in a moment; and I was just gaun to gie him as
guid's he brocht, when Geordie, wha was at my elbow, said--

"Haud yer hand, Tam! Never heed him. Do as ye see me do."

Wi' that he touched his hat to an officer who was walking the deck and
tell't him that we wished to ship as seamen.

"Can you hand, reef, steer, and heave the lead, my man?" said he.

"Yes, sir," said George; "but this callant has never been to sea afore."

"Oh, then, he won't do for us; besides, he is too light a hand. How long
have _you_ been at sea?"

"Six years, sir--three in a collier, and three in a Dumfries trader to
America. But, if Tom here is not shipped, I'll no go either."

"Well, you are a smart, stout-looking fellow yourself; and, as we want a
boy or two, we'll take Tom, too, as you call him. Midshipman, take these
men to the doctor."

"Ay, ay, sir!" said a smart wee boy, wi' a gilt loop and cockade in his
hat--"follow me, my lads!"

"What in a' the yirth is the doctor gaun to do till us? He's no gaun to
put a mark upon us, is he, Geordie?" whispered I.

"Whisht, ye great gowk!" was a' the answer I got; and I followed, as I
thocht, like a lamb to the slaughter, doun a ladder, till anither flat
deck, where a' the officers' cabins were.

'Od, sir, I never was sae astonished in a' my days! It was just like a
street in a toun; the cabins, on each side, like raws o' houses; and,
farder on, as far as ane could see, a raw o' muckle guns a' standing
abreast. It was unco low o'erhead, and I maist brak my head twice or
thrice or I won to the doctor's cabin. 'Od, I've aften laughed sin'
syne, to think how queer everything lookit to me then!

Weel, sir, the doctor felt our pulses, and lookit in our mouths, and
punchit us in the ribs, and examined us just as a horse-dealer wad a
beast, to see gin we war sound, wind and limb. And when he was
satisfied--

"Mr Noodle," said he to the midshipman, "tell Mr Douglas these men will
do."

And awa we gaed up the ladder again.


The ship was only waiting for men to mak up her complement; and, as we
were the last, we signed the contract for the voyage, and received twa
months' pay as arles. Our kind freend, the crimp, was waiting at the
pay-table wi' his bill, and sune eased us o' maist o' our money. The
morning after, two steamboats cam alangside, and were lashed to the
ship; we cut from the buoy, and in a few minutes the ship was whirring
doun the water wi' twa lang cluds o' smoke fleeing awa ahint, and the
red ensign just glinting now and then through them in the sunshine. We
cam to anchor at a place they ca' the Lower Hope; and in the afternoon
the boatswain and his three mates went about chirping wi' their siller
pipes, and ca'in, "All hands to muster, ahoy!" and the men a' cam
skelping up frae below, and went on the quarterdeck, where the officers
were a' standing on the ane side, and the men ranged themsels on the
ither.

"All up, sir," said the third mate, touching his hat to the chief.

"Very well--go on, steward." And the ship's steward ca'd out the names
o' a' the men, and they went round the capstan, touching their hats as
they answered. The chief mate afterwards tell't them a' their stations,
for reefing, furling, and tacking, and divided them into starboard and
larboard watches. Geordie Gordon being an able seaman, and a smart,
active chiel, was made a forecastle-man, and I was stationed in the
mizzentop.

At daylight neist morning we were roused out o' our hammocks by the
boatswain and his mates calling out on the upper-deck, "All hands up
anchor, ahoy! Up all hammocks, ahoy!" And then they cam doun below, and
made noise aneugh to wauken the dead or my auld deaf grannie, crying,
"Tumble up! tumble up!--show a leg!--lash and carry!" (Meaning the
hammocks.) Then the men jumpit out, and began hurrying on their claes,
and lashing up their hammocks. I had never been in a hammock afore that
nicht, and I had just been dreaming o' hame, when I was waukened by the
noise as if a' the deevils had broken loose, and I started up and jumpit
out o' my ain bed at hame, as I thocht, but I cam doun wi' sic a thud on
the deck as maist brak my head.

As soon as the hammocks were a' up, and put awa in the nettings on deck,
the capstan bars were shipped and manned, and the chief mate shouted
down the hatchway--

"Are you all ready there below?"

"All ready, sir!" replied the third mate.

"Heave taut for unbitting!"

As soon as the cable was unbitted, "Heave round!" was the cry from the
lower-deck.

"Heave round!" said the mate; "step out, my hearts!"

The fifes struck up "The girl I left behind me," the men stamped round
the capstan with a cheerful, steady step, and in a very short time the
cable was nearly up and doun.

"Up and down, sir!" shouted the boatswain from the forecastle.

"Heave and paul!" cried the chief mate. "Out bars, out bars! bear a
hand, my lads!--Up there, topmen--loose sails! Send everybody up from
below to make sail!"

"Ay, ay, sir!"

Eh! but I was dumfoundered to see the lads rinning up the rigging like
sae mony monkeys. And while I was standing glowering at them, a young
midshipman ca'd to me, "Holloa! you, Wilson!--don't you know you're a
mizzentopman?--Spin up and loose the topsail!"

"Me gang up, sir!--I canna, sir, I'd tumble."

"Can't, sir! there's no such word on board ship. Up you go; and if
you're afraid of falling, hold on with your teeth!"

"So I was obleeged to gang up; but I was a' in a tremble, and just was up
to the top in time to creep doun again; for the sails were a' loose, and
a' the lads coming doun. Eh! hoo the sailors did laugh at me! But, in a
fortnight's time, there wasna ane amang them could lay saut on my tail.
But what's the use o' my fashing yer honour wi' a' thae idle clavers?
Nae doot ye're tired o' them already."

"Oh no, Tom!" said I, "go on; I am much amused, I assure you; but you'd
better moisten your lips out of my flask before you go on."

"Thank ye, sir!"

Eh, but I thocht it a bonny sicht, when I lookit frae the rigging, where
I was hauding on wi' a' my fingers, like a fleyed kitlin, to see the men
a' lying oot on the different yards, loosening the rapes that keep the
sails rowed up--(they ca' them gaskets). Then the chief mate cried oot,
"Are you all ready there, forward!"

"All ready, sir."

"Are you ready in the maintop?"

"All ready, sir."

"Ready abaft?"

"All ready, sir."

"Let fall!"--And then the boatswain and his mates gied a loud skirl wi'
their pipes, and doun cam a' the sails flaffing at ane and the same
time; and in five minutes the masts that lookit afore as bare as trees
in winter, were a' cled in canvas frae tap to bottom. Weel, sir, the
sails were a' set, and just swelled out bonnily wi' the light breeze,
and the yards were trimmed, as they ca' it, for casting.

"Man the capstan bars!" shouted the chief mate. "Hold on there below!"

"All ready, sir!--heave round!" And away went the men again to the soun
o' the fife, till the boatswain gied a loud chirrup wi' his pipe, as
much as to say the anchor was up; and the paul o' the capstan clinkit,
and the bars were ta'en oot, and the men ran aboot a' gaets as they war
ordered, and the anchor was made fast, and in a short time the ship was
snooving through the water, bobbing and frisking like a fine leddy
dressed in a' her braws in a kintra dance.

'Od, sir, a muckle ship's a queer thing when ye come to think on't; it's
just, for a' the warl, like a toun afloat. If ye gang to the ane end, ye
hear the quacking o' ducks, and the cheep-cheeping o' turkeys, and the
crawing o' cocks;--gang to the ither, and there's the baaing o' sheep,
and the grumphing o' pigs, and the kye rowting as natural like as if
they war in a farm-steading at hame. Then there's Jemmy Ducks, a kind o'
henwife, only he's a man; and a butcher, and a baker, and cooks, and
carpenters, and joiners, and sail-makers, and blacksmiths (armourers
they ca' them), and a smiddy, and a' things like a place on shore. Then,
if ye want yer shoon clouted, or yer jacket mendit, or yer hair clippit,
ye're safe to fin' tailors, and cobblers, and shavers amang the crew.

We had a vera crooded ship; there war near five hundred sodgers, wi'
some o' their wives, on board; and an awfu time we had on't at first.

We had just got fairly oot into the Channel, whan it beguid to blaw
great guns, as they say, and the sail was a' taen in but the
maintopsail, and the ship tossed and tumbled in the water like a strong
man warstlin wi' his enemy. Whiles an awfu sea, as big's a hill-side,
wad come rampaging and raining doun upon her, as if it was gaun to
swallow her up a'thegither; and, wi' an awsome thud agen her bow, wad
send a shower o' thick spray owre her hail length; then she tumbled
owre, graining and maning like a leeving thing, till her side went deep
into the water, as if she war never gaun to rise mair; then up she wad
come again, whirring, and roll owre the tither way, dauring the sea, as
'twere, to anither tussle, while the lang masts were whisking aboot as
if they wad sweep the heavens abune oor heads.

The sodgers, puir bodies, were doun on the lowest deck--they ca't the
hollup (orlop)--wi' nae licht nor air but what cam doun the hatchways,
so that we were obliged to keep the hatch off, and every time a sea
struck the ship, a great body o' water ran doun below, till the hollup
was rinning maist foot deep; and there were the puir mithers sitting
hauding on by the stanchions in the midst o' the deck, and trying to
catch the helpless bit weans as they were carried frae side to side by
the rolling o' the ship and the rushing o' the water. Eh, it was a sad
sicht to see the bits o' things! Mony a puir wean died afterwards.

I could tell ye a feck o' queer things about the voyage; but I hae nae
time enow. But I'll just tell ye twa bit stories, ane about a sodger,
and the ither about puir Geordie Gordon; they baith affected me much at
the time.

Amang the sodgers there was a serjeant--a colour-serjeant, they ca'd
him--wha was weel likit by a' the crew. His name was George Hastie; he
was a weel-faured, douce, canny body, wi' twa mitherless weans.

Oh, but it was a pleasant sicht to see how carefu he was o' the
bairns!--and bonny bairns they were. He kamed their hair, and washed
the bit faces and hands, and keepit them aye as trig and clean as their
ain mither could hae dune. There was a wee bit shuffling luftennan on
board, wha likit his glass weel, and aye lookit twa inches taller after
denner, and as proud as a wee bantam cock. Weel, ae day the puir
serjeant, what wi' the heat o' the day and the strength o' the grog, was
a thocht the waur o' drink, and was maybe no exactly sae respectfu to
the bit offisher as he sud hae been; and--I kenna hoo it was, but he was
had afore a court-martial, and the stripes were taen aff the airm o' his
coat, and he was reduced to the ranks to do duty as a common sentry.
Puir fallow! we were a' terrible ill-pleased about it, and nane mair
than the vera offishers that condemned him.

Eight days after cam the 23d of April, when the king's birth-day, that's
dead, was keepit. At daylicht in the morning, in place o' the drums and
fifes striking up what the sodgers ca' the revilly, the hail band o'
music--twenty-twa instruments, forby drums--beguid playing, "God Save
the King," the colours o' the regiment were fleeing on the poop, and the
offishers a' dressed oot in their gran coats. After breakfast, the
leddies--bless their blithe looks and bonny faces!--war a' walking up
and doun the poop, when the bugles sounded to parade, and a' the sodgers
fell in on the quarterdeck. A grand set o' fallows they war--as neat and
clean as if they'd just turned oot o' a barrack-yard, wi' their belts as
white as snaw, and their brass muntings glinting in the sun, quite
dazzling to look at. They war formed into three sides o' a square, as
near as micht be, and the colonel and a' the offishers were standing at
the open end, a' in full dress. The colonel's breast was just covered a'
owre wi' orders.

When the men war a' settled, there was a dead silence; and the onlookers
wondered what was coming neist.

"Call Private George Hastie of Captain Thomas's company to the front,"
said the colonel. And oot afore them a' steppit puir Hastie, pale as a
sheet, but firm, erect, and sodger-like.

"George Hastie," said the colonel, "I have been induced, by the
solicitations of the ladies, and of the captain and officers of the
ship, as well as by the wishes of your own officers, to pardon the
transgression of military discipline of which you have been guilty, and
to restore you to the rank of flag-serjeant. I hope your temporary
degradation will act as a warning to you for the future, and that you
will not again run the risk of forfeiting the good opinion which, I am
happy to say, your officers have hitherto had of you."

Wi' that, oot whiskit the regimental tailor, and in a jiffey the bit
stripes war on Geordie's arm, and he was a made man again.

He just touched his cap to the colonel, puir chiel, and said nought; but
a tear cam intil his ee, and gaed stealing owre his cheek, that spak
mair and better than words could hae dune. Everybody was delighted at
his restoration; it was an act o' mercy wordy o' the occasion;--the
king's birth-day couldna hae been better celebrated. The sodgers war
then dismissed, and gaed below; and in the evening the band was up, and
an extra pint o' grog, to drink the king's health, was served out; and
there was naething but joy and diversion from ae end o' the ship to the
ither. Sae much for George Hastie! And noo I maun tell ye aboot puir
Geordie.

One evening we war comin near ane o' the shoals that's put doun in the
chart--but it wasna weel kent whether there really was ane there or
no--and the captain cam oot aboot sax in the evening, and tell't the
offisher o' the watch to shorten sail, and hae a' ready for lowering the
larboard cutter. I was standing on the poop at the time, and heard him
gie the order.

Weel, sir, we beguid to shorten sail, while the cutter's crew were
clearing awa the boat. We took in a' the stun-sails, and hauled up the
courses, and furled the royals; then the mainyard was laid aback, and
the boat was lowered and hauled up to the gangway. Geordie Gordon was
ane o' the crew o' the boat--and sax o' the finest young lads in the
ship they war. Ane o' the mates and a midshipman were sent in the boat,
wi' orders to mak sail, and keep ahead o' the ship, sounding for the
shoal. They had a compass, twa or three muskets, and some blue lichts
for signals, wi' them.

It was a fine evening; a licht, steady breeze was blawing, and the ship,
under her topgallantsails, was gaun aboot four knots an hour through the
water; and the wee boat danced merrily owre the waves a gey bit ahead,
wi' her white sails glinting in the sun, like the wings o' a bonny
sea-bird.

Whan the darkening cam on, the captain, afore he _turned in_, said to
the offisher o' the watch, "Keep your eye on the boat, Mr Bowline, and
on no account let the ship go faster through the water than she does at
present. Let me know if the boat makes any signal, or if the breeze
should freshen."

"Ay, ay, sir!--Keep a good look-out for the boat there, forward!"

Weel, sir, the breeze keepit steady, and the ship gaed cannily through
the water, and the boat was easy to be seen--till aboot
seven-bells--that's half-past eleven--the sky beguid to be o'ercast, and
the breeze to freshen; but still through the darkness the bit white sail
was seen.

At eight-bells, that's twal o'clock, the watch was relieved, and anither
officer came up to tak charge o' the ship.

"A cloudy night, Bowline. What are the orders?"

"You're to keep the ship the same course" (I dinna just min' what it
was), "and not to lose sight of the boat on any account."

"Very well. But where _is_ the _boat_?"

"There she is, just under that dark cloud. Good-night!"

"Don't be in such a hurry. I can't see the boat!"

"Why, there she is!"

"I can't see her," said the other; "and what's more, I won't take charge
of the deck till I do."

"I'm sure I saw her two minutes ago," said Bowline.

Weel, sir, they lookit and lookit, and we a' lookit, and they gat up
their nicht-glasses; but a' in vain, for the boat wasna to be seen.

The offisher o' the deck was maist demented, and ran in to the
captain--"We've lost sight of the boat, sir!"

"The devil!" said he, starting oot o' his cot, and rinning on
deck--"burn a blue light directly!"

The gunner's mate ran doun for a blue licht; and, in a minute, it was
fizzing awa on the quarter, throwing a bricht glare o' licht a' owre the
ship. The nicht was dark by this time; but you could see every rape in
her, and the faces o' the men at the far end looking a' blue and
ghaist-like.

Lang and sair we lookit for an answer to the signal; ye micht hae heard
a whisper, we war sae quiet wi' fear and hope; but there was nowther
sicht nor sound in reply. Anither was burned--but still nae answer.

A gloom fell upon us a', a fear o' we didna ken what. We durstna speak
our thochts to ane anither; and, as for our captain, I thocht he wad hae
gane clean oot o' his mind--for a kinder-hearted man never steppit a
quarterdeck. We hove the ship to, as they ca't, and fired guns every two
or three minutes, in hopes the lads in the boat wad hear; and sair and
sadly we langed for the morning licht.

It cam at last; but there was naething to be seen but the lift and the
water. The ship was hauled to the wind; and the hail o' that day we made
short tacks backward and forward across our auld course, wi' signals
fleeing at our mastheads, and firing guns every hauf-hour, and a' the
men straining their een to get a gliff o' the boat--but a' for nocht--we
never saw them mair! Whether the boat was capsised in a sudden squall,
or the ship had struck her, or whatever it was, will never be kent till
the sea gies up her dead!

Oh, sir, was it no an awfu thing to think that sae mony fine lads, wha
had left us a few hours afore, fu' o' life and speerit, should be
hurried awa at a moment's warning, and buried in the waves o' the sea!
There was an unco gloom owre the ship a' that day and the neist--the men
gaed about whispering to ilk ither, as if they were feared to hear the
sound o' their ain voices--and the bauldest amang them were sobered for
a time. But oh, sir, to see how sune the dearest and best are forgotten!
In a few days the maist o' the men were as heartsome and blithe as if
naething had happened. Puir Geordie! aft hae I thocht o' you when it was
my look-out on deck, and o' the merry ee and the heartsome laugh that
I'll ne'er see or hear mair. But it's getting weel on in the day, sir;
so I maun cut short my yarn, as we sailors say, and leave ye. I left the
ship in China, and volunteered on board a man-o'-war, and, after being
three years on a forran station, I was paid aff a fort-nicht past, and
am now on my way hame, to share my savings wi' my wee lass, if she hasna
forgotten me. Guid afternoon, sir. I'll maybe meet ye again ere lang,
and then, if ye like to listen to them, I'll gie ye mair o' my cracks. I
maun awa to puir Geordie's faither.

And, before I had time to question him as to the whereabouts of his
home, and how or when I was to meet him again, he bounded over the gate,
and disappeared.

That same evening, I was sitting in Edward Thompson's comfortable
parlour, reading my favourite, Burns; Elsie was knitting near me, and
Ellen was preparing some of the trout that I had brought home for
supper. The sun had long set, and the twilight was only just beginning
to fade into night; the window was open to admit the mild evening air;
and the song of the thrush and blackbird had usurped the place of all
other sounds with sweet melody.

Just as we were about to seat ourselves at the plain but comfortable
board, we heard some one at a short distance whistling the air of

    "Dinna think, bonny lass,
    I'm gaun to leave you."

And immediately afterwards, a fine, clear, manly voice sang--

    "I'll tak my stick into my hand,
    And come again and see you."

Ellen started, and turned pale.

"What ails the lass?" said her father, when the door burst open, and,
glowing with health and exercise, my friend of the morning stood before
us.

The old people stared with surprise; their memory was at fault. Not so
Ellen: she blushed, turned pale; and burst into tears.

"Faither, d'ye no mind Tam?--Tam Wilson?" And the next moment Tom--_her_
Tom--was at her side, and fondling her to his heart.

That was a happy night at Fairyknowe. Tom was in all his glory; the old
man indulged in an extra glass of toddy while listening to his _yarns_;
and Ellen _looked_ the joy she felt--there was no shade on her features
now. Next Sunday, which was only two days afterwards, the gossips of the
parish were quite astonished when they heard the names of Tom Wilson and
Ellen Thompson cried three times in the kirk.

"Whatna Tam Wilson can that be, I wonder?" Nobody knew. But next
Sabbath-day all their "wonderings" were satisfactorily silenced, by
witnessing the gay kirking party, with Tom and Ellen at their head--the
handsomest couple, so they all said, they had seen this "mony a lang
day." I was present at the wedding, which took place on the Friday
preceding, and a happy scene it was. Tom has left ploughing the sea, to
follow the plough on shore, and he and Ellen are settled in a small and
comfortable farm with every prospect of happiness before them.



PERSEVERANCE;

OR, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF RODERIC GRAY.


Courteous reader, thou must be aware that there is no virtue which
conferreth greater benefits upon its possessor than the virtue of
perseverance. It can scale precipices, overtop mountains, encompass
seas. Perseverance is a mighty conqueror; it fighteth against odds, and
neither turneth its back nor is dismayed. Its progress may be slow, but
in the end it is sure. As a snail ascendeth a perpendicular wall, it may
fall or be driven back to the ground, but it will renew the attempt. It
suffereth longer than charity, and hence came the adage, that "they who
look for a silk gown always get a sleeve o't." It has been said, "Great
is truth, and it will prevail;" and in addition thereunto, I would say,
"Great is perseverance, for it also will prevail." The motto of every
man should be, "_nil desperandum_." Every one should remember that real
honour and esteem do not seek a man on whom they are to alight--the man
must seek them; he must win them, and then wear them.

Instead, however, of detaining the reader with dull and general remarks
on perseverance, I shall at once lay before them a copy of the
autobiography of Roderic Gray, whose history will illustrate its effects
in particulars:--

I was the son of poor but of honest parents. (With this stereotyped
piece of history concerning poverty and honesty, Roderic Gray began his
autobiography.) Yes, I repeat that my father and my mother were very
poor, but they were sterlingly honest. They had a numerous family, and
many privations to contend with; and the first thing I remember of my
father was a constant, I may say a daily, expression of his, "Set a
stout heart to a stey brae." Another great phrase of his, when any of us
were like to be beaten by ought that we were attempting, was, "Try it
again--never be beat--step by step brings the mountain low." My mother
was of a disposition precisely similar to my father. Almost the first
thing I remember of her is, what was her favourite expression, "Try it
again, as your faither says--practice makes _perfiteness_."[7]

[Footnote 7: Perfection]

These expressions of my honoured parents were the rudiments of my
education. They left an impression upon my heart and upon my brain,
before I was sensible of what an impression was. There is often a great
deal more conveyed through a single sentence, than we are apt to
imagine. Our future destiny may be swayed by the hearing of one little
word, and that word may be spoken in our hearing at a very early period
of our lives. Many a father, when years began to sober down the buoyant
tumult of his spirits, has wondered at and grieved over the disposition
and actions of his son, marvelling whence they came; whereas the son
received the feelings which gave birth to such actions, while he was but
an infant, from the lips of his father, as he heard that father recount
the deeds, the exploits, the feats of bravery of his young manhood. From
the hour that a child begins to notice the objects around it, or to be
sensible of kind or of harsh treatment, from that moment every one who
takes it in their arms, every object around it, become its instructors.
I find I am digressing from my autobiography, but I shall go on with it
by and by, and as I have mentioned the subject of education, I shall say
a few more words upon that topic, and especially on the education of the
young, which, though it detain the reader for a short space from my
history, will neither be uninstructive, nor without interest.

Some years ago, I met with a modern Job, who said he had read through
the large edition of Johnson's Dictionary; and I do regret, with
considerable sincerity, having neglected to ask the gentleman whether,
in the course of his highly entertaining reading, he met with any word
so murdered, butchered, abused, and misunderstood, as the poor
polysyllable--education. Many wise people conceive it to signify many
multitudes of words--of dead words and of living words, of words without
symbols; or, in plain language, they say (or they act as if they said)
that education means to make a man's head a portable lexicon of all
languages. This is what they term the education classical. Some very
wise men go a step farther with the meaning of the term. They shake
their heads in contempt at the mere word-men. They mingle more of
utility with their idea of the signification. They maintain that
education meaneth also certain figures, whereby something is learned
concerning pounds and pence, and square inches and solid inches. Here
the general idea of education terminates; and this is the education
mercantile and mathematical. There are, however, a third class of
philosophically-wise men, who affirm that education means the
macadamising, on a small scale, of blue stones and grey ones; in
describing comets with tails, and planets without tails; in making the
invisible gases give forth light in darkness, as the invisible mind
lighteth mortality. This is the education scientific. Thus the artillery
of all the three is directed against the head. The head is made a
gentleman, a scholar, a philosopher, while the poor heart is suffered to
remain in a state of untutored, uncared-for barbarity and ignorance. And
in all this parade, concerning what education in reality imports, it is
overlooked, that the heart from whence all evil proceeds--the heart
where all good is received--is the soil where the first seeds of
education ought to be sown, watered, watched over, pruned, and reared
with tenderness. And it is not until the heart has become a sturdy
savage, hardened in ignorance, that any attempts are made to curb it
within the limits of moral obligation. A more insane idea cannot be
conceived by a rational man, than supposing that education begins by
learning to know that one letter is called A, a second B, and a third C.
Education begins with the first glance which the mother bestows upon her
child in answer to its first smile. Before the infant has lisped its
first word, the work of education has made progress. The mother is the
first, the fondest, the most important and responsible teacher. It is
hers to draw out the young soul, which dreams in the smiles and the
laughing eyes of her infant; it is hers to subdue, and in gentleness to
root up, the first germ of evil that springs into existence; it is hers
to unfold, by a thousand ways and a thousand tendernesses, which a
mother's heart can only conceive, and a mother's eye only can express,
the first shadows of right and of wrong; it is hers to teach feelings of
love, of gentleness, and gratitude--to give a direction and a colouring
to the embryo passions which shall mark the future character and destiny
of her yet sucking child. Nor is there an object upon earth more worthy
the admiration, we had almost said the envy, of an angel, than a
Christian mother gazing, in the depth of her affection, upon the babe of
her bosom, watching its faculties expand like young flowers--bending
them to the sun of truth, gently as the linnet bends the twig where it
thrills its little song to cheer its partner. But, when the infant
leaves the lap of its mother, and other duties divide her care, it is
then necessary that a teacher, equally affectionate and equally
efficient, be provided; for children seek, and will find, teachers of
good or of evil in every scene, and in every playmate. It is now that
the Infant School must mature the education which the mother has, or
ought to have, begun. Some disciple of moth-eaten customs, whose ideas
are like the flight of a bat, and whose imagination is hung round with
cobwebs, may snarl out his mouthfuls of broken humanity, and inquire,
what could be learned by infants of two or of five years of age, to
compensate for blighting their ruddy cheeks like tender plants in a
frost-wind, by mewing them up and crowding them together within the
dismal walls of a noxious schoolroom, through the midst of which a male
or a female tyrant continue their dreary tramp, tramping to and fro
within the hated circle of their terror, and flourishing fear and
trembling in their hand, in the shape of a birch, the bark of which has
yielded to their work of punishment? I readily admit that, in such a
place, and under such a teacher, nothing could be learned--nothing
experienced--but an early foretaste of future misery. This is no picture
of an infant school--this is no part of its discipline. Never would I
confine the little innocents within the walls of a prison-house--never
would I behold them trembling beneath the frown of a taskmaster. I would
not curtail one of their infant joys, nor cut off one of their young
pleasures. I would not mar their merry play, nor curb the glee that
wantons in their little clubs. But I would mingle education with their
joy and with their pleasures--health and lessons with their play--and
affection and forgiveness in their little bands. Thus their joys or
their pleasures, their play and their companions, become their teachers.
By an infant school I would not mean a room where a hundred children may
be crowded together in an unhealthy atmosphere. The situation and
comforts of the school are almost as important as the nature of the
instruction, or the character and disposition of the teacher. The
situation should be airy and healthy, and the room well ventilated, with
a small play-ground attached. For the play-ground is almost as necessary
as the school, and both are regarded by the pupils as places of loved
amusement, where the presence of the teacher inspires no terror, no
restraint, but where he mingles in their sports and directs them as an
elder playmate, while they regard him as such, and in return love him as
a parent. And while all appears unrestrained mirth on the little yard,
or the little green; and exercise gives play to the lungs, vigour to the
system, and health to the blood, and the small gymnasium rings with the
joy of the happy beings, no incident, however trifling, is suffered to
pass unimproved, to "lead them from nature up to nature's God," to
eradicate evil propensities, and cherish a love of truth, justice,
mercy, and mutual love. Their sports, their tempers, their little
wrongs, or quarrels, all become monitors in the hands of the teacher, to
render his infant charges the future good men, or the excellent women.
The schoolroom is only changing the scene of amusement, and tasks which
I remember were to me the very essence of purgatory, pain, and
punishment, are rendered to them an exquisite pastime. The pence table
they carol merrily to the tune of "Nancy Dawson." With two or three sets
of merry motions, they chant the formidable multiplication table, which
affords them all the hilarity of chasing a butterfly, or romping on the
meadow. Nothing is given them in the shape of a task, but every new
lesson is a new pleasure. They are not so much taught by words, as by
bringing the thing signified under their observation. I should be sorry
if the objects of infant schools should ever be so perverted as to
attempt making them nurseries for infant prodigies. I care no more for
precocity of talent than I do for a tree that has blossomed before its
time, the fruit of which is sure not to be worth the gathering. The
design of infant schools is not to make ignorant parents _vain_ of their
children, but to make all parents _happy_ in their children. It is not
so much the _quantity_ of what they learn that is to be regarded, as the
_quality_ of what they learn. They will learn cheerful obedience to
their parents, their instructors, and their future masters; they will
learn the most important of all lessons to their after happiness, the
government of their temper; they will learn conscientiousness in all
that they do; they will learn sincerity; they will learn habits of
order, of cleanliness, and of courtesy; they will learn method and
dislike confusion; they will learn to bestow neatness, without vanity,
on their persons; and order in all things. They will acquire a knowledge
of geography, of the animal, the vegetable, and the mineral kingdoms,
not as words but as things that exist, and of which they have an
understanding. They will acquire much to amuse and delight the fireside
of their parents--much to surround it with edification and instruction.
And instances have been, where they have there conveyed upon their
lisping tongues conviction and conversion to a parent's heart; while
their Maker from the lips of babes and of sucklings perfected praise.
They will be taught to feel that there is ever in the midst of them a
God of love, of mercy, and of power, who is angry with the wicked every
day. They will be taught to love the creatures He has framed, to know
his Word, and revere its precepts--to love virtue for virtue's sake. It
may be urged that much of the good produced by infant schools will be
afterwards destroyed, by their mingling in other schools in riper years,
with children whose passions have been permitted to run wild, and
especially where evil examples may exist on the part of the parents.
That these will have a prejudicial effect to a certain extent, is not to
be denied. But for them there is also a preventive and a remedy. The
infant school is the nursery of the Sabbath school, where all the good
begun will be strengthened and confirmed. Great as the moral and
religious change is which Sabbath schools have effected upon society,
their effect would have been tenfold, had not the moral culture of the
child been so unheeded before sending it to the school, and its heart so
hardened by years and neglect, as to render an abiding impression
impossible. But religious instruction, whether implanted in our minds by
our father's fireside, in the infant school, or the Sabbath school, will
never be forgotten. It will not depart from us. We may endeavour to
shake it off, but it will struggle with us as Jacob with the angel. It
will be a whisper in our souls for ever. We may grow up, and we may
mingle with the world, and we may cast our Bibles far from us--and we
may become wicked men and thoughtless women, but these whispers of
eternal truth, though even thought to be forgotten by ourselves, will
return and return again; and, when we wander in solitude, or lie
sleepless on our pillow in the darkness of midnight, they will rush back
upon our guilty minds, in texts, in verses, and in chapters, long, long
forgotten.

But to return to my history. I have said that the first of my education
was the sayings which I heard from the lips of my father and mother.
They gave an inclination to my spirit, as the hand bendeth the twig.
They became to me as monitors that were always present. I often think
that I hear the voice of my honoured father saying unto me still,
"Whatsoever ye take in hand, _persevere_ until ye accomplish it." That
maxim became with me a principle, which has continued with me from
childhood unto this day.

Before proceeding farther, it is necessary for me to say that my father
was not only a poor man, but his occupation was one of the humblest
which a peasant could occupy. He filled no higher situation than that of
occasional barnman, and hedger and ditcher, upon a farm near Thornhill,
in Dumfries-shire. Neither was he what some would call a strong-minded
man, nor did he know much of what the world calls education; but, if he
did not know what education was, he knew what the want of it was, and he
was resolved that that was a knowledge which his children should never
acquire. It was therefore his ambition to make them scholars to the
extent of his means. But, when I state that his income did not exceed
six shillings, you will agree with me that those means were not great.
But my father's maxim, _persevere_, carried him over every difficulty.
When my mother had said to him, as a quarter's wages became due--"Robin,
I will never be able to stand thir bairns' schooling--sae mony o' them
is a perfect ruination to me."

"Nonsense, Jenny," he would have said, in his own half-laughing,
good-natured way; "the back is aye made fit for the burden. Just try
anither quarter, though we have to be put to our shifts to make it out.
I'm no feared but that we will make it out some way or other. We have
always done it yet, and what we have done, we can do again. Let us give
them a' the schooling we can, poor things; and the day will come when
they will thank us, or mair than thank us, for a' that we have wared
upon them. O Jenny, woman! had I been a scholar, as I am not, instead o'
being the wife o' a labouring man the day, ye would have been my
wife--but a leddy."

A thousand times since, it has been a matter of wonder to me how my
parents, out of their niggard income, provided food, clothing, and
education for their family, which consisted of five sons and four
daughters, all of whom could not only read, write, and cast accounts;
but, though I say it who perhaps ought not to say it, his sons, in point
of "_schooling_" in higher branches, were the equals, and perhaps more
than the equals, of the richest farmer's sons in the neighbourhood. And
never did a quarter-day arrive, on which any of the nine children of
Robert and Janet Gray went before his teacher without his money in their
hand, even as the brethren of Joseph, the patriarch, carried the money
in their sacks' mouth. For it was not with my revered parents, as
now-a-days it is with too many, who regard paying a schoolmaster his
fees somewhat in the same light as paying a physician after his patient
is dead, or a lawyer when the cause is lost.

Every Saturday night my father, though no scholar himself, caused us to
bring home our books and our slates, and in his homely way he examined
us--or rather he examined _them_ (the books and the slates)--as to the
proficiency we had made. Of figures he did know something: grammar, he
said, was a new invention, and there, for a time, his examinations were
at fault, and he knew not how to judge or to decide. But (I being the
eldest) as I grew up, he transferred the examination of my younger
brothers, as regarded grammatical proficiency, to me. And well do I
remember, that every weekly examination closed with the
admonition--"Now, bairns, _persevere_. Ye see how your mother and me
have to fecht late and early to keep ye at the schule; and it is my
greatest ambition to see ye a' scholars. Learning is a grand thing; it
is a fortune equal to the best estate in the kingdom--ay, even to the
Duke o' Buccleugh's; but oh, the want o' it is a great calamity, as nane
can tell ye better than your faither. Therefore, bairns, _persevere_;
always strive to be at the head o' your class, and if I live to be an
auld man, I shall see some o' ye leddies and gentlemen."

Thus the word _persevere_ was for ever rung in our ears; and I believe,
before any of us knew its meaning, we one and all put it in practice.
And often, when the frost lay white upon the ground, before the sun got
up, and even when the ice drew itself together like a piece of lace-work
on the shallow pools, at the head of all the classes in our school,
which were just like stepping-stairs, a barefooted and barelegged
laddie, but with hands and face as clean as the linen on his back, might
have been seen as the dux of every class: and all those barefeeted or
barelegged laddies were the bairns of Robert Gray.

"Persevere as ye are doing, Roderic," my old teacher used to say, "and
ye will live to be an ornament to your country yet." I doubt all the
ornament I have been to my country is hardly of a higher kind than that
of a stucco or a paste-board figure on a mantelpiece, and perhaps not so
much. However, be that as it may, I have the consolation to think that I
have not passed through the world exactly as if I had been a cipher.

I know it is a difficult and a delicate thing for a man to write a
sketch of his own life, without committing shipwreck on the shoals and
quicksands of egotism; but I will endeavour to steer clear of this, and
while it is certain that I will "set down nought in malice," I trust
that I shall be able to show that I will "nothing extenuate."

My father's precept of _perseverance_ carried me through my schoolboy
days gloriously, even as it had borne him through the expense of paying
out of his scanty earnings for the education of nine children. I wanted
three days of completing my thirteenth year when I left the school, but
then I had begun to read Homer in Greek--I had read Horace in Latin, and
I was acquainted with Euclid. My father was proud of me, my master was
proud of me, for I had _persevered_. It was seldom that the son of a
cottar, or the son of any one else, left the school at such an age so
far advanced.

Many said that before I was twenty they would see me in a pulpit--but
they were mistaken. My father's habitual word, _persevere_, had taken
too deep root in my heart, until it produced a sort of mental perpetual
motion, which ever urged me onward--onward! and I found that the limits
of a pulpit would never confine or contain me. I felt like a thing of
life and happiness, that rejoiced and shook its wings beneath the
sunshine of freedom, and I longed to expand my wings, even though they
should fall or break under me.

I have said that I left school three days before I had completed my
thirteenth year, and on the day that I did so, I was to become tutor in
the family of a Colonel Mortimer, of the Honourable the East India
Company's service. I was to be at once the playmate and instructor of
two children; the one five, the other seven years of age--both boys. But
his family contained another child--Jessy Mortimer--a lovely, dark-eyed
girl of fifteen. The sun of an eastern clime had early drawn forth her
beauty into ripeness, and although but two years older than myself, she
was as a woman, while I was not only a mere boy, but, if I might use the
expression, something between what might be termed a boy and a child;
and certainly at the very age when children are most disagreeable to
persons of a riper age. Yet, young as I was, from the very day that I
beheld her, my soul took up its habitation in her eyes. I was dumb in
her presence, I opened not my mouth. I was as a whisper, a shadow, in
the family--a piece of mechanism that performed the task designed for
it. It was a presumptuous thing in the son of a humble barnman to fix
his eyes and his heart upon the daughter of an East India colonel, and
one two years older than himself; but the heart hath its vagaries, even
as our actions have.

For the first two years that I was in the house of Colonel Mortimer, I
may say that, save in my class-room, my voice was not heard above my
breath. But, as my voluntary dumbness became more and more oppressive,
so also did my affection, my devotion, for Jessy become the more
intense. The difference between our ages seemed even to have become more
marked, and I felt it. Yet I began to think that her eyes looked upon me
more tenderly; and the thought increased the devotion which for two
years I had silently cherished. There seemed also a music, a spirit of
gentleness and of kindness, in her voice, which first inspired me with
hope.

Thus did five years pass on, and during that period I hardly ventured to
lift up my eyes in her presence; though throughout that period I had
said within my heart, Jessy Mortimer _shall be my wife_, and that was a
bold thought for the son of a barnman to entertain towards the daughter
of a wealthy nabob. But throughout my whole life I had endeavoured to
put into practice my father's counsel concerning perseverance; and most
of all was I determined to follow it in the subject which was deepest in
my heart.

I remember the first time I ever spoke to Jessy. When I say the first
time I spoke to her, I mean the first time that my soul spoke to her
through my lips. For more than five years we had exchanged the common
civilities of society with each other; but the language of the heart is
ever a sealed volume, when the cold-fashioned ceremonies of society have
to be observed.

But to proceed. I was now upwards of eighteen, and the children under my
tuition were to be removed to a public school. It was no disgrace to me
that they were to be so removed, for I knew it from the beginning of my
engagement. Yet I felt it as disgrace--as more than disgrace--because
that it would tear me from the side of Jessy, on whom my eyes lived and
my mind dreamed. I had no wish to be a teacher, no ambition to become a
minister; and her father had procured for me a situation as a clerk to a
broker in London. But to me the thoughts of departure were terrible.
Everything within and around the colonel's establishment had become
things that I loved. I loved them because Jessy loved them, because she
saw them, touched them, was familiar with and in the midst of them. They
had become a portion of my _home_. I was unhappy at the thought of
leaving them; but, beyond every other cause, my mind was without comfort
at the thought of leaving her--it was hopeless, desolate. It was like
causing a memory by force to perish in my heart.

It was in the month of September; I was wandering amidst the wooded
walks upon her father's grounds. The rainbowed bronze of autumn lay upon
the trees, deepening as it lay. The sun hung over the western hills; and
the lark, after its summer silence, carolled over the heads of the last
reapers of the season, to cheer their toil. A few solitary swallows
twittered together, as if crying, "Come--come!" to summon them to a
gathering and departure. The wood-pigeon cooed in the plantations, and
as the twilight deepened, the plaintiveness of its strain increased. As
I have said, I was then wandering in the wooded walks upon Colonel
Mortimer's grounds, and my thoughts were far too deep for words. While I
so wandered in lonely melancholy, my attention was aroused by the sound
of footsteps approaching. I looked up, and Jessy Mortimer stood before
me. I was too bashful to advance--too proud, too attached towards her,
to retire.

We stood as though an electric spark had stricken both. I trembled, and
my eyes grew dim; but I saw the rose die upon her cheeks. I beheld her
ready to fall upon the ground, and, half unconscious of what I did, I
sprang forward, and my arm encircled her waist.

"Jessy!--Miss Mortimer!" I cried. "Pardon me--speak to me."

"Sir!" she exclaimed--"Roderic!" I approached her--I took her hand. We
stood before each other in silence. She drew herself up--she fixed her
eyes upon me. "Sir," she returned, "I will not pretend to misunderstand
your meaning; but remember the difference that exists in our
situations."

"I remember it, Miss Mortimer--I do. I will remember it, Jessy. There
_is_ a difference in our situations."

I sprang from her--I thought I felt her hand detaining mine; and, as I
rushed away, I heard her exclaiming, "Stay, Roderick! stay!" But wounded
pride forbade me--it withheld me. I thought of my father's and of my
mother's words--"Persevere! persevere!" And while I thought, I felt a
something within, which whispered that I should one day speak to the
daughter of Colonel Mortimer as her equal.

As I rushed away, I turned round for a moment to exclaim, "Farewell,
Jessy!--we shall meet again!" Me-thought, as I hurried onward, I heard
the accents of broken-hearted agony following after me; and through all,
and over all, her voice was there. But I would not, I could not return.
It was better to feel the arrow in my soul, than to have a new one
thrust into it.

In a few days I took my departure towards London. I carried with me the
letters of introduction which her father had given me. The broker to
whom he recommended me was a Mr Stafford. He received me civilly, but at
the same time most coldly, and pointing with his finger to the desk,
said, "You will take your place there."

I did so, and in a very few weeks I became acquainted with the minutiæ
of a broker's office. I perceived the situation which my senior clerks
occupied, and I trusted one day to be as they were. I had heard them
tell of our master having come to London with only half-a-crown in his
pocket; and I thought of my father's maxim, "persevere," and that I
might do even as my master had done.

There were a dozen clerks; and three years had not passed, until I
occupied one of the chief seats in the counting-house. I became a
favourite with my employer, and one in whom he trusted.

During that period I had heard nothing of my early benefactor--nothing
of Jessy; but my thoughts were full of them.

Now it came to pass, somewhat more than three years after I had arrived
in London, that, one day as I was passing up Oldgate, a person stopped
me, and exclaimed, "Roderic!"

"Esau!" I returned; for his name was Esau Taylor.

"The same," he replied, "your old schoolfellow."

Hunger sat upon his cheeks--starvation glared from his
eyeballs--necessity fluttered around him as a ragged robe. The shoes
upon his feet were the ghost of what they had been. His whole apparel
was the laughingstock of the wind; but my father had taught me to
despise no one, however humble. It was a saying of his, "Look to the
heart within a breast, and not to the coat that covers it;" and
therefore I received Esau Taylor kindly. He was the son of an extensive
farmer in our neighbourhood, and although I wondered to find him in a
situation so distressed, I recollected that in London such things were
matter of everyday occurrence. Therefore I did not receive him coldly,
because of the shabbiness of his coat, and the misery of his appearance.
I knew that I was the son of a barnman, and that my father's coat might
be out at the elbows.

"Ha, Esau! my dear fellow," said I to him, "when did you come to town?"

"Several weeks ago," he replied.

"And what have you been doing?" said I.

"Nothing, nothing," he rejoined.

"Well," said I, "will you meet me in this house to-morrow? You were
always good at figures, Esau; you can keep accounts. I think I can do
something for you; and if you _persevere_, I doubt not but that you may
arrive at the top of the tree, and become the managing clerk of the
establishment."

"Thank you! thank you! thank you!" said Esau, grasping my hands as he
spoke.

"Ah!" said I, "there is no necessity for thanks; I am a plain, blunt
person. I did not know you personally in the place of my nativity, but I
remember having seen you. I remember also your friends; and as a
townsman it will give me pleasure to know that I can be of service to
you."

Esau grasped my hand, and he shook it as though he would have taken it
from the elbow. I was certain that he would obtain the situation which I
had in view for him. We sat down together--we talked of old times, when
the feelings of our hearts were young; and, amongst other things, we
spoke of Jessy Mortimer. I sat--I drank with him--we became happy
together--we became mad together. My Jessy--Jessy Mortimer was before
me. Her presence filled my thoughts--it overshadowed me. I could think
of nothing else--I could speak of nothing else. I drank to her in
bumpers; but Esau sat as calm as a judge with the black cap upon his
head. I marvelled that the man had so little of what is called sympathy
in his soul. He appeared before me as a dead man--a thing that moved
merely as it was moved. I almost despised, and yet I trusted him,
because he was connected with the part of the country to which I
belonged.

Now, as I have informed you, we sat together, we drank together, and the
name of Jessy Mortimer overcame me; but I sat till I forgot her, until I
forgot myself--my companion--everything! In this state I was left
sitting; and when consciousness returned, I was alone, bewildered. My
companion had left me. My first sensation was that of shame--of burning
shame. I felt that I had abused the time and the confidence of my
employer, and the thought rendered me wretched.

It was two days before I ventured to call again at the office, where I
had become a confidential clerk. My master passed me as I entered, but
he neither spoke to nor noticed me. His coldness stung me. I felt my
guiltiness burning over me. But my confusion was increased, when I
learned that I was not only discharged, but that my place was to be
supplied by Esau Taylor!

"Impossible!" I exclaimed.

"Deem it so," said my informant. "But you have cherished an adder that
has stung you; and, with all your knowledge, you are ignorant of the
world, and of the people that live, breathe, and act in it. Take my
counsel, and regard every man as though he were your enemy, until you
have proved him to be your friend."

There was something in his words that more than restored my wandering
thoughts into their proper channel.

I found that I had performed an act of kindness towards a villain--for I
had not only treated Esau Taylor hospitably, but knowing that in London
a good coat is of as much importance as a good character, I had
furnished him with wearing apparel from my own wardrobe. A few days
afterwards I met him in the Strand, arrayed in my garments, and he
passed me with a supercilious air, as though I were a being only fit to
be despised. I walked on as though I saw him not, conscious that, if he
had a soul within him, it must be burning with the coals of fire which I
had heaped upon his head.

I soon found it was much easier to lose a good situation than to obtain
an indifferent one, and that one act of folly might accomplish what a
thousand of repentances could not retrieve.

In a few months I found myself in a state of destitution; and while the
coat which I had given to Esau Taylor was still glossy upon his back,
mine--my last remaining one--hung loose and forlorn upon my shoulders.
Yet, although I then suffered from both cold and hunger, the words which
my parents had made a portion of my character departed not from me, and
the words "_persevere!--persevere!_" were ever in my heart, kindling,
glowing as a flame, until, in solitary enthusiasm, I have exclaimed
aloud, as I wandered (not having a roof to shelter me) upon the streets
at midnight, "I will persevere."

I was glad to accept of employment as copying clerk to a law stationer,
at a salary of seven shillings a-week. It was a small sum, and I have
often thoughtlessly wasted many times the amount since; but it made me
happy then. It snatched, or rather it bought from the gripe of death--it
relieved me from the pains and the terrors of want. My situation was now
sufficiently humble, but my spirit was not broken; neither had I
forgotten Jessy Mortimer, nor did I despair of one day calling her mine.

During the days of humiliation which I am recording, I was struck with
an incident, which, although trifling in itself, I shall here relate;
for from it I drew a lesson which encouraged me, and made me resolve, if
possible, to carry my maxim into more active practice. Frequently on a
Saturday afternoon, when the labours of the week were over, instead of
returning to my wretched garret (for which I paid a shilling a-week, and
which contained no furniture save a shake-down bed and a broken chair),
I was wont to go out in the country, and to seek the silence and
solitude of the woods and the green lanes. On such occasions

    "My lodging was on the cold ground,"

and on the Sabbath mornings, I was wont to steal, as if unobserved, into
the first country church, or rather place of worship, which I found
open. I was there unknown; and in a congregation of English peasantry,
the one-half of whom were in their smock-frocks, there were none to
observe the shabbiness of my garments. And in the plainness of
everything around me, there was something that accorded with my frame of
mind, and in the midst of which I felt happier, and more at ease, than I
could in the splendid cathedral or the gaudy chapel of a great city. It
was in the month of May, and the sweet blossom, like odoriferous snow,
lay on the hawthorn. The lark sang over me its Sabbath hymn. The sun had
just risen, and, like the canopy of a celestial couch on which an angel
might have reposed, the clouds, like curtains of red and gold, seemed
drawn asunder. I sat beneath a venerable elm-tree, over which more than
a hundred winters had passed; but their frosts had not nipped the
majesty of its beauty. Above me a goldfinch chirmed and fed its young,
and they seemed ready to break away upon the wing. It chirped to them,
it fluttered from branch to branch, to allure them from the nest. One
bolder than the rest ventured to follow, but ignorant of the strength of
its wings, it fell upon the ground. The parent bird descended, and with
strange motions mourned over it, anxiously striving again to teach it to
ascend and regain its nest. My first impulse was to take up the little
flutterer, to climb the tree, and replace it in the home which its first
parent had built; but I lay and watched its motions for a few minutes.
Again and again by a bold effort it endeavoured to reach the lofty
branch where its parent had poised its nest, but as often it fell upon
the ground, and its little breast panted on the earth. At length it
perched upon the lowest twig, and from it got to others higher and
higher, turning round proudly as it ascended, as if conversing with its
parent, happy in what it was achieving, until the nest was regained.

"There," I exclaimed--"there is an example of perseverance; and a lesson
is taught me by that little bird. It attempted too much at once, and its
efforts were unsuccessful; it endeavoured to rise step by step, and it
has gained the object it desired. That bird shall be my monitor, and I
will endeavour to rise step by step, even as it has done."

I returned to London, and as I went, the attempts of the little bird
were the text on which my thoughts dwelt. By sedulous attention to my
duties, I began to rise in the esteem of my employer, the law stationer,
and he increased my salary from seven shillings to a guinea a-week. I
said unto myself, that, like the young bird, I had gained a higher
branch.

Within twelve months he obtained me a situation in the office of an
eminent solicitor, where I was engaged at a salary of a hundred pounds
a-year. This was the scaling of another branch; and I again found myself
in circumstances equal to those I had enjoyed previous to the treachery
of Esau Taylor. I did not, in order to ingratiate myself with my
employer, practise the _bowing_ system, with which my countrymen have at
times been accused; but I strove to be useful, I studied to oblige, and
was rewarded with his confidence and favour.

It became a part of my employment to draw up abstracts of pleadings. On
one occasion, I had drawn out a brief, which was to be placed in the
hands of one of the most eminent counsel at the bar. He was struck with
the manner in which the task was executed, and was pleased to pronounce
it the clearest, the ablest, and best arranged brief that had ever been
placed in his hands. He inquired who had drawn it out; and my employer
introduced me to him. He spoke to me kindly and encouragingly, and
recommended me to _persevere_. The word rekindled every slumbering
energy of my soul. I had always endeavoured to do so, but now stronger
impulses seemed to stir within me, and there was a confidence in my
hopes that I had never felt before. He suggested that I should prepare
myself for the bar, and generously offered to assist me. Through his
interest, and the liberality of my master, I was admitted a student of
the Inner Temple. My perseverance was now more necessary than ever, and
again I thought of the little bird and its successful efforts. I had
gained another branch, and the topmost bough to which I aspired was now
visible.

I allowed myself but five hours out of the twenty-four for repose; the
rest I devoted to hard study, and to the duties of assistant reporter to
a daily newspaper. But often, in the midst of my studies, and even while
noting down the strife of words in Parliament, thoughts of Jessy
Mortimer came over me, and her image was pictured on my mind, like a
guardian angel revealing for a moment the brightness of its countenance.
My hopes became more sanguine, and I felt an assurance that the day
would come when I should call her mine.

I had many privations to encounter, and many difficulties to overcome,
but for none did I turn aside; my watch-word was "onward," and in due
time I was called to the bar. I expected to struggle for years with the
genteel misery of a briefless barrister, but the thought dismayed me
not.

Before, however, I proceed farther with my own career, I shall notice
that of Esau Taylor. There was no species of cunning, of treachery, or
of meanness, of which he was not capable. There was none to which he did
not resort. His brother clerks hated him; for, to his other properties,
he added that of a low tale-bearer. But he was plausible as Lucifer, and
with his smooth tongue, and fair professions, he succeeded in
ingratiating himself into the chief place in his master's confidence;
and eventually was placed by him at the head of his establishment; and,
in order further to reward what he considered his singular worth and
honesty, he permitted him to have a small share in the firm. But Esau
was not one of those whom a small share, or any portion short of the
whole, would satisfy. This he accomplished more easily and more speedily
than it is possible that even he, with all his guilty cunning, had
anticipated.

The merchant from whose employment he had supplanted me, and over whom
his plausibility and pretended honesty had gained such an ascendency,
had a daughter--an only child--who, about the time of Taylor's being
admitted into a sort of partnership, returned from a boarding-school in
Yorkshire. He immediately conceived that the easiest way to obtain both
the father's business and his wealth would be by first securing the
daughter's hand. Of anything even bordering upon affection his sordid
soul was incapable: but to obtain his object he could assume its
appearance, and he could employ the rhapsodies which at times pass for
its language. The maiden was young and inexperienced, and with just as
much of affectation as made her the more likely to be entangled in the
snares of a plausible hypocrite, who adapted his conversation to her
taste. The girl began to imagine that she loved him--perhaps she
did--but more possibly it was a morbid fancy which she mistook for
affection, and which he well knew how to encourage.

She became pensive, sighed, and drooped like a lily that is nipped by
the frost, and seemed ready to leave her father childless; and the
merchant, to save his daughter, consented to her union with Esau Taylor,
his managing clerk and nominal partner.

The old man lived but a few months after their union, bequeathing to
them his fortune and his business; and within a year and a-half his
daughter followed him to the grave; to which, it was said, she was
hurried through the cruelty and neglect of her husband.

Esau was now a rich man, a great man, and withal a bad man--one whose
heart was blacker than the darkness of the grave, where his injured, I
believe I may say his murdered, wife was buried.

We had not met each other for more than five years, and it is possible
that he had half forgotten me, or, if he remembered me, considered me
unworthy of a thought.

I have told you that I was called to the bar, and for ten months I
attended the courts in my gown and wig, sitting in the back benches, and
listening to the eloquence of my seniors, with a light pocket, and
frequently a heavy heart.

I was sitting one evening in my chambers, as they were called--though
they contained nothing but an old writing-desk, two chairs, and a few
law books; I was poring over a volume of olden statutes, mincing a
biscuit, and sipping a glass of cold water, when the bell rang, and on
opening the door, my old master, the solicitor, stood before me, and he
had what appeared to be a brief in his hand. My heart began to beat
audibly in my bosom.

"Well, Roderic," said he, entering, "I always promised that I would do
what I could for you, and now I am determined to bring you out. Here is
a case that may make your fortune. You will have scope for argument,
feeling, declamation. If you do not produce an impression in it, you are
not the person I take you for. Don't tremble, don't be too diffident;
but, as I say to you, throw your soul into it, and I will answer for it
making your fortune. Here are fifty guineas as a retaining fee, and it
is not unlikely that my fair client to-morrow may give you fifty more as
a refresher."

"Fifty guineas!" I involuntarily exclaimed, and my eyes glanced upon the
money. I felt as though my fortune were already made, and that I should
be rich for ever.

"Come, Roderic," said he, "don't think about the retainer, but think of
the case--think of getting another."

"What is the case?" I inquired.

"That," replied he, "your brief, which is as clearly and fully drawn up
as if you had done it yourself, will explain to you. In the meantime, I
may state, that your client, the defendant, is a young lady of matchless
beauty, great fortune and accomplishments. When you see her, you will be
inspired. She is the orphan daughter, and now the sole surviving child,
of an officer who had extensive dealings with a house in the city. Of
late years the prosecutor was his broker. Some time after the father's
death, the prosecutor made overtures of marriage to the defendant, which
she rejected. He has now, stimulated by revenge, set up a fictitious
claim for twenty thousand pounds, which he alleges her father owed to
the house of which he is now at the head; and for this claim he now
drags my client into court. Now, I trust that we shall not only be able
to prove that the debt is fictitious, but to establish that the
documents which he holds, bearing the colonel's signature, are
forgeries. It is a glorious case for you--here is your brief, and I
shall call on you again in the morning."

I took the brief from his hand, glanced my eyes upon the back of it, and
read the words--"_Taylor_ against _Mortimer_."

"Taylor against Mortimer!" I exclaimed, starting from my seat; "what
Taylor?--what Mortimer? Not Jessy--my Jessy? Not the villain, Esau?--the
supplanter----the----"

"Hold, hold," said the solicitor, in surprise; "such are, indeed, the
names of the parties; but, if you are in an ecstasy already, I must take
the brief to one who will read it soberly."

"No!" I cried, grasping the brief in my hand--"take back your fee--I
will plead this cause for love."

"Keep the money--keep the money," said he, dryly; "it will be of as much
service to you in the meantime as love. But let me know the cause of
this enthusiasm."

I unbosomed my soul to him. I did not see Miss Mortimer until the day of
trial, in the court; and, when I rose to plead for her, she started, the
word "Roderic!" escaped from her lips, and tears gushed into her bright
eyes. It was at the same moment that Esau Taylor saw and recognised
me--his eyes quailed beneath my gaze; his guilt gushed to his face. I
commenced my address to the jury--I drew the picture of a fiend. Taylor
trembled. Every individual in the court was already convinced of his
guilt. He endeavoured to escape amidst the crowd. I called upon the
officers to seize him. I gained the cause, and with it, also, won the
hand of Jessy Mortimer, to obtain which, from boy-hood I had persevered.
Taylor was committed to prison, to stand his trial for the forgeries;
but, before the day of trial came, he was buried within the prison
walls, with disgrace for his epitaph.



THE IRISH REAPER.


Some years ago, I was proceeding from Runcorn to Manchester, in one of
the passage-boats which ply upon the Duke of Bridgewater's canal. There
could not be less than a hundred passengers, and they were of as motley
a description as the imagination of man could conceive even in a dream.
The boats exactly resemble a long, low, flat-roofed wooden house; but
sufficiently lofty for a middle-sized person to stand erect between the
floor and the roof, or rather the deck. At one end sat about a dozen
Primitive Methodists, alternately reading passages of Scripture, or
bursting forth, at the extreme pitch of their voice, into a squall of
music, singing hymn upon hymn, till my very ears ached, and the timbers
of the boat might have started. Near them sat a number of young,
rosy-cheeked Welsh women, staring at the vocalists with a look of
wondering vacancy, that the goats on their own mountains could not have
surpassed. There were, also, manufacturers' wives and children returning
from a seven days' visit to Runcorn, for the benefit of a salt-water dip
in the Mersey; and six or eight prim, sober, sleek, silent, well-dressed
Quakers; with a more than sprinkling of the boys of the Emerald Isle.
The loud laugh of one of them was ever and anon heard above the shrill
music of the Ranters. He was about five feet seven inches high, and
exceedingly strong and well made. He wore an old greatcoat, of a
yellowish blanket colour, and a hat, the crown of which had fallen in
with service, and its brim was equally turned up before and behind, and
on both sides. His feet were thrust into a pair of brogues of true Irish
manufacture, which, with a pair of coarse blue worsted stockings and
corduroy inexpressibles, completed his outward man. He carried an
apparently empty sack under his arm, and was surrounded by about a dozen
of his countrymen, who seemed to regard him as an oracle, heartily
echoing back his boisterous laughter, and exclaiming, "Well done, Mister
M'Carthy!--faith, and it's you that's your mother's own son, at any
rate."

O'Connell had sailed from Liverpool on the previous day, and his
countrymen were discussing his political merits.

"Why, bad luck to ye," exclaimed our hero with the greatcoat, in answer
to one who had held forth in praise of the counsellor; "and it is you,
Mick Behan, that says every man in Ireland should pay the O'Connell
rint?--but I'll tell you a bit of a parable, as Father O'Shee says, and
a parable, too, of my own natural mother's making. 'Larry,' says she to
me--'Larry M'Carthy, don't be after planting those big potaties for
seed; for they've a hole in their heart a little Christian might slape
in?"

"You're no better thin a Sassenach, Larry," interrupted the aforesaid
Mick; "can't you spake your maneing like a man, if you have any maneing
at all, at all."

This was like to have ended in an Irish row in reality; though the
majority evidently sided with Mister Larry M'Carthy, not because they
agreed with him in opinion, but because, as afterwards appeared, he was
their master or employer. The disputants paused for a moment, and a loud
groan, as if from one in great bodily pain, mingled with the wailings of
a woman, was heard from the farther corner of the boat. Larry turned
round, to use his own expression, "like a flash of lightning," and the
next moment he stood by the side of the sufferer, who was a tall,
bony-looking figure; but, save the skin that covered them, there was
little of his mortal man but the bones left. It was only necessary to
look on his features, wasted as they were, to tell that he, too, was an
Irishman. A young wife sat beside him, whose countenance resembled
beauty personifying sorrow; she had a child at her breast, and two
others, the eldest not more than five years of age, stood by her knee
Larry looked upon the group, and his heart was touched.

"Och! and what may be ailing ye, countryman?" said he; "sure and ye
wouldn't be after dying among friends would ye?"

"Ohon! and is it a friend that would be asking after my own Patrick!"
replied the poor wife. "Sure, then, and he is ill, and we're all ill
togidder; and it is six blessed months since he earned the bridth of
tinpinny. Oh, blackness on the day that the rheumatiz came on him----"

"Shure now, and is that all?" interrupted Larry; "and, belike, the
doctors have been chating you; for I tell you, honey, and you, too,
Patrick, those 'natomy chaps know no more about the rheumatiz than holy
Solomon knew about stameboats. But, belike, I'm the lad that disn't know
neither; but maybe your chating yoursilf if ye think so. I'll tell ye
what it is: the rheumatiz is a wandering wind between the flesh and the
bone; and, more than that, there is no way to cure it but to squaze it
out at the ends of the fingers or toes."

"Oh, my childer's sorrow on it, thin!" replied the suffering man's wife;
"but, more and above the rheumatiz, Patrick got his leg broke last
Fibruary----"

"Ay, splintered, honey," added the husband; "and the doctors--bad luck
be wid them!--can't make nothing on't; and I am now goin to the great
Salford bone-doctor."

"And maybe he won't be curing the bit bone without the money?" said
Larry, with an expression of sympathy.

The sufferer shook his head, and was silent; his wife burst into tears.

"I will work, I will beg, I will die, for my Patrick," she exclaimed,
and pressed the child closer to her breast.

"You had better be barring the dying, honey," returned Larry; "and
wouldn't a raffle, think ye, among friends, be more gintale thin begging
among strangers?"

"Ohon! and is it _friends_ you say?" replied she.

"Yes, shure, and it is _friends_ that I say," answered Larry; "and a
raffle is what no gintleman need be ashamed on."

The boat at this moment stopped opposite an inn at the side of the
canal; Larry borrowed a quart measure from the skipper, and sprang
ashore. In a few minutes he returned with a quantity of rum, and,
handing it first to the wife, and then to her lame husband, said, "Come,
warm up thy ould bones with a drop of the cratur." He called the rest of
his countrymen around him, and handed the liquor to each. When gathered
together, there might be about sixteen or eighteen of them in all.

"Arrah, now, and these are all my men," said Mister Larry M'Carthy, with
a look of comical consequence, to his infirm countryman; "and where
would you be finding better? We are goin up to a bit of work in
Lancashire; for the Inglish are no better than born childer at _our_
work;[8] and," raising the liquor to his head, he added, "here's the
Holy Virgin be with us, countryman, and better luck to your bad leg;
and, should it ever be mended at all--though you mayn't be good for much
at _hood-work_ iny more, you have still a stout bone for a _barrow_--and
you won't be forgetting to ask for Larry M'Carthy. And, now, boys,"
continued he, turning to his workmen, "here is this poor man, and more
than this, I'm saying, our own lawful countryman, with the rheumatiz and
a broken leg, and his wife, too, as you see, and those three little
cherubims, all starving, to be sure, and he going to the doctor's
without a penny! Sure you won't disgrace Ould Ireland--just look at the
childer--and I say that a raffle is the gintale way of doing the thing."

[Footnote 8: Larry and his countrymen were all _navigators_, as they are
called, or rather excavators, employed in digging canals, railways,
docks, &c.]

So saying, he thrust his hand into his pocket, and pulled out a small
canvas bag well filled with silver, and tied round the mouth with a
strong cord. He took off his indescribable brown hat; he threw in a
piece or two of silver, and went round, shaking it among his countrymen.
Each took out a bag similar to Larry's, and threw his mite into the hat.
He then, without counting them, emptied its contents into the lap of the
poor woman; and I should think, from their appearance, they must have
amounted to thirty or forty shillings. She burst into tears. The lame
man grasped his hand, and endeavoured to thank him.

"Don't be after spakeing," said Larry; "did you think we warn't
Christians?"

Such was the Irish raffle. Larry instantly resumed his jokes, his jests,
and his arguments; but I could do nothing during the rest of the passage
but think of the good Samaritan, and admire Mister Larry M'Carthy.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the September of 1834, I was wandering by the side of a country
churchyard, situated near the banks of the Tyne. The sun had gone down,
and the twilight was falling grey upon the graves. I saw a poor-looking
man, whose garments fluttered in tatters with the evening breeze, and
who, by his appearance, seemed to be an Irish reaper, rise from among
the tombs. He repeatedly drew the sleeve of his coat across his eyes,
and I could hear him sobbing heavily, as though his heart would burst.
As we approached each other, I discovered that he was my old canal-boat
companion, the then merry and kind-hearted Larry M'Carthy; but no more
like the Larry I had then seen him than a funeral to a bridal.

His frame was wasted to a skeleton, and hunger and misery glistened in
his eyes together.

"Ha!" said I, accosting him, "is it possible that sorrow can have laid
its heavy hand upon the light heart of Larry M'Carthy?"

"Shure," said he, drying away the tears that ran down his wan and
wantworn cheeks, "and it is true, and too true, and heavy is the hand,
shure enough; but not so heavy as it should be, or it would be weighing
me into that grave." He pointed to the grave I had seen him leave, and
added, "But how do you know me, sir--and who tould ye my name?--as I
don't know yours--for, shure, and mine is Larry M'Carthy, as my father
and mother, and his rivirence, wid my natarel sponsors, to boot, all,
every one of thim, say and affirm."

I reminded him of the canal-boat and the raffle, and inquired the cause
of his distress, and his visit to the grave.

"Arrah, master," said he, "and you touch a sore place when you ask me to
tell it. Perhaps you don't know--for how should you--that, not long
after the time you spake of in the canal-boat, I came down to what ye
call the Borders here, to a bit o' navigating work that was to be a long
job. I lodged wid a widow--a dacent ould woman, that had a daughter they
called Mary--and, och! you may be thinking that ever Mary had an equal,
but it's wrong that ye are, if ye think so. Her eyes were like drops of
dew upon the shamrock; and, although she was not Irish but Scotch, it
was all one; for, ye know, the Scotch and Irish are one man's childer.
But, at any rate, she had a true Irish heart; and, but for the sae or
the Channel, as they call it, she would have been Irish as well as me.
The more I saw of Mary, I loved her the more--better than a bird loves
the green tree. She loved me, too; and we were married. The ould woman
died a few weeks before Mary presented me with two little Larrys. I
might have called them both Larry; for they were as like each other as
your two eyes, and both of them as like me, too, as any two stars in the
blessed firmament are like each other, where nobody can see a
difference.

"Mary made the best wife in Christendom; and, when our little cherubs
began to run about our knees, and to lisp and spake to us, a thousand
times have I clasped Mary to my breast, and blessed her as though my
heart would burst with joy. 'Sure,' I used to say, 'what would my own
mother have said, had her ould eyes been witness to the happiness of her
son, Larry M'Carthy?'

"But often the thought came staleing over me, that my happiness was too
like a drame to last long; and sure and it was a drame, and a short one,
too. A cruel, mortal fever came to the village, and who should it seize
upon but my little darlints. It was hard to see them dying together, and
my Mary wept her bright eyes blind over them. But bad luck was upon me.

The 'pothecary tould us as how our lovely childer would die; and on the
very day that he said so, the wife that was dearer to me than Ould
Ireland to Saint Patrick, lay down on the bed beside them--and och, sir!
before another sun looked in at our window, a dying mother lay between
her dead childer. I wished that I might die, too; and, within three
days, I followed my wife and my little ones together to the same grave.
It was this arm that lowered them into the cold earth--into the narrow
house--and, sure, it has been weak as a child's since. My strength is
buried in their grave. I have wrought but little since; for I cannot. I
have no home now; and I take a light job anywhere when it comes in my
way. Every year, at reaping time, I visit their grave, and bring with me
a bit of shamrock to place over it, and that it may be a mark where to
bury me, should I die here, as I hope I will."

Within ten days after this, I beheld the body of the once lively and
generous-hearted Larry M'Carthy consigned to the grave, by the side of
his wife and children.



GRACE CAMERON.


In the centre of a remote glen or strath, in the West Highlands of
Scotland, stands the old mansion-house of the family of Duntruskin. At
the time of the rebellion of 1745-6, this house was the residence of
Ewan Cameron, Esq., a gentleman of considerable landed property and
extensive influence in the country. Mr Cameron was, at the period of our
story, a widower, with an only child. This child was Grace Cameron, a
fine, blooming girl of nineteen, with a bosom filled with all the
romance and high-souled sentiment of her mountain birth and education.
In the commotions of the unhappy period above alluded to, Mr Cameron,
although warmly attached to the cause of the Pretender, took personally
no active part; but he assisted in its promotion by secret supplies of
money, proportioned in amount to his means. In the result of the
struggle--which, although he was not yet aware of it, had already
arrived at a consummation on Culloden Muir--neither he nor his daughter
had anything to fear for themselves; but this did not by any means
relieve them from all anxiety on the momentous occasion. The father had
to fear for many dear and intimate friends, and the daughter for the
fate of a lover, who were in the ranks of the rebel army. This lover was
Malcolm M'Gregor of Strontian--a warmhearted, high-spirited young man,
the son of a neighbouring tacksman, to whom Grace had been long
attached, and by whom she was most sincerely and tenderly loved in
return. M'Gregor at this period held a captain's commission in the
service of the Prince, and had distinguished himself by his bravery in
the various contests with the royal troops that had occurred during the
rebellion.

Having given this brief preliminary sketch, and advising the reader that
the precise period at which our tale opens is on the second day after
the battle of Culloden, and the locality a certain little parlour in
Duntruskin House, we proceed with our story. Seated in this little
parlour, on the day in question, Grace Cameron--occasionally employing
her needle, but more frequently pausing to muse on the absent, to
reflect on the past, or to anticipate the future--awaited, with intense
anxiety, some intelligence regarding the movements and fortunes of the
rebel army, with whose fate she deemed her own connected, since it was
shared by one who was dearer to her than all the earth besides.

Grace did not expect any special communication on this important
subject; but she knew that common fame would soon bring a rumour of
every occurrence of consequence which should take place at this
interesting crisis. With this expectation, she anxiously watched from
her window the approach of every stranger to the house; and, when one
appeared, was the first to meet and to question him regarding the events
of the day. At length a report reached her, in which all agreed--for her
informers had differed widely in others--that a great event had taken
place, that a sanguinary battle had been fought; but, this admitted, the
usual discrepancies and contradictions followed. Some declared that the
Prince's army was defeated, and that a number of his leading men had
been killed and taken prisoners; others, with equal confidence, asserted
that the rebels were victorious, and that the king's troops were flying
in all directions. Elated and depressed by turns by these conflicting
rumours, Grace awaited, in dreadful anxiety, some certain intelligence
regarding what had taken place. It was while in this state of mind, and
while gazing listlessly, and almost unconsciously, from her little
parlour window on the wide prospect which it commanded, that her eye was
suddenly riveted on one particular spot. This was an abrupt turn in the
great road leading to Inverness, which passed Duntruskin House at the
distance of about half-a-mile, and from which, at this moment, the sun's
rays were suddenly reflected, in bright, brief, and frequent flashes, as
if from many surfaces of polished steel. Grace's heart beat violently;
for she instantly and rightly conjectured that the dark body which now
gradually, but rapidly, came in sight, and from which the coruscations
which had first attracted her attention emanated, was composed of armed
men; but whether they were rebels or king's troops, the distance
prevented her from ascertaining. In this state of doubt, however, she
did not long remain. Their rapid approach soon showed her that they were
a party of royalist dragoons--a circumstance which threw her into the
utmost terror. Nor was this feeling lessened by her perceiving them
leave the highway, and make directly for the house. On seeing this,
Grace, in the greatest alarm, hastened to seek out her father, whom she
found busily engaged in writing, and utterly unconscious of the
threatened visit. When informed of it, his countenance became pale, and
his whole frame agitated; for he dreaded that his secret connection with
the rebels had been discovered, and that he was now about to be
apprehended; and these were also the fears of his daughter. Without
saying a word, however, in reply to what had just been communicated to
him, Mr Cameron threw down his pen, started hastily to his feet, and
hurried to the window, beneath which, so rapid had been their motions,
the troopers were already drawn up. The commander of the party--for
there was only one officer--was a little thickset man, about forty-two
years of age, with a red, florid, vulgar countenance, expressive at once
of gross sensuality, much indulgence in the bottle, and a total absence
of all feeling. In the manner of his dress he evidently affected the
military dandy: his shirt neck reached nearly to the point of his nose;
his gloves were of the purest white; a showy silk handkerchief was
carelessly thrust into his breast, with just enough left projecting to
indicate its presence. Notwithstanding this display of finery, however,
and in despite of a splendid uniform made after the smartest military
fashion of the time, Captain Stubbs was still exceedingly unlike a
gentleman, and still more unlike a soldier. The first he was not, either
by birth or education; the latter he had neither talents nor energy of
character sufficient ever to become. The absence, however, of these
qualities in Captain Stubbs was amply supplied by others. He was vain,
irascible, conceited, and cruel; brutal and overbearing in his manners;
and coarse and utterly regardless of the feelings of others in his
language. He was, moreover, both an epicure and a glutton; and, to
complete his very amiable character, a most egregious coward.

Having drawn up his party in front of the house as already mentioned,
Captain Stubbs, before dismounting, threw a scrutinising glance at
several of the windows of the building, as if to ascertain what sort of
quarters he might expect--a point with him of the last importance. In
the course of this brief survey, his eye alighted on that occupied by Mr
Cameron and his daughter, whom he saluted with an insolent and familiar
nod. In the next instant he was at the door, where he was met by Mr
Cameron himself, with a countenance strongly expressive of the alarm and
uncertainty which he felt, and could not conceal, regarding the issue of
the interview now about to take place.

On their meeting--"Ha," said Stubbs, addressing the latter, "you are, I
presume, Mr--Mr----Hang me, I forget your name, sir! Mine, sir, is
Captain Stubbs, of the ---- regiment of dragoons. I find your name is in
my list of--of"--here the captain (who had by this time been conducted
to the dining-room), perfectly indifferent as to the particular of
finishing his sentence, began to pull off his gloves, and to detach his
spurs from his boots, with the air of one who is determined to be quite
at home--"of--of," he continued to repeat, with the utmost disregard of
ordinary politeness, and with the most profound contempt for the
feelings of his host, who, taking alarm at the ominous hiatus, which he
fully expected would be filled up by his being ranked amongst the
proscribed, waited patiently and meekly the conveniency of Captain
Stubbs--"of--of," repeated the captain slowly, after having divested
himself of his accoutrements, and otherwise prepared himself for an hour
or two's enjoyment--"of the friends of the government," he at length
said; and the words instantly relieved both his host and his daughter
from the most dreadful apprehensions. "So I have just beat you up,"
continued Captain Stubbs, "_en passant_, as 'twere, to tell you of the
total defeat of the rebels, at a place called Culloden, and to have a
morsel of dinner--eh, old boy?--and an hour or two's quarters for the
men and horses."

"Much obliged for the honour," replied Mr Cameron, ironically, and
accompanying the expression with a polite and formal bow; but, at the
same time, cautiously guarding against any expression of his real
feelings on this occasion, amongst which was a strong inclination to
kick the redoubted Captain Stubbs to the door. His prudence, however,
prevented him embroiling himself in this or any other way with a visiter
who had the means of retaliation so much in his power.

Immediately after making the announcement above recorded, Captain Stubbs
added, "And now, Mr--A--a----Pray, what the devil's your name, sir?"

"My name, sir," replied the party interrogated, "is Cameron--Ewan
Cameron."

"Ah! Cameron--ay, Cameron," repeated Captain Stubbs, knitting his brows,
and endeavouring to look very dignified. "Why, then, sir, I want some
brandy and water; and pray, see that some of your fellows look after my
horses." Having been provided with, and having swallowed a very handsome
modicum of the beverage he had called for, Captain Stubbs went on--"I
say, Cameron, can any of your brutes, your Hottentots, prepare me a
fowl, _à la Condé_?"

"Why, Captain Stubbs," replied Mr Cameron, whose anxiety to keep well
with the government and all connected with it induced him to suppress
the resentment which the amazing insolence of his guest was so well
calculated to excite--"our cookery is in general of a very plain sort."

"Ay, oh! boiled beef and cabbage, I suppose," interrupted Captain
Stubbs, with a sneer.

"But my daughter," continued Mr Cameron, without noticing the
impertinent interruption, "has, I believe, some little skill in these
matters, and will be happy, I doubt not, to make some attempt to produce
the dish you speak of; I will not, however, answer for her success."

"Your daughter, Mr A--a--a; ay, your daughter," said Captain Stubbs;
"why, let me see--yes, let her try it; but, zounds, if she spoil it, it
shall be at her peril. No, no," he added, after a moment's
thought--"I'll tell you what, Mr Cameron--as it would be a devil of a
business to have the thing botched, I suppose I must give instructions
about it myself: so, pray, order every one out of your kitchen but your
cook, and I shall go down-stairs presently, and see the thing properly
done. In the meantime, Mr Thingumbob, call in your daughter, that I may
have some conversation with her on the subject, that I may learn how far
she may be trusted in this affair."

Mr Cameron immediately rung the bell, and desired the servant who obeyed
the summons to inform his daughter that he wished to see her
immediately. "And, that she may not be altogether unprepared," he added,
"say to her that I wish to introduce her to Captain Stubbs."

"Ah!" ejaculated the latter, with a supercilious nod, in acknowledgment
of his acquiescence in the terms of the message. In a few minutes, Miss
Cameron entered the apartment. "Ah! Miss Cameron, I presume," said the
captain, with a haughty inclination of his head, but without moving from
his seat. "Your father, madam," he continued, "tells me that you know
something of _le grand cuisine_. Now, pray, madam, how do you compound
your sauce for a fowl, _à la Condé_? Eh, ma'am? Answer me that, if you
please. Do you use chopped veal or not? If you don't, you spoil the
dish--that's all. I've seen mutton used, but it's downright
abomination."

"Why, sir," replied Miss Cameron, haughtily, shocked and disgusted with
the insolence and gross epicureanism of the brute, "I am not accustomed
to be catechised on these subjects, or on any other, in the very
peculiar manner which you seem to have adopted."

"No!" exclaimed the gallant captain, starting up to a sitting posture,
and at the same time seizing his shirt-collars with finger and thumb,
and tugging them up at least another inch higher on his face. "I say,
you are uncivil, and confoundedly unpolite, madam. I am a king's
officer, madam--and a soldier, madam--and, by heavens, neither man nor
woman shall insult Captain Stubbs with impunity!"

"Nobly said, captain!" replied Miss Cameron, with an air of the mock
heroic; "draw your sword, sir, and lay your insulter dead at your feet;
or, if you are not altogether so sanguinary, you may send me a challenge
by my waiting-maid, who, I daresay, will have no objection to act as my
second in any little affair of honour--such as this is likely to be."

"Miss Cameron, madam--Mr Cameron," stuttered and sputtered out Captain
Stubbs, starting to his feet, his face reddening with rage, and every
feature exhibiting symptoms of the high indignation which he felt--"Mr
Cameron, sir, I command you, sir, in the king's name, to turn your
daughter out of this apartment, otherwise I shall order up half-a-dozen
of my fellows, with pistol and sabre, to drive her from my presence; and
it is not improbable, sir, that I may have her apprehended, and tried,
and shot as a rebel, sir."

Whilst delivering himself of this appalling speech, Captain Stubbs
strutted up and down the apartment, chafing with rage; at one time
impatiently tugging on his gloves, at another buttoning up his coat with
an air of determination, which he thought, no doubt, would strike terror
into the breasts of his auditors.

Mr Cameron, unwilling that matters should be carried any farther, and
still desirous to keep up appearances with his guest, now approached his
daughter; and, taking her gently by the hand, and at the same time
leading her towards the door--

"Grace," he said, "I think you had better retire. You do not appear
disposed," he added--smiling in his daughter's face as he spoke, but
taking care to conceal this expression of his real feelings from the
enraged captain--"to make yourself agreeable to-day; and therefore it
may be as well that you carry your temper to some other quarter."

"Oh, certainly, sir, since it is your pleasure," replied Miss Cameron,
tripping towards the door, where she stood for an instant--looked full
at the captain--said she would expect to hear from him at his
convenience, as to time, place, and weapons--made him a stately curtsey,
and left the apartment.

When she had gone--"Don't think I am _afraid_ of her, Mr Cameron," said
Captain Stubbs. "I am a man, sir, and a soldier, sir," he continued,
still pacing the room, in great indignation at the treatment he had
received from his fair antagonist, "and not to be frightened with
trifles; but I say, Mr A--a--," he added, in a more subdued tone, "as I
am not a man to permit such small occurrences as this to direct my
attention from any important object I may have in view, I beg to know
distinctly what you have for dinner, and I insist upon you, at the same
time, recollecting, sir, that I am a king's officer, sir, and have a
right to civil treatment."

"What sort of dinner you are to have, Captain Stubbs," replied Mr
Cameron, "I really do not exactly know; but you may rest assured that,
in so far as it lies with me, you shall have civil treatment; and I
request of you to point out to me in what way I may contribute to your
comfort."

"Ah! well--very well," replied Captain Stubbs. "Am I, then, or am I not,
to have a fowl _à la Condé_, sir--eh?"

"Surely, sir," said his host; "if any of my people can prepare such a
dish as you speak of, you shall have it."

"What the devil, then!" exclaimed Stubbs, passionately; "and am I to
lose my dinner if your Hottentots shouldn't happen to know how to cook
it? No! hang me, sir, I'll superintend the thing myself. I'll do it with
my own hands, if you will show me the way to your kitchen."

With this request Mr Cameron immediately complied, by marshalling the
captain to the scene of his proposed labours. On arriving in the
kitchen, he forthwith prepared himself for the work he was about to
undertake, by throwing off his regimental coat, rolling up his
shirt-sleeves to his shoulders, and seizing on a large carving-knife
which happened to be lying within his reach. Thus prepared, Captain
Stubbs, after having been provided, by his own special orders, with a
pair of choice fowls, lemon juice, bacon, parsley, thyme, bay-leaf,
cloves, &c. &c., commenced operations; and, forgetting his dignity in
his devotion to good living, he might now be seen smeared, from
finger-ends to elbows, with grease and offal, earnestly engaged in
disembowelling, with his own hands, the fowls on which he meant to
exercise his gastronomic skill.

Leaving Captain Stubbs, of his majesty's ---- regiment of horse, thus
becomingly employed, we shall return to a personage who, we should
suppose, will be fully more interesting to the reader. This is Grace
Cameron. That lady, on leaving the presence of her father, and him of
the fowl _à la Condé_, returned to her own apartment, when, recollecting
that the dragoons were still in front of the house, she walked up to the
window, to gratify her curiosity by taking another peep at the warlike
display; and it was while thus employed that Miss Cameron, for the first
time, perceived that there was a prisoner amongst the soldiers. The
prisoner was a boy of about thirteen or fourteen years of age. He was
mounted behind one of the dragoons, to whom he was secured by a cord,
which was passed round the bodies of both. Grace thought she perceived
that the boy looked up at the windows of the house with more earnestness
and anxiety than curiosity; and, when his eye at length rested on that
she occupied, he threw a peculiar intelligence into his look,
accompanied by certain expressive but almost imperceptible signs, that
convinced her that he was desirous of holding some communication with
her. Satisfied of this, Grace raised the window at which she stood, and
beckoned to the serjeant of the troop to approach nearer. He rode up to
within a few yards of the house.

"Is that poor boy a prisoner, sir?" inquired Miss Cameron.

"Yes, ma'am," replied the serjeant, touching his hat.

"For what has he been taken up? What has he done?"

"Done, ma'am! Lord love you, ma'am--excuse me--he has done nothing as I
knows of; but our captain suspects him of being a rebel."

"Where did you fall in with him?"

"Why, ma'am, we picked him up on the road as we came along this morning.
Captain saw him skulking behind a hedge. 'There's a blackguard-looking
rascal, serjeant,' says he. 'He has the rebel cut about him as perfect
as a picture. Pick him up, and strap him to one of the fellows, and
we'll see what the cat-o'-nine-tails will bring out of him.'"

"Gracious heaven!" exclaimed Grace, shocked at this instance of military
despotism, "is it possible that such a state of things exists--that you
can apprehend and punish whomsoever you please, without a shadow of
crime being established against them? You cannot have such a power,
serjeant. It is impossible."

"Oh, bless you, ma'am, but we have, though," replied the serjeant.
"Captain may hang or shoot a dozen every day, if he has a mind, without
ever axing them a question. We could never get through our work
otherwise; and, as to this young rogue's being a rebel, there's no doubt
of it. He's all in rags; and, as captain says, every poor-looking ragged
rascal is sure to be a rebel."

"Pretty grounds, truly, on which to subject a man to the treatment of a
felon!" said Miss Cameron. "However," she continued, "will it be any
dereliction of your duty, serjeant, to permit me to speak for a moment
with the unfortunate lad?"

"By no means, ma'am," replied the serjeant. "Provided he's kept fast
till captain's pleasure is known regarding him, I don't see it signifies
a pinch of gunpowder who speaks to him."

Availing herself of the permission granted her, Grace was in an instant
afterwards beside the prisoner, whose looks brightened up with an
expression of extreme delight as she approached him. After asking the
lad a few trivial questions, she observed him cautiously stealing
something forth from a concealment in his dress. It was a letter.
Watching an opportunity, he slipped this document unperceived into her
hand.

Trembling with agitation, although she knew not well for what, Grace
crammed the letter into her bosom, and saying to its bearer that she
would speak with him again, she hurried into the house, and sought a
retired apartment, when, pulling it from her bosom, she discovered, from
the handwriting of the address, that it was from Malcolm M'Gregor. With
a beating heart and trembling hand, she opened it, and read--

     "DEAREST GRACE,--All is lost. The Prince's army is defeated and
     dispersed, and I am now a wandering fugitive in my native land,
     with the axe of the executioner suspended over my neck. This is
     a dreadful reverse, and carries with it destruction to all our
     hopes--to mine, individually, utter annihilation. I have only
     time to add, dearest Grace, that, if I can escape the
     bloodhounds that are in pursuit of us, I must seek safety in a
     foreign land. I will, however, endeavour to see you before I
     go. I _must_ see you, Grace, and shall do so at all hazards. I
     have hitherto escaped unhurt. God bless you," &c. &c.

With mingled feelings of joy and grief--joy to find that her lover still
lived, and had escaped the dangers of the battle-field, and grief for
the unfortunate position in which he was now placed--Grace returned the
letter to her bosom, and hastily left the apartment, when she was met by
her father, who insisted upon her joining Captain Stubbs and himself at
dinner; requesting her, at the same time, to conduct herself in a
conciliatory way to the captain, and thus to endeavour to make her peace
with him, as he was such a man, he said, as might occasion them trouble,
if allowed to leave the house with any feelings of irritation towards
them.

Obedient to her father's commands, Grace joined the party, and not only
avoided giving Stubbs any farther offence, but got so far into his good
graces that she actually prevailed on him to order the release of the
boy who had been the bearer of Malcolm's letter--an order which Grace
took care to see immediately fulfilled; nay, Captain Stubbs not only did
this, but began, after dinner, when his temper had been mollified by the
good things of which he had partaken, to play the gallant--and in this
character he was standing at a window with Miss Cameron, when, suddenly
dropping the awkward badinage which he had been attempting--

"But who the devil have we got here?" he exclaimed, his eye having
caught a man in a mean dress, who, on discovering the dragoons as he
approached the house, suddenly stopped short, and, in evident surprise
and alarm, sprung to one side of the road, and endeavoured to conceal
himself behind a low and rather thin hedge that ran parallel to the
house, and directly in front of it. Stubbs pointed him out to Miss
Cameron; she started, and turned pale; for, meanly dressed as he was,
she at once recognised in the stranger her lover, Malcolm M'Gregor. He
had come, she doubted not, in this disguise, to pay the visit which his
letter had promised. In the meantime, Stubbs, flushed with the wine he
had drunk, and desirous of showing Miss Cameron his promptitude and
energy on sudden emergencies, threw up the window violently, and called
out to the soldiers to pursue the fugitive, and to fire upon him, if he
did not surrender himself. It was in vain that Miss Cameron--at this
trying moment forgetting the additional danger to which the warm and
earnest expressions of her interest in the fate of her lover would
subject him--implored Captain Stubbs to allow him to escape.

"For Heaven's sake," she exclaimed, in the agony of her feelings, and
seizing him almost convulsively by the hand as she spoke, "do not commit
murder! Do not send the soldiers after him, captain. I will do anything
for you--I will go on my bended knees to you," said the distracted girl,
"if you will call your men back, and allow him to escape." To this
appeal Stubbs made no other reply than by repeating, with additional
vehemence, his orders to the soldiers; half-a-dozen of whom, with the
serjeant at their head, now galloped furiously off in the direction
which he pointed out. Then, turning round to Miss Cameron, with a look
of mingled triumph and self-complacency--

"Why, madam," he said, "we must do our duty. We soldiers mustn't stand
on trifles. The fellow must be shot; and, if he isn't shot, he must be
hanged--that's all; so there's but two ways of it--eh? Tight work that,
madam, isn't it--eh?"

At this instant, the report of a carbine was heard, and immediately
after, another and another.

"Oh heavens! they have killed him, they have killed him!" exclaimed Miss
Cameron, covering her face with her hands, and throwing herself into a
seat, in an agony of horror and despair. "They have murdered him, the
ruthless savages. Oh Malcolm, my beloved Malcolm! that you had never
loved me, that you had never looked on this fatal face!--for it is I,
and I alone, that have been the cause of your cruel and untimely death."
And here the violence of her feelings choked her utterance, and she
burst into a flood of tears.

Fortunately Captain Stubbs was too intently occupied in watching the
proceedings of the party who were in pursuit of the fugitive, to hear
all that Miss Cameron had permitted to escape her in her agony; or,
indeed, to notice her distress at all. Quizzing-glass in hand, he was
employed in looking at the chase, and ever and anon giving utterance to
the various feelings which its various turns excited.

"Ha, you've pinned him at last, serjeant," muttered the captain, in his
own peculiar and elegant phraseology, on perceiving the fugitive stumble
and fall, immediately after a carbine had been discharged at him by the
officer just named.

"No, you blind rascal," again muttered Stubbs, on seeing the fallen man
taking once more to his feet, and clearing hedges and ditches with an
activity that sufficiently showed he had sustained, at any rate, no
serious injury. "You haven't touched him. I'll have you back to the
ranks again for that, you scoundrel, or my name's not Stubbs." And,
after a moment's pause--"Ay, ay, you villain," he added, "he's off, he's
off; you'll never get within shot of him again. Hang me, if I don't get
every man of you flogged to death for this!"

When Captain Stubbs said the fugitive had escaped, he was right. The
nature of the ground had been all along greatly in his favour, being so
interspersed and encumbered with hedges, ditches, walls, and trees, that
the dragoons had little or no chance of ever being able to overtake him,
should he escape their carbines; and these had hitherto been discharged
at him without effect.

The last effort of the fugitive--that which secured his final escape,
and which had called forth the expressions of Captain Stubbs'
displeasure--was his plunging into a thick plantation that grew on the
face of a steep and rocky hill, where it was impossible for the troopers
to pursue him. The latter finding this, two or three shots were
discharged at random into the wood; a volley of oaths followed, and the
pursuit was abandoned.

The dragoons turned their horses' heads towards Duntruskin House, where
they soon after rejoined their comrades.

During the pursuit, Miss Cameron awaited its result in deep but silent
wretchedness, till, aroused by the delightful intelligence communicated
involuntarily by Stubbs, that the fugitive yet lived--

"He is not killed, then!" she exclaimed, in a paroxysm of rapture,
starting from her seat, her face flushed with joy, and her soft dark eye
beaming with inexpressible happiness. "He is not killed, then!" she
said, rushing wildly to the window. "Oh, thank God, thank God for his
mercies!" she exclaimed, on perceiving that the fugitive appeared to be
still unhurt, and that he was continuing his exertions to escape, with
unabated energy.

Unable, however, to look longer upon the doubtful and critical struggle
between the pursuers and the pursued, she had again retired from the
window, and again her fears for the eventual safety of her lover had
returned. These, however, Captain Stubbs' latter exclamations had once
more removed.

"Off! is he off?" she wildly repeated, taking up the words in which the
joyful event had been communicated; and she again flew to the window.
"Dear Captain Stubbs," she exclaimed--forgetting in the excitation of
the moment all former feelings and antipathies regarding him she
addressed--"is he indeed off? Has--has"--and she was about to pronounce
the name of M'Gregor, when a sudden recollection of the imprudence of
doing so struck her, and she merely added, "has the man really escaped?"
Having quickly satisfied herself that it was so, Miss Cameron, unable
longer to control the warm and overflowing sense of gratitude which she
felt towards the Omnipotent Being who had protected the beloved object
of her affections in the moment of peril, clasped her hands together,
looked upwards with a countenance strongly expressive of thankfulness
and joy, and breathed a short but fervent prayer of thanksgiving.

The scene was one which Stubbs could not comprehend. He thought it very
odd, but he said nothing. In a few seconds after, Grace left the
apartment--a step to which she was urged by two motives. Captain Stubbs
had threatened that he would instantly go himself, with his whole troop,
on foot, to search the wood in which the fugitive had concealed
himself--a measure which, if executed, would almost certainly secure the
capture of M'Gregor, or, at least, render it a very probable event. The
other motive, proceeding from this circumstance, was, to see whether she
could not fall on any means of preventing the threatened expedition.

On leaving the apartment, Grace met the serjeant on his way to Captain
Stubbs, to make his report of the proceeding in which he had just been
engaged. Without well knowing for what precise purpose, but with some
general idea that she might prevail on him, by some means or other, to
second her views in defeating the object of Stubbs' proposed search, she
stopped him, and hurriedly conducted him into an unoccupied apartment.

"Oh, serjeant!" she exclaimed, in great agitation, and scarcely knowing
what she said, "will you--will you do me a favour--a great favour,
serjeant? For God's sake, do not refuse me!"

The man looked at her in utter amazement.

"Your captain," continued Grace, "proposes renewing the pursuit of the
person that has just escaped you. I am interested in that person. Now,
serjeant, will you do what you can to prevent this search taking place,
or to render it unavailing if it does?" And with these last words she
put a purse, containing ten guineas, into the serjeant's hand.

The man looked from the gift to the giver, and again from the latter to
the former, in silent astonishment, for several seconds. At length--

"Why, miss," he said, "since you _are_ in such a taking about this
matter, and as I don't mind a poor fellow's escaping now and then, I
_will_ do what I can to serve you in the case." And he put the purse
into his pocket.

"Oh, thank you, serjeant, thank you!--God bless you for these words!"
said Grace, in a rapture of joy. "But how--how, serjeant, will you
manage it?"

"Oh, leave me alone for that, miss," replied the latter; "I knows how to
manage it, and I'll do it effectually, I warrant you. I can send captain
in any direction I please on the shortest notice. He don't like the
smell of gunpowder, though he be a soldier; and, when he can, always
follows the wind that brings it."

In a few minutes after, Serjeant Higginbotham was in the presence of the
pink of chivalry, Captain Stubbs. Having informed the latter briefly of
the result of the pursuit, he added, that, when he was out, he had seen
"something suspicious."

"What was it?" inquired Stubbs, in a tone and with a look of alarm.

"Why, sir," responded the serjeant, "a crowd of people assembled on the
face of the hill where the fellow escaped us."

"The devil! Are they rebels, think you, serjeant?" said the captain,
with increased perturbation.

"And, please your honour, I think as how there is no doubt of it,"
replied Higginbotham.

"In great force, you say, serjeant?" added Stubbs; "in overwhelming
force--madness to attack them--you can depone on oath before a
court-martial?"

"To be sure I can, sir," rejoined the former.

"That's a good fellow; order my horse to the door instantly, and let the
men fall in."

These orders were immediately obeyed; and in the next instant Captain
Stubbs appeared at the door.

"In what direction are these rascals?" he said, addressing the serjeant,
as he was about to mount his charger.

"In that direction, your honour," replied the latter, pointing towards
the place of M'Gregor's concealment.

"Ah!" ejaculated Captain Stubbs; and, in a moment after, he was in full
gallop, followed by his whole troop, in the opposite direction.

We should certainly fail, were we to attempt to describe the joy of
Grace Cameron when she beheld the departure of the dragoons. That joy,
as will readily be believed, was extreme.

For some time after the troopers had left the house, Grace continued to
keep her eye on the spot where M'Gregor had disappeared, in the hope
that he would again show himself. Nor was she mistaken. Malcolm appeared
also to have been able to see from his hiding-place the departure of the
soldiers; for they had not been more than a quarter-of-an-hour gone,
when he again appeared at the skirts of the wood where he had been
concealed, and made towards the house. On recognising him, Grace
hastened out to meet him.

This meeting we need not describe, as it very much resembled all other
meetings of a similar kind--only that it was, perhaps, a little more
interesting, from the peculiar situation of the parties. The lovers had
much to say to each other, and much was said in a very small space of
time. Amongst other things, Malcolm informed Grace that it was his
intention to request her father for an asylum for three or four days,
when, he said, it was his intention to proceed to the coast, and to
endeavour to effect his escape from thence to France.

The asylum that Malcolm requested was readily granted by Mr Cameron, and
a place of concealment was found for him, which promised every
security--and there was need that it should; for, on the following day,
the surrounding country was filled with soldiers, who were everywhere
making the strictest search for the fugitive insurgents; and of these
several parties had already paid domiciliary visits to Duntruskin House.

The constant state of terror and alarm for the safety of her lover, in
which these visits kept Grace Cameron, and the imminent risk he ran of
being discovered, at length suggested to the romantic girl an
undertaking which well accorded with her strong affection and noble
spirit; but which certainly, had it been known, must have appeared to
all but herself as utterly hopeless.

On the second day after the occurrence just related, Grace, seizing such
an opportunity as she thought favourable for her purpose, suddenly flung
her arms around her father's neck, and said, smiling affectionately in
his face as she spoke--

"Father, I am going to ask you a favour."

"Well, Grace, my dear," replied he, "I tell you, before you ask it,
that, if it be reasonable in itself, and within my power, I shall grant
it."

"Thank you, my dear father," said Grace; "but I am afraid you will _not_
think it reasonable. Nevertheless, you must grant it."

"Nay, Grace, that's more than I bargain for," rejoined Mr Cameron,
laughing. "But let me know what it is you want, and I shall then be
better able to judge of its propriety."

"Well, then, father," replied Grace, "will you allow me to go from home
for two days, to take my pony with me--for I mean to travel--and allow
Macpherson to accompany me?"

"Where do you propose going to, Grace?" inquired her father, rather
gravely.

"That's a question, father," said his daughter, "that relates to a part
of the bargain I mean to drive with you which I have not yet arrived at,
and which will seem to you the most unreasonable of the whole, I
daresay. You must not ask me where I am going to, nor what I'm going to
do. On my return, you shall know all."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Mr Cameron; "why, this is certainly strange,
Grace--I don't understand it; and, what is more, I must say I do not
like it; but, as I have every reliance on your good sense and
discretion, my child, I will grant your request. But I really wish you
would tell me what it means; for you cannot suppose that I can be
otherwise than uneasy till you return."

"I have your unconditional consent, father, to my terms," said Grace,
playfully; "so you must not put any questions; and, as to your being
uneasy about me, I assure you there is not the slightest occasion; for
my project involves no chance whatever of personal injury to myself."

"Well, well, Grace," replied her father, "since you assure me of that,
and since I have certainly given my consent to your request, I will keep
my word. You may go when you please."

Delighted with her success, Grace flew to give the necessary orders
regarding her intended journey; and amongst these were instructions to
Macpherson--a favourite servant of long standing in the family--to have
her pony, and a horse for himself, in readiness at an early hour on the
following morning. When this hour arrived, it found Grace and her
attendant jogging forward, at a pretty round pace, on the road leading
to the town of Inverness.

Leaving her to prosecute her mysterious journey, we shall return to
Duntruskin House, where a scene was about to occur of no ordinary
interest.

On the second day after Grace's departure, a young Irish officer, who
had been in the service of the Pretender, and who was well acquainted
with both Mr Cameron and M'Gregor--with the latter intimately, as they
had served together--arrived at Duntruskin House. He, too, was a
fugitive, and was now endeavouring to find his way back to Ireland, and
to avoid the numerous military parties that were scouring the country.

This gentleman, whose name was Terence Sullivan, was a genuine Milesian.
He was frank, open, generous, warmhearted, and brave to a fault; for he
was rash and impetuous, and never stopped an instant to reckon on the
odds that might be against him in any case, either of love or war. On he
went, reckless of consequences and fearless of results. Terence was
thus, in truth, rather a dangerous ally in cases where either caution,
deliberation, or forbearance, was necessary, and where their opposites
were attended with peril. Such as he was, however, he now appeared at
Duntruskin, on his way to the coast for the purpose already mentioned.
But Mr Sullivan brought a piece of intelligence with him which it was
rather singular he should have fallen in with; and it was intelligence
that greatly surprised and alarmed both Cameron and M'Gregor. This was,
that the place of concealment of the latter was known, and that he might
every moment expect to be apprehended; and, to show that his
information was well founded, he described the place of M'Gregor's
retreat with such accuracy that it was instantly recognised, and left no
doubt that a special information on the subject had been laid by some
person or other. Sullivan said that the way in which he came by the
intelligence was this:--He had slept on the preceding night in a small
public-house, and having been much fatigued, had retired early to bed.
This bed was in a recess in the wall, with a sliding-door on its front,
which he drew close. Soon after he had lain down, a party of military
came to the house in quest of refreshments; and, being shown into the
apartment where he lay, he overheard all that passed amongst them; and
part of this conversation, he said, was what he had just communicated.

On receiving this startling intelligence, Mr Cameron hastened to inform
M'Gregor of his danger, when an earnest conversation ensued between them
as to what steps the latter ought now to take to secure his safety.

Leaving them for an instant thus employed, we will return to Terence,
who, having been left alone by Mr Cameron while he went to speak with
his protegé, had taken his station at a window which overlooked the
approach to the house, and was there humming away, with great spirit,
one of his lively national airs, when his eye was suddenly caught by the
red coats of a party of dragoons advancing towards the house. Terence's
eye instantly brightened up with an almost joyous expression when he saw
them; for he anticipated some amusement in the way of fighting, as he
took it for granted that the house was to be defended to the last
extremity. Having at once settled this point, he hurriedly looked about
the apartment, to see whether he could not find any eligible weapon
wherewith to resist the approaching foe; and in this particular his luck
was singularly great indeed. Over the fireplace there hung a rifle gun
and a flask of powder, and on the mantelpiece were several bullets that
fitted to a hair--the very things wanted. Never was man so fortunate.
Delighted beyond measure with his good luck, Terence seized the rifle,
loaded it in a twinkling, and again took his place at the window, which
he now banged up to its utmost height, and stood ready for mischief;
never dreaming that it was at all necessary to consult the master of the
house as to the manner in which he meant to receive his visiters, or
conceiving that anything else could be thought of in the case but
fighting.

"Blessings on them, the darlings! There they are," said Terence to
himself, as he stood at the window in the way already described, "as
large as life, and as lively as two-year olds." Muttering this, he
raised his rifle, and, putting it on full cock, "You'll see now, my
jewels," he added, "how beautifully I'll turn over that fellow on the
white charger."

He fired, and almost in the same instant the unfortunate man whom he had
selected fell lifeless from his horse.

Terence gave a shout of joy and triumph at the success of his shot, and
was proceeding with the utmost expedition to reload, when his arm was
suddenly seized from behind by Mr Cameron, who, in amazement at his
proceedings, and in great distress for their very serious result, which
he had seen from another part of the house, had hastened to the
apartment where he was.

"Good heavens, Mr Sullivan! what is the meaning of this?--what are you
doing?--what have you done?" he exclaimed, in great agitation. "We shall
be all put to the sword--by the laws of war, our lives are forfeited. It
was foolish--it was madness, Mr Sullivan!"

"Faith, my dear fellow," replied Terence, not a little astonished that
his proceedings should have been found fault with, "you may call it what
you please; but no man shall ever convince Terence Sullivan that it's
either folly or madness to kill an enemy when you can."

At this moment they were joined by M'Gregor; and in the next instant the
commanding officer of the troop--a very different man from
Stubbs--entered the apartment, with his drawn sword in one hand, and a
pistol in the other, and followed by about a dozen of his men; the
remainder being drawn up in front of the house.

"Gentlemen," said the officer, on his entrance, "you perceive, I trust,
that further resistance will be vain, and can only bring down
destruction on your own heads."

"Not so fast, my good fellow--we perceive nothing of the kind,"
exclaimed Terence, forcibly releasing himself from the grip which Mr
Cameron still held of him, and, in the next instant, preparing his rifle
for another charge. "Just keep off a bit, and let us have fair play for
our money. Shot about, my beautiful fellows. It's all I ask, and no
gentleman can refuse so reasonable a request."

"Terence, Terence!" exclaimed Mr Cameron, again laying his hand on the
right arm of his hot-headed friend, "listen to me, I beseech you, as a
special favour. I request of you, I beg of you, to desist."

"Well, well, my dear fellow," replied Terence, somewhat doggedly, and at
the same time resting the butt of his rifle on the floor, "do as you
please, only it's a cursed pity you wouldn't allow a few shots to be
exchanged between these gentlemen and me, if it were only for the
respectability of your own house."

"Don't you know, sir," here interposed the commanding officer of the
party, addressing Terence, "that by the laws of war I could----"

"Och, no more of that blarney, if you please, my dear fellow,"
interrupted Terence, impatiently. "Mr Cameron has told me all about
that already."

"If he has, then, sir," said the officer, haughtily, "you know the
extent of the obligation you lie under to my clemency."

Terence was about to reply to this insinuation, and probably in no very
measured terms, when he was stopped short by Mr Cameron, who dreaded
that some immediate act of violence would result from the continuance of
this irritating conversation.

"Mr Cameron," said the officer, now proceeding to the real purpose of
his visit, "my business here is to make this gentleman"--and he bowed
slightly to M'Gregor--"my prisoner, although this is not precisely the
spot in which I expected to find him. I feel it to be a painful duty,
sir," he said, now directly addressing Malcolm; "but it is unavoidable."

"I am aware of it, sir," replied the latter, "and am obliged by the
consideration which induces you to say it is unpleasant to you. I have
no doubt it is. I am ready to attend you, sir."

The officer bowed, and now turning to Terence, "You will please, also,
sir, consider yourself as my prisoner. Your rashness and folly have
placed you in a very precarious predicament. Serjeant," he added,
addressing a non-commissioned officer, "remain here, keeping six men
with you, with these gentlemen, till I return; and see that you guard
against escape."

Saying this, he again bowed, and left the apartment. In a minute after
he was mounted, and off with his troop, in pursuit of some object of a
similar kind with that which had brought him to Duntruskin.

"This is a devil of a business, Mac," said Terence, when the officer had
left the apartment; then sinking his voice, so as to be heard only by
Malcolm--"but I think we three might clear the room of these fellows, if
we set to it with right good-will. What say you to try? I'll begin."

"Hush," said M'Gregor, under his breath--"madness, Terence, madness. We
are fairly in for it, and must just abide the consequences. Our doom is
sealed. In plain English, we must hang for it, Terence."

"Faith, and that we won't, if we can help it, Mac; and we'll try whether
it can be helped or not," said Terence. "We'll get the fellows drunk, if
we can, and that will be always one step gained.--I say, serjeant," he
added, now speaking out, and confronting the person he addressed, "I
think you're a countryman of my own."

"I don't know, sir," replied the serjeant, in a brogue that at once
showed Terence's conjecture was right--"I am from Ireland."

"I thought so," rejoined the latter. "I saw potatoes and butter-milk
written on your sweet countenance as plain as a pike-staff. Perhaps,
now, you wouldn't have any objection to take a small matter of
refreshment yourself, nor to allow your men to partake of it, if our
friend, Mr Cameron here, would be kind enough to offer it."

"No, certainly not, sir," replied the serjeant.

"Mr Cameron," continued Terence, and now turning to the person he named,
"would ye be good enough to order a little whisky for the lads here; for
we'll have a long march of it by and by, and they'll be the better of
something to help them over the stones."

A large black bottle of the stimulative spoken of by Terence was
instantly brought; when the latter, installing himself master of the
ceremonies, seized it, and began to deal about its contents with
unsparing liberality.

"Come now, my lads," he said, after having completed three rounds of the
black-jack, "make yourselves as comfortable as a rat in a corn-chest.
Here's the stuff," he continued, slapping the bottle, and commencing a
fourth progress with it, "that'll make ye forget the sins and sorrows
of your wicked, lives. Won't it now, serjeant?"

"Troth and it will, sir, I'll be sworn," replied the latter, whose eyes
were already twinkling in his head, and his articulation fast thickening
into utter unintelligibility; "it's as good for one as a sight of the
quartermaster at pay-day."

"Right, serjeant, right," exclaimed Terence; "I see your education
hasn't been neglected. You have had some experience of the world,
serjeant, and know some of its hardships."

"Faith, and it's yourself, sir, may say that of a man who has been
hundreds of times in the saddle thirteen days out of the fortnight;
living in the air, as one may say, night and day, and never allowed to
put his foot on the ground, no more than if it had been covered with
china tea-cups."

"No joke, serjeant--by my faith, no joke," replied Terence; and again he
made a round with the bottle, a proceeding which brought matters fairly
to a crisis. The faces of the soldiers suddenly became as red as their
coats; their eyes began to dance in their heads; and they were now all
talking together at the tops of their voices, shouting out at intervals,
"Long life and glory" to their entertainer. Nor was the serjeant himself
in any better condition than his men; but his genius, under the
influence of liquor, took a musical direction, and he began trolling
scraps of songs; for, as his memory failed him in almost every instance
in these attempts, he was compelled to make up by variety what he wanted
in continuous matter. Thus favourably, then, were affairs going on for
Terence's design; and there was every appearance that the men would soon
be in such a state as should render escape from them a matter of no very
difficult accomplishment. But lo! just as the flow of mirth and
good-fellowship had attained its height, another serjeant, detached with
an additional half-dozen of men, from the troop that had visited the
house in the morning, suddenly entered the apartment, with orders from
the commanding officer, to the effect that the party which had been left
with the prisoners should proceed immediately to Fort George with
Sullivan, and that they themselves were to remain with M'Gregor till
their officer came.

This, as will readily be believed, was by no means welcome intelligence,
as it threatened to render the attempt to unfit the soldiers for their
duty abortive, in so far as the object of doing so was concerned. This,
indeed, it fully effected as regarded Malcolm's escape, since he was to
be left behind; while it rendered Terence's much more precarious than if
the debauch had been allowed to proceed.

Terence, however, did not feel that all chance of escape was yet lost.
He hoped that what he had not had time to effect at Duntruskin, he
should be able to accomplish while they were on the march; and he
resolved to watch with the utmost vigilance for such an opportunity as
was necessary to success in his intended attempt.

In the meantime, preparations were made, in obedience to the order just
received, for the march of Terence's escort with their prisoner. An
affecting parting now took place between M'Gregor and Sullivan,
especially on the part of the former, who deemed it a last farewell--an
opinion, however, in which he was by no means joined by his friend, who,
with the natural buoyancy of his disposition, and cheerful and sanguine
temper, entertained strong hopes of being able to give his guards the
slip; and he bade Malcolm good-by with all the hilarity of manner and
brightness of countenance which these hopes inspired.

The drunken troopers now staggered out of the apartment one after the
other--their swords tripping them at every step, and several of them
with their caps turned the wrong way--next came Terence, and lastly the
serjeant, trolling, as he left the room--

    "I'm bother'd with whisky, I'm bother'd with love;
    I'm bother'd with this, and I'm bother'd with that;
    I'm bother'd at home, and I'm bother'd abroad;
    And it's all botheration together, says Pat."

M'Gregor went to the window, to see what he had no doubt was the last of
his poor friend, Sullivan--and he soon had this melancholy satisfaction.
In a few minutes, the party appeared proceeding down the avenue, with
Terence in the centre, mounted on one of the dragoon's horses--a favour
which his uproarious good-fellowship at Duntruskin had procured for him.
He caught a sight of Malcolm just as he and his escort were about to
take a turn in the road that would conceal them from each other, and
waved an adieu, accompanied by one of his characteristic shouts, which,
though plainly enough indicated by his gestures, was, from the distance,
unheard by him for whose edification it was intended.

In about an hour after the departure of Terence Sullivan, the commanding
officer of the party, who had been at Duntruskin House in the morning,
appeared riding up the avenue at the head of his troop. In a few minutes
afterward, he was again in the apartment with M'Gregor.

"We will now proceed, sir, if you please," he said, on entering. "Are
you ready?"

"I believe I must say I am, sir," replied Malcolm, with as much
composure as he could command.

"Nay," said the officer, who marked his agitation; "you need not say you
are, if you are not. Is there anything you wish yet done before you go?
Any one you wish to see?"

"There is--there is one I wish to see, sir--one to whom I should have
wished to have bidden farewell," said Malcolm, with an emotion which he
could not conceal; "but I know not when she may be here, and----"

"She is here, Malcolm--she is here," said Grace, at this instant
rushing into the apartment.

Malcolm flew towards her. "God be thanked, Grace, you are come! I would
have been miserable, if I had not seen you before I went. A few minutes
later, Grace, and we should never have beheld each other more. We have
now met," he added, "for the last time."

"No, no, Malcolm; we have not, we have not," said Grace, hurriedly, and
in great agitation, taking a letter from her bosom, which, with a blush
and a curtsey, she presented to Major Ormsby--the name of the officer
already so often alluded to. He bowed as he received it; and, unfolding
it, began to read. The perusal did not occupy him an instant. The matter
was short but effective. Having read it, he advanced towards Malcolm
with extended hand, and said--

"Allow me, sir, to congratulate you on your restoration to freedom, and
to an immunity from all danger on account of certain late transactions
which you wot of." And, as he said this, he smiled significantly. "You
are at liberty, Mr M'Gregor. I have no more control over you, and have
therefore to regret that I shall not have the pleasure of your company
to Fort-George, as I expected."

"What does all this mean, sir?" inquired Malcolm, in the utmost
amazement.

"Why, sir, it means simply that you are a free man," replied Major
Ormsby. "And here is at once my authority for saying so and my warrant
for releasing you." And he read:--

     "This is to discharge all officers of his majesty's government,
     civil and military, and all other persons whatsoever, from
     apprehending, or in any other ways molesting, Malcolm M'Gregor,
     Esq. of Strontian, for his concern in the late rebellion; and,
     if he be already taken, this shall be sufficient warrant for
     those detaining him to set him at liberty, which they are
     hereby required to do forthwith.

    "CUMBERLAND.

    "_At Inverness, the 19th day of
    April, 1746._"

"Grace," exclaimed Malcolm, in a transport of joy, when Major Ormsby had
concluded, "this is your doing, noble and generous girl. It is to you,
and to you alone, that I am indebted for life and liberty. But how, how
on earth, Grace, did you accomplish it?" he added, taking her
affectionately by the hand.

The explanation was a brief one. She had gone to Inverness--had sought
and obtained an interview with the Duke of Cumberland--had implored him
for a pardon to her lover, and to the amazement of those who were
present on the occasion, had succeeded. Her youth, her beauty, the
natural eloquence of her appeal, and the romance of the circumstance
altogether, had touched the merciless conqueror, and had betrayed him
for once into an act of humanity and generosity.

After partaking of some refreshment, Major Ormsby with his troop left
Duntruskin, and the happiness of Malcolm would have been complete only
for one circumstance. This was the miserable situation of his poor
friend, Sullivan; presenting, as it did, such a contrast to his own.
This, however, was a ground of unhappiness which was soon and most
unexpectedly to be removed. In less than two hours after the departure
of Major Ormsby, as Malcolm, Miss Cameron, and her father were sitting
together, talking over the events of the preceding two or three days, to
their inexpressible amazement, Sullivan suddenly burst into the
apartment, with a loud shout.

"Haven't I done them, after all, Malcolm?" He exclaimed--"done them
beautifully! Didn't I tell you, now, I would give the drunken rogues the
slip somewhere? Och! and just give me a bottle of whisky in my fist, and
I'll take in hand to bother a saint, let alone a serjeant of dragoons."

We need not describe the joy of the party whom Terence on this occasion
addressed, when he appeared amongst them. It was very great, and very
sincere. Terence, however, was immediately hurried off by M'Gregor, who
dreaded an instant return of the dragoons in quest of him, to a place of
concealment at a little distance from the house, where he remained for
two days, when he was secretly conveyed by his friend to the coast, and
embarked on board a small wherry, hired for the purpose, for his native
land, where he arrived in safety on the evening of the following day.

Within a year after these occurrences, Grace Cameron was fully better
known in the country by the name of Mrs M'Gregor, than by that which we
have just written.



THE MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE.


In the very midst of apparent contentedness and happiness, W---- B----,
a merchant in Dumfermline, disappeared all at once. No one could tell
whither he had gone; and his wife was just as ignorant of his
destination or fate as any one else. That he had left the country, could
not be supposed, because he had taken nothing with him; that he had made
away with himself, was almost as unlikely, seeing that it is not
generally in the midst of gaiety and good humour that people commit
suicide. Every search, however, was made for him, but all in vain--no
trace could be found of him, except that a person who had been near the
old ruin called the Magazine, part of the old castle in the
neighbourhood of the town, reported that, on the night when he
disappeared, he, the narrator, heard in that quarter a very
extraordinary soliloquy from the lips of some one in great agony; but
that all his efforts (for it was dark) could not enable him to ascertain
who or where he was. So far as he could recollect, the words of the
person were as follows:--

"The self-destroyer has nae richt to expect a better place." (Groans.)
"A' is dark and dismal--a thousand times mair sae than what my fancy
ever pictured upon earth. But there will be licht sune, ay, and scorchin
fires, and a' the ither terrors o' the place whar the wicked receive the
reward o' their sins. If I had again the days to begin, which, when in
the body, I spent sae fruitlessly and sinfully, hoo wad I be benefited
by this sicht o' the very entrance to the regions o' the miserable? and
yet does not the great Author o' guid strive, wi' a never-wearyin
energy, by dreams and visions, and revelations and thoughts, which vain
man tries to measure and value by the gauge o' his insignificant reason,
to show him what I now see, and turn him to the practice o' a better
life. This is a narrow pit--there is neither room for the voice o'
lamentation, nor for the struggle o' the restless limbs o' the
miserable; the light, and the air, and the space, and the view o' the
blue heavens, and the fair earth, which mak men proud, as if they were
proprietors o' the upper world, and sinfu, as if its joys were made for
them, are vanished, and a narrow cell, nae bigger than my body, wi' nae
air, nae licht, nae warmth--cauld, dark, lonely, and dismal--is the last
and eternal place appointed for the wicked." (Groans.) "On earth men,
though sinners, hae the companionship o' men; here my only companion is
a gnawin conscience, the true fire o' the lower pit, and a thousand
times waur than a' the imagined flames which haunt the minds o' the
doers o' evil."

These dreadful words were spoken at intervals, and loud groans bespoke
the agony of the sufferer. The individual who heard them, at a loss
what to conceive, became alarmed, ran away to get assistance, and, in a
short time, returned, with a companion and a light, to search among the
old ruins for the individual who was thus apparently suffering under the
imagined terrors of the last place of punishment. They looked carefully
up and down throughout the place called the Magazine, among the ruins of
the castle, and in every hole and cranny of the neighbourhood, but
neither could they see any human being, nor hear again any of the
extraordinary sounds which had chained the ear of the listener, and
roused his terrors. The idea of a supernatural presence was the first
that presented itself; and a ghost giving its hollow utterance to the
lamentations of its suffering spirit, confined, doubtless, in some of
the vaults of the castle, and struggling for that liberty which depends
upon the performance of some penance upon earth, was the ready solution
of a difficulty which defied all recourse to ordinary means of
explanation. Having ascertained that nothing was to be seen or heard,
the two friends returned to the town, where they told what had happened.
The disappearance about that time of W---- B---- suggested to many a
more rational explanation of the mysterious affair; and a number of
people adjourned to the Magazine, for the purpose of exploring its dark
recesses more thoroughly, under the conviction that the missing
individual might be concealed in some part that had not been searched.
Every effort was employed, in vain. They penetrated all the holes, and
explored all the dark corners--nothing was to be seen, nothing heard;
and the conclusion was arrived at, either that the narrator was
deceiving or deceived, or that the spirit had ceased to issue its
lamentations.

For many days and many years afterwards, no trace could be had of
W----B----, nor was there ever even so much as whispered a single
statement of any one who had seen him either alive or dead. The food
for speculation which the mysterious affair afforded to the minds of the
inhabitants was for a time increased by the total want of success which
attended all the efforts of inquiry; and, after the fancies of all had
been exhausted by the vain work of endeavouring to discover that which
seemed to be hid by a higher power from human knowledge, the
circumstance degenerated into one of the wonders of nature, supplying
the old women with the material of a fireside tale, for the amusement or
terror of children. But it would seem that the energies of vulgar
everyday life are arrayed with inveterate hostility against the luxury
of a mystery so greedily grasped at by all people, however thoroughly
liberated from the prejudices of early education or of late
sanctification; and accordingly, one day many years after the
occurrences now mentioned, as some boys were amusing themselves among
the ruins of the old castle, they discovered lying in a hole--called the
Piper's Hole, from the circumstance of a piper having once entered it
with a pair of bagpipes, which he intended to play on till he reached
the end of it, but never returned--the body of a man, reduced to a
skeleton, but retaining on his bare bones the clothes which he had worn
when in life. It was the body of W---- B----. On searching his pockets,
there was found in one of them a few pence, and in another a bottle,
with a paper label, marked "Laudanum."

This discovery cleared up all mystery. The unfortunate man had intended
to kill himself in such a way as would put his suicidal act beyond the
knowledge of his friends, and had resorted to the extraordinary plan of
creeping up into the dark and narrow passage, where the action of the
fatal soporific had produced the delusion that he was in the place
appointed for the wicked, with the soliloquy already detailed, and then
death. The physical mystery was cleared up; but a mystery of a moral
nature remains, which will bid defiance to the revealing efforts of
philosophers--the strength and peculiarity of feeling which, working on
a sane mind, produced a purpose so extraordinary, and the resolution to
carry it into effect.

END OF VOL. XVI





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