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Title: Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland - Volume 4
Author: Various
Language: English
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                     WILSON'S TALES OF THE BORDERS

                            AND OF SCOTLAND.

                HISTORICAL, TRADITIONARY, & IMAGINATIVE.

                            WITH A GLOSSARY.

                               REVISED BY

                           ALEXANDER LEIGHTON

              ONE OF THE ORIGINAL EDITORS AND CONTRIBUTORS.


VOL. IV.

LONDON:

WALTER SCOTT, 14 PATERNOSTER SQUARE

AND NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE.

1885.



CONTENTS.


THE SOLITARY OF THE CAVE, _(JOHN MACKAY WILSON)_

THE MAIDEN FEAST OF CAIRNKIBBIE, _(ALEXANDER LEIGHTON)_

THE PROFESSOR'S TALES, _(PROFESSOR THOMAS GILLESPIE)_

    EARLY RECOLLECTIONS OF A SON OF THE HILLS
    THE SUICIDE'S GRAVE

THE SALMON-FISHER OF UDOLL, _(HUGH MILLER)_

THE LINTON LAIRDS, OR EXCLUSIVES AND INCLUSIVES, _(ALEXANDER
LEIGHTON)_

BON GUALTIER'S TALES, _(THEODORE MARTIN)_

    COUNTRY QUARTERS

THE MONK OF ST. ANTHONY, _(ALEXANDER CAMPBELL)_

THE STORY OF CLARA DOUGLAS, _(WALTER LOGAN)_

THE FAIR, _(JOHN MACKAY WILSON)_

THE SLAVE, _(JOHN HOWELL)_

THE KATHERAN, _(ALEXANDER CAMPBELL)_

THE MONKS OF DRYBURGH, _(ALEXANDER CAMPBELL)_



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



THE SOLITARY OF THE CAVE.


On the banks of the Tweed, and about half a mile above where the
Whitadder flows into it on the opposite side, there is a small and
singular cave. It is evidently not an excavation formed by nature, but
the work of man's hands. To the best of my recollection, it is about ten
feet square, and in the midst of it is a pillar or column, hewn out of
the old mass, and reaching from the floor to the roof. It is an
apartment cut out of the solid rock, and must have been a work of great
labour. In the neighbourhood, it is generally known by the name of the
King's Cove, and the tradition runs, that it was once the hiding-place
of a Scottish king. Formerly, it was ascended from the level of the
water by a flight of steps, also hewn out of the rock; but the
mouldering touch of time, the storms of winter, and the undermining
action of the river, which continually appears to press southward, (as
though nature aided in enlarging the Scottish boundary,) has long since
swept them away, though part of them were entire within the memory of
living men. What king used it as a hiding-place, tradition sayeth not:
but it also whispers that it was used for a like purpose by the "great
patriot hero," Sir William Wallace. These things may have been; but
certainly it never was formed to be a mere place of concealment for a
king, though such is the popular belief. Immediately above the bank
where it is situated, are the remains of a Roman camp; and it is more
than probable that the cave is coeval with the camp, and may have been
used for religious purposes--or, perchance, as a prison.

But our story has reference to more modern times. Almost ninety years
have fallen as drops into the vast ocean of eternity, since a strange
and solitary man took up his residence in the cave. He appeared a
melancholy being--he was seldom seen, and there were few with whom he
would hold converse. How he lived no one could tell, nor would he allow
any one to approach his singular habitation. It was generally supposed
that he had been "out," as the phrase went, with Prince Charles, who,
after being hunted as a wild beast upon the mountains, escaped to France
only a few months before the appearance of the Solitary on Tweedside.
This, however, was merely a conjecture. The history and character of the
stranger were a mystery; and the more ignorant of the people believed
him to be a wizard or wicked man, who, while he avoided all manner of
intercourse with his fellow-mortals, had power over and was familiar
with the spirits of the air; for, at that period, the idle belief in
witchcraft was still general. His garments were as singular as his
habits, and a large coarse cloak or coat, of a brown colour, fastened
around him with a leathern girdle, covered his person; while on his head
he wore a long, conical cap, composed of fox-skins, somewhat resembling
those worn now-a-days by some of our regiments of dragoons. His beard,
which was black, was also permitted to grow. But there was a dignity in
his step, as he was occasionally observed walking upon the banks over
his hermitage, and an expression of pride upon his countenance and in
the glance of his eyes, which spoke him to have been a person of some
note.

For three years he continued the inhabitant of the cave; and, throughout
that period, he permitted no one to enter it. But, on its appearing to
be deserted for several days, some fishermen, apprehending that the
recluse might be dying, or perchance dead, within it, ascended the
flight of steps, and, removing a rude door which merely rested against
the rock and blocked up the aperture, they perceived that the cave was
tenantless. On the farther side of the pillar, two boards, slightly
raised as an inclined plane, and covered with dried rushes, marked what
had been the bed of the Solitary. A low stool, a small and rude table,
with two or three simple cooking utensils, completed the furniture of
the apartment. The fishermen were about to withdraw, when one of them
picked up a small parcel of manuscripts near the door of the cave, as
though the hermit had dropped them by accident at his departure. They
appeared to be intended as letters to a friend, and were entitled--


"MY HISTORY."

Dear Lewis, (they began,) when death shall have sealed up the eyes, and
perchance some stranger dug a grave for your early friend, Edward
Fleming, then the words which he now writes for your perusal may meet
your eye. You believe me dead--and would to Heaven that I had died, ere
my hands became red with guilt, and my conscience a living fire which
preys upon and tortures me, but will not consume me! You remember--for
you were with me--the first time I met Catherine Forrester. It was when
her father invited us to his house in Nithsdale, and our hearts, like
the season, were young. She came upon my eyes as a dream of beauty, a
being more of heaven than of earth. You, Lewis, must admit that she was
all that fancy can paint of loveliness. Her face, her form, her auburn
ringlets, falling over a neck of alabaster!--where might man find their
equal? She became the sole object of my waking thoughts, the vision that
haunted my sleep. And was she not good as beautiful? Oh! the glance of
her eyes was mild as a summer morning breaking on the earth, when the
first rays of the sun shoot like streaks of gold across the sea. Her
smile, too--you cannot have forgotten its sweetness! never did I behold
it, but I thought an angel was in my presence, shedding influence over
me. There was a soul, too, in every word she uttered. Affectation she
had none; but the outpourings of her mind flowed forth as a river, and
her wit played like the ripple which the gentle breeze makes to sport
upon its bosom. You may think that I am about to write you a maudlin
tale of love, such as would draw tears from a maiden in her teens, while
those of more sober age turned away from it, and cried--'Pshaw!' But
fear not--there is more of misery and madness than of love in my
history. And yet, why should we turn with affected disgust from a tale
of the heart's first, best, purest, and dearest affections? It is
affectation, Lewis--the affectation of a cynic, who cries out, 'vanity
of vanities, all is vanity,' when the delicacy of young affection has
perished in his own breast. Who is there bearing the human form that
looks not back upon those days of tenderness and bliss, with a feeling
akin to that which our first parents might have experienced, when they
looked back upon the Eden from which they had been expelled? Whatever
may be your feelings, forgive me, while, for a few moments, I indulge in
the remembrance of this one bright spot in my history, even although you
are already in part acquainted with it.

We had been inmates beneath the roof of Sir William Forrester for
somewhat more than two months, waiting to receive intelligence regarding
the designs of his Excellency, or the landing of the Prince. It was
during the Easter holidays, and you had gone to Edinburgh for a few
days, to ascertain the feelings and the preparations of the friends of
the cause there. I remained almost forgetful of our errand, dreaming
beneath the eyes of Catherine. It was on the second day after your
departure, Sir William sat brooding over the possible results of the
contemplated expedition, now speaking of the feeling of the people, the
power of the house of Hanover, the resources of Prince Charles, and the
extent of the assistance he was likely to receive from France--drowning,
at the same time, every desponding thought that arose in an additional
glass of claret, and calling on me to follow his example. But my
thoughts were of other matters. Catherine sat beside me, arranging
Easter gifts for the poor; and I, though awkwardly, attempted to assist
her. Twilight was drawing on, and the day was stormy for the season, for
the snow fell, and the wind whirled round the drift in fantastic
columns; but with us, the fire blazed blithely, mingling its light with
the fading day, and though the storm raged without, and Sir William
seemed ready to sink into melancholy, I was happy--more than happy. But
attend, Lewis, for I never told you this; at the very moment when my
happiness seemed tranquil as the rays of a summer moon at midnight,
showering them on a mountain and casting its deep, silent shadow on a
lake, as though it revealed beneath the waters a bronzed and a silent
world, the trampling of a horse's feet was heard at the gate. I looked
towards the narrow window. A blackish-brown, shaggy animal attempted to
trot towards the door. It had rough hanging ears, a round form, and
hollow back; and a tall lathy-looking figure, dismounting from it, gave
the bridle to Sir William's groom, and uttered his orders respecting it,
notwithstanding of the storm, with the slowness and solemnity of a
judge. And, fearful that, although so delivered, they might not be
obeyed to the letter--

'A merciful man regardeth the life of his beast,' said he, and stalked
to the stable behind them.

'There go a brace of originals,' thought I; and, with difficulty, I
suppressed a laugh.

But Catherine smiled not, and her father left the room to welcome the
vistant.

The tall, thin man now entered. I call him tall, for his stature
exceeded six feet; and I say thin, for nature had been abundantly
liberal with bones and muscle, but wofully niggard in clothing them with
flesh. His limbs, however, were lengthy enough for a giant of seven
feet; and it would be difficult for me to say, whether his swinging
arms, which seemed suspended from his shoulders, appeared more of use or
of incumbrance. His countenance was a thoughtful blank, if you will
allow me such an expression. He had large, grey, fixture-like, unmeaning
eyes; and his hair was carefully combed back and plaited behind, to show
his brow to the best advantage. He gave two familiar stalks across the
floor, and he either did not see me, or he cared not for seeing me.

'A good Easter to ye, Catherine, my love!' said he. 'Still employed wi'
works o' love an' charity? How have ye been, dear?' And he lifted her
fair hand to his long blue lips.

Catherine was silent--she became pale, deadly pale. I believe her hand
grew cold at his touch, and that she would have looked to me; but she
could not--she dared not. _Something forbade it._ But with me the spell
was broken--the chain that bound me to her father's house, that withheld
me from accompanying you to Edinburgh, was revealed. The uncouth
stranger tore the veil from my eyes--he showed me the first glance of
love in the mirror of jealousy. My teeth grated together--my eyes
flashed--drops of sweat stood upon my forehead. My first impulse was to
dash the intruder to the ground; but, to hide my feelings, I rose from
my seat, and was about to leave the room.

'Sir, I ask your pardon,' said he--'I did not observe that ye was a
stranger; but that accounts for the uncommon dryness o' my Katie. Yet,
sir, ye mustna think that, though she is as modest as a bit daisy
peeping out frae beneath a clod to get a blink o' the sun, but that we
can hae our ain crack by our twa sels for a' that.'

'Sir Peter Blakely,' said Catherine, rising with a look expressive of
indignation and confusion, 'what mean ye?'

'Oh, no offence, Miss Catherine--none in the world,' he was beginning to
say, when, fortunately, her father entered, as I found that I had
advanced a step towards the stranger, with I scarce know what intention;
but it was not friendly.

'Sir Peter,' said Sir William, 'allow me to introduce you to my young
friend, Mr. Fleming; he is _one of us_--a supporter of the good cause.'

He introduced me in like manner. I bowed--trembled--bowed again.

'I am very happy to see you, Mr. Fleming,' said Sir Peter--'very happy,
indeed.' And he stretched out his huge collection of fingers to shake
hands with me.

My eyes glared on his, and I felt them burn as I gazed on him. He
evidently quailed, and would have stepped back; but I grasped his hand,
and scarce knowing what I did, I grasped it as though a vice had held
it. The blood sprang to his thin fingers, and his glazed orbs started
farther from their sockets.

'Save us a'! friend! friend! Mr Fleming! or what do they ca' ye?' he
exclaimed in agony; 'is that the way you shake hands in your country? I
would hae ye to mind my fingers arena made o' cauld iron.

The cold and the snow had done half the work with his fingers before,
and the grasp I gave them squeezed them into torture; and he stood
shaking and rattling them in the air, applying them to his lips and
again to the fire and, finally, dancing round the room, swinging his
tormented hand, and exclaiming--

'Sorrow take ye! for I dinna ken whether my fingers be off or on!'

Sir William strove to assure him it was merely the effect of cold, and
that I could not intend to injure him, while, with difficulty, he kept
gravity at the grotesque contortions and stupendous strides of his
intended son-in-law. Even Catherine's countenance relapsed into a
languid smile, and I, in spite of my feelings, laughed outright, while
the object of our amusement at once wept and laughed to keep us company.

You will remember that I slept in an apartment separated only by a thin
partition from the breakfast parlour. In the partition which divided my
chamber from the parlour was a door that led to it, one half of which
was of glass, and in the form of a window, and over the glass fell a
piece of drapery. It was not the door by which I passed from or entered
my sleeping room, but through the drapery I could discover (if so
minded) whatever took place in the adjoining apartment.

Throughout the night I had not retired to rest; my soul was filled with
anxious and uneasy thoughts; and they chased sleep from me. I felt how
deeply, shall I say how madly, I loved my Catherine; and, in Sir Peter
Blakely, I beheld a rival who had forestalled me in soliciting her hand;
and I hated him. My spirit was exhausted with its own bitter and
conflicting feelings; and I sat down as a man over whom agony of soul
has brought a stupor, with my eyes vacantly fixed upon the curtain which
screened me from the breakfast parlour. Sir Peter entered it, and the
sound of his footsteps broke my reverie. I could perceive him approach
the fire, draw forward a chair, and place his feet on each side of the
grate. He took out his tobacco-box, and began to enjoy the comforts of
his morning pipe in front of a 'green fire;' shivering--for the morning
was cold--and edging forward his chair, until his knees almost came in
conjunction with the mantelpiece. His pipe was finished, and he was
preparing to fill it a second time. He struck it over his finger, to
shake out the dust which remained after his last whiff; he struck it a
second time, (he had been half dreaming, like myself,) and it broke in
two and fell among his feet. He was left without a companion. He arose
and began to walk across the room; his countenance bespoke anxiety and
restlessness. I heard him mutter the words--

'I will marry her!--yea, I will!--my sweet Catherine!'

Every muttered word he uttered was a dagger driven into my bosom. At
that moment, Sir William entered the parlour.

'Sir,' said Sir Peter, after their morning salutations, 'I have been
thinking it is a long way for me to come over from Roxburgh to
here'--and he paused, took out his snuff-box, opened the lid, and
added--'Yes, sir, it is a long way'--he took a pinch of snuff, and
continued--'Now, Sir William, I have been thinking that it would be as
well, indeed a great deal better, for you to come over to my lodge at a
time like this.' Here he paused, and placed the snuff-box in his pocket.

'I can appreciate your kind intentions,' said Sir William, 'but'----

'There can be no _buts_ about it,' returned the other--'I perceive ye
dinna understand me, Sir William. What I mean is this'--but here he
seemed at a loss to explain his meaning; and, after standing with a look
of confusion for a few moments, he took out his tobacco-box, and
added--'I would thank you, sir, to order me a pipe.' The pipe was
brought--he put it in the fire, and added--'I have been thinking, Sir
William, very seriously have I been thinking, on a change of life. I am
no great bairn in the world now; and, I am sure, sir, none knows better
than you (who for ten years was my guardian), that I never had such a
degree of thoughtlessness about me as to render it possible to suppose
that I would make a bad husband to any woman that was disposed to be
happy.' Once more he became silent, and taking his pipe from the fire,
after a few thoughtful whiffs, he resumed--'Servants will have their own
way without a mistress owre them; and I am sure it would be a pity to
see onything going wrong about my place, for every body will say, that
has seen it, that the sun doesna wauken the birds to throw the soul of
music owre a lovelier spot, in a' his journey round the globe. Now, Sir
William,' he added, 'it is needless for me to say it, for every person
within twenty miles round is aware that I am just as fond o' Miss
Catherine as the laverock is o' the blue lift; and it is equally sure
and evident to me, that she cares for naebody but mysel.'

Lewis! imagine my feelings when I heard him utter this! There was a word
that I may not write, which filled my soul, and almost burst from my
tongue. I felt agony and indignation burn over my face. Again, I heard
him add--'When I was over in the middle o' harvest last, ye remember
that, in your presence, I put the question fairly to her; and, although
she hung down her head and said nothing, yet that, sir, in my opinion,
is just the way a virtuous woman ought to consent. I conceive that it
shewed true affection, and sterling modesty; and, sir, what I am now
thinking is this--Catherine is very little short of one-and-twenty, and
I, not so young as I have been, am every day drawing nearer to my sere
and yellow leaf; and I conceive it would be great foolishness--ye will
think so yourself--to be putting off time.'

'My worthy friend,' said Sir William, 'you are aware that the union you
speak of is one from which my consent has never been withheld; and I am
conscious that, in complying with your wishes, I shall bestow my
daughter's hand upon one whose heart is as worthy of her affections as
his actions and principles are of her esteem.'

Sir Peter gave a skip (if I may call a stride of eight feet by such a
name) across the room, he threw the pipe in the grate, and, seizing the
hand of Sir William, exclaimed--

    'Oh, joy supreme! oh, bliss beyond compare!
    My cup runs owre--Heaven's bounty can nae mair!'

'Excuse the quotation from a profane author,' he added, 'upon such a
solemn occasion; but he expresses exactly my feelings at this moment;
for, oh, could you feel what I feel here!'--And he laid his hand upon
his breast. 'Whatever be my faults, whatever my weakness, I am strong in
gratitude.'

You will despise me for having played the part of a mean listener. Be it
so, Lewis--I despise, I hate myself. I heard it proposed that the
wedding-day should take place within a month: but the consent of
Catherine was not yet obtained. I perceived her enter the apartment; I
witnessed her agony when her father communicated to her the proposal of
his friend, and his wish that it should be agreed to. Shall I tell it
you, my friend, that the agony I perceived on her countenance kindled a
glow of joy upon mine? Yes, I rejoiced in it, for it filled my soul with
hope, it raised my heart as from the grave.

Two days after this, and I wandered forth among the woods, to nourish
hope in solitude. Every trace of the recent storm had passed away, the
young buds were wooing the sunbeams, and the viewless cuckoo lifted up
its voice from afar. All that fell upon the ear, and all that met the
eye, contributed to melt the soul to tenderness. My thoughts were of
Catherine, and I now thought how I should unbosom before her my whole
heart; or, I fancied her by my side, her fair face beaming smiles on
mine, her lips whispering music. My spirit became entranced--it was
filled with her image. With my arms folded upon my bosom, I was
wandering thus unconsciously along a footpath in the wood, when I was
aroused by the exclamation--

'Edward!'

It was my Catherine. I started as though a disembodied spirit had met me
on my path. Her agitation was not less than mine. I stepped forward--I
would have clasped her to my bosom--but resolution forsook me--her
presence awed me--I hesitated and faltered--

'_Miss_ Forrester!'

I had never called her by any other name; but, as she afterwards told
me, the word then went to her heart, and she thought, 'He cares not for
me, and I am lost!' Would to Heaven that such had ever remained her
thoughts, and your friend would have been less guilty and less wretched
than he this day is!

I offered her my arm, and we walked onward together; but we spoke not to
each other--we could not speak. Each had a thousand things to say, but
they were all unutterable. A stifled sigh escaped from her bosom, and
mine responded to it. We had approached within a quarter of a mile of
her father's house. Still we were both silent. I trembled--I stood
suddenly still.

'Catherine!' I exclaimed, and my eyes remained fixed upon the ground--my
bosom laboured in agony--I struggled for words, and, at length, added,
'I cannot return to your father's--Catherine, I cannot!'

'Edward!' she cried, 'whither--whither would you go?--you would not
leave me thus? What means this?'

'Means! Catherine!' returned I--'are ye not to be another's? Would that
I had died before I had looked upon thy face, and my soul was lighted
with a fleeting joy, only that the midnight of misery might sit down on
it for ever!'

'Oh, speak not thus!' she cried, and her gentle form shook as a blighted
leaf in an autumnal breeze; 'speak not language unfit for you to utter
or me to hear. Come, _dear_ Edward!'

'_Dear_ Edward!' I exclaimed, and my arms fell upon her neck--'that word
has recalled me to myself! _Dear_ Edward!--repeat those words
again!--let the night-breeze whisper them, and bear them on its wings
for ever! Tell me, Catherine, am I indeed _dear_ to you?'

She burst into tears, and hid her face upon my bosom.

'Edward!' she sobbed, 'let us leave this place--I have said too
much--let us return home.'

'No, loved one!' resumed I; 'if you have said too much, we part now, and
eternity may not unite us! Farewell, Catherine!--be happy! Bear my
thanks to your father, and say--but, no, no!--say nothing,--let not the
wretch he has honoured with his friendship blast his declining years!
Farewell, love!' I pressed my lips upon her snowy brow, and again I
cried--'Farewell!'

'You must not--shall not leave me!' she said, and trembled; while her
fair hands grasped my arm.

'Catherine,' added I, 'can I see you another's? The thought chokes me!
Would you have me behold it?--shall my eyes be withered by the sight?
Never, never! Forgive me!--Catherine, forgive me! I have acted rashly,
perhaps cruelly; but I would not have spoken as I have done--I would
have fled from your presence--I would not have given one pang to your
gentle bosom--your father should not have said that he sheltered a
scorpion that turned and stung him; but, meeting you as I have done
to-day, I could no longer suppress the tumultuous feelings that
struggled in my bosom. But it is past. Forgive me--forget me!'

Still memory hears her sighs, as her tears fell upon my bosom, and,
wringing her hands in bitterness, she cried--

'Say not, _forget_ you! If, in compliance with my father's will, I must
give my hand to another, and if to him my vows must be plighted, I will
keep them sacred--yet my heart is yours!'

Lewis! I was delirious with joy, as I listened to this confession from
her lips. The ecstasy of years was compressed into a moment of deep,
speechless, almost painful luxury. We mingled our tears together, and
our vows went up to heaven a sacrifice pure as the first that ascended,
when the young earth offered up its incense from paradise to the
new-born sun.

I remained beneath her father's roof until within three days of the time
fixed for her becoming the bride of Sir Peter Blakely. Day by day, I
beheld my Catherine move to and fro like a walking corpse--pale,
speechless, her eyes fixed and lacking their lustre. Even I seemed
unnoticed by her. She neither sighed nor wept. A trance had come over
her faculties. She made no arrangements for her bridal; and when I at
times whispered to her that _she should be mine_! O Lewis! she would
then smile--but it was a smile where the light of the soul was not--more
dismal, more vacant than the laugh of idiotcy! Think, then, how unlike
they were to the rainbows of the soul which I had seen radiate the
countenance of my Catherine!

Sir Peter Blakely had gone into Roxburghshire, to make preparations for
taking home his bride, and her father had joined you in Edinburgh,
relative to the affairs of Prince Charles, in consequence of a letter
which he had received from you, and the contents of which might not even
be communicated to me. At any other time, and this lack of confidence
would have provoked my resentment; but my thoughts were then of other
things, and I heeded it not. Catherine and I were ever together; and for
hour succeeding hour we sat silent, gazing on each other. O my friend!
could your imagination conjure up our feelings and our thoughts in this
hour of trial, you would start, shudder, and think no more. The glance
of each was as a pestilence, consuming the other. As the period of her
father's return approached, a thousand resolutions crowded within my
bosom--some of magnanimity, some of rashness. But I was a
coward--morally, I was a coward. Though I feared not the drawn sword nor
the field of danger more than another man, yet misery compels me to
confess what I was. Every hour, every moment, the sacrifice of parting
from her became more painful. Oh! a mother might have torn her infant
from her breast, dashed it on the earth, trampled on its outstretched
hands, and laughed at its dying screams, rather than that I now could
have lived to behold my Catherine another's.

Suddenly, the long, the melancholy charm of my silence broke. I fell
upon my knee, and, clenching my hands together, exclaimed--

'Gracious Heaven!--if I be within the pale of thy mercy, spare me this
sight! Let me be crushed as an atom--but let not mine eyes see the day
when a tongue speaks it, nor mine ears hear the sound that calls her
another's.'

I started to my feet, I grasped her hands in frenzy, I exclaimed--'You
_shall_ be mine!' I took her hand. 'Catherine!' I added, 'you will
not--you SHALL not give your hand to another! It is mine, and from mine
it shall not part! And I pressed it to my breast as a mother would her
child from the knife of a destroyer.

'It SHALL be yours!' she replied wildly; and the feeling of life and
consciousness again gushed through her heart. But she sank on my breast,
and sobbed--

'My father! O my father!'

'Your father is Sir Peter Blakely's friend,' replied I, 'and he will not
break the pledge he has given him. With his return, Catherine, my hopes
and life perish together. Now only can you save yourself--now only can
you save me. Fly with me!--be mine, and your father's blessing will not
be withheld. Hesitate now, and farewell happiness.'

She hastily raised her head from my breast, she stood proudly before me,
and, casting her bright blue eyes upon mine, with a look of piercing
inquiry, said--

'Edward! what would you have me to do? Deep as my love for you is--and I
blush not to confess it--would you have me to fly with you accompanied
by the tears of blighted reputation--followed by the groans and
lamentations of a heart-broken father--pointed at by the finger of the
world as an outcast of human frailty? Would you have me to break the
last cord that binds to existence the only being to whom I am related on
earth--for whom have I but my father? My _hand_ I shall _never_ give to
another; but I cannot, I will not leave my father's house. If Catherine
Forrester has gained your _love_, she shall not forfeit your _esteem_. I
may droop in secret, Edward, as a bud broken on its stem, but I will not
be trampled on in public as a worthless weed.'

'Nay, my beloved, mistake me not,' returned I--'when the lamb has
changed natures with the wolf, then, but not till then, could I breathe
a thought, a word in your presence, that I would blush to utter at the
gate of Heaven. Within two days, your father and his intended son-in-law
will return, and the father's threats and tears will subdue the
daughter's purpose. Catherine will be a wife!--Edward a----

'Speak not impiously,' she cried, imploringly--'what--what can we do?'

'The present moment only is left us,' replied I. 'To-night, become the
wife of Edward Fleming, and happiness will be ours.'

Her pulse stood still; the blood rushed into her face and back to her
heart, while her bosom heaved, and her cheeks glowed with the agony of
incertitude, as she resolved and re-resolved.

But wherefore should I tire you with a recital of what you already know.
That night, my Catherine became my wife. For a few months her father
disowned us; but when the fortunes of the Prince began to ripen, through
his instrumentality we were again received into his favour. Yet I was
grieved to hear, that, in consequence of our marriage, Sir Peter
Blakely's mind had become affected; for, while I detested him as a
rival, I was compelled to esteem him as a man.

But now, Lewis, comes the misery of my story. You are aware that, before
I saw my Catherine, I was a ruined man. Youthful indiscretions--but why
call them indiscretions?--rather let me say my headlong sins--before I
had well attained the age of manhood, contributed to undermine my
estate, and the unhappy political contest in which we were engaged had
wrecked it still more. I had ventured all that my follies had left me
upon the fortunes of Prince Charles. You know that I bought arms, I kept
men ready for the field, I made voyages to France, I assisted others in
their distress; and, in doing all this, I anticipated nothing less than
an earldom, when the Stuarts should again sit on the throne of their
fathers. You had more sagacity, more of this world's wisdom; and you
told me I was wrong--that I was involving myself in a labyrinth from
which I might never escape. But I thought myself wiser than you. I knew
the loyalty and the integrity of my own actions, and with me, at all
times, to feel was to act. I had dragged ruin around me, indulging in a
vague dream of hope; and now I had obtained the hand of my Catherine,
and I had not the courage to inform her that she had wed that of a
ruined man.

It was when you and I were at the University together, that the spirit
of gambling threw its deceitful net around me, and my estate was sunk
to half its value ere I was of age to enjoy it; the other half I had
wrecked in idle schemes for the restoration of the Stuarts. When,
therefore, a few weeks after our marriage, I removed with my Catherine
to London, I was a beggar, a bankrupt, living in fashionable misery. I
became a universal borrower, making new creditors to pacify the clamours
of the old, and to hide from my wife the wretchedness of which I had
made her a partner. And, O Lewis! the thought that she should discover
our poverty, was to me a perpetual agony. It came over the fondest
throbbings of my soul like the echo of a funeral bell, for ever pealing
its sepulchral boom through the music of bridal joy. I cared not for
suffering as it might affect myself; but I could not behold her suffer,
and suffer for my sake. I heard words of tenderness fall from her
tongue, in accents sweeter than the melody of the lark's evening song,
as it chirming descends to fold its wings for the night by the side of
its anxious mate. I beheld her smiling to beguile my care, and fondly
watching every expression of my countenance, as a mother watches over
her sick child; and the half-concealed tear following the smile when her
efforts proved unavailing; and my heart smote me that she should weep
for me, while her tears, her smiles, and her tenderness, added to my
anguish, and I was unable to say in my heart, 'Be comforted.' It could
not be affection which made me desirous of concealing our situation from
her, but a weakness which makes us unwilling to appear before each other
as we really are.

For twelve months I concealed, or thought that I had concealed, the
bankruptcy which overwhelmed me as a helmless vessel on a tempestuous
sea. But the Prince landed in Scotland, and the war began. I was
employed in preparing the way for him in England, and, for a season,
wild hopes, that made my brain giddy, rendered me forgetful of the
misery that had hung over and haunted me. But the brilliant and
desperate game was soon over; our cause was lost, and with it my hopes
perished; remorse entered my breast, and I trembled in the grasp of
ruin. Sir William Forrester effected his escape to France, but his
estates were confiscated, and my Catherine was robbed of the inheritance
that would have descended to her. With this came another pang, more
bitter than the loss of her father's fortune; for he, now a fugitive in
a strange land, and unconscious of my condition, had a right to expect
assistance from me. The thought dried up my very heart's blood, and made
it burn within me--and I fancied I heard my Catherine soliciting me to
extend the means of life to her father, which I was no longer able to
bestow upon herself: for, with the ruin of our cause, my schemes of
borrowing, and of allaying the clamour of creditors, perished.

But it is said that evils come not singly--nor did they so with me; they
came as a legion, each more cruel than that which preceded it. Within
three weeks after the confiscation of the estates of Sir William
Forrester, the individual who held the mortgage upon mine died, and his
property passed into the hands--of whom?--heaven and earth! Lewis, I can
hardly write it. His property, including the mortgage on my estate,
passed into the hands of--Sir Peter Blakely! I could have died a
thousand deaths rather than have listened to the tidings. My estate was
sunk beyond its value, and now I was at the mercy of the man I had
injured--of him I hated. I could not doubt but that, now that I was in
his power, he would wring from me his 'pound o' flesh' to the last
grain--and he has done it!--the monster has done it! But to proceed with
my history.

My Catherine was now a mother, and longer to conceal from her the
wretchedness that surrounded us, and was now ready to overwhelm us, was
impossible; yet I lacked the courage, the manliness to acquaint her with
it, or prepare her for the coming storm.

But she had penetrated my soul--she had read our condition; and, while I
sat by her side buried in gloom, and my soul groaning in agony, she took
my hand in hers, and said--

'Come, dear Edward, conceal nothing from me. If I cannot remove your
sorrows, let me share them. I have borne much, but, for you, I can bear
more.'

'What mean ye, Catherine?' I inquired, in a tone of petulance.

'My dear husband,' replied she, with her wonted affection, 'think not I
am ignorant of the sorrow that preys upon your heart. But brood not on
poverty as an affliction. You may regain affluence, or you may not; it
can neither add to nor diminish my happiness but as it affects you. Only
smile upon me, and I will welcome penury. Why think of degradation or of
suffering? Nothing is degrading that is virtuous and honest; and where
honesty and virtue are, there alone is true nobility, though their owner
be a hewer of wood. Believe not that poverty is the foe of affection.
The assertion is the oft-repeated, but idle falsehood of those who never
loved. I have seen mutual love, joined with content, within the clay
walls of humble cotters, rendering their scanty and coarse morsel
sweeter than the savoury dainties of the rich; and affection increased,
and esteem rose, from the knowledge that they endured privation
together, and for each other. No, Edward,' she added, hiding her face
upon my shoulder, 'think not of suffering. We are young, the world is
wide, and Heaven is bountiful. Leave riches to those who envy them, and
affection will render the morsel of our industry delicious.'

My first impulse was to press her to my bosom; but pride and shame
mastered me, and, with a troubled voice, I exclaimed--'Catherine!'

'O Edward!' she continued, and her tears burst forth, 'let us study to
understand each other--if I am worthy of being your wife, I am worthy of
your confidence.'

I could not reply. I was dumb in admiration, in reverence of virtue and
affection of which I felt myself unworthy. A load seemed to fall from my
heart, I pressed her lips to mine.

'Cannot Edward be as happy as his Catherine,' she continued; 'we have,
at least, enough for the present, and, with frugality, we have enough
for years. Come, love, wherefore will you be unhappy? Be you our
purser.' And, endeavouring to smile, she gently placed her purse in my
hands.

'Good Heavens!' I exclaimed, striking my forehead, and the purse dropped
upon the floor; 'am I reduced to this? Never, Catherine!--never! Let me
perish in my penury; but crush me not beneath the weight of my own
meanness! Death!--what must you think of me?'

'Think of you?' she replied, with a smile, in which affection,
playfulness, and sorrow met--'I did not think that you would refuse to
be your poor wife's banker.'

'Ah, Catherine!' cried I, 'would that I had half your virtue--half your
generosity.'

'The half?' she answered laughingly--'have you not the whole? Did I not
give you hand and heart--faults and virtues?--and you, cruel man, have
lost the half already! Ungenerous Edward!'

'Oh!' exclaimed I, 'may Heaven render me worthy of such a wife!'

'Come, then,' returned she, 'smile upon your Catherine--_it is all over
now_.'

'What is all over, love?' inquired I.

'Oh, nothing, nothing,' continued she, smiling--'merely the difficulty a
young husband has in making his wife acquainted with the state of the
firm in which she has become a partner.'

'And,' added I, bitterly, 'you find it bankrupt.'

'Nay, nay,' rejoined she, cheerfully, 'not bankrupt; rather say,
beginning the world with a small capital. Come, now, dearest, smile, and
say you will be cashier to the firm of Fleming & Co.'

'Catherine!--O Catherine!' I exclaimed, and tears filled my eyes.

'Edward!--O Edward!' returned she, laughing, and mimicking my emotion;
'good by, dear--good by!' And, picking up the purse, she dropped it on
my knee, and tripped out of the room, adding gaily--

    'For still the house affairs would call her hence.'

Fondly as I imagined that I loved Catherine, I had never felt its
intensity until now, nor been aware of how deeply she deserved my
affection. My indiscretions and misfortunes had taught me the use of
money--they had made me to know that it was an indispensable agent in
our dealings with the world; but they had not taught me economy. And I
do not believe that a course of misery, continued and increasing
throughout life, would ever teach this useful and prudent lesson to one
of a warm-hearted and sanguine temperament; nor would any power on
earth, or in years, enable him to put it in practice, save the daily and
endearing example of an affectionate and virtuous wife. I do not mean
the influence which all women possess during the oftentimes morbid
admiration of what is called a honeymoon; but the deeper and holier
power which grows with years, and departs not with grey hairs--in our
boyish fancies being embodied, and our young feelings being made
tangible, in the never-changing smile of her who was the sun of our
early hopes, the spirit of our dreams--and who, now, as the partner of
our fate, ever smiles on us, and, by a thousand attentions, a thousand
kindnesses and acts of love, becomes every day dearer and more dear to
the heart where it is her only ambition to reign and sit secure in her
sovereignty--while her chains are soft as her own bosom, and she spreads
her virtues around us, till they become a part of our own being, like an
angel stretching his wings over innocence. Such is the power and
influence of every woman who is as studious to reform and delight the
husband as to secure the lover.

Such was the influence which, I believed, I now felt over my spirit, and
which would save me from future folly and from utter ruin. But I was
wrong, I was deceived--yes, most wickedly I was deceived. But you shall
hear. On examining the purse, I found that it contained between four and
five hundred pounds in gold and bills.

'This,' thought I, 'is the wedding present of her father to my poor
Catherine, and she has kept it until now! Bless her! Heaven bless her.'

I wandered to and fro across the room, in admiration of her excellence,
and my bosom was troubled with a painful sense of my own unworthiness. I
had often, when my heart was full, attempted to soothe its feelings by
pouring them forth in rhyme. There were writing materials upon the table
before me. I sat down--I could think of nothing but my Catherine, and I
wrote the following verses

                    TO MY WIFE.

    Call woman--angel, goddess, what you will--
      With all that fancy breathes at passion's call,
    With all that rapture fondly raves--and still
      That one word--WIFE--outvies--contains them all.
    It is a word of music which can fill
      The soul with melody, when sorrows fall
    Round us, like darkness, and her heart alone
    Is all that fate has left to call our own.

    Her bosom is a fount of love that swells,
      Widens, and deepens with its own outpouring,
    And, as a desert stream, for ever wells
      Around her husband's heart, when cares devouring,
    Dry up its very blood, and man rebels
      Against his being!--When despair is lowering,
    And ills sweep round him, like an angry river,
    She is his star, his rock of hope for ever.

    Yes; woman only knows what 'tis to mourn
      She only feels how slow the moments glide
    Ere those her young heart loved in joy return
      And breathe affection, smiling by her side.
    Hers only are the tears that waste and burn--
      The anxious watchings, and affection's tide
    That never, never ebbs!--hers are the cares
    No ear hath heard, and which no bosom shares

    Cares, like her spirit, delicate as light
      Trembling at early dawn from morning stars,
    Cares, all unknown to feeling and to sight
      Of rougher man, whose stormy bosom wars
    With each fierce passion in its fiery might;
      Nor deems how look unkind, or absence, jars
    Affection's silver cords by woman wove,
    Whose soul, whose business, and whose life is--LOVE.

I left the verses upon the table, that she might find them when she
entered, and that they might whisper to her that I at least appreciated
her excellence, however little I might have merited it.

Lewis, even in my solitary cell, I feel the blush upon my cheek, when I
think upon the next part of my history. My hand trembles to write it,
and I cannot now. Methinks that even the cold rocks that surround me
laugh at me derision, and I feel myself the vilest of human things. But
I cannot describe it to-day--I have gone too far already, and I find
that my brain burns. I have conjured up the past, and I would hide
myself from its remembrance. Another day, when my brain is cool, when my
hand trembles not, I may tell you all; but, in the shame of my own
debasement, my reason is shaken from its throne.

Here ended the first part of the Hermit's manuscript; and on another,
which ran thus, he had written the words--


"MY HISTORY CONTINUED."

I told you, Lewis, where I last broke off my history, that I left the
verses on the table for the eye of my Catherine. I doubted not that I
would devise some plan of matchless wisdom, and that, with the money so
unexpectedly come into my possession, I would redeem my broken fortunes.
I went out into the streets, taking the purse with me, scarce knowing
what I did, but musing on what to do. I met one who had been a
fellow-gambler with me, when at the University.

'Ha! Fleming!' he exclaimed, 'is such a man alive! I expected that you
and your Prince would have crossed the water together, or that you would
have exhibited at Carlisle or Tower Hill.'

He spoke of the run of good fortune he had had on the previous
night--(for he was a gambler still.) 'Five thousand!' said he, rubbing
his hands, 'were mine within five minutes.'

'Five thousand!' I repeated. I took my Catherine's purse in my hand.

Lewis! some demon entered my soul, and extinguished reason. 'Five
thousand!' I repeated again; 'it would rescue my Catherine and my child
from penury.' I thought of the joy I should feel in placing the money
and her purse again in her hands. I accompanied him to the table of
destruction. For a time fortune, that it might mock my misery, and not
dash the cup from my lips until they were parched, seemed to smile on
me. But I will not dwell on particulars; my friend 'laughed to see the
madness rise' within me. I became desperate--nay, I was insane--and all
that my wife had put into my hands, to the last coin, was lost. Never,
until that moment, did I experience how terrible was the torture of
self-reproach, or how fathomless the abyss of human wretchedness. I
would have raised my hand against my own life; but, vile and
contemptible as I was, I had not enough of the coward within me to
accomplish the act. I thought of my mother. She had long disowned me,
partly from my follies, and partly that she adhered to the house of
Hanover. But, though I had squandered the estates which my father had
left me, I knew that she was still rich, and that she intended to bestow
her wealth upon my sister; for there were but two of us. Yet I
remembered how fondly she had loved me, and I did not think that there
was a feeling in a mother's breast that could spurn from her a penitent
son--for nature, at the slightest spark, bursteth into a flame. I
resolved, therefore, to go as the prodigal in the Scriptures, and to
throw myself at her feet, and confess that I had sinned against Heaven,
and in her sight.

I wrote a note to my injured Catherine, stating that I was suddenly
called away, and that I would not see her again perhaps for some weeks.
Almost without a coin in my pocket, I took my journey from London to
Cumberland, where my mother dwelt.

Night was gathering around me when I left London, on the road leading to
St. Alban's. But I will not go through the stages of my tedious journey;
it is sufficient to say, that I allowed myself but little time for sleep
or rest, and, on the eighth day after my leaving London, I found myself,
after an absence of eighteen years, again upon the grounds of my
ancestors. Foot-sore, fatigued, and broken down, my appearance bespoke
way-worn dejection. I rather halted than walked along, turning my face
aside from every passenger, and blushing at the thought of recognition.
It was mid-day when I reached an eminence, covered with elm trees, and
skirted by a hedge of hawthorn. It commanded a view of what was called
the Priory, the house in which I was born, and which was situated within
a mile from where I stood. The village church, surrounded by a clump of
dreary yews, lay immediately at the foot of the hill to my right, and
the road leading from thence to the Priory crossed before me. It was a
raw and dismal day; the birds sat shivering on the leafless branches,
and the cold, black clouds, seemed wedged together in a solid mass,
ready to fall upon the earth and crush it; and the wind moaned over the
bare fields. Yet, disconsolate as the scene appeared, it was the soil of
childhood on which I trod. The fields, the woods, the river, the
mountains, the home of infancy, were before me; and I felt their
remembered sunshine rekindling in my bosom the feelings that make a
patriot. A thousand recollections flashed before me. Already did fancy
hear the congratulations of my mother's voice, welcoming her
prodigal--feel the warm pressure of her hand, and her joyous tears
falling on my cheek. But again I hesitated, and feared that I might be
received as an outcast. The wind howled around me--I felt impatient and
benumbed--and, as I stood irresolute, with a moaning chime the church
bell knelled upon my ear. A trembling and foreboding fell upon my heart;
and, before the first echo of the dull sound died in the distance, a
muffled peal from the tower of the Priory answered back the invitation
of the house of death, announcing that the earth would receive its
sacrifice. A veil came over my eyes, the ground swam beneath my feet;
and again and again did the church bell issue forth its slow, funeral
tone, and again was it answered from the Priory.

Emerging from the thick elms that spread around the Priory and stretched
to the gate, appeared a long and melancholy cavalcade. My eyes became
dim with a presentiment of dread, and they were strained to torture.
Slowly and silently the sable retinue approached. The waving plumes of
the hearse became visible. Every joint in my body trembled with agony,
as though agony had become a thing of life. I turned aside to watch it
as it passed, and concealed myself behind the hedge. The measured and
grating sound of the carriages, the cautious trampling of the horses'
feet, and the solemn pace of the poorer followers, became more and more
audible on my ear. The air of heaven felt substantial in my throat, and
the breathing I endeavoured to suppress became audible, while the cold
sweat dropt as icicles from my brow. Sadly, with faces of grief, unlike
the expression of hired sorrow, passed the solitary mutes; and, in the
countenance of each, I recognised one of our tenantry. Onward moved the
hearse and its dismal pageantry. My heart fell, as with a blow, within
my bosom. For a moment I would have fancied it a dream; but the train of
carriages passed on, their grating roused me from my insensibility, and,
rushing from the hedge towards one who for forty years had been a
servant in our house--

'Robert!--Robert!' I exclaimed, 'whose funeral is this?'

'Alack! Master Edward!' he cried, 'is it you? It is the funeral of my
good lady--your mother!'

The earth swam round with me--the funeral procession, with a sailing
motion, seemed to circle me--and I fell with my face upon the ground.

Dejected, way-worn as I was, I accompanied the body of my mother to its
last resting-place. I wept over her grave, and returned with the chief
mourners to the house of my birth; and there I was all but denied
admission. I heard the will read, and in it my name was not once
mentioned. I rushed from the house--I knew not, and I cared not where I
ran--misery was before, behind, and around me. I thought of my Catherine
and my child, and groaned with the tortures of a lost spirit.

But, as I best could, I returned to London, to fling myself at the feet
of my wife, to confess my sins and my follies, to beg her forgiveness,
yea, to labour for her with my hands. I approached my own door as a
criminal. I shrank from the very gaze of the servant that ushered me in,
and I imagined that he looked on me with contempt. But now, Lewis, I
come to the last act of my drama, and my hand trembles that it cannot
write--my soul is convulsed within me. I thought my Catherine pure,
sinless as a spirit of heaven--you thought so--all who beheld her must
have thought as I did. But, oh! friend of my youth! mark what follows. I
reached her chamber. I entered it--silently I entered it, as one who has
guilt following his footsteps. And there, the first object that met my
sight--that blasted it--was the man I hated, my former rival, he who
held my fortunes in his hand--Sir Peter Blakely! My wife, my Catherine,
my spotless Catherine, held him by the arm. O heaven! I heard him
say--'_Dear Catherine!_' and she answered him, 'Stay!--stay, my best, my
only friend--do not leave me!'

Lewis! I could see, I could hear no more.

'Wretch!--villain!' I exclaimed. They started at my voice. My sword,
that had done service in other lands, I still carried with me.

'Draw! miscreant!' I cried, almost unconscious of what I said or what I
did. He spoke to me, but I heard him not. I sprang upon him, and plunged
my sword in his body. My wife rushed towards me. She screamed. I heard
the words--'Dear Edward!' but I dashed her from me as an unclean thing,
and fled from the house.

Every tie that had bound me to existence was severed asunder. Catherine
had snapped in twain the last cord that linked me with happiness. I
sought the solitude of the wilderness, and there shouted her name, and
now blessed her, and again----but I will go no farther. I long wandered
a fugitive throughout the land, and, at length perceiving an apartment
in a rock, the base of which Tweed washes with its waters, in it I
resolved to bury myself from the world. In it I still am, and mankind
fear me.

Here abruptly ended the manuscript of the Solitary.

A few years after the manuscript had been found, a party, consisting of
three gentlemen, a lady, and two children, came to visit the King's
Cove, and to them the individual who had found the papers related the
story of the hermit.

"But your manuscript is imperfect," said one of them, "and I shall
supply its deficiency. The Solitary mentions having found Sir Peter
Blakely in the presence of his wife, and he speaks of words that passed
between them. But you shall hear all:--"

The wife of Edward Fleming was sitting weeping for his absence, when Sir
Peter Blakely was announced. He shook as he entered. She started as she
beheld him. She bent her head to conceal her tears, and sorrowfully
extended her hand to welcome him.

'Catherine,' said he--and he paused, as though he would have called her
by the name of her husband--'I have come to speak with you respecting
your father's estate. I was brought up upon it; and there is not a tree,
a bush, or a brae within miles, but to me has a tale of happiness and
langsyne printed upon it, in the heart's own alphabet. But now the charm
that gave music to their whispers is changed. Forgive me, Catherine, but
it was you that, as the spirit of the scene, converted everything into a
paradise where ye trod, that made it dear to me. It was the hope, the
prayer, and the joy of many years, that I should call you mine--it was
this that made the breath of Heaven sweet, and caused sleep to fall upon
my eyelids as honey on the lips. But the thought has perished. I was
wrong to think that the primrose would flourish on the harvest-field.
But, Catherine, your father was my guardian--I was deeply in his debt,
for he was to me as a father, and for his sake, and your sake, I have
redeemed his property, and it shall be--it is yours.'

Lost in wonder, Catherine was for a few moments silent; but she at
length said--

'Generous man, it must not--it shall not be. Bury me not--crush me not
beneath a weight of generosity which from you I have been the last to
deserve. I could not love, but I have ever esteemed you. I still do. But
let not your feelings hurry you into an act of rashness. Time will heal,
if it do not efface the wounds which now bleed; and you may still find a
heart more worthy of your own, with whom to share the fortune of which
you would deprive yourself.'

'Never! never!' cried he; 'little do you understand me. Your image and
yours only was stamped where the pulse of life throbs in my heart. The
dream that I once cherished is dead now--my grey hairs have awoke me
from it. But I shall still be your friend--yea, I will be your husband's
friend; and, in memory of the past, your children shall be as my
children. Your husband's property is encumbered--throw these in the fire
and it is again his.' And, as he spoke, he placed the deeds of the
mortgage on a table before her.

'Hear me, noblest and best of friends!' cried Catherine--'hear me as in
the presence of our Great Judge. Think not that I feel the less grateful
for your generosity, that I solemnly refuse your offers, and adjure you
to mention them not in my presence. As the wife of Edward Fleming, I
will not accept what he would spurn. Rather would I toil with the sweat
of my brow for the bare crust that furnished us with a scanty meal; and
if I thought that, rather than share it with me, he would sigh after the
luxuries he has lost, I would say unto him--'Go, you are free!' and,
hiding myself from the world, weary Heaven with prayers for his
prosperity.'

'Ye talk in vain--as I have said, so it is and shall be,' added he. 'And
now, farewell, dear Catherine.'

'Stay! stay!--leave me not thus!' she exclaimed, and grasped his arm. At
that moment her husband returned and entered the room--and you know the
rest. But, Sir Peter Blakely was not mortally wounded, as the Solitary
believed. In a few months he recovered, and what he had promised to do
he accomplished.

"That is something new," said the fisherman who had found the
manuscript; "and who told ye, or how do ye know?--if it be a fair
question."

"I," replied he who had spoken, "am the Lewis to whom the paper was
addressed."

"You! you!" exclaimed the fisherman; "well, that beats a'--the like o'
that I never heard before."

"And I," said another, "am Sir Peter Blakely--the grey-haired
dreamer--who expected the April lily to bloom beneath an October sun."
And he put a crown into the hand of the fisherman.

"And I," added the third, "am the Solitary himself--this my Catherine,
and these my children. He whom I thought dead--dead by my own hand--the
man whom I had wronged--sought for me for years, and in this my
hermitage that was, he at length found me. It was the grey dawn when I
beheld him, and I thought that the ghost of the murdered stood before
me. But he spoke--he uttered words that entered my soul. I trembled in
his presence. The load of my guiltiness fell as a weight upon me. I was
unable to speak, almost to move. He took my hand and led me forth as a
child. In my confusion the papers which you found were left behind me.
And now, when happiness has shed its light around me, I have come with
my benefactor, my friend, my Catherine, and my children, to view the
cell of my penitence."



THE MAIDEN FEAST OF CAIRNKIBBIE.


He who has been present at a real Maiden, or Scotch feast of
harvest-home, if it should happen that he belongs to the caste that
makes the light fantastic toe the fulcrum of the elegant motions of the
quadrille, and Hogarth's line of beauty the test of the evolutions of
modern grace, might wish that the three sisters had long ago resigned
their patronage of the art of dancing, and left the limbs of man, and
their motions, to the sole power of the spirit of fun and good humour.
Centuries have passed away since first the Maiden called forth the
salient energies of the harvest-weary hinds and rosy-cheeked damsels of
Scotland. We have only now amongst us the ghost of the old
spirit-stirring genius of "the farmer's ha'." The modern vintage feast
is only a shadow of the old _Cerealia_--the festival of festivals, as it
has been called--at which the young and the old of ancient Greece and
Rome resigned themselves to the power of the rosy god, and the _nil
placet sine fructu_ was seen in every bright eye, heard in every glad
voice, and listened to in every tripping measure. The Scotch Maiden was
once what the vintage feasts of the Continent were, and still are. The
hinds and maids of one "town" were present at the harvest-home of
another; reciprocal visits kept up the spirit of the enjoyment; the
fields and farmers' ha's resounded with the merry pipe; the whirling
reel mixed up the dancers in its "uniform confusion," the flowing bicker
was "filled and kept fou;" kisses, "long and loud," vindicated a place
in the world of musical sound; and the Genius of Pleasure ran away with
heart and soul to her happy regions--declaring that, for one solitary
night in the year, the power of sorrow should have no authority over
mournful man. The Maiden of Cairnkibbie, a farm on the property of
Faulden--too long ago for the mention of a specific period, but while
Maidens (to descend to a pun) were still in the height of their beauty
and bloom--was one of the most joyous scenes that ever graced the green,
or made the rafters of the barn ring with "hey and how rohumbelow." The
farmer, William Hume--some far-off friend of the Paxton family--was
rich, as things went in those days; and a gaucy dame, and a fair
daughter, Lilly, blessed him with affection and duty. No lass ever
graced a Maiden like Lilly Hume; and no free farmer's wife ever extended
so hearty a patronage to the feast of fun as did the sleek and
comfortable guidwife of Cairnkibbie. The pretty "damysell" was as jimp
as "gillie"--

    "As ony rose her rude was red,
    Her lire was like the lillie."

and far and near she defied all manner of bold competition in those
charms that go to deck the blooming maids of Scotland. Natural affection
made her the pride of her parents; and a simplicity that did not seem to
have art enough to tell her of her own beauty, endeared her to those who
might have been expected to have been smitten with envy, or crossed with
a hopeless passion.

There was many a lass "as myld as meid" at the Maiden of Cairnkibbie,
and many a Jock, and Steenie, and Robyne, as braw as yellow locks
brushed bolt upright in the face of heaven could make any of God's
creatures. But many of the merry-makers did not trust to such ornaments
of nature: for Steenie Thornton, from the town of Kelton, the gay lover
of Jess Swan from the same town, had his locks tied behind with a yellow
ribbon got from her fair hand, and his "pumps" boasted the same
decoration; the sprightly Will Aitken, the best hand at a morris-dance
in all the Merse, had his jacket "browden" with "fowth o' roses" stuck
into the button-holes by Jean Gillies from Westertown; the fiercest
wrestler of the Borders, Jock Hedderick, who cherished Bess Gibson,
pushed forward his bold breast, to exhibit to the goggle eyes of
wondering admiration a vest sewed by her delicate fingers at intervals
stolen from cheese-making; and Pat Birrel, the noted scaumer, who was
accounted more than "twa hen clokkis" by Kirsty Glen the henwife's
daughter of Earlston, lifted his feet high in mid-air, to shew the
gushets in his hose wrought by her lily hands. Nor did the screechin
gilpies lack ornaments to set off their fair persons. Some had bright
yellow gloves of "raffal right;" and many, with kirtles of "Lincome
light, weel prest wi' mony plaits," pulled the trains in most menacing
bundles through the pocket-holes, to shew at once how bright were their
colours, and how many a "breid" was wasted in their amplitude. Many had
ornaments that tongue could not describe--because they were the first of
their kind, and required a new vocabulary to do justice to their
beauties. But, ornamented or plain, the revellers were all alike filled
with the spirit of the Maiden; and, if their "Tam Lutar," the piper, did
not skirl them up to the point of enjoyment to which they all struggled,
and danced, and drank, and screamed to get, sure it was that no fault
was attributable to the merry-makers themselves: nor was the guidman's
daughter, Lilly Hume, less joyous than the merriest. Although at her
father's harvest-feast she was accounted a lady, she was the humblest of
the "hail menyie;" and never refused to draw up through her pocket-holes
the ends of her falling yellow kirtle, as a preparation for another
reel, at the supplicatory bend or bow of the humblest hind, albeit he
was adorned with neither bright crimson nor ochre yellow.

The "Tam Lutar" of the feast--a blind piper, who began to play when he
first felt the incipient effects of the first bicker, blew stronger as
the fumes of the potations rose higher, declined as the liquid impulse
fell, and even stopped when the drink entirely sunk--was well supplied
with the "piper's coig," a girded vessel of jolly good ale, that lay
beside him, and was ever and anon filled, as the dancers felt the music
beginning to lag in spirit. Away they flew, to the airs of
"Gillquhisker," "Brum on tul," "Tortee Solee Lemendow," and other good
old tunes, now forgotten, though their names are mentioned by Sir James
Ingles; the resilent heels spurned the earth; the fore part of the foot,
where the spring lies, dealt out those tremendous thuds on the suffering
floor which heretofore were reckoned the true and legitimate soul of
dancing, and now, alas! displaced by the sickly _slip_ of the French
grace; the "dancing whoop" rung around, inspired every soul, and
lightened every heel; Jock Splaefut "bobbit up wi' bends;" and Jenny set
to him, and "beckit," and set again, and turned, and away glided through
the mazes of the reel--

    "For reeling there micht nae wench rest;"


and came back, and set and "beckit" again; till, "forfochtin faynt" with
pure dancing toil, the reelers gave place to the country dancers, who
toiled and _swat_ in the same degree for the period of their sweet
labours. Then was the breathing time in the far corners appropriated to
the cooling tankard, the dew of which left on the panting lips ran a
considerable risk of being dried up by the heat of love, elicited from
the kiss that smacked of love and ale.

At a corner in the end of the room, a crowd had collected; and some high
words were passing between Will Aitken and Jock Hedderick, on a question
that seemed to interest the dancers. Those standing about were washing
down large mouthfuls of bannocks by draughts of strong beer, while they
wiped the sweat from their brows, and listened to the subject in
dispute. At intervals some one was heard at the door, playing and
singing.

    "He played sae schill, an' sang sae sweet,"

that Lilly Hume felt interested in the musician. He was a beggar, who
boldly claimed admittance to the Maiden, by what he called the "auld
rights o' the gaberlunzies of Scotland," who were declared entitled to
enter into the feast of the harvest home, to dance thereat, and drink
thereat, and kiss the "damysells" thereat, with as much freedom as the
gayest guest. This demand was resisted by Jock Hedderick, who besides
disputed the authority of the ancient custom; which, on the other hand,
was upheld by Will Aitken, whose supple tongue was so powerful over his
opponents that

    "He muddelt them down like ony mice;"

and, notwithstanding the terror of the scaumer's arm, prevailed upon the
guidman and the company to hold sacred the rights of hospitality of the
land, and admit the "pauky auld carle," with his pipes and his wallets.
As soon as the decision was given, Lilly ran to the door, and, taking
the gaberlunzie by the hand, brought him in. A loud laugh resounded
throughout the room, to the profit of the proud and merry dancers, and
at the expense of the jolly beggar, who, young and stalwart, and borne
down by sundry appendages, containing doubtless meal and bread, "cauk
and keil," "spindles and quhorles," and all the et-ceteras of the
wallet, stood before them, and raised in return such a ranting, roaring
laugh, as well apparently at himself as his company, that, by that one
effort of his lungs, he made more friends than many a laughter-loving
pot companion might make in a year. Then in an instant he struck this
merry-maker on the back, and slapped that on the shoulder, and kissed
the skirling kitties with such a jolly and hearty spirit of free
salutation, that he even added flame to the already burning passion of
frolic, and raised again the rafter-shaking laugh, till it drowned all
the energies of Lutar himself, albeit his coig had that instant been
filled.

But this was only vanity, while the stomach of the jolly gaberlunzie was
as yet empty. A large stoup was brought to him by Will Carr, a
good-looking young man of gentle demeanour, the only person who in that
pairing assembly seemed to want his "dow." A shade of melancholy was on
his cheek, and, as he offered the gaberlunzie the stoup, he cast an eye
on Lilly, the meaning of which seemed to be read in an instant by the
beggar.

"Ha! ha!" cried the latter; "ye are the true welcomer, my braw youth.
Thae wild chiels an' their glaiket hizzies wad fill the beggar wi' the
sound o' his ain laugh, as if he were a pair o' walking bagpipes. But,
ho, man, this is sour yill.

    The bridegroom brought a pint of ale,
      And bade the piper drink it.
    'Drink it?' quoth he, 'and it so staile;
      Ashrew me, if I think it!'

Ye've anither barrel in the corner yonder--awa!--the beggar maun hae the
best.

    This Maiden nicht it is his right,
    And, faith he winna blink it."

And so he cadgily ranted and sang, swearing that the best ale and the
prettiest lips in the whole house should that night be at his command.

While Will Carr brought him ale out of another cask, Lilly Hume took
away his wallets, and laid them in a window-sole at his back. Having
taken a waught of the ale so long that the bystanders looked on with
fear, lest he might never recover his breath again, he returned the
stoup empty to Will, telling him to fill it again, as he intended to
assist the legitimate Lutar in blowing up the spirits of the company--a
work which would require "fowth o' yill." Without farther preface, he
blew up his bags with a skirl that seemed to shake the house, and,
dashing fearlessly into the time, poured so much joyous sound into the
thick air of the heated apartment, that the weary-limbed dancers threw
off their languor, and fell to it again with a spirit that equalled
that of their first off-set. But his musical occupation did not prevent
his attention to the looks and actions of Lilly Hume and Will Carr.

"How dinna ye dance, hinny?" said he, in a low voice to Lilly. "How
dinna ye dance, man?" he repeated, as he turned his head to Will. "Think
ye yer sittin there's a compliment to me, wha am blawing awa my lungs
here, for the very purpose o' makin ye dance?"

The two young people looked at each other, and then at the guidman, who
sat at a little distance.

"Tell me the reason, my bonny hinny," he added; and, as he blew again,
leant his ear to hear the answer. "Eh! come now, my white lily," he
persisted. "I'm a safe carle, and can spae fortunes as well as blaw up
thae green bags wi' thriftless wind. I may tell ye o' a braw lot, if
ye'll only open yer lips and gie me some o' yer secrets."

"My faither winna let me dance wi' Will Carr," at last replied Lilly,
blushing from ear to ear.

"How! how!" answered the gaberlunzie, taking the pipes suddenly frae his
mouth--"no let ye dance wi' a decent callant, the bonniest hensure o'
the hail menyie! What crime has he committed, hinny? Eh?"

"He's puir," answered Lilly, innocently.

"Ha! a red crime that, Lilly," answered he; "if he had killed a score o'
God's creatures in a Border raid, he micht hae been forgi'en; but wha
forgies poverty? But do ye like Will Carr, hinny?"

"My faither and mither say sae," answered Lilly.

"Ay, ay,--I see whar the wind blaws," said the gaberlunzie. "But ye
_will_ dance wi' him. I, as a beggar, hae a richt to the fairest hand o'
the maiden--yer faither daurna refuse ye to me; an' let Will tak yon
quean wi' the yellow ribbons in her wimple, an' we'll a' mix in ae
reel. Will, man, awa an' ask yon bloomin hizzy wi' the rose rude to
dance wi' ye."

Will obeyed; and the beggar, having brought the tune to a termination,
stepped boldly up into the middle of the floor, holding by the hand the
fair Lilly Hume; while Will, with his blushing quean, Bess Gordon, took
their stations opposite.

"Up wi' the 'Hunts o' Cheviot,' Tam," cried the beggar; "an blaw as if
ye wad blaw yer last. Gie him yill there, an' I'll play for him a hail
hour, if he gars the roof-tree o' Cairnkibbie dirl to the gaberlunzie's
dance."

The expectation of a merry bout brought others to the floor, and even
the guidman and guidwife of Cairnkibbie, themselves, rose and "buckled
to the wark," as cleverly as the youngest gipsy of the whole assembly.
Then up blew the "Hunts o' Cheviot," in the quickest of Tam's
ale-inspired manner, and away banged the jolly gaberlunzie, as if the
spirit of Cybele's priests had seized his heart; "and like a lyon lap,"
as if he would have foreleeted Lightfute himself, and "counterfeited
Frans." He clapped his hands, till the echoes came back from the roof;
and the exhilarating hoogh! hoogh! which can only be given forth by the
throat of a Scotchman, when good liquor has wet it and fired the brain
that moves it, was heard by every ear, and felt by every heart. The very
piper was delighted with the ranting chield, and ever, as his clap and
hoogh! hoogh! resounded through the barn, the yells of the pipes seemed
to rise higher and higher, and echoes of the same sounds came from the
imitative spirits of the dancers.

"Hurra for the gaberlunzie!" shouted Will Aitken.

"The jolly beggar, for ever!" cried Steenie Thornton; and the smiles of
the hizzies, and occasional slaps on the back, administered to the
jolly roisterer, as they met and passed him in the midst of the reel,
testified their most perfect satisfaction with the king of his tribe.

"Here, Will, here man," whispered the beggar, as he rioted in his wild
humour, and twirled Will Carr about to face Lilly, while he left her for
Bess Gordon. "Set to her, man, and dinna spare a kiss and a good squeeze
o' her hand, as ye see the auld anes' backs to ye."

And then he drowned his remark with his hoogh! hoogh! sprung up yard
high, and clapped his knees opposite the blooming Bess, who would not
have given her jolly new partner for a' the Will Carrs in Scotland.

"Change the measure, Tam," cried the beggar, as he foresaw the
termination of "The Hunts of Cheviot." "Up wi' 'King William's Note,'
man. Fill his coig, ye lazy loons! Noo, Tam!--hoogh! hoogh!--there up
yet, higher and higher, man--hoogh, hoogh!"

The piper felt the inspiration, up mounted the notes to the highest and
liveliest measure, and away again flew the merry dancers under all the
impulse of the new tune. The clap on the beggar's knee ever and anon run
along, and still he twirled round Will Carr to face Lilly--though not
before he had taken her round the fair neck, and kissed her, "nothing
loath"--and again presented himself to the welcome face of Bess, whose
rosy lips he "prec'd" as often as his many laborious evolutions, hooghs,
claps, and cries to the piper would permit. He even made _tacks_ to the
side reels, and, laying hold of the damsels of his neighbours, kissed
them from lug to lug, and then came back with a roar of laughter behind
him, to greet of new Bess Gordon, to whom he seemed more welcome for his
gallantry. The guidwife of Cairnkibbie herself was violently laid hold
of round the neck and saluted with a loud smack, which, sounding in the
ears of the guidman, produced a hearty laugh at the boldness, which was
excused by the reckless jollity of the extraordinary gaberlunzie. Nor
did he yet allow them to flag.

"Keep at it, Will!" he cried to the young man. "Ye'll hae aneuch o'
Lilly for ae nicht, or my name's no Wat Wilson. Aneuch o' 'King
William's Note,' Tam. Come awa wi' anither--'In Simmer I mawed my
meadow,' wi' double quick time. Look to his bicker there, ye culroun
knaves, wha'll neither dance, drink, nor mak drink!"

The piper heard the appeal, and struck up the new tune with great glee--

    "Gude Lord, how he did lans!

And again the inspiring strain, coming in a new measure, filled the
dancers with new energies. There never had been such a reel since ever
reels were danced. Heaven knows how long it had lasted, and yet the
performers felt no weariness, all through the inspiring devilry, as they
termed it, of the gaberlunzie, whose war-cry was as loud and uproarious
as ever, and his leaps in the air as high as they had been at the first
off-go. He now played off a new trick. He twirled round the partner of
the next reel, and made him take his place before Bess Gordon, while he,
ambitious of a new face, took the place of his neighbour, and continued
the sport in his new locality and company. Bess regretted her change;
but his new position was soon changed, for he played the same trick with
the next reeling party, and so on through the whole four--for such was
the number up at once; and he continued to "prec the mou's" of every
young maiden on the floor, and, returning with many a hoogh, and clap,
and leap to his old position, he seemed inclined to keep up the sport
till the elder dancers should drop to the ground with sheer fatigue. It
seemed to the guidman of Cairnkibbie that there was no remedy but a nod
to Piper Tam, who, himself almost blown out, observed with pleasure the
master's indication, and stopped the music even in the very midst of the
leaping joy of the interminable gaberlunzie, who would have danced
apparently till next moon, if he could have got any one strong enough
and willing enough to dance with him.

He was now a universal favourite; all flocked round him as he wiped the
perspiration from his forehead, and declared they had never seen such a
spirited dancer before. His name, Wat Wilson, flew through the barn, and
every one wondered how they had never seen such a jolly beggar in those
parts before. But Wat said nothing of his _unde_, his _ubi_, or his
_quo_; he only drank to the crowd around him; and, with Lilly on one
side of him, and Will Carr on the other, he seized again his own pipes,
and, forcing Tam to his feet, and crying to a new party to start, struck
up one of the liveliest airs that the folks of the Merse had ever heard.
In an instant again the barn was resounding with mirth; his strains were
irresistible.

    "Then all the wenches te he they playit,
    And loud as Will Aitken leuche;
    But nane cried, Gossip, hyn your gaits,
    For we have dansit aneugh."

At least none cried they had danced enough while the beggar played; for
the very heels seemed to obey the influence of his spirit, as if they
had been gifted with some power of sympathy, independently of the bodies
to which they were attached. The dance was kept up till the dancers
tired--for the beggar's lungs were as tough as his feet; and when all
had, for a time, tired of dancing, they assembled round their guest,
who, of his own accord, struck up many a ranting song, and, by his
humour, made the laugh resound through the barn. So fond grew they of
his song and his jokes, that they felt no inclination, for a time, to
resume again the dance. They drank and laughed, and screamed at every
new sally of his wit, and every humorous turn of his song; and no one
knows how long this scene might have lasted--for the gaberlunzie seemed
inexhaustible--when a sound of horses' feet at the door claimed the
attention of the revellers, and some one cried out that a party of
horsemen were come to demand the body of a thief, who had that day, at
Dunse, stolen the silver mace of King James, and was suspected to be at
this Maiden, under the assumed dress of a wandering piper.

"That is the man," cried a belted knight, as, having dismounted, he trod
forward into the middle of the barn, and pointed to the happy
gaberlunzie, who had that instant finished his song.

"Ye lee," answered the beggar, in an instant, as he stood up, surrounded
by his friends.

"Ha, sirrah!" answered the stranger, "this boldness will avail thee
nothing. I know thee; and these, thy new-made friends, will not save
thee from the execution of our orders. There are witnesses against thee,
who saw thee steal the silver mace. Forward, ye sooth-saying men!"

Two men entered, dressed nearly in the same style as the first, and
bearing all the marks and insignia of the grade of Knights.

"Is not this the thief?" inquired the first.

"It is--we will swear to him. He snatched the mace from the royal
mace-bearer, in the streets of Dunse, and made off with it amidst the
hue and cry of the populace, whose speed he outran as he would that of
the greyhound."

"Guid faith," replied the guidman of Cairnkibbie, "if our friend ran as
cleverly as he has danced this nicht, a' the greyhounds o' the Merse
wadna hae catched him."

"Will ye gie me up to the beadles, freends," cried the beggar, "or will
ye stand by him wha has sought yer protection, and partaken o' yer
hospitality?"

"Gie ye up!" ejaculated the spirited old farmer; "in faith, na. If King
Jamie war the Cham o' Tartary, or had three kings' heads on his
shouthers in place o' ane, we'll defend ye while there's a flail in the
barn o' Cairnkibbie."

A shout of approbation followed the speech of the old farmer. The
maidens, whose chins still smarted from the rub of his jolly beard, flew
for flail, and rung, and "hissil ryss," and in an instant every willing
hand held a weapon.

"We'll defend him to the last drap o' oor bluid," cried Will Carr, as he
manfully stood forward, and brandished a huge hazel rung.

"And, by my saul," cried the scaumer, Jock Hedderick; "if we fecht as
he'll fecht, whether for auld feid or new, noytit pows and broken banes
will tell the fortune o' the nicht, lang before the play's played."

"Ha, ha! guidmen, and true guidmen, and true!" cried the beggar,
undaunted and laughing; "thank ye, my hinny, Lilly, for this green
kevel! By the haly rude, come on now, ye silver-necklaced bull-dogs o'
royalty:--

    'The beggar was o' manly mak,
      To meet him was nae mows,
    There darena ten come him to tak,
      Sae noyt will he their pows.'

Ye should ken that sang, if ye hae lear aneugh in your steel-bound
noddles. Come on, ye calroun caitiffs!"

"Search his wallet," cried the foremost of the strangers; and six or
seven men rushed into the barn, and made direct for the window-sole
pointed to by the chief; but Will Swan and Will Carr, with half a dozen
more stout hensures, flew forward and anticipated the searchers.

"Give me my meal-pocks," cried the gaberlunzie; and, having got hold of
his wallet, he slung it over his shoulders, and, to the surprise of
every one, took out the mace said to have been stolen, and, holding it
in his left hand as a badge of his authority, continued, laughing like a
cadger, to gibe the strangers--

"Beggars hae a king as weel as belted bannerets," he cried: "see ye my
badge? Ken ye wha ye seek? Heard ye ne'er o' Wat Wilson the king o' the
beggars, crowned on Hogmanay, on the Warlock's Hill near Dunse, in
presence o' a' the tribe o' kaukers and keelars, collected from Berwick
to Lerwick. This is the beggar's badge. Tak it if ye dare. By ae wag
o't, yer bairns will be kidnapped, your kye yeld, and your mithers'
banes stricken wi' the black sickness."

"Guidman of Cairnkibbie," said the foremost knight, "thou hast now
evidence in that bold beggar's own hand, that he hath stolen a part of
the king's regalia--an act of high treason, incurring death to him and
all that give him shelter. Take the badge, examine it, and thou'lt find
on it the royal arms. See to thy predicament. If I report a rescue,
thou'rt ruined. James will punish thee as a resetter. These misguided
men will fall in thy ruin, and sorely wilt thou repent having harboured
and defended a thief and a vagabond. Wilt thou give him up, or must we
take him at the expense of our blood and thine?"

"A' fair words," answered the guidman; "but this beggar is our guest. He
says the badge is his ain, and truly I am bound to say that King Jamie
himsel is nae mair like the king o' this auld land, than this jolly
gaberlunzie is like the king o' his tribe. Every inch o'm's a king. He
sings like a king, dances like a king, drinks like a king, and kisses
the lasses like a king--and, king as he is, feth we'll be his loyal
subjects. What say ye, guid hearts?"

"The same, the same," cried many voices; and a brandishing of flails and
kevels showed that they were determined to act up to their pledge of
defending the jolly gaberlunzie to the end. Matters now assumed a
serious aspect.

"Thy ruin be on thine own heads!" cried the chief of the strangers.
"Draw for the rights of King James, claim our prisoner, and take him
through the blood of rebels who dispute the authority of their king!"

The men from without now began to rush into the barn with drawn swords;
and seemed to expect that, when the steel was made apparent, no serious
resistance would be offered. Their expectation, however, was vain; for
the hinds did not seem to fear the naked swords, and several of them had
already aimed blows at the heads of the enemy. The beggar was moving to
the right and to the left with great rapidity; brandishing his huge
kevel, and whispering something into the ears of his friends. The
guidman was busy getting the women removed by a back door; and, in the
midst of all the uproar, there seemed some scheme in operation on the
part of the defenders, which would either co-operate with their warlike
defence, or render the shedding of blood unnecessary. The assailants
clearly did not wish to use the glittering thirsty blades; and continued
to ward off the blows of the hinds, and to push them back, with a view
to get hold of him who was the object of their search. He, in the
meantime, was directing some secret operation with great adroitness and
spirit. The confusion increased; the size of the barn, and the pressure
of the assailants forward, apparently with a view to take away the power
of the long sticks, prevented in a great measure the full play of the
hinds' arms, and some of the king's men were engaged in a powerful
wrestle, with the intention of disarming the hinds, and thus achieving a
victory without loss of blood; but their efforts in this respect would
have been attended with small success, if the tactics of the beggar had
been a deadly contest. The assailants still pushed on, and it seemed
that their opponents were fast receding, while the clanging of sticks on
the swords, and the hard breathing and cries of those engaged, seemed to
indicate a severe and equally contested strife. The defendants were
latterly pushed up to the very farthest end of the apartment, and it
seemed apparent that, if they did not make a great effort to redeem
their position, and acquire room for the circle of their staves, they
must resign the contest. But an extraordinary evolution was now
performed. The back door was opened; in an instant, every hind
disappeared from the faces of their foes; the door was locked and
bolted; and the king's men turned to retrace their steps and seek the
enemy outside. That turn exposed their position, and the trick of the
gaberlunzie. The front door was also shut, locked, and riveted. On every
side they were shut in, confined in a dark barn, and all means of escape
entirely cut off. It was in vain that they roared through the key-holes
of the doors. The gaberlunzie, who regulated all the motions of the
successful party, responded to them in words of cutting irony, and even
set agoing the swelling notes of his pipes, to celebrate his triumph by
a poean in the form of a pibroch.

"Ye may tell yer king," he cried, loud enough for them to hear--"that
is, when ye get out, if ye ever experience that blessed fortune--that he
is not the only king in these realms. And surely Scotland is wide enough
for twa. I hae my subjects, he has his; an' Wat Wilson's no the
potentate that wad ever interfere wi' Jamie Stuart, if Jamie Stuart will
let alane Wat Wilson. If I happen to pass Dunse on the morn, I shanna
fail to report favourably o' yer prowess; an', abune a', I shall tell
him o' the condition o' his belted knichts--how

    'There was not ane o' them that day
      Could do ane ither's bidden,
    And there lie three and thretty knights
      Thrunland in ane midden.'

Come now, my friends, we'll adjourn the feast to the ha', an' let the
knights tak their nicht's rest in the barn, after a' the toil o' their
desperate battle."

A loud shout responded to the spirited speech of the gaberlunzie; and
the feelings of the kidnapped and discomfited men-at-arms, on hearing
the triumph of the beggar, who had out-manoeuvred them, may be
conceived, but could not well be expressed by an ordinary goose-quill.
The guidman of Cairnkibbie took as hearty a laugh as the rest, at the
trick thus successfully played off upon the king's men, and his laugh
was nothing the less for the quantity of good ale he had drank before
the fray began, and without which potation, perhaps, he would not have
patronised an act which might bring him into trouble. There was one
thing that, even through the fumes of the ale, struck him as very
remarkable--the confined knights made scarcely any noise. There was no
blustering or swearing of vengeance, nor threat of the king's
displeasure, nor endeavours to break the doors. They submitted to their
durance like lambs in a sheepfold, and seemed to have lost their spirits
as well as courage, when they found themselves completely within the
power of their enemy. What could this mean? There was a mystery in it,
which the farmer, who was an arch old fox, could not explain; and when
he put a question to the gaberlunzie, the answer increased his
difficulty, for the beggar laughed, and attributed the quietness and
meekness of the foes to the terror of his prowess, and the awe which his
name inspired throughout a great part of Scotland.

"This is the most extraordinary deevil," said the farmer to himself,
"that it has been my fortune to meet. His dancing, roaring, rioting,
drinking, piping, singing, joking, fechting, seem a' on a par; an' nane
o' them are beat by his power o' winning the hearts o' young an' auld.
He has forced me to like him, will I or nill I; an' my dochter Lilly,
an' my guidwife Jean, are nae less fond o' him than I am. Here, noo, is
our Maiden broken up, my barn made a warhold, mysel a seneschal o' the
king's troops, my head in a loop, an' my fortunes hanging in the wind o'
the royal displeasure--a' brocht aboot by a wanderin beggar, wha forced
himsel into oor happy meeting at the very point o' the bauldest tongue
that ever hung in man's head; an' yet sae supple that it has won the
very hearts o' the men that strove to keep him oot, an' brocht me into
the hardest scrape I ever was in my life."

Cogitating in this prudential way, the guidman was fast coming to the
conclusion that he was in a position of great danger; and that it was
necessary that he should take the proper steps for freeing himself from
the consequences of his imprudence as soon as it was possible. He turned
round to look for the gaberlunzie, that he might commune with him on the
prudence of letting the king's men free. The greater number of the men
and women had gone into the house; and some of them stood at a distance,
their forms revealed by a glimpse of the moon, which, freed from a
cloud, began to illumine the holms of Cairnkibbie.

"Where is the beggar?" inquired the farmer at Will Carr.

"Where is the beggar?" cried Will Carr to his neighbour.

"Where is the gaberlunzie?" shouted several voices at once.

The gaberlunzie was gone. Steenie Thornton said he saw a person mount
one of the troopers' horses that stood at the door of the barn, and,
turning round the corner of the steading, gallop off at the top of his
speed. He thought it was one of the hinds, who was trying the mettle of
the king's horses, and would return instantly, after he had indulged
himself with a ride. Now it was apparent to all that it was the strange
gaberlunzie himself. He had crowned all his extraordinary actions of the
evening by stealing one of the horses of the king, or his knights, and,
with meal-pocks, wallet, pipes, and stolen mace, was "owre the Borders
and awa," and might never be seen or heard of again; while the farmer,
who now saw the extent of his danger, must stand the brunt of the king's
vengeance, and be tried for forcing the king's messengers in the
execution of their duty, for shutting them up in his barn, and stealing
(for he would be charged with it) one of the horses, the property of his
sovereign. The whole company now assembled around the farmer, whose
position was apparent to the bluntest hind that ever danced at a Maiden.
Some proposed to follow the beggar, and bring him back again; but he had
already exhibited such a power of locomotive energy and daring spirit in
the former adventures of the evening, that it seemed vain to attempt to
overtake him with the quickest steed that was at their command. The
difficulty was great, and, apparently, insuperable; and the whole scene
enacted by the gaberlunzie appeared like a dream. The farmer swore
against him mighty oaths, and directed against himself a part of the
objurgatory declamation. But how was he to get out of the scrape? If the
doors were opened, and the armed knights let loose, the whole company
might be slaughtered, in the fury of the enraged men-at-arms, who would
attribute to the farmer and his men their discomfiture, the loss of the
thief, their confinement, and the loss of the horse. To keep them
confined was, also a fearful resource; for they must be let out _some
time_, and every minute of their confinement would add fuel to the flame
of their resentment. Many opinions were given. Some were for getting
assistance to enable them to stand on the defensive, against the
expected attack, on the knights being let free. Some again were for
striking a bargain "wi' the fou hand," as the saying goes, and letting
the pursuers free, upon their word of a knight that they would not
molest them. This latter plan seemed the best; and a good addendum was
made by the greatest simpleton of the whole meeting--viz., that they
should include in this act of amnesty the loss of the horse. The farmer
proceeded to act upon this resolution.

"We are friendly inclined to ye," said he, in a tone of voice that might
reach the prisoners. "Your enemy was that accursed gaberlunzie, wha maun
be the very deevil himsel; for he it was wha blew us up against ye, and
made us, a parcel o' quiet men, fecht against the servants o' our lawfu
king. The cunning rogue's awa, and left us to bear the dirdum o' his
feint or folly; and, a' ungeared as we are for war, we wish, withoot
either dewyss or devilry, to ken the condition upon which ye will get
yer liberty."

A loud laugh from within was the reply to this speech. What next could
this mean? The farmer was confounded, the hinds stared, and every one
looked at another. Here were men who five minutes before were fighting
like fiends, who had been deceived and confined, struck and ill-used,
indulging in a good jolly laugh at the broaching of a question
concerning their liberty. The mystery was increased, the affair was more
extraordinary, the development more difficult and distant.

"Ay, ay," continued the farmer, "ye may laugh; but, maybe, the laugh may
be on the ither side when ye get oot. This may be an assumed guid
nature, to blind us. I'm as far ben as ye, though no in the barn. Come,
come. It is a serious affair. Will ye pledge the honour o' a knight,
that, if I draw the bolts, ye'll let alane for let alane?"

"Surely, surely," was the ready reply, and another laugh accompanied the
condition.

"Right merry prisoners, by my saul!" continued the farmer. "Will they
laugh at the loss o' their horse, I wonder?" (To his friends.)

"That's a' very weel," he continued, in a higher voice. "I hae witnesses
here to the pledge; but I'm sorry to inform ye that that deevil o' a
beggar, wha stole yer king's mace, is aff and awa, the Lord kens whaur,
wi' the best horse o' a' yer cavalcade. Will ye forgie this to the
boot?"

Another burst of laughter responded from the barn, mixed with cries of--

"Ay, ay; never mind the horse. Let him go with the mace. The king of the
beggars deserveth a steed."

"Weel, these are the maist pleasant faes I ever saw," said the farmer;
"but I hae a' my fears there's a decoy duck i' the pond. Haud firm yer
kevels, friends, in case a' this guid nature may, like the blink o' an
autumn sun, be followed by the fire-flaughts o' their revenge."

The men stood prepared to fight, if necessary; the bolts were withdrawn,
and out came the knights, as merry as larks, making the air resound with
their laughter. The farmer and his friends were still more amazed, as,
for their very souls, they could see nothing in discomfiture and
imprisonment to make any man laugh. But the fact was now certain, that
the prisoners were right glad and hearty; and the sincerity of their
good humour was to be tested in a manner that seemed as extraordinary as
anything that had yet been witnessed on this eventful evening. Not one
of them ever mentioned the beggar or the loss of the horse--a
circumstance remarkable enough; and, not contented with this scrupulous
regard of the treaty, the chief of them, slapping the farmer on the
back, proposed that, as they had so unceremoniously broken up the sports
of the evening, they should not depart till they saw the dancing again
commenced, and till they each and every man of them should dance a reel
with the blooming maidens they had seen on their entry. This request,
though as remarkable as the former proceedings, was received with loud
applause. The parties were again collected; Tam the piper again took his
seat; the ale flowed in its former abundance; and in a short time the
brave knights were seen tripping it gaily through the mazes of the merry
dance. This was another change of the moral peristrephic panorama of
that extraordinary evening; and, as the farmer looked at the merry
knights with their surtouts of green, and their buff baldricks and
clanging swords, busy dancing in that very barn where they had, a few
minutes before, been fighting like Turks, he held up his hands in
wonder, and would have moralised on the chances and changes of life, if
a barn had been a proper place, a Maiden a proper occasion, and the hour
of relief from a great evil a proper time for the indulgence of such
fancies.

The knights danced only for a very short time; and there can be no doubt
that they did their best to please themselves, and to exhibit to their
host and his friends the greatest triumphs of the gay art; but all their
efforts only tended to bring into higher contrast their best and most
intricate evolutions, their highest and most joyous humours, their
pleasantest and merriest tricks, with the devil-daring, jumping,
roaring, laughing, kissing, and hugging of the jolly gaberlunzie, who
outran all competitors in the production of fun, as much as ever did an
Arab steed the plough-nag at a fair gallop. There was not a knight among
them that could, as the saying goeth, "hold the candle to him;" and as
for the private opinions of the "damysells," the very best judges of the
properties of man, they would not have given one hair in the beard of
the jolly gaberlunzie for all the short crops of the chins of all the
knights put together. His thefts and vagaries were lost, like spots on
the sun, in the blaze of his convivial splendour; and, coming and flying
off like a comet, as he had done, he had left them in a darkness which
all the tiny lights of the good-natured crew of bannerets could not
illumine beyond the twinkle that only served to exhibit more clearly
their gloom. _Sic transit gloria mundi!_--they might never see his like
again.

The knights, after enjoying themselves in the manner we have mentioned,
mounted their horses, (the one whose steed was stolen, having borrowed
one from the farmer,) and having been supplied with a good stirrup-cup,
galloped away, without ever having said one word, either of good or
evil, of the mysterious gaberlunzie of whom they came in search. The
Maiden was finished soon after, and the guidman of Cairnkibbie retired
with his guidwife to rest, and in their waking moments to wonder at the
strange events of the day. The fears of evil, resulting from his own
conduct, had in a great measure ceased; but, alas! they ceased only to
be revived in the morning, and increased to a degree that made him still
lament having forced the king's messengers, and harboured a thief. About
eleven o'clock of the succeeding day, a horseman, booted and spurred,
arrived in great haste at the door of the farm-house of Cairnkibbie, and
requested to see the guidman.

"What's your will, sir?" said the farmer to the messenger, as he went to
the door.

"I bear his Highness the King's schedule, to be delivered to William
Hume, the tenant of Cairnkibbie."

"The King's schedule!" answered William, as he took the paper out of the
messenger's hands--"what hae I dune to offend the king?"

"Read it," said the messenger; and William complied.

"These are to show our high will and pleasor, that whereas ane
gaberlunzie, of the name of Wat Wilson, or at least ane wandering
vagabond to whom that denomination does by common use or courtesie
effeir, did, in our guid toun of Dunse, on Wednesday last past, of this
current month of October, when our servitors and officers marching
rank-on-raw, before and behint our person, reft frae the hands o' our
mace-bearer, our mace of authority, fabricat of real siller, and
embossed with dewysses of goold, whar-with he did flee trayterly to the
protection and refuge of thee, William Hume, tenant of Cairnkibbie, wha,
with thy tenants, domestics, and retainers, and others, did harbour
him, even against our officers of justice, wham thou didst pummel, and
lik, and abuse in a maist shameful manner, and thereafter didst confine
in ane auld barn the whyle thou didst let off the said gaberlunzie, and
steal ane o' the very choicest horses o' our knights; for all the whylk
thou (and eke thy aiders and abettors) shalt answer at our present
ambulatory Court, at our auld burgh of Dunse, wharto thou art summonit
by this schedule, to attend on the day after thou receivest this, at 12
of the forenoon; whylk, if thou disregardest, thou shalt dree the
punishment o' our righteous vengeance. Given at Dunse, this----day of
October 15--. JAMES R."

"The Lord hae mercy on the house o' Cairnkibbie!" ejaculated the farmer,
as he read this fulmination of an incensed king's wrath. "What am I to
do? How can I face the king after abusing his officers, and harbouring
the thief wha stole the royal mace, as weel as the horse o' his officer?
Can ye no intercede for me, sir, or at least gie me some advice how I am
to act in this fearfu business?"

And the farmer stamped on the ground, and paced backwards and forwards
in great distress. The officer who brought the schedule seemed to
sympathise with the unhappy man; but, looking over to the door of the
farm house, and seeing Lilly standing on the landing-place, combing her
fair locks, he smiled as if some hope for the unfortunate farmer had
broken in on his mind.

"Is that your daughter?" said he.

"It is," answered the farmer; "but that question has sma' concern with
this present misery that has overtaken the house o' her father."

"More than thou thinkest, mayhap," answered the horseman. "Bring her
with thee, man, to Court. The king cannot resist the appeal of beauty.
If that fair wench will but hold up that face of hers, while thou
settest forth thy defence, I'll guarantee thy liberation for a score o'
placks. But see thou attendest; otherwise, messengers will be sent to
force thy presence."

Saying these words, the messenger clapped spurs to his horse, and was
out of sight in an instant, leaving the poor farmer in a state of
unabated terror. He went into the house, and reported the direful issue
of last night's adventure to his wife and daughter. The sympathetic
communications of their mutual fears increased their sorrow and
apprehension, till the females burst into tears, and the guidman himself
groaned, at the prospect of his inevitable ruin. During the day and the
night, the subject formed the continual theme of their conversation; and
the terror of meeting the sovereign, the weakness of the defence, and
the fear of ruinous consequences, alternated their influence over their
clouded minds, without a moment's intermission of ease. The guidwife was
determined she would not leave her husband in the hands of his enemies;
Lilly agreed to accompany them, at the request of her father; and Will
Carr, with one or two of the farm-servants, were to go as exculpatory
witnesses. The farmer had in his grief resolved upon a candid defence.
The truth, he was satisfied, might bring him off, while any attempt at
concealment or falsification could not fail to hasten and increase the
punishment he dreaded. At an early hour next day, the party were all on
their way to Dunse; the farmer dressed in his long blue coat and blue
bonnet, his wife with her manky kirtle and high-crowned mutch, bedizened
with large bows of red ribbons; and Lilly, with her "Lincolme gown" and
wimple-bound hair, looking like the Queen of May herself. On their entry
into the town of Dunse, they were met by two men having the appearance
of officers, who claimed them in the king's name as criminals, and
conducted them to a small castle at the end of the town, at that time
used as a garrison for the king's troops. After passing through a long
passage (their hearts palpitating with terror and awe), they came to a
room of a large and stately appearance, hung round, as they could see by
their side glances--for they were terrified to look up--with loose
hangings of rich cloth, whereon were many curious figures, that seemed
to stand out apart from that on which they were set forth. About the
middle of the room--so far as they could guess by their oblique
investigation--they were seated on a species of "lang settle;" and when
they found themselves seated, they began (after drawing nearer and
nearer to each other) to look up and around.

There was a considerable number of individuals in the hall, some
standing and some sitting, and all dressed in the most gorgeous style.
On an elevated seat, covered by a temporary canopy of velvet, sat the
august monarch of Scotland, the Fifth James; and at his feet were three
or four individuals in the habiliments of barons. All this was little
suited to calming the beating hearts of the simple individuals who were
so strangely situated. There was not (and the circumstance seemed
strange) an ordinary individual present. Those who acted as officers
were clearly knights, or high gentlemen in the confidence of the king.
All was silence for a few minutes, when a loud voice called out the name
of "William Hume."

"Here," answered William, with a choking voice, while his wife and
daughter shook till their very clothes rustled.

"Stand up, sir," cried the same fearful voice again.

William obeyed; and now, unimaginable awe! the voice of Majesty itself
sounded through the hall.

"Read the indictment, Dempster," said the King.

The indictment was accordingly read.

"Is it true, sir," began his Majesty, "that thou didst harbour this man
called Wat Wilson, knowing him to have stolen our mace, and thereafter
didst beat and confine our messengers who were sent to apprehend him?"

Like many other timid witnesses, William Hume, regained his
self-possession the moment he was fairly committed to giving evidence by
a plain question being put to him.

"I cam here this day," replied William, looking up and around him with
increasing confidence, "to tell your Highness God's truth. I canna deny
the charge."

"Knowest thou the punishment of deforcing the king's messengers?"
rejoined the King.

"No, yer Highness," replied William; "but my fears tell me it's no
sma'."

"Hast thou anything to say in palliation of thy crime?"

"Owre muckle, I fear, yer Highness," answered William. "I say owre
muckle; for now, when I look back upon the dementit proceedings o' that
nicht, I have almost come to the conclusion that that gaberlunzie wha
has brought me into a' this trouble, was neither mair nor less than his
august Majesty wha"----

"Who, who?" cried the King impatiently; while several of the lords began
to laugh, and whisper, "He knows him, he knows him."

"--Than his august Majesty," continued William, "wha haulds his court
there--there"--(pointing his finger downwards.) "To be plain, yer
Highness, I do on my saul believe he was the Deevil himsel!"

The king laughed a loud laugh, and all the barons burst fair out into a
hearty "guffaw;" while some of them muttered, "A compliment--a
compliment, in good faith, to the King"--a whisper which, if William
Hume had heard, he might have construed into a hint that the gaberlunzie
was no other that the king himself; but, luckily for the naiveté of
William's testimony, he remained in his ignorance.

"What, man!" exclaimed the King, when he had again arranged his jaws
into something like gravity--"Dost thou believe he was the Devil?"

"Troth do I," replied William, now getting bolder by the laughter that
had rung in his ears; "and the mair I think o' him and his wild and
wonderfu' feiks and freits, the mair satisfied am I o't."

William's adherence to his position produced another burst of merriment.

"What _did_ he do," continued the King, "to entitle him to that
character? It would ill become us to punish a subject for the acts of
the Evil One."

"What did he _no_ do, your Highness?" ejaculated the farmer--"he did
everything the enemy could do, and man couldna. We were hauldin our
Maiden when he cam to the door, and were determined no to let him in;
but he turned a' oor hearts in an instant, and the enemies o' his
entrance becam the freends o' his presence. Then began he to act his
part: he played as nae man ever played; drank as nae man ever drank;
danced, and made ithers dance, langer and blyther than ever man did on
the face o' this earth; caught men's hearts like bullfinches wi' his
sangs, the women's by the rub o' his beard; and sent through a' and owre
a' sic a glamour and witchery o' fun, and frolic, and enjoyment--ay, and
luve o' himsel--that nae mortal cratur was ever seen to hae sic power
since the days o' Adam."

William drew breath, and the king and lords again laughed heartily.

"But a' that was naething," continued William; "I'm a plain man, as ye
may see--and wha, looking at me, would say that a mortal gaberlunzie
could twist me round his finger as easily as he could do a packthread?
Yet this beggar did that. Your Highness' troops cam to seize him--and
wha before ever saw the guidman o' Cairnkibbie harbour a thief? The
Deevil had thrown owre me and the hail menyie the charm o' his cantraps.
We swore we would defend him--ay, even though we saw the stowen mace in
his hand; we did defend him, and he had nae mair to do than to blaw in
oor lugs, when clap went the barn-doors, and a' yer Highness' knights
were imprisoned as if by magic. Could a beggar o' ordinar flesh and
blude hae dune a' that, yer Highness?"

William again drew breath, and again the hall resounded with the laugh
of the king and his lords.

"But even a' that was little or naething," continued William again; "for
to pay us for a' the guid we had dune him, he made himsel invisible, and
rode aff like a fire-flaught on ane o' the knight's horses; and frae
that eventfu hour to this, we hae ne'er seen his face."

"Art satisfied, my Lord of Ross?" said the King in a whisper, to a lord
that sat beside him. "Is our wager won? Have we, as we essayed,
succeeded in our undertaking? Have we in the form of a beggar, so
wrought upon the hearts of the members of a Maiden feast, as to gain
their love to the extent of making them defend the gaberlunzie against
the king's knights, inspiring them to fight, and win the day in a fought
battle, and latterly riding home on one of the enemy's horses? Ha! ha!
we opine we have--what say our judges?"

"The game is up," replied the Lord of Ross. "I acknowledge myself beat.
Your Highness has won the day."

Another laugh sealed the triumph of the king, and William Hume stared in
amazement at the extraordinary mummery that was acted around him.

"William Hume," said the King, "this is an artifice on thy part to
escape our vengeance. I go to put on the black cap, and to return to
pronounce thy fate. Thou hast admitted the crime; and to lay it on the
devil's back, is only the common way of the wicked."

Lilly, on hearing the mention of the black cap, screamed, the mother
cried for mercy, and the thunderstruck farmer waited to receive his
doom. The king went out, and returned in a short time in the cap of Wat
Wilson, holding in his hand the stolen mace. A new light broke in upon
the mind of the criminal--he perceived at once the identity of the king
and the beggar; and the fears of all were in a moment dispelled.

"Stand up, Lilly Hume and Will Carr," said the monarch.

The voice of royalty sounded like a death-knell in the ears of the
maiden. Her mind ran back to that eventful hour when she told the beggar
the secret of her love; and she felt even yet the hug of the king, and
the royal kiss burning on her lips. She blushed to the temples, and
could scarcely stand without the support of her father, who now, when he
saw how the land lay, had recovered all his fortitude, with a portion of
well-founded hope that the services he performed to the beggar-king
would meet with their reward.

"So your faither, Lilly, will not allow you to marry Will Carr," resumed
James, "because he is puir?"

"Guid Lord!" muttered William to himsel--"hoo comes he to ken that
too?--a family secret that I could scarcely breathe in my ain lug for
its injustice, and now I see to be punished as it deserves."

Lilly hung her head. She could not open her lips. The mention of her
humble love by a king and in the presence of nobles, was so far beyond
the ordinary experience of her obscure life, and held such a contrast to
the secret breathings of her affection in her stolen meetings with her
lover among the broom knowes of Cairnkibbie, that she thought the world
itself was undergoing some extraordinary convulsion. Turning round, she
caught the eye of Will Carr, who, having more courage, infused some
portion of his confidence into the blushing girl.

"Is that true, William Hume?" rejoined James, who despaired of getting
an answer from Lilly.

"Deed, an' it's owre true, yer Highness," answered the farmer; "but I
thought there wasna a mortal on earth knew the circumstance but mysel
and my wife; for, begging your Highness' pardon, I was ashamed to tell
it to the lassie hersel, for fear she might hae communicated it to
Will's freends, wha are decent people, and canna help their poverty."

"Dost thou still stand to thy objection to the match?" again asked
James.

"If your Royal Highness, as Wat Wilson," replied the farmer, smiling,
"could command me and the hail household o' Cairnkibbie to do your
bidding, and turn us round your finger like a piece o' packthread, I
micht hae sma chance o' resistin yer authority as king o' Scotland. I
hae nae objection noo to the match, seem that a king gies oot the bans."

"William Hume," resumed the laughing monarch, "hear thy doom. For the
love thou didst extend and show to our royal person, we give thee a free
grant of the lands of Cairnkibbie, upon this one condition--that thou
consentest to the union of Lilly Hume with Will Carr, to whom we shall,
out of our royal purse, give, as a marriage portion, two hundred marks."

"I canna disobey the command o' Wat Wilson," replied William with a dry
smile. "He has already exercised great authority owre us a', and we
winna throw aff our allegiance in this eventfu day."

A general laugh wound up the scene. The young couple were married, and a
merry wedding they had of it; but there was one great exception to the
general joy, and that was, that although there was many a good dancer
present, and Tam Lutar was not absent, there was not to be seen or heard
the jolly beggar who had, on the former occasion, been the soul of the
Maiden. James became afterwards engaged in more serious concerns, and
there were few who knew anything of his nocturnal exploit. The Humes
were told to keep it a secret; and the lords who were present had too
much regard for their king to expose his good-humoured eccentricities.
When Hume became proprietor of Cairnkibbie, the people speculated; but
little did they know, so well had the secret been kept, that the grant
proceeded from the farmer's supposed misfortune, or that Wat Wilson the
beggar, who danced so jovially at the Maiden, was the individual who had
transformed William Hume from a simple farmer to one of the small Border
lairds who held their heads so high in those days; and far less was it
known that the same individual had brought about the marriage of Lilly
Hume and Will Carr.

Thus have we attempted to describe one of those wild frolics in which
the young King James V. of Scotland occasionally indulged. If he had
lived to an advanced age, his subjects might have had as much reason to
admire the king as they had to love the royal gaberlunzie, who, wherever
he took up his quarters, whether "in a house in Aberdeen," or in the
barn of Cairnkibbie, sent the fire of his spirit of love and fun
throughout all with which he came in contact.



THE PROFESSOR'S TALES.



EARLY RECOLLECTIONS OF A SON OF THE HILLS.


I have oftentimes thought, what, I dare say, has been thought again and
again by thousands before I was born, and will be thought by as many
millions after I have ceased both to think and speak--I have thought
that, if any one were to give an exact transcript of his feelings and
experience, in early life in particular--without any connecting link
even, beyond that of time and place--such a written record could not
fail to be exceedingly interesting. The novelty of the scene; the
uncloyed character of the feelings; the harpy-clutching nature of the
imagination; the variety of sources within and without, from which
pleasure is derived and is derivable--all these form a mine of
delightful insight, which has not, perhaps, ever yet been exhausted--a
mine conducting to, and losing itself in, that far-away central darkness
which precedes perception, recollection, existence. I remember--and it
is an awful remembrance--the death of my grandmother when I was only
four years old. There she lies in that bed. Alongside of that sheet,
there are my mother and the minister kneeling in prayer. The whisper is
conveyed to the minister's ear--"Sir, she has win to _rest_!" Oh, that
sweet word rest!--rest negative, rest positive--rest from, rest in, rest
amidst a sea of troubles--rest in an ocean of glorious happiness! "Sir,
she has win to rest!" I can never forget the words, nor the look, nor
the place, nor the all which then constituted _me_. The minister pauses
in the middle of a sentence, he rises from his knees, and, taking my
mother's hand in his, as well as mine in the other, he approaches the
bed of death; but, O my soul, what an impression is made upon me! My
grandmother--the figure with the short cloak over her shoulders, the
check apron, the tobacco-box, and the short cutty-pipe--the speaking,
conversing, kind-hearted figure--what is _it now_? Asleep!--but the
eyes are open, and frightfully unmeaning. Asleep!--but the mouth is
somewhat awry, and there is an expression unknown, intolerable,
terrible, all over the countenance.

And this is death! I cannot stand it. I fly to the door--to the brae--to
the hill. I dash my face, shoulders and all, into a bracken bush, and
weep, weep, weep myself asleep. When I awake, it is a dream; I am amused
with the white table-cloth, the bread and cheese, and wine bottle. I am
amused with the plate, salt, and earth placed on the breast of the
corpse. I am amused with the coffining; but, most of all--oh,
delightful!--with the funeral--the well-dressed people--the numbers, the
services of bun, shortbread, wine, and spirits; and above all, with
various little bits and drops which fall to my share. I firmly believe I
got fuddled on the occasion. Such is man; for men are but children of a
larger growth. Now, there is only _one_ event, circumstance, incident,
firmly and fairly told--and it is interesting exceedingly: how
interesting, then, would all the incidents and events of early life be,
were they only narrated with equal faithfulness! So one may say; but, in
so saying, they will be misled and mislead. There are few things which I
remember so vividly as this. Death! I have seen thee since! Thou hast
torn from me mother, brother, friend, and, above and beyond all, thou
hast been betwixt these arms, murdering her whom my soul loved--the
partner of my life--the mother of my babes--the balm of my soul--the
glory, ornament, and boast of my existence; and yet, and yet my
grandmother's death is more vividly imprinted on brain and heart than
any other event of a similar nature. Proof impressions sell dear! and
proof feelings--oh, how deep are the lines, how indelible the
engravings! They are cut on steel with a graving tool of adamant. The
heart and the brain must be reduced to their elemental dust, ere these
impressions can wear out--and yet I was only four years and six months
old!

I saw it--ay, and I see it still--a poor innocent lamb. I had kissed it,
and hung about its neck on the sunny brae. People said it was not
thriving: I would not believe it. It was my companion. I often fed it
with milk; put my finger into its little toothless mouth, and made it
lap the invigorating and nourishing liquid. It had no parent, no friend,
in a manner, but me, and I was only five years old, in petticoats; a
very semblance of humanity; a thing to be strode over in his path by
mankind of ordinary stature. But there came a blight, a curse, a
dreadful change, over my dear and endearing pet. It was torn--ay,
dreadfully torn, by some nightly dog. When I first found it, it was
scarcely alive, lying bleeding; its white, and soft, and smooth skin
dragged in the mud, torn and untouchable. There was a knife applied; but
not to cure; it was to kill, to put out of pain. I could not stand it; I
went into convulsions, screamed, and almost tore myself to pieces. "My
lamb! my wee lambie! my dear, dear sweety!"--but it had passed, and I
was alone in my existence. But, oh! it was a fearful lesson which I had
learned--a dreadful truth which I had ascertained. Youth, as well as
age, is subject to death: dreadful!

There she sits in loveliness--there, there, in the midst of that hazel
bush, snug in her retreat, her yellow bill projecting over the brow of
her nest: smooth, black, and glittering are her feathers, and her eye is
the very balmy south of expression. Yet there is a watchfulness and a
timidity in her attitude and movement--she is not at ease, for that eye
has caught mine, as they protrude upon her betwixt two separated
branches; and, after two or three hesitating stirs, she is
out--off--away; but perched on a neighbouring bough, to mark and watch
my proceedings. And _he_, too, is there; _he_, her companion and
helpmate; he who was singing, or rather whistling, so loud on that tall
and overtopping birch; he who was making the setting sunlight glad with
his music--who was, doubtless, chanting of courtship, and love, and
union, and progeny. Yes! _he_ has left his branch and his sun; he has
dropped down from his elevation, to inquire into the cause of that
sudden chuckle, by which his lady bird has alarmed him. There are four
eyes upon me now, and all my proceedings are registered in two beating
bosoms. But the nest is full--it is full of life--of young life--of the
gorling in its hair, and incipient tail--of yellow gaping bills, all
thrust upwards, and crying, as loud as attitude and cheep can do, "Give,
give, give!" Surely Solomon had never seen a blackbird's nest with
young, else he had given it a place amongst his "gives!" This was my
first nest. It was discovered when I was only five years old; it was
visited every day and every hour; the young ones grew apace; they
feathered into blackness; they hopped from their abode; they flew, or
were essaying to do so, when--O world! world! why, why, is it so with
thee!--destruction came in a night, and the feathers of my young ones
were strewed around their once happy and crowded abode. There had been
other eyes upon them than mine. Yes! eyes to which the night is as
noonday--vile, green, elongated eyes, and sharp, penetrating, and
unsparing teeth, and claws, stretched, crooked, and clutching; and, in
short, the cat had devoured the whole family!--not one was left to the
distracted parents. I shall never, never forget their fluttering
movements, their chirpings, their restlessness, their ruffled feathers,
and all but human speech. There was revenge in my young bosom--mad and
terrible revenge. I snatched up the murderer--all unconscious as she was
of her fault. I ran with her, like a fury, to a deep pool in the burn. I
dashed her headlong into the waters--from which, of course, she readily
escaped, and, eyeing me with a look of extreme surprise from the
further bank, immediately vanished into the house. Though we were great
friends before this event--and I would gladly have renewed our
intercourse afterwards, when my passion had subsided--yet Pussy never
forgave me, at least I know that she never trusted me, for I could never
catch her again.

That's the pool--the very bumbling pool, where we bathed, and stood
beneath the cascade, for a whole summer's day. There were more than one
or two either--there were many of us; for we collected as the day
advanced, and still those who were retreating, upon encountering those
who were advancing, would turn with them again, and renew their
immersions. It was summer--and such summer as youth (for I was only six)
alone can experience--it was one long blaze of noontide radiance. The
sun stationary, as in the valley of Jehosophat; the trees, green, leafy,
shady, rejoicing; the very cattle dancing in upon the cooling element;
and the grasshopper still dumb. The heat was intense, yet not
overpowering; for we were naked--naked as were Adam and Eve prior to sin
and shame--naked as is Apollo Belvidere, or the Venus de Medicis. We
were Nature's children, and she was kind to us; she gave us air that was
balm; sunbeams that wooed us from the pool; and water again that enticed
us from the open air! What a day it was of fun and frolic, and splash,
and squatter, and confusion! Now jumping from the brow into the deep;
now standing beneath the Grey Mare's Tail, the flashing cascade; now
laving--like Diana on Actæon--the water from the pool on each other's
limbs and faces; now circling along the green bank, in sportive chase
and mimic fray, and again couching neck deep in the pool. But the awful
dinnle is on the breeze; the black south hath advanced rapidly upon
meridian day; the white and swollen clouds have boiled up into spongy
foam; and there runs a light blue vapour over the inky cloud beneath.
Hist!--whisht!--it's _thunner_! and, ere many minutes have escaped, we
are each quaking every limb at our own firesides.

Many recent winters have made me cry, What has become of winter? I
wished Government would fit out an expedition to go in quest of him. He
must have been couching somewhere, the funny old rogue, behind the Pole;
he must have been coquetting with the beauties of Greenland or Nova
Zembla. He has, last season, condescended to give us a glimpse of his
icy beard and hoary temples. Oh, I like the old fellow dearly!--but it
is the old fellow only. As to him of modern times, I know not what to
make of him--a blustering, blubbering, braggadocio; making darkness his
pavilion, for no other purpose than to throw pailfuls of water on the
heads of women and children; letting out his colds and influenzas from
his Baltic bags, and terrifying our citizens with "auld wives," broken
slates, and shivered tiles. But my winter of 1794--what a delightful
companion he was! He did his work genteelly; his drift was a matter of a
few hours; but they were hours of vigorous and terrible exertion. Some
ten score of sheep, and some twenty shepherds, perished within a limited
range, in one wild and outrageous night. It was, indeed, sublime--even
to me, a youth of eight years of age, it was fearfully sublime. Can
anything be more beautiful than falling and newly-fallen snow. _There_
you see it above, and to a great height, shaping into varied and
convolving forms. It nears, it nears, it nears, and lights in your
little hand, a feathery diamond, a crystallized vapour, an evanescent
loveliness! But the tempest has sounded an assail, and the broadened
flakes are comminuted into blinding drift--the earth beneath blows up to
heaven, whilst the heaven thunders its vengeance upon the earth. The
restless snow whirls, eddies, rises, disperses, accumulates. Man cannot
breathe in the thick and toiling atmosphere. The wreaths swell into
rounded and polished forms, and, on a sudden, disappear. The air has
cleared, has stilled, and the sharp and consolidating frost has
commenced. What a sea of celestial brightness! The earth wrapped in an
alabaster mantle, the folds of which are the folds of beauty and
enchantment. Days of glory, and nights of splendour. The moon, in her
own blue heaven, contracted to a small circumference of clear, gaseous
light; the hills, the hollows, the valleys, the muirs, the mosses, the
woodlands, the rocky eminences, the houses, the churchyards, the
gardens, the whole of external nature beneath her, giving up again into
the biting and twinkling air an arrowy radiance of far-spread light.
Here and there the course of a mountain torrent, or of a winding river,
marked with a jagged and broken line of black. The bay of the house-dog
heard far off--the sound of the curlers' sport, composed of a mixture of
moanings--the "sweep," the "guard," the "stroke," the homebred and
hearty shout and guffaw--the Babel mixture of noises, coming softened
and attuned from the distant pond. It is the "how-dum-dead" of winter.
Christmas has passed, with its happiness wished and enjoyed--it is the
last night of the year; long and fondly-expected Hogmanay! We are
abroad, amongst the farm-houses and cottars' huts--we pass nothing that
emits smoke. Our disguises are fearful, even to ourselves, as we
encounter each other unexpectedly at corners. Cakes, cheese, and all
manner of eatables are ours, even to profusion. And who would not endure
much of life, to have such exquisite fan renewed!

But my first trout!--killed--fairly landed out of the water--dancing
about in all its speckled beauty on the green bank: this was indeed an
event--this was an achievement of no ordinary interest. Fishing! to thee
I owe more of exquisite enjoyment than to any other amusement whatever.
I am a mountain child--born, and nursed, and trotted about from my
cradle on the winding banks of a bonny burn, through whose waters there
looked up eyes, and there waved fins and tails. I have taken, again and
again, in after life, the wings of the morning, and have made my
dwelling with the stunted thorn, the corbie nest, the croaking raven,
the willie-wagtail, and the plover, and the snipe, and the lapwing. I
have seen mist--glorious mist!--in all its fantastic shapes, and
openings and closings, from the dense crawling blanket of wet to the
bright, sun-penetrated, rent, and dispersing tatterment of haze. I have
studied all manner of cloud, from the swollen, puffed up, and rolling
castellation, to the smooth, level, and widespread overshadowing. The
breezes have been my companions all along. I could scan their merits and
demerits with a fisher's eye, from the rough and sudden puff, urging the
pool into ridges of ripple, to the steady, soft, and balmy breath that
merely brought the surface into a slight commotion. Burns, too, I have
studied, and streams, and gullets, and weils, and clay-brows, and
bumbling pools. I have fished in the Caple with Willie Herdman. (See
Blackwood, volume sixth.) I have fished in the Turrit with Stoddart.
(See his admirable book on Angling.) But the true happiness of a fisher
is solitude. Oh, for a fine morning in April, fresh, breezy, and
dark!--a mountain glen, through which the Dar or the Brawn threads its
mazy descent; the bottom clear, and purified by a recent flood; the
waters not yet completely subsided--something betwixt clear and muddy--a
light blue, and a still lighter brown.

Not a shepherd, nor a sheep, nor a living creature within sight--nothing
but the sound of the passing stream, and the plash of the hooked and
landing trout. A whole immensity of unexhausted stream unfurled before
me; the day yet in its nonage; my pockets stuffed with stomach store;
my mind at ease; my tongue ever and anon repeating, audibly--"Now for
it, this will do, there he has it, this way, sir, this way; nay, no
tricks upon travellers--out, out you _must_ come--so, so, my pretty
fellow, take it gently, take it gently!" But I am forgetting my first
trout in the thousand and tens of thousands which have succeeded it. I
had a knife--I know not how I got it; perhaps I bought it at a Thornhill
fair, with a sixpence which the guidman of Auchincairn gave me as my
fairing, or perhaps--but no matter; as Wordsworth would say, "I had a
knife!" and this knife was my humble servant in all manner of duties; it
was, in fact, my slave; it would cut bourtree, and fashion scout guns;
it would make saugh whistles; it would fashion bows and arrows; it would
pare cheese, and open hazel nuts; it was more generally useful than
Hudibras' sword--and I felt its value. In fact, what was I without my
knife? A soldier without his gun, a fiddler without his fiddle, a tailor
without his shears. And yet this very knife, dear and useful as it was
to me, I parted with--I gave it away, I fairly bartered it for a
bait-hook with a horse-hair line attached to it. But then I had seen,
and seen it for the first time, a trout caught with this very hook and
line. Having a hook and line, I cut myself, from an adjoining wood, a
rowan-tree fishing-rod, which might serve a double purpose, protecting
me from the witches, and aiding me in catching trout. Away I went, "owre
muirs and mosses mony o'," to the glorious Caple, of which I had heard
much. I baited my hook with some difficulty; for worms, whatever boys
may be, are not fond of _the sport_. I stood alongside of the deep black
pool. I saw the deception alight in the water, and heard the plump; it
sank, and sank, by a certain law, which philosophers have named
gravitation; it became first pale-white, then yellow, then almost red,
as it sank away into the dark profundity of mossy water. It lay still
and motionless for a few instants. At last it moved; ye powers! it cuts
the water like an edged instrument--it pulls--pulls strongly. The top of
the rod touches the surface of the pool--something must be done--I am
all trepidation. But, by mere strength of pulling and of tackle, a large
yellow-wamed, black-backed fellow lies panting on the sand bank at the
foot of the pool.

    "And its hame, hame, hame,
      Fain wad I be;
    And it's hame, hame, hame,
      To my ain mammie!"

I ran home with all possible rapidity; and displayed, on a very large
pewter plate, my first trout, to my kind and affectionate parent. My
happiness was completed.

The woods!--I was born in the woods; man lives originally in the
primeval forests, with the exception, perhaps, of the Arab, the
Babylonian, and Egyptian; wherever there was sufficient soil and
suitable climate, there was wood, from Lapland to Capetown, from the Bay
of Biscay to the Yellow Sea. The American forests still exist, where
even the axe of European civilization has not reached them. There woods
are natural to man; he turns to them as to something, he cannot well
tell how or why, congenial to his nature. At least so I have felt it,
and feel it still in my recollections of early life. Plantations are
stiff and artificial, generally consisting of a dense field of regular
similarity; but natural wood, the offspring of our own soil, the
indigenous plants of Scotland--the birch, for example, with its bending
and elegant twigs, its white stem, and grateful fragrance; the eternal
oak, with its leafy shade; the tough ash, with its pointed leaf; the
lowly hazel, with its straight stems and fragrant nuts; the saugh, the
willow, the thorn-sloe, the haw, the elder, the bourtree, the crabtree,
the briar, and the bramble--all these consociate lovingly, and actually
did consociate around, and almost over, the humble but snug cot where I
first drew breath. There, my first herald of day was the song of the
linnet, thrush, or blackbird; there, my first efforts were made in
gaining the top of some little ash or birch; there, my first riches
consisted in a few pints of ripened and browned nuts, kept in the leg of
a footless stocking, against the ensuing Halloween. But Halloween has
now become a mere name--_et preterea nihil_, still _stat nominis umbra_,
sufficient to make me recollect with delight the exquisite pleasure
which I enjoyed in anticipating as well as in observing this festival.
The crabtree yielded its reddest and ripest fruit for the occasion; a
casual apple was hooked over the hedge of the castle orchard for the
same purpose; but, above and beyond all, nuts were gathered, dried and
stored away into sly corners and out-of-the-way places. What amusement
so delightful as nut-gathering! There they hang to the afternoon sun,
brown and ready to escape from their husks or shells. There are twosome
clusters, and threesome clusters; and if you could reach without shaking
that topmost branch (but there is the difficulty and the danger), you
may even secure a twelvesome cluster--a glorious knot of lovely
associates, that would crumble from their abodes into your hands like
dried leaves! You pass on from bush to bush; but you have been
anticipated. Will or Tam, or Jock or Jamie, or all four, have been there
before you, and have left you nothing but a scanty gleaning. Here and
there, you are enabled to extract from the centre of a leafy shade, an
ill-ripened, because an unsound, single nut, which serves no better
purpose than to break your jaws with its emptiness, in cracking it. But
you push away into the interior--the _terra incognita_ of the woodland;
and, standing out by itself, aired and sunned all over, you find a
little branch of scroggs, stinted and ill-leaved, but really covered all
over with the most exquisite fruitage. Long, large, are the nuts you
have thus acquired; and you chuckle inwardly, as you contemplate a
prize which has been reserved for your exclusive use. With what despatch
are cluster after cluster accumulated into handfuls, and then again into
pocketfuls, and then, at last, into cap, hat, or bonnetfuls, till you
become a kind of shellicoat, a walking _nuttery_, a thing of husks and
kernels! The voice of your companions is loud and frequent, in the
language of inquiry into the state of your success; but you preserve a
deep silence, or answer prevaricatingly, by, "you have got a few--not
many--very bad place this," &c. &c. At last you come upon them with the
astonishment of display, and expose your treasure with ineffable
feelings of triumph. You have distanced them all. Your Halloween fortune
is made--you are a happy being.

But Halloween comes at last--Scotland's Halloween--Burns' Halloween--the
Halloween of centuries upon centuries--of the Celt amidst his mountains,
the Saxon in his valley, the Druid in his woods, King James the First in
his palace--and old Janet Smith in her humble cottage. It was at Janet
Smith's that I held the first Halloween of which I have any distinct
recollection. There was a kind of couthiness about old Janet, which made
her hearth the resort of all the young lads and lasses, boys and girls,
around. On Halloween, Janet had on her best head-gear, her check apron,
and clean neck napkin.

We had such burning of nuts, such pu'ing of stocks, such singing of
songs, such gibing, laughing, cracking, tale-telling, and, to crown all,
such a gallant bowl of punch, made from a sonsy greybeard, which the
young men had taken care to store previously with the needful, that I
went home half crazy, and, my mother affirmed, continued so for several
days to come.

Ye gods! what superstitious notions peopled my brain ever since! I
recollect such fears about the invisible world becoming visible--I
walked amidst a multitude of unseen terrors, ever ready to burst the
casement of immateriality, and to stand, naked, confessed, in material
semblance, before me. There was the fairy, the inhabitant of the green
unploughed knowe, the green-coated imp, intent on child-stealing, or
rather barter, and jingling her bridle through the high air on
Halloween; there was the ghost, awful, solemn, and admonishing, pointing
with the finger to buried treasure or murder glen; there was the wraith,
little less terrible, and clothed in a well-known presence,
prognosticating death or sore affliction; there was the death-watch,
distinctly heard tick, ticking, all night long, in the bed-post; there
were the blue lights seen in round spots on the bed-head, on the very
night when three lads and three lasses perished in the boat; there was
the muckle deil himself, driving in a post-chaise, over the
"chaise-craig," or panting, like a bull-dog, at the nightly traveller's
feet; and, over and above all these, was "Will o' the Wisp," skipping
about from one side of the moss to the other, and always placing itself
betwixt you and your home.

"D'ye see that?" said my cousin, Nelly Laurie, a girl of eighteen, to
me, when my years could be reckoned by the number of the muses.

"What! what is it!" I exclaimed; and my attention was directed towards a
moss, or morass, through which our footpath lay, on our way home, about
ten o'clock of a dark, damp, and cloudy night.

"There! there it's again!"

There is something in the word "it" most indefinitely terrific. Had she
said _he_ or _she_, or even that ghost, or that wraith, or that bogle,
it would not have been half so startling; but "it"--do you see it?--see
a thing without a name, a definition--a mere object, shorn of its
accidents or qualities! This is indeed most awful. With fear and
trembling, I lifted up mine eyes, and beheld--O mercy, mercy!--a light
in the middle of the moss, where no light should have been; and it was
floating and playing about, blue as indigo, and making the darkness
around it visible. My joints relaxed, and I fell to the earth, incapable
of motion. I was a mere bundle of loose and unconnected bones, sinews,
and muscles. My cousin stood over me, incapable of deciding what would
be done; at last, it was discovered that to advance homewards was better
than to retrograde, as we were already more than half-way on our course.
I was instructed to repeat, and to continue repeating, aloud, the Lord's
prayer; whilst she, on whose shoulders I lay like a dead sheep,
continued to give audible note to the tune of the twenty-third psalm. It
was, indeed, an odd concert for the devil, or his emissary, Mr. William
yclept "of the Wisp," to listen to; for, whilst I was roaring out, in
perfect desperation, "Our Father which art in Heaven," she was
articulating, in a clear and overpowering tone, "The Lord's my
shepherd;" whilst I slipt into "Hallowed be thy name," she advanced
with, "I'll not want--he makes me down to lie!"--and, sure enough, down
_both of us lay_, with a vengeance, in the midst of a moss-hole, into
which, from terror and the darkness of the night, we had inadvertently
plunged. "What's the meaning of all this, sirs!" exclaimed a well-known
voice. It was my mother's, God bless her! I clung to her like grim
death, and never quitted my hold till I was snugly lodged above the
fire, near to the lamp, and with dog, cat, my cousin, and my mother,
betwixt me and the dark doorway passage! I did not get a sound sleep for
months and years afterwards! Such are thy miseries, unhallowed, unmanly
superstition! Disease may relax the body and enervate the whole frame;
but thou art the disease of the soul, the fever of the brain.
Misfortunes may be borne--pain must be endured till it is cured--but
superstition such as _this_, is neither endurable nor curable. I am not
yet completely cured of it, now that I have entered my sixtieth year.
Were you to send me into an empty, dark church, at midnight, and through
a surrounding churchyard, peopled with the bodies of the dead, I durst
not go, though you gave me large sums of money. And is my judgment or
reason in fault? Not at all; it is my feelings, my moral nature; my very
blood has got such a blue tinge that I verily believe it would look like
the blue ink I am writing with, were it caught in a tea-cup! Sir Walter
Scott was bit, too, and so are nine-tenths of the _living_, though they
won't allow it. It has now become, like latent heat, an unseen agency;
but it still acts, and powerfully, on civilized, and even learned man!

Seeking of birds' nests is a glorious amusement, and the knowledge of a
large amount of these is a possession to be boasted of. I know of a
linnet's nest, says one--and I of a robin's, says another--I of
shilfa's, says a third; but a fourth party comes in with his mavis, and
all competition is at an end. The mavis is indeed a Scottish
nightingale; he sings so mellow, and so varied--his brown spreckled
breast turned up to the rising or the setting sun, he pours o'er the
woodland a whole concert of harmony; and then he awakens into
competition the blackbird, with his Æolian whistle; the green and grey
linnet, with their sharp and sweet tweedle-twee; the goldfinch, with his
scarlet hood and song of flame; and the lark on the far-off fell, with
his minstrelsy of heaven's border. But what to a boy, a boy of eight or
nine, is all this song and sunshine, in comparison with the fact--"I
know of five birds' nests!" Why, this annunciation is enough to settle
your doom--you may almost apprehend assassination, so much must you be
envied. But true it is, and of verity; I once knew five birds'
nests--all containing eggs or young. Oh, I remember them as it were only
of yesterday. Time has only engraved, with a tool of adamant, the
impression deeper and deeper. There was the snug and pendulous abode of
the little kitty-wren. It was beneath the brow of the burn, covered over
from winds and rains by the incumbent bank and brushwood. It was a
plum-pudding, with a hole made by your thumb on one side; a stationary
football, composed of all things soft and comfortable, covered on the
outside with fog or moss, and in the inside lined with the down of
feathers; and there were from sixteen to twenty little blue _peas_ in
it; and the little hen sat on them daily, and opposed her little bill
vigorously to my intrusive finger. She was not afraid--not she! she
fought manfully, "_pro aris et focis_;" if not, as the Romans say,
"_manibus pedibusque_;" nor, as the savage Saxons say, "tooth and nail,"
nor, as the shepherd of Ettrick says, "knees and elbows an' a',"--still
she fought with the instruments with which nature had endowed her, with
her bill and her little claws, and she fought it most vigorously. O
Nature! thou art a fearful mystery of wisdom--thou makest the meekest
and most timid natures bold as lions when their progeny are concerned.
Look at the hen--poor chucky, that scrapes her pittance from the doorway
or dunghill, whom the veriest whelp which can bark and tumble over will
scare into wing and screech--put the hen on eggs, give her an infant
brood, show her danger from dog, man, bear, or lion--who's afraid? Not
she at least; she will dance on the nose of the mastiff, she will fly in
the face of humanity, whether in the shape of man, woman, boy, or child.
The warrior looks fierce in his regimentals and armour; but what cares
she for guns, bayonets, swords, and pistols? Not a peppercorn! Her young
ones are behind her, and she will meet the armed monster, with foot,
bill, wing, and with a fearful intonation of terrifying sounds. No
Highland regiment, even at Prestonpans, ever set up a more alarming
battle shout. She is never conquered--like Achilles, she is
"invincible;" but so soon as her progeny need no more her care or her
protection--so soon as they have been pecked into estrangement, and sent
to scrape and provide for themselves--she resumes all her mild and
feminine qualities--she is plain "chucky" again! The linnet's nest is
covered with scales of a silky whiteness--the fine thin _laminæ_ which
cover the bark of the oak, of that very tree in the cleft of whose
branches her nursery is fixed. Inside of this little nicely-proportioned
cup, there are five beautifully-spotted eggs--a white ground with a grey
spot, flung over the whole shell with a most charming regularity. And
there is a nest in that stone wall which surrounds the plantation--it is
that of the stone-chatter--filthy, unsonsy bird, fit companion for the
yellow yeldring, which conceals her treasure 'neath a tuft of grass on
the bent, and is trodden under foot. They are both deserving of all
detestation; the one for drinking every May morning of the
devil's-blood, and the other for many an impertinent jest and chatter.
Let them perish in one day--let their eggs be blown, and hung up as
ornaments in strings along the brow of the household looking-glass, or
smashed to atoms by the stroke of an urchin previously blinded.

    "For he ne'er would be true, she averred,
      That would rob a poor bird."

It was whilst engaged in robbery of this kind, that I was first checked
by the tears and entreaties of Mary--of my dear cousin, Mary Morison.
Alas! poor Mary! thou wast mild, beautiful, kind, merciful; yet thy days
have been numbered, and thou art gone--

    "Unde negant redire quenquam;"

and I, a lubber fiend in comparison with thy beauty and gentleness--I, a
personification of cruelty and horror in comparison with thee--I am
still alive, and thinking of thee--whilst thou art not even
_dust_--"_etiam periere ruinæ_." Forty-five years confound even dust,
and reduce to a fearful nonentity all that smiled, and charmed, and
inspired. But of this enough--this way madness lies.

That was a terrible conflagration at Miramichi. I think I hear it
crashing, thundering, crackling on; before it the wild beasts, the
serpents, the cattle--man! poor, houseless, helpless, smoke-enveloped,
and perishing man. The reason why I can conceive so vividly of this
awful and comparatively recent visitation is this--I was accustomed to
"set muirburn" when a boy of nine or ten. The primeval heath of our
mountains was strong, bushy; and, when dry in spring, exceedingly
inflammable. I was a mountain child; for, on one side of my dwelling the
heather withered and bloomed up to the door; and when one thinks of the
"bonny blooming heather," it is quite refreshing; it blooms when all
things around it are withering, during the later months of harvest; but
then, oh, then, it puts on such a russet robe of beauty--a dark evening
cloud tipped and tinged with red--a mantle of black velvet spangled with
gold; and its fragrance is honey steeped in myrrh. Yet when withered in
March and April, it is an object of aversion to the sheep farmer, who
prefers green grass and tender sward; and he issues to impatient boyhood
the sentence of destruction. Peat follows peat, kindled at one end, and
held by the other; the hillside or the level muir swarm with matches;
carefully is the ignition communicated to the dry and widespread heath;
from spot to spot--in lines and in circles--it extends and unites--the
wind is up, and one continuous blaze is the almost immediate
consequence. It is night, dark night--the clouds above catch and reflect
the uncertain gleam. The heathfowl wing their terrified flight--through,
above, and beneath the rolling and outspreading smoke. The flame gathers
into a point; and, at the more advanced part of the curvature, the force
and blaze is terrible. A thousand tongues of fire shoot up into the
density, and immediately disappear. Who now so venturous as to dash
headlong through the hottest flame, and to recover from beneath the
choking night his former position? There goes--a hat--a cap--a bonnet!
They have taken up their position in the pathway of the devouring flood
of fire--and who so brave, so daring, as to extricate his own property
from instant destruction? Hurrah! hurrah! from a score of throats, mixes
with the thunder, the crackle, the roll--all is power, novelty, ecstasy;
bare heads and bare feet dance and show conspicuously upon the still
smoking turf. Here an adder is seen writhing and twisting in the agonies
of death. There a half-burned hat evinces the fun and the folly of its
owner. But, oh, horrible! what is that on the edge of vision, in the dim
and hazy distance; it comes forward, bounding, turning, and bellowing,
fearful and paralysing; it is the bull himself escaped from his fold,
and maddened by the smoke and blazing atmosphere. He comes down upon the
charge, tail erect, and head down, tossing all that is solid under his
feet, and looking through the scattered earth with eyes glaring as well
as reflecting fire. Achilles, Hector, Agamemnon, Wallace, Wellington,
never entered a field of battle with such a terrific presence. He seems
as if he had just escaped from a Roman or Spanish arena. He is
desperately infuriated; and woe be to him who shall be overtaken by this
muscular tornado in his weakness and his fears! We are off!
_diffugimus_! We are nowhere to be found. One has made for a distant
wall surrounding the heather park, and is in the act of climbing it. The
bull is in full chase, armed with two short but powerful horns. The
fugitive has just laid hold of an upper stone to assist his ascent; but
the faithless help has given way; stone and he are lying alongside of
the dyke. The bull is in full scent. The noise has directed him. He
nears--he nears--he nears! My God! the urchin's life is not worth two
minutes' purchase.

    "Now, do thy speedy, Arnot Wull--
    'Twill take it all to clear the bull!"

Bravo! the summit is gained; the feet of the pursued are seen flying in
mid air; he has sprung from the summit at least twenty feet; but the
whole weight of the pursuing brute is upon the crazy structure; it gives
way with a crash, and down rush stones over stones, and the poor maimed,
bruised brute over all. What! Mr. Bull! are you satisfied?--why not
continue the sport? But the game is up; Will has regained his mother's
dwelling, and now lives to record this wonderful, this all but
miraculous escape. Catch me setting muirburn again!

I was very unwilling, at the age of nine, to be sent to school--I had
formed for myself a home society with which I was perfectly satisfied;
but the decree had gone forth, and to school I must go, to learn Latin,
conducted by a scholar of some standing. I had three miles to walk, but
I would have wished them ten. Shakspeare shows the characters with whom
time gallops, and, amongst others, with a thief who is to be hanged on a
certain day--he might have mentioned a schoolboy, with shiny morning
face, going unwillingly to school. When I came within sight of the
large, many-windowed building, my heart beat sorely with alarm. All was
new to me--the boys, the masters, the house, the grounds around it; in
fact, I was about to pass into a new state of being. I was bursting the
shell, and coming forth into real life. Hitherto I had seen nobody but
the herd-callan, the Gibson family, my mother and _her_ aunts. I was
exceeding smart and mischievous, no doubt; but my sphere of operations
was confined; now it was about to be enlarged--I must face three hundred
boys and girls in the park or school play-ground of Wallacehall. All
eyes would be turned upon me; my very dress would undergo a scrutiny;
nor would I easily escape the seasoning welcome, a hearty drubbing: all
this I anticipated, and all this and more I soon experienced. When I
set up my face in the play-ground about half-past eight (nine being the
school hour), all was commotion. Alas! how many are now motionless who
were then active--_still_, who were then vociferous--_cold_, whose
hearts were then beating warm and buoyant! When the disk of my
countenance appeared at the entrance into the park or play-ground, I was
immediately smoked. One fellow came up with the most affected
good-nature, and hoped my _mither_ was with me. I would be in great
danger, he said, without her. A second one bid me tie my shoe, and,
whilst I was stooping, hauled me heels over head. I had not fairly
recovered my natural position, when I was hit on the side of my head
with a ball, till my eyes glanced fire; anon, the drive, the crowd, the
scramble carried me along with it completely off my feet. I was pelted,
bruised, buffeted, and even kicked. Human nature could stand it no
longer--my spirit, even that of the Devil, was awakened within me--I
struck out around me with all my might, and at random--somebody's nose
happened to come in the way of my knuckles, and it bled; he struck back
again, and the blood sprang from my lips. A ring was formed--to it we
went--I, running in upon him head and shoulders, "knees and elbows an'
a'," laid him flat; unfair play was proclaimed--my antagonist was
raised; but he was pale and breathless; he said he was _hearted_, and
had almost fainted; so I got a cheap victory, and eternal glory! I took
my place amongst the boys, unmolested and respected in future. I would
twaddle through a pretty decent volume, about public and private
education, and everybody but my bookseller would think I was speaking
sense; but I will spare my reader and myself, and only add, in one
sentence, that a public seminary, well conducted, is the best of all
schools _for the world_--preparation for the buffetings, kickings, and
jostlings of life.



THE SUICIDE'S GRAVE.


The suicide's grave--where is it? It is at the meeting or crossing of
three public roads; the body has been thrust down, under the darkness of
night, into a coffinless grave. The breast, formerly torn and lacerated
by passions, has lately been mangled into horrid deformity by the
pointed stake; and the traveller, as he walks, rides, or drives along,
regards the spot with an eye of suspicion, and blesses his stars that he
is a living man. The suicide's grave--where is it? On the bare and cold
top of that mountain which divides Lanark from Dumfriesshire. There you
may see congregated the hoody craw, and the grey gled, and the
eagle--but they are not congregated in peace and in friendship; they are
fearful rivals, and terrible notes do they utter as they contend over
the body of her who was fair, and innocent, and happy. Alas, for Alice
Lorimer! Her story is a sad one, and it would require the pen of a
Sterne or a Wilson to do it justice. But the circumstances are of
themselves so full of mournful interest, that, even though stated in the
most simple language, they cannot fail, I should think, to
interest--nay, I will say it at once, to excite sympathy and pity; for
why should we not pity the unhappy and unfortunate? They are pitied in
poverty, in obscurity, in sickness, in death. Why should not we even
pity the guilty and abandoned? They are pitied in prison, on the day of
trial, and, most of all, in the hour of execution. There--even there--on
that platform, the murderer himself obtains that sympathy which we
refuse to the suicide. He who has only ruined, destroyed himself, is
held in greater abhorrence than the man who has ruined innocence, and
even murdered the unhappy mother and unborn babe. Away with such unjust
and ungenerous distinctions! Away, and to the highway and to the
mountain top, and to the raven, and the falcon, and the eagle, with the
seducer and the murderer; and let the poor suicide's grave, in future,
be in consecrated ground, where remembrance may soon overlook his woes
and his very existence. Let him sleep unknowing and unknown in the
churchyard of his fathers. Alice Lorimer, I myself knew--I was
intimately acquainted with her--I was a companion and a favourite. In
frosty weather we have frequented the same slides, and, when Alice was
in danger of falling, I have caught her in my arms; we have hopped
together for hours, playing at beds, and I even made Alice privy to all
my birds' nests. Hers was indeed a playful, but a gentle nature. Her
heart was light, her voice clear and cheerful, and her whole affections
were engrossed by an only surviving parent, a widowed father. Alice was
his first-born and his last. Her mother had given her life at the
expense of her own; and her father, a shoemaker in the village of
Croalchapel, devoted his whole spare time to the education of Alice.
Often have I seen him, with the shoe on the last, and the elshun in his
hand, pursuing his daily labours; but listening attentively all the
while to Aly's readings. It was thus the child was taught to read the
Bible, to say her prayers, and ultimately to make her father's dinner
and her own. Their cottage stood at what was termed the "_head_ of the
town," on a sunny eminence looking to the west; behind it were the shade
and the shelter of many trees, of the widespread oak, the tall ash, and
the sweetly-scented birch. On Sabbath afternoons, John Lorimer might be
seen with his beloved child, clean and neatly dressed, ascending to the
top of the Bormoors braes; and, from the green summit of the eminence,
looking abroad over a landscape, certainly not surpassed by any which
has yet come under the writer's observation. On his one hand lay the
worn and silver-clasped Bible, from which portions of the gospels were
occasionally read, and on the other reposed Poodle, a little wire-haired
dog of uncommon natural parts, which had been greatly improved by
education. Poodle could bark, and do all manner of things. His eyes
would "glisten in friendship, or beam in reply." His nose was a
platform, from which many little pieces of bread had been tossed up into
the air, and afterwards snapped. He was all obedience to little Alice in
particular; and, at her bidding, would do anything but swim--he had,
somehow or other, contracted an aversion for the water, probably
referable to some mischievous boys having one day thrown him into
Closeburn Loch.

Alice and I went to school together. Her father's cottage lay directly
in my way, and I called daily for the sweet girl. The other boys laughed
at me, and made a fool of me, and asked me if I had seen Alice this
morning. I could not stand this; for I reverenced the little innocent
lamb--so I hit the Mr. Impertinence a blow in the stomach, which sent
him reeling over several benches. I was no more taunted about Alice
Lorimer. There were a number of older and less feminine girls at the
school at this time. At play-hours these congregated by themselves
behind the school, whilst the boys occupied the play-ground in front.
Alice was one day severely handled by a neighbour's daughter, who had
fixed a quarrel on her, and then beat her severely, calling her all
manner of names, and, amongst others, honouring her with my own. I found
the poor child--for I was a few years older--in tears, as we met in the
Castle-wood on our way home. It was with difficulty that I drew, bit by
bit, the whole truth from her; and I resolved to punish, in one way or
other, the rude and ill-hearted aggressor in this matter. I could not
think of punishing her myself; but I got Jean Watson, the servant-maid
of the factor's clerk--a kind of haverel, who sometimes threw me an
apple over the hedge in passing--I got her to catch the culprit after
dark, and to chastise her in her own way. I know not how it was
effected, but it produced loud screams, and much merriment to me; for I
was lying all the while _perdu_ on the other side of the hedge. Tibby
Murdoch was a most revengeful person--quite the antipodes to sweet Alice
Lorimer. She was the daughter of a quarryman, who had come, only a few
years before, to reside in the place, and work at the Laird of
Closeburn's lime-works. How difficult it is for poor blind mortals to
see the consequences of their actions! Had I then fully perceived what
this act of retaliation was to lead to--what dismal consequences were to
follow--I would rather have sunk at once into perdition than have been
concerned in the affair. Tibby Murdoch's father was a brutal and a
passionate man; and, understanding from his daughter how matters stood,
and that poor Alice Lorimer had been the cause of his daughter's
disaster, he left his work at mid-day, and, taking a horse-whip in his
hand, entered the shoemaker's shop, and not finding Alice, without more
ado, he proceeded to apply it to John Lorimer's shoulders. John Lorimer
was a little, but a strong and well-made man, and, though the other was
tall, bull-headed, and extremely athletic, John immediately threw aside
his instruments of labour, which he felt it was dangerous to use on the
occasion, and closed at once with the enemy. The struggle was severe;
but John Lorimer, having got a hold of Murdoch about the middle, fairly
lifted him off his feet, and dashed him down on the floor. Murdoch's
strength, however, was superior to John's; and he contrived to roll over
upon his enemy, and at last to thrust his head immediately under a
grate, which stood in a corner of the shop, containing live coals for
melting some rosin which was about to be used. The crucible, with the
melted and boiling rosin was upturned; and, unfortunately, the whole
contents were spread over John Lorimer's face. He was dreadfully burned;
but, what was worst of all, he lost the sight of one eye by the
accident, and was very materially injured in the other. On an
investigation by the proper authorities, Murdoch was convicted of the
assault, and imprisoned for twelve calendar months. During his
imprisonment, revenge upon poor Lorimer was his constant theme; and,
when the time expired, he removed to the parish of Keir, and found
employment in a lime-work belonging to Dr. Hunter of Barjarg. He was
still, unfortunately, within an hour's walk of Croalchapel, and lay,
like a cat in a corner, watching his prey. In the meantime, John
Lorimer, though greatly deformed in his countenance, recovered the use
of one eye, and pursued his quiet and useful labour as formerly. As his
daughter Alice advanced in years, she grew in loveliness and virtue. At
twelve years of age she became her father's housekeeper; and conducted
herself in that capacity with surprising sense and prudence. It was at
this time that I left school for college; and I spent the last night
with Alice Lorimer. I was then a lad of sixteen, and she, as I have
said, was twelve. What had I to do in the Castle-wood, by moonlight, and
late after her father had gone to rest, with Alice Lorimer! Gentle
reader, have a little patience, and exercise a little Christian charity,
and, upon my honour, I will tell you all! But, in the first place, I
must know your sex, and whether or not you have ever been sixteen years
old. If your sex corresponds with my own, and your information on the
other subject is equal to my own, then you will understand the thing
completely. I was then as innocent as it is possible for a youth of
sixteen to be; nay, I was absolutely shy and bashful to a great degree,
and would have shrunk from any advances, even to innocent familiarity,
with the other sex. But I was not in love with Alice Lorimer. True, she
preferred my company to that of any other person, save her
dearly-beloved father; true, she sat on my knee, as she did on that of
her parent, unconscious of any different feeling in the two positions;
but we never talked of love; I would as soon have thought of talking of
our being king and queen; and as to Alice, her friendship for me was as
pure as the love of angels. She could not think of parting with me--of
perhaps (and she burst into tears) never seeing me again. I must write
to her--and I must come back and see her, and talk funnily to her
father, who liked a joke--and I must--I forget how many "musts" there
were; but they lasted till half-past one o'clock. I parted with her at
her father's door. I never saw her again!

I was coming down Enterkin late in a fine moonlight night in the spring
of 1806. I was on my way to join a family in Galloway, where I long
acted in the capacity of tutor. I had then attained my twenty-first
year; and I chanced to be calculating--as I expected seeing Alice
Lorimer on the following day--what her age must be. Let me see, said I,
so audibly that I started at my own utterance, as did a little pony I
rode; and what followed was the sum of my reflections. I calculated, by
the common rule of proportion, that if Alice was twelve when I was
sixteen, she would be seventeen now that I was twenty-one. Seventeen! I
repeated, just seventeen!--and I urged on the pony instinctively, as if
hastening towards Croalchapel. But I had been five years at Edinburgh at
College. What a change had come over the spirit of my dreams during that
period! I had had to contend with fortune in many ways; had been often
disappointed, and sometimes driven almost to despair; again I had
prospered, got into lucrative employment, become a member of speaking
societies, distinguished myself by talking sense and nonsense right and
left. I had spent many merry evenings in Johnie Dowie's; and had seen
Lady Charlotte Campbell and Tom Sheridan in a box at the theatre. In
fact, I was not now the same being I was when I left for College; and I
felt that, however fair and faultless Alice Lorimer might be, she could
never be mine--I could never be hers; our fortunes were separated by a
barrier which, when I went to College, I did not clearly perceive. In
fact, my ambition now taught me to aim at the bar or the church; and I
knew that, for years to come, I must be contented with a single life,
which, in Edinburgh in particular, I had learned to endure without
murmuring. Yet I thought of poor Alice with most kindly feelings, and
had some secret doubts upon the propriety of exposing myself in her
presence to a revival of old times and former feelings. In this tone of
mind I was jogging on, with half a bottle of Mrs. Otto's (of Lead-hills)
best port wine under my belt, and endeavouring to collect some rhymes to
the word Lorimer; but either the muse was unpropitious, or the word,
like that mentioned in Horace, refused to stand in verse; it so happened
that I had given up the effort, and was about to dismiss the subject
altogether, when I discovered, near the bottom of the pass, a number of
figures advancing upon me in an opposite direction. As they came up the
pass, under a meridian moon, I could discover that they carried
something on a barrow, which, on nearer inspection, I found to be a
coffin. I drew my pony to the side of the road, lifted my hat
reverentially, and the party, consisting of upwards of twenty, passed in
solemn silence. The incident was a little startling, and somewhat
unnatural, not to say superhuman; for, why were these people carrying a
coffin up the long and narrow pass which separates Lanark from
Dumfriesshire, so late at night, and in such mysterious silence? A
thought struck me, which contributed not a little to ease my mind in
regard to supernaturals; were they a company of smugglers from Bowness,
taking this method of carrying forward their untaxed goods to Lanark and
Glasgow? Ruminating on this subject, and laughing inwardly at my own
ingenuity and discernment, I arrived at last at Thornhill, where I
remained for the night. Next morning I reached Croalchapel, on my way to
my birthplace. I went up to that very door at which I had parted with
Alice, some five years before, and endeavoured to open it; but it was
shut and locked. I looked in at the end-window, above the fire-place;
but there was neither fire nor inhabitant--all was silence. My heart
sank within me; and a neighbour, who saw my ignorance and mistake,
advertised me that both parent and child were no more; and that Alice
Lorimer was _buried_!--here he hesitated, and seemed to retract the
expression--"at least," said he, "committed to the earth last night!"

"Was she not buried by her father in the burial-ground of the Lorimers
of Closeburn?" said I, hastily, and in an agitated tone. The man looked
me in the face attentively, and, probably then for the first time
recognising me, waved his hand, burst into tears, and left me. I
hastened to the home of my fathers, half distracted. My mother still
lived and enjoyed good health--from her I learned the following
particulars.

John Lorimer's sight, she said, served him for a time, during which he
wrought as usual, and his daughter grew to be a tall and handsome woman;
but at last it began to fail, and he would put the elshun into a wrong
place, or thrust it into his hand. Alice perceived this, and was most
anxious to provide for her father under this irremediable calamity. She
took in linen and bleached it on the bonny knowe among the gowans; she
span yarn, and sold it at Thornhill fairs; in short, she did all she
could to support herself and her father in an honest and honourable way.
But it was a severe struggle to make ends meet. In the meantime she had
several offers of marriage; but refused them all, as she could not think
of leaving her poor blind parent alone and helpless, and none of her
lovers were rich enough to present a home to a supernumerary inmate. One
evening, whilst, after a severe day's labour, she was sitting with old
Poodle (her constant companion, but now likewise blind) by the fire, Mr.
John Murdoch made his appearance. Her father had gone early to bed in
the shop end of the house, and did not know of the man's visit. He came,
he said, as a repentant sinner to relieve her necessities. He had
occasioned her father's blindness, and he was glad to be made the
instrument of bringing some pecuniary relief. Thus saying, he put into
her hands a five-pound note, and, without waiting for a reply, took his
departure. This startled poor Alice not a little; she looked at the
money, then thought of the man, and again listened to see if her father
was sleeping--at last, she put it into her chest, determined not to make
use of it unless in case of necessity. The factor, who had hitherto been
lenient, became urgent for the rent. There were two years due, and the
five-pound note exactly covered the debt; away therefore it went into
the factor's hands, and poor Alice returned thanks on her knees to
Heaven, that had sent her the means of keeping from her father the
knowledge of their situation.

In a few days Murdoch found her at the washing-green, and entered more
particularly into the history of the money. He said it had been sent by
one who had seen and admired her. He was on a visit at Barjarg, the
proprietor being his uncle. He was the son and heir of a very rich man,
not expected to live many months. He was determined to please himself in
marrying, having observed great misery arise from adopting a contrary
plan and he wished, in fine, to cultivate a further acquaintance with
Alice, to whom he had sent another five-pound note in the meantime. In
short, after exhibiting great reluctance to agree to a secret interview,
and after having again and again tried to get words to communicate the
whole matter to her father, a young gentleman of gaudy and genteel
appearance made his way out of the adjoining wood, and was introduced
by Murdoch as young Johnstone of Westerhall. Few words passed--poor
Alice was quite nonplussed--she felt that she was not equal to this
awful trial, and yet there was something fearfully pleasant in it. A
young man, handsome and rich--her father blind and helpless--her hand
quite at her own disposal--and independence and comfort brought to the
good man's house for life. Her lover, however, did not press the thing
further that time; he took his departure along with Murdoch, and
Alice was a second time left to her own reflections. These, however,
soon informed her that she was on the brink of perdition. She ran at
once to her father, and, in a paroxysm of feeling, informed him of all
that had passed. He reproved her, but gently, for her having devoted the
money to the purpose which she mentioned; informed her that he was
richer than she supposed, for he had just five pounds which her sainted
mother had put into his hand on the marriage day; and that he was
keeping, and had kept it sacred against the expenses of his funeral. He
would now willingly give it to recover their house, and to free her from
all temptation to sin. Alice wept; but she felt comforted in the
assurance that, by repaying the money, and breaking off all connection
with Murdoch and Johnstone, she was doing the right and the safe thing.
Accordingly, she went to bed with a satisfied mind, determined next day
to find out Murdoch's dwelling, and have everything settled to her
father's advice and her own wish. She dressed herself in her best; and
set out, soon after breakfast, for Barjarg Castle, never to see her
father again. She was betrayed by the revengeful Murdoch to a
dissipated, a heartless debauchee; was carried by force betwixt Murdoch
and him in a chaise to Dumfries; was lodged by Johnstone in convenient
quarters. Every art was used to reconcile her to her situation: but all
in vain; she stood her trials nobly; detected the old game of a private
marriage; and afterwards refused to be united to Johnstone on any terms
whatever. But in the meantime, poor John Lorimer missed his daughter,
and immediately guessed the cause of it. Tibby Murdoch took care to
inform him, for his comfort, that Alice had run away with the young
Laird of Westerha', and, giggling and laughing all the while, that they
were living very comfortably and lovingly in Dumfries. The blind man
knew this to be all a lie, but he knew enough to kill him; he knew that
his daughter was young and beautiful--that a villain had been
endeavouring to inveigle her--that a still greater villain, Murdoch, had
betrayed her--and that, in a word, she was now a poor dishonoured woman.
He knew, or thought he knew, all this, and was found dead next morning
in his bed. The doctors said he died of apoplexy! If it was, it was a
mental apoplexy. Tired with fruitless efforts to gain his purpose,
Johnstone at last permitted Alice to depart. In a few hours she was at
her father's house; but it was desolate and silent. A paper, which was
put into my hands, was evidently written by Alice. She expressed her
determination to follow her dear father into another and a better world,
and hoped Heaven would forgive her. It was her funeral I met at
Enterkin. Hers was

    "The poor suicide's grave."



THE SALMON-FISHER OF UDOLL.


In the autumn of 1759, the Bay of Udoll, an arm of the sea which
intersects the southern shore of the Frith of Cromarty, was occupied by
two large salmon wears, the property of one Allan Thomson, a native of
the province of Moray, who had settled in this part of the country a few
months before. He was a thin, athletic, raw-boned man, of about five
feet ten, well nigh in his thirtieth year, but apparently younger; erect
and clean-limbed, with a set of handsome features, bright intelligent
eyes, and a profusion of dark-brown hair, curling round an ample expanse
of forehead. For the first twenty years of his life, he had lived about
a farm-house, tending cattle when a boy, and guiding the plough when he
had grown up; he then travelled into England, where he wrought about
seven years as a common labourer. A novelist would scarcely make choice
of such a person for the hero of a tale; but men are to be estimated
rather by the size and colour of their minds, than the complexion of
their circumstances; and this ploughman and labourer of the north was by
no means a very common man. For the latter half of his life, he had
pursued, in all his undertakings, one main design. He saw his brother
rustics tied down by circumstance--that destiny of vulgar minds--to a
youth of toil and dependence, and an old age of destitution and
wretchedness; and, with a force of character which, had he been placed
at his outset on what may be termed the table-land of fortune, would
have raised him to her higher pinnacles, he persisted in adding shilling
to shilling and pound to pound, not in the sordid spirit of the miser,
but in the hope that his little hoard might yet serve him as a kind of
stepping-stone in rising to a more comfortable place in society. Nor
were his desires fixed very high; for, convinced that independence and
the happiness which springs from situation in life lie within the reach
of the frugal farmer of sixty or eighty acres, he moulded his ambition
on the conviction; and scarcely looked beyond the period at which he
anticipated his savings would enable him to take his place among the
humbler tenantry of the country.

Our firths and estuaries at this period abounded with salmon--one of the
earliest exports of the kingdom; but from the low state into which
commerce had sunk in the northern districts, and the irregularity of the
communication kept up between them and the sister kingdom, by far the
greater part caught on our shores were consumed by the inhabitants. And
so little were they deemed a luxury, that it was by no means uncommon,
it is said, for servants to stipulate with their masters that they
should not have to diet on salmon oftener than thrice a-week. Thomson,
however, had seen quite enough, when in England, to convince him, that,
meanly as they were esteemed by his countryfolks, they might be rendered
the staple of a profitable trade; and, removing to the vicinity of
Cromarty, for the facilities it afforded in trading to the capital, he
launched boldly into the speculation. He erected his two wears with his
own hands; built himself a cottage of sods on the gorge of a little
ravine, sprinkled over with bushes of alder and hazel; entered into
correspondence with a London merchant, whom he engaged as his agent; and
began to export his fish by two large sloops, which plied, at this
period, between the neighbouring port and the capital. His fishings were
abundant, and his agent an honest one; and he soon began to realize the
sums he had expended in establishing himself in the trade.

Could any one anticipate that a story of fondly-cherished, but hapless
attachment--of one heart blighted for ever, and another fatally
broken--was to follow such an introduction?

The first season of Thomson's speculation had come to a close; winter
set in; and, with scarcely a single acquaintance among the people in the
neighbourhood, and little to employ him, he had to draw for amusement on
his own resources alone. He had formed, when a boy, a taste for reading;
and might now be found in the long evenings, hanging over a book, beside
the fire; by day, he went sauntering among the fields, calculating on
the advantages of every agricultural improvement; or attended the fairs
and trysts of the country, to speculate on the profits of the drover and
cattle-feeder, and make himself acquainted with all the little mysteries
of bargain-making.

There holds, early in November, a famous cattle market in the ancient
barony of Ferntosh; and Thomson had set out to attend it. The morning
was clear and frosty, and he felt buoyant of heart and limb, as passing
westwards along the shore, he saw the huge Ben-Nevis towering darker and
more loftily over the Frith as he advanced; or turned aside, from time
to time, to explore some ancient burying-ground or Danish encampment.
There is not a tract of country of equal extent in the three kingdoms,
where antiquities of this class lie thicker than in that northern strip
of the parish of Resolis which bounds on the Cromarty Frith. The old
castle of Craig House, a venerable, time-shattered building, detained
him, amid its broken arches, for hours; and he was only reminded of the
ultimate object of his journey, when, on surveying the moor from the
upper bartizan, he saw that the groups of men and cattle which, since
morning, had been mottling in succession the track leading to the fair,
were all gone out of sight; and that, far as the eye could reach not a
human figure was to be seen. The whole population of the country seemed
to have gone to the fair. He quitted the ruins, and, after walking
smartly over the heathy ridge to the west, and through the long
birch-wood of Kinbeakie, he reached about mid-day the little straggling
village at which the market holds.

Thomson had never before attended a thoroughly Highland market; and the
scene now presented was wholly new to him. The area it occupied was an
irregular opening in the middle of the village, broken by ruts, and
dung-hills, and heaps of stone. In front of the little turf-houses on
either side, there was a row of booths, constructed mostly of poles and
blankets, in which much whisky, and a few of the simpler articles of
foreign merchandise, were sold. In the middle of the open space, there
were carts and benches, laden with the rude manufactures of the
country--Highland brogues and blankets; bowls and platters of beech; a
species of horse and cattle harness, formed of the twisted twigs of
birch; bundles of split fir, for lath and torches; and hair tackle and
nets, for fishermen. Nearly seven thousand persons, male and female,
thronged the area bustling and busy, and in continual motion, like the
tides and eddies of two rivers at their confluence. There were
countrywomen, with their shaggy little horses, laden with cheese and
butter; Highlanders from the far hills, with droves of sheep and cattle;
shoemakers and weavers, from the neighbouring villages, with bales of
webs and wallets of shoes; farmers and fishermen, engaged as it chanced
in buying or selling; bevies of bonny lasses, attired in their gayest;
ploughmen and mechanics; drovers, butchers, and herd-boys. Whisky flowed
abundantly, whether bargain-makers bought or sold, or friends met or
parted; and, as the day wore later, the confusion and bustle of the
crowd increased. A Highland tryst, even in the present age, rarely
passes without witnessing a fray; and the Highlanders, seventy years
ago, were of more combative dispositions than they are now; but Thomson,
who had neither friend nor enemy among the thousands around him, neither
quarreled himself, nor interfered in the quarrels of others. He merely
stood and looked on, as a European would among the frays of one of the
great fairs of Bagdad or Astracan.

He was passing through the crowd, towards evening, in front of one of
the dingier cottages, when a sudden burst of oaths and exclamations rose
from within, and the inmates came pouring out pell-mell at the door, to
throttle and pummel one another, in inextricable confusion. A grey
headed old man, of great apparent strength, who seemed by far the most
formidable of the combatants, was engaged in desperate battle with two
young fellows from the remote Highlands, while all the others were
matched man to man. Thomson, whose residence in England had taught him
very different notions of fair play and the ring, was on the eve of
forgetting his caution and interfering; but the interference proved
unnecessary. Ere he had stepped up to the combatants, the old man, with
a vigour little lessened by age, had shaken off both his opponents; and,
though they stood glaring at him like tiger cats, neither of them seemed
in the least inclined to renew the attack.

"Twa mean pitiful kerns," exclaimed the old man, "to tak odds against
ane auld enough to be their faither! an that, too, after burning my loof
wi' the het airn! But I hae noited their twa heads thegither! Sic a
trick!--to bid me stir up the fire, after they had heated the wrang end
o' the poker! Deil but I hae a guid mind to gie them baith mair o't
yet!"

Ere he could make good his threat, however, his daughter, a
delicate-looking girl of nineteen, came rushing up to him through the
crowd. "Father!" she exclaimed, "dearest father! let us away. For my
sake, if not your own, let these wild men alone; they always carry
knives; and, besides, you will bring all of their clan upon you that are
at the tryst, and you will be murdered."

"No muckle danger frae that, Lillias," said the old man. "I hae little
fear frae ony ane o' them; an' if they come by twasome, I hae my friends
here to. The ill-deedy wratches, to blister a' my loof wi' the poker!
But come awa, lassie; your advice is, I daresay, best after a'."

The old man quitted the place with his daughter; and, for the time,
Thomson saw no more of him. As the night approached, the Highlanders
became more noisy and turbulent; they drank, and disputed, and drove
their very bargains at the dirk's point; and, as the salmon-fisher
passed through the village for the last time, he could see the waving of
bludgeons, and hear the formidable war-cry of one of the clans, with the
equally formidable, "Hilloa! help for Cromarty!" echoing on every side
of him. He kept coolly on his way, however, without waiting the result;
and while yet several miles from the shores of Udoll, daylight had
departed, and the moon at full had risen, red and huge in the frosty
atmosphere, over the bleak hill of Nigg.

He had reached the burn of Newhall--a small stream, which, after winding
for several miles between its double row of alders, and its thickets of
gorse and hazel, falls into the upper part of the bay--and was
cautiously picking his way, by the light of the moon, along a narrow
pathway which winds among the bushes. There are few places in the
country of worse repute among believers in the supernatural than the
burn of Newhall; and its character seventy years ago was even worse than
it is at present. Witch meetings without number have been held on its
banks, and dead lights have been seen hovering over its deeper pools.
Sportsmen have charged their fowling-pieces with silver when crossing it
in the night-time; and I remember an old man who never approached it
after dark without fixing a bayonet on the head of his staff. Thomson,
however, was but little influenced by the beliefs of the period; and he
was passing under the shadow of the alders, with more of this world than
of the other in his thoughts, when the silence was suddenly broken by a
burst of threats and exclamations, as if several men had fallen
a-fighting, scarcely fifty yards away, without any preliminary quarrel;
and, with the gruffer noises, there mingled the shrieks and entreaties
of a female. Thomson grasped his stick and sprang forward. He reached an
opening among the bushes, and saw in the imperfect light the old robust
Lowlander of the previous fray attacked by two men armed with bludgeons,
and defending himself manfully with his staff. The old man's daughter,
who had clung round the knees of one of the ruffians, was already thrown
to the ground and trampled under foot. An exclamation of wrath and
horror burst from the high-spirited fisherman, as, rushing upon the
fellow like a tiger from its jungle, he caught the stroke aimed at him
on his stick, and with a sidelong blow on the temple, felled him to the
ground. At the instant he fell, a gigantic Highlander leaped from among
the bushes, and raising his huge arm, discharged a tremendous blow at
the head of the fisherman, who, though taken unawares and at a
disadvantage, succeeded, notwithstanding, in transferring it to his left
shoulder, where it fell broken and weak. A desperate but brief combat
ensued. The ferocity and ponderous strength of the Celt, found their
more than match in the cool, vigilant skill, and leopard-like agility of
the Lowland Scot; for the latter, after discharging a storm of blows on
the head, face, and shoulders of the giant, until he staggered, at
length struck his bludgeon out of his hand, and prostrated his whole
huge length by dashing his stick end-long against his breast. At nearly
the same moment the burly old farmer, who had grappled with his
antagonist, had succeeded in flinging him, stunned and senseless,
against the gnarled root of an alder; and the three ruffians--for the
first had not yet recovered--lay stretched on the grass. Ere they could
secure them, however, a shrill whistle was heard echoing from among the
alders, scarcely a hundred yards away. "We had better get home," said
Thomson to the old man, "ere these fellows are reinforced by their
brother ruffians in the wood." And, supporting the maiden with his one
hand, and grasping his stick with the other, he plunged among the bushes
in the direction of the path, and, gaining it, passed onward, lightly
and hurriedly, with his charge; the old man followed more heavily
behind; and, in somewhat less than an hour after, they were all seated
beside the hearth of the latter, in the farm-house of Meikle Farness.

It is now more than forty years since the last stone of the very
foundation has disappeared; but the little grassy eminence on which the
house stood may still be seen. There is a deep-wooded ravine behind,
which, after winding through the table-land of the parish, like a huge
crooked furrow--the bed evidently of some antediluvian stream--opens far
below to the sea; an undulating tract of field and moor--with here and
there a thicket of bushes, and here and there a heap of stone--spreads
in front. When I last looked on the scene, 'twas in the evening of a
pleasant day in June. One half the eminence was bathed in the red light
of the setting sun--the other lay brown and dark in the shadow. A flock
of sheep were scattered over the sunny side; the herd-boy sat on the
top, solacing his leisure with a music famous in the pastoral history of
Scotland, but now well-nigh exploded--that of the _stock_ and _horn_;
and the air seemed filled with its echoes. I stood picturing to myself
the appearance of the place, ere all the inmates of this evening, young
and old, had gone to the churchyard, and left no successors behind them;
and as I sighed over the vanity of human hopes, I could almost fancy I
saw an apparition of the cottage rising on the knoll. I could see the
dark turf walls; the little square windows, barred below and glazed
above; the straw roof, embossed with moss and stone-crop; and, high
overhead, the row of venerable elms, with their gnarled trunks and
twisted branches that rose out of the garden wall. Fancy gives an
interest to all her pictures--yes, even when the subject is but a humble
cottage; and when we think of human enjoyment--of the pride of strength
and the light of beauty--in connection with a few mouldering and
nameless bones hidden deep from the sun, there is a sad poetry in the
contrast which rarely fails to affect the heart. It is now two thousand
years since Horace sung of the security of the lowly, and the
unfluctuating nature of their enjoyments; and every year of the two
thousand has been adding proof to proof that the poet, when he chose his
theme, must have thrown aside his philosophy. But the inmates of the
farm-house thought little this evening of coming misfortune--nor would
it have been well if they had; their sorrow was neither heightened nor
hastened by their joy.

Old William Stewart, the farmer, was one of a class well-nigh worn out
in the southern Lowlands, even at this period; but which still comprised
in the northern districts no inconsiderable portion of the people; and
which must always obtain in countries only partially civilized and
little amenable to the laws. Man is a fighting animal from very
instinct; and his second nature, custom, mightily improves the
propensity. A person naturally courageous, who has defended himself
successfully in half-a-dozen different frays, will, very probably, begin
the seventh himself; and there are few who have fought often and well
for safety and the right, who have not at length learned to love
fighting for its own sake. The old farmer had been a man of war from his
youth. He had fought at fairs, and trysts, and weddings, and funerals;
and, without one ill-natured or malignant element in his composition,
had broken more heads than any two men in the country side. His late
quarrel at the tryst, and the much more serious affair among the bushes,
had arisen out of this disposition; for, though well-nigh in his
sixtieth year, he was still as warlike in his habits as ever. Thomson
sat fronting him beside the fire, admiring his muscular frame, huge
limbs, and immense structure of bone. Age had grizzled his hair and
furrowed his cheeks and forehead; but all the great strength, and
well-nigh all the activity of his youth, it had left him still. His
wife, a sharp-featured, little woman, seemed little interested in either
the details of his adventure or his guest, whom he described as the
"brave, hardy chield, wha had beaten twasome at the cudgel--the vera
littlest o' them as big as himsel."

"Och, guidman," was her concluding remark, "ye aye stick to the auld
trade, bad though it be; an' I'm feared that, or ye mend, ye maun be
aulder yet. I'm sure ye ne'er made your ain money o't."

"Nane o' yer nonsense," rejoined the farmer--"bring butt the bottle an'
your best cheese."

"The guidwife an' I dinna aye agree," continued the old man, turning to
Thomson. "She's baith near-gaun an' new-fangled; an' I like aye to hae
routh o' a' things, an' to live just as my faithers did afore me. Why
sould I bother my head wi' _improvidments_, as they ca' them? The
country's gane clean gite wi' pride, Thomson. Naething less sairs folk
noo, forsooth, than carts wi' wheels to them; an' it's no a fortnight
syne sin' little Sandy Martin, the trifling cat, jeered me for yoking my
owsen to the plough by the tail. What ither did they get tails for?"

Thomson had not sufficiently studied the grand argument of design in
this special instance, to hazard a reply.

"The times hae gane clean oot o' joint," continued the old man. "The law
has come a' the length o' Cromarty noo; an' for breaking the head o' an
impudent fallow, ane runs the risk o' being sent aff to the plantations.
Faith, I wish oor Parliamenters had mair sense. What do they ken aboot
us or oor country? Diel haet difference do they mak atween the shire o'
Cromarty an' the shire o' Lunnon; just as if we could be as quiet beside
the red-wud Hielanmen here, as they can be beside the queen. Na,
na--naething like a guid cudgel;--little wad their law hae dune for me
at the burn o' Newhall the nicht."

Thomson found the character of the old man quite a study in its way; and
that of his wife--a very different, and, in the main, inferior sort of
person, for she was mean-spirited and a niggard--quite a study too. But
by far the most interesting inmate of the cottage was the old man's
daughter--the child of a former marriage. She was a pale, delicate,
blue-eyed girl, who, without possessing much positive beauty of feature,
had that expression of mingled thought and tenderness which attracts
more powerfully than beauty itself. She spoke but little--that little,
however, was expressive of gratitude and kindness to the deliverer of
her father--sentiments which, in the breast of a girl so gentle, so
timid, so disposed to shrink from the roughnesses of active courage, and
yet so conscious of her need of a protector, must have mingled with a
feeling of admiration at finding, in the powerful champion of the recent
fray, a modest, sensible young man, of manners nearly as quiet and
unobtrusive as her own. She dreamed that night of Thomson, and her first
thought, as she awakened next morning, was whether, as her father had
urged, he was to be a frequent visitor at Meikle Farness. But an entire
week passed away, and she saw no more of him.

He was sitting one evening in his cottage, poring over a book--a huge
fire of brushwood was blazing against the earthen wall, filling the
upper part of the single rude chamber of which the cottage consisted
with a dense cloud of smoke, and glancing brightly on the few rude
implements which occupied the lower--when the door suddenly opened, and
the farmer of Meikle Farness entered, accompanied by his daughter.

"Ha! Allan, man," he said, extending his large hand and grasping that of
the fisherman; "if you winna come an' see us, we maun just come an' see
you. Lillias an' mysel were afraid the guidwife had frichtened you
awa--for she's a near-gaun sort o' body, an' maybe no owre kind spoken;
but ye maun just come an' see us whiles, an' no mind her. Except at
counting-time, I never mind her mysel." Thomson accommodated his
visitors with seats. "Yer life maun be a gay lonely ane here, in this
eerie bit o' a glen," remarked the old man, after they had conversed for
some time on indifferent subjects; "but I see ye dinna want company
a'thegither, such as it is"--his eye glancing as he spoke over a set of
deal shelves, occupied by some sixty or seventy volumes. "Lillias there
has a liking for that kind o' company too, an' spends some days mair o'
her time amang her books than the guidwife or mysel would wish."

Lillias blushed at the charge, and hung down her head; it gave, however,
a new turn to the conversation; and Thomson was gratified to find that
the quiet, gentle girl, who seemed so much interested in him, and whose
gratitude to him, expressed in a language less equivocal than any spoken
one, he felt to be so delicious a compliment, possessed a cultivated
mind and a superior understanding. She had lived, under the roof of her
father, in a little paradise of thoughts and imaginations, the
spontaneous growth of her own mind; and, as she grew up to womanhood,
she had recourse to the companionship of books--for in books only could
she find thoughts and imaginations of a kindred character.

It is rarely that the female mind educates itself. The genius of the sex
is rather fine than robust; it partakes rather of the delicacy of the
myrtle, than the strength of the oak; and care and culture seem
essential to its full development. Who ever heard of a female Burns or
Bloomfield? And yet there have been instances, though rare, of women
working their way from the lower levels of intellect to well-nigh the
highest--not wholly unassisted, 'tis true--the age must be a cultivated
one, and there must be opportunities of observation; but, if not wholly
unassisted, with helps so slender, that the second order of masculine
minds would find them wholly inefficient. There is a quickness of
perception and facility of adaptation in the better class of female
minds--an ability of catching the tone of whatever is good from the
sounding of a single note, if I may so express myself, which we almost
never meet with in the mind of man. Lillias was a favourable specimen of
the better and more intellectual order of women; but she was yet very
young, and the process of self-cultivation carrying on in her mind was
still incomplete. And Thomson found that the charm of her society arose
scarcely more from her partial knowledge, than from her partial
ignorance. The following night saw him seated by her side in the
farm-house of Meikle Farness; and scarcely a week passed during the
winter in which he did not spend at least one evening in her company.

Who is it that has not experienced the charm of female
conversation--that poetry of feeling which developes all of tenderness
and all of imagination that lies hidden in our nature? When following
the ordinary concerns of life, or engaged in its more active businesses,
many of the better faculties of our minds seem overlaid; there is little
of feeling and nothing of fancy; and those sympathies which should bind
us to the good and fair of nature, lie repressed and inactive. But in
the society of an intelligent and virtuous female, there is a charm that
removes the pressure. Through the force of sympathy, we throw our
intellects for the time into the female mould; our tastes assimilate to
the tastes of our companion; our feelings keep pace with hers; our
sensibilities become nicer, and our imaginations more expansive; and,
though the powers of our mind may not much excel, in kind or degree,
those of the great bulk of mankind, we are sensible that, for the time,
we experience some of the feelings of genius. How many common men have
not female society and the fervour of youthful passion sublimed into
poets! I am convinced the Greeks displayed as much sound philosophy as
good taste in representing their muses as beautiful women.

Thomson had formerly been but an admirer of the poets--he now became a
poet; and, had his fate been a kindlier one, he might perhaps have
attained a middle place among at least the minor professors of the
incommunicable art. He was walking with Lillias one evening through the
wooded ravine. It was early in April, and the day had combined the
loveliest smiles of spring with the fiercer blasts of winter. There was
snow in the hollows; but, where the sweeping sides of the dell reclined
to the south, the violet and the primrose were opening to the sun. The
drops of a recent shower were still hanging on the half-expanded buds,
and the streamlet was yet red and turbid; but the sun, nigh at his
setting, was streaming in golden glory along the field, and a lark was
caroling high in the air, as if its day were but begun. Lillias pointed
to the bird, diminished almost to a speck, but relieved by the red light
against a minute cloudlet.

"Happy little creature!" she exclaimed--"does it not seem rather a thing
of heaven than of earth? Does not its song frae the cloud mind you of
the hymn heard by the shepherds? The blast is but just owre, an' a few
minutes syne it lay cowering and chittering in its nest; but its sorrows
are a' gane, an' its heart rejoices in the bonny blink, without ae
thought o' the storm that has passed, or the night that comes on. Were
you a poet, Allan, like any o' your two namesakes--he o' "The Seasons,"
or he o' the "Gentle Shepherd"--I would ask you for a song on that bonny
burdie." Next time the friends met, Thomson produced the following
verses:--

              TO THE LARK.

    Sweet minstrel of the April cloud!
      Dweller the flowers among!
    Would that my heart were formed like thine,
      And tun'd like thine my song!
    Not to the earth, like earth's low gifts,
      Thy soothing strain is given;
    It comes a voice from middle sky,
      A solace breathed from heaven.

    Thine is the morn; and when the sun
      Sinks peaceful in the west,
    The mild light of departing day
      Purples thy happy breast.
    And, ah! though all beneath that sun
      Dire pains and sorrows dwell,
    Rarely they visit, short they stay,
      Where thou hast built thy cell.

    When wild winds rave, and snows descend
      And dark clouds gather fast,
    And on the surf-encircled shore
      The seaman's bark is cast--
    Long human grief survives the storm,
      But thou, thrice happy bird!
    No sooner has it passed away,
      Than, lo! thy voice is heard.

    When ill is present, grief is thine;
      It flies, and thou art free;
    But, ah! can aught achieve for man
      What nature does for thee!
    Man grieves amid the bursting storms
      When smiles the calm he grieves;
    Nor cease his woes, nor sinks his plaint
      Till dust his dust receives.

As the latter month of spring came on, the fisherman again betook
himself to his wears, and nearly a fortnight passed in which he saw none
of the inmates of the farm-house. Nothing is so efficient as absence,
whether self-imposed or the result of circumstances, in convincing a
lover that he is truly such, and in teaching him how to estimate the
strength of his attachment. Thomson had sat, night after night, beside
Lillias Stewart, delighted with the delicacy of her taste and the
originality and beauty of her ideas--delighted, too, to watch the still
partially developed faculties of her mind, shooting forth and expanding
into bud and blossom under the fostering influence of his own more
matured powers. But the pleasure which arises from the interchange of
idea and the contemplation of mental beauty, or the interest which every
thinking mind must feel in marking the aspirations of a superior
intellect towards its proper destiny, is not love; and it was only now
that Thomson ascertained the true scope and nature of his feelings.

"She is already my _friend_," thought he; "if my schemes prosper, I
shall be in a few years what her father is now; and may then ask her
whether she will not be _more_. Till then, however, she shall be my
friend, and my friend only; I find I love her too well to make her the
wife of either a poor, unsettled speculator, or still poorer labourer."

He renewed his visits to the farm-house, and saw, with a discernment
quickened by his feelings, that his mistress had made a discovery with
regard to her own affections somewhat similar to his, and at a somewhat
earlier period. She herself could have, perhaps, fixed the date of it by
referring to that of their acquaintance. He imparted to her his scheme
and the uncertainties which attended it, with his determination, were he
unsuccessful in his designs, to do battle with the evils of penury and
dependence without a companion; and, though she felt that she could deem
it a happiness to make common cause with him even in such a contest, she
knew how to appreciate his motives, and loved him all the more for them.
Never, perhaps, in the whole history of the passion, were there two
lovers happier in their hopes and each other. But there was a cloud
gathering over them.

Thomson had never been an especial favourite with the stepmother of
Lillias. She had formed plans of her own for the settlement of her
daughter, with which the attentions of the salmon-fisher threatened
materially to interfere. And there was a total want of sympathy between
them besides. Even William, though he still retained a sort of rough
regard for him, had begun to look askance on his intimacy with
Lillias;--his avowed love, too, for the modern, gave no little offence.
The farm of Meikle Farness was obsolete enough in its usages and modes
of tillage, to have formed no uninteresting study to the antiquary.
Towards autumn, when the fields vary most in colour, it resembled a
rudely executed chart of some large island--so irregular were the
patches which composed it, and so broken on every side by a surrounding
sea of moor, that here and there went winding into the interior in long
river-like strips, or expanded, within, into friths and lakes. In one
corner there stood a heap of stones, in another a thicket of furze--here
a piece of bog, there a broken bank of clay. The implements with which
the old man laboured in his fields were as primitive in their appearance
as the fields themselves--there was the one-stilted plough, the
wooden-toothed harrow, and the basket-woven cart, with its rollers of
wood. With these, too, there was the usual misproportion on the farm, to
its extent, of lean, inefficient cattle, four half-starved animals
performing, with incredible effort, the work of one. Thomson would fain
have induced the old man, who was evidently sinking in the world, to
have recourse to a better system--but he gained wondrous little by his
advice. And there was another cause which operated still more decidedly
against him: a wealthy young farmer in the neighbourhood had been, for
the last few months, not a little diligent in his attentions to Lillias.
He had lent the old man, at the preceding term, a considerable sum of
money; and had ingratiated himself with the stepmother, by chiming in
on all occasions with her humour, and by a present or two besides. Under
the auspices of both parents, therefore, he had now paid his addresses
to Lillias; and, on meeting with a repulse, had stirred them both up
against Thomson.

The fisherman was engaged one evening in fishing his nets; the ebb was
that of a stream tide, and the bottom of almost the entire bay lay
exposed to the light of the setting sun, save that a river-like strip of
water wound through the midst. He had brought his gun with him, in the
hope of finding a seal or otter asleep on the outer banks; but there
were none this evening; and, laying down his piece against one of the
poles of the wear, he was employed in capturing a fine salmon that went
darting like a bird from side to side of the inner enclosure, when he
heard some one hailing him by name from outside the nets. He looked up,
and saw three men, one of whom he recognised as the young farmer who was
paying his addresses to Lillias, approaching from the opposite side of
the bay. They were all apparently much in liquor, and came staggering
towards him in a zig-zag track along the sands. A suspicion crossed his
mind that he might find them other than friendly; and, coming out of the
enclosure, where, from the narrowness of the space and the depth of the
water, he would have lain much at their mercy, he employed himself in
picking off the patches of sea-weed that adhered to the nets, when they
came up to him and assailed him with a torrent of threats and
reproaches. He pursued his occupation with the utmost coolness, turning
round, from time to time, to repay their abuse by some cutting repartee.
His assailants discovered they were to gain little in this sort of
contest; and Thomson found in turn that they were much less disguised in
liquor than he had at first supposed, or than they seemed desirous to
make it appear. In reply to one of his more cutting sarcasms, the
tallest of the three, a ruffian-looking fellow, leaped forward and
struck him on the face; and in a moment he had returned the blow with
such hearty good-will that the fellow was dashed against one of the
poles. The other two rushed in to close with him. He seized his gun,
and, springing out from beside the nets to the open bank, dealt the
farmer, with the but-end a tremendous blow on the face, which prostrated
him in an instant; and then cocking the piece and presenting it, he
commanded the other two, on peril of their lives, to stand aloof. Odds
of weapons, when there is courage to avail oneself of them, forms a
thorough counterbalance to odds of number. After an engagement of a
brief half minute, Thomson's assailants left him in quiet possession of
the field; and he found, on his way home, that he could trace their
route by the blood of the young farmer. There went abroad an exaggerated
and very erroneous edition of the story, highly unfavourable to the
salmon-fisher; and he received an intimation, shortly after, that his
visits at the farm-house were no longer expected: But the intimation
came not from Lillias.

The second year of his speculation had well-nigh come to a close, and,
in calculating on the quantum of his shipments and the state of the
markets, he could deem it a more successful one than even the first. But
his agent seemed to be assuming a new and worse character: he either
substituted promises and apologies for his usual remittances, or
neglected writing altogether; and, as the fisherman was employed one day
in dismantling his wares for the season, his worst fears were realized
by the astounding intelligence that the embarrassments of the merchant
had at length terminated in a final suspension of payments!

"There," said he, with a coolness which partook in its nature in no
slight degree of that insensibility of pain and injury which follows a
violent blow--"there go well-nigh all the hard-earned savings of twelve
years, and all my hopes of happiness with Lillias!" He gathered up his
utensils with an automaton-like carefulness, and, throwing them over his
shoulders, struck across the sands in the direction of the cottage. "I
must see _her_," he said, "once more, and bid her farewell." His heart
swelled to his throat at the thought; but, as if ashamed of his
weakness, he struck his foot firmly against the sand, and, proudly
raising himself to his full height, quickened his pace. He reached the
door, and, looking wistfully, as he raised the latch, in the direction
of the farm-house, his eye caught a female figure coming towards the
cottage through the bushes of the ravine. "'Tis poor Lillias!" he
exclaimed. "Can she already have heard that I am unfortunate, and that
we must part?" He went up to her, and, as he pressed her hand between
both his, she burst into tears.

It was a sad meeting--meetings must ever be such when the parties that
compose them bring each a separate grief, which becomes common when
imparted.

"I cannot tell you," said Lillias to her lover, "how unhappy I am. My
stepmother has not much love to bestow on any one; and so, though it be
in her power to deprive me of the quiet I value so much, I care
comparatively little for her resentment. Why should I not? She is
interested in no one but herself. As for Simpson, I can despise without
hating him; wasps sting, just because it is their nature, and some
people seem born in the same way, to be mean-spirited and despicable.
But my poor father, who has been so kind to me, and who has so much
heart about him--his displeasure has the bitterness of death to me. And
then he is so wildly and unjustly angry with you. Simpson has got him,
by some means, into his power--I know not how; my stepmother annoys him
continually; and, from the state of irritation in which he is kept, he
is saying and doing the most violent things imaginable, and making me so
unhappy by his threats." And she again burst into tears.

Thomson had but little of comfort to impart to her. Indeed he could
afterwards wonder at the indifference with which he beheld her tears,
and the coolness with which he communicated to her the story of his
disaster. But he had not yet recovered his natural tone of feeling. Who
has not observed that, while, in men of an inferior and weaker cast, any
sudden and overwhelming misfortune unsettles their whole minds, and all
is storm and uproar, in minds of a superior order, when subjected to the
same ordeal, there takes place a kind of freezing, hardening process,
under which they maintain at least apparent coolness and
self-possession? Grief acts as a powerful solvent to the one class--to
the other, it is as the waters of a petrifying spring.

"Alas, my Lillias!" said the fisherman, "we have not been born for
happiness and each other. We must part--each of us to struggle with our
respective evils. Call up all your strength of mind--the much in your
character that has as yet lain unemployed--and so despicable a thing as
Simpson will not dare to annoy you. You may yet meet with a man worthy
of you; some one who will love you as well as--as one who can at least
appreciate your value, and who will deserve you better." As he spoke,
and his mistress listened in silence and in tears, William Stewart burst
in upon them through the bushes; and with a countenance flushed, and a
frame tremulous with passion, assailed the fisherman with a torrent of
threats and reproaches. He even raised his hand. The prudence of Thomson
gave way under the provocation. Ere the blow had descended, he had
locked the farmer in his grasp, and with an exertion of strength which
scarcely a giant would be capable of in a moment of less excitement, he
raised him from the earth, and forced him against the grassy side of the
ravine, where he held him despite of his efforts. A shriek from Lillias
recalled him to the command of himself. "William Stewart," he said,
quitting his hold and stepping back, "you are an old man, and the father
of Lillias." The farmer rose slowly and collectedly, with a flushed
cheek but a quiet eye, as if all his anger had evaporated in the
struggle, and, turning to his daughter--

"Come, Lillias, my lassie," he said, laying hold of her arm, "I have
been too hasty--I have been in the wrong." And so they parted.

Winter came on, and Thomson was again left to the solitude of his
cottage, with only his books and his own thoughts to employ him. He
found little amusement or comfort in either; he could think of only
Lillias--that she loved and was yet lost to him.

"Generous, and affectionate, and confiding," he has said, when thinking
of her, "I know she would willingly share with me in my poverty; but ill
would I repay her kindness in demanding of her such a sacrifice.
Besides, how could I endure to see her subjected to the privations of a
destiny so humble as mine? The same heaven that seems to have ordained
me to labour and to be unsuccessful, has given me a mind not to be
broken by either toil or disappointment; but keenly and bitterly would I
feel the evils of both, were she to be equally exposed. I must strive to
forget her, or think of her only as my friend." And, indulging in such
thoughts as these, and repeating and re-repeating similar
resolutions--only, however, to find them unavailing--winter, with its
long, dreary nights, and its days of languor and inactivity, passed
heavily away. But it passed.

He was sitting beside his fire, one evening late in February, when a
gentle knock was heard at the door. He started up, and, drawing back the
bar, William Stewart entered the apartment.

"Allan," said the old man, "I have come to have some conversation with
you, and would have come sooner, but pride and shame kept me back. I
fear I have been much to blame."

Thomson motioned him to a seat, and sat down beside him.

"Farmer," he said, "since we cannot recall the past, we had, perhaps,
better forget it."

The old man bent forward his head till it rested almost on his knee, and
for a few moments remained silent.

"I fear, Allan, I have been much to blame," he at length reiterated. "Ye
maun come an' see Lillias. She is ill, very ill--an' I fear no very like
to get better." Thomson was stunned by the intelligence, and answered he
scarcely knew what. "She has never been richt hersel," continued the old
man, "sin' the unlucky day when you an' I met in the burn here; but for
the last month she has been little out o' her bed. Since mornin there
has been a great change on her, an' she wishes to see you. I fear we
havena meikle time to spare, an' had better gang." Thomson followed him
in silence.

They reached the farm-house of Meikle Farness, and entered the chamber
where the maiden lay. A bright fire of brushwood threw a flickering
gloom on the floor and rafters, and their shadows, as they advanced,
seemed dancing on the walls. Close beside the bed there was a small
table, bearing a lighted candle, and with a Bible lying open upon it, at
that chapter of Corinthians in which the Apostle assures us that the
dead shall rise and the mortal put on immortality. Lillias half sat,
half reclined, in the upper part of the bed. Her thin and wasted
features had already the stiff rigidity of death, her cheeks and lips
were colourless, and, though the blaze seemed to dance and flicker on
her half-closed eyes, they served no longer to intimate to the departing
spirit the existence of external things.

"Ah, my Lillias!" exclaimed Thomson, as he bent over her, his heart
swelling with an intense agony. "Alas! has it come to this!"

His well-known voice served to recall her, as from the precincts of
another world. A faint melancholy smile passed over her features, and
she held out her hand.

"I was afraid," she said, in a voice sweet and gentle as ever, though
scarcely audible through extreme weakness, "I was afraid that I was
never to see you more. Draw nearer--there is a darkness coming over me,
and I hear but imperfectly. I may now say with a propriety which no one
will challenge, what I durst not have said before. Need I tell you that
you were the dearest of all my friends--the only man I ever loved--the
man whose lot, however low and unprosperous, I would have deemed it a
happiness to be invited to share? I do not, however--I cannot reproach
you. I depart and for ever; but, oh, let not a single thought of me
render you unhappy; my few years of life have not been without their
pleasures, and I go to a better and brighter world. I am weak and cannot
say more; but let me hear you speak. Read to me the eighth chapter of
Romans."

Thomson, with a voice tremulous and faltering through emotion, read the
chapter. Ere he had made an end, the maiden had again sunk into the
state of apparent insensibility out of which she had been so lately
awakened; though, occasionally, a faint pressure of his hand, which she
still retained, shewed him that she was not unconscious of his presence.
At length, however, there was a total relaxation of the grasp--the cold
damp of the stiffening palm struck a chill to his heart--there was a
fluttering of the pulse, a glazing of the eye--the breast ceased to
heave, the heart to beat--the silver cord parted in twain, and the
golden bowl was broken. Thomson contemplated, for a moment, the body of
his mistress, and, striking his hand against his forehead, rushed out of
the apartment.

He attended her funeral--he heard the earth falling heavy and hollow on
the coffin-lid--he saw the green sod placed over her grave--he witnessed
the irrepressible anguish of her father, and the sad regret of her
friends--and all this without shedding a tear. He was turning to depart,
when some one thrust a letter into his hand; he opened it almost
mechanically. It contained a considerable sum of money, and a few lines
from his agent, stating that, in consequence of a favourable change in
his circumstances, he had been enabled to satisfy all his creditors.
Thomson crumpled up the bills in his hand. He felt as if his heart stood
still in his breast; a noise seemed ringing in his ears; a mist cloud
appeared as if rising out of the earth and darkening round him. He was
caught, when falling, by old William Stewart, and, on awakening to
consciousness and the memory of the past, found himself in his arms. He
lived for about ten years after, a laborious and speculative man, ready
to oblige, and successful in all his designs. And no one deemed him
unhappy. It was observed, however, that his dark brown hair was soon
mingled with masses of grey, and that his tread became heavy and his
frame bent. It was remarked, too, that, when attacked by a lingering
epidemic, which passed over well-nigh the whole country, he of all the
people was the only one that sank under it.



THE LINTON LAIRDS, OR EXCLUSIVES AND INCLUSIVES.


In no part of her Majesty's widespread dominions does mighty Aristocracy
rear its proud head with greater majesty than at Linton. There are, or
were, in the neighbourhood of that ancient borough, no fewer than
forty-five lairds, all possessing portions of the soil; and from the
soil it is that the big genius of aristocratic pride derives, like the
old oak, the pith of her power. It is of no avail to say--and we, being
ourselves of an ancient family, as poor as the old dark denizens of the
soil who were displaced by the Norwegian brown species, despise the
taunt--that fifteen out of the whole number of Linton lairds were, at
one period, on the poor's box. Gentry, with old noble blood in their
veins, are not a whit less to be valued that they are beggars, for it is
the peculiar character of gentle blood, that it never gets thinner by
poor meat. A low marriage sometimes deteriorates it; and hence the
horror of the privileged species at that kind of degradation; but the
tenth cousin of a scurvy baronet will retain the purity of the noble
fluid, in spite of husks, acorns, and onions. All the efforts of the
patriots called radicals--even if they should have recourse to the
starving system, by taking the properties of their masters--will never
be able to bring down to a proper popular equal consistency the blood of
the old stock; and so long as they dare not, for the spilling of their
own thin stuff, _let out_ the life stream of their lords, they must
submit to see it running in the old channels as ruby and routhy as it
did in the reign of Malcolm Canmore.

But you may say that Laird Geddes of Cauldshouthers was no Linton laird,
and was never on the poor's box. Take it as you please, we will not
dispute with you if you come from Tweeddale. You are, perhaps, of the
old Hamiltons of Cauldcoats, or the Bertrams of Duckpool, or the Hays
of Glenmuck, or the old tory lairds of Bogend, Hallmyre, or Windylaws,
and may challenge us, like a true knight, for endeavouring to reduce the
grandeur of your compeers; and therefore, to keep peace, we will be
contented with the admission that Gilbert Geddes was the thane, or, as
Miss Joanna Baillie would have it, according to the distinction
indicated in the line, "the _thanies_ drinking in the hall," the
thanie--that is, the lesser Thane of Cauldshouthers, in the shire of
Peebles. True, there was in that county, properly only one thane, viz.,
he of Drumelzier, whose castle, now in ruins, may still be seen near
Powsail; but of the lesser order there were many; and, if any
gutter-blooded burgher of Linton had, in his cups at Cantswalls, alleged
anything to the contrary, he might have been set down as a leveller. The
property of Cauldshouthers was of that kind comprehending a mixture of
bog, mire, and moss, which is indicated by its name. Indeed, almost all
the estates in that shire bore names no less appropriate; and, though
some proprietors, such as Montgomerie, Veitch, Keith, and Kennedy, have
endeavoured to impart a gentility to their possessions by rechristening
them, they did so, we shrewdly suspect, to conceal the fact that they
were new comers, and not of the noble old Hallmyres, Bogends, Blairbogs,
and Cauldcoats. Not so, however, Gilbert Geddes, for the laird was of
the good ancient stock of Cauldshouthers, and gloried in the name as he
did in the old blood that had come down through honourable veins,
unadulterated and unobstructed--save probably by a partial congelation,
the effect of the cold barren lands--until it landed, with an
accumulation of dignity, in his own arteries, and those of his sister,
Miss Grizelda.

Nothing in the world could have been more natural than that one of so
old a family should endeavour to keep up the stock by marriage; yet it
was true, and as lamentable as true, that Mr. Gilbert had not been
able--though the fiftieth summer had shone on Cauldshouthers since he
was born in the old house--to get matters so arranged as to place
himself within the noose in a manner befitting his dignity. Somehow or
another, the other proprietors around, such as Bogend and Glenmuck,
pretended to discover that their blood was thicker than that of the
Geddeses, and not a scion of their stocks would they allow to be
engrafted on the good old oak of Cauldshouthers. It is, however, an old
saying, that fortune favours the brave in marriage as in war, and the
adage seemed fair to be realized, for, one day, the laird came from
Linton a walking omen of prospective success, and the very first words
he said to his sister Grizelda boded good.

"Ken ye the dame Shirley, wha lives at the east end o' Linton?" said he,
as he sat down on the big oak chair in the mansion of Cauldshouthers.

"Better than you do, Gilbert," rejoined the sister. "Her maiden name is
Bertram; but wha her husband was is no easy tauld. They say he was a
captain in England, but I canna say she has ony o' the dignity o' a
captain's widow. Report says naething in her favour, unless it be that
she's a descendant o' the Bertrams o' Duckpool."

"Ah, Grizel!" ejaculated Gilbert, "if ye could mak out that pedigree, a'
her fauts would be easily covered, especially with the help of the five
thousand she has got left her by a cotton-spinner in St. Mungo's. Ye
maun try and mak out the pedigree, Grizel. Set about it, woman; mair
depends on't than ye wot."

"What depends on't?" replied the sister.

"Maybe the junction o' the twa ancient families," rejoined he.

"Are ye serious, brother?" said Grizel, as she stroked down her boddice,
and sat as upright as the dignity of the family of Cauldshouthers
required.

"Indeed am I," rejoined the laird. "I want to be about with Bogend and
Glenmuck, who refused me their dochters. Ken ye the antiquity o' the
Bertrams?"

"Brawly," was the reply of the stiff Grizelda. "They count as far back
as the fifth James, who, passing through Tweeddale, was determined to
pay nae court to the Thane of Drumelzier; and yet he couldna mak his
way--in a country where hill rides upon hill, and moss joins moss, frae
Tweedscross to the Cauldstane-slap--without some assistance, the mair by
note that he stuck in the mire, and might have been there yet, had it no
been for Jock Bertram, a hind, who got the royal traveller and his men
out, and led them through the thane's lands, to Glenwhappen. John got
the mire whar the king stuck, which was called Duckpool, as a free gift
to him and his heirs. But we o' Cauldshouthers are aulder, I ween, than
even that, and we maun keep up our dignity."

"So we maun, Grizel; but you've forgot the best part o' the story, how
the Thane o' Drumelzier having heard that a stranger had passed through
his lands without paying him homage, rode with his men, mounted on white
horses, after the rebels, and cam up with them just as the king was
carousing after his journey. The thane, I wot, was sune on his knees.
But we're aff the pin o' the wheel, Girz. The question is, could the
family o' Geddes o' Cauldshouthers stand the shock o' a marriage wi' a
doubtfu' descendant o' Jock Bertram, with five thousand in her pouch?"

"We're sae _very, very_ ancient, ye see Gib," replied the sister, as she
looked meditatingly, and twirled her two thumbs at the end of her rigid
arms. "Indeed, we're a'thegither lost in mist, and, for aught we ken, we
may be as auld as the Hunters o' Polmood, wha got a grant o' the twa
Hopes frae Malcolm Canmore. Duckpool is a mere bairn to Cauldshouthers,
and this woman mayna be a real Bertram after a'. There were English
Bertrams, ye ken--Bertram the Archer was o' them, and he followed the
trade o' robbery."

"And what auld honourable family about the Borders ever got their lands
in ony other way, Girz!" replied the brother.

"Nane, of course," rejoined Grizel; "but maybe Mrs. Shirley comes frae
the real Bertrams, and five thousand might be laid out in draining the
lands. Nae doubt she wad jump at ye, Gib!"

"That makes me laugh, Girz!" rejoined the brother. "The legatee o' a
cotton-spinner jump at the Laird o' Cauldshouthers! Ay, if he wad stoop
to let her--that's the question, sister; and there's nae other, for I
was wi' the dame this very day, within an hour after Rory Flayem, the
Linton writer, gave me the hint o' her gude fortune. I cam on her wi' a'
the force o' the dignity o' our family, and the very name o' our lands
made her shiver in tory veneration. She was thunderstruck at the
honour."

"I dinna wonder at that," replied Grizel. "I mysel hae aften wondered at
the ancientness o' our house, and pity the silly fools wha change the
names o' their properties. Ha, ha! I fancy if the Duke o' Argyle had
been ane o' the auld Blairbogs, he wadna hae changed the name o' their
auld inheritance to that o' 'The Whim.'"

"Na, faith he, Girz!"

"And, by my troth," continued the sister, "I think the guidwife o'
Middlebie, wha bade us change Cauldshouthers to Blinkbonny, was a wee
envious, and deserved a catechising for her pains."

"There's nae doubt o't," added the brother. "But we're aff the wire
again, Girz. Is it really your honest opinion that our honour would
stand the shock o' the connection wi' the Widow Shirley?"

"The Emperor o' Muscovy," replied the sister, with a toss of her head,
"didna lose a jot o' his greatness by marrying the cottager. The eagles
o' Glenholme stoop to pick up the stanechaffers and fatten on them; and,
really, I think, a'thing considered, that Cauldshouthers might, without
a bend o' the back, bear up a burgher."

"The practice is, at least, justified by the aristocracy," added
Gilbert; "and, ye ken, that's enough for us. It wad tak a guid drap o'
burgher bluid, and mair, I wot, if there's ony o' the Duckpool sap in't,
to thin that o' the Geddeses."

"And even if our honour was a wee thing damaged," rejoined the sister,
"that might be made up by our lands being changed frae bog to arable,
though, I believe, the bog, after a', is the auldest soil o' the
country. Even the sad fate o' Nichol Muschet didna a'thegither destroy
the respectability o' the Bogha's. There's great ancientness in bogs,
yet as there's a kind o' fashion now-a-days about arable, I wadna be
against the change to a certain limited extent. Ye hae now my opinion on
this important subject, Gilbert, and may act according to the dictates
o' the high spirit o' our auld race."

The door opened, and Rory Flayem entered.

"Weel, hae ye made the inquiry?" said the laird. "Has Mrs. Shirley
really got a legacy o' the five thousand?"

"I have seen the cotton-spinner's will!" replied the writer, "and there
can be nae doubt of the legacy."

Why more?--Next day the spruce laird was rapping at the door of the
widow heiress. He entered with the cool dignity of his caste; and might
have come out under the influence of the same cool prudence, had not his
honourable blood been fired by the presence of one of those worthies
already hinted at--a Linton laird--who could have been about nothing
else in the world than trying to get a lift from off the poor's box, by
the assistance of the Widow Shirley.

"Your servant, sir," said the Linton portioner; "I did not think you had
been acquainted here. Ane might rather hae expected to hae seen you
about Bogend or Glennmuck, where there are still some braw leddies to
dispose of."

The remark was impertinent, doubtless, and horribly ill-timed, because
Cauldshouthers had been rejected by Bogend, and he was here a suitor
competing with one who desecrated the term he gloried in, and whom,
along with the whole class of Linton lairds, he hated mortally and he
had a good right to hate them, for some of them with no more than ten
pounds a-year, were still heritors, and not only heritors, but ancient
heritors, not much less ancient than the Geddeses themselves, so that
they were a species of mock aristocrats, coming yet so near the real
ones in the very attributes which the latter arrogated to themselves,
that it required an effort of the mind to distinguish the real from the
false. But Mr. Gilbert admitted of no such dubiety, and marked the
difference decidedly and effectually. He did not return the Linton
aristocrat an answer, but, drawing himself up, turned to the window as
if to survey his competitor's estate, which consisted of a rood or two
of arable land, and to wait till the latter took his hat. The Linton
aristocrat very soon left the room; and however unimportant this slight
event may appear, it was in fact decisive of the higher aristocrat's
fate, for the blood of the Geddeses was up, and the heat of tory blood
is a condition of the precious fluid not to be laughed at.

"Ye'll hae nae want o' thae sma' heritor creatures after ye, dame," said
he, as he condescended to sit down by the blushing widow.

"Yes," answered she, with great simplicity. "Fortune, Mr. Geddes, brings
friends, or, at least, would-be friends, and one who has few relations
requires to be on her guard."

"It is everything in thae matters," said the proprietor, "to look to
respectability and station. Thae Linton bodies ca' themselves lairds,
because they are proprietors o' about as muckle ground as would mak guid
roomy graves to them. A real laird is something very different. And it's
a pity when it becomes necessary that _we_ should shew them the
difference."

"Ah, you are of an ancient and honourable family, Mr. Geddes," said the
widow. "Cauldshouthers is a name as familiar to me as Oliver Castle, or
Drochel, or Neidpath, or Drumelzier."

"I see ye hae a proper estimate o' the degrees o' dignity, dame," said
he; "and, doubtless, ye'll mak the better use o' the fortune that has
been left ye; but I could expect naething less frae ane o' the
Duckpools. I'm thinking ye're o' the right Bertrams."

"Yes," replied she; "and then my husband was descended from the
Shirleys, Earl Ferrars, and Baron Ferrars of Chartley. His arms were the
same as the Beauchamps, at least he used to say so. What are your's, Mr.
Geddes?"

"Maybe ye dinna ken heraldry, dame!" replied the laird. "Our arms are
vert, _three peat bags_, argent--the maist ancient o' the bearings in
Tweeddale; as, indeed, may be evinced frae the description--peat land
being clearly the original soil. Would it no be lamentable to think that
sae ancient a family should end in my person."

"It is in your own power to prevent that, Mr. Geddes!" answered she.

"Say rather in your power, dame Shirley!" rejoined he, determined to cut
out the Linton heritor by one bold stroke.

"O Mr. Geddes!" sighed the widow, holding her head at the proper angle
of _naïveté_.

"Nae wonder that she's owrepowered by the honour," muttered the suitor,
as he took breath to finish what he had so resolutely begun. "I am
serious, madam," he continued. "To be plain wi' ye, and come to the
point at ance, I want a mistress to Cauldshouthers; and you are the
individual wham I hae selected to do the honours o' that important
situation."

"Oh--O Mr. Geddes!" again cried the dame. "You have _such_ a winning way
of wooing!"

"I fancy there canna be the slightest breath o' objection," again said
he, in his consciousness of having ennobled her in an instant by the
mere hint of the honour.

"She would be a bold woman, besides a fool, that would reject so good an
offer," replied she, burying her face in a napkin.

"That she would," rejoined Gilbert--"baith bauld and an idiot; and now,
since ye hae received the honour wi' suitable modesty and gratitude,
there is just ae condition that I wad like satisfied; and that is, that
ye wad do your best to support the dignity o' the station to which you
are to be elevated. Your ain pedigree, ye see, is at best but a dubious
concern; and, therefore, it will require a' your efforts to comport
yoursel in such a way as to accord suitably wi' the forms and punctilios
o' aristocracy. It is just as weel, by the by, that ye hae few
relatives; because, while the honour o' our ancient house may retain its
character, in spite o' a match maybe in nae sma' degree below it, it
might become a very different affair in the case o' a multitude o' puir
beggarly relations."

"I am nearly the last of my race, Mr. Geddes," replied she. "Is it not
strange that we should be so very like each other?"

"Ay, in _that_ particular respect," added the laird, as a salvo of their
inequality.

And, after some farther concerted arrangements, the heritor left his
affianced, and proceeded to Cauldshouthers, to report to Grizelda what
he had achieved. In a short time, accordingly, the marriage was
solemnized; and a very suitable display was made in the mansion of
Cauldshouthers, where there were invited many of the neighbouring
aristocrats. There were the Bogends, and the Hallmyres, and the
Glenmucks, and others, some of whom, though they had asserted a
superiority over the Geddeses, and turned up their noses at the match
with a burgher widow with five thousand pounds, made by the vulgar
operation of cotton-spinning, yet could not refuse the boon of their
presence at the wedding of one of their own sect of exclusives. Miss
Grizelda acted as mistress of the ceremonies, and contrived, by proper
training, to make the bride go through the aristocratic drill with much
eclat. She had correct opinions, as well as good practice, in this
department. It is only the degenerate modern town-elite, among the
exclusives, who pretend that _easiness_ of manners--meaning thereby the
total absence of all dignified _stiffness_--is the true test of
aristocratic breeding. The older and truer stock of the country--such as
the Geddeses--despise this beggarly town-born maxim: with them nothing
can be too stiff; buckram-attitudes and dresses are the very staple of
their calling. And why not? Any graceful snab or snip, of good spirits,
when freed from the stool or board, may be as free and frisky as a
kitten; but to carry out a legitimate and consistent stiffness of the
godlike machine with an according costiveness of speech and loftiness of
sentiment, can belong only to those who have been born great; and so, to
be sure, these were the maxims on which Grizelda acted in qualifying the
bride to appear in a becoming manner before the Tweeddale grandees.
Everything went off well. The dame was given out as a Duckpool; and it
must have been fairly admitted, even by the proud Bogends, that she
could not have acted her part better though she had been in reality
descended from that house, so favoured by the fifth James, at the very
time that he brought Drumelzier to his knees at Glenwhappen.

And it may thus be augured, that the Thane of Cauldshouthers was
satisfied. The manners imparted to Mrs. Geddes by the sister, seemed to
adhere to her; and though the Glenmucks alleged that her dignified
rigidity was nothing but burgher awkwardness, it was not believed by
those who knew that gentle blood hath in it some seeds of spleen.

"She performs her pairt wi' native dignity," was Gilbert's opinion
expressed to his sister; "and seems to feel as if she had been born to
sustain the important character she has to play, as the wife o' ane o'
the auldest heritors o' Tweeddale. But ye maun keep at her, Girz; and,
while you are improving her, I'll be busy with the bogs. We'll mak a'
arable that will be arable."

And straightway, accordingly, he set about disposing of a part of his
wife's tocher, in planting, and draining, and hedging, and ditching,
with a view to impart some heat to Cauldshouthers, in return for the
warmth which the fleeces of coarse wool had yielded to him and others.
Meanwhile, the training within doors went on. Tea-parties were good
discipline; and at one of these, the mistress of Bogend and her two
daughters, and the mistress of Hallmyre and her daughter and nephew, and
a number of others, witnessed the improvement of their new married
neighbour. Pedigrees were always the favourite topic at Cauldshouthers.

"I maun hae Mrs Geddes's reduced to paper," said the laird, "for the
satisfaction o' ye a'. I like a tree--there's a certainty about it that
defies a' envy. There's few o' us, I wot, that can count sae far back as
the Bertrams."

"Mrs. Geddes might tell us off hand," said the mistress of Bogend,
piqued of course. "I could gie the Bogends from the first to the last."


"And I hae a' the Ha'myres on my tongue's end," said she of that old
family.

"And I could gie the Geddeses, stock and stem," added Grizelda.

"But it doesna follow that Mrs. Geddes has just the same extent o'
memory," said the laird, as a cover to his half-marrow.

"Indeed, my memory is very poor on family descents," said the wife; "and
there is now none of our family left to assist my recollections."

"Ah, Janet," cried a voice from the door, which had opened in the
meantime and let in a stout huckster-looking dame and two children. "I
am right glad to see you sae weel settled," she continued, as she
bustled forward and seized the mistress of the house by the hand. "But
it wasna friendly, it wasna like a sister, woman, no to write and tell
me o' yer marriage. Heigh! but I am tired after that lang ride frae
Glasgow. Sit down, childer; it's yer aunty's house, and, by my faith,
it's nae sma affair; but oh, it has an awfu name."

The speaker had it all to herself, save for a whisper from the lady of
Bogend, who asked her of Hallmyres if this would be another of the
Duckpools. The others were dumb from amazement; and the new-comer
gloried in the silence.

"Wasna that a lucky affair--that siller left us by the cotton spinner?"
she rattled forth with increasing volubility. "Be quiet, childer. Faith,
lass, if we hadna got our legacy just in the nick as it were, our John,
wha was only makin six shillings a week at the heckling, wad hae gi'en
up the ghaist a'thegither."

The laird was getting fidgetty, and looked round for the servant;
Grizelda was still dumb; the Bogends and Hallmyres were all curiosity;
and Mrs. Geddes looked as if she could not help it. All was still an
open field for the speaker.

"But, dear me, lass," again cried the visiter, "we never heard o'
Serjeant Shirley's death."

"If ye're ony friend o' Mrs. Geddes's," said the laird, recovering
himself, "you had better step ben to the parlour, and she'll see you
there."

"Ou, I'm brawly where I am, sir," replied she of St. Mungo's. "There's
nae use for ceremony wi' friends. Ye'll be Janet's husband, I fancy?
Keep aff the back o' yer uncle's chair, ye ill-mannered brat."

"There is a woman in the parlour wishes to see yon, Mrs. Geddes," said
the servant.

"What like is she?" cried the Glasgow friend. "Is she a weel-faured
woman, wi' a bairn at her foot?"

"Yes," was the reply.

"Just bring her in here, then," continued the speaker. "It's our sister
Betty. I asked her to meet me here the day, and she was to get a cast o'
a cart as far as Linton. She was to hae brocht Saunders wi' her, but
there's some great folk dead about Lithgow, and he's been sae thrang wi'
their mournings that I fancy he couldna win."

"Are these your sisters, Mrs. Geddes?" said the lady of Bogend, who
probably enjoyed secretly the perplexity around her.

"I can answer for mysel," replied the visiter; "and whether this be
Betty or no, I'll soon tell ye;" and she rose to waddle to the door to
satisfy the inquiry of the lady of Bogend. "The truth is, madam," she
said, by way of favoured intelligence, as she passed the chair of the
latter, "we're a' sisters; but, if we had been on the richt side o' the
blanket--ye ken what I mean, if our faither and mither had been
married--the siller left us by our uncle the cotton-spinner wad hae been
twice as muckle. Is that you, Betty?" she bawled at the door. "Come in,
woman."

"Save us!--save us!--the honour o' the Geddeses is gane for ever,"
groaned Gilbert.

"It's just me, Peggy," responded another voice from the passage; and the
heavy tread of a weary traveller, mixed with the cries of a child,
announced an approach. The two entered. The woman was dressed like the
wife of a man of her husband's profession, who had got a recent legacy.

"Saunders is coming, after a," cried Betty, as she entered. "He got done
with the mournings on Wednesday. He's in the public-house, alang the
road there, taking a dram wi' a friend, and will be here immediately.
John, I fancy, couldna win. Ye're weel set doon, Janet," she continued,
as she stood and stared at the room, turning round and round. "My troth,
lass, ye hae fa'n on yer feet at last. It was just as weel the sergeant
de'ed. Sit ye there, Geordie, and see if ye can learn manners enough to
haud yer tongue."

The little cousins, Geordie, Johnny, and Jessie, entered instantly into
a clattering of friendly recognizances; and the two mothers bustled
forward to chairs alongside of their sister, the lady of the house,
whose colour had come and gone twenty times, and all power of speech had
been taken away from her by a discovery as sudden as it was unpleasant.
Yet what was to be done? Was the aristocratic Grizelda to sit and see
tea filled out for the wives and weans of a dresser of yarns, and an
artificer of garments? Was the honour of the Geddeses of Cauldshouthers
to be scuttled by a needle and a hackle-tooth? But matters were not
destined to remain even upon the poise of these pivots. The little
nephew of Hallmyres, annoyed by the burgher-bairns, struck one of them a
blow in the face, which the spruce scion of the Lithgow tailor returned
with far more gallantry than might have been expected from one of his
degenerate caste. The cousin Johnny took the part of his relative; and
matters were fast progressing towards hostilities, when the lady of
Hallmyres rose to quell the incipient affair.

"Aff hands, my woman," cried Peggy, suddenly leaving her chair.

"Ay, ay," added Betty, "we hae at least a right to civility in the house
o' our sister. We come kindly and friendly, as may be seen frae what's
in my bundle--a gude bacon ham, and a gude cassimir waistcoat, sewed by
Saunders' ain hands, for the guidman o' Cauldshouthers, and a' we want
is something like friendliness in return. Just let the bairns alane.
They'll gree fine when better acquaint."

"Mrs. Geddes," said Grizelda, with a puckered face and a starched
manner, "ye'll better tak yer friends ben the house."

"Awa wi' them!" added the laird. "We maun hae a reckoning about a'
this."

"There's no the sma'est occasion for't," responded Betty. "The bairns
will agree fine. Just let them play themselves while we're taking our
tea. Saunders will be here immediately."

"A guid advice," added Peggy; "but wha are our friends, Janet? Canna ye
speak, woman? This will be Mr. Geddes, my brither-in-law, I fancy; and
this will be Girzie, my gude-sister; but as for the ithers, I ken nae
mair about them than I do o' the brothers and sisters o' the sergeant,
wham I never saw."

"And here comes Saunders, at last," cried Betty, rising, and running to
the window. "I will gang and let him in."

Bustling to the door, she executed her purpose, and straightway appeared
again, ushering in, with a face that told her pride in her husband, a
Crispinite, wonderfully _bien fait_, dressed in a suit of glossy black,
clean shaven, and as pale as any sprig of nobility.

"Mr. Geddes, I presume," said he, rubbing his hands, which retained the
marks of the needle, if not the dye of the mournings.

"Here's a chair for ye, Saunders," cried Betty. "Ye'll no be caring for
tea, after the gill ye had wi' yer auld foreman, at the sign o' the
'Harrow,' yonder. Had ye ony mair after I left ye? I'm no sure about yer
e'e. There's mair glamour in't than there should be. Sit ye down, and
I'll bring the bundle with the ham and the waistcoat."

Grizelda held up her hands in amazement.

"For the love o' heaven, leave us, good leddies," she said to her
friends.

"Oh ay," added the laird, "leave us, leave us, for mercy's sake."

"You have got into a duckpool," whispered the lady of Hallmyres, as she
rose, followed by the others; "and I wish you fair out of it. Good
by--good by."



BON GUALTIER'S TALES.



COUNTRY QUARTERS.


A pleasanter little town than Potterwell does not exist in that part of
her Majesty's dominions called Scotland. On one side, the hand of
cultivation has covered a genial soil with richness and fertility. The
stately mansion, "bosomed high in tufted trees," occasionally invites
the eye, as it wanders over the landscape; while here and there, the
river Wimpledown may be seen peeping out amid the luxuriant verdure of
wood and plain, and seeming to concentrate on itself all the radiance of
any little sunshine that may be going. On the other side, again, are
nothing but impracticable mountains--fine bluff old fellows--that
evidently have an extensive and invincible contempt for Time, and, like
other great ones of the earth, never carry any _change_ about them. Look
beyond these, and the prospect is indeed a fine one--a little
monotonous, perhaps, but still a fine one--peak receding behind peak in
endless series, a multitudinous sea of mountain tops, with noses as blue
as a disappointed man's face, or Miss Harriet Martineau's stockings.

With a situation presenting such allurements for the devotees of the
picturesque, is it wonderful that Potterwell became a favourite resort?
By the best of good fortune, too, a spring, close by, of a peculiarly
nauseous character, had, a few years before the period we write of,
attracted attention by throwing into violent convulsions sundry cows
that had been so far left to themselves as to drink of it, besides
carrying off an occasional little boy or so, as a sort of just
retribution for so far suppressing his natural tastes as to admit it
within his lips. Dr. Scammony, however, had taken the mineral water
under his patronage; and his celebrated pamphlet upon the medicinal
properties of the Potterwell Mephitic Assafoetida Waters at once fixed
their reputation, while it materially augmented his own. A general
subscription was projected, with a view to the erection of a pump-room.
The plan took amazingly; and, from being left to work its way out, as
best it might, through the diseased and miserable weeds with which it
was overgrown, the spring all at once found itself established in a
handsome apartment, fitted up with a most benevolent attention to the
wants of such persons as might repair thither with the probable
chance--however little they might be conscious of the fact--of dying by
a watery death.

It was a bright sparkling morning in August, and there was an
exhilarating freshness in the air, that caused the heart to leap up, and
make the spirit as unclouded as the blue sky overhead. The pump-room was
thronged, and every one congratulated his neighbour on the beauty of the
morning.

"At your post as usual, Stukeley!" said a smartly-dressed young man,
stepping up to Mr. Stukeley--a well-known frequenter of the wells since
their first celebrity--and shaking him warmly by the hand. "I do believe
you are retained as a check upon the pump woman, that you keep such a
strict look out after her customers. How many doses has she administered
to-day? Come now, out with your note-book, and let me see."

"Oh, my dear Frank, if you really want to know, I am the man for
you--Old Cotton of Dundee, four and a-half, and his daughter took off
the balance of the six. What do you think I heard him whisper to
her?--'Hoot, lassie, tak it aff, it's a' paid for;' and she, poor soul,
was forced to gulp it down, that he might have the satisfaction of
knowing that full value had been given for his penny. Then there was
Runrig the farmer from Mid-Lothian, half-a-dozen; the man has a frame of
iron, and a cheek as fresh as new-mown hay; but somebody had told him
the water would do him good, and he has accordingly taken enough to make
him ill for a fortnight. Then, there was Deacon Dobie's rich widow--fat,
fair, and forty--she got pretty well through the seventh tumbler; but,
it's a way with her, when she begins drinking, not to know when to stop;
which, by the way, may account for her having been, for some time, as
she elegantly expresses it, 'gey an nervish ways, whiles.' After her
came"----And Stukeley was going on to enumerate the different visiters
of the morning, checking them off upon his fingers as he proceeded, when
his friend, Frank Preston, stopped him.

"For Heaven's sake, have done; and tell me, if you can, who those two
fops of fellows are at the foot of the room? They only came a week ago;
and, though nobody knows who they are, they have made the acquaintance
of half the people here."

"I see nothing very odd in that. I know nothing of the men; but they
dress well, and are moderately good-looking, and have just sufficient
assurance to pass off upon the uninitiated for ease of manner and
fashionable breeding. A pair of parvenus, no doubt; but what is your
motive for asking so particularly about them?"

"Oh, nothing, nothing! Only, I am to meet them at the Cheeshams
to-night, and I wished to know something of them."

"So, so! sets the wind in that quarter? A rival, Master Frank? It is
there the shoe pinches, is it?"

"A rival--nonsense! What should I care whether the puppies are attentive
to Emily Cheesham or not?"

"Why more to her than to her sister Fanny? I mentioned no names. Ha!
Master Frank, you see I have caught you. Come, come, tell me what it is
annoys you?"

"Well," stammered out Frank Preston,--"well, the fact is--the fact is,
one of them has been rather particular in his attentions to Emily, and
I am half-inclined to think she gives him encouragement."

"And, suppose she does, I see nothing in that but the harmless vanity of
a girl, pleased to have another dangler under her spell."

"That is all very well, but I don't like it a bit. It may be so, and it
may not. Her encouragement to him is very marked, and I don't feel easy
under it at all, I don't."

"Why, Frank, you must both have a very poor opinion of Miss Emily, and
be especially soft yourself, to give yourself any concern in the matter.
If you have deemed her worthy of your regards, and she has given you
warrant for thinking you have a claim upon them, and yet she now throws
you off to make way for this newer lover, your course is a clear one.
Turn from her at once, and fortify yourself with old Withers' lines--

    'If she be not made for me
    What care I for whom she be.'"

"Excellent philosophy, if one could but act upon it. But what annoys me
about the business is, that I am sure these fellows are a pair of snobs,
and are playing themselves off for something greater than they are."

"Very possibly; but that is just a stronger reason for taking my advice.
If Miss Emily can be gratified with the attentions of such persons,
leave her to the full enjoyment of them. Don't make yourself miserable
for her folly."

"Oh, I don't make myself miserable at all, not in the least; only, I
should like to find out who the fellows are."

The young men, of whom Preston and Stukeley had been speaking, and who
now lounged up the room, describing semicircles with their legs at every
step they took, were certainly never meant for the ordinary tear and
wear of the hard-working every-day world. Their dress had too fine a
gloss upon it for that, their hair much too gracefully disposed. They
were both rather below the middle size, both dark in the complexion,
but one of them much more so than the other. The darker slip of humanity
had cultivated the growth of his hair with singular success. It fell
away in masses from his forehead and temples, and curled, like the rings
of the young vine, over the velvet collar that capped a coat of
symmetrical proportions. Circling round the cheeks, and below the chin,
it somewhat obtruded upon the space which is generally occupied by the
face, so that his head might truly be said to be a mass of hair,
slightly interspersed with features. His friend, again, to avoid
monotony, had varied the style of his upper works, and his locks were
allowed to droop in long, lanky, melancholy tangles down his sallow
cheeks; while, perched upon either lip, might be seen a feathery-looking
object, not to be accounted for, but on the supposition that it was
intended to seduce the public into a belief of its being a moustache.
Both were showily dressed. Both had stocks terminating in a cataract of
satin that emptied itself into tartan velvet waistcoats, worn probably
in honour of the country; both had gold chains innumerable, twisting in
a multiplicity of convolutions across these waistcoats; both had on
yellow kid gloves of unimpeachable purity, and both carried minute canes
of imitation ebony, with which, at intervals, they flogged, one the
right and the other the left leg, with the most painful ferocity. They
were a noble pair; alike, yet, oh, how different!

"Eugene, my boy," said the darker of the two, in a tone of voice loud
enough to let half the room hear the interesting communication, "we must
see what sort of stuff this here water is--we must, positively."

"Roost eggs, Adolph, whisked in bilge-water, with a rusty tenpenny nail.
Faugh! I'm smashed if I taste it."

"Not so bad that for you," returned Adolph, smiling faintly; "but you
must really pay your respects to the waters."

"'Pon my soul, I shawn't. I had enough of that so't of thing in Jummany,
the time I was ova with Ned Hoxham."

"That was the time, wasn't it, that you brought me over that choice lot
of cigaws?"

"I believe it was," responded Eugene, with the most impressive
indifference, as if he wished it to be understood that he had been so
often there that he could not recall the particulars of any one visit.

"I know something of Seidlitz and Seltzer myself," resumed the darker
Adonis, "and Soda water too, by Jove, for that matter, and they're not
bad things either, when one's been making a night of it, so I'll have a
try at this Potterwell fluid, and see how it does for a change."

In this manner the two friends proceeded, to the infinite enlightenment
of those about them, who, being greatly struck with their easy and
facetious manners, stood admiringly by with looks of evident delight!
The young men saw the impression they were making, and, desirous of
keeping it up, went on to ask the priestess of the spring, how often,
and in what quantities she found it necessary to doctor it with Glauber
salts, brimstone, and assafoetida. The joke took immensely. Such of
the bystanders as could laugh--for the internal agitation produced by
the cathartic properties of their morning draught, made that a somewhat
difficult and dangerous experiment--did so; and various young men, of no
very definite character, but who seemed to support the disguise of
gentlemen with considerable pain to themselves, sidled up, and
endeavoured to strike into conversation with our Nisus and Euryalus,
thinking to share by contact the glory which they had won. All they got
for their pains, however, was a stare of cool indifference. The friends
were as great adepts in the art and mystery of _cutting_, as the most
fashionable tailor could be; and, after volunteering a few ineffectual
efforts at sprightliness, these awkward aspirants to fame were forced to
fall back, abashed and crest-fallen, into the natural insignificance of
their character.

These proceedings did not pass unnoticed by Preston and his elderly
friend, who made their own observations upon them, but were prevented
from saying anything on the subject to each other by the entrance of a
party, which diverted their attention in a different direction. These
were no other than Mrs. Cheesham and her two accomplished daughters,
Miss Emily and Miss Fanny Cheesham. Mrs. Cheesham's personal appearance
may be passed over very briefly; as no one, so far as is known, ever
cared about it but herself. She was vain, vulgar, and affected; fond of
finery and display; and the one dominant passion of her life was to
insinuate herself and her family into fashionable society, and secure a
brilliant match for her daughters. They, again, were a pair of
attractive showy girls; Emily flippant, sparkling, lively; Fanny,
demure, reserved, and cold. Emily's eyes were dark and lustrous--you saw
the best of them at once; and her look, alert and wicked. These
corresponded well with a well-rounded figure, a rosy complexion, and
full pouting lips, that were "ruddier than the cherry." Fanny was tall
and "stately in her going;" pale, but without that look of sickliness
which generally accompanies such a complexion, and her eyes, beautiful
as they were when brought into play, were generally shrouded by the
drooping of her eyelids, like those of one who is accustomed to be
frequently self-inwrapt. With Emily you might sport in jest and raillery
by the hour; but with Fanny you always felt, as it were, bound to be
upon your best behaviour. They passed up the room, distributing nods of
recognition, and occasionally stopping to allow Mrs. Cheesham to give
her invitations to a _soirée musicale_ which she intended to get up that
evening.

"Your servant, ladies," said old Stukeley, raising his hat, while his
friend followed his example. "You are late. I was afraid we were not to
have the pleasure of seeing you this morning. Pray, Miss Emily, what new
novel or poem was it that kept you awake so late last night that you
have lost half this glorious morning? Tell me the author's name, that I
may punish the delinquent, by cutting up his book, in the next number of
our review?"

"Cut it up, and you will do more than I could; for I found myself
nodding over the second page, and I feel the drowsiness about me still."

"The opiate--the opiate, Miss Emily? Who was its compounder? He must be
a charmer indeed."

"Himself and his printer knows. Only some unhappy bard, who dubs us
women 'The angels of life,' and misuses us vilely through a dozen cantos
of halting verse. The poor man has forgot the story

    'Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit
    Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
    Brought death into the world and all our woe,'

or he would have christened us daughters of Eve by a very different
name."

"O you little rogue! you are too hard upon this devotee to your dear
deluding sex. It is only his excess of politeness that has made him
forget his historical reading."

"His politeness! Fiddlestick! I would as soon have a troop of boys
inflict the intolerable tediousness of their calf-love upon me as endure
the rhapsodies of a booby, who strips us of our good flesh and blood,
frailties and all, to etherealize us into an incomprehensible compound
of tears, sighs, moonshine, music, love, flowers, and hysterics."

"Emily, how you run on!" broke in Mrs. Cheesham. "My dear Mr. Stukeley,
really you must not encourage the girl in her nonsense. I declare, I
sometimes think her tongue runs away with her wits."

"Better that, I'm sure, madam, than have it run away without them,"
responded Stukeley, in a deprecating tone, which threw Mrs. Cheesham,
whose intellect was none of the acutest, completely out.

"Girls, there are Mr. Blowze and Mr. Lilylipz," said Mrs. Cheesham,
looking in the direction of the friends, Adolph and Eugene; "you had
better arrange with them about coming this evening."

Emily advanced, with her sister, to the engaging pair, who received them
with that peculiar contortion of the body, between a jerk and a shuffle,
which young men are in the habit of mistaking for a bow, and was soon
deep in the heart of a flirtation with Adolph, while Fanny stood
listening to the vapid nothings of Eugene, a very model of passive
endurance. Frank Preston was anything but an easy spectator of this
movement; nor was Emily blind to this; but, like a wilful woman, she
could not forbear playing the petty tyrant, and exercising freely the
power to torment which she saw that she possessed.

"You will be of our party to-night, gentlemen," continued Mrs. Cheesham.
"We are to have a little music. You are fond of music, Mr. Stukeley, I
know; and no pressing can be necessary to an ama_toor_ like you, Mr.
Francis. I can assure you, you'll meet some very nice people. Mr. and
Mrs. M'Skrattachan, highly respectable people--an old Highland family,
and with very high connections. Mr. M'Skrattachan's mother's sister's
aunt--no, his aunt's mother's sister--yes, that was it--Mr.
M'Skrattachan's aunt's mother's sister; and yet I don't know--I dare say
I was right before--at all events, it was one or other of them--married
a second cousin--something of that kind--of the Duke of Argyle, by the
mother's side. They had a large estate in Skye or Ross-shire--I am not
sure which, but it was somewhere thereabout."

Stukeley and Preston were glad to cover their retreat by acceptance of
Mrs. Cheesham's invitation; and, leaving her to empty the dregs of the
details which she had begun into the willing ears of some of her more
submissive friends, they made their escape from the pump-room.

Slopbole Cottage, where the Cheesham's were domiciliated during their
sojourn at Potterwell, was situated upon the banks of the Wimpledown, at
a distance of somewhat less than a quarter of a mile from the burgh. It
had, at one time, been a farm-house; but, within a few years, it had
been recast: and, by the addition of a bow window, a trellised door, and
a few of the usual et ceteras, it had been converted into what is by
courtesy termed a cottage ornée. It was an agreeable place, for all
that, shaded by the remnants of a fine old wood--the rustling of whose
foliage made pleasant music, as it blended with the ever-sounding plash
and rushing of the stream.

When Frank Preston arrived at Slopbole Cottage that evening, he found
the drawing-room already well stocked with the usual components of a
tea-party. The two exquisites of the morning he saw, to his dismay, were
already there. Adolph was assiduously sacrificing to the charms and wit
of Miss Emily, while his shadow, Eugene, was--but Preston did not care
about that--as much engaged in Macadamising his great conceptions into
small talk suitable for the intellectual capacity of Miss Fanny. Mrs.
Cheesham regarded these proceedings with entire satisfaction. The
friends, to her mind, were men of birth, fashion, and fortune, and the
very men for her daughters. Besides, there was a mystery about them that
was charming. Nobody knew exactly who they were, although everybody was
sure they were somebody. None but great people ever travel _incog_. They
were evidently struck by her daughters. Things were in a fair train;
and, if she could but make a match of it, Mrs. Cheesham thought she
might then fold her hands across, and make herself easy for life. Her
daughters would be the wives of great men, and she was their mother, and
every one knows what an important personage a wife's mother is.

"Two very fine young men, Mr. Francis," said Mrs. Cheesham. "Extremely
intelligent people. And so good looking! Quite _distingue_, too. It is
not every day one meets such people."

Frank Preston threw in the necessary quantity of "yes's," "certainly's,"
and so forth, while Mrs. Cheesham continued--

"They seem rather taken with my girls, don't they? Mr. Blowze is never
away from Emily's side. His attentions are quite marked. Don't you
think, now, they'd make a nice pair? They're both so lively--always
saying such clever things. I never knew Emily so smart either; but that
girl's all animation--all spirits. I always said Emily would never do
but for a rattle of a husband--a man that could talk as much as herself.
It does not do, you know, really it does not do for the wife to have too
much of the talk to herself. I make that a principle; and, as I often
tell Cheesham, I let him have it all his own way, rather than argue a
point with him."

This was, of course, an exceedingly agreeable strain of conversation to
the lover, to whom it was no small relief, when Mrs. Cheesham quitted
his side to single out her musical friends for the performance of a
quartette. At her summons, these parties were seen to emerge from the
various recesses where they had been concealing themselves, in all the
majesty of silence, as is the way with musical amateurs in general. Miss
Fanny, who was really an accomplished performer, was called to preside
at the pianoforte, and Mr. Lilylipz rushed before to adjust the
music-stool and turn over the leaves for her. Mr. Blewitt got out his
flute, and, after screwing it together, commenced a series of blasts
upon it, which were considered necessary to the process of tuning. Mr.
Harrower, the violoncello player, turned up the wristbands of his coat,
placed his handkerchief on his left knee, and, after a preliminary
flourish or two of his hands, began to grind his violoncello into a
proper sharpness of pitch. Not to be behind the rest, Mr. Fogle screwed
his violin strings first up, and then he screwed them down, and then he
proceeded to screw them up again, with a waywardness of purpose that
might have been extremely diverting, if its effects had not been so very
distressing to the ears. Having thus begot a due degree of attention in
their audience, the performers thought of trying how the results of
their respective preparations tallied.

"Miss Fanny, will you be kind enough to sound your A?" lisped Mr.
Blewitt.

Miss Fanny did sound her A, and again a dissonance broke forth that
would have thrown Orpheus into fits. It was then discovered that the
damp had reduced the piano nearly a whole tone below pitch, and Mr.
Blewitt's flute could not be brought down to a level with it by any
contrivance. The musicians, however, were not to be baulked in their
purpose for this, and they agreed to proceed with the flute some half a
tone higher than the other instruments. But there was a world of
preliminary work yet to be gone through; tables had to be adjusted, and
books had to be built upon music stands. But the tables would not stand
conveniently, and the books would fall, and then all the work of
adjustment and library architecture had to be gone over again. At last
these matters were put to rights, and, after a few more indefinite
vagaries by Messrs. Blewitt, Harrower, and Fogle, the junto made a dash
into the heart of one of Haydn's quartetts. The piano kept steadily
moving through the piece. Miss Fanny knew her work, and she did it. The
others did not know theirs, and they _did for_ it. After a few faint
squeaks at the beginning, Mr. Blewitt's flute dropped out of hearing
altogether, and, just as everybody had set it down as defunct, it began
to give token of its existence by a wail or two rising through the storm
of sounds with which the performance closed, and then made up its leeway
by continuing to vapour away for some time after the rest had finished.

"Bless my heart, are you done?" cried Mr. Blewitt, breaking off in the
middle of a solo, which he found himself performing to his own
astonishment.

Mr. Harrower and Mr. Fogle threw up their eyes with an intensity of
contempt that defies description. To be sure, neither of them had kept
either time or tune all the way through. Mr. Harrower's violoncello had
growled and groaned, at intervals, in a manner truly pitiable; and Mr.
Fogle's bow had done nothing but dance and leap, in a perpetual staccato
from the first bar to the last, to the entire confusion of both melody
and concord. But they had both managed to be in at the death, and were
therefore entitled to sneer at the unhappy flutist. Mr. Eugene Lilylipz,
who had annoyed Miss Fanny throughout the performance, by invariably
turning over the leaf at the wrong place, now broke into a volley of
raptures, of which the words "Devaine" and "Chawming," were among the
principal symbols. A buzz of approbation ran round the room, warm in
proportion to the relief which the cessation of the Dutch concert
afforded. Mr. Harrower and his coadjutors grew communicative, and vented
an infinite quantity of the jargon of dilettanteism upon each other and
upon those about them. They soon got into a discussion upon the merits
of different composers, whose names served them to bandy to and fro in
the battledore and shuttlecock of conversation. Beethoven was cried up
to the seventh heaven by Mr. Harrower, for his grandeur and sublimity,
and all that sort of thing.

"There is a Miltonic greatness about the man!" he exclaimed, throwing
his eyes to the ceiling, in the contemplation of a visionary demigod. "A
vastness, a massiveness, an incomprehensible--eh, eh?--ah, I can't
exactly tell what, that places him far above all other writers."

"Every man to his taste," insinuated Mr. Blewitt; "but I certainly like
what I can understand best. Now I don't understand Beethoven; but I
_can_ understand Mozart, or Weber, or Haydn."

"It is very well if you do!" retorted the violoncellist, reflecting
probably on the recent specimen Mr. Blewitt had given of his powers. "It
is more than everybody does, I can tell you."

"Od, gentlemen, but it's grand music onyhow, and exceeding justice you
have done it, if I may speak my mind. But ye ken, I'm no great shakes of
a judge."

This was the opinion volunteered by Mr. Cheesham, who saw the musicians
were giving symptoms of that tendency to discord for which they are
proverbial, and threw out a sop to their vanity, which at once restored
them to order. As he said himself, Mr. Cheesham was no great judge of
music, nor, indeed, of any of the fine arts. He had read little, and
thought less; and yet, since he had become independent of the world, he
was fond of assuming an air of knowledge, that was exceedingly amusing.
There was nothing, for instance, that he liked better to be talking
about than history; and, nevertheless, that Hannibal was killed at the
battle of Drumclog, and Julius Cæsar beheaded by Henry the Eighth, were
facts which he would probably have had no hesitation in admitting, upon
any reasonable representation.

By this time, Mr. Stukeley had joined the party, and was going his
rounds, chatting, laughing, quizzing, and prosing, according to the
different characters of the people whom he talked with. When he reached
Mr. Cheesham, he found him in earnest conversation with Mr. Lilylipz,
regarding the ruins of Tinglebury, an abbey not far from Potterwell, of
which the architecture was pronounced, by Mr. Lilylipz, to be
"_suttinly_ transcandent beyond anythin_k_. It is of that pure
Græco-Gothic, which was brought over by William the Conqueror, and went
out with the Saxons."

Stukeley encouraged the conversation, drawing out the presumptuous
ignorance of Mr. Lilylipz, and the rusty nomeanings of the parent
Cheesham into strong relief.

"Gentlemen, excuse me for breaking up your _tete-a-tete_. Have you got
upon 'Shakspeare, taste, and the musical glasses?'" said Miss Emily,
joining the trio. "Mr. Lilylipz, your friend tells me you sing. Will you
break the dullness, and favour us?"

"Oh, I never do sing; and, besides, I am suffering from hoarseness."

"Come, come," replied Miss Emily, "none of these excuses, or we shall
expect to find a very Braham, at least."

"Now, _r_eally!" remonstrated Mr. Lilylipz.

"Oh, never mind his nonsense, Miss Cheesham," exclaimed Mr. Blowze, from
the other side of the room. "Lilylipz sings an uncommonly good song,
when he likes. Give us 'the Rose of Cashmere,' or 'She wore a wreath of
Roses.' Come away, now--no humbug!"

"Oh, that will be delightful!--pray, do sing!" were the exclamations of
a dozen voices, at least. "Mr. Lilylipz' song!" shouted the elderly
gentlemen of the party; and, forthwith, an awful stillness reigned
throughout the apartment. Upon this, Mr. Lilylipz blew his nose, coughed
thrice, and, throwing himself back in his chair, rivetted his eyes, with
the utmost intensity, upon a corner of the ceiling. Every one held back
his breath in expectation, and the interesting young man opened upon the
assemblage with a ballad all about an Araby maid, to whom a Christian
knight was submitting proposals of elopement, which the lady appeared to
be by no means averse to, for each stanza ended with the refrain, "Away,
away, away!" signifying that the parties meant to be off somewhere as
fast as possible. Mr. Lilylipz had just concluded verse the first, and
the "Away, away, away!" had powerfully excited the imagination of the
young ladies present, when the door opened, and the clinking of crystal
ware announced the inopportune entrance of a maidservant bearing a
trayful of glasses filled with that vile imbroglio of hot water and
sugar coloured with wine, which passes in genteel circles by the name of
negus. All eyes turned towards the door, and Mrs. Cheesham exclaimed,
"Sally, be quiet!" but Mr. Eugene was too much enrapt by his own
performance to feel the disturbance, and he tore away through verse the
second with kindling enthusiasm. "Away, away, away!" sang the vocalist,
when a crash and a scream arrested his progress. The servant maid had
dropped the tray, and the glasses were rolling to and fro upon the floor
in a confusion of fragments, while the delinquent, Sally, shrieking at
the top of her voice, was making her way out at the door with all the
speed she was mistress of.

"What the devil's that?" cried one. "The careless slut!" screamed
another. "Such thoughtlessness!" suggested a third. "What the deuce
could the woman mean?" asked a fourth. "It's the last night she sets
foot in my house!" exclaimed Mrs. Cheesham, thrown off her dignity by
the sudden shock.

"Bless me, you look unwell!" said Mr. Cheesham to Mr. Lilylipz, who had
turned deadly pale, and was altogether looking excessively unhappy.

"Oh, it is nothing. Only a constitutional nervousness. The start, the
surprise, that sort of thing, you know; but it will go off in a moment.
I shall just take a turn in the air for a little, and I'll be quite
better."

The ladies were engaged in the contemplation of the wreck at the other
end of the room, and Mr. Lilylipz, accompanied by his friend, stepped
out at one of the drawing-room windows, which opened out upon the lawn.
Frank Preston looked after them, and saw them in the moonlight, passing
down the banks of the river among the trees, apparently engaged in
earnest conversation.

"What do you think of this business, eh?" said Stukeley, rousing him
from a reverie, by a tap upon the shoulder. "Queerish a little, isn't
it?"

"Queerish _not_ a little, I think; and blow me if I don't get to the
bottom of it, or the devil's in it. That girl knows something of Mr.
Eugene, I'll be sworn. We must get out of her what it is."

"Oh, no doubt she does. It wasn't the song that threw her off, although
it was certainly vile enough for anything; it was himself; that is as
clear as day. Let us off, hunt out the wench, and get the secret from
her."

They left the room by the open window, and passing round the house to
the servants' entrance, walked into the kitchen, where they found Sally
labouring under strong excitement, as she narrated the incident which
had led to her precipitate retreat from the drawing-room.

"To think of seeing him here; the base deceitful wretch! Cocked up in
the drawing-room, forsooth, as if that were a place for him or the likes
of him. Set him up indeed--a pretty story. But I know'd as how he'd
never come to no good!"

"Who is he, my dear?" inquired Stukeley.

"Who is he, sir!--who should he be but Tom Newlands, the son of Dame
Newlands of our village."

"Oh, you must certainly be mistaken."

"Never a bit mistaken am I, sir. I have too good reason for remembering
him, the wretch! Oh, if I had him here, I wouldn't give it him, I
wouldn't? I'd sarve him out, the deludin' scoundrel. But he never was
good for nothing since he went into the haberdashery line."

"A haberdasher, is he? Capital!--capital! The man of fashion, eh,
Frank?"

"The young man of _distingue_ appearance!"

"And who's his friend, Sally?"

"What! the other chap? Oh, I don't know anything about him, except that
he's one of them man millinery fellows; and a precious bad lot they are,
I know."

"Glorious!--glorious!" cried Stukeley, crying with delight, as he walked
out of the place with his friend. "Here's a discovery for some folks,
isn't it? The brilliant alliance, the high family, et cetera, et cetera,
all dwindled into a measurer of tapes. Aren't you proud of having had
such a rival?"

"Oh, come, don't be too hard upon me on that point. Mum, here we are at
the drawing-room again. Not a word of what we have heard. If these
scamps have made themselves scarce, as I think they have, good and well.
But, if they venture to shew face here again, I shall certainly feel it
to be my duty to pull their noses, and eject them from the premises by a
summary process."

"Oh, never fear, they will not put you to the trouble. They are off for
good and all, or I am no prophet."

Stukeley was right. The evening passed on, and the friends returned not.
Infinite were the surmises which their absence occasioned, but the
general conclusion was, that the interesting Mr. Lilylipz had found
himself worse, and had retired to his inn for the night, along with his
faithful Achates. Morning came, but the friends did not make their
appearance at the pump-room as usual. They were not at their inn; they
were not in Potterwell. Whither they had wended, no one knew; but, like
the characters in the ballad, which had been so oddly broken off, they
were "away, away, away." They had come like shadows, and like shadows
they had departed.

Some months afterwards, Mrs. Cheesham and her daughter Emily entered one
of the extensive drapery warehouses of Edinburgh, to invest a portion of
their capital in the purchase of a _mousseline de laine_. They had seen
an advertisement which intimated that no lady ought, in justice to
herself, to buy a dress of this description without first inspecting
that company's stock of the article. They were determined to do
themselves justice, and they went accordingly.

"Eugene," said the superintendent of the place, "shew these ladies that
parcel of goods. A very superior article, indeed." Eugene! Eugene! the
ladies had good reason to remember the name; and what was their
surprise, on looking round, to see the exquisite of Potterwell bending
under a load of dress pieces? If their surprise was great, infinitely
greater was his dismay. His knees shook; his eyes grew dim; his head
giddy. His hands lost their power, and, dropping the bundle, the unhappy
Eugene stumbled over it in a manner painfully ignoble. Mrs. and Miss
Cheesham turned to quit the shop, when there, behind them, stood the
dashing Adolph. "The devil!" he exclaimed, and, ducking dexterously
under the counter, disappeared among sundry bales that were piled beyond
it. The lesson was not lost. Mrs. Cheesham had had quite enough of
quality-hunting to satisfy her; and Miss Emily found out that it was
desirable to be wise as well as witty, and gave her hand to Frank
Preston, who forgave her temporary apostacy, not only because it had
been smartly punished by the result, but for the sake of the many
estimable qualities which Miss Cheesham really possessed. Miss Fanny
still roams, "in maiden meditation, fancy free," but she cannot do so
long, or there is no skill in man. At all events, when she does want a
husband, she will not go in search of him to COUNTRY QUARTERS.



THE MONK OF ST. ANTHONY.

    "When the devil was sick, the devil a monk would be;
    When the devil grew well, the devil a monk was he."


In that very ancient and very filthy quarter of the town of Leith,
called the Coal Hill, there flourished, in days of yore, a certain
hostelrie kept by one David Wemyss. This house, which was distinguished
by the figure of a ship, carved in high relief in stone over the lintel
of the door, was one of good repute, and much resorted to by the
seafaring people who frequented the port.

But it was not alone the good cheer and reasonable charges, for both of
which "The Ship" was remarkable, that brought so many customers to David
Wemyss: for this patronage he was as much indebted to his own civil and
obliging manner, as to the considerations just mentioned, although,
doubtless, these had their due weight with all considerate and
reflecting men.

With all David's civility of manner, however, there was thought to be a
spice of the rogue in him; just the smallest thing possible; but it was
a sort of good-humoured roguery. In the small trickery he practised,
there was as much to laugh at as to deprecate; for, being a facetious
sort of personage himself, everything he did--good, bad, and
indifferent--had a touch, less or more, of this quality about it; so
that he could hardly be said to have been liked a bit the less for his
left-handed propensities; the more especially that these were never
exhibited in his dealings with his guests or customers, to whom he
always acted the part of an obliging and conscientious landlord. He knew
this to be for his interest, and therefore did he abide by it.

At the period at which our story opens, namely, the year 1559, the
Reformation, if it had not yet driven papacy entirely out of the land,
had, at least, compelled it to retire into holes and corners, and to
avoid, as much as possible, the public eye. One of the last retreats of
the denounced religion in its adversity, was the preceptory of St.
Anthony, in Leith. For the protection, or rather endurance, which it
found here, it was indebted to the circumstance of the town's being, in
an especial manner, under the patronage of Mary of Guise or Lorraine,
the mother of the unfortunate Scottish queen of that name.

Conceiving Leith to be, as it was, a convenient point from which to
correspond with France, and well situated for the reception of such
supplies as might be sent her from that country, to enable her to make
head against her discontented nobles, Mary made the town, as it were,
her own; and to identify herself still more closely with it, made it
also, for some time, her place of residence.

To this circumstance, then, was it owing, that after they had almost
wholly disappeared everywhere else, a few monks might still be seen
moving stealthily and crest-fallen through the streets of Leith. These
belonged to the preceptory of St. Anthony, which stood at the upper or
western end of the long, tortuous street, called the Kirkgate.

But even from this, one of its last places of refuge, was prelacy now
about to be driven. The town, at the particular period to which our tale
refers, was besieged by the lords of the congregation, aided by an army
of three thousand English, under Lord Gray of Wilton, who had been
despatched for this purpose by Elizabeth, to whom the Reformers had
appealed in their necessities.

The reader, then, will understand that he is in a beleaguered town: that
he is in Leith during the famous siege of that ancient seaport; when it
was invested on all sides by the enemies of prelacy, and against whom it
was defended, chiefly by a body of French troops, under a general of the
name of D'Oysel, who had been sent from France to aid the Queen Regent
in maintaining her authority in the kingdom.

Having despatched these preliminaries, we proceed with our story.

It was on a certain evening in the latter end of April, or beginning of
May, 1559, that mine host of "The Ship" was suddenly summoned from his
cellar, at a moment when he was employed in tapping a new hogshead of
claret, by a gentle rap at a quiet back door which stood just beside the
hatchway that led to the cellar in question.

This door, which had been contrived, or struck out, for the
accommodation of private and confidential customers, who did not care to
be seen entering "The Ship" by the front door, was accessible only
through a complicated labyrinth of mean buildings, on a spot still known
by the name of the Peat Neuk, and so called, from its having been the
public depository of that description of fuel, before coals came into
the general use in which they now are, and have long been.

"Wha's this?" muttered David Wemyss to himself, on hearing the gentle
rap at the back door above spoken of, and, at the same time, laying down
a bright tankard of claret, which he had just drawn from the newly
broached hogshead. "Lang Willie Wilson, the herrin curer, I dare say, or
the skipper o' the Cut-luggit Sow o' Kirkcaldy."

Thus conjecturing who his visiter might be, David Wemyss approached the
door, undid its fastenings, and admitted, not Willie Wilson, the herring
curer, nor the Kirkcaldy skipper, but a certain worthy brother of the
preceptory of St. Anthony, by name Peter Drinkhooly. Peter, who wore the
dress of his order, namely, a loose, black cloth gown, had long been one
of mine host of "The Ship's" private and confidential customers. He
dearly loved a stoup of fresh claret; but both his character and calling
compelled him to go cautiously about such carnal indulgences, and to
trust no front doors with his secret.

Peter, however, although addicted to vinous propensities, was not what
could be called a "jolly friar." He was rather a quiet, maudlin sort of
a toper; neither boisterous in manner, nor reckless in disposition. He
could, however, drink with the face of clay.

"Oh, father, is that you?" said David, on perceiving the black gown and
slouched hat of his visiter. "I thocht it had been Willie Wilson, or the
skipper. Stap awa in by there," pointing to the well-known sanctum of
the backdoor customers; "and I'll gie ye a tasting o' a fresh tap I was
just at whan ye cam in."

Without saying a word in reply, Friar Drinkhooly glided into the little
dark closet indicated by mine host, and there awaited the reappearance
of the latter from the cellar with the promised sample of the new butt.
Both quickly came.

"Awfu' times--father, awfu' times thae," said David, placing a tankard
of claret on the table, and seating himself directly opposite his guest.
"If this siege continues muckle langer, guid kens what'll become o' us.
They tell me that some o' the Frenchmen hae ta'en to eatin their dead
horses already, for want o' better provender. But they can cook up
onything, thae Frenchers, and can mak, I'm tell't, a savoury mess oot o'
a pair o' auld boots. But come, tak a mouthfu' o' that," continued mine
host, shoving the tankard towards his guest, "an' tell me what ye think
o' our new browst."

Father Drinkhooly, who had not yet spoken a word, or in any other way
noticed what had been addressed to him, than by nods and shakes of the
head, readily obeying the gratifying invitation, seized the tankard,
and, at one pull, emptied it of half its contents. Having performed this
feat, he replaced the vessel on the table, wiped his mouth with a quiet,
composed air, and, in a soft under-tone, said--

"Fair liquor, David--fair liquor. What size is the cask?"

"It's a gey thumper," replied mine host; "big aneuch, I hope, to see oot
the siege o' Leith."

"Ay, the heretic is pressing us hard, David. The strength of the wicked
is prevailing," said Father Drinkhooly; "but there will be a day of
count and reckoning. It is coming, David, coming on the wings of the
thunder, to blast and destroy the sacrilegious spoilers; to scaith and
render barren this accursed land."

"Weel, I wadna wonder," replied David, looking very serious; for,
although he cared little for either the new religion or the old, he had,
if anything, rather a leaning towards the latter; at least, so was
suspected; but this was a point not easily decided on, owing to the very
accommodating nature of David's doctrines, which, at a moment's notice,
could adapt themselves to any circumstances.

"I wadna wonder," said David; "for I'm sure the spoilin and ravagin
that's gaun on is aneuch to bring down the judgments o' Heaven on us.
Heard ye if there hae been mony killed the day?"

"Alas! a very great number," replied Father Drinkhooly. "There has been
a terrible slaughter to-day, at the western block-house. The brethren
and I have shrived some twenty or thirty departing souls, who fell by
the cannon-shot of the enemy--two of them officers and men of rank in
the French army--worthy, pious men--who have left something considerable
to the brotherhood. But God knows if we will be permitted te enjoy it."

"Ay," said David, pricking up his ears, as he always did when money, or
property in any shape, became the subject of conversation--"That was a
lucky wind-fa'; for I daresay the brethren are no oot o' need o' a wee
assistance o' that kind enow. Times are no wi' them as they used to be.
What feck, noo, if it's a fair question, did the twa Frenchmen leave
ye?"

"It's not usual for us to speak of these things, David," replied Father
Drinkhooly--"not usual for us to make these things the subject of
irreverent discussion; but, as thou art an old friend, I will gratify
thy curiosity--doing the same in confidence. Here," continued the worthy
father, slipping his hand under his cloak, and drawing out a leathern
bag well stored with coin, "here are a hundred and fifty crowns of the
sun placed in my hands by one of these dying Christians, and here are
three gold rings, worth fifty merks each, that were given unto me by the
other, under pledge of saying fifteen masses for the well-being of the
soul of the departed donor."

"My feth! no a bad day's work," said David. "It's an ill wind that blaws
naebody guid. The siege is no like to be such a bad job for ye, after
a'. Though ye should be driven oot o' the preceptory the morn, ye'll no
gang empty-handed; and that same's a blessin. But here's to ye, father,
and Gude send us mair peacefu' times;" saying this, mine host of "The
Ship" cleared off the remainder of the tankard. On his replacing the
latter on the table, brother Drinkhooly peered into the empty vessel
with a half involuntary spirit of inquiry.

His host smiled. Then--"We maun replenish, I fancy," he said.

Father Drinkhooly simply nodded acquiescence, saying not a word.

In half a minute after, another tankard of claret reamed on the board,
between mine host and his guest. By the time this second supply of the
generous fluid was exhausted, brother Drinkhooly began to exhibit
certain odd changes of manner. From being solemn and taciturn, he became
energetic and talkative, thumping the table violently when he wished to
be particularly impressive, and displaying, altogether, a boldness and
vivacity which strangely contrasted with the quiet meekness of his
demeanour but half an hour before. The claret then was doing its duty;
for to its exciting influence were these changes in the moral man of
brother Drinkhooly, of course, attributable.

It would not, we fear, much interest the reader to follow out in all its
details the debauch now in progress of celebration by the landlord of
"The Ship" and his worthy guest. Be it enough to say, that it finally
ended in the latter's getting so overcome that he did not think it would
be consistent either with his own character or the credit of the
preceptory, to return to the latter until he had had previously, an hour
or two's sleep.

"'Deed, I dare say ye'll no be the waur o't," said mine host, on brother
Drinkhooly's suggesting the propriety of this proceeding, "for that
claret's gey an' steeve. I fin thae twa jugs touchin my ain garret a wee
thing, and it used to tak sax to do that. But I'm no so able to staun't
noo, as I was wont."

This was certainly true; but, even yet, David was more than a match over
the claret stoup for any two men in the county. His capacity in this way
was extraordinary; and no contemptible proof of the fact was afforded on
the present occasion; for, while the priest was all but completely
prostrated, his host had not, to use his own phrase, "turned a hair;"
although he had drank quantity for quantity with the vanquished
churchman.

Always kind and attentive to the wants of his guests, and, from a fellow
feeling, especially tender of those who were in the helpless condition
of brother Drinkhooly, David, desiring the latter to take his arm,
conducted, or rather, smuggled him into a small back bedroom, helped him
off with his gown and shovel hat, and tumbled him into bed, where he
left him, with a promise to awake him at the expiry of two hours.

Having thus disposed of his clerical friend, David betook himself to the
duties of the house: to the filling of measures of wine, brandy, and
ale, to the running hither and thither, supplying the wants of one party
of customers, soothing the impatience of another, and joining in the
drunken laughter of a third.

David was thus employed, when he was attracted to the door by an
alarming outcry on the street. On reaching the latter, he saw a boy
approaching at his utmost speed, and bawling out--

"A priest, a priest! For the love o' God, a priest to shrive a dying
sinner. A priest, a priest!"

"What are ye screaming at, ye young rascal?" exclaimed David,
intercepting the boy, and catching him by the breast. "Wha wants a
priest?"

"It's a French offisher, sir, that has just been struck enow wi' a
cannon-shot on the ramparts," replied the boy; "and, as I was passing at
the time, he bade me rin for a priest."

"Was there naebody beside him?" inquired David.

"No ane, sir; and there's naebody yet--for he's lyin doon at the east
end o' the rampart, whar never a shot was kent to come before, as
neither town's folk nor Englishers is ever in that quarter."

"Is he sair hurt?" said David.

"I'm thinking he is," replied the boy. "But I maun awa up to St.
Anthony's, and get ane o' the brethren." "Ye needna fash, my man," said
mine host of "The Ship." "Hae, there's a groat to ye. There's ane o' the
brethren in my house, and I'll send him up immediately to the puir man."

The boy, well enough satisfied with this conclusion to his mission, went
his ways, seeking to have nothing farther to do with the matter.

Now, good reader, would you suspect it, that our friend David Wemyss
was at this moment acting under the influence of one of the most wicked
temptations that ever led an unhappy wight from the paths of
righteousness? You would not; yet it is true--too true. Tempted by the
exhibition of the bequests confided to brother Drinkhooly by the two
wounded French officers, David Wemyss, beguiled by the devil, conceived
the atrocious idea of arraying himself in the hat and gown of the
unconscious churchman, and of officiating as father confessor to the
dying gentleman on the ramparts, in the hope that he too would leave
something to the preceptory, and make him the interim recipient of the
bequest. Circumstances, David thought, were favourable to the adventure.
The night was dark, and the wounded man was lying at a remote part of
the rampart, where there was no great chance of his being annoyed with
many witnesses. The whole affair, besides, he calculated, would not
occupy many minutes.

Encouraged to the sacrilegious undertaking by this combination of happy
circumstances, David Wemyss hastened, on tiptoe, to the chamber of the
sleeping brother, and, in a twinkling, had himself bedight in the gown
and hat of the latter.

Thus arrayed, he stole out by the back door, and, taking all the by-ways
he could, hastened, as fast as his legs could carry him, towards the
south-eastern extremity of the ramparts, where, as described to him, the
wounded man was lying. David was thus pushing along, when he suddenly
felt himself slapped on the shoulder by some one behind. He turned
round, and beheld a man closely muffled up in a cloak, who thus
addressed him:--

"Your pardon, holy father, for this somewhat uncourteous interruption;
but the urgency of my case must plead my apology. An expiring sinner,
holy father, claims your instant attendance. I will conduct you to her.
Will you have the goodness to accompany me?"

"Impossible--impossible," replied the counterfeit monk, in great
perturbation at this most unexpected interruption, and threatened
exposé. "I'm juist gaun on an errand o' the same kind enow, and canna
leave ae sinner for anither."

"You will oblige me by accompanying me, good father," said the stranger,
in a mild tone, but with a firmness of manner that was rather alarming.
"You will oblige me by accompanying me, good father," he said, _looking_
a little surprised at the style of the holy father's language, but
making no remark on the subject.

"Canna, sir--canna, canna, canna, on ony account," repeated the unhappy
brother of St. Anthony, with great volubility, and endeavouring to push
past the stranger, who stood directly in his way, and who kept dodging
in his front to prevent his succeeding in any attempt of this kind.

"Nay, now, good father, if you please--now, if you please, and without
more bandying of words; for the case is urgent, and there is not a
moment to lose."

"Man, it's oonpossible--utterly oonpossible," replied David, with
desperate energy. "I tell ye it's oonpossible."

"Do not compel me to use force, good father," said the stranger, calmly
but determinedly.

"Force--force!" reiterated the horror-stricken monk. "Wad ye use force
to a holy brither o' the preceptory? That wad be an awfu like thing."

"I must; you drive me to it," said the stranger--"Heaven knows how
unwillingly. My orders were peremptory. They were to accost the first of
your brethren I met; to entreat him to accompany me; and, if he refused,
to compel him. The first I have done; the latter I must proceed to do;
but, rest assured, no personal injury shall be done you; and you shall,
moreover, be well rewarded for your trouble."

Having said this, the stranger gave a low whistle, when he was
immediately joined by two men, who had been concealed in a dark passage
close by, and who the unhappy monk saw were well armed.

"Now, good father," resumed the person by whom the latter had been first
accosted, "I trust you will see the folly of any attempt at resistance,
should you--which God forfend!--be indiscreet enough to entertain any
such idea. Excuse me hinting farther, holy father, that any attempt at
outcry, or at giving the slightest alarm of any kind, will be attended
with unpleasant consequences."

"But--but--but"--exclaimed the distracted innkeeper, with rapid
utterance.

"No buts, if you please, good father, but follow me," interrupted the
stranger; and, saying this, he moved off, while his two companions
placed themselves one on either side of their charge, and requested him
to proceed.

Scarcely knowing what he did, but seeing very clearly that there would
be imminent personal danger in farther remonstrance or resistance, the
unlucky monk obeyed. This, however, he did only until he should have had
time to reflect on his best course of proceeding--that is, until he
should have taken it into due consideration whether he had not better
brave exposure, and at once avow himself as no brother of St. Anthony,
but David Wemyss, landlord of "The Ship," on the Coal Hill of
Leith--reserving to himself, however, the right of keeping the secret of
his purpose in assuming the garb of the brotherhood. Having weighed the
matter well, and taken all probable and possible consequences into
account, David finally determined on making the confession above alluded
to--hoping by this means to put an end to the awkward proceedings now in
progress and to accomplish, of course, at the same time, his own
liberation. Having come to this resolution--

"Hey! hey!" he exclaimed, in a slightly raised voice, to draw the
attention of the principal of his three guards or captors, who was still
walking a little way in advance.

The person thus hailed stopped until David came up. The latter took him
aside a little way, and whispered in his ear--

"I say, man, this is a' a mistak thegither. I'm no a monk. I'm no ane o'
the brotherhood at a', man."

The man stared at him with surprise for a few seconds, without saying a
word. At length, a satirical, or perhaps rather incredulous smile
playing on his countenance--

"Come, come, now, father; that will never do," he said. "But I excuse
your attempt, though a clumsy one, to impose on me; for the duties of
your office have now become dangerous, and I do not wonder that you
should seek to avoid them as much as possible. I was prepared for
this--I was prepared for reluctance; and hence the precautions I took to
compel, in case of failing to persuade."

"But I assure ye, sir, most seriously, that it's true I hae tell't ye,"
exclaimed David, with desperate eagerness, "I'm nae mair a monk than ye
are."

"And, pray, who the devil are you then?" exclaimed the stranger.

"'Deed, to tell you a Gude's truth, I'm juist plain Davy Wemyss o' 'The
Ship,' on the Coal Hill."

"Umph! oh! Don't know such a person; never heard of him."

"Od! that's queer," here interposed David, hastily. "I thocht everybody
kent me."

"Not I for one," replied the stranger drily; "but, to cut this matter
short, in the first place, I am not bound, good father, or hosteller, or
whatever you are, to believe you; in the next, my orders were
peremptory: I was instructed to accost the first person I met in
clerical garb, and entreat him to accompany me; and, if he did not do so
willingly, to compel him, as I told you before. So, there's an end of
it. If you really be not what you appear to be, I can't help it. That's
a point you must settle with others, not with me; I have nothing to do
with it. My duty's done when I have brought you along with me; and that
duty I am determined to do."

Saying this, the speaker, without waiting for farther remark or
remonstrance, walked on, having previously made a sign to his two
assistants to look to their charge.

What mine host of "The Ship's" feelings or reflections were, on finding
himself thus cut off from all chance of escape from his awkward
predicament, it would be rather tedious to describe. The reader will
believe that they could not be very pleasant; and that is enough.

Whatever these feelings were, however, they did not hinder David Wemyss
from entering, or rather attempting to enter, into conversation with the
two men to whose charge he was confided.

"Od, men," he said, on their resuming their march, "this is an awkward
sort o' business. I'm sure ye ken me weel aneuch--dinna ye?"

The only reply was a shake of the head.

"Davy Wemyss o' the Coal Hill? Ye canna but ken me, I should think,"
added the latter.

"No voord Ainglish," at length replied one of the men.

"Oh, ye're Frenchmen; ye belang to the Queen's Guard?" said David, now
enlightened on the subject of their silence. "Weel, this is waur and
mair o't," he continued. "Sma chance noo o' makin oot my case."

In the meantime, the party, who had taken their way by the quietest and
most circuitous routes, were rapidly approaching the wooden bridge over
the Water of Leith, which, in these days, formed the only communication
between the opposite sides of the river.

Having gained the bridge, they proceeded alongst it; and, thereafter,
made for a certain outlet in the ramparts situated in this quarter. This
outlet, as might be expected, seeing that the town was at this moment
under siege, was strongly guarded, and no egress or ingress permitted
excepting to persons properly accredited.

Of such, however, seemed to be the person who had captured the unlucky
hero of our story; for, on David and his escort coming up to the gate,
they found the way prepared for them by the former, who, keeping still
in advance, had arrived there before them.

Without word or question, then, they were permitted to pass through.

At this point, David was strongly tempted to make his case known to the
guard at the gate; but, perceiving that they too were all Frenchmen, he
thought it would be of no use, as they would not understand him. So he
held his tongue.

The guard--who, we need hardly say, were staunch Catholics to a
man--were, in the meantime, sadly annoying David with reverences to his
clerical character. They formed themselves into two lines, that he might
pass out at the gate with all due honour, and kept touching their caps
to him, with the most respectful obeisance, as he walked on between
their ranks.

Having gained the outside of the wall, Wemyss' escort, still led on by
their principal, conducted him, by circuitous routes, towards the mills
of Leith, at the distance of about a quarter of a mile from the town.

Here, under a shed, they found four horses ready saddled and bridled, in
charge of a groom, who seemed to have been waiting their arrival. So
soon as the party came up, the latter, without waiting for orders,
disappeared for an instant; and, in the next, presented himself leading
forth the four horses, two by each hand. On one of these David,
notwithstanding his most earnest entreaties to the contrary, which he
backed by earnest assurances that "he was nae horseman," was immediately
mounted. His guards mounted one a-piece of the others; and the whole
cavalcade now proceeded, at a round trot, towards Edinburgh--poor Wemyss
bouncing terribly with the roughness of the motion, to which he had been
but little accustomed.

On approaching the city, the leader of the party, who, on horseback as
on foot, still kept in advance, suddenly drew bridle, and waited the
coming up of the holy brother and his escort.

On the former drawing near--

"Our route, father, lies through Edinburgh," he said. "Now, as these are
troublesome times for persons of your cloth, I would recommend your
conducting yourself, for your own sake, as warily as possible. We shall
take the quietest routes, in order to avoid observation; and I beg that
you will neither say nor do anything while we are passing through the
city calculated to defeat our caution or attract notice."

Having said this, and without waiting for any reply, the speaker rode
on, leaving his charge to follow with his escort.

The party had now passed the village of Broughton, when, turning in an
easterly direction, they passed round the eastern base of the Calton
Hill, descended to the south back of the Canongate, traversed its whole
length, and finally entered the city by Leith Wynd.

For some time, the horsemen passed along without attracting any
particular notice; and, very probably, would have continued to do so,
had it not been for an idle boy, who, catching a glimpse of the brother
of St. Anthony's flowing gown and slouched hat, just as the party had
turned into the High Street, set up a loud cry of--

"Prelacy's mounted! prelacy's mounted! Hurra! hurra! Prelacy's mounted!
and riding to----."

Continuing to follow the cavalcade, and continuing his clamour also, the
mischievous little rascal soon had a crowd at the heels of the horsemen.
The boy's exclamations spoke the spirit of the times; so that others of
a similar character soon arose from twenty different quarters, and from
as many different voices.

"Doon wi' the limb o' Satan!" shouted one.

"Doon wi' the man o' sin!" shouted another.

"Pu' Papery frae its throne o'iniquity!" exclaimed a third.

"Strike your spurs into your horse's sides, and let us shew them clean
heels for it," said the leader of the party, addressing his unhappy
charge, by whose side he was now riding, and speaking in a low but firm
and earnest tone.

"But, man," began the latter, who appeared to be in great trepidation.

"You'll be murdered else," said the former, interrupting him sharply,
and, at the same moment, striking the spurs into his horse's sides--a
proceeding which instantly carried him clear of the crowd, and, shortly
after, out of sight and out of danger.

The prudent example of their leader was quickly followed by the other
two men, who, also, clapping spurs to their horses, soon found
themselves out of the tumultuous throng by which they were surrounded,
to whose tender mercies they left their unhappy charge, who being, as he
said himself, no horseman, was unable to extricate himself from the now
fast-thickening crowd.

Despairing of being able to effect his escape by any effort of
horsemanship, the poor innkeeper, though with little hope of being
believed, determined on divulging the facts of his case to the
mob--always, however, of course, reserving to himself the original
purpose for which he had assumed the unfortunate dress he now wore, the
cause of all his trouble.

Having come to this resolution, he began to address the mob, some of
whom had already laid hands on him, for the purpose of dragging him from
his horse.

"Guid folks," began David, "I'm nae mair a munk than ony o' ye. I'm"----

At this moment, a well-aimed brick-bat took the unfortunate speaker on
the right temple, and tumbled him senseless from his horse.

The mob, somewhat appalled by the suddenness of this catastrophe, and
imagining that the unhappy man was killed outright, stood aloof for a
few seconds, when David, almost instantly recovering from the stunning
effect of the blow, which had unhorsed him, started to his feet, and,
finding the press around him not very dense, pushed his way through it,
and took to his heels.

This proceeding was the signal for a general chace, and it instantly
took place. Relieved from the apprehension of having a murder to answer
for, the mob, with shouts of exultation, started after the fugitive at
full speed. Down Leith Wynd went David, instinct taking him in the
direction of home; and down after him, like an avalanche, or raging
torrent, went the mob, whooping and yelling as they rushed along.

Maddened and distracted with terror, David's progress was splendid, and,
had nothing occurred to interrupt it, would soon have carried him out of
the reach of his enemies; but the steepness of the street, which had
aided his velocity, also increased its perils. For a long while he kept
his feet on the abrupt declivity, like a winged Mercury; but a
treacherous inequality in the pavement brought him suddenly, and with
dreadful violence, down on his face, while, partly over and partly on
him, went half-a-dozen of the foremost of the pursuers, tripped up by
his abrupt and unlooked-for prostration.

Those who fell on the unhappy victim of popular fury, now instantly,
and, as they lay, betook themselves to avenging their fall by tearing
and worrying at the unlucky cause of their accident; while others coming
up, added to his punishment by an unmerciful infliction of kicks and
buffets, that quickly deprived him of all consciousness.

It was at this critical moment that a person, apparently of
consideration, approached the crowd, and asked some of those who were
hovering around it, what was the meaning of the uproar.

"They're bastin a Papist--a fat priest o' Baal, they hae gotten hand
o'," said a burly fellow who, from the leathern apron he wore, appeared
to be a shoemaker. "Giein him a taste o' Purgatory before they send him
to ----, just by way o' seasonin."

"What, is this more of the accursed doings of the spoilers and
persecutors of the church," exclaimed the stranger, in a tone of deep
indignation. "Are they about to add murder to robbery;" and, drawing his
sword, he rushed into the crowd, calling out--"Stand aside, ye caitiffs!
shame on ye; would ye murder a defenceless man? Would ye bring Heaven's
wrath upon your heads by so foul a deed?"

The crowd, either awed by the bold bearing of the stranger, or taken by
surprise by the suddenness of his assault, readily opened a way for him,
so that, in an instant, he stood by the bruised, battered, and senseless
body of our unhappy brother of St. Anthony.

Seeing that the latter was in a state of utter unconsciousness, though
still living, the stranger, after clearing a circle around the prostrate
man, addressing those near him, said--

"Ten crowns will I give to any three or four amongst ye who will bear
this unfortunate person whither I shall conduct them. It is not far:
only to the southern side of the city."

For a few minutes there was no answer to this invitation; but it was
heard with a silence which shewed that it had made an impression--that
religious zeal and hatred were giving way to cupidity.

At length, a brawny-armed smith, with shirt rolled up to his shoulders,
stepping out of the crowd, said--

"Well, I'm your man for one. I say, Bob, and you Archy," he continued,
turning round, and selecting two persons from the mob, "will ye no join
us in giein a lift to the carrion? Ten croons are no to be fand at every
dike-side."

Without making any reply in words to this appeal, the two persons named
came forward, although with a somewhat dogged and sullen air, and were
about to seize limbs a-piece of the still unconscious victim of popular
hatred, with the view of thus transporting him, as if he had been a dead
dog, to the destination proposed for him, when the person who had now
taken the unfortunate man in charge, objected to the unseemly and
inhuman proceeding, and offered an additional crown for a bier or litter
on which to place him.

The activity of the smith, stimulated by the increased reward, quickly
produced the conveniency wanted. It was but a coarse and clumsy article;
being nothing more than a few rough boards hastily put together; but it
answered its purpose indifferently well.

On this latter, then, the body of our unlucky brother was now
placed--his face dreadfully swollen and disfigured; and the procession
moved off, with a shouting and laughing mob at its heels.

Leaving David thus disposed of, we will return to Leith for a space, to
see how Drinkhooly came on, denuded as he was of his shovel hat and his
gown.

On awaking from his nap, the worthy churchman, not well pleased that
David had not come to rouse him as he promised, started up in great
uneasiness, lest the gates of the preceptory should be shut, and his
character as a regular living man be thereby injured.

What was the surprise of the good man, however, to find that he had been
stripped of his gown while he slept, and left in his shirt sleeves.
Alarmed at the circumstance, brother Drinkhooly began searching the
apartment for the missing garment, and also for his hat, which he now
found had likewise gone astray.

Being able to discover no trace of the missing articles, he commenced
rapping on the door to bring some one to his assistance, although very
unwilling to expose himself in his present predicament to any but his
well-beloved crony, David Wemyss. He could not help himself, however.
His gown and hat he must have. He could not leave the house without
them, and without assistance they could not be got.

The worthy brother's rapping on the door being unattended to, he
commenced with his heel on the floor, a proceeding which he had often
found, as it has been facetiously termed, an "_effectual calling_."

In the present instance, it brought mine host's wife into his presence.
On her entering--

"Good woman, good Mrs. Wemyss, I would say, know ye anything of mine
outer garment? My gown, know ye where it has been deposited? I likewise
lack my hat, good Mrs. Weymss; know ye what has become of it?"

"Truly, your reverence, I dinna ken," replied Mrs. Weymss, beginning to
bustle about the apartment in search of the desiderated articles; "but
they canna be far aff, surely. Does your reverence no mind whar ye laid
them?"

"My hat, I recollect perfectly--there being no reason why I should not
recollect it--I laid on this chair by the bedside here. Now it is gone.
My gown I laid nowhere, but kept on me. So, of that garment I must have
been denuded even while I slept. It is strange. Is my good friend David
not in the way? He would, doubtless, explain all, and help me to mine
outer covering and head-gear?"

"Indeed, no, your reverence, David's no in the way; and I canna tell
whar he is. He's been missing oot o' the house thae three hours; and
gaed aff without telling ony o' us whar he was gaun, or what he was gaun
aboot. Indeed, nane o' us kent when he gaed. Sae he maun hae slippit aff
unco cannily."

In the meantime, the search for the missing articles of dress went on
vigorously, but without any good result. They were nowhere to be found.

"What's to be done?" said the good father in a despairing tone, as he
threw himself into a chair. "I cannot go through the streets in this
indecent condition, and, if I remain longer, I will be deemed a
disregarder of canonical hours. What is to be done?"

"Deed it's an awkward thing, your reverence, and how ye are to gae hame
in your sark sleeves, and your bald head to the win, I dinna see."

"I'll tell you what you'll do for me, my good Mrs. Weymss," said the
worthy father, after thinking a moment: "You'll send up your little girl
to the preceptory, and I'll give her a message to Brother Christie. I
think he'll oblige me in a strait. He'll send me down a gown and hat
wherewith I may hie me home, and your good husband, and my good friend,
David, will, doubtless, find me mine own garments when he returns."

"Surely, your reverence, surely; Jessy'll be but owre prood to do your
reverence's biddin," replied Mrs. Weymss, and she hastened to call her
daughter.

On the girl making her appearance, the worthy brother gave her her
instructions.

He desired her to go to the preceptory; to ask a private word of Brother
Christie; and to say to him that he, Drinkhooly, had got into
tribulation. That, having some matters of private concernment to talk
over with mine host of "The Ship," he had called on him, and that, while
there, overcome with exhaustion, in consequence of his late fatiguing
duties, he had fallen asleep, and that, while he slept, some one had
removed his gown and hat, and that he could nowhere find the same, and
could not therefore return to the preceptory unless his good brother,
Christie, would furnish him with the loan of these two articles, the
which, he had no doubt, he would readily do.

Charged with this rather long-winded message, the girl departed on her
mission. In less than a quarter of an hour she returned, but brought
neither hat nor gown.

"Has he refused them?" inquired the worthy brother, with a look of
grievous discomfiture, when he saw the girl enter without the
much-desired articles. "What did he say?"

"He said, sir," replied the girl, who was both too young and too
single-minded to think of saving any one's feelings at the expense of
truth, "that, if ye had drank less o' David Wemyss' claret, ye wad hae
kenned better what had become o' your gown and hat."

"_O scandalum magnatum!_" exclaimed the indignant priest. "Doth he--doth
Brother Christie accuse me of vinous indulgences? Him whom I have, a
hundred times, helped to his dormitory, when incapacitated therefrom by
the excess of his potations. And he would not give thee the garments?"

"No, please you, sir; he said ye micht gang without the breeks for him.
He wadna send ye a stitch."

It became now matter for serious consideration what was to be done. It
was true that the good father might easily have been arrayed for the
nonce in a coat and hat of his friend, David Wemyss', and might, so
attired, pass unheeded through the streets. But how was he to account
for his appearance in such an unseemly garb at the preceptory. It might
lead to some awkward inquiries as to how the good brother had spent the
evening.

There was no other way for it, however. So, equipped in the deficient
articles from mine host of "The Ship's" wardrobe, Brother Drinkhooly
stole out of the house, slunk along the streets, gained the gate of the
preceptory, knocked thereat, whispered two or three words of explanation
to the porter, with whom he was fortunately in good terms, and, finally,
got snugly to his own dormitory without detection.

To return to mine host of "The Ship." It was not for nearly twelve hours
after the occurrence of the tragical affair of Leith Wynd, that David
Wemyss was restored to a consciousness of existence. When he was,
conceive, if you can, reader, his surprise and amazement to find himself
in a superb bed, hung round with rich crimson velvet curtains, and whose
coverlets were of satin fringed with gold. The room, which was also
gorgeously furnished, was so darkened when David awoke from the
refreshing sleep which had restored him to the possession of his senses,
that it was some time before he discovered all the splendours with which
he was surrounded.

When these, however, had at length begun to take his eye, he started up
on his elbow, and, with a mingled look of perplexity, consternation, and
bewilderment, commenced a survey of the magnificent chamber of which he
thus so strangely and inexplicably found himself an occupant.

How or when he had been brought there, he could not conceive; neither,
for a good while, had he any recollection whatever of the pummelling
with which he had been favoured in Leith Wynd. The operation, however,
of certain physical effects of that incident--namely, a painful aching
of the bones, and an almost total inability to move either leg or arm,
gradually unfolded to him, although only in a dim and confused manner,
the occurrence of the preceding night.

In the meantime, David went on with his survey of the apartment, during
which he perceived two objects that convinced him that he was in the
house of a Roman Catholic--of one of those who still clung to the
ancient religion of the kingdom, and who held in detestation and
abhorrence the doctrines of the new faith.

These objects were a large painting, over the fire-place, of the Saviour
on the Cross, and a small silver crucifix which stood on a table close
by the side of the bed; there was also lying on the floor, opposite the
crucifix, and near to it, a crimson velvet cushion with gold tassels on
which were such indentations as intimated its having been recently knelt
upon.

Having completed the examination of his new premises, David Wemyss threw
himself back on the bed, in order to take a deliberate survey in his own
mind of his present strange position, and of all the circumstances
connected therewith.

"'Od, but this is a most extraordinar affair, and a dooms awkward ane,"
thought David, to himself. "Wha wad hae dreamed o't. Wha wad hae dreamed
that sae simple a thing as me putting on Drinkhooly's goun, wad hae led
to a' this mischief.

"What'll they think's become o' me in Leith? And what'll I say for mysel
whan I gae back? And what'll Drinkhooly do for his goun? Od, they'll
excommunicat him; they'll ruin him. God help us, it's an awfu' business.
But, whar am I?--Wha's house is this, and hoo got I till't? And hoo and
whan am I to get hame again; for I fin' that I couldna keep a leg under
me enow, an it were to mak me provost o' Edinburgh."

At this moment, David's somewhat disjointed, though pertinent enough
reflections, were interrupted by the entrance of some one into the
apartment.

The intruder, whoever he was, came in on tiptoe, as if fearful of
disturbing the occupant of the apartment; and, on approaching the bed,
peered cautiously into it, to see whether he was awake.

David, without saying a word, stared at the person, who appeared to be a
serving man or cook, from his wearing a blue velvet cap on his head--the
usual head-dress of such persons in those times, and his bearing a
steaming silver posset dish in one hand.

David, as we have said, stared at the man, without saying a word--a line
of proceeding which he adopted, in order that the other, by speaking
first, might give him a sort of cue by which to guide himself in the
impending colloquy.

Seeing that the patient was awake, the man, bowing respectfully, said:--

"I trust, holy father, I find you better. Here is a posset which has
been prepared for you by the directions of our leech, worthy Dr. Whang
o' the Cowgate Head, which you will be so good as take."

"My man," said David, without either accepting or refusing the proffered
posset, "I'm misdoubtin that there's a sad mistak in this business
a'thegither. Howsomever, let that flee stick to the wa' for the present.
Can ye tell me whar I am, and hoo I cam here?"

"Most assuredly, holy father. You are just now in the house, and under
the protection and guardianship of Lady Wisherton of Wisherton Mains,
whose house is situated about two hundred yards south of the Kirk of
Field. As to the manner of your coming here, holy father, it was
this:--Her ladyship's son, Lord Boggyland, coming up Leith Wynd last
night, found you in the midst of a crowd of sacrilegious ruffians, who
were murdering you, and who had already, by their brutal treatment,
deprived you of all consciousness. Seeing this, his lordship, who, as
all his family--his good and pious mother included--are staunch
adherents of the old religion, instantly interfered in your behalf, and
had you conveyed to his mother's house, where, as I have already said,
you are at the present moment."

"Umph," muttered David. "Is that the way o't. Then, I fancy, I'm juist
oot o' the fryin-pan into the fire."

The serving-man, not perceiving the applicability of the remark,
although somewhat surprised at it, made no reply, but again pressed the
posset on the suffering martyr.

"Weel, weel, let's see't then," said David, raising himself up in the
bed. "There can be nae great harm in that, I fancy. It'll no mak things
muckle waur than they are. Is't onything tasty?"

His attendant assured him that he would find it very pleasant, being
made by her ladyship's own hands, who long enjoyed a high reputation for
manufacturing possets and comfits of all sorts.

Having raised the lid of the posset dish, and flavoured it contents,
David pronounced it "savoury;" when, taking spoon in hand, he cleared
out the vessel in a twinkling.

"A gusty mouthfu' that," said mine host of "The Ship," throwing himself
luxuriously back on his pillow, "although I think it wadna been the waur
o' a wee hair mair brandy in't."

The serving-man having done his errand, now left the room, retiring with
the same careful step and respectful manner with which he had entered,
and left David once more to his own reflections.

In these, however, he was permitted but a very short indulgence. His
attendant had not been gone five minutes, when the door of the
apartment was again gently opened, and an elderly lady, of tall and
majestic form, arrayed in a close fitting dress of black velvet, with a
gold chain round her neck, from which was suspended a large diamond
cross, entered the sick man's chamber. It was Lady Wisherton herself.
Approaching, with stately step, but with a look of tender concern, the
bed on which her patient lay--

"It rejoices me much, holy father," she said, "to learn, from our good
and faithful servitor, William Binkie, that your reverence begins to
feel some symptoms of amendment."

"Ou, thank ye, mem, thank ye," replied David, with no small trepidation;
for the dignified and stately appearance of his visiter had sadly
appalled him. "I fin' mysel a hauntle better, thanks to your leddyship's
kindness--takin' ye to be Leddy Wisherton hersel', as I hae nae doot ye
are."

"You are right in your conjecture, good father," replied Lady Wisherton,
rather taken aback by the very peculiar style of his reverence's
language, which she did not recollect ever to have met with in any other
person in holy orders before. The circumstance, however, only puzzled
her; it did not, in the smallest degree, excite in her any suspicion of
the real facts of the case. "You are right in your conjecture, good
father," she said, "I am Lady Wisherton."

"So I was jalousin, mem," said David, who, by the way, we may as well
mention here, had made up his mind to endeavour to avoid exposure, by
not saying or doing anything to undeceive Lady Wisherton as to his real
character, and to trust to some fortunate chance of getting, undetected,
out of the house.

"O father!" said Lady Wisherton, bursting out into a sudden paroxysm of
pious excitation, "what is to become of our poor persecuted church?
When will a judgment descend on this unholy land, for the monstrous sins
by which it is now daily polluted. Oh, dreadful times!--oh, unheard of
iniquity! that a priest of God--a father of our holy church--should be
attacked on the public streets of this city, and put in jeopardy of his
life by a mob of heretical blasphemers! When will these atrocities
cease? Oh, when, when, when?"

"Deed, mem, it's no easy sayin," replied the subject of this pathetic
lamentation. "They're awfu' times. Nae man leevin ever saw or heard o'
the like o' them. There, doon at Leith enow, they're murderin ane
anither by the dizzen every day, and no comin a bit nearer the point
after a'. Heaven kens whar it's to end. In the meantime, they hae gien
me a confounded lounderin; I fin' that in every bane o' my body."

"You have been sorely abused by them, indeed, father," replied Lady
Wisherton. "But a day of retribution is coming. You will be avenged,
terribly avenged."

"There was ae fallow, in particular, amang them, that I wad like to see
gettin a guid creeshin," replied David: "_that_ was a great big
scounneril o' a blacksmith, wi' his shirt sleeves rowed up to his
shouthers. He was the warst o' the lot. I got mair and heavier waps frae
him than frae a' the rest put thegither."

Again, Lady Wisherton looked surprised at the style of language in which
her reverend patient spoke, his last remarks being particularly rich in
the homely vernacular of the country, and greatly was her perplexity
increased by the discordance between his calling and his manner, which
was every moment becoming more and more marked; still she did not, nor
could suspect the truth.

"Was it not a blessing of Providence, father," resumed Lady Wisherton,
"that my son, Lord Boggyland, happened to be in Leith Wynd at the time
you were attacked by these sacrilegious ruffians?"

"Feth, my leddy, it was just that," replied David--"A Gude's mercy. They
gied me a bonny creeshin as it was; but they wad hae dished me clean oot
an it hadna been for him. Feth, yon fellows care nae mair for a man's
life than they wad do for a puddock's."

"Your reverence's face is much swelled," said Lady Wisherton, suddenly
attracted by the swollen and discoloured countenance of her patient.
"Greatly swelled. You must allow me to bathe it with my lotion."

"Nae occasion, mem, nae occasion, thank ye; I dinna find it ony way
painfu. Besides, I'll try and get up, towards the darkenin, and be
steppin doon to Leith; for they'll be wonderin there what's come o' me."

It will be seen from this that our brother of St. Anthony contemplated
an early retreat from his present quarters; and further, that he meant
to avail himself of the obscurity of night to effect that retreat. But
this was a point not to be so very easily managed as he thought.

"Leave my house this afternoon!" exclaimed Lady Wisherton, in the utmost
amazement. "That, with your reverence's leave, indeed, you shall not do.
You shall remain where you are, under my tendance, until you be
perfectly recovered, which we dare not hope for under a fortnight, at
the very least. But, in the meantime, good father, you shall have every
attendance, every comfort which you can desire, or of which your
situation will admit. My son and I are but too happy, although we
deplore the cause, of having been presented with an opportunity of
testifying our reverence and love for a minister of our holy religion.

"As to your fears," she continued, "for any uneasiness among your
friends in Leith, on account of your absence, be not concerned about
that, good father; I have provided for it. I have sent notice to the
preceptory of your misfortune, relating all that has happened, and
giving intimation that you are in my house, and in safety; so have no
doubt that some of the brethren will be here in the course of the
evening."

Here was a pretty piece of information for the already but too much
perplexed martyr to the old faith. Intimation had been sent to the
preceptory, and half-a-dozen of the brethren would be in upon him
immediately, and a dreadful exposé would, of course, follow. It was a
most trying crisis, and David but too sensibly felt it to be so. He felt
as if he could have wished the house to fall upon him, and bury him in
its ruins.

Appalled and horrified, however, as he was at this impending
catastrophe, he said nothing, but, anxious to be left alone, in order to
have an opportunity of thinking over his position, and of taking into
consideration what had best be done, he began to affect drowsiness; when
his noble hostess, taking the hint, quietly left the apartment.

Hearing the door close, David first opened one eye cautiously, and then
the other; then turning gently round, peered over the edge of the bed to
see if the coast was clear. Discovering that it was, he threw himself
again on his back, and, fixing his eyes on the roof, began thinking as
hard as he could how he was to get out of his present dilemma. The
sequel will tell the result of his deliberations.

On that same night, about twelve of the clock, David Wemyss' worthy
spouse--who had been in great distress at his sudden disappearance, and
who was fully impressed with the belief that he had fallen over the quay
and had been drowned--was startled by a low tap-tapping at the back door
of "The Ship." Thinking it might be some one with tidings of her lost
husband, she instantly got up, lighted a candle, and, although under no
little apprehension and alarm, opened the door, when, lo! who should
enter but her beloved David himself. She instantly set up a scream of
delight.

"Whisht, whisht, woman," said David, stealing into a back apartment as
fast as he could. "This is no a business to blaw about. The calmer sough
we keep the better."

"But, gude sake, David," said his wife, on rejoining him, after having
secured the door, "whar hae ye been a' this time, and whar hae ye gotten
that awfu-like face?"

"I hae gotten a hantle mair than that, guidwife, although ye dinna
see't," replied David. "I dinna believe there's a hale bane in my entire
buik. I hae had a bonny time since I left ye; aneuch to serve a man his
hale life time; and yet it was a' crammed into ae four-and-twenty hours.
But gie me a mouthfu o' brandy, guidwife, and I'll tell ye a' about it."

David now proceeded with his narration, giving his wife a detailed
account of the series of adventures related in the foregoing pages. To
these we have now to add only a reference to one or two points, which
will be considered, probably, as requiring some explanation.

First, as to how our brother of St. Anthony escaped from Lady
Wisherton's. This he effected by the simple process of stealing out of
the house after dark. There was no other way for it, and he was
fortunate enough to succeed in the somewhat hazardous attempt, by
dropping himself from a window of a story in height, at the back part of
the house.

Who the person was who first laid hands on mine host of "The Ship," on
his first appearance in his new character, or by whom he was employed,
he never certainly knew, but suspected afterwards that he was a retainer
of Lord Borthwick's, who was then in Leith with the Queen Regent.
Whither, however, he meant to have taken him, or who the sufferer was
for whom the last duties of religion were wanted, he never learnt; nor,
indeed, for obvious reasons, did he ever inquire. The whole, in short,
was a subject on which David Wemyss always thought the less that was
said the better; and, acting on this opinion, it was one which he
carefully abstained from making matter of conversation.

All his caution, however, could not prevent some hints of his adventure
from getting abroad. These hints some of the little ragged scapegraces
of the Coal Hill wrought into the following rhymes, which, in dark
nights, they were in the habit of shouting in at the door of "The Ship,"
to the great annoyance of its landlord, who might frequently be seen
rushing out, stick in hand, to inflict summary punishment on the
offenders:--

    "Davie Wemyss gaed oot a priest,
      By filthy lucre temptit;
    Davie Wemyss cam hame again.
      And thocht naebody kent it."



THE STORY OF CLARA DOUGLAS.

    "The maid that loves,
    Goes out to sea upon a shattered plank,
    And puts her trust in miracles for safety."--_Old Play._


I am a peripatetic genius--a wanderer by profession--a sort of Salathiel
Secundus, "doomed for a term," like the ghost of Hamlet's papa, "to walk
the earth," whether I will or not. Here, however, the simile stops; for
his aforesaid ghostship could traverse, if he chose, amid climes far
away, while the circuit of my peregrinations is, has for sometime
been, and must, for some short time more, necessarily be, confined
to the northern extremity of "our tight little island"--_vulgo
vocato_--Scotland. In my day I have seen many strange sights, and met
with many strange faces--made several hairbreadth 'scapes, and undergone
innumerable perils by flood and field. On the wings of the wind--that
is, on the top of a stage-coach--I have passed through many known and
unknown towns and villages; have visited, on foot and on horseback, for
my own special edification and amusement, various ancient ruins, foaming
cataracts, interesting rocks, and dismal-looking caves, celebrated in
Scottish story. But better far than that, and dearer to my soul, my foot
has trod the floors of, I may say, all the haberdashers shops north of
the Tweed: in short, most patient reader, I am a travelling bagman.

In this capacity I have, for years, perambulated among the chief towns
of Scotland, taking orders from those who were inclined to give them to
me, and giving orders to those who were not inclined to take them from
me, unless with a _douceur_ in perspective--viz., coachmen, waiters,
bar-maids, _et hoc genus omne_. From those of the third class, many are
the witching smiles lighting up pretty faces--many the indignant glances
shot from deep love-darting eyes, when their under neighbours, the lips,
were invaded without consent of parties--which have saluted me
everywhere; for the same varied feelings, the same sudden and
unaccountable likings and dislikings, have place in the breasts of
bar-maids as in those of other women. As is the case too with the rest
of their sex, there are among them the clumsy and the handsome, the
plain and the pretty, the scraggy and the plump, the old and the young;
but of all the bar-maids I ever met with, none charmed me more than did
Mary of the Black Swan, at Altonby. In my eyes she inherited all the
good qualities I have here enumerated--that is to say, she was handsome,
pretty, plump, and young, with a form neither too tall nor too short;
but just the indescribable happy size between, set off by a manner
peculiarly graceful.

It was on a delightful evening in the early spring, that I found myself
seated, for the first time, in a comfortable little parlour pertaining
to the Black Swan, and Mary attending on me--she being the chief, nay,
almost the only person in the establishment who could serve a table. I
was struck with her loveliness, as well as captivated with her engaging
manner, and though I had for thirty years defied the artifices of blind
Cupid, I now felt myself all at once over head and ears in love with
this village beauty. Although placed in so low a sphere as that in which
I then beheld her, there was a something about her that proclaimed her
to be of gentle birth. Whoever looked upon her countenance, felt
conscious that there was a respect due to her which it is far from
customary to extend to girls in waiting at an inn. Hers were

    "Eyes so pure, that from their ray
    Dark vice would turn abashed away."

Her feet were small and fairy-like, from which, if her voice, redolent
of musical softness--that thing so desirable in woman--had not already
informed me, I should have set her down as being of English extraction.

Several months elapsed ere it was again in my power to visit Altonby.
During all that time, my vagrant thoughts had been of Mary--sleeping or
waking, her form was ever present to my fancy. On entering the Black
Swan, it was Mary who bounded forward to welcome me with a delighted
smile. She seemed gratified at my return; and I was no less so at the
cordiality of my reception. The month was July, and the evening
particularly fine; so, not having business of much consequence to
transact in the place, and Mary having to attend to the comforts of
others, beside myself, then sojourning at the Black Swan, I sallied
forth alone--

    "To take my evening's walk of meditation."

When one happens to be left _per se_ in a provincial town, where he is
alike unknowing and unknown--where there is no theatre or other place of
amusement in which to spend the evening--it almost invariably happens
that he pays a visit to the churchyard, and delights himself, for an
hour or so, with deciphering the tombstones--a recreation extremely
healthful to the body, and soothing to the mind. It was to the
churchyard on that evening I bent my steps, thinking, as I went along,
seriously of Mary.

"What is she to me?" I involuntarily exclaimed; "I have no time to waste
upon women: I am a wanderer, with no great portion of worldly gear. In
my present circumstances it is impossible I can marry her; and to think
of her in any other light were villanous. No, no! I will no longer
cherish a dream which can never be realized."

And I determined that, on the morrow, I should fly the fatal spot for
ever. Who or what Mary's relations had been, she seemed to feel great
reluctance in disclosing to me. All I could glean from her was, that she
was an orphan--that she had had a sister who had formed an unfortunate
attachment, and broken their mother's heart--that all of her kindred
that now remained was a brother, and he was in a foreign land.

The sun was resting above the summits of the far-off mountains, and the
yew trees were flinging their dusky shadows over the graves, as I
entered the burial-place of Altonby. The old church was roofless and in
ruins; and within its walls were many tombstones over the ashes of
those who, having left more than the wherewithal to bury them, had been
laid there by their heirs, as if in token of respect. In a distant
corner, I observed one little mound over which no stone had been placed
to indicate who lay beneath: it was evidently the grave of a stranger,
and seemed to have been placed in that spot more for the purpose of
being out of the way than for any other. At a short distance from it was
another mound, overtopped with grass of a fresher kind. As I stood
leaning over a marble tombstone, gazing around me, a figure slowly
entered at the farther end of the aisle, and, with folded arms and
downcast eyes, passed on to those two graves. It was that of a young man
of perhaps five-and-twenty, though a settled melancholy, which
overspread his countenance, made him look five years older. I crouched
behind the stone on which I had been leaning, fearful of disturbing him
with my presence, or rousing his attention by my attempting to leave the
place.

After gazing with a vacant eye for a few moments upon the graves, he
knelt down between them. His lips began to move, but I heard not what he
said. I thought he was praying for the souls of the departed; and I was
confirmed in this by hearing him at last say, with an audible voice:--

"May all good angels guard thee, Clara Douglas, and thou, my mother!"

As he uttered these last words, he turned his eyes to the newer grave. I
thought he was about to continue his prayer; but, as if the sight of the
grave had awakened other feelings, he suddenly started up, and, raising
his hands to heaven, invoked curses on the head of one whom he termed
their "murderer!" That done, he rushed madly from the church. All this
was very strange to me; and I determined, if possible, to ascertain
whose remains those graves entombed.

On leaving the churchyard, I was fortunate enough to orgather with an
old man, from whom I learned the melancholy story of her who occupied
the older-looking grave. She was young and beautiful. Accident had
deprived her father of that wealth which a long life of untiring
industry had enabled him to lay past for his children; and he did not
long survive its loss. Fearful of being a burden to her mother, who had
a son and another daughter besides herself to provide for out of the
slender pittance which remained to her on her husband's death, Clara
Douglas accepted a situation as a governess, and sought to earn an
honourable independence by those talents and accomplishments which had
once been cultivated for mere amusement. The brother of Clara, shortly
afterwards, obtained an appointment in the island of Madeira.
Unfortunately for Clara, a young officer, a relative of the family in
which she resided, saw her, and was smitten with her charms. He loved
and was beloved again. The footing of intimacy on which he was in the
house, procured him many interviews with Clara. Suddenly his regiment
was ordered to the Continent; and when the young ensign told the
sorrowful tidings to Clara, he elicited from her a confession of her
love.

Months passed away--Waterloo was fought and won--and Ensign Malcolm was
among those who fell.

When the death-list reached Scotland, many were the hearts it
overpowered with grief; but Clara Douglas had more than one grief to
mourn: sorrow and shame were too much to bear together, and she fled
from the house where she had first met _him_ who was the cause of all.
None could tell whither she had gone. Her mother and sister were
agonized, when the news of her disappearance reached them. Every search
was made, but without effect. A year all but two weeks passed away, and
still no tidings of her, till that very day, two boys seeking for
pheasant's nests upon the top of a hillock overgrown with furze--which
the old man pointed out to me at a short distance from the place where
we stood--accidently stumbled upon an object beneath a fir-tree. It was
the remains of a female in a kneeling posture. Beneath her garments, by
which she was recognised as Clara Douglas, not a vestige of flesh
remained. There was still some upon her hands, which had been tightly
clasped together; and upon her face, which leant upon them. Seemingly
she had died in great agony. It was supposed by some that she had taken
poison.

"If your time will permit," added the old man, as he wiped away a tear,
"I will willingly show you the place where her remains were found. It is
but a short distance. Come."

I followed the old man in silence. He led the way into a field. We
climbed over some loose stones thrown together, to serve as a wall of
division at the farther extremity of it, and slowly began to ascend the
grassy acclivity, which was on both sides bordered by a thick hedge,
placed apart, at the distance of about thirty feet. When half way up, I
could not resist the inclination I felt to turn and look upon the scene.
It was an evening as fair as I had ever gazed on. The wheat was
springing in the field through which we had just passed, covering it, as
it were, with a rich green carpet. Trees and hills bounded the view,
behind which the sun was on the point of sinking, and the red streaks
upon the western sky "gave promise of a goodly day tomorrow.

If, thought I, the hour on which Clara Douglas ascended this hill was
as lovely as this evening, she must indeed have been deeply bent upon
her own destruction, to look upon the world so beautifully fair, and
not wish to return to it again. We continued our ascent, passing among
thick tangled underwood, in whose kindly grasp the light flowing
garments of Clara Douglas must have been ever and anon caught as she
wended on her way. Yet had she disregarded the friendly interposition.
Along the margin of an old stone quarry we now proceeded, where the
pathway was so narrow that we were occasionally compelled to catch at
the furze bushes which edged it, to prevent ourselves from falling over
into the gulf beneath. And Clara Douglas, thought I, must have passed
along here, and must have been exposed to the same danger of toppling
headlong over the cliff, yet she had exerted herself to pass the fatal
spot unharmed, to save a life which she knew would almost the instant
afterwards be taken by her own hand. Such is the inconsistency of human
nature. Our course lay once more through the midst of underwood, so
thickly grown that one would have supposed no female foot would dare
to enter it.

"Here," cried the old man, stopping beside a dwarfish fir tree, "here is
the spot where we found the mortal remains of Clara Douglas."

I pressed forward, and, to my surprise, beheld one other being than my
old guide looking on the place. It was the same I had noticed at the
grave of Clara Douglas, within the walls of the ruined church of
Altonby. I thought it a strange coincidence.

Summer passed away, winter and spring succeeded, and summer came again,
and with it came the wish to see Mary once more. However much I had
before doubted the truth of the axiom, that "absence makes the heart
grow fonder," I now felt the full force of its truth. My affection for
Mary was, day after day, becoming stronger; and, in spite of the
dictates of prudence, my determination never to see her again began to
falter; and one evening I unconsciously found myself in the yard of the
Black Swan. Well, since I had come there at any rate, it would be
exceedingly foolish to go away again without speaking to Mary; so I
called to the stable boy to put up my horse. The boy knew me, for I had
once given him a sixpence for running a message, and he came briskly
forward at my first call, no doubt with some indistinct idea of
receiving another sixpence at some no very distant date.

"Eh! Mr. Moir," said the boy, while I was dismounting, in answer to my
question, "What news in the village?"

"Ye'll no guess what's gaun to happen? Our Mary, the folk say, is gaun
to be married!"

Our Mary! thought I, can _our_ Mary be _my_ Mary? and, to ascertain
whether they were one and the same personage, I inquired of the boy who
our Mary was.

"Ou!" replied he, "she's just bar-maid at the inn here."

I started, now that this disclosure had unhinged my doubts; and
subduing, as well as I was able, my rising emotion, I boldly asked who
was "the happy man."

"They ca' him a captain!" said the boy, innocently; "but whether he's a
sea captain, an offisher in the army, or a captain o' police, I'm no
that sure. At ony rate, he aye gangs aboot in plain claes. He's been
staying for a month here, an' he gangs oot but seldom, an' that only in
the gloamin."

After thanking the boy, and placing the expected silver coin in his
hand, I turned the corner of the house in my way towards the entrance,
determined, with my own eyes and ears, to ascertain the truth of the
boy's statement. The pace at which I was proceeding was so rapid, that,
ere I was aware of the vicinity of any one, I came bump against the
person of a gentleman, whom, to my surprise, I instantly recognised as
the mysterious visitant to the grave of Clara Douglas, and to the spot
where her relics were found. He seemed to regard me with a suspicious
eye; for he shuffled past without uttering a word. His air was
disordered, his step irregular, and his whole appearance was that of a
man with whom care, and pain, and sorrow had long been familiar.

Can this be the captain? was the thought which first suggested itself to
me. It was a question I could not answer; yet I entered the Black Swan,
half persuaded that it was.

"Ah! Mr. Moir," cried Mary, coming forward to welcome me in her usual
way, the moment she heard my voice, "you have been long a stranger. I
fancied that, somehow or other, I was the cause of it, for you went away
last time without bidding me good-by." I held her hand in mine, I saw
her eyes sparkle, and the blush diffuse her cheek, and I muttered a
confused apology. "Well! I am so glad to see you," she continued. "It
was but yesterday I spoke of you to the captain."

"The captain," I repeated, while the pangs of jealousy, which had,
during the last five minutes, been gradually lulled over to sleep,
suddenly roused themselves. "Who is the captain, Mary?"

"Oh! I'm sure you will like him when you become acquainted with him,"
said she, blushing. "There is something so prepossessing about him, that
really I defy any one not to like him." The animation with which she
gave utterance to these words made me miserable, and I cursed the
captain in my heart.

The next day passed over without my being able to obtain a sight of my
rival; and, when I walked out in the afternoon, he had not yet risen.
Mary's assigned reason for this was, that he was an invalid; but his was
more the disease of the mind than of the body. In his memory there was
implanted a deep sorrow, which time could never root out. In my walk,
the churchyard and the venerable ruins of the church were visited--I
stood again beside the grave of the hapless Clara Douglas, and her
melancholy story afforded me a theme for sad reflection, which for a
while banished Mary and all jealous fears from my mind.

It was evening when I reached "mine inn." On passing the parlour window,
a sight met my eye which brought the colour to my cheeks. A tall,
noble-looking man lay extended upon the sofa, while Mary leant over him
in kindly solicitude, and, with marked assiduity, placed cushions for
his head, and arranged his military cloak. This, then, must be the
captain, and he and my mysterious friend were not the same. That was
some consolation, however.

Thus as he lay, he held Mary's hand in his. My breast was racked with
agony intense; for

    "Oh! what a host of killing doubts and fears,
    Of melancholy musings, deep perplexities,
    Must the fond heart that yields itself to love,
    Struggle with and endure."

Once I determined on flying from the scene, and leaving my rival in
undisputed possession of the village beauty; but, having been resolved
that no woman should ever have it in her power to say she made me
wretched, I screwed my courage to the sticking place, and, on seeing
Mary leave the parlour, I shortly afterwards entered it.

The stranger scarcely noticed my entrance, so intently was his attention
fixed upon the perusal of a newspaper which he held in his hand. I sat
down at the window, and, for want of something better to do, gazed with
a scrutinizing eye upon the gambols of the ducks and geese outside.

After some time Mary came in to ask the captain what he would have for
supper.

"This is the gentleman I spoke of," she said, directing her expressive
glance towards me.

"Mr. Moir must pardon my inattention!" said the stranger, laying down
the paper; "I was not aware that my pretty Mary's friend was in the
room."

His urbane manner, his soft winning voice, made me feel an irresistible
impulse to meet his advances. He proposed that we should sup together,
and I sat down at the table with very different feelings from those
which had been mine on entering the parlour that evening. I felt
inclined to encourage an intimacy with the man whom, but a short while
before, I had looked upon with aversion.

As the night wore on, I became more and more captivated with the
stranger. His conversation was brilliant and intellectual; and, when we
parted for the night, I began to find fault with myself for having for a
moment harboured dislike towards so perfect a gentleman. I resolved to
stay a few days longer at Altonby, for the purpose of improving our
acquaintance. The stranger--or, as he was called at the inn, "the
captain"--expressed delight when he was informed of my resolution; and,
although he seldom rose before the afternoon, we spent many pleasant
hours together.

On the evening of the third day of my sojourn, he expressed a wish that
I would accompany him in a short walk. Notwithstanding his erect and
easy carriage, there was a feebleness in his gait, which he strove in
vain to contend against; and it was but too evident that a broken
spirit, added to a shattered constitution, would speedily bring him to
his grave.

Leading the way into the churchyard, to my surprise he stopped at the
resting-place of the ill-starred lady, the story of whose untimely end I
had so patiently listened to the last time I visited Altonby.

"I am exceedingly fortunate," said the captain, "in having met with one
so kind as you, to cheer the last moments of my earthly pilgrimage. You
smile--nay, I can assure you that I feel I am not long for this world.
The object of my visit to this spot, to-night, is to ask you to do me
the favour, when I am dead, of seeing my remains laid here--here, beside
this grave, o'er which the grass grows longer than on those around;" and
he pointed to the grave of Clara Douglas. After a moment, he
continued:--"Unlike other men, you have never annoyed me by seeking to
inquire of me, who or what I am; and, believe me, I feel grateful for
it. I would not wish that you should ever know the history of the being
who stands before you. When the earth closes over my coffin, think of
him no more."

Although the captain had done me the honour of calling me unlike other
men--a distinction most folks are so exceedingly desirous of
obtaining--I must own that I had hitherto felt no common degree of
curiosity concerning him; and now that there was no prospect of it being
gratified, its desire increased tenfold, and I would now have given
worlds, if I had had them, to have learned something of the birth,
parentage, and education of the captain.

"And now," he added, "I beseech you, leave me for a short time--I would
be alone."

In silence I complied, sauntering outside the ruins, and seeking to
find, in my old avocation of perusing the tombstones, the wherewithal to
kill the time during which the captain held communion with the dead; for
I could not help thinking that it was for such a cause he had desired to
be left to himself.

Ten--twenty minutes passed, and the captain did not appear. I retraced
my steps, and again entered the ruins, by the farther end. The gloom
which prevailed around--the monuments which intervened--and, above all,
the distance at which I then was from the grave of Clara
Douglas--prevented me from descrying the captain. I had advanced a few
paces when I heard voices in high altercation. I stopped; and, as I did
so, one of the speakers, in whose clear intonation I could recognise the
captain, said--"On my word, I returned here the instant my wounds were
healed--I returned to marry her--and my grief could not be equalled by
your's when I heard of her melancholy fate."

"Liar!" exclaimed the other; "you ne'er intended such. My sister's
wrongs call out aloud for vengeance; and here--here, between her grave
and that of our sainted mother--your blood shall be offered up in
atonement."

This was instantly followed by the report of a pistol. I rushed forward,
and beheld, O horror! the captain stretched upon the ground, and the
blood streaming from a wound in his breast. I caught a glimpse of his
assassin, as he fled from the church; it was the stranger whom I had
seen, on a former visit, at the grave of Clara Douglas, and beside the
fir-tree where her remains had been found. I made a motion to follow
him, but the captain waved me back--"Let him go," said he; "I forgive
him. I have no wish that he should die upon the scaffold." So saying, he
fell back exhausted; and, in my haste to procure assistance for him, I
quite forgot the assassin, until it was too late.

The captain was conveyed to the Black Swan, where, with Mary to attend
his every want, he was, no doubt, as comfortable as if he had had a home
to go to, and a beloved wife to smooth his dying pillow. Mary bestowed
more than ordinary care and attention upon him, which, although she had
declared to me that she could never love the captain so well as to marry
him, should he ever condescend to make the offer, brought back
occasionally a pang of jealousy to my heart. I could not exactly
understand the extent of her regard for him.

Having business to transact at a neighbouring town, I left Altonby the
next day, with a determination to return, ere the lapse of a week, to
see the captain, I feared for the last time. I had been but two days
gone, when I received a note from Mary, informing me that he was daily
becoming worse, and that it was the fear of his medical attendant that
he could not live four-and-twenty hours. With the utmost speed, I
therefore hastened back to the Black Swan, where, indeed, I saw that the
surgeon had had quite sufficient reason for his prediction--the captain
was greatly altered since I last saw him. Wan and emaciated, he lay in
resignation upon his couch, calmly waiting the approach of death. He
seemed quite composed.

Taking my hand in his, he reminded me of his wish regarding his
burial-place. I assured him that it should strictly be complied with. A
smile lighted up his pale countenance for an instant, as I pledged
myself to this. He then drew from under his pillow a parcel of letters,
tied together with a faded ribbon, and desired me to consign them, one
by one to the flames. With an eager eye, and a countenance full of
excitement, did he watch them as they consumed away. I did not dare to
examine minutely the address on the letters, but, from the glance I had
of them, I could see they were all written in an elegant female hand.
When all were gone--"And this," said he, "is like to human life--a blaze
but for an instant, and then all is ashes." He paused, and then
continued, as he held a small packet in his hand, more in soliloquy than
if he were addressing me--"Here is the last sad relic I possess--shall
I?--Yes! yes! it shall go as the others have gone. How soon may I follow
it?" He stretched forth his hand towards me. I took the packet.
Instantly, as if the last tie which bound him to the earth had been
hastily snapped asunder, the captain fell backwards upon his couch. I
thrust the packet into my bosom, and ran to afford him assistance. He
was beyond human help--he was dead!

The grief of Mary knew no bounds when the dismal tidings were conveyed
to her; she was like one distracted. Mine was more chastened and
subdued.

The remains of the captain were duly consigned to that spot of earth he
had pointed out to me. After his death, there was found a conveyance of
all his property, which was pretty considerable, to Mary, accompanied
with a wish that I would marry her. To this arrangement Mary was quite
agreeable; and accordingly, our nuptials were solemnized in about six
months after the death of the captain. It was then that Mary confided to
me that she was the sister of Clara Douglas; but when I made inquiry at
her concerning the nature of her attachment to the captain, she always
avoided answering, and seemed not to wish that his name should be
mentioned in her hearing.

Several years passed, and I had forgotten all about the packet which the
captain on his death-bed had placed in my hand, till one day, in looking
for something else, which, of course, I could not find--(no one ever
finds what he wants)--I accidentally stumbled upon the packet. Curiosity
induced me to open it. A lock of black hair, tied with a piece of
light-blue ribbon, and a letter, were its contents. Part of the letter
ran thus:--"Enclosed is some of my hair--I don't expect you to keep it,
for I have heard you say you did not like to have any such thing in your
possession. I will not _ask_ you, lest I might be refused; but if you
give me some, I'll get it put into one of my rings, and shall never,
never part with it." This letter bore the signature of Clara Douglas!

Here, then, was a solution of all the mystery. The captain was the lover
of Clara, and this had been the cause of Mary's intimacy with him.

Of the fate of the brother I afterwards heard. He was killed in a street
brawl one night in Paris, and Mary never knew that he was the assassin
of the captain.



THE FAIR.


You may smile, reader, at the idea of a story entitled--THE FAIR; but
read on, and you may find it an appropriate title to a touching, though
simple tale. This may seem like the writer's praising his own
production--but that is neither here nor there amongst authors--it is
done every day; and not amongst authors only, but amongst all trades,
crafts, and professions. If a man does not speak well of his own wares,
whom does he expect to do it for him, when every person is busy selling
wares of his own? You know the saying--"He's a silly gardener that
lichtlies his ain leeks." But to go on with THE FAIR. On a Fair day,
nature always turns out hundreds of her best human specimens of
unsophisticated workmanship. Did you ever examine the countenances of a
rustic group around a stall covered with oranges and sweetmeats--a bevy
of rustic beauties, besieging the heart and the pockets of a rural
bachelor of two-and-twenty? The colour of one countenance is deep and
various as the rainbow--a second emulates the rose--a third the
carnation--while the face of a fourth, who is deemed the old maid of her
companions, is sallow as a daffodil after a north wind. There blue eyes
woo, and dark eyes glance affection, and ruby lips open with the jocund
laugh; and there, too, you may trace the workings of jealousy, rivalry,
and envy, and other passions less gentle than love, according as the
oranges and gingerbread happen to be divided amongst the fair
recipients. You, too, have heard the drum beat for glory, and the shrill
note of the fife ring through the streets, while a portly sergeant, with
a sword bright as a sunbeam, and unsheathed in his hand, flaunted his
smart cockade, or belike shook a well lined purse as he marched along,
or, halting at intervals, shook it again, while he harangued the gaping
crowd--"Now, my lads--now is the time for fortune and glory! There, by
Jupiter! there is the look--the shoulders--the limbs--the gait of a
captain at least! Join us, my noble fellow, and your fortune is
made--your promotion is certain! God save the King! Down with the
French!"--"Down wi' them!" cries a young countryman, flushed with "the
barley bree," and, borrowing the sword of the sergeant, waves it
uncouthly round his head--feels himself a hero--a Sampson--a Cæsar--all
the glories of Napoleon seem extinguished beneath his sword arm. "Down
wi' them!" he cries again more vehemently, and again--"Hurra for the
life of a sodger!"--and the next moment the ribbon streams from his
Sunday hat. On such incidents turns our present story.

Willie Forbes was a hind in Berwickshire. He was also the only child and
the sole support of a widowed mother, and she loved him as the soul
loveth the hope of immortality; for Willie was a dutiful son and a kind
one, and, withal, one of whom many mothers in Scotland might have been
proud; for his person was goodly as his heart was affectionate; and
often as his mother surveyed his stately figure, she thought to
herself--as a mother will--that "there wasna a marrow to her Willie in
a' braid Scotland." Now, it chanced that, before Willie had completed
his twenty-third year, they were "in need of a bit lassie," as his
mother said, "to keep up the bondage." Willie, therefore, went to Dunse
hiring, to engage a servant; but, as fate would have it, he seemed to
fix upon the most unlikely maiden for field-work in the market. At a
corner of the market-place, as if afraid to enter the crowd, stood a
lovely girl of about eighteen. Her name was Menie Morrison. "Are ye for
hiring the day, hinny?" said Willie, kindly. "Yes," was the low and
faltering reply. "And what place was ye at last?" "I never was in
service," said she; and as she said this, she faltered more. "An' where
does your father live--what is he?" continued Willie. "He is dead,"
answered Menie, with a sigh. Willie paused for a few moments, and
added--"And your mother?" "Dead, too!" replied the maiden; and tears
gushed into her eyes. "Puir thing! puir thing!" said Willie; "weel, I'm
sure I dinna ken what to say till't." "You may look at this," said she;
and she put into his hands a slip of paper. It was her character from
the minister of the parish where she had been brought up. "That's very
excellent," said Willie, returning the paper; "very satisfactory--very,
indeed. But--can ye--can ye hoe?" added he, hesitatingly. "Not well,"
answered she. "I like that, that's honest," added he; "hoein's easy
learned. Can ye milk a cow?" "No," she replied. "That's a pity,"
returned Willie. But he looked again in her face; he saw the tear still
there. It was like the sun gilding a summer cloud after a shower--it
rendered her face more beautiful. "Weel, it's nae great matter," added
he; "my mother can learn ye." And Willie Forbes hired Menie Morrison
through his heart. In a short time, Menie became an excellent servant.
Willie and his mother called her--"_our_ Menie." She loved her as a
daughter, he as a man loveth the wife of his bosom; and Menie loved both
in return. She had been two years in their service, and the wedding-day
of Menie and Willie was to be in three months. For a few weeks, Willie,
from his character and abilities, had been appointed farm-steward. He
looked forward to the day when he should be able to take a farm of his
own, and Menie would be the mistress of it.

But Berwick Fair came--Willie had a cow to sell, and Menie was to
accompany him to the fair. Now, the cow was sold, and Willie was
"gallanting" Menie and three or four of her companions about the
streets. He could not do less than bestow a fairing upon each; and he
led them to a booth where the usual luxuries of a fair were spread out.
At the booth, Willie found his master's daughter with some of her own
acquaintances. She was dressed more gaily than Menie Morrison, and her
face was also fair to look upon, but it wanted the soul, the charm that
glowed in the countenance of the humble orphan. It had long been
whispered about the farm-stead, and at the farm-steads around it, that
"Miss Jean was fond o' Willie Forbes;" and some even said that it was
through her partiality he obtained his stewardship. Menie had heard
this, and it troubled her; for more easily than a breath moves the down
on the thistle, will a word move the breast of a woman that loves. Miss
Jean accosted the young steward for her fairing. "Ye shall hae that,"
said Willie, "but there's naething guid enough here for the like o'
_you_--come awa to ane o' the shops." So saying, he disengaged his arm
from Menie Morrison's, and without thinking of what he did, offered it
to his master's daughter, and left Menie and her friends at the booth.
Poor Menie stood motionless, a mist seemed to gather before her eyes,
and the crowd passed before her as a dream. "Ye see how it is," observed
her companions; "_naething here guid enough for her_!--if ye speak to
him again, Menie, ye deserve to beg on the causie!" Her pride was
wounded--her heart was touched--a cloud fell upon her affections. Such
is human nature that it frequently happens revenge and love are at each
other's elbows.

Now, Menie was not without other admirers; and it so happened that one
of these, who had more pretensions to this world's goods than Willie
Forbes, came up at the moment, while her bosom was struggling with
bitter feelings. For the first time Menie turned not away at his
approach. He was more liberal in his fairings than Willie could have
been. As the custom then was, and in some instances still is, there were
the sounds of music and dancing. Willie's rival pressed Menie and her
companions to "step up and hae a reel." They complied, and she
accompanied them, scarce knowing what she did.

In a few minutes Willie returned to the booth, but Menie was not there.
His eyes wandered among the crowd--he walked up and down the streets,
but he found her not. Something told him he had done wrong--he had
slighted Menie. At length a "good-natured friend" informed him she was
dancing with young Laird Lister. The intelligence was wormwood to his
spirit. He hastened to the dancing-room, and there he beheld Menie, "the
observed of all observers," gliding among her rustic companions lightly
as you have seen a butterfly kiss a flower. For a moment and he was
proud to look upon her as the queen of the room; but he saw his rival
hand her to a seat and his blood boiled. He approached her. She returned
his salutation with a cold glance. Another reel had been danced--Willie
offered her his hand for her partner in the next. "I'm engaged," said
the hitherto gentle Menie; "but maybe Miss Jean will hae nae
objections--_if there's onything guid enough for her here_." At that
moment, Willie's rival put his arm through Menie's--she stood by his
side--the music struck up, and away they glided through the winding
dance! Willie uttered a short, desperate oath, which we dare not write,
and hurried from the room. But scarce had he left, till confusion and a
sickness of heart came upon Menie. She went wrong in the dance--she
stood still--her bosom heaved to bursting--she uttered a cry, and fell
upon the floor.

She, in her turn, felt that she had done wrong, and, on recovering, left
her companions, and returned home alone. She doubted not but Willie was
there before her. The road seemed longer than it had ever done before;
for her heart was heavy. She reached his mother's cottage. She listened
at the door--she heard not Willie's voice; and she trembled she knew not
why. She entered. The old woman rose to meet her. "Weel, hinny," said
she, "hae ye got back again? What sort o' a fair has there been? Where
is Willie?" Menie turned towards the bink, to lay aside her bonnet, and
was silent. "What's the matter wi' ye, bairn?" continued the old woman;
"is Willie no wi' ye; where is he?" "He is comin', I _fancy_," returned
Menie; and she sobbed as she spoke. "Bairn! bairn! there's something no
richt," cried the mother, "between ye. Some foolish quarrel, I warrant.
But tell me what he's done; and for sending my Menie hame greetin',
I'll gie him a hamecomin'!" "No, no, it wasna Willie's wyte," replied
Menie, "it was mine--it was a' mine. But dinna be angry." And here the
maiden unbosomed her grief, and the old woman took part with her,
saying--"Son as he's mine, ye just served him as he deserved, Menie."
Her heart grew lighter as her story was told, and they sat by the window
together watching one party after another return from the fair. But
Willie was not amongst them; and as it began to wax late, and
acquaintances passed, Menie ran to inquire of them if they had seen
anything of Willie; and they shook their heads and said, "No." And it
grew later and later, till the last party who left the fair had passed,
singing as they went along; but still there were no tidings of Willie.
Midnight came, and the morning came, but he came not. His mother became
miserable, and, in the bitterness of her heart, she upbraided Menie, and
Menie wept the more. They sat watching through the night and through the
morning, listening to every sound. They heard the lark begin his song,
the poultry leap from their roost, the cows low on the milk-maidens, and
the ploughman prepare for the field; yet Willie made not his appearance.
Time grew on till mid-day, and the misery of the mother and of Menie
increased. The latter was still dressed in the apparel she had worn on
the previous day, and the former throwing on her Sunday gown, they
proceeded to the town together to seek for him. They inquired as they
went along, and from one they received the information, "I thought I saw
him wi' the sodgers in the afternoon." The words were as if a lightning
had fallen on Menie's heart--his mother wrung her hands in agony, and
cried, "My ruined bairn!" And she cast a look on poor Menie that had
more meaning than kindness in it.

They reached the town, and as they reached it, a vessel was drawing
from the quay--she had recruits on board, who were to be landed at
Chatham, from whence they were to be shipped to India. Amongst those
recruits was Willie Forbes. When he rushed in madness from the
dancing-room, he met a recruiting party on the street--he accompanied
them to their quarters--he drank with them--out of madness and revenge
he drank--he enlisted--he drank again--his indignation kindled against
Menie and against his rival--he again swore at the remembrance of her
refusing him her hand--he drank deeper--his parent was forgotten--he
took the bounty--he was sworn in--and while the fumes of the liquor yet
raged in his brain, maddening him on and drowning reflection, he was
next day embarked for Chatham. The vessel had not sailed twenty yards
from the quay--Willie and his companions were waving their hats, and
giving three cheers as they pulled off--when two women rushed along the
quay. The elder stretched out her arms to the vessel; she cried wildly,
"Gie me back my bairn!--Willie! Willie Forbes!" He heard her screams
above the huzza of the recruits--he knew his mother's voice--he saw his
Menie's dishevelled hair; the poisonous drink died within him--his hat
dropped from his hand--he sprang upon the side of the vessel--he was
about to plunge into the river, when he was seized by the soldiers and
dragged below. A shriek rang from his mother and from Menie; those who
stood around them tried to comfort and pity them; and, by all but
themselves, in a few days the circumstance was forgotten.

"Who will provide for me now, when my Willie is gane?" mourned the
disconsolate widow, when the first days of her grief had passed. "I
will," answered Menie Morrison; "and your home shall be my home, and my
bread your bread, and the Husband o' the widow, and the Father o' the
orphan, will bring our Willie back again." The old woman pressed her to
her breast, and called her "her mair than daughter." They left the
farm-stead, and rented a very small cottage at some miles' distance, and
there, to provide for her adopted mother, Menie kept two cows; and, in
the neighbouring markets, her butter was first sold, and her poultry
brought the best price. But she toiled in the harvest-field--she sewed,
she knitted, she span--she was the laundress of the gentry in the
neighbourhood--she was beloved of all, and nothing came wrong to bonny
Menie Morrison. Four years had passed, and they had twice heard from
Willie, who had obtained the rank of sergeant. But the fifth year had
begun, and, from a family in the neighbourhood, Menie had received
several newspapers, that, as she said, she "might read to her mother
what was gaun on at the wars." She was reading an account of one of the
first victories of Wellington in the east, and she passed on to what was
entitled a GALLANT EXPLOIT. Her voice suddenly faltered--the paper shook
in her hands. "What is't--oh! what is't, Menie?" cried the old woman;
"is't onything aboot Willie?--My bairn's no dead?" Menie could not
reply; she pressed her hands before her eyes and wept aloud. "My son! my
son!" exclaimed the wretched widow--"oh! is my bairn dead?" The
paragraph which had filled Menie with anguish, stated that a daring
assault had been led on by Sergeant Forbes of the 21st, after his
superiors had fallen; but that _he also fell mortally wounded_ in the
moment of victory. I will not attempt to paint their sorrow. Menie put
on the garments of widowhood for Willie, and she mourned for him not
only many but every day. He had fallen in the arms of glory, yet she
accused herself as his murderer.

Five years more had passed. It was March; but the snow lay upon the
ground, and the face of the roads was as glass. A stranger gentleman had
been thrown from his horse in the neighbourhood of the widow's cottage.
His life had been endangered by the fall, and he was conveyed beneath
her lowly roof, where he remained for weeks, unable to be removed. He
was about fifty or sixty years of age, and his dress and appearance
indicated the military officer. Menie was his nurse; and if her beauty
and kindness did not inspire the soul of the veteran with love, they
moved it with sympathy. He wished to make her a return, and, at length,
resolved that that return should be an offer of his hand. He knew he was
in his "sere and yellow leaf," and his face was marked with wounds; but
for those wounds he had a pension; he had his half-pay as Major, and
three thousand pounds in the funds. He would show his gratitude by
tendering his hand and fortune to the village maiden. He made known his
proposal to the old woman--maternal feeling suggested her first reply:
"She was to be my Willie's wife," said she, ruefully, and wiped away a
tear; "she was to be my daughter--and she _is_ my daughter; I canna part
with my Menie." But prudence at length prevailed, and she added: "But
why should she be buried for me? No, sir, I winna wrang her; ye are owre
kind--yet she deserves it a', an' I will advise her as though she had
been my ain bairn." But Menie refused to listen to them.

When the sun began to grow warm in the heavens, a chair was brought to
the door for the invalid, and Menie and her mother would sit spinning by
his side, while he would recount his "battles, sieges, fortunes." And
thus, in an evening in May, as the sun was descending on the hills, ran
his story: "Fifty of us were made prisoners. We were chained man to man,
and cast into a dark, narrow, and damp dungeon. Our only food was a
scanty handful of rice, and a cup of water once in twenty-four hours.
Death, in mercy, thinned our numbers. A worse than plague raged amongst
us--our dead comrades lay amongst our feet. The living lay chained to a
corpse. All died but myself and my companion to whom I was fettered. He
cheered me in fever and sickness. He took the water from his parched
lips and held it to mine. And, maiden, I have been interested in you
for his sake; for in his sleep he would start, and mention the name of
Menie!"

"Oh, sir!" interrupted Menie and the old woman at once, "what--what was
his name?"

"If the world were mine, I would give it to know," replied the Major,
and continued: "He succeeded in breaking our fetters. We were left
unguarded. 'Let us fly,' said he; but I was unable to follow him. He
took me upon his shoulders. It was midnight. He bore me to the woods.
For five days he carried me along, or supported me on his arm, till we
were within sight of the British lines. There a party of native horsemen
came upon us. My deliverer, with no weapon but a branch which he had
torn from a tree, defended himself like a lion in its desert. But he
fell wounded, and was taken prisoner. A company of our troops came to
our assistance; I was rescued, but my noble deliverer was borne again
into the interior; and three years have passed, and I have heard no more
of him."

"But it is five years since my Willie fell," sighed Menie, Morrison. Yet
she brooded on the word--_Menie_.

A wayfaring man was seen approaching the cottage. As he drew near, the
eyes of the Major glistened--his lips moved--he threw down his crutch.
He started, unaided, to his feet--"Gracious Heaven!--it is himself!" he
exclaimed; "my companion!--my deliverer!"

The stranger rushed forward with open arms--"Menie!--mother!" he cried,
and speech failed him. It was Willie Forbes! Menie was on his bosom--his
mother's arms were round his neck--the old Major grasped his hand.
Reader, need I tell you more. Willie Forbes had fallen wounded, as was
thought, mortally; but he had recovered. He had been made a prisoner. He
had returned. Menie gave him her hand. The Major procured his
discharge, and made him his heir. He took a farm; and on that farm the
Major dwelt with them, and "fought his battles o'er again," to the
children of Willie and Menie Forbes.



THE SLAVE.


Some of the inhabitants of Edinburgh, who, some years since, were in the
habit of enjoying the pure air and delightful prospects which the head
of Burntsfield Links and the Burghmuirhead afford, may remember the
person of whose eventful life I am about to narrate a few passages. He
was a square-built, thick-set old man, short in stature, with a
weather-beaten countenance; which, though harsh in its expression at the
first glance, exhibited, in conversation, all the traits of a mind
influenced by humane sentiments and benevolent feelings. He was often to
be seen standing near the wells, at the south border of the Links, where
the females bleach their linen; gazing steadfastly upon them, his rough
features in continued change, as if some inward feelings completely
engrossed his whole faculties, and indulging in frequent mutterings, as
if the occupations of those whose motions he was observing had roused
some latent thoughts that had been laid up in his memory in former
years. When I saw him first, he was busy looking at a few sprightly
young females, whose loud laugh enlivened the scene of the
bleaching-ground, as they were splashing the water on each other in
merriment. His features had something fearful in them. Anger flashed
from his dark blue eyes, his shaggy eyebrows which covered them were
knit, his teeth were compressed; and such unaccountable passion I had
never seen so fearfully expressed. I almost shrunk from him; yet
curiosity detained me, and I saw his features gradually relax, and a
languid smile succeed his fearful frown. The change was as unaccountable
as the contrast was striking, and I could scarcely believe that I still
looked upon the same individual. The circumstance prejudiced me against
him; for I attributed his fixed gaze upon the females to a cause very
different from the true one; though why he should frown upon them I was
still at a greater loss to understand. I saw him every day on the
golfing ground; I wished for no intercourse with him, though there was a
strange anxiety in my mind to know more of him; and, often as I followed
the game we were busily engaged in, my eyes would involuntarily turn to
where he stood or walked; and so habituated did I become to his presence
that, when he was absent, I felt as if all was not as it used to be on
the golfing ground. No one of whom I made inquiries knew aught of him;
all I could learn was, that he was known by the name of the Captain, and
had a black servant, who, with an aged female, constituted his whole
household at Morningside, where he resided in one of those small
self-contained villas in that retreat.

One morning towards the end of September, I was up rather earlier than
usual, as I had engaged to accompany some friends upon a small party of
pleasure; and, taking a turn, I had sauntered down past Merchiston
Castle, to see how the reapers were getting on with their labour in the
harvest-fields. There I met the identical Captain, the subject of my
curiosity, coming up the road, accompanied by a female, who leant upon
his right arm as if she walked with difficulty; while in his left he
carried a young child, whose head lay upon his broad shoulder, pillowed
as if asleep, or depressed with sickness; and his black servant, who
bore a considerable burden, walked by their side. The female was
evidently poor, but neat and clean; and her features were pale as death,
with an expression of sickness and languor which roused my sympathy with
my approbation of the Captain's benevolence--for I was satisfied he was
engaged in an act of charity.

"Billy," I heard him say, "you had as well go on before, and tell Mary
to make all ready for our arrival. Poor thing!--she is a sailor's wife,
and one of us."

"Yes, Massa, I do so--gladly do so," replied the negro. And away he
moved from them, past me, with the bundle upon his arm; the smile that
lit up his black face giving it, in my estimation, a look more
interesting than I thought an African's could possess. The female looked
gratefully at her supporter; and, as the Captain gazed first at her,
then at her babe, I could see his clear blue eye glisten with tears--my
own heart swelled, my bad impressions left me in a moment, and I could
have put him in my bosom; I bowed to him with true reverence, as if I
asked pardon for the injustice I had done him, and he looked at me as if
he was gratified, and gently nodded his head--all the return he could
make, so fully occupied was he with his benevolent labours.

"My good sir," said I, "since you seem to be engaged in a noble act, may
I request to be allowed to lend my aid?"

"Certainly, with all my heart," replied he; "for I fear this good woman
gets on but poorly with all the assistance I can give her."

"God bless you both," said the woman, as I gave her my arm, "for your
kindness! Oh, my baby!--my poor baby, I fear, has got his death in the
cold of this miserable night. My husband! little did you think that your
Peggy was so near, and exposed to the bare heavens, sick and houseless,
or you would have come to her help."

I requested her not to exert herself; and, as we proceeded, I learned
that the Captain and Billy, having been out early, had found the female
and child in the middle of a group of reapers, who had discovered her at
the entrance of the field, chilled, and almost deprived of sense, with
the infant wrapped up in her bosom; and they had in part restored her to
some faint degree of consciousness when the Captain arrived, and took
the whole charge upon himself and his servant. The negro had used all
the expedition in his power, and met us before we reached the house.

"Massa," said he, "you give me the piccaninny--I carry it, if you
please."

The child opened its languid eyes as he laid hold of it; and, looking in
the negro's face, screamed with fright, leaned towards its mother, (who
soothed it with her voice, in vain,) and nestled once more upon the
Captain's shoulder, clasping its little arms friendly round his neck.

"Let him remain, Billy," said he; "I think the young one loves me."

In a few minutes we reached the house, where Mary received the female
and child with all a mother's care, while the Captain and I looked on
with feelings of satisfaction. I bade him adieu, promising to call in
the evening. The day on which I had anticipated to be so happy, hung
rather heavy upon my hands than otherwise; and I longed much for an
interview with the Captain, expecting, when an intimacy was established,
to be much amused with his conversation, as, from his appearance, he was
no common character, and he had already roused my curiosity, by some
broken hints of his adventures. I waited upon him, and found the female
much restored, and the negro nursing the child, who appeared as much
pleased with his nurse as he had been alarmed in the morning. After the
first compliments were exchanged, I learned that the woman was the wife
of a sailor, and on her way to Leith, to join him. She had journeyed on
foot from Lanark, where she had been living with her mother during the
time he had been on a voyage to the South Seas. Having got accounts of
his arrival in London, and his being to be in Leith, where he had got a
berth in one of the Leith and London smacks, and where he wished her to
come and reside, she had set out, but come off her road to visit a
relation she had, who resided in Colinton, and with whom she had
intended to stay during the night; but, unfortunately, she found that
her relation had been dead for some weeks. The shock and grief had a
great effect upon her; and, having no other acquaintance in the place,
she had resolved to proceed to Edinburgh, as she calculated there was
sufficient time for her to do so before it would be dark, and the
weather was delightful. Oppressed with her bundle, and sunk by her
grief, she had plodded on, in hopes of soon meeting the husband of her
love; yet still her progress was slow, and the sun had set for some
time, and the shades of evening had begun to thicken, ere she reached
Craig-Lockhart; but the spires of the distant city began to rise in
view, and she hoped soon to see the end of her toil, when, from
over-exertion, or some other cause, she became sick and faint--her limbs
bent beneath her--and with difficulty she made her way to a gate, to be
off the roadside, in hopes that the attacks would soon go off, and she
would resume her way. She fainted; and, when she came to her senses
again, her babe was crying piteously upon her bosom. It was completely
dark; and, after stilling the child, she in vain attempted to rise and
resume her journey. It was far beyond her strength; and fear, bordering
on despair, took possession of her mind. It was very chill; and,
covering her infant in the best manner she could from the cold, she,
almost without hope, commended herself to God, and, weeping, resigned
herself calmly to her fate. She never expected to survive until the
morning. The tedious hours rolled on, she knew not how--her child slept
soundly, and her heart was in close communion with that merciful God who
sustained her in all this misery--until the voices of the reapers
sounded upon her ears like heavenly music, and hope once more warmed her
breast; yet she was, at their first coming up, so weak that she could
scarcely speak--a symptom that surprised her, for she was unconscious of
her extreme exhaustion, and her heart was hale from the manner in which
she had employed her thoughts during the cheerless hours.

This is almost the words of the poor creature, who now was able to move
about, and expressed a wish to proceed to Leith--a step that would not
be heard of by the Captain, who said he would not allow her to depart
until he had ascertained that her husband had arrived; and the name of
the smack in which he sailed having been ascertained, we looked into the
newspapers for the arrivals and departures at Leith, and found that the
_Czar_ had not arrived. The grateful Margaret agreed to remain, to the
delight of the negro, who appeared as fond of the child as if it had
been his own. At the Captain's request, I agreed, with pleasure, to stay
supper.

"How I do love black Billy!" said my host; "this is a new trait of him;
he is bold as a lion, faithful as a dog, and yet mild as a lamb."

"Sir," said I, "you appear to have a great regard for your black
servant; I believe, from what I see, he is worthy of it."

"He is not my servant," said he--"he is my friend; yet it would grieve
him to see any one do any little office for me, besides himself. He is
as humble as he is good; and if you knew his history and mine, you would
not be surprised at what I now say of him."

"Nothing that I know of would give me more pleasure," replied I, "than
to know a little more of him and his friend, would he be so kind as
oblige me."

"With all my heart," replied the old man, "if you have the patience to
hear me."

Supper was at this time brought in by Billy, and soon despatched, when
we drew in our chairs, and, seated by the fireside, I felt as if I had
been on intimate terms with him for many years.

"My name is William Robertson," he began; "I am a native of Edinburgh,
born within the sound of St. Giles' bells. My parents were once in a
respectable line of business; but they died when I was very young,
leaving me to the care of my paternal uncle--for I was an only child.
This uncle, who has long since rendered his account at that
judgment-seat where we must all appear, took possession of all my
father's property, and became tutor to me. I was too young, at the time,
to know my loss, but soon felt it in all its bitterness; for he used me
very ill, so much so that I trembled at his voice. I was quite
neglected, and allowed to ramble about as much as I pleased, amongst the
other idle boys of the neighbourhood. I could read and write a little at
the death of my parents, which was all the instruction I received. I was
now nearly thirteen; and, as my uncle's abuse became quite intolerable
to me, I left the house, boy as I was, and entered on board a trader at
Leith, which was on the point of sailing for America. The captain, who
was one of the best of men, waited upon my uncle before we sailed; and,
I believe, as much by threat of compulsion by law, as any entreaty he
used, got from him a few necessaries for me--for, besides his other ill
usage, he kept me miserably clad. The five years I sailed in the
_Bounty_ of Leith, were the happiest I had ever spent--for my kind
master had me taught navigation, and everything necessary for a seamen
to know; but, in the middle of this prosperity, when I was to have been
made his mate next voyage, the American war broke out, and I was
impressed as soon as our vessel cast anchor in Leith Roads. I was only
grieved to be parted from my kind captain, who was as vexed to leave
me--but in vain he applied to have me set at liberty; and, to be short,
I served out the period of the war, and was in a good deal of service.
The seventy-four I was in being; on the West India station, I was not
paid off for some months after the peace. On arriving at Portsmouth, I
followed the usual course of sailors; and, having gone to amuse myself
with some of my shipmates, I got robbed of all I had in the world; and,
when I came to my senses, I found I had not even a sixpence in my
pocket, a shoe on my feet, or a hat on my head. I was thus in a strange
place, quite destitute; but I soon got a loan of some money from one of
my comrades, who had been more prudent or more fortunate than myself,
and set off for London to proceed to Leith. I learned there, from a
Leith trader, that the _Bounty_ had been taken by the French, and that
my old captain had left going to sea; so I gave up all thoughts of
returning to Leith. Berths were at this time not to be obtained--the
seamen were to be seen wandering upon the quays of every port, begging
for employment in vain; and thus, young and vigorous as I was, I was
reduced to great want. In this dilemma, I thought of writing to my
uncle--being advised by one of my acquaintances, who knew much more of
the world than I did, to do so, and threaten to call him to account for
his intromissions with my father's effects, if he did not send me, by
return of post, a few pounds for my immediate wants. I waited most
anxiously for an answer, which I duly received; but it brought me no
supply, and I learned that he had been for a long time bankrupt, and was
at this time, if possible, in greater want than myself. In a day or two
after, I got a berth in a Bristol trader, whose master was an old
messmate of mine, and who having told me I had a better chance in
Bristol than in London, I cheerfully made the run; but I found berths as
difficult to be obtained there as in London; and, in this desperate
state of my affairs, I was persuaded to go a voyage to the coast of
Africa, in a slaving ship--a species of employment that no seaman will
engage in if he can do better. The men are in general not well used; and
the danger is great as regards life, both from fatigue and the climate.
You must not judge of me by this voyage; for the slave trade was then as
legitimate as any other branch of commerce, and much the same, for
popularity or unpopularity, as it is in America at the present time."

"I don't think harshly of you on this account," replied I; "I only beg
you to be as circumstantial as you can regarding this inhuman branch of
traffic, now so happily destroyed by the unwearied efforts of Christian
benevolence."

"To proceed, the vessel lay at King's Road, waiting my arrival on board,
to overhaul her stores, to see what might be awanting. Her name was the
_Queen Charlotte_; she mounted twenty-two guns; her captain was called
by the seamen the Gallipot Captain, as he had formerly been doctor on
board the same vessel, and, her captain having died in her last voyage,
he was now the commander, in consequence of having brought her home. I
went on board in the captain's boat, which was waiting for me, and to my
great joy, found an old messmate who had sailed in the Exeter man-of-war
with me. He was now second-mate of the _Queen Charlotte_, and I was
engaged as boatswain. We were soon ready for sea; and unmoored about
eight o'clock, the wind chopping about to the east. The captain and
pilot came on board through the night, and we set sail for the African
coast on the morning of the 1st of May, 1788. We passed the island of
Madeira on the 8th of the month; and having got beyond the Canary and
Cape de Verd islands, all became bustle on board, making preparations
for the coast; the carpenters fitting up barricades to keep the male and
female slaves apart, and the cooper getting ready all the tubs and
vessels for their use. Though in anticipation, I may say that the males
are never allowed to see the females until they are put on shore. The
children are with the women, in general; but are at times allowed to run
at large all over the ship; and merry little creatures they are, and
soon pick up a number of English words. The first land we made was Cape
Palmas.

"Still steering along the coast, keeping a good offing, until we passed
Cape Three Points and Cape Coast Castle, we crossed the Bight of Benin,
and made the land again, which is so low that you can scarce distinguish
it from the water--the tall palms resembling a large fleet of ships. The
weather was so thick and hazy that we lay at the Bar five days before
we could venture in--the tide running so strong, at full moon, that it
is with difficulty the boats can pull against it. Upon our getting up,
we found about thirty sail of large ships, some of them fitted up for
one thousand slaves, all (save a few completely slaved) waiting for
cargoes, several with none on board, and others half-full. There was one
sad memento of the unhealthiness of this vile place which made a deep
impression on me, thoughtless as I was. There was a beautiful French
ship lying at anchor off the town, without one single person alive on
board that had come out in her from Europe--captain, doctor, and all had
died; and the agent had written to the owners to send out a new crew,
either to complete the voyage or carry her back to France. This was a
sad sight for us; and we all heartily wished ourselves safe out of a
place where never a day passed without two, three, or more European
sailors being rowed on shore, from the ships, to be buried. I shall not
wound your feelings by all the details of this disgusting traffic. We
longed much for King Peppel, the sovereign of the place, to come on
board, to break trade, as it is called; for no native merchant dare
either to buy or sell until he has got his 'dash' or present, and made
his selection of the goods that are on board, at the same time that he
fixes the prices himself. At times his Majesty is very backward, and a
long time elapses before he comes on board--for he is as cunning and
political as any European statesman that ever penned a protocol; but the
captain, who had been often here before, knew well the customs of the
place, and how to entice him quickly to his wishes. In the morning,
after we were all prepared, he sent his boat to the town, under the
command of the mate, who carried a private 'dash' for his Majesty,
consisting of a blue uniform, all covered with gold lace, so stiff that
it would scarcely fold. This had the desired effect; for the answer was,
that he would visit the _Queen Charlotte_ next day--and this was the
ninth since our arrival.

"In the morning all was again bustle, preparing for a sumptuous dinner
for the king, in which there behoved not to be forgot a huge
plum-pudding, and a roast pig, two dishes upon which depend the good or
ill humour of his Majesty; and the larger the fragments are, the better
is his humour, as all that is not consumed at the time is taken ashore
with him. It was necessary that everything of value should be carefully
put out of sight; for the moment it attracts the attention of the king,
he will immediately ask for it, and never cease to importune until he
has obtained it. There is no use in refusing, if you mean to trade; and
all you can do, is to make the best terms for yourself you can, on the
principle of present for present.

"About eleven o'clock, we heard from the shore a confused sound of drums
and horns; and, soon after, the royal canoe, formed of one single tree,
put off in great state, with nearly one hundred men paddling her along,
her colours flying, and about a dozen of musicians in her bow, some
blowing upon antelopes' horns, others beating upon drums and other
things, and the remainder chanting or singing in a voice as melodious as
the horns and drums. His Majesty sat upon a platform, in an arm-chair,
in the centre of the canoe, surrounded by his favourites, all of whom he
invites to his feasts. They were dressed agreeably to their tastes--his
Majesty's uniform consisting of a cocked hat, a blue laced coat and red
vest, with a shirt ruffled at breast and wristbands, and about six or
seven yards of calico wrapped round his loins; while his legs and feet
were wrapped in flannel, as he was at this time suffering from gout. He
appeared to be about fifty years of age, portly in his appearance, but
extremely fat. When he was hoisted upon deck, his attendants carried
him, chair and all, into the cabin, where they passed a jovial
afternoon, and matters were arranged to the satisfaction of all parties.
The king had seven puncheons of brandy, and other articles in the same
proportion, for his dash; which was immediately put on shore.

"Next forenoon, our decks were crowded by the native merchants,
bargaining for the cargo, which was soon arranged, and the half of the
value paid in advance--a custom rendered necessary, from the traders not
having the slaves in the town, but being obliged to go up the river to
purchase them at the new moon. This being in a few days, we had to wait
patiently. On the night before they set out, the sound of drums and
horns never ceased, while parties with lighted torches were to be seen
all along the beach, down to the water's edge, placing offerings of
fowls, manilla, and dried fish, upon stakes, for the use of their
jew-jew or god, that he might give them a prosperous voyage. The object
of their worship is the guana, a creature having much the same
appearance as the alligator, but smaller; and so completely domesticated
that they go out and in to the huts at pleasure. Indeed, the natives
build huts for them, where victuals are regularly placed every day.

"On the morning, they set off with their canoes loaded deep with goods,
and well armed. Of the proceeds of this expedition we only got twenty
slaves, with assurance that our cargo would be completed next trip, as
they had made arrangements up the country for more. Of those we received
at this time, all had to get their hurts fomented and dressed, so much
had they been injured, from the manner in which they had been secured by
the traders; and it was some days before they were completely recovered.
The gyves we put on did not gall the ankles, while they were secure; but
their greatest inconvenience was that, on whatever occasion one had to
move, the companion of his chain had to accompany him. During our
tedious stay, it was my duty often to go to King Peppel's town for
water, and there I recollect well, I met a handsome young female slave,
who used to weep much, and importune me, in Negro English, to purchase
and carry her to the West Indies with me. I was much surprised at this
request, for the blacks are in general very averse to leave the country;
and having made inquiry into her history, found it to be most cruel. I
never was so sorry for a slave as I was for that young creature. She had
been taken captive at the surprisal and plunder of her native town--her
husband having escaped--and, being heavy with child, had been delivered
on her way to the coast, where she and her infant were shipped for the
West Indies. In the voyage out, the captain having taken a fancy to her
person, kept her in his cabin, and did not sell her, but brought her
again to Bonny, where he had come for a new cargo. It so happened that
her husband had, like herself, been reduced to slavery, and was brought
on board the very ship in which she was. Her feelings may more easily be
conceived than described. Neither flattery nor punishment could make her
comply with the captain's wishes; and he was so provoked, that he
exchanged her for another slave with King Peppel, who had passed his
word never to sell her to any one of the European traders. Her husband
and child were meanwhile carried away, and she was left behind, to
linger out a life of hopeless grief.

"Let me hasten to leave this horrible place. I could make your heart
sick by relating a hundredth part of what I was forced to witness. As to
what happened in our own ship, I cannot avoid. After next new moon, we
received the remainder of our cargo--four hundred slaves, male and
female. The receiving them on board is the most heart-breaking and
disagreeable part of the whole of a slaving voyage. When they come first
on board, extreme terror is expressed in every feature; and their tears
and groans while being put in irons few hearts can withstand, even
though hardened by two or three voyages. This was my first and last; I
cursed my folly a thousand times, and would have rejoiced to have been
a beggar in Scotland rather than where I was. The men are chained by the
ankles, two and two, then placed within their own barricade; so that
husband and wife, sister and brother, may be in the same ship, and not
know of it. When they come first on board, many of them refuse to eat or
drink, rather choosing to die than live, and thinking we only wish them
to feed, that they may become fat and fit for our eating--a prejudice
many of them firmly believe in, and founded on the notion that the
whites are men-eaters, and purchase them to carry to market like
bullocks. While this feeling is in their mind, which is called the sulky
fit, there is much trouble with them. The men remain silent and sullen,
the women weep and tremble. Arguments, could we speak the different
tongues, would be of no avail--the cat is the only remedy; and that is
administered until they comply. The sight of it, or a few strokes in
general, is sufficient for the females; but many of the males will stand
out a long time, and, during the flogging, never utter a groan--snapping
their fingers in the face of their tormenters, and crying, 'O Furrie! O
Furrie!' (Never mind!) always a sure token of their despair and
recklessness. We were very fortunate in getting our cargo so soon. We
had two or three visits of King Peppel alongside in his begging
disguise--and wished no more. His custom was to visit each ship, meanly
dressed, and in a whining voice, equivalent to a demand, beseech an
alms--and he never begged in vain, for the royal beggar always got a
handsome present; and, indeed, the ultimate success of the voyage
required this, in consequence of his unlimited power over his subjects.

"Having got on board the lime-juice and other necessaries, all we
required was the royal leave to depart; and at length his Majesty came
on board, in as great state as at first--the same scene was acted over
again--his parting-present was little inferior to the former, the
difference being, that this was called a farewell present, and was
returned by a man slave, and two elephant's teeth. The price of a prime
male slave was, at this time, in Bonny, equal to an elephant's tooth of
sixty-five pounds weight, or one thousand billets of red wood--nearly
£10 of English money.

"Next day we set sail for St. Vincent, to our great joy, having lain
here exactly six weeks and one day. Both the crew and the slaves began
to grow very sickly. The duties of the crew were very severe, and, as
disease prevailed, these became more and more disagreeable. As you seem
interested, I will give you a faint, unconnected sketch of the run; but
I would much rather pass it over, though the _Queen Charlotte_ was
remarked for her care and humanity to the slaves. To proceed:--

"Next morning, the negroes were forced upon deck, and the place where
they had passed the night upon the bare boards, naked as they were born,
was scrubbed with lime-juice, until every stain was removed. When upon
deck, chained by the ankles, two and two, a strict watch behoved to be
kept over them, to prevent them from throwing themselves overboard--a
remedy for their sufferings they are keen to resort to for the first
fortnight; and, when the state of the weather would permit, the drum and
fife being played, they were compelled to dance at least twice a day, to
make their blood circulate, and promote their health. At these times,
there was such a clanking of chains and stamping upon the decks, you
would have thought they would have been beaten to pieces by them; and no
wonder, when they were about two hundred lusty fellows, all in violent
exercise at one time. At first the cat was forced to be employed; but
they are very fond of the drum, and soon call of themselves for
"jiggery-jigg," as they term it; will take the instruments themselves,
beat their own time in their own way, and dance away in then own
fashion.

"We had four or five different nations on board. Of one nation we had
only twenty, and these we found were more than enough, from the trouble
they gave us, forcing us to confine them by themselves, as all the other
nations were afraid of them, and said they were men-eaters. These stood
nearly six feet high, and stout in proportion; their teeth were ground
to a point, and fitted into each other like a rat-trap; their nails were
long and strong; they were sullen and untractable, and of consequence
often flogged to make them eat, at which times their looks, as they
snapped their fingers in your face, and growled 'O Furrie!' to one
another, were horrible. In vain was all our care and attention to them,
and every indulgence consistent with the safety of the ship. They had
each two glasses of brandy, and sometimes three, per day; but some
nations would not taste it, while others would drink as much as we would
have given them. Those who did not take their allowance would keep it in
their bekka, (cocoa-nut shell;) and when any of the crew did them any
little service, they would wait an opportunity, and beckon as slily as
possible, and give it to them. It was really beautiful to witness their
kindness to each other of the same nation. If any of us gave one of them
a piece of salt beef--of which they were very fond, but of which they
were allowed none, for fear of creating thirst--he that got it, though
it were no larger than my finger, would pull it, fibre by fibre, and
divide it equally, making, with scrupulous accuracy, his own proportion
no larger than any of the others; while the man that gave it would get
the grateful negro's day's allowance of liquor for it, when we went
below to secure them for the night. Before they were turned below, they
were carefully searched, lest they had concealed a nail, or any bit of
iron, in their bekka, or little bag, by which they might have been
enabled to undo their chains; and in the mornings, their irons and
berths were as carefully examined. But what availed our care and
attention, where sickness and death reigned triumphant? Never a day
passed but one or two were thrown overboard, some days three; and,
during our run to St. Vincent, of six weeks, we lost, out of a cargo of
four hundred, one hundred and twenty. Two of the crew also died, and I
myself was given up for death by the captain; but, contrary to his and
my own expectation, I recovered rapidly. After I began to get
convalescent, I had picked up a few of the poor creatures' words, and
did my best, weak as I was, to relieve their wants, which were very
urgent. The captain, from the very first, when he observed my dislike to
the service I had engaged in, and the pity expressed in my looks, told
me to take it easy, for that I would soon get accustomed to it. But I
never could. Their complaints and piteous moans ceased not, night nor
day. Although they were, in the night, confined below, and the crew had
slung their hammocks on deck, under a spare sail, or anywhere they
thought they would be most out of the sounds, still their moanings
disturbed our sleep. Vain was the threat, 'Nappy becca--paum paum,' (Be
quiet--I will beat you,) and the cat shaken over them. 'Eerie eerie
cucoo' (I am sick plenty) was the reply. 'Biea de biea' (I want the
doctor) sounded from every part; but 'Biea menie' (I want water) was the
constant cry at all times--yet we were liberal in our allowance, and
constantly supplying them with it.

"We gave them hot tea, when sick, made of pepper and boiled water, which
they relished very much, crying often--'Biea de biea ocko menie--eerie
eerie cucoo.' (I want the doctor and hot water--I am very sick.) This
would often be repeated from twenty voices at once, in their soft,
plaintive manner of speaking, as they gathered confidence from the time
they had been on board. As long as they were able to move, we forced
them to the deck; but we in general found them dead in the morning, when
we went below to send them up. Often did the companion of the dead man's
chain feign death, to be thrown overboard with him; but the cat was
always applied to test him, and he was kept alive against his will. All
this happened oftenest within the first fortnight or three weeks; for,
by the fourth week, we had gained their confidence in a great measure,
and their fears had worn off. The captain's custom was, when we found
any one of them cheerful, and apparently easy in mind, to take off their
chains, clothe them in a pair of trowsers and frock, and give them a
charge over their fellows. Then they became proud, and stalked over the
deck like admirals--and none more ready with the cat than they. Thus we
gained upon them fast--the others envying those whom they saw dressed
and trusted; so that, before we reach the end of the voyage, they were
all, except some indomitable spirits, clothed, and walking the deck.
Though still strictly watched, we allowed some of them to go aloft, and
they soon became useful, more especially the boys, who before they left
the vessel, were, some of them, no despicable seamen. When freed of
their irons, and dressed, if they got the loan of a razor, or even a
piece of broken bottle, they would shave, and cut their hair in their
own fashion, and become, if possible, more vain and proud of their
appearance. In the middle of this heart-rending misery, at least to me,
there was one ray of light that enlivened the gloom.

"We had on board of us a son of Bonnyface, the prime minister or chief
favourite of King Peppel. He had been intrusted to Captain Waugh, as a
great favour, to take him to England for his education, and we were to
take him out again next voyage. Billy Bonnyface acted on board like a
ministering angel. He was a sweet boy, and of great service to the
captain, in soothing and giving confidence to the slaves, and attending
the sick. He felt most acutely for their distress, and was constantly
pleading with the captain for some little comfort or other for them--the
tears streaming down his ebony face, in which the unsophisticated
workings of his young mind were more moving than his words. All looked
upon him as a friend, while by those whose language he spoke he was
almost adored. All the crew, too, loved him; for to every one of them he
had rendered some little service, by interceding for them with the
captain, over whom his influence was great. A smarter or more active boy
I never saw; he spoke English, for a negro, very well, and took great
delight in teaching the black boy-slaves, who learned amazingly fast. I
know not how it was, but little Billy loved me more than any other of
the crew, and I can safely say there was no love lost. When he had a
moment at leisure he was ever with me. You can judge by my looks if
there was anything comely in them; yet the dear boy often hung round my
neck and kissed me, while I held him to my bosom, and he called me Dad
Robion."

Here the worthy captain paused, as if from extreme emotion. I felt as if
I could have wept myself. He hastily resumed--

"I am an old fool. I shall go on, if I don't sicken you with my gossip."

"Proceed," I said--"in charity, proceed."

"I thank you," he replied. "Till now I had almost persuaded myself that
no one cared for what I said, but Billy." And here he rung the bell, and
the negro entered. "Billy," said he, "it wears late; bring an extra
glass, and take your wonted seat."

"Tank you, massa," said the negro; "rather sit wit Mary. Picaninny no
sleep yet."

"Well, Billy, as you please," he said, and resumed.

"On proceeding to the southward, we got becalmed eleven days in 2° east
longitude. After a few days lying logging and motionless upon the water,
despondency began to take possession of our minds; our water and
provisions were wearing fast away, and the slaves dying fast, three and
four being often thrown overboard at once. The most gloomy and fearful
ideas began to occupy our minds--death stared us in the face, and we
were utterly powerless. On the tenth day, the men began to gather
together in parties, and whisper what they feared to speak aloud. They
looked with an evil eye upon our chief mate, who was both feared and
hated; to the crew he was tyrannical, but to the slaves he was cruel in
the extreme; and little Billy avoided him as if he had been a fiend. He
was, indeed, a hardened slaver of many years' standing; but the
circumstance that would have sealed his doom was, that, on his last
voyage to the coast, the ship he was in had been becalmed in the same
latitude for twenty weeks; the captain, doctor, and all on board
perished, except himself, two boys, and two of the slaves, out of
forty-six Europeans and four hundred slaves, which they left the coast
with. This was a subject he never wished to hear mentioned, and did all
in his power to avoid being spoken to about; but he and I being on the
best of terms, in consequence of my having laid him under deep
obligation to me at Bonny, he yielded to my request, and gave me the
following details:--

"'We left the coast of Africa all well,' he said; 'in better health than
common, and in high spirits. Nothing particular happened until we were
about the place where we now are, when we had, first, variable winds for
some days; then all at once it fell a dead calm, and our sails hung
loose upon our masts. We felt no uneasiness at first, as such things
are usual in these latitudes; and we only regretted the loss we were
sustaining in our cargo, who had become very sickly, and were dying
fast. Thus three weeks passed on, and despair began to steal upon
us--our provisions and water began to threaten a short-coming, and it
was now agreed to shorten our allowance of both, until a breeze sprung
up. Our crew were listlessly loitering about the deck, and adding to the
horrors of our situation by relating dismal stories which they had heard
of vessels becalmed in these latitudes; and their spirits sank still
lower and lower. Thus, week followed week, and no relief came--our
despondency deepened--more than one-half of our slaves were already
dead; and, by the fourteenth week, our water was almost spent, when it
was debated by the crew whether we should not force the remainder of the
slaves overboard. We were reduced to perfect skeletons by anxiety and
want; and the slaves were much worse off than even we. When the result
of the council was made known to the captain and mate, they gave a
decided refusal, and armed themselves, threatening to shoot the first
man who would again propose it; and it was again agreed to shorten yet
further our scanty allowance of water. On the sixteenth week, the
Europeans began to die as fast as the slaves, who were now reduced to
one hundred and four, the crew to thirty-six. Our sufferings were
terrible. Our thirst parched and shrivelled up our throats. So listless
were we, that the slaves were now allowed to be at large, and many of
them leaped overboard, yelling fearfully as they splashed in the water,
we not caring to prevent them, but rather wishing that they might all
immolate themselves in the same way. We scarcely ever slept when we lay
down; our torments were so great that we would start up in a state of
stupefaction, and wander over the deck like ghosts, until we sank down
again, exhausted. The eyes of all were dim, some glaring bloodshot, red
as raw beef. Several of the crew leaped overboard in a state of wild
derangement; others would be walking or conversing in their usual way,
and suddenly drop down dead, expiring without a groan. Thus did we
linger out eighteen weeks, when the captain took to his cabin, and died
through the night. Death's progress was fearful until the end of the
nineteenth week, when all that remained alive out of such a number,
were, of the Europeans, only myself and two boys, who kept up better
than the men, and two young slaves. But by this time, there was no
distinction between black and white: we lay, side by side, looking over
the bulwarks of the vessel upon the glassy expanse of water; then to our
sails that hung upon our masts like sere-cloths; then at each other--and
our hearts felt as if they had ceased to beat. The heat was intolerable.
We had only half a barrel of water on board, and such water as none
ashore would have allowed to remain in their house; it was putrid, yet
we were grieved at the smallness of the quantity; for in our present
condition it was more precious than gold or diamonds, and was to us most
sweet. There was still as little appearance of a wind springing up as on
the first day of the calm. I was thus in possession of the vessel,
without the means of working her, should a breeze spring up. The fear of
this made me enlarge the allowance of water to the two slaves and boys,
as on their lives my only chance of escape depended; for, were they to
die, I must, like all my fellows, also die in the calm, or become the
sport of the winds and waves, when this appalling stillness in nature
should cease to chain me to this fatal spot. How could I express what we
felt when we first beheld the ripple upon the distant waters, as the
long-looked for wind came gently along! We stretched out our arms, we
wept like children, and the burning drops smarted upon our chopped and
blistered faces--the breeze reached our decks, we felt as if our thirst
had fled and we were bathed in pure water so balmy did it feel. The
sails that had hung loose upon the yards for twenty weeks began to
fill. The vessel moved through the water; I stood at the helm; and we
soon left this fatal latitude far behind. I never left the deck until we
arrived at Barbadoes. When overcome by sleep, one of the boys steered by
the directions I gave, until I awoke again, and took the helm; and when
the pilot came on board, as we neared the island, we had not one gill of
water in the ship.'

"My heart sank within me," continued the Captain, "at this recital. We
were in the same place, and had every prospect of sharing a similar
fate. We were on short allowance of water; and it is the remembrance of
these few fearful days that, as I walk alone, will at times even yet
come over my mind, and, while their horror is upon me, vivid as it was
at the time, if I see water recklessly wasted, I feel angry, until the
illusion has fled, and then I bless God that I am in the middle of green
fields, and not that watery waste that glowed like a furnace from the
intense rays of the sun, and where nothing met the anxious gaze of the
sufferer but an expanse of water and sky, both equally bright and
unvaried, without cloud in the one or swell in the other, all still as
death, save any noise in the vessel, which, if ever so small, was, at
this time, fearfully acute to our ears. On the afternoon of the eleventh
day, fortunately for the mate, and equally so for us all, a breeze came
rustling along the waters, our sails filled, and we glided along with
joyful hearts. Great was the deliverance to us all, but greatest to that
threatened victim; for, had we continued many days in the same
situation, the ship's crew would have made a Jonah of him and thrown him
overboard, as the man himself did not hesitate to say our bad fortune
was solely on his account.

"On our arrival at St. Vincent, the slaves became very dull and
low-spirited, especially when they saw from our decks the gangs of
negroes at work in the fields, as we passed up along the shores of the
islands. We were now all busy preparing them for the market,--that is,
giving them frocks and trowsers, and making them clean; while the
captain sent on shore for the black decoys, to raise their spirits and
give them confidence. These decoys are black women, who are some of them
free, and others slaves. They make a trade of it, and are well paid; the
money, if they are free, being their own--if slaves, their masters
receive it. They come on board gaily dressed, covered with tinsel and
loaded with baubles, of which they have a great many to give away to the
slaves. As soon as they come on board, under pretence of looking for
relations or former friends, (the decoys are of all of the different
nations that come from the coast,) they address each in their own
tongue; tell them a number of cock-and-bull stories; point to
themselves; profess all manner of joy to see them in this land of wealth
and happiness, where they will soon be as gay and happy as they are;
and, to show their riches and friendship for them, distribute the
baubles among them before they leave the vessel. This has all the
desired effect. The poor creatures immediately become full of spirits,
and anxious to get on shore. The business of the voyage was now
accomplished; for they were all sold by the agents on shore, and we knew
no more of them. As soon as the ship was cleared of the slaves, the
carpenters commenced to take down the barricades, and we to prepare for
returning home, taking in water for ballast. I had no wish to return to
Britain at this time, as berths were so difficult to be had when I left
home, and I told Captain Waugh so; but he refused to let me leave the
vessel, for he had not many good seamen in his crew; and I having signed
the articles for the whole voyage, did not choose to forfeit my wages
thus dearly won--so I at once made up my mind to return, and thought no
more of it. We remained here for seven weeks before the captain got all
his business settled, during which time I would have wearied very much,
had it not been for little Billy, who was seldom from my side. As I went
very little ashore, he preferred staying with me to going even with the
captain, who was as well pleased at the choice, as his sole object was
to be well spoken of by the boy to his father when they returned to the
coast, that he might have the favour of old Bonnyface, who was King
Peppel's chief minister, and had greater influence with him than any of
his other favourites.

"Billy himself was one of the sweetest tempered and smartest boys of his
age I ever saw, yet irascible to madness at the least affront from any
one; for his nature had never been subject to the least training, and
his passions were under no control. His countenance was the true index
of his heart; and if any of the men intentionally gave him offence, his
large black eyes would flash in an instant, he would spring at them like
a tiger, to tear them with his teeth, and it would be some time before
we could get him appeased; but, when the rage died away, he would think
no more of it, nor would he complain to the captain, as he knew that the
man would have been punished. However, it was only when some of the crew
returned on board the worse of liquor, that they ever meddled with him;
for otherwise there was not a man in the ship but would have as soon
thought of leaping overboard, as giving him the slightest offence.

"Billy began to weary to get under way as much as myself; and when I
asked him why he was so anxious to get to Britain, he replied, simply--

"'I much want to make book speak! You make book speak! Dad Robion, and
all white man make book speak! Dat gives much power, dat make big
man--so me wish to make book speak.'

"'I am happy,' I said, 'to hear you say so. Will you learn if I teach
you, Billy, while we lie here? It will be so far good for you that you
will not have to begin when we reach Bristol.'

"'You make my heart glad,' he replied. 'You teacha me--me all heart, me
all attention, me never tink but what you say.' And he threw his arms
round my neck.

"I was much affected, and seriously thought about what I had undertaken;
for there were many difficulties to surmount--the greatest of which was
the want of a proper book to begin with. There was not such a thing on
board; so I got from the carpenter a smooth board, and formed the
letters, telling him their names, and giving them to him to form after
me. This he took the utmost delight in, and learned amazingly fast, for
he was ever at his board; and, before we left the island, he knew words
of one and two syllables in my book of navigation, the only one I had,
save my pocket Bible, which he took great delight to hear me
read--putting occasionally such puzzling questions to me as made me
blush. When I told him it was the book of the white man's religion, he
used to shake his head, and say--

"'Me no tink dat; for white man swear, white man steal, he drink over
too much, he do what book say no; how dat?'

"I felt it quite impossible, from what he saw in our own crew, and what
he had seen of the other white men at Bonny, to make him believe that
white men had any rule of conduct but their own inclinations and
avarice. I sighed, and gave up the task; for what is instruction or
precept to an ingenuous mind, without example; and our profession is
belied by too many around, who acknowledge and claim the faith as theirs
by word, and yet give it the lie by their actions.--At length we sailed,
and reached King's Road on the 1st of January, 1789.

"I was so fortunate as get a berth, as mate, on board a West Indiaman,
which was taking her cargo on board. Billy was, meanwhile, put to
school, and I saw him every evening, at his request, and by Captain
Waugh's leave. When he heard I was going to leave Bristol, and not to go
back to the coast in the _Queen Charlotte_ again, he wept, and
importuned me, in the most moving terms, to go to Bonny with him, where
he would cause his father to give me as many slaves as I pleased, and he
would send his own people to get them for me. I was vexed to part with
him, and did what I could to soothe him before my departure; but still I
left him disconsolate. I once more left Bristol in the beginning of
February, and had a fine run to Jamaica, where I left the vessel, with
the consent of my captain, having made an exchange with a lad belonging
to Bristol, who was mate in an American trader, and wished to get home,
as he did not keep his health well in these climates; and, as he was an
acquaintance of the captain's, all parties were agreeable. I now
continued for several years in the carrying trade between the different
islands and the continent of America, saved money very fast, purchased a
share of a large brig, and sailed her successfully as captain. The war
was now raging between Britain and the French Republic; but it did not
affect my prosperity, for, being now a naturalized American, my ship and
papers were a passport to me, and I sailed unmolested by the fleets and
privateers of both nations. But my heart was British, and rejoiced in
the superiority she held at sea, as if I had been in the British
service, and fighting for my country. For ten years everything had
prospered with me. I thought myself rich--for I never was
avaricious--and had some thoughts of returning to Edinburgh, when the
failure of a mercantile house in Charlestown reduced me once more to a
couple of thousand dollars. There was no use of fretting. I had all to
do over again, and to it I set. 'I am yet not an old man, and, if I am
spared (a few years are neither here nor there), I will be content with
less this bout--so here goes.' I made over my claim upon the bankrupts
to the other creditors for a small sloop that had belonged to them, and
began the coasting trade again. I sold my sloop soon after, bought a
brig, and took a trip in her to Kingston in Jamaica--when, what was my
grief and surprise, to see, in the first lighter that came alongside the
vessel, my old friend Billy! I could at first scarcely believe my eyes;
I thought I knew the face, but could not call to my recollection where I
had seen it, yet I felt I had known it by more than a casual meeting. I
was at this time sitting at my cabin window; I saw that the person who
had attracted my attention so much was a slave, and allowed the
circumstance to pass out of my mind for the time, as I was busy with
some papers, and had only been attracted by the sound of the oars as
they passed under the stern of the vessel. On the second trip of the
lighter I was on deck, and the same individual was there. I caught again
his eye; and, as I gazed upon him, he uttered a cry of surprise,
stretched forth his arms for a second, then shook his head sorrowfully,
and sunk it upon his bosom, as if in despondency. That it was Billy, I
had not now the most distant doubt; my heart leaped to embrace him,
slave as he was. But how he had come into his present situation I could
not conceive. I requested the black who had charge of the _Double
Moses_(the name of the craft), to send Billy upon deck; and, as soon as
he reached it, I held out my hand to him. I believe my eyes were not
dry; his were pouring a flood of tears upon my hand, which he kissed
again and again. The crew and others looked on in amazement. The captain
of a brig shaking hands with a black slave! Such an occurrence they had
never witnessed; for my crew were native Americans, and looked upon
negroes as an inferior race of men. He was now a stout young man, but
rather thin and dejected; he was naked, save a pair of old trousers, and
his shoulders and back bore the scars of many old and recent stripes.
His former vivacity was now nowhere to be traced in his melancholy
countenance--the independence of his former manner had all forsaken
him--he was, in truth, a broken-in spirit and crushed slave. I resolved
at once to purchase his liberty, if within my power, and told him so,
when he fell at my feet, wept, and kissed my shoes before I could lift
him up. He had not as yet opened his lips--his heart was too full,
emotion shook his frame; and, to ease the feeling that seemed like to
choke him, I went from the cabin to the state room, leaving him alone,
while I sought out a jacket and light vest for him. I staid no longer
than was necessary to give him time to recover. It was ever engraven
upon my heart, that look of gratitude he gave me. His attempt to speak
was still a vain effort. He was another man's slave and liable to
punishment. I requested him to go away to his duty, and not tell any one
what I meant to do, lest his master should ask an exorbitant sum, if he
thought I was resolved to purchase at any price. So he went into the
_Moses_, and pulled ashore; but kept his gaze constantly on me.

"As soon as my business would permit, I went on shore before sun-down to
make inquiries about his purchase from his present master, and was
pleased to find that he was the property of the merchant to whom my
cargo was consigned. I told him at once frankly off hand that I wished
to purchase a slave of his, to whom I had taken a fancy. He replied, I
was welcome to any of them at a fair valuation, and then called his
overseer--for he himself cared little about his slaves, hardly knowing
them by sight--and inquired if I knew his name. I told him the one I
meant was called Billy, and described him. The overseer at once knew
whom I meant, and said I would be welcome to him at cost, for he was a
stubborn, sulky dog, and gave him much trouble, and, besides, was
getting rather sickly; so that, if I chose, I might have him for two
hundred dollars. I at once agreed, and, after supper, went on board,
happy that I had succeeded so well; for Billy was to be handed over to
me in the forenoon, as soon as the notary had made out the transfer. At
length he came on board, joy beaming in every feature; but so much had
his noble spirit been crushed and broken, that he still felt his
inferiority, and stood at an humble distance. He had been taught the
severe lesson of what it was to be a slave. When I met him first, all he
knew of the white man was the most humble submission to King Peppel and
his father's humours. Their word was law to them at Bonny--how great the
contrast to him here! He was insulted, despised, and tortured by the
lash, by those very whites he had been taught, when a child, to look
upon as scarcely his equals. Had he been even a prince in the interior,
his bondage to the whites would not have been half so galling. I
beckoned him to follow me to the cabin, where I got from him an account
of his adventures since I had left him in Bristol.

"The captain left him at school on his next voyage to the coast, and did
not take him out until the second year, when Billy could read English
well, and had learned to cipher and write a tolerable hand. On being
delivered safe to his father, the prime minister was proud of his
accomplishments. Captain Waugh was most liberally rewarded; King Peppel
was glad to have one about him, who could make 'book speak.' Billy had
every appearance of rising into great favour; but, poor fellow, the
accomplishments his father was so proud of, proved the ruin of them
both, and of all their family. In King Peppel's court there was as much
ambition, intrigue, and rivalry, as in the most civilised in Europe; nor
were the political plotters less scrupulous in the means they used to
overturn the influence of a rival. They first began to hint, in an
indirect manner, that Bonnyface had sent his son to the white man's
land, to learn obi, and write 'feteche' or charms. The King, for some
time, only laughed at them; but their endless inuendoes gradually began
to poison his mind; and, while he became cool and more cool in his
manner, the secret enemies had bribed the priests, or 'feteche' men, who
also envied Billy his accomplishments, and they openly declared that it
was not good to have white man's 'feteches' in the black man's country.
Old Bonnyface saw the storm gradually thicken around him, without the
means of averting it; but this torturing state of uncertainty came to a
close. The King, who had been ailing for some time, and applying to the
surgeons of the slave ships, without much relief, was advised to try the
physicians of his own country. These were the priests and feteche men;
and this was the opportunity so long desired by the enemies of Billy's
family. It was declared by all that there was a white man's 'feteche'
upon him, and they could not remove it; but gave no opinions as to who
it was that had put it on the King. It could be none of the white men in
the river, for they all were his friends for trade; and then they
paused, and shook their heads, received their presents, and retired. No
one gave the least surmise to the King, who was the charmer; for this
had been done months before. All that had been hinted of Bonnyface and
Billy going to Britain rushed upon the King's mind, aggravated by fear.
Next day saw Bonnyface's head struck off, to break the 'feteche;' and
the interesting Billy, and all the members of the family, were sold for
slaves to the Europeans, their wealth confiscated to the King, and a
part of it bestowed upon those who had wrought their ruin. I brought
Billy home with me--and here ends my narrative, at least for this
evening."

It now being rather late, I bade the Captain good night, and called
again in the morning, after breakfast, when I found that the mother and
babe were quite restored. Upon inquiry, we learned that the name of her
husband was William Robertson. As the day was remarkably fine, I walked
with the Captain to the reading-room, and found that the _Czar_ had
arrived at Leith the day before. We took the stage, and rode down, and
soon had the pleasure to see the husband of the Captain's guest. When
they met, the Captain seemed much affected at sight of him, and, in an
agitated manner, inquired of what part of Scotland he was a native. He
said he was born in the Grassmarket of Edinburgh; and, upon further
inquiry, we found that he was the Captain's cousin, the son of his
uncle, who had married after his bankruptcy, and died, leaving his son
destitute, who, from necessity, had gone to sea. To conclude, William
Robertson came home to Morningside with us a happy man. His wife and
child resided with the Captain until his death, and that of Billy, who
did not survive him many months. The cousin sailed his own vessel out of
Greenock, and that was the last account I had from him.



THE KATHERAN.

    Sae rantingly, sae wantonly,
    Sae dauntingly gaed he--
    He played a spring and danced it roun
    Beneath the gallows tree.


In the latter end of the summer of the year 1700, as a party, consisting
of two ladies and two gentlemen, were returning to Banff, the place of
their residence, from a distant excursion into the Highlands, they were
overtaken by the dusk of evening in the Pass of Benmore, one of the
wildest and most desolate spots in the north of Scotland. The ladies of
this party were both young, and one of them, in particular, surpassingly
beautiful. This lady's name was Ellen Martin, the daughter of a
gentleman of great wealth, residing in the neighbourhood of the town
above named. At the period we introduce her to the reader, Ellen had
just completed her nineteenth year. She was rather under than above the
average stature of her sex; but her fragile form was exquisitely
moulded, and perfect in all its proportions. Her countenance was oval,
glowing with health, and strikingly expressive of a disposition at once
confiding, open, and affectionate. In truth, it was impossible to look
on the youthful form of Ellen Martin, without feeling that you saw
before you the very perfection of female loveliness. But, if there was
any particular time or occasion when that beauty was seen to greater
advantage than another, it might have been when, shaking aside with a
gentle motion of her head the profusion of fair glossy ringlets with
which it was adorned, she looked up with her large intelligent, but soft
blue eye, and her small rosy lips apart, to catch more distinctly what
conversation might be passing around her. At such a moment, and in such
an attitude as this, she seemed, indeed, more like one of those aerial
beings that fancy delights to create, than a creature of mortal mould.

The female companion of Ellen Martin, on the occasion of which we have
spoken and are about more fully to speak, was an intimate friend. One of
the gentlemen was a near relation of Ellen's, the other the brother of
her friend. The party, all of whom were mounted on little Highland
ponies, having been overtaken by the dusk, began to feel rather uneasy
at their situation, as they had yet fully fifteen miles of wild and
hilly road to travel before they could reach any place of shelter. They
had been perfectly aware, when they set out in the morning, of the
distance they had to accomplish, and knew, also, that considerable
expedition was required to enable them to complete with daylight the
necessary journey; but, full of health and spirits, and possessed of
tastes capable of enabling them to enjoy the splendid scenery which had
met them at every turn in their mountain path, they had loitered on the
way till they found that they had expended all their time, and had yet
accomplished little more than half their journey. In this dilemma, there
was nothing for it but to push on--a simple enough corrective of their
error, apparently, but one by no means to them of very easy adoption;
for they did not well know in what direction to proceed. Under these
circumstances, one of the gentlemen called a halt of the party, to
consider of what was best to be done, and to see if their united
intelligence could make out where they were precisely, and help to the
selection of the best route by which to prosecute their journey. To add
to the unpleasantness of their situation, it began to rain heavily, and
occasional peals of distant thunder growled amidst the hills.

The party were at this instant crowded together beneath the shelter of a
projecting rock, whither they had retired, to avoid the beating rain,
and to hold the consultation to which we have above alluded. Unpleasant,
however, as their situation was, they felt no great alarm. The ladies,
indeed, expressed some uneasiness occasionally; but it was quickly
banished by the rattling glee of their male companions, who, elated with
experiencing something like an adventure, were in high spirits, and
endeavoured to communicate the same feeling to their fair friends.
Ellen, who with all her gentleness of nature and delicacy of form, was
of a highly romantic and enthusiastic disposition, was gazing pensively
on the mighty masses of hill that rose around her on all sides, and anon
down into the deep hollow of the pass, to whose highest point they had
nearly attained, when she thought she perceived, through the obscurity
of the twilight, a human figure ascending the pass in the direction of
the party. She called the attention of her friends to the approaching
object, which, in a few minutes was sufficiently near to exhibit the
outline of a man of tall stature. He was advancing rapidly, with the
light springy step peculiar to the Highlanders, and was traversing with
apparent ease, ground, which, from its ruggedness and steepness, would
have rendered the progress of one accustomed to such travelling, slow,
laborious, and painful. The person now approaching seemed not to feel
any such difficulties. He bounded lightly and rapidly over the ground,
and in a few minutes was within a few yards of where they stood. On
observing the party, he made towards them, and, doffing his bonnet with
great politeness, and with the air of a prince, inquired, after
apologising for his intrusion, whether they stood in need of any such
assistance as one who knew the country well could afford them, and was
ready to give.

The person who now stood before the party, and who made this friendly
inquiry, was a young gentleman--at least one whose appearance and manner
bespoke him to be such. He was dressed in the full Highland costume of a
person of consideration of the period to which our tale refers; but was
fully more amply and carefully armed than was even then usual amongst
his countrymen. In his belt he wore, besides the dirk, the common
appendage, a couple of pistols, and, by his side, a broadsword of the
most formidable dimensions. The figure of this person, who appeared to
be about five-and-twenty years of age, was singularly handsome; his
countenance mild and pleasing in its expression, yet strongly indicative
of a bold and determined spirit--advantages which were finely set off
by the picturesque dress in which he was arrayed, and which he wore with
much dignity and grace, and by his erect and martial bearing. His whole
figure, in short, was remarkably striking and prepossessing.

"I fear," said the stranger, addressing the party, and smiling as he
spoke, "that you have miscalculated the height of our hills and the
breadth of our muirs, that you are so late abroad."

"It is even so, sir," said one of the gentlemen; "we have been idling
our time, and are now reaping the fruits of our thoughtlessness. We
neither know well where we are, nor which way we ought to go. I suppose
we must just make the most of the situation we are in for the night,
although these rocks are but very indifferent covering."

"Why, I must say I would not feel much for your case, gentlemen," said
the stranger, "though you had to sleep on the heather for a night--I
have done it a thousand times; but such quarters would ill suit these
fair ladies, I fear."

"Yet they must be content to put up with it for this night at any rate,"
said one of the gentlemen; "for we can make no better of it."

"Perhaps _we_ may make better of it," said the stranger. "Something must
be done to get these ladies under shelter. Let me see." And he mused for
a moment, then added--"If I thought you would not be overly nice as to
the elegance of your quarters, and if you would accompany me for a
distance of a couple of miles or so, I think I could promise you, at
least, the shelter of a roof, and such entertainment as our Highland
huts afford."

The friendly offer of the stranger being gladly accepted by the party,
who, one and all, declared they would be exceedingly thankful for any
sort of quarters, the whole set forward under the conduct of their
guide. Whether directed by choice or by chance, the latter, at starting,
took Ellen's pony by the bridle, and was subsequently most assiduous in
guiding the animal by the easiest and safest tracks. Nor did he once
quit his hold for a moment during the whole of their march. This
circumstance naturally placed Ellen and the stranger frequently by
themselves; since, as leaders, they generally kept several yards in
advance of their party--a circumstance which was not lost on the latter,
who aimed at, and succeeded in making, perhaps a somewhat more than
favourable impression on his fair companion, by his polished manners and
lively and intelligent conversation.

We will not say that the effect of these qualifications was not
heightened by the personal elegance and manly beauty of their possessor;
neither will we say that the romantic and susceptible girl was not
predisposed, by the same cause, to discover, in all he said, fully more,
perhaps, than would have been apparent to a more indifferent listener.
Be this as it may, it is certain that on this night, and on this
particular occasion, Ellen Martin felt, and felt for the first time,
the, to her new, strange, and delightful emotions of incipient love.
What avails it to say that prudence should have forbidden this? The
object of Ellen's sudden regard was a stranger, a total stranger. His
name even was not known, nor his rank in society otherwise than by
conjecture, which, though favourable, was, of course, vague and
uncertain. The circumstances, too, in which he had been met with, were
such as to preclude all possibility of connecting any one single
elucidatory fact with his history. But when, in a young and
inexperienced mind, did love submit to be controlled by reason? and when
did the young heart exhibit the faculty of resisting impressions at
will? Certainly not in the case of Ellen Martin, who was, at this
moment, placed precisely in those circumstances most eminently
calculated for exciting, in susceptible bosoms, the one great and
engrossing passion of the female heart.

After about an hour's travelling, the party, with their guide, arrived
at a solitary house situated in a little glen or strath overhung with
precipitous rocks, and through which wound a narrow and irregular road,
that led in one direction over the hills that stretched far to the west,
and in the other to the lower grounds, from which the neighbouring
mountains rose. The house itself, although apparently a very old one,
was of the better order of houses in the Highlands at that period. It
was two stories in height, roofed with grey slate, and exhibited at wide
intervals small dingy windows filled with the thick, wavy, and obscure
glass of the time. Altogether it had the appearance of being the
residence of a person of the rank of a small proprietor or tacksman. As
the party approached the house, all was quiet within and around it. Not
a light was seen, or movement heard. The hour was late, and the inmates
had been long to rest. When within a short distance of the house, the
conductor of the party, addressing the latter, said:--

"You will be so good as wait here, my friends, for a few minutes, until
I prepare Mr. Chisholm for your reception. He is an old and intimate
friend of mine, and will be glad, on my account, to show you every
kindness in his power."

Having thus expressed himself, he left them, and, in a few moments
after, returned to conduct them to the house, where they were received
with great kindness by the landlord, a middle-aged man of respectable
appearance and mild manners. On entering, the party were ushered into a
large room, where a servant girl was busily employed in kindling a fire
of peats. These quickly bursting into flame, the travellers, in a very
few minutes, found themselves enjoying the agreeable warmth of a blazing
fire. But the kindness of their host was not limited to external
comforts. With true Highland hospitality, the board was loaded with
refreshments of various kinds; huge piles of oaten cake, with
proportionable quantities of eggs, cheese, butter, cold salmon, and
mutton ham, and, though last, not least, a little round, black, dumpy
bottle of genuine mountain dew.

Delighted with their reception, pleased with each other, and urged into
that exuberance of spirits which good cheer and comfortable quarters are
so well qualified to inspire, especially when they present themselves so
unexpectedly and opportunely as in the case of which we are
speaking--the party soon began to get exceedingly merry; so much so,
that they finally determined, as morning was now fast approaching, not
to retire to bed at all, but to spend the few hours they intended
remaining where they were. In this resolution they were the more readily
confirmed by a certain proceeding of their late guide, in happy
accordance with the mirthful feelings of the moment. This was his taking
down from the wall a fiddle, which hung invitingly over the fire-place,
and striking up some of the liveliest airs of his native land. The
effect was irresistible; for he played with singular grace and skill,
striking out the notes with a distinctness, precision, and rapidity,
that gave the fullest effect possible to the merry strains which he
poured on the ears of the captivated listeners. The party were
electrified. The gentlemen leapt to their feet, the table was removed
bodily, with all its furniture, to one side of the apartment, and, in an
instant after, the ladies also were on the floor. In another, the whole
were wheeling through the mazes of a Highland reel. Nor did the
merriment cease till the rising sun alarmed the revellers, by suddenly
pouring his effulgence into the apartment. On this hint, the music and
mirth both were instantly hushed; and the party, throwing aside the
levity of manner of the preceding hours, began, with business looks, to
prepare for their departure. Their host pressed them to stay breakfast;
but, being anxious at once to get forward and to enjoy the morning ride,
this invitation they declined. Their ponies, which had been in the
meantime carefully attended to by their hospitable landlord, were
brought to the door, and in a few minutes the whole party were mounted,
and were about to start, when the circumstance of their late guide's
again taking the reins of Ellen's pony in his hand, and apparently
preparing to repeat the service of the previous night, for a moment
arrested their march; all protesting that they would on no account
permit him to put himself, by accompanying them, to the slightest
further inconvenience on their account. With what sincerity Ellen joined
in this protest--for she did join in it--we do not know; but it is
certain that her opposition to his accompanying them did not appear at
all so cordial as that of her companions.

The objections of the party, however, were politely, but peremptorily
overruled by their guide, who reconciled them to his determination of
escorting them, by remarking that, without his assistance, they would
never find their way amongst the hills, and that, moreover, he was going
at any rate several miles in the very direction in which their route
lay. These assurances, particularly the latter, left no room for farther
debate, and the party proceeded on their way; the guide and Ellen, as
before, leading the march. But, as it was now daylight when any little
chance distance that might occur between the parties was of less
consequence and less attended to, they were always much farther in
advance than on the preceding night; indeed, frequently so far as to be
for a considerable time out of sight of their companions. In this
proceeding, Ellen had, of course, no share whatever. It was solely the
result of a certain little course of management on the part of her
escort, who availed himself of every opportunity of widening the
distance between his fair companion and the other members of the party.
It was on one of these occasions, when the lovers--for we may now
without hesitation call them such--had turned the shoulder of a hill
which Ellen's guide knew, calculating from the distance which the party
were behind, would conceal them from the view of the latter for a
considerable time--it was on this occasion, we say, that he suddenly
seized Ellen by the hand, and, ere she was aware, hurried it to his
lips; but, as quickly resigning it--

"Ellen," he said, looking up to her with an expression of tenderness and
contrition that instantly disarmed the gentle girl of the resentment
into which the freedom he had just taken had for an instant betrayed
her--"forgive me--will you forgive me? That cursed impetuosity of
temper--the failing of my race, Ellen--has hurried me into an
impropriety. I have offended you. I see it--but do forgive me."

"On condition that you do not attempt to repeat it," said Ellen,
smiling, though there was evidently much agitation in her manner.

"I promise," replied the offender. A pause ensued, during which neither
spoke. At length, Ellen's guide, who seemed to have been struggling with
some powerful and oppressive motion, suddenly, but gently arrested the
progress of the pony on which she rode, and said, in a voice altered in
tone by intensity of feeling--

"Ellen, I wish to God we had never met!"

"Why should you entertain such a wish?" inquired Ellen, timidly, and
blushing as she spoke.

"Because then I had not been broken-hearted," said her companion, with a
sigh. "I had still retained my peace of mind--my step should still have
been light on the heather, and my thoughts free and careless as the
wind upon the mountains."

"You speak in enigmas," replied Ellen, blushing deeper than before. "I
do not understand you," she added, but with a manner that contradicted
the assertion.

"Then I will be more plain with you, Ellen," replied her companion:--"I
love you, I love you, fair girl, to distraction."

This declaration was too unequivocal to be evaded; yet poor Ellen,
though her heart responded to the sentiment, knew not what reply to make
in words. Her agitation was extreme--so great as almost to impede her
respiration.

"We are strangers, sir," she at length said--"total strangers; and such
language as this should, if spoken at all, be spoken only when it is
warranted by a longer and more intimate acquaintance. Ours is literally
but of yesterday, although you have certainly crowded into that short
space as much kindness as it would possibly admit of; and I and my
friends are grateful for it--sincerely grateful. Still we are but
strangers."

"Strangers, Ellen!" replied her lover, getting more and more energetic
and impassioned as he spoke--"no, we are not strangers--at least you are
none to me. From the first instant I saw you, you were no longer a
stranger. From that instant, you had a home in this heart, and on that
instant you stood before me confessed one of the loveliest and gentlest
of your sex. What more would an age of acquaintance have discovered?
What more is there need to learn."

At this instant, a shout from one of the gentlemen of the party
interrupted the enthusiastic speaker, and put an end, for the time, to
the conversation of the lovers. The call, however, that had been made on
their attention by their friend, being merely intended to intimate that
they had them in view, Ellen's guide soon found another opportunity of
renewing his suit. We do not, however, think it necessary that we should
renew a description of it--tedious as the conversation of all lovers is
to third parties. We shall only say, then, that, long ere Ellen and her
handsome and accomplished guide parted, the affections of the simple,
confiding girl were unalterably fixed. Whether they were happily
disposed of, the sequel will show.

After having crossed "muirs and mountains mony o'," Ellen and her lover
arrived on the ridge of a hill, which commanded a distinct, though
distant view of the town of Banff, when the latter suddenly stopped,
and--"Ellen," he said, "here we must part. I can proceed no farther with
you; but it will go hard with me if I do not see you very soon again."

"Nay," said Ellen, "since you have come so far with us, you must go yet
a little farther. You must go on to the town, and afford us an
opportunity of acknowledging the obligations under which we lie to you.
My father will be most happy to see you."

The expression of a sudden pang crossed the fine countenance of the
stranger. His lip quivered, and his brow contracted into momentary
gloom; but, with what was apparently a strong effort, he subdued the
feeling, whatever it was, which had caused this indication of mental
pain, and replied, after a brief pause--

"No, Ellen, it cannot be. I must not--I--I dare not enter Banff with the
light of day."

"Dare not!" said Ellen, in surprise. "Why dare you not? What or whom
have you to fear?"

"Fear?" replied her companion, somewhat distractedly--"I fear the face
of no single man, weapon to weapon; but, were I to enter Banff, I might
not have such fair play. There are some persons there with whom I am at
feud; and my life would be in danger from them. This was what I meant,
when I said that I dared not enter Banff. Yet it is not that I would not
_dare_, either," he added, raising himself proudly to his full height,
and laying an emphasis expressive of defiance on the word; "but it would
be foolhardy--absurdly imprudent. I cannot--I may not go further with
you, Ellen."

Here the conversation was interrupted by the approach of the rest of the
party, who at this moment rode up to Ellen and her companion. These, on
being told that the latter was now about to leave them, repeated, and in
nearly similar words, the invitation which Ellen had already given him;
but it was not in similar words to those he had used on that occasion,
he answered them. To them he merely said that pressing business called
him in another direction, and repeated that, where they now were, they
must part. He however, promised, though with the manner of one who has
no fixed intention of fulfilling that promise, that the first time he
went to Banff, if circumstances would permit, he would certainly pay
them a visit.

"Since you will not go with us, then," said one of the gentlemen, "at
least inform us to whom we are indebted for the extraordinary kindness
which you have shewn us. Favour us with your name if you please."

"My name, sir!" said the late guide, smiling. "Why, that is a matter of
no consequence. You will know me when and wherever you may see me again,
I dare say, and that is enough." Saying this, he shook hands with each
of the party--with Ellen this ceremony was accompanied by a look and
pressure of peculiar intelligence--and bounded away with the same light
and elastic step with which he had approached them on the preceding
night, and was soon lost to view.

It would not be easy for us to say precisely what were the opinions
entertained by Ellen's party, of the warm-hearted but mysterious person
who had just left them. These were various, vague, and indefinite. That
he was a person far above the ordinary classes of the country, was
evident from his dress, his manner, and his accomplishments. The first
was that of a gentleman, the latter were those of a man of education and
talent. These obvious proofs of his rank there was no gainsaying; nor
would they admit of any difference of opinion. But it had not escaped
those who were now engaged in discussing the subject of the stranger's
probable history, that, during the whole time they had been together,
neither his name, profession, nor place of residence, had ever
transpired. They had not been at any time alluded to, even in the
slightest or most distant manner. It was only now, however, that the
oddness of this circumstance seemed to strike the members of the party
with the full force of its peculiar character. Each now asked the other
in surprise, if they had not ascertained any of the particulars just
mentioned from the stranger; and all declared that they had not. More
extraordinary still, as it now appeared on reflection, his name had
never once been mentioned by the person in whose house they had passed
the previous evening. In this investigation, the circumstance of the
stranger's having declined to give his name at parting was not of course
forgotten. The affair altogether was a singular one--a conclusion at
which all arrived; but it was one also, which their discussion could
throw no light on; and this being sensibly felt by all, the subject was
gradually dropped.

To what extent the doubts and indefinite suspicions with which the
mystery associated with their late guide had inspired the various
members of the party, were shared by Ellen, we do not know; but we
suspect that, in her bosom, they were mingled with feelings that had the
effect of giving them a totally different character from what they
assumed in the minds of her companions. In her case, these doubts or
suspicions were wholly unassociated with any idea unfavourable to the
character of him whose conduct excited them. She saw, indeed, that there
was a degree of concealment on the part of that person; but she never,
for a moment, dreamt that it proceeded from any reasons involving
anything disgraceful. In the fondness of her love, she conceived it
impossible that a being of so kind and generous a heart, of so
prepossessing appearance and manners, and of so noble a form, could ever
have been guilty of anything which should subject him to the debasing
feelings of either shame or fear. She felt there was mystery, but she
was satisfied it was not the mystery of crime; and, under this
conviction, she continued to cherish the love which had thus so suddenly
sprung up in her own guiltless and guileless bosom. The party, in the
meantime, were rapidly approaching the place of their respective
residences, and a very short time after saw that consummation attained.

If we now allow somewhere about the space of a month to elapse, and if
we then look, in the dusk of a certain evening, into a certain retired
green lane or avenue, at the distance of somewhat less than a quarter of
a mile from the residence of Ellen Martin's father, in the vicinity of
the town of Banff, and which, being on the property of the latter, was
secluded from all intrusion, we shall then and there find two persons
walking together, in earnest and secret conversation. If we approach
them nearer, we shall discover that they are lovers; for there is the
gentle accent and the endearing concourse of fond hearts. They are Ellen
Martin and her mysterious lover; and this is the fifth or sixth night on
which they have so met since they parted at the time and in the manner
before described.

"But why this mystery, James?"--for this much of his name had she
obtained--Ellen might have been overheard, by an eavesdropper, saying to
her lover on this occasion, as she leant on his arm, and gazed fondly in
his face. "Why all this mystery?--why is it that you come and go only
under the shade of night?--and why is it that you shun the face of man
with such sedulous anxiety?--and why, above all, are you always so
carefully armed? Oh, do confide in me, James, and tell me all. Relieve
my mind. Tell me the reason of these things. You wrong me by this
mystery; for it implies a suspicion of my sincerity--it implies that you
think me unworthy of being trusted."

"Doubt your sincerity, Ellen!--think you unworthy of being trusted!"
said the person whom she addressed, emphatically but tenderly. "Sooner
would I doubt the return of yonder moon--sooner would I doubt that the
sea would flow again after it has ebbed--than doubt your sincerity,
love; but I cannot, I will not, I dare not give you the information you
ask; for, with that information I would loose you for ever; and what,
think you, would induce me to inflict such misery as that on myself? Be
content, Ellen, in the meantime at least, with an assurance of my
love--yes, unworthy as I am," he exclaimed, with increased fervour, "of
a love as strong, as sincere, as pure as ever existed in a human bosom."

"I never doubted it, James--I never doubted it," said Ellen, bursting
into tears, and leaning her head fondly on the shoulder of her lover;
"and I will not press you further for that information which you seem so
reluctant to give. I will, in the meantime, as you say, confide in your
fidelity, and leave the rest to some future and happier hour."

"Happier hour, Ellen!" said her companion, with a bitter smile. "Alas?
there is no happier hour than this in store for me. But it is happiness
enough." And he chanted in a low, but mellifluous voice--

        "There's glory for the brave, Ellen,
          And honour for the true;
        There's woman's love for both, Ellen--
          Such love's I find in you.

        "There's wealth into the Indies, Ellen,
          There's riches in the sea--
        But I would not give for these, Ellen,
          One little hour with thee."

"A poor bargain, James," said Ellen, smiling and blushing at the same
time. "You are a fair poet, but very indifferent chapman, if that be a
specimen of your bargain-making."

"It may be so, Ellen," replied her companion, also smiling; "yet I am
willing to abide by the terms."

At this instant, a rustling noise was heard amongst the bushes close by
where the lovers stood. The mysterious stranger started, hurriedly freed
his sword hilt from the folds of his plaids, muttering, as he did so--

"Ha! have they dogged me? They shall rue it. By heaven, they shall rue
it!--I shall not be taken cheaply!" And he half unsheathed his weapon,
as he stood listening for a repetition of the sounds which had alarmed
him; but they were not repeated; and the uneasiness of the lovers
gradually subsiding, they resumed their conversation. At the expiry of
another "little hour," the lovers parted, and parted to meet no more--a
misfortune which they but little anticipated; for a solemn promise was
given by both to meet in the same place and at the same hour on that day
se'ennight.

As it may lead to the gratification of some curiosity on the part of the
reader regarding the mysterious lover of Ellen Martin, we shall follow
his footsteps after leaving her in the manner just described. We may as
well, first, however, make the reader aware that these visits of the
person alluded to were by no means of very easy accomplishment. They
cost him a journey, over mountain and moor, of upwards of a score of
miles; but he was light of foot, nimble as one of the deer of his native
mountains, and such a feat to him was not one which he deemed much to
boast of. If we follow him, then, as proposed, on the night in question,
we shall find him performing such a journey as we have alluded to, and
finally arriving at a deep but narrow glen, or ravine, far up amongst
the hills, and accessible only at one extremity, and even here of such
difficult entrance that none but those intimately acquainted with it
could effect it. This knowledge, however, the person whom we are now
accompanying possessed. He ascended the natural barrier by which the
ravine was closed with a sure but rapid step; when, having gained its
utmost height, and ere he descended on the opposite side, he extricated
a small bone or ivory whistle from the folds of his plaid, and drew from
it a short, low, but piercing sound. Had he omitted this precaution, his
life would have been the forfeit; for, concealed amongst the copsewood,
at a little height inside of the glen, lay a sentinel with loaded rifle,
whose duty it was instantly to fire on any one entering without such
intimation previously given of his being a friend. Having sounded the
whistle, the person of whom we were speaking, without waiting for any
response--for none was required--plunged down into the ravine below,
bounding from crag to crag like a hunted chamois, and trusting for
security on each airy footing to a handful of the lichen which grew from
the precipitous wall of rock down which he was descending.

Having gained the bottom of the ravine, he pushed on towards its centre,
when he again ascended, and now made for a clump of copsewood, which
grew at a considerable height on the side of the glen. This gained, he
dashed the branches aside, and, in the next instant, plunged into a
cavern whose dark mouth they concealed. Accompanying him thus far also,
we shall find the companion of our travels reaching a large and lofty
chamber, in the centre of which burnt a huge fire of peats, built on a
circular piece of rude masonry, and around which are seated eight or ten
men. Here and there may be seen resting against the walls of the chamber
the large steel basket-hilts of broadswords, and, in different corners,
accumulations of plaids and bonnets. Another object also will strike
us. This is several immense sides of beef, and several carcases of
mutton, hung up in various parts of the cave, all ready for the
operations of the cook. Neither the character of the place, nor of those
by whom it is occupied, can be mistaken. It is a den of Highland
katherans.

The reception by the latter of the person whom we have just intruded
upon them, was very markedly cold and distant; and it was rendered more
so by the contrast between his manner to them on his entrance, and
theirs to him. The former was cheerful and conciliatory, the latter
sullen and repulsive.

"The eagle's eyry is not now in the cleft of the rock," said one. "It is
in the barn-yard."

"Ay, the deer has left the mountain, and gone to herd with the swine,"
said another.

"I understand you, friends," replied the intruder. "You do not approve
of these wanderings of mine. You think I am taming down into some such
animal as a Lowland shopkeeper or Wanshaw weaver--and perhaps it is so,
in some measure; but I cannot help it. I acknowledge that the whole
energies of my nature--all the feelings of my heart--have undergone a
total change, both in character and direction. I certainly am not the man
I was. I feel it, and therefore feel that I am no longer fit to be your
leader."

"Macpherson," said one of the men, "you guess part of our feelings
towards you just now, but not all. There is in these feelings at least
as much of fear for your safety in these excursions of yours, as
displeasure with your neglect of us and our common interest. You know
that we love you, Macpherson, for yours is the generous and open
hand--yours is the hand that was never raised in anger against the
unoffending or the helpless, and never closed in hard-heartedness
against the needy."

"No, thank God," replied the person thus eulogized--"much evil as I have
done, the shedding of blood is no part of it. Personal injury I have
never yet done to any man, nor to any man shall I ever do it, unless in
self-defence. Neither can the poor ever say they asked from me in vain.
But, my friends," went on the speaker, "this is but a melancholy strain.
Come, let us have something of a livelier spirit, and let me see if I
cannot introduce it." Having said this he went to a corner of the
cavern, where lay a large wooden chest. This he opened, and drew out a
violin. It was a favourite instrument, and well could the person who now
held it, employ it. Seating himself on an elevated bench of stone, which
had been erected by the inmates of the cavern against the wall, he
commenced playing some cheerful airs, and with such effect that he very
soon dissipated the angry feelings of his auditors, and brought
expressions of benevolence and good will into these rugged countenances,
that had been but a little before lowering with gloom and discontent.
The skilful minstrel, perceiving the effect of his music--an effect,
indeed, which former experience had taught him to anticipate with
perfect certainty--now changed his strain, and launched into a series of
the most thrilling and pathetic airs, all of which he played with
exquisite taste and expression.

Had any one at this moment watched the fierce and weather-beaten faces
of those who were listening in breathless silence to the delightful
tones of his violin, they might have marked in the eye of more than one,
an unbidden tear, and on all an expression of deep sympathy with the
spirit of the music. At length the musician ceased; but it was some time
before the spell which he had thrown over his auditors was broken. For
some seconds, there was not a word or a movement amongst them--all
continuing to remain in the fixed and pensive attitude in which the
melancholy strains had bound them.

Having brought his performances to a close, the musician, half in
earnest and half playfully, hugged his violin, as if exulting in its
power, to his bosom, embraced it as if it had been a living thing, and
hurried with it to the chest from which he had originally taken it, and
there again carefully deposited it. His reception on now returning to
the party whom he had just been entertaining with his music, was very
different from what it had been on his first entrance. Their better and
kindlier feelings had been touched by his strains--a sympathetic chord
in each bosom had been struck; and the effects were sufficiently visible
in the altered manner of those who were thus affected towards him whose
skill had produced the change. The transition of the feelings of
admiration was natural and easy from the music to the musician; and
looks and words of kindness and forgiveness now greeted the mountain
Orpheus, who took his place among the rest, to share in some refreshment
which had been, in the meantime, in preparation.

Leaving the katherans employed in discussing this repast, which
consisted simply of roasted kid, we will proceed to divulge the whole of
that secret regarding the chief personage of our tale, which we have
hitherto so carefully kept. This personage, then, was no other than the
celebrated freebooter, Macpherson. This man, as is well known, was the
illegitimate son of a gentleman of family and property in
Inverness-shire, by a woman of the gipsy race. He was brought up at his
father's house; but, on the death of the latter, was claimed and carried
away by his mother; when, joining the wandering tribe to which she
belonged, he acquired their habits, and finally became the character
which we have represented him--namely, a leader of a band of katherans.
He was a person of singular talents and accomplishments, of uncommonly
handsome form and feature, of great strength, yet, though of a lawless
profession, of kind and compassionate disposition. Such was the hero of
our tale--such the lover of Ellen Martin, although little did that poor
girl yet know how unhappily her affections had been placed.

Having nothing whatever to do with the proceedings of Macpherson and his
band during the interval between the parting of the former with Ellen
and the period of the proposed meeting--these having but little interest
in themselves, and being in no way connected with our story--we will at
once pass this space of time, and bring up our narrative to the day on
which Macpherson was again to set out for the trysting place. His motive
and feelings in this matter he confided only to one friend out of all
his comrades. This man, whose name was Eneas Chisholm, was the son of
the person at whose house the reader will recollect the party, of which
Ellen was one, was so hospitably entertained on the night they had lost
their way on the mountains. It was he, also, who had eulogized the
generosity and clemency of Macpherson, as we a short while since
recorded. He was a young man, and, both in manner and disposition, much
like Macpherson himself. He possessed all his warmth and sincerity of
heart, katheran as he was; but was greatly his inferior in talents and
in personal appearance. Taking an opportunity when none else were near,
Macpherson informed this person that he intended on that evening
repeating his visit to Banff.

"It is madness, Macpherson," said Eneas--"downright madness. You surely
do not calculate on the risk you run, in these desperate adventures of
yours, of falling into the hands of the sheriff. You are well known, and
it is next to a miracle that you escape."

"No danger, Eneas, none at all man," replied Macpherson, in the
confidence of his own prowess, and not a little perhaps, in that of his
agility. "I have done more daring things in my day on far less
inducement; and," he added, proudly, "give me fair play, Eneas, my sword
in my hand, and not any six men in Banff will take James Macpherson
alive."

"But they may take him dead, though, Macpherson," said Eneas, "and you
can hardly call that escaping, I think."

    "Cheer up, cheer up my bonny, bonny May
      Oh, why that look of sorrow?
    He's wise that enjoys the passing hour--
      He's a fool that thinks of the morrow!"

exclaimed Macpherson, slapping his friend jocosely on the shoulder. "Why
man, Ellen Martin I must see, and Ellen Martin I will see, let the risk
be what it may--ay, although there were a halter dangling on every tree
between this and Banff, and every noose were gaping for me."

"Then, at least, allow three or four of us to accompany you, Macpherson,
in case of accidents," said Eneas.

"No, no; not one, Eneas," replied Macpherson--"no life shall be perilled
in this cause but my own. If I am unfortunate, I shall be so alone. I
alone must pay the penalty of my own rashness and imprudence. I would
not put a dog's life in jeopardy, let alone yours, in such a matter as
this. But I'll tell you what," he added: "I'll exact a promise from you,
Eneas."

"What is that?" said the latter.

"It is," replied Macpherson, "that, if I am taken, and taken alive, you
will do what you can to have my violin conveyed to me to whatever place
of confinement I may be carried."

"It is an odd fancy," said Chisholm, smiling; "but I promise you it
shall be done, since you desire it."

"I do," replied Macpherson. And here the conversation between him and
his friend terminated; and, shortly after, the former having carefully
armed himself, set out alone on his perilous journey. The sun, when he
left the glen, had already sank far down into the west; while his
slanting rays were yet beating with full fervour and intensity on those
sides of the rocks and hills that looked towards the setting luminary,
their opposite fronts were involved in a rapidly deepening shade, and
the valleys were beginning to be darkened with a premature twilight. But
Macpherson had calculated his time and distance accurately. Three hours
of such walking as his would bring him to the goal he aimed at, and then
the gloaming would be on the verge of darkness. And it was so, in each
and all of these particulars. He arrived at the trysting-place precisely
at the time and in the circumstances he desired. On reaching the
appointed spot, Ellen was not yet there. Neither did he expect she
should; but he felt assured that she would very soon appear. Under this
conviction, he seated himself on a small green bank, closely surrounded
with thick shrubbery or copsewood, and, thus situated, awaited her
arrival.

Leaving Macpherson thus disposed of for a time, we shall advert to a
circumstance of which he was but little aware, although it was one which
deeply, fatally concerned him. He had been seen and recognised. The
persons--for there were two--who made the discovery, dogged the
ill-starred freebooter to the place of his appointment with Ellen,
where, seeing him stop, one of them hurried away to communicate the
important intelligence to the sheriff, while the other remained to keep
watch on the motions of the unsuspecting outlaw. On the former's being
introduced to the presence of the dreaded officer just named--

"What would you give, Mr. Sheriff," he said, "to know where Macpherson
the freebooter is at this moment?"

"Why, not much, man," replied the sheriff, "unless he were so situated
as to render it probable that I could take him. I have known where he
was myself a hundred times, but dared not touch him."

"But I mean as you say--I mean in a situation where he may be easily
taken," rejoined the man. "I know where he is at this instant, and all
alone too--not one with him."

"You do!" exclaimed the Sheriff, with great animation for the capture of
Macpherson had been long one of the most anxious wishes of his heart.
"Where, where is he, man?" he added, impatiently.

"Let me have half-a-dozen well-armed men with me," replied his
informant, "and for fifty merks I will make him your prisoner."

"Done!" said the Sheriff, exultingly--"fifty merks shall be yours, of
well and truly told money, the instant you put Macpherson into my power;
and, instead of half-a-dozen men, you shall have a whole dozen, and I
myself will accompany you. Is he far distant?"

"Not exceeding a mile."

"So much the better--so much the better," said the Sheriff, rubbing his
hands with glee. "If we take him, a worthier deed has not been done in
Scotland this many a day. It were worth a thousand merks a-year to the
shire of Banff alone."

In less than fifteen minutes after this conversation had passed, a
sudden bustle might have been seen about the old town-house of Banff.
This was occasioned by a number of men, amongst whom was the sheriff,
hurriedly ransacking the town armoury for such warlike weapons as it
contained, each choosing and arming himself with the best he could find.
This choice, however, was neither very extensive nor varied; the stock,
chiefly consisting of some rusty Lochaber axes, and a few equally rusty
halberds and broadswords, kept for the array of the civic guard on
great occasions--sometimes of love and sometimes of war.

The party having all now armed themselves, were drawn up in front of the
town-house, when the sheriff, placing himself at their head, gave the
word to march; and the whole moved off under the guidance of the person
whose intelligence had been the cause of their turning out. After they
had proceeded about a mile, the latter called a halt of the party, and
taking the sheriff two or three paces in advance, pointed out to him the
spot in which he had left Macpherson, and where, as they were informed
by the man who had remained to watch his motions, and who at this moment
came up to them, he still was.

A consultation was now held as to the best mode of proceeding to the
capture of the dreaded outlaw--a feat by no means considered either a
safe or an easy one by those by whom it was now contemplated; for all
were aware of his prowess, and of the desperate courage for which he was
distinguished.

Macpherson, in the meantime, wholly unconscious of his danger, was still
quietly seated on the small green bank where we left him. Ellen had not
yet appeared, and he was listlessly employed in drawing figures on the
ground with the point of his scabbard, when he was suddenly startled by
a similar noise amongst the bushes with that which had alarmed him on a
former occasion. He sprung to his feet, drew a pistol from his belt with
his left hand, and his sword from its sheath with his right, and, thus
prepared, awaited the result of the motion, which he now saw as well as
heard. The rustling increased, the foliage rapidly opened in a line
approaching him, and, in an instant afterwards, his friend, Eneas
Chisholm, stood before the astonished freebooter.

"Eneas!" he exclaimed, under breath, but in a tone of great surprise.

"Hush, hush!" said Eneas, seizing his friend by the arm--"not a word. In
five minutes you will be surrounded. You have been recognised and
dogged. There are a dozen of the sheriff's men within five hundred yards
of you, planning your capture. Let us be off--off instantly,
Macpherson," he continued, urging the latter onwards. "If we can gain
the town, we may escape. I know a place of concealment there."

"Nay, but Ellen--Ellen, Eneas!" said Macpherson, hanging backwards, and
resisting the efforts of his friend to drag him away.

"Fool, fool, man!" said Eneas, passionately, and still urging him
forcibly along. "An instant's delay, and both you and I are in the hands
of our deadliest enemies."

"We can fight, Eneas."

"Ten times a fool!" exclaimed the latter, with increasing anger. "Fight
a dozen men, all as well armed as ourselves!--and observe, besides," he
added, "your obstinacy will sacrifice me as well as yourself."

"Ay, there you have me," replied Macpherson. "That shall not be--God
forbid!" And he hurried along with his friend.

At this instant, a shrill whistle was heard from the copsewood.

"They are on us," exclaimed Eneas, as, with one bound, he cleared a five
feet wall that intervened between them and the highway that led to the
town of Banff.

He was instantly followed by Macpherson, who, having thrown his sword
over before him, cleared the impediment with yet greater ease. Having
gained the road, the two outlaws hurried towards the town. No pursuer
had yet appeared; and it seemed as if they had already effected their
escape. In this fancied security, the fugitives slackened their pace,
that they might not incur the risk which would attach to a suspicious
haste. During all this time, not a word more than we have recorded had
passed between them. They had pursued their way in silence, and were
thus just entering the town, when Macpherson suddenly felt himself
seized by both arms from behind. Their route had been marked, and they
were intercepted.

Macpherson, exerting his great personal strength, with one powerful
effort freed himself from the grasp of his assailants--for there were
two--flinging both, at the same instant, to the ground by a sudden and
violent extension of his arms. Having thus set himself at liberty, he
hastily drew his sword, and stood upon the defensive. His friend, Eneas,
also drew, when they found themselves opposed to at least a dozen--the
two who had sprung on Macpherson, being now joined by their comrades.
Undaunted by the number of their enemies, and aware of what would be
their fate if taken, the intrepid outlaws determined on a desperate
resistance. Macpherson, with his other accomplishments, was an admirable
swordsman, and he felt that he had not much to fear from the unskilled
rabble to whom he was opposed, so long as he could keep them from
closing with him--and in this conviction he coolly awaited their onset.
It was some minutes before this took place; for their opponents, awed by
their fierce and determined bearing, hung back. At length, however, they
seemed to be gathering courage by degrees, as they came gradually moving
on, till they were within two or three paces of Macpherson and his
comrade, when two of the boldest of them made a sudden rush on the
former, with the view of rendering his weapon useless, by closing on
him; but the attempt was fatal to the assailants. With a fierce shout of
defiance and determination, Macpherson struck down the foremost, with a
blow that split his head to the chin, while his comrade despatched the
other by running him through the body. Both the outlaws, on striking,
leapt back a pace or two, so as to maintain the necessary distance
between them and their enemies, who were still pressing on. But,
panic-stricken by this, the first results of the encounter, they now
paused, and entered into a hasty consultation, which ended in the
resolution of their attacking simultaneously, and in a body, and thus,
by mere force, bearing down their opponents. Acting on this resolution,
the whole rushed forward, with loud shouts, when a desperate conflict
took place. For a long time, both Macpherson and his friend not only
warded off the numerous cuts and thrusts that were made at them, but
brought down several of their assailants, one after the other; and the
issue of the contest seemed very doubtful, great as the odds were
against them.

In the meantime, however, Macpherson, though fighting desperately, was
compelled to yield ground, to avoid being closed upon and surrounded;
for the pressure of the crowd was now greatly increased by an accession
of town's people, who, having heard the din of the conflict, hastened to
the scene to witness it, and to assist in the capture of the
freebooters. Finding himself in danger of being assailed from behind, he
rushed to one side of the street, and, placing his back to the wall of a
house, flourished his sword, and defied the whole host of enemies who
pressed upon him; and out of that whole host there was not one who would
come within reach of the courageous outlaw thus desperately at bay. For
fully a quarter of an hour he kept a circle of several yards clear
around him, and having in this interval gained breath, it seemed
extremely doubtful that he should be captured at all; for it was
possible that, by a desperate effort, he might cut his way through his
assailants and effect his escape. In truth, seeing the timidity of his
enemies from the circumstance of none of them daring to approach him,
some such proceeding he now actually contemplated. But a counter
measure was at this moment in operation, which prevented its execution,
and placed the outlaw in the hands of his enemies.

A person from the crowd entered the house, against the wall of which
Macpherson was standing, by a back door, and proceeded to an apartment,
one of whose windows was immediately above and within a few feet of him.
Opening this window cautiously, this person having previously provided
himself with a large heavy Scotch blanket, threw it, as broadly extended
as possible, over the outlaw, thus blinding him and disabling him from
using his weapon. The crowd beneath--marking the proceeding which
Macpherson, from his position, could not--watching the moment when the
blanket descended, rushed in upon him, threw him to the ground,
disarmed, and secured him; his friend, Eneas, who had been early
separated from him in the melée, and who had not attracted, during any
period of the conflict, so much of the attention of their common
enemies, having contrived, previous to this, to effect his escape.

On being captured, he was bound, conveyed to prison, and a strong guard
placed over him. On the following day, an elderly woman, dressed in the
antique garb of her country--the Highlands--was seen walking up and down
in front of the jail in which Macpherson was confined, and ever and anon
casting a look of anxious inquiry towards the building. A nearer view of
this person discovered that her eyes were red with weeping; but all her
tears had been already shed, and the first excess of grief had passed
away; for both her look and manner, though still expressive of deep
sorrow, were grave, staid, and composed--nay, even stern. Occasionally,
however, she might be seen, as she stood gazing on the prison-house of
the unfortunate outlaw, rocking to and fro with that slow and silent
motion so expressive of the intensity of mental suffering.
Occasionally, too, a low murmuring of heart-rending anguish might be
heard issuing from her thin parched lips. But she held communion with no
one, and seemed heedless of the passers by. At length she crossed the
street, and having knocked at the massive and well-studded outer-door of
the prison, inquired if she might see the principal jailor. He was
brought to her. On his appearing--

"The deer of the mountain," said his strange visiter, "is in the toils
of the hunter. Oh! black and dismal day that that proud and gallant
spirit that was wont to roam so wild and so free should be cooped up
within the four stone walls of a loathsome dungeon--that those swift and
manly limbs should be fettered with iron--and that the sword should be
denied to that strong arm which was once so ready to defend the
defenceless!"

"What mean ye, honest woman?" said the jailor, who was a good deal
puzzled to discover a meaning in this address.

"What mean I?" exclaimed his visitor, sternly. "Do not I mean that the
brave is the captive of the coward--that the strong has fallen before
the weak--that the daring and fearless has been circumvented by the
timid and the cunning? Do not I mean this?--and is it not true? Is not
James Macpherson a prisoner within these walls, and are not you his
keeper?"

"It is so," replied the astonished functionary.

"I know it," said his visitor. "Then will you convey this to him?" she
said, bringing out a violin from beneath her plaid.

The jailor looked in amazement, first at the woman, and then at the
instrument.

"What!" he at length said, "take a fiddle to a man who's going to be
hanged! That is ridiculous."

"It is his wish," said the former, briefly. "The wish of a dying man.
Will you convey it to him?"

"Oh, if it be his wish, he shall surely have it," said the jailor; "but
it is the oddest wish I ever heard."

"You _will_ convey it to him, then?" replied the stranger, with the same
sententious brevity as before.

"I will," was the rejoinder.

The woman curtsied and withdrew in the same cold, stern, and formal
manner she had maintained throughout the interview. On her departure,
the jailor proceeded to Macpherson's dungeon with the extraordinary
commission with which he had been charged. The latter, on seeing the
well-known instrument, snatched it eagerly and delightedly from its
bearer, exclaiming--"Welcome, welcome! thou dear companion of better
days! thou solacer of many a heavy care! thou delight of many a happy
hour! Faithful Eneas!" And with the wild, strange, and romantic
recklessness of his nature, he immediately began to play in the sweetest
tones imaginable--tones which seemed to have acquired additional pathos
from the circumstances of the performer--some of the melancholy airs of
his native land; and from that hour till the hour of the minstrel's
doom, these strains were almost constantly heard pouring through the
small grated window of his dungeon. But they were soon to cease for
ever. Macpherson was, in a few days afterwards, brought to trial, and
condemned to be hanged at the cross of Banff.

On the day on which he suffered the last penalty of the law, he
requested the jailor to send some one with his violin to him to the
place of execution. The request was complied with. The instrument was
put into his hands as he stood at the foot of the gallows, when he
played over the melancholy air known by the name of "Macpherson's
Lament." It had been composed by himself while in prison. On concluding
the pathetic strain, he grasped his violin by the neck, dashed it to
pieces against the gallows, and flung the fragments into the grave
prepared for himself at the foot of the gibbet. In a few minutes after,
that grave was occupied by all that remained of Macpherson the
Freebooter.

We have now, we conceive, to gratify the reader's curiosity on one point
only--and this is accomplished by adverting to Ellen Martin. The unhappy
girl ultimately ascertained, though not till long after his execution,
who her mysterious lover was; but neither the history of her attachment
to him, nor her intimacy with him, was ever known to any one besides his
friend Eneas; for to none other had he ever named her. Nor, during his
confinement, or at any period after his capture, had he ever made the
slightest allusion to her. This, indeed, from motives of delicacy
towards her, he had studiously and carefully avoided.

On Ellen, the effect of a grief--for the discovery of her lover's real
character had not been able to efface the impressions which his handsome
person and gentle manners had made upon her young heart--the effect, we
say, of a grief which she durst not avow, was that of inspiring a
settled melancholy, and determining her on a life of celibacy. In the
grave of Macpherson was buried the object of her first love, and she
never knew another.



THE MONKS OF DRYBURGH.


These worthies were celebrated for "guid kail;" but they were no less
remarkable for their ingenuity in directing the wealth of their
neighbours and dependents into their own coffers. In common with others
of their profession, they assailed the deathbeds of the wealthy, and
persuaded the dying sinner that he had no chance of heaven unless he
came handsomely down for their holy brotherhood before his departure.

It was for such a purpose as this that two of the brethren of Dryburgh
set out, one day, in great haste, to visit the old Laird of Meldrum,
who, they had been informed, was suddenly brought to the point of death;
and the information was but too true--for the old man had not only
arrived at the point of death, but had passed it, and that ere they
came. In other words, the laird was dead when they arrived, and their
services, of course, no longer required.

This was a dreadful disappointment to the holy men; for they had
reckoned on making an excellent thing of the job, as the laird had been
long in their eye, and had been carefully trained up for the _finale_ of
a handsome bequest.

It was with long faces, therefore, and woful looks, that the monks
returned to their monastery, and reported the unlucky accident of the
laird's having slipped away before they had had time to make anything of
him in his last moments. The disappointment was felt by all to be a
grievous one, for the laird had been confidently reckoned upon as sure
game. While in this state of mortification, a bright idea occurred to
one of the brethren, and he mentioned it to the rest, by whom it was
highly approved of.

This idea was to conceal the laird's death for a time; to remove his
body out of the way, and to procure some one to occupy his bed, and pass
for the laird in a dying state: then to procure a notary and witnesses,
having previously instructed the laird's representative how to conduct
himself--that is, to bequeath all his property to the monastery: this
done, the living man to be secretly conveyed away, the dead one restored
to his place again, and his death publicly announced.

This ingenious scheme of the monk met with universal approbation, and it
was determined that it should be instantly acted upon.

Fortunately, so far, for the monks, there was a poor man, a small farmer
in the neighbourhood, of the name of Thomas Dickson, who bore a
singularly strong personal resemblance to the deceased--a circumstance
which at once pointed him out as the fittest person to act the required
part. This person was, accordingly, immediately waited upon, the matter
explained to him, and a handsome gratuity offered him for his services.

"A bargain be't," said Thomas, when the terms were proposed to him;
"never ye fear me. If I dinna mak a guid job o't, blame me. I kent the
laird weel, and can come as near him in speech as I'm said to do in
person."

The monks, satisfied with Thomas's assurances of fidelity, proceeded
with their design; and, when everything was prepared--the laird's body
removed out of the way, Thomas extended on his bed, and the curtains
closely drawn round him--they introduced the notary, to take down the
old man's testament (having previously intimated to the former that he
was required by the latter for that purpose), and four witnesses to
attest the facts that were about to be exhibited. Everything being in
readiness--the lawyer with pen in hand, and the witnesses in the
attitude of profound attention--one of the monks intimated to the dying
man that he might now proceed to dictate his will.

"Very well," replied the latter, in a feeble, tremulous tone. "Hear me,
then, good folks a'. I bequeath to honest Tammas Dickson, wham I hae
lang respeckit for his worth, and pitied for his straits, the hail o' my
movable guids and lyin' money. Put doon that." And down _that_
accordingly went. But if the house had flown into the air with them, or
the ghosts of their great-grandfathers had appeared before them, the
monks could not have expressed more amazement or consternation than they
did, at finding themselves thus so fairly outwitted by the superior
genius of the canny farmer. They dared not, however, breathe a word of
remonstrance, nor take the smallest notice of the trick that was about
being played them; for their own character was at stake in the
transaction, and the least intimation of their design on the laird's
property would have exposed them to public infamy--and this Thomas well
knew. It was in vain, therefore, that they edged round towards the
bed--concealing, however, their movements from those present--and
squeezed and pinched the dying laird. He was not to be so driven from
his purpose. On he went, bequeathing first one thing and then another to
his honest friend Thomas Dickson, till Thomas was fairly put in
possession of everything the laird had worth bequeathing. Some trifles,
indeed, he had the prudence and discretion to bestow upon the monks of
Dryburgh; but trifles they were, truly, when compared to the valuable
legacy he left to himself.

When the dying laird had disposed of everything he had, the scene
closed. The discomfited monks returned to their monastery--the notary
and the witnesses departed--and Thomas Dickson, in due time, stepped
into a comfortable living, and defied the monks of Dryburgh, on the
peril of their good name, even to dare to hint how he had come by it.


END OF VOL. IV





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