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Title: Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland - Volume 7
Author: Various
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland - Volume 7" ***

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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. VII.

LONDON:

WALTER SCOTT, 14 PATERNOSTER SQUARE

AND NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE.

1885.



CONTENTS.


JUDITH THE EGYPTIAN; OR, THE FATE OF THE HEIR OF RICCON, _(JOHN MACKAY
WILSON)_

THE DROICH, _(ALEXANDER LEIGHTON)_

THE LYKEWAKE, _(HUGH MILLER)_

THE PENNY WEDDING, _(ALEXANDER CAMPBELL)_

THE AMATEUR LAWYERS, _(ALEXANDER LEIGHTON)_

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

    FAMILY INCIDENTS
    HOME AND THE GIPSY MAID
    THE RETURN

THE POOR SCHOLAR, _(JOHN MACKAY WILSON)_

THE LAIRD OF DARNICK TOWER, _(J. H. )_

THE BROKEN HEART. A TALE OF THE REBELLION, _(JOHN MACKAY WILSON)_

THE CATERAN OF LOCHLOY, _(JAMES MAIDMENT)_

SERJEANT'S TALES, _(JOHN HOWELL)_

    JOHN SQUARE'S VOYAGE TO INDIA



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



JUDITH THE EGYPTIAN; OR, THE FATE OF THE HEIR OF RICCON.

    "The black-eyed Judith, fair and tall,
    Attracted the heir of Riccon Hall.

           *       *       *       *       *

    For years and years was Judith known,
    Queen of a wild world all her own;
    By Wooler Haugh, by silver Till,
    By Coldstream Bridge, and Flodden Hill:

    Until, at length, one morn, when sleet
    Hung frozen round the traveller's feet,
    By a grey ruin on Tweedside,
    The creature laid her down and died."--_Border Ballad._


More than three hundred years have elapsed since the people called
Gipsies first made their appearance in this country; and, from all that
I have been able to trace concerning them, it seems to have been about
the same period that a number of their tribes or families proceeded
northwards, and became dwellers and wanderers on the Borders. Their
chief places of resort, and where, during the inclemency of winter, they
horded or housed together, were, Kirk Yetholm, Rothbury, Horncliff,
Spittal, and Tweedmouth. I believe that there are none of them now in
Horncliff, which, on the bringing in of the muir, ceased to be a refuge
for them; and there are but few in Spittal. But, in Rothbury and Kirk
Yetholm, they still abound, and of late years have increased in
Tweedmouth--that is, during the winter season, for they take to the
hedges as soon as the primrose appears, and begin their wanderings. The
principal names borne by the different tribes in these parts are Faa,
Young, Gordon, Bailie, Blyth, Ruthven, and Winter. Their occupations
are chiefly as itinerant muggers or potters, horners or "cuttie-spoon"
makers, tinkers or smiths and tin-workers, and makers of besoms and
foot-basses. They are still, with very few exceptions, a wandering and
unlettered race, such as their fathers were when they first entered
Britain. At Kirk Yetholm, however--which is their seat of royalty on the
Borders, and where they have a lease of the houses in what is called
Tinkler Row, for nineteen times nineteen years, on payment of a quit
rent--they have not been so neglectful of the education of their
children as in other parts of the country.

At the period of their first appearance in this kingdom, the land was
overrun with thieves and vagabonds, who, in the severe and sanguinary
laws of Queen Elizabeth and her father Harry, were described as
"_loyterers_" and "_sturdy beggars_;" and it is more than probable that
many of these, finding the mode of life followed by the gipsies
congenial to them, associated with or intermarried amongst them, and so
became as a part of them; and this may account for many, calling
themselves gipsies, having European, or, I may say, British features.
But the real gipsy there is no mistaking--their dark piercing eyes and
Asiatic countenance mark them as distinctly as do the eyes and peculiar
features of a Jew. (By the by, I wonder that no searcher after the
marvellous has endeavoured to prove them to be a remnant of the lost
tribes of Israel.) Like the Jews, they are scattered over the whole
earth--like them, they are found in every land; and in every land they
remain a distinct people.

Who they are, or whence they came, are questions involved in
considerable mystery. Their being called Gipsies or Egyptians in this
country, I hold to be a popular error which they themselves propagated.
Egypt, from the earliest period, was distinguished above all lands for
its soothsayers and diviners; and, as the chief occupation of the
wanderers then was (and in many places still is) fortune-telling, they
had cunning enough to profess to be Egyptians, or natives of the land
wherein was taught the mysteries of rolling away the clouds which
conceal fate and futurity. They have neither the language nor the
manners of the Egyptians. No reason could be assigned for their leaving
the land of the Pharaohs; and, although the gipsies of the present day
profess to be Egyptians, they can bring forward no proof in support of
the pretension. From all that I have read concerning them, it seems to
me to be clearly proved that they are natives of Hindostan, where they
formed a part of the lowest caste of Indians, called Pariars or
Suders--a class held in detestation and abhorrence by the other castes.
That the gipsy clans have a language peculiar to themselves, and which
they frequently speak amongst themselves, is well known. It is not a
written language; and they have endeavoured to conceal a knowledge of it
from the people amongst whom they dwell. They have called it
_gibberish_; and it has been very generally believed to be nothing more
than what is usually understood by that term, or that at most it was a
sort of _slang_, similar to the phrases used among thieves. This is an
error. So far as those who have examined it have been able to ascertain,
the secret language spoken by the British gipsies appears to be, with
but trifling corruptions, the same as that which is spoken by the Indian
caste of Suders in Hindostan.[1]

[Footnote 1: We subjoin a few words as specimens. They are taken from
the Glossaries of Grellmann and Richardson.--ED.

    _Gipsy._  _Hindostanee._  _English._

    Bebee      Beebe         An Aunt.
    Mutchee    Muchee        Fish.
    Can        Kan           The Ear.
    Gur        Ghur          A House.
    Riah       Raye          A Lord.
    Dai        Da'ee         Mother.
    Mass       Mas           Food.
    Nack       Nak           The Nose.
    Loon       Loon          Salt.]

But a stronger proof that the gipsies scattered over Europe derive their
origin from the Suders of India is demonstrated by the facts that the
Suders were the only people who professed the art of palmistry--that
they, like the gipsies, are a wandering race--that their occupations are
almost identically the same, being fortune-tellers, dancers, and
wandering musicians--that the smiths amongst them go about exactly in
the same manner as the tinkers, in this country--that, like the gipsies,
their favourite food is that of animals that have died of disease--that,
like them, they have no fixed religion--and, like them, they endeavour
to conceal their language. And the certainty of their being originally
the same people is further strengthened, from the Suders having fled in
thousands from India, during the murderous ravages of Timur Beg in 1408,
which corresponds with the period of the first appearance of the gipsies
in Europe. And that they are not Egyptians is strongly proved by the
fact, that there are tribes of them in Egypt, where, as in other
countries, they are regarded as _strangers and foreigners_.

I may have wearied the patience of the reader with this long and perhaps
prosy introduction; but there may be some to whom it will not be
uninteresting, as throwing a light on the probable origin of a singular
people, of whom Judith the gipsy was one. And now to our story.

One of the chief men amongst the gipsies on the Borders, at the
beginning of the last century, was Lussha Fleckie, who was only inferior
in authority among the tribes to King Faa, who dwelt at Kirk Yetholm,
and boasted of reigning lord over a _free_ people. Lussha's avocations,
like the avocations of all his brethren, were mere apologies for
idleness. He was one day a tinker, on another a grinder, and on a third
a wandering piper. He was a man of great stature and uncommon strength,
and renowned for his exploits as a fisher and a sportsman.

The name of his wife was Mariam, and they had a daughter, called Judith,
who, as she grew up towards womanhood, became known throughout Roxburgh
and Northumberland as the Gipsy Beauty, or the Beautiful Gipsy. The
appellation was not unmeritedly bestowed; for, though her skin was
slightly tinged with the tawny hue of her race, a soul seemed to glow
through her regular and lovely features, and the lustre of her dark eyes
to throw a radiance over them. She was tall, and her figure was perfect
as her face--it was symmetrical and commanding. Yet she was at once
conscious of her beauty and vain of it, and her parents administered to
her vanity. They had her fingers adorned with trinkets, her neck with
bugles; for Lussha Fleckie, like most of his race, was fond of gold and
silver ornaments; and, amongst others, he had in his possession a silver
urn, which had been handed down to him through generations, and in which
his fathers, as he now did, had deposited the fruits of their spoils and
plunder, until it was filled with rich coins as a miser's coffer. He
therefore, although a vagrant, was not a poor man, and could afford to
deck the charms of his daughter. Judith was early initiated by her
mother into the mysteries of the sybilline leaves--her education indeed
extended no farther; and, at the age of fifteen, she was an adept in the
art of palmistry. The proudest ladies in broad Northumberland or fair
Roxburghshire eagerly submitted their hands to the inspection of the
beautiful fortune-teller. The searching brightness of her dark eyes
seemed to give a prophetic reality to her words; and, as she caused them
to kindle with apparent joy or become transfixed at the discovery of
coming wo, her fair and high-born patrons have trembled before her, and
inquired, "What is it, Judith?" And, being a favourite with them all,
for they both loved and feared her, her person was bedecked with their
cast-off garments.

It was early in summer when about forty of the Faa people encamped near
the foot of the Eildon Hills. A few minutes served for the erection of
their portable village in a secure and sheltered situation, and
speedily, supported on pieces of crossed branches, the caldrons swung
over the crackling fires, each of which blazed fierce and merrily from
between two stones. Savoury exhalations impregnated the air, and gave
token of a feast. The banquet being spread upon the sward, when it was
finished, and the brandy cup had been sent round, Lussha Fleckie took up
his Northumbrian pipes, and began to play a merry reel. Old and young,
men, women, and children, started to their feet, and joyous

     "Tripp'd the light fantastic toe."

Judith glided through the midst of them, with her bright waving tresses
falling on her shoulders, as queen of the glad scene. Of her it might
have been said--

    "A foot more light, a step more true,
    Never from heath-flower dash'd the dew;
    Even the light harebell raised its head,
    Elastic from her airy tread!"

Her partner in the dance was Gemmel Græme; and in his veins also flowed
gipsy blood. Gemmel was now a youth of twenty, and one of the most
daring of his race. A passionate enthusiasm marked his disposition. In
agile sports and feats of strength he had no competitor. In these he was
what Lussha Fleckie had been. He boasted of his independence, and that
he had never placed a finger on the property of friend or neighbour, nor
been detected in levying his exactions on a stranger or a foe. His
merits were acknowledged by all the tribes on the Borders; and, though
he was not of the royal family of Faas, many looked to him as
heir-apparent to the sovereignty. He held in princely contempt all
trades, professions, and callings, and thought it beneath the dignity of
a "lord of creation" to follow them. When, therefore, he accompanied the
tribes in their migrations from place to place, he did not, as was the
habit of others, assume the occupation of either tinker, grinder,
bass-manufacturer, or the profession of a musician--but he went forth
with his gun and his hound, or his leister and net, and every preserve,
plantation, and river supplied him with food, and the barns of strangers
with bread.

Judith was two years younger than Gemmel Græme, and he had not looked
upon her lovely face with indifference; for the stronger passions and
the gentler feelings of the soul find a habitation in the breast of the
wandering gipsy as in those of other men. He had a bold manly bearing,
and an expressive countenance. Judith, too, had seen much of his
exploits. She had beheld him, to the neck in water, struggle with the
strong salmon, raise it up, and cast it on the shore. She, too, had
witnessed instances of his daring spirit, and in every sport had seen
all vanquished who dared to contend with him. Yea, when the scented
blossom, like fragrant fleece, overspread the hawthorn hedgerows, and
the primrose and wild violet flowered at its roots--when the evening
star shone glorious in the west, brightening through the deepening
twilight--when the viewless cuckoo sighed "goodnight" to its mate, and
the landrail took up its evening cry--then have Judith and Gemmel sat
together by the hedge-side, at a distance from the encampment, with her
hand in his. Then he would tell her of the feats he had achieved, of the
wrestling-matches he had won, or the leaps he had made, and, pressing
her hand, add, "But what care I for what I do, or for what others say,
when the bright een o' my bonny Judith werena there to reward me wi' a
blink o' joy!"

"Ye're a flatterer, Gemmel," whispered she.

"No, bonniest," answered he; "I deny that; I am nae flatterer. But if I
were, ye are far beyont flattery sic as mine; and it is nane to say,
that to my een ye are bonnier than yon gowden star, that shines by its
single sel' in the wide heavens--and to me ye are dearer than the
mountain is to the wild deer, or the green leaves to the singing birds."

Then he would press his lips to hers, and she blushed, but upbraided him
not. But in the character of Judith, as in that of every woman over
whose bosom vanity waveth its butterfly wings, there was something of
the coquette. She did not at all times meet the affections of Gemmel
with mutual tenderness, though she loved him beyond any one else, and
was proud to see him wear her yoke. She had often smiled upon others,
while her eyes glanced cold as illuminated ice upon him. Yet never was
there one on whom she so smiled that repented not having courted or
obtained it. For, as Gemmel's hand was strong and his love passionate,
so was his jealousy keen and his revenge insatiate. There were cripples
in the tribe, who owed their lameness to the hand of Gemmel, because, in
some instance, Judith had shown a capricious preference to them while
she slighted him.

Now, as has been said, it was a day of feasting and rejoicing amongst
them, and Judith was Gemmel's partner in the dance. Walter, the young
heir of Riccon, was riding round the Eildons, with his grey goshawk upon
his arm, and his servant following him; and hearing sounds of music and
shouts of revelry, he turned in the direction from whence they
proceeded. He drew up his horse within a few yards of the merry group,
and, from the first glance, the striking figure and the more striking
features of Judith arrested his attention. His eyes followed her through
the winding mazes of the dance. They sought to meet hers. Gemmel Græme
observed him, and a scowl gathered on his brow. When the dance was
ended, he led Judith to a green hillock on which her father sat, and
approaching the heir of Riccon, inquired, fiercely, "What want ye,
sir?--what look ye at?"

"Troth, friend," replied Walter, the master of Riccon, who was of too
courageous a temperament to be awed by the face or frown of any man, "I
look at yer bonny partner, and I want to speak to her, for a lovelier
face or a gentler figure my een haena looked on since my mother bore
me."

"Sir," retorted Gemmel, more fiercely, "ye hae yer grey goshawk, yer
horses, and yer servant; I dinna covet them, and dinna ye covet what is
mine, and to me mair precious. Awa' the road ye cam, or ony road ye
like, but remain not here. Your company isna desired. Is it the manners
o' you gentry to break in where ye are uninvited? Again, I warn ye,
_while the earth is green_, to turn your horse's head away! I, Gemmel
Græme, wha never vowed revenge but I satisfied it, warn ye!"

"As well," replied young Walter, haughtily, "might you vend your threats
upon the rocks that compose those cloven mountains, as waste them upon
me. I shall speak wi' your bonny partner;" and he struck his spurs into
his horse to proceed towards her.

Gemmel grasped the bridle, and in a moment horse and rider were upon the
ground.

"Gemmel Græme!" shouted Lussha Fleckie, "is that the welcome ye gie to
strangers? Foul fa' ye! ye passionate tyke!--tak yer hands aff the
gentleman, and if he wishes to join in oor merriment he's welcome. Gae,
Judith, bring forward the gentle stranger."

Gemmel withdrew his hand from young Walter's throat; and, as he did so,
he uttered wild and bitter words, and flung himself, as if in
carelessness, on the ground, his head resting on his hand.

Judith, at her father's bidding, went and conducted the heir of Riccon
to where her father sat and the late dancers were assembled, and Gemmel
was left alone. A brief conversation passed between Lussha and Walter,
during which the latter failed not to express his admiration of Judith.
Her father smiled--there was a look of triumph in the eyes of her
mother. The pipes again struck up, the dance was resumed, and Walter the
heir of Riccon was the partner of Judith; while Gemmel Græme lay upon
the ground, gazing upon them and gnashing his teeth.

"We maun see that nae harm come to the young Riccon oot o' this,"
whispered some of the eldest of the tribe to each other, who had not
again joined in the dance, "for Gemmel is kicking his heel upon the
ground, and whistlin' to himsel', and the horse-shoe is on his brow. It
was wrong in Lussha to provoke him. There is an ill drink brewing for
the young laird. He is dancing owre gunpoother where the touch-fire is
creeping to it."

The dance was ended, and young Walter, taking a costly ring from his
finger, placed it on Judith's, and whispered, "Wear it for my sake." And
her cheeks seemed more lovely as she blushed, smiled, and accepted the
gift.

Gemmel started to his feet as he beheld this. But Walter dashed his
spurs into his horse, and, riding away, in a few minutes was out of
sight. Gemmel glanced upbraidingly on Judith, and he passed by her
parents in sullenness and in silence.

But the heir of Riccon had not ridden far, when he turned round and said
to his servant, "We go now to Melrose, and from thence we shall go back
and watch the movements o' the party we have seen. Mark ye weel the
maiden wi' whom I danced, and whose marrow ye never saw; for rather
would I that she was lady o' Riccon Ha', than that I shouldna meet her
again."

Shortly after the departure of Walter, some of the tribe, perceiving
that what had passed between him and Judith was likely to lead to a
quarrel between Lussha Fleckie and Gemmel Græme, and knowing, from the
nature of both, that such a quarrel would be deadly in its results,
proposed that the festivities should terminate, and the encampment break
up. The proposal was carried by a majority of voices; and even Lussha,
though conscious of the reason why it was made, knew so well the fiery
and desperate nature of him who was regarded by the tribe as the future
husband of his daughter, that he brooked his own temper, and agreed to
it. And, while they began to move their tents, and to load their asses
and their ponies, Gemmel stood, whistling moodily, leaning against a
tree, his eyes ever and anon directed with an inquisitive scowl towards
the tent of Judith's father, his arms folded on his breast, and at
intervals stamping his foot upon the ground; while his favourite hound
looked in his face, howled, and shook its tail impatiently, as though it
knew that there was work for it at hand.

Early on the following day, the servant of the heir of Riccon returned,
and brought him tidings that the encampment had broken up, and Judith
and her father had erected their tent in the neighbourhood of Kelso;
for, as the ballad upon the subject hath it,

    "Often by Tweed they saunter'd down
    As far as pleasant Kelso town."

Walter mounted his horse, and arrived within sight of their tent before
the sun had gone down. At a distance from it he perceived Judith. She
was alone, and holding her hand towards the declining sun, gazing upon
her fingers as if admiring the ring he had presented to her on the
previous day. He rode to where she stood. She seemed so entranced that
she perceived not his approach. She was indeed admiring the ring. Yet
let not her sex blame her too harshly: men and women have all their
foibles--this was one of Judith's; and she was a beautiful but ignorant
girl of eighteen, whose mind had never been nurtured, and whose heart
had been left to itself, to be swayed by every passion. He
dismounted--he threw himself on his knees before her--he grasped her
hand. "Loveliest of women!" he began----But I will not follow him
through his rhapsody. Such speeches can be spoken but at one period of
our lives, and they are interesting only to those to whom they are
addressed: therefore I will spare my readers its recital. But it made an
impression on the heart of Judith. He spoke not of _his_ feats of
strength, of his running, leaping, and wrestling, as Gemmel did; but he
spoke of _her_, and in strains new but pleasant to her ear. And,
although she had chided her first lover as a flatterer, she did not so
chide the heir of Riccon. Vanity kindled at his words, and even while he
knelt and spoke before her, she forgot Gemmel, and already fancied
herself the jewelled lady of Riccon Hall.

He perceived the effect which his first gift had produced, and he saw
also how earnestly she listened to his words. He wore a golden repeater,
which he had purchased in Geneva, and which was secured by a chain of
the same metal, that went round his neck. He placed the chain around her
neck, he pressed the watch upon her bosom. In her bosom she heard, she
felt it beat, while her own heart beat more rapidly.

"Hark!--hark!" said he, "how constantly it beats upon your breast--yet,
trust me, loved one, my heart beats more truly for you."

Before they parted, another assignation was arranged. From that period,
frequent interviews took place between Walter and the lovely Judith, and
at each visit he brought her presents, and adorned her person with
ornaments. Her parents knew of his addresses, but they forbade them not.

Now, one evening they had taken up their abode in a deserted building
near to Twisel Bridge; and thither the young laird came to visit Judith.
Her father invited him into what had once been an apartment in the
ruined building, and requested him to sup with them. Walter consented;
for the love he bore to Judith could render the coarsest morsel sweet.
But, when he beheld the meat that was to be prepared and placed before
him, his heart sickened and revolted, for it consisted of part of a
sheep that had died; and, when Lussha beheld this, he said, "Wherefore
shudder ye, young man, and why is your heart sick? Think ye not that the
flesh o' the brute which has been slain by the hand o' its Creator, is
fitter for man to eat than the flesh o' an animal which man has
butchered?"[2]

[Footnote 2: Gipsies always assign this as a reason for their preferring
the flesh of animals that have died to that of such as are
slaughtered.--ED.]

Walter had not time to reply; for, as Lussha finished speaking, a dog
bounded into the ruins amongst them. Judith started from the ground; she
raised her hands, her eyes flashed with horror.

"Ah!" she exclaimed, in a voice of suppressed agony, "it is
Gemmel's--Gemmel's hound! Fly, Walter, fly!"

"Wherefore should I fly?" returned the youth; "think ye, Judith, I am
not able to defend myself and you against any man? Let this fierce
braggart come."

"Away!--haste ye away, sir!" said Lussha, earnestly, grasping him by the
arm, "or there will be blood and dead bodies on this floor! Come away!
Gemmel Græme is at hand, and ye dinna ken him sae weel as I do!"

Walter would have remonstrated, but the gipsy, still grasping him by the
arm, dragged him to a door of the ruin, adding, "Steal away--quick!
quick among the trees, and keep down by the Till to Tweedside. Dinna
speak!--away!"

It was a grey midnight in July, and the heir of Riccon had not been
absent three minutes, when Gemmel Græme stalked into the ruin, and with
his arms folded sat down upon a stone in sullen silence.

"We are glad to see ye, Gemmel," said Mariam; "ye hae been an unco
stranger."

"Humph!" was his brief and cold reply.

The supper was spread upon the ground, and the mother of Judith again
added, "Come, Gemmel, lad, it is o' nae use to be in a cankered humour
for ever. Draw forward and help yersel'--ye see there is nae want."

"So I see!" replied he, sarcastically; "did ye expect company? I doubt
yer fare would hardly be to _his_ palate!"

"What do you mean, Gemmel?" cried Lussha; "think ye that we are to put
up wi' yer fits?--or wherefore, if ye hae naething to say, come ye
glunching here, wi' a brow as dark and threatening as a nicht in
December?"

Gemmel rose angrily, and replied, "I hae something to say, Lussha, and
that something is to Judith, but not in your presence. Judith, will ye
speak wi' me?" added he, addressing her.

Judith, who had sat in a corner of the ruin, with her hands upon her
bosom, covering the watch which young Walter had given her, and
forgetting that the golden chain by which it was suspended from her neck
was visible, cast a timid glance towards her father, as if imploring his
protection.

"I am no sure, Gemmel," said Lussha, "whether I can trust my daughter in
your company or no. If I do, will ye gie me yer thumb that ye winna harm
her, nor raise your hand against her."

"Harm her!" exclaimed Gemmel, disdainfully: "I scorn it!--there's my
thumb."

"Ye may gang, Judith," said her father.

Judith, with fear and guilt graven on her lovely features, rose and
accompanied Gemmel. He walked in silence by her side until they came to
an old and broad-branched tree, which stood about forty yards from the
ruin. A waning summer moon had risen since he arrived, and mingled its
light with the grey gloam of the night, revealing the ornaments which
Judith wore.

"Judith," said Gemmel, breaking the silence, and raising her hand from
her bosom, with which she concealed the watch, "where got ye thae braw
ornaments? Has yer faither found a heart to lay his fingers on the
treasures in the silver jug?"

She trembled, and remained silent.

"Poor thing! poor thing!--lost Judith!" exclaimed Gemmel. "I see how it
is. For the sake o' thae vile gewgaws, ye hae deserted me--ye hae
sacrificed peace o' mind, and bidden fareweel to happiness! O Judith,
woman!--wha is the flatterer noo? Do you mind syne we sat by the
hedge-side thegither, when the corn-craik counted the moments round
about us, and tried to mind us hoo they flew--when the sun had sunk down
in the west, and the bonny hawthorn showered its fragrance owre us, as
though we sat in the garden where our first parents were happy? Do you
mind o' thae days, Judith?--and hoo, when my heaving bosom beat upon
yours, as we sat locked in ilka other's arms, I asked, 'Will ye be
mine?' and ye let yer head fa' on my shouther, and said, '_I
will!_'--Judith! do ye mind o' thae things, and where are they noo?"

"Gemmel Græme," replied she, and she wept as she spoke, "let me gang--I
canna bide wi' ye--and ye hae nae richt to put yer questions to me."

"Nae richt!" he returned. "O Judith! hae ye forgotten a' yer vows?--or
hae ye forgotten the time when, in caulder nichts than this, when the
snaw was on the ground, and the trees were bare o' leaves, that ye hae
stood or wandered wi' me, frae the time that the sun gaed down, until
the sea-birds and the craws sailed owre our heads seeking for their food
on the next morning?--and now ye tell me ye canna bide wi' me! O Judith!
ye hae dune what has made my heart miserable, and what will mak yer ain
as miserable?" And as he spoke he still held her hand.

"Let me gang, Gemmel," she again sobbed, and struggled to wrest her hand
from his grasp--"I hae naething to say to ye."

"Then ye will leave me, Judith!" he cried, wildly--"leave me for ever,
wi' a withered heart and a maddened brain!" She answered him not, but
still wept and struggled the more to escape from him.

"Then gang, Judith!" he cried, and flung her hand from him, "but beware
hoo we meet again!"

Some months after this, and when the harvest-moon shone full on the
fields of golden grain, and the leaves rustled dry and embrowned upon
the trees, there was a sound of voices in a wood which overhung the
Tweed near Coldstream. They were the voices of Walter the heir of Riccon
and of Judith.

"Leave," said he, "dear Judith, leave this wandering life, and come wi'
me, and ye shall be clad in silks, dearest, hae servants to wait on ye,
and a carriage to ride in!"

"Ah!" she sighed, "but a wandering life is a pleasant life; and, if I
were to gang wi' ye, would ye aye be kind to me, and love me as you do
now?"

"Can ye be sae cruel as doubt me, Judith?" was his reply.

"Weel," returned she, "it was for yer sake that I left Gemmel Græme, wha
is a bald and a leal lad, and one that I once thought I liked weel. Now,
I dinna understand about your priests and your books, but will ye come
before my faither and my mother, and the rest o' oor folk, and before
them swear that I am yer lawfu' wife, the only lady o' Riccon Ha', and I
will gang wi' ye?"

"My own Judith, I will!" replied Walter, earnestly.

"You will not!" exclaimed a loud and wild voice, "unless over the dead
body of Gemmel Græme!"

At the same moment a pistol flashed within a few yards of where they
stood, and Walter the heir of Riccon fell with a groan at the feet of
Judith. Her screams rang through the woods, startling the slumbering
birds from the branches, and causing them to fly to and fro in
confusion. Gemmel sprang forward, and grasped her hand. "Now, fause
ane," he cried, "kiss the lips o' yer bonny bridegroom!--catch his
spirit as it leaves him! Hang roond his neck and haud him to yer heart
till his corpse be cauld! Noo, he canna hae ye, and I winna!
Fareweel!--fareweel!--fause, treacherous Judith!"

Thus saying, and striking his forehead, and uttering a loud and bitter
scream, he rushed away.

Judith sank down by the dead body of Walter, and her tears fell upon his
face. Her cries reached the encampment, where her parents and others of
her race were. They hastened to the wood from whence her cries
proceeded, and found her stretched upon the ground, her arms encircling
the neck of the dead. They raised her in their arms, and tried to soothe
her, but she screamed the more wildly, and seemed as one whose senses
grief has bewildered.

"Judith," said her father, "speak to me, bairn--wha has done this? Was
it----"

"Gemmel!--wicked Gemmel!" she cried; and in the same breath added, "No!
no!--it wasna him! It was me!--it was me! It was fause Judith."

Gemmel Græme, however, had dropped his pistol on the ground when he
beheld his victim fall, and one of the party taking it up, they knew him
to be the murderer. Lussha Fleckie, touched by his daughter's grief, and
disappointed by his dream of vain ambition being broken, caused each of
his party to take a vow that they would search for Gemmel Græme, and
whosoever found him should take blood for blood upon his head.

And they did search, but vainly, for Gemmel was no more heard of.

Twelve months passed, and autumn had come again. A young maniac mother,
with a child at her breast, and dressed as a gipsy, endeavoured to cross
the Tweed between Norham and Ladykirk. The waters rose suddenly, and as
they rose she held her infant closer to her bosom, and sang to it; but
the angry flood bore away the maniac mother and her babe. She was
rescued and restored to life, though not to reason, but the child was
seen no more.

For thirty years the poor maniac continued at intervals to visit the
fatal spot, wandering by the river, stretching out her arms, calling on
her child, saying, "Come to me--come to yer mother, my bonny bairn, for
ye are heir o' Riccon, and why should I gang shoeless amang snaw! Come
to me--it was cruel Gemmel Græme that murdered yer bonny faither--it
wasna me!"

It was in January the body of a grey-haired woman, covered with a
tattered red cloak, was found frozen and dead, below Norham Castle. It
was the poor maniac Judith, the once beautiful gipsy. Some years
afterwards, an old soldier, who had been in foreign wars, came to reside
in the neighbourhood, and on his death-bed requested that he should be
buried by the side of Judith, and the letters G. G. carved on a stone
over his grave.



THE DROICH.


On the evening of that eventful day which saw Patrick Hamilton, Abbot of
Ferne, the young and learned Scotch proto-martyr to the Protestant
faith, bend his head and resign his soul at the burning stake, in the
head-quarters of Scottish superstition--St Andrews--a young man was
slowly bending his steps from the scene of execution towards his home, a
good many miles distant. The effect produced by that day's proceedings
was, as is well known, felt throughout all Scotland, where the scene of
martyrdom was, as yet, one of these _mira nova_ which startle a country,
and extort from the innermost recesses of the heart thoughts and
feelings as new as intense. In the case of Hamilton, there were many
features calculated, in an eminent degree, to strike deep into the minds
of a sympathetic and meditative people; and doubtless, his birth,
descended from the royal house of Albany--his learning, derived from the
deep wells of Mair's philosophy--and his extreme youth--were not the
least impressive; yet there was something in the mere _manner_ of his
death--abstracted even from the species of immolation not altogether new
to Scotland, cruelly mangled, as he was, by an awkward or cold-blooded
executioner--that deepened and riveted the effect produced by the
extraordinary scene of his martyrdom. If casual or merely curious
spectators might dream of that scene till their dying hour, we may form
some estimate of what the friend and college companion of the
martyr--for such was the young man whom we have now introduced to the
reader--felt and thought, as, with eyes bent on the ground, he
prosecuted his journey homewards, after witnessing the execution. Imbued
himself with the spirit of the new faith, he had that day seen it
proved, in a manner little less than miraculous. One of the softest and
gentlest of mankind, who would have shrunk from the sight of pain
inflicted on the meanest of God's creatures, had been enabled, by
celestial influence, to stand, in the midst of a scorching and
destroying fire, undaunted, unmoved, with smiles on his countenance, and
words of exhortation on his lips. The feelings of the religionist were
roused and sublimed by the contemplation of one of heaven's marvels; but
the pity of the man and the friend was not lost in the admiration of the
heaven-born fortitude that simulated total relief from bodily agony.
Tears filled the eyes of the youth, and were wiped away only to rise
again with the recurring thoughts of the various stages of the trial and
triumph of his beloved friend. He had already wandered a considerable
distance; but the space bore no proportion to the time occupied; for he
had sat down often by the roadside, hid his face in his hands, and been
lost in a species of charmed contemplation of images at which he
shuddered.

While yet some miles from the end of his journey, the shades of night
began to fall over the undulating heights that form the end of the Ochil
chain to the west; but, as yet, the sun, the only object seen in the
whole horizon, appeared in full disk, red and lurid, like the mass of
ember-faggots which, some hours before, lay in the street of St Andrews,
surmounted by the blackened corpse of the martyr. The traveller turned
his eye in the direction of the luminary; but quickly passed his hand
over his brow, from an instinctive feeling of horror, as a dim wreath of
cloud, stretching along the superior part of the fiery circle, seemed to
realise again, in solemn magnificence, the sight he had witnessed. The
altitude of the object which suggested the resemblance, with the
gorgeousness in which it was arrayed, again claimed the aspiring
thought, that the spirit of his friend, sublimed by the doctrines of
the new faith, was even then journeying to the spheres which he
contemplated. The final triumph of the martyr was completed in the scene
of his agonies; and the seal of eternal truth was, by God's finger,
imprinted on the doctrines he had published and explained in the midst
of the melting fire of the furnace. Placing his hand in his breast, he
drew forth the beautiful Latin treatise which his friend had composed on
the subject of the justification of the sinner, through a believing
faith in Him who was foretold from the beginning of time; and, sitting
again down by the side of a hedge, he struggled, in the descending
twilight, to store his mind with some of those precepts which were
destined to claim the reverence of an enlightened world. He was soon
lost in the rapt meditation in which the spirits of the early reformers
rejoiced amidst the persecution with which they were surrounded, and was
again in regions brighter than those of this world, in communion with
him who, when the flames were already crackling among the faggots, cried
out, "Behold the way to everlasting life!" From the exalted sphere of
his dreamy cogitations he looked down with a contempt which, as his head
reclined among the grass, might have been observed curling the lip of
indignant scorn, upon all the thousand corruptions of the Old
Church--its sold indulgences, its certified beatifications, its pardons,
its soul-redeeming masses, its chanting music, its sins, and its
ineffectual mortifications. The bright spirit of Christianity, arrayed
in her pure garment of white, was before the view of his fancy; her
clear seraphic eye beamed through his soul: and, with finger pointed to
heaven, she invited him to brave the pile and the persecution of men,
and gain the crown which was now encircling the temples of Hamilton. He
thought he could then have died as his friend had perished, and that the
pangs of the circling flames would have been felt by him merely as the
smart pungency of a healing medicament, which the patient rejoices in as
the means of acquiring health.

How long he remained under the influence of this beatific vision he knew
not himself. He had fallen asleep. He opened his eyes: the sun had now
gone down into the western main; and all that was left of his glory was
a thin stream of wavy light, which, shooting across the dark firmament,
looked like the wake of the passing spirit of his friend on its journey
to heaven. He arose. The searching dews of evening had penetrated to his
skin; a cold shiver shot through his frame; and again, clutched by the
humbling and levelling harpies of worldly feelings, fears, and
experiences, he felt all the terror of his former sensations when he
beheld the corpse of the martyr sink with a crash among the embers,
which, as they received the body, sent forth a cloud of hissing,
crackling sparkles of fire, mixed with a dense cloud of smoke.

"Alas! this spirit of mine is strong only in dreams," he muttered to
himself, as the shiver of the night air passed over him. "It is as the
eagle of Bencleugh, which, with his eye in the sun and his feet under
his tail-plumes, will resist the storms that shiver the pines of the
Ochils; yet bring him to earth, and draw one feather from his wing, and
he can only raise a streperous noise amidst the sweltering suffocation
of his earth-crib."

He had scarcely uttered the words, when he saw the short, thick figure
of a man coming along the road, enveloped in a gown, and bearing a stick
like a thraw-crook in his hand. Starting to his feet, he stood, for a
moment, to see if he could recognise the individual.

"Good even to ye, young Master o' Riddlestain," said the individual, as
he came up, and was recognised by the youth--"good even to ye; and God
send ye a warmer bed than the hedge-beild, and a caulder than ane o'
bleezing faggots."

"Good even, Carey," replied the youth. "I return your salutation. The
one lair, as a beadsman of Pittenweem, you may have experienced ere now;
the other you stand in small fears of. From St Andrews, if I can judge
from your allusion to the sad doings of to-day in that part?"

"Ye guess right," replied the beadsman, as they proceeded forward, side
by side; "but how could you guess wrang, when every outlyer and
rinner-about in the East Neuk has been this day at the head-quarters o'
prelacy. A strange day and a selcouth sight for auld een. It's no often
that Carey Haggerston carries a fu' ee and a fu' wallet."

"Then you were moved by the fate of poor Hamilton, Carey?" replied the
youth.

"And wha, Papist or heretic, could stand yon sight wi' dry een?" replied
the man, in a voice that trembled in the sinews of his throat. "I wad
hae gien a' the bodles the prelates threw me--the mair by token, I
think, that the puir callant was writhing in the fire-flaughts o' their
anger--for ae stroke wi' this kevel at the head o' yon culroun caitiff
o' an executioner. The bonny youth was roasted as if he'd been a capon
for the table o' the cardinal, only there was mair smoke than might hae
suited his lordship's palate, I reckon."

"You have got a good awmous, Carey, will sleep sound, and think nothing
of it on the morrow?" said the youth.

"Anster Fair was naething to it," replied the beadsman. "The scene
seemed to open the hearts o' prelates and priors, that never gave a
plack to a bluegown before. I held up the corner o' my gown beneath the
chapel o' the cardinal, and, sure enough, there were mair groats than
tears fell into it. Ah, sir, though my wallet was yape, my heart was
youden. But we're near the haugh road to Riddlestain, Master Henry, and,
as the night is loun and light, I carena though I step up past the
Quarryheugh wi' ye."

"You may expect small alms from the Droich," said Henry.

"No muckle, I daresay," replied the bluegown; "but I stand in nae fear
o' him, and that's mair than the bauldest heart o' the East Neuk can
say. I wad stroke the lang hair o' the creature any day for an awmous,
unearthly as he is."

"Know you aught of this extraordinary being, Carey?" said the youth, as
they turned up the haugh loan.

"Ye're no the first nor the hundredth that has put that question to the
beadsman," replied the other, as he looked up with a side-glance in the
face of the questioner. "Everybody thinks I should ken auld Mansie o'
the Quarryheugh--the mair by token, I fancy, that naebody on earth kens
mair o' him than just that he is a hurklin, gnarled carle, wha cam to
the Quarryheugh some months syne, and biggit, wi' his ain hands, a beild
which has mair banes than stanes in its bouk."

"I know more of him myself than that, Carey," said the young man.

"What ken ye?" rejoined the other, with a laugh.

Henry's silence was probably meant as a quickener of the beadsman's
garrulity.

"Ye may ken, maybe," said the other, "that he speels the sides o' the
Quarryheugh--that is, whar there are trees to haud by--like a squirrel,
swinging frae ae ryss to anither, and sometimes dangling over the deep
pool aneath him, like a showman's signboard, or a gammon frae the
kitchen ciel o' the Priory o' Pittenweem; but the creature's legs are
nae bigger than an urchin's, while his trunk and arms are like the knur
and branches of an oak. What ken ye mair o' him? What kens ony ane mair
o' him, an it bena that he has been seen, in the moonlight, howking the
banes o' the dead Melvilles o' Falconcleugh frae the side o' the quarry,
whar it marches wi' the howf o' the auld house that stands by the brink?
An auld wife's tale, doubtless, though maybe he needed the banes for his
biggin."

"I believe the people in these parts would know more of him, were they
not afraid to go near him," said the youth. "They stand peeping over the
quarry brink at him, as if he were the 'gudeman of the croft,' Mahoun
himself."

"And nae ferly either, Henry," said Carey; "for his face speaks as
clearly o' the skaith o' fire as did that o' Patrick Hamilton when yon
gust o' wind drove the flames to the east, and showed his cheeks--sae
pale, alace! and like a delicate leddy's, as they ance were--burnt as
brown as the wa's o' Falconcleugh House there."

The two speakers had now arrived at the old mansion of the Melvilles,
which stood on the brink of the deep crater, whose high sides had
procured for it the appellation of the Quarryheugh. At the side or end
next the chasm, rose, beetling over it, a high turret, perforated in
several storeys by small embrasures, and surrounded by three tiers of
bartisans. From this flanking strength, the two side walls--relieved, at
intervals, by circular projections containing spiral stairs--ran back,
and were terminated by an ordinary gable, the inclined sides of which
were cut in gradually-receding steps. The care which seemed to have been
taken in securing the casements by closed shutters within, indicated,
more certainly than did the general appearance of the withered house,
that, though unoccupied, it was still deemed suitable for serving the
uses of a dwelling, and that the choughs and stannyels that perched on
its roofs were mere tenants at will, and might be removed on a day's
warning. For a considerable distance around, there was nothing to be
seen but a bare heath, the dark brown aspect of which suggested the
probability of its having been swept by the destroying flames of
muirburn. Even the few straggling boulders that shot up their grey heads
through the scanty gorse stems, springing from their bases, wore a
black, scathed appearance, as if they had still retained the traces of
the ravage of the sweeping scourge. Hidden, except to near gazers amidst
this wild waste, and shelving down from the tower of the mansion, the
chasm or quarry, in the form of a huge crater, lay deep and still, with
a dark mass of greenish-hued water reposing like another Dead Sea in its
bosom. Around two sides of it, where there was a sufficiency of soil to
support them, grew a number of stunted pines, the heads of none of which
appeared above the superior circle; but, dipping down, added to the
darkness of the water beneath, by the shadows they flung over its
surface. At the eastern part, and where the pines in that direction
ended, there seemed to have fallen down a large portion of the
superincumbent bank, whereby there was formed a species of island, whose
nearer edge might be about ten feet from the bank from which it had been
severed.

On this insular spot, which was now accessible from the mainland by
means of two pine trunks thrown across and wattled together, lived the
extraordinary individual whose form and habits had, in the conversation
of the two speakers, been, in a partial manner, described. The small
domicile he had reared for himself was entirely composed of materials
supplied by the chasm in which it was situated, and constructed in the
rudest manner of a self-taught artist, whose object was to shield
himself from the inclemency of the weather, without any view to
comforts, which he either despised, or deemed it unsafe or improper to
indulge. It was, indeed, a mere rough shieling, with four walls,
composed of rubble stones, mixed with--what probably excited more wonder
than all the other supernatural attributes of the place, and the being
himself--a due proportion of bones, collected from the cemetery of the
family of Falconcleugh House, which had, on some disruption of the sides
of the chasm, been laid open on its western side. The roof was supported
by one or two rough trunks of pines, thrown in a slanting direction
across, and composed of small twigs and leaves, wattled and compressed
in such a manner as to save the inmate from a part, at least, of
heaven's more profuse inundations.

The bare and scorched wilderness around, over which the eyes of the
beadsman and his companion were wandering, as they approached the scene
of their conversation, had now resigned its embrowned hue, for the not
less dreary and mystic tinge of the blue light of the young moon, as she
struggled with the falling darkness. The circumstances of the still
unseen chasm being tenanted by the only living mortal within the
circumference of the bleak waste, and he himself, calculated, by his
unusual formation of body, and imputed mystic powers and attributes, to
aid the pregnant associations connected with his lonely condition, was,
by those acquainted with the locality of Falconcleugh Muir, naturally
combined with the dismal celebrity of the place for these deeds of
violence so common at that period in Scotland. Whatever may have been
felt by his less imaginative companion, whose familiarity with the overt
proceedings of the occult powers of the waste and the ruin may have
blunted his perceptions of the supernatural, it is at least certain, and
assuredly no marvel either, that Henry Leslie surveyed the scene around
him with the feelings natural to the time and the country when and where
he lived. The dark figure of the house rose before him, claiming the
homage due to the genius of the place, where it was almost the only
object that arrested the eye. Replete in itself with the elements of
gloomy associations, connected with the fate of the once happy Melvilles
who resided there, it threw a wizard power over the surrounding
heath-waste, investing the bleak inanity of Nature's most negative
condition with an interest which could not have been possessed by her
multiform productions. The absence of material objects of thought lent
even a species of positive character of inspissated essence to the blue
haze of the atmosphere, which seemed to hang like a mighty sea in the
deepest stillness of nature's silence. For some time, neither of the
parties had uttered a word. The brush of their feet on the heath, and
the sound of their breath, were intensified by the silence into noises
that to the younger of the two seemed startling and painful.

"Hooly, hooly," muttered the beadsman, as his last step brought him to
the chasm; "loun and canny, young master--loun and lightly," he added,
as he sat down on what seemed to have been a step of a ruined porch,
close by the building, and by the brink of the shelving heugh. "Eh! but
this silence is gousty and elric. That corbie's grane was like the roar
of a lion. Didna ye think the drum o' yer ear would crack wi' the
sound?"

Henry seated himself by the bluegown on the stone, and they both turned
their eyes down on the deep hollow, where the waters seemed as dark as
the Stygian stream.

"I hear nae stir in the howe," said the beadsman, "and see naething but
that rickle o' a house standing on that eerie pinnacle, like a craw's
nest on the tap o' a tree in a glen. The creature's surely sleeping
after his day's wark; for he works like a dergar, and nae man kens what
at. He maks neither wicker corbins nor quhorls, like the rest o' his
Droich species."

"Hist! Carey; heard ye not a noise?" said the youth.

"A hungry stane hawk spooming down the quarry after some raven that has
been picking the banes o' the Melvilles," replied the other.
"Wear-awins! there's a sad change on Falconcleugh now," he continued, as
he turned his face to the walls. "The fire o' the ha' has been eighteen
years extinguished; and when it may be lighted again, it will be to warm
fremmet blude o' the spoiler o' the auld family. Heard ye that Gilbert
Blackburn o' Kingsbarns, the commendator o' Pittenweem, is shortly to
tak up his residence here, whar, methinks, he has as little right as the
puir beadsman."

"No," replied Henry, as, keeping his eye on the house of the strange
inhabitant, he lent his ear to the gaberlunzie man.

"It is even so," continued the old man. "It is now eighteen years, come
the time, since George Melville, the last o' his ancient race, was
burned for a heretic in Bordeaux. He was driven frae that mansion there,
and the braw lands o' Falconcleugh, by Gilbert Blackburn, the persecutor
o' the heretics, even he wha had a hand in raising the black stake at
the cross o' St Andrews the day. I saw his ee, red as the burning
faggots, fixed on the puir youth. I'm thinking I didna thank him for his
awmous."

"You seem friendly to the heretics, Carey, yet live by the kirk," said
the youth, withdrawing his eye from the chasm.

"The kirk's penny has as mony placks in't as a heretic's--the mair by
token, they hae baith three," replied Carey. "I hae my ain thoughts o'
the auld faith and the new doctrines; but it's better to live by the
altar than be burned on't."

"It might have been well for the earthly part of Patrick Hamilton, had
he observed your worldly wisdom," said Henry.

"Ay; but his soul wadna hae been in yon blue lift the night," replied
Carey, looking up to the sky. "Na, na, nor might that o' puir
Falconcleugh have been there afore him, if he had bowed his head at the
auld altar. Yet _he_ tried to save his body by fleeing to France--vain
flight, for his persecutor, Kingsbarns, wrote incontinent to the
authorities at Bordeaux, to watch him as an enemy to the holy kirk. Then
cam the sough, as pleasant to the ears o' Kingsbarns as the whistlin'
winds to the outlaying bluegowns, that his victim was burned. His bonny
wife, ane o' the Blebos, wha fled wi' him, died o' a broken heart; and
now, they say, the race is dune. Whist! whist! Gude and the rude! What's
the creature doing amang the trees o' the howe at this time o' nicht?"

A rustling noise arrested the ears of the speakers, and Henry's eye was
turned in the direction of the sound. The short stunted figure of a man
was dimly seen down among the pines, working his way along the face of
the precipice, by means of his arms alone, swinging from one stem to
another, and occasionally resting for a moment, by remaining suspended,
in an apparently dangerous and fearful, yet perfectly composed manner,
over the water in the deep basin of the crater. Continuing this
operation, in which there was clearly exercised an extraordinary
brachial power and energy, he approached, with marvellous rapidity, his
dwelling; and, by one or two more salient movements, in which there
could not be observed, any more than in his prior progress, the
slightest use made of his inferior extremities, he came to the wattled
trunks lying across the cleft. Seizing these with the same extraordinary
power of grasp, he hung for a few seconds in mid-air, suspended by the
hands; then, by two or three successive throws and jerks, which made the
pines bend and creak, he reached the insular height whereon his hovel
was erected, and drawing himself up, he sat down, apparently in a
resting attitude, upon the brink of the riven bank. In this position he
remained for a considerable time, with his head bent downwards, as if he
were wrapped in deep meditation. The rough croaking of some crows that
had been disturbed by the rustling movements he had made among the pines
ceased, and, in the hushed silence that again reigned over the bleak
waste, there might have been heard his deep inspirations, as he drew
breath after his exertions. Turning round, and applying himself again to
his hands, he began to move along on the narrow space between the walls
of his house and the edge of the height, making his arms the principal
instruments of his progress, and using his short inferior extremities as
subserving agents. The motion thus produced seemed to be a compromising
medium between the crawl and the spasmodic jump of a wounded quadruped;
yet he made rapid progress; went round the small dwelling, and was seen
again at the other side in an attitude which showed, that, however
ineffectual his lower limbs might be in the operation of ambulation,
they could yet support his broad, thick-set trunk. Standing erect, he
exhibited an elevation of about four feet and a-half, a stature
which--in an individual of corresponding dimensions in other
members--might not have been sufficient to entitle him to enter the pale
of the "Droichs;" but, when viewed in relation to the almost gigantic
breadth of his chest and shoulders, the troll-like size of his head, and
the extreme length of his arms, could not fail, when seen through the
medium of the moonlight, and in the locality of a blasted heath-waste,
to suggest a relationship to some of the stout "elfin" of Scandinavian
fable.

The two spectators felt all the charm of the feelings of the
supernatural in watching the motions of the eremite; and, probably--in
so far, at least, as regarded the younger of the two--the interest was
deepened by their total inability to understand his motions, as, having
looked steadfastly for a few minutes down into the chasm, he again
betook himself to his quadrupedal amble; entered his hut, and emerged
with something in the form of a large volume--the brass clasps of which
glittered in the moonlight--bound to his waist. The small space between
the door and the end of the wattled trunks he cleared by a series of
short, rapid, bounding strides, without the aid of his arms; and
throwing his body again on the ground, he remained in that position for
a few minutes, after which he again seized the end of the trunks, swung
himself along them, and entered among the trees. The dark figure of his
body was now indistinctly seen moving, by the same jerking, propulsive
throws, from tree to tree, by which he had cleared the space before;
and, getting beneath the shadow of the mansion, he disappeared from the
view of the spectators, at the same time that the cracking of a branch,
amid the sound of a splash in the water, came upon their ears. They
neither heard nor saw more of him. The deepest silence reigned
everywhere; and the dreary scene seemed as if in an instant deprived of
every trace of living sound or motion, save the deep-drawn breath and
palpitating throbs of the heart of the younger of the two observers.
Overcome with the pressure of awe, he sat bound to his stone-seat, and
turned his eye on the face of the beadsman, where he found an expression
very different from what he expected.

"Is the creature not down in that dreadful basin of pitchy waters?"
muttered he.

"And if he were," replied Carey, as he twinkled his grey eye, unmoved,
in the face of the youth, "what would ye do, young Master o'
Riddlestain? Seek him, as the baron did his brood-sow in the well, on
the top o' the towering Bech, and maybe find mair than ye want--a farrow
o' young water elfs? Na, na! let him alane--he'll no drown. He's maybe
even now kissing some water queen in the bottom o' the loch."

The youth looked inquiringly in the face of the bluegown; but the same
expression was still there. He was sorely puzzled: the feelings of
humanity were throbbing in his heart in audible pulses. The old beggar
was in one of his humours, and held him by the skirt of his coat as he
attempted to rise, while at the very moment, as he imagined, a human
being was perishing in the waters. He sat breathless, with his ear
chained to the abyss, and his eye searching in vain for some traces of
meaning in the face of his arch companion. The same hushed stillness
pervaded the scene of dreary desolation; neither the sound of a
death-struggle nor of living motion could be distinguished, and it was
as difficult to account for an individual endowed with life and the
desire of self-preservation drowning without a sigh or groan, as it was
for the sudden disappearance of every trace of a still living being in
the dismal abyss into which he had so mysteriously descended.

"It's a' owra now, at ony rate, Master Henry!" said the bluegown, adding
to the youth's perplexity by a hint so directly opposed to his prior
confidence, "the deil mair o' a sound comes frae earth, water, or air,
than that croak o' a raven that even now flew o'er the quarry loch.
We'll e'en be seeking hame, I think. I hae back to the road to
Pittenweem to gae, and ye've a mile a-gate between ye and Riddlestain.
Gude e'en to ye!"

And, without even troubling himself to look over the quarry brink, the
beadsman began his ordinary half-trotting pace; and in a short time
Henry saw him, in the distance, making rapid progress over the heath.
Meanwhile he was himself at a loss what to think or what to do. The
strange manner of the beadsman led him at one time to suppose that he
was satisfied that no misfortune had occurred to the inhabitant of the
quarry; and at another, his parting words, joined to the inexplicable
disappearance of the extraordinary individual, inclined him to an
opposite belief, and filled him with painful feelings of
self-crimination for not having rendered a timely assistance in behalf
of a fellow-creature. He could not yet move himself from the spot.
Placing himself on his breast, he looked over the brink of the chasm,
gazing through between the trees on the deep, sullen pool, which, like a
sleeping monster, satiated with prey, lay as still as death. His ears
were not less occupied: for a space, not less than half-an-hour, he lay
in this position, without seeing or hearing the slightest indication of
anything that might solve the mystery. He was enveloped in the gloom of
his own personal experiences of the day. The thoughts of the calcinated
corpse of Hamilton, and the speaking spirit of the wild place where he
lay, all combined with the painful feelings of the inquiry in which he
was engaged to render his mind susceptible of morbid influences, and
fecundative of supernatural creations of awe. He resolved frequently to
rise suddenly to escape from the depressing yet charmed influence of the
place, and the inexplicable circumstances connected with it, and
resolved, on the following moment, to endure still the creeping
sensations of fear that run over him, in the hope of getting the mystery
cleared up. His watch, however, still proved ineffectual. More time
passed, but the silence continued unbroken by any sound, save,
occasionally, the flap of a night-bird's wing, as it floated past, or
the dying scream of a victim, awakened to die in the talons of the hawk.
Rising, at length, he cast another look over the chasm, and bent his
steps to Riddlestain.

When he reached home, he found his parents waiting impatiently for him.

"It is all over," said he, as he sat down, and covered his face with his
hands. "The martyr has received his crown. God have mercy on us who are
of the new faith!"

"And we are in danger from the commendator Blackburn," replied old
Riddlestain. "He has taken the lands of Falconcleugh; and he will not be
contented till he get Riddlestain also. Where is the martyr's treatise
on the saving efficacy of faith? You took it with you to day to St.
Andrews."

"Here, here," replied Henry, as he searched his bosom for the brochure.
"No, no--it is gone!" he continued, as he rose and looked wildly around
him. "I was reading it by the wayside; and, overcome with fatigue and
suffering, I reclined, and slept--and now I find the book is gone. What
may come of this, when our enemies are ranging the land with the fiery
faggot?"

"Saw you no one by the way?" said the father.

"Only Carey, the wandering beadsman of Pittenweem," replied the son.

"Seek him--seek him, ere you sleep, Henry! Our lives depend on your
recovering that book, which they call heretical, because it shows us the
true way to that place where priests have no power. But the way it leads
is through earthly flames, and we are not yet so well prepared for that
ordeal as he who passed to-day."

The young man flew out of the house, and taking his way again past
Falconcleugh, without stopping to know more certainly the fate of the
inhabitant of the quarry, he was hurrying on in the direction which he
supposed had been taken by the bluegown, when he heard a noise, as if of
the opening of a door of the old mansion. The sound startled him, and he
returned and placed himself in the shade of the walls. In a few minutes,
he saw the old beadsman, who he thought had betaken himself to his
quarters at Pittenweem, come forth, in the company of a young woman
rolled up in a cloak. They hurried onwards as if afraid of discovery;
and Henry, following them, traced them to the small cottage of Mossfell,
about a half-a-mile distant from Falconcleugh. "My own Margaret again at
Falconcleugh at a late hour," muttered the youth to himself, as he saw
the young woman part with the bluegown, and betake herself to the
cottage, while Carey proceeded on his way to Pittenweem. The youth
allowed him to continue his course until he came to the spot where he
had been reading the book. He then made up to him.

"Thus far only on your way, Carey?" said he, as he overtook him.

"Nae farther, Master Henry," was the reply, accompanied by a
scrutinising twinkle of the beadsman's eye, as if to ascertain whether
the questioner had noticed his proceedings. "But what has brought you
again frae Riddlestain, at this late hour?"

"It is not to ask you what I know you will not tell me, Carey--the
secret of Mansie of the Quarryheugh, and whether he be now in the bottom
of the waters. I am myself in danger; and would know if you met any one
on the road to-night, ere you came up to me?"

As he spoke, he proceeded to search for the heretical tract.

"So it was you," said the beadsman, "from whom, when sleepin by the
roadside, was ta'en the written heresy that Blackburn's clerk, Geordie
Dempster, was busy reading to his fellow-traveller, John o' the Priory,
in Dame M'Gills, at the Haughfoot. The body o' young Riddlestain will be
a cinder ere the sun has gane twelve times owre the East Neuk. If the
commendator got Melville o' Falconcleugh burned in France, will he,
think ye, hae ony great difficulty in getting Henry Leslie burned in
Scotland?"

"Your words carry fire in them, Carey; but I have not said that the book
was mine."

"There's nae occasion for the admission," replied the bluegown,
"especially to ane wha lives by the auld kirk, and maybe ought, even
now, to turn his face to St. Andrews, to evidence against you. You may
be safe at Riddlestain for this night, but scarcely owre the morn. I
will gie ye warnin, if ye will trust me."

"I will," replied Henry.

And the bluegown, waving his wand, continued on his journey, while the
young man turned his steps, in fear, towards home. He again came to the
cottage of Mossfell, and stood before the door. Margaret Bethune resided
there, under the protection of old Dame Craigie. She was reputed an
orphan; and, as such, she had secured the interest of the family at
Riddlestain. By other claims she had secured the affection of the son;
and never, until this night, had he observed in her conduct aught that
excited any other feeling than love and respect, nor had what he had
witnessed in any material degree altered the opinion he had formed of
her. Yet, what object had she to serve by visiting the dark chambers of
Falconcleugh with a wandering bluegown, at so late an hour of the night.
He had heard from the servants at Riddlestain that she had been seen
stealing from the old mansion at late hours; but she had uniformly
avoided his inquiries for information. On this occasion, she might have
gone to inquire as to the fate of Mansie, who had, apparently, been
plunged into the waters. Yet why did the beadsman avoid the subject, and
not offer satisfaction on a matter of importance to any one possessed of
a spark of humanity? The danger of his own situation did not prevent him
from indulging in these thoughts; and, as he stood and listened, he
ascertained that the inmates had not gone to bed.

"I will see," he muttered, "whether Margaret and her old friend observe
the same silence."

And he rapped at the door. He got admittance; and, seating himself by
the fire--

"I am disturbed," he said. "As I returned this night from the scene of
the death of my friend, I stood, with old Carey the beadsman, over the
quarry of Falconcleugh, watching the motions of the old cripple who
lives in that strange place. We heard a plash in the waters, and saw no
more of him. Is it possible that he is drowned, and I, confused by
selfish fears for my own safety, neglected to rouse my father's servants
to make search for a fellow-creature."

He watched the countenance of Margaret as he spoke and finished. There
was no trace there of the effects of a sensibility which usually
responded to the minutest detail of suffering. He waited for her
explanation of the object of her own visit to the quarry, but none was
forthcoming.

"Ye needna fear for auld Mansie," said the dame. "If every plash o' a
loose stane o' the auld wa's--ay, or a heughbane o' the auld Melvilles,
or broken branch in the waters o' the quarry--were a sign o' his death,
twenty times has he dreed the doom."

"You spoke of your own danger, Henry," said Margaret, retreating from
the subject. "Is it from the persecutors of our secret, holy faith, who
have this day burned Hamilton at St. Andrew's?"

"It is--it is, Margaret," rejoined the youth, as he rose, dissatisfied
at what he supposed a trait of disingenuousness or secret mystery. "I
may be compelled to leave Scotland, if I would not follow my friend
through the flames. But old Carey the beadsman, or Mansie the cripple,
may console you in my absence." And, with these words, he hastened to
the door.

"What mean you, Henry?" said the girl, as she hastened after him, and
stopped him, by seizing tremblingly his hand.

"Lovers have no secrets, Margaret," replied he. "You might have told me
at once that you and the beadsman were at Falconcleugh. Why, if it was
nothing more but a compliance with the dictates of humanity, to see
whether or not, as we suspected, a fellow-creature had fallen into the
basin, where was the reason for secresy? I am now satisfied the Droich
is safe. He is nothing to me more than to others, who stand, and stare,
and wonder at so strange a being in so strange a place; but a straw in
the wind may tell us the direction of the argosy, and by this I may
convict you of a want of ingenuousness. To-morrow I may be in flight for
my life, in these tearful times, when the faggot surrounds the altar of
the true faith; and how could I trust one with my secret who denies me
satisfaction in a matter that concerns us scarcely more than it does the
ordinary people of the world."

"Who said that I was at Falconcleugh this night?" answered she. "Was it
the beadsman? Tell me Henry, am I betrayed by one of whom neither you
nor I can deserve better? for he eats the unholy fruits of the faith he
pretends to disown."

"No; Carey is as secret as yourself," rejoined he; "and, I hope, as true
to me, who am also in his power."

"Thank God!" ejaculated she, "and now, Henry, if you love me, no more of
Falconcleugh or its maimed inhabitant. Will you promise?"

"You put me to an unfair test, Margaret. I will reply to you in the same
spirit. Will you, if I am forced to fly my country, accompany me as my
wife?"

"I cannot," replied she. "There is one here who claims the sacrifice to
my first love."

"Man or woman?" inquired he.

"I cannot answer more," said she. "The time is not come. When it is
decreed that the fire shall no longer burn on the street of St. Andrews,
you shall know all. Meanwhile, fly, if flight will save you; and take
with you the pledge that I am yours, in heart and spirit, in all that
belongs to true affection."

"So be it," he replied, hurriedly, and with a look of dissatisfaction.
"Farewell! and it may be for ever."

With these words he left the cottage, and hurrying to Riddlestain, gave
an account of the dangerous situation in which he was placed. His father
saw the peril with perhaps a keener perception of the probable
consequences. The act of 1525 against heretics was in full force, and
the church authorities eked out its sanctions by wrested texts of
Scripture, with an ingenuity and thirst of blood that threatened
destruction to all heretics. It was resolved that Henry should be
regulated by the warnings of the beadsman, whose sources of information
would enable him to save the son of his old friend from ruin, if not
death. The night was passed by the inmates of Riddlestain with fearful
forebodings, and next morning, and during a part of the day, Henry
expected a secret visit from the beadsman. As the evening approached, he
ventured forth to look for the bearer of intelligence, but as yet he
was not visible. The moon had risen, and was again flinging her beams
over the muir of Falconcleugh, and the old mansion of the Melvilles
stood in solemn darkness in the midst of the scene. Again he was
occupied by the thoughts suggested by what he had seen on the previous
night, and what he had heard from Carey and Margaret, yet all his
attempts to unravel their conduct and converse was unavailing, and he
felt half inclined to seek again the cottage at Mossfell, to put the
maiden to another test, while he would ease her mind of the reflections
which the abrupt if not cruel terms of his departure would inevitably
suggest. In the midst of his reverie he was startled by a noise, and, on
looking round, he saw the dark figure of the inhabitant of the
Quarryheugh coming along by his peculiar springing movement. He had
never before seen him beyond the precincts of the hollow where he had
taken up his residence; and felt as he might have felt on the approach
of some being from another world. Every now and then the creature
stopped, and beckoned him forwards, but Henry retained his position as
if transfixed to the ground, and, in a short time, the hermit was by his
side, with his face--which was covered with long hair, and the features
almost obliterated by scars--turned up to him in the full light of the
moon.

"The fires of other lands," said he, "are as scorching as those of the
Scotch faggot. Thou wouldst yet fly to them, and leave the commendator
Blackburn to seize Riddlestain, while thy father suffers the fate thou
wouldst avoid."

"Let him remain," replied Henry, "who has faith and fortitude to pass
through the fiery ordeal. You did not, good Mansie, see Hamilton's
blackened body sink among the blazing faggots."

A half-suppressed groan rumbled in the throat of the Droich.

"What I have seen--what I have felt, thou may'st never know," said he.
"But see, there are the church emissaries already after thee."

Henry looked round, and saw some horsemen scouring along the muir, at a
considerable distance, in the direction of Riddlestain. Throwing himself
down on the heath to avoid being seen, he remained in that position for
a few minutes, and by the time he again lifted his head, his Mentor was
a considerable distance from him, working his progress forwards, on his
hands and knees, with great effort. The next moment a hand was on his
shoulder, and he shuddered with terror.

"I'm maybe owre late," said the beadsman. "Quick, quick?--Blackburn and
his hounds are awa' to Riddlestain wi' a warrant to apprehend you."

Henry followed the beadsman, who hurried on towards Falconcleugh.

"Now for your choice," said he. "Auld Mansie was giein ye counsel,
maybe, to stay and stand your doom. What say ye--flight or flaught, an
exile or an eizel?"

"I am unresolved," replied the youth.

"And by the faith o' the auld kirk, ye hae muckle time to ponder.
See!--see! the bloodhounds have changed their course; their scent lies
this way."

"I am lost!" ejaculated the young man.

"It maun be!--it maun be!" responded the beadsman, as he stood by the
dark walls of Falconcleugh mansion, and seemed to hesitate. "There's
naeither mean. Here, here," he continued, as he descended some steps,
and taking Henry by the arm, hurried him down, and then applied a key to
a low door of the mansion, which he opened.

"There, there," he muttered, as he pushed the youth into a dark chamber.
"I will turn their muzzles to the south."

The door was shut, and Henry immediately after heard the loud call of
some horsemen, inquiring of the beadsman whether he had not with him a
companion.

"Beggars hae short acquaintanceships," replied the bluegown. "The word
awmous severs good company. Wha are ye after wi' the loose rein and the
bloody spur?"

"Henry Leslie, younger, of Riddlestain," replied one of the men.
"Whither has he gone?"

"My een lack now their former licht," replied the beadsman, "but if ye,
wha are younger, look weel to the east, ye'll see something yonder
thicker, I ween, than a munebeam. Ye ken what I mean. Ane wha has got an
awmous frae his father canna speak plainer, even to the friends o' the
auld kirk."

"Well said, old Carey," cried the men, as they set forth with redoubled
speed in the direction pointed out by the beggar.

Now, left to himself in a dark chamber of the old mansion of the
Melvilles, Henry began to look round him for some place where, in the
event of a search being there made for him, he might, with greater
chance of success, elude their efforts. Mounting up a few steps, he
reached a recess in the wall, which had once been enclosed by a door,
the hinges of which still adhered to the stones, and there he crouched,
under the gloom of an anxiety that pictured in the future the images of
the various forms of persecution to which the heretics of the time were
exposed. There was scarcely any light in the chamber. The flapping of
the wings of bats, that had been adhering, in a state of torpor, to the
roof, was the only sound that met his ear. A noisome damp pervaded the
atmosphere; and a creeping sensation ran over his flesh, which,
co-operating with his fear and solitude, made him shiver. For two hours
he heard no indications of any one approaching the building; he began to
think of removing, while, now being dark he could escape to some greater
distance from his enemies; yet he deemed it a dubious measure, while the
absence of the beadsman augured danger from without. All was again
still: the bats had again betaken themselves to the walls and the roof,
and the sound of a cricket might have been heard throughout the extent
of the dreary chamber. At length the grating sound of the hinges of a
door startled him, and he stretched forth his head to watch the
movement. The door opened, and a young woman, rolled up in a cloak,
cautiously entered, taking from under her mantle a lantern, which she
waved round and round, as if to ascertain that there was no one within.
She then closed the door, and, proceeding to the side of the chamber
next the quarry, made some audible knocks upon the side of an opening,
somewhat of the form of a window, through which only a faint gleam of
light had been able to struggle. This done, she sat down on the floor,
and sighed heavily, muttering broken sentences in which the name of him
who witnessed her strange proceedings could be distinguished. After a
few minutes, the trees of the Quarryheugh, agitated by some living
impulse, gave forth a rustling sound which, in the prevailing silence of
the still night, reached the interior, and was observed by the listener.
The movement continued, until the figure of the stunted inhabitant of
the quarry appeared at the aperture, and, by two or three convulsive
efforts, he flung himself into the apartment. The light from the lamp
fell upon the couple. The girl still sat on the floor, and her companion
reclined by her side, throwing out his maimed limbs, and turning up his
face--which might have been fraught with terror to another--in the
countenance of her who seemed to regard him with demonstrations of
affection.

"Blackburn, the old enemy of our house, is forth again," said he; "and
young Riddlestain may fall. Are you prepared?"

"It is to be hoped he will fly, father, and be yet saved to me,"
answered she, sorrowfully, while she took some edibles from a small
corbin and placed them before him. Then drawing her hand over her
eyes--"When is this wo and watching to cease?--when may I own my
kindred, my love, and my faith?"

"Weep not--weep not," said the other; "or let it be up in the chamber of
thy mother, whither I nightly drag those maimed and scorched limbs, that
the heart which burns for vengeance on the enemies of the Melvilles may
be quenched with the tribute of a love that mourns the dead. She cured
these fragments of members when rescued from the stake, that I might
come back to my country, a wreck whom none may recognise and all may
scorn, but a daughter who must yet pity while she loves."

"Would that my love and my pity might be known," replied she. "How often
have I asked permission to proceed to the court, to plead on my bended
knees for relief to one who has already suffered what might expiate a
thousand heresies--ay, more than death."

"While the commendator lives, it is vain, Margaret. I have waited for
him long, to show him, in the mansion of my fathers, what his power has
achieved--ha! ha! I would do him homage as the holder of a pendicle of
the lands he has wrested from me--even the Quarryheugh. It is my duty.
These arms, which the fires spared, might yet let him feel the strength
of a vassal who has no power to follow him to the wars against the
faithful."

"You fear me, father!" ejaculated the girl, as she bent over him, while
he murmured, in growling accents, his threats. "The commendator is a man
of power, and may get finished what his agents so wofully left undone in
your exile."

"Power," groaned the other--"power, when alone in this dark chamber with
me, to whom yet is left these arms!"

"Heaven keep him long away!" replied Margaret; "for your strength is a
by-word to the creatures who gaze at you till they fly in fear from one
they deem supernatural. Hush--a door has opened above."

"Hie thee to Mossfell--quick--quick, child."

"Oh remember that you have a daughter!" ejaculated she, as she
retreated.

"And that I had a wife whom my wrongs killed--yea, that I had once the
face and form of a man!" he added, as he flung the fragments of victuals
out of the window, and then swung himself out by the immense strength of
his arms.

The sound from above, which had thus startled the father and daughter,
now chained the ear of Leslie whose curiosity had been roused and
gratified by the strange scene he had witnessed. Footsteps now sounded
overhead; and, by and by, the tread was heard on the inside stairs
leading to the lower apartment. At the same moment, the door from which
Margaret had issued opened quickly, and the head of another individual
was presented. It was too dark for Leslie to ascertain who it was; but
the words "Escape--fly," repeated hurriedly, satisfied him that it was
the beadsman who was thus making an effort to save him. It was too late;
the sound on the stairs indicated a near approach, and Leslie behoved to
run the risk of being captured where he was, rather than make an effort
to escape, which would be too clearly ineffectual. Several individuals
now entered from the stair; and, by their statements, Leslie could
perceive that they were in search of him.

"The bird, if ever here caged, has flown," cried one, as he approached
the door and found it open.

"Then he cannot be far off," said another. "After him, and I shall wait
here that you may report progress."

Several of the company immediately rushed to the door.

"Leave the light, Dempster," cried the voice of the last, and a man took
from his cloak and placed on the floor a lantern. They were in an
instant gone, and he who was left began to pace along the dark room. He
was closely muffled up to the chin; and, as he continued to walk
backwards and forwards, he occasionally seized the folds of his riding
cloak, and wrapped them round him, ejaculating broken statements, as his
thoughts and feelings rose on the suggestion of his situation and
pursuits.

"I shall get Riddlestain for my pains," said he; "ay, even as I have got
Falconcleugh. The Church is a kind mother to her children; yet, has not
this gift been as yet useless to me? Why? Down, down, rebellious answer
of a coward heart--I am not afraid to occupy the house of him who
expired in the flames by the condemnation which I accomplished. Now is
the test. The bones of the Melvilles lie white in the Quarryheugh. I am
alone in their old residence, and tremble not."

And, as he argued against his fears, he quickened his step, listening,
at intervals, for sounds from without. Not altogether satisfied that he
was alone, he took the lantern and held it up so that the light might
penetrate into the corners of the chamber.

"All is still, lonely, and dreary," said he again, as he approached the
north wall, and placed his head in the aperture. He started. There was a
face there such as man might not look on and be not afraid. The lantern
fell from his hands, and lay on the floor unextinguished. Receding
backwards, and still keeping his eye on the object, he sought the low
door on the west, and, finding it locked, betook himself to the stair,
up which he flew with a rapidity corresponding with his fears; but it
was only to descend again in greater difficulty, after he essayed an
exit in that direction in vain, against a door also locked.

"Oh! the Droich!" at length he exclaimed, as if suddenly recollecting
himself, and affecting a composure well enough suited, probably, to his
discovery, yet scarcely authorised by his finding himself a prisoner.

At the moment of his exclamation, the cripple bounded on the floor, and
stood before him on his knees with his arms folded, and his scorched
face reflecting the glimmer of the lantern that lay before him emitting
a weak light.

"Gilbert Blackburn!" sounded in deep accents through the chamber. The
commendator recoiled and recovered himself.

"Mansie--so do the people call you,"--said he, affecting conciliation,
"you are but an uncourteous vassal--taking up your habitation on
another's lands without leave, and startling your overlord by the humour
of your gesture, while you should be paying his ground-fees."

"Mayhap, your honour," replied the cripple, "may remit these on behalf
of my misfortunes. See you these limbs, and this countenance? I will
show you them by the light of this lamp. Come closer to me. They say I
am frightful to behold. Pshaw! Art thou afraid of a living man?--and yet
thou didst now vaunt of thy courage, till thou didst even say that the
spirits of the Melvilles would not terrify thee. Come closer to me,
Gilbert Blackburn, and see if thou canst recognise in these
features--horrid though they be--aught of the traces of one whom thou
didst once think so well of that thou didst envy his lands of
Falconcleugh."

"What! are you man or monster?" cried the commendator, as he receded
before the progressive movements of his enemy.

"Both species are here," rejoined Melville; "I am a man, though like the
other denomination. They called me George Melville, when I bore another
shape, and I was of Falconcleugh. By that name I once lived happy in
this mansion blessed with love and the reward of good offices. By that
name, too, I worshipped God by the light of reason; and by that name was
burned at the stake, till pity relieved me, and amputation saved the
wreck that was not worth saving. Art thou not satisfied? Search these
features. All is not gone. Enough of evidence there may be yet found to
justify my claim for the remission of my ground-dues of Quarryheugh."

As he spoke, his countenance exhibited, in the midst of its deformity,
the traces of a fury that was only for a few minutes kept in abeyance by
the offering of bitter satire. The commendator, overcome by fear, and
consciousness of a cruel and heartless purpose, kept receding; while
Melville sure of his prey, and eying him with remorseless hatred,
approached him by a series of leaps and contortions, more after the
manner of an enraged and maimed beast of prey than that of a human
being. The fame of his strength had gone forth with that of his other
singular attributes; and probably, even if Blackburn had been gifted
with ordinary courage, he would have quailed before the approach of the
extraordinary being. Fear, however, had taken possession of a mind
devoid of all courage, and he flew round the chamber, imploring that
mercy which he had never shown to others. Leslie, who witnessed the
extraordinary scene, meditated an interference, but he quelled the
thought from a sense of his own danger, and continued through the gloom
to mark the conduct of the parties. The pursuit was short. Blackburn,
finding himself pressed towards an angle, attempted feebly to use his
sword. It was seized and snapped asunder, and, next instant, he was down
in the iron grip of his ruthless foe--writhing in the agony of fear, as
he felt himself drawn towards the window that overlooked the chasm of
the quarry. Twice the energies of an ordinary man of courage might not
have resisted the cripple; and, though the struggles of despair
sometimes transcend all calculation of supposed strength, they were too
apparently, in this instance, unavailing. Two or three gigantic efforts,
and the commendator was on the brink of the descent--his back to the
chasm, his face to that of his intended destroyer. The light of the lamp
served to show Leslie the countenance of the victim, and a part of that
of Melville; and he shuddered at the fearful expression of agony on the
one part, and vengeance on the other. Not a word was spoken, but the
chamber was filled with deep-drawn respirations. A faint scream burst
from the commendator, and down, down he went into the chasm of dark
waters; Melville drew a deep breath, as if he once again enjoyed the
free use of his lungs, remained silent for a few minutes, and then
deliberately issued from the aperture, by the mode he had been in the
habit of following, and which, to him, was attended with no danger.

Leslie was terror-struck. His first thoughts concerned his own position.
Found there, he would be reputed the murderer of the commendator; and he
hastened down to betake himself to flight. The doors defied his efforts;
and he put his head out of the window, only to withdraw it with a
shudder of horror. In a few minutes, the door was opened by the
beadsman.

"Ye'll be as weel oot here, I'm thinkin, Master Henry," said he.

"Know you what has been done, Carey?" cried Henry.

"I ken that baith you and I are owre lang here," replied the beadsman,
as he hurried out.

In a few minutes the muir was clear. The two took different directions;
nor was Henry Leslie heard of again for a period of two years. During
this interval, an investigation was made into the circumstances
attending the murder of Blackburn. There was no evidence brought home to
Melville; and the opinion prevailed that the commendator had fallen
accidentally into the chasm. Melville, meanwhile, withdrew himself again
to the Continent, where he died. The property was again restored to
Margaret, in consideration of the injuries sustained by her parents. The
death of Hamilton produced, throughout Scotland, so great an effect,
that the prosecutions for heresy were for a time suspended, and Leslie
returned to his native country. From the circumstance of Falconcleugh
and Riddlestain being afterwards in the family of the Leslies, we may
augur something of a union between the two lovers of our story. We
merely, however, throw out this as a conjecture--our attention having
been chiefly directed to the more important parts of the strange legend
we have now given, which certainly does not exceed credibility.



THE LYKEWAKE.


I know no place where one may be brought acquainted with the more
credulous beliefs of our forefathers at a less expense of inquiry and
exertion, than in a country lykewake. The house of mourning is naturally
a place of sombre thoughts and ghostly associations. There is something,
too, in the very presence and appearance of death, that leads one to
think of the place and state of the dead. Cowper has finely said, that
the man and the beast who stand together, side by side, on the same
hill-top, are, notwithstanding their proximity, the denizens of very
different worlds. And I have felt the remark to apply still more
strongly when sitting beside the dead. The world of intellect and
feeling in which we ourselves are, and of which the lower propensities
of our nature form a province, may be regarded as including, in part at
least, that world of passion and instinct in which the brute lives; and
we have but to analyse and abstract a little, to form for ourselves
ideas of this latter world from even our own experience. But by what
process of thought can we bring experience to bear on the world of the
dead? It lies entirely beyond us--a _terra incognita_ of cloud and
darkness, and yet the thing at our side--the thing over which we can
stretch our hand--the thing dead to us but living to _it_--has entered
upon it, and, however uninformed or ignorant before, knows more of its
dark, and, to us, inscrutable mysteries, than all our philosophers and
all our divines. Is it wonder that we would fain _put it to the
question_--that we would fain catechise it, if we could, regarding its
newly-acquired experience--that we should fill up the gaps in the
dialogue which its silence leaves to us, by imparting to one another the
little we know regarding its _state_ and its _place_--or that we should
send our thoughts roaming in long excursions, to glean from the
experience of the past all that it tells us of the occasional visits of
the dead, and all that in their less taciturn and more social moments
they have communicated to the living. And hence, from feelings so
natural, and a train of associations so obvious, the character of a
country lykewake and the cast of its stories--I say a _country_
lykewake, for in at least all our larger towns, where a cold and barren
scepticism has chilled the feelings and imaginations of the people,
without, I fear, much improving their judgments, the conversation on
such occasions takes a lower and less interesting range.

I once spent a night with a friend from the south, a man of an inquiring
and highly philosophic cast of mind, at a lykewake in the upper part of
the parish of Cromarty. I had excited his curiosity by an incidental
remark or two of the kind I have just been dropping; and, on his
expressing a wish that I should introduce him, by way of illustration,
to some such scenes as I have been describing, we had set out together
to the wake of an elderly female who had died that morning. Her
cottage--a humble creation of stone and lime--was situated beside a
thick fir wood, on the edge of the solitary Mulebuy, one of the
dreariest and most extensive commons in Scotland. We had to pass, in our
journey, over several miles of desolate muir, sprinkled with cairns and
tumuli--the memorials of some forgotten conflict of the past; we had to
pass, too, through a thick, dark wood, with here and there an
intervening marsh, whitened over with moss and lichens, and which, from
this circumstance, are known to the people of the country as the _white
bogs_. Nor was the more distant landscape of a less gloomy character. On
the one hand, there opened an interminable expanse of muir, that went
stretching onwards, mile beyond mile, bleak, dreary, uninhabited, and
uninhabitable, till it merged into the far horizon. On the other, there
rose a range of blue, solitary hills, towering, as they receded, into
loftier peaks and bolder acclivities, till they terminated on the
snow-streaked Ben Weavis. The season, too, was in keeping with the
scene. It was drawing towards the close of autumn; and, as we passed
through the wood, the falling leaves were eddying round us with every
wind, or lay in rustling heaps at our feet.

"I do not wonder," said my companion, "that the superstitions of so wild
a district as this should bear in their character some marks of a
corresponding wildness. Night itself, in a populous and cultivated
country, is attended with less of the stern and the solemn than mid-day
amid solitudes like these. Is the custom of watching beside the dead of
remote antiquity in this part of the country?"

"Far beyond the reach of either history or tradition," I said. "But it
has gradually been changing its character, as the people have been
changing theirs; and is now a very different thing from what it was a
century ago. It is not yet ninety years since lykewakes in the
neighbouring Highlands used to be celebrated with music and dancing; and
even here, on the borders of the low country, they used invariably, like
the funerals of antiquity, to be the scenes of wild games and
amusements, never introduced on any other occasion. You remember how Sir
Walter describes the funeral of Athelstane. The Saxon ideas of
condolence were the most natural imaginable. If grief was hungry, they
supplied it with food, if thirsty, they gave it drink. Our simple
ancestors here seem to have reasoned by a similar process. They made
their seasons of deepest grief their times of greatest merriment; and
the more they regretted the deceased, the gayer were they at his wake
and his funeral. A friend of mine, now dead, a very old man, has told me
that he once danced at a lykewake in the Highlands of Sutherland. It was
that of an active and very robust man, taken away from his wife and
family in the prime of life; and the poor widow, for the greater part of
the evening, sat disconsolate beside the fire, refusing every invitation
to join the dancers. She was at length, however, brought out by the
father of the deceased. 'Little, little did he think,' he said, 'that
she would be the last to dance at poor Rory's lykewake.'"

We reached the cottage, and went in. The apartment in which the dead lay
was occupied by two men and three women. Every little piece of furniture
it contained was hung in white, and the floor had recently been swept
and sanded; but it was on the bed where the body lay, and on the body
itself, that the greatest care had been lavished. The curtains had been
taken down, and their place supplied by linen white as snow; and on the
sheet that served as a counterpane, the body was laid out in a dress of
white, fantastically crossed and recrossed in every direction by
scalloped fringes, and fretted into a species of open work, at least
intended to represent alternate rows of roses and tulips. A plate
containing a little salt was placed over the breast of the corpse. As we
entered, one of the women rose; and, filling two glasses with spirits,
presented them to us on a salver. We tasted the liquor, and sat down on
chairs placed for us beside the fire. The conversation, which had been
interrupted by our entrance, began to flow apace; and an elderly female,
who had lived under the same roof with the deceased, began to relate, in
answer to the queries of one of the others, some of the particulars of
her last illness and death.


THE STORY OF ELSPAT M'CULLOCH.

"Elspat was aye," she said, "a retired body, wi' a cast o' decent pride
aboot her; an', though bare an' puirly aff sometimes, in her auld days,
she had never been chargeable to onybody. She had come o' decent,
'sponsible people, though they were a' low aneugh the day--ay, an' they
were God-fearing people, too, wha had gien plenty in their time, and had
aye plenty to gie. An' though they had been a' langsyne laid in the
kirkyard--a' except hersel, puir body!--she wouldna disgrace their guid
name, she said, by takin an alms frae ony ane. Her sma' means fell oot
o' her hands afore her last illness. Little had aye dune her turn--but
the little failed at last; an' sair, sair thocht did it gie her, for a
while, what was to come o' her. I could hear her, in the butt-end o' the
house, ae mornin, mair earnest an' langer in her prayers than
usual--though she never neglected them, puir body--an' a' the early part
o' that day she seemed to be no weel. She was aye up and down; an' I
could ance or twice hear her gaunting at the fireside; but, when I went
ben to her, an' asked what was the matter wi' her, she said she was just
in her ordinar. She went oot for a wee; an' what did I do but gang to
her amry, for I jaloused a' wasna richt there; an', oh! it was a sair
sicht to see, neebors; but there was neither a bit o' bread nor a grain
o' meal within its four corners--naething but the sealed-up greybeard,
wi' the whisky, that, for twenty years an' mair, she had been keeping
for her lykewake; an', ye ken, it was oot o' the question to think that
she would meddle wi' it. Weel did I scold her, when she cam in, for
being sae close-minded. I asked her what harm I had ever done to her,
that she would rather hae died than hae trusted her wants to me; but,
though she said nothing, I could see the tears in her ee; an' sae I
stopped, and we took a late breakfast thegither at my fireside.

"She tauld me that mornin that she weel kent she wouldna lang be a
trouble to onybody. The day afore had been Sabbath, an' every Sabbath
mornin, for the last ten years, her worthy neebor the elder, whom they
had buried only four days afore, used to call on her, in the passing on
his way to the kirk. 'Come awa, Elspat,' he would say; an' she used to
be aye decent an' ready; for she liked his conversation; an' they aye
gaed thegither to the kirk. She had been contracted, when a young lass,
to a brither o' the elder's--a stout, handsome lad; but he had been
ca'ed suddenly awa, atween the contract an' the marriage, an'
Elspat, though she had afterwards mony a guid offer, had lived single
for his sake. Weel, on the very mornin afore, just sax days after the
elder's death, an' four after his burial, when Elspat was sittin dowie
aside the fire, thinkin' o' her guid auld neebor, the cry cam to the
door just as it used to do; but, though the voice was the same, the
words were a wee different. 'Elspat,' it said, 'mak ready an' come awa.'
She rose hastily to the window, an' there, sure enough, was the elder
turning the corner in his Sunday's bonnet an' his Sunday's coat. An'
weel did she ken, she said, the meanin o' his call, and kindly did she
tak it. An' if it was but God's wull that she suld hae enough to put her
decently under the ground without going in debt to ony one, she would be
weel content. She had already the linen for the dead-dress, she said;
for she had span it for the purpose afore her contract wi' William, an'
she had the whisky, too, for the wake; but she had naething anent the
coffin an' the bedral.

"Weel, we took our breakfast, an' I did my best to comfort the puir
body; but she looked very down-hearted for a' that. Aboot the middle o'
the day, in cam the minister's boy wi' a letter. It was directed to his
master, he said; but it was a' for Elspat; an' there was a five-pound
note in it. It was frae a man who had left the country, mony, mony a
year afore, a guid deal in her faither's debt. You would hae thought the
puir thing wad hae grat her een out when she saw the money; but never
was money mair thankfully received, or taen mair directly frae Heaven.
It set her aboon the warld, she said; an' coming at the time it did, an
estate o' a thousand a-year wadna be o' mair use to her. Next mornin she
didna rise, for her strength had failed her at ance, though she felt
nae meikle pain, an' she sent me to get the note changed, an' to leave
twenty shillings o't wi' the wright for a decent coffin, like her
mither's, an' five shillings mair wi' the bedral, an' to tak in
necessaries for a sick-bed wi' some o' the lave. Weel, I did that; an'
there's still twa pounds o' the note yonder in the little cupboard.

"On the fifth mornin after she had been taken sae ill, I came in till
ask after her--for my neebor here had relieved me o' that night's
watchin, and I had gotten to my bed. The moment I opened the door I saw
that the hail room was hung in white, just as ye' see it now; an' I'm
sure it staid that way a minute or sae; but when I winked it went awa. I
kent there was a change no far off; an' when I went up to the bed,
Elspat didna ken me. She was wirkin wi' her hand at the blankets, as if
she were pickin aff the little motes; an' I could hear the beginning o'
the dead rattle in her throat. I sat at her bedside for awhile, wi' my
neebor here; and when she spoke to us, it was to say that the bed had
grown hard and uneasy, and that she wished to be brought oot to the
chair. Weel, we indulged her, though we baith kent that it wasna in the
bed the uneasiness lay. Her mind, puir body, was carried at the time;
she just kent that there was to be a death an' a lykewake; but no that
the death an' the lykewake were to be her ain; an' whan she looked at
the bed, she bade us tak down the black curtains an' put up the white;
an' tauld us where the white were to be found.

"'But where is the corp?' she said; 'it's no there--where is the corp?'

"'O Elspat, it will be there vera soon,' said my neebor; an' that
satisfied her.

"She cam to hersel an hour afore she departed. God had been very guid to
her, she said, a' her life lang, an' he hadna forsaken her at the last.
He had been guid to her when he had gien her friens, an' guid to her
when he took them to himsel; an' she kent she was now going to baith Him
and them. There wasna such a difference, she said, atween life and death
as folk were ready to think. She was sure that, though William had been
ca'ed awa suddenly, he hadna been ca'ed without being prepared; an' now
that her turn had come, an' that she was goin to meet wi' him, it was
maybe as weel that he had left her early; for, till she had lost him,
she had been owre licht an' thochtless; an' had it been her lot to hae
lived in happiness wi' him, she micht hae remained licht an' thochtless
still. She bade us baith fareweel, an' thanked an' blessed us; an' her
last breath went awa in a prayer no half-an-hour after. Puir, decent
body!--but she's no puir now."

"A pretty portrait," whispered my companion, "of one of a class fast
wearing away. Nothing more interests me in the story than the woman's
undoubting faith in the supernatural; she does not even seem to know
that what she believes so firmly herself, is so much as doubted by
others. Try whether you can't bring up, by some means, a few other
stories furnished with a similar machinery--a story of the second sight,
for instance."

"The only way of accomplishing that," I replied, "is by contributing a
story of the kind myself."

"The vision of the room hung in white," I said, "reminds me of a story
related, about a hundred and fifty years ago, by a very learned and very
ingenious countryman of ours--George, first Earl of Cromarty. His
lordship, a steady Royalist, was engaged, shortly before the Restoration
(he was then, by the way, only Sir George Mackenzie), in raising troops
for the king, on his lands on the western coast of Ross-shire. There
came on one of those days of rain and tempest so common in the district;
and Sir George, with some of his friends, were storm-bound in a solitary
cottage, somewhere on the shores of Loch Broom. Towards evening, one of
the party went out to look after their horses. He had been sitting
beside Sir George, and the chair he had occupied remained empty. On Sir
George's servant, an elderly Highlander, coming in, he went up to his
master, apparently much appalled, and, tapping him on the shoulder,
urged him to rise. 'Rise!' he said, 'rise! There's a dead man sitting on
the chair beside you.' The whole party immediately started to their
feet; but they saw only the empty chair. The dead man was visible to the
Highlander alone. His head was bound up, he said, and his face streaked
with blood, and one of his arms hung broken by his side. Next day, as a
party of horsemen were passing along the steep side of a hill in the
neighbourhood, one of the horses stumbled, and threw its rider; and the
man, grievously injured by the fall, was carried, in a state of
insensibility, to the cottage. His head was deeply gashed, and one of
his arms was broken, though he ultimately recovered; and, on being
brought to the cottage, he was placed, in a death-like swoon, in the
identical chair which the Highlander had seen occupied by the spectre.
Sir George relates the story, with many a similar story besides, in a
letter to the celebrated Robert Boyle."

"I have perused it with much interest," said my friend "and wonder our
booksellers should have suffered it to become so scarce. Do you not
remember the somewhat similar story his lordship relates of the
Highlander who saw the apparition of a troop of horse ride over the brow
of a hill, and enter a field of oats, which, though it had been sown
only a few days before, the horsemen seemed to cut down with their
swords. He states that, a few months after, a troop of cavalry actually
entered the same field, and carried away the produce, for fodder to
their horses. He tells, too, if I remember aright, that, on the same
expedition to which your story belongs, one of his Highlanders, on
entering a cottage, started back with horror;--he had met in the
passage, he said, a dead man in his shroud, and saw people gathering
for a funeral. And, as his lordship relates, one of the inmates of the
cottage, who was in perfect health, at the time of the vision, died
suddenly only two days after."


THE STORY OF DONALD GAIR.

"The second night," said an elderly man, who sat beside me, and whose
countenance had struck me as highly expressive of serious thought, "is
fast wearing out of this part of the country. Nor should we much regret
it, perhaps. It seemed, if I may so speak, as something outside the
ordinary dispositions of Providence, and, with all the horror and
unhappiness that attended it, served no apparent good end. I have been a
traveller in my youth, masters. About thirty years ago, I served for
some time in the navy. I entered on the first breaking out of the
Revolutionary War, and was discharged during the short peace of 1801.
One of my chief companions on shipboard, for the first few years, was a
young man, a native of Sutherland, named Donald Gair. Donald, like most
of his countrymen was a staid, decent lad, of a rather melancholy cast;
and yet there was occasions when he could be quite gay enough too. We
sailed together in the Bedford, under Sir Thomas Baird; and, after
witnessing the mutiny at the Nore--neither of us did much more than
witness it, for in our case it merely transferred the command of the
vessel from a very excellent captain to a set of low Irish doctor's-list
men--we joined Admiral Duncan, then on the Dutch station. We were barely
in time to take part in the great action. Donald had been unusually gay
all the previous evening. We knew the Dutch had come out, and that there
was to be an engagement on the morrow; and, though I felt no fear, the
thought that I might have to stand in a few brief hours before my Maker
and my Judge, had the effect of rendering me serious. But my companion
seemed to have lost all command of himself; he sang, and leaped, and
shouted--not like one intoxicated--there was nothing of intoxication
about him--but under the influence of a wild irrepressible flow of
spirits. I took him seriously to task, and reminded him that we might
both at that moment be standing on the verge of death and judgment. But
he seemed more impressed by my remarking, that were his mother to see
him, she would say he was _fey_.

"We had never been in action before with our captain, Sir Thomas. He was
a grave, and, I believe, God-fearing man, and much a favourite with, at
least, all the better seamen. But we had not yet made up our minds on
his character--indeed, no sailor ever does, with regard to his officers,
till he knows how they fight; and we were all curious to see how the
parson, as we used to call him, would behave himself among the shot. But
truly we might have had little fear for him. I have sailed with Nelson,
and not Nelson himself ever showed more courage or conduct than Sir
Thomas in that action. He made us all lie down beside our guns, and
steered us, without firing a shot, into the very thickest of the fight;
and, when we did open, masters, every broadside told with fearful
effect. I never saw a man issue his commands with more coolness or
self-possession.

"There are none of our continental neighbours who make better seamen, or
who fight more doggedly, than the Dutch. We were in a blaze of flame for
four hours. Our rigging was slashed to pieces; and two of our ports were
actually knocked into one. There was one fierce, ill-natured Dutchman,
in particular--a fellow as black as night, without so much as a speck of
paint or gilding about him, save that he had a red lion on the
prow--that fought us as long as he had a spar standing; and, when he
struck at last, fully one-half the crew lay either dead or wounded on
the decks, and all his scupper-holes were running blood as freely as
ever they had done water at a deck-washing. The Bedford suffered nearly
as severely. It is not in the heat of action that we can reckon on the
loss we sustain. I saw my comrades falling around me--falling by the
terrible cannon-shot, as they came crashing in through our sides; I
felt, too, that our gun wrought more heavily as our numbers were
thinning around it; and, at times, when some sweeping chain-shot or
fatal splinter laid open before me those horrible mysteries of the inner
man which nature so sedulously conceals, I was conscious of a momentary
feeling of dread and horror. But, in the prevailing mood, an unthinking
anger, a dire thirsting after revenge, a dogged, unyielding firmness,
were the chief ingredients. I strained every muscle and sinew; and amid
the smoke, and the thunder, and the frightful carnage, fired and loaded,
and fired and loaded, and with every discharge sent out, as it were, the
bitterness of my whole soul against the enemy. But very different were
my feelings when victory declared in our favour, and, exhausted and
unstrung, I looked abroad among the dead. As I crossed the deck, my feet
literally splashed in blood; and I saw the mangled fragments of human
bodies sticking in horrid patches to the sides and beams above. There
was a fine little boy aboard, with whom I was an especial favourite. He
had been engaged, before the action, in the construction of a toy ship,
which he intended sending to his mother; and I used sometimes to assist
him, and to lend him a few simple tools; and, just as we were bearing
down on the enemy, he had come running up to me with a knife, which he
had borrowed from me a short time before.

"'Alick, Alick,' he said, 'I have brought you your knife; we are going
into action, you know, and I may be killed, and then you would loose
it.'

"Poor little fellow! The first body I recognised was his Both his arms
had been fearfully shattered by a cannon-shot, and the surgeon's
tourniquets, which had been fastened below the shoulders, were still
there; but he had expired ere the amputating knife had been applied. As
I stood beside the body--little in love with war, masters--a comrade
came up to me to say that my friend and countryman, Donald Gair, lay
mortally wounded in the cockpit. I went instantly down to him. But never
shall I forget, though never may I attempt to describe, what I witnessed
that day, in that frightful scene of death and suffering. Donald lay in
a low hammock, raised not a foot over the deck; and there was no one
beside him, for the surgeons had seen at a glance the hopelessness of
his case, and were busied about others of whom they had hope. He lay on
his back, breathing very hard, but perfectly insensible; and in the
middle of his forehead there was a round, little hole, without so much
as a speck of blood about it, where a musket bullet had passed through
the brain. He continued to breathe for about two hours; and, when he
expired, I wrapped the body decently up in a hammock, and saw it
committed to the deep. The years passed; and, after looking death in the
face in many a storm and many a battle, peace was proclaimed, and I
returned to my friends and my country.

"A few weeks after my arrival, an elderly Highland woman, who had
travelled all the way from the further side of Loch Shin to see me, came
to our door. She was the mother of Donald Gair, and had taken her
melancholy journey to hear from me all she might regarding the last
moments and death of her son. She had no English, and I had not Gaelic
enough to converse with her; but my mother, who had received her with a
sympathy all the deeper from the thought that her own son might have
been now in Donald's place, served as our interpreter. She was strangely
inquisitive, though the little she heard served only to increase her
grief; and you may believe it was not much I could find heart to tell
her; for what was there in the circumstances of my comrade's death to
afford pleasure to his mother? And so I waived her questions regarding
his wound and his burial as I best could.

"'Ah,' said the poor woman to my mother, 'he need not be afraid to tell
me all. I know too, too well that my Donald's body was thrown into the
sea; I knew of it long ere it happened; and I have long tried to
reconcile my mind to it--tried when he was a boy even; and so you need
not be afraid to tell me now.'

"'And how,' asked my mother, whose curiosity was excited, 'could you
have thought of it so early?'

"'I lived,' rejoined the woman, 'at the time of Donald's birth, in a
lonely shieling among the Sutherland hills--a full day's journey from
the nearest church. It was a long, weary road, over muirs and mosses. It
was in the winter season, too, when the days are short; and so, in
bringing Donald to be baptised, we had to remain a night by the way, in
the house of a friend. We there found an old woman of so peculiar an
appearance, that, when she asked me for the child, I at first declined
giving it, fearing she was mad, and might do it harm. The people of the
house, however, assured me she was incapable of hurting it; and so I
placed it on her lap. She took it up in her arms, and began to sing to
it; but it was such a song as none of us had ever heard before.'

"'Poor little stranger!' she said, 'thou hast come into the world in an
evil time. The mists are on the hills, gloomy and dark, and the rain
lies chill on the heather; and thou, poor little thing! hast a long
journey through the sharp, biting winds, and thou art helpless and cold.
Oh! but thy long after-journey is as dreary and dark. A wanderer shalt
thou be over the land and the ocean; and in the ocean shalt thou lie at
last. Poor little thing! I have waited for thee long. I saw thee in thy
wanderings, and in thy shroud, ere thy mother brought thee to the door;
and the sounds of the sea, and of the deadly guns, are still ringing in
my ears. Go, poor little thing! to thy mother--bitterly shall she yet
weep for thee--and no wonder; but no one shall ever weep over thy grave,
or mark where thou liest amid the deep green, with the shark and the
seal.'

"'From that evening,' continued the mother of my friend, 'I have tried
to reconcile my mind to what was to happen Donald. But, oh! the fond,
foolish heart! I loved him more than any of his brothers, because I was
to lose him soon; and though, when he left me, I took farewell of him
for ever, for I knew I was never--never to see him more, I felt, till
the news reached me of his fall in battle, as if he were living in his
coffin. But, oh, do tell me all you know of his death. I am old and
weak, but I have travelled far, far to see you, that I might hear all;
and surely, for the regard you bore to Donald, you will not suffer me to
return as I came.'

"But I need not dwell longer on the story. I imparted to the poor woman
all the circumstances of her son's death, as I have done to you; and,
shocking as they may seem, I found that she felt rather relieved than
otherwise."

"This is not quite the country of the second sight," said my friend; "it
is too much on the borders of the Lowlands. The gift seems restricted to
the Highlands alone, and it is now fast wearing out even there."

"And weel it is," said one of the men, "that it should be sae. It is
surely a miserable thing to ken o' coming evil, if we just merely ken
that it is coming, an' that come it must, do what we may. Hae ye ever
heard the story o' the kelpie that wons in the Conan?"

My friend replied in the negative.


THE STORY OF THE DOOMED RIDER.

"The Conan," continued the man, "is as bonny a river as we hae in a' the
north country. There's mony a sweet sunny spot on its banks; an' mony a
time an' aft hae I waded through its shallows, whan a boy, to set my
little scantling-line for the trouts an' the eels, or to gather the big
pearl-mussels that lie sae thick in the fords. But its bonny wooded
banks are places for enjoying the day in--no for passing the nicht. I
kenna how it is; it's nane o' your wild streams that wander desolate
through a desert country, like the Aven, or that come rushing down in
foam and thunder, owre broken rocks, like the Foyers, or that wallow in
darkness, deep, deep in the bowels o' the earth, like the fearfu'
Auldgraunt; an' yet no ane o' these rivers has mair or frightfuller
stories connected wi' it than the Conan. Ane can hardly saunter owre
half-a-mile in its course, frae where it leaves Contin till where it
enters the sea, without passing owre the scene o' some frightful auld
legend o' the kelpie or the water-wraith. An' ane o' the maist
frightfu'-looking o' these places is to be found among the woods o'
Conan House. Ye enter a swampy meadow, that waves wi' flags an' rushes
like a corn-field in harvest, an' see a hillock covered wi' willows
rising like an island in the midst. There are thick mirk woods on ilka
side; the river, dark an' awesome, an' whirling round an' round in mossy
eddies, sweeps awa behind it; an' there is an auld burying-ground, wi'
the broken ruins o' an auld Papist kirk, on the tap. Ane can still see
amang the rougher stanes the rose-wrought mullions o' an arched window,
an' the trough that ance held the haly water. About twa hunder years
ago--a wee mair maybe or a wee less, for ane canna be very sure o' the
date o' thae auld stories--the building was entire; an' a spot near it,
whar the wood now grows thickest, was laid out in a corn-field. The
marks o' the furrows may still be seen amang the trees. A party o'
Highlanders were busily engaged, ae day in harvest, in cutting down the
corn o' that field; an', just aboot noon, when the sun shone brightest
an' they were busiest in the work, they heard a voice frae the river
exclaim, '_The hour but not the man has come_.' Sure enough, on looking
round, there was the kelpie stan'in in what they ca' a fause ford, just
fornent the auld kirk. There is a deep black pool baith aboon an' below,
but i' the ford there's a bonny ripple, that shows, as ane might think,
but little depth o' water; an' just i' the middle o' that, in a place
where a horse might swim, stood the kelpie. An' it again repeated its
words--'_The hour but not the man has come_;' an' then, flashing through
the water like a drake, it disappeared in the lower pool. When the folk
stood wondering what the creature micht mean, they saw a man on
horseback come spurring down the hill in hot haste, making straight for
the fause ford. They could then understand her words at ance; an' four
o' the stoutest o' them sprang oot frae amang the corn to warn him o'
his danger, an' keep him back. An' sae they tauld him what they had seen
an' heard, an' urged him either to turn back an' tak anither road, or
stay for an hour or sae where he was. But he just wadna hear them, for
he was baith unbelieving an' in haste, an' wauld hae taen the ford for
a' they could say, hadna the Highlanders, determined on saving him
whether he would or no, gathered round him, an' pulled him frae his
horse, an' then, to mak sure o' him, locked him up in the auld kirk.
Weel, when the hour had gone by--the fatal hour o' the kelpie--they
flung open the door, an' cried to him that he might noo gang on his
journey. Ah! but there was nae answer, though; an' sae they cried a
second time, an' there was nae answer still; an' then they went in, an'
found him lying stiff an' cauld on the floor, wi' his face buried in the
water o' the very stone trough that we may still see amang the ruins.
His hour had come, an' he had fallen in a fit, as 'twould seem, head
foremost among the water o' the trough, where he had been smothered--an'
sae, ye see, the prophecy o' the kelpie availed naething."

"The very story," exclaimed my friend, "to which Sir Walter alludes, in
one of the notes to 'The Heart of Midlothian.' The kelpie, you may
remember, furnishes him with a motto to the chapter in which he
describes the gathering of all Edinburgh to witness the execution of
Porteous; and their irrepressible wrath, on ascertaining that there was
to be no execution--'_The hour but not the man has come_.'"

"I remember making quite the same discovery," I replied, "about twelve
years ago, when I resided for several months on the banks of the Conan,
not half-a-mile from the scene of the story. One might fill a little
book with legends of the Conan. The fords of the river are dangerous,
especially in the winter season; and, about thirty years ago, before the
erection of the fine stone bridge below Conan House, scarcely a winter
passed in which fatal accidents did not occur; and these were almost
invariably traced to the murderous malice of the water-wraith."

"But who or what is the water-wraith?" said my friend. "We heard just
now of the kelpie, and it is the kelpie that Sir Walter quotes."

"Ah," I replied, "but we must not confound the kelpie and the
water-wraith, as has become the custom in these days of incredulity. No
two spirits, though they were both spirits of the lake and the river,
could be more different. The kelpie invariably appeared in the form of a
young horse; the water-wraith in that of a very tall woman, dressed in
green, with a withered meagre countenance, ever distorted by a malignant
scowl. It is the water-wraith, not the kelpie, whom Sir Walter should
have quoted; and yet I could tell you curious stories of the kelpie,
too."

"We must have them all," said my friend, "ere we part; meanwhile, I
should like to hear some of your stories of the Conan."

"As related by me," I replied, "you will find them rather meagre in
their details. In my evening walks along the river, I have passed the
ford a hundred times out of which, only a twelvemonth before, as a
traveller was entering it on a moonlight night, the water-wraith started
up, not four yards in front of him, and pointed at him with her long
skinny fingers, as if in mockery. I have leaned against the identical
tree to which a poor Highlander clung, when, on fording the river by
night, he was seized by the goblin. A lad who accompanied him, and who
had succeeded in gaining the bank, strove to assist him, but in vain:
the poor man was dragged from his hold into the current, where he
perished. The spot has been pointed out to me, too, in the opening of
the river, where one of our Cromarty fishermen, who had anchored his
yawl for the night, was laid hold of by the spectre when lying asleep on
the beams, and almost dragged over the gunwale into the water. Our
seafaring men still avoid dropping anchor, if they possibly can, after
the sun has set, in what they term _the fresh_--that is, in those upper
parts of the Frith where the waters of the river predominate over those
of the sea.

"The scene of what is deemed one of the best-authenticated stories of
the water-wraith, lies a few miles higher up the river. It is a deep,
broad ford, through which horsemen, coming from the south, pass to
Brahan Castle. A thick wood hangs over it on the one side; on the other,
it is skirted by a straggling line of alders and a bleak muir. On a
winter night, about twenty-five years ago, a servant of the late Lord
Seaforth had been drinking with some companions till a late hour, at a
small house at the upper part of the muir; and when the party broke up,
he was accompanied by two of them to the ford. The moon was at full, and
the river, though pretty deep in flood, seemed no way formidable to the
servant; he was a young, vigorous man, and mounted on a powerful horse;
and he had forded it, when half-a-yard higher on the bank, twenty times
before. As he entered the ford, a thick cloud obscured the moon; but his
companions could see him guiding the animal; he rode in a slanting
direction across the stream, until he had reached nearly the middle,
when a dark, tall figure seemed to start out of the water, and lay hold
of him. There was a loud cry of distress and terror, and a frightful
snorting and plunging of the horse; a moment passed, and the terrified
animal was seen straining towards the opposite bank, and the ill-fated
rider struggling in the stream. In a moment more he had disappeared."


THE STORY OF FAIRBURN'S GHOST.

"I suld weel ken the Conan," said one of the women, who had not yet
joined in the conversation; "I was born no a stane's cast frae the side
o't. My mother lived in her last days beside the auld Tower o' Fairburn,
that stan's sae like a ghaist aboon the river, an' looks down on a' its
turns an' windings frae Contin to the sea; my father, too, for a
twelvemonth or sae afore his death, had a boat on ane o' its ferries,
for the crossing, on week days, o' passengers, an' o' the kirk-going
folks on Sunday. He had a little bit farm beside the Conan; an' just got
the boat by way o' eiking out his means--for we had aye aneugh to do at
rent-time, an' had, maybe, less than plenty through a' the rest o' the
year, besides. Weel, for the first ten months or sae, the boat did
brawly. The Castle o' Brahan is no half-a-mile frae the ferry, an' there
were aye a hantle o' gran' folk comin and gangin frae the Mackenzie, an'
my faither had the crossin o' them a'. An', besides, at Marti'mas, the
kirk-going people used to send him firlots o' bere an' pecks o' oatmeal;
an' he soon began to find that the bit boat was to do mair towards
paying the rent o' the farm than the farm itsel.

"The Tower o' Fairburn is aboot a mile and a-half aboon the ferry. It
stan's by itsel on the tap o' a heathery hill, an' there are twa higher
hills behind it. Beyond, there spreads a black, dreary desert, where ane
micht wander a lang simmer's day withoot seeing the face o' a human
creature, or the kindly smoke o' a lum. I daresay nane o' you hae heard
hoo the Mackenzies o' Fairburn an' the Chisholms o' Strathglass pairted
that bit o' kintra atween them. Nane o' them could tell where the lands
o' the ane ended or the ither began, an' they were that way for
generations, till they at last thocht them o' a plan o' division. Each
o' them gat an auld wife o' seventy-five, an' they set them aff ae
Monday, at the same time, the ane frae Erchless Castle, an' the ither
frae the Tower--warning them, aforehan', that the braidness o' their
maisters' lands depended on their speed; for where the twa would meet
amang the hills, there would be the boundary. An' you may be sure that
neither o' them lingered by the way that morning. They kent there was
mony an ee on them, an' that their names would be spoken o' in the
kintra-side lang after themsels were dead an' gane; but it sae happened
that Fairburn's carline, wha had been his nurse, was ane o' the slampest
women in a' the north o' Scotland, young or auld; an', though the ither
did weel, she did sae meikle better, that she had got owre twenty lang
Highland miles or the ither had got owre fifteen. They say it was a
droll sicht to see them at the meeting: they were baith tired almost to
fainting; but no sooner did they come in sicht o' ane anither, at the
distance o' a mile or sae, than they began to rin. An' they ran, an'
better ran, till they met at a little burnie; an' there wad they hae
focht, though they had neer seen ane anither atween the een afore, had
they had strength aneugh left them; but they had neither pith for
fechtin, nor breath for scolding, an' sae they just sat down an' girned
at ane anither across the stripe. The Tower o' Fairburn is naething noo
but a dismal ruin o' five broken storeys--the ane aboon the other--an'
the lands hae gane oot o' the auld family; but the story o' the twa auld
wives is a weel-kent story still.

"The laird o' Fairburn, in my faither's time, was as fine an
open-hearted gentleman as was in the hail country. He was just
particular guid to the puir; but the family had ever been that--ay, in
their roughest days, even whan the tower had neither door nor window in
the lower storey, an' only a wheen shot-holes in the storey aboon. There
wasna a puir thing in the kintra but had reason to bless the laird; an'
at ae time he had nae fewer than twelve puir orphans living aboot his
hoose at ance. Nor was he in the least a proud, haughty man; he wad chat
for hours thegither wi' ane o' his puirest tenants; an' ilka time he
crossed the ferry, he wad tak my faither wi' him, for company just,
maybe half-a-mile on his way out or hame. Weel, it was ae nicht aboot
the end o' May--a bonny nicht, an hour or sae after sundown--an' my
faither was mooring his boat, afore going to bed, to an auld oak-tree,
when wha does he see but the laird o' Fairburn coming down the bank? Od,
thocht he, what can be taking the laird frae hame sae late as this? I
thocht he had been no weel. The laird cam steppin into the boat, but,
instead o' speakin frankly, as he used to do, he jist waved his hand, as
the proudest gentleman in the kintra micht, an' pointed to the ither
side. My faither rowed him across; but, oh! the boat felt unco dead an'
heavy, an' the water stuck around the oars as gin it had been tar; an'
he had just aneugh ado, though there was but little tide in the river,
to mak oot the ither side. The laird stepped oot, an' then stood, as he
used to do, on the bank, to gie my faither time to fasten his boat an'
come alang wi' him; an', were it no for that, the puir man wadna hae
thocht o' going wi' him that nicht; but, as it was, he just moored his
boat an' went. At first he thocht the laird must hae got some bad news
that made him sae dull, an' sae he spoke on, to amuse him, aboot the
weather an' the markets; but he found he could get very little to say,
an' he felt as arc an' eerie in passing through the woods, as gin he had
been passing alane through a kirkyard. He noticed, too, that there was a
fearsome flichtering an' shrieking amang the birds that lodged in the
tree-taps aboon them; an' that, as they passed the _Talisoe_, there was
a colly on the tap o' a hillock that set up the awfullest yowling he had
ever heard. He stood for awhile in sheer consternation, but the laird
beckoned him on, just as he had done at the river side, an' sae he gaed
a bittie farther alang the wild rocky glen that opens into the
deer-park. But, oh! the fright that was amang the deer! They had been
lying asleep on the knolls, by sixes an' sevens, an' up they a' started
at ance, and gaed driving aff to the far end o' the park as if they
couldna be far aneugh frae my faither or the laird. Weel, my faither
stood again, an' the laird beckoned an' beckoned as afore; but, Gude tak
us a' in keeping! whan my faither looked up in his face, he saw it was
the face o' a corp--it was white an' stiff, an' the nose was thin an'
sharp, an' there was nae winking wi' the wide open een. Gude preserve
us! my faither didna ken where he was stan'in--didna ken what he was
doing; an', though he kept his feet, he was just in a kind o' swarf,
like. The laird spoke twa-three words to him--something aboot the
orphans, he thocht; but he was in such a state that he couldna tell
what; an' whan he cam to himsel, the apparition was awa. It was a bonny
clear nicht when they had crossed the Conan; but there had been a
gatherin o' black cluds i' the lift as they gaed, an' there noo cam on,
in the clap o' a han', ane o' the fearsomest storms o' thunder an'
lightning that was ever seen in the country. There was a thick gurly aik
smashed to shivers owre my faither's head, though nane o' the splinters
steered him; an' whan he reached the river, it was roaring frae bank to
brae like a little ocean; for a water-spout had broken amang the hills,
an' the trees it had torn doun wi' it were darting alang the current
like arrows. He crossed in nae little danger, an' took to his bed; an'
though he rase an' went aboot his wark for twa-three months after, he
was never, never his ain man again. It was found that the laird had
departed no five minutes afore his apparition had come to the ferry; an'
the very last words he had spoke--but his mind was carried at the
time--was something aboot my faither."


THE STORY OF THE LAND FACTOR.

"There maun hae been something that weighed on his mind," remarked one
of the women, "though your faither had nae power to get it frae him. I
mind that, whan I was a lassie, there happened something o' the same
kind. My faither had been a tacksman on the estate o' Blackhall; an', as
the land was sour an' wat, an' the seasons for awhile backward, he aye
contrived--for he was a hard-working, carefu' man--to keep us a' in meat
and claith, and to meet wi' the factor. But, wae's me! he was sune taen
frae us. In the middle o' the seed-time, there cam a bad fever intil the
country; an' the very first that died o't was my puir faither. My mither
did her best to keep the farm, an' haud us a' thegither. She got a
carefu', decent lad to manage for her, an' her ain ee was on everything;
an' had it no been for the cruel, cruel factor, she micht hae dune gay
weel. But never had the puir tenant a waur friend than Ranald Keilly. He
was a toun writer, an' had made a sort o' livin, afore he got the
factorship, just as toun writers do in ordinar. He used to be gettin the
haud o' auld wives' posies when they died; an' there was aye some
litigious, troublesome folk in the place, too, that kept him doing a
little in the way o' troublin their neebors; an' sometimes, when some
daft, gowkit man, o' mair means than sense, couldna mismanage his ain
affairs aneugh, he got Keilly to mismanage them for him. An' sae he had
picked up a bare livin in this way; but the factorship made him just a
gentleman. But, oh, an ill use did he mak o' the power that it gied him
owre puir, honest folk. Ye maun ken that, gin they were puir, he liked
them a' the waur for being honest; but, I daresay, that was natural
enough for the like o' him. He contrived to be baith writer an' factor,
ye see; an' it wad just seem that his chief aim in the ae capacity was
to find employment for himsel in the ither. If a puir tenant was but a
day behind-hand wi' his rent, he had creatures o' his ain that used to
gang half-an'-half wi' him in their fees; an' them he wad send aff to
poind him an' then, if the expenses o' the poindin werena forthcoming as
weel as what was owing to the master, he wad hae a roup o' the stocking
twa-three days after; an' anither account, as a man o' business, for
that. An' when things were going dog-cheap--as he took care that they
should sometimes gang--he used to buy them in for himsel, an' pairt wi'
them again for maybe twice the money. The laird was a quiet, silly,
good-natured man; an' though he was tauld weel o' the factor at
times--ay, an' believed it, too--he just used to say, 'Oh, puir Keilly,
what wad he do gin I were to pairt wi' him? He wad just starve.' An' oh,
sirs, his pity for him was bitter cruelty to mony, mony a puir tenant,
an' to my mither amang the lave.

"The year after my faither's death was cauld an' wat, an' oor stuff
remained sae lang green, that we just thocht we wouldna get it cut ava.
An' when we did get it cut, the stacks, for the first whilie, were aye
heatin wi' us; an' when Marti'mas came, the grain was still saft an'
milky, an' no fit for the market. The term came round, an' there was
little to gie the factor in the shape o' money, though there was baith
corn an' cattle; an' a' that we wanted was just a little time. An--but
we had fa'en into the hands o' ane that never kent pity. My mither hadna
the money gin, as it were, the day, an' on the morn, the messengers
came to poind. The roup was no a week after; an', oh, it was a grievous
sicht to see hoo the crop an' the cattle went for just naething. The
farmers were a' puirly aff wi' the late har'st, an' had nae money to
spare; an' sae the factor knocked in ilka thing to himsel, wi' hardly a
bid against him. He was a rough-faced, little man, wi' a red, hooked
nose--a guid deal gien to whisky, an' vera wild an' desperate when he
had taen a glass or twa aboon ordinar; an', on the day o' the roup, he
raged like a perfect madman. My mither spoke to him again an' again, wi'
the tear in her ee, an' implored him, for the sake o' the orphan an' the
widow, no to harry hersel and her bairns; but he just cursed an' swore
a' the mair, an' knocked down the stacks an' the kye a' the faster; an'
whan she spoke to him o' the Ane aboon a', he said that Providence gied
lang credit, an' reckoned on a lang day, an' that he wad tak him intil
his ain hands. Weel, the roup cam to an end, an' the sum o' the whole
didna come to meikle mair nor the rent, an' clear the factor's lang,
lang account for expenses; an' at nicht my mither was a ruined woman.
The factor staid up late an' lang, drinking wi' some creatures o' his
ain, an' the last words he said, on going to his bed, was, that he hadna
made a better day's wark for a twelvemonth. But, Gude tak us a' in
keeping! in the morning he was a corp--a cauld, lifeless corp, wi' a
face as black as my bannet.

"Weel, he was buried, an' there was a grand character o' him putten in
the newspapers, an' we a' thocht we were to hear nae mair aboot him. My
mither got a wee bittie o' a house on the farm o' a neebor, an' there we
lived dowie aneugh; but she was aye an eident, working woman, an' she
now span late an' early for some o' her auld freends, the farmers'
wives; an' her sair-won penny, wi' what we got frae kindly folk wha
minded us in better times, kept us a' alive. Meanwhile, strange stories
o' the dead factor began to gang aboot the kintra. First, his servants,
it was said, were hearing aye curious noises in his counting office. The
door was baith locked an' sealed, waiting till his freends would cast
up, for there were some doots aboot them; but, locked an' sealed as it
was, they could hear it opening an' shutting every nicht, an' hear a
rustling among the papers, as gin there had been half-a-dozen writers
scribbling among them at ance. An' then, Gude preserve us a'! they could
hear Keilly himself, as if he were dictating to his clerk. An', last o'
a', they could see him in the gloamin, nicht an' mornin, ganging aboot
his hoose, wringing his hands, an' aye, aye muttering to himsel aboot
roups and poindings. The servant-girls left the place to himsel; an' the
twa lads that wrought his farm, an' slept in a hay-loft, were sae
disturbed, nicht after nicht, that they had jist to leave it to himsel
too.

"My mither was ae nicht wi' some o' her spinnin at a neeborin
farmer's--a worthy, God-fearing man, an' an elder o' the kirk. It was in
the simmer time, an' the nicht was bricht and bonny; but, in her
backcoming, she had to pass the empty hoose o' the dead factor, an' the
elder said that he would tak a step hame wi' her, for fear she michtna
be that easy in her mind. An' the honest man did sae. Naething happened
them in the passing, except that a dun cow, ance a great favourite o' my
mither's, came up lowing to them, puir beast! as gin she wauld hae
better liked to be gaun hame wi' my mither than stay where she was. But
the elder didna get aff sae easy in the backcoming. He was passing
beside a thick hedge, when what does he see but a man inside the hedge,
taking step for step wi' him as he gaed! The man wore a dun coat, an'
had a huntin-whip under his arm, an' walked, as the elder thought, very
like what the dead factor used to do when he had gotten a glass or twa
aboon ordinar. Weel, they cam to a slap in the hedge, an' out cam the
man at the slap; an', Gude tak us a' in keeping! it was, sure aneugh,
the dead factor himsel! There were his hook nose, an' his rough, red
face--though it was, maybe, bluer noo than red; an' there were the boots
an' the dun coat he had worn at my mither's roup, an' the very whip he
had lashed a puir gangrel woman wi' no a week afore his death. He was
muttering something to himsel; but the elder could only hear a wordie
noo an' then. 'Poind and roup,' he would say, 'poind and roup;' an' then
there would come out a blatter o' curses--'Hell! hell! an' damn, damn!'
The elder was a wee fear-stricken at first, as wha wadna? but then the
ill words, an' the way they were said, made him angry--for he could
never hear ill words withoot checking them--an' sae he turned round wi'
a stern brow, an' asked the appearance what it wanted, an' why it should
hae come to disturb the peace o' the kintra, and to disturb him? It
stood still at that, an' said, wi' an awsome grane, that it couldna be
quiet in the grave till there were some justice done to Widow Stuart. It
then tauld him that there were forty gowd guineas in a secret drawer in
his desk, that hadna been found, an' tauld him where to get them, an'
that he wad need gang wi' the laird an' the minister to the drawer, an'
gie them a' to the widow. It couldna hae rest till then, it said, nor
wad the kintra hae rest either. It willed that the lave o' the gear
should be gien to the puir o' the parish; for nane o' the twa folk that
laid claim to it had the shadow o' a richt. An' wi' that the appearance
left him. It just went back through the slap in the hedge; an', as it
stepped owre the ditch, vanished in a puff o' smoke.

"Weel, but to cut short a lang story, the laird and the minister were at
first gay slow o' belief--no that they misdoubted the elder, but they
thocht that he must hae been deceived by a sort o' waking dream. But
they soon changed their minds, for, sure enough, they found the forty
guineas in the secret drawer. An' the news they got frae the south about
Keilly was just as the appearance had said--no ane mair nor anither had
a richt to his gear, for he had been a foundlin, an' had nae freends.
An' sae my mither got the guineas, an' the parish got the rest, an'
there was nae mair heard o' the apparition. We didna get back oor auld
farm; but the laird gae us a bittie that served oor turn as weel; an',
or my mither was ca'ed awa frae us, we were a' settled in the warld, an'
doin for oorsels."


THE STORY OF THE MEALMONGER.

"It is wonderful," remarked the decent-looking, elderly man who had
contributed the story of Donald Gair--"it is wonderful how long a
recollection of that kind may live in the memory without one's knowing
it is there. There is no possibility of one taking an inventory of one's
recollections. They live unnoted and asleep, till roused by some
likeness of themselves, and then up they start, and answer to it, as
'face answereth to face in a glass.' There comes a story into my mind,
much like the last, that has lain there all unknown to me for the last
thirty years, nor have I heard any one mention it since; and yet, when I
was a boy, no story could be better known. You have all heard of the
dear years that followed the harvest of '40, and how fearfully they bore
on the poor. The scarcity, doubtless, came mainly from the hand of
Providence, and yet man had his share in it too. There were forestallers
of the market, who gathered their miserable gains by heightening the
already enormous price of victuals, thus adding starvation to hunger;
and among the best known and most execrated of these was one M'Kechan, a
residenter in the neighbouring parish. He was a hard-hearted,
foul-spoken man; and often what he _said_ exasperated the people as much
against him as what he _did_. When, on one occasion, he bought up all
the victuals on a market, there was a wringing of hands among the women,
and they cursed him to his face; but, when he added insult to injury,
and told them, in his pride, that he had not left them an ounce to foul
their teeth, they would that instant have taken his life, had not his
horse carried him through. He was a mean, too, as well as a hard-hearted
man, and used small measures and light weights. But he made money, and
deemed himself in a fair way of gaining a character on the strength of
that alone, when he was seized by a fever, and died after a few days'
illness. Solomon tells us that, when the wicked perish, there is
shouting--there was little grief in the sheriffdom when M'Kechan died;
but his relatives buried him decently, and, in the course of the next
fortnight, the meal fell two-pence the peck. You know the burying-ground
of St Bennet's--the chapel has long since been ruinous, and a row of
wasted elms, with white skeleton-looking tops, run around the enclosure,
and look over the fields that surround it on every side. It lies out of
the way of any thoroughfare, and months may sometimes pass, when burials
are unfrequent, in which no one goes near it. It was in St Bennet's that
M'Kechan was buried; and the people about the farmhouse that lies
nearest it were surprised, for the first month after his death, to see
the figure of a man, evening and morning, just a few minutes before the
sun had risen, and a few after it had set, walking round the yard, under
the elms, three times, and always disappearing when it had taken the
last turn, beside an old tomb near the gate. It was, of course, always
clear daylight when they saw the figure; and the month passed ere they
could bring themselves to suppose it was other than a thing of flesh and
blood like themselves. The strange regularity of its visits, however, at
length bred suspicion; and the farmer himself, a plain, decent man, of
more true courage than men of twice the pretence, determined, one
evening, on watching it. He took his place outside the wall, a little
before sunset, and no sooner had the red light died away on the elm
tops, than up started the figure from among the ruins on the opposite
side of the burying-ground, and came onward in its round--muttering
incessantly as it came, 'Oh, for mercy sake! for mercy sake!' it said,
'a handful of meal--I am starving! I am starving! a handful of meal!'
And then, changing its tone into one still more doleful, 'Oh,' it
exclaimed, 'alas, for the little lippie and the little peck! alas, for
the little lippie and the little peck!' As it passed, the farmer started
up from his seat; and there, sure enough, was M'Kechan, the corn factor,
in his ordinary dress, and, except that he was thinner and paler than
usual, like a man suffering from hunger, presenting nearly his ordinary
appearance. The figure passed, with a slow, gliding sort of motion; and,
turning the farther corner of the burying-ground, came onward in its
second round; but the farmer, though he had felt rather curious than
afraid as it went by, found his heart fail him as it approached the
second time, and, without waiting its coming up, set off homeward
through the corn. The apparition continued to take its rounds, evening
and morning, for about two months after, and then disappeared for ever.
Mealmongers had to forget the story, and to grow a little less afraid,
ere they could cheat with their accustomed coolness. Believe me, such
beliefs, whatever may be thought of them in the present day, have not
been without their use in the past."

As the old man concluded his story, one of the women rose to a table in
the little room, and replenished our glasses. We all drank in silence.

"It is within an hour of midnight," said one of the men, looking at his
watch; "we had better recruit the fire and draw in our chairs; the air
aye feels chill at a lykewake or a burial. At this time to-morrow we
will be lifting the corpse."

There was no reply. We all drew in our chairs nearer the fire, and for
several minutes there was a pause in the conversation, but there were
more stories to be told, and before the morning, many a spirit was
evoked from the grave, the vasty deep, and the Highland stream, whose
histories we may yet give in a future number.



THE PENNY-WEDDING.


If any of our readers have ever seen a Scottish penny-wedding they will
agree with us, we daresay, that it is a very merry affair, and that its
mirth and hilarity is not a whit the worse for its being, as it
generally is, very homely and unsophisticated. The penny-wedding is not
quite so splendid an affair as a ball at Almack's; but, from all we have
heard and read of these aristocratic exhibitions, we for our own parts
would have little hesitation about our preference, and what is more, we
are quite willing to accept the imputation of having a horrid bad taste.

It is very well known to those who know anything at all of
penny-weddings, that, when a farmer's servant is about to be
married--such an occurrence being the usual, or, at least, the most
frequent occasion of these festivities--all the neighbouring farmers,
with their servants, and sometimes their sons and daughters, are invited
to the ceremony; and to those who know this, it is also known that the
farmers so invited are in the habit of contributing each something to
the general stock of good things provided for the entertainment of the
wedding guests--some sending one thing and some another, till materials
are accumulated for a feast, which, both for quantity and quality, would
extort praise from Dr Kitchener himself, than whom no man ever knew
better what good living was. To all this a little money is added by the
parties present, to enable the young couple to _plenish_ their little
domicile.

Having given this brief sketch of what is called a penny-wedding, we
proceed to say that such a merry doing as this took place, as it had
done a thousand times before, in a certain parish (we dare not be more
particular) in the south of Scotland, about five-and-twenty years ago.
The parties--we name them, although it is of no consequence to our
story--were Andrew Jardine and Margaret Laird, both servants to a
respectable farmer in that part of the country of the name of Harrison,
and both very deserving and well-doing persons.

On the wedding-day being fixed, Andrew went himself to engage the
services of Blind Willie Hodge, the parish fiddler, as he might with all
propriety be called, for the happy occasion; and Willie very readily
agreed to attend gratuitously, adding, that he would bring his best
fiddle along with him, together with an ample supply of fiddle-strings
and rosin.

"An' a wee bit box o' elbow grease, Willie," said Andrew, slily; "for
ye'll hae gude aught hours o't, at the very least."

"I'll be sure to bring that too, Andrew," replied Willie, laughing; "but
it's no aught hours that'll ding me, I warrant. I hae played saxteen
without stoppin except to rosit."

"And to weet your whistle," slipped in Andrew.

"Pho, that wasna worth coontin. It was just a mouthfu' and at it again,"
said Willie. "I just tak, Andrew," he went on, "precisely the time o' a
demisemiquaver to a tumbler o' cauld liquor, such as porter or ale; and
twa minims or four crotchets to a tumbler o' het drink, such as toddy;
for the first, ye see, I can tak aff at jig time, but the other can only
get through wi' at the rate o' 'Roslin Castle,' or the 'Dead March in
Saul,' especially when it's brought to me scadding het, whilk sude never
be dune to a fiddler."

Now, as to this very nice chromatic measurement, by Willie, of the time
consumed in his potations, while in the exercise of his calling, we have
nothing to say. It may be perfectly correct for aught we know; but when
Willie said that he played at one sitting, and with only the stoppages
he mentioned, for sixteen hours, we rather think he was drawing fully a
longer bow than that he usually played with. At all events this we
know, that Willie was a very indifferent if not positively a very bad
fiddler; but he was a good-humoured creature, harmless and inoffensive,
and, moreover, the only one of his calling in the parish, so that he was
fully as much indebted to the necessities of his customers for the
employment he obtained, as to their love or charity.

The happy day which was to see the humble destinies of Andrew Jardine
and Margaret Laird united having arrived, Willie attired himself in his
best, popped his best fiddle--which was, after all, but a very sober
article, having no more tone than a salt-box--into a green bag, slipped
the instrument thus secured beneath the back of his coat, and proceeded
towards the scene of his impending labours. This was a large barn, which
had been carefully swept and levelled for the "light fantastic _toes_"
of some score of ploughmen and dairymaids, not formed exactly after the
Chinese fashion. At the further end of the barn stood a sort of
platform, erected on a couple of empty herring-barrels; and on this
again a chair was placed. This distinguished situation, we need hardly
say, was designed for Willie, who from that elevated position was to
pour down his heel-inspiring strains amongst the revellers below. When
Willie, however, came first upon the ground, the marriage party had not
yet arrived. They were still at the manse, which was hard by, but were
every minute expected. In these circumstances, and it being a fine
summer afternoon, Willie seated himself on a stone at the door, drew
forth his fiddle, and struck up with great vigour and animation, to the
infinite delight of some half-dozen of the wedding guests, who, not
having gone with the others to the manse, were now, like himself,
waiting their arrival. These immediately commenced footing it to
Willie's music on the green before the door, and thus presented a very
appropriate prelude to the coming festivities of the evening.

While Willie was thus engaged, an itinerant brother in trade, on the
look-out for employment, and who had heard of the wedding, suddenly
appeared, and stealing up quietly beside him, modestly undid the mouth
of his fiddle-bag, laid the neck of the instrument bare, and drew his
thumb carelessly across the strings, to intimate to him that a rival was
near his throne. On hearing the sound of the instrument, Willie stopped
short.

"I doubt, frien, ye hae come to the wrang market," he said, guessing at
once the object of the stranger. "An' ye hae been travellin too, I
daresay?" he continued, good-naturedly, and not at all offended with the
intruder, for whom and all of his kind he entertained a fellow feeling.

"Ay," replied the new Orpheus, who was a tall, good-looking man of about
eight-and-twenty years of age, but very poorly attired, "I hae been
travellin, as ye say, neebor, an' hae come twa or three miles out o' my
way to see if I could pick up a shilling or twa at this weddin."

"I am sorry now, man, for that," said Willie, sympathisingly. "I doot
ye'll be disappointed, for I hae been engaged for't this fortnight past.
But I'll tell ye what--if ye're onything guid o' the fiddle, ye may
remain, jist to relieve me now an' then, an' I'll mind ye when a's owre;
an' at ony rate ye'll aye pick up a mouthfu' o' guid meat and drink--an'
that ye ken's no to be fand at every dyke-side."

"A bargain be't," said the stranger, "an' much obliged to you, frien. I
maun just tak pat-luck and be thankfu'. But isna your weddin folks lang
o' comin?" he added.

"They'll be here belyve," replied Willie, and added, "Ye'll no be blin,
frien?"

"Ou no," said the stranger; "thank goodness I hae my sight; but I am
otherwise in such a bad state o' health, that I canna work, and am
obliged to tak the fiddle for a subsistence."

While this conversation was going on, the wedding folks were seen
dropping out of the manse in twos and threes, and making straight for
the scene of the evening's festivities, where they all very soon after
assembled. Ample justice having been done to all the good things that
were now set before the merry party, and Willie and his colleague having
had their share, and being thus put in excellent trim for entering on
their labours, the place was cleared of all encumbrances, and a fair and
open field left for the dancers. At this stage of the proceedings,
Willie was led by his colleague to his station, and helped up to the
elevated chair which had been provided for him, when the latter handed
him his instrument, while he himself took up his position, fiddle in
hand, on his principal's left, but standing on the ground, as there was
no room for him on the platform.

Everything being now ready, and the expectant couples ranged in their
respective places on the floor, Willie was called upon to begin--an
order which he instantly obeyed, by opening in great style.

On the conclusion of the first reel, in the musical department of which
the strange fiddler had not interfered, the latter whispered to his
coadjutor, that if he liked he would relieve him for the next.

"Weel," replied the latter, "if ye think ye can gae through wi't
onything decently, ye may try your hand."

"I'll no promise much," said the stranger, now for the first time
drawing his fiddle out of its bag; "but, for the credit o' the craft,
I'll do the best I can."

Having said this, Willie's colleague drew his bow across the strings of
his fiddle, with a preparatory flourish, when instantly every face in
the apartment was turned towards him with an expression of delight and
surprise. The tones of the fiddle were so immeasurably superior to those
of poor Willie's salt-box, that the dullest and most indiscriminating
ear amongst the revellers readily distinguished the amazing difference.
But infinitely greater still was their surprise and delight when the
stranger began to play. Nothing could exceed the energy, accuracy, and
beauty of his performances. He was, in short, evidently a perfect master
of the instrument, and this was instantly perceived and acknowledged by
all, including Willie himself, who declared, with great candour and
good-will, that he had never heard a better fiddler in his life.

The result of this discovery was, that the former was not allowed to
lift a bow during the remainder of the night, the whole burden of its
labours being deposited on the shoulders, or perhaps we should rather
say the finger-ends, of the stranger, who fiddled away with an
apparently invincible elbow.

For several hours the dance went on without interruption, and without
any apparent abatement whatever of vigour on the part of the performers;
but, at the end of this period some symptoms of exhaustion began to
manifest themselves, which were at length fully declared by a temporary
cessation of both the mirth and music.

It was at this interval in the revelries that the unknown fiddler--who
had been, by the unanimous voice of the party, installed in Willie's
elevated chair, while the latter was reduced to his place on the
floor--stretching himself over the platform, and tapping Willie on the
hat with his bow, to draw his attention, inquired of him, in a whisper,
if he knew who the lively little girl was that had been one of the
partners in the last reel that had been danced.

"Is she a bit red-cheeked, dark ee'd, and dark-haired lassie, about
nineteen or twenty?" inquired Willie, in his turn.

"The same," replied the fiddler.

"Ou, that's Jeanie Harrison," said Willie--"a kind-hearted, nice bit
lassie. No a better nor a bonnier in a' the parish. She's a dochter o'
Mr Harrison o' Todshaws, the young couple's maister, an' a very
respectable man. He's here himsel, too, amang the lave."

"Just so," replied his colleague. And he began to rosin his bow, and to
screw his pegs anew, to prepare for the second storm of merriment, which
he saw gathering, and threatening to burst upon him with increased fury.
Amongst the first on the floor was Jeanie Harrison.

"Is there naebody 'll tak me out for a reel?" exclaimed the lively girl;
and without waiting for an answer--"weel, then, I'll hae the fiddler."
And she ran towards the platform on which the unknown performer was
seated. But he did not wait her coming. He had heard her name her
choice, laid down his fiddle, and sprang to the floor with the agility
of a harlequin, exclaiming, "Thank ye, my bonny lassie--thank ye for the
honour. I'm your man at a moment's notice, either for feet or fiddle."

It is not quite certain that Jeanie was in perfect earnest when she made
choice of the musician for a partner, but it was now too late to
retract, for the joke had taken with the company, and, with one voice,
or rather shout, they insisted on her keeping faithful to her
engagement, and dancing a reel with the fiddler; and on this no one
insisted more stoutly than the fiddler himself. Finding that she could
do no better, the good-natured girl put the best face on the frolic she
could, and prepared to do her partner every justice in the dance. Willie
having now taken bow in hand, his colleague gave him the word of
command, and away the dancers went like meteors: and here again the
surprise of the party was greatly excited by the performances of our
friend the fiddler, who danced as well as he played. To say merely that
he far surpassed all in the room would not, perhaps, be saying much; for
there were none of them very great adepts in the art. But, in truth, he
danced with singular grace and lightness, and much did those who
witnessed it marvel at the display. Neither was his bow to his partner,
nor his manner of conducting her to her seat on the conclusion of the
reel, less remarkable. It was distinguished by an air of refined
gallantry certainly not often to be met with in those in his humble
station in life. He might have been a master of ceremonies; and where
the beggarly-looking fiddler had picked up these accomplishments every
one found it difficult to conjecture.

On the termination of the dance, the fiddler--as we shall call him, _par
excellence_, and to distinguish him from Willie--resumed his seat and
his fiddle, and began to drive away with even more than his former
spirit; but it was observed by more than one that his eye was now almost
constantly fixed, for the remainder of the evening, as, indeed, it had
been very frequently before, on his late partner, Jeanie Harrison. This
circumstance, however, did not prevent him giving every satisfaction to
those who danced to his music, nor did it in the least impair the spirit
of his performances; for he was evidently too much practised in the use
of the instrument, which he managed with such consummate skill, to be
put out, either by the contemplation of any chance object which might
present itself, or by the vagaries of his imagination.

Leaving our musician in the discharge of his duty, we shall step over to
where Jeanie Harrison is seated, to learn what she thinks of her
partner, and what the Misses Murray, the daughters of a neighbouring
farmer, between whom she sat, think of him, and of Jeanie having danced
with a fiddler.

Premising that the Misses Murray, not being by any means beauties
themselves, entertained a very reasonable and justifiable dislike and
jealousy of all their own sex to whom nature had been more bountiful in
this particular; and finding, moreover, that, from their excessively bad
tempers (this, however, of course, not admitted by the ladies
themselves), they could neither practise nor share in the amenities
which usually mark the intercourse of the sexes, they had set up for
connoisseurs in the articles of propriety and decorum, of which they
professed to be profound judges.

Premising this, then, we proceed to quote the conversation that passed
between the three ladies--that is, the Misses Murray and Miss Harrison;
the latter taking her seat between them after dancing with the fiddler.

"My certy," exclaimed the elder, with a very dignified toss of the head,
"ye warna nice, Jeanie, to dance wi' a fiddler. I wad hae been very ill
aff, indeed, for a partner before I wad hae taen up wi' such a
ragamuffin."

"An' to go an' ask him too!" said the younger, with an imitative toss.
"I wadna ask the best man in the land to dance wi' me, let alane a
fiddler! If they dinna choose to come o' their ain accord, they may
stay."

"Tuts, lassies, it was a' a piece o' fun," said the good-humoured girl.
"I'm sure everybody saw that but yersels. Besides, the man's weel
aneugh--na, a gude deal mair than that, if he was only a wee better
clad. There's no a better-lookin man in the room; and I wish, lassies,"
she added, "ye may get as guid dancers in your partners--that's a'."

"Umph! a bonny like taste ye hae, Jeanie, an' a very strange notion o'
propriety!" exclaimed the elder, with another toss of the head.

"To dance wi' a fiddler!" simpered out the younger, who, by the way, was
no chicken either, being but a trifle on the right side of thirty.

"Ay, to be sure--dance wi' a fiddler or a piper either. I'll dance wi'
baith o' them--an' what for no?" replied Jeanie. "There's neither sin
nor shame in't; and I'll dance wi' him again, if he'll only but ask me."

"An' faith he'll do that wi' a' the pleasure in the warld, my bonny
lassie," quoth the intrepid fiddler, leaping down once more from his
high place; for, there having been a cessation of both music and dancing
while the conversation above recorded was going on, he had heard every
word of it.--"Wi' a' the pleasure in the warld," he said, advancing
towards Jeanie Harrison, and making one of his best bows of invitation;
and again a shout of approbation from the company urged Jeanie to accept
it, which she readily did, at once to gratify her friends, and to
provoke the Misses Murray.

Having accordingly taken her place on the floor, and other couples
having been mustered for the set, Jeanie's partner again called on
Willie to strike up, again the dancers started, and again the fiddler
astonished and delighted the company with the grace and elegance of his
performances. On this occasion, however, the unknown musician's
predilection for his fair partner exhibited a more unequivocal
character; and he even ventured to inquire if he might call at her
father's, to amuse the family for an hour or so with his fiddle.

"Nae objection in the warld," replied Jeanie. "Come as aften as ye like;
and the aftener the better, if ye only bring yer fiddle wi' ye, for
we're a' fond o' music."

"A bargain be't," said the gallant fiddler; and, at the conclusion of
the reel, he again resumed his place on the platform and his fiddle.

"Time and the hour," says Shakspere, "will wear through the roughest
day;" and so they will, also, through the merriest night, as the joyous
party of whom we are speaking now soon found.

Exhaustion and lassitude, though long defied, finally triumphed; and
even the very candles seemed wearied of giving light; and, under the
influence of these mirth-destroying feelings, the party at length broke
up, and all departed, excepting the two fiddlers.

These worthies now adjourned to a public-house, which was close by, and
set very gravely about settling what was to them the serious business of
the evening. Willie had received thirty-one shillings, as payment in
full for their united labours; and, in consideration of the large and
unexpected portion of them which had fallen to the stranger's share, he
generously determined, notwithstanding that he was the principal party,
as having been the first engaged, to give him precisely the one-half of
the money, or fifteen shillings and sixpence.

"Very fair," said the stranger, on this being announced to him by his
brother in trade--"very fair; but what would ye think of our drinking
the odd sixpences?"

"Wi' a' my heart," replied Willie--"wi' a' my heart. A very guid
notion."

And a jug of toddy, to the value of one shilling, was accordingly
ordered and produced, over which the two got as thick as ben-leather.

"Ye're a guid fiddler--I'll say that o' ye," quoth Willie, after tossing
down the first glass of the warm, exhilarating beverage. "I wad never
wish to hear a better."

"I have had some practice," said the other, modestly, and at the same
time following his companion's example with his glass.

"Nae doot, nae doot, sae's seen on your playin," replied the latter.
"How do you fend wi' your fiddle? Do ye mak onything o' a guid leevin
o't?"

"No that ill ava," said the stranger. "I play for the auld leddy at the
castle--Castle Gowan, ye ken; indeed, I'm sometimes ca'd the leddy's
fiddler, and she's uncommon guid to me. I neither want bite nor sowp
when I gang there."

"That's sae far weel," replied Willie. "She's a guid judge o' music that
Leddy Gowan, as I hear them say; and I'm tauld her son, Sir John, plays
a capital bow."

"No amiss, I believe," said the stranger; "but the leddy, as ye say, is
an excellent judge o' music, although whiles, I think, rather owre fond
o't, for she maks me play for hours thegither, when I wad far rather be
wi' Tam Yule, her butler, a sonsy, guid-natured chiel, that's no sweer
o' the cap. But, speaking o' that, I'll tell ye what, frien," he
continued, "if ye'll come up to Castle Gowan ony day, I'll be blithe to
see you, for I'm there at least ance every day, and I'll warrant ye--for
ye see I can use every liberty there--in a guid het dinner, an' a jug o'
better toddy to wash it owre wi'."

"A bargain be't," quoth Willie; "will the morn do?"

"Perfectly," said the stranger; "the sooner the better."

This settled, Willie proceeded to a subject which had been for some time
near his heart, but which he felt some delicacy in broaching. This
feeling, however, having gradually given way before the influence of the
toddy, and of his friend's frank and jovial manner, he at length
ventured, though cautiously, to step on the ice.

"That's an uncommon guid instrument o' yours, frien," he said.

"Very good," replied his companion, briefly.

"But ye'll hae mair than that ane, nae doot?" rejoined the other.

"I hae ither twa."

"In that case," said Willie, "maybe ye wad hae nae objection to pairt
wi' that ane, an the price offered ye wur a' the mair temptin. I'll gie
ye the saxteen shillins I hae won the nicht, an' my fiddle, for't."

"Thank ye, frien, thank ye for your offer," replied the stranger; "but I
daurna accept o't, though I war willin. The fiddle was gien to me by
Leddy Gowan, and I daurna pairt wi't. She wad miss't, and then there wad
be the deevil to pay."

"Oh, an that's the case," said Willie, "I'll say nae mair aboot it; but
it's a first-rate fiddle--sae guid a ane, that it micht amaist play the
lane o't."

It being now very late, or rather early, and the toddy jug emptied, the
blind fiddler and his friend parted, on the understanding, however, that
the former would visit the latter at the castle (whither he was now
going, he said, to seek a night's quarters) on the following day.

True to his appointment, Willie appeared next day at Gowan House, or
Castle Gowan, as it was more generally called, and inquired for "the
fiddler." His inquiry was met with great civility and politeness by the
footman who opened the door. He was told "the fiddler" was there, and
desired to walk in. Obeying the invitation, Willie, conducted by the
footman, entered a spacious apartment, where he was soon afterwards
entertained with a sumptuous dinner, in which his friend the fiddler
joined him.

"My word neighbour," said Willie, after having made a hearty meal of the
good things that were set before him, and having drank in proportion,
"but ye're in noble quarters here. This is truly fiddlin to some
purpose, an' treatin the art as it ought to be treated in the persons o'
its professors. But what," he added, "if Sir John should come in upon
us? He wadna like maybe a'thegither to see a stranger wi' ye?"

"Deil a bodle I care for Sir John, Willie! He's but a wild harum-scarum
throughither chap at the best, an' no muckle to be heeded."

"Ay, he's fond o' a frolic, they tell me," quoth Willie; "an' there's a
heap o' gay queer anes laid to his charge, whether they be true or no;
but his heart's in the richt place, I'm thinkin, for a' that. I've heard
o' mony guid turns he has dune."

"Ou, he's no a bad chiel, on the whole, I daresay," replied Willie's
companion. "His bark's waur than his bite--an' that's mair than can be
said o' a rat-trap at ony rate."

It was about this period, and then for the first time, that certain
strange and vague suspicions suddenly entered Willie's mind regarding
his entertainer. He had remarked that the latter gave his orders with an
air of authority which he thought scarcely becoming in one who occupied
the humble situation of "the lady's fiddler;" but, singular as this
appeared to him, the alacrity and silence with which these orders were
obeyed, was to poor Willie still more unaccountable. He said nothing,
however; but much did he marvel at the singular good fortune of his
brother-in-trade. He had never known a fiddler so quartered before; and,
lost in admiration of his friend's felicity, he was about again to
express his ideas on the subject, when a servant in splendid livery
entered the room, and, bowing respectfully, said, "The carriage waits
you, Sir John."

"I will be with you presently, Thomas," replied who? inquires the
reader.

Why, Willie's companion!

What! is he then Sir John Gowan--he, the fiddler at the penny-wedding,
Sir John Gowan, of Castle Gowan, the most extensive proprietor and the
wealthiest man in the county?

The same, and no other, good reader, we assure thee.

A great lover of frolic, as he himself said, was Sir John; and this was
one of the pranks in which he delighted. He was an enthusiastic fiddler;
and as has been already shown, performed with singular skill on that
most difficult, but most delightful, of all musical instruments.

We will not attempt to describe poor Willie's amazement and confusion,
when this singular fact became known to him; for they are indescribable,
and therefore better left to the reader's imagination. On recovering a
little from his surprise, however, he endeavoured to express his
astonishment in such broken sentences as these--"Wha in earth wad hae
ever dreamed o't? Rosit an' fiddle-strings!--this beats a'. Faith, an'
I've been fairly taen in--clean done for. A knight o' the shire to play
at a penny-waddin wi' blin Willie Hodge, the fiddler! The like was
ne'er heard tell o'."

As it is unnecessary, and would certainly be tedious, to protract the
scene at this particular point in our story, we cut it short by saying,
that Sir John presented Willie with the fiddle he had so much coveted,
and which he had vainly endeavoured to purchase; that he then told down
to him the half of the proceeds of the previous night's labours which he
had pocketed, added a handsome _douceur_ from his own purse, and finally
dismissed him with a pressing and cordial invitation to visit the castle
as often as it suited his inclination and conveniency.

Having arrived at this landing-place in our tale, we pause to explain
one or two things, which is necessary for the full elucidation of the
sequel. With regard to Sir John Gowan himself, there is little to add to
what has been already said of him; for, brief though these notices of
him are, they contain nearly all that the reader need care to know about
him. He was addicted to such pranks as that just recorded; but this, if
it was a defect in his character, was the only one. For the rest, he was
an excellent young man--kind, generous, and affable, of the strictest
honour, and the most upright principles. He was, moreover, an
exceedingly handsome man, and highly accomplished. At this period, he
was unmarried, and lived with his mother, Lady Gowan, to whom he was
most affectionately attached. Sir John had, at one time, mingled a good
deal with the fashionable society of the metropolis; but soon became
disgusted with the heartlessness of those who composed it, and with the
frivolity of their pursuits; and in this frame of mind he came to the
resolution of retiring to his estate, and of giving himself up entirely
to the quiet enjoyments of a country life, and the pleasing duties which
his position as a large landed proprietor entailed upon him.

Simple in all his tastes and habits, Sir John had been unable to
discover, in any of the manufactured beauties to whom he had been, from
time to time, introduced while he resided in London, one to whom he
could think of intrusting his happiness. The wife he desired was one
fresh from the hand of nature, not one remodelled by the square and rule
of art; and such a one he thought he had found during his adventure of
the previous night.

Bringing this digression, which we may liken to an interlude, to a
close, we again draw up the curtain, and open the second act of our
little drama with an exhibition of the residence of Mr Harrison at
Todshaw.

The house or farm-steading of this worthy person was of the very best
description of such establishments. The building itself was substantial,
nay, even handsome, while the excellent garden which was attached to it,
and all the other accessories and appurtenances with which it was
surrounded, indicated wealth and comfort. Its situation was on the
summit of a gentle eminence that sloped down in front to a noisy little
rivulet, that careered along through a narrow rugged glen overhanging
with hazel, till it came nearly opposite the house, where it wound
through an open plat of green sward, and shortly after again plunged
into another little romantic ravine similar to the one it had left.

The approach to Mr Harrison's house lay along this little rivulet, and
was commanded, for a considerable distance, by the view from the
former--a circumstance which enabled Jeanie Harrison to descry, one fine
summer afternoon, two or three days after the occurrence of the events
just related, the approach of the fiddler with whom she had danced at
the wedding. On making this discovery, Jeanie ran to announce the joyful
intelligence to all the other members of the family, and the prospect of
a merry dancing afternoon opened on the delighted eyes of its younger
branches.

When the fiddler--with whose identity the reader is now as well
acquainted as we are--had reached the bottom of the ascent that led to
the house, Jeanie, with excessive joy beaming in her bright and
expressive eye, and her cheek glowing with the roseate hues of health,
rushed down to meet him, and to welcome him to Todshaw.

"Thank ye, my bonny lassie--thank ye," replied the disguised baronet,
expressing himself in character, and speaking the language of his
assumed station. "Are ye ready for anither dance?"

"Oh, a score o' them--a thousand o' them," said the lively girl.

"But will your faither, think ye, hae nae objections to my comin?"
inquired the fiddler.

"Nane in the warld. My faither is nane o' your sour carles that wad deny
ither folk the pleasures they canna enjoy themsels. He likes to see
a'body happy around him--every ane his ain way."

"An' your mother?"

"Jist the same. Ye'll find her waur to fiddle doun than ony o' us.
She'll dance as lang's a string hauds o't."

"Then, I may be quite at my ease," rejoined Sir John.

"Quite so," replied Jeanie--and she slipped half-a-crown into his
hand--"and there's your arles; but ye'll be minded better ere ye leave
us."

"My word, no an ill beginnin," quoth the musician, looking with
well-affected delight at the coin, and afterwards putting it carefully
into his pocket. "But ye could hae gien me a far mair acceptable arles
than half-a-crown," he added, "and no been a penny the poorer either."

"What's that?" said Jeanie, laughing and blushing at the same time, and
more than half guessing, from the looks of the _pawky_ fiddler, what was
meant.

"Why, my bonny leddie," he replied, "jist a kiss o' that pretty little
mou o' yours."

"Oh, ye gowk!" exclaimed Jeanie, with a roguish glance at her humble
gallant; for, disguised as he was, he was not able to conceal a very
handsome person, nor the very agreeable expression of a set of
remarkably fine features--qualities which did not escape the vigilance
of the female eye that was now scanning their possessor. Nor would we
say that these qualities were viewed with total indifference, or without
producing their effect, even although they did belong to a fiddler.

"Oh, ye gowk!" said Jeanie; "wha ever heard o' a fiddler preferring a
kiss to half-a-crown?"

"But _I_ do, though," replied the disguised knight; "and I'll gie ye
yours back again for't."

"The mair fule you," exclaimed Jeanie, rushing away towards the house,
and leaving the fiddler to make out the remainder of the way by himself.

On reaching the house, the musician was ushered into the kitchen, where
a plentiful repast was instantly set before him, by the kind and
considerate hospitality of Jeanie, who, not contented with her guest's
making a hearty meal at table, insisted on his pocketing certain pieces
of cheese, cold meat, &c., which were left. These the fiddler steadily
refused; but Jeanie would take no denial, and with her own hands crammed
them into his capacious pockets, which, after the operation, stuck out
like a well-filled pair of saddle-bags. But there was no need for any
one who might be curious to know what they contained, to look into them
for that purpose. Certain projecting bones of mutton and beef, which it
was found impossible to get altogether out of sight, sufficiently
indicated their contents. Of this particular circumstance, however--we
mean the projection of the bones from the pockets--we must observe, the
owner of the said pockets was not aware, otherwise, we daresay, he would
have been a little more positive in rejecting the provender which
Jeanie's warmheartedness and benevolence had forced upon him.

Be this as it may, however, so soon as the musician had finished his
repast, he took fiddle in hand, and opened the evening with a slow
pathetic Scottish air, which he played so exquisitely that Jeanie's eye
filled with a tear, as she listened in raptures to the sweet but
melancholy turns of the affecting tune.

Twice the musician played over the touching strain, delighted to
perceive the effects of the music on the lovely girl who stood before
him, and rightly conceiving it to be an unequivocal proof of a
susceptible heart and of a generous nature.

A third time he began the beautiful air; but he now accompanied it with
a song, and in this accomplishment he was no less perfect than in the
others which have been already attributed to him. His voice was at once
manly and melodious, and he conducted it with a skill that did it every
justice. Having played two or three bars of the tune, his rich and
well-regulated voice chimed in with the following words:--

    "Oh, I hae lived wi' high-bred dames,
      Each state of life to prove,
    But never till this hour hae met
      The girl that I could love.

    It's no in fashion's gilded ha's
      That she is to be seen;
    Beneath her father's humble roof
      Abides my bonny Jean.

    Oh, wad she deign ae thought to wair,
      Ae kindly thought on me,
    Wi' pearls I wad deck her hair,
      Though low be my degree.

    Wi' pearls I wad deck her hair,
      Wi' gowd her wrists sae sma';
    An' had I lands and houses, she'd
      Be leddy owre them a'.

    The sun abune's no what he seems,
      Nor is the night's fair queen;
    Then wha kens wha the minstrel is
      That's wooin bonny Jean?"

Jeanie could not help feeling a little strange as the minstrel proceeded
with a song which seemed to have so close a reference to herself.

She, of course, did not consider this circumstance otherwise than as
merely accidental; but she could not help, nevertheless, being somewhat
embarrassed by it; and this was made sufficiently evident by the blush
that mantled on her cheek, and by the confusion of her manner under the
fixed gaze of the singer, while repeating the verses just quoted.

When he had concluded, "Well, good folks all," he said, "what think ye
of my song?" And without waiting for an answer, about which he seemed
very indifferent, he added, "and how do you like it, Jeanie?" directing
the question exclusively to the party he named.

"Very weel," replied Jeanie, again blushing, but still more deeply than
before; "the song is pretty, an' the air delightfu'; but some o' the
verses are riddles to me. I dinna thoroughly understan them."

"Don't you?" replied Sir John, laughing; "then I'll explain them to you
by and by; but, in the meantime, I must screw my pegs anew, and work for
my dinner, for I see the good folk about me here are all impatience to
begin." A fact this which was instantly acknowledged by a dozen voices;
and straightway the whole party proceeded, in compliance with a
suggestion of Mr Harrison, to the green in front of the house, where Sir
John took up his position on the top of an inverted wheelbarrow, and
immediately commenced his labours.

For several hours, the dance went on with uninterrupted glee; old Mr
Harrison and his wife appearing to enjoy the sport as much as the
youngest of the party, and both being delighted with the masterly
playing of the musician. But, although, as on a former occasion, Sir
John did not suffer anything to interfere with or interrupt the charge
of the duties expected of him, there was but a very small portion of his
mind or thoughts engrossed by the employment in which he was engaged.
All, or nearly all, were directed to the contemplation of the object on
which his affections had now become irrevocably fixed.

Neither was his visit to Todshaws, on this occasion, by any means
dictated solely by the frivolous object of affording its inmates
entertainment by his musical talents. His purpose was a much more
serious one. It was to ascertain, as far as such an opportunity would
afford him the means, the dispositions and temper of his fair enslaver.
Of these, his natural shrewdness had enabled him to make a pretty
correct estimate on the night of the wedding; but he was desirous of
seeing her in other circumstances, and he thought none more suitable for
his purpose than those of a domestic nature.

It was, then, to see her in this position that he had now come; and the
result of his observations was highly gratifying to him.

He found in Miss Harrison all that he, at any rate, desired in woman. He
found her guileless, cheerful, gentle, kind-hearted, and good-tempered,
beloved by all around her, and returning the affection bestowed on her
with a sincere and ardent love.

Such were the discoveries which the disguised baronet made on this
occasion; and never did hidden treasure half so much gladden the heart
of the fortunate finder as these did that of him who made them. It is
true that Sir John could not be sure, nor was he, that his addresses
would be received by Miss Harrison, even after he should have made
himself known; but he could not help entertaining a pretty strong
confidence in his own powers of persuasion, nor being, consequently,
tolerably sanguine of success. All this, however, was to be the work of
another day. In the meantime, the dancers having had their hearts'
content of capering on the green sward, the fiddle was put up, and the
fiddler once more invited into the house, where he was entertained with
the same hospitality as before, and another half-crown slipped into his
hand. This he also put carefully into his pocket; and having partaken
lightly of what was set before him, rose up to depart, alleging that he
had a good way to go, and was desirous of availing himself of the little
daylight that still remained. He was pressed to remain all night, but
this he declined; promising, however, in reply to the urgent entreaties
with which he was assailed on all sides to stay, that he would very soon
repeat his visit. Miss Harrison he took by the hand, and said, "I
promised to explain to you the poetical riddle which I read, or rather
attempted to sing, this evening. It is now too late to do this, for the
explanation is a long one; but I will be here again, without fail, in a
day or two, when I shall solve all, and, I trust, to your satisfaction.
Till then, do not forget your poor fiddler."

"No, I winna forget ye," said Jeanie. "It wadna be easy to forget ane
that has contributed so much to our happiness. Neither would it be more
than gratefu' to do so, I think."

"And you are too kind a creature to be ungrateful to any one, however
humble may be their attempts to win your favour--of that I feel
assured." Having said this, and perceiving that he was unobserved, he
quickly raised the fair hand he held to his lips, kissed it, and hurried
out of the door.

What Jane Harrison thought of this piece of gallantry from a fiddler, we
really do not know, and therefore will say nothing about it. Whatever
her thoughts were, she kept them to herself. Neither did she mention to
any one the circumstance which gave rise to them. Nor did she say, but
for what reason we are ignorant, how much she had been pleased with the
general manners of the humble musician--with the melodious tones of his
voice, and the fine expression of his dark hazel eye. Oh, love, love!
thou art a leveller, indeed, else how should it happen that the pretty
daughter of a wealthy and respectable yeoman should think for a moment,
with certain indescribable feelings, of a poor itinerant fiddler? Mark,
good reader, however, we do not say that Miss Harrison was absolutely in
love with the musician. By no means. That would certainly be saying too
much. But it is as certainly true, that she had perceived something
about him that left no disagreeable impression--nay, something which she
wished she might meet with in her future husband, whoever he might be.

Leaving Jeanie Harrison to such reflections as these, we will follow the
footsteps of the disguised baronet. On leaving the house, he walked at a
rapid pace for an hour or so, till he came to a turn in the road, at the
distance of about four miles from Todshaws, where his gig and
man-servant, with a change of clothes, were waiting him by appointment.
Having hastily divested himself of his disguise, and resumed his own
dress, he stepped into the vehicle, and about midnight arrived at Castle
Gowan.

In this romantic attachment of Sir John Gowan's--or rather in the
romantic project which it suggested to him of offering his heart and
hand to the daughter of a humble farmer--there was but one doubtful
point on his side of the question, at any rate. This was, whether he
could obtain the consent of his mother to such a proceeding. She loved
him with the utmost tenderness; and, naturally of a mild, gentle, and
affectionate disposition, her sole delight lay in promoting the
happiness of her beloved son. To secure this great object of her life,
there was scarcely any sacrifice which she would not make, nor any
proposal with which she would not willingly comply. This Sir John well
knew, and fully appreciated; but he felt that the call which he was now
about to make on her maternal love was more than he ought to expect she
would answer. He, in short, felt that she might, with good reason, and
without the slightest infringement of her regard for him, object to his
marrying so far beneath his station. It was not, therefore, without some
misgivings that he entered his mother's private apartment on the day
following his adventure at Todshaws, for the purpose of divulging the
secret of his attachment, and hinting at the resolution he had formed
regarding it.

"Mother," he said, after a pause which had been preceded by the usual
affectionate inquiries of the morning, "you have often expressed a wish
that I would marry."

"I have, John," replied the good old lady. "Nothing in this world would
afford me greater gratification than to see you united to a woman who
should be every way deserving of you--one with whom you could live
happily."

"Ay, that last is the great, the important consideration, at least with
me. But where, mother, am I to find that woman? I have mingled a good
deal with the higher ranks of society, and there, certainly, I have not
been able to find her. I am not so uncharitable as to say--nay, God
forbid I should--that there are not as good, as virtuous, as amiable
women, in the upper classes of society as in the lower. I have no doubt
there are. All that I mean to say is, that I have not been fortunate
enough to find one in that sphere to suit my fancy, and have no hopes of
ever doing so. Besides, the feelings, sentiments, and dispositions of
these persons, both male and female, are so completely disguised by a
factitious manner, and by conventional rules, that you never can
discover what is their real nature and character. They are still
strangers to you, however long you may be acquainted with them. You
cannot tell who or what they are. The roller of fashion reduces them all
to one level; and, being all clapped into the same mould, they become
mere repetitions of each other, as like as peas, without exhibiting the
slightest point of variety. Now, mother," continued Sir John, "the wife
I should like is one whose heart, whose inmost nature, should be at once
open to my view, unwarped and undisguised by the customs and fashions of
the world."

"Upon my word, John, you are more than usually eloquent this morning,"
said Lady Gowan, laughing. "But pray now, do tell me, John, shortly and
unequivocally, what is the drift of this long, flowery, and very
sensible speech of yours?--for that there is a drift in it I can clearly
perceive. You are aiming at something which you do not like to plump
upon me at once."

Sir John looked a good deal confused on finding that his mother's
shrewdness had detected a latent purpose in his remarks, and endeavoured
to evade the acknowledgment of that purpose, until he should have her
opinion of the observations he had made; and in this he succeeded.
Having pressed her on this point:

"Well, my son," replied Lady Gowan, "if you think that you cannot find a
woman in a station of life corresponding to your own that will suit your
taste, look for her in any other you please; and, when found, take her.
Consult your own happiness, John, and in doing so you will consult mine.
I will not object to your marrying whomsoever you please. All that I
bargain for is, that she be a perfectly virtuous woman, and of
irreproachable character; and I don't think this is being unreasonable.
But do now, John, tell me at once," she added, in a graver tone, and
taking her son solemnly by the hand; "have you fixed your affections on
a woman of humble birth and station? I rather suspect this is the case."

"I have, then, mother," replied Sir John, returning his mother's
expressive and affectionate pressure of the hand--"the daughter of a
humble yeoman, a woman who----" But we will spare the reader the
infliction of the high-flown encomiums of all sorts which Sir John
lavished on the object of his affections. Suffice it to say, that they
included every quality of both mind and person which go to the adornment
of the female sex.

When he had concluded, Lady Gowan, who made the necessary abatements
from the panegyric her son had passed on the lady of his choice, said
that, with regard to his attachment, she could indeed have wished it had
fallen on one somewhat nearer his own station in life, but that,
nevertheless, she had no objection whatever to accept of Miss Harrison
as a daughter-in-law, since she was his choice. "Nay," she added,
smiling, "if she only possesses one-tenth--ay, one-tenth, John--of the
good qualities with which you have endowed her, I must say you are a
singularly fortunate man to have fallen in with such a treasure. But,
John, allow me to say that, old woman as I am, I think that I could very
easily show you that your prejudices, vulgar prejudices I must call
them, against the higher classes of society, are unreasonable, unjust,
and, I would add, illiberal, and therefore wholly unworthy of you. Does
the elegance, the refinement, the accomplishments, the propriety of
manner and delicacy of sentiment, to be met with in these circles, go
for nothing with you? Does----"

"My dear mother," here burst in Sir John, "if you please, we will not
argue the point; for, in truth, I do not feel disposed just now to argue
about anything. I presume I am to understand, my ever kind and indulgent
parent, that I have your full consent to marry Miss Harrison--that is,
of course, if Miss Harrison will marry me."

"Fully and freely, my child," said the old lady, now flinging her arms
around her son's neck, while a tear glistened in her eye; "and may God
bless your union, and make it happy! I would rather ten thousand times
see you marry such a girl as you have described, than that you should do
by her as many young men of your years and station would be but too
ready to do."

Sir John with no less emotion returned the embrace of his affectionate
parent, and, in the most grateful language he could command, thanked her
for her ready compliance with his wishes.

On the day following that on which the preceding conversation between
Sir John Gowan and his mother took place, the inmates of Todshaws were
surprised at the appearance of a splendid equipage driving up towards
the house.

"Wha in a' the world's this?" said Jeanie to her father, as they both
stood at the door, looking at the glittering vehicle, as it flashed in
the sun and rolled on towards them. "Some travellers that hae mistaen
their road."

"Very likely," replied her father; "yet I canna understand what kind o'
a mistake it could be that should bring them to such an out-o'-the-way
place as this. It's no a regular carriage road--that they micht hae
seen; an' if they hae gane wrang, they'll find some difficulty in
getting richt again. But here they are, sae we'll sune ken a' about it."

As Mr Harrison said this, the carriage, now at the distance of only some
twenty or thirty yards from the house, stopped, a gentleman stepped out,
and advanced smiling towards Mr Harrison and his daughter. They looked
surprised, nay confounded; for they could not at all comprehend who
their visiter was.

"How do you do, Mr Harrison?" exclaimed the latter, stretching out his
hand to the person he addressed; "and how do you do, Miss Harrison?" he
said, taking Jeanie next by the hand.

In the stranger's tones and manner the acute perceptions of Miss
Harrison recognised something she had heard and seen before, and the
recognition greatly perplexed her; nor was this perplexity lessened by
the discovery which she also made, that the countenance of the stranger
recalled one which she had seen on some former occasion. In short, the
person now before her she thought presented a most extraordinary
likeness to the fiddler--only that he had no fiddle, that he was
infinitely better dressed, and that his pockets were not sticking out
with lumps of cheese and cold beef. That they were the same person,
however, she never dreamed for a moment.

In his daughter's perplexity on account of the resemblances alluded to,
Mr Harrison did not participate, as, having paid little or no attention
to the personal appearance of the fiddler, he detected none of them; and
it was thus that he replied to the stranger's courtesies with a gravity
and coolness which contrasted strangely with the evident embarrassment
and confusion of his daughter, although she herself did not well know
how this accidental resemblance, as she deemed it, should have had such
an effect upon her.

Immediately after the interchange of the commonplace civilities
above-mentioned had passed between the stranger and Mr Harrison and his
daughter--

"Mr Harrison," he said, "may I have a private word with you?"

"Certainly, sir," replied the former. And he led the way into a little
back parlour.

"Excuse us for a few minutes, Miss Harrison," said the stranger, with a
smile, ere he followed, and bowing gallantly to her as he spoke.

On entering the parlour, Mr Harrison requested the stranger to take a
seat, and placing himself in another, he awaited the communication of
his visiter.

"Mr Harrison," now began the latter, "in the first place, it may be
proper to inform you that I am Sir John Gowan of Castle Gowan."

"Oh!" said Mr Harrison, rising from his seat, approaching Sir John, and
extending his hand towards him--"I am very happy indeed to see Sir John
Gowan. I never had the pleasure of seeing you before, sir; but I have
heard much of you, and not to your discredit, I assure you, Sir John."

"Well, that is some satisfaction, at any rate, Mr Harrison," replied the
baronet, laughing. "I am glad that my character, since it happens to be
a good one, has been before me. It may be of service to me. But to
proceed to business. You will hardly recognise in me, my friend, I
daresay," continued Sir John, "a certain fiddler who played to you at a
certain wedding lately, and to whose music you and your family danced on
the green in front of your own house the other night."

Mr Harrison's first reply to this extraordinary observation was a broad
stare of amazement and utter non-comprehension. But after a few minutes'
pause thus employed, "No, certainly not, sir," he said, still greatly
perplexed and amazed. "But I do not understand you. What is it you mean,
Sir John?"

"Why," replied the latter, laughing, "I mean very distinctly that _I_
was the musician on both of the occasions alluded to. The
personification of such a character has been one of my favourite
frolics; and, however foolish it may be considered, I trust it will at
least be allowed to have been a harmless one."

"Well, this is most extraordinary," replied Mr Harrison, in great
astonishment. "Can it be possible? Is it really true, Sir John, or are
ye jesting?"

"Not a bit of that, I assure you, sir. I am in sober earnest. But all
this," continued Sir John, "is but a prelude to the business I came
upon. To be short, then, Mr Harrison, I saw and particularly marked your
daughter on the two occasions alluded to, and the result, in few words,
is, that I have conceived a very strong attachment to her. Her beauty,
her cheerfulness, her good temper, and simplicity, have won my heart,
and I have now come to offer her my hand."

"Why, Sir John, this--this," stammered out the astonished farmer, "is
more extraordinary still. You do my daughter and myself great honour,
Sir John--great honour, indeed."

"Not a word of that," replied the knight--"not a word of that, Mr
Harrison. My motives are selfish. I am studying my own happiness, and
therefore am not entitled to any acknowledgments of that kind. You, I
hope, sir, have no objection to accept of me as a son-in-law; and I
trust your daughter will have no very serious ones either. Her
affections, I hope, are not pre-engaged?"

"Not that I know of, Sir John," replied Mr Harrison; "indeed, I may
venture to say positively that they are not. The girl has never yet,
that I am aware of, thought of a husband--at least, not more than young
women usually do; and as to my having any objections, Sir John, so far
from that, I feel, I assure you, extremely grateful for such a singular
mark of your favour and condescension as that you have just mentioned."

"And you anticipate no very formidable ones on the part of your
daughter?"

"Certainly not, Sir John; it is impossible there should."

"Will you, then, my dear sir," added Sir John, "be kind enough to go to
Miss Harrison and break this matter to her, and I will wait your
return?"

With this request the farmer instantly complied; and having found his
daughter, opened to her at once the extraordinary commission with which
he was charged. We would fain describe, but find ourselves wholly
incompetent to the task, the effect which Mr Harrison's communication
had upon his daughter, and on the other female members of the family, to
all of whom it was also soon known. There was screaming, shouting,
laughing, crying, fear, joy, terror, and amazement, all blended together
in one tremendous medley, and so loud, that it reached the ears of Sir
John himself, who, guessing the cause of it, laughed very heartily at
the strange uproar.

"But, oh! the cauld beef an' the cheese that I crammed into his pockets,
father," exclaimed Jeanie, running about the room in great agitation.
"He'll never forgie me that--never, never," she said, in great distress
of mind. "To fill a knight's pockets wi' dauds o' beef and cheese! Oh!
goodness, goodness! I canna marry him. I canna see him after that. It's
impossible, father--impossible, impossible!"

"If that be a' your objections, Jeanie," replied her father, smiling,
"we'll soon get the better o't. I'll undertake to procure ye Sir John's
forgiveness for the cauld beef an' cheese--that's if ye think it
necessary to ask a man's pardon for filling his pockets wi' most
unexceptionable provender. I wish every honest man's pouches war as weel
lined, lassie, as Sir John's was that nicht." Saying this, Mr Harrison
returned to Sir John and informed him of the result of his mission,
which was--but this he had rather made out than been told, for Jeanie
could not be brought to give any rational answer at all--that his
addresses would not, he believed, be disagreeable to his daughter,
"which," he added, "is, I suppose, all that you desire in the meantime,
Sir John."

"Nothing more, nothing more, Mr Harrison; she that's not worth wooing's
not worth winning. I only desired your consent to my addresses, and a
regular and honourable introduction to your daughter. The rest belongs
to me. I will now fight my own battle, since you have cleared the way,
and only desire that you may wish me success."

"That I do with all my heart," replied the farmer; "and, if I can lend
you a hand, I will do it with right good will."

"Thank you, Mr Harrison, thank you," replied Sir John; "and now, my dear
sir," he continued, "since you have so kindly assisted me thus far, will
you be good enough to help me just one step further. Will you now
introduce me in my new character to your daughter? Hitherto, she has
known me only," he said, smiling as he spoke, "as an itinerant fiddler,
and I long to meet her on a more serious footing--and on one," he added,
again laughing, "I hope, a trifle more respectable."

"That I'll very willingly do, Sir John," replied Mr Harrison, smiling in
his turn; "but I must tell you plainly, that I have some doubts of being
able to prevail on Jane to meet you at this particular moment. She has
one most serious objection to seeing you."

"Indeed," replied Sir John, with an earnestness that betokened some
alarm. "Pray, what is that objection?"

"Why, sir," rejoined the latter, "allow me to reply to that question by
asking you another. Have you any recollection of carrying away out of my
house, on the last night you were here, a pocketful of cheese and cold
beef?"

"Oh! perfectly, perfectly," said Sir John, laughing, yet somewhat
perplexed. "Miss Harrison was kind enough to furnish me with the very
liberal supply of the articles you allude to; cramming them into my
pocket with her own fair hands."

"Just so," replied Mr Harrison, now laughing in his turn. "Well, then,
to tell you a truth, Sir John, Jane is so dreadfully ashamed of that
circumstance that she positively will not face you."

"Oh ho! is that the affair?" exclaimed the delighted baronet. "Why,
then, if she won't come to us, we'll go to her; so lead the way, Mr
Harrison, if you please." Mr Harrison did lead the way, and Jane was
caught.

Beyond this point our story need not be prolonged, as here all its
interest ceases. We have only now to add, then, that the winning
manners, gentle dispositions, and very elegant person of Sir John Gowan,
very soon completed the conquest he aimed at; and Jeanie Harrison, in
due time, became LADY GOWAN.



THE AMATEUR LAWYERS.[3]


[Footnote 3: One of the characters of this tale may be easily recognised
by some of the older Edinburgh agents. It has been said of him, that one
day a travelling packman was seen to enter his farmhouse with a large
book under his arm, and in about a quarter-of-an-hour afterwards to
issue with a book of a very different appearance. The farmer had "swapt"
his family Bible for Erskine's "Institute of the Law of Scotland." From
that day he became litigious, and from that day he could date the
commencement of his ruin.--ED.]

The profession of the law is one of the highest respectability; the
study itself a sufficiently interesting one, nevertheless of its having
been called dry by those whose genius it does not suit, or by those
whose pockets have been made lighter by some of its technical behests;
yet we cannot conceive what there is, either in its language, its
technicalities, or its general practical operation, or its application,
to captivate the fancy of any one not connected with it professionally.
But, of a surety, the science has had many amateur attachés--men whose
whole souls were wrapped up in multiplepoindings, who loved summonses,
who were captivated by condescendences. Strange customers for the most
part--original geniuses in some of the queerest senses of the word. Born
with a natural propensity for litigation, possessed of a most
unaccountable aptitude for everything that is complicated and involved,
the law becomes with these persons, not only a favourite, but an
engrossing study--engrossing almost to the exclusion of everything else.
Law, in short, becomes their hobby. Of law they constantly speak; of law
they constantly think; of law, we have no doubt, they constantly dream.
The victims of this curious disease--for disease it is--are generally to
be found amongst the lower and uneducated classes, and are, for the most
part, men of confused intellect and large conceit, all of them, without
any exception, imagining themselves astonishingly acute, shrewd, and
clever fellows--sharp chaps, who know much more than the world is aware
of, or will give them credit for--screws for bungs of any
dimensions--dungeons of wit and wisdom. For these persons the jargon of
the law has charms superior to the sweetest strains that music ever
poured forth. They delight in its uncouthness and unintelligibility,
employ it with a gravity, composure, and confidence which, when
contrasted with their utter ignorance, or, at best, confused notions of
its meaning, is at once highly edifying and impressive.

Yet, notwithstanding of the natural tendencies of such persons to legal
pursuits and studies, they do not generally betake themselves to them
spontaneously, or without some original influencing cause. They will be
found, for the most part, to have been started in their legal career by
some small lawsuit of their own, and, being previously predisposed, this
at once inoculates them with the disease. From that moment to the end of
their natural lives they are confirmed, incorrigible lawyers. They have
imbibed a love for the science, a taste for litigation, which quits them
only with life. All which remarks we have made with the view of
introducing to the world, with the grandest effect possible, our very
good friend, Mr John Goodale, or, as the name was more generally and
more euphoniously pronounced by his acquaintances, Guidyill, who was
precisely such a person and character as we have endeavoured to picture
forth in this preliminary sketch with which our story opens.

Guidyill was a small laird or landed proprietor in the shire of Renfrew,
or, as it was anciently spelled, Arranthrough. He was a man of grave,
solemn demeanour, with a look of intense wisdom, which was hardly made
good by either his speech or his actions. It was evident that he was
desirous of palming himself on a simple world for a man of shining
parts, of great penetration and discernment, and profound knowledge. All
this he himself firmly believed he was, and this belief imparted to his
somewhat saturnine countenance a degree of calm repose, confidence, and
self-reliance particularly striking. In person, he was tall and thin, or
rather gaunt, with that peculiar conformation of face which has obtained
the fancy name of lantern-jawed. His age was about fifty-five. To
descend to items: the laird _always_ wore knee-breeches, and _never_
wore braces; so that the natural tendency of the former downwards being
thus unchecked, gave free egress to a quantity of linen, which, taking
advantage of the liberty, always displayed itself in a voluminous
semicircle of white across his midriff. A small, unnecessary exhibition
of snuff about the nose completed the _tout ensemble_ of the Laird of
Scouthercakes.

We have described Mr Guidyill (we prefer the colloquial to the classical
pronunciation of his name) as a small laird, and such he was at the
period we take up his history; but it had not been always so with him.
He was at one time the owner of a very extensive property; but lawsuit
after lawsuit had gradually circumscribed its dimensions, until he found
no difficulty in accomplishing that in ten minutes which used to take
him a good hour--that is, in walking round his possessions. Yet the
laird had still a little left--as much as would carry him through two or
three other suits of moderate cost; and this happiness he hoped to enjoy
before he died; for, like a spaniel with its master, the more the law
flogged him, the more attached he became to the said law.

Just at the particular moment at which we introduce Mr Guidyill to the
notice of the reader, he had no legal business whatever on hand--not a
single case in any one even of the petty local courts of the district,
to say nothing of his great field of action, the Court of Session. It
was a predicament he had not been in for twenty years before, and he
found it exceedingly irksome and disagreeable; for a dispute with some
one or other was necessary, if not to his existence absolutely, at
least most certainly to his happiness. The laird's last lawsuit, which
was with a neighbouring proprietor regarding the site of a midden or
dung-stead, and which, as usual, had gone against him, to the tune of
some hundred and eighty pounds, had been brought to a conclusion about a
year and a-half before the period we allude to; and, during all that
time, the laird had lived contrived to live, we should have said,
without a single quarrel with any one on which any pretext for a
law-plea could be grounded. Moreover, and what was still more
distressing, he was not only without a case at the moment, but without
the prospect of one; for he had exhausted all the pugnacity that was in
his vicinity. There was not now one left who would "take him up." But
better days were in store for the Laird of Scouthercakes--better than he
had dared to hope for. One thumping plea, a thorough cleaner out before
he died, was the secret wish of his heart, though unavowed even to
himself; and in this wish it was permitted him to be gratified.

Now, about the period to which we refer, there came a new tenant to the
farm of Skimclean, which farm marched with the remnant of Mr Guidyill's
property. For some days after this person, whose name was Drumwhussle,
had taken possession of his new farm, the laird kept a sharp look-out on
his proceedings, in the hope that he would commit some trespass or
other, or perpetrate some encroachment, which would afford standing-room
for a quarrel; but, to the great disappointment of our amateur lawyer,
no such occurrence took place. In no single thing did, or would,
Skimclean offend. No; Skimclean would not throw even a stick on his
neighbour's grounds, of whose exact lines of demarcation he seemed to
have a most provokingly accurate knowledge. Losing all hope of his new
neighbour's giving any offence spontaneously--that is, through
ignorance, or involuntarily, or purposely, or in any way--Scouthercakes
determined on visiting him, in the desperate expectation that an
acquaintanceship might throw up something to quarrel with--that
familiarity might breed, not contempt, but dislike--that friendship
might give rise to enmity. This conduct of the laird's certainly seems
at first sight paradoxical; but a little reflection, especially if
accompanied also by a little experience of the world, will show that it
was not quite so absurd or so contradictory as it seems. On the
contrary, such reflections and experience would discover, in the laird's
intended proceeding, a good deal of philosophy, and a very considerable
knowledge of human nature. Be this as it may, Mr Guidyill determined on
paying his new neighbour, Skimclean, a visit; and this determination he
forthwith executed. The latter, whom he had never had the pleasure of
seeing before, he found to be a little, lively, volatile person, of
great volubility of speech; like himself, a prodigious snuffer; and like
himself, too, possessed of a very comfortable opinion of his own
knowledge and abilities. In another and still more remarkable point in
character they resembled each other closely. This last resemblance
involved a rather singular and certainly curious coincidence between the
dispositions of the two worthies, and one which the laird, when he
discovered it, viewed with a very strange mixture of feelings. What
these were, and what was their cause, will be best left to appear in the
progress of our narrative.

On Mr Guidyill's having introduced himself to his new neighbour, and
after a little desultory conversation on various subjects had taken
place, but chiefly on the merits and demerits of the lands of
Skimclean--

"Mr Drumwhussle," said the laird, planting his stick in the ground
before him, and looking with deep interest on some trees that grew in
front of Skimclean's house, "it's my opinion that ye ocht to cut down
thae sticks. They shut oot yer licht terribly, man, and tak up a great
deal o' valuable grun."

"Ah, ha, laird, catch me there," replied Drumwhussle, with a knowing
laugh. "The trees do a' the mischief ye say; but, do ye no ken, that,
being but a tenant, I hae nae richt to cut them, my power being only
owre the surface, and that, if I did cut them, I wad be liable to an
action o' damages by the laird, wha wad inevitably recover accordin to
law. A' tacks, ye ken, are granted, '_propter koorum et kultoorum_'[4]
(ye'll perceive the Latin), an' the fellin o' trees, without consent o'
the proprietor, wad be a direck violation. Na, na, I ken better how to
keep my feet out o' thae law traps than that, laird."

[Footnote 4: Propter curam et culturam.]

We wish we could describe the look of amazement with which the laird
listened to this extraordinary outpouring of law and Latin--this
flourishing of his own weapons in his face. He was perfectly confounded
with it. It was a thing so wholly unexpected and unlooked for, to meet
with so accomplished a lawyer as Drumwhussle seemed to be in one of his
own class and standing, that it was some time before he could say
another word on any subject whatever. He was evidently struck with a
feeling of mingled respect and awe for his learned neighbour, who, he
perceived, had decidedly the advantage of him in the article,
Latin--this being a language with which the laird was not at all
conversant. Another consideration occurred to the laird, even in the
moment of his first surprise. This was, that, should a difference arise
between them, he had found in his new neighbour a foeman worthy of his
steel; and that, should they remain friends, they might be of service to
each other as legal advisers.

In the meantime, the "interlockitor," as the laird would have called the
series of legal sentiments which Drumwhussle had just delivered, was far
beyond the reach of his comprehension. He did not understand a word of
it, and neither could anybody else, we suspect; but, careful of exposing
his ignorance--

"Aweel, Skimclean," he said, looking very gravely, "I'm no sure but
ye're richt, and it may be as weel, after a', to let the trees stan whar
they are; but there's a bit land there," pointing to a patch of about an
acre and a-half, which lay low on the side of a small stream, "that I
wadna advise ye to crap; for there's no a year that it's no three months
under water."

"Ah ha, laird, but that's a _pluskum_,"[5] replied the vivacious and
acute Skimclean; "a case whar the owner o' the land is liable to the
extent, at ony rate, o' remittin a year's rent. It's a _pluskum_,
laird--that's Latin," added Skimclean, who always gave such intimation
to his auditors when he employed that language; from a shrewd suspicion,
probably, that it would not otherwise be readily recognised in the very
peculiar shape in which he presented it.

[Footnote 5: Plusquam tolerabile.]

"Aweel, I daur say ye're no far wrang there either," replied the laird,
now perfectly overwhelmed with the legal knowledge of his new neighbour.
"I daur say ye're no far wrang there either, but it's best to be
cowshous;" and, having delivered himself of this safe and general
sentiment, the laird looked wiser than ever, and shook his head with an
air of great intelligence. Hitherto, Scouthercakes, as the reader will
have observed, had made no display of his legal acquirements. He had
been too much taken aback by the sudden and unexpected effulgence of
those of Skimclean; but it was by no means his intention to allow the
latter to remain in ignorance of them. Availing himself of an early
opportunity, he discharged a volley of law terms at Skimclean, in which
the words Rejoinder, Multiplepoinding, Reclaimer, and, above all, the
phrase, "Revise the Condescendence," sounded most audibly; the latter
being an especial favourite of the laird's, who used it on all
occasions, on all matters indifferently, and, as everybody but himself
thought, almost always in the most absurdly inappropriate cases and
circumstances.

The effect on Skimclean, again, of the discovery of the laird's legal
knowledge was pretty similar to that which the latter had experienced in
similar circumstances, only that there was in the case of Drumwhussle a
secret feeling of superiority over the laird, in the matter of intimacy
with the science of the law. He, in short, considered the laird's
knowledge respectable, but his own considerably more so. Now, the laird
also, after his first surprise at his neighbour's acquirements had worn
off a little, began to think Skimclean fully more apt and ready than
profound. He considered his own depth, on the whole, rather greater.
Each, thus, while certainly honouring the legal knowledge of his
neighbour, enjoyed, at the same time, the comfortable conviction that he
was the superior man.

Having thus come to an understanding regarding each other's character,
and this having given rise to a friendly feeling on both sides, their
interview terminated in Drumwhussle inviting his new acquaintance into
the house, to partake of a little refreshment--an invitation which the
latter graciously accepted; looking forward to a feast of quiet,
deliberate legal discussion with his learned friend.

On entering the house--indeed, previous to entering it--Mr Guidyill was
struck with the singular neatness and good order which everywhere
prevailed--a point on which his inviter prided himself, and so much
pleased was he with it, that he could not refrain from openly expressing
his approbation.

"A' accordin to law, Skimclean," he said, looking around him with a
complimentary air of satisfaction; "a' accordin to law, I see."

"Ay, ay," replied his host, perfectly understanding the laird's
metaphorical laudation, and smiling complacently; "we aye try to keep
things in as guid order as possible. I look after everything mysel, and
see that a's done as it should be. That's the true way, laird."

"Nae doot o't, nae doot o't," said the latter. "Naething like revisin
the condescendence, Skimclean--eh!" he added, with an intelligent look.

"Right there, laird," replied Drumwhussle, "as honest Donald Quirkum,
the writer, ance said to me whan I consulted him anent a point o' law,
in the case o' Drumwhussle _versus_ Camlachie. 'Drumwhussle,' said he,
'Drumwhussle'----But I'll tell ye a' about it presently, laird," said
Skimclean, suddenly interrupting himself, to perform the duties of
hospitality towards his guest; "step ben, step ben." And he ushered the
laird into a little sitting-room in the back part of the house.

"Now, laird, what wull ye drink?" inquired Drumwhussle. "Wull ye tak a
drap o' cauld straik, or wad ye hae ony objection to a warm browst?"

"Weel, if equally convenient, I'll vote for the toddy," replied the
laird.

"I second the motion," said Skimclean, now proceeding to a closet in a
corner of the room, from which he shortly emerged with his arms and
hands loaded with bottles, glasses, jugs, and decanters, and all the
other paraphernalia requisite for the occasion. These arranged on the
table, flanked by an enormous cheese, and hot water supplied from the
kitchen, Drumwhussle commenced brewing _secundum artem_; and having
produced the desiderated beverage, handed over half a glass to the
laird, for his opinion as to its merits. The laird tasted, gave a short
suffocating cough, and, speaking at such intervals as the stifling
affection afforded--

"Re-revise the--the con-condescendence, Skimclean. Revise the--the
condescendence. It's far owre strong."

"It micht hae a waur faut, laird," replied Drumwhussle, "an' it's ane
that's easy mended," he added, filling up the jug with hot water. "Taste
him now, laird."

"Accordin to law," replied the other, emphatically, after smacking off
the half-glass submitted to him. "Accordin to law at a' points as
accords. Just the thing now, Skimclean."

The liquor thus approved of was immediately subjected to the process of
consumption, which its merits were so well calculated to insure for it,
and this at such a rate that the consumers very soon began to exhibit,
in their own persons, rather curious specimens of the effect of strong
drink on the animal economy. They began to speak thick and fast, and
both at the same time; their conversation chiefly turning on the various
actions and law proceedings in which they had from time to time been
engaged.

It was during this confabulation that Skimclean informed his guest of a
certain law-plea in which he was at the moment involved, and in which he
was ably supported by the astute Donald Quirkum, already alluded to.

"The case, ye see," said Skimclean, "the case, ye see, my frien, is jist
this:--In the place whar I was last, Craignockan, ane o' my laddies had
a bit gemm cock, a bit steeve fechtin wee beastie, yea, a deevil o' a
cratur. Aweel, ye see, it happened that our neebor the schulemaster had
anither, o' whilk he was sae proud that he seemed to think mair o't than
o' his wife. It was beyond a' doot a wonderfu' bird. His son brought
it--so at least he said--frae Sumatra, in the East Indies--something o'
the jungle-cock, or Jago cock species, _gawlus giganteus_[6] ye
ken--ye'll maybe no understand the Latin."

[Footnote 6: Gallus giganteus.]

"Deel an' it may choke ye, as the _gallows_ has dune mony a better man!"
interrupted the laird. "Purge the record o' a' bad Latin! Ha! ha!
Drumwhussle, I ken guid Latin frae dog-Latin or cock Latin, just as weel
as ye do. Purge the record, man, I say."

"Let me alane, man," replied Drumwhussle, impatiently; "ye interrupt my
story wi' your scraps o' misapplied learning. You should never insinuate
an ill motive in English. Do ye no ken lawyers never use the words 'bad
intention' in designating vice: they veil a' enormities in Latin--for
the craturs are sae pure an' delicate-minded that they couldna bear the
expression o' man's frailties in the vulgar tongue; _maelice
prepense--maelice prepense_ is the term you should hae used, man. But
letten that slip gang--for I excuse ignorance whar knowledge is so
difficult o' attainment--the cocks were brought face to face, an', like
true lawyers, they closed--no the record, for the craturs despised a'
condescendence o' grievances; they fought upon the mere libel an'
defence: a craw on each side _vivy vocey_; and till't they gaed wi' a
pluck seldom witnessed out o' the Parliament House. The upshot may be
easily predicted: weight, substance prevailed just as in the courts o'
justice--the 'midden,' a pound heavier than the Sumatra jungle-cock,
killed his opponent in five minutes; and Jock, lifting up the victor,
that crew a noble triumph in his arms, hurried awa, an' left the
dominie's cock lying a mere _kappit mortum_--like an interlocutor that's
allowed to become feenal because nae man can mak either head or tail
o't--on the ground, a corp, or, as Quirkum ca'ed it, a _corpus
delichtfu_."[7]

[Footnote 7: Corpus delicti.]

"Capital, capital," cried the laird. "We'll hae a plea, I hope, on the
ground o' damage. A better case for 'plucking' never came before the
fifteen."

"Ay, and that wi' a vengeance," resumed Drumwhussle. "Though the cock's
plea was feenal, a _sleeping_ or _dead case_, as lawyers ken, may
produce twenty living anes. The dominie valued his cock at the price o'
twenty guineas; he was to have been the _pawter_ o' a new breed (he
said) that he intended to produce in Scotland; an' the expense o'
bringing him frae Sumatra alane was at least the half o' that sum. Like
a sturdy litigant--gemm to the heels--I resisted the demand o' damage,
an' took my ground on the instant--alleging _preemo_, that the cocks
fought _sowy sponty_;[8] and, _secundo_, that the slaughtered cock was a
mere 'blue ginger;' and thus throwing the _onus_ o' proving the contrary
on the back o' the dominie."

[Footnote 8: Sua sponte.]

"A noble device," shouted the laird; "famous pleas in law. Even Corporal
Jooris[9] himsel could na hae ta'en his position better. But proceed,
proceed. I'm deein to hear the issue. Oh, that that plea had been mine!
The chancellor's wig wad hae bobbit owre't; for they say there's nae
stoure in it, as in the mealy, muddy _scratches_ in our Parliament
House. Come awa wi' the soul-stirring intelligence."

[Footnote 9: Corpus juris.]

"Ay, an' _pouch_-stirring too," rejoined Drumwhussle. "Weel, the dominie
was as guid gemm as his cock, an' awa he hied to Paisley, an' put the
case into the hands o' that clever deevil o' a cratur Jobbit, who,
_instanter_, sent me a summons, containing a preamble o' nineteen pages,
an' a conclusion o' three--seventy-five words a-page, according to my
calculation. I declare the screed made my vera een reel, it was sae
masterfully Latineezed, turned, interwoven, an' crammed wi' 'saids' and
'foresaids.' It set forth the said dominie as 'greeting' to the sheriff
for the loss o' his cock--a maist cunning an' loyal device o' Jobbit's,
wha dootless had an ee to the case going before the depute, an' then it
went on to narrate" (Drumwhussle drew out a copy of the summons) "that
'the complainer had commissioned the said bird or cock--along with a
female--which was of the species _gallus giganteus_, from the island of
Sumatra, where it is known by the natives of that island by the
scientific, or vulgar, or common appellative of _ayam bankiva_--all as
appeareth from Temmink's History of Cocks--and that the complainer's
intention or object, in so commissioning the said birds from that
distant region, was, that he might introduce into our country the
breed, which was supposed to be more full of blood and spirit than our
own breed of poultry, and had, moreover, the advantage of producing more
eggs--insomuch as the female laid all the year through, while the flesh
was whiter and more highly-flavoured, approaching, in this respect, to
that of the pheasant; that the expense of bringing the said birds from
Sumatra was ten guineas sterling; that the complainer had, by dint of
great ingenuity and perseverance, got the said birds naturalised as
completely as if they had been natural-born subjects of this realm, and
was on the very eve of reaping the fruits of his patriotic labours--the
fame of a breeder of a new species of poultry, and the emoluments of a
vender or seller of the same to the farmers and bird-fanciers of the
kingdom--when David Drumwhussle, tenant of Craignockan, actuated by
_malice prepense_, or by envy, or by fear that his own breed of poultry
(of the common or dunghill species) would be displaced and superseded by
the other and superior kind, or by some other motive or feeling,
implying _dolus_, did stir up and excite his son, John Drumwhussle, for
whose acts and deeds--being a minor, and not _forisfamiliated_--he was
liable, to bring--_vi aut clam_--his the said David Drumwhussle's cock,
and his the said complainer's, into a pugnacious attitude and position,
and to instigate the same to mortal combat, whereby the said cocks
having engaged _secundum suam naturam_ in a lethal _duellum_, did fight
till his, the complainer's, was left in the field dead; that the primary
consequence of this premeditated act was, that the female was rendered
mateless, unproductive, and useless, insomuch as her cohabitation and
society with cocks of this country would never be the means of producing
the species of _gallus giganteus_; the secondary, that the complainer
was deprived of a source of legitimate gain; and the tertiary, that the
country of Great Britain lost the superlative advantage of an improved
breed of poultry.' Thae are the premises."

"An' fine premises they are," replied Guidyill. "Jobbit never laid an
egg mair certain o' producin a weel-feathered bird for the lawyers."

"Ye're richt, laird, sae far," replied Drumwhussle; "but ye've yet to
learn that it had twa yolks--twa law-pleas cam out o't. But ye'll hear.
I needna read the conclusion--a' in the ordinary form, ye
ken:--therefore it ought and should be found and declared, and so forth;
and that I should be decerned to pay twenty guineas as the value of the
cock, and damages sustained for the loss of his expected progeny."

"Weel, weel, the defences, the defences," cried the laird, in eager
expectation. "Ye wad state the defence on the merits first, I fancy, an'
then the preliminary ane."

"The cart afore the horse, ye fule!" answered Drumwhussle, chuckling. "I
despised a' dilatory pleas, man: I cam to the marrow at ance, an'
instructed my agent, Mr Kirkham, or Quirkum, as he is generally styled,
for his exquisite adroitness an' cleverness, to use the very highest
flicht o' his inventive fancy--to consult Erskine an' Stair, an' even
Corporal Jooris--to dive into the Roman Pawndecs[10]--the deegest--the
discreets--every authority, in fack, he could think o'--no forgetting
Cock on Littletun; and send me a draft o' the defences _siny mory_.[11]
He did so, and oh, such a beautiful invention! They set forth, as a kind
o' flourish afore the real tug o' the tournay, that the libel was a big
lee frae beginning to end; that the pursuer's cock was, even in his ain
showing, an alien cratur, an' no entitled to the richts o' natural-born
subjects; that he interfered wi' the queens o' the seraglio o' my winged
potentate--making love to them, crawing to them, an' displaying his
gaudy wings to them, as if he were lord o' a' the feathered creation;
that the defender's cock, acting upon the weel-ascertained richt o'
defending conjugal property, slew him, on the strength o' the English
case, Jenkins _versus_ Lovelace, where a husband was found justified in
taking the life o' ane wha made love to his wife. In the second place,
it was denied _simpleeciter_ that the cock was o' the species _gawlus
giganteus_, being a mere 'blue ginger'--worth five shillins--o' the auld
breed o' Scotland, whilk cam frae the stock named by the Greek
play-writer, Mr Arrantstuffanes, 'the Persian bird.' We thus threw the
hail _onus proovandy_ on the back o' the dominie, an', by my faith, he
fand the weight o't!"

[Footnote 10: Pandects.]

[Footnote 11: Sine mora.]

"A noble defence--jist exactly what I wad hae written," ejaculated
Guidyill, in ecstasy. "Weel, ye wad revise the condescendence after
that, I fancy?"

"Before it was written, man?" responded Drumwhussle. "Na, na; ye ken
little aboot thae things. The dominie was ordered to condescend on what
he undertook, and offered to prove in support o' his libel, then we
answered, then he revised, then we revised, then he re-revised, then we
re-revised, then he made an addition, which we answered by a
corresponding addition, equal to a re-re-revision."

"Hurrah!" cried Scouthercakes.

"Then the record was purged, then closed, an' then we set to
proving--for the proof was conjunk and confident--wi' a' the spirit o'
the cocks themselves. Oh, it was gran' sport! The dominie brought twa
witnesses frae Lunnon, to swear to the cock having been brought frae
Sumatra; an' I brought frae Dumbarton, where the best cock mains in a'
Scotland are fought, twa cock-fanciers wha had seen the dominie's bird,
to swear that it was a 'blue ginger;' then there was sic proving, and
counter-proving, witness against witness; the dominie's servant swearing
to the instigation practised by Jock, my bothie men swearing an _aliby_;
valuators for the dominie fixing ae value, and valuators by me fixing
anither, till I fancy there were nae fewer than fifteen witnesses
a-side."

"Famous, famous!" cried the laird; "what a glorious main! Never was sic
a cocking sin the match in 1684, between Forfarshire and the Loudons.
You would be decreetit favourably, beyond a' doubt."

"Mr Guidyill," answered Drumwhussle, taking up his glass, "I was cast in
fifteen guineas, an' a' expenses."

"Gran'!" exclaimed the laird--"gran'! Jist as bonny a plea as a man
could wish. Ye protested an' appealed."

"I gaed straught to my agent, Quirkum," continued Skimclean, "and stated
the case to him, expressin, at the same time, my determination no to
submit to the iniquitous decision o' the sheriff. Aweel, what did Mr
Quirkum say or do, think ye, on my expressin mysel this way? He never
spak, but, gruppin me by the haun, looked in my face, an', after a
minnit, said, 'Drumwhussle, ye're a man o' spirit, an' I honour ye
for't. Ye've just now come oot wi' sentiments that do ye the highest
credit. I'll manage your case for ye, Drumwhussle. I'll let the dominie
hear such a cock crawin as he never heard in his life before.' Aweel, ye
see, we had the cock flappin his wings in the Court of Session in a
jiffy. And as bonny a case it was, so Mr Quirkum said, as ever he had
the haundlin o' in his life. Seemly in a' its bearins, he said, and as
clean's a leek on our side, a' as ticht an' richt as legal thack and
rape could mak it. But deil may care--wad ye believe it?--it was gien
against us here, too, cast wi' a' expenses. There was a dish o'
cockyleeky for ye, laird--cast wi' a' expenses!--an' they war nae
trifle, as ye may weel believe; for yon lawyer folk dinna live on muslin
kail."

The laird shook his head with a concurring emphasis, whose force of
expression was greatly increased by certain pungent reminiscences of his
own disbursements in this way.

"Aweel, there we are, ye see," continued Drumwhussle; "but we're no beat
yet. I'll hae't to the House o' Lords, laird, if I should pawn my coat
for't." And he struck the table with his fist, in token of his high
determination, till jugs and glasses rang again.

Delighted with his host's beautiful spirit of litigation, the laird, in
a corresponding fit of enthusiasm, got up from his seat with a full
bumper in one hand, and, extending the other across the table towards
Skimclean--

"Your haun, Drumwhussle," he said, briefly, but with great emphasis.
"Your haun, my frien. I honour ye--I respeck ye for thae sentiments."
Saying this, he grasped the extended hand of his host, who had risen to
meet his advances, shook it cordially, tossed off the contents of his
uplifted glass to his success in his law-plea, and concluded with a
piece of advice.

"Stick till't, Skimclean," he said--"stick till't as lang's there's a
button on your coat. That's my way. Kittle them up wi' duplies, and
triplies, and monyplies, and a' the plies that's o' them--if thae papers
are allowed in the Hoose o' Lords--an', if they stir a fit, nail them
wi' a rejoinder and dilatory defences. Gie them't het, Skimclean. Gie
them't het; an' if a' winna do, sweep your opponent clean oot o' the
court wi' a multiplepoinding an' infeftment. That's the legal coorse,
accordin to the new form o' process--no Mr Eevory's, or Mr Berridges, or
the like o' thae auld forms--quite oot o' date noo."

"Jist my ain notion o' things preceesely, laird," replied Drumwhussle.
"Although I say't that shouldna say't, I maybe ken law as weel as some
that hae mair pretensions. A' the law in the country, laird, 's no to be
fan' under puthered weegs." (This with a look of great complacency.) "My
lair's maybe nae great things, but my law's guid. I'll haud up my face
to that ony day. An' I'm thinkin, laird, ye ken twa or three things in
that way yersel."

"I should," replied the laird, with a knowing smile.

"But ye'll never hae been in the Court o' Session, maybe," said
Skimclean.

"Revise the condescendence there, Drumwhussle," replied the laird. "A
score o' times at the least. It wad hae been a bonny business, indeed,
if I had never had a case in the Court o' Session. A man wad hae but
sma' pretension to respeck, in my opinion, that hadna been there wi'
half-a-dizzen."

We here take the liberty of interrupting, for a time, the colloquy of
Skimclean and his guest, for the purpose of saying, that, although we
have given, as we imagine, a pretty correct account of their
conversation on the occasion to which our story refers, we have by no
means done equal justice to the subject of their potations. On this
point we have said little or nothing, an omission which we beg now to
supply, by stating most explicitly, that, during the whole time they
were engaged in exchanging the sentiments which we have just recorded,
they had been also unremitting in their attention to the toddy jug,
which had three several times sank to the dregs under their persevering
devotions. It is not necessary to add, we should suppose, that this feat
was not performed with impunity, nor that it had the effect of
considerably deranging the faculties of the two lawyers. All this will
be presumed--and, if it be not presumed, let it be so immediately; for
it was the fact.

Both Skimclean and the laird were now in a state of great felicity and
personal comfort. They swore eternal friendship to each other at least
fifty times over, and on each occasion sealed their amiable
protestations by a cordial shaking of hands. But it was not love alone
they expressed for each other. There was respect too, the most profound
respect for each other's abilities and legal knowledge, declared in no
very measured terms. In truth, if their own statements on this subject
could have been credited, no two lawyers had ever got together who made
so near an approach to Coke and Lyttleton. At an advanced period of the
evening, and just after the fourth jug had been put upon active service,
Skimclean again adverted to his famous game-cock case, and, having
mentioned that he was going to Paisley on the following day, to call on
Quirkum, on the subject of carrying the said case to the House of Lords,
asked the laird if he would have any objection to go along with him and
assist in the consultation which would then and there take place.

"It wad be a great favour, laird," said Skimclean; "for ye ken twa heads
are better than ane, and three than twa, an', moreover, laird, to tell a
truth, there's twa or three points o' law that I'm no jist sure that Mr
Quirkum's clean up to, an' I wad like a man o' your knowledge to be
present. I dinna ken but you an' me, laird, wad bother the best o'
them."

The laird smiled slightly but complacently at this conjunct compliment,
and modestly said that he had never seen the "law-wir yet that he
couldna bambouzle. An' as to gaun in wi' ye the morn to Paisley,
Skimclean," he added, "that I'll do wi' great pleasure." This was said,
most assuredly, in all sincerity; for, next to the happiness of having a
plea of his own, was that of being allowed to have what may be called a
handling of the pleas of others; especially if they had a dash of the
spirit of litigation in them, and gave promise of a protracted and
obstinate fight; and this the laird saw, with intuitive tact, was the
character of Skimclean's.

This matter then settled, the two worthies proceeded to the discussion
of various other subjects, until the laird, finding that he could hold
out no longer, suggested, in the midst of a series of violent hiccups,
that they should "clo-close the record, and re-re-revise the
condescendence." Saying this, the laird got up to his feet, leaned his
hands upon the table, and as he swung backwards and forwards in this
attitude, gazed on his friend opposite with a look of drunken gravity.
"We maun clo-clo-close the record," he repeated, "and re-re-revise the
condescendence."

"That's no accordin to the form o' process, laird," replied Skimclean,
making an effort, but an unavailing one, to get up also to his feet.
"That's no accordin to form, laird," he said; and now making a virtue of
necessity, by throwing himself back in the chair which he found he could
not conveniently leave.

"Revise the condescendence, Skimclean," rejoined the laird, after a
pause, during which he had been employed in an attempt to collect his
scattered senses; an operation which was accompanied by sundry odd
contortions of countenance, especially a strange working of the lips. "I
say, revise the condescendence, Skimclean. It's baith accordin to law
an' to form. Ye're no gaun to instruck me, I houp, in a law process."

"Instruck or no instruck," replied Drumwhussle, with great confidence of
manner, "ye're as far wrang as ever Maggy Low was, when you speak first
o' closin the record an' then o' revisin the condescendence. Onybody
that has ony law in them at a' kens that the revisin o' a condescendence
taks place _before_ the closin o' the record, an' no after't."

"Before or after't, it's guid law," said the laird, doggedly, and still
rocking to and fro, as he leaned on the table, and continued gazing with
lacklustre eye in the face of his learned brother opposite. "It's guid
law, I'll uphaud; an' it's my opinion, Skimclean--an' I'll just tell
ye't to your face--that for a' your blether o' Latin, I dinna think ye
hae a' the law ye pretend to. The thorough knowledge is no in ye. That's
my opinion."

The reply to this sneer at Skimclean's legal acquirements was of as
summary and expressive a nature as can well be imagined. It was the
contents of a jug--said contents being somewhere about a quart of
boiling hot water--discharged with great force and dexterity full in the
face of the "soothless insulter," accompanied by the appropriate
injunction--"Tak that, ye auld guse; an' if that's no law, it's
justice."

"Revise _that_ condescendence," replied the laird, making a tremendous
effort to seize his antagonist across the table, in which effort the
said table instantly went over with a tremendous crash, sending every
individual article that it had supported into a thousand pieces. In the
midst of the wreck and ruin thus occasioned lay the prostrate person of
the laird, who had naturally gone down with the table, and who now, as
we have said, lay floundering amongst the debris, composed of broken
bottles, jugs, and glasses, with which the floor was covered.

"A clear case o' damages," shouted Skimclean.

"Revise the condescendence in that partikler," said the laird, rising to
his feet, and exhibiting sundry bleeding scars on his lugubrious
countenance. "That cock 'll no fecht, Drumwhussle. The case is no guid
in law. It wadna stan a hoast in the Court o' Session."

"Wull _that_ stan, then?" exclaimed Skimclean, making a lounge at the
laird's face with his closed fist, which took full effect upon the
enemy's left eye.

"I maun mak a rejoinder to _that_," said the laird, now attacking his
host in turn, and with such effect, as finally to floor him, being,
although the older, by much the stronger man--"I maun mak a rejoinder to
_that_," he said, first striking at, and then grappling, his antagonist,
when a deadly struggle ensued, which ended in both coming to the floor
with an appalling thud.

The laird, although taken from his feet, still maintained his physical
superiority by keeping the foe under him. He was uppermost, and
uppermost he determined to remain; and this triumphant position he
further secured himself in by seizing Skimclean by the neckcloth, and,
by the vigour of his hold, subjecting him to a fac-simile of the process
of strangulation.

"What think ye o' my law, noo, ye puir empty pretender?" said the laird,
as he gave the other twist to Drumwhussle's neckcloth--"you and yer
trash o' Latin, that ye ken nae mair aboot, I believe, than a cow kens
about a steam-engine."

"That's aboot yer ain knowledge o' law, I'm thinkin," replied Skimclean,
chokingly, but boldly; and in gallant defiance of his present adverse
circumstances. "I wad match ony coo I hae in my byre against ye at a
defeeckwalt point o' law."

"Do ye fin' _that_?" said the laird, twisting Drumwhussle's neckcloth
with increasing ferocity. "There's law for ye. There's the strong arm o'
the law for ye. Doin summary justice on an ignorant, pretendin idowit."

How or in what way this fierce struggle between the two lawyers would
have terminated, we cannot tell, as it was not permitted to attain its
own natural conclusion. It was interrupted. At the moment that the laird
had renewed his efforts on Skimclean's neckcloth, which the reader will
observe was doing the duty of a bowstring, the wife of the latter rushed
into the apartment, exclaiming--

"The Lord hae a care o' me! what's this o't?--what's this o't? What are
ye fechtin aboot, ye auld fules?"

"A case o' hamesookin, Jenny--a decided case o' hamesookin," shouted
Skimclean. "A man attacked an' abused in his ain hoose. That's
hamesookin, an' severely punishable by law."

"Tuts, confound yer law?--mind reason and common sense," said
Skimclean's wife, seizing the laird by the coattails, and dragging him
off her prostrate husband, of whose _penchant_ for law she had long been
perfectly sick. "Mind reason an' common sense, an' let alane law to them
it belangs to."

Whether it was that the combatants had expended all the present
pugnacity of their natures in the contest which had just been brought to
a close, or that the soft tones of Mrs Drumwhussle's voice had suddenly
allayed their ire, we know not; but certain it is, that the faces of
both the lawyers exhibited, all at once, and at the same instant, a
trait of amiable relaxation, indicative of a return of friendly feeling,
together with something like a sense of regret, and perhaps shame for
what had passed. It was then, under this change of sentiment, that
Skimclean replied, laughingly, to his wife--

"Weel, weel, gudewife, if the laird here's willin, we'll close the
record, an' let byganes be byganes."

"Wi' a' my heart," said the former; "for it's a case that'll no stan
law. Sae we'll just revise the condescendence, an' tak better care for
time to come. This wark's no accordin to law."

"Neither law, nor reason, nor sense," said Mrs Drumwhussle, who was a
rattling, but good-natured, motherly sort of woman. "Ye're jist a pair
o' auld fules--that's what ye are. Noo, laird," she continued, as she
turned round to that worthy--who presented rather an odd spectacle; his
person exhibiting, at this moment, a strange combination of ludicrous
points--extreme tallness, extreme thinness, extreme drunkenness, extreme
snuffiness, if we may use the expression, and a countenance marked and
mangled in a manner that was absolutely hideous to look upon, although
the application of a little simple water would have shown that the said
countenance was not, after all, very seriously damaged--"noo, laird,"
said Mrs Drumwhussle, laying her hand kindly on the shoulder of her
husband's guest, "ye'll jist stap awa hame, like a guid honest man as ye
are, an' you an' the gudeman 'll meet the morn, whan ye're baith
yersels, an' ye'll baith be as guid freens as ever--maybe a hantle
better; for I've kent folk that never could understan ane anither till
they had a guid fecht."

To the general tone of this mediatory interference, neither Skimclean
nor the laird offered any objection. Nay, as we have already shown, it
met with their decided approbation; but there was one clause in it, as
they themselves would have called it, which both peremptorily resented.
This was the insinuation that they were tipsy.

"Revise that part o' the condescendence, Mrs Drumwhussle," said the
laird, in allusion to the said insinuation. "I could discuss a point o'
law as weel as ever I did in my life. I'm as soun's a bell, woman."

"A' ticht an' richt, laird. We're baith that," said Skimclean,
staggering towards his guest. "For my pairt, I never was better in my
life. Never mair correck. Jenny, ye're wrang--clean wrang, I'm perfectly
_compous_."

"Aweel, it's perfectly possible," replied the latter, laughing; "but I
canna be far wrang in advising the laird here to stap his wa's hame, an'
you, Davie, to slip to yer bed."

"Ou, no, no, ye're no wrang there," said both the lawyers together; and
in evident satisfaction with the circumstance of Mr Drumwhussle's having
deserted the charge of inebriety, and founding upon other
grounds--"ye're no wrang there," repeated the laird; "for it's gettin
late, an' my road's nane o' the straughtest."

Having been provided with his hat and stick, and an old tartan cloak,
which was his constant companion in all his wanderings, the laird now
commenced his retreat out of the house, and had gained the outer door,
when his host shouted after him--

"Mind the consultation, laird--mind yer promise o' gaun to Paisley wi'
me the morn."

"I'll revise that condescendence, and decern as accords," replied the
laird, turning half round, to deliver himself of this mystical response.
Then, resuming his progress, he was soon quit of the house, but not of
the premises altogether, as was made manifest by a certain awkward
interruption he met with before he had gone fifty yards. This was by a
huge watch-dog, within the reach of whose chain one of the laird's lee
lurches had brought him. Availing himself of the tempting advantage, the
dog bolted, with a growl like that of a tiger, out of his wooden
tenement, and, in a twinkling had the laird fast by the cloak, at which
he commenced tugging with a violence which all its owner's efforts to
counteract, by dragging himself in an opposite direction, could not
overcome. Finding his exertions this way vain, and that a continuance of
them would only insure the dissolution of his favourite outer garment,
the laird turned upon his enemy, and, making some hits at him with his
stick--"Desert the diet, ye brute; an' bring yer action in a regular
form, an' accordin to law," he exclaimed, abruptly; and, by a dexterous
movement, avoiding a snap at his leg, which the dog at this moment
made--"Tak yer mittimus," he said, discharging another violent blow at
the animal, which, however, had only the effect of increasing the
latter's ferocity; for the dog now fairly leaped on his back, and
seizing him by the neck of the coat behind, laid him, in an instant,
prostrate in the mud. Having thus got the laird down, the dog, without
offering him further injury, planted a fore-leg on either side of him,
and, with his muzzle within half-an-inch of his face, commenced a series
of growls, "not loud, but deep," that indicated anything but a friendly
feeling towards his victim.

Even in these circumstances, however, the laird's deep sense of the
propriety of proceeding strictly "according to law" in all cases did not
desert him. Looking steadily at the dog, he thus addressed him, in a
clear, loud voice, imitating, as nearly as he could, the tones of a
court crier:--

"I, John Guidyill, Laird o' Scouthercakes, summon, warn, and charge you,
Skimclean's dug, to compear before His Majesty's justices o' the peace
for the shire o' Renfrew, within their ordinary court-place, in Paisley,
upon the 12th day o' October, 1817, at eleven o'clock forenoon, to
answer, at the instance o' the above-designed Laird o' Scouthercakes,
for an illegal assault made on the said laird's person, on the nicht o'
the 2d day o' October, in the aforesaid year, or in the month o'
September preceding, or the month o' November following. This I do on
the 2d day o' October, one thoosan aucht hunner an' seventeen years,
with certification as effeirs. John Guidyill.--There, noo, ye're
regularly ceeted," added the laird; "sae desert the diet for the
present; an' see that ye mak punctual compearance in the hoor o' cause."

Having thus delivered himself, the laird made another violent effort to
free himself from his captor, and to regain his feet. But, finding this
vain, he commenced a series of shouts for assistance, that had the
effect of bringing Mrs Drumwhussle and a formidable body of her
retainers to the rescue. By the aid of this friendly detachment, the
laird was immediately relieved from his perilous situation. On regaining
his feet--

"I tak ye a' witnesses," said the laird, "hoo I hae been abused wi' that
infernal brute o' yours; an' it's my opinion that I hae a guid case
baith against Skimclean an' his dug. If richtly argued, an action o'
damages wad lie, in my opinion, against them baith; an' decreet wad
follow, accordin to law, decernin the ane to be hanged, an' the ither to
be mulcted o' a soum not exceedin fifty puns sterlin, as law
directs--that's my opinion o' the case. But I'll revise the
condescendence, an' let Skimclean ken the result the morn."

Saying this, the laird gathered his cloak, in which there were now three
or four tremendous rents, around him, and stalked, or rather staggered
away, on his progress home, which he reached in safety, and without
meeting with any further interruption.

Faithful to his promise, and oblivious of all causes of difference with
his host of the preceding night--an obliviousness for which a night's
sleep and a return to sobriety, co-operating with the irresistible
temptation of being permitted to interfere with the latter's law-plea,
will sufficiently account--the laird waited, on the following day, on
Skimclean, and announced his readiness to accompany him to Paisley, as
had been previously arranged between them. Skimclean having, in turn,
expressed his sense of the obligation, the two lawyers shortly after set
out for the town just named--a distance of from five to six miles, which
they beguiled with learned discussions on the various points of law that
had come within the range of their respective experiences. On reaching
Paisley, our two worthies directed their steps to the residence of Mr
Quirkum, whom they luckily found at home. This worthy limb of the law
was a stout, burly personage, with a loud voice, and tolerably confident
manner, although it was pretty generally alleged that his skill in his
profession was by no means very profound. This lack of legal knowledge,
however, was compensated by a bold bearing, an unhesitating promptitude
of decision, an utter fearlessness in delivering an opinion, whether
right or wrong. Such, then, was the gentleman to whom Skimclean
introduced the laird, as "an intimate frien, wha kent twa or three
things in the law line, an' whom he had jist brocht in to gie him an
inklin o' what was gaun on in the gemm-cock case, in the whilk, he bein
a near neebor, he took a freinly interest."

"Glad to see your _learned_ friend, Skimclean," said Quirkum, who
affected the being a bit of a wag in his own way. "He'll perhaps help us
with a little useful advice, which, you know, is always welcome."

And Quirkum rubbed his hands with a sort of professional glee, and
chuckled facetiously at his own banter. Not perceiving the irony of the
lawyer's remarks, the laird smiled complacently, and said--

"That he didna pretend to ony very great skeel in law matters, although
he had had some experience in that way, too. But that he wad be very
glad to gie ony hints that micht appear to him, on revisin the
condescendence in his frien Skimclean's case, to be likely to be o'
service."

"Muckle obliged, I'm sure, laird," said Drumwhussle; "an' sae is my
frien Quirkum here, I daresay." Then addressing himself to the latter,
"Wad ye be sae guid, noo, as gie oor frein here an inklin o' oor case. I
hae explained to him the gruns o' oor action; but ye can let him mair
fully into the merits o' the case."

Now, Quirkum, although, as already said, no great lawyer, was by no
means destitute of common sense. In fact, he was rather clever in a
general sort of way, and this cleverness enabled him to see at once what
kind of a character the laird was. Skimclean he knew well before, and
according to this knowledge he acted on the present occasion. He rattled
over a given quantity of law terms, galloped through two or three
varieties of legal processes, and concluded by asking the laird's
opinion of what they had done, what they were doing, and what they
should do. Confounded with the volubility of Quirkum, of whose oration
he did not comprehend one word, and yet unwilling to acknowledge his
difficulty, the laird adopted the safe course of merely shaking his
head, and looking wise. For some seconds he uttered not a word. At
length--

"It seems to me a gey steeve case," he said. "There's twa or three
points in't that wad require consideration, an' on the whilk I wadna
consider myself jist free to gie an aff-haun opinion. Noo, this bein the
case, I'll jist revise the condescendence in my ain mind, an' gie my
frien, Skimclean here, the benefit o' the process at anither meetin."

This Quirkum thought pretty well from a man whom he perfectly knew did
not understand a word of what he had said; and he knew this, because he
had not understood a word of it himself. Not being possessed of this
important secret, however, Skimclean thought the laird's remarks highly
creditable to his prudence; and, having expressed himself to this
effect, concluded by inviting Quirkum and his brother lawyer to adjourn
with him to the Brown Cow Inn, to "tak a bit chack o' dinner;" adding
facetiously, "that, though law was a very guid thing, it wadna fill the
wame."

The laird smiled, and Quirkum laughed outright at the sally, and both at
once accepted the invitation by which it was associated. Acceptation was
speedily followed by accomplishment. In little more than a
quarter-of-an-hour after, the whole three were seated around a
comfortably-covered table in a small, snug back-parlour in the Brown Cow
Inn. Dinner despatched, tumblers were filled up, and a very pleasant
career of talking and drinking commenced, and continued without
interruption for somewhere about a couple of hours. At the end of this
period, however, a circumstance occurred which somewhat disturbed the
quiet sociality of the party. A person, evidently the worse of drink,
unceremoniously entered the room, and, seemingly unconscious that he was
intruding, deliberately planted himself in a chair directly opposite the
laird. It was some seconds before he appeared to recognise any of the
party--as, indeed, it was hard he should, for he knew and was known to
none of them, but one. This one was our friend Guidyill, and him he knew
to his cost; the laird having once defeated him in a law-plea about a
certain pathway which passed through the corner of a field on the
farmer's property. For the laird, therefore, this man, whose name was
Moffat, entertained anything but a friendly feeling. It was, however,
some little time before he was aware of his being in the presence of his
ancient enemy on the present occasion, the liquor he had swallowed
having considerably impaired his powers of discernment. These, however,
at length helped him to a knowledge of the fact; and, when they had done
so--

"Ho, ho, laird, are _ye_ here?" he exclaimed, with a look and manner in
which all the grudge he bore Guidyill was made manifest. "Ony law-pleas
in the win' 'enow, laird--eh?"

"Was ye wantin ane?" said the laird, coolly. "I thocht I had gien ye
aneugh o' that."

"Maybe ye hae, an' maybe no," replied Moffat. "But there's some things I
ken, and some things I dinna. I dinna ken what ye're guid for; and I ken
that ye're the biggest aul' rogue in the County o' Renfrew--a litigious,
leein, cheatin rascal."

"Revise that condescendence, frien," replied the laird. "Mr Quirkum and
Skimclean, I tak ye to witness what that man has said. Defamation o'
character as clean's a leek--a thumpin action cut and dry. I tak
instruments in your hauns, Mr Quirkum, an' employ you to do the needfu'
in this case. Ye baith distinctly heard what was said, an' 'll testify
to the fact when ca'ed upon in due coorse o' law."

Both Quirkum and Skimclean at once declared their willingness to do
so--the latter from a wish to serve his friend, the former from a wish
to serve himself, as he saw in the affair something like the promise of
a very tolerable job.

In the meantime, Moffat, rather alarmed at the formal and business-like
manner in which his complimentary remarks on the laird's character had
been taken up, first endeavoured to back out of the scrape, and, in
default of success in this, sneaked out of the room, leaving the laird
an infinitely happier man than he had found him; for he was now provided
with a most unexceptionable ground for an action-at-law. It was a most
unexpected piece of good fortune; chance having done for him in a moment
what a long period of anxiety, directed to the same end, had failed to
accomplish. It was truly delightful, and the laird _was_ delighted,
delighted beyond measure. But, alas! by how frail a tenure is all
earthly felicity held! By how frail a thread is life itself suspended!
We make the remark, and the sequel illustrates it.

The laird having given instructions on the spot to Quirkum to commence
an action immediately against his defamer, the party broke up. The
professional member repaired to his own house, and the laird and
Skimclean mounted the Greenock coach, which passed within a short
distance of their respective residences. Fatal proceedings. The coach
was overturned, and the laird, falling on his head, received an injury
which, in half-an-hour, proved fatal to him. Skimclean, more fortunate,
escaped with some slight bruises. The latter was the first to come to
the poor laird's assistance after the vehicle had capsised. He found him
lying on his face on the road, bleeding profusely, and apparently
insensible. On turning him round, however, and raising him up a little,
he opened his eyes, and, recognising Drumwhussle, said, in a slow and
scarcely audible tone--"The record's closed wi' me, Skimclean. I hae
gotten my mittimus. Fate has decerned against me. It was an irregular
summons; but it maun be obeyed, for a' that."

The poor laird was now conveyed to an adjoining house, where he was
assiduously attended by his friend, Skimclean, to whom his last request
was, that he would consult Quirkum, and see whether it would not be
competent for him, Skimclean, to carry on the action against Moffat
after his own decease. Shortly after making this request, the poor laird
sank into a state of insensibility; and, just before he expired, having
lain for some time previously without moving, scarcely breathing, he
began muttering, evidently in delirium, something which the bystanders
could not make out. Skimclean stooped down to catch the words. They were
quivering on his lip, and proved to be, "_Clo-clo-close the Record_."



THE PROFESSOR'S TALES.



FAMILY INCIDENTS.


There is a beautiful glen in Dumfries-shire, which I would willingly
point out to any as the very beau-ideal of all glens whatever. It is, in
fact, entirely surrounded by high grounds, rising ultimately, towards
the north in particular, into hills, or, more properly speaking,
mountains, making part of the Queensberry range. In the centre of this
glen, or vale, there is a round and conical green eminence, around which
a small mountain-stream winds and wanders, as if unwilling to encounter
the tossings and turmoil of the linn and precipitous course beneath. I
could never behold, or even think, of this snug quietude in the bosom of
unadulterated nature, without, at the same time, considering it as
emblematic, in a striking degree, of man's experience in life. In
infancy and youth all is snug, sunny, and peaceful as this little
sheltered stream; but the linns and precipices of after-life assimilate
but too closely to the foam, and tossing, and tumbling of the passage
beneath. On the summit of that grassy mound, there once stood a thatched
cottage, with which my story is connected.

It was evening, or rather twilight, or, as emphatically expressed in
Scottish dialect, it was the "gloaming," when Janet Smith, a poor widow
woman, sat in her own doorway--

    "E'en drawing out a thread wi' little din,
    And beaking her auld limbs afore the sun."

A large grey cat occupied the other side of the passage, and a few hens,
with the necessary accompaniment, clucked and chuckled, and crowed
around. Janet sat there in her solitude, an old, infirm, and
comparatively helpless creature; but she was wonderfully contented and
happy. Her own industry supplied her little wants; and she was
protected, in a free house and kail-yard, by Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick,
the princely and humane laird of Closeburn. The wheel had just ceased
its revolution, and her spectacles had just been assumed, with the view
of reading, by the light of a cheery spark, her evening chapter. A cake
of oat-bread was toasting at the fire, and a bowl of pure whey was set
upon a stool, when Janet's ear was arrested by the approach of a
horseman, who with difficulty urged his steed up the somewhat
precipitous ascent. The horseman had no sooner attained the doorway,
than he alighted, and giving his horse to be held by a little urchin,
whom he had beckoned from the wood for this purpose, he was at once in
the presence of the aged inmate of this humble dwelling. The scene I
shall never forget; for I was, in fact, the little boy whom he had
enlisted in his service, by the tempting reward of sixpence. The
horseman was tall and well-built; he might be about fifty years of age,
and every way wearing the garb and the aspect of a gentleman. Having
advanced towards the old woman, he looked steadily and keenly into her
face, while his bosom heaved, and the tears began to indicate deep and
tender emotion. The old woman seemed petrified with astonishment, and
fell back into her arm-chair, as if some one had rudely pushed her down
into it. At last, old Janet found utterance in these words, pronounced
in a quavering and almost inarticulate voice, "In the name of God, who
or what art thou?" These words, however, had not been pronounced, when
the stranger had already dropped down on his knees, and had actually
flung himself into the arms of his mother. Yes, of his mother--for so it
proved to be, that this was the first meeting betwixt mother and child
for the space of upwards of forty years. The old woman's mind seemed for
a time bewildered. She endeavoured to clear her eyes, pushed the
stranger feebly from her, looked him intensely in the face for an
instant, and then, uttering a loud scream, became altogether
insensible.

"Oh, what shall I do!" exclaimed the stranger; "what have I done? I have
murdered--I have murdered the mother that bore me! Oh, that I had staid
at Brownhill inn till morning, and had apprised my poor parent--alas! my
only parent--of my approach!"

Whilst he was ejaculating in this manner, the old woman's lips began to
resume their usual colour, and she opened her eyes and her arms at once,
exclaiming, in an agony of transport--

"My son! oh, my son! My long-lost, long-dead, long-despaired-of son!"

The scene now became more calm and rational. The stranger passed, with
his mother, into the humble dwelling. I tied the horse to the
door-sneck, and followed, more from curiosity than humanity. The
stranger sat down on what he termed his old creepy stool, from which, in
days long past, he had taken his porridge. He drew his mother nearer and
nearer him, kissed her again and again, and the tears fell fast and full
over his manly and withered cheeks; and, ever and anon, as old Janet
would eye her tall and manly son, she would exclaim, looking into his
face at all the distance which her withered arms could place him--

"Ay, me, an' is that my wee Geordie?"

The facts of Geordie's history I have often listened to with more than
boyish interest; for this stranger ultimately took up his abode in a
beautiful cottage, built on the spot where his original dwelling stood;
and, as I came and went to Closeburn School, Mr George Smith would take
me into his parlour, and discourse with me for hour after hour, and day
after day, on all the varied incidents of a stirring and eventful life.
His father died early, having lost his life by the fall of a tree which
he was assisting in cutting down, or felling, as it is termed. George
was a first-born, and, indeed, an only child; and the kindness of the
laird, with the industry of his mother, combined to rear him into
boyhood. Being, however, under no paternal authority, he became wild and
wayward, and, ere he had gained his thirteenth year, he was a greater
adept in fishing, orchard-breaking, and cock-fighting, than in Ovid and
Virgil. It was his early fortune to become acquainted with an old
sailor, who had been in various engagements, particularly in that
betwixt Rodney and De Grasse, in the western seas. This sailor, whose
name was Bill Wilson, and whose trade in his old age was that of
smuggling tea and brandy from the Solway to the Clyde, used to fill his
head with adventure, and daring purpose, and successful execution. He
had listened, he said, for hours to Bill's account of niggers, and
buccaneers, and dare-devils, who fed on gunpowder, and walked,
whistling, amidst cannon and musket shots. And then, prize-money, and
Plymouth, and fun, and frolic, all night long! The thing was
irresistible; so, with a letter in his pocket from Bill to an old
comrade in the Isle of Man, then the centre of smuggling, George Smith
took a moonlight leave of his mother, and his youthful associates, and
the bonny braes of Dunsyette, and was on board a smuggler at Glencaple
Key ere day dawned. He was conveyed, in the course of forty-eight hours,
to the Isle of Man, and fairly stowed into the warehouse of Dick
Davison, in the neighbourhood of the town of Douglas. His first
adventure was the landing of a cargo of French brandy in the Bay of
Glenluce; but the night was dark and stormy, and the boat upset; and,
according to a published account, all in the boat--namely, three
souls--had perished. The fact, however, was, that, whilst clinging to
the inverted boat, he had been picked up by a West Indian ship from
Greenock, which had been driven into the bay by stress of weather, and
carried out incontinent, as no land could be made, to the island of
Jamaica. In the meantime, Bill Wilson thought proper to get sick, and to
die, and to confess the whole truth, with the dreadful catastrophe, to
the poor distracted mother.

When George arrived off Kingston, in Jamaica, he resolved upon pushing
his way, in one course or another, upon land; so, having bid his captain
good-by, and thanked him sincerely for the small trifle of saving his
life, he set his foot on shore, almost naked, friendless, penniless. As
he entered Kingston, he encountered a runaway steed, which, with a young
lady screaming on its back, was plunging forwards, and entirely without
control. George, acting on a natural impulse, threw himself in the way
of the unruly animal, and, by getting hold of the bridle, at last
brought it up; but not without several severe bruises, as he hung
betwixt its fore-feet, unable, for want of weight, all at once to check
the horse's career. The father of the young lady had now overtaken them;
and, having alighted, extricated first his daughter, and then poor
George Smith, from their perilous position. The young lady, who had in
fact sustained no bodily injury, was loud in praise of him who, by his
promptitude and intrepidity, had rescued her, in all probability, from
much serious injury, or even from death; and George was immediately
invited to accompany the party (for there was a well-mounted servant
likewise) home to their villa, in the neighbourhood of the town. As they
walked slowly (the young lady refusing to mount anew) up the rising
ground to the south of Kingston, George had sufficient time to unfold
the particulars of his short but eventful history; and to interest the
father not less by his good sense and sagacity, than he had the daughter
by his intrepidity and self-devotion. In a word, George found favour in
the great man's eyes, and was introduced to the overseer of an extensive
plantation, with instructions to have him clothed, employed as a clerk
or slave-driver, and properly attended to in all respects. This seeming
accident George used always to consider as one of those arrangements of
divine Providence, by which good is brought out of seeming evil; and a
total destitution of all the necessaries of life was in his case
prevented. For three years, George continued to act on these
plantations, receiving many acts of kindness from his really humane
employer; and waxing into vigorous manhood, without seasoning fever, or
any disease whatever. It was Mr Walker's habit (such was the name of his
benefactor) to have George up with him to dine every Saturday, when he
had renewed opportunities of becoming acquainted with the young lady
whom he had rescued; and who was now budding sweetly into the perfect
and accomplished woman. The distance in point of wealth, and
consequently station (in a country where wealth is the only rank),
betwixt George and Miss Walker, kept the eyes of the parent long blind
to the actual position of affairs. But true it was, and of verity, that
Miss Walker's heart was fairly won, and George's was as fairly lost,
without one word on the subject of love having been exchanged on either
side. Wonderful, unsearchable passion!--the electric fluid does not more
universally penetrate nature herself, than does this passion the whole
framework of society; and yet the ethereal agency is not more remote and
inscrutable in its workings and doings, than in love--

    "Sae, lang ere bonny Mary wist,
    Her peace was lost, her heart was won."

It was the employment of Miss Walker, on warm, yet refreshing evenings,
to sit in her open verandah or balcony, playing on the harp, and wooing
all the sea-breezes with the witchery of sweet sounds. To George Smith,
who had never been accustomed to such refined and overpowering
entertainment, this performance and exhibition (for what is there in
nature so graceful as a fine female hand and arm sweeping the strings of
the harp?) was perfect magic. A thousand times, as he sat and gazed,
trembling all over, he felt inclined to grasp the fair performer, harp
and all, to his bosom; and to squeeze them incontinently into himself.
Again and again he has arisen, and partly withdrawn, as one would from a
house on fire. Nor was Miss Smith, on her part, insensible to the
presence of a youth, uncommonly handsome, who had so early recommended
himself to her good graces. Her walks and rides over the plantation were
frequent; and she took particular pleasure in observing the progress of
that part of her father's property over which George Smith more
immediately presided. Her questions and inquiries were truly
astonishing; and she seemed as anxious to learn all about the process of
cane-cutting and sugar-boiling, as if her own happiness had depended on
this knowledge. But George was conscientious; and although loving the
"bonny lassie" (as he said) to distraction, he understood it as a crime
worse than that of witchcraft--namely, of ingratitude--to disclose his
feelings. For some months, matters were in this position--the young
lady's health manifestly suffering, and George evidently visited by
strange and unaccountable fits of silence and mental absence. The
overseer, who happened to be more quick-sighted than even the father,
from repeated observations, guessed at the truth; and, thinking it his
duty, immediately apprised Mr Walker of his suspicions. As Mary had been
destined for some time to another--to a neighbouring planter, whose
property was adjoining to that of Mr Walker--steps were immediately
devised to prevent the lovers from coming to any more definite
understanding on the subject; and, one night, when George had just
fallen asleep, after having penned a few lines to "Mary, flower of
sweetest hue," &c., he was forcibly seized upon, manacled, and carried
on board a ship, which was lying at some distance from the harbour. By
daylight the vessel was under weigh, and, ere noon, not a blue hill of
Jamaica could be seen from the deck of His Majesty's ship Spitfire. It
was needless to remonstrate or grumble--his fate, and the cause of it,
were but too manifest; and he almost felt inclined to justify an act,
which at once put it out of his power to prove ungrateful to so kind a
benefactor. Still, still the bright idea of Mary haunted his
imagination, and would not depart from his heart.

In this frigate of forty-four guns, there was a countryman, and even
countryman of his own; who, having more recently left the sweet banks of
the silver Nith, was enabled to give him more recent information
respecting affairs in Drumfries-shire; and from him he learned that his
poor mother's heart had broken, and that she was reported to have died a
few days before he had left the place. This distressed George
exceedingly; for, though he had been an idle and wayward boy, under more
strict management it might have been otherwise; and he manifestly bore
in his bosom a kind and a feeling heart. But who can recall the past, or
the dead from their appointment? So, in the active discharge of duty as
a seaman, and in the enjoyment of the company of one or two intimate
companions, George confessed that he soon chased, in a great measure,
the mournful tidings from his recollection. It was not so easy, however,
to get rid of Mary: and he used to entertain his friend Tom Harkness
with all the outs and ins, the hopes and fears, the pulsations and
ecstasies, of his love passion. In this ship, George sailed first to Rio
Janeiro, then across the Atlantic to Cape Town, back again to the
Azores, and ultimately, by the coast of France, into Plymouth. Although,
during the whole of these voyages, they had no windfalls, no prizes, yet
his pay had accumulated, and he landed with fifty guineas in his pocket.
Having no friend or home, as he now conceived, to return to, he
immediately took coach for London, resolved to make the most, in sailor
phrase, of his fifty guineas. Over this part of Mr George Smith's
history he himself ever preserved a veil; but I could easily gather,
that his conduct, during four weeks spent in London, was, like that of
many others similarly situated, anything but prudent, moral, or
praiseworthy. Having at last got rid of the yellow boys, he bethought
himself of returning to Plymouth, and of obtaining a berth as purser, if
possible, in one of the many ships-of-war then lying in that port. When
on his way down to Plymouth, he became the fellow-traveller, in the
stage-coach, of a lady of a _certain age_, fair, fat, and forty, who was
on a visit to a relative in the neighbourhood of Portsmouth. As his
manners and person were both agreeable, he contrived to get into the
good graces of the fair dame, who was yet ignorant of the "betters and
the worse" of matrimony. So much was the buxom damsel taken with her
travelling companion, that she invited him to visit her at "View
Cottage," about a mile from Plymouth. This invitation was willingly
accepted of--the visit was paid, the reception was most flattering, and,
in the course of a fortnight, George was in possession of the charming
Miss Higgenbottom, with one thousand pounds for her portion. With this
money and the wife, George contrived to spend a couple of months at a
place near Exeter, as unhappily as possible. His wife was the daughter
of a rich butcher in Whitechapel, and as unlike her husband in tastes,
temper, and pursuits, as possible. She was, moreover, miserably addicted
to the bottle, which, with the help of a sufficient quantity of opium,
brought her to the grave in the course of the time mentioned. As George,
during this period, had lived upon the principal of his wife's money, he
was just now where he was before--ready to step on board ship, and to
push his fortune. On board ship, therefore, he went, and was immediately
in the western seas, keeping a sharp look-out after some privateers,
which had been, for some time past, harassing our traders, and making
prizes of our merchantmen. At this stage of his narrative, the hero of
my tale used to get so animated, that I can still recall nearly the very
words which I have heard, I am sure, fifty times at least.

"We had steered off and on for more than a month, betwixt Demerara and
St Domingo, all along the stretch of the Leeward Islands. Our commander,
Captain Broughton, was beginning to pet a little at our inactivity, and
to thrust the tobacco into his left instead of his right cheek--a sure
mark that he was out of tune. At last a sail appeared on the horizon,
which, from her rigging, seemed of a suspicious character, and the
orders were immediately issued to bear down upon her. As we neared, she
hoisted British colours, and slipped quietly across our bows.

"'Oh ho!' exclaimed old 'Broughty;' 'none of your tricks upon
travellers, my lad--you are no more British than I am a kail-stock; and
that we will very soon ascertain, by putting a few homethrust questions
to you.' So saying, he ordered two shots to be fired across her bows.
Upon finding that we were disposed to grapple with her, she instantly
hoisted her own colours, and sent a broadside right across our quarters.
The battle now began in good earnest, and, for a full half-hour, we
bowled away as if all hell had been on deck. When the smoke cleared a
little, we could see that we had disabled our adversary, by shooting
away part of his rigging; and the captain's orders were to arm and board
instantly. We rushed on board like furies; but, in the desperate
struggle, our captain fell, and almost every officer on board. There was
the hesitation of a moment, which determined our fate; for the
dare-devils rushed in upon us, fore and aft, and made sad work of it.
Not a man, with the exception of myself, the first lieutenant, and the
steward, was spared; the cutlass and the deep soon obliterated the
gallant crew of the Thunderer. It was, indeed, an awful sight; and,
expecting every moment to be put to some horrid death by the monsters, I
leaped from the deck into the sea, and remember nothing more till I
awoke, as I conceived, in a state of future punishment. But over me
there hung a countenance with which I was too well acquainted ever to
mistake it: it was that of Mary Walker, my first, and dearest, and never
entirely forgotten love. Her father sat by, wrung his hands in absolute
despair; and Mary's face was strangely altered--wan, shrunk, and full of
extreme misery. I scarcely could credit my senses, and was on the point
of coming to some explanation, when a terrible tramping and bustle on
board bespoke some approaching crisis. It was so. A British seventy-four
was in the act of bearing straight down upon the crippled privateer, and
the scarcely less disabled Thunderer, and all on board was despair and
distraction. Resistance was found to be out of the question; so, in less
than an hour, we were all conveyed safely on board of the
Neptune--Captain Briggs commander. We were immediately carried into
Kingston, and landed, at our own desire--Mr Walker having satisfied
Captain Briggs in regard to my discharge from His Majesty's service."

The explanation of the whole matter was this:--Miss Walker, after her
lover's departure, became very disconsolate, and her health ultimately
became very precarious. The more temperate air of Britain was
recommended, and her fond father had sailed with her, with the view of
placing her somewhere in Devonshire, with a near relative. He proposed
to return for a season, to wind up his affairs finally, which, of late,
had not prospered, and to spend the remainder of his days and fortune in
his native land. They had only sailed twelve hours, when, after a
desperate and unequal struggle, they were captured, and put under
hatches. During the desperate engagement which succeeded, the sequel
explains itself. They were ultimately landed in safety at the pier from
which they had started, and all slept, the following night, under Mr
Walker's roof. George Smith and Mary Walker were married in the course
of a few months, nor did her husband perceive that her health declined.
She lived to become the mother of two children--a boy and a girl--when
her father, whose affairs, from some unlooked-for losses, had become
embarrassed, died suddenly, not without some ugly surmises respecting
the cause. Smith, after this, had no heart to remain on the island; so,
collecting the remnant of a once princely fortune, he embarked, with his
beloved wife and children, for Britain. Finding, however, that he could
not succeed to his wish in his native land, he set out for Bordeaux,
where he established himself in the wine trade, and, in the language of
sacred writ, "begat sons and daughters." There he lived many years, in
domestic peace and happiness, enjoying the society and affection of a
most attached and amiable partner, and getting his family disposed of,
till only one daughter remained with him unmarried. At last, death
robbed him, in the disguise of a slow or typhus fever, of his beloved
Mary; and, with his beautiful and amiable daughter, he sought again the
shores of his own Scotland--his beloved Dumfries, his native Closeburn.
Whilst dining with his daughter at Brownhill, he had learned that his
aged mother was still alive, and an inmate of the same dwelling which he
had himself inhabited. The rest of the story can easily be anticipated:
his mother was well provided for during the few years--and they were but
few--of her _happily_ protracted existence; and his lovely and
affectionate Eliza is now the mother of seven children, and the virtuous
and beloved wife of the bumble narrator of these "Family Incidents."



HOME AND THE GIPSY MAID.


I have been at school and college, I have read considerably in books,
and have attended debating societies to satiety. Thus I have picked up a
deal of what the world calls useful knowledge and worldly wisdom. But
there is one branch of education to which I am more indebted than to any
other whatever. I was born in the retired solitude of a mountain glen. I
was myself alone amongst the mountains, with my mother and two old
women, my relatives. I did not know, at the time, that I was any way
peculiarly situated. I felt joyous and happy from morn to night; but the
cause of all this happiness was no matter of inquiry. In fact, I never
thought of causes at all. I took nature as she appeared, and put no
impertinent questions to her. There I lay by a little stream, which,
after dancing gaily down a steep and broken rock, became, all at once, a
deep _bumbling_ pool. There I lay, amidst the daisies and buttercups of
spring, on the green plot, listening to the song of a thousand throats,
and marking the suspended trout, as it rose to the fly, or floated along
in the watery sunshine. At intervals, I would stretch myself supine;
and, with my eyes half-closed, convert the clouds which covered in our
little valley into what shapes and forms my fancy pleased. The wild bee
passed in his hum; but I saw him not. The grasshopper chirruped from the
adjoining grass; but I marked not his form or his locality. The buzz of
insect life was in the air, and on the earth. I was not alone, and I
felt it; my companions were the happy, the lively, the rejoicing, the
exulting; and I partook of all their sentiments. I was, in fact, a unity
lost in the midst of countless beings--a single throb in the great
framework of animated nature. And, then, there were the woods which
embanked and enclosed me all around. The oak, with its spread stole and
broad leaf; the glorious birch, rising in pillows of green fragrance,
and overtopping all; the hazel, in its less aspiring nature, peeping
from betwixt the trees; and the sweet hawthorn, bestudding the brae,
arrayed in a wedding suit of purest white. The tall ash-tree was there,
and the rowan-tree, and the sloe-thorn, and the rasp-berry, and the
bramble. The whole valley was my own orchard; and I selected at
pleasure, without check or restraint, the nut, the sloe, and the
hind-berry. Upon the top of the tall ash, there I sat, with the mavis
for my companion on one side, and the blackbird on the other. With all
manner of birds I was familiar, from the pyat to the water-wagtail. The
searching for nests was my spring recreation, from April till July--I
could tell at once the inmate from the construction of its abode. The
eggs of the linnet, goldfinch, yorling, laverock, robin, titling,
thrush, and blackbird, were as familiar to me as the letters of the
alphabet. And if I wandered but a mile and a-half up the glen, I was in
the midst of barrenness and solitude. The shepherd loomed from the
distant horizon--the sheep roved along the steep--the goats clung to the
cliffs. There the hawk and the raven had their abode; and there hung
their nests from the projecting rock, or the horizontal tree. The heath
was the nursery of its wild inmates. The whaup, and plover, and lapwing
piped, and whistled, and fluttered around me. I was in the midst of
their nesting-ground; and they seemed disposed to sacrifice me to their
fears. Overhead were the lofty peaks of Queensberry--the greater and the
less twin pillars--over which the pediment of heaven was spread. The
mist trailed and deepened. I beheld its approach; and witnessed its
breaking up into shreds and patches. I saw the first gleam of the
sunshine, as it struggled through the density, and stood revealed in all
the glory of a full effulgence of sunlight. My fishing-rod, a hazel
sapling, was in my hand, and I pulled from streams and gullets of the
most tiny dimensions large black and yellow trouts. There they lay,
amidst the wet spret, or on the velvet fringe of the streamlet, in all
the glory of scale and fin. My soul leaped in unison to their motions;
and I absolutely danced in ecstasy. When I gained the mountain summit--O
my God! what impressions I have had of beauty and sublimity! On the one
hand, the dark, southern range, ranging away eastward in barren
magnitude; on the other, the green and softly-outlined Lead Hills,
rounded into magnificence. Before me, and stretching far southward, the
distant Criffell, lumbering on the horizon; the sunny Solway, gleaming
in light; the Nith, winding and coqueting with its fertile banks and
fruitful plains; the Annan, a younger but scarcely less lovely sister,
running its lateral course to the same ultimate destiny, the nascent
feeders of the Clyde, Carsehope, and Darr, bursting from their mossy
cradles into the wilderness around them, rejoicing in their solitudes,
and in their numerous and undisturbed inmates. Oh, what is
education--the alphabet in all its combinations and significations--to
this! When in after life I have had occasion to animate my public
addresses with simile, or to inspire them with sentiment--when at the
desk, and with the pen in my hand, I have fished in my brain for
metaphor or illustration--I have constantly recurred to my infant, my
boyish home; to my native glen, and woods, and streams, and cliffs, and
mountains; and when I have once seated myself on the Cat-craig, or on a
branch of the oak or the birch, I feel myself quite at home. I can,
indeed, call spirits, as I do now, from the depths of imagination and
feeling--I can ascend in the spiral movements of that blue smoke, which
lies so soft and silky between me and the opposite green sward. I can
sympathise with those devout and happy hearts, which, in simple female
habiliments, are now plying the wheel, or preparing the frugal repast
within. I see the domestic fowls, in their sunny happiness, flapping
their wings in the dusty corner of the kail-yard, or crowing in frolic
till the echoes are awakened. There is but one world--one sinless,
sorrowless, painless world--and this is it. Where then were the cares of
the great world, which has absorbed this one? Where the jarrings of
envy--the justlings of competition--the dread of disappointment--the
frenzy of hope--the fever of love--the whole bevy of passions, which
form the Corrievrecken of the heart! They were then, like Abraham's
posterity, in Abraham's loins; they were possibilities, mere
futurities--sleeping undisturbed and undisturbing in the limbs of
contingencies. Alas! that ever my soul awoke from this dream!--that
ever, one fine summer evening, I discovered that a change had come over
my nature--that I had crept unknowingly into youth--that there was a
soft delicious fire in my blood, which made me look beyond my humble
cottage, with its aged inmates, for gratification and happiness! Oh, the
exquisite, the ecstatic delight of this first awakening into the manhood
of feeling!--when the passion-flower is just opening--when the nerves
are troubled, for the first time, by the sensibilities of sex--when the
blooming cheek, the rosy lip, the inviting glance, and the
happily-moulded rotundities of the female form, become, for the first
time, an object of fearful, of indescribable, of trembling interest! I
ask any one of my readers, male and female, Was it not thus with you?
Did not your first perceptions of the full compass of your nature come
upon you at once? Come, no blushing now--no shuffling--it was even so;
but you never liked to speak of it to any one. You thought that, in this
respect, you were singular; but now, that you see I have turned king's
evidence, you are conscious that what I aver is true. Here, then, I fix
my landmark, with the age of puberty; all on this side is school,
college, society, the world, care, troubles, and anxieties; all before
this was that paradise from which I still pluck, as on this occasion, an
apple or two, to refresh you and me as we journey along. Come, now,
good-natured reader, and I will tell you a tale or anecdote of this
primeval state of my being.

In one of my early fishing excursions, I had the misfortune to lose
myself in a dense fog or mist. I wandered on and on, not knowing well
where I was (for it is well known that in such circumstances the most
familiar objects assume a strange and unknown aspect), till at last I
sat myself down on the brow of a peat-hag, not knowing well whether to
cry or laugh at my wanderings. Twice had I come upon a tethered horse,
and twice upon a thorn-tree with a solitary nest in it; so I found that
I was assuredly walking in a circle, the centre of which, for anything
that I could learn to the contrary, might very probably be my own
habitation. Whilst employed in listening for the response of a mountain
stream by which I might be directed, as by an old acquaintance, to a
more familiar locality, I thought I heard a kind of strange, unearthly
noise, coming from--I could not well tell by the ear--what quarter. I
listened again, and all was silent, and I began to think that the noise
had proceeded from some bird or beast in my immediate neighbourhood.
Again, however, as I moved cautiously across the moss, the sound came
upon me more distinctly--it was manifestly the sound of wailing and
moaning, intermingled with much and hysterical sobbing. What could this
mean? Night was at hand, the mist was manifestly mingling with the
coming darkness, and here I was alone, in the presence, seemingly, of
some unearthly being. My head was full of fairies, and brownies, and
such-like supernaturals; and my heart, under such apprehensions, was as
that of the bird taken in a snare. It immediately occurred to me that
this must be some decoy fairy, employed in entrapping me into that
unchristian brotherhood. The story of young "Tam Lean," which my mother
had often repeated to me, occurred opportunely to augment my
apprehensions and increase my agitation. I already felt as if mounted on
a fairy steed--I was "pawing the light clouds," and shaking my belled
bridle over my native dwelling, without the power of returning to it.
Whilst such meditations as these shook my whole frame, the awful voice
of wo was manifestly approaching me; and I immediately took to my heels,
"with all convenient speed, according to the rules of terror." But, in
endeavouring to increase the distance betwixt the object of my fears and
myself, I ran immediately and directly in upon it; and had all but
fainted, as I saw immediately before me a small female figure running
about, and crying piteously. The form came upon my vision very
indistinctly, and induced me to reverse my steps, and set off in double
swift time in a direction opposite to that in which I had advanced. To
my utter horror and amazement, the thing pursued me swiftly, and
screaming at the top of its voice. This was indeed appalling, and I
already felt as if I had taken up my residence in the dark recesses of a
fairy-knowe. I ran and screamed, whilst it ran screaming too, through
moss and pool, and spret and heath; and there we coursed it
along--startling the whaups and miresnipes with our music. At last I was
fairly overcome, and threw myself head foremost into a peat hag, whilst
my pursuer halted immediately over my person. Oh, I could have wished to
have concealed myself, at this moment, somewhere near the centre of the
earth; when a couple of shepherd's curs appeared, and instantly
afterwards James Hogg, the Mitchelslacks hind (since better known as the
Ettrick Shepherd), stood before me.

"What's a' this o't, sirs?" said Hogg, eyeing my tormentor and myself
with a look of perplexed inquiry. "What's the matter wi' ye, Tam, that
ye're derned that gate into the throat o' a moss-hole? Get up, man, an'
tell me whar ye fell in wi' this bit puir lassie."

The lassie, in the meantime, had clung to the shepherd's knees, and was
endeavouring, but unsuccessfully, to speak.

"It's a fairy!" I exclaimed. "O Jamie Hogg, it's a fairy!--hae naething
to do wi't; it has pursued me this _hour_ past" (not in reality above
two minutes!); "an' I saw a great many more fairies up by yonder. O
Jamie, dinna meddle wi't; it's uncanny, I'm sure."

Hereupon the fairy began to give utterance, in tones quite human, to a
fearful statement, implying that she had been carried off from Annan by
some gipsies, and carried away by them to the wild hills; and that,
about an hour ago, she had run away in the mist, and had fairly escaped,
but became alarmed as the darkness approached, and had followed me, as
her only guide and protector in these wild hills. I cannot tell how much
I felt relieved by this statement; and, as I began to gather up my
members into a human shape, I saw plainly that my pursuer was a fine,
well-thriven lassie, about ten or eleven years of age, and no unearthly
fairy, as I had so lately believed. Hogg laughed heartily at my mistake,
telling me that I wad find the lasses, by an' by, muckle waur than the
fairies; and that, instead o' rinnin awa frae them, I wad be rinnin
after them. At the time when these words were spoken, I did not rightly
understand their meaning; but, reading them through the spectacles of
future experience, I now understand them to the letter.

Just as this conversation was finished, a great, tall, lumbering, but
most athletic fellow bore down upon us through the mist. At sight of
him, the poor girl screamed piteously, and clung to Hogg, and begged
most imploringly that she should not be given up to that "terrible man."
Hogg had just thrown off his plaid, adjusted his staff, and put himself
determinedly betwixt the stranger and the girl, when down came two
brother shepherds, attracted in all probability by the noise, and
guessing immediately that a battle was about to ensue. When the tinker
saw that the odds were thus against him, he bent his course, as if he
had mistaken his way, in another direction, and was immediately lost in
obscurity. Home to my mother's was this poor girl conducted by Hogg and
me; and for three days and nights she partook of my home and board. Her
story was simple and consistent. She had been out pulling rushes, to
make a rush-cap, in a wood adjoining to the town of Annan, when she was
accosted by a woman, who was exceedingly kind to her, giving her some
sugar-bools, and decoying her by fair words into the centre of the
forest. There she found four or five men, with a great many women,
children, asses, &c., employed in making spoons, pans, &c., at a fire
lighted in the open air. The children immediately gathered around her,
and endeavoured to engage her in some games, whilst the "terrible man,"
as she always designated the chief of the gang, patted her on the cheek,
and said, "You must come along with me, and be my daughter."

Meantime the whole party were in motion, and the poor child was tossed
into a pannier, on the back of an ass, and, being bound down with cords,
was carried all night long, she knew not whither. By daybreak she found
herself on the banks of a mountain-stream, and no human habitation
within view. In this station she had remained for three days, being
always kindly used, but observing fearful scenes, and hearing dreadful
expressions. At last, being worn out with crying, and partly gained over
by the companionship of her playmates, she had assumed a more resigned
and contented appearance, in consequence of which she ceased to be
watched with so much vigilance. Taking advantage, however, of the mist,
and of the absence of the greater part of the women, she had edged into
the stream, along the almost dry channel of which she had run, till she
lost sight of the encampment, and had taken at once to the hill, without
knowing whither she was flying. Fatigued, however, at last, and
terrified, she had even resolved to retrace, if possible, her steps,
when the occurrence above mentioned brought her refuge and safety.

I shall never forget the scene which took place on the occasion of the
restoration of this sweet girl to her parents, who were immediately
informed by Hogg of the asylum which the poor wanderer had found. But,
as every breast in which the genuine feelings of humanity are implanted
will immediately conceive what such a meeting must have been, I shall
not attempt to describe it. We were all in tears, and the poor mother
fainted outright, as she grasped convulsively her lost lamb (as she
tenderly termed it) to her bosom.

I have lived long, and so has Jeanie Paton, the now respected mother of
a large family, and the wife of honest Willie Paton, the best fisher and
the best weaver in all Annandale. When I take my annual excursions
south, their house is my home, and a day's fishing with Willie in the
Annan is to me a treat of no ordinary delight--Jeanie welcomes us with
her best, though, to be sure, I occasionally rub her a little too hard,
in reference to the circumstance which made us first acquainted.



THE RETURN.

    "Alas! regardless of their fate,
      The little victims play;
    No sense have they of ills to come,
      No cares beyond to-day."


In passing by coach to Cheltenham, in the year 1831, I dined with a very
agreeable fellow at Carlisle. It so happened that, in the course of
conversation, I discovered that he was a class-fellow of mine, some
forty-five years ago. But we had been separated ever since; nor was
there a single feature by which I could recognise his countenance. He
wore a wig, was sallow, withered, and almost emaciated; whereas Charles
M'Murdo, the boy of my acquaintance, was a chubby, rosy imp, with a
heart as light as a feather, and feet as swift as a roe. Nevertheless,
if I did not recognise him, he soon discovered me: the change upon my
person being less remarkable, as I had never left my own country, nor
been any way exposed to extreme climate, either of heat or cold. He
having some business to transact in London, as I had in Cheltenham, we
agreed, before parting, and whilst the guard was blowing his horn, to
rendezvous, on my return, at Liverpool, and to proceed north in company
with each other. Accordingly, at the appointed day and hour, we met;
ordered a private room and a comfortable dinner at the Saddle, a bottle
of good old port, and a strict watch upon all intrusion. What a night we
had of it! All the scenes of our youth rose into review, and, as glass
after glass, and perhaps bottle after bottle, disappeared, our souls
warmed, our imaginations fired, our memories, like the churchyard at the
day of reckoning, "gave up the dead that were in them," and at last we
all but embraced each other, shaking hands from time to time, as the
toast arose to some old remembrance, some school companion now no more.
There had been twelve of us in the same class; and my friend and I were
all that remained (like Job's friends), to think or to speak of the fate
of the rest. One, two, three, had gone to Jamaica, and had perished,
sooner or later, in quest or in possession of competence or wealth; two
had been ruined by dissipated company at college, had enlisted, and
perished at Waterloo; one had done well as a surgeon at Sierra Leone,
but had fevered at last, and died. In short, the roll-call was
mournful--we were the skeleton of the class, its ghost, its shadow; but
we were alive, beside a comfortable fire, and a cheerful gas-light, and
with wine before us; and it is wonderful how soon we forgot the mournful
recollection which would ever and anon peep in upon us through the mazes
of our many-hued discourse. At last our enthusiasm began somewhat to
subside; we ordered tumblers and hot water, with the necessary
accompaniments, drew in the table closer to the fire, for it was the
month of November, and agreed each to give the narrative of his own life
and experience. My tale was soon told, nor would it be any way
interesting to the reader to hear it. I had been a home-bird, and had
attained, without much adventure or difficulty, a respectable position
in society; but my old companion had been tossed about in the world, as
he expressed it, like a _quid_ of hay in the throat of a cow; and I
shall endeavour to put the reader in possession of the outline of what
Charles M'Murdo that night, betwixt the hours of seven and eleven,
related to me in large detail.

"You know," said he, "my début: I was sent out to Jamaica by Mr Watson,
a rich planter, to act as clerk on his plantations--in other words, to
keep a large and terrible whip in constant employ. Our voyage was
tempestuous; I frequently felt as if the ship, in her lurches into the
trough of the sea, would never reascend, but would go down head foremost
to the bottom of the Atlantic. But our captain was a skilful seaman,
kept his men in heart, had his orders promptly obeyed, and we weathered
the storm. Landing at Kingston, I was received in, what was termed, a
warehouse by an overseer, who, after reading Mr Watson's letter, cursed
me as a supernumerary, and said I might go where I liked, but I could
not be there; they had too many of my sort already. Watson he called an
old superannuated fool, who was determined, seemingly, to ruin the
estate by the mere expense of working it. In a little, however, the
storm blew over. Having drunk pretty deeply from a tumbler of rum and
water--at least so he called it, though for my part I never could
discover any trace of the water, and think this element might easily
have proved an alibi in any court of justice--he made me partake of his
beverage, and tumble into a corner of a counting-room, beyond a number
of chairs, desks, and old ledgers. My bed was none of the best, but the
weather was exceedingly warm, and I contrived to sleep pretty soundly
till morning. Next day I was roused betimes by a black slave, naked to
the middle, and instructed in my day's work. I was to join some four or
five slave-drivers at a common rendezvous, and with them to march
a-field, suitably provided for my task. I saw the poor slaves hard at
work--digging the soil, and planting slips of cane, under a most
oppressive sun; I saw, likewise, my hardened and inhuman associates
applying the scourge to mothers with children at the breast, to the old,
and to the infirm. I could not stand it; my heart sank within me. Oh,
how I sighed for my own native land, with all its advantages and
endearments!--and how I cursed my ambition, that had been kindled at the
wheels of the chariot of Mr Watson, who, though born poor as I was, had
realised an immense fortune in Jamaica!"

Hereupon he burst out into an eulogy on Britain, and the administration
which had given liberty to the slaves, and at the same time remunerated
the unhallowed proprietors; but, after a short pause, during which I
expressed my anxiety to hear the sequel of his story, he proceeded:--

"Well, custom will reconcile one to anything. You will scarcely believe
me when I tell you that, though shy at first, and backward in the active
discharge of my duty, I came at last to regard it as a matter of course,
and to imagine that the poor blacks did not feel as I did, or experience
the pain which such an infliction would have occasioned to myself. I was
one day chastising a fellow, who absolutely refused to labour, on the
score of indisposition, which I knew or believed to be put on, when a
little child, of the African breed, came up to me, and, with a look of
perfect nature and simplicity, said--

"'Ah, massa, you no have father--you never know father--you no black
man's boy--you no born at all, massa--you made of stone--you have no
pity for poor black boy's pa!'

"The speech struck me exceedingly. I immediately ordered the father into
the sick-house, and, patting the boy on the head, said he was a good,
kind-hearted boy, and I would look after him for this. All this was
repeated at head-quarters, and I was represented as neglecting my duty,
and conniving at the idle and the dissolute amongst the slaves; and
being summoned into the overseer's presence, I was examined, confessed
the truth, and was immediately dismissed the estate.

"Where was I to turn?--Without a character, no other plantation would
admit my services. The heavens over my head were iron, the earth was
brass. I could get no employment, and to beg I was ashamed. I wandered
down to the sea-shore, and in my excursion met with several ladies and
gentlemen, riding on beautiful chargers, talking and laughing loudly all
the while--and I wished to be one of them. It was this stimulus which
had set me in motion, made me cross the Atlantic, and submit to great
indignities--and yet here I was, an outcast less valuable than the
wrecks which lined the bay. No one of the various cavalcades took the
least notice of me; and I seated myself, at last, on a rock, and began
to plunge little water-worn pebbles into the smooth bay. After a
considerable interval of most poignant despair, the little black boy
made his appearance, and told me that he had just heard of my dismissal,
and that his father wished to see me in the hospital. I went with the
boy half-stupified, and almost unconscious of either motive or motion.
The poor, grateful creature wished me to take some money, which he had
accumulated by his Sabbath-afternoon industry; but I refused it at once,
though I did so with tears of gratitude in my eyes. He then informed me
that he had formerly slaved on an adjoining plantation, and that his
former master was of a more kindly disposition than the present one. He
had just heard of the death of one of his clerks, and, if I would
present myself immediately, ere the next fleet should arrive with a
fresh supply of slave-drivers, he had no doubt but, from my appearance,
and my good hand of writing, I might find employment. I took the honest
creature's advice; and, accompanied by little Ebony, made the best of my
way to Hillside plantation, about a mile and a-half from Kingston. The
kind-hearted boy went before me, and, chancing to meet Mr Ferguson, the
proprietor of Hillside estate, he threw himself on his knees before him,
in the most imploring manner:--

"'Young gentleman dismissed; but he no ill--he kind to poor father--he
very kind to black man when sick. Massa know poor Gabby.'

"Ere the boy had risen from his knees, I had presented myself to Mr
Ferguson, and told my own story precisely as it stood. Luckily for me,
Mr Ferguson and my former employer were upon the worst terms possible;
so I found no difficulty in getting a temporary appointment on trial. It
is said somewhere that despotism is the best of all governments, when
the despot is a good man. This is truly verified in these islands.
Nothing can differ more than does the usage of the slaves in different
plantations. The overseer, Mr Handy, on Watson's plantation, he whom I
had just left, was a brutal person, almost constantly under the
excitement or reaction of rum, and his slaves were constantly beaten and
ill used in every way; whereas the Hillside slaves were allowed all
possible indulgences, and really seemed quite happy. They used to go
about, on the fine Jamaica evenings, singing, dancing, and playing upon
instruments, visiting and returning visits, and enjoying all the
happiness of which their state was susceptible. I lived two years on
this plantation, and was handsomely paid as a clerk. I now, for the
first time, began to think of accumulating money, with the view of
purchase or partnership. But an incident occured to me at this stage of
my fortunes which gave them an unforeseen turn. I was kidnapped, whilst
walking on the sea-shore, rather late one evening, and immediately
carried on board a vessel, which sailed ere morning. This had been done,
as I afterwards understood, under the direction of Handy; who, having
heard of my good fortune and prosperity, persuaded a brother of his, who
traded to Hudson's Bay, in the fur trade, to carry me there, and keep me
out of his sight. He could not bear to think that I might possibly one
day come to effect an establishment in his immediate neighbourhood.
Captain Handy was a cruel, despotic, weatherbeaten piece of mortality;
he carried me in a few months to Hudson's Bay, and had me introduced
into a great house in the fur trade. In vain, when I got ashore, did I
remonstrate against the violence which had been used in regard to me; I
was immediately clothed in warm garments, armed with a musket, and
marched overland, along with about ten or twelve copper-faced Indians,
towards the upper lakes of the St. Lawrence. Our ultimate destination
was Lake Superior. There we were commissioned to trade with the Indians,
exchanging muskets, spirits, and various kinds of cutlery, for
fur-skins. There was a small settlement in the centre of the lake, but
there were not sufficient provisions for the additional numbers during
winter; so we were expected to return on land to the settlement on
Hudson's Bay ere the winter set in. But this year the American winter
commenced a month earlier than usual, and with unprecedented severity.
We had nothing but one log-house to accommodate upwards of thirty
people; but this erection was of considerable extent, and leaned against
several growing trees. Our situation became immediately all but
desperate. You can have no idea of an American winter in such
latitudes." (Hereupon I stirred the fire, and helped myself to a glass
of toddy.) "The snow comes on at once, and the atmosphere is so loaded
and thickened with drift, that you may cut it into cubes with a knife.
And then the snow, which in a few hours accumulates over your dwelling
to the very roof, penetrates everywhere through your wooden erection. In
spite of a blazing hearth, you are shivering almost in the midst of the
flame. The horrors of that winter I can never forget; we were, long ere
New Year's-day, reduced to our daily shifts for our daily food. Had it
not been for our Indian friends, we should have perished of hunger to a
man; but their skill in archery and even in ball-shooting is altogether
incredible. Nothing borne on wings over our heads escaped them. The bow
was lifted immediately to the eye, the arrow was pointed, and followed
for a small space the course of the bird; it flew, but apparently not
straight for the object, but greatly in advance of it; but, ere it had
gained its utmost ascent, the winged and the feathered objects had
crossed on their courses, and the prey fell immediately, transfixed by
the arrow. We broke the ice, too, of the lake, which was often three
feet in thickness, and, with bait prepared by the Indians, of the seeds
of trees, decoyed occasionally some half-starved fish to our lines. But,
with all appliances and means to boot, we became perfect skeletons;
several died of various complaints, all brought on by cold, and spare as
well as unwholesome diet. Oh, what would I then have given for a dinner
such as we have enjoyed this day! But, not to fatigue you with
exclamations and with representations of suffering which to you must
seem incredible, the winter gave way at last, and its departure was
agreeably unexpected with its approach; the thaw came as much earlier as
the frost had anticipated its average approach. Our boats were again on
the lake, and we were enabled to ship off our skins for their ultimate
destination, Montreal. As I had shown considerable talents, and what
they termed mettle, during the winter trials, the commander of the party
had me boated off, along with the skins, for Mr Syme's warehouse, at
Montreal. Here I met with a friend, in a cousin of my mother. He
immediately took me into his warehouse.

"By this time I was sufficiently tired of a moving life; like the
rolling stone of the proverb, I had gathered no fog--'_movebam, sed nil
promovebam_.' I was very happy, therefore, when Mr Syme proposed my
remaining at least some time with him in the capacity mentioned.
Montreal, as everybody knows, is situated upon an island in the St
Lawrence, and few places could be more advantageous for trade, or more
picturesque in appearance. In the centre of the island there rises a
beautiful eminence, still covered with trees of the primeval American
forests; and towards the eastern skies lies the town itself, upper and
lower, adorned with public buildings, and presenting, as you approach
it, a very prepossessing aspect. Mr Syme had a warehouse, at a place
called Chine, about eight miles up, and immediately upon the river. Here
the furs were shipped for Europe, and Britain in particular, and here it
was my duty to remain, except on Sundays, when I constantly dined with
my kind relative. Mr Syme had an only daughter, two sons having died,
and the mother likewise, whilst being delivered of the last. This
daughter was now a young woman of nineteen, and sufficiently handsome
for matrimony, considering that she was to inherit her father's wealth
and business, which was itself a mine of gain. Her father, who in many
respects was a kind-hearted and a prudent man, was as obstinate as an
old oak-trunk when he took it into his head to be so. Most people have
some weak side or other--and this was his. He had determined, from the
time when Samuel Horseman, the rich merchant (the richest, it was
supposed, in the island), had rocked his Nancy in the cradle, and had
suffered himself to be scorned with the child, that Nancy should one day
or other be Mrs Horseman; and that thus, by the union of their families
and their fortunes, there should not be a firm in Montreal that would
once be spoken of in the same day with Horseman, Syme, & Co. This idea
had grown with the growth of the child, and had strengthened with her
strength--it was never twenty-four hours out of his head. But, one
dreadful afternoon, Horseman arrived from Quebec with a little pretty
French milliner, whom he had married. This was death to Syme's plans and
prospects, and so he set immediately about cutting Horseman, and looking
out for some other advantageous way of disposing of his _article_, which
had now seen some fourteen summers. But before he could settle upon any
particular individual, he was relieved from his disappointment, and
restored to his intercourse with Horseman, by a gallant serjeant, who
claimed Mrs Horseman as his lawful and married wife; in fact, there were
several claimants; but one was as good as a hundred to Horseman, who by
this time was heartily tired of his partner, and would have willingly
seen her attempting a voyage of discovery over the Falls of Niagara.
Syme soon redoubled his diligence, and gave his daughter to understand
that, so soon as she had attained the age of nineteen, the age of her
mother when she became a bride, she should be exalted to all the honours
and privileges of Mrs Horseman.

"There are two, it is said, at a bargain-making; but that is merely the
_minimum_: in this case, there were three, and ultimately four. Miss
Syme had been exceedingly annoyed by her father's unreasonable
arrangement; she, of course, disliked Horseman, as she did everything
old, ugly, snuffy, and bandylegged; but her father was incessant in his
importunities, or rather commands, and matters were in this state when
the friend now addressing you made his appearance, and took up his
principal residence at Chine. It was not long before Miss Syme and I
came to understand each other. I do not know how it was--I was not
romantically in love--perhaps it is not in my nature; but I was willing
to hear the poor girl's story, and to mingle tears with hers. We never
talked of love; but yet, somehow or other, it made an inroad upon the
debateable territory on both sides, till we felt that we were assuredly
over head and ears, from the circumstance that, like Darby and Joan,
'we were ever uneasy asunder.' The father began to smell a rat, as they
say--at least you and I have often said whilst at school--and he was in
a furious passion, threatened dismissal to me and imprisonment to Nancy.
In the meantime, death, in the shape of an ague, carried Horseman beyond
the reach of matrimony--he went to that land where there is neither
marrying nor giving in marriage; and I became every day more and more
useful to my employer. It was manifest to all that his heart had now
softened, and that he had come to see the utter folly of human schemes
when controverted by the decrees of Heaven. One day he was up at Chine,
seeing some furs shipped for London; when in passing from the shore to
the ship, he slipped a foot and fell into the water. There was no one
who observed this but myself, as all the men were busily engaged. I
immediately plunged headlong into the somewhat rapid stream. He was not
to be found. The current had borne him downwards, and a water-dog, which
was kept on purpose on board, was in the act, as I perceived, of
dragging the body ashore. I assisted the animal, and got the credit of
saving my friend.

"I need not delay you longer. I married Mr Syme's daughter, and
succeeded, at his death, to the whole concern, which I have just wound
up; and, having left my wife and an only daughter in London, I am on my
way to visit, by surprise, my aged mother, who still lives in the place
of my birth, and to purchase, if possible, a property in the
neighbourhood, there to spend, in peace, and affection, and domestic
love, the evening of my days.--Will you go with me to Lastcairn?"

I agreed. We drove up the glen, by Croalchapel; and my friend was all
absence, and inward rumination, and anticipated delight. But the
footsteps of death were on the threshold. His aged parent was still
alive and sensible, but manifestly fast going. She was made sensible
that her long-lost Charlie, who had been so kind to her in her old age,
was before her. She tried to stretch forth her withered arm, but it was
scathed by death. She received the last embrace of her son, said
something about "depart in peace," and fell asleep.



THE POOR SCHOLAR.


Reader, if ever thou hast been in "Babylon the Great," or, in other
words, in the overgrown metropolis of the southern portion of these
kingdoms, peradventure you have observed melancholy-looking men, their
countenances tinged with the "pale cast of thought," in suits of
well-worn black, "a world too wide," creeping, edging, or shuffling
along the streets, each belike with a bundle of papers peering from his
pocket. In nine cases out of ten, these neglected-looking men are the
poor scholars who instruct or amuse the world. You may also find them,
with anxiety in their eyes, and hunger sitting at home upon their
cheeks, wandering in the most secluded corners of the parks, enjoying,
by way of a substitute for dinner, the apology which the air in the
parks offers for the pure and unadulterated breath of heaven. Daily,
too, they may be seen in the library of the Museum, poring over an old
volume, and concealing their shoes beneath the table, lest they should
"prate" of the scholar's "whereabouts," and ask of the venerable volume,
"Are you or we oldest?" Or you may find them in the corner of some
obscure coffee-house, poring intently over the periodicals of the day,
at intervals slowly sipping and mincing the cup of coffee and half slice
of bread before them. But, in speaking of poor scholars generally, I
keep you from the tale of our Poor Scholar.

You have heard of Longtown, which is a neat, respectable-looking, and
remarkably clean little town in Cumberland, on the banks of the Esk,
near to what is called Solway Moss, and sometimes spoken of as the first
or last town in England, in the same manner as Coldstream is mentioned
as the first or last town in Scotland. Well, there dwelt in Longtown a
respectable widow, named Musgrave. She derived an income of about eighty
pounds a-year from a property that had been bequeathed to her in the
West Indies. She had an only son, whose name was Robert, and who, after
a respectable education in his native place, was bound as an apprentice
to a medical practitioner in Carlisle. He afterwards attended the
classes in Edinburgh; but, before he had taken out all the necessary
tickets, and before he had obtained the diploma or qualification which
was to enable him to use the word "surgeon" after his name, something
went wrong about the property that was bequeathed to his mother in the
West Indies; her remittances ceased, and, after a tedious lawsuit, it
was swallowed up altogether.

She was left in poverty--in utter destitution. The misfortune fell upon
her heavily; she drooped, pined, mourned, and died; and Robert Musgrave,
still under twenty, was left without money and without friends. His
talents, however, had excited the notice of several of the professors
under whom he had studied; and they, acquiring a knowledge of his
circumstances, and feeling an interest in his fate, enabled him to take
out his certificate as a member of the College of Surgeons.

He now, with high hopes, and, I need not say, a low pocket, commenced
practice as a country surgeon in a small village on the Borders. It was
a young man's dream. A surgeon in a country village, and especially a
young one, is generally the worst paid man in it. The war between
poverty and the necessity of appearing respectable never ceases. The
clergyman, be he churchman or dissenter, has a certain income, be it
less or more; but the surgeon lives between the hand and the mouth; and
he can hardly, considering his avocation, in Christian benevolence, pray
for "daily bread." Such a prayer would be something akin to a
gravedigger's for an east wind or a "green Christmas," which, as the
adage hath it, "maketh a fat kirkyard."

Now, Robert Musgrave was a young man, possessed not only of what may be
called talent, but, what is more, of strong and ardent genius; while,
young as he was, his professional skill would have done honour to a
court physician. But, buried in the obscurity of a poor and secluded
village, struggling between gentility and penury, shut out from all
society congenial to his taste, education, and former habits, he became
heartless and callous, if not slovenly; and, eventually, he sank into a
sceptic from the _force of appearance_. For, be assured, gentle reader,
if ye will study mankind closely, and examine into their outgoings and
their incomings, and think of the _why_ for every _wherefore_, ye will
find that the reasoning of a shabby coat produces more converts to
everyday free-thinking or infidelity, than the philosophy of Hobbes, the
rhetoric of Shaftesbury, the wit of Voltaire, the sophistry of Hume, and
the blackguard ribaldry of Paine, united. The neighbouring farmers
admitted Doctor Musgrave, as they called him, to be clever; but they
despised his poverty, and invited him to their tables only for
amusement. Deprived of books, and without society, while his temperament
was framed for both, and feeling himself slighted, he gradually lost his
respectability, and became a tippler, if not a drunkard.

I shall here follow out a portion of his history, in a conversation
which he had with a Cumberland farmer, one Peter Liddell, whom he met in
London about three years after he had left his country practice on the
Borders:--

"The longer I remained in----," said he, "my situation became the more
painful. I felt I was becoming something less than the equal of society
I despised. I found that I had gradually sunk into the odious vice of
drunkenness; that I was the companion only of the ignorant and the
worthless; and poverty, eternal poverty and obscurity, were all that
appeared before me. But the dormant ambition of boyhood, the dreams that
delighted my early years, did not wholly forsake me. I had long
determined to leave the village, and try my fortune in the world; but
want of means prevented me. I resolved to tear adversity by the beard,
and face every obstacle. With difficulty I gathered in as many debts as
enabled me to proceed to Newcastle, and take a passage to London, where
I arrived on the first of February, without friends, and almost without
money--in fact, with not five shillings in my pocket."

"Poor fellow!" said Peter; and they were sitting together in a tavern in
Fleet Street, which is called a north-country house; for Peter was in
London on business, and having met the doctor on the street, they went
into the tavern to talk of their native hills, and the "old familiar
faces." "Poor fellow!" added Peter; and, with a sort of sigh, added,
"_Ah_, sirs! it is really well said that the one half of the world
doesn't know how the other lives. It would take planning to lay out
those five shillings."

"It certainly did," said the scholar. "You are aware that my practice in
the village, from a prejudice against what some called my religion, or
rather my no religion, was exceedingly limited. In fact, I was a
persecuted man, for principles of which I was as ignorant as themselves;
and disdaining to accommodate my habits and conversation to their rules,
the persecution increased, and the payments made to me became more
limited than my practice. I bade fair to become an actual representative
of Shakspere's apothecary; and would assuredly have thought myself
'passing rich with forty pounds a-year.' But the one-half of my practice
would not pay the expense of wrapping the powders in paper. On sending
to our village tobacconist's, I have had my own accounts returning as
snuff-paper; and, though my success was not, I believe, inferior to most
in the profession, my patients regarded paying me as throwing money
away, or as an unnecessary charity; and never did the payments, taking
one year with another, exceed thirty pounds."

"Poor fellow! do ye really say so?" responded Peter; "thirty pounds
a-year!--and was that a'? And was ye really not an atheist or a deist,
doctor, as the people gied ye out to be?"

"Whatever I and the mass of mankind are in our practice, Mr Liddell," he
replied, "I am neither, when the small still voice of conscience
speaks."

"Gie's your hand--gie's your hand, doctor," cried Peter; "I ask your
pardon for onything I ever thought or said respecting ye, as sincerely
as ever man did. Conscience is, as ye say, a sma still voice; but I
doubt it is one that many will hear aboon the sough o' friends at a
death-bed, the thunders o' the day o' judgment, and the roaring and
raging o' the bottomless pit. But ye say that ye had barely five
shillings in your pocket when ye arrived in London here. How, in a' the
world, did ye manage to lay it out?'

"Sixpence," replied the scholar, "went in treating the captain to a
glass of grog, when we came on shore, including one for myself."

"That was very foolishly spent, however," interrupted Peter.

"And it being night when we landed," added the doctor, "another shilling
was spent in the public-house for a bed."

"A bed!" exclaimed our Cumberland farmer. "Man, had ye not the gumption
to sleep aboord, or gie the captain the hint, after treating him wi' the
glass. That was eighteen-pence clean thrown awa'; and only left ye wi'
three-and-sax-pence. Poor soul! what did ye do?"

"Beginning to reflect in the morning," said the other, "that
three-and-sixpence was not an inexhaustible sum, I agreed to pass over
the very useful ceremony of a breakfast; and, strolling about, planning
what to do, and marvelling at all I saw--after narrowly escaping being
jostled to pieces, as I moved slowly from street to street, while every
soul in the great city appeared to be walking for a wager but
myself--towards three o'clock I dined in an eating-house, for six pence,
by the side of a coalheaver. The afternoon was also passed in dreamy
wandering. After nightfall, I became dispirited and fatigued. I was
still unable to form any definite plan of proceeding, and I more than
once asked myself what I had come to London to do."

"Poor man! I doubt there are too many like ye," said Peter.

"I was satiated with the busy variety of the scene," he continued; "the
very changes became as sameness, and I longed only for a place where I
might lie down and rest. I obtained a lodging for the night, in a
suspicious-looking public-house, for a sixpence; and rising early on the
following morning, my second day in London was spent as the first had
been, and at the same expense, save a penny--for on that day my dinner
cost me but five pence. My two shillings and a penny were now sacred,
and I feared to incur the expense of a night's lodgings. I was passing
what I discovered to be Covent Garden. Crowds were pressing into the
theatre. I stood and ran my eyes over the playbill. I saw the names,
Kemble! Cooke! Bannister! Siddons!--The temptation was irresistible."

"Irresistible!" cried Peter; "what the mischief do ye mean? I see
naething irresistible in the case, unless ye just mean to tell me that
ye are a born fool."

"Siddons! Kemble! Cook! and Bannister!" proceeded our hero, "on the same
boards, and on the same night! I thought myself transported to Elysium!
I looked for the word _Gallery_, pressed forward with the eager crowd,
and threw down my shilling. 'Another shilling, sir,' said the man of
checks. I had followed the stream of the two-shilling gallery, and
thus----"

"Good gracious!" exclaimed the farmer, raising his hands "did ever man
in his right judgment hear the like o' that?--ye're no to be pitied! I
wonder ye didna think o' buying a strait-jacket!--ye was fitter for it
than a play-house. Doctor, I didna think ye had been such an idiot. But
I must say that some mothers bring fools into the world after a'. Did ye
really no turn back again?--or what did ye do wi' your last penny? It
would be thrown away as wisely as the two shillings, I reckon."

"I plead guilty," said Robert; "I acted as a fool, but bore the
consequence like a philosopher. My last shilling had disappeared. The
performance proceeded--I was delighted, enraptured, overwhelmed. The
curtain dropped. The house was crowded to suffocation--my throat was
parched--and with my last penny--(keep your seat, Mr Liddell)--with my
last penny I bought an orange from a fruit-seller in the gallery. The
second piece was concluded. The human mass moved every one to the tavern
or their homes, a supper and a pillow, and I--I alone of the
thousands--went forth penniless into the streets, hungry, shivering, and
fatigued, to wander without hope!"

"And served ye right," said Peter. "I dinna pity ye, sir. No, no; after
that, I'm done wi' ye. But how did ye get through the night?"

"The day dawned," resumed Robert Musgrave, "and I was still
wandering--fainting, trembling, cold, and benumbed. I had long had some
pretensions to literature. I was born in the midst of poetry. It sang
around me from the deathless voices of my native Esk, hymning to its
green woods and its massy crags. It looked down upon me from the
thunder-belted brows of my native mountains, and drew my soul upwards to
itself. It grew with my growth, it became a part of my being, and, in
the midst of my debasement, it parted not from me."

"Famous! famous!--drat, ye're an orator, doctor!" cried the farmer, in
admiration of the eloquent fervour of his countryman. "Cumberland--and
where is the county like it? I wish, doctor, I had been a bishop for
your sake--ye should have had a benefice."

"My luggage," continued the other, "consisted only of a chest containing
little beyond books and manuscripts. With the same feeling which every
author may be supposed to have for his productions, I considered mine
were not inferior to others which were puffed and published. I say
puffed and published; for, now-a-days, it is common for a puff to be
both written and published before the work be-praised is in the hands of
the printer."

"Coom, now, Maister Musgrave," said the farmer, "not so fast, if you
please; I can believe anything that's possible in a reasonable way. But
how a book can be praised before it be read and printed, or, as I should
say, before it is a book, I canna comprehend. So ye mustna come over me
in that way, doctor."

"It is not so impossible as you imagine," replied the other; "you know
that money is a powerful agent."

"Ay, troth do I," said the farmer; "now I understand ye; I know

    'That money makes the mare to go,
    Whether she has legs or no.'"

"Well," resumed the surgeon, "laying the hope of fame and reward as an
unction to my wounded spirit, I returned to the vessel, and, intrusting
my trunk to the care of a wharfinger, I took from it a bundle of
manuscripts--consisting of a novel, poems, essays, and papers on medical
subjects--and, with a beating heart, proceeded towards Paternoster Row,
praying as I went. I passed every bookseller's in the street, measuring
the countenance of himself and his shopman. At length, after passing and
repassing several doors a dozen times, as often having my feet upon
their thresholds, half drawing my papers from my pocket and thrusting
them back again, I ventured into one; and, after a few words awkwardly
expressed, holding the manuscripts in my hands, I made known my
business. The gentleman, without looking at my productions, but not
without looking at me, said his hands were full, and hurried back to
his desk. I called on six others; and though my reception with some was
more courteous, my success was the same. I applied to the eighth and
last. A glimmering of hope returned with the first glance of his
countenance. It was not what every one would term inviting; but genuine
feeling glowed through a garb of roughness. He received me with
politeness, looked over my papers, delicately asked me a few questions,
which I neither knew how to answer nor how to evade; he hinted his fears
that I had written on subjects which were not exactly in demand in the
market, and, in conclusion, requested me to leave the manuscripts, and
call on him on the following morning. I again went into the streets, to
hold battle with hunger and anticipation. For several hours, hope and
hope's fond dreams bore me up; but towards evening, and throughout the
night, the wind blew cold and wildly, the rain fell unceasingly. I was
drenched and almost motionless, and but for the interference of the
patrols, I would fain have lain down to sleep, beneath the cover of a
passage, on the damp earth."

"Oh, help us!" said Peter, "what is that o't! I know as well what it is
to travel by night, and in a' weathers, as anybody; but, poor man! I had
none o' your sufferings to contend wi'."

"The longed-for and yet dreaded hour arrived," resumed the other. "I
approached the shop with feelings as anxious, and not more enviable,
than those of a criminal when he is dragged to the bar. The publisher
was out upon business, and one of his young men returned me my
manuscripts, and a letter, with his master's compliments and thanks. I
do not remember leaving the shop. The stupefaction of death was dashed
upon my soul. I believe that I appeared tranquil; but it was the
tranquillity of misery immoveable beneath its own load. In despair, I
broke open the letter--a guinea fell from its folds at my feet."

"Heaven bless him!" interrupted the farmer.

"Amen!" responded the scholar, and continued: "Without waiting to read
the contents of his note, I hurried into a tavern, to allay the cravings
of hunger, and to warm, or rather thaw, my almost frozen body. But I
sickened, and could eat little. I had wanted food until, like a spoiled
child, my appetite refused that for which it had yearned. With the still
open letter upon my knee, as my joints began to feel the influence of
returning heat, I suddenly sank, with my head upon my bosom, into a
deep, dreamless sleep; and, being awoke by the rioting of some
half-drunken men, I found one of them had made free with the back part
of my letter to light his pipe, which had been addressed, after the
usual silly and absurd fashion common amongst literary men--who ought
rather to set an example in despising vain frivolities--_B. Musgrave,
Esq._ 'I beg your pardon, _Squire_,' said the fellow, in a tone of
irony. 'Here's wishing you a pair of new shoes, and health to wear them,
_Squire_,' said a third, in the same tone, raising a tankard to his
lips. And the party broke into a laugh of derision."

"Doctor!" exclaimed the farmer, indignantly, "ye deserved all ye got, if
ye didna make a broom o' the bunch o' them, and sweep the house wi' the
hair o' their heads."

"I am not remarkable for brooking insults," added Musgrave, "and of that
more than one of the company had cause to be convinced. In his letter,
the bookseller spoke of my writings as displaying considerable
originality and genius. Parts of them, he thought, exhibited marks of
being written too hastily, and recommended their omission. He regretted
that he durst not hazard their publication; as, unfortunately, too much
depended upon patronage, connection, or the influence of a name. He
recommended publishing by subscription, and brought forward the example
of Pope, Burns, and others, to render the advice palatable, as children
receive sweetmeats after acid drugs. He begged to enclose a guinea for
two copies to himself; and, wishing me success, he said it would afford
him pleasure, by every means in his power, to forward the publication. I
will not exhaust your patience by a recital of calamities which a
critic, ignorant of their meaning, or ashamed to look back on them,
would pronounce vulgar, and in bad taste. Being contented with the
luxury of half a bed, for which I paid sixpence, I experienced the truth
of the proverb, that 'misery maketh a man acquainted with strange
bedfellows.' Beggars, thieves, men of all nations, and of all climes and
colours, shared my pillow. But I resolved to husband my guinea,
indulging myself with sleeping one night, and wandering the streets the
next, alternately. It was in vain, in the meantime, that I used every
effort to obtain the situation of assistant-surgeon. In London, more,
perhaps, than in any city, appearance is everything; and I carried my
own condemnation written on my ruined garments."

"Troth, I have remarked there is some truth in what ye say, doctor,"
said the farmer; "if a man wishes to prosper, he should never, if
possible, appear like a shorn sheep wi' the fleece bare on his back."

"My money," added the scholar, "was again reduced to five shillings; and
to ward off the approach of starvation, I was compelled to renounce the
comforts of a bed once in forty-eight hours, as a luxury I could no
longer afford. The very shoes left my feet with ceaseless wandering. My
feet bled as I walked. My hat became shapeless; I was ashamed to look on
it. The wind began to sport through my garments, and found loopholes for
his sport. My person became like a moving spirit of famine, clothed with
poverty, and shivering in a storm. My spirit was not broken, but it was
bowed down. Yielding to the hope of despair, I attempted publishing by
subscription. The plan may succeed where a man is known, where he has
friends to push the subscription for him, or where he has impudence that
is proof against insult; but, amongst strangers, it is a hopeless task.
I was doomed to endure indignities from ignorant and contemptible
menials, who, glancing at my figure, thrust the doors in my face, as on
a common beggar! O sir! the recollection haunts me still. It is the only
act of my life on which I cannot think without a burning blush coming
over my face. I need not say it was unsuccessful. For thirty successive
nights I wandered through the streets of this city, exposed to the
storms of February and the bleak winds of March, sleeping as I moved
along, or standing, and knowing not that I stood, till aroused by the
jest of a passing unfortunate, or rudely driven on by the watchman of
the night. Ten times in the hour, I would stumble beneath the oppression
of sleep to the ground. But I will not detail those days and nights of
misery. The scenes I then encountered would provoke a smile and a tear
at the same moment. They were a mingling of the ludicrous and the
wretched. Yet, to give you but one or two instances out of many:--One
cold and weary night, sleep came upon me like death itself. I was
wandering along Thames Street, and came to Billingsgate. Porters and
oyster-sellers were lounging about the market, some sitting smoking,
laughing, or drinking, though it was not an hour past midnight. I sought
shelter beneath the sheds, and stretched myself upon one of the tables
or benches. But the cold was intense. My very blood seemed freezing. I
arose and removed to a corner of the market over the side of the river,
and there, there was one of the open shops, stalls, or sheds, the one
side of which was screened by a large and loosely-hanging canvas sign,
facing the river, of more than six feet square, setting forth the
occupant of the stall as fishmonger, oyster-dealer, and so forth.
Through the lamplight and starlight, I cast a longing and envious look
at the loose and painted canvas. I took it down, and stretched myself
upon the bench, spread it over me as a blanket. It was the most
comfortable covering I had had for many nights. But scarce had sleep,
which pressed heavily upon me, sealed up my eyelids, when I was aroused
by a rude hand shaking me by the shoulder, and a ruder voice exclaiming,
'Holloa! who have we got here?' It was the proprietor of the shed. I
started--rubbed my eyes--stammered out an apology. A crowd of fishwomen
and porters gathered round us. The fishmonger spoke of calling for the
police. I expostulated. He offered to hold me. I raised my hand, and I
am thankful that his table, which was a fixture, was between him and the
river. I rushed through the crowd; and whether the blow which I had lent
the fishmonger operated upon their courage and humanity, I cannot tell,
but they made way for me. I had not, however, proceeded far, when sleep
again became too much for me, and too literally I 'caught myself
tripping.' Its influence was irresistible, and St Paul's had not yet
chimed the hour of three. I saw a cart standing beneath an open gateway;
and, with gratitude in my heart, I lay down on it as a couch of luxury.
But there I had not lain long when I was awoke by a person at my side. I
started.

"'Don't be afraid, sir,' said the intruder; 'it is only a poor brother
in misfortune!'

"I turned round and glanced at him through the dim light, but scarce
could I discover what manner of man he was, till sleep again 'locked up
my senses in forgetfulness.' A little after daybreak, I awoke,
shivering, my joints stiff, my teeth chattering together, and my whole
body a mass of pain. I perceived that my 'poor brother in misfortune'
was, or rather I ought to say had been, dressed respectably, yea, even
fashionably. He carried with him a portfolio, which even in his sleep he
pressed closely beneath his arm. As I arose he awoke; and groaning, he
arose also and accompanied me. I know not whether it was mutual
wretchedness, or the portfolio beneath his arm, that caused me to feel a
regard for him at the first glance; but certain it is I was prepossessed
in his favour. We were a couple of strange, miserable-looking
characters, as we went drowsily, laggardly, and lamely up Fish Street
Hill together. I observed the night-watchmen, who had not left their
beat, turned round, and even held up their lanterns--though the
morning's light was well advanced--and examined us as we passed. As
though our errand or our thoughts were the same, we proceeded towards
the Park together; and when the sun arose, he opened his portfolio, and
exhibited it to me. He was an artist, and an artist, too, of high
promise. His portfolio contained many bold and vigorous pencil sketches,
where soul, taste, and a daring hand were exemplified. He had also a
number of beautiful pieces in water-colours, which showed that his touch
was delicate as well as bold. I took my pencil, and wrote a few lines on
the back of one of the Bristol boards on which one of the subjects was
sketched, and the artist and I became friends. Neither of us had
wherewith to purchase a breakfast; but, in the forenoon, he had to call
upon a printseller in the Strand with some of his pieces in
water-colours, and we parted with a promise to meet again on the
following day. But an accident, which I shall afterwards mention,
prevented me from keeping my engagement; and we parted without the one
knowing the name of the other. I have not again met with him; but, until
this hour, I regret that I learned not the name of a young artist, whom
I met with under such circumstances, and whose productions manifested
high genius, a correct taste, and a skilful hand. Now, at this period,
sir, I should tell you that the greater part of the day was generally
spent in attempts to sleep upon the seats in the Park; and, dreadful as
the pangs of hunger were, at length (and this is no idle saying), I
could have been content to die beneath their rage, to have purchased but
one hour of rest and repose. The agony of hunger yields to the agony of
sleep."

"And do you really say, doctor," inquired the farmer, "that ye have
suffered a' this in a Christian land, even in this city? I hardly think
it possible."

"Some may doubt it," replied Robert, earnestly; "but the remembrance of
what I have endured will live as a coal of fire in my heart for ever;
and the fiftieth part of what I suffered has not been told you. But,
sir, before I proceed farther with my story, allow me to go back to
another part of my history, and advert to another circumstance. You will
remember--it is more than a dozen years ago--a military gentleman, whom
we generally called Colonel Forster, took up his residence on the banks
of the Esk, a few miles from Longtown. He was, I believe, a
lieutenant-colonel in the service of the East India Company."

"I remember him perfectly well, Mr Musgrave," said the farmer, "and know
him yet; and, moreover, I also remember that ye was particularly fond of
his daughter Bertha, and that it was said that it wasna her beauty ye
was in love wi', but her siller; for the colonel was understood to be a
perfect nabob, and I have heard that he forbade you to come about the
house."

"Sir," continued Musgrave--and there was a glow of indignation on his
countenance--"I care not what the world may have said, nor what they do
say. The lark greeteth not the dawning of the dawn with more fervent
delight than I first beheld the fair countenance of Bertha Forster. I
knew not that her father was rich, and, when I did know it, I grieved
that he was so. But to me she plighted her first vow, and pledged her
'maiden troth;' and, though I knew that, by her fulfilling it, I should
take the hand of a penniless bride--for it is true that her father
threatened to disinherit her if she kept my company, and to leave all
that he was possessed of to a son in India--yet I loved her the more. I
loved her for herself, and our feelings were reciprocal. Ever shall I
remember the night on which we parted, previous to my leaving Cumberland
for this city. It was in a deep wood, near her father's house. The Esk
murmured by our feet, and the grey twilight fell over us. The
evening-star was in the heavens; and the wood, the star, the river, and
the twilight, were the witnesses of our tears and of our vows. But you
are past the period of life when the recital of such things can be
interesting; and respect for her whom my soul worships forbids me to say
more. Yet, although her father despised and spurned me, we parted with a
promise to write to each other, with a declaration to preserve our
plighted vows inviolate even unto death. It was agreed that I should
send my letters to her, addressed to a humble but mutual friend. But I
was long in London ere I wrote; for I had not the means of writing; and,
when an answer came to that letter--oh! I never knew real misery till
then! She knew not the depth of my wretchedness--the extremeness of my
poverty! I beheld my name on the board at the post-office amongst the
list of persons whose residence could not be found. Day after day I
visited it, and stood with my eyes fixed upon my own name, while my
heart was ready to burst with agony and anxiety. I knew the letter was
from my Bertha; but I had not the few pence necessary to relieve it. I
had no means of obtaining them. I was a penniless, houseless stranger,
unknown to every one in this vast city. And, after gazing on the board
till my eyes were dimmed by rising tears, and my brain excited almost to
madness, I was wont to flee from the city; and often, in solitude and in
darkness, pour forth the bitterness of my spirit to the night winds.
Often, at such times, in the excess of misery, I have wrung my hands
together, and exclaimed aloud--

"'What would my poor Bertha think if she knew this!'

"At length the list of names amongst which mine appeared was removed
from the post-office and replaced by others; and when, after obtaining
the means of paying for the letter, I made inquiry after it, I was
informed that it had been returned. I doubted not but that she would
imagine I had forgotten her; and, as I turned away in disappointment and
in hopelessness, I said unto myself, 'Farewell, my Bertha!'"

"Help us, doctor!" exclaimed Peter; "is it really possible that anybody
can have been so put about for a thirteenpence matter! Yet, how do we
fling away shilling after shilling, day after day, without ever thinking
o' the road they are going! And how ready we are to say about anything,
'Oh, it was only a shilling!' But, doctor, when ye think what a relief
'only a shilling' would have given to your mind at that moment, surely
ye will have considered weel the length and breadth o' every sixpence ye
have spent since then. It will be a lesson to me, however, to be more
cautious how I ever spend thirteenpence again; and, if I find myself
ready to fling it away on any unwiselike or unprofitable purposes, I
will just think--'What good will what I am going to do wi' my money do
me?--and what would Doctor Musgrave have given for it, when he saw the
letter from his sweetheart, and hadna the thirteenpence to open it?' As
sure as death!--as we used to say at school, and that is gay sure--had
any other body told me what ye have said but yoursel, I would have
laughed at it. Had I read it in print, I wouldna have believed it. But
there is one thing in it, and that is, it just shows us what poor
dependent creatures we are one upon another. Doctor, ye had a sair trial
there for a sma' matter."

"You, sir," continued Mr Musgrave, "no doubt consider London an immense,
almost a limitless city; but, sir, it is too small for the bounds of
misery. Often have I wandered from Knightsbridge to Mile End, yea, from
Cheswick to the East India Docks, and slowly returned the way I came
thinking that daylight would never break, and wondering how people spoke
of London as a great city. They, sir, who would really know the limits
of London, must shake hands with misery as I have done. They must
wander its streets by night, without food and without hope, and they
will marvel how short they are. People talk of losing themselves amongst
the intricacies and many turnings of this city. It is nonsense,
sir--sheer stupidity. Let them once be lost in misery, in penniless,
houseless wretchedness, and should a purse show itself at their feet,
they would discover where they were in a moment. The man who has no
money never loses himself in London--none do but fools who have it to
lose. But, sir, it was on the very night after I had attempted to sleep
in Billingsgate, beneath the comfortable covering of a fishmonger's
sign, and dreamed by the side of an artist in a drayman's cart, that I
was wandering on the borough side of the river, and had proceeded nearly
three miles beyond the Elephant and Castle, when cries for assistance
roused me from my waking dream. I rushed forward. A gentleman in an open
carriage, with his servant, were attacked by four footpads, armed with
knives and bludgeons. I took up a stone from the road, and, hurling it
at the head of one of the robbers, when within a few yards of them,
stretched him on the ground. We were then man to man. I sprang upon
another--I grappled with him, overpowered him, and wrenched the bludgeon
from his hands, but not until he had plunged his knife into my side. It
was a bad wound, but not a dangerous one. With the bludgeon which I had
wrenched from the hand of the robber, I rushed upon another of his
associates, who, I found, had that moment overcome the gentleman to
whose rescue I had providentially arrived. I dealt him a heavy and a
hearty blow upon his busiest arm, which causing him to find that he had
only his limbs left, he took to his heels and ran. The two whom I had
already overthrown, had anticipated him in his flight, and, on seeing
him run, the fourth followed their example. I attempted to run after
them, but fell upon the ground from loss of blood. The gentleman was
himself wounded, but slightly; and he, with his servant, raising me
from the ground, and placing me in his carriage, conveyed me to the
nearest inn. There, after a surgeon had been sent for, and my wound
dressed, he requested to know who I was, and to whom he was indebted for
his liberty and his life. But in all that concerned myself I was silent;
and, in answer to all questions as to whom or what I was, I was dumb. My
wound was deep, though not dangerous; and all that I regretted was, that
I should be left an invalid in an inn, while I had nothing to recompense
those who attended on me. After earnestly entreating to know who I was,
or what was my name--though I have reason to believe that, from my
dejected appearance, he entertained a most sorry idea of me--the
gentleman whom I had rescued proceeded onwards to London. But I was
silent to all his inquiries. Pride sealed up my tongue, and I shook my
head and said nothing. I could not speak--shame and poverty tortured me
more than my wound.

"Within an hour he proceeded on his journey; and, on the following day,
he returned with a medical gentleman to visit me. It was with difficulty
that I could sit up in my bed to welcome them. The man of surgery began
by asking many questions, which I answered like a true Scotsman, by
asking others which startled him; and I heard him whisper to him whom I
had rescued--

"'Sir, he is, without doubt, a member of my profession.'

"The gentleman--I mean him whom I rescued from the ruffians--came
forward to me; he took my hand in his--most earnestly he took it--and,
as he held it, there was something like a tear--a tear of
gratitude--rolling in his eyes.

"'Sir,' said he, 'to your courage I owe my life. Allow me to ask by what
name I shall call my deliverer. It is evident that you are not, or that
you have not always been, what your present appearance bespeaks. Let me
know, therefore, how I am to thank you--how I can reward you as I
ought.'

"'Sir,' answered I, 'you are a stranger to me; so am I to you. Let us
remain so. If you speak of reward, you will cause me to regret what I
did in attempting your rescue. Whatever I am, whatever I have been,
matters not. I saw a fellow-man attacked and overpowered, and I
attempted to deliver him. The humblest animal, prompted by its instinct,
would have done the same. I am entitled to no thanks for what I have
done--and, above all, I wish no questions asked of me.'"

"Faith, doctor, ye answered nobly, and just as ye ought to have, if ye
had had a hundred pounds in your pocket; but, man, ye stood in your ain
light. There is nae saying what he might have done for you. It might hae
been the king or the prime minister for onything ye kenned."

"He might," resumed the scholar; "but he rejoined, 'Sir, I admire the
independence of your spirit, but wherefore should you, without cause,
reject the acquaintance of one who seeks your friendship? You have
endangered your life to save mine--what stronger claim could you have on
my everlasting gratitude? If common feeling prompted you to rescue me,
suffer me not to leave you until I have testified that I am actuated by
such feelings, in common with yourself. You refuse to tell me your name;
mine is William Forster, a colonel in the service of the East India
Company.'

"At the mention of his name my heart leaped within me. The brother of my
Bertha, and of whom I have spoken, was in the service of the East India
Company. I dreaded that he and the individual I had saved might be the
same person; and I resolved, more determinedly than before, to conceal
from him my name and circumstances. But, finding he could learn nothing
from me, he offered me money. O sir! at that time I could have taken
his life--I could have taken my own. To what have I sunk, I thought, or
what am I now, that I should be treated as the veriest beggar that
crawls upon the streets! 'Sir,' I exclaimed, wildly, 'keep your
gold--your dross--your insulting dross. I did not assist you in your
hour of need, that you should insult my situation by a mendicant's
reward. I, sir, have the feelings of a gentleman as well as you,
whatever I may now seem--therefore torment me not.' He informed me that
he had to leave London on the following day; and he entreated that I
would tell him who I was, that he might show that he was grateful for
what I had done, in a way that might not be painful to my feelings. But
the thought that he was the brother of my Bertha haunted me, maddened
me, and I waved my hand to him and cried, 'Away! away!' His countenance
bespoke him to be a man to whom I could have poured forth my whole soul;
but even in that countenance I read her lineaments, and my soul moved
like an agitated thing that I could feel within me, as I gazed on them.

"'Go, sir,' I exclaimed; 'and if you will be grateful, be so to one who
rejoices in having been instrumental in assisting you. Leave me. I ask
no more, for your questions torture me, and your pecuniary offers insult
me.'

"He left me, but never did I behold a man part from another more
reluctantly, or one who was more under the influence of strong emotion.
My wound confined me to the inn for five weeks, and, during much of that
time, my thoughts were distracted regarding the bill of the innkeeper.
But one day he came to me and said--

"'Sir, I don't know how you and the gentleman whom you rescued from the
highwaymen stand; but one thing I know, he is a gentleman every inch of
him. He has paid for all that you have had, or may have for a month to
come; and here, master, are fifty pounds which he left me to give to you
in as delicate a way as I could, for, as he said, you were rather
proud-spirited. Now, master, here is the money, and he was as safe in
trusting it in my hands as if he had put it in the bank.'

"I knew not what to do; but, after a struggle, and a severe one, I
accepted the money. You may despise me for what I did----"

"Me despise you!" cried the farmer; "for what, I would like to ken? It
is the only wiselike action I have heard you say that you did. The man
that would despise another for taking fifty pounds where it was
deserved, is a being that doesna understand what money is, or what it
was made for. They may despise ye that like, doctor, upon that account,
but it winna be me."

"Well, sir," resumed Musgrave, "with the fifty pounds in my pocket, I
again appeared upon the streets of London. But a change had passed over
me. Even the policemen who before had ordered me to 'walk on' knew me
not. I was another man--I was as one on whom fashion shed its sunning
influence. I again endeavoured to obtain a situation as an
assistant-surgeon, but the attempt was unsuccessful. I should have told
you that it was owing to being confined with my wound that I was unable
to meet my 'brother in misfortune,' the artist of whom I have spoken. I
now tried my fortune as a writer for the magazines, and was paid for
what I wrote even liberally, as I considered it. But there was one
drawback attending this liberality: though I could write an article for
which I received three, four, or seven guineas, in a day (for authors
always calculate in guineas, though they are paid in pounds), yet it was
not every day, neither was it every month, that I could get such an
article accepted; and it was not every magazine that admitted me as a
contributor. But by such writing I managed to live; and, as my name
became known, I felt less of the misery which I endured when I first
embarked in the precarious trade of authorship. Yet a precarious trade I
still found it to be. I was enabled to live, but I lived between the
hand and the mouth.

"The publisher whom I have already mentioned as having given a guinea
towards the publishing of my works by subscription, engaged me to
translate a novel from the French, and a small work from the Italian, of
which language I had but a scanty knowledge. But it does not require the
perfect knowledge of a language to be a translator which many consider
necessary."

"I canna say," said Peter; "I must confess ye are out o' my depths
there--but get on wi' your story, for I'm not sure but I may have
something to tell ye."

"Well, sir," resumed the scholar, "after the translations had appeared,
and when the seductions of a literary life, notwithstanding all its
privations and all its uncertainty, had induced me to abandon all
thoughts of pursuing my own profession, I determined to write for the
stage. It would be tedious for me to tell you of all the difficulties I
had to encounter before I could obtain an audience of the theatrical
managers, or what was called the committee of management. I found them
more difficult of access than the Cham of Tartary. As well might I have
undertaken a mission to Pekin, with the intent of pulling the celestial
emperor by the button. But at length my object was attained. A tragedy
that I had written was accepted, and announced for representation. The
eventful night came. The new drama--my drama--was to be performed. The
first scene went off in silence--in utter silence; and often the actors
mangled the lines most miserably. They forgot Hamlet's advice. But, as
the first act was concluded, pit, boxes, and gallery burst into a tumult
of applause. I was seated in the pit. The sweat broke upon my brow.
Vanity wrought triumphantly in my bosom. I was the greatest man in
London. The second, the third, the fourth, the fifth acts concluded in
the same manner. The curtain fell, and the audience shouted, 'The
author! the author!' For this tribute of public approbation I was not
prepared. The stage-manager came to me, and still the audience in the
gallery kept thundering and shouting, 'The author! the author!' He
insisted that I should appear upon the stage, and before the audience.
Vain as I was, I sickened at his words; but he took my hand, and led me
forth. I became as a thing that moves, without a consciousness of, or a
power over, its moving. I had become pale as death. They led me to what
they call the green-room, and they put rouge upon my face. But it was in
vain, and the cold sweat swept it away, and left my countenance as if
covered with wounds. I was led upon the stage as a sheep is led to the
slaughter. The lights flashed on me, and I beheld twice a thousand eyes
fixed upon me. I knew not how to act. I trembled--bowed--threw my eyes
in bewilderment over the multitude; but, as I was about to address them,
on whom amongst that mixed assembly should my eyes fall, but on my
Bertha! I started. A frenzy came upon me. I sprang towards the pit. Yet
it is in vain for me to tell you, for I knew not what I did. She sat in
a box immediately facing me. I heard a woman's scream; I knew it came
from where she was. The multitude seemed rising, and moving around me,
and every eye was on me. But I cannot describe to you what I felt or
what I saw. I became unconscious. I knew only that I had seen her--that
she was somewhere. There was a noise like that of many waters in my
ears. My head went round--my eyes were blind. When I recovered, I was
seated in the green-room, and the actors in their strange dresses
surrounded me. They endeavoured to restore me to consciousness, as
though I had been a sickly maiden that had fainted in their arms; and
when I did recover from the sickness and insanity that came over me--

"'Where--oh, where,' I cried, 'is my Bertha?'

"I remember not of having done so; but I have been told that I did. You
may think, sir, that I acted wildly, as a madman, or as a fool; but,
before you condemn, think of what I had endured--of my recent misery,
and of my vanity when shout rose on shout, and the cry from the
assembled thousands was--'The author! the author!' Such changes, sir,
were enough to turn a steadier head than mine."

"For my part, doctor," said Peter, "I have no notion o' plays; I never
saw one in my life, and I canna say that I a'thegither comprehend ye.
But let me hear about Miss Bertha."

"All that I could learn concerning her was," resumed Musgrave, "that a
young lady in the boxes had uttered a sudden scream as she beheld me and
the strange bewilderment that came over me, but that she had immediately
been conveyed away by her friends in a coach. This only have I been able
to learn. But it was she. Though all else that took place is as a wreck
upon my memory, I see her before me now as I at that moment beheld her;
I see still her one wild look that entered my soul, and I yet hear her
heart-piercing cry, which brought delirium upon me, and rendered me dead
to every other sound. But, from that night, I have been able to hear no
more concerning her. I have sought her in church and in chapel, in the
theatres and in the public walks, but never again have I beheld her.
Often also have I written to Cumberland; but my letters have remained
unanswered or been returned. She had forsaken me, or she has been
compelled to forsake me; for, when I last beheld her, her face still
beamed with affection, and her wild and sudden cry was the offspring of
an old but a still living affection."

"I hear, by what ye say, doctor," rejoined the farmer, "that ye are as
fond o' Miss Bertha as ever. Now, as I said to ye before, I am not
certain but what I have something that ye might wish to hear, to
communicate to ye; and, before doing so, with your permission, I would
just ask you one or two plain questions. Ye have told me a great deal of
the miserable state ye was in after ye came to London, and I would just
like to ask ye if ye are bettor off now, and how and in what respect ye
are so? I trust, therefore, that ye will by no means think the question
impertinent; for I assure you, it is for your sake that I ask it, and
not for any gratification to mysel."

"Well, sir," answered the scholar, "to be as plain with you as you
desire, I have shaken hands with privation, and left it upon the road,
to form the acquaintance of those who may follow me; or, to be more
plain with you, I found that literature was a good staff but a bad
crutch; and, as I began to gather my feet, I used it accordingly. In a
word, as my name became known amongst men, my labours became more and
more profitable; and, three years ago, thinking that I had obtained the
means of doing so, I made an attempt to resume my profession as a
surgeon. For many months, it was but an attempt, and a hopeless one,
too; but gradually practice dawned or crept upon me. I am now employed
as well as other members of my profession are; and, with the assistance
of my literary labours, I look back upon the penury with which I
struggled, and wish it to remain where I left it. But, though I have
known something of the moonshine of fame as it has scattered its rays
upon my head, and felt also the influence of the warmer beams of profit
as I began to bask in the sun of popularity, yet there was, and there
is, one dark and unsunned spot in my heart--and that is, the remembrance
of my Bertha. Still does imagination conjure up her sudden glance, her
one wild cry and look of agony, as I came forward to receive the
plaudits of the multitude, when, as the bay-leaves were circling my
brow, the prickly brier was rudely drawn across my bosom."

"Well, doctor," said Peter, "ye have not just spoken so plain as I could
have wished; but I dare to say that I comprehend ye. When ye eat a meal
now, ye ken where the next is to come from; and if Miss Bertha still
thinks o' ye, and were to gie you her hand, there would be no likelihood
o' her being brought in contact with the privations with which ye have
manfully struggled, and which, I am happy to hear (and, I may say, more
happy to perceive--for a person's own eyes are excellent witnesses), ye
have overcome. Now, sir, hearken to me, for I have something to tell ye.
I had always a sort of liking for ye, doctor; and though I did see ye
foolish and stupid in many things, yet I was sorry for ye, and I said I
believed that ye was a lad o' real genius, and of a right heart at the
bottom. More than that, I said, that, if ye minded your hand, ye would
be heard tell of in the world--and I have not been mistaken, for, even
down in Cumberland, we have seen your name in the papers; and a hundred
times have I said to my neighbours--'I always told ye that lad would
rise to something.' But now, sir--now to the main subject, the one in
which you will feel the greatest interest. Ye say that ye again and
again wrote to Miss Bertha to Cumberland, and never got an answer. I am
in no way surprised at that at all; and for this simple reason, that old
Colonel Forster left Eskside five years ago, and went to reside near a
place they call Elstree, about ten miles from this city. Now, the way in
which I am acquainted with the circumstance is this:--About a year after
ye left, the old nabob, as we used to ca' him, bought the farm that I
rented, and became my landlord. Therefore, when he came to live in this
quarter, I had to send my rents here. But, sir, he understands that I am
in London--for I just handed him my rent, being here, the other day--and
he has invited me to dine wi' him at his house to-morrow. Now, sir, if
ye hae nae objections, I will just tak you out wi' me as an old friend;
and if ye're not made welcome, I shall not be welcome either. So, say
the word--will ye go wi' me, or will ye not?"

"I will--yes, yes, I will!" answered Mr Musgrave, eagerly.

"Well, well," said Peter, "there need be no more about it, then--say
that I meet you at this house to-morrow at two o'clock."

"Agreed," replied the other.

"But," returned Peter, "there is one thing I forgot to tell ye, and that
is, that I understand Miss Bertha is on the eve of being married, and
highly married, too, they say wi' us. Therefore, ye will not be
surprised if ye find your former acquaintance forgotten, or seemingly
forgotten, which, in such matters, amounts to somewhat about the same
thing."

On the following day, Mr Peter Liddell and Robert Musgrave entered a cab
in Fleet Street together, and proceeded towards Elstree.

"Now," said Peter, as they approached the residence of his landlord, "I
believe that I may be running my head against a wall; for I am well
aware that the old colonel never liked ye. Ye are one who would be
unwelcome at any time, but doubly so at a time like this, when his
daughter is on the point of being married. But I will tell ye what it
is--I am just as independent as he is. I am as able to live without the
help o' the landlord, as the landlord is to live without the help o' the
tenant. Therefore, if he puts down his brows at you when we are
introduced, I will show him the back o' my coat, and so good-day to
him."

"I believe, then," said Musgrave, "that with him I shall be no welcome
guest; but, if Bertha welcome me, it is enough. You have spoken to me of
her intended marriage--be it so. If she has forgotten me, if she has
ceased to care for me, I will look upon her and bless her, in
remembrance of days which have passed away as the shadow of a cloud
passeth over the earth. But with that blessing hope will depart; for,
sir, it was the remembrance of her that sustained me in all my
struggles. It was the hope that she might, would one day be mine, that
induced me to hope against hope, to wrestle with despair. For her sake
only have I sought for fame, as a miser would seek after hidden
treasure; and when it began to throw its light and its sunniness over
me, she was the flower that rendered sunlight beautiful--for what is
there lovely in light but as a thing which maketh the face of the earth
fair to look upon?"

They drew up at the door of the colonel's residence, and were ushered
into a room where he and a party of his friends sat. Peter, who was what
people in the south would call a '_cute_ man, was beginning to make an
apology, saying--

"I beg your pardon, colonel, for the liberty I have taken; but meeting
with my old friend, Doctor Musgrave, yesterday, I prevailed on him to
come out wi' me, as we were a' Cumberland folk together; and though he
is a great man now----"

But, while Peter spoke, one of the company started forward. He grasped
our hero by the hand, and exclaimed--

"My deliverer! Long and anxiously have I sought for you; but, until this
hour, nothing have I been able to learn respecting you. Father," he
added, "this is the gentleman of whom a hundred times you have heard me
speak, as having at the peril of his own life saved mine. I have never
known or met him again until now. Thank him with me." And, as he spoke,
he held the doctor's hand between his.

The old man rose. He evidently laboured to speak to the stranger; but
other feelings obtained the mastery. He stretched out his hand. He
touched Robert Musgrave's--he coldly bowed to him. The blood left his
face.

"Father," exclaimed the son, "you are ill. Hath gratitude----" But he
paused as he beheld the expression of his father's features. They
betrayed anger and agony at the same moment.

"Son," said he, "I would speak with you: that man--that man;" and he
pointed to the scholar impatiently, and, beckoning to his son, rose to
leave the room.

"Sir," said Musgrave, proudly, "if my presence trouble you, I can
withdraw."

"My friend, what mean you?--what means my father?" asked the brother of
Bertha, who was, indeed, the same individual that the scholar had
rescued.

"I dinna ken," answered Peter Liddle; "but, if Doctor Musgrave go the
door, I go to the door too."

The father and the son looked at each other. The glance of the latter
sought from the former an explanation.

At that instant the door opened, and the much-talked-of Bertha entered
the room.

"Bertha!" exclaimed Musgrave, and stepped forward, as if unconscious of
what he did.

"Robert!" she rejoined, clasping her hands together. She started--she
fell back; her brother supported her in his arms.

"Bertha!--father!--friend!" he exclaimed, hastily glancing to each as he
spoke, "what means this?"

A man of middle age rose, and, as he hurried from the room, said--

"Farewell, Forster," addressing the old man; "you have deceived, you
have insulted me. The man who is to be your daughter's husband is with
her now."

It was the intended husband of Bertha that so spoke, and left the
apartment. The old colonel rose to follow him.

"Stay, father," said his son; "what I have now witnessed requires an
explanation. This stranger, to whom I owe my life, you have seen
before--my sister has seen him--and there is something connected with
your acquaintance with each other that I must understand."

"Yes," cried the old man, "I have seen him before--I have--I have."

"Bertha?" said his son; but she raised her hands before her face and
wept.

"Sir," said the younger Forster, "I can be grateful. Though I am not
acquainted with you, my sister is. Let me call my deliverer _brother_!"
And he took the hand of his weeping sister and placed it in that of
Robert Musgrave.

The old man started; but his son soothed him. And Robert Musgrave stood
with the hand of Bertha Forster locked in his; and within a few weeks he
called that hand his own, and was happy--and the sufferings that the
Poor Scholar had endured became as a tale that is told.



THE LAIRD OF DARNICK TOWER.[12]

    "Red glared the beacon on Pownell--
      On Eildon there were three;
    The bugle-horn on muir and fell
      Was heard continually."--JAMES HOGG.


[Footnote 12: Darnick Tower is still in possession of the old family,
and is at present the property of our respected townsman, John Heiton,
Esq., the lineal descendant of the hero of the legend.--ED.]

There is no country in the world that has so many legends, and legends
of so remarkable a character, as Scotland. The fact is attributable to
the peculiar mental form of the Saxon; always with a disposition to look
back, to cull glorious memories of the past, and from these, again, to
distil the spirit of a noble emulation for the present and the future.
We are not now speaking of a _dilettante_ antiquarianism, which becomes
_blasé_ over a household utensil, or learned on a relic from the cradle
of art; but of that moral antiquarianism which courts examples of a
grand courage, exercised for the sake of liberty or Christianity, or
searches for traits of the domestic or social virtues, upon which the
true greatness of a nation is founded. In this sense, every Scotsman is
an antiquary--embracing his subject with enthusiasm, and inspiring his
contemporaries with the patriotism he himself feels. He cannot see an
old ruin, be it of a castle or a peel tower, but he must know what its
possessors did in the days of the red Flodden or the desperate
Drumclog--a good old grandam, but he must hear of a legend of foray, or
tournay, or love:

    "A story old
    Of baron bold,
    Or trollëd lay
    Of lady gaye;"

and laugh or weep over the details, as they come from lips trembling as
if with inspiration.

Nor does time ever end legend, or the love of it, in the true legendary
lands. Time's embalming yields the incense, which, like the sweetness of
the vestal lamp, is fragrant for ever. Every recital, and every
listening, is a triumph of the genius of tradition; but, as if the past
were a thing of endless development, we are continually meeting with new
instances, to add to the treasury of the old, and increase the stock for
those who are to come after us, and live our feelings, and our
throbbings, and our sighs, over again, even as did those of the
dearly-beloved ones who have gone before, and now know the traditions of
eternity. Though every nook and corner has been searched, there is
something always left for such gleaners as we; and even now we are
discoverers at the very side and within the verge of the wand of a
magician. Notwithstanding that the old tower or peel of Darnick is
described in the "Monastery," it was practically known to Sir Walter
Scott principally as an ancient pile, which he wanted to possess, to
impart some dignity of antiquity to the domains of Abbotsford. If he
knew that it had been for ages the residence of the good old family of
the Heitons, with the sturdy bull for their crest, the sooner their
representative was engulfed in the Abbotsford swirl the better; for the
new edifice was not only to be composed of old armorial stones, but to
represent an _old_ family just brought into being by the modern
Libitina, Genius.[13]

[Footnote 13: Darnick Tower, so exquisite a bit of Border antiquities,
was the chief object of Sir Walter Scott's passion for acquisition, and
so well known was this foible of his, that he soon obtained the name of
the Duke of Darnick. Mr Heiton, though inclined to dispose of a portion
of the lands, was unwilling to part with the old tower, which had been
for hundreds of years in his family. We do not believe that Sir Walter
himself ever viewed with any feelings of disrespect a resolution so much
akin to his own family predilection; but his son-in-law, Mr Lockhart, in
his Life of Sir Walter, indulged in a sneer, that the proprietor of the
tower, _having made money_ in Edinburgh, was unwilling to part with it.
He forgot probably the counterpart, that Sir Walter, having also made
money in Edinburgh, was very anxious to get it. The passage is as
foolish as it is unjust, because it assumes that, while Sir Walter had a
right to be proud of _founding_ a family, Mr Heiton was not entitled to
hold the mark of _representing_ one.--ED.]

Now it was left for us to know something more of the old peel tower in
addition to what history tells. The traveller by the Tweed cannot fail
to observe the old peel, as it raises its grey head over the houses of
the village of Darnick, a little to the west of Melrose. The real
antiquary will turn from Abbotsford to examine it, and to admire its
wonderful preservation, after so many years' exposure to the
devastations of time and war. It is many a long day since a gallant
member of the house fell, as "one of the Flowers of the Forest," in the
battle of Flodden; or since another fought against the bold Buccleugh in
the fight with Angus, in the very precincts of the tower; or since
another Heiton, or De Heyton, as he was called, got the charter to the
lands from Queen Mary and Darnley; yet, dating from the last of these
periods, and we know for certain the strength then existed, we are left
to admire the old representative of defence against foray, as a kind of
contrast to the modern effort of the Great Unknown, so like an old-new
worm-eaten charter written in vellum, worm-eaten while on the sheep's
back--at least not so ancient as the skin of the goat which suckled
Jove!

But to proceed with our legend of Darnick:

It happened some time about the year 1526 that Andrew Heiton was sitting
in his tower of Darnick, thinking of the strange things doing in
Scotland at that time, which was the Augustan Era of the Borderers.
Scott of Buccleugh had risen from the condition of a riever, and would
have been a right poor clan, as the ballad says, if every honest man on
the Borders had had his own cow. The Homes and the Kers had also risen
into great power, and the Elliots, through the greatness of the Scotts,
stood second in the ranks of these sturdy champions of might against
right. All was tumult south of the Tweed, but it was not of the old
foraying kind simply, when cattle made hatred, and hatred made war, when
a Cockburn was against a Tushielaw, an Elibank against a Harden, an
Elliot against a Ker, only because, some twenty years before that, a
heifer or a sheep had chanced to change its ownership. When the king was
strong, the Borderers sometimes made a virtue of necessity, and leagued
together to save their necks; but, strange enough, this brotherhood
never stopped their depredations upon one another's property. These were
a necessity, a kind of birthright, and being inevitable, and born with
them, and ingrained to the very marrow, they were looked upon in a jolly
kind of way, even by the losers, because they knew they would have
better luck next time. The only difference was, that, when the king was
weak, or the crown in minority, their depredations got a wider scope.
The quiet proprietors then came in for their contribution, and in reward
for this, the greater rievers were grateful enough to do a good act for
their sovereign in their own way, but only if he kept out of their
province, and did not interfere with their feuds. In truth, the
Borderers never hated their king, when he did not shorten their swords,
or lengthen their necks. Amidst all their fighting and stealing, there
was lurking in their hearts that spirit of chivalry which, surviving in
their descendants, evolved, in the changes of time, into justice and
order, adorned by sagacity and good manners. So it was that, when King
James V. was a minor in the clutches of Angus, and Lennox could do
nothing to get him at liberty, a number of the greater chieftains were
on the side of the young prince, and among these the Scotts of Buccleugh
and the Elliots of Stobs; but others, such as the Homes, and Kers, and
Cockburns, were creatures of the Douglas; all the Borderland was divided
into king's parties and Douglas' parties, and these again were
partitioned into lesser rivalships, resulting from their personal feuds;
so that it often happened that the lesser proprietors knew not what side
to take, seeing their loyalty interfered with their revenge, or their
revenge with their loyalty. In this way, as was said by a writer of the
times, "a cow was greater than a king."

Now the Laird of Darnick was, as we have said, thinking of these things
in his tower of Darnick. "My father fell at the red Flodden," he said,
meditatively, "and our house has ever been a loyal one. If we joined in
a foray among the green fields of Wells or Harden, or took one upon our
own account, it was only what we had a right to do, by the laws of the
Borders, older, I ween, than those of Edinburgh or Scone. For what other
purpose has the bull upon our crest his horns, if not to show that we
had a courage to maintain, and which, thank God, has never been
disgraced by an inhabitant of this old peel. By my crest! I love this
young James Stewart as well as I love a Scott, or hate a Douglas, and I
will away to meet him on his journey from Jedburgh to Melrose."

And, calling together his retainers and all those who looked upon the
old tower as a rallying point, and these having got their shaggy
garrons, and as good equipments of shining rippons as they could muster,
they set out upon their journey, viewing, as they went along, the rich
pasturing places, to count how many sirloins they could turn out, when a
good riever was hungry, and was not forgetful of himself while he was
mindful of his king and his old country. They arrived in happy time to
join the cavalcade, and the eyes of the Laird of Darnick were blessed
with the sight of the young prince, though he was the son of the
imprudent king who led the last Laird of Darnick to his death at
Flodden.

"But where is Wat Scott?" he asked at many among the royal party; "where
is he who should be here with his strong arm and his sword, to show his
master the kind of man he has in those parts to help him in his need
against the Douglas, who holds him in a leash, and leads him about his
own kingdom as if he were a dog, to show his breed and his fine collar."

But no one could answer. Some said that the sturdy but changeable Wat
of Buccleugh, the most extraordinary man, next to the doughty Harden,
that ever led a foray by moonlight, had joined Angus, and turned against
the prince, and was to be King of the Borders, or keep the prince in his
own stronghold of Buccleugh, and rule Scotland himself. And some said
that he was afraid of the Douglas, and kept away; and others, that he
had gone west among the Johnstones and Blackets to get "kitchen,"[14]
because, while the king was about the forest, the kine had got saucy,
and would not follow a Scott.

[Footnote 14: The Borderers sometimes used the word for flesh-meat; so
our use of it is no novelty.--ED.]

All this confused the Laird of Darnick mightily, and he even regetted
coming among the royalists, because his display might raise Wat against
him some day, and he might have kept his loyalty without endangering his
clanship. But he could not help himself, now that he was there, and he
resolved to wait and see whether Wat would turn out to be loyal after
all.

When in this dilemma, and standing amidst the cavalcade, which had
stopped to recruit about midway, in a field still called the Prince's
Rest, he was surprised by a whisper in his ear:

"The mistress of Darnick says ye are to stand by Jamie Stewart."

"And by my faith I will," he said, as he turned to see who had come with
this news from Darnick. "Did Jessie tell you this herself, Will?"

"Ay," rejoined Will; "and what's more, she says that Wat Scott is
against James Stewart, and that, if the riever Buceleugh were ten times
greater than he is, all the men of his clan wouldna mak her consent to
desert her king."

"Just like the woman!" said Andrew. "Not the first time she has
unearthed the fox, and made him rue the day he has passed the peel. Get
thee back, and tell her I will obey her--not because it is a command of
a wife, but the request of one who might be a queen. While horse and man
may stand, or spear and blade hold together, neither bolt nor bar shall
keep me from the king--neither monk nor mass shall break my purpose."

"And what's more?"

"What more, man? is not that enough?" said Heiton.

"No; there's to be a fight at Darnick; for Wat is to try to tak the king
at Hallidon Hill, and you are to come hame to the tower, and be ready to
offer it as a place of refuge for him, and, if necessary, to defend it;
and if ye winna, she'll defend it hersel."

"Then take this other answer with you: say I will return as soon as I
can with credit get away, without creating the suspicion of going over
to Scott; and in the meantime get everything put into fighting order in
the tower. All this I know she can do as well as I."

The messenger departed with the answer; but he had scarcely got out of
sight, when Heiton encountered another man, whom he knew to be one of
Scott's retainers.

"Why are you here, man," he said, "and your master collecting his clan
yonder for treason against his lawful sovereign?"

"Because I am come to seek thee, as well as some others," replied he.
"My master, Walter Scott, sends this to thee, wi' his gude greetings,
that to-morrow night, by God's grace, he is to make a surprise on the
Douglas, and seize him, and confine him in his castle, till the prince
can get a better governor, or be able to reign himsel; and thou'rt to
meet him, with all the strength thou canst muster, at Hallidon."

"The foul fiend is in thee, man," said Heiton; "for thou dost not speak
the truth. It is the king your master wants, and then he will rule
Scotland and all of us as he listeth. Go, tell him I'll stand by the
prince, though I hate Angus; but if he'll let this alone, I will still
pay him his blackmail."

With this answer, which astonished the messenger, he went away, and the
cavalcade moved on. There was something like a difficulty into which
Heiton had got, and he began to cast up the odds. His wife, he knew, was
seldom wrong in her calculations; Scott was an old wolf, who never
hesitated to make honesty subserve his policy, and with him policy was
only another name for self-seeking.

Even as he so thought he might get out of his perplexity, a knight with
splendid armour rode past him, and whispered to him, as if afraid of
being overheard, "Heiton, if you're for the prince, join Scott."

"The foul fiend is in thee, too," muttered Heiton to himself. "Thou dost
prevaricate, sir knight. Thinkst thus to trick me with thy jugglery--ha!
ha!"

Now Heiton was no more than other gallant Border men long in coming to a
point, whether it was among black cattle or obscure fancies. His life
had been spent in asserting rights which were constantly liable to
invasion; and the prompt, fiery, and resolute disposition of the man had
been kept for ever on the alert by the circumstances of his situation.
Brave to intrepidity, almost to insensibility--strong and active in
person--master of his weapons, and always ready to use them in the
extremity of danger--his aid was courted in many a desperate enterprise
by the rival clans on the Borders. So, putting spurs to his garron, he
was galloping determinedly over the muir, when others might have been
groping about for a solution in the intricate chambers of the brain. His
face was turned to Darnick, and his spurs against his horse's side. Nor
was the occasion unworthy of his energy. There was mischief brewing
about the very precincts of his peel, and the torrent would be poured on
the very heart of his kindred. He might lose his head, or win a charter,
as the issue might show; and it was impossible that, in a contest where
royalty was engaged, or a Douglas endangered, he could, with his
stronghold in the midst of it, be permitted to be neutral.

"And by the horns of my crest, I don't wish," he said, as he spurred on;
"and if I did wish, the mistress of Darnick would teach me a better
lesson than to shame myself beside the husbands of Yarrow roses or
Ettrick lilies."

But a man is never so ready to be caught, as when his head is above the
bush; and Heiton's somewhat grand soliloquy was no sooner finished, than
he was stopped by a body of Borderers well equipped. "Bellenden!"
sounded in his ears. "Buccleugh himself!" he muttered, and in an instant
he stood before Wat Scott.

Now comes the storm, thought Heiton to himself, and began to collect his
thoughts, as the cautious master of a vessel furls his sails, and makes
his ship snug, when he discerns the approaching squall.

"Whither drive you, man, as if the mistress of Darnick waited for ye to
take your dinner off the best heifer in our enemy Home's parks?" said
Scott.

"Having only a small peel," rejoined Heiton, "it is necessary I should
look after it when a thousand Scotts are marching north by west. It is
not for crows' nests that Buccleugh marches with a thousand men, and
without a blast of his horn. May I take the liberty to ask why thou'rt
not with the followers of the prince?"

"Because I wish to do better for my king than follow him," said Scott.

"Make him follow _thee_," said Heiton. "Ay, so it is said; but, Walter
Scott, though I have no objection to be in train, I would not like to
see my king there."

"Nor wilt thou, man," said Scott. "Hush! what would Wat Scott do with a
king? Ha! ha! kings are ill to fodder, and when thou'st fattened them,
they don't make the pot boil or keep the spurs out of the pewter dish.
There are kings enow besouth the Tweed when Buccleugh is there. Let
Jamie keep north and Wat south, and there will be no strife in Scotland
but that of the good old custom of keeping thine own. Come, I want thee
and thy friends."

"I must know the foray first," replied Heiton.

"And so thou wilt. Come near," said Scott. "Listen. I know that the
prince wishes to get out of the hands of Angus, and I wish to undo the
grasp--understand ye."

"But an thou fail our heads may lick sawdust," replied Heiton.
"Good-by."

"When wilt thou return?" cried Scott after him.

"I will tell thee when I know what's o'clock at Darnick," was the reply.

And Heiton spurred on more hastily than ever, and never lifted rein or
rested heel till he was at his own tower.

"What's brought ye here, man, when the king needs thee?" said his wife,
when he entered. "Thou look'st as if the king's headsman were after
thee, and not thou after his enemies. Saw ye my messenger?"

"I did, Jessie," replied he; "but there's one wheel within another
wheel, and one within that."

"And thou'st lost thy wits among wheels, and may even lose thy head
under an axe."

"And 'tis because I fear that I am here," he said, "to tell thee thou'rt
wrong, lass. Scott wants only to free the king from the hands of the
Douglas. What am I to do? I am placed between the horns of a dilemma. If
I go with the king, I go against him, and may see the Heading Hill at
Stirling; if I go with Scott, I go against Douglas, and may lose my head
even before I get there."

"A woman's wits are like her palfrey," said the wife--"go quickest when
hardest pressed. Get thee back for the men, and come here to Darnick as
fast as spurs can drive thee. There's no fear of your being suspected
of a want of loyalty, for Douglas does not know that Scott is at the
back of Hallidon; but hark ye, keep out of Scott's path, for he has a
trick of keeping live stock when they come in his way."

"And what am I to do when I come back?" said he; "for if there's a fight
at Darnick, will the Laird of Darnick not be expected to be in the
thickest of it?"

"Certainly; and so ye will, man. Mount and go--begone! The cloud must
soon rise, or it must sink for ever!"

And Heiton, without putting more questions, returned to the Royal party,
which was now approaching danger. He got the men who had gone with him,
and returning by a round to avoid Scott, again reached his own peel.

There was not much time to be lost, for there were signs abroad of the
coming cavalcade. People were running hither and thither, under the
excitement so natural as a consequence of a Royal procession in a part
of the country accustomed only to lawless raids. There was a mystery too
among the more knowing, for Scott's manoeuvre could not be altogether
hidden. He was in the neighbourhood at no great distance from the Royal
procession, and yet he did not show any intention to be of it; but his
secret must have been wonderfully kept, for the generality had no
suspicion that within less than an hour a bloody contest would eclipse
by the confusion of its strife the _éclat_ of a Royal presence. Now the
mistress of Darnick evolved her plans. She sent the men away on various
errands, which somehow seemed to be all very necessary, though the
necessity never appeared till the moment it was made known.

"And now Andrew Heiton," she said, "thou'rt not to be found anywhere.
Away in the donjon there, to remain till I tell thee thou'rt wanted
either by James Stewart or Wat Scott."

This command Heiton would not obey, till he understood better her
intentions, and these were conveyed by a whisper which seemed to satisfy
him. He did as he was directed, and the portal of the peel tower was
closed and bolted.

The mistress then betook herself to the top, and planted herself where
she could see far around without being observed.

Nor was all this done more quickly than was required. By and by the
signs of the coming procession thickened. The indescribable stir of the
air on the approach of crowds of human beings might easily be detected.
Then the sounds of horses' feet, succeeded by the reverberations of
trumpets, which the heralds and pursuivants began to blow as the town of
Melrose came in view. The heraldic ensigns glittered in the rays of an
unclouded sun; the gay armour of barons and knights cast their
reflections everywhere, carrying the glory of war under the aspects of
peace and loyalty. The young prince was seated on horseback, with Angus
on the one side, and George Douglas on the other; their horses equipped
after the gaudy fashion of the times, which were not yet beyond the era
of chivalry, neighing to the sound of the horns, and curveting as if
under the very feelings which inspired the riders. The scene was such as
might seem the farthest removed from the inspirations of strife. Royalty
sat enshrined in peace, to receive the _éclat_ of admiration, and be
blessed with the breathings of gratitude.

But, quick as a blast of a horn among the hills or the advent of a
thunder-clap, the terrific cry of "Bellenden!" was heard, succeeded by
the Border hurrah, and the next instant a thousand wild men, with
glittering swords in their hands, the terrible battle-axe or the
piercing spear, rushed more like a cataract than a torrent on the
all-unprepared and utterly-unsuspicious party. In the midst of them was
Wat Scott, with his stern face and fierce eye. For an enemy to see it
was to tremble, for a warrior to be fired. Taken at once, the Royal
party swerved like a surging sea. The prince was cared for, and the
Douglas, maddened by the fear of losing their royal prize, and burning
with the revenge of an old hatred, flew from place to place, crying,
"For the king! for the king!" It was answered by the roar of the now
raised Scotts, returned again by the Royalists, and echoed with an
energy redoubled by the rising fury of opposition. The pressure of the
Borderers increased as their hopes rose, and their repeated hurrahs told
of their success amidst the clanging of swords, the heavy fall of the
axe, the sharp risp of the lance. Scott was still paramount, and
everywhere, pointing, hacking, calling to secure the prince.

    "The noise of battle hurtled in the air,
    Horses did neigh, and dying men did groan."

At first and for some time the contest had more the appearance of an
attack, ill resisted; but it soon ceased to present that aspect, and now
it was as if every man closed with every man. The sounds of triumph or
hope died away into hard breathings.

    "With foot to foot, and eye opposed,
    In dubious strife they darkly closed."


Work allowed no time or inclination for exclamations; but death
everywhere among both parties extorting the groan or the yell, pulled
down the proudest and the bravest; but their places were not seen after
their heads fell, for the mass was so thick that there scarcely seemed
room for the arm to do the work of the will. Still victory boded well
for Buccleugh; and again, as the opposing party began to recede, the
cries commenced, "Bellenden! Bellenden!" but they were not destined to
be many times repeated. A loud cheer came from the king's party, even
when they were retiring. It was soon explained. They were being joined
by the two clans of the Homes and Kers, who had come up hot with revenge
against their old enemy, but with less loyalty than possessed by Scott.
The onset of the newcomers was a repetition of that of the Borderers,
fierce, and bearing the aspect of victory before it was won.

All this was seen by the mistress of Darnick, and heard by Heiton with
the feelings of a caged lion. It was now her time, she saw how victory
pointed. It was impossible for Buccleugh to hold out.

"Now," she said, "thou knowest whom to fight for with safety. Ere a
quarter-of-an-hour the king's party will prevail. Get thee into the
thick of the fight, but as far from Wat Scott as you can. Thou'lt save
thy head and thy lands, without injuring thy old friend."

The portal was opened, and the master of Darnick was soon fighting
desperately in the ranks of the king, his nervous arm dealing death at
every stroke. "Heiton to the rescue!" was sounded; and his retainers,
returning, took the Scotts in flank. This movement was decisive. In a
short time the Borderers were in retreat, and the wounded of the king's
party conveyed to the tower, where the kind attentions and hospitality
of the laird hastened their recovery.

The policy of the mistress of Darnick was soon apparent from the
treatment inflicted not only upon the retainers of Scott, but on all
those who did not come forward to the help of Angus;[15] and it was this
latter consequence, foreseen by her, which dictated her stratagem. She
knew that it was necessary for Heiton to be on the one side or the
other; and the good effects of her wisdom were shown in another way.
About thirty years after the battle of Darnick, a new charter was
bestowed on Heiton; a good sign that he was held in remembrance for
having been found in the ranks of the king; that charter was, no doubt,
not by James, who was supposed to favour the design of Scott, but by
Mary, whose counsellors were not led by these distinctions, and who
looked only at the open evidences of loyalty.

[Footnote 15: Scott himself was outlawed.--ED.]



THE BROKEN HEART.

A TALE OF THE REBELLION.


Early in the November of 1745, the news reached Cambridge that Charles
Stewart, at the head of his hardy and devoted Highlanders, had crossed
the Borders, and taken possession of Carlisle. The inhabitants gazed
upon each other with terror, for the swords of the clansmen had
triumphed over all opposition; they were regarded, also, by the
multitude as savages, and by the more ignorant as cannibals. But there
were others who rejoiced in the success of the young adventurer, and
who, dangerous as it was to confess their joy, took but small pains to
conceal it. Amongst these was James Dawson, the son of a gentleman in
the north of Lancashire, and then a student at St John's College. That
night he invited a party of friends to sup with him, who entertained
sentiments similar to his own. The cloth was withdrawn, and he rose and
gave, as the toast of the evening, "_Prince Charles, and success to
him_!" His guests, fired with his own enthusiasm, rose, and received the
toast with cheers. The bottle went round, the young men drank deep, and
other toasts of a similar nature followed. The song succeeded the toast,
and James Dawson sang the following, which seemed to be the composition
of the day:--

    "Free o'er the Borders the tartan is streaming,
    The dirk is unsheath'd, and the claymore is gleaming,
    The prince and his clansmen in triumph advance,
    Nor needs he the long-promised succours of France.
    From the Cumberland mountains and Westmoreland lake,
    Each brave man shall snatch up a sword for his sake;
    And the 'Lancashire Witch' on her bosom shall wear
    The snow-white cockade, by her lover placed there."

But while he yet sang, and as he completed but the first verse, two
constables and three or four soldiers burst into the room, and denounced
them as traitors and as their prisoners.

"Down with them!" exclaimed James Dawson, springing forward, and
snatching down a sword which was suspended over the mantelpiece. The
students vigorously resisted the attempt to make them prisoners, and
several of them, with their entertainer, escaped.

He concealed himself for a short time, when, his horse being brought, he
took the road towards Manchester, in order to join the ranks of the
adventurer. It was about mid-day on the 29th when he reached the town,
which is now the emporium of the manufacturing world. On proceeding down
Market Street, he perceived a confused crowd, some uttering threats, and
others with consternation expressed on their countenance; and, in the
midst of the multitude, was Serjeant Dickson, a young woman, and a
drummer-boy, beating up for recruits. The white cockade streamed from
the hat of the serjeant; the populace vented their indignation against
him, but no man dared to seize him, for he continued to turn round and
round, with a blunderbuss in his hand, facing the crowd on all sides,
and threatening to shoot the first man that approached, who was not
ready to serve the Prince, and to mount the white cockade. The young
woman carried a supply of the ribands in her hand, and ever and anon
waved them in triumph, exclaiming, "Charlie yet!" Some dozen recruits
already followed at the heels of the serjeant. James Dawson spurred his
horse through the crowd.

"Give me one of your favours," said he, addressing the serjeant.

"Ay, a dozen, your honour," replied Dickson.

He received the riband, and tied it to his breast, and placed another at
his horse's head. His conduct had an effect upon the multitude; numbers
flocked around the serjeant; his favours became exhausted; and when the
Prince and the army entered the town in the evening, he brought before
him a hundred and eighty men, which he had that day enlisted.

The little band so raised were formed into what was called the
Manchester Regiment, of which the gallant Townly was made colonel, and
James Dawson one of the captains.

Our business at present is not with the movements of Charles Edward; nor
need we describe his daring march towards Derby, which struck terror
throughout all England, and for a time seemed to shake the throne and
the dynasty; nor dwell upon the particulars of his masterly retreat
towards Scotland--suffice it to say, that on the 19th of December the
Highland army again entered Carlisle.

On the following morning they evacuated it; but the Manchester Regiment,
which was now composed of about three hundred men, was left as a
garrison to defend the town against the entire army of proud Cumberland.
They were devoted as a sacrifice, that the prince and the main army
might be saved. The dauntless Townly, and the young and gallant Dawson,
were not ignorant of the desperateness and the hopelessness of their
situation; but they strove to impart their own heroism to the garrison,
and to defend the town to the last. On the morning of the 21st, the
entire array of the Duke of Cumberland arrived before Carlisle, and took
possession of the fortifications that commanded it. He ordered the
garrison to surrender, and they answered him by a discharge of musketry.
They had withstood a siege of ten days, during which time Cumberland had
erected batteries, and procured cannon from Whitehaven; before their
fire the decaying and neglected walls of the city gave way, to hold out
another day was impossible; and there was no resource left for the
devoted band but to surrender or perish. On the 30th, a white flag was
hoisted on the ramparts. On its being perceived, the cannon ceased to
play upon the town, and a messenger was sent to the Duke of Cumberland,
to inquire what terms he would grant to the garrison.

"Tell them," he replied, haughtily, "I offer no terms but these--that
they shall not be put to the sword, but they shall be reserved for His
Majesty to deal with them as he may think proper."

There was no alternative, and these doubtful and evasive terms were
accepted. The garrison were disarmed, and under a numerous guard placed
in the cathedral.

James Dawson and seventeen others were conveyed to London, and cast into
prison, to wait the will of His Majesty. Till now his parents were
ignorant of the fate of their son, though they had heard of his being
compelled to flee from the university, and feared that he had joined the
standard of the Prince. Too soon their worst fears were realised, and
the truth revealed to them. But there was another who trembled for him,
whose heart felt keenly as a parent's--she who was to have been his
wife, to whom his hand was plighted and his heart given. Fanny Lester
was a young and gentle being, and she had known James Dawson from their
childhood. Knowledge ripened to affection, and their hearts were twined
together. On the day on which she was made acquainted with his
imprisonment, she hastened to London to comfort him--to cheer his gloomy
solitude--at the foot of the throne to sue for his pardon.

She arrived at the metropolis--she was conducted to the prison-house,
and admitted. On entering the gloomy apartment in which he was confined,
she screamed aloud, she raised her hands, and springing forward, fell
upon his neck and wept.

"My own Fanny!" he exclaimed, "you here! Weep not, my sweet one--come,
be comforted--there is hope--every hope--I shall not die--my own Fanny,
be comforted."

"Yes!--yes, there is hope!--the king will pardon you," she exclaimed.
"He will spare my James--I will implore your life at his feet!"

"Nay, nay, love--say not the king," interrupted the young enthusiast for
the house of Stewart; "it will be but imprisonment till all is
over--the _Elector_ cannot seek my life."

He strove long and earnestly to persuade, to assure her, that his life
was not in danger--that he would be saved--and what she wished she
believed. The jailer entered, and informed them it was time that she
should depart; and again sinking her head upon his breast, she wept
"goodnight."

But each day she revisited him, and they spoke of his deliverance
together. At times, too, she told him with tears of the efforts she had
made to obtain his pardon--of her attempts to gain admission to the
presence of the king--of the repulses she met with--of her applications
to the nobility connected with the court--of the insult and inhumanity
she met with from some--the compassion she experienced from others--the
interest that they took in his fate, and the hopes and the promises
which they held out. Upon those hopes and those promises she fondly
dwelt. She looked into his eyes to perceive the hope that they kindled
there, and as joy beamed from them, she half forgot that his life hung
upon the word of a man.

But his parents came to visit him; hers followed her, and they joined
their efforts to hers, and anxiously, daily, almost hourly, they exerted
their energies to obtain his pardon. His father possessed an influence
in electioneering matters in Lancashire, and hers could exercise the
same in an adjoining county. That influence was now urged--the members
they had supported were importuned. They promised to employ their best
exertions. Whatever the feelings or principles of the elder Dawson might
be, he had never avowed disaffection openly--he had never evinced a
leaning to the family of Stewart--he had supported the government of the
day; and the father of Fanny Lester was an upholder of the house of
Hanover. The influence of all their relatives, and of all their friends,
was brought into action; peers and commoners were supplicated, and they
pledged their intercession. Men high in office took an interest in the
fate of James Dawson, or professed to take it; promises, half official,
were held out; and when his youth, the short time that he had been
engaged in the rebellion, and the situation that he held in the army of
the Adventurer, were considered, no one doubted but that his pardon was
certain--that he would not be brought to trial. Even his parents felt
assured; but the word of the king was not passed.

They began to look forward to the day of his deliverance with
impatience, but still with certainty. There was but one heart that
feared, and it throbbed in the bosom of poor Fanny. She would start from
her sleep, crying, "Save him!--save him!" as she fancied she beheld them
dragging him to execution. In order to soothe her, her parents and his,
in the confidence that pardon would be extended to him, agreed that the
day of his liberation should be the day of their bridal. She knew their
affection, and her heart struggled with her fears to believe the
"flattering tale."

James tried also to cheer her; he believed that his life would be
spared; he endeavoured to smile and to be happy.

"Fear not my own Fanny," he would say; "your apprehensions are idle. The
Elector----"

And here his father would interfere. "Speak not so, my son," said the
old man earnestly--"speak not against princes in your bedchamber, for a
bird of the air can carry the tidings. Your life is in the hands of a
king--of a merciful one, and it is safe--only speak not thus!--do not,
as you love me--as you love our Fanny, do not."

Then would they chase away her fears, and speak of the arrangements for
the bridal; and Fanny would smile pensively while James held her hand in
his, and as he gazed on her finger he raised it to his lips, as though
he took the measure of the ring.

But "hope deferred maketh the heart sick;" and though they still
retained their confidence that he would be pardoned, yet their anxiety
increased, and Fanny's heart seemed unable longer to contain its agony
and suspense. More than six months had passed, but still no pardon came
for James Dawson. The fury of the civil war was spent, the royal
Adventurer had escaped, the vengeance of the sword was satisfied, and
the law of the conquerors, and the scaffolds of the law, called for the
blood of those whom the sword had saved. The soldier laid down his
weapon, and the executioner took up his. On the leaders of the
Manchester regiment the vengeance of the bloodthirsty law first fell. It
was on the evening of the 14th of July, 1746, James Dawson sat in his
prison; Fanny sat by his side, with her hand in his, and his parents
were ready also, when the jailer entered, and ordered him to prepare to
hold himself in readiness for his trial in the court-house at St.
Margaret's, Southwark, on the following day. His father groaned--his
mother exclaimed, "My son!"--but Fanny sat motionless. No tear was in
her eye--no muscle in her countenance moved. Her fingers grasped his
with a firmer pressure--but she evinced no other symptom of having heard
the mandate that was delivered. They rose to depart, and a low deep sigh
issued from her bosom; but she showed no sign of violent grief; her
feelings were already exhausted--her heart could bear no more.

On the following day, eighteen victims, with the gallant Townly at their
head, were brought forth for trial before a grand jury. Amongst them,
and as one of the chief, was James Dawson. Fanny had insisted on being
present. She heard the word _guilty_ pronounced with a yet deeper apathy
than she had evinced at the announcement of his trial. She folded her
hands upon her bosom, her lips moved as in prayer, but she shed not a
single tear, she breathed not a single sigh. She arose, she beckoned to
her attendants, and accompanied them from the court-house.

Still his friends entertained the hope that the Pardon Power might be
moved--they redoubled their exertions--they increased their
importunities--they were willing to make any sacrifice so that his life
might be but saved--and even then, at the eleventh hour, they hoped
against hope. But Fanny yielded not to the vain thought. Day after day
she sat by her lover's side, and she, in her turn, became his comforter.
She no longer spoke of their bridal--but she spoke of eternity; she
spoke of their meeting where the ambition, the rivalry, and the power of
princes should be able to cast no cloud over the happiness of the soul.

Fourteen days had passed, and during that he betrayed no sign of terror;
she evinced none of a woman's weakness. She seemed to have mastered her
griefs, and her soul was prepared to meet them. Yet, save only when she
spoke to him, her soul appeared entranced, and her body lifeless. On the
29th of July an order was brought for the execution of the victims on
the following day. James Dawson bowed his head to the officer who
delivered the warrant, and calmly answered, "I am prepared!"

The cries of his mother rang through the prison-house. She tore her
hair--she sank upon the floor--she entreated Heaven to spare her child.
His father groaned, he held the hand of his son in his, and the tears
gushed down his furrowed cheeks. Fanny alone was silent--she alone was
tranquil. No throe of agony swelled her bosom, flushed in her
countenance, or burned in her eye. She was calm, speechless, resigned.
He pressed her to his bosom, as they took their last farewell.

"Adieu!--adieu!--my own!" he cried. "My Fanny--farewell!--an eternal
farewell!"

"Nay, nay," she replied; "say not eternal--we shall meet again. 'Tis a
short farewell--I feel it--I feel it. Adieu, love!--adieu! Die firmly.
We shall meet soon."

Next morning the prisoners were to be dragged on sledges to Kensington
Common, which was the place appointed for their execution. In the first
sledge was the executioner, sitting over his pinioned victims with a
drawn sword in his hand. No priest--no minister of religion attended
them; and around the sledges followed thousands, some few expressing
sympathy, but the majority following from curiosity, and others venting
their execrations against all traitors. In the midst of the multitude
was a hackney coach, following the sledges, and in it was the gentle
Fanny Lester, accompanied by a relative and a female friend. They had
endeavoured to persuade her from the fearful trial; but she was calm,
resolute, and not to be moved, and they yielded to her wish. The coach
drew up within thirty yards of the scaffold; Fanny pulled down the
window, and leaning over it, she beheld the piles of faggots lighted
around the scaffold--she saw the flames ascend, and the soldiers form a
circle round them. She saw the victims leave the sledge; she looked upon
him whom her heart loved as he mounted the place of death, and his step
was firm, his countenance unmoved. She saw him join in prayer with his
companions, and her eyes were fixed on him as he flung papers and his
hat among the multitude. She saw the fatal signal given, and the drop
fall--she heard the horrid shout, the yell that burst from the
multitude, but not a muscle of her frame moved. She gazed calmly, as
though it had been on a bridal ceremony. She beheld the executioner
begin the barbarities which the law awards to treason--the clothes were
torn from the victims; one by one they were cut down; and the finisher
of the law with the horrid knife in his hand, proceeded to lay open
their bosoms, and taking out their hearts, flung them on the faggots
that blazed around the scaffold. The last spectacle of barbarity was
James Dawson, and when the executioner had plunged the knife in his
breast, he raised his heart in his hand, and holding it a moment before
the horror stricken and disgusted multitude, he cast it into the flames,
exclaiming, as he flung it from him, "God save King George!" Fanny
beheld this--her eyes became blind--she heard not the shout of the
multitude--she drew back her head into the coach--it dropped upon the
shoulder of her companion. "My dear! I follow thee!--I follow thee!" she
exclaimed, clasping her hands together. "Sweet Jesus! receive both our
souls together!" They attempted to raise her head, to support her in
their arms, but she sank back lifeless. Her spirit had accompanied him
it loved--she died of stifled agony and a broken heart.



THE CATERAN OF LOCHLOY.


"Were I to lose sight of my native hills, my heart would sink, and my
arm would wither like fern i' the winter blast."--ROB ROY.


"And so, my dear lads, you wish me to relate my passage with the
Caterans of Lochloy?" said General Dangerfield.

"Do, father; you will so oblige me," replied the younger of his two
sons.

"Well, then," continued the general, laying his hand upon the boy's
head, "you shall have it; but, remember, no interruption; I must tell my
story my own way."

"Agreed!" replied his eldest son, Edmund, a fine youth of sixteen.

"Well, to begin at the beginning:--I am a native of Scotland--born on
the Borders--of a respectable family well known there--the Jardines of
that ilk. I entered the army young, and continued there the best part of
my days. I became acquainted in very peculiar circumstances with your
angel mother, who, having succeeded to the family estates in
Northumberland, which had belonged to your uncle and godfather, I
assumed his name, that these possessions might still be inherited at
least nominally by a Dangerfield.

"I was on service during that lamentable rebellion in which so much
blood was poured out in an abortive attempt to restore a doomed race to
their kingly possessions. I fought at Culloden; and well remember, and
with horror witnessed, the cruelties that followed the victory. The
Saxons, as we were called, were in consequence execrated; and the
Highlanders burned with a fierce desire to avenge their slaughtered
friends and kinsmen. So circumstanced, it is almost unnecessary to
remark, that the government troops were peculiarly obnoxious; and it was
consequently very dangerous for them to wander to any distance from
their respective stations; as, in many instances where they had been so
foolhardy as disregard the strict injunctions on the subject, they never
returned to tell the tale.

"I had leave of absence for a short time; and I therefore quitted my
quarters, which were at Inverness, in order to spend my Christmas with
my relations in Kelso--for I was not then married. As is usual, where
friends are happy and comfortable, they were not fond of separating too
soon, and I was loth to leave the hospitable board of my entertainers;
so I lingered as long as I could, and thus made it a matter of necessity
to proceed northwards with the utmost despatch. It is a long way between
Kelso and Inverness; and I had to proceed on horseback, accompanied by a
single servant. We got on very well till we reached Glasgow, after which
the journey was both tedious and vexatious.

"On the second day after quitting the western metropolis, there came on
a great fall of snow, partially obstructing the roads, which, in those
days, were not in the very best state, even in good weather; and, after
pursuing, apparently, the proper route for at least a couple of hours, I
found that we had lost our way--no very agreeable discovery, especially
towards the close of day. However, there is nothing like putting the
best face on a thing when you cannot help it; so we boldly pushed on, in
the vain hope of at last getting into the right path. Vain it assuredly
was; for, after wandering about till it became dark, we made the
important discovery that we were just as far off as ever from escaping
from our difficulties.

"'Is not yon a light, sir?' exclaimed my servant. 'See! it is very high
up.'

"I looked up, and certainly there was a light; but from what it
proceeded I could not conjecture. It could hardly be from a house, as it
was too much elevated. I desired my servant to follow, and we made for
the mysterious place, which was with some difficulty reached; and where,
to our infinite dismay, in place of finding ourselves in the vicinity of
a house, we discovered that we were at the foot of a tremendous
precipice, and the light that had guided us was still glimmering at an
apparently inaccessible height above our heads.

"In this state of desperation, we hallooed, and made as much noise as
possible, and were speedily answered by a human voice, inquiring why we
made such a disturbance, and what we wanted. I answered,

"'Shelter for the night, and food; for we are nearly dead from hunger.'

"To this no reply was made for a few moments, when a voice again
answered,

"'Remain where you are, and I will descend and remove you from this
place of danger.'

"A man then descended from the rocks, and desired us to follow him,
which we did, with some reluctance, more especially as we were compelled
to leave our horses below.

"'Never mind the cattle; they will be taken good care of,' said our
conductor, laying especial emphasis on the word 'good.'

"I must confess I did not feel by any means comfortable. But what was to
be done? Starvation stared us in the face, and the danger of perishing
by cold, or by falling into some of the deep ravines that lay about us,
was but too probable; so I mustered up all my courage, and followed my
unknown guide, who led me, by a very precipitous and dangerous path, to
a large cavity in the centre of the rock. My servant came last; and,
when we reached the place of our destination, we beheld a vast pile of
faggots lighted up in the middle of a prodigious vacuity. The warmth, as
you may readily suppose, was very grateful to two travellers benumbed by
cold; and, while we were standing by the fire, the guide suddenly
disappeared, but returned, some few minutes afterwards, from some
concealed part of the subterranean habitation, with above fifty armed
men.

"At such a very unexpected, not to say disagreeable, spectacle, in
circumstances otherwise sufficiently alarming, both myself and servant
felt no small degree of fear. Our trepidation was observed; and one of
the number, who seemed to have the command of the rest of the band,
addressed me to the following purport:--

"'You can be at no loss to conjecture who we are, and what our ordinary
occupation is; but you have nothing to fear; for, though we live by what
is called violence, we are not destitute of humanity. Our depredations
are never marked by cruelty, and seldom by blood; and those whom
necessity has thrown on our care have never either been treated with
barbarity or suffered to want. We extort only a little from those who
are able to spare it, and rather augment than diminish the property of
the poor. We know, alas! too well what the consequences would be were we
to fall into the hands of the rich and powerful; but we are resigned to
our fate. We can only die once, and our enemies can inflict no greater
vengeance upon us. Miserable we may be; but we have a fellow-feeling for
sufferers, and never take advantage of distress: in truth, it is from no
sordid love of gain, nor is it to pander to vicious habits or immoral
purposes, that we live in this manner. It is because we have no other
mode of support; for, after the cruelties that have been perpetrated
upon their disarmed opponents, it were in vain to expect assistance or
relief at the hands of our Hanoverian oppressors.

"'You see our quarters, and shall have every accommodation they can
afford you: and, if you can trust us, who have neither inclination nor
reason to deceive you, we give you a hearty welcome to these adamantine
abodes, and that with the most perfect sincerity. Our fare is homely but
wholesome; and our beds, though coarse, are clean. Nor be under any
concern for your horses; they too shall share our protection and
hospitality. We have no hay; but they shall not want. Stables we have
none; but can shelter them, for one night at least, from the inclemency
of the weather.'

"This address revived our courage, which was not a little augmented upon
being handed a bicker of whisky--mountain dew of the most delicious
description; at least I thought so then, and have never changed my
opinion since. Talk of the wines of Spain, or of France, or the Rhine, I
never felt from them half the delight I experienced in quaffing the
nectar of the Gael. When we had finished, a supper was laid before us
which might have provoked the appetite of an English alderman, and that
is saying a good deal. We had blackcock and ptarmigan broiled, or, as it
is called in Scotland, brandered; fine black-faced Highland mutton done
to a turn in the live ashes; and a stew of snipes and wild duck, the
aroma of which was perfectly ambrosial. I did ample justice to the good
cheer, and ate with as much coolness and self-possession as if I had
been seated in Dolly's chop-house, in place of an apparently
interminable cave surrounded by caterans; for so the Highland banditti
are termed.

"After having satisfied my craving appetite, in which example I had a
worthy imitator in the person of my servant, rest was the next thing of
which both of us stood in need. My generous host then led me to an inner
apartment in the cave, which seemed at once to be the treasury and the
magazine. There two sackfuls of heather were, by his orders, brought in
and put on end, with the flower uppermost. Then a rope was fastened
about the whole to keep it together, and on the top of each was placed a
double blanket. On this simple contrivance, which formed an exquisitely
soft and delicious couch, we laid ourselves down.

"I had some bank-notes about me, and above twenty guineas in gold,
besides a very handsome gold watch, and other trinkets of no
inconsiderable value; but, as I had given them up for lost, I made no
attempt to secrete any of them. My host, apparently divining my
suspicions, insisted upon mounting guard over us--a proposal which I
strenuously opposed; but he told me plainly that, unless he kept by me,
he would not answer for the conduct of his companions. Against this
there was no appeal; and he remained beside us, on the bare rock, all
the night.

"In the morning, we found ourselves alone with this singular being.
Everything remained as it had been the preceding evening, with this, to
us, very pleasant exception, that the band of caterans was nowhere to be
seen. Another fire of wood was speedily kindled; and, as our host told
us that, before we could reach any place of refreshment, we had to go
twenty miles and a bittick--which, being interpreted, means somewhere
about five miles more--we took the precaution to lay in a good stock of
cakes, butter, and cheese, which we washed down with a moderate quantity
of the nectar of the night preceding.

"Our repast over, we descended the circuitous path which led from the
cavern, and which one, uninitiated, might have searched for in vain;
and, at the bottom, found a lad or gilly holding our horses, which had
been well fed, and were in fine spirits. Our host then declared his
intention of putting us upon the right track, otherwise, he said, we
were sure of losing our way. I desired my servant to dismount and follow
us on foot; but this the stranger refused to allow, assigning as a
reason, that he preferred walking, and could, without the slightest
difficulty, keep up with the horses. In this way, therefore, we
proceeded nearly three miles: and, it was evident that, but for his
friendly assistance, the chances of getting out of our difficulties
would have been very problematical. At last he stopped, and said--

"'Pursue that path for half-a-mile farther, and you will enter upon the
great road, after which you can have no difficulty in journeying to the
place of your destination.

"I was quite overpowered with this kindness, and felt reluctant to part
with my new friend, without, at least, showing how much I appreciated
his services.

"'Sir,' said I, 'I am deeply affected by the whole of your conduct
towards me and my servant. I can only hope that, some day or other, I
may have it in my power to serve you. I have been treated like a prince,
when I expected, if not to have my throat cut--which I once thought was
inevitable--at least to have been robbed of everything about me. At
present I can only offer you this small remuneration, which I trust you
will accept. I am only sorry that it is not more.' As I said this, I
drew forth my purse, with the intention of giving him all the gold I had
about me, but he stayed my hand.

"'Sir!' exclaimed the unknown, 'you have seen the way in which I and my
companions live, and you may easily guess that to us gold can be no
object. I thank you for the free and liberal way in which it was
proffered; but I most respectfully beg to decline accepting it. In
serving you I merely followed a precept which I ever--though a
cateran--keep in view--to do to others as I would be done by myself. You
were in distress, and I relieved you;--there was no merit in doing what
I knew was merely my duty; and Ranald More will take no reward for
having done that which his heart told him it was right to do.'

"'Heavens!' I cried, 'are you Ranald More?'

"'I am!'

"'Why,' I rejoined; 'your name is a terror to all the country round.'

"'I know it; but what care I? Let the bloodhounds take me if they can.'

"'Are you aware that a reward is offered for your apprehension?'

"'Perfectly.'

"'Why, then, should you trust yourself alone with two armed men?'

"To show that he was perfectly regardless of fear, he merely pointed to
his claymore, and I must confess that I should not have been anxious for
a single combat, and even with the assistance of my servant, I am not
quite sure that we might not have come off second best.

"'But,' continued the cateran, 'you are a gentleman and a man of honour.
My secret is safe with you. Bid your servant ride on a few paces.' I
gave the necessary order; and when we were alone, the cateran proceeded
to narrate to me the following particulars of his life:--

"'I was born in the higher ranks of society; but circumstances, which I
need not recapitulate, reduced me to the humble condition of a peasant.
Early misfortunes compelled me to conceal my name and family, and I
enlisted as a private soldier. My conduct in the army attracted the
attention of my superiors; but I had no interest to rise higher than a
halbert, and was discharged with the regiment in which I served. When
Prince Charles landed on his native shores, I refused to join him, as I
considered myself in a manner bound, by my former services, to his
opponent. I took, therefore, no further interest in this civil broil
than to give my humble assistance to many of those persecuted men whom
the bloody mandates of the Duke of Cumberland had marked out for
destruction. In this way I have gradually collected around me a band of
gallant fellows, who are ready to follow me on any enterprise, however
desperate. It was not choice but necessity that compelled me to my
present way of life. Some day or other I shall, in all human
probability, be taken, and made an example of, to deter others from
following the like courses. I only ask, when you hear of my death--in
whatever way that may happen--that you will not forget you owed your
life to him who never took one but in the cause of his country, when he
fought for his king, and exposed his own. Farewell.'

"Then pressing my proffered hand in his, he turned away; and in a few
minutes the Highland cateran was out of sight."

"Did you never see him again, father?" inquired Edmund.

"I did; but in circumstances extremely painful; although to the last
interview I had with him I owe that portion of happiness with which
Providence was graciously pleased to bless me."

"Indeed! O father, do continue your story!"

"Well, Edmund, have patience, and you shall hear all. Time hurried on
imperceptibly; and, in a couple of years afterwards, I found myself
raised to the rank of a captain. The regiment had been ordered to
Ireland, where it remained for about a year; but the Highlands of
Scotland not being in a very settled state, it was ordered to that
kingdom; and, in the month of January, 1748, I found myself once more in
my old quarters; a circumstance far from displeasing, as I had many
friends there anxious to make me comfortable.

"The severity of Government had by this time considerably relaxed; and
as all fears of any new rebellion were at an end, an anxious endeavour
was made to reduce the restless Highlanders to some sort of order, and
put down the straggling bands of caterans that disturbed the
tranquillity of the country, and kept the proprietors in a perpetual
state of anxiety, by lifting, as it was called, their cattle, and other
predatory acts.

"Upon inquiring after my old friend, Ranald, I was told he had not been
heard of for a long time, and that it was generally supposed he had been
killed in some of his marauding expeditions.

"One individual seemed to be peculiarly obnoxious to these worthies, and
his cattle had not only been repeatedly carried off, but his granaries
had been despoiled. He had bought some of the forfeited estates at
small value, and having the misfortune--for so it was reckoned amongst
the proud Highlanders, whose pedigrees were generally as long as their
purses were short--to be a _parvenu_, his father having been a grocer in
the Luckenbooths of Edinburgh, he experienced no mercy from the
caterans, and little sympathy from the gentry in his vicinity, who
laughed at his misfortunes. To crown all, he had been a commissary in
the army of the Duke of Cumberland; and, though neither a bad man nor a
hard landlord, still his original connection with the bloody duke was a
sin not to be forgiven, and hence the reason of his peculiar
persecution.

"Irritated by a series of provoking outrages, Peter Penny, Esq., of
Glenbodle, appealed to our commander, and, as he volunteered to guide a
small detachment to the place where he had good reason to believe his
tormentors were concealed, his appeal was listened to; and, under the
charge of one of our lieutenants, a party of some twenty or thirty
soldiers proceeded to capture the caterans. As resistance was
anticipated, they were well armed, and every precaution was adopted to
prevent surprise by ambush.

"Of all this I thought nothing. Such occurrences were common; and,
usually, the objects were accomplished with no very great difficulty. In
this case, the result was different; and, although the detachment was
successful, it was only so at a great expenditure of life; for the
caterans gave battle, and were eventually subdued, after killing five of
the king's troops, and severely wounding the commander. The laird
himself escaped free; for, holding the truth of the adage, that the
better part of valour is discretion, he prudently kept in the rear, and
thus ran no other risk than a chance shot. Poor fellow, he assured
me--and I believe he spoke with perfect sincerity--that, had he imagined
so much blood was to be shed on his account, he had much rather the
caterans had stolen every animal on his estate, and carried off its
entire produce.

"The defence had been well ordered; and it required little observation
to see that the chief of the caterans was skilled in military tactics.
He fought with infinite bravery, and it was not until a great proportion
of his band was either killed or wounded that his capture was effected;
and even this would have been doubtful, had he not been weakened by loss
of blood. He was, however, brought to Inverness, with one or two of his
confederates, who had also been severely wounded. The rest retreated
safely to the fastnesses of the mountains.

"The day following, I was somewhat surprised by an intimation that one
of the captives was desirous of seeing me. I proceeded to the prison,
when I found a man lying on a heap of straw, evidently in a very
exhausted state.

"'This is kind, Captain Jardine, very kind,' he exclaimed. Then, after
pausing a minute, he proceeded, whilst a faint smile passed over his
face--'When we last met, it was in different circumstances.'

"'Gracious Providence!' I answered, 'can it be--do I see Ranald More?'

"'You see all that remains of him--a few short hours, and I shall be
beyond the reach of earthly foes. I had once hoped that better days
would have come; but they came not. I sought pardon, but it was refused;
driven back to my old courses, I am about to pay the penalty of my
sins.'

"I endeavoured to reassure him; for, in truth, I felt a sincere esteem
for him, and, personally, knew his honourable principles, and deeply
regretted that so noble a fellow should have been thrown away. I got the
best medical advice, procured a comfortable bed, and everything that
might tend to alleviate his sufferings during the brief remainder of his
days.

"He was gratified by my attentions. 'One thing consoles me,' he said: 'I
shall not die the death of a felon. You soldiers have spared me that
disgrace.'

"'Do not despond,' I rejoined; 'whilst there is life there is hope,
and----

"Here he interrupted me with--

"'No--no--no. I would not live if I could; I am weary, and need rest in
my grave. Captain,' he continued, 'you have dealt with me kindly and
considerately; would you make me your debtor still farther? I have one
request to make, which, as it does not compromise you in the smallest
degree, you will probably grant. It is to convey this ring to the only
female in this world for whom I feel regard; and tell her, that the
being she cherished when all others neglected him, died blessing her.'

"I assured him I would obey his commands, and that the ring should be
personally delivered.

"Ranald, then, as soon as cessation from pain would allow him, disclosed
his history, which was brief but painful. The son of a gentleman of an
ancient family in Northumberland, proud of his descent and large
possessions, he had formed an attachment to one of the bondagers on his
father's estate; and, in a luckless hour, crossed the Borders, and was
united to her at Lamberton--the Gretna Green of that part of the
country. The result was the ordinary one--he was disinherited, and cast
off by his father; and his wife, not matching with one of her own rank,
could not put up with her husband's ways, or reconcile herself to those
habits of propriety which were essential to her new station in society.
Unhappiness followed--poverty made him fretful and impatient; although
well educated, he would turn his attentions to no useful purpose, and in
a fit of desperation he enlisted. During his banishment from home, he
saw none of his relatives excepting his niece, then a girl of fourteen,
who loved her uncle, and used, by stealth, to bring to his humble
dwelling such articles as she thought he might fancy; and endeavoured,
so far as was in her power, to soften the severity of his situation.

"The uncle's unexpected departure did not prevent the niece showing
similar attentions to the wife; but these were soon terminated by the
demise of the latter, who died with the infant in her accouchment. For
several years after this, nothing was heard of Ranald; but the anger of
his father continued unabated.

"Quitting the army, as I formerly mentioned, he joined the caterans; and
after our interview, determined to make an effort to obtain paternal
forgiveness. He left his retreat; and one evening presented himself
suddenly before his father, who was residing at the family seat. He
threw himself on his knees, and asked pardon.

"'Go,' said his father. 'Degenerate son, disgrace not, by your presence,
the halls of your ancestors. In vain you supplicate--in vain you attempt
to move me from my fixed purposes by your assumed penitence.'

"'Have you no pity for your own offspring--for a being who, but for one
unhappy act, never caused you a moment's pain--who has ever venerated
and obeyed you?'

"No answer was returned.

"'Say you forgive me--I seek no more; and I will leave you never to
return, until my future acts have shown that I am not entirely unworthy
of the proud race from whence I have sprung.'

"The old man was silent.

"'For years a father's malison has embittered my life, and rendered me
reckless of all consequences. Your pardon will restore me to myself; and
can you refuse to grant it?'

"Still no response.

"'If not for one so unworthy as the miserable wretch before you, at
least on her account who gave me birth. Say you forgive me.'

"'Never.'

"'Father, we meet for the last time; one word would have restored your
son to happiness, and you refuse it. Farewell for ever!'

"At this moment the door opened, and a beautiful girl of twenty rushed
in, and threw herself into the old man's arms.

"'Oh, sir, do not part in anger with your son; you are so good, so kind.
I am sure you will restore him to your favour.'

"He gently disengaged her from his embrace.

"'Emily,' said he, 'you are a good girl; and on any other subject you
might be sure I would listen to your wishes; but on this point I am
immoveable; and as Reginald deliberately dissolved the tie between
father and son, I no longer recognise him as my child.'

"Saying this, he left the room.

"Emily was sadly overcome by this unexpected repulse. She knew her
grandfather's inflexibility, but imagined that the lapse of time would
have softened his resentment. Her father--the heir apparent--was then on
the Continent; and it was doubtful how far even his influence would
produce any change on the unnatural anger of his incensed parent.

"'Dear uncle, you know not how deeply I grieve at this unkind reception.
Often have I thought on you during your tedious absence, and longed to
see you again; and now when my wish is gratified, I have no home here to
offer you; but we must not part--time yet may make all right; and if you
would only take up your abode near us, I would do everything to save
you; and when my father returns, we will unite our entreaties to obtain
your pardon.'

"'Sweet girl!' replied Ranald, 'I duly appreciate your kindness; but it
is vain to contend against fate, and here I cannot--will not stay.'

"The conversation was interrupted by the entrance of a footman, who,
with some confusion and hesitation, intimated that his master wished
the strange gentleman would make his visit as short as possible. Having
delivered this message, he withdrew.

"'Emily, farewell! I have ever loved you; and your kindness in this hour
of trial shows my love was not misplaced.'

"'Do not leave me, uncle; better days will come.'

"'It is vain to urge my stay; my father shall be obeyed. Once more,
farewell!'

"His niece found his resolution immoveable. She entreated him to take
her purse; this he refused. She then placed on his finger a ring: it was
the fatal one--the cause of all his misery. The sight of it overcame
him. He wept bitterly. Clasping his niece to his arms, he said, in
faltering accents--

"'Beloved girl! this fatal testimonial shall part from me only with
death; and, when you see it again, be assured that all my earthly cares
are over.'

"He then quitted the home of his forefathers, never again to return.
After wandering about for months, necessity drove him back upon his old
companions. But he had lost his energy; and it was not until the attack
upon the caterans that he again became the Ranald More of olden times.

"The kindness and affection of his niece made a deep impression on
Ranald's mind; and his chief anxiety now was to make her acquainted with
his fate, and to let her know that he died a repentant man, in the hope
of forgiveness in 'another and a better world.'

"The night before he expired, I sat beside him. Ranald was composed. He
said--

"'Often, very often, kind friend, have I meditated, after my last
repulse, putting an end to my existence; but religion came to my aid,
and I resisted manfully the temptings of the fiend. Resignation to the
divine will, under every disappointment and affliction, is a duty we
all owe to our great Creator, and this precept of my dear mother was too
deeply implanted in my mind ever to be entirely eradicated; forgiveness
of our enemies she also inculcated; and I can say, with perfect
sincerity, that I die in peace with all mankind.'

"'Even your father?' I inquired.

"'Yes; even that cruel parent, through whose obduracy I am now a
degraded felon, is forgiven by me. But no more of this. When you see
Emily, give her my blessing. Tell her that her dying uncle had her
always in his thoughts; and that, in his last moments, he prayed for her
prosperity and happiness.'

"As he was evidently much exhausted, I entreated him not to fatigue
himself by farther conversation. The clergyman arriving, I took my
leave, and returned in the morning. He was still sensible; and the man
who had sat up with him mentioned that he had been very quiet all night,
though he apparently slept very little. When I approached the bedside,
he recognised me; and, with extreme difficulty articulated--

"'Remember!'

"I assured him that his request should be implicitly complied with. His
last words were 'Bless you!' Raising himself, he placed his wife's
marriage-ring on my finger, pressed my hand feebly, and, overcome by the
exertion, fell back on his pillow; a gentle slumber seemed gradually to
come over him, from which he never awoke.

"As he was only known as Ranald More, the secret of his birth and rank
was carefully preserved by me; my adventure with him of former years was
generally known, and my anxiety about him, and my following his body to
the grave, created no manner of surprise. His companions were tried,
convicted, and executed. The death of their leader, and the capital
punishment inflicted on his followers, had a wholesome effect in that
district, and 'lifting' of cattle, from that time, became, at least
there, somewhat uncommon.

"Resolved to redeem my pledge, I procured leave of absence, and
journeyed to Northumberland, where I found the family in mourning for
the old gentleman, who had died, strange to say, about a week before his
son. The delivery of the ring at once announced the cause of my visit,
and my attentions to the unhappy donor were repaid by the extreme
kindness of his relatives. Her brother, Edmund, thought he could never
do too much for me; and the kind-hearted and beautiful niece of the
ill-fated Ranald became----" Here he paused.

"What, father?" inquired Edmund.

"YOUR MOTHER."



THE SERJEANT'S TALES.



JOHN SQUARE'S VOYAGE TO INDIA.


Having been so much edified by Serjeant Square's narrative of the
Palantines, I was anxious to hear another section of his adventures.
Next day, my wish was gratified.

"After my arrival in Greenock from my voyage to America," he
began--"that land of promise, where I had been carried as a Palantine--I
had no wages to receive; for I had wrought my passage home--that is,
given my labour for my food and room in the vessel, and was not entered
as one of the crew. A miserable passage it was; for the captain being as
complete a tyrant as ever walked a deck, the crew were ill-used, and, of
course, sulky and dissatisfied; and, humble and obedient as I was, the
bad humour of every one was put forth upon me. The little seamanship I
had been so eager to acquire in my voyage out, now stood me in great
stead, and saved me many a kick and blow. Rough and severe as my masters
were, my progress was rapid. Young and nimble as a monkey, with a quick
eye and good memory, I was no despicable seaman before we reached the
Cumbraes. Even the captain, after a severe squall we had off the west of
Ireland, commended me, saying, 'Square, you are worth your room and
victuals!' Yet of room I had little, and my victuals were no boast.
Hammock or bedding I had none; but that mattered not to me, who had no
rest. I was in no watch, but was called up or started with a rope's-end
at the pleasure of every one, when there was anything to do, from the
cable tier, or wherever I had stretched my weary limbs to snatch an
hour's sleep. Still I bore up with a cheerful heart; for hard lying and
scanty fare were nothing new to me, and I hoped soon to tread the shores
of my native land. Well, I had only two dollars and a-half in my pocket
when I left Greenock to walk to Auld Reekie. My step was as light as my
heart. Towards sunset of the second day, I reached the city; and, before
I thought of rest, I had visited all my former haunts. But a very few
days served to dissipate my pleasing dreams of home. I had, for years
before I left Edinburgh, been looked upon as one too many in the city by
those who knew me as a dependant; and doubtless, when I disappeared,
they had felt relieved of a load they bore but lightly. I had returned
as poor as I departed; and they looked upon me with frowns, upbraiding
me with folly for my return from a place where I had a chance of
succeeding.

"In my wanderings, I had entered the King's Park by the eastern stile,
at the watering-stone, when, as I approached Mushet's Cairn, in the
Duke's Walk, I heard the clashing of swords on the other side of the low
wall. Urged by curiosity, I mounted the heap of stones to obtain a sight
of the combatants. My eyes became fixed upon them; my whole mind was
filled with so ardent, so intense an interest, that I could scarcely
breathe; yet my feelings were so painful at first, that my heart beat
thick, and my limbs shook under me. At one instant, I felt a desire to
part them--the next, to see the scene enacted and ended. I had in my
mind already taken a side, and wished 'my man' to conquer. They were
both, to appearance, gentlemen, and about the same age and stature; one
of them much slighter made than the other, who pressed him hard, while
he appeared to act principally on the defensive; and so cool and
dexterous was he in the use of his sword, that his opponent, though
equally master of his, was foiled in all his assaults. It was fearfully
grand to see two men so intent upon the destruction of each other. Their
looks spoke hatred and determination; their keen eyes were fixed upon
each other with an intensity I never before thought the eye capable of;
each seemed fixed immoveably upon that of his adversary; yet a fierce
vitality beamed in them, motionless as they appeared; while every limb
and muscle of their bodies was in the most violent action. No sound
arose on the stillness of the scene, except the clash and harsh grating
of their swords, as they foiled each other in their cuts and thrusts.
While I stood fascinated, gazing upon them, the thinner person--whose
side I had taken involuntarily, for I knew neither the individuals nor
the cause of quarrel--in parrying a thrust, slipped his foot, and sank
to the ground, his antagonist's sword passing through his body in a
downward direction. He lay extended at his conqueror's feet, who, quick
as thought, seized the hand of his fallen adversary, and detached a ring
from one of his fingers. I stood immoveable on the heap of stones, with
the low wall still between us, watching the issue. He disengaged his
sword, and was in the act of plunging it again into the body. 'Villain!
villain!' I shouted; it was all I could utter, horrified as I was. He
stopped his raised hand, looked round to where I stood, exclaimed, in a
voice hoarse from passion, 'Scoundrel, you must die!' and, at the same
moment, bounded towards me, with the blood-stained sword in his hand.
Not a moment was to be lost. Urged by fear, I sprang from the cairn, and
fled towards the hill, across the swamp. Fearfully I looked over my
shoulder as I neared the wall; he was evidently gaining upon me. Young
and fleet as I was, he was far my superior in length of leg and
strength; yet my fears did not destroy my presence of mind. I saw that
it was only by doubling I could escape; for, if the chase were continued
for any length of time, he must run me down like a hare; and the fearful
consequence gave me energy. At a bound I cleared the wall, and,
stooping, ran under its shade for some distance before he reached the
spot I had leaped. He stood (for I heard his panting breath) for a
second, before he perceived the direction in which I had run--a
circumstance of the utmost service to me. Down he leaped, and followed
on my track. I again sprang the wall; and, after running a few yards, I
was on the highway, and clear of the park. My hopes now were all placed
in meeting some one or other, to claim their protection, or in reaching
a house before my pursuer could overtake me. I had not run a hundred
yards towards the Abbey Hill, when I saw three men in sailor's dress
before me, going towards the city. I called to them to stop, for the
rapid step of my enemy was sounding in my ears like the death-knell.
They stood still, and looked back; the next moment I was up to them;
while he that followed leaped the wall, and disappeared in the direction
of the town. We sought not to pursue him, for I had not yet recovered my
breath sufficiently to inform them of what I had been an unconscious
witness. As soon as I told my story, the men resolved to go with me, to
ascertain whether the person was dead or required our aid, saying, they
were on their way to the Canongate, to meet their captain, by
appointment, and having yet sufficient time, they would go by the King's
Park, and bear the unfortunate gentleman to town. When we arrived at the
spot, we found him seated upon the grass, his head bent forward upon his
knee, sick and faint, the blood welling from the wound in his side,
which he was making no effort to staunch, and he was plunged in the
deepest melancholy. I could hear him sigh heavily ere we crossed the
wall. When the seamen saw him, they uttered a cry of mingled surprise
and rage. He raised his head; his face was deadly pale; a faint
expression of pleasure passed over it for a moment, then it settled into
deep sorrow. He appeared utterly regardless of life; and it was even
with gentle violence only that he allowed them to staunch his wound by
binding their silk handkerchiefs round his breast. We found that his
ankle was also dreadfully sprained and swelled; and, truly, his agony
must have been great from this cause alone; but no complaint or groan
escaped from him; and I thought I perceived that his sufferings were far
more mental than even bodily. From exhaustion or apathy, he allowed us
to do as we pleased; all he commanded being, to be taken to his vessel,
and not to the town. So we bore him to a house at Clock Mill, the
nearest refuge, while I ran to the Canongate to procure a surgeon, and a
conveyance to carry him to Fisherrow. The surgeon I might bring at my
own responsibility, for he would not hear of one, wishing evidently to
die. The sailors, who recognised me as having been on board the Eliza of
London only a few hours before, in quest of a berth, looked upon me now
as one of the crew, for the service I had rendered their beloved
captain.

After an absence of nearly an hour, I with difficulty procured a
post-chaise and a surgeon. The injury was found not to be of much
importance, the sword having glanced along the ribs, producing only a
severe flesh wound, which was dressed, and the dislocation reduced. The
surgeon insisted upon his staying where he was, for fear of fever, but
he was bent upon proceeding to his vessel; so, accompanied by the
surgeon, he set off in the chaise, and I, joining my new comrades on
foot, proceeded to the vessel, along with them. The sensation produced
by the wounded state in which the invalid had come on board, was in
proportion to the love the men bore to their captain. As soon as we were
upon the deck, every one on board crowded around us. I gave a true
detail of all I had witnessed; every one shook me heartily by the hand,
and declared he would be my friend to the end of life; but no one was
more warmed to me for the little I had done than the mate. The captain's
wound put on a favourable appearance, and he was declared out of danger.
In a few days, the wind chopped about to the westward, and we got under
weigh, to complete the voyage, being bound for London. Before we weighed
anchor, the captain caused himself to be carried upon deck, where he sat
gazing in the direction of Edinburgh until we were out of the Frith; he
seemed consumed with some secret grief, and had not opened his mouth to
give a single order, the mate doing all that was required.

"When we had passed the islands of May and the Bass, and stood into the
ocean, he called me to him.

"'Square,' said he, 'I have been informed by the mate how much I am
indebted to you. The service to me was of small value, insomuch as I had
rather have perished in the combat, than survived to think that my
traitorous rival has triumphed in his villany; but, believe me, young
man, my gratitude to you is not the less--you shall in me never want a
friend.'

"I thanked him kindly for his assurance, and said it would be my
endeavour to deserve his friendship. He was soon after removed below,
and I did not see him until we reached the Thames, and were moored at
the Isle of Dogs. The captain, who was part owner, went into furnished
lodgings while we were delivering our cargo, being still unable to walk,
from the dislocation of his ankle. The greater part of the crew also
lodged on shore; but I remained on board with the mate, in charge of the
vessel, and often went to the captain with letters and messages. In one
of my visits, he desired me to be seated, and give him an account of
myself, as he said he had taken an interest in my welfare, and wished to
serve me, agreeably to his promise, if I continued to deserve it. I gave
him a full detail of my life until I came to the encounter I had
witnessed between him and his opponent, when I stopped. 'Nay, young
man,' said he,'I wish to hear an account of what you were witness of,
from your own mouth.' I went on. He heard me with composure, until I
mentioned the tearing off the ring from his finger. When I came to this
part of the narrative, his countenance became distorted with rage; he
ground his teeth, and stamped upon the floor; his eyes flashed fire, and
his passion seemed too great for utterance. I looked on in silence,
fearful that, from his weakness, he would fall into a fit. At length, he
said, as if in deep abstraction, and unconscious of my presence--

"'Faithless Eliza! I thought I had cast it at thy feet in my agony of
blighted hopes, and felt pleased. It was my intention; but my mind was
a chaos of misery. The traitor Wallace has got the pledge of the love
you proved false to. Would that his sword had pierced the heart his
treachery has rendered miserable! No; I shall meet him once again, and
one of us shall die----'

"Then starting to his feet, he supported himself upon the back of a
chair, his countenance no longer distorted with rage, having changed
into a settled, resolute cast, calm and stern. His burst of emotion had
passed away.

"'Square,' he said, 'you, like myself, have no tie to bind you to
Scotland, no relation or friend on earth; we are as if we had dropped
from some distant planet, now desolate of inhabitants, into this busy
world. Still I must ever remember that any happiness I ever enjoyed was
in Edinburgh; and my heart's cherished hopes--hopes that have cheered my
way through toil and danger--were there for ever crushed by the subtle
arts of one I thought my friend. Base wretch! you shall not long exult
in your villany! Square, you must accompany me back to Edinburgh, as
soon as I am able to use this limb with vigour. Do you agree to
accompany me?'

"'With pleasure,' I replied; 'whenever or wherever you go, I go'. My
young heart was full of gratitude for the kindness I had received from
him; and I felt almost as keenly for his wrongs as if I had been a
brother. He saw the workings of my mind in my countenance, and, seizing
my hand, said--

"'Hence forth we shall be as friends.'

"The surgeon entered at this period of our discourse, and, to the
captain's anxious inquiries, replied that it would yet be some weeks
before his limb would be so strong that he might use it without pain,
for any length of time. It was a whole month after this before we left
London, during which I had a private tutor to teach me, and restore any
little instruction I had got at school during the life of my parents. I
went no longer on board, save to visit the mate, who was now as master
on the point of sailing; the Eliza being chartered, and her cargo almost
on board. He sailed for Rotterdam eight days before we intended to leave
London for Edinburgh; which we were to do in a chaise. A voyage to
America, in the present day, gives a landsman less concern than a voyage
between London and Leith did in those days.

"All being arranged, and the captain's ankle pretty stout, we set off for
Edinburgh. In our tedious ride over the wretched roads, he was pleased
to give me the following account of himself:--He was the second son of a
gentleman of decayed fortune in the north of Scotland. He and his elder
brother had been sent, young, to an uncle's in Edinburgh, for their
education. His brother had chosen his uncle's profession of the law;
while he, much against his uncle's wish, had preferred the sea. In his
occasional visits to Edinburgh, when opportunity offered, he had met in
his uncle's a lovely young lady, the daughter of a gentleman, who was
obliged to live in exile for the share he had had in the rebellion. She
was under his uncle's protection, as her father's agent and her
guardian. The young sailor's heart was won by the charms of the gentle
Eliza; he wooed and won her love. Vows of constancy were exchanged on
both sides; but, although fortune had smiled upon him, he was still not
rich enough to maintain his beloved in the rank she was by birth
entitled to: and it was agreed at their last parting, that, after a few
more successful voyages, he should ask her hand in form from his uncle.
Changed rings were accordingly the memorials of their plighted faiths.
It was Eliza's ring that Wallace had torn from his finger on that
eventful evening. Urged by love, he had in his last voyage come far out
of his regular course to visit his Eliza; and having anchored in
Fisherrow Bay, he flew on the wings of joyous expectation to Edinburgh.
On his way he had met an old schoolfellow, who, in answer to his
inquiries after his friends, told him, as a part of the news of the
day, that his old schoolfellow and rival, Wallace, was on the eve of
marriage to Eliza, and that his addresses were sanctioned by his uncle.
Maddened by the intelligence, he had hurried to his uncle's, and had the
bad fortune to see Wallace taking leave of her as he approached the
house; whereupon, in an agony of jealousy and disappointed love, he
hastened to overtake him. Angry words ensued--Wallace boasted of his
triumph, and a challenge was given and received, to meet in the King's
Park. Urged on by his disappointed hopes, he waited upon Eliza in a
frame of mind bordering upon distraction. Without prelude or
explanation, he upbraided her as the most faithless of women, saying, he
now thought as lightly of her love as he had ever highly prized it; and,
in his fury, thought he had, as he intended, thrown her ring at her
feet. At first she had looked alarmed, and wept, surprise held her
silent, until all her native pride, and the innate dignity of the
female, were roused by his taunts and reproaches, and she ordered him
from her presence. They parted in mutual anger. Without seeing his uncle
or any acquaintance in town, he had walked in the most sequestered parts
of Arthur's Seat and the Hunting Bog, until the hour of meeting his
rival. They met, and the issue has been told.

"As we approached the city, he became very dull and uncommunicative,
sitting absorbed in his own thoughts for hours; the fierce aspect that
his countenance had for a long time worn was succeeded by a deep shade
of sadness. I was young and inexperienced, and knew not how to speak, to
divert his mind from the painful feelings that were preying upon him;
thus we sat silent for hours, until we reached Musselburgh. 'Square!' he
said, starting up, 'I shall soon have my doubts solved. For this some
time an idea has haunted my mind, which renders me the most miserable of
men. What if, in my madness (I can give it no milder term), I have
wronged Eliza! She was all goodness and truth, and I ought to have
weighed well before I reproached her. I have striven to think hardly of
her, but my heart refuses. Eliza! Eliza! I have lost you for ever; true
or false, I can never look on thy face again; but Wallace shall not
triumph in my misery. I have preferred bringing you with me to any other
person, because of your intimacy with Edinburgh. I do not wish it to be
known that I am in town, until I have ascertained, through you, what has
occurred since my last unfortunate visit to it.' I promised cheerfully
to do my utmost to serve him in any duty he required, and, before the
evening set in, we were safely lodged in the White Horse Tavern at the
head of the Canongate. Our first step was to send for one of the
cadies--a race of men now extinct; but they were, in their day and
generation, a numerous fraternity in Edinburgh, and the source of
communication, before the invention of the penny post. The affairs of
the inhabitants of all ranks were in general well known to them. Their
trustworthiness was admitted, and they were often employed in preference
to domestic servants, in whose gossiping qualities they did not
participate. I named Angus M'Dougal in preference to any other, as I had
long known him. I brought him. When he entered, the captain sat with his
back towards us, wrapped up in his travelling cloak, and avoiding the
exposure of his face. After our first greeting, I proceeded to make the
necessary inquiries, and found that Mr H---- was in town, and went very
little abroad, on account of some distress in his house. The captain
gave a start, a stifled groan escaped him, and, to relieve his suspense,
I inquired of Angus if he knew the cause. 'Oh, the cause is no secret,'
replied he; 'his ward, Elizabeth, is not expected to recover frae a
dangerous illness. They say it is the effect o' grief, from a strange
and hurried occurrence that happened several weeks ago. Miss Eliza had a
sweetheart o' the name o' Mr Wallace, wha it was supposed was to hae
married her; he was a constant visitor at her uncle's, but there was
ane, they say, she liked better, a nephew o' Mr H----'s, wha was lang
awa at sea. He appeared suddenly in the house when her guardian was frae
hame, and as suddenly left it; nor has he been heard o' since. He was
seen in the King's Park by several, as they think. It's no for me to
speak evil o' ony gentleman; but they say that her other sweetheart
murdered him, and concealed his body, for next forenoon, Mr H---- was
sent for express, to come hame to Miss Elizabeth, wha had been out o' ae
fit into anither ever since she had seen his nephew. Mr H---- sent
everywhere to inquire for the unfortunate young man, but nae tidings
could be had. Mr Wallace had left the town suddenly, but nane could tell
whar he had gane. They say he was also seen, latish in the afternoon,
entering the Duke's Walk to the east. Every part was searched, in vain,
for the body, which has never been discovered; but, what has put it
beyond a doubt, in the minds of many, that the youth was killed, was,
that at a sma' distance within the wall near Mushet's Cairn, the grass
was observed to be trodden down, and stained wi' blood. This, and the
flight o' Wallace, who is said to hae gane owre to Holland to avoid the
vengeance o' his uncle, are, at best, very suspicious circumstances.
This Johnny Square, is a' that I ken o' the matter.'

"Dismissing the cadie as soon as possible, amply pleased with his
reward, I hurried to the captain, who was weeping, like an infant, his
face buried in his handkerchief. I saw that anything I could say, in the
present situation, would be intrusion upon grief, too sacred for
interference, and too recent to be soothed. After a few minutes, he
turned to me--'Am I not the most guilty of men,' he said, 'and
deservedly the most wretched? I have, by my hasty, jealous temper,
killed my Eliza, and banished myself from her presence for ever, even
should she recover. Oh! how could I, for a moment, harbour such a
thought, to the injury of such an angel--far less give utterance to it!
Fool, fool, that I have ever been!--it is fitting you die to atone for
your jealous madness.' And he beat his forehead with his clenched fists.
I became afraid that he intended to do some injury to his person; for
there was a fierceness, mingled with agony of mind, in his looks, as he
grasped, as if by some involuntary motion, the hilt of his sword, that
alarmed me. I was on the point, different times, of rushing upon and
disarming him; but, at length, this paroxysm was succeeded by one of
subdued grief, and he became, to all appearance, as feeble as an infant.
'Oh, that I could, by any sacrifice,' he cried, in thrilling tones,
'obtain one glance of my injured Eliza, if it even were my last, to die
at her feet, pleading for forgiveness!--her esteem, and with it her
love, I know I have forfeited for ever! Rash, rash fool that I was!'
Again he relapsed into silence, and, taking advantage of this new turn
of thought, I suggested his writing to his uncle. 'Alas, Square,' he
said, 'I cannot write; my mind is in a chaos of confusion--my brain is
racked almost to madness.'

"'Then,' I answered, 'allow me to go, as if I had just arrived in town,
and expected to have found you there, and to act as occasion requires.
If I find I can, there shall be a messenger sent for you to come to your
uncle's, or, at all events, I shall return in as short a time as
possible, and give you an account of my success.'

"'Square, my friend,' he replied, grasping my hand, 'do with me as you
please. My heart is broken--my mind is a tumult of agonising reflections
of what I am, and what I might have been. I blush for the weakness you
have witnessed in me; but what man in his folly ever threw from him such
a treasure as I have lost, and lost for ever?'

"Anxious to alleviate the misery of my benefactor, with hasty steps I
proceeded to the Covenant Close, to call upon Mr H----, who lived in the
third flat in the Scale Stairs. Almost breathless from the speed I had
used, I 'tirled at the pin.' The door was opened by a genteel
man-servant in livery, of whom I inquired if Mr H---- was at home, and
was answered in the affirmative. I was ushered into an elegant room,
where, after waiting a few minutes, a benign but melancholy-looking old
gentleman entered:--

"'Mr Square, I am informed,' said he, 'you wish to see me; may I
inquire, is your business very pressing, as I am rather engaged at
present?'

"'I humbly beg pardon,' said I; 'I am a stranger to you, and only came
to town this afternoon. My acquaintance is with your nephew, Captain
H----, of the Eliza: can you inform me when you expect him in town?'

"The old man sank into a chair, and remained silent, overcome by his
feelings; at length, looking inquiringly into my face, 'Alas! sir,'
cried he, 'I have now no nephew.'

"'Excuse me, sir,' I said, 'if I have wounded your feelings. I am
astonished at what you tell me, for I saw him, in good health, not many
days since, and expected him to have been here to-night.'

"Starting to his feet, he came to where I sat, and, placing his hand on
my shoulder, looked anxiously in my face--'Young man,' he said,
solemnly, 'have you seen Hugh H---- within these five weeks?'

"'Certainly,' I replied; 'I saw him in London within these ten days, in
good health.'

"Clasping his hands, and raising his eyes to heaven--'Blessed be God!'
he said, 'my nephew is alive, and my Eliza may yet be snatched from the
grave!'

"We now entered into familiar conversation, in which I got from him a
similar account to what the cadie had given us, with the addition only
of the exertions Mr. H---- had made for the bringing of Wallace to
punishment for the murder of his nephew. 'That man,' he concluded, 'has
come to rejoice that he is in life; for so strong was the circumstantial
evidence, that, had he been apprehended and brought to trial, there is
not a jury who would not have given their verdict Guilty.'

"In return, I gave him a detailed account of all that I had witnessed,
and the state of misery in which I had left him. Mr. H---- heard me with
varied feelings as I proceeded, and said he had had no idea of the
attachment between Hugh and Eliza, until this unfortunate affair
disclosed it to him; and he feared it had proved fatal to his ward, who
was in a very dangerous state--her life even despaired of; but he
trusted his nephew's return would be more efficacious than all the
prescriptions of her physicians; for hers was a sickness of the heart.

"With a thrill of pleasure at the success of my call, I bade him adieu,
taking with me the assurance that he would break the joyful intelligence
to Eliza, and either call at the White Horse Tavern himself, or send a
note by his servant, to his 'poor Hughie, who was ever a passionate
boy,' to come to him. When I returned, I found him pacing the room with
hasty steps.

"'Square,' he cried, in a voice bordering on anger, 'is this what I
expected from you? You have stayed an age away.'

"'I beg pardon, captain, but I have made no unnecessary delay. I bring
you tidings of good hope. Your uncle is rejoiced you are safe, and in
town; he will either call himself, or send a card for you to-morrow, as
he shall judge safest for the sake of Eliza. Meanwhile, he is to break
the unexpected news to her.'

"Joy and grief, hope and fear, now by turns took possession of his mind,
until we retired to rest.

"Next forenoon we passed in a state of great anxiety. Captain H---- had
spent a sleepless night, and still paced the room in violent emotion,
or sank exhausted into his seat. I could not leave him, for the sake of
humanity. At length, about two o'clock, Mr H---- came himself to visit
his nephew. I cannot describe this meeting; it was painful to all
parties. The old man had endeavoured to break the news of Hugh's safety
to his ward without success; she was, he confessed, so much reduced,
that he feared the agitation might prove fatal; for every allusion to
him, since that melancholy occurrence, had produced a series of fainting
fits; soon, however, he hoped, with safety, to be enabled to communicate
the safety of her Hugh, whom, in her troubled slumbers, he had heard her
name, while the large drops glistened on or glided from her long dark
eyelashes.

"'O Hugh, Hugh, what have you done!' said the old man, unconsciously, as
he wrung his hands--the tears falling over his venerable face.

"'Uncle, dear uncle, do not drive me to distraction,' cried the captain;
'I cannot endure the----'

"'Pardon me, my boy,' interrupted the uncle; 'I am a silly old bachelor;
I know not what I say. Dear Hugh, I didn't mean to grieve you; but who
can look on yon suffering innocent creature, and speak but as the
feelings dictate?'

"The captain groaned aloud, and hid his face in his handkerchief.

"Several days were passed in a similar manner before we removed to the
Covenant Close; but, alas! Captain H---- had arrived too late. The shock
had untwisted the thread of life in the gentle Eliza, and it seemed only
to hold together until his arrival. Joy, no doubt, once more visited
that broken heart, when she smiled forgiveness upon her heart-stricken
lover; but she survived only for three weeks after his arrival, and
breathed her last sigh as he bent, almost bereft of reason, over her
wasted form.

"During this period, I was quite unoccupied, and walked the streets of
Edinburgh with a stately gait. How different were my feelings now from
what they once had been on the same spot, in former days, when I had run
or glided through them, timorous and abject! A child might have taken
the wall of me then; now I had a splendid dress, and guineas in my
pocket. I walked erect and resolute as a giant, and would give the wall
to none; such is the effect of circumstances upon the mind. This, I
believe, is the only time in my life I ever was so foolish. I feared to
meet any one who could by any chance have recognised me. Yet in my pride
I was still a solitary being, too bashful to make new acquaintances with
those I thought my equals, and too proud to associate with those I had
known before. Thus did I strut about like a solitary peacock in a
farm-yard, with this difference, that I became, unlike the haughty bird,
weary of my own consequence.

"After the funeral of Eliza, Mr H---- pleaded upon the captain to remain
in Edinburgh; but he replied that he could not; all the scenes around
only added to his melancholy, by recalling to his mind the lovely object
he had lost for ever, and brought up the consciousness of the means--his
own cruelty and jealous temper. In a few days we were once more on our
way to London, where we arrived in safety, and found the Eliza moored at
Rotherhithe. The captain resumed his active duties; and his grief was
either more bearable, or, to blunt its edge, he entered more keenly into
commerce. I was now appointed second mate. His wish was to obtain a
distant freight, unmindful to what part of the world, so that the period
of his absence from Britain might be the greatest. Not finding one so
readily as he wished, he took a rich cargo on board upon his own
account, fitted for the Indian market, and we left the Thames in
November, 1751.

"For several years from this date, I was as happy as any human being
could be, for we sailed the Indian Ocean from point to point, in all
directions, encountering various turns of fortune, but still progressing
towards wealth. I was myself rich, far beyond what I could ever have
hoped to have been; and as for Captain H----, he had accumulated a
fortune with which he was satisfied; his equanimity of mind was in some
measure restored; he could talk at times of Eliza with a pleasing
melancholy, and spoke of returning once more to Europe. As his vessel,
the Eliza, was now old, and not safe for a home voyage, he resolved to
sell her in the country, and return to Europe a passenger in the first
commodious trader. This he actually did at Bombay, giving to each of his
crew who had left England with him a handsome present, and the amount in
cash of their passage-money home, that they might either return at his
expense, or stay longer in the country, where there were great
inducements, if they chose. Me, as my sincere friend, he strongly
advised to remain for a few years longer, when I might return an
independent man to Edinburgh.

"This was one of the golden opportunities every man has once in his
power during his existence of bettering his circumstances for life. My
evil destiny, or some other cause, made me reject it. I had, for several
months back, as I had had several times before, a strong longing to
visit Scotland once more. It is hardly possible for those who have never
been for years absent from their native home, to imagine how
overpowering this homesickness is, and how little will furnish to a
languishing mind a plausible excuse for a return. I felt a conviction
that I was not acting in the best manner for my own interest; yet I
soothed down this feeling by the hope that I could return at any time,
and pursue my fortune. To Captain H---- I stated my wish to return to
Europe at all events, as I was weary of the Indian clime, and that, as I
had left Edinburgh with him, I would, if he had no objections, return in
the same vessel. He agreed; and thus we were again fated to go together.

"After remaining on shore inactive for some weeks, we embarked on board
the Traussean, bound for Amsterdam. Would that I had been of the same
turn of mind and resolution as Mr. Yates, our chief mate, who remained
in the country, and soon sailed a vessel of his own! I saw him several
years afterwards in London, living in wealth and independence, the
produce of his toils in India. I gratified my wish at all hazards--he
obeyed his better judgment; he had his reward--I had mine.

"From Bombay to the Cape of Good Hope we had a quick and pleasant run.
We stopped at the Cape for three weeks, and took in refreshments and
some passengers, amongst whom was an old, rich planter, on his return to
Holland, taking with him a black boy, his slave, one of the merriest and
most obliging creatures I ever saw. The little fellow soon became the
favourite of every one on board. Pontoben was the joy of every one
except his master, who was ever correcting or finding fault with him. In
one of my sallies, I called the old planter Satan. He was worthy of the
title, and it adhered to him like a burdockhead. A more forbidding
figure I have never seen. Tall and bony, he had the appearance of a
gigantic skeleton covered with shrivelled brown leather; his forehead,
large and deeply-furrowed, rose over two shaggy eyebrows, that
overshadowed eyes of light blue, keen and restless. There was a peculiar
expression in his whole face that made even the most daring feel uneasy
on beholding him; and, unless they were excited at the time by hatred
towards him, few ever dared his eye. I myself felt that no inducement
could ever make me look upon him as a kindred being; and, indeed, he
rarely spoke to any of his countrymen. His harsh, sepulchral tones were
seldom heard but in execrations of poor Pontoben, who would leave his
master with the big drops of anguish, from punishment, rolling down his
ebony face; and, in a few minutes after, be seen laughing and sporting
with the seamen.

"On the evening of the seventh day after we had left Table Bay, the sun
set like an immense globe of deep red fire, and the sky began to be
overcast. The vessel was made all tight for the expected storm; and
come, it did, soon after dark, with fearful force. All I had ever
encountered could not be compared to its violence. The vessel pitched,
groaned, and quivered, during the whole night, as if she would have gone
to pieces; and, when day at length came, with no abatement of the storm,
it only served to show us the extent of our danger. The sky was dark and
lowering; heavy masses of clouds obscured the sun, and poured forth
deluges of rain; the vessel laboured so much, and the wind was so
strong, that no man on board could keep his feet, and the crew were
lashed to different parts of the vessel, to prevent their being washed
from the decks by the waves, which were every now and then making a
complete breach over us. The captain and I shared the fatigues of the
crew as we shared their danger. Another night of darkness and tempest,
if possible more severe than the first, passed over our heads; still the
vessel held good, and we hoped to weather the gale; when, just about an
hour after daybreak, the wind chopped about nearly two points off the
compass; the man at the helm, either through fatigue or mismanagement,
allowed a tremendous sea to strike her too much forward, when she heeled
so far over that a second wave laid her upon her beam ends. A cry of
despair rose in one long, wailing sound, from every one on board; three
of the crew were hurled into the mountainous ocean, and perished in a
moment. The vessel had been making a considerable quantity of water, but
not sufficient to cause alarm on that account; but now it was finding
its way in by the companions from every wave that rolled over us. It is
in moments such as these that the character of the seaman shines forth
in all its lustre. For a few minutes, and no more, we were paralysed,
and looked on in stupor, expecting to go down to the deep; still she
floated--the larboard side only a few inches out of the water; the wind
had perceptibly declined, still the sea ran as high as ever; and thus,
for several hours, we clung to fastenings, in expectation of her going
down every instant. We had it not in our power to do anything for our
safety; it seemed as if her cargo had shifted in the hold, and the first
heavy sea would finish all. I cannot say how long this lasted; the rage
of the tempest at length died away, and it became possible for us to
act. Her fore and mizzen masts were cut away, when she righted
considerably; and then we commenced to throw what of her cargo we could
get at overboard, altering the remainder until she righted. When hope
once more dawned upon us, exhausted by hunger and fatigue, we stretched
our weary limbs upon the deck, and sank to rest--the captain of the
vessel taking the helm, and keeping watch with a few of his exhausted
crew, who were soon relieved by short watches, until their strength was
restored.

"Jurymasts were now erected, and we hoped to reach the coast of Portugal
and refit; but our misfortunes had only commenced, for we found that our
bread had been completely destroyed by the water we had made during the
storm; and, besides, we were not provisioned for a very protracted
voyage. It was at once agreed that both passengers and crew should go on
short allowance; and, as our vessel was both leaky and sailed badly
under her jurymasts, our prospects were now gloomy enough. Satan had
never left his berth since the coming on of the storm; but lay and
blasphemed, and beat poor Pontoben as usual, his temper having evidently
become worse under his privations, though he had many preserves and
luxuries of his own private property. The captain and myself kept up our
spirits, in the expectation of falling in with some vessel bound for
Europe, in which case we would leave the Traussean; but we were not so
fortunate; for scarce were we refitted from the wrecks of the hurricane,
when we were becalmed for three weeks. I shall not attempt to describe
this our melancholy situation on the bosom of the ocean, that lay all
around as still as death; its glassy brightness dazzling the eye under
the intense rays of the sun, and our scanty supply of provisions rapidly
wearing done. A lingering death from famine seemed inevitable; despair
began to steal upon us; anxiety and fear were visible in the
countenances of all. The pious became more fervent in their devotions,
and the profane more choice in their expressions. All of us moved about
the vessel like spectres, seldom exchanging words, every one seemingly
absorbed in his own reflections. Vain was the attempt to call up a
cheerful thought. If a laugh was heard, which some would attempt, it
looked more like madness than mirth, and grated upon the ear like some
unearthly sound; while tales of fearful import and sad forebodings alone
could gain the attention of the listeners.

"This state of the ocean at length changed; a faint breeze sprang up;
but, alas! it was unsteady and baffling, and our crippled vessel was ill
adapted for any but a leading wind. By observation, we were nearly
equidistant from the coast of Portugal and the Cape; otherwise, to save
our lives, we would have run the wreck of the Traussean back to Table
Bay. This plan was even urged by several of the crew; but overruled by
the captain and majority; for the reason that we could not depend upon
the wind lasting long enough to carry us there, and we had more chance
to fall in with some vessel as we neared Europe. Scarcely able to stand
to the pumps, for she needed clearing every twelve hours, we persevered
in our course, the provisions being doled out in the smallest portions
that could sustain nature, and diminished till we resembled skeletons
more than men. When we commenced the voyage, there were a great many
monkeys, parrots, and other birds, intended as gifts to friends in
Europe. These had long since been consumed by their owners; even the
vermin we were so fortunate as to catch were indeed a luxury; and every
invention was put in practice to ensnare them. The preserves and private
stock, everything that could sustain life, had been taken from Satan
and the other passengers, and placed in the common stock; so that no one
might fare better than his fellow. We had for some time looked at each
other with an evil eye, and to wish for a death, that we might avoid the
necessity of casting lots; for, strange to say, we clung to life the
more tenaciously the more our sufferings increased. I have often since
been amazed to think that, for trivial sufferings or wounded pride, men
will voluntarily commit suicide; and yet, among twenty-five individuals,
to any of whom a natural death would have been a kind relief, this
fearful remedy was never thought of. With the keenest scrutiny we
counted the ships crew and passengers every morning, in hopes that some
one had died in the night. One morning, Pontoben, who had, even amidst
the ill-usage he received from his master, stood it out better than any
on board, was amissing, and a search was made for him through the ship
in vain. At length he was found in his master's berth, beyond him,
dead--the marks of strangulation upon his throat, evidence to us all
that Satan had strangled him through the night. The body was at once
demanded; but his master, with execrations, refused to deliver it up, as
he maintained the boy was his own property, and he would 'keep it for
his own use.' My blood ran cold as I looked upon the murdered boy and
his savage master. The lifeless corpse was torn from him, and mangled,
to be consumed; but neither Captain H---- nor myself could look upon the
horrid mess, and several others were similarly affected; but Satan
gloated over it, and cursed the others for depriving him of the whole.

"Our sufferings had now reached the limit of human endurance. We were
unable to stand at the pumps even half-hour spells; and if we ceased to
lighten the vessel we must soon founder. In this, our last extremity, it
was at last agreed to cast the fatal lot, to ascertain who was to die
to save the rest. We could sustain the gnawing of hunger no longer.
Every article of leather, even our shoes, had been consumed. We were all
assembled upon the quarterdeck, to bide our fate. Sunk and dispirited as
we were by famine, we all clung to life with a more intense desire than
we had ever done in more prosperous times. The arrangements were thus
made:--a large china jar was placed upon the binnacle, into which was
put a scroll of paper for each person on board, cut and folded exactly
alike. On one was wrote, 'Gracious God, pardon my sins, and receive my
soul, for Jesus' sake.' On the other, 'Merciful God, require not this
innocent blood at my hands.' He that drew the first was to die, and he
that drew the second was to be the executioner. All the other papers
were blank. Everything was prepared before us in the most equitable
manner. A period of thrilling suspense intervened, and, all being ready,
the captain walked first, placed his hand in the jar, and drew a lot. In
like manner, every one on board followed him, each holding his doom in
his hand unopened until all was drawn. Another fearful pause ensued.
Each feared to unroll his paper. Good God! the fatal scroll was in my
hand, and Satan was to be my butcher!

"I yet shudder when I call to mind the agony of that moment. All eyes
beamed joy, I thought, that they had escaped. I was for a moment
stupified. Then my brain seemed to whirl round--the light forsook my
eyes--I became incapable of reflection; yet a nervous, convulsive energy
made me plead for mercy--a mere instinctive effort; for, had I been able
to command my thoughts, they would have satisfied me that there was no
hope. Satan stood by my side, with the knife in his hand, ready for his
victim, even yet, when my slumbers are uneasy, I see his tall, hideous
figure, rendered, at the time, doubly frightful by famine, standing over
me, his knife at my throat, and Captain H---- in vain endeavouring to
hold his hand. My agony and pleadings so melted the whole sufferers,
that it was resolved to delay my death until the shades of night had
once more covered the ocean, in hopes some ship might heave in sight
before my fate was sealed; if not, the morning never was to dawn for
me--that day was to be my last in time. Captain H---- kneeled, weeping,
by my side. He was joined by all the crew, except the satanic planter,
in heartfelt devotion, and earnest supplication for my deliverance.
Alas! I could not mould my own thoughts to prayer: a thousand wandering
fancies crowded through my mind, making all dark chaos, save the lurid
coruscations of the horrors of dissolution. Their prayers and
supplications sounded in my ears as if they were the noise of broken
water on a reef of rocks, in a gentle breeze; and if I mechanically
joined, or kept imploring pardon and mercy through Jesus for my many
sins, it was not prayer, for I felt neither peace nor hope while I
called. My heart seemed to take little interest in what my lips were
uttering. All appeared as if I had been suddenly thrown to the bottom of
a mine in utter darkness. Then, again, the glowing sun, that the day
before seemed stationary in the heavens, so slow had appeared his
progress, now seemed to whirl with fearful velocity, as I occasionally
cast up my despairing eyes to mark his progress.

"It was now past noon. Captain H---- still sat by my side, with my hand
clasped affectionately in his, doing his utmost to prepare my soul for
the great change. I began slowly to recover from the stupor caused by
the sudden announcement of my horrid doom. I joined in prayer with him.
Never again will I be more fit to die than I became towards the evening.
I told the captain of the vessel I was now ready to submit to my lot. He
could not answer me, his heart was too full; the tears rolled down his
rugged face, and with a groan he retired to his cabin. Satan, who had
eyed me from the first as if he repined at the delay I had obtained,
came forward. The men turned their backs. Captain H---- rose to his feet
and pushed him back, saying I had been allowed to live until sundown,
and I should have full time allowed. Some of the crew joined him. As for
myself, I had become weary of my horrible suspense.

"As had been the daily practice since our misfortunes began, several of
the crew had been stationed in our remaining mast-head, to look out for
any vessel that might come in sight; even yet several continued to crawl
up, to gaze over the expanse of waters, in hopes of relief. Often
through this day had my imploring eyes been fixed on them with anxious
looks. Even while I felt weary of my suspense and wished it over, hope
would steal over my mind; there was yet some space ere sunset, and my
prayers for pardon, spite of myself, would end in supplications for
deliverance. Suddenly a faint shout arose from the mast-head. It was
repeated. I started up, and in voluntarily joined, as it ran along the
deck, the blessed cry, 'A sail in sight!' There was life in the sound.
Many wept, while others laughed aloud. Some clasped their hands in
silence, and raised their eyes to heaven. I sank upon my knees; tears of
gratitude to God poured from my eyes; words were denied me, but my heart
burned within me with love. I arose and joined the crew, who were gazing
over the side at the welcome sight, which was nearing us fast. We fired
a gun and hung out a signal of distress, as the sun was now fast sinking
in the west. She still neared us; but darkness was coming fast, and
fearing to lose her, a lantern was fixed on the top, and minute guns
were fired. The strange vessel occasionally replied; and during this
last night of our misery no eye was closed. Each flash of her gun, less
distant as she replied, acted upon our depressed minds, inspiring hope.
Faint as the wind was, it was evident that she neared us, and we
steered our almost waterlogged hulk towards the flash of her guns,
in the best manner we could. When morning dawned, she was within a
quarter-of-a-league of us. We now made her out to be a Portuguese
merchantman; but had she been an Algerine cruiser, we would have hailed
her with delight. A boat put off from her, and was soon alongside. The
officer who came on board was shocked to witness our misery; for indeed
we resembled spectres more than men. She proved to be a Portuguese
trader of the largest class, bound for Brazil, laden with supplies.
Captain H----, who was acquainted with the captain, and spoke a little
Portuguese, having been several times in Lisbon, acted as interpreter.
Language was not required to tell our miserable state. The Portuguese
acted with the utmost humanity, and stayed by us for two days. The
captain himself came on board with the first boat load of supplies, and
superintended their serving out--as great an act of humanity as
furnishing them; for the people on board the Traussean, now that
provisions were on board, became actually mutinous to obtain them--each
man thinking he alone could have eat the whole supply, so ravenous did
our appetites feel. We were, at first, only served with half a biscuit
each, steeped in wine. Impatient as we were for this and much more, as
soon as it was given by our benefactors, numbers loathed it, and could
not swallow the morsel. I thought, upon receiving my portion, it was
cruel mockery of our wants to give so little. My desires were all for
food, food; yet, when I put the first bit into my mouth, a sickness came
over me--my stomach refused to receive it. Thus I sat with what my soul
longed for in my hand, yet unable to enjoy it, conscious that my
existence depended upon it; yet it was by several violent efforts I
succeeded in swallowing it. Soon after I fell sound asleep. All were not
affected in the same manner. Some devoured their allowance and pleaded
for more, which was, for a space, refused, until it was thought safe to
gratify the calls of hunger with more solid food. In about four hours I
awoke from my sleep, with the most intense craving for food, much more
so than I had felt during the famine. Captain H---- I found still asleep
in his berth, to which he had retired. Ten of the crew of the Portuguese
vessel were at our pumps and in charge of the vessel; for our own crew
were incapable of any exertion. All energy seemed to have forsaken us,
now that help had been so mercifully bestowed upon us. Gradually the
allowance of food was increased to us, and next morning our vigour began
gradually to return. Fortunately the weather was very fine. Our
deliverers lay close to us during the night; their boats had been
passing between the vessels with all they could spare to supply our
wants, and their own men cheerfully undertook the task we ourselves were
incapable of. Having done all for us they could, even assisting to refit
and search for the leak, on the evening of the second day they bade us
farewell, and proceeded on their voyage, amply rewarded for their
kindness. The Portuguese captain made, at parting, a present to Captain
H---- of six bottles of wine and some other necessaries; for he was now
confined to his berth, the privations he had so long endured having made
him very feverish and unwell.

"On the third day after we parted from the generous Portuguese, we
reached the mouth of the Tagus, when the pilot came on board. He had
almost left the vessel again, so great was his alarm and surprise at our
wretched appearance. We resembled a spectre ship. The Traussean was
refitted and ready to sail; but we resolved not to proceed farther in
her. We could as readily get a passage from Lisbon to Britain as from
Amsterdam; and what would have induced me to leave her more than what I
had suffered in her was the presence of the hated Satan. A feeling of
horror crept over me every time I saw him, after that fearful day during
which I was doomed to death. His malign eyes were never off me, as he
sat like a rattlesnake fascinating a poor squirrel or bird. I did not
fear him; it was loathing that made me recoil from him. I could have
encountered him in single combat with a feeling of satisfaction; but he
gave me or no one a just ground of quarrel, and it was not my nature to
fix one on him.

"Having settled with the captain of the Dutch vessel, and removed our
luggage to the hotel, we remained several weeks, during which Captain
H---- rapidly recovered. To amuse ourselves, we visited the English
resident in the town; but our chief resort was to the house of Mr.
B----, a Scottish merchant, who had a family of two sons and a
daughter--the young lady a most engaging girl, and very beautiful.
Captain H---- used to spend the most of his time in this family; and
gradually I could observe a change in his manner and conversation. He
became more gay and cheerful in his manner, at times; then, again, he
would resume all the melancholy he felt at our first acquaintance. I
was, for some time, at a loss to imagine what caused this change of
temper in him. One day, as we sat at breakfast, talking over old
adventures, he said--

"'Square, I have observed that you have been rather surprised at my
manner of late. In truth, I do not wonder at it. I am not less surprised
at it myself. That bewitching girl, Helen, has made a fool of me, I
believe. The truth is, I love her to distraction, and fear to
acknowledge it to myself; yet truth will out.'

"Then, leaning his head upon his hand, he sighed heavily, 'Poor Eliza!'
I made no reply for a few minutes, as I was taken by surprise, and knew
not what to say. I was, involuntarily on my part, made his confidant. He
told me that he had not as yet declared his passion to Helen, and feared
to do so, lest he should be rejected by her, as there was a young
Portuguese noble very marked in his attentions. Jocularly, I began to
laugh him out of his fears, and urged a bold attempt to win her, if she
was his choice, now that he was rich enough to forego all toil and
care; for Bachelor Hall was but a lonely dwelling. Before noon, we
parted--he to declare his unalterable love; I to make some calls upon a
few Scotch friends I had picked up. The day passed on cheerfully. I was
returning to our hotel as the shades of evening began to fall, having an
appointment with Captain H---- to attend a party in the evening. I was
posting quickly along, when, at the Church of St. Geremino, a little
distance from our hotel, I saw a crowd collect suddenly. My way led
through the narrow thoroughfare. I passed on, resolved not to stop, when
the words 'Assassinated; poor gentleman!' fell upon my ear. Urged by
curiosity and humanity, I bustled through the crowd. In the centre lay
the captain, weltering in his blood. In a moment, he was supported in my
arms. Opening his eyes, he recognised me, and said--

"'Square, I have been cowardly murdered by some villain.'

"Urging silence upon him, I had him immediately conveyed home to our
hotel, and the surgeon sent for to examine his wound. To my great joy,
it proved not fatal, but dangerous. The poniard had taken, fortunately,
an upward direction--entering the left breast, and passing outwards to
the top of the shoulder. For several days he lay dangerously ill. In
such a city as Lisbon, it was of no use to offer a reward or make
inquiries after the assassin, even had death ensued. Mr. B---- and his
sons called regularly upon him every day, to inquire after him and visit
his sick-bed. After he was able to sit up, Helen, attended by her
brothers, waited upon him. I was present at their interview. The
captain, on the day of which I have spoken before, had called upon
Helen, resolved to know her sentiments of him, and either declare his
love or to banish her from his mind. The Portuguese noble was also
present when he called. Helen's preference had been too apparent; yet no
opportunity offered for him to declare his passion. His rival watched
with jealous care, and seemed determined to wait him out; yet no
animosity appeared in his manner; all was, to appearance, joy and mirth.
The captain bade Helen adieu, to keep his appointment at the British
Consul's; Helen gave him her hand to kiss: an interchange of looks had
fired the Portuguese to madness; quickly he had followed; and, as he
thought, slain his hated rival. All this had been discovered shortly
after the event. But to return.

"When Helen and her brothers entered, the captain lay upon his couch,
propped up with pillows. She approached, pale, and evidently overcome by
emotion; joy beamed in the captain's eye; he stretched forth his hand to
welcome her, and she was in the act of presenting hers, when the
captain's hand sank, and he fell back upon the pillows, pale and
overcome. His eye was fixed upon her hand, which had sunk by her side.
We looked on in astonishment. In a few minutes the captain recovered,
and was the first to speak--

"'Excuse this burst of feeling I cannot control; this moment has
recalled to memory the most miserable event of my life. Lady, that
ring?' pointing to her hand with a melancholy smile.

"'I got it from my poor cousin at her death,' she said.

"'Thank God!' the captain ejaculated. 'It was once mine; the gift of one
I loved dearer than life--my dear Eliza, now no more."

"While he said this, the brothers looked upon each other astonished,
while Ellen hung her head, and turned deadly pale. The whole party were
much embarrassed, until the captain gave them an account of his first
love, and its fatal issue. During the recital I could see the tears swim
in Helen's eyes. She took the ring from her finger, and presented it to
the captain, who kissed it with fervour, and placed it upon his bosom
for a moment, saying--

"'Dearest Helen, will you be to me all that Eliza was, and allow me to
keep this as a token of your promise, until I am thought by you and your
relations worthy of you?'

"Helen blushed, and made no reply; but her eyes were eloquent. Her
brothers said they felt themselves honoured, and would consult their
father. All were now happy. The elder brother told us the history of the
ring, as far as he knew, as follows:--

"Their cousin Katherine, a young lady of great expectations and good
fortune, had been betrothed to a Scotchman in Holland, where she resided
with her mother, a widowed sister of their father's; before their
marriage, her lover, who had fallen in a duel on the frontiers of
France, had given her the ring. After his premature death, she had
fallen into a bad state of health, and come to Lisbon to reside, where
she breathed her last in the arms of Helen, bequeathing her the ring and
other jewels of value.

"Captain H---- now removed to the house of Mr B----, his acknowledged
father-in-law to be. I remained no longer in Lisbon than a few weeks
after the ceremony, when I bade adieu to Captain H---- and his bride,
and embarked on board the Emelie for London, many pounds the poorer for
my stay in Lisbon; yet rich: I was possessed of several hundred pounds;
my mind was more harassed how to lay them out to advantage than it had
been to earn them. In truth I was so unstable in my resolves, I
sometimes wished I was once again as poor as I was when I left Edinburgh
first with Captain H----"

END OF VOL. VII





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