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Title: Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland, Vol. 9
Author: Various
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland, Vol. 9" ***

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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. IX.

LONDON:
WALTER SCOTT, 14 PATERNOSTER SQUARE.
AND NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE.
1885.



CONTENTS.


                                                     Page.

  THE CRIPPLE; OR, EBENEZER THE DISOWNED
  (_John Mackay Wilson_)                                1

  THE LEGEND OF FAIR HELEN OF KIRCONNEL
  (_Alexander Leighton_)                               23

  TOM DUNCAN'S YARN (_Oliver Richardson_)              55

  THE PROFESSOR'S TALES (_Professor Thomas Gillespie_)

    THE THREE BRETHREN                                 87

    THE MISTAKE RECTIFIED                              97

    DURA DEN; OR, SECOND THOUGHTS ARE BEST            106

  THE LAIRD OF LUCKY'S HOW (_Alexander Campbell_)     119

  THE ABDUCTION (_Alexander Leighton_)                151

  SIR PATRICK HUME: A TALE OF THE HOUSE OF MARCHMONT
  (_John Mackay Wilson_)                              167

  THE SERJEANT'S TALES (_John Howell_)

    THE PACKMAN'S JOURNEY TO LONDON                   178

  CHARLES LAWSON (_John Mackay Wilson_)               210

  BON GAULTIER'S TALES (_Theodore Martin_)

    MRS. HUMPHREY GREENWOOD'S TEA-PARTY               217

  THE RECLUSE OF THE HEBRIDES (_Walter Logan_)        230

  ELLEN ARUNDEL (_Walter Logan_)                      238

  CHATELARD (_Alexander Campbell_)                    243

  CHRISTIE OF THE CLEEK (_Alexander Leighton_)        275



WILSON'S

TALES OF THE BORDERS,

AND OF SCOTLAND.



THE CRIPPLE; OR, EBENEZER THE DISOWNED.


It is proverbial to say, with reference to particular constitutions or
habits of body, that May is a _trying_ month, and we have known what it
is to experience its trials in the sense signified. With our
grandmothers too, yea, and with our grandfathers also, May was held to
be an unlucky month. Nevertheless, it is a lovely, it is a beautiful
month, and the forerunner of the most healthy of the twelve. It is like
a timid maiden blushing into womanhood, wooing and yet shrinking from
the admiration which her beauty compels. The buds, the blossoms, the
young leaves, the tender flowers, the glittering dew-drops, and the song
of birds, burst from the grasp of winter as if the God of nature
whispered in the sunbeams--"Let there be life!" But it is in the morning
only, and before the business of the world summons us to its mechanical
and artificial realities, that the beauties of May can be felt in all
their freshness. We read of the glories of Eden, and that the earth was
cursed because of man's transgression; yet, when we look abroad upon the
glowing landscape, above us, and around us, and behold the pure heavens
like a sea of music floating over us, and hear the earth answer it back
in varied melody, while mountain, wood, and dale, seem dreaming in the
sound, and stealing into loveliness, we almost wonder that a bad man
should exist in the midst of a world that is still so beautiful, and
where every object around him is a representative of the wisdom, the
goodness, the mercy, the purity, and the omnipotence of his Creator.
There is a language in the very wild-flowers among our feet that
breathes a lesson of virtue. We can appreciate the feeling with which
the poet beheld

  "The _last_ rose of summer left blooming alone;"

but in the firstlings of the spring, the primrose, the lily, and their
early train, there is an appeal that passes beyond our senses. They are
like the lispings and the smiles of infancy--lowly preachers, emblems of
our own immortality, and we love them like living things. They speak to
us of childhood and the scenes of youth, and _memory_ dwells in their
very fragrance. Yes, May is a beautiful month--it is a month of fair
sights and of sweet sounds. To it belongs the lowly primrose blushing by
the brae-side in congregated beauty, with here and there a cowslip
bending over them like a lover among the flowers; the lily hanging its
head by the brook that reflects its image, like a bride at the altar, as
if conscious of its own loveliness; the hardy daisy on the green sward,
like a proud man struggling in penury with the storms of fate. Now, too,
the blossoms on a thousand trees unfold their rainbow hues; the tender
leaves seem instinct with life, and expand to the sunbeams; and the
bright fields, like an emerald sea, wave their first undulations to the
breeze. The lark pours down a flood of melody on the nest of its mate,
and the linnet trills a lay of love to its partner from the yellow
furze. The chaffinch chants in the hedge its sweet but unvaried _line of
music_; the thrush hymns his bold roundelay; and the blackbird swells
the chorus; while the bird of spring sends its voice from the glens,
like a wandering echo lost between love and sadness; and the swallow,
newly returned from warmer climes or its winter sleep,

  "Twitters from the straw-built shed."

The insect tribe leap into being, countless in numbers and matchless in
livery, and their low hum swims like the embodiment of a dream in the
air. The May-fly invites the angler to the river, while the minnow
gambols in the brook; the young salmon sports and sparkles in the
stream, and the grey trout glides slowly beneath the shadow of a rock in
the deep pool. To enjoy for a single hour in a May morning the luxuries
which nature spreads around--to wander in its fields and in its
woods--to feel ourselves a part of God's glad creation--to _feel_ the
gowan under our feet, and health circulating through our veins with the
refreshing breeze, is a recipe worth all in the Materia Medica.

Now, it was before sunrise on such a morning in May as I have described,
that a traveller left the Black Bull in Wooler, and proceeded to the
Cheviots. He took his route by way of Earle and Langleeford; and, at the
latter place, leaving the long and beautiful glen, began to ascend the
mountain. On the cairn, which is perhaps about five hundred yards from
what is called the extreme summit of the mountain, he met an old and
intelligent shepherd, from whom he heard many tales, the legends of the
mountains--and amongst others, the following story:--

Near the banks of one of the romantic streams which take their rise
among the Cheviots, stood a small and pleasant, and what might be termed
respectable or genteel-looking building. It stood like the home of
solitude, excluded by mountains from the world. Beneath it, the rivulet
wandered over its rugged bed; to the east rose Cheviot, the giant of the
hills; to the west, lesser mountains reared their fantastic forms,
thinly studded here and there with dwarf alders, which the birds of
heaven had planted, and their progeny had nestled in their branches; to
the north and the south stretched a long and secluded glen, where beauty
blushed in the arms of wildness--and thick woods, where the young fir
and the oak of the ancient forest grew together, flourished beneath the
shelter of the hills. Fertility also smiled by the sides of the rivulet,
though the rising and setting sun threw the shadows of barrenness over
it. Around the cottage stood a clump of solitary firs, and behind it an
enclosure of alders, twisted together, sheltered a garden from the
storms that swept down the hills.

Now, many years ago, a stranger woman, who brought with her a female
domestic and a male infant, became the occupant of this house among the
hills. She lived more luxuriously than the sheep-farmers in the
neighbourhood, and her accent was not that of the Borders. She was
between forty and fifty years of age, and her stature and strength were
beyond the ordinary stature and strength of women. Her manners were
repulsive, and her bearing haughty; but it seemed the haughtiness of a
weak and uneducated mind. Her few neighbours, simple though they were,
and little as they saw or knew of the world, its inhabitants and its
manners, perceived that the stranger who had come amongst them had not
been habituated to the affluence or easy circumstances with which she
was then surrounded. The child also was hard-favoured, and of a
disagreeable countenance; his back was strangely deformed; his feet were
distorted, and his limbs of unequal length. No one could look upon the
child without a feeling of compassion, save the woman who was his
mother, his nurse, or his keeper (for none knew in what relation she
stood to him), and she treated him as a persecutor, who hated his sight,
and was weary of his existence.

She gave her name as Mrs Baird; and, as the child grew up, she generally
in derision called him "_Æsop_," or, in hatred, "the little monster!"
but the woman-servant called him Ebenezer, though she treated him with a
degree of harshness only less brutal than she whom he began to call
mother. We shall, therefore, in his history mention him by the name of
Ebenezer Baird. As he grew in years, the disagreeable expression of his
countenance became stronger, his deformity and lameness increased, and
the treatment he had experienced added to both.

When nine years of age, he was sent to a boarding-school about twelve
miles distant. Here a new series of persecutions awaited him. Until the
day of his entering the school, he was almost ignorant that there was an
alphabet. He knew not a letter. He had seen one or two books, but he
knew not their use: he had never seen any one look upon them; he
regarded them merely as he did a picture--a piece of useless furniture,
or a plaything. Lame as he was, he had climbed the steep and the
dripping precipice for the eggs of the water-ouzel, sought among the
crags for the young of the gorgeous kingfisher, or climbed the tallest
trees in quest of the crested wrens, which chirped and fluttered in
invisible swarms among the branches.[A] The birds were to him
companions; he wished to rear their young, that they might love him, for
there was a lack of something in his heart--he knew not what it was--but
it was the void of being beloved, of being regarded. It is said that
nature abhors a vacuum, and so did the heart of Ebenezer. He knew not
what name to give it, but he longed for something that would show a
liking for him, and to which he could show a liking in return. The heart
is wicked, but it is not unsocial--its affections wither in
solitariness. When he strolled forth on these rambles about the glen,
having asked the permission of his mother or keeper (call her what you
will) before he went, "Go, imp! Æsop!" she was wont to exclaim, "and I
shall pray that you may break your neck before you return." There were
no farmers' or shepherds' children within several miles: he had seen
some of them, and when they had seen him, they had laughed at his
deformity--they had imitated his lameness, and contorted their
countenances into a caricatured resemblance of his. Such were poor
Ebenezer's acquirements, and such his acquaintance with human nature,
when he entered the boarding-school. A primer was put into his hands.
"What must I do with it?" thought Ebenezer. He beheld the rod of
correction in the hands of the teacher, and he trembled--for his
misshapen shoulders were familiar with such an instrument. He heard
others read, he saw them write; and he feared, wondered, and trembled
the more. He thought that he would be called upon to do the same, and he
knew he could not. He had no idea of _learning_--he had never heard of
such a thing. He thought that he must do as he saw others doing at once,
and he cast many troubled looks at the lord of a hundred boys. When the
name of "Ebenezer Baird" was called out, he burst into tears, he sobbed,
terror overwhelmed him. But when the teacher approached him kindly, took
him from his seat, placed him between his knees, patted his head, and
desired him to speak after him, the heart of the little cripple was
assured, and more than assured; it was the first time he had experienced
kindness, and he could have fallen on the ground and hugged the knees of
his master. The teacher, indeed, found Ebenezer the most ignorant
scholar he had ever met with, but he was no tyrant of the birch, though
to his pupils

  "A man severe he was, and stern to view;"

and though he had all the manners and austerity of the old school about
him, he did not lay his head upon the pillow with his arm tired by the
incessant use of the ferule. He was touched with the simplicity and the
extreme ignorance of his new boarder, and he felt also for his lameness
and deformity. Thrice he went over the alphabet with his pupil,
commencing, "_Big Aw_--_Little Aw_," and having got over _b_, he told
him to remember that _c_ was like a half-moon. "Ye'll aye mind _c_
again," added he; "think ye _see_ the moon." Thus they went on to _g_,
and he asked him what the carters said to their horses when they wished
them to go faster; but this Ebenezer could not tell--carts and horses
were sights that he had seen as objects of wonder. They are but seldom
seen amongst the hills now, and in those days they were almost unknown.
Getting over _h_, he strove to impress _i_ upon the memory of his pupil,
by touching the solitary grey orbit in his countenance (for Ebenezer had
but one), and asking him what he called it. "My _e'e_," answered
Ebenezer.

"No, sir, you must not say your _e'e_, but your _eye_--mind that; and
that letter is _I_."

The teacher went on, showing him that he could not forget round O, and
crooked S; and in truth, after his first lesson, Ebenezer was master of
these two letters. And, afterwards, when the teacher, in trying him
promiscuously through the alphabet, would inquire, "What letter is
this?"--"I no ken," the cripple would reply; "but I'm sure it's no O,
and it's no S." Within a week he was master of the six-and-twenty
mystical symbols, with the exception of four--and those four were _b_
and _d_, _p_ and _q_. Ebenezer could not for three months be brought to
distinguish the _b_ from the _d_, nor the _p_ from the _q_; but he had
never even heard that he had a right hand and a left until he came to
the school--and how could it be expected?

Scarce, however, had he mastered the alphabet, until the faculties of
the deformed began to expand. He now both understood and felt what it
was to learn. He passed from class to class with a rapidity that
astonished his teacher. He could not join in the boisterous sports of
his schoolfellows, and while they were engaged in their pastime, he
sought solitude, and his task accompanied him. He possessed strong
natural talents, and his infirmities gave them the assistance of
industry. His teacher noted these things in the cripple, and he was
gratified with them; but he hesitated to express his feelings openly,
lest the charge of partiality should be brought against him. Ebenezer,
however, had entered the academy as the butt of his schoolfellows--they
mocked, they mimicked, they tormented, they despised, or affected to
despise him; and his talents and progress, instead of abating their
persecutions, augmented them. His teacher was afraid to show him more
kindness than he showed to others; and his schoolfellows gloried in
annoying the cripple--they persecuted, they shunned, they hated him more
than even his mother did. He began to hate the world, for he had found
none that would love him. His teacher was the only human being that had
ever whispered to him words of praise or of kindness, and that had
always been in cold, guarded, and measured terms.

Before he was eighteen, he had acquired all the knowledge that his
teacher could impart, and he returned to the cottage among the
mountains. There, however, he was again subjected to a persecution more
barbarous than that which he had met with from his schoolfellows. Mrs
Baird mocked, insulted, and drove him from her presence; and her
domestic showed him neither kindness nor respect. In stature, he
scarcely exceeded five feet; and his body was feeble as well as
deformed. The cruelty with which he had been treated had given an
asperity to his temper, and made him almost a hater of the human race;
and these feelings had lent their character to his countenance, marking
its naturally harsh expression with suspicion and melancholy.

He was about five-and-twenty when the pangs and the terrors of death
fell upon her whom he regarded as his parent. She died--as a sinner
dies--with insulted eternity frowning to receive her. A few minutes
before her death, she desired the cripple to approach her bedside. She
fixed her closing eyes, which affection had never lighted, upon his. She
informed him that he was not her son.

"Oh, tell me, then, whose son I am! Who are my parents?" he exclaimed,
eagerly. "Speak! speak!"

"Your parents!" she muttered; and remorse and ignorance held her
departing soul in their grasp. She struggled; she again continued: "Your
parents! no, Ebenezer, no! I dare not name them! I have sworn--I have
sworn! and a death-bed is no time to break an oath!"

"Speak! speak! Tell me, as you hope for heaven!" cried the cripple, with
his thin, bony fingers grasping the wrists of the dying woman.

"Monster! monster!" she screamed, wildly, and in terror, "leave
me--leave me! You are provided for--open that chest--the chest--the
chest!"

Ebenezer loosed his grasp; he sprang towards a strong chest which stood
in the room. "The keys! the keys!" he exclaimed, wildly; and again
hurrying to the bed, he violently pulled a bunch of keys from beneath
her pillow. But while he applied them to the chest, the herald of death
rattled in the throat of its victim; and, with one agonising throe and a
deep groan, her spirit escaped, and her body lay a corpse upon the bed.

He opened the chest, and in it he found securities, which settled upon
him, under the name of Ebenezer Baird, five thousand pounds. But there
was nothing which threw light on his parentage--nothing to inform who he
was, or why he was there.

The body of her who had never shed a tear over him he accompanied to the
grave. But now a deeper gloom fell upon him. He met but few men, and the
few he met shunned him, for there was a wildness and a bitterness in his
words--a railing against the world--which they wished not to hear. He
fancied, too, that they despised him--that their eyes were ever
examining the form of his deformities; and he returned their glance with
a scowl, and their words with the accents of hatred. Even as he passed
the solitary farmhouse, the younger children fled in terror, and the
elder laughed, or pointed towards him the finger of curiosity. All these
things fell upon the heart of the cripple, and turned the human kindness
of his bosom into gall. His companions became the solitude of the
mountains, and the silence of the woods. They heard his bitter
soliloquies without reviling him, or echo answered him in tones of
sympathy more mournful than his own. He sought a thing that he might
love, that might unlock his prisoned heart, or give life to its blighted
feelings. He loved the very primrose, because it was a thing of beauty,
and shrank not from his deformity as man did. To him it gave forth its
sweetness, and its leaves withered not at his touch; and he bent and
kissed the flower that smiled upon him whom his kind avoided. He courted
the very storms of winter, for they shunned him not, but spent their
fury on his person, unconscious of its form. The only living thing that
regarded him, or that had ever evinced affection towards him, was a dog,
of the mastiff kind, which ever followed at his side, licked his hand,
and received its food from it. And on this living thing all the
affections that his heart ever felt were expended. He loved it as a
companion, a friend, and protector; and he knew it was not
ungrateful--it never avoided him; but, when mockery or insult was
offered to its master, it growled, and looked in his face, as if asking
permission to punish the offender.

Such was the life that he had passed until he was between thirty and
forty years of age. Still he continued his solitary rambles, having a
feeling for everything around him but man. Man only was his
persecutor--man only despised him. His own kind and his own kindred had
shut him out from them and disowned him--his sight had been hateful to
them, and his form loathsome. He avoided the very sun, for it revealed
his shadow; but he wandered in rapture, gazing on the midnight heavens,
calling the stars by name, while his soul was lifted up with their
glory, and his deformity lost and overshadowed in the depth of their
magnificence. He loved the flowers of day, the song of morning birds,
and the wildness or beauty of the landscape; but these dwindled, and
drew not forth his soul as did the awful gorgeousness of night, with its
ten thousand worlds lighted up, burning, sparkling, glimmering in
immensity--the gems that studded the throne of the Eternal. While others
slept, the deformed wandered on the mountains, holding communion with
the heavens.

About the period we refer to, a gay party came upon a visit to a
gentleman whose mansion was situated about three miles from the cottage
of the cripple. As they rode out, they frequently passed him in his
wanderings. And when they did so, some turned to gaze on him with a look
of prying curiosity, others laughed and called to their companions--and
the indignation of Ebenezer was excited, and the frown grew black upon
his face.

He was wandering in a wood in the glen, visiting his favourite
wild-flowers (for he had many that he visited daily, and each was
familiar to him as the face of man to man--he rejoiced when they budded,
blossomed, and laughed in their summer joy, and he grieved when they
withered and died away), when a scream of distress burst upon his ear.
His faithful mastiff started, and answered to the sound. He hurried from
the wood to whence the sound proceeded as rapidly as his lameness would
admit. The mastiff followed by his side, and, by its signs of
impatience, seemed eager to increase its speed, though it would not
forsake him. The cries of distress continued, and became louder. On
emerging from the wood, he perceived a young lady rushing wildly towards
it, and behind her, within ten yards, followed an infuriated bull. A few
moments more, and she must have fallen its victim. With an eager howl,
the dog sprang from the side of its master, and stood between the lady
and her pursuer. Ebenezer forgot his lameness and the feebleness of his
frame, and he hastened at his utmost speed to the rescue of a human
being. Even at that moment a glow of delight passed through his heart,
that the despised cripple would save the life of a fellow-mortal--of one
of the race that shunned him. Ere he approached, the lady had fallen,
exhausted and in terror, on the ground. The mastiff kept the enraged
animal at bay, and, with a strength such as he had never before
exhibited, Ebenezer raised the lady in his arms, and bore her to the
wood. He placed her against a tree: the stream passed by within a few
yards, and he brought water in the palms of his hands, and knelt over
her, to bathe her temples and her fair brow. Her brow was indeed fair,
and her face beautiful beyond all that he had looked upon. Her golden
hair in wavy ringlets fell upon her shoulders--but her deep blue eyes
were closed. Her years did not appear to be more than twenty.

"Beautiful!--beautiful!" exclaimed the cripple, as he dropped the water
on her face, and gazed on it as he spoke--"it is wondrous beautiful! But
she will open her eyes--she will turn from me as doth her race!--as from
the animal that pursued her!--yet, sure she is beautiful!" and again, as
he spoke, Ebenezer sighed.

The fair being recovered--she raised her eyes--she gazed on his face,
and turned not away from it. She expressed no false horror on beholding
his countenance--no affected revulsion at the sight of his deformity;
but she looked upon him with gratitude--she thanked him with tears. The
cripple started--his heart burned. To be gazed on with kindness, to be
thanked, and with tears, and by one so fair, so young, so beautiful, was
to him so strange, so new, he half doubted the reality of the scene
before him. Before the kindness and gratitude that beamed from her eyes,
the misanthropy that had frozen up his bosom began to dissolve, and the
gloom on his features died away, as a vapour before the face of the
morning sun. New thoughts fired his imagination--new feelings transfixed
his heart. Her smile fell like a sunbeam on his soul, where light had
never before dawned; her accents of gratitude, from the moment they were
delivered, became the music of his memory. He found an object on the
earth that he could love--or shall we say that he _did_ love; for he
felt as though already her existence were mysteriously linked to his. We
are no believers in what is termed _love at first sight_. Some
romance-writers hold it up as an established doctrine, and love-sick
boys and moping girls will make oath to the creed. But there never was
love at first sight that a week's perseverance could not wear away. It
holds no intercourse with the heart, but is a mere _fancy_ of the eye;
as a man would fancy a horse, a house, or a picture, which he desires to
purchase. Love is not the offspring of an hour or a day, nor is it the
_ignis fatuus_ which plays about the brain, and disturbs the sleep of
the youth and the maiden in their teens. It slowly steals and dawns upon
the heart, as day imperceptibly creeps over the earth, first with the
tinged cloud--the grey and the clearer dawn--the approaching, the
rising, and the risen sun--blending into each other a brighter and a
brighter shade; but each indistinguishable in their progress and
blending, as the motion of the pointers on a watch, which move
unobserved as time flies, and we mark not the silent progress of light
till it envelop us in its majesty. Such is the progress of pure, holy,
and enduring love. It springs not from mere sight, but its radiance
grows with esteem; it is the whisper of sympathy, unity of feeling, and
mutual reverence, which increases with a knowledge of each other, until
but one pulse seems to throb in two bosoms. The feelings which now
swelled in the bosom of Ebenezer Baird were not the true and only love
which springs from esteem, but they were akin to it. For though the
beauty of the fair being he had rescued had struck his eye, it was not
her beauty that melted the misanthropy of his heart, but the tear of
gratitude, the voice of thanks, the glance that turned not away from
him, the smile--the first that woman had bestowed on him--that entered
his soul. They came from the heart, and they spoke to the heart.

She informed him that her name was Maria Bradbury, and that she was one
of the party then on a visit to the gentleman in his neighbourhood. He
offered to accompany her to the house, and she accepted his offer. But
it was necessary to pass near the spot where he had rescued her from the
fury of the enraged bull. As they drew towards the side of the wood,
they perceived that the bull was gone, but the noble mastiff, the
friend, companion, and defender of the cripple, lay dead before them.
Ebenezer wrung his hands, he mourned over his faithful guardian.

"Friend! poor Friend!" he cried (the name of the mastiff was Friend),
"hast thou, too, left me? Thou, of all the things that lived, alone
didst love thy master! Pardon me, lady, pardon an outcast; but until
this hour I have never experienced friendship from man nor kindness from
woman. The human race have treated me as a thing that belonged not to
the same family with themselves; they have persecuted or mocked me, and
I have hated them. Start not--hatred is an alien to my soul--it was not
born there, it was forced upon it--but I hate not you--no! no! You have
spoken kindly to me, you have smiled on me!--the despised, the disowned
Ebenezer will remember you. That poor dog alone, of all living things,
showed affection for me. But he died in a good cause! Poor Friend! poor
Friend!--where shall I find a companion now?" and the tears of the
cripple ran down his cheeks as he spoke.

Maria wept also, partly for the fate of the noble animal that had died
in her deliverance, and partly from the sorrow of her companion; for
there is a sympathy in tears.

"Ha! you weep!" cried the cripple; "you weep for poor Friend and for me.
Bless thee--bless thee, fair one! they are the first that were ever shed
for my sake! I thought there was not a tear on earth for me."

He accompanied her to the lodge of the mansion where she was then
residing, and there he left her, though she invited him to accompany
her, that he might also receive the congratulations of her friends.

She related to them her deliverance. "Ha! little Ebenezer turned a
hero!" cried one; "Ebenezer the cripple become a knight-errant!" said
another. But they resolved to visit him in a body, and return him their
thanks.

But the soul of the deformed was now changed, and his countenance,
though still melancholy, had lost its asperity. His days became a dream,
his existence a wish. For the first time he entertained the hope of
happiness; it was vain, romantic, perhaps we might say absurd, but he
cherished it.

Maria spoke much of the courage, the humanity, the seeming loneliness,
and the knowledge of the deformed, to her friends; and their
entertainer, with his entire party of visiters, with but one exception,
a few days afterwards, proceeded to the cottage of Ebenezer, to thank
him for his intrepidity. The exception we have alluded to was a Lady
Helen Dorrington, a woman of a proud and haughty temper, and whose
personal attractions, if she ever possessed any, were now disfigured by
the attacks of a violent temper, and the _crow-feet_ and the _wrinkles_
which threescore years imprint on the fairest countenance. She excused
herself by saying, that the sight of deformed people affected her.
Amongst the party who visited the cripple was her son, Francis
Dorrington, a youth of two-and-twenty, who was haughty, fiery, and
impetuous as his mother. He sought the hand of Maria Bradbury, and he
now walked by her side.

Ebenezer received them coldly; amongst them were some who were wont to
mock him as they passed, and he now believed that they had come to
gratify curiosity, by gazing on his person as on a wild animal. But,
when he saw the smile upon Maria's lips, the benign expression of her
glance, and her hand held forth to greet him, his coldness vanished, and
joy, like a flash of sunshine, lighted up his features. Yet he liked not
the impatient scowl with which Francis Dorrington regarded her attention
towards him, nor the contempt which moved visibly on his lip, when she
listened delighted to the words of the despised cripple. He seemed to
act as though her eyes should be fixed on him alone--her words addressed
only to him. Jealousy entered the soul of the deformed; and shall we say
that the same feeling was entertained by the gay and the haughty
Dorrington? It was. He felt that, insignificant as the outward
appearance of the cripple was, his soul was that of an intellectual
giant, before the exuberance of whose power the party were awed, and
Maria lost in admiration. His tones were musical as his figure was
unsightly, and his knowledge universal as his person was diminutive. He
discoursed with a poet's tongue on the beauty of the surrounding
scenery; he defined the botany and geology of the mountains. He traced
effect to cause, and both to their Creator. The party marvelled while
the deformed spoke; and he repelled the scowl and contempt of his rival
with sarcasm that scathed like passing lightning. These things produced
feelings of jealousy also in the breast of Francis Dorrington; though
from Maria Bradbury he had never received one smile of encouragement. On
their taking leave, the entertainer of the party invited Ebenezer to his
house, but the latter refused; he feared to mingle with society, for oft
as he had associated with man, he had been rendered their sport--the
thing they persecuted--the butt of their irony.

For many days the cripple met, or rather sought, Maria in his solitary
rambles; for she, too, loved the solitude of the mountains or the
silence of the woods, which is broken only by the plaintive note of the
wood-pigeon, the _chirm_ of the linnet, the song of the thrush, the
twitter of the chaffinch, or the distant stroke of the woodman, lending
silence a charm. She had become familiar with his deformity, and as it
grew less singular to her eyes, his voice became sweeter to her ears.
Their conversation turned on many things--there was wisdom in his words,
and she listened to him as a pupil to a preceptor. His feelings deepened
with their interviews, his hopes brightened, and felicity seemed dawning
before him. As hope kindled, he acquired confidence. They were walking
together, he had pointed out the beauties and explained the properties
of the wild-flowers on their path, he had dwelt on the virtues of the
humblest weed, when he stopped short, and gazing in her face--"Maria!"
he added, "I have loved these flowers--I have cherished those simple
weeds, because they shunned me not--they shrank not from me, as did the
creatures of the human race--they spread their beauties before me--they
denied me not their sweetness. You only have I met with among the
children of Adam, who persecuted me not with ridicule, or who insulted
not my deformity with the vulgar gaze of curiosity. Who I am I know
not--from whence I was brought amongst these hills I cannot tell; I am a
thing which the world has laughed at, and of which my parents were
ashamed. But my wants have been few. I have gold to purchase flattery,
if I desired it--to buy tongues to tell me I am not deformed; but I
despise them. My soul partakes not of my body's infirmities--it has
sought a spirit to love, that would love it in return. Maria, has it
found one?"

Maria was startled--she endeavoured to speak, but her tongue
faltered--tears gathered in her eyes, and her looks bespoke pity and
astonishment.

"Fool! fool!" exclaimed the cripple, "I have been deceived! Maria
_pities_ me!--_only pities me_! Hate me, Maria--despise me as does the
world. I can bear hatred--I can endure scorn--I can repel them!--but
_pity_ consumes me!--and _pity_ from you! Fool! fool!" he added,
"wherefore dreamed I there was one that would look with love on deformed
Ebenezer? Farewell, Maria! farewell!--remember, but do not pity me!" and
he hurried from her side.

She would have detained him--she would have told him that she reverenced
him--that she esteemed him; but he hastened away, and she felt also that
she _pitied_ him--and _love_ and _pity_ can never dwell in the same
breast for the same object. Maria stood and wept.

Ebenezer returned to his cottage; but the hope which he had cherished,
the dream which he had fed, died reluctantly. He accused himself for
acting precipitately--he believed he had taken the tear of affection for
pity. His heart was at war with itself. Day after day he revisited the
mountainside, and the path in the wood where they had met; but Maria
wandered there no longer. His feelings, his impatience, his incertitude,
rose superior to the ridicule of man; he resolved to visit the mansion
of his neighbour, where Maria and her friends were residing. The
dinner-bell was ringing as he approached the house; but he knew little
of the etiquette of the world, and respected not its forms. The owner of
the mansion welcomed him with the right hand of cordiality, for his
discourse in the cottage had charmed him; others expressed welcome, for
some who before had mocked now respected him; and Maria took his hand
with a look of joy and her wonted sweetness. The heart of Ebenezer felt
assured. Francis Dorrington alone frowned, and rose not to welcome him.

The dinner-bell again rang; the Lady Helen had not arrived, and dinner
was delayed for her, but she came not. They proceeded to the
dining-room. Ebenezer offered his arm to Maria, and she accepted it.
Francis Dorrington muttered angry words between his teeth. The dinner
passed--the dessert was placed upon the table--Lady Helen entered the
room--she prayed to be excused for her delay--her host rose to introduce
her to Ebenezer.

"Ebenezer!--the deformed!" she exclaimed, in a tone of terror, and,
dashing her hands before her eyes, as he rose before her, she fell back
in hysterics.

"Turn the monster from the house!" cried Francis Dorrington, springing
forward; "my mother cannot endure the sight of such."

"Whom call ye monster, young man?" said Ebenezer, angrily.

"You, wretch!" replied Dorrington, raising his hand, and striking the
cripple to the floor.

"Shame! shame!" exclaimed the company.

"Coward!" cried Maria, starting from her seat.

The cripple, with a rapidity that seemed impossible, sprang to his
feet--he gasped, he trembled, every joint shook, rage boiled in his
veins--he glanced at his insulter, who attempted to repeat the blow--he
uttered a yell of vengeance, he clutched a dessert-knife from the table,
and within a moment it was plunged in the body of the man who had
injured him.

A scream of horror burst from the company. Ebenezer, with the reeking
knife in his grasp, stood trembling from rage, not from remorse. But he
offered not to repeat the blow. A half-consciousness of what he had done
seemed to stay his hand. The sudden scream of the party aroused the Lady
Helen from her real or affected fit. She beheld her son bleeding on the
floor--she saw the vengeful knife in the hands of the cripple. She
screamed more wildly than before--she wrung her hands!

"Monster!--murderer!" she exclaimed, "he has slain--_he has slain his
brother_!"

"_My brother!_" shouted Ebenezer, still grasping the knife in his hand.
"Woman--woman! mother--mother!--who am I? Answer me--who are you?" and
he sprang forward, and held her by the arm. "Tell me," he continued,
"what mean ye--what mean ye? My _brother_--do ye say my _brother_? Art
thou my _mother_? Have I a _mother_? Speak--speak!" and he grasped her
arm more fiercely.

"Monster!" she repeated, "offspring of my shame!--away--away! _He is thy
brother!_ I have shunned thee, wretch, I have disowned thee; but thou
hast carried murder to my bosom!" and, tearing her arm from his grasp,
she threw it round the neck of her wounded son.

The company gazed upon each other. Ebenezer stood for a moment, his eyes
rolling, his teeth rattling together, the knife shaking in his hand. He
uttered a wild cry of agony--he tore the garments from his breast, as
though it were ready to burst, and, with the look and the howl of a
maniac, he sprang to the door, and disappeared. Some from an interest in
his fate, others from a desire to secure him, followed after him. But he
fled to the woods, and they traced him not.

It was found that the wound of Francis Dorrington was not mortal; and
the fears of the company were directed from him to Ebenezer, who they
feared had laid violent hands upon his own life.

On the following day, without again meeting the company, Lady Helen left
the house, having acknowledged the deformed Ebenezer to be her son--a
child of shame--whose birth had been concealed from the world.

On the third day, the poor cripple was found by a shepherd wandering on
the hills. His head was uncovered; his garments and his body were torn
by the brambles through which he had rushed; his eyes rolled wildly,
and, when accosted, he fled, exclaiming, "I am Cain! I am Cain! I have
slain my brother! Touch me not--the mark is on my forehead!" He was
secured, and taken to a place of safety.

The circumstances twined round Maria's heart; she heard no more of
Ebenezer the cripple, but she forgot him not. Several years passed, and
she, together with a friend, visited a lunatic asylum in a distant part
of the country, in which a female acquaintance, once the admired of
society, had become an inmate. They were shown round the different
wards; some of the inmates seemed happy, others melancholy, but all were
mild--all shrank from the eye of their keeper. The sound of the clanking
chains around their ankles filled Maria's soul with horror, and she
longed to depart; but the keeper invited them to visit the garden of his
asylum. They entered, and beheld several quiet-looking people engaged in
digging; others were pruning trees; and some sat upon benches on the
paths, playing with their fingers, striking their heels upon the ground,
or reading stray leaves of an old book or a newspaper. Each seemed
engaged with himself, none conversed with his neighbour. Upon a bench
near the entrance to a small arbour or summer-house sat a female,
conning an old ballad; and, as she perused it, she laughed, wept, and
sang by turns. Maria stopped to converse with her, and her friend
entered the arbour. In it sat a grey-headed and deformed man; he held a
volume of Savage in his hand, which had then been but a short time
published.

"I am reading the 'Bastard,' by Savage," said he, as the stranger
entered; "he is my favourite author. His fate was mine--he describes my
feelings. He had an unnatural mother--so had I. He was disowned--so was
I. He slew a man, and so did I; but I my brother."

The voice, the words, fell upon Maria's ear. She became pale, she
glanced towards the arbour, she cast an inquiring look upon the keeper.

"Fear not, ma'am," he replied; "he is an innocent creature. He does not
rave now; and but that there is an occasional wildness in his language,
he is as well as you are. Enter and converse with him, ma'am; he is a
great speaker, and to much purpose, too, as visiters tell me."

She entered the arbour. The cripple's eyes met hers--he threw down the
book.

"Maria--Maria!" he exclaimed, "this is kind! this is kind, indeed! But
do not _pity_ me--do not _pity me again_! Hate me, Maria! you saw me
slay my brother!"

She informed him that his brother was not dead--that he had recovered
within a few weeks.

"Not dead!" replied the cripple. "Thank Heaven! Ebenezer is not a
murderer! But I am well now--the fever of my brain is passed. Go, Maria,
do this for me--it is all I now ask--inquire why I am here immured, and
by whose authority. Suffer not my reason to be buried in reason's tomb,
and crushed among its wrecks. Your smile, your words of kindness, your
tears of gratitude, caused me to dream once, and its remembrance is
still as a speck of light amidst the darkness of my bosom; but these
grey hairs have broken the dream." And Ebenezer bent his head upon his
breast, and sighed.

Maria and her friend left the asylum, but in a few weeks they returned,
and when they again departed, Ebenezer Baird went with them. He now
sought not Maria's love, but he was gratified with her esteem, and that
of her friends. He outlived the persecution of his kindred and the
derision of the world; and in the forty-sixth year of his age he died in
peace, and bequeathed his property to Maria Bradbury--the first of the
human race that had looked on him with kindness, or cheered him with a
smile.


[Footnote A: The water-ouzel, the kingfisher, and the crested wren,
abound in the vicinity of the Cheviots, though the latter beautiful
little creature is generally considered as quite a _rara avis_; and last
year one being shot about Cumberland, the circumstance went the round of
the newspapers! But the bird is not rare, it is only difficult to be
seen, and generally flutters among the leaves and near the top
branches.]



THE LEGEND OF FAIR HELEN OF KIRCONNEL.


The seat of a branch of the Dumfries-shire Maxwells--Kirconnel--a
property lying not far distant from Dumfries, and surrounded by the
little pastoral stream, Kirtle--is one of the most beautiful that ever
gratified the taste or inspired the pride of a high family. It was not
until about the beginning of the seventeenth century that it came into
the possession of the Maxwells; for, during a long period, it belonged
to the old, though never illustrious, family of the Bells, who, amidst
all the turmoil and strife of the March territories, had the good sense
to prefer the quiet pleasures of the retreats of their own pure Kirtle,
to the tumultuous and cruel scenes which boasted no streamlet but the
heart's blood of contending foes. The power of Lord Maxwell, or the
threat of Douglas, were equally unavailing to force the old proprietor
of Kirconnel--though he ranked as a lesser baron, and might command
retainers to fight for his plea--to sacrifice the pleasures of domestic
peace on the altars of Laverna or Bellona: these conjunct goddesses who,
hand in hand, swayed the destinies of Border men, and regulated the
Border rights of mine and thine. He held his fine property directly of
the crown; and, so long as he fulfilled the conditions of his right, he
conceived himself entitled to the enjoyment of what had been fairly got
and honourably retained. One strong element in Kirconnel's determination
to live at home, in the enjoyment of what home may produce to a mind
capable of appreciating its sweets, was the fear of interrupting the
happiness of his lady--one of the family of Irvings in that quarter, who
latterly came to possess his property--and of one child, a daughter, the
Maid of Kirconnel, concerning whom, as all our readers know, more has
been said and sung by antiquarian minstrel than ever fell to the hapless
fame or treasured memory of fair woman. Ah, we need scarcely say, that
this young heiress of Kirconnel's name was Helen; for who that has read
the touching lines of Pinkerton can ever forget the appellation of one
whose fate has drawn more tears than ever did that of the heroine Lady
Margaret, in the old ballad of "Douglas' Tragedy?" The disasters of
ordinary women, though hallowed by the sanctifying power of love, have
seldom in this country inspired the harp of the minstrel; so far we are
forced to admit the power of beauty, abstracted from the qualities of
the mind and heart, that it has been a talisman to bardic genius in
every age; yet it is honourable to the character of our nation, that the
soul which illumines the "face divine" has called forth strains as
melting and triumphant as ever resulted from the effects of physical
beauty. It is, however, when the two qualities have been found combined
in a favoured daughter of Scotland, that an unhappy fate has called
forth a sympathy which has left no harp to sound fitfully in the
willow-tree, no heart in our true land untouched, no eye destitute of
sympathetic tears. Such has truly been the effect produced by the
fortune of Helen of Kirconnel--a fortune which came up on the revolving
wheel of the mutable goddess, notwithstanding all the efforts of her
father to make the course of her life happy, and its termination
blessed. Abstracted as the thoughts were of the three inhabitants of
Kirconnel--the lady, the laird, and the daughter--from the scenes that
were ever changing in the warlike world around them, so much greater was
the necessity for cultivating the opportunities of enjoyment that nature
and fortune had awarded to them; and so much greater also was the relish
for that enjoyment which has ever been found in minds and hearts
properly constituted and tuned to the harp of goodness, to increase with
possession as much as the false taste for stimulating avocations cloys
with the easy surfeit. It is not often, even in our virtuous land, and
even in these days when the blessings of a high civilisation have
inclined mankind to the cultivation of the social affections, that a
family is found with its different members so predisposed for the
harmony of exclusively domestic joys, that some chord does not
occasionally give forth a discordant sound when touched by an external
impulse; but, in the times of which we speak, and in the district where
the individuals resided, "the happy family" was a group that was more
often found in the lyrics of the poet or the creations of hope deferred
than in the real existences of the troubled and vexed world.

The house of Kirconnel stood on "fair Kirconnel Lee;" a term implying
that the wood, which in those days encompassed every baronial residence,
had been, to a certain extent, cleared away, to allow the daisy-covered
lawn to rejoice in the beams of the generally excluded sun. But, at a
little distance, the empire of the forest was again resumed, on the
condition exacted by nature, of allowing the winding Kirtle to enjoy her
grassy bank, covered with the wild rose and the eglantine; and to roll
playfully along her pebbly bed, unimpeded by the neighbouring trees,
which, as if in amatory dalliance, sent down their straggling lips to
kiss her as she went. The wood bower--in early times a species of rural
retreat in much greater fashion than now-a-days--was, in repetition of
itself, seen rearing its ornamented walls, round which the native
parasite plants were entwined in close embrace in various parts of the
shady retreat. Some of these had been carefully looked to by the lady of
Kirconnel herself, who, anxious to confirm her husband's resolution
against engaging in the wars of the times, left no energy unemployed to
render their residence, not only within the walls of the house, but in
the bowers and gardens, as pleasant to the eye as the fruits of her
heart and mind were delightful to the rational and loving soul of her
appreciating and grateful lord. As Sir Owain says:--

  "Fair were her erbers with flowers--
    Rose and lili divers colours,
  Primrol and parvink;
    Mint, feverfoy, and eglantine,
  Colimbin, and mo there were,
    Than ani man mocht think."

True; the Graces had, as yet, but small influence in Scotland; but the
Genius of Chivalry, a cognate spirit, was busy in effecting a great
revolution in the minds of the inhabitants; and though there was little
to humanise, there was much to elevate and beautify. Traces of this
power might already be seen about the bowers and shades of Kirconnel,
where some rude figures of knights in various positions--one rescuing a
damsel from her enemies--one in the combat at outrance--one striking the
palisades of an armed city--placed, as they were, in the retreats of
peace and domestic happiness by a former warlike possessor of the
property, served the purpose of ornamenting the sequestered walks, and
supplying to the peaceful and happy inhabitants a contrast between the
pursuits of war and the pleasures of home, and home's blessed
enjoyments.

At a little distance from the mansion or castle--for every house, in
those days, had a castellated character--was, and still is, the
burying-ground of Kirconnel; a spot which, from the peculiarity of its
situation, as well as from its own mournful associations, impressed the
mind of the visiter with feelings which startled him, as much from their
novelty as from their intensity. There is a small stone there, that
would, if deciphered and communicated to our readers, anticipate our
story, and claim the ready tear before our own sympathies are relieved
by our recital. We pass it by at present, to give some idea of the
extraordinary spot where it lies. This ground of the dead, or "Death's
Mailing," as it has sometimes been called, is invested with all the
_charms_ of a sublimed melancholy, which contemplates nature as a whole,
and looks to those high purposes of her great author in visiting poor
mortals with their heart-chastening woes. At the time of which we speak,
this place of the dead was entirely surrounded with high oaks and
spreading elms, except where the silvery Kirtle embraced the hallowed
spot, as she rolled slowly along--more slowly, it might almost appear,
at this spot than elsewhere--and murmured a soft threnody in the ears of
the guardian spirits, that there tended the clay forms which they once
animated. A few very rude stones, whose rudeness was their greatest
recommendation to the sentimental mind, told, in the quaint "old Inglis"
of that day, their simple tale. "Here lyethe the race of ye sons of
Kirconnelle," might have been seen on a rude freestone that has long
since disappeared. "Terraughtie did choose to lie her," appeared upon
another old relic; and some exhibited more simple tokens--still pointing
out nothing more than name and surname, yet more eloquent in that
brevity than the most "storied urn." "Jon Kirkpatrycke," "Andrew
Welles," "Heln Johnston," "Mary of the Le'," without one word more to
say what they were, where they lived, when they visited this scene of
sorrow, and when they departed from it, possessed an eloquence in their
simple brevity that moved the heart of the visiter with a power now
little felt and less appreciated. The swelling green tumuli, with these
simple-speaking, grey-headed stones, standing, yet leaning to a side, as
if themselves bent by the hands of time, how humbly might they appear,
encircled as they were, with the proud monarch of the wood, the primeval
oak, that had seen the sires and grandsires of the lowly inhabitants of
"Death's Mailing" rise and fall, and become dust, as man contemplates
the day-fly wing forth in the morning, live out its day, and die. Such
was the romantic burying-place of Kirconnel at the time of which we
speak; and even now, when the oak has fallen before the axe of
civilisation, and Fame's trump has sounded even over the tomb, the place
has a hallowed and romantic character (the Kirtle is still there) not
exhibited by other burying-grounds in Scotland.

In those retreats, the members of the family of Kirconnel passed the
greater part of their time. Helen, though a lover of home, was fond of
gratifying a fancy pregnant of beautiful images, and a taste for what is
lovely in nature, by sitting by the banks of the Kirtle, and supplying
her mind with the pabulum of the old Scottish romances. "Raf Coilyear
and his Cross-bow," and "Gilbert with the White Hand," though soon
superseded by the continental romances, were then the legitimate
fountains of amusement to the fair maids of Scotland; and those who
aimed at sublimer flights, might have had recourse to "Fyn Maccowl," or
"Gret Gow Macmorne;" but there was in none of the works as yet
circulated in Scotland, what might gratify the intense yearnings of the
female heart for those poetical images which subsequently sprang up with
the more mature growth of chivalry. The loves of warriors are not the
loves of everyday life, far less the loves of the inspired poet; and
Helen, as she read these old legendary romances, might find in them the
amusement that afforded a relaxing alternative to her own poetical
communings with the oldest bard of all--Nature; but for the inspiration
of love itself she required the talisman--man--in that high aspect she
had prefigured of the noblest of God's creatures, to rouse her heart
from nature to the lover's dream.

As yet the Maid of Kirconnel had not seen any one that realised the idea
she had formed, by the banks of the Kirtle, of the individual who could
call up in her young bosom those extraordinary emotions which constitute
"love's young dream." The secluded mode of life adopted by her parents
was unfavourable to a choice of the talismanic objects; and it even
appeared to be her father and mother's wish that such choice should be
excluded, that her heart might, in the absence of many forms, learn to
be pleased with the man whom their love or policy might point out to her
adoption. A second cousin of her own, Walter Bell of Blacket House, had
a free passport to the hall of Kirconnel, as well as to the bowers that
were enshrined in Kirconnel woods. The laird saw in the young man his
nearest heir, in the event of his Helen being taken from him by fate;
and the lady could detect, as she thought, in Bell's quiet and sombre
manner, some assimilation to her own love of retirement and ease, and a
consequent disrelish of the warlike and sanguinary customs of the times.
Yet it was known that the young laird of Blacket House had been engaged
in secret frays between the Johnstones and Crightons; while, for some
purpose not generally known, though, from what we have said, not
difficult to be surmised, he had fought in disguise, and disclaimed the
glory of having hewn off the heads of many Johnstones, whose deaths
might have brought him renown, if not wealth. He had fought from a
spirit of animosity and a thirst of blood that lay deep buried in his
heart, but which, along with its noisome fruits, he had striven to
conceal, from the knowledge he possessed of the pacific disposition of
his friends the Kirconnels, whose good-will he had a motive to cultivate
more powerful than that of wealth or glory. He wished to recommend
himself to the fair Helen, by acquiring the love and esteem of her
father and mother; and he doubted not that, by his own personal
accomplishments--neither few nor unimportant--aided by the advice or
power of parental love and authority, he would succeed in changing in
her the old habitual feelings of ordinary friendship into the higher and
purer sentiments of affection.

And sure it was that no one who ever aimed to acquire a "ladye's love,"
made his attempt with more advantages on his side than Walter Bell of
Blacket House. The gay lover in the old romance, who cried that, with
the advantage of making love in a wood, and by the side of a silver
stream, he would gain the heart of the fairest woman of Christendom,
though his face were as black as the coal slave's, and his lineage no
better than the knave-child's, spoke more of human nature than he
himself perhaps knew. But he spoke of women in the aggregate; and it is
not unlikely that such a woman as fair Helen of Kirconnel had never come
under the trial of his skill. The truth of the statement fell to be
tested by one who, besides the advantages stated by the gay knight,
could boast the consent of a father, old friendship, and a face and a
lineage against which no exception could be taken by the admirers of
graces and genealogy. Bell was aware of the advantages he possessed; but
he could calculate the strength of these better than he could fathom the
mysteries of woman's heart. Although the greater part of his time was
passed at Kirconnel, where he took every opportunity of threading the
mazes of the oak woods, or sitting by the side of the Kirtle, with the
object of his affections, it is doubtful if he ever ascertained, by the
passing indications she exhibited, that her thoughts and feelings were
pitched much beyond the grade of those which nature had awarded to
himself. She saw and felt beauties in the scenery of Kirconnel, which to
her lover were but as the "sear leaf." Every object in nature--from the
planet to the plant, from the shining levin of heaven to the phosphoric
beam on the margin of the Kirtle--had some intelligence for her
inquiring eye. Every power in operation around her--from the general
sympathy of nature's highest elements, to the loves of the little forest
birds that sung their love-song in her bower--had some charm to elevate
her thoughts and sublime her sentiments. She, therefore, who could
search for intelligence where others saw nothing but inert matter, or,
at least, the uninteresting indications of everyday nature, might
probably have been an unfortunate object on whom our said romantic
knight might try the effect of his extraneous charms of wood and water.
Nor was she at all fitted for being acted upon by the love intrigues of
her cousin of Blacket House, who, coming far short of a knowledge of the
elevated sentiments by which she was inspired, could neither yield her
that sympathy which she required as a _sine qua non_ of affection, nor
stand the investigation of the shrewd wisdom or the high philosophy of
the heart of an elevated woman. While he simply sued and used the
ordinary words of love, she analysed, and found that, where she never
could be understood, she never could dispose of her affections.

The mind of Helen had long been made up on the question of her cousin's
suit. It had begun early; and the innumerable walks he had enjoyed with
her along the banks of the Kirtle had afforded him a thousand
opportunities of declaring his feelings. By the natural tact of women,
she had always contrived to evade the question, and contented herself,
even in the midst of extravagant declarations, with negative indications
of her inability to return his passion. These he understood not; and,
unfortunately, he acted upon the principle that has driven many a fond
lover to despair--that the mistress who appears to listen without
displeasure is presumed to give a tacit consent. They know little of the
heart of woman who trust their happiness or their lives to the frail
bark of such a fond and dangerous delusion. A woman will seldom put an
end to the adulation that supports her pride; but the Maid of Kirconnel,
who had no pride to gratify, acted as many a single-hearted female has
done and will do, who receives without a frown that her nature detests,
but without a satisfaction that her honesty will not allow her to
assume, the fond speeches of an old friend, couched in terms of an
admiration which is only her due. The native sensibility of her soul
shrank at the thought of first construing harshly her relative's
professions of affection, and then telling him that he was not the
individual who was qualified to win her heart. Yet, in justice to her,
it requires to be stated, that she often communed with herself, in her
solitary walks, on the necessity of checking her cousin's fond and
unfortunate delusion, lest evil might come out of gentleness so nearly
allied to good.

This unfortunate connection between Blacket House and his fair cousin,
fated as it was to continue, assumed daily a more critical aspect. The
young man, overwhelmed by a passion that was daily and hourly fed by the
contemplation of a beauty and qualities seldom before witnessed in a
Scottish maiden, was not only intoxicated by the violence of his love,
but satisfied that his cousin, in return loved him with an affection
only more chastely expressed, though, of course, not less powerful than
his own. Her parents, too, who had lent a fond and willing ear to his
statements of their daughter's love for him, had made up their minds
upon a point which presented all the appearances of being sealed and
settled by her who had the greatest interest in its truth. She was
always to be found by him in her solitary walks among Kirconnel woods.
Their meetings were favoured by their parents; their walks were
uninterrupted; the current of his passion flowed without check, and his
expressions only varied in becoming more animated. The absence of a
_harsh denial_ filled the measure of a deluding, blending hope; and
while the courses of their two minds were in directions entirely
opposite--his along the rose-strewed valley of a requited affection;
hers in a channel that led to objects too brilliant for his dull eye to
scan, and too sublime for his unfledged fancy to reach--he conceived
that a mutual sympathy of congenial feeling animated both their hearts.

It was at this extraordinary state of the domestic affairs of Kirconnel
that an extraneous cause gave a new current to the feelings of the young
maiden, without having the effect of changing that of her lover, or of
opening the eyes of her father and mother to the true fact, that she
could not love the man they intended as her husband. A gallant,
high-spirited youth, one of the Flemings of Kirkpatrick, had followed a
doe up to within a very short space of Kirconnel House. The timid
creature had taken to the water, and, springing on the opposite bank,
fled past a bower in which Helen was at the time sitting reading "Sir
Tristam," then in the hands of every young lady in Scotland and England.
She started as the creature shot past her, and, putting her head timidly
forward, to get a better view of the fleet inhabitant of the forest, saw
before her, with cap in hand, bowing, in knightly guise, Adam Fleming of
Kirkpatrick. Neither of the two had before seen the other; but the fame
of the one's noble mien, high mind, and martial virtues, and of the
other's incomparable beauty and elevation of sentiment, had reached
reciprocally their willing ears.

"That a Fleming of Kirkpatrick," said the youth, still bowing humbly,
and smiling, "should have had the boldness to interpose the image of his
worthless person between the fancy and the heaven of the meditations of
fair Helen of Kirconnel, doth, by my sword, require an apology. Shall I
be still bolder in asking a pardon?"

The effect produced on Helen's mind by the noble figure of the youth,
and the romantic and playful turn he had given to his intrusion, was
quick and heartfelt. It was, besides, simultaneous with the memory of
his spread fame; and in an instant her face was in a glow of mixed shame
and confusion, the causes of which, perhaps, lay deeper than the
influence of a mere feeling of surprise or interruption.

"You have my full forgiveness, sir," she replied, while her face glowed
deeper, in spite of her efforts to appear unaffected.

Her soft musical voice fell on the ear of the youth; but his keen, dark
eye was busy with the examination of charms with which his ear had been
long familiar. The blush of a woman is a man's triumph; whatever may be
its secret cause, the man will construe it favourably to himself, in the
face of a denial of his power; and so far at least he has the right,
that nature herself evidences in his favour, by an acknowledgment that
he has touched the fountains of the heart. Fleming was not different
from other men; and, though he might have been wrong in his construction
of the secret moving impulse which called up the mantling adornment of
beauty that was almost beyond the power of increase, he felt the full
influence of the effect he thought he had produced, and, conceiving
himself favourably received, laid in his heart the germs of an affection
that was to govern his destiny. The forms of breeding, more punctilious
in those days of chivalry than even now, forbade farther communication
at that time, and, bowing gracefully as he drank up the rays of her
blushing beauty, he bounded away after his dogs, that had kept their
course in pursuit of the flying doe.

This was the first time that ever Helen had seen a stranger huntsman
cross Kirconnel Lee in pursuit of his game; but it was soon to appear
that roes and does, when pursued by the gallant Fleming, seemed to think
that in the recesses of Kirconnel they might find that safety which was
denied them in other coverts; at least it became certain that more of
that kind of game fled before the hunter over Kirconnel Lee, after the
meeting we have described, than ever were seen before by man or maiden.
Meanwhile the image of the noble youth, with his clear, intelligent eye,
his rising and expanded forehead, from which his black hair was shaded
to a side, and mixed with the long flowing locks that reached down to
his shoulders; his intellectual expression of countenance, where beauty
sat enshrined among the virtues, his breeding, his modesty, his voice
and general bearing--were all busy with the fancy of the Maid of
Kirconnel. Nature's talisman had been applied, and the charm had wrought
in its highest and most mysterious power. Nor less had been the effect
of that first meeting on the mind of the youthful heir of Kirkpatrick.
They loved; and the does which afterwards brushed over Kirconnel Lee
were only the scouts of the hunting lover, who, while he could not help
the choice of the flying wilding in taking that direction, could not, of
a consequence, avoid a repeated _intrusion_ on the wood-bower privacy of
her who longed to see him with a heart that palpitated at his coming as
strongly as did that of the flying deer. The rules of breeding direct
all their force against a first interview; against a second, though
brought about in the same way as the first, they have no efficacy; and
love, which defies the whole code, soon reconciled differences which he
despised. A few meetings revealed to each other the fact--which, somehow
or other, is discovered by nobody but lovers--that one person has been
intended from the beginning of the world to be formed for another. The
heir of Kirkpatrick and the Maid of Kirconnel exhibited to each other
such a similarity of thought, feeling, and sentiment, that love seemed
to have nothing more to do than to tie those threads which nature had
not only spun, but hung forth with a predisposed reciprocity of
communication. The discovery that their thoughts had taken the same
range, and reached an equal altitude of elevation, carried with it that
pleasant surprise that is always favourable to the progress of the
tender passion; and the delight of a new-born sympathy in sentiments
that had long gratified only the heart in which they were conceived, but
which now were seen glowing in the eyes of another, was only another
form of that passion itself.

Though Helen had seen many indications that might have satisfied her (if
her mind had been directed to the subject) that her father and mother
were bent upon a match between her cousin of Blacket House and her, she
had never, either from a want of courage or steady serious thought on
the subject, put it to herself what was her precise predicament or
condition, on the supposition of such circumstance being in itself true
and irremediable. She had hitherto had no great need for secresy,
because she did not love another; and her father, mother, and lover,
having taken it for granted that she was favourable to her cousin's
suit, nothing of a definite nature had ever transpired to call for a
demonstration on her part, as an alternative of dishonesty and
double-dealing. Her situation was now changed. She now loved, and loved
ardently, another; and the necessity she felt of meeting the heir of
Kirkpatrick in secret, brought out in full relief her inmost sense of
what were the views and purposes of her father and mother, and all the
responsibility of her negative conduct, as regarded the suit of him she
could never love. But, strange as it may seem, if she felt a difficulty
in correcting her cousin and disobeying her parents before the accession
of her love, she felt that difficulty rise to an impossibility after
that important event of her life. She trembled at the thought of her
love being crossed: one word of her rejection of the suit of her cousin
would reach the ears of her parents; dissension would be thrown into the
temple of peace; her love would be discovered; her lover, a man famous
in arms, and an aider of the Johnstones, the opponents of Blacket House,
traced, rejected, and banished: and her heart finally torn and broken by
the antagonist powers of love and duty. She felt her own weakness, and
trembled at it, without coming to a resolution to make a disclosure;
while her overwhelming love carried her, on the moonlight nights, over
Kirconnel Lee, to meet her faithful Heir of Kirkpatrick in the romantic
burying-ground already described. This extraordinary place was that
fixed upon by the lovers for their night meetings; for in any other part
of the domains of Kirconnel they could not have escaped the eye of
Blacket House; who, though he had no suspicion of a rival, was so often
in search of the object of his engrossing passion, that she seldom went
out without being observed by the ever-waking and vigilant surveillance
of love.

Many times already had Helen waited till her unconscious parents retired
to the rest of the aged, and the moon threw her sheet of silver over
Kirconnel Lee, and, wrapped up in a night-cloak, slipped out at the
wicker-gate of the west enclosure, to seek, under the shades of the
oaks, Death's Mailing, the appointed trysting-place of the ardent
lovers. Again she was to see her beloved Heir of Kirkpatrick, and at
last she had resolved to break to him the painful position in which she
was placed by the still existing belief of her parents and Blacket
House, that she was to be his wedded wife. On this occasion, she sat
wistfully looking out at her chamber window. Her father and mother had
retired to their couch. Everything was quiet, the wind stilled, and the
mighty oaks whispered not the faintest sigh to disturb the sensitive ear
of night. The moon was already up, and she was on the eve of wrapping
her cloak round her, and creeping forth into the forest shade, when she
observed the long shadow of a man extending many yards upon the shining
grass of the green lee. The figure of the individual she could not see;
for a projection of the building, sufficient to conceal him, but not to
prevent his shadow from being revealed, interrupted her vision. She
hesitated and trembled. If the shadow had moved and disappeared, she
could have accounted for it, by supposing that some of the domestics had
not yet retired to bed; but why should a man stand alone and stationary
at that hour, in that place, in that position? Her fears ran all upon
Blacket House, who was never happy but when in her presence or near her
person; and who had been, on a former occasion, reported by the servants
to have lain and slept under her window for an entire night, and never
left his position till the morning sun exposed the doting lover to the
wondering eyes of the domestics, who had never yet felt a love that kept
them awake for more than a dreamy hour at cockcrow. As she gazed and
hesitated, her hour was passing, and her lover would be among the
grave-stones, waiting for her. Her anxiety grew intense; she feared to
go, but shook at the thoughts of disappointing _him_; never dreaming (so
whispered love) of herself. The figure still stood as stationary as a
grave-stone, while her soul was agitated like the restless spirit that
hovers over it, sighing for the hour of departure to the regions of
ether. She could bear no longer; the projection which concealed him
would conceal her; she plied the furtive steps of love; and crossing,
like a fairy on the moonlit green knowe, the rising lawn, was forth
among the towering oaks in as little time as the shadow of a passing
cloud would have taken to trail its dingy traces over the shining lee.

In a short time she arrived at the churchyard, and saw, through the
interstices of the surrounding trees, the Heir of Kirkpatrick sitting on
a green tumulus, the grave of one who had perhaps loved as they now
loved, waiting for her who was beyond the trysting-hour. In a moment
longer she was in his arms, and the stillness of the dead was invaded by
the stifled sighs, the burning whispers, the rustling pressure of
ardent, impatient lovers. The rising graves, and the mossy tomb-stones,
and the white scattered bones that had escaped the sexton's eye, and
glittered in the moonbeams, were equally neglected and overlooked; and
no fear of fairy, ghost, or gnome, or gowl, entered where Love left no
room but for his own engrossing sacrifices. The simple monument of love
of "Mary of the Le'," that rose by their side, had often brought the
tears to Helen's eyes; but Mary of the Lee was now forgotten. "There is
a time and a place for all things" but love, whose rule is general over
the flowery lee and the green grave, the mid-day hour and the dreary
key-stone of night's black arch.

"What kept ye, sweet Helen, love?" whispered Kirkpatrick in her ear, as
she lay entranced in love's dream on his bosom.

"By that question, good Adam," answered she, according to the mode of
familiar address of her day, "there hangs a secret that oppresses your
Helen, and drinks up all the joys of our affection."

"Speak it forth, my gentle Helen," said Fleming. "What is it? The
secresy of our meeting? I have been meditating a resolution to address
your father, and this will confirm me. He can have no objections to my
suit, save that I am a friend of the Johnstones, and an open warrior;
while your cousin, whom you rejected before you saw me, is a concealed
mosstrooper, and a secret manslayer."

"There, there," muttered Helen, with trembling emotion--"there, Adam,
you have hit the bleeding part of my heart. I did not say to you that I
had rejected Blacket House before I saw you; but you were entitled to
make that supposition, because I told you that I never received his
love; but, alas! Adam, there is a distinction there; and, small as it
may seem, its effects may be great upon the fortunes and happiness of
your Helen. It is true I have never received his love; but it is equally
true that his love, having overgrown the thought of a possibility of
rejection, has overlooked my negative indications, and put down my
silence for consent. Yes, Adam, yes--even now Blacket House thinks I
love him; and, oh! the full responsibility of my apathy rises before me
like a threatening giant; my father and my mother have, I fear, taken
for granted that I am to become the wedded wife of my cousin."

"Helen, this does indeed surprise me," replied Kirkpatrick, thoughtfully
and sorrowfully. "I thought I had a sufficient objection to overcome on
the part of your father, when I had to conquer the prejudices of
clanship, and soothe his fears of my ardent spirit for the foray. But
this changes all, and my difficulties are increased from the height of
Kirconnel Lee to the towering Criffel." And he sat silent for a time,
and mused thoughtfully. "But why, my love," he continued, "have you
allowed this dangerous delusion to rest so long undisturbed, till it has
become a conviction that may only be removed with danger to us all?"

"Ask me not, Adam," replied she, with a full heart, "what I cannot
explain. While the tongue of Blacket House's friendship was changing to
love, I, whose thoughts were otherwise directed, perceived not the
change; and when the truth appeared to me, my love for my father and
mother, against the placid stream of whose life I have ever trembled to
throw the smallest pebble of a daughter's disobedience, prevented me,
day by day, from making the avowal that I could not love their choice.
The difficulty increased with the hour; and, ah! my love for you crowned
it at last with impossibility."

"That should rather have removed the difficulty," answered he. "Explain,
sweet Helen. You are dealing in shadowy parables."

"Think you so, Adam?" said she, sighing. "Ah, then, is man's love
different from woman's? The one can look an obstacle in the face; the
other turns from it with terror, and flees. See you not that, by telling
my parents I could not love my cousin, I would have been conjuring up a
bad angel to cross, with his black wing, the secret but sweet path of
our affection. The very possibility of being separated from you--too
dear, Adam, as you are to this beating heart--made me tremble at the
articulation of that charmed word which contains all my happiness on
earth. You have stolen my heart from my father and mother, my sweet
woods and bowers, my bright moon and Kirtle; and think you what it would
be for me to lose him in whom all is centred!"

"Ah! Helen, Helen, this is unlike the majesty of that mind that roved
the blue fields of the heavens, and searched the hidden springs of the
love that reigns through all created things. That such thoughts should
be allied to that weakness which increases inevitable danger by flying
from it, I could not have supposed to be exemplified by my Maid of
Kirconnel. Yet is that trembling fear not a greater proof of my Helen's
love than an outspoken rejection of twenty rival suitors? It is--I feel
it is; and who will chide a fault of earth that hangs by a virtue of
heaven? Dear, devoted, cherished object of my first passion, what has
the simple heir of Kirkpatrick to give in exchange for the devotion of
such a being?"

And the impassioned youth pressed her closer and closer to his breast,
while he spread over her shoulders the falling cloak, to shield her from
the autumn dews.

They sat for some time silent--the difficulty of their situation being
for a brief period forgotten and lost in the tumult of the rising
feelings of a strong mutual passion.

"But this must not be allowed to continue," again said Kirkpatrick. "It
is _necessary_, Helen, that you do this duty to yourself, to your
cousin, your parents, and to me. Call up the necessary fortitude, my
love. Tell your mother that you cannot love Blacket House. I know the
pain it will produce to you and to them; but, alas! there are many
positions in this world where we can only get to the object of our
desires through painful means. Pain is, indeed, the price of most of our
pleasures; and, when we do not pay that price, we become bankrupt in our
best feelings, and die wretched. When the path is free, I shall come
forward and claim my Helen in the face of the world. Will you, will you,
love?"

And he bent his head, and repeated the question in soft tones beneath
the cloak that covered her head; while she, in muffled accents,
replied--

"I will, I will, Adam, though I should die with the last word of the
declaration."

A heavy groan at this moment fell upon their ear. Adam started hastily
up; and Helen, roused from her love's dream, stood petrified with fear.
They looked around them in every direction; but the proximity of the
place where they had been sitting to the edge of the wood, rendered it
easy for an intruder to overhear their discourse, and to escape among
the trees in an instant. Helen's fears again fell on Blacket House, and
she whimpered to Adam what she had observed previous to her leaving the
house. He conceived them to be well founded; and, as the thought of the
man who could kill his enemies in disguise, and deny the deed, flashed
upon his mind, he felt for his sword, and then smiled at the precipitude
of his defensive precaution. It was necessary, however, that Helen
should now hurry home; and, surmounting the turf-dyke of the
burying-ground, they, with rapid steps, made for Kirconnel House, at a
little distance from which they parted, with a close embrace. Helen
stood for a moment, and looked after her lover; then, wrapping her cloak
about her head, she moved quickly round the edge of the enclosed lawn,
and was on the eve of running forward to the wicket, when Blacket House
stood before her. He looked for a moment sternly at her, spoke not a
word, and then dashed away into the wood. Terrified still more, Helen
hurried away, and got into the house and her own chamber before the full
extent of her danger opened, with all its probable consequences, upon
her mind. Having undressed herself, she retired to her couch, and
meditated on the extraordinary position in which she was now placed. She
had now been discovered by her cousin, who, no doubt, knew well that she
had that night had a secret meeting with Kirkpatrick--a partisan of his
antagonists, the Johnstones. The discovery of a rival had come on him
with the discovery of a delusion under which he had sighed, and dreamed,
and hoped for years. It was probable, nay, certain, then, that the
communication she intended to make to her father and mother, that she
could not love Blacket House, would be received along with the
elucidating commentary, that the lover now despised had discovered her
love intercourse with the heir of Kirkpatrick. She would, therefore, get
no credit for her statement that she never loved her cousin; but would
be set down as a breaker of pledges, and one who traitorously amused
herself with the broken hopes of her unfortunate lovers. Whether she
made the communication or not, it would be made by Blacket House, whose
fear of losing the object of his affections, or his revenge--whichever
of the two moved him--would force him to the immediate disclosure. The
serenity of the domestic peace and happiness of Kirconnel House would be
clouded for the first time, and that by the disobedience of one who had
heretofore been held to contribute, in no small degree, to that which
she was to be the means of destroying, perhaps for ever. The contrast
between the confidence, the hope, and the affection with which she had
been, by her parents, contemplated, and fondly cherished, during all the
bygone part of her life, and the new-discovered treachery into which her
secret love for a stranger would be construed, was a thought she could
scarcely bear. These and a thousand other things passed through her
thoughts with a rapidity which did not lessen the burning pain of their
impress upon her mind; and the repetition of a thousand reflections,
fears, and hopes, produced in the end a confusion that terrified sleep
from her pillow, and consigned her to the powers of anguish for the
remainder of the night and morning.

She rose with a burning cheek and a high-fluttering pulse, produced by
the fever of mind under which she still laboured. She opened the
casement to let in the cool breeze of morning to brace her nerves, and
enable her to stand an interview with her father and mother, who might
already (for Blacket House was at Kirconnel at all hours) be in
possession of the secret of what they conceived to be their once-loved
Helen's disobedience and treachery. Her own communication, which she had
pledged herself to Kirkpatrick to make, was now invested with treble
terrors; and though she knew that her safety and happiness depended upon
an open declaration, she felt herself totally unable to make it.
Trembling and irresolute, she approached the parlour where her father
and mother, along with herself, were in the habit of taking their
morning meal. They were there; and there was another there--it was her
cousin. He looked at her as she entered, with a calm, but mysterious
eye, which fluttered her nerves again, and forced her to stand for a
moment in the middle of the apartment, irresolute whether to go forward
or retreat. She fearfully threw her eye over the faces of her parents.
There was no change there; the ordinary placidity of their wonted
manner, and the kindly love-greeting borne in their mellow voices,
startled her--so strong had been her conviction that all was disclosed.
Her parents were destitute of guile; and an instant's thought satisfied
her that they were still in their ignorance of the secret. But Blacket
House continued his dark gaze in silence; and even this--a decided
alteration in his manner--was unnoticed by the unsuspecting couple, who
threw their fond eyes on their loving daughter as their only remaining
pride and solace. What meant this? The new turn taken by the stream of
her difficulty and danger surprised and confused her; but, calming by
the influence of her parents' kindness, she sat down and went through
the forms of the morning meal, without exhibiting a discomposure that
might attract the notice of these loving beings, who searched her face
only for the indications of health and the beams of her pleasure. Her
comparative composure enabled her to collect her ideas; and she thought
she now discovered a reason for this seeming forbearance or discretion
of Blacket House--a man little formed for these, or any other virtues:
he intended to _sell_ his knowledge at the price of a hand that never
could be his, but by this or some other means of compulsion. The moment
this thought--and, under all the circumstances, it was a reasonable
one--entered her mind, she trembled at the power of the dark-eyed,
silent being who sat there, and gazed upon her in revengeful triumph.
For relief, she turned her eyes to her parents; yet she saw there the
smile that approved his suit, and the confidence that would believe his
declaration. Her own Kirkpatrick was absent; and she dared not meet him
to receive the assistance of his advice, to enable her to support
herself under her trial, or devise a plan suited to the changed
circumstances for her relief. She hurried over her meal, and hastened
again to her apartment, to confirm herself in the opinion she had formed
of Blacket House's intentions. Every thought tended to add to her
conviction that she was correct, and told her that he never would
succeed in his scheme. He would now, for certain, endeavour to see her
alone, and lay before her the danger into which she had plunged herself,
and the bargain by which she would be relieved from it. But she would
defeat him; she would renounce her walks in the woods, desert, for a
time, her bowers, and bid adieu to her silver Kirtle. She would keep her
apartment under a pretence of slight indisposition--far from an
untruth--and, in the meantime, try to devise some mode of relief from
her painful situation.

But the solicitude of her parents interfered, in some degree, with these
plans. They discovered that she was not so ill as to be unable to seek
what might do her service--her former walks and amusements around
Kirconnel Lee; and thus was she obliged to yield to kindness; yet she
contrived to have her parents near her, so as to deprive Blacket House
of an opportunity of communicating to her his imputed plan of enforcing
his suit. As yet, his silence had been continued: her parents were still
in ignorance; and it was only (so she argued) because he had not
hitherto found her alone, that his dreaded communication had not as yet
been made. On the occasion of her first walk, however, she, by some
untoward chance, was left in one of the arbours alone, and the
opportunity (the first that had occurred) was seized by him--Blacket
House was again before her, and all her fears were in a moment roused.
Their eyes met with an intelligence they had never before possessed.
Every passing thought seemed to be mutually read, while a few words of
ordinary import seemed to be only as a preparation to his expected
statement. Helen did not dare to leave him; she feared to rouse his
anger, and yet she wanted courage to reply with ordinary pertinence to
his remarks. His eye was constantly fixed on her, and the few words he
uttered came with difficulty and pain; yet was there not the slightest
allusion to the secret he undoubtedly held locked up in his breast. Was
he not to bring forward his threat of exposing her, as a wrenching
instrument, to force from her a consent that he was satisfied would
never be given voluntarily? There was no indication of any such issue.
What could be the true meaning of this dark-minded man's conduct? Again
he had disappointed her fearful anticipations. He had not told her
parents; he was not to tell herself. What then was he to do? She could
not answer her self-put question; and her surprise when he parted from
her, after a short conversation, conducted with difficulty, with his
secret unapproached, and the mysterious stare of his illegible eye, was
not less than her terror of the anticipated issue when she first
encountered him.

This new extraordinary element in the subject of her meditations and
fears disarranged all her ideas, and sent her thoughts in new channels
for a discovery of what might be the secret plans of her cousin. She
sighed for an interview with her lover; but that, she was satisfied,
would be attended with great danger; and thus reduced to her own
resources, she passed the night following her meeting with Blacket House
in still increasing pain and difficulty. In the morning she was visited
in her own chamber by her mother, who appeared, from the serious aspect
of her countenance, to have something of great importance to
communicate.

"Helen," began the good matron, "though your father and I have seldom
broached the subject of love and marriage in your presence, we have,
with heartfelt satisfaction, observed and understood that the man who
alone has our consent to win your virgin heart is your own choice. Your
wooing has lasted so long, that the very birds in the woods are familiar
with your persons and converse; and surely this is not to last always.
You are twenty years old, my dear Helen, at the next Beltane, the first
of May; and I know that it is Blacket House's wish that your happiness
may be crowned by a union within as short a period as we will agree to
fix. I have broken the matter to you, my love; and as I am well
acquainted with the fluttering of Love's wings when Hymen enters the
bower, I will not urge you to fix a day at present, but leave you to the
pleasant meditations my communication cannot but call forth. I shall
send your breakfast to your bedroom this morning, my love; but I hope we
may walk in the afternoon. Say nothing, Helen. Adieu! adieu!"

And the mother left the room rapidly, as if to avoid noticing the
blushes of the supposed happy damsel. Helen heard the words uttered, as
one may be supposed to feel the syllables of a condemnation falling upon
the heart. It was well that her mother departed so rapidly, for the
agitation the kind parent attributed to joy, was but the prelude to a
faint, which retained her cold and struggling in its relentless arms for
a considerable period. The first indications of consciousness were, if
possible, more terrible than the last thoughts that frightened it away.
For a long period she sat upon the couch where she had heard the
dreadful intelligence, and, passing her hand over her brow, tried to
collect her energies, so as to be able to contemplate the full extent of
her evil. She thought she could now see some connection between the
announcement made by her mother and the extraordinary and mysterious
conduct of Blacket House, though she was satisfied that neither of her
parents possessed any knowledge of her intercourse with Kirkpatrick. The
scheme of the early marriage might originate in the fears of her cousin,
while his secresy was only still maintained till he found that she would
not yield to her parents' authority; when would be the time for using
his threat of disclosure to Helen, to compel her consent. All this
reasoning seemed founded in existing circumstances and appearances; but
so confused were her thoughts, and so painful every effort of her mind
to acquire clearer views, that she felt inclined to renounce reasoning
on a subject that seemed at every turn to defeat all her efforts to come
to the real truth. Her misery was at least certain; for now, while the
absolute necessity of a disclosure of her secret love became more
peremptory and inevitable, the circumstances under which it would be
made were such as would add to the unhappiness of her parents, and to
the apparent deceit and treachery of her own nature, which was,
notwithstanding, incapable of guile.

Meanwhile, the effects of so much mental anguish, acting upon a tender
frame, became soon apparent in her pale countenance and swollen eyes.
She would not leave her apartment; and when her mother again visited
her, she saw a change on her daughter very different from that which
accompanies the character of a bride in prospective. The circumstance
surprised the old lady; but still so satisfied was she that there could
exist no objection to a lover whom she had (as was thought) cherished
for years, that it never occurred to her that the change in her daughter
was attributable to the announcement she had made to her; while Helen
herself, oppressed with the secret which she struggled (as yet in vain)
to divulge, shunned a subject which she found herself unable to treat in
such a way as would insure to her relief from her sorrow. Every effort
was made to get her out into the woods, where her former scenes might
enliven her mind, and bring back her wonted spirits, which, chiming the
musical bells of youth's happy glee, used to charm the age-stricken
hearts of her parents. But these scenes had lost their power over her.
The secrets Blacket House had to divulge still lay like an unholy spirit
upon her heart, killed its energies, and rendered her miserable. She
expected the additional sorrow of his society in these forced walks, and
her grief was mixed with surprise at his absence. He was often at the
house, but he avoided her. She even saw him turn into a by-path, to get
out of the way in which she walked--a circumstance as inexplicable as
any of the prior difficulties with which the whole affair was beset on
every side. She continued her meditations, called up repeated energies
to nerve her for her disclosure, and, with many a sigh, felt them die
away, and the tongue cleave to her mouth, as the unavailing effort shook
her frame.

She had been in the habit of meeting Kirkpatrick at regular intervals;
but two of the stated periods had passed without an interview. The third
was approaching; and she trembled as the necessity of throwing herself
on his bosom, and seeking counsel in her difficulty, appeared to her in
such a form as to shake her resolution not to encounter another
night-meeting with her cousin. On the morning of that evening when she
must repair to the burying-ground, or lose the chance of meeting
Kirkpatrick for a considerable time, it was announced to her parents, in
her presence, at the table of the morning meal, that Blacket House had,
on the previous day, gone on a visit to a relation in a very distant
part of the country, and that he would not return for eight days. She
heard it, and her eyes were involuntarily turned up to heaven, in
thanksgiving for the opportunity she now enjoyed of sobbing out her
sorrows on the bosom of her Kirkpatrick, and getting good counsel in her
distress. She said nothing when the announcement was made, and heard,
without heeding, the remarks of her parents. Her thoughts were in
Death's Mailing, and the pallid hue of her cheek gave place for a moment
to the flush that followed the fancied touch of his lips, and the
pressure that brought her nearer to the bosom where lay all the relief
she now had in this world. She sought more freely than she had done for
some time her old retreats, and again the song of the merle had some
music for her ear--so ready is the oppressed soul to seek its accustomed
pleasures, that it will clutch them in the interval of a suspended
grief, though sure to return. Her cousin was gone for a time; he could
not cross in these paths of the wood; and, oh happy thought! she would
lie on the bosom of her Kirkpatrick, and breathe forth, uninterrupted,
love's sweet tale, rendered sweeter and dearer by the grief with which
it was shaded.

The evening fell that night beautiful and serene. No vapour clouded the
"silver sheen," and no breath of wind rustled a leaf on the trees.

"Hail to ye, bright queen!" ejaculated Helen, as she folded her mantle
round her, and was on the eve of seeking the wood; "once more light me
to my lover, if, after this meeting, you should for ever hide your face
among the curtains of heaven."

And, breathing quick with the rising expectation of being enclosed in
his arms, she issued from the house, and sought the well-known loaning
that led to the burying-ground. Her grief had sunk for a time amidst the
swelling impulses of her passion; and it was not till she had been
pressed to his bosom, her brow kissed by his burning lips, and
deep-drawn sighs exhausted the ardour of a first embrace after so long a
separation, that one single thought of the cruelty of her situation
arose in her mind. They sat on the tumulus where they had sat often
before. The gravestones around them lay serene in a flood of moonlight;
the soft "buller" of the wimpling Kirtle was all that disturbed the
silence of the night; calmly there reposed the dead of many generations;
if their lives were ended, their griefs, too, were past; and Mary of the
Le', whose grey monument reflected clearly the moon's light, was free
from the anguish which, in struggling sighs, came from the bosom of her
who was _yet_ above the green mound. Helen told her lover all the
extraordinary circumstances of her situation. She wept at every turn of
a new difficulty, and Adam's eyes were also suffused with tears; he
pressed her again to his breast, and bade her be of better heart, for
that better days were coming on the wings of time.

"I confess," he said, "my dear love, that I am unable to understand the
conduct of that dark-minded man; but what can he do, if my Helen should
yet redeem her error, and make this necessary disclosure? That is alone
the cure of our pain. Oh, Helen! what a load of evil might have been
averted from our heads by the exercise of a little self-command!"

"I see it, I feel it," replied she; "but there are powers higher than
the resolves of mortals. I have struggled with myself till the blood was
sent back in my veins, and frightened nature saved the powerless victim
of grief by the mantle of unconsciousness. What, Adam, shall I do? I
feel I am unequal to the task of speaking a daughter's rebellion and a
traitor's resolution."

"When everything is explained, Helen," replied the other, "the treachery
disappears, and a father and mother's love will not die under the
passing cloud of a little anger. Think of our bliss, love! Did hope
never bring courage to your tongue, Helen? Ah, what would that bright
goddess make Adam Fleming dare!"

"And what," said she, "would Helen Bell not dare for the love she bears
to her Adam, if that sacred feeling of a daughter's duty were overcome?
But it must be. I shall fall upon my mother's neck, and weep out with
burning tears of repentance a daughter's contrition. I will appeal to
the heart of a mother and a woman. I will conjure up her own first love,
move again the spring of her earliest affection, and feign to her my
father lost, and her heart wrecked. Ay, Adam, hope--the hope of the
possession of you--will accomplish all this. Helen has said it, and the
issue will prove."

This burst of generous resolution produced a flood of tears. She crept
closer to him, and the throbs of her heart were heard in the silence
which reigned among the graves. A rustling sound among the trees roused
her; she lifted her head, and fixed her eyes on a part of the wood on
the other side of the Kirtle. For a moment she watched some movements
not noticed by her lover. They rose, and Adam stood aside to get a
better view of the interruption. In an instant she clung to his bosom; a
loud shot reverberated through the wood; Helen fell dead--the ball
destined for Kirkpatrick having been received by the devoted maiden, who
saw the hand uplifted that was to do the deed of blood. Neither scream
nor audible sigh came from her; one spring when the ball entered the
heart--and death!

Kirkpatrick saw at once death and the cause of it, and in an instant he
gave pursuit. Springing with a bound over the Kirtle, he seized Blacket
House in the act of flight. The murderer turned, sword in hand, and a
battle was fought in the wood, such as never was witnessed in the heat
of the contest of armies. Had his opponent had twenty lives, the fury of
Kirkpatrick would have been unsatiated by them all. His spirit was
roused to that of a demon; a supernatural strength nerved his arm; he
despised life and all its blessings; the world had in an instant lost
for him any charms, but as the place where lived that one man whose
blood was to glut his vengeance. His sword found the heart of Blacket
House, and twenty wounds verified the ballad:--

  "I lighted down my sword to draw--
  I hacked him in pieces sma'--
  I hacked him in pieces sma',
  For her sake that died for me."

He returned to the burying-ground. His Helen's body was as cold as that
of those who lay beneath.

  "O Helen fair beyond compare,
  I'll mak a garland of thy hair,
  Shall bind my heart for evermair
  Until the day I dee."

Such is the story of Helen Bell, a subject that has employed the pen of
many a poet, and brought tears to the eyes of millions. We sometimes,
according to our privilege, amuse our readers with pure unadulterated
fiction. Would that our task had been such on this occasion!--for we
prefer the sorrow which fancy, imitating truth, rouses in the heart, to
the depressing power of "owre true a tale." We may add, that the Maid of
Kirconnel is more frequently called Helen Irving than Helen Bell, in
consequence of some doubt as to whether her mother was not really one of
the Bells, and her father an Irving. After giving the matter all due
consideration, and searching several authorities, we are satisfied that
the truth is as we have related it. Our very ingenious friend, Professor
Gillespie, in a section of the "Gleanings of the Covenant," says that
the beautiful ballad, some of the lines of which we have quoted, was
written on "Helen Palmer." We must have his authority.



TOM DUNCAN'S YARN.


William Duncan had lived nearly thirty years in the service of a landed
proprietor in Dumfries-shire; where his honest, upright, trustworthy
character had gained him the esteem and respect of his employer; and he
was looked upon more in the light of a humble friend, than of a hired
menial. Nearly five-and-twenty years had elapsed since his marriage to
Janet, who had long before been his "neebor" servant. Their family
consisted of two children, a son and daughter; the latter of whom had
been, at the time our story commences, for some time married to a
farm-servant, and was living in a cottage closely adjoining her
father's. The son had been sent, when about seventeen years of age, with
cattle to Annan, and had there made acquaintance with some seafaring
men, whose stories of the wonders of other lands had excited his
curiosity, and awakened an irrepressible longing to witness the strange
sights he had heard of. It was in vain that his father and mother strove
to divert his thoughts into another channel--"he _would_ be a sailor;"
and they at last wisely consented to what they could not prevent. About
two years after his departure, Willie's good old master died; having
left his faithful servant a small annuity, sufficient to make his old
age comfortable--for he was now almost superannuated. The old gentleman
had died childless, leaving his estate to a distant relative; and his
successor, knowing the estimation in which Willie had been held by his
late master, allowed him to live rent-free in one of the cottages on the
estate, and treated him, on all occasions, with great consideration and
kindness. There was but one thing wanting to make the old couple happy:
their simple appetites were easily satisfied; they had enough and to
spare, without the toil of labour; but their son, their only son, was a
wanderer, and years had passed since they had received any intelligence
of him, and then they had only been informed that he had gone to some
foreign station. "Oh, could we but see him ance mair afore we dee!" was
often their exclamation.

One stormy night in October, the old couple were startled by a loud rap
at the door.

"Preserve us!" said Janet, in great alarm, "what's that? Wha can that be
chappin at the door on sic a nicht as this? Maybe it's some puir seekin
body, wantin shelter frae the blast. Up, Willie, man, an' ask wha it
is."

"It's me, faither--it's Betty," replied the voice of the daughter, in
answer to her father's queries; "let me in."

"What's brocht ye oot, woman," said Willie, "in sic a clash o' rain as
this?"

"There's a puir sailor lad come to oor hoose," replied she, "an' he
wants something to eat an' drink, an' we haena a bite o' cake left: hae
ye ony to spare? An', what think ye, faither? he kens oor Tam weel, an'
says he saw him no tha' lang syne."

"Kens oor Tam!" said the old man; "what for did ye no bring him wi' ye?
Gie's doon my plaid; I'll gang an' speak to him mysel."

"Na, na, faither; ye maunna cross the door while it's pourin this gate.
I'll fetch him when he's had his supper. I'd hae brocht him afore, but I
thocht maybe he micht be makin ye believe oor Tam was comin hame, or
some sic clavers, an' ye wad be wearyin to see him, an' maybe no see him
after a'."

"An' what for micht he no be comin hame?" said Willie. "It's time he
war, I think, if he wishes to find the auld folk to the fore."

"Well, but, faither, suppose he war to tell ye that he had seen oor Tam
twa or three days syne, an' that ye micht expeck to see him hame sune?"

"Mercy, lass! what's the matter wi' ye, wi' yer maybes an' yer supposes?
What gars ye gang swaggerin up an' doon that gait, lookin as ye were
demented? There's something pleasin ye by common. If 'twar Tam himsel,
ye couldna be mair uplifted."

"An' guid richt hae I to be uplifted, mither, if ye kent a'."

"Eh, it's Tam himsel!" almost screamed the old woman; "where is he? Let
me see my bairn."

"Here's all that's left of him, mother," said a fine, stout-looking
sailor; who, unable any longer to restrain his impatience, stumped in on
a wooden leg just as Janet was speaking.

"My bairn! my bairn!" sobbed the old woman, throwing her arms round him;
"mony a lang day hae I prayed to see ye ance mair; an' noo that I hae
ye, oh, do I see ye a puir cripple!"

"Oh, that's nothing, mother; nothing but the fortune of war. If I'd lost
my head instead of my leg, mother, I wouldn't have been here to tell my
own story."

"That's Gude's truth; an' great reason hae we to be thankfu it's nae
waur. But, oh! it's a sair dispensation."

"Ah, old boy! how are you?" said Tom, shaking his father heartily by the
hand; "all alive and hearty--eh?"

"Weel aneugh, weel aneugh, Tam; just choppin on; but richt glad am I to
see ye again, my son. But, Tam, that wasna the gate ye wad hae spoken to
yer auld faither afore ye gaed frae hame."

"My manner of speaking may be changed, father," replied the young man,
respectfully; "but there's no change in my heart--that's true-blue
still; and it'll be long before I can clear off my reckoning with you
for all your kindness to me. No, no, father, my _heart's_ in the right
place still."

"Weel, my man, I hope sae. Sit doon an' tell us a' that's happened ye
sin' we last heard frae ye. But wait a wee. Janet, seek oot the best
that's in the hoose for the puir fallow; an', whan he's had a guid
supper, he'll be in better fettle for giein us his cracks."

"Tak aff yer jacket, my bonny man," said his mother; "an' hing it up
afore the fire, an' draw in till't yersel. Willie, I'm thinkin there's
something in the bottle. I'll put on the kettle, an' we'll gie the lad
something he'll be nane the waur o'."

After the sailor had done his devoirs at the supper-table, the whole
party drew round the fire, and the old man, lighting his "cutty," said--

"Noo, Tam, tell us a' aboot what ye've been doin, an' hoo ye cam to lose
yer leg."

"It's a terrible long yarn, father, and I'm afeared ye'll be glad to
sing out Avast! before I've spun it out; besides, you'll not understand
my sea lingo."

"Nae fear o' that," replied he; "ye ken I was ance a bit o' a sailor
mysel. We could see the Solway frae the hoose I hired at when I was a
callan."

"But, eh, Tam, my man," said old Janet, "ye talk English as weel's the
grand folk doon by."

"Ay, ay, mother; leave me alone for that. My messmates used to say as
how I ought to have been a Methodist preacher, seein I knowed so well
how to tip them the dictionary."

"Hear till him!" said the delighted mother, holding up her hands in
admiration.

"But, howsomdever, they haven't made me proud on't, you see, with all
their blarney. But I must carry on, or my yarn'll reach from this to the
end of next week. It's now six years since I got a berth on board one o'
them Newcastle colliers, and a jolly time we had on't; for, though we'd
lashing to do, and no want of wet jackets, there was always a full
bread-bag, and swipes and grub at no allowance. They're the craft to
teach a man his duty! Well, I'd been in that trade about a year, when I
goes ashore one day with the mate at Wapping; and, while we were sitting
comfortably swigging our grog, the landlord comes rushing in, and, says
he, 'My lads, you must brush; there's the pressgang a-coming.' Hearing
that, the mate and I bolted out of the door, and ran for it; but they
twigged us, and gave chase. They nabbed the mate in less nor no time;
but I cracked on a press o' sail, and was dropping them astern fast,
when, as I was looking back at them over my shoulder, I ran stem on to
an old fishwife. My eyes, what a crash! I sends her and her sprats
a-swimming in the gutter, and I falls as flat as a flounder on the
pavement, spouting out blood from my nose, like a whale. Well, to cut a
long yarn short, we were taken on board the tender, and afterwards
drafted into the Fire-eater frigate, which was stationed on the north
coast of Ireland. I was very well off on board the frigate. 'Sharp' was
the word, to be sure, and the cat often wagged her tail; but then, as
long as a man was smart and willing, he'd never no 'casion to be
afeared: there was never no favour nor affection there. Well, as I said
afore, we were cruising off the coast of Ireland, when, one day, it came
on to blow great guns from the westward. For three blessed days, there
was the little Fire-eater tossing and tumbling, and kicking up her
starn, and going through as many manoeuvres as a dancing-master, till
at last we were driven so far west that we made the coast of Argyle;
then 'bout ship we went, and stood away again to the eastward. Well, we
carried on for a matter of four-and-twenty hours, with a little more
northing in the wind, when we made land again, and hauled up two or
three points to clear it. The weather was so thick ye might a'most have
cut it with a knife, and there wasn't such a thing as a dirty face on
board, the sea made a clean wash of everything, and it blowed--my eyes,
how it did blow! Mayhap, you call this a gale, but you wouldn't have
heard it beside that. It was bad enough to be on deck, but ten times
worse below; a devil of a sea smashed in some of the ports, and the
leeside of the main-deck was three feet deep in water. And then, while
we were hard at work, stuffing up the holes where the water was pouring
in, and pumping, there was an awful stramash on deck; for there was the
land again, close aboard of us ahead. 'Wear ship!' was now the cry, and
away went the little hooker again on the other tack, and bravely did she
behave--a better sea-boat never swam; for, battered and knocked about as
she was, she showed true pluck; no sooner was she knocked over by a sea,
than she rose again like a duck, though she was forced to shake her
feathers now and then. Well, at eight-bells in the first watch
(midnight), we thought it was all up with us again, for there was the
surf breaking on the rocks little more than half-a-mile on the
lee-bow--and touch-and-go it was; but our tight little barky--though she
was anything but tight by that time--though she lay over till she was
half buried alive, looked boldly up in the wind, and shot past like a
sea-bird. If there hadn't been such a devil of a noise, you might have
heard a pin drop just then. There was not a man on deck who did not hold
his breath, and gasp, when the danger was past, like one that's just
escaped drowning.

"'By the powers!' says I to Bill Jones, 'that was a close shave.'

"'You may say that,' says he.

"Just as he was a-speaking, the moon shone out, and there, not six
hundred yards to leeward, were breakers again. The sea was running as
high as our tops at the time; but beyond and above it we saw the
breakers curling their white tops, foaming, and dashing, and roaring, as
if they were raging to get at us, as you may have seen wild beasts
tearing and leaping, and striving to break their chain to get out of the
menagerie at their prey. Now, indeed, it seemed there was no chance of
escape--there was no room to wear, and the ship was already half-buried
under her canvas; our only hoped seemed to be in our ground tackle, and
orders were given to clear away the anchors, and to have all ready for
cutting away the masts. That was an awful moment; we thought it was all
up with us, and there was many a pale cheek, and many a muttered prayer
for mercy and deliverance; for the worst amongst us are glad to look
aloft when death is staring us in the face below. Our captain was as
brave a fellow, and as good a seaman, as ever stepped a plank. What his
feelings may have been, it's impossible for the likes o' me to say; but
I never seed him more cool in a calm than at that moment, when the
bravest might have flinched, and no man could have cast it in his teeth.
His voice never shook when he gave his orders, loud, clear, and
distinct; and his gallant bearing cheered the down-hearted, and gave
fresh pluck to the daring. He was a trump, that fellow! He ordered the
foretopsail and foresail to be set. It seemed to be a rash and dangerous
experiment, but it succeeded. Nothing venture, nothing win; we might
have lost our masts, but we saved the ship. The little frigate lay over
for a minute, as if she was never going to rise no more; all hands
thought the masts must go, for everything aloft grinned again, and the
rigging was as taut as bars of iron; but it held on, and the frigate
righted again, and sprung ahead, as you have seen a hare make a fresh
stretch from the hounds--and we were all saved. We shaved the reef so
close, that I'm blessed if I couldn't a'most have chucked a biscuit on
shore."

"Mercy!" said the old woman; "what an escape!"

"Ay, mother, we sailors have many a narrow squeak for it, that you
long-shore folks never dream of; but you know, as the song says,
'There's a sweet little cherub sits perched up aloft, to take care of
the life of poor Jack;' and we're as safe, for the matter o' that, on
the stormy sea, as you are on the terry firmy, as our doctor used to
call the land."

"Weel, but what was the upshot o' the business?" said Willie.

"Why, ye see, though we had escaped so mirac'lously like, we were still
too near a lee-shore to be quite comfortable; for we'd another headland
to weather afore we could say we was clear o' danger. There was never an
eye closed on board that night, and a long and weary night it was.
Blessed if ever I seed a craft stand up under her canvas as our little
barky did, carrying on at the rate of seven knots an hour, while the sea
made a fair breach over her every now and then, and made her stagger
from stem to starn. At last, 'old roarer,' as I've heard our doctor call
the daybreak, made its appearance, and we saw the land we was afeared
o', some distance astarn. After that, the gale began to moderate, and a
fair wind soon took us under our anchorage."

Here old Janet interrupted her son, with, "Weel, but Tam, ye haena tauld
us yet hoo ye cam to lose yer leg."

"Never hurry no man's cattle, mother," replied the sailor; "leave me to
spin my own yarn my own way, and I'll come to the end on't at last; I
told you you'd cry out Avast! afore I'd done."

"Hoot, Janet," said Willie, "let the lad tak his ain gate. It just
astonishes me to hear him rinnin the words oot sae glib, an' him sic a
solid callant as he used to be."

"Weel, weel, gang on, my man; I'll no meddle wi' ye ony mair."

"Then here goes! Carry on again, says I," replied Tom. "The frigate I
belonged to afterwards went on the Jamaica station, and cruised about,
to protect the merchantmen from the pirates as infested them seas. Well,
we were dodging about one night, under topgallantsails, off Cape St
Antonio, with just wind enough to make the barky crawl through the
water. It was my look-out on deck, and I sees something like a large
bird, as it seemed to me, hovering about in a patch of clear sky; so I
stared at it, and stared at it, but I couldn't make out what it could
be, for it kept moving backwards and forwards, but always in the same
part of the sky. So I calls the midshipman of the watch, and says to
him--

"'D'ye see that large bird a-flying about there, sir? It's the biggest I
ever seed, and it keeps always about the same place; I can't make out
what it can be after.' Well, he looks and wonders like myself, and then
he goes to fetch the night-glass; and, after he'd squinted through it
for a minute or two, he just mutters to himself, 'The devil!' and away
he runs aft to the luftenant of the watch, and brings him a-running back
with him.

"'Whereabouts?' said the luftenant.

"'There, sir; just under that cloud that's hiding the moon.'

"'Ay, so it is!' said he; 'I see her spars plain enough; nothing but a
royal loose--and there's her hull!' he continued, as the moon broke out,
and showed us a long, low, rakish-looking square brig, lying as snug as
a duck in the water, about two miles on our lee-bow. 'I don't like the
look of her at all,' says the luff, and away he goes to make his report.
She seemed to have twigged us at the same time, and didn't like the look
of us neither; for, almost before the smoke had cleared away from our
bows, after we had spoken to her with one of the forecastle guns, we
could hear the pipe on board of her, the night was so still; and, in a
crack, she was one cloud of canvas, from the truck to the lower boom.
Blowed if ever I seed a man-of-war do the thing smarter. 'All hands make
sail in chase!' was the cry on board of us, and, in a very short time,
the water was talking Spanish under our bows. Every stitch of sail was
packed on the ship: but the stranger stood right away before the light
breeze, and crawled away from us fast, for that was our worst sailing
point. We kept a-blazing away with our bow guns, to bring her to; but
the more we fired, the more she wouldn't stop; and we might just as well
have fired at the moon, for all the mischief we could do her. At
daylight, she was hull down ahead; but the breeze freshened with the
rising sun, and we began to fetch up our starnway, and, before noon, we
began to drop our shot into her. She wasn't slow in answering at first
from her stern guns, which were uncommon well sarved, and every now and
then walked a ball through our sails, but luckily did not strike our
masts. We were overhauling her in great style, peppering away as fast as
we could, when all at once she began to yaw about, and, giving a broad
sheer away to port, she shortened sail, and then came to the wind again
on the starboard tack, with her maintopsail to the mast, and doused a
red rag she had a-flying at the main. We gave over firing, and soon
bowled up alongside of her, rolled up the small sail, hauled up the
foresail, and backed the main-yard. Our captain hailed her in a devil of
a rage, and was answered in some lingo I couldn't understand; but the
fellow pointed to his boat, as had a plank knocked out of her side; and
orders were given to man our boats, and send them on board, to take
possession of her. Well, just as we were a-lowering the boats, and all
hands pleased at the thoughts of a good prize, blowed if she didn't
quietly steal her fore-yard forward a little, to gather way, and before
you could say Jack Robinson, she was braced sharp up, with all her small
kites set, and, as she stood across our bows, she pitched it into us in
style. It was a blind look-out, sartinly, to let the sneaking scoundrel
slip through our fingers that way; but there was no help for it now. The
boats were secured again; and in a few minutes we were after her. As
long as the breeze held strong and steady, we had rather the best on't;
but it soon began to die away, and then we thought we would lose her for
sartin, when a lucky shot crippled her gaff, which soon snapped like a
carrot. Now that so much after-sail was off her, she couldn't keep her
wind, and we neared her fast. 'Don't spare her, my lads!' shouted the
captain; and we _did_ pour the grape and canister into her in fine
style, till she was a regular wreck; but she showed pluck to the last,
and kept blazing away at us as long as she was able. At last she got
tired, and gave over firing, and struck her colours. The boats were well
manned and armed, and were again sent to take possession of her; the
frigate running almost alongside, and threatening to blow her out of the
water, if she attempted any further resistance. When we were coming up
under her quarter in the boats, we heard the sound of loud quarrelling
on board, and when we got fairly on the quarterdeck, we found the
captain of the pirate swearing like a trooper, and saying as how his
crew had betrayed him, like cowardly dogs, as they were. He kept
stamping up and down the deck like mad, looking as if he could eat the
luftenant, when he took his sword from him. Ten or twelve
desperate-looking rough'uns as ever I seed gathered round him, muttering
that it was better to die on the quarterdeck like men, than hang like
dogs at the yardarm, and all at once they snatched up some tommyhawks as
was lying on the deck, and made a desperate rush upon us. We had an
awful tussle for it; and, just as we were in the thick on't, hand to
hand, up runs a young man from below, and sings out to us, 'Save
me--save me!' As soon as the pirate captain seed him, he ran at him like
a tiger, and, seizing him by the throat, shouted out, 'Dead men tell no
tales!' and raised his tommyhawk to cleave him to the skull. Poor lad!
he thought his signal for sailing was made, that it was all up with him.
He muttered, 'Mercy! mercy!' But poor mercy would he have met with, if I
hadn't run up just in time, and fetched the fellow a slash with my
cutlass, which made him drop the tommyhawk like a hot potato. He left
the lad, and turned round upon me, gnashing his teeth like nothing at
all with very rage, and, before I had time to wink my eye, he snatches a
loaded pistol out of my belt, and smashes my leg to shivers. Down I
dropped; but before he could finish what he had begun so cleverly, a
pistol flashed close to his head, and he staggered, and fell, never to
rise no more. When I came to my senses again, I found myself in the
sick-bay, on board my own ship. The surgeon was forced to cut off my leg
to save my life; and when we arrived at Port Royal, I was sent ashore to
the hospital, and afterwards got my discharge."

"An' what o' the--what d'ye ca' them--rats?" said old Janet.

"Oh, they were taken into Port Royal, and tried for piracy; there was
lots of evidence against them, the bloodthirsty rascals, and they were
all hanged, except three or four. And so there's an end of my yarn,
father; and a precious long one, I daresay, you think it is; and here am
I come home a poor useless cripple, to moor myself for life, if so be
you'll let me come to an anchor under your lee."

"Ay, my boy," replied the old man, clapping him kindly on the shoulder,
"as long's there's a plack to the fore in the purse, or a gowpenfu' o'
meal in the kist, ye'se aye be welcome to a share."

"True-blue for ever!" shouted Tom; "but, father, it's not come to that
yet; I'm not going to anchor without paying the harbour dues. Here,"
continued he, tossing a well-filled purse to the old man; "I haven't
been so long afloat for nothing; there's a good whack of prize-money
there, and I'll come in for a pension by and by, if I've luck."

"Keep it yersel, Tam," replied Willie; "I'm no gaun to touch a bawbee
o't. Gude be thankit! I hae aneugh an' to spare."

Finding his father firm in his refusal, Tom at last said--

"Well, well, keep it for me, if you won't keep it for yourself. It won't
keep company with me long; for, somehow, whenever I cast off the
standing part of a guinea, it devilish soon unreeves itself in quarter
less no time. Stow it away in your own lockers, and serve it out to me
now and then, when I wants baccy."

As this seemed a very rational kind of arrangement, the old man
consented to become his son's banker.

"And now that I've run all my line off the reel, father, you must give
me a spell, and let's hear all that's been put down in your log since I
left you."

"Oh, it's no muckle I hae to tell, Tam," replied he; "ae day has been as
like the ane that gaed afore't, as ae pear to anither; I was born here,
and here I'll maist likely dee."

"But what's become o' bonny Jean Cameron, father? I remember well how
fond I was of her, when I was a boy at school; I've oft thought on her,
when we've been keeping up Saturday night, at sea. Many's the _tot_ I've
emptied to her health."

"She's still to the fore, Tam, and 'maist as bonny as ever; she was
married four years syne, but she's a widow noo." He then went on to tell
his son the other changes that had taken place since his departure, the
principal of which was the death of his late master and kind friend,
Murray of Greenha'. "He was a guid freend to me," said Willie, drawing
the back of his hand over his eyes; "but he's gane noo. I've nae cause
to compleen o' my present maister, for a kinder couldna be; but he'll
never be to me like him that's gane."

James Hamilton, old Willie Duncan's present master, had made a large
fortune in the West India trade, and was proprietor of a valuable estate
in Jamaica. For a series of years, so rapidly had he amassed wealth,
that he seemed to be a peculiar favourite of Fortune; but Fortune has
ever been a capricious dame, and those who are apparently highest in her
good graces, are often made to feel how uncertain is the tenure by which
they hold them. She seems, like some of the savages of the western
world, to pamper her victims with the good things of this life, only to
make them feel more keenly the reverses she is preparing for them. James
Hamilton was one of those men, unfortunately too rare, who do not allow
themselves to be dazzled by the flattering appearances of present
prosperity, but who, aware of the changeable and fleeting nature of all
earthly possessions, hold on the even tenor of their course, with minds
prepared for every vicissitude. He always acted upon high and pure
principle, and never, in the height of prosperity, forgot that the same
Supreme Benefactor, who in his bounty had blessed him with abundance,
might, in his wisdom, think fit to try him with adversity. He was a
kind-hearted and liberal man, but withal cool, quiet, and methodical in
his manners and actions. Heedless of the opinion of the world, he acted
up to the dictates of his own conscientious feelings of right and wrong;
and his strict notions of evenhanded justice often led him to enter into
engagements, and to perform actions, which, though perfectly just and
rigidly honest, bore, in the eyes of a misjudging world, the impress of
calculating selfishness and niggardly illiberality. But,
notwithstanding, there was such straightforward honesty, such
child-like, confiding simplicity, and such pure and unpretending
Christianity, evident in his character, that it was impossible for those
who knew him well not to esteem and love him. His principal failing was
one which "leaned to virtue's side." Upright, and honourable, and
candid, he thought all others like himself, and was often the dupe of
designing and crafty men; who, with more worldly wisdom, were far his
inferiors in judgment, and sound, practical sense; but who practised
upon his confiding nature by the semblance of qualities which they did
not possess. He had long been blessed with the companionship of an
amiable and excellent wife; and, when she was snatched from him by a
sudden and virulent disorder, he could ill have borne his bereavement,
had he not been supported by the conviction that she was only removed to
a purer and happier state of existence; and he bowed with submission to
the decrees of that Being who "doeth all things wisely." His only son,
John, who had been an object of most tender solicitude to both his
parents, had been educated with the greatest care; and, though
apparently born the heir to great wealth, had undergone a regular
probation in a mercantile house in the city, of which he hoped soon to
become a partner. Many of the elder Hamilton's friends had expressed
their surprise at his choice of a profession for his son, and wondered
that, rolling in wealth, as he was supposed to be, he should condemn his
heir to the drudgery of a counting-house: but events proved that he had
acted wisely and well. The sudden and totally unexpected failure of a
large West India house with which he was connected, and to support which
he had advanced considerable sums, gave the first shock to his credit;
and, as is often the case, reverse followed reverse afterwards, until
utter ruin seemed to be inevitable. Undazzled by prosperity, Hamilton
proved himself to be equally unshaken by adversity. His character as a
mercantile man stood so high for unimpeachable integrity and
indefatigable industry, that he might have made head for some years
longer against the stream of adverse circumstances, and might, perhaps,
eventually have overcome them; but the plain path of duty was the one he
had followed through life, and he did not desert it now. He immediately
wound up his affairs, and, having settled with his creditors to the
uttermost farthing, he found himself almost destitute, with the
exception of his personal property, and the West India estate; which,
however, had for some years barely paid its own expenses. It was now
that Hamilton had reason to rejoice that his beloved son had, by his
wise foresight, been rendered independent of circumstances, and had been
bred up in habits which would enable him soon to acquire a comfortable
establishment for himself. He immediately sold his house and furniture,
and retired to a humble lodging in the city, where, with patient and
laudable energy, he exerted himself to recover the ground he had lost.
Sudden and unexpected as his reverses had been, he never murmured at the
hardship of his lot, convinced that all the dispensations of Providence
are wisely and mercifully ordered, and happy in the consciousness that
he had nothing to reproach himself with, as far as concerned his dealing
with his fellow-men. About this time, his son John was sent out to
Jamaica, on some mercantile speculation, by the house with which he was
connected, and obtained permission to remain some time on the island, to
inquire into the management of his father's plantation; and, if
necessary and possible, to effect its sale. He was about twenty-four
years of age; tall, and handsome in his appearance, and a youth of
excellent dispositions and steady principles. By his persevering and
conscientious attention to his duties, he had gained the confidence and
esteem of his employers, and had acquired the character of an active and
clever man of business. He had long been a secret admirer of Ellen
Winterton, the orphan child of an officer in the army, and who was
living under the guardianship of the head of his firm. Accustomed,
however, always to keep his feelings under control, and to regulate his
desires by the rules of honour and of prudence, young Hamilton did not
think himself justified in making his proposals in form, until fortune
should have enabled him to do so as an independent man. The change in
his father's circumstances, while it called for fresh exertions on his
part, seemed to separate him still more widely from the object of his
wishes; but he bore his prolonged probation with cheerfulness, and his
grief at parting with Ellen was almost neutralised by the animating
prospect of serving his beloved father. After an absence of some months,
during which he had written home several times, a letter was received
from him, announcing his having left Kingston harbour, in the
fast-sailing, well-armed merchant-ship, the Delight, and expressing his
hope soon to join his father again. Fortune, in the meanwhile, had
smiled again upon the elder Hamilton, in a way he little expected. He
was surprised one evening by the receipt of a note from a gentleman,
whose signature was unknown to him, and who requested a personal
interview with him next morning, at a neighbouring coffee-house. Thither
he repaired accordingly, wondering what could be the nature of the
communication the stranger wished to make to him.

"Mr Hamilton, I believe?" said a gentleman, dressed in deep mourning, to
whom the waiter pointed him out, as he entered the room. "I know you
well by name and character, Mr Hamilton, though I have not the happiness
of your personal acquaintance, and I am happy to be the bearer of
pleasing intelligence to you. I am one of the executors of Mr Murray of
Greenha', who died childless, and, in consequence of the demise of his
near relations, has made you his heir; and I have to congratulate you
upon your accession to a valuable landed property and a handsome
fortune."

Mr Hamilton was not a little surprised at this announcement. Murray of
Greenha' was a distant relation of his late father; but the families had
had no communication for several years, and he had almost forgotten that
such a person was in existence. This unexpected revolution, by which he
was again restored from poverty to wealth and comfort, excited his
warmest feelings of gratitude and thankfulness towards that Being in
whom he had always trusted with unwavering confidence. He immediately
set off to the north, to visit his newly-acquired property, and to carry
into effect the provisions of his benefactor's will. Among other duties
devolved upon him, was that of providing for our friend Willie Duncan,
whose upright, manly character, and grateful attachment to his late
master, gave him strong claims upon the good-will and respect of his
successor. He had been some time in the north when he heard of his son's
having left Jamaica; but months instead of weeks had elapsed, and still
no further accounts had been received of him, and he began to be
seriously alarmed on his account. His agent in town, in reply to his
anxious inquiries, informed him that the Delight was known to have left
Kingston harbour at the time specified, but that she had not since been
heard of; and, as she was so very much beyond her expected time, and
several ships had arrived in England, which had only just reached the
harbour when she left it, there was now little doubt of her loss. This
was sad news to the elder Hamilton, and it required the exercise of all
his Christian fortitude to enable him to bear up under the heavy
dispensation. He had gained unexpected wealth; but he for whom he prized
it had been snatched from him. One afternoon, shortly after the return
of the sailor, Tom Duncan, Mr Hamilton was sauntering, in a melancholy
mood, along the high road near Greenha', and was scarcely aroused from
his abstraction by the rattling of a post-chariot, which was almost upon
him before he was aware of its approach.--"Stop!--stop!" said a voice
from the inside. The door was dashed open, and in a moment the
bewildered father was in the arms of his long-lost son. It was some time
before either of them could speak. At last, the father sobbed out--

"My dear, dear son! I thought you were torn from me for ever! Heaven be
praised for all its mercies! I shall now die happy. But how have I been
so cruelly deceived? They told me you were lost, and my heart was almost
broken. But come, come away to the house, and, after you have refreshed
yourself, you can gratify my curiosity." On entering the house, John
congratulated his father most affectionately on the change that had
taken place in his affairs. "I am glad of it on your account, John; for
myself, I care not. I was as happy with my crust and cheese, and with my
consciousness that I was doing my duty, as I am now--rich beyond my
fondest hopes. Yes, John, I thank Heaven, for myself, that I am blessed
with a contented spirit; and, for _you_, that, when I die, you will be
amply provided for." As soon as John had done ample justice to the
substantial lunch placed before him, his father said to him, "If you are
not much fatigued, we will take a stroll, and, while I am showing you
the lions, you can be telling me your adventures."

"With all my heart," replied he.

"When we left Kingston harbour in the Delight, we were all in high glee,
in the anticipation of a speedy and pleasant voyage. Our ship was one of
the fastest of her class, well armed, and manned with an active and
spirited crew; so that, to all human appearance, we had little to dread,
either from man or the elements. We had scarcely lost sight of the land,
when the wind died away to a dead calm, and the sea became as smooth and
clear as a mirror, glancing back the reflection of a bright and
cloudless moon. The sails flapped heavily against the masts, as the ship
rolled helpless and unmanageable in the long swell, and the water
dripped from her channels, as she rose again, after dipping them deep
into the sea. All at once a small, dark cloud appeared on the larboard
beam.

"'Oh, it's nothing,' said the mate.

"Not so thought the captain, who fortunately came upon deck at the time.

"'All hands shorten sail!' shouted he. 'Bear a hand! Up foresail!--in
royals and topgallantsails! Brace the yards round to port! Stand by
topsail--haulyards and sheets!'

"These orders were barely carried into effect, when a sudden and
tremendous squall struck the ship. The small sails were clued up, and
the topsailyards on the caps; but the gallant little bark staggered
under the shock, lay over till her gunwale almost touched the water,
struggled for a moment, and then rose again. The squall had overtaken
them with lightning-like rapidity, and was gone again almost as quickly.
A few moments before, and a neater and snugger ship never swam the
water--now, she was almost a wreck aloft. The foretopmast was hanging
over the side, the jib-boom gone, the maintop-gallant-mast snapped short
above the step, and the maintopsail in tatters. All this desolation had
been the work of a moment; the demon of the storm had passed, and all
was again calm.

"'Thank Heaven it's no worse!' said the captain. 'Two minutes sooner,
and we should all have been lost! Better lose a few sticks than the ship
herself. But this will be a warning to you, Mr Rogers,' said he to the
mate, 'not to be foolhardy for the future.'

"All hands were immediately set to work to clear away the wreck of the
spars, and were busily employed all night. It was late in the forenoon
before the wreck of the foretopmast was launched clear of the ship, and
a new maintopsail bent. During this interval, a light breeze had sprung
up, and a strange sail hove in sight to windward. The captain mounted
the rigging, and got his glass to bear upon her, and, after a long and
anxious look, paced the quarterdeck with hurried and irregular steps,
glancing uneasily aloft, and hailing the men to bear a hand with their
mast-ropes.

"'Rogers,' said he to the mate, at the same time handing him the glass,
'take a look at that craft, and tell me what you think of her.'

"The mate looked long and carefully at her, and, returning the glass to
his superior, looked doubtingly and inquiringly in his face, and shook
his head--

"'I don't like the look of her at all, sir.'

"'Nor I, Rogers; however, we'll say nothing about her just now. If the
air continues so light, it will take her some time to reach us, and we
must make good use of the opportunity. Hurry the men with the topmast.
Heaven send us a cloudy night! As soon as it is dark, we'll alter our
course.'

"By dint of hard work, and a suspicion among the crew that the stranger
was an unpleasant neighbour, we were all ataunto, as the sailors call
it, before midnight, and were standing away before the light breeze. At
daylight, the captain's glass swept the horizon, and soon rested upon
the object of his search. A long and steady gaze seemed to confirm both
him and the mate in their first suspicion. The vessel, now considerably
nearer us, had been evidently watching our motions, and was as evidently
in pursuit of us. She was a long, low, rakish-looking brig, creeping
along before the faint breeze, and aiding its efforts with her sweeps.

"'It's the Dare-Devil, sir!' said the mate, his cheek paling as he
spoke; 'I know her now by the black fiddlehead, and her mast-heads
black. A bloodier pirate never swam. The Lord have mercy upon us, for
_he_ won't!'

"'Call the hands aft!' said the captain.

"The men assembled on the quarterdeck in stern silence. They seemed to
anticipate what was to follow; but it was evident theirs was not the
quietness of fear, but of determination.

"'My lads,' said the captain, 'that stranger, we have every reason to
believe, is a pirate. If there had been anything of a breeze, we might
have escaped; but now, our only chance is to show her what mettle we're
made of. You will have to fight for your lives; for so soon as they set
foot on this deck, they will murder every soul on board. What say you,
my lads? Will you die like dogs, or fighting like brave men?'

"A simultaneous cheer from the crew was the only reply, and they were
immediately dismissed to prepare for the impending conflict.

"'Ah, there she shows her teeth at last,' said the captain, as a puff of
smoke burst from the brig, followed by the flash and report of a gun,
the ball from which struck the water some distance from us.

"'It is of no use our attempting to escape, Rogers!' said the captain;
'he is gaining upon us fast. We will not fire a gun till he is close
aboard of us, and till every shot will tell.'

"The guns were all loaded with grape, the fire-arms placed in readiness
on deck, and the men ordered to lie down at their quarters, and not to
fire a shot till the order was given. Meantime, the pirate rapidly
approached, and her shot began to tell upon our rigging and sails. The
Delight kept steadily on her course; but her yards, which had been
nearly square, were drawn quietly forward, one by one, to port. The
pirate was sweeping up at some little distance on our quarter, and had
hailed us to heave to directly, or she would sink us. 'Now, my lads,'
said our captain, 'be cool and steady. I'm going to cross his hawse: as
soon as the guns bear upon him, blaze away.'

"The helm was put a-starboard, and, as we crossed the bows, we poured
our grape into him. The fire was not such a _raking_ one as we expected;
for he was too quick for us, and sheered to port almost as soon as
ourselves; but it was evident that we had almost sickened him, for he
widened his distance, and before night was almost hull-down to windward
of us.

"'I hope we have got rid of our troublesome customer, sir,' said Rogers
to the captain.

"'Don't halloo till you're through the wood,' replied he; 'we haven't
done with him yet, I'm afraid. I'm much mistaken if he is not trying to
play a game at humbug with us; as soon as it is dark, he will edge down
upon us, and endeavour to take us by surprise. We will keep the men at
quarters all night, and haul close to the wind, on the starboard tack,
when darkness comes on.'

"At nightfall strict orders were given that all the lights should be put
out, except that in the binnacle; and the ship's course was altered. We
were in great hopes that by these means we should elude the pursuit of
the pirate; for, though the breeze was still light, the night was dark
and cloudy, and the mate, after sweeping the horizon with his
night-glass, said, in a joyous tone, to the captain--

"'I think we have outwitted him, sir; I see no signs of him now.'

"'Let _me_ look,' said the captain. 'Holloa! What is that dark body to
the northward? That infernal brig, I'll be bound. How could he have seen
us?'

"As he spoke, his eye glanced aloft, and there, to his great surprise,
was a light shining at the mizentop-gallantmasthead!

"'What light is that?' shouted he; 'who has dared to disobey the orders?
Jump up there, one of you boys, and douse it. Rogers, there's a traitor
on board.'

"'Then Jose is the man, sir!'

"The Delight had lost a few hands in harbour, by fever; and, a few days
before she sailed, a Portuguese seaman had been shipped to supply the
place of one of them. He was an active, able-bodied fellow, and produced
excellent certificates from former ships; but there was something
extremely forbidding and repulsive in his countenance, and the mate was
very unwilling to obey Captain Forbes's order to receive him on board.
He was a man of few words; but his eyes were constantly wandering, with
a furtive glance, round the ship; and, when he did speak, it was
generally to express his fear of pirates, and to inquire into the means
of defence of the Delight. On the evening before the ship sailed, he
went on shore as one of the boat's crew, but did not make his appearance
again till next morning. For this breach of duty he made some plausible
excuse, which was unfortunately accepted. It was afterwards proved that
he was one of the crew of the pirate, and had been employed to gain all
the information in his power, as to our guns, time of sailing, &c., and
to make private signals, if necessary.

"The brig kept hovering about till daylight, and then bore down upon us,
and, when within range, fired a shot across our bows, to make us heave
to. To this salutation no answer was returned, but we stood steadily on,
as before, reserving our fire for closer quarters. Shot after shot was
dropped into us, but still not a hand was moved on board. At last the
pirate came within hail, and swore with the most horrid oaths that he
would sink us, if we did not immediately heave to.

"'Now, my lads, stand by!' The men were on their feet in a moment.
'Starboard a little! Fire!' Again our grape rattled into her, and we
could judge, by the bustle on her decks, and by the loud cries and
execrations that reached our ears, that our fire had been a destructive
one. Two of our men were killed by his discharge, and our boat amidships
smashed to pieces; but he again sheered off, and, shaking his sails in
the wind, dropped slowly astern. Again our hopes revived, but only to be
miserably disappointed. When he was beyond the range of our short
carronades, he kept dropping shot after shot into us, with deadly
precision from his long gun.

"'Rogers,' said the captain, 'if this game lasts long, it is all up with
us; unless the breeze freshens, we shall all be murdered like so many
sheep.'

"In vain did we endeavour to come to closer quarters with him; as we
shortened sail, so did he. Our guns were useless,
while--crash--crash--crash--followed each remorseless shot from his long
twelve. The breeze, instead of freshening, gradually died away to a
calm, and we lay entirely at his mercy, for he kept sweeping round us,
and, unhurt himself, inflicted deadly injuries upon us. At last, we lay
a complete wreck upon the water; our gallant captain was killed, and
fifteen of the men either dead or desperately wounded, and the gallant,
but exhausted remnant of the crew were persuaded by the mate to consent
to surrender. Our colours were accordingly hauled down; yet the pirate
for some time paid no attention to this mark of submission on our part,
but seemed determined to gratify his thirst for slaughter, by putting
his threat of sinking us into execution. At last he ceased firing, and,
sweeping up on our quarter, hailed to order the captain of the Delight
on board.

"'Our captain is killed, and we have not a boat left that can swim.'

"'Oh, then, if you can't come to me, I must go and fetch you!' A boat,
well manned, soon pushed off from the pirates, and in a few minutes
dashed alongside of us. The first man who boarded us was the captain, as
ferocious-looking a monster as I ever beheld; and his followers, who
swarmed up the side after him, were, in appearance, worthy of their
leader. They rushed on board with cries of exultation and rage,
brandishing their cutlasses, and shouting, 'Down with them!' 'Cut them
down, and make an end of them at once!' And they were proceeding to put
their threats into execution, when they were checked in a moment by the
loud and commanding tones of the captain. 'Stand back, all of you! I'll
shoot the first man that lays a hand upon them! No, no, my lads; it
would be letting the rascals off too cheap to kill them at once; we'll
despatch them in pairs at a time; there are twelve of them, so we shall
have six days' sport instead of one.' This proposal was received with
shouts of savage joy by the crew. 'We'll keep these two till the last,'
continued he, pointing to the mate and myself, 'that they may have the
pleasure of seeing all their comrades walk the plank before them. But,
come my lads, be smart; we have no time to lose; put all these fellows
on board our little hooker; and then we'll see what's to be done below.'
We were all immediately forced into the boat, and rowed on board the
brig, where some of us were put in irons, and others lashed to ringbolts
on the deck. The boat then returned, and the work of plunder commenced;
and for some hours the pirate crew were busily employed in transferring
to the brig all the valuables they could lay their hands upon on board
the Delight. When they had taken everything available, they scuttled the
ship, and left her, and obliged us, with many taunts and blows, to watch
for the catastrophe. It was a heartrending sight to us all to see our
gallant little ship gradually settling in the water, rolling deep and
uneasily, till at last, after a heavy lurch, she dipped her bulwarks low
into the water, and, struggling in vain to recover herself, sank to rise
no more. A groan of horror burst from us all; we felt as if our last
connecting link with humanity was broken; we were left powerless in the
hands of monsters in human form, but with the spirit of demons. Alas!
our fears were but too well verified: that very evening two of our poor
shipmates, after having been tormented in the most savage manner, were
blindfolded, and compelled to walk out upon a plank launched from the
gangway, from the end of which they fell into the sea, shrieking with
horror as they fell. As their bodies plunged heavily into the smooth
water, the captain turned to us with a savage sneer, and said--

"'They were too well fed by half; when it comes to your turn, you won't
make such a disturbance amongst the fishes.'

"But why need I dwell longer upon these horrors? For five succeeding
days, the same murderous scene was enacted; we were fed on bread and
water, and tormented in every way that cruelty could suggest, and then
had the horror of witnessing the death of our companions, and of
anticipating the same cruel fate for ourselves. At last the mate and I
were the only survivors, and we were brought to the gangway, to mount
the same fatal plank which had been the instrument of death to our
unfortunate shipmates. Our eyes were blindfolded, and, weak and
exhausted as we were, we looked forward to death as an easy and happy
release from our miseries. We bade each other farewell.

"'Our murderers allow us one blessing, Rogers,' said I--'to die
together.'

"That remark saved my life.

"'A blessing is it?' exclaimed the captain; 'then it's one that I'll be
hanged if you enjoy. You shall go to the devil by yourself. Take the
handkerchief off that sentimental gentleman's eyes, and let him see his
dear friend take a leap in the dark. He can moralise about it till
to-morrow evening.'

"Poor Rogers! I did indeed feel deserted, when the sullen plunge
announced that the sea had closed over its prey! To this refinement in
cruelty on the part of the pirate, however, I eventually owed my
deliverance. Slowly and painfully did the first hours of that night pass
over my head. My thoughts constantly recurred to the horrors I had
witnessed, and to the dreadful doom that awaited me on the morrow. The
tears filled my eyes as I prayed for forgiveness of my past sins, and
for strength to support me through the coming trial. The brig was
tumbling about on the almost calm sea, with all sails furled, except the
topgallantsail, which by some chance had broken adrift, and the crew,
not excepting the look-out man, were all asleep, when all at once the
report of a gun came booming over the water. The sound acted like magic
upon the slumbering crew--they were on the alert in a moment--the sails
were set with wonderful quickness--the sweeps were manned, and the
little schooner rippling through the water. Next morning we had
distanced the stranger considerably, and the pirate was in great hopes
of escaping; but the breeze freshened, and before noon the frigate, for
such she proved to be, had gained so much upon us, that her shot began
to tell upon us. I was now hurried below, and a sentry was placed over
me; the captain ordering him to blow my brains out if I attempted to
escape, and adding, 'I'll settle his account by and by.' It was with
impatience almost amounting to agony that I listened to the strange
medley of sounds which reached my ear--the creaking of the sweeps, the
curses and shouts of our crew cheering each other at their work, the
loud report of our guns, and the more faint and distant sound of those
of the frigate; and I prayed for deliverance--prayed that some lucky
ball might find its way into the cabin, and put an end to my suspense
and to my miseries at once. At last the sound of the sweeps ceased. I
heard the rattling of blocks and the sound of running feet. I felt, by
the motion of the vessel, that some alteration was made in her course,
and then--I burst into tears--I heard a voice hailing the brig! I felt
that the hour of my deliverance was at hand, and I breathed a prayer of
silent thankfulness to Heaven. Again there was a movement on deck, the
brig laid over to the breeze, and a loud shout burst from her crew, as
they discharged the guns. Merciful powers! she had escaped; and my
spirit sank within me. But the avenger of blood was behind us, and his
voice spoke in the thunder of his guns. I heard a crash upon deck, then
the noise of something coming down from aloft, followed by the muttered
curses of my sentry, as he exclaimed, 'The gaff is gone!' The report of
the frigate's guns now became louder and louder, and the little brig
absolutely staggered, when the grape-shot rattled against her sides. Her
crew, however, seemed to be fighting with the desperation of madmen, for
they maintained a warm fire. At last all was silent on board; the firing
ceased, and not even a voice could be heard. Presently I heard the dash
of oars; then the grating of a boat against the vessel's side; then loud
and angry voices, and afterwards all the sounds of a desperate conflict.
I looked up the companion--my sentinel had deserted his post, to join in
the fray. I saw the boat's crew of the frigate engaged in a deadly
struggle with the pirates. I rushed over to them, and had just joined
them, calling for help, when the pirate captain seized me by the
shoulder, and raised his tomahawk to cleave me to the deck. Weak as I
was, I must have fallen a victim to his fury, had not a gallant sailor
rushed between us, and inflicted a severe wound upon his upraised arm. I
saw my brave deliverer fall immediately afterwards by a pistol-shot; but
he was well avenged; for the next moment the pirate fell lifeless on his
body. I saw no more. I was carried, in a state of insensibility, on
board the frigate, and it was long before I recovered from the effects
of my severe discipline on board the pirate. As soon as I was
sufficiently recovered, I wished to hasten homewards immediately; but I
was obliged to remain, to give evidence against the crew of the
piratical brig, all of whom, with the exception of three or four,
suffered the extreme penalties of the law. And now, my dear father, my
tale is at an end, and grateful am I to the merciful Providence which
has restored me to your arms."

"My dear, dear son!--doubly endeared to me by the dangers you have
undergone on my account--I am thankful that my altered fortunes now
enable me to gratify what I know to be the dearest wish of your heart.
Go to her, John--go to Miss Winterton--she is worthy of you: no longer
restrained by the clog of poverty, you may freely indulge the feelings
of your heart."

As the father and son were walking along the road, they saw two men
approaching them at some distance.

"Whom have we here?" said John Hamilton.

"One of them is old Willie Duncan, a cottar of mine; and who the lame
man is that is with him I know not. By the by, I heard that his son was
returned from sea; perhaps that's the man."

Willie Duncan respectfully saluted his master, when he approached, and
said--

"I was just bringing my son to----"

"Good heavens!" exclaimed John Hamilton, gazing earnestly at the
disabled man; "it cannot be--yes, it is--my brave deliverer! My gallant
fellow," continued he, shaking him heartily by the hand, "how rejoiced I
am to see you, and to have an opportunity to prove my gratitude to you!
I heard you were dead--how did you escape?"

"Why, blow me, your honour, if you didn't take me quite aback. I
couldn't make you out at first--you're twice the man you were when I
see'd you on the pirate's deck; and I'd never no thoughts of falling in
with you so near home. I'm right glad, however, to see your honour once
more."

"Duncan," said Hamilton, senior, with a trembling voice, "I owe you a
debt I can never repay. You lost your limb in saving the life of my
son--it shall be my endeavour to make the loss to you as light as
possible."

"And is the gentleman the son of my father's good master? Then a fig for
the leg!--it couldn't have been lost in a better cause. And, as for
gratitude, sir, you owe me none; his honour, here, would have done the
same for me, if the case had been reversed, like--if he'd been the
sailor, and I'd been the gemman."

"Well, well, my good fellow--no doubt--we won't argue on that point;
only tell me how I can serve you, and I will do so, to the best of my
ability."

"Why, your honour, I wants for nothing just now. I've got a lot of
prize-money, and my father's snug roadstead to anchor in; but, if your
honour likes to give me a few ounces of baccy, I won't say but what I'll
be obligated to you."

"A modest request, certainly," said Mr Hamilton, laughing; "but we must
give you something better than tobacco, and as much of that as you like
into the bargain. Come, William, as your son won't speak, you must do so
for him. Tell me how I can best serve him."

A whispering consultation here took place between father and son, which
was put a stop to by the latter addressing Mr Hamilton in a sheepish,
confused manner, twirling his hat in his hands at the same time, and
feeling the rim all around, as if to ascertain that it was all there.

"Why, your honour, as your honour's so kind----Blow'd if I can speak
about it, father! You see, your honour, I'm a first-rate hand at a yarn
on a Saturday night; but, somehow, my jawing-tacks gets all bedevilled
when I begins to speak about _she_."

"And who's she?" said Mr Hamilton, laughing--"some old sweetheart that
has been waiting for you?"

"Why, it's bonny Jean Cameron that was when I went away. She's a widow
now, your honour, and, as I wants to be spliced, and she's no objection,
why, if it's not making too bold, if your honour would let us have one
of your empty cottages, we'd join company at once, and sail together for
the rest of our cruise."

We need hardly say that the sailor's request was cheerfully granted; and
in a few weeks he and his wife were happily settled in a neat cottage,
comfortably and substantially furnished by Mr Hamilton, who likewise
settled upon him an annuity, sufficient to keep him from want, but not
so large as to encourage habits of idleness or dissapation. John
Hamilton was equally successful in his suit; and his union with Ellen
Winterton proved that those who have been tried by adversity are best
qualified to enjoy prosperity.



THE PROFESSOR'S TALES.

THE THREE BRETHREN.

  "Together such as brethren are,
  In unity to dwell."


The unity of the three brethren about whom I am going to speak is
complete: some are united in heart and soul, but these are united in
body and frame: closer than the Siamese twins did their union abide,
till, in an evil hour, the winds smote them, and they were no
more--"_Sed stat nominis umbra._" They have left behind them a name and
a record which will not soon perish. They might have said--had speaking
been at all their forte--with Horace, "_Non omnis moriar."_ They shall
live in the recollection of the present, and in the records of future
times--at least it will not be from want of will, if the pages of the
"Tales of the Borders" do not transmit their memorial to late posterity.
The three brethren! you exclaim, quite naturally enough. What! were they
brothers by blood or by marriage--brothers in profession--or, like
Simeon and Levi, in iniquity? We should like to see the mist cleared
away, and the subject made tangible. Well, listen!

The three brethren were three trees, or rather divisions of one tree--as
like each other as one pea is to another--which once stood in the middle
of the high road from Glasgow to Dumfries, upon the banks of the Nith.
People had it that their similarity was so great that it reached the
details of their branches, and even leaves, and that they were in
every--even in the minutest--respect copies or fac-similes of each
other. Nobody living--and far less any one dead--can tell their age.
They saw Oliver Cromwell and his saintly crew march into Scotland; and
beheld, in later times, the Highland host, in the year '45, pass along.
They might have given an old chronicle of ancient times and manners, had
it not been that they probably did not outlive the age of Methuselah.
But

  "Improvisa vis lethi rapuit
  Rapietque gentes."

Destruction came in the shape of a nor'wester, and they are now in the
act of being converted into snuff-boxes, writing-desks, and
dressing-cases, for their old and attached acquaintances and friends;
every one seems more anxious than another to obtain a relic of the
immortal triumvirate--and they are more likely to be remembered with
pleasurable feelings than even were the Triumvirates of ancient Rome.
But now that they have bowed their heads, and given up their roots, it
is proper that some effort should be made to perpetuate their memory;
and who so fit as an old Closeburn man to execute this bold but
praiseworthy task?

The explanation, however, requires a glance at the race of gipsies, one
of whom thus characterises the race:--

  "My bonny lass, I work in brass--
     A tinkler is my station--
  I've travell'd round all Christian ground
     In this my occupation.

  I've ta'en the gold--I've been enroll'd
     In many a noble squadron--
  In vain they search'd, when off I march'd,
     To go and clout the caldron."

The gipsies have now disappeared entirely from the north of Scotland;
even in Fife, the former residence of the gipsy clan Jamphrey, no such
variety of the species is to be found. Their chief residence, as we have
had occasion to say before, is now on the Borders, where, in the village
of Yetholm, and in Langtown, they still maintain a separate clanship.
They still are, and have always been, extremely jealous of the marriage
of any of their daughters, in particular, out of the tribe. Hence the
fact, that almost every third person amongst them labours under some
mental peculiarity or defect. Their male youths enjoy greater latitude;
yet, on their alliance with the Philistine fair, they are usually looked
down upon, and regarded as a kind of amphibious race, who, like the
"Proselytes of the Gate" amongst the Jews, were not admitted into equal
communion. Their children are brought up (at least were so, till of
late) in the most religious contempt of the alphabet. Nor are any moral
principles inculcated, beyond successful thieving--that is, downright
knavery--and dexterity of execution as workmen, whether it be in forming
a ram's horn into a cutty spoon, or in appropriating the fattest hens
from the farmer's bauks. Their women, too, are expert fortunetellers,
and have husbands ready-made for sixpence. They are a fearful, fearless
race, wandering about, in former times, almost during the whole year,
and pitching their tents--in other words, setting their asses to graze,
and themselves to forage--wherever solitude or the tolerance of the
laird or farmer will permit their presence. When Scotland, in general,
and Dumfries-shire in particular, from Criffell to Corsincon, were
densely covered with natural wood, these people divided the woodland
with the fox, the boar, and the wolf, and were extremely expert in
noosing hares, rabbits, and polecats. Theirs was the bow, and ultimately
the long-barrelled gun, for securing the fowls of heaven; and the set
line, liester, and fishing-rod for the tenants of the water.

As was the case with the Roman of old--"_Patres ad insignem deformitatem
puerum cito necaverunt;_" in other words, and in a different tongue,
they put their diseased and deformed offspring to death; and more than
one-half of those which were permitted to survive were killed in a year
or two by harsh usage, cold, and imperfect clothing. Thus their youth
which did survive these manifold trials and risks rose up into man and
womanhood, proud, hardy, strong, well-seasoned plants, exhibiting much
muscular power and symmetry in the male, and occasionally uncommon
beauty and figure in the female form.

The "wild gazelle exulting" and bounding on the hills of Judah was not
more elastic in its motion, nor penetrating and fascinating in its
glance, than were many of the fairer wives and daughters of these hordes
of part mendicant, part predatory, and part artist wanderers. Their
chief resorts, in ancient times, were to the banks of the Hermitage and
Slitterick, near Hawick; to the banks of the Dee, near Kirkcudbright;
and, above and beyond all, to the woods of Colliston, and the linns of
Balachun, on the Nith, in Dumfries-shire; and it is to this last
locality that the following narrative particularly refers.

It was about the middle of the month of October that a packman, or
pedlar, with an enormous chest laid transverse on his shoulders, was
seen wending his way up the banks of the Nith, from Manchester to
Glasgow. He had hoped to have reached Thornhill, then an exceedingly
small village, before dusk; but this being his first migration in this
direction, he found himself so surrounded and obstructed by the river
Nith on the one hand, the linns of Balachun on the other, and an almost
impenetrable wood in front, that night came upon him, dark and moonless,
whilst still pushing his way through brambles, thorns, and every species
of tangling and perplexing underwood. At last, despairing of extricating
himself, and terrified, at the same time, by the roaring of waters,
howling of wild beasts, and hooting of owls, he extricated his shoulders
from the pack-bands, and, selecting as dry and soft an apartment as
circumstances permitted, he set himself down on the grassy turf, with a
birch branch for his canopy, and the old stump of a tree for his lean.
In a little time he was alarmed by the cries of what appeared to be a
child in the act of being cruelly murdered. Mungo Clark (for such was
the packman's name) rose, and, advancing a few steps in the direction of
the now faintly-emitted sounds, found a hare in the act of expiring of
strangulation by means of a noose, or girn, formed of strong wire, and
placed so as to intercept a little footpath made by the feet of the wild
animals of the forest. Mungo was in the act of disengaging the dead
creature from its executioner, the noose, when he heard the rustling as
if of a lion on the spring, very near him, and all at once he found
himself in the iron grip of a customer with whom he had no wish, on
this occasion at least, to deal.

"And wha are ye," were the sounds which, in a hollow and harsh tone,
first greeted his ears--"and wha are ye, man, wha hae made yer bed this
dark night wi' the howlets and the wull-cats--ye wha meddle wi' what
naething concerns ye, and burn yer fingers in ither folk's kail-pats?
Speak, man, and dinna keep me blethering here, for I hae got ither fish
to fry, I trow, than standing here palavering wi' sic as you--come,
speak, body, or I'll send ye, pack an' a', sixty yards lower into the
bumbling pool o' Balachun Linn."

Mungo Clark was neither soldier nor belted knight, nor was he armed for
any deadly conflict; but he was not accustomed to submit without
resentment to such rough usage.

"Unhand me, rascal!" was the packman's reply; and making, at the same
time, a lateral jerk, he twisted himself fairly out of the assailant's
grasp.

A whistle was immediately set up, and in an instant our traveller was
surrounded by four strong, ablebodied men, who immediately flashed the
light side of a dark lantern full in his face.

"Oh ho!" said one of the newly-assembled assailants; "this is neither
the deil, nor the factor, nor the wood-keeper, nor the old boy,
Colliston himsel, but just plain Mungo Clark, Widow Clark o' Penpont's
son, who has been at Manchester feathering his pack, for the first time,
wi' all manner o' varieties; such as Bibles, psalm-books, ribands,
shawls, and waistcoat-pieces. Why, by the flesh-pots o' Yetholm--and
that's a terrible oath--we'll adopt Brother Clark into our number, and
teach him how to snare game, and spear salmon, instead of drivelling
away his time and strength under the pressure of a load" (trying to
raise the pack) "which would break the back-bone of an elephant."

The matter appeared to Mungo to be settled without any consent of his,
asked or obtained; so, knowing somewhat of the character and habits of
this wandering and peculiar race, he was compelled to make a virtue of
necessity, and, raising his pack again on his shoulders, to descend with
them into the very lowest depths of the linns of Balachun. Even at
noonday, on the 23d of June, the Pass, as it is called, is dreary, dark,
and dreadful; but now, under the cover of night, and with no other
guidance than a small lantern, which scarcely made darkness visible,
Mungo hesitated ere he would commit himself to the crossing of a fearful
gully, and the walking along the face of a rock, or scaur, scarcely
eight inches wide, and overhanging a fearful pool, well known by the
terrible appellation of "Hell's Caldron." The party at last arrived at a
small grassy plot, encircled on the one side by the roaring stream
called Clauchry Burn, and on the other by an amphitheatre of steep,
high, and overhanging rocks, fringed and darkened in with brushwood and
furze, and guarded, at the upper and lower extremities, by the rocks,
which, after receding a little to make room for this grassy retreat,
closed in again upon the current, and prevented all _easy_ entrance or
escape. Soon after Mungo's arrival, he discovered a large kettle,
boiling and bubbling, in a crevice of the cliff, suspended from a
transverse beam; and beheld around it, now that a parcel of sticks and
dry leaves were kindled, a most picturesque and motley group--women,
children, men, boys, and lasses, of all hues, aspects, and sizes, were
scattered about in profusion; and, as the flame flashed back from the
red sandstone of the linn, their faces glared on Mungo with a demoniac
expression. It seemed the very picture of Pandemonium; and yet the
hearty laugh, the bold oath, and the occasional inquiry, bespoke the
inhabitants to be at least one remove from devils. Mungo was desired to
rest him and his load on the apron of the rock, and compelled, without a
nay-say, to unstrap his pack, and expose his goods, not (seemingly) for
sale, but for plunder. This was not the way, assuredly, to turn the
penny to advantage, but what can one say, "_durum telum
necessitas?_"--there was no avoiding the spoliation. To be sure, the
king, or leader of the gipsy tribe--amounting probably to not less than
forty or fifty persons--hinted in his ear that he should not be a loser
at last; but, in the meantime, to his no small mortification, he saw his
shawls, napkins, stockings, and waistcoat-pieces, making the round of
the company without ceremony, and forgetting, like the dove from the
ark, to return whence they had fled. The pack having been thus
ransacked, and the pot having given audible intimation for some time of
its preparatory doings, the king--for such he was--the notorious Donald
Faa, with his three sons, Duncan, Cuthbert, and _Donnert_ Davie,
together with the king's fair daughter, Helen Yetholm Faa, squatted down
on the grass, and without the help of forks, made a hearty meal on
hares, chickens, turkeys, geese, and half-a-dozen brace of partridges,
which might have rejoiced the heart even of a Dominie Sampson. The other
members of the community seemed to acknowledge the deputed authority of
a young man of good features, and an athletic and genteel appearance,
who went by the name of the Squire. After _eating_ had had its fair
share of devoted and unremitted attention, a barrel, of considerable
dimensions, began to make its way downward from amidst the recesses of
this water-worn and excavated rock; and a tub being hurled sideways into
the service, boiling water was procured, and sugar in no ordinary
quantity commingled; and, by the help of a ladle and several chopin
decanters, the whole mass of Egyptian humanity was stirred up into song,
laugh, scream, inebriety, quarrel, battle, stupor, and insensibility.
Our friend Mungo had no objections whatever to the feast, or to the
means by which it was prolonged. He was afterwards notorious for his
drinking habits, insomuch that his observation on this occasion is still
repeated in the neighbourhood of the place of his nativity. When
questioned by the king respecting the size of his native village,
Penpont, his reply was--"It is an exceeding great city." This being
questioned, his proof was equally ingenious, and descriptive of his
habits--"Why, Nineveh took Jonah three days to travel through it,
whereas Penpont generally takes me _seven_." He referred manifestly to
his habit of stopping and drinking at every petty inn and public-house
in the village! The jest told exceedingly in his favour. Mungo, however,
in spite of his losses and crosses, had a noble night of it, as he
afterwards said, with the gipsies, and awakened next morning from his
grassy couch to cool his aching temples in the stream, and restore his
stomach by a hair of the dog that had bit him. He then observed that the
two sons, Duncan and Cuthbert, but not Davie (yclept Donnert, from his
peculiarity of mental constitution), were absent, and that their father
not only exhibited no surprise respecting his sons' absence, but refused
to give any account to his guest of the cause of it. Meanwhile, Mungo
had an opportunity of marking the appearances of the various objects
around him somewhat more distinctly than he had been able to do on the
preceding evening. Blankets, supported by forked poles, old clothes and
rags of every description, formed a kind of nightly shelter for the
common herd; whilst the royal head reposed in the midst of his male
progeny, on the lap of a projecting rock, with a few hare-skins for his
pillow, and a corn-sack for his coverlet. His fair daughter's bedchamber
was somewhat more removed beyond a projecting corner of the winding
linn, and she was protected from observation by the branches of the
overhanging trees being drawn closely down over her, and by what had
once, in all probability, been a soldier's tent, but which was now
miserably rent, and unweather-worthy. It was manifest that this child
was the darling and care of a fond father; for she was not only provided
in a superior manner, but, by the position of his own sleeping
apartment, she was protected from all intercourse with the other members
of the tribe. Honest nature! thou art too many, even for a gipsy life;
and even here parental affection hallowed and refined what was unseemly
and revolting. I say revolting; for, in an obscure corner, and under the
shelter of a hazel-bush, lay a figure, emaciated with disease, and
probably with dissipation and crime, groaning in agony, and regarded
with no more sympathy by the great mass of the tribe than if he had been
a strangled hare or a mangled horse. There was something indeed terrible
in this sight. True, Helen Faa did all that she was permitted, but that
was but little, to alleviate his sufferings; but death was in his eye
and in his throat--he made one great effort to rise, grasped a branch
convulsively, and ceased to live. Mungo would willingly have retired,
even with the losses he had sustained, but he was not
permitted--probably because old Donald conjectured that information
would be immediately lodged against him, and he would be compelled to
relinquish one of his strongest holds in the south of Scotland.
Meantime, Mungo had an opportunity of beholding more closely the female
portion of this society; and was exceedingly struck--for he was yet a
young man and unmarried--with the really handsome faces and well-formed
persons which characterised the whole; but far and away above all the
rest shone Miss Helen Yetholm Faa--for thus was she designated by the
clan--in the pride of health, youth, and black, or rather brown,
eyes--those weapons of female onset which are sharper than a two-edged
sword, as Mungo used to sing or say afterwards, in a song which he
composed on the occasion:--

  "They were jet, jet black, and like a hawk,
  And wadna let a body be."

All this seemed to be fully appreciated by the Squire, who evidently
paid the young princess particular attention, and seemed, at the same
time, sufficiently jealous of any foreign interference with the object
of his attention. Donnert Davie was a stout, ill-made, squint-eyed
being, who stammered in his speech, and seemed particularly useful in
carrying on the culinary operations, under the direction of Helen, in
the retreat. He felled wood for the fire, carried water to the kettle,
heated cow and sheep horns in the flame; brought round about and close
to the operator old pots, pans, and trenchers, which had been obtained
to be clouted, clasped, and mended. He was, in short, a kind of gipsy
factotum; and when "the house affairs did not call him thence," he would
associate with the stranger, stammering out such incoherent inquiries
as--"Whare been?--What do?--What do?--Mother dead?--Mother dead?--
Yes--yes--yes--true--true--true"--muttering to himself, and repeating
the same monosyllable half-a-dozen times. His sister Helen was
manifestly kind to him, and would not permit any of the company to
insult or ill-use him.

Night arrived, but with it not Duncan or Cuthbert; and it was not till
late on the following evening that they made their appearance, and with
them came silver and gold in abundance: consequently Mungo Clark's
claims were satisfied; and he was informed that, next morning, as they
were all about to decamp, he might pursue his journey homewards; but
about the following dawn, an authoritative voice from the top of the
precipice summoned the whole party to a surrender. One figure stood
prominently forward, looking over the rock; and Donnert Davie, whose
blunderbuss always lay charged beside him, immediately fired, and the
figure came tumbling down headlong, and sunk in the yawning abyss of
boiling water. In a word, the whole party, after a most determined
resistance, were taken prisoners by a military party obtained from
Dumfries; and it being proved against Duncan and Donald Faa that they
had stolen some cattle from Dalswinton Mains, and sold them on the sands
of Dumfries--as also against Donnert Davie, that he had shot the
serjeant who commanded on the occasion--the whole three brothers were
tried, condemned, and sentenced to be executed, _in terrorem_, near the
spot where their depredations had been committed. As there were three
persons to execute, and the famous tree already referred to had three
branches, they appeared to the sheriff to be destined for each other;
and accordingly all the three were hung at the same time on the same
tree, which has ever since retained the appellation of "The Three
Brethren."

Old Donald, his fair daughter, Mungo Clark, Squire Cockburn, and the
rest, were set at liberty; but the gipsies were conveyed by a military
escort across the Borders; and I have been given to understand that the
Squire, who was the young laird of Glenae, after considerable opposition
from the old father, was married to fair Helen Yetholm Faa; and that he
was the happy husband of the fair dame who used afterwards to go about
the country in disguise, attending in gipsy garb at weddings, kirns, and
merry-meetings, and giving origin to the well-known reel--"Auld Glenae."


THE MISTAKE RECTIFIED.

"Now," said the traveller, as he wandered up one of those retired
Highland glens, which characterise and beautify the Grampian range, "I
shall once more visit my dear father and mother; and my sister, now
woman grown; and, what is more, my sweet Helen M'Donald, who used to
gather the mountain berries along with me, and pursue the little kids
and lambs. Ah, Helen was only about thirteen years old when I left; she
will now be eighteen; a full-grown beautiful woman, I have no doubt. I
wonder if old Andrew, her grandfather, be still living; he used to tell
me such tales of Prince Charlie, and Prestonpans, and Culloden, that my
hair yet almost stands erect at the recollection of them. And then there
was Euphemia M'Gregor, his son's wife, the mother of my dear Helen; and
Oscar and Fingal, my father's faithful attendants and servants: and we
had such fun during the long winter nights, when the sheep were in a
place of safety, and the door was barred, and the peat-fire was burning
clear, and the very cat and kitten enjoyed the cheery fireside--such
questions and commands, such guessing and forfeiting, and riding round
the fire on a besom, and holding one's mouth full of water to discharge
on the person's face who should first laugh at our grotesque gestures
and looks: but night is approaching whilst I linger by the way--my whole
heart heaves to behold once more the sweet home of my youth and
innocence."

Thus said, or thought aloud, a young man, seemingly about twenty-two
years of age, as he ascended Glen----and approached the thatched
shieling which stood on the margin of a small mountain stream, which
wended its mazes along the tortuous glen. He had been five years, come
the time, absent from his mountain home, and had, during that period,
endured and encountered a variety of fortune. He sung as he went along--

  "A light heart and thin pair of breeches,
  Goes through the world, brave boys!"

switching the bent and heather-bells with his cane, and treading with a
step as elastic as was his bosom. At last, just as the sun was tinging
with his departing ray the top of the highest mountain in the
neighbourhood, he turned the corner of a projecting rock, and came at
once into full and distinct view of his home. It was then grey twilight,
and objects began to assume an indistinct appearance. Walking by the
side of the stream, as if meditating, there appeared a figure wrapped up
in a Highland plaid. It immediately struck the young sailor that this
was his sister; and in order to give her what is called an agreeable
surprise, he stepped aside unperceived by her, and stood concealed
behind a projecting cliff, which the stream had stripped bare of soil in
its passing current. The figure came nearer and nearer, and then,
sighing deeply, uttered some sound, which his ear could not catch. At
last, tears and sobs followed, and he heard the words most distinctly
pronounced--"Alas, I can never truly love him! I shall be the most
wretched of women! But he whom I loved as angels love--oh, he, my own
dear William M'Pherson, is dead and gone, and I can never see him more."

"But you can though, my own dear Helen;" and in an instant he held her
lifeless and motionless in his arms. She had uttered just one awful
scream, which was re-echoed by the surrounding cliffs, and had ceased to
feel or know anything connected with the living world. Alas! she was
dead, and he was distracted. He ran to the house, calling aloud for
help; but every one of its inmates, even the mother who bore him, fled
from his presence, uttering ejaculations, intimating the greatest terror
at his presence. In vain did he protest with tears--I am your son and no
other--I am Willie M'Pherson, your lost boy! His words bore no
conviction along with him. Avaunt, foul fiend! Avaunt, in the name of
God and the Holy Trinity--trouble me not--trouble me not; my dear child
is in heaven; and thou, foul spirit, art permitted for a time to assume
his shape. His sister, too, was equally incredulous, and his father had
not yet returned from the hill. What was to be done? Helen M'Donald was
in all probability dead, or dying, helpless and alone, and yet no one
would come to her assistance. At last, Oscar and Fingal made their
appearance in advance of his father; and though they barked at first
upon his naming them, they immediately ran up to him, and jumped upon
his back, his neck, his head, his whole person. They seemed in as much
danger of expressing joy as poor Helen had been of dying of fearful
surprise.

"Stand back," said the delighted and believing father to his wife, who
absolutely clung to his knees to prevent his advance--"stand back,
woman; d'ye think Fingal and Oscar would caress the foul fiend in that
manner? Na--na--na. Ha! ha! ha!" And he fell upon his son's shoulders,
weeping and crying convulsively.

"My father--my dear, dear father."

"My son--my lost, my only, my restored son," was the response.

But Helen, in an instant, brought the whole party, consisting of father,
mother, sister, and son, to her aid: a light was procured and held over
her face; her bosom was bared, and rubbed; her forehead had water
plentifully poured upon it from the stream; and, at last, symptoms of
returning life appeared. Oscar and Fingal, in the meantime, had licked
Helen's face, and neck, and shoulders, all over; and whether from any
virtue in the peculiar touch of their tongues, or from the natural
expiry of the trance, Helen breathed heavily--her bosom heaved; William
looked on her cheeks, and they were flushed with red. In a moment he had
her in his arms. Helen, for some time, suffered exquisite bodily
torture; but was at last capable of having the truth made gradually
known to her. She said surely she had been dreaming, as she had often
done, and that she was still surely asleep, and that she would waken at
last, as she had done before, to a dreadful perception of the reality.
William M'Pherson still continued to clasp and assure Helen of his
personal identity. But, even when convinced of the reality of William's
presence, Helen did not evince that degree of happiness which might have
been expected; she sat stupified and passive, and seemingly insensible
to everything around her; her mind was evidently wandering to a
disagreeable subject. However, she was prevailed upon to return with the
family into the house, and, worn out and fatigued, she was soon after
put to rest in an adjoining apartment.

In the meantime, the young sailor was questioned minutely respecting the
reason of his reappearance, after he had been so long reported, and
believed by everybody, to be dead.

Without repeating his answer in his own words, which were interlarded
with sea phrases, we may state, in general, that it was to the following
purpose:--He had gone to Dundee, with the view of making some small
purchases for the household, when he accidentally fell in with a
recruiting party, who were beating up for marines for the fleet, then
just returned from the capture of the Danish fleet at Copenhagen.
Inexperienced as he was, he was enticed into a public-house on the
shore, and awakened, after a stupor of some hours, on board a British
man-of-war. In a few hours, he was conveyed out to sea, along with
several others, and was conveyed immediately to Spithead. Having it
ultimately put to his choice whether he would stand by a gun, or handle
a musket and a sabre, he chose the former, and was regularly entered as
an ablebodied seaman on board His Majesty's ship the Victory. In her,
along with Admiral Nelson, he sailed for the West Indies, and then
crossed the Atlantic, back to the shores of France. The enemy still
eluding the eagle-eye of Lord Nelson, he sailed for the Mediterranean,
and, after various landings and inquiries, came upon the French fleet,
moored closely inland on the coast of Egypt, at the mouth of the Nile.
He was in the dreadful battle of the Nile, and assisted in rescuing
several who were blown up, but not killed, in the L'Orient. After the
battle, he had promotion, and ultimately prize-money, on account of his
brave and humane conduct, and sailed again for Naples, and latterly in
quest of the Spanish fleet on the coast of Spain. He was close by Nelson
when he was shot by a rifleman from the mast of the ship with which he
had grappled, and saw the fellow who did the deed drop on the deck,
being shot through the heart by a marine on board of Lord Nelson's ship.
After the battle, he was returned to Plymouth, having been wounded in
the leg--a musket-ball had passed through the flesh, and somewhat, but
not greatly, injured the bone. He spent some months in the hospital, and
was then despatched to the coast of France on board the Spitfire. There
he had distinguished himself in cutting out and burning several of the
enemy's craft at Havre; and being again wounded, though slightly, in the
arm, he was put upon the pension list, and allowed to dispose of himself
till his country should again require his services. In these
circumstances, he began to think of his home; and, with some hundreds of
pounds in the bank, and a pension order of about two shillings and
sixpence a-day in his pocket, he arrived at Dundee in a sailing vessel,
and was on his way to his _native glen_ when the reader first became
acquainted with him. When this narrative was finished, his father
retired for an instant, and then appeared with some papers, which he had
extracted from his private depositories. He first read a letter which
purported to come from a king's officer, who signed himself William
Wilson, and who informed his afflicted father that his son had been
induced to go on board a king's ship, to see the arrangements which it
exhibited; but that, in passing from the small boat to the deck, he had
missed a foot, and been drowned. The letter was dated on board the
Spitfire; and mentioned, likewise, that the ship was under sailing
orders for the general rendezvous at Spithead. The poor distracted
parent had come to Dundee, but could obtain no information of his
son--only, about three months after, he heard that a dead body, severely
mutilated, had been thrown out upon the sands of St Andrews; and, on
account of the state of its decomposition, had immediately been interred
in Christian burial-ground. A second pilgrimage to St Andrews was
undertaken by the father and daughter; but nothing satisfactory was
discovered, except that the corpse exhibited marks of having been
dressed in a blue-and-white striped waistcoat, which answered to that in
which he had left Denhead, his home in the Highlands. After this last
discovery, all further inquiry ceased, and the afflicted family
fulfilled the period of their sincere mourning, and things returned
nearly to their usual bearing. But, when father, and mother, and sister
had seemingly got over the worst of their grief, Helen M'Donald still
pined in silence over the recollections of her early companion; and as
she expanded into womanhood, her grief seemed to grow "with her growth;"
and her father became extremely anxious to have Helen properly and
creditably disposed of in marriage.

The son of a small proprietor in the neighbourhood had lately become
laird himself; and, though far exceeding Helen in years, having had
frequent opportunities of seeing her, particularly at church on Sabbath,
he had become enamoured of so much beauty and innocence. Proposals had
been made to the father, which were immediately accepted; and the young
lady had been dealt with, as young ladies in such situations generally
are, by arguments of interest, and worldly comfort, and even grandeur.
First impressions are deep (oh, how deep!); and Helen could not yet
entirely exclude the image of her beloved William from her recollection.
Laird M'Wharry was urgent in his suit--her father, whom she
affectionately loved, was troubled and anxious--her mother, too, pressed
home upon her attention prudential considerations--so, after long delays
and many internal struggles, Helen at last consented to become, but not
till some months afterwards, Mrs or Lady M'Wharry, as the peasantry
styled the laird's wife. It was during her visit (previous to her
marriage) to M'Wharry that the incident took place which thus connects
our narrative, and brings us up to the point of time when William
M'Pherson arrived at Denhead.

William, learning from Helen, as well as from his father and mother, how
matters were situated, suddenly disappeared, and left no means of
tracing the place of his retreat. Days, and even weeks, passed, but no
letter arrived, and no message came. In the meantime, the day appointed
for the marriage approached, and Helen seemed to have made up her mind
to submit to necessity; at least she tried to look cheerful, and put as
good a face upon it as many tears, shed in private, would permit.

Laird M'Wharry was a true Highlander--he had much of that clannish
feeling which is peculiar to the Celt. He was, besides, exceedingly
passionate, and had more than once got into trouble from having used
hasty and unguarded expressions. Nay, he had once been prosecuted in the
Court of Session, and damages had been obtained to a considerable
amount, by one of his servants, or rather slaves, whom he had beat most
unmercifully. In attending a Perth market, he had occasion to ride
homewards, after dark, with a brother proprietor, who had lately bought
an estate in his neighbourhood. This proprietor could not boast a Celtic
name or origin. He was plain Mr Monnipenny, from the town of Kirkcaldy,
in Fife. They had both been drinking during the course of the day, and
were, therefore, more liable to get into some dispute or quarrel.
M'Wharry began by deprecating Mr Monnipenny's horse, whose character the
master supported with some warmth; so, to settle the matter, they both
set off at the gallop, and the fire flashed from the horses' heels as
they passed through Dunkeld. Unfortunately for Laird M'Wharry, however,
about a mile beyond the above town, the saddle-girth gave way, and he
came to the ground head foremost. He was dead when Mr Monnipenny came up
with him. He had suffered a concussion of the brain; and,
notwithstanding that medical aid was immediately obtained from Dunkeld,
nothing could be done.

Poor Helen M'Pherson really mourned his fate; for, though she had no
love for him, she had brought herself to think that it was her duty to
fulfil her promise. But where was he whom her young heart held in its
core? No one knew--no one could tell. Helen had inwardly resolved to
live single on his account, even if no further accounts were received of
William M'Pherson. But her father in the meantime died of a fever; and
her mother was compelled to remove from the farm to the village of
Dunkeld, where, in order to support herself and her lovely daughter, she
set up a little shop with a small sum which her husband and she had
saved, and was highly respected by all who knew her. In the meantime,
the parish schoolmaster, an excise officer, and a wealthy sheep-farmer,
all solicited Helen's hand; but she lent a deaf ear to all these offers,
still thinking, and speaking, and dreaming about her William.

One day, when she was standing at the shop-door, she observed a crowd
gathered about a horse and gig, out of which a person had just been
thrown, and was taken up as was feared lifeless. Helen, from motives of
humanity, rushed into the crowd to make inquiries, and saw the person
carried into an adjoining apothecary's shop; there he was immediately
bled, and, to the infinite satisfaction of all, had begun to recover.
The fact turned out to be, that he had been stunned by the fall on his
head, but no concussion or fracture had taken place. The gentleman, she
learned, had been put to bed, but was mighty unruly, as he insisted upon
pursuing his journey that very evening into the Highlands; and a
post-chaise, with two horses and a steady driver, had been brought to
the apothecary's door, and the traveller was passing into it, with his
head and arm tied up, when all at once Helen uttered a scream, and stood
trembling betwixt him and the conveyance. It was her own William,
returned from sea--to which he had again fled--and making all despatch
to reach Denhead, as he had learned, on his way towards the Highlands,
the fate that had overtaken the bridegroom, Laird M'Wharry. Now, reader,
you and I part--I can do no more for you; for, if you cannot far better
conceive than I can describe what followed, you can be no reader of
mine--you will never have perused the story at all. William was now
comfortably circumstanced, pensioned, and dismissed the service; and the
last time I had a week's fishing at Amalrie, I spent my evenings and
nights under his roof. He is now, like myself, a grandfather; and Helen,
though not quite so young as she was some thirty or forty years ago, is
still in my mind a perfect beauty, and has blessed her husband, during a
pretty long life, with all that kind husbands can expect or obtain by
marriage. She has made him a happy father, and a fond, foolish,
indulgent grandpapa.


DURA DEN; OR, SECOND THOUGHTS ARE BEST.

I took my way, a few days ago, fishing-rod in hand, from Cupar in Fife,
by Dura Den, up towards the healthy and sequestered village of Ceres.
Dura Den was once romantic and secluded. Its brawling stream, which
empties the waters of the upper basin into the Eden, leaped and tumbled
over igneous, and penetrated its way through aqueous, formations, till
it mingled into rejoicing union with the lovely Eden immediately under
the old towers of Spottiswood, and the fine Gothic church of Dairsie.
This deep and beautifully-winding ravine was covered from rock to rock,
on each successively sunny side, by trees of various name and leaf, from
the scented sloe and hawthorn, up to the hazel, the birch, and the oak.
It was a perfect aviary during the spring months. A few wild deer
browsed amidst recesses, and various love-smitten maids and men repaired
to this retreat, to talk of many things which were only interesting to
themselves. The soft projecting sandstone rocks had been water-run into
caves and recesses; and in some of these report had fixed the residence,
for a night at least, of the famous Balfour of Burley, after the affair
of Magus Muir.[A] It is not, however, to this, but to a more recent
occurrence, that I am now about to solicit your attention, after,
however, premising the change which has now been wrought upon this once
rural, secluded, romantic, lovely spot. At the very entrance, there
stands a bone-mill, grinding, with grating activity and horrible crunch,
into powder the mingled bones of man and beast. You have scarcely
escaped from the horrible jarring sound of the modern ogre, than you
come full plump upon a spinning-mill, with as many windows as there are
days in the year. There it stands bestriding the valley like a colossus,
and commanding all the collected energies of the once pure and solitary
stream. Bless me! how it thunders: the very rocks seem to shake under
the whirl of the tremendous machinery; whilst at every open window out
flies in clouds the imprisoned dust and stour. A single door opens, and
the sound maddens on your ear into a screwing torture. It shuts again.
You are greatly relieved by the compressed and imprisoned horror. A
little further up this once delightful den, a pillar of smoke shoots out
on the eye, like an eruption of Mount Vesuvius. This is an evidence that
(as in the formation of this globe) fire has been called upon to assist
water. Again and again, another and another hulking dirty erection fixes
its hideous trail in the lovely localities, till the landscape still
onwards opens upon green fields, all covered and whitened over, _not_
with daisies, but with _yarn_, which has just been removed from the
vitriolic vat. I had essayed here and there to fish, but had not even a
nibble. A little factory urchin, who saw my mistake, immediately
accosted me with--

"Ye needna fish here about, sir, for the fish are a' dead."

"What has _deaded_ them?" said I.

"Oh! I dinna ken, except maybe it's the vitriol--they dinna tak wi' the
vitriol ava."

"No wonder," thought I. "I suspect neither you nor I would tak weel with
such a beverage." So I at once rolled in my line, put up my rod, and was
on the eve of returning, somewhat disappointed, from my forenoon's
ramble, when my attention was attracted by an old, though fresh-looking
man _in his "cruda viridisque senectus_," who was sitting on a bench in
the sunshine, betwixt the door and the window of one of those very neat
and cleanly cottages, which have been erected for the convenience and
accommodation of the mill-spinners, and which, from the name of the
spirited proprietor, has been called "Yoolfield."

"James," said the old man--"come here, James, and tell me what's that ye
waur saying to the gentleman."

"Ou, I was only telling him there waur nae trouts, except _stane
anes_,[B] here."

In the meantime, I had approached the old man's seat, and thinking that
he motioned me to be seated, I at once took my place, as if I had been
an old acquaintance, by his side. It turned out that he was the
grandfather of this urchin, who in a few minutes reappeared with a face
of great comfort and vigorous health; "_causa erat in aperto_"--he had
dined.

"Ye'll be a stranger hereaboots, I mak nae doubt?" said the old man.

I replied that I had been so for some time past; that I had stopped, on
my way north, a day in Cupar, in order to revisit this romantic retreat;
but that it was now sadly changed, and I had not the heart to pursue my
walk any further. I miss, added I, everything which I expected to see:
the solitude, the green banks, the trees, the pure waters, the yellow
trouts, the all of innocence and nature by which this den was marked,
ere these vile spinning-jennies had entered, with noise, confusion, and
defilement in their train.

"And so," said the aged Nestor, "ye are up in arms against the late
erections, because ye canna get an hour or twa's fishing, nor pursue
your own fancies about solitude, and innocence, and that! I will tell
ye, my good sir--for ye're but a bairn in comparison wi' me--that had ye
experienced what I hae experienced, ye wad hae blessed the day which
converted this solitary and useless den into a source of comfortable
living to hundreds of families, who might otherwise be starving at home,
or banished from all that they hold dear into a foreign land."

"Grandfather," hereupon said a fine rosy girl about fourteen, "dinner's
ready: will ye come in, or will I bring it out to you?"

"I think," said the ancient patriarch, "I'll just rest whar I am; it's a
bonny sunny day, and the den is a' loun and sheltered. Just bring out
the broth and the wee bit Irish stew here, and maybe this gentleman, now
tired wi' nae fishing, will no scorn to tak a spoonfu' and a bit
alangside o' a puir auld body."

I immediately assured my kind host that I had provisions in my basket,
which I soon disengaged, together with a flask containing a sufficiency
of old Nantz. To it, therefore, we set, exchanging viands: I partaking
of the excellent and savoury stew, and he of a wee drap, only a very wee
drap, of the brandy. Like Sir Walter Scott's minstrel, the soul of the
old yet vigorous Trojan waxed strong within him; and, after having duly
returned thanks to the Giver of all good, he drew me close to his elbow,
and proceeded thus:--

"Indeed, sir, I'm now considerably upwards of eighty years--the period
at which the psalmist says the strength of man is but grief and labour;
but I haena found it sae, for a' my griefs and labours were confined to
the earlier pairt o' my life, and no to the latter day--His name be
praised for the same."

I instinctively answered "Amen;" and, partly encouraged by this, and
partly by an additional pull at the brandy-flask, the old man pursued
his egotism.

"Well, ye see, ye are against spinning-jennies and large manufactures,
ye say; but they are the freends o' the puir, sir--the blessed
supporters o' thousands and millions in these lands.[C] You shall hear;
for, as you seem to have time on your hands, I will, for your father's
sake" (I had made him acquainted with my descent from a worthy clergyman
in the north), "unfold to you my whole history, and that of my children,
up to this hour:--

"My name, sir, is Donald Sutherland. I belong originally to the county
of that name; and I was bred a farmer on the estates of the Duchess of
Sutherland. But there was neither duke nor duchess then, oh dear!"
(Hereupon the old man absolutely cried; having, however, checked himself
by observing that he was an old fool, he again proceeded):--"I had, as I
said, a small sheep-farm, of about one thousand acres, in the western
district of that county. I see, sir, you are surprised at my saying
_small_; but, sir, when land is let at a shilling an acre, as it was in
my day, such a farm is but small--a thousand shillings, ye ken, is just
fifty pounds o' yearly rent: and that was my rent at _Edderachills_,
near by Loch Assynt. I am now, as ye see, an auld man, and a grey; but I
was ance young, and stout, and foolish too, nae doobt. I thought
naething wad war me, sae I just married whan I was a young,
inexperienced callan, about nineteen; and, having got a brother of my
puir father's to be security (ye see my puir father was only a hind on
the estate o' Sutherland, and had neither money nor credit), I took my
dear Helen M'Roy home to no that ill a bigging--wi' a hantle o'
blankets, a peat-fire, a herd callan, and twa as canny and sensible dogs
as ever followed a herd, or turned a hirsel. Aweel, ye ken, Helen and me
war very happy, for we loved each other dearly; we had been acquainted
frae the time we could climb a brae or eat a cranberry; and things went
on no that ill ava. We had twa bairns in the course o' twal years, a
lassie, and a fine lad, wha was drowned, as ye shall hear; but oh my
heart is sair whan I think o't. It was one awful night in the month of
January. A vessel had stranded in Loch Assynt. The men were seen,
through a stormy moonshine, hanging to the topmast, which, however, went
from side to side, with a fearful swing. At every turn or jerk, another
and another human being was plunged into the roaring foam. My son
Archibald, my shepherd, and I, pushed from the shore in a fishing-boat,
which was lying high and dry--we heard the fearful screams of perishing
men--we rowed off at all hazards, but had not neared the vessel, when
our boat fairly swamped. We were still, however, within wading depth,
and with difficulty regained our feet and the boat. We again pushed hard
from land, and at last came under the lee of the wreck. My son was
young, active, and daring; and, in order to ascertain how matters were,
or what remained of the deck, he caught a rope, and leaped on board. In
an instant, a young man, a passenger, with his wife and child, were
slung, as it were, miraculously on board our little boat. The waves went
up in spouting foam betwixt the wreck and the boat, and then subsiding,
heaved us with a tremendous crash against the side of the vessel; and I
remember no more till I awoke to misery, in a kelp hut by the sea-shore.
I found that my son, with the woman and child, had perished; but that
the husband, my shepherd, and myself, had been cast ashore, and with
difficulty resuscitated. My grief and his mother's grief were loud and
severe. But 'what cannot be cured must be endured.' The stranger was a
native of Fife, who had been to America on a mercantile speculation, and
having married at New York, and become a father, was on his way towards
Kirkcaldy, his native place, when this dreadful accident occurred. He
had lost all his effects, and some money in the wreck, and was content
to take part of my humble dwelling for a season. In the meantime, my
lease expired, and another proprietor had arisen, who knew not Donald
Sutherland. The rent offered by my next and more wealthy neighbour was
far above what I would think of promising, so I behoved to leave sweet
Edderachills, with all its heath, and moss, and muir, for a sea-shore
appointment in the manufacturing of kelp from sea-weed--at that time a
very flourishing employment in the West Highlands in particular. The
stranger about this time took his departure, but not without many
promises of returning again to visit the grave of his wife and child,
and to renew his acquaintance with my wife, my daughter, and myself. For
a time the kelp concern did pretty well; we had good and regular payment
for the article, and an increasing demand; and we contrived to live at
least as comfortably as we had done as sheep-farmers. But man is always
finding out inventions; a method was devised of dispensing, by means of
a chemical discovery, with our kelp entirely; and we were suddenly and
entirely ruined. It was at this period that I, in a manner, _cursed_,
like you, the spirit of discovery and invention. I was disgusted by the
change which the progress of science had made, and I did not know how to
turn myself for a bare subsistence. In this situation of affairs, my
daughter Nelly within there (pointing to the door) was courted by a
neighbouring sheep-farmer's son, of a somewhat disreputable character,
but of considerable reputed wealth. This was a sad trial to us all; for,
though the marriage might have benefited us somewhat, in a worldly point
of view, we did not like to see our blooming and virtuous child
sacrificed, it might be, to the momentary feelings of a known deceiver.
Nelly could not bear the thoughts of such a union; and one night she
told her lover as much. In consequence of this unfortunate affair, we
were very soon after turned out of house and hold--the old farmer having
contracted with the proprietor for the huts and steadings which had once
been peopled with busy and prosperous hands, but which now were nearly
empty. Baser proposals than before were made by the degraded and
vindictive young man; and we set off, one moonlight night, across the
hills, for the town of Dornoch. We were three wanderers in the
wilderness--my wife Helen, my daughter Nelly, and myself. I was still
comparatively strong, and was determined to work, but could find no
employment. For days we slept (for the weather was fine) on the heath,
and lived on what little of our means yet remained. I was resolved, come
what might, that I would not beg. My wife and daughter bore up
amazingly; for we trusted that our God--the God of the hills, as well as
of the valleys; of the poor and the outcast, as well as of the rich and
provided--would not forget us. I found temporary work, at last, in a
stone quarry, and occupied a hut close upon the sea-shore. This, to us
all, was luxury; for it was independence. Contentment _kitchened_
labour, and we slept soundly in our poverty and innocence. But this, I
saw, could not long continue; my strength was not equal to this severe
labour, to which I was unaccustomed; so I persuaded, not without
difficulty, my wife and daughter to accompany me to Canada, to which the
Countess of Sutherland was then offering a free passage from Cromarty
Frith, in the good ship Aurora. I should, however, have mentioned that,
whilst residing at Dornoch, I had observed the son of a neighbouring
proprietor--a somewhat smart-looking gentleman--frequently passing our
door, and sometimes conversing with my wife and daughter; but I took no
notice of the affair, as I felt secure in the virtue and prudence of
both parties. No proposals, honourable or otherwise, were made to my
daughter, and I conceived the matter to be at an end. On the day of the
ship's sailing, we were all on the quay, and ready to embark. My wife
and I had entered the boat, and were waiting for my daughter, who had
been sent by us on a message to a shop. She did not return in time for
the boat in which we were conveyed to the Aurora; but we were told by
the sailors that she would probably arrive in the next. One boat,
however, arrived, but our dear Nelly was not in it; another came, but
with it no daughter. Meantime the ship was under sail, and the captain
said he would not lose the favourable breeze for all the girls in
Scotland. My dear wife was inconsolable, and I petitioned hard to be let
out, even on one of the Western Isles; but the weather was exceeding
stormy, and we kept as far as possible from land. 'God,' said I to my
grieving partner, 'will protect Nelly; for she is good and virtuous. God
can be father and mother, and more than all that, to those who fear and
obey him.' We landed at Quebec, and maintained ourselves for some
time--I acting as a kind of shore-porter, and my wife assisting in
assorting furs in a great warehouse. But our means were but small; so we
bethought us of removing more inland. So we arrived ultimately at
Montreal, where I had the good fortune to meet with a distant relative
in pretty good circumstances. He had long been engaged in a mercantile
house, and had now obtained a considerable and a profitable share in it.
He immediately found employment for me as a warehouse servant, whilst my
wife washed and dressed for himself and a few friends. Year after year
passed by, and many a letter did we write to Edderachills and Dornoch;
but we received no answer. At last it pleased God to remove my dear
Helen by death; and my friend having resolved to remove to Kirkcaldy,
his native place, I took shipping with him in the ship St John, and we
arrived off the Land's End in safety. But it came on to blow dreadfully
from the north and the east, as we rounded the island; and one dark
night in the month of November we struck upon a rock in the
neighbourhood of Ely. The ship fired signals of distress, and a boat
came out, which saved the passengers and crew; but the ship and cargo
were lost. What was my surprise, upon arriving at the inn, to find, in
the person of one of the boatmen, the shipwrecked stranger, Sam Rogers,
who had lodged so long with us at Edderachills. He insisted upon my
immediately repairing to his cabin, as he termed it, on the shore, with
the view of introducing me to his wife and a large family of children.

"'Have you ever heard,' continued he, after we were seated, 'anything of
your daughter Nelly?'

"'Not a word,' said I, eagerly. 'Have you?'

"'Would you know her,' continued he, 'if you were again to see her?'

"'Know her,' said I; 'to be sure I would--her image is ever before me. I
see her, at this moment, as plainly as if she were still alive. Oh!
what--horrible!--stand off!--stand off! Do these old eyes deceive me, or
art thou indeed my own darling, lost child?' said I; whilst Nelly--the
real flesh-and-blood Nelly--clasped me to her arms, and burst into a
flood of tears.

"'My father!--my father!' she exclaimed, whilst the young ones gathered
around us in stupid amazement; and my son-in-law, Sam Rogers, rubbed his
hands and flapped his arms in perfect delight. It was indeed my dear
Nelly, in the person of Helen Rogers, the still handsome mother of seven
children.

"But, Helen, I say--Helen, set down the bairn a wee bit, and tell this
honest gentleman the Dornoch story, ye ken."

"Hout," said Helen, "I hae nae time, father, to enter into a' the outs
and ins o' thae langsyne tales; besides, I see Sam waving me up to the
mill--I'm wanted, father, an' ye maun look after the bairn till I come
back again."

Being foiled in his wish to set his daughter's tongue agoing to the tune
of her own adventures, the old man placed the child on the greensward in
front of the cottage, and, after once more paying his respects to my
brandy-flask, proceeded as follows:--

"Weel, the lassie disna like to hear me tell the story; I ken she aye
blushes at bits o't; but now that she's awa, I may just as weel finish,
by letting ye know that the scamp wha had seen, and fallen in love, as
he called it, with her at Dornoch, had watched her down to the beach,
and having hired some accomplice in the person of one of the sailors,
had her misdirected in the first place, and lifted off her feet in the
second, and placed beside the well-known gentleman in a post-chaise,
which drove off immediately in an inland direction. In vain were all her
struggles and entreaties. The young blackguard immediately proceeded to
inform her that her struggles and her shouts were of no avail; that he
could not promise her marriage, as he was already engaged, to please his
mother; but he would give her love in abundance, and a cottage
residence, which he had provided for her on his father's property, at no
great distance. It was in vain for her to resist; but she had resolved
rather to die than to yield to his wishes; so, when they had arrived at
the centre of an extensive plantation, he caused her to alight, and
dismissing, as it was now nearly dark, the chaise and driver, proceeded
to conduct her, as he said, on foot to the cottage which he had
provided. He half dragged her a few paces from the road, or rather track
through the wood, and, unveiling all at once the fiend within him,
proceeded to open and undisguised violence. But, sir," said the old man,
with emphasis, "he thought himself alone, but he was not alone--God saw
him, and had marked his proceedings; and God sent a deliverer, in the
person of him owre by yonder" (pointing to the mills). "God sent Sam
Rogers, with a guid oak plank, to free the captive, and make the captor
flee for his life: in short, sir--for I fear I have tired ye wi' my
lang-winded story--Sam, by the mercy of God, had just landed at Dornoch
as we sailed from it; and being on his way to Edderachills, for the very
purpose of asking my Nelly in marriage, he had pushed on, meaning to
travel all night across the country, when the providential occurrence
took place. Weel, we went now to Ely, where we remained for a time--old
grandy, that is, myself, my son, and his family; but times became tight
there, and the family kept still increasing; so at last we got
acquainted with the worthy gentleman, Mr Yool, to whom all these great
works and these neat cottages belong, and he brought us up here, and set
us down comfortably, where not only my son-in-law, but every wean, male
and female, above seven years of age, can earn its own clothes and
subsistence. We are now, sir, in comparative affluence; and all this,
sir, is owing to these improvements in machinery and in chemistry, which
at one time drove me from my native land. 'SECOND THOUGHTS, THEY SAY,
ARE BEST;' at least so it has been with me, as I sit here in my old age,
in comparative ease and comfort, and see my grandchildren growing up in
domestic affection and public usefulness around me. Here is no
scattering of the young family--one going east, and one west, never to
meet again; but here, every night, all congregate around _one hearth_,
whilst a psalm is sung, a chapter is read, and a prayer said by grandy
himself!"

I shall never regret the loss of my old and favourite amusement, whilst
I can recollect this old man's narrative, and the many happy and
comfortable homes which now occupy the once solitary holms of _Dura
Den_.


[Footnote A: A sword has lately been discovered in one of the caves,
rusted and broken--probably once the sword of Burley!--19th Oct., 1839.]

[Footnote B: _Vide_ recent discoveries of extinct species of fish found
in this den. "Fife Illustrated." Glasgow: James Swan.]

[Footnote C: Very different this deliverance from that of Mrs Trollope
in her "Factory Boy."]



THE LAIRD OF LUCKY'S HOW


Have any of our readers ever been at the Hague? It doesn't much signify
whether they have or not. They know that it is one of the most beautiful
towns in the Netherlands, and that it is not a little famous in ancient
story; and their knowing this is quite enough for our present purpose.
If, however, they knew the town a little more intimately, they would
know that one of its principal and most ancient streets is called the
Hoogstraat; and that here, once on a time, stood the principal inn or
hostelry of the town. It was an oldfashioned house, with a great variety
of projecting and excrescent structures, of all sorts and sizes, stuck
to it, to increase its internal accommodation, and to puzzle the curious
inquirer--at least this seemed a part of the design--who, while taking
an outside view, wondered what they could all be intended for.

Notwithstanding, however, the somewhat uncouth and perplexing appearance
of the exterior of the Drouthsloken--which was the name of the ancient
hostel in question--it was a sufficiently handsome and comfortable house
within. Its kitchen, in particular, was a sight; it was so clean, so
bright, and so cheerful: shining all round with pewter trenchers and
brass utensils of various descriptions, all as lustrous as whiting and
hard rubbing could make them. The place was a treat to look at; and no
less a treat to look at was its jolly landlord, Thonder Vander Tromp.
From stem to stern, Thonder was of the regular Dutch build; which,
without descending to particulars, we may say consists, as our readers
know, in exhibiting an amplitude of material at all points of the
person. In this respect, our good friend Thonder might be considered a
_chef d'oeuvre_; for he was of the most magnificent dimensions,
especially latitudinally. In longitude, indeed, he might be considered
as a little deficient. He was of no great height; but his girth was
superb, and told a tale of good living, with an unction which no
language could approach. In this tale the ruddy, jovial countenance of
mine host of the Drouthsloken cordially joined; and supported by its
hilarious testimony the facts therein set forth.

Having thus shortly described both mine host and his hostel, we proceed
to say that, on a certain evening in the middle of the winter of 1651, a
stranger, carrying a small bundle under his arm, walked, or rather
stalked--for there was something uncouth in his gait--into the passage
of the Drouthsloken. He was wrapped up in a Scottish plaid, and wore on
his head the well-known flat blue bonnet of the Scottish Lowlands. In
person, he was tall and spare, with the grave and serious cast of
countenance so characteristic of that people whose national dress he
wore. Unpolished, however, as the exterior of this person bespoke him to
be, there was yet, in his light grey eye, a mingled expression of
determination and intelligence, that never failed to secure the respect
which his manner and first appearance might well have forfeited. His age
seemed about forty or forty-five.

Finding no one to whom he might address himself in the passage of the
inn, the stranger held on his way to its further extremity--no trifling
distance; towards which he was attracted by sounds of laughter and
merriment, issuing from the kitchen of the Drouthsloken, which was
situated at the farther end of the passage by which the house was
intersected, and the same with that which he was now traversing.

The sounds of merriment by which the stranger had been attracted
proceeded from a group of young men, who, standing in the form of a
semicircle in front of the jolly landlord of the house--who, again,
stood with his back to the fire, wielding a huge black bottle in his
hand--were indulging in uproarious laughter at the witty sayings which
he, the latter, seemed throwing amongst them like so many squibs and
crackers.

At the moment that our friend of the plaid and bonnet entered the
kitchen of the Drouthsloken, our jovial host was standing, as we have
said, with his back to the fire--a roaring one, by the way--and looking
the very personification of all that's joyous, and comfortable, and
care-dispelling. A bright and broad red waistcoat covered his portly
front; but buttoned so short a way up as to expose a dazzling display of
snow-white linen beneath. Across this brilliant garment there lay also
the folds of a pure white apron, tucked up with business-like smartness.
Dark velveteen small-clothes, with well-polished shoes, on which shone a
pair of massive silver buckles, completed the outer man of Thonder
Vander Tromp.

Amongst the merry group of which Tromp was one, something like a
sensation was created by the entrance of the stranger. The career of
badinage was instantly arrested, and the eyes of the whole party turned
towards him. Undismayed by the general attention he had excited, the
stranger coolly deposited his bundle on a side-table, and, approaching
at once the fire, and the group by which it was surrounded, delivered
himself, as he did so, of the very simple and homely remark--

"There's a wat nicht, gentlemen."

Now, the stranger, although he had thus expressed himself, had not
ventured to hope that his language would be understood. He had spoken
mechanically as it were, and delivered himself in his usual way, simply
because he could do no otherwise, and because he thought it necessary to
say something. Great, therefore, was his surprise, and, we may add, his
joy also, when one of the young men of the party, of singularly graceful
manners and bearing, acknowledged his greeting in excellent English, and
with great politeness and civility of speech.

Delighted at having met with a native of Great Britain, which he could
not doubt the young man who had addressed him was--

"Feth, but I am richt glad, sir," said the stranger--"excuse my
freedom--at having met wi' a countryman, as I tak ye to be, sir--in this
outlandish place. It's mair than I expeckit, I'm sure. I had nae thochts
o' meetin wi' ony but ane."

"And pray who was that one, my good friend?" said the young man,
throwing, at the same time, a rapid look of intelligence around on his
companions, who seemed at once to comprehend its meaning. "Who was that
one, my good friend," he said, "if I may ask, without subjecting myself
to a charge of impertinence?"

"Ou, nae impertinence at a', sir; only ye'll excuse me keepin my thoom
on the mater ye inquire aboot till I ken better wha's speerin. Excuse
me, sir, excuse me, for this plainness," continued the stranger,
smiling; "but I hae come frae a country whar a slip o' the tongue, in
thae times, micht cost a man his head; and that maks folks wary, ye
ken."

"Faith, and good reason it should, friend," replied the young man,
laughingly. "Thou hast well accounted for thy caution. But recollect
thou art now in a different country, mine honest friend, and hast no
need to be so guarded in thy speech."

"Feth, sir, I dinna ken. That may be; but, if ye had fan the ticklin o'
a tow aboot yer craig, as I hae dune, ye wadna forget it in a hurry, nor
the lesson it taught ye to keep yer tongue atween yer teeth."

"Well, no doubt; that certainly is rough schooling," said the young
cavalier; "but I repeat again, that thou art now in a different country,
friend; and one where thou hast nothing to fear from a reasonable use of
thy tongue."

"Aweel, it may be sae, sir," replied the imperturbable stranger; "but I
ken o' nae country whar a calm sough's no guid counsel."

"Ha! ha! ha! right, friend, right," roared mine jolly host of the
Drouthsloken, with open mouth and noisy laugh. "It is not goot to say
too moosh anywhere; no more in the Hague as any oder place. But here is
all honourable gentlemen," he added, casting a furtive glance of
good-humoured meaning at the young man who had first addressed the
Scotch visiter, "who will not make bad use of what you shall say."

"Ou, I hae nae doot o' that at a', sir," replied the latter; "but, to be
plain wi' ye, it's no my intention to say onything that onybody can mak
ony use o', either guid, bad, or indifferent." And, having said this,
the speaker showed a very palpable desire to put an end to the
conference, which he evidently began to think was studiously directed by
the other party towards an elucidation of his purposes in visiting the
Hague. In this disposition, however, he was by no means joined by the
party in whose presence he was, particularly by the young man by whom he
had been first addressed, who evinced a gratification in the peculiar
humour of the stranger, and an interest in him altogether that would not
permit of his being shaken off. So far indeed, was he from permitting
this, that he insisted on the latter's joining him in a bottle of wine,
which he instantly ordered mine jolly host of the Drouthsloken to
produce.

On the return of the latter, bearing a bottle of wine in one hand and a
screw in the other--

"Will your--your----" he said, but was here interrupted by a wink from
the person he addressed, which had the evident effect of making him
substitute a different word for that which he had intended to use, and
he added "your honour." "Will your honour not go up-stairs to your own
favourite apartment, de leetle blue parlour?"

"No, no, Mynheer Tromp," replied the young cavalier, "we'll just stay
where we are. The night is cold, and I have always thought your kitchen
the most comfortable and cheerful apartment in your house. So place us a
table here, close by the fire, if you please."

Mynheer Vander Tromp bowed a humble assent; and, in an instant after, a
small round table of walnut-tree, shining like a mirror, was placed in
the desired situation. Bottles and glasses covered it in a twinkling,
and in a twinkling also was the party seated around it, including our
friend of the bonnet and plaid. This worthy person at first shied the
good fellowship thus thrust upon him; but, gradually warming with the
wine he drank--for bottle succeeded bottle with marvellous celerity--he
became by degrees less and less reserved in his manner, until at length
his natural caution giving way altogether before the increasing pressure
of the vinous influence, he became as communicative as he had before
been the reverse.

Availing himself of the altered disposition of the stranger, the young
cavalier, whom we have represented as having more especially attached
himself to the former, again endeavoured to extract from him the purpose
of his visit to the Hague; and his attempt was now successful.

"Aweel, I'll just tell ye Gude's truth, gentlemen," he said, in answer
to a question, or rather hint, on the subject of explanation which had
just been addressed to him by his young friend; and for the reply to
which all waited--"I'll just tell ye Gude's truth, as I think ye're a'
honourable men, and wadna willingly bring a man into trouble, wha has
gien ye nae cause o' offence. Ye see, then freends, I hae just arrived
frae Scotland, and hae come here to see our unfortunate young king,
Charles the Second that should be, whase unhappy story ye dootless a'
ken. I hae been ruined oot o' hoose and ha' for the part I took in his
puir faither's behalf, and hae been obliged to flee my ain country,
besides, for the same reason; and hae noo come here, to see if His
Majesty, God bless him, could afford me ony sort o' protection till the
storm that's noo tearin a' up by the roots in Scotland blaws by; and
that's just the hail affair, gentlemen."

Long ere the stranger had concluded this account of the purpose of his
visit to the Hague, a look of intelligence, which originated with his
young friend, had passed amongst his auditors, and, in the case of the
former, was associated with a peculiar expression of sympathy. Both,
however, the look alluded to, and the latter symptom of a yet deeper
feeling, was unobserved by the person whose communication had given rise
to them. Becoming now querist in turn, he asked, "if ony o' the
gentlemen could tell him whar the king leeved, and if they could put him
on a way o' gettin introduced to him?"

"Thou couldst not have lighted more luckily for that, my friend," said
the young man to whom we have already so often alluded, "than thou hast
done in coming amongst us; for it happens that I hold a confidential
place near the person of Charles, and will have much pleasure in
exerting my influence in procuring you the introduction you desire."

"Mony thanks to ye, freend," replied the martyr to royalty--"mony thanks
to ye, if ye mean, by Charles, His Majesty the King o' England--God
bless him!"

"I certainly do, my friend. I mean him and no other."

"Weel, sir--excuse my freedom--if ye do, I think ye micht ca' him sae.
Wha can dispute his title, although his back be at the wa'?"

"Oh! no one--no one, my good friend, I believe--that is, lawfully,"
replied the young cavalier, laughingly; "but, seeing his present
circumstances--a wandering exile in a foreign land, crownless and
coinless--we, somehow or other, cannot get our tongues about those
sounding titles that are his birthright. We prefer calling him simply
Charles, or English Charles; and I rather think he prefers it himself.
His titles he thinks best left in abeyance in the meantime."

"Aweel, if it be his ain pleasure, I hae nae mair to say. Perhaps it's
as prudent and becomin; for, as ye say, sir, a king that has neither a
croon on his head nor in his pouch is in but a sair condition for his
dignity. That maun be allowed."

There was not much in this remark itself to excite merriment; but there
was certainly something in the naïve manner in which it was delivered
that was calculated to produce this effect; and it did. A shout of
laughter, in which the speaker's young friend was the loudest and
heartiest performer, acknowledged the peculiarity to which we have
alluded. On the laugh subsiding, the latter again addressed the former,
saying--

"But, friend, you have not yet told us by what name we should address
you."

"As to that," replied the stranger, smilingly, "I believe the maist
appropriate name or title ye could gie me at the present moment wad be
that o' the Launless Laird. But it wasna aye sae. I had a bit guid
property in the Loudans, ca'ed Lucky's How, every clod o't my ain, wi' a
yearly rental o' forty merks, guid siller, forby the thirlage o' the
Mill o' Meldrum, that was worth a guid twa or three merks mair. But a's
gane awa like a handfu o' ingan peelins on a windy day; that cursed
battle o' Worcester settled a', and left me withoot a groat, and withoot
as much grund as wad mak the hillock o' a moudiwart. But it's a' gane in
a guid cause; I dinna begrudge't; and, besides, things 'll maybe come
roond again; and, if they dinna, there's nae help for't."

"So you were at the battle of Worcester, laird?" said the speaker's
young friend.

"Feth! that I was, sir; and there," he added, holding out his right
hand, which was minus the forefinger and thumb--"there's a certificate
o' the truth o' my statement, gien under the hand o' ane o' Crum'll's
praying dragoons. It was an ugly lick; but there were a hantle o' uglier
anes than it gaun whar it was gotten. It was a coorse business
athegither."

"It was no less, my good friend," said the young cavalier. "I was there,
too."

"Was ye, feth?" replied the laird. "Then, if ye was, sir, ye saw a bonny
stramash--mair than ye'll forget in a hurry, I daursay. It was an awfu
scene yon, when the dragoons cam in upon us in the streets o' Worcester.
'Od! they sliced and slapped aboot them as if they had gotten into a
plantation o' lang kale, and no amang Christian men like themsels."

"It was indeed a sad business," replied the young man, with a melancholy
smile. "Saw ye the king on that day?"

"I did," replied the laird.

"Wouldst know him again?"

"No; I canna think I wad. I just got a glisk o' him, for the first and
last time, in the middle o' the dirdum at Worcester. When I saw him, the
puir lad was fechtin like a Turk; but it was a' to nae purpose. He was
obleeged to rin for't at last, and to perk himsel up in a tree, like a
hoolet, to keep oot o' the way o' Crum'll's sodgers. If they had gotten
the puir lad--as it was a God's mercy they didna--they wad hae taen aff
his head, nae doot, as they did his unfortunate faither's; and then, as,
indeed, it's said they proposed to do, made a buttonmaker o' his sister,
and maybe a Spitalfields weaver o' his brither, the Duke o' Gloucester."

"I _have_ heard," replied the young cavalier, with a contemptuous smile,
while a blush of deep feeling, it might be indignation, overspread his
intelligent countenance--"I have heard that some such idea was actually
entertained by the Parliament as that thou hast alluded to."

"There's nae doot that such a report was current, sir; but whether true
or no, I winna tak upon me to say. They may hae been belied in't."

"I hope they may," replied the young cavalier, musingly. Then, suddenly
recovering himself, and assuming his usual cheerfulness of manner--"And
what are the king's friends about in Scotland?" he said, slapping the
laird good-humouredly on the knee.

"Dooms little, sir," replied the laird. "They daurna cheep. Monk has
gotten his heel fairly on their necks; so that deil a ane o' them can
wag either tongue or finger. There's a wheen o' them taen to the hills
wi' Glencairn and Balcarras; but what can they do? Naething. It's a puir
thing to be in that way, sir. I had a trial o' that mysel. Tak my word
for't, that sleepin in a moss hag, or in the lee o' a whin-bush, and
leevin upon lavrocks, or raw turnips and bog-water, is nae better than
it's ca'ed."

"Well, well, laird, I hope times will mend with our poor friends in
Scotland," replied the young cavalier, to whom this picture of the
sufferings of the royalists, notwithstanding the strong tincture it
exhibited of the speaker's natural humour, seemed to give much pain. "I
hope times will mend with them yet, and that feasting and feather-beds
will make them forget the raw turnips and whin-bushes ye speak of. In
the meantime, my good friend, push round the bottle, and let us talk of
other matters; for these make me sad."

Nothing loth, the Laird of Lucky's How filled up a brimming bumper, and,
drinking "better times," sent it down after some two or three dozen that
had preceded it.

The party were now getting into high glee. The laugh, the joke, and the
bottle went merrily round, and the merriest, and apparently the most
jovial of the company, was the young gentleman whom we have hitherto
represented as expressly attaching himself to the laird, and whose name,
as the latter learned from himself, was Jones. This roysterer was the
life and soul of the company, when roystering became the order of the
evening; but his mirth was tempered with a gentleness of demeanour, and
an air of polished hilarity, if such a phrase may be permitted, as
inspired the idea of the presence of a perfect gentleman. His whole
manner, in short, was exceedingly captivating. His fancy was ready and
playful; his wit brilliant and appropriate; and the affability and
winning character of his smile irresistible. Altogether, he was a most
delightful companion, and admirably calculated to figure in such
circumstances as those in which he was now placed. How he might acquit
himself in a scene of a more grave and serious character, it would not
perhaps have been easy to guess.

The mirth of the party in the kitchen of the Drouthsloken had just
attained its height, when a circumstance occurred which did not affect
its humour, but somewhat changed its character. This was the entrance of
two of the landlord's daughters. Dressed in the neat and simple,
although somewhat peculiar, costume of their country, with their hair
tightly braided up, and bound with a broad silver frontlet, so as to
exhibit in bold relief the contour of their full and fair countenances,
two prettier girls than Juliana and Joan Vander Tromp were not within
the walls of the Hague.

As they entered the kitchen, to which they had come merely, or, perhaps,
we should have said ostensibly, to look after some household affairs,
the girls curtsied slightly but gracefully to the company by which it
was occupied, and, smiling pleasantly and good-naturedly the while,
passed on to the upper end of the apartment, and began to occupy
themselves in some little domestic duties. They had not, however, been
permitted to enter unnoticed. On their appearance, the whole party got
up from their seats, and acknowledged their presence by a gallant
greeting; and in this courtesy, Mr Jones again shone pre-eminent by the
greater grace and deeper devotion he displayed in his chivalrous welcome
to the fair visitors.

It might have been observed, too, that to him, in turn, were the
curtsies and the looks also of the young ladies most especially
directed; but in this case these were associated with a degree of
respect for which it would not have been easy to account.

"What think ye of our fair Netherlanders, laird?" said Mr Jones to the
latter, in a half whisper, when the ladies' attention was, or seemed to
be, engrossed by their occupation. "Will they not match your Scotch
lasses, think you?"

"That's a pair o' braw queans, I maun allow," replied the laird. "Just
twa as bonny bits o' lassocks as ane wad wish to see; but I think they
want the complexion--they haena the blume o' our kilted heather
trampers. They want the caller red that the norland breeze puts on the
cheeks o' our Scottish gilpies. That's my humble opinion, sir. But
they're twa bonny lassocks, for a' that. Nae doot o't."

"On the score of complexion I grant ye, laird, they are, perhaps,
deficient a little, but I think this amply compensated by the
intellectual expression, the fine contour, and the softer and more
intense lustre of the eye. I have seen your Scottish maidens, laird, and
admired them in my time."

"Feth, sir, I maun say your taste wad hae been very questionable if ye
hadna," interposed the laird. "When and whar saw ye them, if ye please,
sir? What pairt o' Scotland was ye in?" he added.

The question appeared to place Jones in a difficulty for a moment; but
he at length answered--

"Why, laird, I have been in many parts of Scotland in my day. I was with
the king at Scone."

"Was that at the time o' his coronation?" inquired the laird.

"It was," said Jones.

"And it wad be there, like, and aboot the quarter o' Perth, that ye saw
our bonny Scotch lasses, I warrant," said the laird, laughingly. "Ay, if
a' tales be true, the king admired them when he saw them, as muckle as
ye could do, sir," continued the laird.

"Why, they do report something of that kind," replied Jones, with some
confusion of manner, and slightly colouring as he spoke--indications of
a feeling, whatever it was, which seemed highly edifying to his
companions, who marked it with repeated bursts of laughter; "they do
report something of the kind," said Jones; "but we mustn't credit all we
hear, laird."

"The tae half's aboot the usual thing I believe," replied the latter;
"and, if we tak that in the present case--that is, regarding the king's
gallantries----"

"Ay, ay, go on, laird, go on--that's it--give us all you know about the
king's gallantries in Scotland," shouted, almost simultaneously, the
other members of the party. "Go on, go on, like a good fellow."

"Nay, nay, now," exclaimed Jones, earnestly, but good-humouredly, "as
one of the king's confidential servants, I must protest, laird, against
your divulging anything of that kind in my presence."

"Never mind the protest--never mind the protest, laird. Go on, and we'll
stand between you and the consequences," again shouted several members
of the party. "What know ye about the king's gallantries at Scone?"

"Ou, it was nae great things after a', to mak a wark aboot; but, ye see,
there war a wheen unco godly ministers there at the time, an' they made
an awfu ado aboot it. The hale affair was just this. The king happenin
to go into the room that he usually occupied in the Palace o' Scone ae
mornin earlier than ordinar, wha does he fin sortin't oot but a bit
bonny lassie o' a chaumermaid. Aweel, whan she saw the king enter, wham
she hadna expeckit for at least an hour after, what does she do but mak
a rin oot, as it war, and what does the king do but kep her, throw his
arms aboot her neck, and gie her a hearty kiss--a reglar royal salute?
And awa gaed the lassie, skirlin like a curlew, half-mad wi' the fricht
an' the honour. But what wad ye hae o't but that ane o' the Covenantin
ministers, wha war then as thick as craws aboot Scone--it bein just like
a rookery wi' the black coats for the time--suld be just at the moment
stanin at a window, in anither apartment that lookit richt into the ane
whar the king had kissed the bit lassie, and saw the hale affair; and
what does he do but report the scandal to his brethren, wha, shocked at
the indecency, appointed a committee o' ministers to reprove the royal
offender! This committee accordingly waited on the king, whan their
spokesman, ane Douglas--an awfu stern man--after rebookin His Majesty,
added, that it wad be prudent o' him, whan he desired to amuse himsel in
future, to be mair carefu in shuttin the windows."

"Capital, laird; capital!" shouted several of the party, in convulsions
of laughter. "Any more--any more?"

"Nay, nay, now, laird," said Jones, laughing, and clapping his hand on
the mouth of the tell-tale; "on your allegiance to your lawful
sovereign, I command ye to silence. He must not, in my presence, be made
a subject of mirth to these idle jesters."

"Tuts, it's but a joke, man; but if ye think it wad offend His Majesty,
I'll say nae mair. I wad suner lose something considerable than do that.
But what the waur can the king be o' it's bein kent that he likes the
lasses? I trow it's rather a feather in his kep than a discredit till
him."

"Well done, laird!" exclaimed Jones, clapping the former jocosely on the
shoulder. "Thou'rt a good old soul; and I shall take care that Charles
knows of thy lenity towards his failings. It will do thee no harm with
him."

Having said this, Jones rose from the table, and went towards the
landlord's daughters, who were still busily occupied, or apparently so,
at any rate, at the further end of the apartment. His approach to these
fair damsels was made in the most gallant fashion imaginable, and with
all the air and manner of a thoroughbred courtier and cavalier. What
conversation passed between him and the girls was not overheard by the
other members of the party; but the frequent bursts of laughter which
were from time to time elicited, sufficiently showed that it was of a
mirthful character, and that the badinage of Jones fully supported, in
point and brilliancy, the credit of his other kindred qualifications.
After some time, he returned to his party, and again took his seat
beside the laird; who, on his doing so, remarked--

"Feth, sir, ye seem as guid a hand at botherin the lasses as your
master. It's in the family, I think."

A roar of laughter succeeded this sally, to which Jones himself was one
of the largest contributors, although it was certainly mingled with some
embarrassment of manner. From this embarrassment, however, he was
unexpectedly relieved by the strains of a wandering minstrel, which
suddenly rose from the street, just underneath the window of the kitchen
of the Drouthsloken. As these strains were of no ordinary excellence,
they instantly attracted the attention of all in the apartment,
inclusive of the landlord's two fair daughters, one of whom in especial
(Juliana) evinced, by her flurried and agitated manner, a greater
interest in the presence of the minstrel than would have been warranted
on the supposition that it was merely accidental. Her confusion,
however, and the consciousness which it implied of a knowledge exceeding
that of those around her, passed undiscovered by all except Jones, whose
more vigilant eye detected these symptoms of secret and mysterious
understanding. He made no remark, however, on the subject; and carefully
concealed his discovery, not only from the rest of the party, but from
her who was the object of his mental speculations. Having concluded his
serenade, or at least its first department, which consisted, first, of a
preliminary flourish on a violin, executed with great spirit and
felicity, and then of a song, accompanied by the instrument, sung in a
peculiarly deep-toned, but exceedingly melodious, voice, the minstrel
ceased for a few seconds, when Jones proposed that he should be invited
in; and that, if he proved merely a gallant, he should be asked to a
glass of wine; and if he turned out a professional performer, who came
in the exercise of his vocation, he should be requested to entertain
them with his music within-doors. To this proposal a general assent was
at once given; and this assent was immediately followed by the
proceeding proper to its fulfilment. Three or four of the party, headed
by Jones, instantly rushed out, and surrounded the astonished minstrel
before he was aware. At first he discovered symptoms of a desire to
escape from the party; but, seeing this impossible, he stood his ground
manfully, and awaited the pleasure of the gentlemen, whose notice, he
said, he had the honour, it seemed, of so specially attracting. A
momentary glance at the speaker satisfied Jones and his party of his
quality. It was that of a professed street performer; or at least of a
person of the humblest class, as was indicated by his apparel, which
consisted of a short cloak, with a sort of coarse jerkin underneath, a
pair of wide and ill-made knee-breeches, coarse blue woollen stockings,
and a pair of enormous wooden shoes. On his head was a brown felt hat,
of a conical shape, adorned with a cock's feather, and altogether
resembling those seen in paintings of Dutch boors. These outward
indications, then, settled the question of the minstrel's rank, and
rendered no ceremony necessary in inviting him in.

"You play well, friend," said Jones. "We have been listening to you, and
will be glad if you will come and amuse us for half-an-hour or so. I
will see to your being suitably recompensed."

"Thank you, honourable sirs," replied the minstrel. "I doubt not of my
recompense, were it once earned; but the hour is late, and I may not
tarry abroad longer. Moreover, I make it a rule never to enter any
house, or to perform to any private party within-doors. I bid you a
good-night, gentlemen."

"Nay, by my troth, and you do no such thing, friend," said Jones,
seizing the minstrel, who was at this moment about making off, by the
skirt of his jerkin. "We don't part with good company in this way.
Friends," he said, addressing his companions, "lend a hand here, to
secure the fiddler. We must compel him to his own interest, which he
would thus wilfully neglect."

No sooner said than done. In a twinkling the reluctant minstrel was
grasped on all sides, and in an instant after found himself in the
centre of the kitchen of the Drouthsloken, to which he had been carried
almost bodily, in despite of a certain quantum of vain resistance and
remonstrance, by which he had at first endeavoured to thwart the purpose
of his captors. On being brought into the light of the kitchen, it was
discovered that the captured fiddler and songster was deficient of an
eye, at least of the use of it, as it was covered by a large green
shade, apparently unnecessarily large, as it concealed the half of his
face. Another peculiarity was now also observable, and this was, that
the neck of his cloak was clasped at a most extraordinary height up on
his face, and that he would by no means listen to any entreaties, either
to lay aside the said cloak, or even to unloosen the clasp by which it
was secured in so strange a position. We need scarcely add, that the
effect of these various dispositions of his externals was to conceal
almost entirely his countenance, of which only a small portion of the
left side was visible; and even this it was attempted to circumscribe as
much as possible, by the disposition of the hair of the head, which was
carefully combed down over the exposed space.

"Come now, friend," said Jones, addressing the musician, and handing
him, at the same time, a huge brimmer of wine, "gulp this with a
celerity that shall be creditable to thy craft, man, and let us have
thereafter a taste of thy calling--some of thy merriest strains; for I
mean to see if we cannot make a dance of it, by the help of these fair
dames there"--inclining his head towards the landlord's daughters, who
still kept their ground in the kitchen; although, if the matter had been
inquired into, we rather fear they would have found some difficulty in
naming the particular duty that detained them.

Finding it of no use to resist the spirit which he saw prevailed amongst
the party, the minstrel quietly despatched the contents of the goblet
that had been presented to him, and commenced the duty that had been
imposed upon him. On the first sound of the preliminary flourish of his
bow becoming audible, Jones went up to the buxom daughters of Mynheer
Tromp, and in his most gallant manner asked them if they would have any
objection to take the floor with him and his friends, seeing that they
had unexpectedly made the acquisition of an admirable musician,
although, he must confess, rather an odd-looking man; and Jones, as he
made the latter remark, looked slyly at Juliana, to mark its effect, and
found it acknowledged by a deep but transient blush, which she
endeavoured to conceal.

The proposal, however, of a dance was accepted on the part of the
younger sister, Joan, with eager alacrity; and on the part of Juliana
with an appearance of the same willingness, but with a confusion and
hesitation of manner that gave token of a counteracting feeling. Having
obtained the consent of the fair sisters to "tread a measure," the gay
courtier took a hand of each, and gallantly led them to the middle of
the floor; intimating, at the same time, by signal, to his friends to
clear the space for the impending performances--a signal which they lost
no time in obeying; two or three seizing chairs apiece; and other two or
three--one of whom was the laird, who seemed to enter with great
goodwill into the spirit of the thing--lifting the table, with all it
carried, to a distant corner of the apartment.

Just as these preparations were completed, and while Jones stood in the
middle of the floor, doing the polite to his two ladies--but directing
his attentions most especially to the elder--their father, the jolly
Vander Tromp, who had been absent for a considerable time, entered the
apartment, when, perceiving what was going on--

"Ah, very goot, very goot!" he said, in his most hilarious manner--his
jolly, broad red face beaming with delight. "A daunce, a daunce--ah,
very goot thing a daunce"--and he cracked his finger and thumb, and
threw up one of his huge legs in the air, with an expression of
highly-excited feeling. Then, calming down a moment--"You vill have no
objection, Mynheer Jones, to my frow have share in the daunce?"

"Objection, Tromp!" ejaculated Jones, with well-feigned horror at the
supposition. "By no means. I shall be but too proud of the honour."

"An tank you, Mynheer Jones--you are too goot." And saying this, Vander
Tromp disappeared, with another joyous flourish of finger and thumb and
left leg, in search of Mrs Tromp, to conduct her into the presence of
the dancers, and to a share of their amusement.

In the meantime, the parties were set, and the dance commenced with
great vigour; Jones displaying in this exercise a degree of skill and
grace in entire keeping with the refinement of his general manner. His
spirits, too, were exuberant, and infused a life into all around him,
that all the other circumstances combined could not have inspired.

Although by no means wanting in attention to the younger lady, it might
be observed, however, that Jones was much more assiduous in his
civilities to Juliana; and, what was a yet more remarkable circumstance,
it might also have been observed, that the musician evinced a strange
sensation of uneasiness whenever he saw Jones paying any particular
attention to this lady. He fidgeted in his seat, bungled the tune he was
playing, and shot fiercer glances from his solitary optic on the
revellers on the floor, but most especially on Jones and his fair
favourite. What was odd, too, Jones seemed to be aware of the feeling he
was exciting in the sensitive fiddler, and to delight in the uneasiness
he was occasioning; for the more markedly it was evinced, the more
assiduous and persevering was he in his gallantries. Although, however,
all this might have been sufficiently evident to a close and vigilant
observer, it escaped the notice of those present; for Jones managed his
secret tactics, whatever these were, with great caution, and exhibited
no other symptoms of consciousness than a slight, scarcely perceptible,
smile of sly intelligence.

We have said that none present were cognisant of this mysterious
understanding, or rather misunderstanding, between Jones and the
musician; but we are not sure that this is quite correct. There was an
air of embarrassment about the manner of the fair Juliana, that seemed
to indicate that she was also in possession of some share of the secret
knowledge that was working so much underhand mischief; and of this Jones
appeared likewise to be aware.

Thus stood matters, then, with this trio, when Vander Tromp and his
wife--the former leading the latter on his arm--came tripping into the
kitchen, with the grace and agility of a couple of elephants; for the
worthy spouse of the worthy landlord of the Drouthsloken was, like
himself, of the regular Dutch build, and had very much the shape and
appearance of a featherbed upon legs, if such an object can be
conceived. Her breadth, which was naturally of the most formidable
dimensions, was greatly increased by a stiff silk gown, which projected
in rigid amplitude on all sides, and gave to her whole person an
appearance of illimitable expanse. Notwithstanding these vast
dimensions, there was yet a comeliness about her bulk, and an expression
of benevolence and good-nature in her rosy countenance, that rendered
her altogether by no means an unpleasing object.

On the entrance of mine host and his larger as well as better half,
Jones, with that gallant devotion which seemed natural to him, instantly
advanced towards the latter, and, with a preliminary flourish of some of
his most graceful obeisances, in which, perhaps, a very shrewd observer
might have discovered a slight tincture of mock gallantry, invited her
to join him in the next dance. The large lady, with a good-humoured
smile, curtsied a ready acquiescence to the polite invitation; and, in
the next instant, might be seen sailing majestically through the mazes
of the dance, closely attended by her respectful and devoted partner.

In the meantime, the unwilling musician seemed heartily tired of his
employment, and looked as if he would have given a trifle not only to
have got quit of that employment, but to have got out of the house
altogether. Jones, however, was inexorable; and the more marked the
fiddler's impatience became, the more unmercifully did he deal out his
orders to "play up;" and much did he seem to delight, although he kept
the satisfaction to himself, in the grin of irritation which his
commands never failed to produce on the countenance of the hapless
musician. Leaving, then, the general position of matters in the kitchen
of the Drouthsloken in this state, we shall resume the particular
history of the laird's proceedings, which we fear the reader may think
we have already too long neglected.

Of the ongoings of the evening the laird, who was now pretty well in the
wind, was an attentive, but by no means a silent, spectator. In the
enthusiasm which the proceedings passing before him had excited, he had
mounted a chair, and from that elevated position was whooping, and
yelling, and shouting, and clapping his hands--at once to express his
own delight in the performances, and to encourage the performers.

"That's it, my bonny lassie!" he screamed out, addressing the younger
Tromp, whose agility particularly pleased him. "'Od ye're just doin
amazinly! That's it! Kilt yer coats, ye cutty, and skelp at it withouten
fear or dread! That's the true way to mak a figure on a flure!"

"Feth, no amiss, guidwife, no amiss ava," he said, and now addressing
himself to the better half of mine host of the Drouthsloken, who was
heaving like a seventy-four in a ground-swell--"no amiss ava, considerin
the wecht ye carry. Ye're just doin wonderfu, too, to be sae broad in
the beam. My word, but ye are a sonsy lass," he continued, his attention
gradually directing itself to a contemplation of her personal
dimensions. "If ye're an unce, ye're twenty stane, quarry wecht; and
everybody kens that's no scrimpit."

"Weel dune, Jones! weel dune, lad! Hoo, hurrah! up wi't! Ye've a pair o'
guid souple shanks o' your ain. That's it, lad--that's it! Up wi't! Hoo,
hurrah, hurrah!"

And the laird clapped his hands with a vigour and energy that emitted a
sound more like the contact of a pair of boards than human palms; and
accompanying this expression of heartiness of feeling with whoops and
shouts, that drowned the noise of both feet and fiddle.

Impartial in the distribution of his praises, the laird now directed his
compliments to the various other members of the dancing party,
severally, and finished with mine host himself.

"Unco weel, laird, unco weel," he exclaimed, addressing that worthy
performer. "Really, unco weel! ye've a wonderfu licht foot to hae sic a
heavy stern. That's it, laird! Up wi' the left leg!--capital, capital!"
And again the laird clapped his hands, and again raised his tremendous
war-whoop.

Hitherto the dancers had paid no particular attention to the laird's
noisy expressions of interest in their proceedings; but they so highly
tickled Mr Jones, that, on the conclusion of the dance, he came laughing
up to the laird, and asked him if he would not take a turn on the floor
on the next occasion.

"No, thank ye, Mr Jones," replied the latter; "my dancin days are weel
aboot owre now; but, though the flesh is weak, the spirit's willin, and,
to mak mysel as guid company as possible, I'll tak a screed o' the
fiddle an ye like; for I'm mair souple aboot the elbows than the ankles
now-a-days, and, besides, I dinna think that fallow puts the richt
smeddum in his tunes. They're awfu draicky, and no like our Scotch
measures, that mak ye fling your legs aboot like flails, till ye dinna
ken whether your heels or your head's uppermost."

"Ah ha, very fair, laird," replied Jones, laughing; "and although I have
reasons for keeping all relief from the fiddler as long as possible, I
am so curious to hear your performance, that I, for my part, consent to
your taking a turn of his instrument, provided he will allow you."

"We'll try him," replied the laird, briefly, and at the same time
stepping down from his high place, and thereafter proceeding with Jones
towards the musician of the evening, in order to offer his services in
the way of assisting him.

"Friend," said Jones to the one-eyed minstrel, while the laird stood
behind, or rather beside him, waiting the result of his
application--"friend, have you any objection to be relieved a little in
your labours? Here is a brother musician, who would gladly take a turn
with you, provided you would favour him with the loan of your
instrument."

The only reply of the fiddler was a sullen, dissentient growl; for he
was as averse to speaking as to exposing his countenance.

"What! won't you lend our friend here your fiddle?" said Jones, now
bursting out into a fit of suppressed laughter, which seemed, from its
heartiness, and the relief which it evidently afforded him, to have been
long pent up. "Do, man, do--you had better do. _I'll_ be much obliged to
you"--with marked emphasis on the pronoun, which he further increased by
a gentle but significant tread on the toe of the perplexed minstrel,
who, after returning the secret intimation of Jones by a smile and an
intelligent leer of his open eye, handed the fiddle to the laird without
saying a word.

The incident which we have just described was unobserved by any other
party but those concerned in it; or, at least, if it was observed, it
was not understood; and in this predicament also stood he who had the
best opportunity of seeing it--namely, the laird. He saw all that passed
between Jones and the fiddler; but he could not make out what it meant;
nor did he seem to concern himself about discovering it. Having got the
fiddle into his possession, the laird commenced tuning it with great
assiduity, and with a bow stroke that showed he was well practised in
the use of the instrument. The tuning effected to his mind, he struck
up, with great vigour, a ranting Scotch reel, which he played with
uncommon spirit and skill. At first, the novelty of the measure took the
greater part of the audience by surprise. For a time they could make
nothing of it; but music being a universal language, both the spirit and
rhythm of the tune soon began to be perceived and appreciated; and, with
a little schooling from Jones, who seemed not only to understand the
music, but to be delighted with it, the dancers were placed in the order
of a reel; and, by a vigilant superintendence of their motions on the
part of the latter, they contrived to get through the figure with
tolerable correctness. All were delighted with the new dance. It was
repeated again and again, and every time with increased success, and a
diminishing necessity for the interference of Jones, who, having entered
fully into the spirit of the mirthful train, whooped and yelled as
vociferously as ever the laird had done. His enthusiasm was infectious;
all caught it--even the broad-beamed wife of Vander Tromp, who moved
under the inspiring influence of the laird's bow with an agility that no
one could have believed her ponderous person capable of; while the
others, including mine portly host himself, flung, and flew, and
shuffled, as madly as the witches in the midnight dance in Alloway Kirk.
The spell, in short, of the laird's music was complete, and each owned
the hilarious spirit which it was so well calculated to diffuse over all
who were within reach of its influence--in other words, over all who
were within hearing of the laird's admirably-played fiddle. Inspired
with additional glee by these indications of the powerful effect of his
music, the laird still further heightened its influence by breaking out,
as he played, into short, abrupt shouts, which were responded to, from
time to time, by the male dancers, but with most especial emphasis by
Jones, who seemed to be, altogether, at the very acme of human
enjoyment.

It was while the revellers were thus dinning the drowsy ear of night
with their obstreperous mirth, and while they were yet in the full
career of enjoyment, that four persons suddenly entered the kitchen of
the Drouthsloken. They were in the garb of seamen, wearing large, shaggy
pea-jackets, and low, round-crowned, glazed hats, with circular flaps
projecting behind. Although, however, all were dressed nearly alike,
there was one who evidently took the lead amongst them. He was a young
man, and had an air of authority in his manner to which the rest seemed
to pay deference. Some differences, too, in his outer habiliments,
notwithstanding of the general resemblance that prevailed in this
particular, pointed him out as of a superior grade to the others. This
person was not unknown to the inmates of the house. He was recognised as
Captain Hagedorn of the Jungfrau of Rotterdam--a man of fierce,
irascible temper, and an ardent, although not very acceptable, admirer
of Juliana. On his entrance, therefore, he was immediately greeted as an
acquaintance by Tromp, his wife, and their two daughters--by Juliana,
however, with an evident confusion and embarrassment of manner. To these
greetings, Hagedorn vouchsafed the return only of a surly and
unintelligible muttering, while he proceeded to provide himself with a
chair, on which he placed himself directly opposite the one-eyed
minstrel, at whom he threw, from time to time, looks of the most
malignant ferocity.

All, especially Juliana, who had reasons for fearing the worst, seemed
impressed with the belief that the fellow was bent on mischief, and that
he had come there for the especial purpose. Of this they were more
convinced, on observing the brass-tipped sheaths of cutlasses projecting
from beneath the pea-jackets of the intruders. Their fears were not long
of being realised.

"Tromp," said Hagedorn (we take the liberty of translating, in this, and
all other similar cases), "I thought you kept a regular, decent house.
Such is the character you pretend to, at any rate."

"And such," replied Tromp, with a blush of honest indignation, "is the
character I maintain. Who shall gainsay it?"

"Why, there are some things going on here to-night that don't look much
like it," replied Hagedorn. "Know ye, Tromp, or does Juliana know, who
this one-eyed gallant is?" pointing to the late serenader.

"Whether they do or not, they shall soon know, and so shall you to your
cost, Hagedorn!" replied the minstrel, starting to his feet, and hastily
stripping off the disguise, eye-patch and all, in which he was
enveloped; a proceeding which discovered to the astonished
onlookers--not, however, including either Jones or Juliana, who had a
previous knowledge of his identity--a tall, handsome,
gentlemanly-looking young man, well known as Sir Lionel Musgrave, one of
the gayest and most respected of those English gentlemen who shared the
misfortunes and exile of Charles II. during the existence of the
Commonwealth.

"Ha!" said Hagedorn, starting to his feet, on Musgrave discovering
himself. "So, I have unearthed the fox, eh!" And, as he spoke, he made a
grasp at Musgrave's throat; which the latter evaded by adroitly stepping
back a pace, when he instantly drew his sword and made a pass at
Hagedorn, who, however, skilfully warded it off with his cutlass, to
which he had had recourse the moment he missed his hold of his
antagonist. These proceedings were, of course, a signal to all the other
men in the apartment to muster on their respective sides; and this they
instantly did. Hagedorn's men immediately drew; Jones and his party did
the same; and the women ran screaming from the scene of the impending
contest. In one instant after, a general melée commenced. There were
deep oaths, overturning of tables, and clashing of swords in every
direction, and all the other characteristics of a tremendous and very
serious hubbub. Blows, too, were not wanting. They fell thick and fast
on all sides.

Hitherto our friend the laird had remained an idle, but
sufficiently-astonished spectator of the strange and sudden scene that
had been thus brought before his visual organs. Though an idle, he was
not altogether, however, a mute witness of the proceedings that were
going forward.

"'Od! this _is_ a queer business!" he muttered to himself. "Wha on earth
wad hae thocht that yon blin-ee'd, broken-doon-lookin soul o' a fiddler
wad hae turned oot a braw young swanky like that? Na, na, that'll no
do," suddenly added the laird, and now referring to the circumstance of
Jones being hard pressed by two of the intruders. "Twa on ane--that'll
never do." And the laird looked around him for some weapon wherewith he
might compensate the odds against his friend. Nothing of this kind more
efficient than the tongs presenting itself, the laird leaped down from
the table on which he had been perched in the quality of musician, and,
seizing the afore-mentioned instrument by the feet, advanced upon the
foe, shouting, "Stan to them, Jones! stan to them, lad! till I gie them
a taste o' the tangs!" And, in the same instant, he discharged a blow at
the head of one of Jones' assailants that laid him senseless on the
floor. Finding his first effort so successful, the laird repeated the
experiment on the prostrate man's companion with precisely the same
result. Down he went also with a fractured skull. "That's the way!"
shouted the laird, now greatly excited by his own destructive exertions;
"ca' them down like nine-pins! Soop them aff the face o' the yearth!"

At this moment, the laird's Io Pæans were interrupted by the entrance of
a party of the town-guard, whom Tromp had summoned to his aid. These
immediately seized on the intruders, as they were pointed out by the
latter--the fallen men having so far recovered as to be now sitting up,
although evidently sick and giddy from the effects of the laird's blows,
and looking, as he said himself, "unco white aboot the gills"--and
marched them off to the guard-house, to answer in due time to the
judicial authorities of the city for the breach of the peace of which
they had been guilty.

On the kitchen of the Drouthsloken being cleared of the enemy, an
investigation into the extent of personal injury sustained took place,
when it was found that this was, after all, very trivial, consisting
only of two or three slight flesh wounds, of which Musgrave bore two,
and one or two others one apiece.

"And now, laird," said Jones, addressing the latter, "what share of the
honours have you got?"

"Deil a scratch," replied the laird. "Feth, I didna gie them time for
that. I didna stan whilly-whain wi' them, wi' a bit shabble in my haun,
as ye a' did, but gied them richt knock-me-doon thuds at ance--sent them
owre like stots, ane after the ither. Feth! commen me to a pair o' tangs
in a kitchen row. It maks clean wark. I'll think mair o' them as a
weapon, baith o' offence and defence, than ever I did."

"In such hands as yours, laird, they certainly are a
sufficiently-formidable weapon. Had it not been for them and you
together, I would scarce have got off so scatheless as I have done. I
owe you a good turn, and it shall not be forgotten. I promised you an
introduction to the king; and I shall not only fulfil that promise, but,
as my word goes a long way with him, I shall give such an account of you
as, I answer for it, will insure you a favourable reception, and
probably procure you some still more substantial tokens of his regard."

"Ou, thank ye, sir, thank ye," said the laird; "but I dinna see that I
hae dune onything the nicht that should entitle me to ony special favour
frae his most gracious Majesty. What interest can he possibly hae in a
kitchen collyshangy like this?"

"More than you're aware of, perhaps, laird; but never mind that in the
meantime. Here comes Tromp, to read us a lecture, I daresay, on the
evening's occurrences, although it was none of our fault either. Ha,
Musgrave, my spark!" continued Jones, and now turning to that
gallant--"didst think I couldn't have known thee? 'Od's fish, man, I
would have known the cut of thy jib, although thou hadst been sewn in a
sack."

"Faith, your ----" A wink from Jones prevented the word that was about
to follow. The wink was understood. "Faith, my friend," said Musgrave,
laughing, "to tell a truth, I had no idea you were here. It was intended
for a stolen march--to see whether I could not win my wager, by cutting
ye out in the good graces of our landlord's fair daughter July." The
conversation between Jones and Musgrave was here interrupted by the
approach of Tromp, who came not, as the latter had suspected, to
complain of what had occurred, but merely to request that the gentlemen
would now retire, as it was getting late, and as his household was in a
state of great alarm and confusion, in consequence of what had taken
place.

The request was too respectfully made, and in itself too reasonable, to
admit of the smallest objection. The party immediately donned their hats
and cloaks, when Jones, taking the laird by the hand, told him to remain
where he was for the night, and that he would wait upon him on the
following morning to conduct him to the king.

Agreeably to his promise, early in the forenoon of the following day,
Jones, attended by a gay band of cavaliers, entered the apartment in
which the laird was at breakfast.

"Oh, Mr Jones, hoo are ye?" said the latter, rising from his seat on the
entrance of the former. "I'm sure this is very guid o' ye. Nane the waur
o' the bit stramash we had last nicht, I hope?"

"Oh! not a bit, not a bit, kind thanks to you for that, laird," replied
Jones. "Now, my friend," continued the latter, "I am better than my
word: I promised to bring you to the king; instead of this, I have
brought the king to you. Any objection, laird, to take me for your
lawful, but unfortunate king? I am Charles," he said, in a tone of more
earnest emphasis.

Need we describe the laird's amazement at this astounding disclosure? We
need not. The reader will conceive it. Although he looked unutterable
things, all that he said was--

"Gude preserve me! is that a fact?" pronounced in the slow, deliberate
tone of overwhelming and perplexed amazement.

The sequel of our tale is soon told. Charles settled a small pension on
the laird--all that his circumstances at the time would afford--on which
he lived for several years at the Hague. He subsequently found his way
back to Scotland, the distracted state of the king's affairs preventing
the regular payment of his pension. In the meantime, years rolled on,
and changes took place, and amongst these came the Restoration. Charles
was restored to the throne of his ancestors. On this throne the monarch
had not been many days seated, when he was informed by one of the pages
in waiting that they had been much annoyed by an old grey-headed
Scotchman, with a large flat blue bonnet on his head, insisting on
admission to His Majesty's presence.

"Did he give his name?" replied the monarch.

"He did, please your majesty," replied the page; "he said he was sure
that, if we would inform your majesty that it was the Laird of Lucky's
How who sought admission, your majesty would instantly grant him an
audience."

"He was right," said Charles, smiling. "I recollect the honest man well.
Admit him next time he presents himself."

The laird came, was admitted, and was received with a most cordial
welcome by the good-natured monarch. They talked over the occurrences of
the evening they had spent in the kitchen of the Drouthsloken; and the
laird was finally dismissed, with a promise, shortly afterwards
redeemed, of his being reinstated in his patrimonial lands. To this
other gratuities were added, to an amount that amply compensated him, as
he often himself said, for all that he had suffered in the royal cause.
Some will say, perhaps, and with too much truth, that Charles was not so
grateful to all his friends; but, in the present instance, we have only
to do with the case of the Laird of Lucky's How.



THE ABDUCTION.


The farm of Kelpiehaugh, at a short distance from Lessudden, was, at an
early period of the St Boswell's meetings, occupied by Giles Ramsay--a
man who, as often happens in Scotland, was not loth to admit that "his
grey mare was the better horse." He liked the philosophy of the old
ballad quoted by Shakspere, and received it as a general maxim, that
"nought's to be had at a woman's hand" unless, in every case, "ye gie
her a' the plea." And, verily, Matty did not love him the worse for his
correct notions of woman-kind, though, as for anything like gratitude
for his easy submission to her entire authority, she knew nothing of the
sentiment, if she did not heartily despise it. The reason was indeed
plain enough; for she had the capacity to know that, whatever
superiority nature intended her husband should possess over her, in his
character of one of the lords of the creation, he had none whatever in
the capacity of her husband. In this there was a secret which she
communicated to no one; and that was simply, that Giles was, in all
respects, a stupid, simple, honest "cudden," and she was one of the
cleverest dames that ever made a good-natured husband cry "barlafummil"
in a matrimonial skirmish. Yet, with all the guidwife's cleverness, she
had not been able either to prevent Giles from getting behind with his
rent--the more by token as, we fancy, that Kelpiehaugh was too dear--or
to get "the glaikit hizzy," Mary, her daughter, well buckled to a canny
laird, who might help them to pay up their arrears. The first was
clearly no marvel; but the second might have been termed some what
extraordinary, seeing the young woman was as fair as Dowsabell.

Something as regarded the rent depended upon the next sale of cattle at
St Boswell's, for which honest Giles had ready six as good stirks as
ever grazed on a green lea; and it was arranged between him and the
better partner of the matrimonial firm, that he must get six pounds for
every head of them, otherwise he might have small chance for "love's
roundelay" on his return.

"It will mak thirty-six pounds, Giles," said Matty; "and that will
enable us to pay up ten pounds o' oor arrears."

"And what will I get for a superplus o' a pound a-head on them?" said
Giles.

"The liberty to buy a new gown for Mary," replied she, "that we may try
to get her aff at the next fair. But, if ye sell them for a pound less,
I rede ye to seek a quieter bield for your hame than Kelpiehaugh will be
on your return."

And so primed, old Giles set off with his six stirks to St Boswell's. He
arrived at the green, and exposed his bestial in the most favourable
manner he could; but he found that Matty's price did not accord with the
humour of the buyers, who probably thought proper to judge for
themselves in the question of value. The time passed, and Giles saw
before him nothing but the necessity of driving the stirks back again to
Kelpiehaugh--an operation he by no means relished. As he stood musing on
the apparently forlorn hope of a customer, an old man, much bent, with a
grey beard, and a patch over his left eye as big as the blind of him of
forging celebrity, "Blackpatch" himself, came up to him, and at once
offered him eight pounds a-head for his stock. The old farmer wondered,
smiled, and accepted. The bargain was struck, and forty-eight good
pounds were instanter placed in the hands of the seller.

"Now I have a favour to ask of you, good Mr Ramsay," said the buyer.

"It will be an unreasonable request I winna grant to ane wha has gien me
my ain price," replied the farmer. "What is't?"

"That you will drive the cattle home to Kelpiehaugh, and keep them there
at my risk and cost till I send for them," said the other.

"Granted, and wi' thanks," said the farmer.

"I have another favour to ask," said the other.

"As mony's ye like, sir, if they're a' o' a kind," answered the farmer,
smiling. "Out wi't."

"That you'll give me a bed at Kelpiehaugh to-night," said the old man.
"I have a distance to ride, and would fain halve the stage, by making
your house a half-way resting-place.

"Of a surety, sir," replied the farmer; "ye'll hae the best bed and the
best victuals Kelpiehaugh can boast o', and nae boast after a', though
Matty, I am proud to say, kens hussyskep as weel as ony woman in a' the
shirradom. Will ye gang wi' me, or come yersel?"

"I will come by myself," said the buyer. "I have some other affairs to
settle before the fair breaks up, and it may be later than your time
before I have finished."

The matter being thus arranged, the two parted. Giles was anxious to
know who his customer was; but no one could tell anything of him, and
the hour getting forward to the gloaming, he set off again for his farm,
with his forty-eight pounds in his pocket, and the cattle before him. On
his approaching Kelpiehaugh, Matty, along with her fair daughter, was at
the door, waiting for him. It was now dark; but she could hear his voice
in articulations which pleased her not. "Hey! hey! yaud! yaud!" and then
came the sound of a thwack on the backs of the lazy troop he was driving
before him.

"And ye've brought them back again, ye sorry simpleton?" cried the wife.

The husband answered nothing, but continued thumping at the nolt with
his "hey," and "yaud," and "phew"--every ejaculation having the effect
of an objurgatory attack on the dame herself.

"Ay, ay," she cried, "thump them and drive them into the shed, Giles,
that they may be ready for the roup o' our plenishing and stocking. The
auctioneer's hammer will knock them down wi' mair pith than that rung ye
are using, wi' a' the spite o' an angry disappointed man, wha couldna
mak a sale o' his ain kye."

Her cutting words had still no effect upon the good-natured farmer, who
continued his operations till he got the six steers safely lodged in
their shed. He then came into the house quietly, and, with a "heigh-ho,
that job's weel owre," sat him down by the side of the fire, opposite to
his wife and daughter. For some minutes there was silence in the house
of Kelpiehaugh; the reason whereof was that Matty's authority was for
once apparently disregarded, or set at naught, by the apparent absence
of all tokens of fear and contrition on the part of her mate. She had
already indicated sufficiently her sense of his stupidity, and given him
a peremptory notice of what he might expect for the next half-year to
come; yet there was he, against all custom, and all the laws of marital
subordination, sitting as easy and comfortable as if he merited her
praise and deserved her blessing. She could only look daggers at him,
with occasionally an expression of staring wonder at a nonchalance that
disproved twenty years of authority.

"Is there naething in Kelpiehaugh for its master to eat or drink?" said
he, at last, in a calm, soft voice. "A hard day's wark deserves
something at e'en."

"Is he adding impertinence to his folly?" thought the dame, as she sat
doggedly silent and immoveable.

"Come, Mary," added he; "since Matty will gie us naething, rise, lassie,
and gie your father the best that's in the house, and, by way o' bribe,
here's a new gown to ye--the bonniest and brawest I could find at St
Boswell's."

The girl started up and laid hold of the dress. The bright hues glared
on her eyes. The dame cast a side-eye on the gaudy article.

"Waur and waur, Giles," she ejaculated. "Are ye mad, man? What, in the
name o' a' that's guid or ill, possessed ye? Will that gown pay our
rent?"

"Maybe it may," rejoined Giles. "Mary's the bonniest lass on this side
o' the Tweed, and beauty's nae waur o' being weel buskit. It may bring
her a husband wha'll pay our rent; and, if it doesna, there's nae
skaith, seeing we may yet be able to do it oursels."

"The man's as mad as a March hare, or a gled-stung quey," cried Matty.

"But am I to get nae supper, Matty?" rejoined he, with the same
calmness.

"The deil a bit," ejaculated the dame.

"Maybe this may bribe ye," said he, as he pulled out of another pocket a
gown-piece, as bright as the other, for his beloved spouse.

The charm had no power, save that of increasing the wonder of the dame;
and the statement which immediately followed, that there was a stranger
to be entertained at Kelpiehaugh that night, roused her still farther.
It was not till she began to look more narrowly into the face of her
husband, that she observed a dry humour about him, that might be
anything but the result of an unsuccessful attempt to dispose of his
bestial, and, going up to him, she shook him heartily by the shoulders.

"Come, come, Giles," she said, "there's a secret at the bottom o' a'
this, and maybe this may explain it."

And, seizing his pocket-book, she opened it, and pulled forth the bunch
of notes. They were counted on the instant, and the eyes of the dame
brightened up at every addition to the calculation. The farmer explained
all, and, in the course of his narration, Matty's wonder waxed great
again. She was not altogether satisfied. She looked at the notes, to see
that they were not forged; glanced at Giles; fell into a brown study;
looked at Mary; hemmed and heyed; and began to make preparations for the
stranger. In about an hour afterwards, the old customer arrived, was
ushered in to the fire, and took his seat, while Giles went to look to
the putting-up of his horse, which, he observed, was as clever and
clean-limbed a creature as that which carried the "fair ladye" and "true
Thomas" over the Eildon Hills. The supper was, in the meantime, in the
act of being served up. The old man coughed and told stories, Mary
listened, and Matty eyed her guest with a peculiar expression, which
made him rub his beard, cough more and more, and retire farther into the
recess which he had taken possession of. Nor would the supper draw him
forth; for he said he had supped before he came, yet had he no objection
to drink the ale which Matty handed him, and was as merry as an old man
might be, who had seen so many summers as his beard betokened. Many a
thing they talked of, but they all concerned the farmer, and his wife
and daughter; for the never a word would he say of himself, either as to
what he was, or where he lived--the dry skeleton of a name, Mr
Farquharson, being all he gratified them with, while, in return, he
asked so much of the condition and doings of his host and family, that
one might have thought he intended either to pay their arrears of rent,
or marry the daughter, at the very least. The supper, of which he
partook not, being done, he said he wished not to put them about in
their arrangements, and would be very well pleased to lie in the small
bed behind him, unless that were set apart for some other of the family.

"That ye may weel hae, sir," said Matty on the instant, "if ye hae a
fancy to it. A sma' reward for the guid price ye gae for the cattle.
Mary can sleep for a nicht in the kitchen--for Jenny is at St Boswell's,
and winna be hame before the morn."

"You will have only one night's trouble of me," replied the old man;
"but you may have more of the cattle--eight at least--and I think I will
better pay you beforehand, Mr Ramsay, that there may be no mistake when
the men come to take them away."

And he put into the farmer's hand three times the sum he would have
demanded for the keeping of the steers. The farmer would have refused
the money, but Matty, whose by-play all along had been unnoticed by her
husband, pinched him on the arm, and the words of rejection died away in
his mouth. The parties afterwards retired to bed, leaving the strange
visiter in the apartment allotted to him.

"I never did a better day's wark, guidwife," said the farmer to his
partner, when they went up-stairs.

"Hush! hush! man, ye dinna ken what ye have done," replied she; and the
next moment she was busy whispering something in the ear of the farmer.
He started instantly, cried, "Impossible, impossible!" and stood for a
moment in dismay and consternation. But Matty gave him no time for
thought. She was again busy with his ear; and the next exhibition he
made was of an opposite character--a strange expression was upon his
face, and he slapped her upon the back in the extravagance of a feeling
that, whether betokening good-humour or not, seemed to have no bounds.
In a short time, the house was as quiet as Grimalkin himself could have
wished it, when bent on a hunting foray. All had apparently gone to bed,
and the stillness continued till considerably after midnight. A slow tap
at the kitchen-door showed that one individual at least was astir.

"Mary, Mary, are you awake?" said a voice, that at least was
uninterrupted by a cough.

The answer was a whisper from within. After some parley, the door was
opened, and a series of secret doings, among which the opening of the
outer door of the house, a recourse to the stable, the saddling of the
fleet horse, and other furtive preparations for a departure, were the
most important. During all this time, the figure of a female wrapped in
a cloak stood in the recess of the door. The horse was quietly walked to
the loan, and the mantled figure glided as secretly as a ghost, who
knows that the pimp Gallus will shortly awaken, to the starting-post.
One swing brought her to the pad, and another placed before her one whom
the light of the faint moon exhibited without a bend in his body or
beard on his chin. Away they set--

  "On, on they rade, and farther on--
    The steed gaed swifter than the wind--
  Until they reach'd a desert wide,
    And living land was left behind."

Not a word passed between the couple. The one was occupied spurring on
the steed, and the other clung to him, as if love had nerved her arms,
and made them as tenacious of the grasp of his waist as Lenora, of
German celebrity, was of the soulless body of her Wilhelm. Sometimes he
slackened his pace, to ascertain whether the guidman of Kelpiehaugh was
up and away in quest of runaway bride, like the Græmes after the heiress
of Netherby, over Cannobie-lee; and then, when he thought he heard the
clatter of a horse's hoof, he applied the spur again, and away they
went, over moss and muir, with such speed as love and fear in the rider
may alone impart to the obedient steed. At other times, the space of a
few minutes was devoted to soft whispers, and the gallant pressed the
encircling arms of his fair one, and sighed as he felt her embrace as
tight as a lover's heart could wish. He was as happy as one who is on
the verge of the enjoyment of stolen pleasures can be in a world where
lawful indulgences had no zest for him; and he turned his head for the
muffled kiss, which was granted as freely as any rieving lover, even
Lochinvar himself or Jock o' Hazeldean, could have desired. Nor less was
he pleased with the pressure of her fair arms, which accompanied or
followed the other demonstrations of her affection, and the speed of his
steed, now safe, as he thought himself, from all pursuit, was quickened,
that he might reach the goal, where all the joys of a long-sighed-for
possession awaited him. At length he gave his horse breathing-time, and,
taking himself a long inspiration--

"When, think ye, Mary," said he, "I will send for the six steers I
purchased from your father yesterday?"

"Maybe never, Robert," was the whispered reply.

"You say right, love. It was never my intention," said he. "I thought it
but fair to leave old Giles some consideration for his daughter."

A squeeze was the expression of the gratitude felt by the female for the
boon so generously bestowed on the farmer of Kelpiehaugh.

"Was I known, think ye?" he continued. "I liked not the sharp eye of
your mother. By my faith! I quailed under it. The devil an ancient
carlin duenna in an old romance ever observed so sharp a look-out for
the safety of her ward. But, ha! ha! Mary, we have outwitted the old
dame, and let her catch us now, if she can. We want only two miles of
Langholm, and then, hey! hey! and be merry, as the song says--

  'Now all this time let us be merry,
  And set nocht by this world a cherry.'

Safe in my house at Langholm, Mary, let Giles and his old dame enjoy the
bargain they have got. They may sell the steers at the next fair of St
Boswell's; but I will not so soon part with my Mary."

"Na, I hope not," replied the whispering female. "But hearna ye the
sounds of a horse's feet?"

The lover turned his head.

"Your father, by the rood!" cried he; and, clapping spurs again to his
horse, they set off at a quick gallop, with a view to distance their
pursuer, who was no other than Giles Ramsay himself, mounted on one of
his quickest plough-horses, and brandishing a huge cudgel, in the double
act of beating his nag and threatening vengeance on the fugitives.

The pursued were now in danger of being overtaken; for the greater speed
of the hunter was counterbalanced by the greater burden, and it was
clearly a cast-up whether they would be able to escape the vengeance
that awaited them. But, whatever might be the issue, there was no want
of energy in either hand or heel of the abductor; and he lashed and
spurred his steed more furiously as his fears increased--

  "Still looking the sidelong woods among,
    Before, around him, and behind;
  And aye, whene'er the echo rung,
    The steed flew swifter than the wind."

And no less energetic was the fearful pursuer, whose hearty thwacks upon
the curpan of his shaggy cart-tracer, mixed with loud halloos, might be
heard in the distance, awakening the echoes of the silent night. The
lover relished not the appearance, and still less the cries, of the
lusty farmer; and as little apparently did his companion--who, as the
horse increased his speed, grasped her abductor round the waist--wish to
fall into the hands of the enraged pursuer. Away they scoured, and,
"Fear not, Mary--love will distance the old churl," fell from the lips
of the panting lover, in reply to the inspiring pressure of her arms;
while, "Na, na, Robert, flee for the love o' heaven," added more energy
to the spur, and more passion to his breast. They reached the skirts of
the woody Langholm; but it was not the abductor's intention to stop at
his residence, while he was in danger of being overtaken; so, striking
to the left, and dashing into a _corrie_, or deep lirk of a hill, he
stretched on with the flight of desperation. His wish was to clear the
fern brae, as the height was called, and, getting into the thick wood at
the back, make a sudden turn, and elude the quick eye of the farmer; but
the latter kept dashing and bounding on, hallooing in the distance, and
still brandishing his oaken ryss, in the most fearful demonstrations of
a vengeance that would be contented with nothing less, apparently, than
the body of the one, and the life of the other. Still the fond female
turned her eyes behind, and, giving her companion reports of the
progress of the pursuer, kept up his energies and alive his spirit.

"All the work of that accursed old duenna, your mother," muttered he.

"Ay, ay, nae doot, nae doot," rejoined she, and hugged him again more
closely than ever. The turn of the fern hill did not seem, however, to
bring the relief which it promised, for the couple were still within
hail of the redoubted Giles; and his shouting reverberated among the
rocks like the tally-ho of the hunter, or rather like the deep-mouthed
bay of the pack.

But here a more extraordinary phenomenon presented itself, and that was
an accession of strength to the sturdy Giles of no fewer than three
horsemen, who, probably attracted by his war-whoop, had tendered their
services in endeavouring to overtake and seize the fugitives. This
circumstance was proclaimed by a united cry of the whole pursuers, which
rung in the ears of the lover like the howl which met the Florentine on
his visit to the region of the wicked in Hades. There was, however, more
in the appearance of the strangers, as seen in the light of the now
bright moon, than in their war-shout that carried dismay to the breast
of the abductor. What this was, he told not; but his muttering of "Who
can have brought him and his servants to this part of the country at
this time?" satisfied his companion that he knew the individuals who had
thus opportunely joined the cause of the farmer; and now, if indeed that
were possible, he urged his panting steed forward at a still quicker
pace. His chance of escape was diminishing every moment. The horses of
the assistants were fleeter than those of the farmer; and, if he did not
succeed in overtaking the fugitives, it was too evident that they would
accomplish for him the object he had in view. The lover seemed doubtful
what he should do--whether still to press on, lay down his charge, or
make a sweep round the hill, and take refuge in Langholm. A clump of
trees now intervening between him and the party, he appeared to resolve
suddenly on the last manoeuvre; and his reason probably was, that he
might have time to secrete his fair one among some of the outhouses of
the mansion before the pursuers came up. Acting upon this resolution, he
turned the head of his horse, swept in by the tail of the height, struck
into a loan, and, after a rapid run of a few minutes, was opposite to
the house of Langholm.

"Quick! quick, Mary! jump and follow me," he cried, as he took her in
his arms. "This way," and he flew first to one door and then another.
They were shut, and he had no alternative left but to take his fair
charge into the mansion itself. Rushing up-stairs, and dragging after
him his abducted love, he reached a small bedroom, thrust her into it,
shut the door, locked it, and returned to face boldly his pursuers. By
the time he arrived at the landing-place, his horse had sought the
stable; and there was no apparent sign, save his appearance there at
that hour, of his having been engaged in the unlawful undertaking for
which he had been so hotly pursued.

"I have paid well for my love-errantry," said he, as he took a
handkerchief, and wiped the sweat from his face. "There is not another
beauty in Scotland for whom I would have toiled as I have now done. Have
I given them the slip? Mayhap I may, unless I am right in that fearful
conjecture, suggested by the appearance of my strange pursuers."

"Ho, there!" cried the voice of a man, rushing up on horseback. "What is
this, Robert?"

"My father!" ejaculated the youth; "what has brought you from Craigton
at this hour?"

"Robert! Robert!" ejaculated a voice from a bedroom window, at that
moment drawn up--"why have you placed a woman in my bedroom, and locked
her in?"

"Is that you, my love?" rejoined the father, in answer to the cry of his
wife. "Why, here is some infernal mystery. Your mother and I arrived
here to-day. We heard you were at St Boswell's, and I left her here that
I might go and join you at the market. Now I have returned to witness a
scene that baffles all my wits. Here is a man who has a claim upon you
which your mother corroborates by her extraordinary inquiry."

The cavalcade at that moment came up--Giles in the rear, still
brandishing his rung, and muttering incoherent threats against the
abductor. The youth was surrounded: his father cried for information,
his mother screamed from the window. Giles demanded restitution, and the
voice of the abducted female was heard in shrill tones over all.

"Ha! Matty, lass, this is sad wark," cried the farmer, on recognising
the voice of his wife.

"Is it possible, Robert Melville," said the father, "that you could
disgrace your family and your pedigree, by carrying off the wife of this
honest farmer--a woman stricken in years--and place her in the bedroom
occupied by your mother?"

"It's owre true," cried Giles, with something like a suppressed laugh.
"I see her face at the window. He came to Kelpiehaugh habited as an auld
man, wi' a grey beard stuck on his chin, and a scratch wig on his head;
and, in return for a supper and a bed, carried aff my helpmate, wi' whom
I hae lived, in love and honour, for thirty years."

The scene was getting more extraordinary. The young man was sceptical of
the truth of Giles' statement; but he could not disprove it by stating
what he conceived to be the veritable fact--that he had run away with
Mary, the young daughter of the farmer of Kelpiehaugh. He looked at the
latter, then turned up his eyes to the window, where he then saw only
the face of his mother. Her cries still rung in his ears; the father
called for the key; Giles insisted on the truth of his statement; and
the inquiries of the servants mingled with the general confusion. By an
impulse he could not resist, he gave his father the key; the door was
opened, and the mother, who was now dressed, came down-stairs, along
with her husband, followed by the female, on whom they turned eyes in
which wonder and indignation alternated their suitable expressions. The
female threw back her hood.

"We hae had a lang and a hard ride, Mr Melville," said she. "My feth, ye
did weel, but your horse did better; and, Giles, man, ye did as I never
saw ye do before."

"I couldna want ye, Matty," replied Giles; "and, if I havena testified
my love for ye by this nicht's wark, never a man in Scotland ever proved
his affection for his wife."

The absence of all ill-humour, the winks which Matty directed to the
wonderstruck youth, and his apparent amazement, added to the puzzle
which perplexed the minds of the father and the mother.

"What does all this mean, Robert?" cried the mother.

"For God's sake, explain this extraordinary affair!" rejoined the
father.

The youth was still mute. At length Matty whispered something in his
ear. He spoke for the first time since the scene commenced.

"It may be as you say, Mrs Ramsay," said he.

"Aweel, it's a' richt," replied she; "but it may please Giles and mysel
if ye will acknowledge it in the presence o' your father and mother."

"I have no objections," replied he; and, turning to his parents, who
understood not one word of all this dialogue, and far less of the
strange scene still acting around them, he added, "I hereby declare, in
presence of you, as witnesses, that I hereby renounce all claim----"

"To whom?" cried the mother; "to another man's wife--an aged matron?
Fie, Robert! Say no more. Close the lips that would dishonour a son in
presence of his parents."

"I hereby renounce all claim to six stirks at present lying at the farm
of Kelpiehaugh, and promise never to trouble Giles Ramsay for the same."

"It's a' settled and adjusted," cried Matty. "I am satisfied; and Giles,
I fancy, you are no ill-pleased wi' my nicht's wark?"

"I dinna ken which o' us hae dune best," replied the farmer. "Between
us, our arrears o' rent will be paid up. My bargain was guid; but I
freely admit yours is better."

"Then this affair is at last arranged?" said the youth.

The farmer assented. The worthy couple bade adieu to their friends, and
proceeded on their way to Kelpiehaugh. We cannot tell what explanations
took place at Langholm between the young man and his parents; neither
can we tell precisely the import of the conversation that took place
between the farmer and his wife on their journey homewards; but we
strongly suspect they enjoyed a hearty laugh at the clever manoeuvre
of the dame. It is probable that Giles himself was in the secret; at
least the good-humour he exhibited in getting again possession of his
spouse would lead us to believe that he had been a willing party in the
plot that had been so cleverly laid and executed. How far the daughter
was to blame has not been recorded; and, to do justice to the farmer and
his wife, they never taxed her with indiscretion. She was some time
afterwards married, and so put beyond the power of the wild youth who
had been so completely foiled by the genius of a clever dame.



SIR PATRICK HUME.

A TALE OF THE HOUSE OF MARCHMONT.


Sir Patrick Hume of Polwarth was elected representative of the County of
Berwick in the year 1665, being then in the twenty-fifth year of his
age. He was a lover of freedom, a lover of his country, and a staunch
Presbyterian. In those days, however, a love of freedom was a dangerous
principle either to avow or to carry into Parliament. The tyrant
Charles, whom some falsely call the Merry Monarch, was then attempting
to rule the empire with a rod of iron. You have all heard of his Long
Parliament, and of his afterwards governing the country, like an
absolute tyrant, without a Parliament at all. Fettered and servile as
parliaments then were, young Hume had boldly stood forward as the
advocate of civil and religious liberty; and, when the arbitrary monarch
sent down a mandate to Scotland for a levy of men and of money, that he
might carry his plans of despotism the more effectually into execution,
Sir Patrick resisted the slavishness with which it was about to be
obeyed.

"What!" exclaimed he, "are we mere instruments in the hands of the
king--creatures appointed to minister to his pleasure? Are we not
representatives of the people of Scotland--the representatives of their
wants and their wishes, and the defenders of their rights? And shall we,
as such, at the mere nod of a monarch, drag them from following their
plough in the valley, or attending their hirsels on the hill--shall we
do these things, and lay contributions on their cattle, on their corn,
and on their coffers, merely because His Majesty wills it? Pause, my
countrymen. The king has no authority to compel such a measure, and it
can only be rendered legal by the concurrence of the assembled
representatives of the people."

"Treason!" vociferated the Duke of Lauderdale, who was the arch-minion
of Charles; "before the Parliament of Scotland, I denounce Sir Patrick
Hume as a dangerous man--as a plotter against the life and dignity of
our sovereign lord the king!"

"What!" exclaimed Sir Patrick, indignantly fixing his eyes upon
Lauderdale. "Though there may be amongst us a slave who would sell his
country for a royal smile, I still hope that this is a FREE Parliament,
and it concerns all the members to be FREE in what concerns the nation."

From that day, Sir Patrick Hume became a suspected man, and the eyes of
the king's creatures were upon him; and when, two years afterwards,
Charles endeavoured to put down the people by the sword, and establish
garrisons throughout the country, again the Laird of Polwarth stood
foremost in the ranks of opposition, and resisted his power. The king
accordingly ordered his privy council to crush so dangerous a spirit;
and Sir Patrick was confined in Stirling Castle, where, with the
exception of a short interval, he was imprisoned for two years.

Britain had long been distracted with the pretended discovery of
fabulous or ridiculous plots against the royal family; and the perjury
of paid miscreants, like the infamous Titus Oates, was causing the
scaffolds to run with gore. But tyranny being glutted with Catholic
blood, and the extinguishing of what were called Popish plots, the
myrmidons of Charles (who lived a libertine, and died a Papist)
professed that they had discovered a Protestant plot against his royal
person. In this plot the incorruptible Algernon Sydney, Lord Russell, Mr
Bailie of Jerviswoode, and Sir Patrick Hume, were included. They beheld
their common country withering and wasting beneath the grasp of a
tyrant; and true it is they had united together to restore it to
freedom, but they were innocent of designs against his life, or even of
a wish to dethrone him. They did not, however, act sufficiently in
concert, and were unable to bring their plans into operation. A price
was set upon their heads--some fled into exile, and others sought refuge
on the mountain and in the wilderness; while the amiable Russell died
upon the scaffold.

It was near nightfall, in the month of September, 1684, when Jamie
Winter, who was joiner on the estate of Polwarth, ran breathless up to
Redbraes Castle, and knocked loudly at the door. It was opened by John
Allan, the land-steward, who, perceiving his agitation, inquired--

"In the name o' guidness, Jamie, what's happened, or what do ye want?"

"Dinna ask, Maister Allan," replied Jamie; "but, for Heaven's sake, tell
me, is Sir Patrick at hame? and let me speak to him presently, as ye
value his life."

"Follow me, then, Jamie," said the other, "and come in quietly, that the
servants mayna observe onything extraordinar; for we live in times when
a man canna trust his ain brither."

The honest joiner was ushered into a room where Sir Patrick sat in the
midst of his family, acting at once as their schoolmaster and their
playmate.

"Weel, James," said the laird, "I understand ye hae been at Berwick the
day. Ye've got early back. What uncos heard ye there?"

"I watna, Sir Patrick," replied the other; "now-a-days, I think, there's
naething unco that can happen. Satan seems to have been let loose on our
poor misgoverned country. But I wish to speak to your honour very
particularly, and in private, if you please."

"You may speak on, James," said the laird; "I am private in the midst o'
my ain family."

"Wi' your guid leave sir," returned the cautious servant, "I wad rather
the bairns were oot o' the way, for what I hae to say is no proper for
them to hear, and the sooner ye are acquainted wi' it the better."

Sir Patrick led his younger children out of the room, but requested Lady
Polwarth and their eldest daughter, Grizel, a lovely dark-haired girl,
about twelve years of age, to remain.

"You are the bearer of evil tidings, James," said he, as he returned,
"but you may tell them now--it is meet that my wife should hear them, if
they concern me; and," added he, taking Grizel's hand in his, "I keep no
secrets from my little secretary."

"God bless her!" said James, "she's an auld-farrant bairn, as wise as
she's bonny, I ken that. But, your honour, I am, indeed, the bearer of
evil tidings. A party o' troopers arrived at Berwick this morning, and
it was nae secret there that they would be baith at Jerviswoode and
Redbraes before midnicht. I heard them talk o' the premium that was set
upon your life, and slipped out o' the town immediately, without
performing a single transaction, or speaking a word to a living
creature. How I've got alang the road is mair than I can tell; for I was
literally sick, blind, and desperate wi' grief. I've this minute
arrived, and whatever can be done to save you maun be done instantly."

Lady Polwarth burst into tears. Sir Patrick grasped the hand of his
faithful servant. Little Grizel gazed in her father's face with a look
of silent despair, but neither spoke nor wept.

"Oh, fly! fly instantly, my dear husband!" cried Lady Polwarth, "and
Heaven direct you."

"Be composed, my love," said Sir Patrick; "I fear that flight is
impossible; but some means of evading them may perhaps be devised."

"Oh, my leddy," said Jamie Winter, "to flee is out o' the question
athegither. Government has its spies at every turn o' the road--in every
house in the country--even in this house. Our only hope is to conceal
Sir Patrick; but how or where is beyond my comprehension."

Many were the schemes devised by the anxious wife--many the suggestions
of her husband, and honest Jamie proposed numerous plans--but each was,
in its turn, rejected as being unsafe. More than an hour had passed in
these anxious deliberations; within three hours more, and the king's
troops would be at his gate. Grizel had, till now, remained silent, and
dashing away the first tear that rolled down her cheek, she flung her
arms around her father's neck, and exclaimed, in an eager and breathless
whisper--

"I ken a place, faither--I ken a place that the king's troopers and his
spies will never find out; and I'll stop beside ye, to bear ye company."

"Bless the bairn!" said Sir Patrick, pressing her to his breast; "and
where's the place, dearest?"

"The aisle below Polwarth Kirk, faither," returned Grizel. "Nae trooper
will find out such a hiding-place; for the mouth's a bit wee hole, and
the long grass, and the docks, and the nettles grow owre it, and I could
slip out and in without trampling them down; and naebody would think o'
seeking ye there, faither."

Lady Polwarth shuddered, and Sir Patrick pressed the cheek of his lovely
daughter to his lips.

"Save us a', bairn!" said Jamie, "there's surely something no earthly
about yer young laddyship, for ye hae mair sense than us a' put
thegither. The aisle is the very place. I'll steal awa, and hae a kind
o' bed put up in it, and tak ither twa or three bits o' necessary
things; and, Sir Patrick, ye'll slip out o' the house and meet me there
as soon as possible."

Within an hour, Sir Patrick had joined Jamie Winter in the dark and
dismal aisle. The humble bed was soon and silently fitted up, and the
faithful servant, wishing his master "farewell," left him alone in his
dreary prison-house. Slow and heavily the hours of darkness moved on. He
heard the trampling of the troopers' horses galloping in quest of him.
The oaths and the imprecations of the riders fell distinctly on his
ears. Amidst such sounds he heard them mention his name. But his heart
failed not. He knelt down upon the cold damp floor of his
hiding-place--upon the bones of his fathers--and there, in soundless,
but earnest prayer, supplicated his father's God to protect his
family--to save his country--to forgive his persecutors, and to do with
him as seemed good in his sight. He arose; and, laying himself upon his
cold and comfortless bed, slept calmly. He awoke shivering and benumbed.
Faint streaks of light stole into the place of death through its narrow
aperture, dimly revealing the ghastly sights of the charnel-house, and
the slow reptiles that crawled along the floor. Again night came on, and
the shadows of light, if I may use the expression, which revealed his
cell, died away. A second morning had come, and a second time the feeble
rays had been lost in utter darkness. It was near midnight, and the
slender stock of provisions which he had brought with him were nigh
exhausted. He started from his lowly couch--he heard a rustling among
the weeds at the mouth of the aisle--he heard some one endeavouring to
remove the fragment of an old gravestone that covered it.

"Faither!" whispered an eager voice--"faither--it is me--yer ain
Grizel!"

"My own, devoted, my matchless child!" said Sir Patrick, stretching his
hands towards the aperture, and receiving her in his arms.

She sat down beside him on the bed--she detailed the search of the
troopers--she stated that they were watched in their own house--that a
spy was set over the very victuals that came from their table, lest he
should be concealed near, and fed by his family.

"But what of that?" continued the light-hearted and heroic girl; "while
my plate is supplied, my faither's shall not be empty; and here," added
she, laughing--"here is a flask of wine, cakes, and a sheep's-head. But
I will tell you a story about the sheep's-head. It was placed on a plate
before me at dinner-time. The servant was out o' the room, naebody was
looking, and I whupped it into my apron. Little Sandy wanted a piece,
and, turning round for it, and missing the head, 'Ah, mother!' he cried,
'our Grizzy has swallowed a sheep's-head, bones and a', in a
moment!'--'Wheesht, laddie!' said my mother; 'eat ye next ane
then.'--'Oh, ye greedy Grizzy!' said Sandy, shaking his little nieve in
my face, 'I'll mind you for this.'--'I'm sure Sandy will ne'er forget
me,' said I, and slipped away out to hide the sheep's-head in my own
room; and as soon as I thought naebody was astir, I creeped out quietly
by the window, and got down here behint the hedges; and I'll come every
nicht, faither. But last nicht the troopers were still about the house."

In spite of his misery, Sir Patrick laughed at the ingenuity of his
beloved and heroic daughter; then wept and laughed again, and pressed
her to his bosom.

He had passed many weeks in this cheerless dungeon, with no companion
during the day save a volume of Buchanan's Psalms; but every night he
was visited by his intrepid daughter, who at once supplied him with
food, and beguiled the hours of his solitude. He was sitting in the
gloomy cell, conning over his favourite volume--the stone at the
aperture had been pushed aside a few inches to admit the light more
freely, and the weeds at the entrance were now bowed down and withered
by the frost--a few boys were playing in the churchyard, and tossing a
ball against the kirk. Being driven from the hand of an unskilful
player, it suddenly bounded into the aisle. Sir Patrick started, and the
book dropped from his hand. Immediately the aperture was surrounded by
the boys, and the stone removed. They stood debating who should enter,
but none had sufficient courage. At length one more hardy than the rest
volunteered to enter, if another would follow him. The laird gave
himself up as lost, for he knew that even the tale of a schoolboy would
effect his ruin. He was aware he could disperse them with a single
groan; but even that, when told to his enemies, might betray him. At
length three agreed to enter, and the feet of the first already
protruded into the aisle. Sir Patrick crept silently to its farthest
corner, when the gruff voice of the old gravedigger reached his ear,
shouting--

"The mischief's in the callants, and nae guid. What are ye doing there?
Do ye want the ghaists o' the auld Humes aboot yer lugs?"

The boys fled amain, and the old man came growling to the mouth of the
aisle.

"The deevil's in the bairns o' Polwarth," said he; "for they wad disturb
the very dead in their graves. I'll declare, they've the stane frae the
mouth o' the aisle!"

He stooped down, and Sir Patrick saw his grim visage through the
aperture, and heard him thus continue his soliloquy, as he replaced the
stone--

"Sorrow tak the hands that moved the stane! Ye're hardly worth the
covering up again, for ye're a profitless hole to me; and I fancy him
that I should lay in ye next, be he whaur he likes, will gang the gate
that his freend Bailie gaed yesterday on a scaffold. A gravedigger's a
puir bisness, I am sorry to say, in our king's reign; and the fient a
ane thrives but the common executioner."

So saying, he enveloped Sir Patrick in utter darkness. That night Grizel
and her father left the aisle together, and from her he learned the
particulars of what he had heard muttered by the gravedigger, that his
friend, Mr Bailie of Jerviswoode, had been executed the previous day.

Disguised, and in the character of a surgeon, he by byways reached
London, and from thence fled to France. On the death of Charles, and
when the bigot James ascended the throne, Sir Patrick was one of the
leaders of the band of patriots who drew their swords in behalf of a
Protestant succession.

That enterprise was unsuccessful; and, after contending, almost
singlehanded, against the enemies of his religion and his country, he
and his family sought refuge in a foreign land. He assumed the name of
Dr Peter Wallace, and they took up their abode in Utrecht. There poverty
and privations sought and found the exiles. They had parted with every
domestic, and the lovely Grizel was the sole servant and helper of her
mother, and, when their work was done, the assistant of her father in
the education of the younger children; for he had no longer the means of
providing them a tutor. Yet theirs was a family of love--a family of
happiness; and poverty purified their affections. But their remittances
from Scotland were not only scanty but uncertain. Till now Sir Patrick
had borne his misfortunes with resignation, and even cheerfulness; he
cared not that he was stripped of attendants, and of every luxury of
life; yet at times the secret and unbidden tears would start into his
eyes, as he beheld his wife and his fair daughter performing, without a
murmur, the most menial offices. But the measure of his trials was not
yet full--luxuries were not only denied him, but he was without food to
set before his children. The father wept, and his spirit heaved with
anguish. Grizel beheld his tears, and she knew the cause. She spoke not;
but, hastening to her little cabinet, she took from it a pair of
jewelled bracelets, and, wrapping herself up in a cloak, she took a
basket under her arm, and hurried to the street. The gentle being glided
along the streets of Utrecht, with her eyes fixed upon the ground, and
shunning the glance of the passengers, as if each knew her errand. She
stood before a shop in which all manner of merchandise was exposed, and
three golden balls were suspended over the door. She cast a timid gaze
into the shop--thrice she passed and repassed it, and repeated the timid
glance. She entered--she placed the bracelets upon the counter.

"How much?" was the laconic question of the shopman.

Grizel burst into tears. He handed her a sum of money across the
counter, and deposited the bracelets in his desk. She bounded from the
shop with a heart and a step light as a young bird in its first pride of
plumage. She hastened home with her basket filled. She placed it upon
the table. Lady Polwarth wept, and fell upon her daughter's neck.

"Where have you been, Grizel?" faltered her father.

"Purchasing provisions for a bauble," said she; and the smile and the
tear were seen on her cheek together.

But many were the visits which the gentle Grizel had to pay to the
Golden Balls, while one piece of plate was pledged after another, that
her father, and her mother, and her brethren, might eat, and not die;
and even then the table of Sir Patrick, humble as it was, and
uncertainly provided for, was open to the needy of his countrymen. Thus
three years passed--the memorable 1688 arrived. Sir Patrick was the
friend, the counsellor, and supporter of King William--he arrived with
him in England--he shared in his triumph. He was created Lord Polwarth,
and appointed Sheriff of Berwickshire; and in 1696, though not a lawyer,
but an upright man, he was made Lord Chancellor of Scotland, and created
Earl of Marchmont, and Lord of Polwarth, Redbraes, and Greenlaw. He was
one of the most ardent promoters of the Union; and with it ceased his
political career. In 1710, when the Tories came into power, the earl
being the staunchest Whig in Scotland, he was deprived of the office of
Sheriff of Berwickshire, but was reinstated in 1715. His lady being
dead, he came to take up his residence in Berwick-upon-Tweed; and there,
when the heroic Grizel, who was now a wife and a mother (being married
to the son of his unfortunate friend, Mr Bailie of Jerviswoode), came
with her children and friends to visit him for the last time, as they
danced in the hall, though unable to walk, he desired to be carried into
the midst of them, and, beating time with his foot--

"See, Grizel," exclaimed the old patriot, "though your father is unable
to dance, he can still beat time with his foot."

Shortly after this, he died in Berwick, on the 1st of August, 1724, in
the eighty-third year of his age--leaving behind him an example of
piety, courage, and patriotism, worthy the imitation of posterity.



THE SERJEANT'S TALES.

THE PACKMAN'S JOURNEY TO LONDON.


At the next opportunity, I got Serjeant Square to resume the narrative
of his adventures.

No feeling that the human mind is called upon to sustain (said he) is
more depressing than the consciousness of being alone in a strange place
without friend or acquaintance--the populous city and the desert are
alike lonely. I have been, in the wildernesses of America and in London,
the victim of this saddening sensation, and felt it perhaps less keenly
when a solitary wanderer in the trackless wilds; for there bodily
exertion, and the hopes of soon being in the haunts of men, deadened its
force; while, in the populous city, I felt as if I had, after severe
suffering and toil, attained an object to me worse than worthless.
Amidst the densest crowds, after all, a man can only feel himself truly
alone when no hand is held out to him, no eye beams the glance of
recognition, and all is strange as a dream. Such were my feelings on the
morning after my arrival in Berwick, on my way to London on foot.
Fortune had been adverse to me in my native city, Edinburgh--in truth, I
had hitherto been her plaything; and, even now, had no definite object
in view. Tired of my walk, I had agreed with the captain of a trader for
my passage by sea, for the remainder of my journey; and lay upon my bed,
awaiting the morning light, a prey to my feelings, and musing upon my
chequered fortunes. The wind began gradually to rise and mourn sadly
through the windows and in the chimney of the room where I lay. As the
morning advanced, the storm increased and raged, so that no vessel could
put to sea. After walking down to the harbour, I returned back to my
inn, half resolved not to proceed to the south, but return to Leith in a
vessel that was also ready to sail, loaded with grain. I felt myself as
if I had been a child, without a will of my own, not caring what became
of me. Had I been seized with a mortal disease, I would, I thought, have
welcomed death as a relief; so completely had my spirits, somehow or
other, become depressed. How I escaped the pressgang, I have often
wondered since; for they were very diligent in impressing seamen at this
time, and I was in seamen's clothes. Perhaps the fearless manner in
which I walked about had led them and the informers to suppose that I
had a protection, or was belonging to some ship, and at large on leave
of absence.

After breakfast, as I sat conversing with one of the captains about the
weather and other trivial matters, a person entered the room with a pack
upon his back, and inquired if any of the gentlemen would be so kind as
look over his assortment of goods; strongly recommending some silk
handkerchiefs.

"No," said the person with whom I was conversing, gruffly. "I want none
of your goods. You packmen are all swindling knaves."

"Not all knaves, my good sir. There are knaves in all trades, I allow;
but there are honest men, too." And, addressing himself to me, he
repeated his request.

His voice at first had sounded in my ears like some well-known sound,
and roused my attention; but in vain I endeavoured to call to mind where
I had heard it. I had not yet looked towards him; but the instant I did,
a mutual recognition took place. He set his pack upon one of the tables
of the tap-room. Our hands were clasped in each other's. "Square!" and
"Wilson!" were uttered with mutual feelings of joy and surprise. I had
met a companion of my early days and sufferings. Often had we spent the
long and chilling winter nights, huddled together to keep each other
warm, in the snuggest corner we could find; hungry and ill clothed,
often had we shared the precarious morsel of charity with each other,
when either could have devoured it all. We had not met since I had first
left Edinburgh, many years before; and, if a tear was shed for my
mysterious disappearance, it was by Bill Wilson. A glow of pleasure,
such as I had never felt before, thawed the icy feeling that had chilled
my mind. How delightful must some of the stronger affections be, when
the meeting of an early associate can cause so much pleasure! We stood
gazing in silence upon each other for some time, ere we could find words
to express our feelings. At length they were poured forth in
congratulations and kind inquiries. To be alone, we retired to my
bedroom, where I gave him a full account of all that had befallen me
since we last met, and the present unsettled state of my resolves. He
heard me with varying interest, until I had concluded.

"Square," said he, "you have been sorely knocked about, a passive agent,
without an object, save to enjoy or suffer the present hour. Now, to
succeed, we must have an aim, and hold it in sight, whatever may befall;
even should it often elude our grasp, we must not despair or relinquish
it for another. My wish is an old age of independence. I may die this
night, or I may live until old age has long impaired my energies. To
obtain this, my wish, I have, from circumstances, chosen my present
calling; nor have I allowed the most adverse fortune to shake my
resolve, or change my method of recovering it; for perseverance is the
only road that leads to success. Fortune placed you in America at your
outset in life. You forsook the path others have trod in with success.
You prospered at sea, and threw the golden opportunity away for a whim;
a third time you were placed in fortune's way; a dark cloud passed over
it; you gave way to your feelings, and are once more, with years of lost
time, where you commenced."

As he spoke, a feeling anything but gratifying passed over my mind. I
felt that what he said was strictly true; that I had been living, until
now, without an aim, either of avarice or ambition--my thoughts never
having extended to the future, nor a care for to-morrow having ever
occupied my mind. His cares, again, were all for to-morrow. This
difference could not have arisen from education; for in this we were
both alike. He, in short, had more prudence. But to proceed. I requested
him to give me an account of the manner in which he had lived since we
had been separated.

"You know, John," he began, "that we were twins in adversity upon the
streets of Edinburgh, equally friendless and penniless. After your
departure, I felt for a few days very sad and lonely. I sought you
everywhere in vain, and made every inquiry; but who cared aught about a
homeless beggar-boy? Had a dog as strangely disappeared, the public
crier would have proclaimed him through the streets. I began, young as I
was, seriously to reflect upon my desolate situation, and plan in my
mind ways to mend it. The childish wishes we had often formed of being
rich, and the happy dreams of what we would do if we were so, rose with
tenfold force into my memory, and I resolved to be rich; but how to
attain my aim was the rub. Wishing, I knew well, brought no gain. It
must be toiled for, and steadily pursued. A tradesman I could not hope
to be. No one would receive me for my labour during my apprenticeship,
and clothe and feed me; and I was too young and weak for labouring work
in town or country. There was one way alone open to me--to commence
merchant. You may smile at the word; but you shall see. It was not my
choice; but what have the poor to do with choice? My object now was to
obtain a capital to commence business upon. I was far from fortunate. It
was nearly a month before I had accumulated a groat; yet my labour and
anxiety were intense. No gentleman appeared on horseback in the city,
whom I did not follow, in anxious hopes to get, by holding his horse, a
penny, to increase my capital. In messages I was more indefatigable than
usual. No length of space or weight of load daunted me, if a penny was
to be earned; but it appeared to my eager mind that the gentlemen, at
this time, required less service than usual, and those that employed me
were more liberal of their food than halfpence. Still I steadily held on
unflinching, adding halfpenny to halfpenny, my mind a prey to a new
fear, that of losing my treasure. But I had joys mixed with my fears;
for, when I retired to a quiet corner, and counted again and again my
increasing store, what a pleasure I felt in adding a halfpenny to it,
and carefully wrapping up the paper! When I had reached my eightpence, I
could delay my undertaking no longer. I felt I had attained my first
step; and, with a feeling of importance to be envied, proceeded to a
bookseller's shop, and purchased ballads, of which I got, for my groat,
one dozen and three, with a piece of paper to wrap them in, and left the
shop, exulting that I was now a merchant, and had goods to dispose of.

"As it was not my intention to sing them on the streets--for from this
my pride revolted--I set off in the direction of Lasswade, calling at
every door to offer my wares. In two days I had sold off my whole stock,
and returned to town for more ballads. After a time, I added other small
books, and my trade prospered amazingly. My living cost me nothing; my
voice was good, and a supper and bed to the pedlar-boy, were the
purchase of my songs, at the cottar's or the farmer's ingle. During the
first year my two groats had grown to nearly a pound, and my ambition
had grown with it. Pins, tapes, and thread were added to my store; my
excursions were extended, and Bill Wilson was a known and a welcome
guest over the whole county of Mid-Lothian. My toil was great, but my
strength seemed to increase with my load. I had now in view my second
step in advance, a horse and cart to carry my load. Years had passed on;
my pack, worth twenty pounds, was all my own, and I had two pounds in my
pocket; it was far on in the year, and the day was short and louring. I
had some goods bespoke for a bridal, which required to be delivered on
the following day. My route lay over the Soutra Hill; and had the
weather kept up, my task was easy of accomplishment--so I cheerily
plodded on, counting my gains; but scarce had I reached the ascent, when
the wind began to moan along the dreary waste, and thin flakes of snow
to fall, while the blast, from the east, blew right in my face. I
quickened my pace; but the storm increased before I reached the top, the
drifting snow blinding me, and the fitful gusts almost lifting me off my
feet. Cold and biting as was the air, I was wet with perspiration, from
my load and my struggles against the blast. I could not see two yards
before me; I was truly alone in the howling waste, yet I yielded not to
despondency, but struggled on for life. I had, it seemed, deviated from
the road, for all was now a trackless waste, when suddenly I stumbled
and fell on the edge of a declivity, and my pack, the whole of my
wealth, bounded from me, in what direction I knew not. It was vain to
look for it in such a situation, in such a storm; but what is wealth
under such circumstances, when life is scarcely to be hoped for?

"When I recovered my feet, I was bruised, and began to chill. Hope of
escape had nearly fled; despondency was stealing fast upon me; but life
is sweet, and so I urged on, as much to overcome the intense cold I
felt, as with any hope of finding a shelter from the pitiless storm. The
magnitude of my loss never once entered my mind in this struggle for
existence. I would have given all the remainder of my hard earnings for
the sight of a cottage, in which to preserve my life. In this, my hour
of need, I was snatched from death. As I stood, unable to move a step
farther, and on the point of sinking upon the snow, to rise no more, the
sound of a dog, barking loudly, fell upon my ear. There was life in the
welcome sound; and, with an energy I had felt myself incapable of a
minute before, I started off towards the spot from whence the sounds
proceeded, calling at intervals with all my strength, and listening as
the barking of the dog became more and more distinct. At length I could
perceive the light shine dimly through the drifting snow, from a cottage
window, which, having reached, I entered, almost exhausted. I was kindly
received by the humane inmates, to whom I told my piteous tale. The
storm still howled without. The good woman made for me a shake-down upon
the floor, close by the fire, whereon to pass the night. After my
benumbed limbs were restored to animation, the good man of the house
took the book, and, after the worship, in which I joined with a fervour
I had never felt before, we all retired to rest, the family speaking all
the comfort to me their feeling hearts could dictate, and promising to
rise before dawn, to assist in searching for my pack. All was still
within; but the storm raged with unabated violence without, and for
hours sleep forsook my pillow. I was tormented with heat; pains shot
through my frame, and before the dawn I was in a raging fever, and
unable to rise. The good people of the house were sore distressed. I
gave them the best information I could where to search for my pack; but
it was very vague, for I knew not myself the spot where it had bounded
from me, and I was at this time two long Scotch miles from the Soutra
Hill, and one mile off the highway. The storm of the preceding evening
had been followed by a partial thaw after daybreak; but all, save where
the wind had blown the snow from the heights, lay a trackless waste. Far
on in the day the searchers returned from their fruitless labours,
fatigued and hungry. I was myself much worse; no doctor was to be had
nearer than Haddington, neither was there accommodation for me in the
house. Ill as I was, I had no choice. A horse and cart were, at my
request, procured, and, carefully wrapped up, I was conveyed to
Haddington. What followed for some days I know not. I will hurry on. I
would not have been so minute, were it not to show you that there are
shipwrecks and disasters on land as well as at sea.

"When I recovered my consciousness, I found myself in an obscure garret,
the dwelling of a lone and pious widow, who had taken into her house the
sick stranger, when all else had refused. I had occupied her only bed,
while she passed her nights, seated by her scanty fire, and nursed me in
my delirium and fever. The good doctor had attended me as assiduously as
if I had been his own son, and aided the widow in supporting me. The
snow had been all off the ground for many days; and whoever had found my
store had kept it concealed, for I never heard of it. I was once again
penniless, and worse than I was at the commencement; for I was indebted
to my kind landlady and the doctor. My two guineas and seven shillings
were still in my pocket untouched; for the pious widow had, even in her
straits, on my account held them sacred, and they knew from the people
who brought me of my ruinous misfortune. When I became able to move
about, I besought them to accept of even one of the guineas as a
remuneration; but their answer was, they would give me credit until I
was enabled to pay them in full--and, thank God, I have done this long
ago.

"It was well up in February before I could resume my toils.
Disheartening as my misfortune had been, my ultimate object, and the
means of attaining it, I had never for one moment allowed to pass from
my mind. It was now that the reward of honesty and fair dealing was felt
by me, and proved of immense advantage in enabling me to recover my
loss. There was not a merchant with whom I had ever dealed, who did not
offer me his goods in trust, to what amount I chose; but to avoid debt
has ever been my maxim, and I took no more than my finances would allow.
I had only a smaller assortment, and returned the sooner. I was
astonished at the rapidity of my own sales--for all had heard of my
misfortunes, and pitied me; and, if I was expected, no other packman had
any chance. What was required, if not in my pack, I got orders for, and
brought at the appointed time. From that day to this, everything has
prospered with me. I have attained my second step, and am now on my way
to London, and other towns, to purchase goods, and a horse and cart. To
cover my expenses, I am doing a little business by the way. An extensive
shop, and at length a competency, are, I trust, not far distant."

By mid-day, the gale of wind had considerably abated; the tide being in
the evening, the vessels could not depart. We sat chatting together. The
perseverance and success of my companion had made a deep impression on
me. I began to think that I might do worse than follow his example; for
I had never left my country through choice.

"Wilson," said I, "do you think I could be converted into a packman? I
care not what I do for an honest livelihood. I have often heard that an
old packman makes a good merchant--I am willing to try if an old
merchant can make a good packman. I have a few guineas to purchase goods
with. If you will tell me what are the proper kinds, we will go
together, by sea, to London, where you are going, and make our
purchases: are you agreed?"

"No! Square, no! I will never agree to trust myself upon the fickle
element, when there is no occasion for it, besides manifest loss. With
what goods are in my pack, I will travel free to London, and put a pound
in my pocket, at least. If you have any thought of turning to my
profession, you must study economy and a placid temper--'take the bit
and the buffet with it.' I have not a doubt you may succeed, if you
stick to it in earnest; and I have no objection to give you all the
information I can, before we part."

I myself had, indeed, no other motive for going by sea to London, than
to avoid the fatigue and get quickly there; so it was agreed that I
should proceed with him, and learn from his experience. My sailor's
dress was sold, and one similar to his own purchased; and, while this
was being done, he told me that he had upon his person, carefully
concealed, an order from the Royal Bank of Scotland, upon the Bank of
England, for one hundred and sixty guineas, which he had doubly secured.
It was, he said, not indorsed, nor would he indorse it, until he was
obtaining the cash. "There are such things as robberies," he said, "and
much worse. I have left a letter and instructions at the bank, and with
Widow Craig, who nursed me in my sickness (we have been as mother and
son since then), that, if my order is not called for within twelve
months, she is to give my letter to the worthy doctor, who will receive
the amount, and administer to the widow's comforts. What remains at her
death, I cheerfully bequeath to him. You may smile at this; but our
trade is one not without danger even in Scotland; and in England, where
highwaymen and footpads are plenty, we travel with our lives in our
hands."

Before the evening closed, I was all ready to start upon my new line of
life. As Berwick, he said, was not a proper place to lay in a store of
goods to sell again with a sufficient profit, I purchased only a few
pounds' worth of hardware, Wilson being so kind as sell me, at cost, one
dozen of Barcelona silk handkerchiefs, of which he had a great supply,
and which he esteemed as valuable and light of carriage. The remainder
of my cash he made me take out of my purse, saying that none but those
who knew not the value of money carried it in purses. It was as if the
owner had collected it for the first who chose to put his hand in his
pocket, or for a vain display.

"Square," said he, "if you had a thousand guineas in your pocket, among
strangers never show or say you have a coin in gold. Tempt no man to
evil. The poor travel safe, when the rich are in peril. Allow me to
place your guineas in the bank."

He then opened the lining of the waistband of my small-clothes, and
stitched them in so dexterously, that no one could have thought there
was coin there.

"Now," says he, "we are all ready to start for London on the morning.
The way is long, and our burdens heavy; but they will get lighter as we
move along. Our lodging for to-morrow night is Belford. I shall manage
so that we shall reach it before dark. The direct distance is only
fifteen miles; but we may travel thirty in quest of customers. You are
not now, as you were a few months since, to expect that customers will
come to you--the pack is a travelling counter, and must move about."

Next morning, after an early breakfast, we crossed the Tweed, and walked
on, with our packs slung over our shoulders--the weather cool and
pleasing. I felt a buoyancy of spirits I had not experienced for some
time; I dreamed waking dreams, and built castles in the air. Wilson sung
snatches of songs. I had once more entered on a new walk in life, and
begun at the right end, as Wilson said in one of his sage remarks.

"Square, your last misfortune arose from this--you began business at the
wrong end; you commenced too soon and too full. No man can manage money
well who knows not, by earning, the value of it. Be prudent--be cunning,
too, if you please; but use not your cunning to wrong any one--a
shilling won by fraud is a pound of loss. I have known many since I
began who have hastened to be rich in that way; but they have all failed
in their attempts. Those who once dealt would never deal with them
again; their means of success became every journey more circumscribed.
Here is a farm-steading--we must try how we are to succeed on the south
of the Tweed."

I will not weary you with our hawking adventures. We progressed on our
journey with various success, but constantly with gain, our packs
lightening apace; I liking the profession very ill. I loved not money
sufficiently to bend my mind to the slights and insults we were often
forced to endure. Upon Wilson they had no effect in ruffling his temper.
He would smile, and, with a slyness of humour, turn their bitterest
taunts against the taunters, or banter them into good-humour, and effect
a sale. He would, indeed, be as good-humoured under insult as if he had
been civilly treated; while I was on the eve of bursting into a rage,
and either looking sulky or returning taunt for taunt. Indeed, before we
reached Northallerton, I had made up my mind to relinquish my new
calling as soon as we got to London; and told Wilson so. He shook his
head.

"John Square, you are one of those who, for want of firmness, never get
on in the world. When there is an object to gain, we must not be scared
from it by trifles, or neglect an honest mean that leads to success. You
have commenced at the hardest part of a packman's life--his journey in
England. But, ho! here is Northallerton. To-morrow we will strike off
the eastern road, and go to York. I expect to see some acquaintances
there."

Thus we journeyed on, I more through a dogged stubbornness not to yield,
than any love I had for the mode of life I had chosen, until we were a
few miles from York, where we overtook a brother of the trade. As soon
as he came in sight, Wilson said--

"There is Simon Hepburn, the Praying Packman, as the profane call him,
or Pious Simon, his more befitting name; for he really is a good,
well-meaning man. I have known him for some years, neither richer nor
poorer; his pack or cash seldom exceeds twenty pounds, yet he could
easily increase his store, if he had ambition; but that he wants; and
his gains are always spent upon objects of charity or piety. He is never
without Bibles or pious books, which he bestows, in free gift, where he
thinks they may be of use; he has only particular houses where he stops,
and he is always a welcome guest, superseding the goodman of the house,
for the time, in the Christian office of a teacher. The most pleasing
and edifying evenings I have ever spent were with him. When he is in
Haddington, Widow Craig's is his home; and, although we are two of a
trade, happy am I when we meet. You shall judge for yourself. His
history is a most singular one, and nothing gives him more pleasure than
to relate it. Let him speak for himself."

We quickened our pace, and soon overtook him. He was a man, to all
appearance, above sixty years of age; his hair was white as snow, with a
shade of care at times upon his regular features, that flitted off, and
was succeeded by a gleam of internal satisfaction. The smoothness of his
brow, and the fulness of his features, bore an unusual contrast to the
whiteness of his locks, the appearance of age and youth being strangely
combined, while his whole appearance was winning in the extreme. When we
came up to him, Bill said--

"Simon, I am happy to have met you; how come you on?"

"Far beyond my deserts," said he. "How are you? and how did you leave my
worthy friend the widow?"

"In good health," said Bill; "I thank you. I have been just talking of
you to my friend Square here, who would feel obliged were you to give
him an outline of your strange history, as we walk on to York."

"Certainly, Bill, certainly; it may be of use to him. He is a new
beginner in his present craft, as I was when the events happened that I
am going to relate.

"The changes that occur both in nations and families," said Simon, "are
soon felt by the individuals. Lawsuits and bad management had reduced
the once extensive patrimony of our family to a small farm. At my
grandfather's death, my father, who had married, as his father thought,
far beneath him, had three sons. My oldest brother, before he succeeded,
went to Holland, having got a commission in the Scottish brigade; the
second attended the farm, at which I assisted until I was about
eighteen. I grew weary of farming, and resolved to become a merchant. I
was induced to this by the success of several who had left our
neighbourhood, done well after a few years' travel as packmen, and were
then settled in various towns, and prosperous. It was in the beginning
of May, as soon as the weather became settled, that I left the
neighbourhood of Annan, with a few pounds, on my way to Dumfries, and
thence to Edinburgh; my object being to furnish my pack. I had a
relation of my mother's, a wholesale merchant, in the first town, who
had promised to do all in his power for me, as far as advice and a few
articles would go. Cheerful and full of hope, I strode along, till,
within about two miles from Dumfries, I overtook a young and interesting
female, accompanied by a young man. We entered into conversation as we
walked along. She appeared sad, and often sighed; while he was taciturn,
and appeared to avoid conversation. When within a few hundred yards of
the town, they stopped behind for a minute or so, and then, the man
leaving her, she overtook me, and we entered the town together. I
learned from her that she was on her way to Edinburgh, and, having a
brother married in Dumfries, she was going to his house for some
articles belonging to her, and her fellow-traveller was to meet her
there.

"Anxious to commence my new mode of life, I had soon completed my
business with my friend. He was standing at the door when I came up with
the young woman, and, laughing, inquired if she was my sweetheart or
wife. In the course of two or three hours, I was again upon the road
towards Moffat, on my way to Edinburgh, with my light pack upon my back,
as happy as a king. As I passed the side of a young plantation that
skirted the road, a few miles from Dumfries, I saw, lying on the side of
the way, a small bundle, tied in a silk handkerchief. I immediately
picked it up; and, after standing a few minutes, and looking around to
see if any one was in sight who might have dropped it, I called aloud,
but there was no answer. I continued my pace, rejoicing in my good
fortune. At about a quarter-of-a-mile from the spot, there was a
public-house, into which I entered, for a little refreshment, and to
inquire if they would purchase anything I could supply them. I placed
the bundle I had picked up and my pack upon the table, got what I asked
for, and then inquired if they would purchase. During my stay, two
farm-servants came in; and, when I was about to depart, they, seeing me
lift the bundle from the table, inquired if it was my own. I hesitated
for a moment, and, unfortunately, said that it was. They looked at each
other; no more passed, and I resumed my journey towards Moffat, which I
was anxious to reach before nightfall. I accomplished it; and, stopping
at a cheap lodging-house, had an early supper, and went soon to bed,
weary with my day's walk.

"Scarce had I fallen asleep, when I was aroused by a loud knocking at
the door, and the sound of many voices. Before I was fully awake, I was
seized in my bed, and my hands bound tightly together. My terror became
extreme--I shook in every limb. In vain I strove to speak, and inquire
what all this meant. I could only see that every eye was bent on me with
an expression of horror and rage. My clothes were searched, and then
forced upon me. I was not allowed to assist myself--my hands were
unbound to get on my coat; but a man held each arm while another pulled.
They seemed afraid I would do something desperate, and were as coarse
and cautious as if I had been a ferocious animal; yet I was passive from
excess of fear; and, although numbers were speaking, I was in such a
state that I could not collect the purport of their conversation.
Execrations sounded in my ears above the confusion of voices, and the
first sentence I made out was spoken by my landlady:--'Oh, the
bloody-minded young wretch!' she cried. 'Who would have thought it, to
look at him? But I hope they will hang him as high as Haman. And, after
all, to come into a lone widow's house to bring disgrace on it. Take him
away, sirs, as quick as you can, or I shall be an undone woman, and my
character entirely lost.'

"Astonished at what the woman said, I inquired what offence I had
committed--or where. O God! what was my horror to learn that I was
charged with murder!--that the bundle in my possession had been the
property of the victim of some ruthless villain--and that I was taken
for him! In vain I protested my innocence. The two men were present to
whom I had said, when they inquired, that the bundle was my own. I was
thus, by my own confession--if not a murderer--a convicted liar. No one,
for a moment, thought me innocent. So strong was their conviction of my
guilt, that had the laws not deterred them, they would have rejoiced to
have put me to death on the spot. Even this would have been kindness, in
a worldly sense, to what I was doomed to suffer.

"It was nearly eleven o'clock at night, but clear and bright; the moon
was nearly full; the air a little sharp, but not cold, when I was
placed, bound hand and foot, in a cart, and accompanied by the two men
and two officers. I thought my heart would have burst. I opened not my
mouth to speak in answer to their questions, cruel taunts, and
upbraidings. I saw I was an object of horror and loathing to them--and
deservedly so, had I been the guilty creature they had cause to think
me. I passed the melancholy time we were upon the road in tears, and
prayers that my innocence might be made manifest; but I knew not yet the
extent of my misery. At length the cart stopped at the door of the
public-house; my feet were loosened, and I was desired to come down, and
enter the same room where I had been in the afternoon. A crowd of
horrorstricken people were huddled round the fireplace. In the wooden
bed lay an object, covered with a white sheet, resembling a human body.
I had never seen a corpse laid out in my life; yet the idea rushed upon
my mind that this was one; and my blood curdled in my veins, as the
conviction came over me that it was one that had met its fate by
violence. I trembled, while the large drops of sweat stood upon my brow.
All eyes were turned to me; a grim smile of malicious satisfaction was
on the faces of some, while horror and pity were equally strongly marked
upon the countenances of others. My natural feelings were, to all
present, a sure indication of my guilt. I would have sunk to the ground
had not the two men supported me. My head fell upon my breast. I
requested a little water, in a voice scarcely audible. It was given me,
and the sickness went off. One of the officers then, taking a lamp, went
to the bed, and removed the sheet from the body. My eyes involuntarily
followed him; a cry of horror escaped my lips; and I felt my muscles
become rigid. Before me lay the body of the female I had parted with in
health early in the forenoon, at the shop-door of my relation,
shockingly mangled, her long fair hair clotted with blood, and her mild
blue eyes, that had smiled upon me, dulled by the shade of death. I
could only groan. My sufferings at this sight were beyond utterance. All
in the room moved to the bed, and placed their hands upon the bosom of
the dead, and protested their innocence. I was ordered to do the same;
but I could not summon resolution to touch the body. My whole nature
revolted from the contact.

"'I am innocent!' I cried; 'God knows I am innocent! I know nothing of
this foul murder. Ask me to cut off my hand, or place it in the burning
fire, among the live coals; but ask me not to touch that bloody body,
for pity's sake!'

"My appeals were vain; they only served to confirm the prepossessions of
my hearers that I was guilty. As I stood, shrinking from the fearful
object as far as those who held me would permit, a cry arose that I was
the murderer beyond a doubt, and that I should be compelled to touch the
body. One of the officers seized my hand; those who held me pushed me
towards the bed; I struggled in vain; my hand was held fast as I was
forced along; and the consequence was, that it came with force upon the
chest of the murdered victim, when a gurgling sound issued from the
gaping wound. I became insensible.

"When my faculties returned, it was the grey of the morning. We were
entering the town of Dumfries; I in the cart, and the murdered body by
my side. I was lodged in the jail--a criminal already condemned in the
eyes of my fellow-men. Even the felons and debtors in prison avoided my
society. At my examination before the sheriff, I trembled at the array
of circumstantial evidence that was brought against me. My own relation
admitted that he had seen us together at his shop-door. The young woman
had gone from thence to her brother's, and staid only a short
time--telling them she was on her way to Edinburgh, and was to meet a
young man, who was to accompany her there. She had been seen by the two
men lingering upon the Moffat road, near the planting, a short time
before, with the same bundle in her hand that I had said was mine when
they saw me in the public-house with it in my possession. They had
thought it strange, but paid no attention until the body of the young
woman was discovered in the wood a few hours after, and still warm. I
had been pursued, and the property proved to belong to the victim of my
cruelty. My terror at being apprehended, and my refusal to touch the
dead body, all militated against me. I was fully committed as the
murderer, without hope of escape, innocent as I was of the crime. To
this damning evidence, all I had to advance was my unheeded assertion of
my innocence.

"From the beginning of May until the month of September I lay in jail--a
stranger to comfort of any kind. Every anguish was mine, except remorse.
I was looked upon by all, except my parents, as the most hardened
villain on earth. No one doubted my guilt, except my parents; and it was
only their parental feelings that made them doubt and pray that, if
innocent, the really guilty might be discovered. I will not attempt to
describe the scenes between me and my parents. They both wished that the
grave might hide their shame before the fatal day of the execution of
their son; for all chance of proving my innocence seemed out of the
question. The worthy minister that visited the jail firmly believed in
my guilt; to all my solemn asseverations of innocence, he only replied
by holding forth on the dangers of hardened crime, with earnest
exhortations for me to confess and make atonement as far as was in my
power. He would for hours lay before me the horrors of appearing before
my Maker with a lie in my mouth. My pride was wounded by the good man's
well-meant efforts. I began to avoid him as much as possible; and, when
I could not, I was silent and sullen. This, also, was held to be a sure
token of my guilt. Alas! I was not hardened; but I was heart-broken. My
Bible was my only companion--my soother and support; for I found no
threat there but against the wicked. Its Author was the searcher of
hearts. In it I found I was really guilty of many crimes which my
fellow-men thought nothing of; but there I also found a Saviour and
Mediator. My mind became humbled and composed; and, while I still
solemnly asserted my innocence of the murder, I did it with temper and
meekness.

"'Worthy sir,' I said to the clergyman, 'appearances have deceived you.
If it is the will of God that the innocent should suffer, for some wise
purpose, his will be done. If it is not so, my guiltlessness of blood
will be made evident in this world--at least I shall be declared
innocent on that great day when all shall render their account--in this
matter, innocent, save of the guilty falsehood I stated, that the
unfortunate female's bundle was my own. Alas! I wished not to keep the
property from the rightful owner. My thought at the time was, that, if I
owned that I had found it, they would take it from me, or make a
disturbance about it. Had they only said a few words more, I had told
the truth; and thus, probably, have contributed to the proof of my
innocence.'

"At length, the Lords of Justiciary entered the town. None but those who
are within the walls of a jail, awaiting their arrival, can conceive the
dread sensation of fear and hope awakened in the breasts of criminals by
the clang of the trumpets and shouting of the mob, as the pageant
proceeds through the streets. How bitter are the feelings produced by
the joyous shouts of the thoughtless people! forgetful, or heedless, of
the fates of their fellow-mortals. Next day I was led into the court,
more dead than alive. My head became giddy. Everything before me--the
crowded court, the judges, jury, and officers--became a confused mass; a
murmur as if of horror sounded in my ears from the assembled multitude;
the fatal bundle lay upon the table before me. At length all was ready;
and, the indictment having been read aloud by the clerk, the judge, in a
solemn voice, asked if I was guilty or not. After a gasp or two for
breath--

"'O my lord!' I said, 'I am as guiltless of this crime as the unborn
babe. Have mercy on me!' And I sank upon the table before me,
overpowered.

"The public prosecutor then opened the case, and harrowed up my soul
with the fearful account of the diabolical deed. He almost persuaded me
I was the murderer; so clearly did he reason from appearances. The
witnesses were called; a chain of circumstantial evidence was made out;
all that was awanting in it was, that I had not been seen to do the
deed. Witnesses I had not one. Those whom I could have called could have
said nothing but what they had already said, and it was wrested to my
disadvantage by my own story; for I was a self-convicted liar, and
little better than a thief, in my attempt to appropriate what was not my
own--even in the most favourable construction my able counsel could put
upon my case. The jury, without leaving their box, pronounced me guilty,
without a dissentient voice. The judge put on the fearful black hat upon
his head; and, after a heart-harrowing speech upon my guilt, pronounced
sentence of death upon me. I was to be taken back to the jail, and from
thence to the spot where the murder had been committed, and hung in
chains on the second market-day in October. How I was removed from the
court I cannot tell; neither can I tell what intervened for some hours.
The last thing strongly impressed upon my memory is a burst of
satisfaction in the court, when the sentence was passed upon me, and the
hooting of the crowd without; yet, strange to say, I slept soundly after
the irons were riveted upon my ankles, and awoke to find my doom fixed,
and my days on earth numbered. I became, in a manner, resigned to my
fate. Indeed, save for my parents, I had no other regret in leaving the
world; yet, at times, an anxious wish would steal upon my mind that I
might be saved from my unmerited death. It was the shuddering of nature
at entering upon eternity. The hope never left me that my innocence
would, at one time or another, sooner or later, be made manifest to my
fellow-men--for murder will not hide, nor innocent blood cry from the
earth in vain. The hours flew past with fearful rapidity; the
neighbouring clock seemed never to cease to strike the hour. Night
followed day, and day night, as if there was no interval between; yet
there was a heaviness upon me that bowed me down. My last Sabbath on
earth arrived; the day was spent in devotion--my heart-broken parents,
who now were convinced of my innocence, pouring out their souls with
mine to the Throne of Grace. If ever there was on earth a foretaste of
the joys of heaven, I felt it that day in the condemned cell, loaded
with irons. We had taken farewell of each other, in the full assurance
of soon meeting where there is no sorrow or shame. The bitterness of
death was past. My thoughts were no longer of this world.

"The Monday passed on. There was but one whole day more for me on the
earth. Wednesday was to be my last. On the morning of Tuesday, as soon
as the jail was opened, my brother, who had always thought hardly of me,
and visited me only twice, rushed into my cell, and, weeping, fell upon
my bosom. After a few minutes, he sobbed--

"'My brother! Simon, my brother! can you forgive me for thinking so
hardly of you?'

"'My brother,' I replied, 'I have ever thought of you in grief and pity,
never in anger. My heart blesses you for this kindness.'

"'You are innocent, my own Simon! You are cleared of this crime. All is
made manifest. The worthy minister is at present with the provost, who
will write to the sheriff to delay the fatal day, until your pardon
come.'

"I heard no more: a faintness came over me; my heart ceased to beat, and
all consciousness left me for some time. When I recovered, we fell upon
our knees, and poured out our souls in thanksgivings. At that time I
dedicated the whole remainder of my days to the service of that merciful
God who had made clear my innocence, and spared my parents and friends
from shame.

"When we had become composed, I learned from him the wonderful manner in
which my innocence had been discovered, and the guilty punished by the
hand of the sufferer's own brother. She had resided in the parish of
Caerlaverock, with a brother, a widower, as his housekeeper, for some
years; and it had been understood that she was soon to marry a young
man, a stranger, who had come some years before into the parish. He was
on intimate terms with her brother; but her other friends did not
approve of the connection, as his character was none of the best. Her
brother was of a thoughtless, jovial disposition, and saw no harm in
him, for he was an excellent boon-companion, and they were thus
inseparable on all occasions of festivity. On the Saturday afternoon
before the day appointed for my execution, they had gone out with their
guns to shoot for amusement. Both had been drinking pretty hard; and it
was observed that the stranger had for some time almost entirely given
himself up to intoxication, especially since the death of Grace, his
sweetheart. This was attributed to his grief, and begat pity for him,
and no one was more assiduous in endeavouring to cheer his gloom than
her brother. After their search for game, they were returning to the
village, when, by some accident, the gun which Grace's brother carried
went off, and lodged its contents in the body of his companion, who
fell, dreadfully wounded. A surgeon was sent for, who gave little hopes
of his recovery. No blame could be attached to his companion, as the
accident was seen by several, and the grief of Grace's brother was
excessive. On the Sabbath, the stranger was much worse. His mind seemed
to suffer more than his body; and words of fearful import escaped from
him at intervals, which harrowed up the souls of those who attended him.
Cries of despair, mixed with horrid imprecations, burst from his lips.
Yet death evidently was approaching fast to seize his victim. When they
spoke of sending for the minister to pray with and console him, he
blasphemed, and thus spent he his last Sabbath on earth. Through the
night he fell into a troubled sleep, and began to mutter. Gradually his
words became more distinct. He talked of Grace, and recounted her murder
as he had perpetrated it; writhed in remorse, and called for mercy from
my injured spirit, as if I had already suffered. As soon as the morning
dawned, the minister was sent for, and what the guilty man had said in
his sleep recounted to him. He was now very low; the hand of death was
on him; and, for some time, he was deaf to the remonstrances of the
divine. But at length he confessed all; told that they would find the
knife with which he had done the fearful crime buried at the back of the
cottage where he lay. All was written down by the minister. The knife
was found, stained with the blood of his victim. I was now as much the
object of pity as I had been of hatred and horror. That day my irons
were struck off; I had the freedom of the jail until my pardon arrived,
and was visited by numbers of the inhabitants, who loaded me with
presents. But my feelings of gratitude were principally awakened on my
parents' account, for the joy it imparted to them. Many, many years have
passed since that event, but it is ever present with me, and spurs me on
in my labours of love, in comforting and winning souls to God."

So deeply had I been interested in the narrative of the Pious Pedlar,
that we had reached York, and stood at the door of the Duke of
Marlborough public-house, before I was aware of the distance we had
walked after he commenced. As this was the house where Bill and a number
of others in his line were in the habit of staying during the time they
were in the town, we entered, and found two or three, who, like
ourselves, had come to purchase goods. I was astonished at the haughty
manner in which they returned our salutation. The landlord, who seemed
to know all his guests well, received William and Simon with a hearty
welcome; and, shaking me by the hand, wished me success in my new
calling, expressing his hope that I would find everything in the
Marlborough to my liking. We were then ushered into a small room, where
dinner was to be served to us. When we were comfortably seated, I
remarked to Bill the impression the lofty bearing of the others had made
upon me, and inquired if he knew the cause. He laughed--

"Quite well," said he; "there is an aristocracy among pedlars as well as
other callings. They belong to the waggoners, and would think it a
degradation to associate with us bearers. We are a grade beneath them;
besides, the waggoners are, for the most part, gentlemen by birth--the
younger cadets of decayed houses of long standing. With a little capital
to commence with, they never dealt in small quantities, their line lying
in supplying the retailers in distant towns, and many of them are very
wealthy. Upon my return from London, when I have purchased my horse and
waggon, I will be entitled to rank with them, but will never be treated
as the equal of those who have both birth and waggons; nevertheless, I
will be a waggoner until I commence business in my own shop, when I will
be a grade higher than even waggoner; and, with economy and my usual
perseverance, I may be a bailie, or even provost, of the town I settle
in. Only think of that, John Square! Stick to your present occupation,
and, without trusting the stormy ocean, you may, by following my
counsel, succeed as well as I or any one."

"My young friend," said the pious Simon, "all these are good in
subjection; but a higher aim ought to be your guide through life; for
all these give not peace to the soul."

While he spoke, we were joined by other two of our own rank, to whom my
two companions were barely civil, and very distant. Both were well
advanced in years, with a forward cast of countenance and a look of low
cunning strangely blended, which they endeavoured to make pass for
frankness. Having settled our small bill, and left our packs in charge
of the landlord, I walked out to see the minster, they to transact some
business of their own.

I returned when the shades of evening fell, and found that Wilson and
Simon had arrived some time before me, and were seated by themselves.
There were several others in the room in general conversation, in which
we took no part. The two whom I had left before I went out were still in
the same position, evidently under the influence of liquor. They were
clearly unwelcome; their conversation was only calculated to beget
disgust in well-regulated minds, consisting of anecdotes of fraud and
imposition, of which they seemed proud of being the heroes.

"These two," said Simon to me, "are a specimen of those who bring
disrepute upon any callings, and much more so on ours. They are not
without talents, but they cultivate them to unprofitable ends. I have
known them for many years; and, with all their boasted cunning, they
are, I believe, poorer at this moment than they were when I first knew
them, and must still become poorer, for their character is gone. The
public fear to deal with them, and will not do it, even when they would
act honestly. They are forced to range far, to places where they are
unknown; and even there they are every year circumscribing and planting
thorns for others to walk over. They, besides, are ever under the fear
of injury from some one or other whom they have defrauded. Such are the
fruits of dishonest dealing."

All our business being transacted, it was agreed that we should continue
our route for London, to purchase silks and light goods, and return by
the same route to Scotland. William having purchased a small waggon and
horse, together with a small assortment of woollens, my stock remained
much the same, and was slung over my shoulder, save when, for ease, and
there were no houses on the road, I placed it in the waggon; for I was
weary of my pedlar's life, and only endured it until I should reach
London. We arrived at Hatfield, about twenty-five miles from London,
early in the afternoon, and resolved to stay for the night, as Wilson
had hopes of doing some good in the neighbourhood. As for me, I had
ceased, much to his chagrin, to attempt any sales, as my pack was now
much reduced. While he was gone, I sat at the inn-door, amusing myself
in the best manner I could--sometimes musing on my strange fate, at
others gazing listlessly upon the passers-by--when a post-chaise drove
up to the door at a furious rate. The horses were extremely blown, and
covered with perspiration. A gentleman and lady descended from the
chaise; she evidently was under restraint, and looked anxiously and
fearfully around. Our eyes met; I thought she gave her hand that was
disengaged a movement, as if she wished me to come to her. She was in
tears. I rose, and moved to approach, but she was hurried into the house
before I could advance; for I was in doubt--yet her look expressed what
her hand signalled. I thought it strange, for a moment; but this feeling
died away, for I might have been deceived. The gentleman came to the
door, to hurry the people, as they were rather slow, as he thought, in
procuring fresh horses. I good-naturedly went to assist the postilion.
As I stood before the chaise, I looked up to one of the windows, and saw
the female weeping at it. Our eyes again met; she clasped her hands
imploringly, and, taking a small packet, placed it behind the
window-shutter, and, raising her clasped hands to heaven, looked
earnestly at me. I gave a nod of assent. She retired from the window.
All this had passed quickly as a shadow. In a few minutes they were
again in the chaise. As it passed off, I again gave a nod, and a languid
smile passed over her face. I entered the house, and inquired of the
landlord who they were; but got no information, as he said they were
unknown to him. I requested to have a glass of brandy-and-water in the
room where the lady had been. As soon as it was brought, and he had
retired, I looked behind the window-shutter, and, taking out the parcel,
found it to contain a sum of money and a sealed letter, upon the inside
of the wrapper of which was written in pencil--"Benevolent stranger,
whoever you are, for mercy's sake and all that is dear to you, deliver
this as directed, with your utmost despatch, and snatch a
fellow-creature from misery. Let this supply your immediate wants, and
an ample reward shall follow. Use all despatch, I again implore you."

I was for a few minutes lost in amazement. The letter was addressed to
Captain James H----, Strand, London. Could this be my old patron and
captain? There was not one moment to lose. I descended to the bar, and
told the landlord I must set off for London immediately, and requested
his advice how I was to proceed. He told me I must make the journey on
horseback, as he had not another pair of horses. I told him that was
impossible, as I had never been on horseback in my life, and I could
walk it faster and with more ease than I could ride. I would walk on to
Barnet before dark, and get a chaise there if I could find none sooner.
As I was on the eve of setting off, he found means to procure an old
phæton; and, while it was getting ready, I wrote to Wilson that
circumstances forced me to London, but that I would perhaps see him in
the morning. At all events, I made him heartily welcome to my pack, as I
meant to carry it no more, wishing him health and prosperity if we
should not meet.

I mounted the high-hung, crazy vehicle, with a lad to drive and bring it
back, having satisfied mine host to his utmost wish. By half-past ten
o'clock, I reached the jeweller's in the Strand, whose first floor
Captain H----occupied, and found him at home. His lady was also present.
His surprise was great at my entering. Our joy was mutual, and only
damped by my relating the strange manner in which I had again had the
pleasure of seeing him. He broke the letter open, and having hastily
perused it, turned to his wife, who sat pale and anxiously looking at
him--"My love, I must be off this instant, and endeavour to rescue
Catherine from her unpleasant thraldom. Do not be alarmed--there is no
danger. During the time I am getting all ready, you may peruse the
letter." Saying this, he rung the bell, and ordered his servant to
procure a post-chaise as quickly as he could, and send in refreshments
for me. Mrs H---- was dissolved in tears, as she had read the letter to
an end. When we were again alone, "James," said she, "this proceeding of
Master Wilton is very cruel to my cousin; although he is her guardian,
he has, I should think, no right to wound her feelings, and hurry her
about the country in this mysterious manner. I am fearful he has some
reason he is ashamed to confess. My dear James, be careful of yourself
for my sake; I shall be miserable until your return."

"There is not the smallest occasion, my love; I shall write you as soon
as I arrive at Mr Wilton's. In the morning, you must write a note to Mr
Stenton, to call upon you. Show him your cousin's letter, and order him
to take what steps he may judge necessary in this affair."

"Can it be possible," said she, "that my aunt approves of this
proceeding? He could not have removed Catherine without her consent."

"I shall soon know, my love. The dear girl must not be allowed to suffer
from their designs or caprice."

At this moment the chaise was announced to be at the door, and in a
short time we were in it, and rattling along towards Barnet, where we
changed horses, and were in Hatfield a little after daybreak. During our
dark and comfortless ride, I told him all that had befallen me since we
parted in Lisbon. He had only been in London a few months, where he had
come upon business--an uncle of his wife's having died some time before,
leaving the bulk of his fortune to his two nieces--Catherine, the young
lady whose letter I had brought to London, and his wife. To Catherine,
his favourite sister's daughter, he had left, besides an equal sum in
cash, all his landed and other property. Mr Wilton's sister, the aunt of
both, was a rich widow, but of a morose and finical temper. Catherine
had been brought up by her some fifty miles from London, and Mr H----
had no idea until my arrival that she had not been still with her. "I
hope there is no foolish love affair in this strange business," said he;
"for Catherine is a warmhearted, susceptible girl. Her father was our
countryman, and my intimate friend."

As Mr Wilton's property lay near Baldock, about eighteen miles distant,
and no post-horses were to be got, the captain, on horseback, set off
alone; I was to follow on foot, which I preferred, to Stevenage, where I
was to wait until I heard from him. After a hasty parting from my
fellow-traveller Wilson, which was not without regret on both sides, I
set off for Stevenage; he saying, as he shook my hand--

"John Square, I hope you will never want, but you will never be rich.
You are as unstable as water."

I had only been in the inn at Stevenage a short time, when a servant
arrived with a note, informing me that Captain H---- had got all
arranged to his satisfaction, and would return to London on the
following day, requesting me to hasten thither with a letter for Mrs
H----; which I did, and took lodgings for myself in Lower Thames Street.
When the captain and I again met, I found present the young lady and
another gentleman. I was most graciously received by all. The uncle of
Catherine was likewise present, and, turning to his niece, said--

"So this is the messenger you contrived to engage, strictly as I watched
you in this foolish affair. I see that a woman's invention, like her
love, has no bounds"--saying which, he good-humouredly patted the happy
and blushing Catherine under the chin.

The captain retired with me to a separate room, where he told me that
the whole had arisen out of the anger of his wife's aunt, who had set
her heart upon marrying her niece to a young clergyman of her
neighbourhood, for whom she had not the smallest regard, and whose
assiduities were hateful to her, as her heart was already engaged to Mr
Stenton, a distant relation of her own; but, as his circumstances were
not sufficiently prosperous to enable them to marry, she had concealed
their love from all but Mrs H----.

"The death of her uncle, and my arrival in London, altered her views.
She rebelled against her aunt's authority, and refused to see the
clergyman as a lover. This threw the old lady into a paroxysm of rage.
Poor Catherine was locked up, and, all her repositories being searched,
Mr Stenton's letters were found. They were immediately sealed up, and a
letter written to Mr Wilton, her brother, of the most alarming kind for
the safety of his now wealthy niece, representing that she meant to
throw herself and fortune away upon some peasant in the neighbourhood.
He had posted, on receipt of the packet, to his sister, when his fears
were further excited by the old lady's conjectures. Catherine was
unconscious of what had passed, until she was summoned to the presence
of her uncle, whom she had seldom before seen. He is a good-hearted, but
a positive, irascible man. No explanation was asked. When all appeared
so plain against the trembling girl, she was, by her uncle and aunt,
hurried into a post-chaise, and was on her way to Mr Wilton's. She had
contrived to write to me during the short time she was allowed to
prepare for the journey, but had no opportunity until, struck by your
manners, she resolved to shorten her confinement by trusting you, as her
uncle's anger was so great that he had scarce spoken to her since they
entered the chaise, but to threaten and abuse her. When I arrived, an
explanation and reconciliation had taken place, and the marriage will
follow in a few weeks. It only remains for you to consider in what
manner we can serve you."

I returned him my thanks for their kind intentions; and said the young
lady's purse, which I would not affront them by offering to return, was
much more than sufficient reward for all I had done; and, begging I
might not detain him longer from his friends, I bade him adieu,
promising to call in a day or two.



CHARLES LAWSON.


"Tak a faither's advice, Betty, my woman," said Andrew Weir to his only
daughter--"tak a faither's advice, and avoid gaun blindfolded to your
ruin. Ye are sune aneugh to marry these seven years yet. Marry! preserve
us! for I dinna ken what the generation is turning to, but I'll declare
bits o' lasses now-a-days haena the dolls weel oot o' their arms, till
they tak a guidman by the hand. But aboon everything earthly, I wad
impress it upon ye, bairn, that ye canna be owre carefu o' your company;
mind that a character is a' a woman has to carry her through the warld,
and ye should guard it like the apple o' your e'e; and remember, that
folk are aye judged o' frae the company they keep. Now, how often maun I
warn ye no to be seen wi' Charles Lawson? He's a clever lad, nae
doubt--naebody denies that; but, oh, Betty, Betty, woman! wad ye only
reflect that a' gifts are no graces; and I am far mistaen if he hasna a
serpent's heart as weel as his tongue. He has naething o' the fear o'
God before his een--ye canna deny that. In ae word, he is a wild,
thoughtless ne'er-do-weel; and I charge ye--I command ye--Betty, that ye
ne'er speak to him again in your born days; or, if ye do, ye surely will
hae but little satisfaction to break your faither's heart, and bring him
to the grave wi' sorrow and wi' shame--for that, Betty, that wad be the
end o't."

Elizabeth heard him, and bent her head upon her bosom to conceal her
confusion. The parental homily was too late--she was already the wife of
Charles Lawson.

Having thus begun our story in the middle, it is necessary that we go
back, and inform the reader, in a few words, that Andrew Weir was a
respectable farmer on the north side of the Tweed, and withal a decent
and devout Presbyterian, and an elder in the kirk. Charles Lawson's
parents were originally from Northumberland. They had known better days,
and, at the period we have alluded to, were struggling with a hard farm
in the neighbourhood of Andrew Weir's. Charles was not exactly what his
father-in-law had described him; and, were we to express his portrait in
a line, we should say, he had blue eyes and a broad brow, a goodly form
and open heart. The ringlets which parted on Elizabeth's forehead were
like the raven's wing, and loveliness, if not beauty, nestled around the
dimples on her cheeks. Their affection for each other began in
childhood, and grew with their years, till it became strong as their
existence.

A few weeks after Andrew Weir had delivered the advice we have quoted to
his daughter, Charles Lawson bade farewell to his parents, his wife, and
his country, and proceeded to India, where a relative of his mother's
had amassed a fortune, and who, while he refused to assist them in their
distress, had promised to make provision for their son. As we are not
writing a novel in three volumes, we shall not describe the scene of
their parting, and tell with what agony, with what tears, and with what
bitter words, Charles tore himself from his father, his mother, and his
yet unacknowledged wife. The imagination of the reader may supply the
blank. Hope urged him to go--necessity compelled him.

After his departure, Elizabeth drooped like an early lily beneath the
influence of a returning frost. There were whisperings among the matrons
and maidens of the neigbouring village. They who had formerly courted
her society began to shun it; and even the rude clown, who lately stood
abashed in her presence, approached her with indecent familiarity. The
fatal whisper first reached Andrew's ear at a meeting of the
kirk-session, of which he was a member. He returned home troubled in
spirit, a miserable and a humbled man, for his daughter had been his
pride. Poor Elizabeth confessed that she was married, and attempted to
prove what she affirmed. But this afforded no palliation of her offence
in the eyes of her rigid and offended father.

"Oh, what hae I been born to suffer ?" cried he, stamping his feet upon
the ground. "O, you Witch o' Endor!--you Jezebel!--you disgrace o' kith
and kin! Could naething--naething serve ye but breaking your puir auld
faither's heart? Get out o' my sicht!--get out o' my sicht!"

He remained silent for a few moments--the parent arose in his
heart--tears gathered in his eyes.

"But ye are still my bairn," he continued. "Oh, Betty, Betty, woman!
what hae ye brocht us to?"

Again he was silent, and again proceeded--

"But I forgie ye, Betty! Yes, if naebody else will, your faither will
forgie ye for your mother's sake, for ye are a' that I hae left o' her.
But we canna haud up our heads again in this pairt o' the
country--that's impossible. I've lang thocht o' gaun to America; and now
I'm driven till't."

He parted with his farm, and in the ensuing spring proceeded with his
daughter to Canada. We shall not enter upon his fortunes in the New
World--he was still broken in spirit; and, after twelve years'
residence, he was neither richer nor happier than when he left Scotland.
Elizabeth was now a mother, and the smiles of her young son seemed to
shorten the years of her exile; yet, ever as she returned his smile, the
thought of the husband of her youth flashed back on her remembrance, and
anguish and misery shot through her bosom as the eagle darteth on its
prey. Her heart was not broken; but it fell like a proud citadel,
burying the determined garrison.

Charles Lawson had not been in India many months, when a party of native
troops attacking the property of his relative, Charles, who had fallen
wounded amongst them, was carried by them in their retreat into the
interior of the country, where, for several years, he was cut off from
all intercourse or communication with his countrymen. On obtaining his
liberty, he found that his kinsman had been for some time dead, and had
left him his heir. His wife--his parents--doubt--anxiety--impatient
affection--trembling hope--all hastened his return. At length the white
cliffs of Albion appeared before him, like a fair cloud spread on the
unruffled bosom of the ocean; and in a few days more the green hills of
his childhood met his anxious eye.

It was the grey hour of a summer night as he again approached the roof
that sheltered his childhood. His horse as if conscious of supporting an
almost unconscious rider, stopped involuntarily at the threshold. He
trembled upon the saddle as a leaf that rustles in the wind. He raised
his hand to knock at the door, but again withdrew it. The inmates of the
house, aroused by the sound of a horse stopping at the door, came out to
inquire the cause. Charles gazed upon them for a moment--it was a look
of agony and disappointment--his heart gave one convulsive throb, and
the icy sweat burst from his temples.

"Does not--does not Mr Lawson live here?" he inquired, almost gasping
for words to convey the question.

"Mr Lawson! Na, na, sir," replied the senior of the group, "it's lang
since he gaed awa. Ye ken he gaed a' wrang, puir man, and he's no lived
here since the hard winter, for they didna come upon this parish."

"Did not come upon this parish!" exclaimed Charles; "heaven and earth!
what do you mean?"

"Mean! what wad I mean," answered the other, "but just that they were
removed to their ain parish! Is there ony disgrace in that?"

"Oh, my father!--my poor mother!" cried Charles, wildly.

"Mercy, sir!" rejoined the astonished farmer, "are ye Maister Charles?
Bairns! haste ye, tak the horse to the stable. Losh, Charles, man, and
how hae ye been? But ye dinna ken me, man; I'm your auld schulefellow,
Bob Graham, and this is my wife, Mysie Allan--ye mind o' Mysie! Haste
ye, Mysie lass, kill twa ducks, and the bairns and me will hool the
peas. Really, Charles, man, I'm sae glad to see ye!"

During this harangue, Charles, led by his warmhearted friend, had
entered the dwelling of his nativity; where Mr Graham again continued--

"Ye aiblins dinna ken that auld Andrew Weir was sae sair in the dorts
when ye gaed awa, that he set aff wi' Betty for America. But I hear they
are comin hame again this back end. The bairn will be a stout callant
noo, and faith ye maun marry Betty, for she was a mensefu lass."

Charles could only reply by exclaiming--

"America!--my wife!--my child!"

Having ascertained where he would find his parents, early on the
following morning he departed, and about five in the afternoon
approached the village where he had been told they resided. When near
the little burying-ground, he stopped to look upon the most melancholy
funeral procession he had ever witnessed. The humble coffin was scarce
coloured, and they who bore it seemed tired of their burden. Three or
four aged and poor-looking people walked behind it. Scarce was it
lowered into the grave, ere all departed save one, meanly clothed in
widow's weeds, and bent rather with the load of grief than of years. She
alone lingered, weeping over the hastily-covered grave.

"She seems poor," said Charles, "and if I cannot comfort her, I may at
least relieve her necessities;" and, fastening his horse to the gate, he
entered the churchyard.

She held an old handkerchief before her face, only removing it at
intervals to steal a hurried glance at the new-made grave.

"Good woman," said Charles, as he approached her, "your sorrows demand
my sympathy--could I assist you?"

"No! no!" replied the poor widow, without raising her face; "but I thank
you for your kindness. Can the grave give up its dead?"

"But why should you remain here?" said he, with emotion; "tell me, could
not I assist you?" And he placed a piece of money in her hand.

"No! no!" cried the widow, bitterly, and raising her head; "oh, that
Mary Lawson should have lived to be offered charity on her husband's
grave!"

"My mother! Gracious heaven, my mother!" exclaimed Charles, casting his
arms around her neck.

Shall we describe the scene that followed? We will not--we cannot. He
had seen his father laid in the dust, he had met his mother on his
father's grave----But we will not go on.

It was some weeks after this that he proceeded with his widowed mother
to his native village, to wait the return of Elizabeth. Nor had he to
wait; for, on the day previous to his return, Elizabeth, her son, and
her father, had arrived. Charles and his parent had reached Mr
Graham's--the honest farmer rushed to the door, and, hurrying both
towards the house, exclaimed--

"Now, see if you can find onybody that ye ken here!"

His Elizabeth--his wife--his son--were there to meet him; the next
moment she was upon his bosom, and her child clinging by her side, and
gazing on his face. He alternately held both to his heart--the mother
and her son. Andrew Weir took his hand--his mother wept with joy, and
blessed her children. Bob Graham and his Mysie were as happy as their
guests. Charles Lawson bought the farm which Andrew Weir had formerly
tenanted; and, our informant adds, they live on it still.



BON GAULTIER'S TALES.

MRS HUMPHREY GREENWOOD'S TEA-PARTY.


Mrs Humphrey Greenwood was a stirring, lively, good-natured sort of
person; had touched the meridian of her years; was mistress of a
comfortable income; and possessed, withal, the privileged vivacity of a
widow. Nobody gave nicer tea-parties than she; nobody managed to keep
such a number of eligible bachelors on her visiting-list, and
possessing, as she did, the nicest discrimination in drafting these in
among the young ladies under her patronage, what wonder if no
inconsiderable proportion of the matrimonial arrangements of her friends
deduced their origin from these dangerously-seductive sofas in her snug
little drawing-room?

It was in that snug little drawing-room that Mr Simon Silky first saw
the future Mrs Simon; it was on one of those dangerously-seductive sofas
that he found courage to put that question which procured him a better
half, and a comfortable settlement for life for Miss Jemima Linton.

Miss Jemima Linton was still in that fluctuating period, between girl
and womanhood, at which young ladies giggle a great deal, and seem to be
always in a flutter, when Mr Simon Silky first met her. She was fair in
complexion, with light hair and blue eyes; her face, in short, had all
the delicacy of a wax doll, and nearly as much expression. She could say
"yes, sir!" and "no, sir!" at the proper intervals in the course of a
_tête-à-tête_ conversation, and, when warmed a little into familiarity
and ease, could even hazard an observation with reference to the
weather, without changing colour above twice in the course of it. In a
word, she was one of those excessively bashful and retiring young
ladies, who always look as if they thought a man was going to make
violent love to them, and who, if your conversation happen to diverge
from the beaten track of the smallest of small talk, take fright, and
are off as fast as possible to whisper to some of their companions, "La!
what a strange man that is!"

This was the very kind of person for Mr Simon Silky, who was a bit of a
sentimentalist in his way. When he met Miss Jemima Linton, the fair
ideal on whom his fancy had often dwelt seemed to be realised. He came,
he saw, and was conquered.

On entering Mrs Greenwood's drawing-room, one evening that he had been
invited there to meet "a few friends in an easy way," having arrived
rather late, he found the party already assembled. The fire blazed
cheerfully out upon a bevy of tittering misses, who were seated on
either side of it, whispering to each other in a timid and confidential
tone, with here and there a young man amongst them making convulsive
efforts to render himself amusing, while two or three putty-faced
juniors, with very white shirt-collars, and very brightly-polished
pumps--who had been called in to stop gaps in quadrilles, and render
themselves otherwise useful--sat in the background, for the most part
two on a chair, and speculating how many of the cakes that glistened on
the table they might appropriate to themselves with any degree of
decency. Mrs Humphrey Greenwood, the presiding divinity of this motley
gathering, vulgarly yclept a "cookie-shine," was planted behind a
brightly-burnished brass urn of liberal dimension, that hissed loudly on
the table.

"Mr Simon," she exclaimed, advancing from her post of honour--" Mr Simon
Silky, I'm so glad to see you; I really thought you had been going to
desert us."

Our hero blustered out some inarticulate apology, to which his hostess
of course paid no attention, but hurried on into the work of
introduction.

"Mr Silky, Miss Silliman, Miss Gingerly, Miss Barbara Silliman, Miss
Eggemon, Miss Jemima Linton; I think you know all the rest. Mr
Scratcherd, you know Mr Silky." Mr Scratcherd grinned an assent. "Mr
Silky, Mr Slap'emup. You'll find a seat for yourself somewhere. Try if
some of the ladies will have pity, and take you in among them."

All this time, Mr Silky was engaged in distributing a comprehensive bow
to everybody about him--an ordeal which, in any circumstances, to a
nervous man like him, was no joke. But his agitation had the finishing
touch given it by Mrs Greenwood's facetious observation as to the ladies
_taking him_ IN _among them_. The blood rushed to his temples, and he
subsided into a vacant chair, with a remark, directed to nobody in
particular, as to how very warm the room was. Attention having been once
drawn to this interesting fact, it became the topic of conversation for
some five minutes, which gave Mr Simon Silky time to cool down, and to
look about him a little. In the course of his survey, his eyes alighted
on Miss Jemima Linton, who just at that moment happened to be
scrutinising his outward man. Their eyes met; a glance of quick
intelligence passed between them. The lady lowered hers, blushing up to
them as she did so; and the enraptured Simon muttered to himself, "What
charming confusion!" He felt a novel sensation gathering about his
heart. Could it be love? At first sight, too. Many deny it, but we say
that all genuine love is at first sight.

  "He never loved, who loved not at first sight."

Mr Simon Silky was a reader of the Beauties of Shakspere. This line took
possession of his head, and he mused and looked, looked and mused, till
he was roused from his reverie by Mrs Greenwood calling upon him to
assist in handing round the "cups which cheer but not inebriate." He
started up, with a very vague notion of what he was to be about, and
grasping a tea-cup, which his hostess informed him was Miss Jemima
Linton's, in one hand, and a plate of cheesecakes in the other, he
stumbled up to the lady, and consigning the cakes to her outstretched
hand, held out the tea-cup to Miss Eggemon, who sat next, inquiring if
she would please to be helped to a little cake. Miss Eggemon tittered,
and exclaimed,

"Well, I never!"

"Gracious! the like of that, you know!" simpered Miss Silliman, burying
her face in Miss Eggemon's neck.

"How very absurd!" sneered Miss Gingerly, who was verging to
old-maidishness, and had a temper in which vinegar was the principal
ingredient.

"Bless me, Mr Silky! what _are_ you about?" cried Mrs Greenwood.

"Oh--why--yes--no--I see--beg pardon--dear me!" stammered poor Silky,
reddening like an enraged turkey-cock, as he handed Miss Linton the cup,
out of which the greater part of its contents had by this time been
shaken and seizing the dish of cakes with a sudden jerk, deposited
one-half of them in the lady's lap, and the other half on the carpet.

"Tell me, where is fancy bre_a_d?" said Mr Horatio Slap'emup, who was a
wit in his own small way, pointing to the cakes, which our hero was
endeavouring to bring together again from the different corners into
which they had wandered. A general laugh greeted him on every side as he
rose from his knees covered with confusion. He looked at the fair Jemima
as he did so. There was not the vestige of a smile on her face. "Good
kind soul! _she_ does not join in the vulgar mirth of these unfeeling
creatures!" thought the unhappy Silky. "She pities me, and pity is akin
to love." It did not strike him that there might be another reason for
her gravity. The spilled tea and greasy cheesecake had spoiled her white
muslin dress irremediably, for that night at least--a circumstance
calculated certainly to make any young lady melancholy enough; but this
never entered the brain of Mr Simon Silky. Happy man!

  "Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise."

With some difficulty he regained his chair, after stumbling over a
footstool, and crushing the tail of a King Charles cocker, that was
snorting on the hearthrug in all the offensiveness of canine obesity.
His distress was at its climax.

  "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions,"

thought he, recurring once more to the Beauties of Shakspere. His ears
felt as if they had been newly scalded, and objects floated in hazy
confusion before his eyes. He commenced sipping his tea with desperate
energy, wishing for a moment that it had been so much prussic acid. The
patter of many voices sounded in his ears. They must be talking of him,
"for they laughed consumedly;" and that confounded Slap'emup was
obviously getting up a reputation for wit by cutting minute jokes at his
expense.

"You've been at the Exhibition, Mr Silky," said Mrs Greenwood, recalling
him from the state of mental imbecility into which he was fast sinking.

"The Exhibition, you said, ma'am! Yes, yes, certainly, the Exhibition.
Oh yes!" rejoined Mr Silky, struggling to concentrate his scattered
faculties.

"Well, what is your opinion about the portrait?" continued his hostess.

"Portrait, really--which of them--there's so many?"

"Why, Mr Silky, what _has_ come over you to-night? The ladies have been
like to pull each other to pieces, for the last five minutes, about the
portrait of an officer a little to the left of the door of the first
room; and, I declare, you have not heard a word that has been going.
Pretty doings, Mr Simon; and who, may I ask, is the happy lady that so
engrosses your thoughts?"

"Oh, Mrs. Greenwood!"

"Well, well, then, if it's a secret, I won't press it! But what is your
opinion of the portrait? Miss Barbara Silliman here maintains it is
beauty in the abstract."

"Oh he's quite a love of a man!" broke in Miss Barbara, in a rapture of
affectation; whereat Miss Gingerly appeared mightily shocked, and pursed
up her mouth till it looked like a parched apple.

"But Miss Linton, on the contrary, says she thinks it rather plain for a
military man. Now, we want your decision on this knotty point."

"Oh, why, really--a portrait of an officer, I think you said. Fair
complexion, flaxen ringlets, and light blue eyes--beautiful, indeed!
That is to say--I don't know; but"--and here poor Silky looked
hopelessly about for an idea--"upon the whole, I think I declare for
Miss Linton."

"Well, really, Mr Simon, that _is_ coming to the point. Jemima, my dear,
do you hear what Mr Silky says? Declares for you already! Upon my word,
a fair proposal!" said Mrs Greenwood, catching up the allusion, and
looking excessively matronly and significant.

"Fair complexion, flaxen ringlets, light blue eyes!" broke in Miss
Barbara Silliman, with that delicate spitefulness to which young ladies
are subject, when they suspect any of their rivals of having produced an
impression on one of the male creatures. "A pretty officer, indeed! It's
you, Miss Linton, that Mr Silky means. Quite a conquest, I declare."
Having said this for the benefit of the company, she murmured to
herself, "I wonder at the man's taste. A gawky minx!"

If Mr Silky felt uncomfortable before, he was now reduced to the lowest
pitch of personal misery. He tried to smile, as if he took the thing as
a good joke; but the contortions of his visage were galvanic. Everybody,
he was sure, was looking at him, and he stammered out some inarticulate
words, by way of extricating himself from his awkward position. What
they were he knew not; but they only seemed to have made matters worse;
for another titter ran round the circle, and showers of badinage
assailed him on every side. Mr Simon Silky began to speculate whether
sitting on the points of a score of red-hot toasting-forks could be
worse than his present torment.

He was pursuing this agreeable train of reflection, when the removal of
the table to a corner of the room, and a general commotion, occasioned
by the pushing back of sofas, and the laying away of chairs, made him
aware that dancing was about to commence. The men, as they always do on
these occasions, clustered together near the door, pulling on
gloves--such of them as had them--and talking very thick and fast about
nothing at all.

"Miss Gingerly, may I ask you to give the young folks a set of
quadrilles?" inquired Mrs Greenwood.

"Certainly--with a great deal of pleasure," coldly responded Miss
Gingerly, blowing her nose with the end of her pocket-handkerchief,
which she extracted partially from her black satin bag for the purpose,
and feeling particularly venomous at being cut out of the dance, and her
very, very faint chance of captivating a partner therein.

"Oh, thank you," said Miss Eggemon, laying her hands affectionately on
Miss Gingerly's wrists. "You play quadrilles so nicely." And then
turning to Miss Jemima Linton, Miss Eggemon whispered, confidentially,
"Such a player you never heard. Not three bars in time. How provoking
Mrs Greenwood should ask her to play. Just listen; did you ever hear the
like of that?"

Miss Gingerly had laid her black satin bag on the piano, drawn herself
up with all the frosty-faced dignity of waning maidenhood, and was
performing a prelude before commencing operations, which was chiefly
remarkable for its ingenious flights from key to key, and bewildering
accumulation of false concords.

"Gentlemen, find partners for yourselves," said the lively Mrs
Greenwood; and the gentlemen, after looking at one another, disentangled
themselves from the knot into which they were gathered, and, shuffling
up each to the lady that pleased his fancy, solicited the honour of her
hand. The couples had taken their places, and Miss Gingerly was dashing
away into the heart of the "Highland Laddie," when it was discovered
that there was still a couple awanting.

"Mr Silky, you dance?" said all the men at once to that gentleman, who
was sitting pensively in a corner.

"Oh, really!" replied Silky, smiling a sickly smile, and making vague
protestations of inability.

"Not dance!" said the vivacious Mr Slap'emup. "Fie on you!--oh, fie! And
Miss Linton looking at you there, like Eve on the eve of Paradise, as if

  'She would be woo'd, and not unsought be won.'"

There was nothing for it but that Silky should make up to Miss Jemima,
and lead her out to dance. This he did among the nods, and winks, and
whispers of all present; and by the time he got into his place in the
quadrille, he did not very well know which end of him was uppermost.
Away rattled Miss Gingerly at the "Highland Laddie," and away bounced
the dancers through the mazes of the figure. Dancing a quadrille is with
some people no trifling matter, and Mr Simon Silky was one of these. He
bent to it all the energies of his not over-powerful mind; and, while it
lasted, beyond a passing word or two, he had no conversation to bestow
upon his partner. It was amusing to see with what earnestness he watched
the movements of those who preceded him, and, when his own turn came,
the exhibition he made would have made a Timor grin. First, he threw out
his arms to steady himself, and then jerking forward his right foot,
brought himself suddenly into the centre of the floor, where he began
throwing his legs confusedly about, till they seemed to be involved in
hopeless entanglement. All the time he kept his eyes fixed anxiously
upon his shoe-ties. It was obviously a critical affair with him to
preserve his equipoise, and each time that he got back safely to his
place, a sigh broke from him, as if a great burden had been taken off
his mind, and he wiped the sweat away that glistered in heavy beads upon
his brow. At length the quadrille ended. Mr Silky thanked heaven; and,
leading the fair Jemima to a seat, planted himself at her side, and
manfully endeavoured to open up a conversation with her.

Dance succeeded dance, and by degrees the elements of the party got
tolerably well interfused. Poor Miss Gingerly wrought away at her
everlasting set of Scotch quadrilles, and nobody ever volunteered to
relieve her of her task, "she played so well." At intervals some of the
young ladies quivered through a fashionable ballad, and occasionally an
attempt was made to get up one of those melancholy chants, which, by
some strange misnomer, pass current in society for glees. In these, Mr
Scratcherd, who sang bass, distinguished himself so signally, that loud
calls were made upon him for a song, and Mr Scratcherd, after a little
preliminary modesty, yielded to the call. He then began raving about an
"Old Oak Tree," and groaned up and down the scale, till his voice became
lost in the bottom of his neckcloth. Serious fears were entertained
whether he would be able to get it up again, but these happily turned
out to be unfounded. Again his voice mounted to its natural level, and
after rolling about for some time, "grating harsh discord," wore itself
out in a cadence of confused gutturals. "Bravo, bravo," cried the men.
"A very fine quality of bass," exclaimed his friend, Slap'emup, who
affected to be a judge; and Mr Scratcherd blew his nose, and fell back
in his chair in a state of great personal satisfaction.

With a thoughtful regard for the comforts of her guests, Mrs Greenwood
had, early in the evening, thrown open her little back drawing-room, in
which were placed abundance of refreshments, to sustain them through the
fatigues of dancing and conversation. By a succession of visits to this
room, Mr Simon Silky had succeeded in giving firmness to his nerves. He
was gradually becoming less and less bashful. There must have been
something bracing about the atmosphere of the apartments, for to this,
and not to the bottle of port, to which he was observed to have frequent
recourse, must be attributed that jauntiness of step and slipshod
volubility of tongue which he now displayed. He danced every dance, and
for the most part with Miss Jemima for his partner. What though his
uncouth gestures provoked a smile, and his assiduities to the young lady
were commented on at every hand. He cared not. His spirit was in the
third heaven of exaltation, and the whole world might go hang for him.

"Miss Linton," he exclaimed, seizing her hand fervently--they were
seated on a sofa in the back drawing-room, while the others were
labouring through a country-dance in the front--"Miss Linton, hear me
for a moment. Let me use this opportunity of stating what I have long
felt--what I now feel--what I shall always feel." And again Mr Silky
pressed her hand tenderly in both of his.

"Oh, sir!" timidly responded the lady.

"Yes, adorable Jemima! I can no longer repress my emotion. You see
before you a victim to your charms. The moment I beheld you, I don't
know how it was, but my heart thrilled with a transport delightful as it
was new. I felt--I felt--in short, I felt as I never felt before. My
senses forsook me, and I said and did I know not what. These soulless
creatures treated my confusion with ridicule; but, in your eyes,
methought I could read pity, compassion, commiseration, sympathy. Say,
was I right, or was I misled by the fond delusions of my own passion?"

"Oh, sir!" again exclaimed the bewildered Jemima.

"That look! I was not then deceived. Oh extend that pity into love! I
lay myself and my fortune at your feet." And here Mr Simon Silky slipped
off the sofa and down upon his knees, overcome partly with love and
partly with intoxication. "Dearest Jemima! say only that you will be
mine?"

"Oh, sir!" once more sighed the blushing maiden, dropping her head upon
the shoulder of her suitor, who acknowledged the movement by snatching a
kiss from her pouting lips.

"Ods! that came twangingly off. I'm afraid we're like to spoil sport
here," exclaimed Mr Slap'emup, who at this moment entered the room, with
Miss Gingerly on his arm.

"Gracious! how very improper!" cried Miss Gingerly, wishing from the
depth of her soul that it had only been her own case.

"What's improper, ma'am?" retorted Silky, turning to her a look of
drunken gravity, and endeavouring, with no little difficulty, to get on
his legs again. "If I choose to kiss this young lady, or this young lady
chooses to kiss me, that's no business of yours, I suppose? 'Have not
saints lips, and holy palmers, too?' as the divine Shakspere says; and
what are lips for, I should like to know, if not to kiss? Don't frown at
me, Miss Graveairs. I'm a man--a man, ma'am, and I shall do just as I
please. Shan't I, Jemima, dear?"

He turned for an answer to his appeal; but the young lady had left the
room.

"Jemima, I say," continued Silky, getting more and more overcome. He
looked around the room; and, finding no trace of the lady, began
chanting in a lackadaisical tone--

  'And has she then fail'd in her truth,
  The beautiful maid I adore?'

But I don't care that for her!" And he tried to snap his fingers; but
failed in the attempt. "It's an ungrateful world--a vile world."

"Oh, gracious me! let me away," exclaimed Miss Gingerly, in alarm. "He's
certainly tipsy."

"Tipsy--tipsy! Who's tipsy? Let me see her. Woman, woman, to get
yourself into such a state! I'm ashamed of you; I am indeed. But it's
the weakness of the sex.

  'Frailty, thy name is woman!'"

This apostrophe was addressed to some visionary female that flitted
before Mr Silky's mental optics, and whom he followed, with his hands
groping before him, with the voice and gesture of Mr Charles Kean
pursuing the airdrawn dagger in the character of Macbeth. "Laugh away;
it's very amusing, isn't it! Nero fiddled while Rome was burning; but I
know better."

"Mr Silky, you'll better go home," said Mrs Greenwood, who, with the
remainder of the party, had by this time entered the room.

"Home! exactly so. I _am_ at home, my charmer--perfectly at home; and
you're at home; we're all at home. But no more wine, Mrs Greenwood;
temperance and teetotalism for ever. We are beset with temptations in
this wicked world--temptations, I say--Jemima, you're an angel! It is as
much as a man can do to preserve his uprightness." And, in proof that it
was more than he could, down rolled our hero on the floor, in a profound
stupor.

"Carry Master Silence to bed," remarked the ingenious Slap'emup, highly
tickled with the catastrophe that had befallen the too--too bashful
Silky.

A coach was procured, and he was conveyed to his lodgings, where the sun
found him in bed at noon next day. His dreams had been of the most
ghastly kind. He had fancied himself compelled, by a fiend, to swallow
huge goblets of port wine, strongly adulterated with brimstone, and
dragged about by a fury, who held his neck within a halter. The fiend
was Slap'emup--the fury, Miss Jemima Linton. He started from his dream,
and with his hand pressed against his aching head, fell to adjusting the
confused reminiscences of the previous evening's proceedings. He
remembered nothing but that he had proposed for the hand of some young
lady or other, and had been accepted. Well for him it was that memory
went no farther, or he would never have found courage to visit Mrs
Greenwood again. That he did visit her again, however, may be inferred
from an announcement which the newspapers, not many weeks after, gave to
the public:--

"Married at Edinburgh, on the 6th instant, Mr Simon Silky to Miss Jemima
Linton."



THE RECLUSE OF THE HEBRIDES.

  "Still caring, despairing,
    Must be my bitter doom;
  My woes here shall close ne'er
    But with the closing tomb."--BURNS.


I resided some years ago in the Island of Tyree, which is one of the
most western of the Hebrides; and, in the course of my business, had
often occasion to cross by the base of Ben Chinevarah, whose rugged and
sterile appearance impresses the mind with a sickening sadness. The
narrow footpath sometimes dives into the deep and sullen gloom of the
mountain glen, whose silence is unbroken, save by the torrent's red
rush, and again winds along the edge of the steep precipice, among the
loose rocks that have been hurled from their beds aloft by the giant
efforts of time, where the least false step would precipitate the unwary
traveller into the abyss below. There no cheering sound of mirth was
ever heard, the blithe whistle of the ploughman never swelled upon its
echoes, nor often did the reaper's song disturb its gloomy silence. The
ear is assailed, on the one hand, by the discordant and dismal notes of
the screech-owl; and, on the other, by the angry roar of the waves that
beat, with ceaseless lash, the broken shore. A small hut now and then
bursts upon the view, raising its lowly roof beneath the shelter of the
mountain rock, and adds to the cheerlessness of the scene. One of those
small cottages often attracted my notice, by its external neatness, and
the laborious industry by which a small garden had been formed around
the dwelling; and by degrees I ingratiated myself into the good graces
of its owner, who, I found, by his knowledge and conversation, was of a
different cast from the dwellers around him. I knew by his accent that
he was a foreigner; and, feeling an interest in him, I often endeavoured
to gain some account from him of the early part of his life; but when
the subject was hinted at, he at once changed the conversation.

Having occasion last summer to spend some days at the house of a friend
in Argyleshire, I availed myself of this opportunity to visit my old
acquaintance at Tyree. I found him stretched on the bed of sickness, and
fast verging towards his end. When last I had seen him, his appearance,
though infirm, evinced but few signs of physical decay; and, though the
storms of scores of winters had blown over him, still his eye sparkled
with animation, and his raven locks retained the fresh and jetty colour
of the native of "Italia's sunny clime." But now, how changed the
appearance! His eyeballs were dim, deep sunken in their sockets; a few
scattered grey hairs waved carelessly over his finely-arched eyebrows;
and his forehead and cheeks were deeply furrowed with the traces of
sickness and secret wo. When I entered the lowly dwelling, he raised his
lacklustre eyes, and stretched forth his hand to meet my grasp.

"And is Heaven yet so kind," said he, raising his wasted hand in thanks
to the Disposer of all good, "as to send one pitying friend to soothe my
dreary and departing moments? Ah, sir, the hand of the grim tyrant is
laid heavily upon me, and I must soon appear in the presence of an
offended Deity. If you knew how awful are the feelings of a mind loaded
with iniquity, of a soul immersed in guilt, when the last moment is
approaching that separates us from mortality, and the misdeeds of a
wicked life stand in ghastly array, adding stings to an already seared
conscience, you would shrink at what you now deem the gay dreams of
youthful frailty, and shun the delusive and seducing snares of a
wretched world."

Pointing to a block of wood alongside his pallet bed, he desired me to
be seated, and, after drying the tear of sorrow from his swollen eye, he
thus proceeded:--

"Often, in those moments when the sweet beams of health were mine, have
you desired a recital of the events of my past life; but a feeling of
shame withheld me from the task. Now, when I have nothing to fear but
death and the dread hereafter, if you will have the patience to hear me,
I will briefly unfold to you the causes which reduced me from a state of
affluence, to become a fugitive amid the rugged rocks and the inclement
skies of a foreign land."

I assented, and he went on with his story.

"My name," said he, "in the more fortunate years of my life, was
Alphonso; and the city of Venice gave me birth. I was the only child of
an opulent citizen, and need scarcely inform you that no restraint was
laid upon my inclinations when a child; and the dawn of manhood beheld
me plunged amid every intemperance which that luxurious city then
afforded. Money was plentifully supplied me by my parents to support my
extravagances; and I sought after happiness among the rounds of pleasure
and the gay circles of society; but I only met with desires ungratified,
hopes often frustrated, and wishes never satisfied. I had a friend. He
was called Theodore. I loved him as dearly as a selfish being like
myself _could_ love any one. He shared in all my pleasures.

"An amorous, jealous, and revengeful disposition is commonly laid to the
share of the Italians; and, with sorrow I confess, that formed the
principal ingredient of my character. I had reached my twentieth year of
thoughtlessness and folly, when, one night at the opera, a young lady in
an opposite box attracted my attention; and my eyes were insensibly
riveted upon the beauteous figure. I need not tell you that she was
beautiful--she was loveliness itself. I will not trespass on your time
in describing the new and pleasing sensations that arose in my bosom;
you have trod the magic paths of pleasure, and bowed to the charms of
beauty: they are not unknown to you.

"I felt that all my libertine pursuits had only been the shadows of
pleasure; and from that moment I determined to abandon them, and fix my
love on her alone. We became acquainted, and I found that she was as
worthy of the purest love as my fond wishes desired. She was the only
child of Count Rudolpho; and, for the space of three months, I was a
constant visiter at her father's palazzo. In due time I pleaded the
force of my love. But what were the sensations of my soul, when the tear
started from her eye of beauty, and the dreadful sentence burst upon my
ear--'I am the bride of Theodore!'

"I burst from her presence with a palpitating heart, and returned
homewards, agitated by the conflicting passions of despair and revenge.
I drew my sword from its sheath, and promised the blood of Theodore, of
the friend of my bosom, to its point. The steel trembled in my grasp as
the vow fell from my lips, and my heart recoiled at the idea of shedding
blood; but the still small voice was an unequal match with the baneful
principles of a corrupted soul."

The recluse stopped, and the loud sobs of sorrow and repentance alone
burst upon the gloomy silence of the scene. The hectic flush of fever
played and wantoned across his pallid features, as if it seemed to exult
in the weakness of mortality, and delight in the loveliness of its own
soul-loathed ravages. The tears dropped large and plentiful from his
eyes, and his spirit seemed bended and broken with the racking
remembrance. I bent over the wasted form of the wretched penitent, and
while I poured the voice of comfort in his ear, and wiped the tears from
his eyes, his soul resumed its wonted firmness, and even a smile beamed
upon his blanched lips, as he grasped my hand, and pressed it to his
bosom in silence, and with thankfulness.

"Behold!" said he, drawing an old sword from beneath the side of his
miserable straw pallet--"behold this steel, red-rusted with the blood of
Theodore, from which the bitter tears of sixty long winters have been
unable to efface the stain. Pardon the feelings of an infirm old man. My
soul weeps blood at the remembrance.

"I pitched upon the bridal eve of Theodore for that of his death, and
the seizure of his bride; and hired the leader of a band of ruffians to
assist me in the scheme. The fatal night, so big with horror, at last
arrived. The sun sank sullenly into the shades of the west, and his
departing gleams glanced redly and angrily upon me. The raven wings of
early night fell upon Venice; and I stepped into my gondola, with my
hired followers. We set forward upon our errand. The palazzo of Count
Albert was soon gained. Busy nature waxed calm and hushed; the artisan
had retired to the sweets of his lowly but happy cottage; the
convent-bell had tolled, solemn and slow, the vesper knell; and then

  'Uprose the yellow moon,'

silvering the rippling waters of the canals, and glancing its beams upon
the glittering palaces of Venice. It was a lovely night; but my soul ill
brooked the calm grandeur of the scene.

"By the treachery of a servant, my comrades were admitted into Count
Rudolpho's grounds, whilst I attended the nuptial rites with the
well-dissembled face of friendship. Joy was dancing in every eye but
mine. My hand trembled at times on the hilt of my poniard, and I awaited
the favourable moment with a degree of impatience bordering on frenzy.
Many a fair maid was there, tripping amid the joyous throng, whose
beauty might have warmed the frigid heart of an anchorite; but my eyes
and mind were upon the dear, dear Violetta: she was lovelier than ever,
but--she was the spouse of Theodore.

"The garden of the count was remarkably beautiful, and the trees in it
had been grandly festooned with variegated lamps on the present
occasion. The night was pleasant and calm, and the youthful couple
retired from the crowded saloon to the garden for a few minutes, to
enjoy the freshness of nature. I silently followed, unperceived, till
they seated themselves in an arbour, whose beauty was unworthy of a
villain's tread. Then suddenly I presented myself at the entrance; and
the unsuspicious Theodore rose to embrace me. How shall I give utterance
to the rest? My friend rose to embrace me; and I drew my poniard, and
was about to plunge it into his bosom, when Violetta, whose attention
this action had not escaped, rushed between us, to stay my hand. Horror!
her heart received the blow I had intended for her husband. She uttered
a piercing cry, and fell, a bleeding corpse, at my feet.

"The sound attracted the attention of my ruffianly associates, who were
ready at hand, to carry off the bride, and they hurried to the spot.
Theodore, at first surprised and terror-stricken, now roused himself to
energy. With the fury of a maniac, he rushed upon me, and felled me
senseless to the earth. How long I lay in this situation I know not; but
when my senses returned, the palazzo was in flames, and the clashing of
swords and the groans of the wounded sounded horribly in my ears. And
this was my doing. I had been the means of introducing into Count
Rudolpho's grounds a band of desperadoes, to whom bloodshed was
familiar; and I doubted not that they were at their work of blood and
rapine. I repented of the deed, but it was too late.

"The murdered Violetta lay on the ground at a short distance from me;
the moonbeams played full upon her ghastly and distorted features; and
her robes, her bridal robes, were deeply stained with blood. Her pulse
had long since ceased to beat, and she felt cold to the touch. Resolved
that no profane hand should consign to the earth her blessed remains, I
threw the body across my shoulder, and fled with it from the garden. I
felt not the weight of the burden, for excitement made me 'hardy as the
Némean lion's nerve.' I soon reached the canal, leaped into my gondola
with my precious burden, and, shortly afterwards, gained my father's
palace. Ere the moon set, I had dug a deep grave in his garden, in which
I buried her on whom I had doated, bedewing the earth with my tears as I
proceeded in my work.

"It was at length completed; and, with the morning's dawn, I fled from
Venice. Despair added wings to my flight, and the land of France
received me in her fostering arms. I have, since that time, wandered in
many a clime, to wear away my grief, but in vain. I have fought under
the banner of your king; and, though my arm was never palsied in the day
of battle, death has been denied me. I now lie here, aged and forlorn.
The hand of death is heavy on me, and chilly tremors are creeping over
my exhausted frame. The just decrees of God have denied me even a friend
to close my weary eyes; and my dust must mingle with the dust of
strangers, far, far from the sepulchre of my fathers, and the home of my
childhood."

After a short pause, the Recluse continued--

"Here, sir," said he, "take this sword--it has been the constant
companion of my travels--its blade is unsullied by ignoble blood; and
when you look upon it, after the grave receives the wretched Alphonso,
it may convey a lesson that volumes could not inculcate."

I received the sword from his hand, which was trembling and cold. He
turned his face from me; and before I had time to speak, a deep groan
announced his departure to the mansions of another world. I called the
inmates of the adjoining cottage, who took charge of the body; and I
left the spot with a feeling which words cannot express, but which will
be understood by those who look with the eye of pity upon the errors of
a fellow-mortal.



ELLEN ARUNDEL.


Ellen Arundel was the only daughter of an officer in the British
service, who, with his sword for his patrimony, had entered early into
the profession of arms as the means of maintenance; and he had,
accordingly, pursued it with that enthusiastic spirit of honour which is
dictated by the considerations of family pride, the hope of fame, the
dread of disgrace, and the most ardent love of glory.

The utmost height, however, to which he had risen, when he committed the
folly of matrimony, by uniting his destiny to that of the portionless
daughter of a venerable, respectable, unbeneficed clergyman, was that of
a lieutenant in a foot regiment. By dint of careful management on the
part of his wife, they contrived to live happily together, nor did the
increase of their family--for Ellen made her appearance within the first
year after their marriage--add to their difficulties.

In the care and superintendence of their darling daughter, did their
years roll on in humble content. If they heaved a sigh, it was for their
Ellen's future welfare; if they breathed a wish, it was to see her
placed in a situation which might guard her against the attacks of
poverty, and the designs of iniquity. From the former, they were aware,
beauty and accomplishments would prove no shield; and they trembled when
they reflected that they might prove the most powerful incitement to the
latter. The sweets of life are not to be enjoyed without its
accompanying embitterments. The regiment in which Mr Arundel served
received orders to embark for America, in transports already prepared
for the reception of the British forces. On the communication of this
intelligence, so subversive of their little plans of economy and
felicity, Mrs Arundel earnestly entreated that she and Ellen might be
the companions of his voyage. For awhile Mr Arundel would not consent to
this, from a fear of incurring expense which they were unable to
support; but all the difficulties which the narrowness of their finances
suggested were obviated by a thousand little arrangements, the ingenious
devices of love; and the command of a company, which was conferred upon
him before the embarkation, relieved them from their anxiety.

Few events happened, either during their voyage, or on their arrival at
Boston, except that the assiduities of a young officer of another
regiment, who accompanied them in the transport, seemed to have made
some impression on the heart of Ellen Arundel. She listened to his tales
of love, with the full sanction of her parents, and sighed out the
confession that his passion was returned. Mr Meredith was formed on the
model which Captain Arundel had, in idea, fixed on for the husband of
his Ellen. To the qualifications of a soldier, he added those which most
highly adorn private life; nor was his income limited, for he was the
only son of a gentleman of fortune. But both Captain Arundel and Mr
Meredith were too regardful of decency and propriety to hasten an event
of so much importance, till the father of the young gentleman had been
made acquainted with the attachment; and letters from Captain Arundel
and the lover were, accordingly, prepared, for the purpose of being
despatched to Europe by the first ship that should sail.

But alas! these precautions were soon rendered unnecessary, by events
which dissolved the bonds of affection. On that day when the attack of
Bunker's Hill occasioned a carnage which thinned the British ranks,
Captain Arundel and Mr Meredith stood foremost in the bloody contest.
Accident had placed them in the same brigade: they fought and fell
together. The body of the young officer was carried off by the
Americans; and the mortally-wounded captain conveyed to the habitation
of his wretched wife and daughter, where, shortly afterwards, he
expired.

The keen and piercing anguish felt by Ellen and her mother, in
consequence of this sorrowful event, had changed to silent and corroding
melancholy, when they embarked for their native land, after having
received every attention which the governor and garrison could offer as
a tribute to the memory of the deceased. On their arrival in Britain, a
pension was granted to Mrs Arundel, which, in the event of her death,
was to be continued to her daughter; and with this they retired to a
small village northward of the Scottish metropolis, where a maiden
sister of Captain Arundel, who was remarkably fond of Ellen, resided.

But, as no retirement will conceal the charms of beauty, nor any circle,
however confined, prevent the fame of accomplishments from spreading
beyond its limit, Mr Newton, a widower of independent fortune, not much
past the prime of life, having been told of Ellen, resolved to visit the
Arundels. An opportunity soon presented itself. The house which the
ladies inhabited was advertised for sale; and, under pretence of an
intention to purchase, he wrote Mrs Arundel, desiring to know when it
would be convenient for him to call; to which Mrs Arundel returned a
polite answer, naming an early day.

Mr Newton went; and, after he had viewed the house and gardens with the
air of an intending purchaser, Mrs Arundel, desirous of cultivating the
acquaintance of so distinguished a neighbour, asked him to stay tea;
which being unhesitatingly accepted, he was introduced to the fair, the
amiable, the still mourning Ellen. Prepared by the universal voice to
admire, love was the immediate consequence of a visit, which he
requested leave to repeat, in terms with which civility could not refuse
to comply; and a few weeks confirmed Mr Newton the ardent and the
professed lover of Ellen. But her heart was still engaged; nor could she
abandon even a hopeless passion. The character, the fortune, the
unobjectionable person of Mr Newton, were urged to her, by her only
friends, with such energy, but mildness, of persuasion, that, enforced
by the declarations of her admirer, she was prevailed upon to promise
him her hand, though not her heart; and a day was named for the
celebration of their nuptials.

The necessary preparations now engaged the attention of Mr Newton and
the two matron ladies; whilst Ellen passively yielded to the assiduities
of her friends, and suffered the adornments of her person, and the
intended provisions of settlement to be adjusted, without once
interfering.

A few mornings before the appointed day, as Ellen was seated at
breakfast with her mother and aunt, a note was put into her hands. She
saw at a glance that it was from Mr Newton; and she immediately handed
it across the table to Mrs Arundel, who read:--

"MADAM,--That your heart is not at all interested in the intended event,
you have, with candour, frequently acknowledged to me. You will not,
therefore, even wish to receive an apology for my releasing you from an
unsuitable engagement.

"My long-lost son--my son whom I had for years resigned to Heaven--is
restored to me; and Providence, which has bestowed on me this consummate
happiness, will not permit me to add to it a wish which concerns myself.
He is young; he is amiable; and more worthy of your regard than I am. It
is my sincere wish that he should become your husband. I shall,
therefore, take an early opportunity of introducing him to you.

"My real name is _not_ what you have hitherto considered it to be. I
changed it when, on the supposed death of my son, I retired from my
usual place of residence to a distant part of the kingdom, to avoid the
importunities of some worthless relations; but, until I have the honour
of disclosing to you in person my real name, I beg to subscribe myself,
Madam, yours very truly,

"J. B. NEWTON.

"_To Miss Ellen Arundel._"

When this most extraordinary epistle was read, Ellen turned deadly pale,
and would certainly have fallen to the ground, had not a young man
entered through the window which opened out on the lawn, and caught her
in his arms. He was followed by Mr Newton.

"Ellen," exclaimed the latter, "behold my son!"

The sorrowing girl cast her eyes upon the form of him who held her.

"Meredith!" she cried, and threw herself, weeping, upon his shoulder.
Her tears were tears of joy. Little more remains to tell. Ellen Arundel
gave her hand to the son on the very day which had been appointed for
her nuptials with the father.



CHATELARD.


Some time after the unfortunate Queen Mary had established her court at
Holyrood, on her return from France, to ascend the throne of her
ancestors, a stranger arrived at a certain tavern or hostelry, kept by
one Goodal, at the foot of the Canongate of Edinburgh. The former had
last come from Leith, where he had been landed from a French vessel some
two or three hours previously. He was a young man, probably about three
or four and twenty, tall and handsome in person, of a singularly
pleasing countenance, and of mild and exceedingly gentleman-like
demeanour. His lofty forehead and expressive eye bespoke the presence of
genius, or, at least, of an intellect of a very high order; while his
general manners indicated a refined and cultivated mind. There was
marked, however, on the brow of the interesting stranger very palpable
traces of saddening thoughts--his whole countenance, indeed, exhibiting
the characteristics of a deep and rooted melancholy; but it was of a
gentle kind, and bore no likeness to the stern gloominess of
disappointed ambition. His sadness was evidently a sadness of the
heart--the result of some grievous pressure on its best and tenderest
feelings and affections.

After having partaken of some refreshment, the stranger desired a small
measure of wine to be brought him. This order was executed by mine host
in person; and, indeed, from what afterwards followed, it seemed to have
been given with an express view to that result; for, on the landlord's
placing the wine before his guest, the latter requested him, with great
politeness of manner, to sit down and share it with him; saying that he
wanted a little information on two or three particular points. Mine
host, seating himself as desired, expressed his readiness to afford him
any information of which he himself was possessed. Having thanked the
former for his civility, and pressed him, not in vain, to taste of his
own wine, the stranger said--

"Is the queen, my friend, just now at Holyrood?"

He was answered in the affirmative. The querist paused, sighed, and next
inquired if she walked much abroad--what were the hours she devoted to
that recreation--whether she was accompanied by many attendants on these
occasions--and whether her ordinary promenade was a place easy of
access. Having been informed on all these points, he again relapsed into
thought, and again sighed profoundly. After a short time, however, he
once more recovered himself, and suddenly exclaimed, but more by way of
soliloquy than inquiry--

"Is she not beautiful--transcendently beautiful?"

Mine host, who was not a little surprised by the abruptness of the
question, and the enthusiasm of manner in which it was expressed,
replied, that she surely was "Just as bonny a creature as he had ever
clapt ee on--a plump, sonsy, nice-lookin lass."

A slight expression of disgust, or rather of horror, at the homely terms
employed by mine host in speaking of the beauty of the queen, passed
over the countenance of his guest. It was, however, but momentary, and
was not observed, or at any rate not understood, by him whose language
had called it forth.

"Ay, beautiful is she," went on the enthusiastic stranger, leaning back
in his chair, and gazing on the roof, in a fit of ecstasy, and in
seeming unconsciousness of the presence of a third party--"beautiful is
she to look upon, as is the rising sun emerging from the purpled east;
beautiful as his setting amidst the burnished clouds of the west; lovely
as the full moon hanging midway in her field of azure; grateful to the
sight as the green fields of spring, or the flowers of the garden; and
pleasant to the ear are the tones of her voice, as the song of the
nightingale in the grove, or the sound of the distant waterfall."

Here the speaker paused in his rhapsody, continued silent for some
moments, then suddenly returning, as it were, to a sense of the
circumstances in which he was placed, he brought his hands over his
forehead and eyes, as one recovering from an agony of painful and
melancholy thoughts. Surprised by this extraordinary conduct of his
guest, the landlord of the house began to conceive that he had got into
the company of a madman; yet he marvelled much what description of
madness it could be, since it was made evident only when the queen was
spoken of--the stranger speaking on all other subjects rationally and
composedly.

"She walks not much abroad, you say, my friend?" said the latter,
resuming the conversation which he had broken off to give utterance to
the rhapsody which has just been quoted.

"Very seldom, sir," replied mine host; "for ye see she doesna fin hersel
quite at hame yet amang us; but she'll come to by and by, I've nae
doot."

"And she is not easy of access, you say--no chance of one being able to
throw himself in her way?"

"Unco little, I should think," replied mine host, "unless she could be
fa'n in wi' gaun to the chapel to mass; for she still abides by thae
abominations, for a' John Knox can say till her."

A flush of resentment and indignation crossed the pale countenance of
the stranger at the last expressions of the innkeeper, and he threw a
glance at him strongly expressive of these feelings, but suddenly
checked himself, paused for a moment, and then resumed his queries in
the calm and gentle tones which seemed natural to him--

"How likes she the country, know ye?

"Indeed, I canna weel say," replied mine host; "but I rather doot, frae
what I hear, she's no athegither reconciled till't yet. She thinks, I
daursay, we're rather a roughspun set o' folk--a wee thing coorse i' the
grain or sae."

"Ay, that ye are, that ye are," said the stranger, with more candour
than courtesy, again throwing himself back in his chair, and again
beginning to rhapsodise as before. "She is among ye--the beautiful, the
gentle, the accomplished, the refined--as a fawn amongst a herd of
bears. She is in your wild and savage land, like a lovely and tender
flower growing in the cleft of a rock--a sweet and gentle thing,
blooming alone in the midst of rudeness and barrenness. Oh, uncongenial
soil! Oh, discordant association! Dearest, cruellest, loveliest of thy
sex!"

If mine host was amazed at the first outpouring of his guest's excited
mind, it will readily be believed that it was not lessened by this
second ebullition of fervour and passion. He, in truth, now became
convinced that he was distracted; and, under this impression, felt a
strong desire to be quit of him as soon as possible. With this view, he
took an early opportunity of stealing unobserved out of the apartment--a
feat which he found no difficulty in performing, as his guest seemed
ultimately so wholly wrapped up in his own thoughts, as to be quite
unconscious of what was either said or done in his presence. Soon after
mine host had retired, the stranger ordered paper, pen, and ink to be
brought him. They were placed upon his table, he himself the while
walking up and down the apartment with measured stride and downcast
look, as if again lost in profound and perplexing thought; and at
intervals the sound of his footsteps, thus traversing his chamber, was
heard throughout the whole of the night. The stranger had slept none; he
had not even retired to seek repose; but those periods during the
night--and they were of considerable length--in which all was silent in
his apartment, were employed in writing; and when morning came, the
result of his labours was exhibited in a letter, curiously, or rather
fancifully, folded, tied with a green silk thread, and highly perfumed.
This letter was addressed on the back, "To the Most Illustrious
Princess, Mary, Queen of Scotland."

Having brought the proceedings of the stranger to this point, we will
shift the scene to the sitting apartment of the queen in Holyrood. Here,
surrounded with her maids, the young and lovely princess was, at the
moment of which we speak, engaged in working embroidery, and laughing
and chatting with her attendants, amongst whom were two or three young
French ladies, who had accompanied her from France. The queen and her
maids were thus employed, then, when the gentleman-usher, who stood at
the door of the apartment, entered, and, with a low obeisance, presented
a letter to the queen. It was the same as that addressed to her by the
stranger, and above referred to. The queen took the letter, with a
gracious smile, from the person presenting it, and, contemplating it for
a moment, before she opened it, with a look of pleased surprise--

"This, sure," she said, "is from none of our Scottish subjects: the fold
is French." And she sighed. "It has the cut and fashion of the _billet
doux_ of St Germains; and," she added, laughing, "the precise flavour,
too, I declare. But I should know this handwriting," she went on; "I
have seen it before. This, however, will solve the mystery." And she
tore the letter open, and was instantly employed in reading it, blushing
and smiling by turns, as she proceeded with the perusal. When she had
done, "Maria," she said, raising her eyes from the paper, and addressing
one of her French ladies, "who, think you, is this letter from?"

"I cannot guess, madam," replied the young lady appealed to.

"Do try," rejoined Mary.

"Nay, indeed, I cannot," said the former, now pausing in her work, and
looking laughingly at her mistress. "Perhaps from the Count Desmartine,
or from Dufour, or Dubois."

"No, no, no," replied the queen, laughing; "neither of these, Maria; but
I will have compassion on your curiosity, and tell you. Would you
believe it?--it is from Chatelard, the poet."

"Chatelard!" repeated the maiden, in amazement. "What in all the earth
can have brought him here?"

"Nay, I know not," said the queen, blushing, for she guessed, or rather
feared, the cause. "But read, and judge for yourself," she added,
handing her attendant the letter, which contained a very beautiful
laudatory poem, full of passion and feeling, addressed to herself, and
which the writer concluded by requesting that he might be permitted to
form part of her court; declaring that it would be joy inexpressible to
him to be near her person--he cared not in how mean a capacity. The
having opportunities of seeing and serving her, he said, would reconcile
him to any degradation of rank--to any loss, save that of honour.

"In truth, very pretty verses," said the lady-in-waiting, returning the
poem to the queen; "but, methinks, somewhat over-bold."

"Why, I do think so too, Maria," replied Mary. "Chatelard rather forgets
himself; but poets, you know, have a license, and I cannot be harsh to
the poor young man. It would be cruel, ungenerous, and unworthy of me."

"But what say you, madam, to his request to be attached to your court?"

"Really, as to that, I know not well what to say, indeed," rejoined the
queen. "Chatelard, you know, Maria, is a gentleman, both by birth and
education. He is accomplished in a very high degree, and of a graceful
person and pleasing manners, and would thus do no discredit to our
court; but, I fear me, he might be guilty of some indiscretions--for he
is a child of passion as well as song--that might lead himself into
danger, and bring some blame on me. Still, I cannot think of rejecting
altogether his humble suit, so prettily preferred; and, if he would
promise to conduct himself with becoming gravity and reserve in all
matters, and at all times, I should have no objection that he was
attached to our court. I will, at all events, make trial of him for a
short space."

Having said this, the queen, now addressing the ladies present
generally, went on--

"Ladies, I will shortly introduce to you a new gallant; but I pray ye
take care of your hearts; for he is, I warrant ye, one especially given
to purloining these little commodities. He is handsome, accomplished,
and a poet; so mind ye, ladies, I have warned you--be on your guard.
Kerr," she now called out to a page in waiting, "go to the hostelry
whence this letter came, and say to the gentleman by whom it has been
sent, that we desire to see him forthwith. Let him accompany you, Kerr."

The page instantly departed; and we will avail ourselves of his short
absence on this mission, to say briefly who Chatelard was--what was his
object in coming to the Scottish court--and of what nature were the
fears which the queen expressed regarding him.

Chatelard, then, was a young French gentleman of rank, of rare
accomplishments, and a poet of very considerable excellence. His seeking
to attach himself to Mary's court, was the result of a violent and
unhappy attachment to her person; and her fears for him, proceeding from
a suspicion of this attachment, were, that he would commit himself by
some rash expression of his feelings. She was displeased with his
presumptuous love, yet found she could not, as a woman, but look on it
with pity and compassion and hence her disposition to treat with
kindness and affability its unhappy victim. Prudence, indeed, would
certainly have dictated another course than what Mary pursued with
Chatelard, in thus admitting him to her presence; but Mary's error here
was an error of the heart, and more to be regretted than blamed.

In a short while after the messenger had been despatched with the
invitation to Chatelard, the door of the queen's apartment was thrown
wide open, and that person entered. His bow to the queen was exceedingly
graceful; and not less so, though measured with scrupulous exactness in
their expression of deference, were those he directed to her ladies.
Chatelard's countenance was at this instant suffused with a blush, and
it was evident he was under the excitement of highly-agitated feelings;
but he lost not, for a moment, nor in the slightest degree, his presence
of mind; neither did these feelings prevent him conducting himself at
this interview with the most perfect propriety.

"Chatelard," said the queen, after the ceremonies of a first salutation
were over, "I perceive you have lost none of your cunning in the gentle
craft. These were really pretty lines you sent me--choice in expression,
and melodiously arranged. I assure thee it is a very happy piece."

"How could it be otherwise, madam," replied Chatelard, bowing low, "with
such a subject?"

"Nay, nay," said Mary, laughing and blushing at the same time, "I am no
subject, Chatelard, but an anointed queen. Thou canst not make a subject
of me."

Chatelard now in turn blushed, and said, smiling, "Your wit, madam, has
thrown me out; but, avoiding this play on words, my position is good,
undeniable. All men acknowledge it."

"Go to--go to, Chatelard--thou wert ever a flatterer. But 'tis a poet's
trade. Thou art a dangerous flatterer, however; for thou dost praise so
prettily that one cannot suspect thy sincerity, nor be angry with thee,
even when thou deservest that they should. But enough of this in the
meantime. Thou mayst now retire; and I think the sooner the better, for
the safety of these fair maidens' hearts, and your own peace of mind,
which a longer stay might endanger. Our chamberlain will provide thee
with suitable apartments, and see to thy wants. Mark," she added,
laughingly, "we retain thee in our service in the capacity of our
poet--of court poet--a high and honourable appointment; and thy reward
shall be the smiles and approbation of these fair ladies--the beauty of
all and each of whom I expect thou wilt forthwith embalm in immortal
verse."

Chatelard, bowing, was now about to retire, when the queen, again
addressing him, said, "We will send for thee again in the afternoon, to
bear us company for awhile, when thou wilt please bring with thee some
of thy newest and choicest madrigals."

Expressing a deep sense of the honour proposed to be conferred on him,
of the queen's kind condescension, and avowing his devotedness to her
service, Chatelard withdrew, and was provided with the promised
apartments by the express orders of Mary herself. To these apartments we
shall follow the enthusiastic but audacious lover. On being left alone,
Chatelard again fell into one of those reveries which we have already
described, and again launched into that strain of extravagant adulation
which, on another occasion, we represented him as indulging in. Again he
compared Mary, in his incoherent ravings, to everything that is
beautiful in earth, sea, and sky; but comparing her to these only that
he might assert how far she surpassed them. There were mingled, too,
with his eulogiums, on this occasion, expressions of that imprudent
passion which subsequently at once urged him to commit the most daring
offences, and blinded him to their consequences. Poor Chatelard's
ravings, in the instance of which we are just speaking, were
unconsciously uttered; but they were unfortunately loud enough to arrest
the attention of the domestics, who were passing to and fro in the lobby
into which the door of his apartment opened. These, attracted by his
rapturous exclamations, listened, from time to time, at his door, and
were highly amused with the rhapsodies of the imprudent poet. The
latter, becoming more and more vehement, and, in proportion, more
entertaining, the domestics finally gathered in a cluster around the
door, to the number of six or eight, and, with suppressed laughter,
overheard all that the excited and unguarded inmate chose to utter.
That, however, was so incoherent, or at least of so high-flown a
character, that the listeners could make nothing of it; and, as they
could not, they immediately concluded it to be nonsense, and the speaker
a madman. But there came one to the spot, at this unfortunate moment,
who, with sharper intellect and more apt comprehension, at once
discovered the meaning that lurked under the florid language of the
poet's ill-timed soliloquies.

While the servants were crowded around the door of Chatelard's
apartment, too intent on their amusement to notice the approach of any
one, another party, we say, had advanced to within a few paces of where
they stood. Here, with his arms folded across his breast, he had
remained observed for several seconds, gazing with a look of surprise
and displeasure on the merry group assembled around the poet's door. He
was, however, at length discovered, when the knot of listeners instantly
broke up in the greatest hurry and alarm.

"How now," exclaimed the unexpected intruder--a person of about thirty
years of age, of rather slender form, of cold and haughty demeanour, and
austere countenance--"How now?" he exclaimed, in a voice whose tones
were naturally severe--"what means this idling?--what do ye all here,
knaves, in place of attending to your duties?"

Instead of answering this question, the terrified domestics were now
endeavouring to make off in all directions; but the querist's curiosity,
or perhaps suspicion, having been excited by what he had seen, he
instantly arrested their progress, by calling on them, in a voice of
increased severity and vehemence, to stop.

"Come hither, Johnstone," he exclaimed, addressing one of the
fugitives--"I must know what you have been all about." And, without
waiting for an answer, "Who occupies this apartment?" he inquired,
pointing to that in which was Chatelard.

"And please ye, my lord," replied Johnstone, bowing with the most
profound respect--"ane that we think's no very wise. He's been bletherin
awa there to himsel, saving yer honour's presence, like a bubbly-jock,
for this half-hour back, and we can neither mak tap, tail, nor mane o'
what he's sayin."

"What! a madman, Johnstone?" said the Earl of Murray, the queen's
half-brother, for it was no less a personage; then hurriedly added, "Who
is he?--what is he?--where is he from?--when came he hither?"

The man answered categorically--

"I dinna ken, my lord, wha he is; but, frae the thinness o' his chafts,
I tak him to be ane o' your French laun-loupers. He cam to the palace
about twa hours syne."

The earl's curiosity was now still further excited, and, without saying
a word more, he drew near to the door of Chatelard's apartment, and
became also an auditor of the poor poet's unguarded language; but not
such as it was in the case of the listeners who had preceded him; to him
that language was perfectly intelligible--at least to the extent of
informing him of Chatelard's ambitious love. To Murray this was a secret
worth knowing; and, in the hope that he might discover this attachment
to be reciprocal, and thus acquire an additional influence over the
queen, his sister, at the expense of her reputation, he considered it a
singularly fortunate incident. Perhaps he expected that it would do even
more for him than this: that it would eventually help him to the
accomplishment of certain daring views towards the crown itself, of
which he was not unsuspected. Whether, however, he was able to trace, in
distinct and definite lines, any consequences favourable to himself from
the fact which had just come to his knowledge, it is certain he was
pleased with the discovery, and considered it as an important
acquisition. That he viewed it in this light, indeed, was evident even
by his countenance, cautiously guarded as its expressions ever were.

On being satisfied of the fact of Chatelard's attachment to the queen,
he withdrew from the door with a look and brief expression of
satisfaction, and went directly in quest of the chamberlain. On finding
whom--

"So, Mr Chamberlain," he said, "we have got, I find, another animal
added to our herd of fawning, drivelling courtiers. Pray, who or what is
he, this person who has taken up his quarters in the northern gallery,
and by whose authority has he been installed there?"

"By the queen's, my lord," replied the chamberlain. "I have had express
and direct orders from the queen herself, to provide the gentleman with
apartments in the palace, and to see to his suitable entertainment."

"Ah, indeed," said the earl, biting his lip, and musing for a moment.
"By her own express orders!" he repeated. "It is very well." Then, after
a pause--"Know ye this favoured person's name, Mr Chamberlain?"

"Chatelard," replied the latter.

"Chatelard! Chatelard!" repeated the earl, mechanically, and again
musing; "why, I think I have heard of that gallant before. He is one of
those triflers called poets, me-thinks--a versifier, a scribbler of
jingling rhymes. Is it not so?"

"I have heard the queen say so, my lord," replied the chamberlain. "She
has spoken of him in my hearing as a poet."

"Ah! the same, the same," said the earl; "but how obtained he access to
the queen, know ye?"

"Through his own direct application, my lord. He addressed a poetical
epistle to her majesty, I understand, from Goodal's hostelry, where he
had taken up his quarters in the first place, requesting permission to
wait upon her."

"And it was granted?" interrupted the earl.

"It was, my lord; and he has already had an audience."

"Ah! so!" said the earl, without yet betraying, or having, during any
part of this conversation, betrayed, the slightest emotion or symptom of
the deep interest he took in the communications which were being made to
him. "Know ye," he went on, "if that favour is to be soon again
conferred on him? When will he again be admitted to the presence?"

"That, my lord, rests on the queen's pleasure; but I hear say that he is
to attend her again this evening in her sitting apartment."

"So, so," said the earl, nodding his head, as he uttered the words. And,
turning on his heel, he walked away without further remark.

From the officer with whom he had just been speaking, the Earl of Murray
carefully concealed the motives which had prompted his inquiries, but
determined, henceforth, to watch with the utmost vigilance the
proceedings of the queen and Chatelard, until some circumstance should
occur that might put them both fairly within his power. Unaware of the
dangerous surveillance under which he was already placed, it was with a
delight which only he himself perhaps could feel, that Chatelard
received, in the evening, the promised invitation from the queen to
attend her and her ladies in their sitting chamber. The invitation was
conveyed in some playful verses--an art in which Mary excelled--written
on embossed paper. The enthusiastic poet read the delightful lines a
thousand times over, dwelt with rapture on each word and phrase, and
finally kissed the precious document with all the eagerness and fervour
of a highly-excited and uncontrollable passion. Having indulged in these
tender sensibilities for some time, Chatelard at length folded up the
unconscious object of his adoration, thrust it into his bosom, took up a
small _portfeuille_, covered with red morocco leather, gilt, and
embossed, the depository of his poetical effusions, and hurried to the
apartment of the queen, where he was speedily set to the task of reading
his compositions, for the entertainment of the assembled fair ones; and
it is certain that on more than one of them the tender and impassioned
manner of the bard, as he recited his really beautiful verses, added to
his highly prepossessing appearance and graceful delivery, made an
impression by no means favourable to their night's repose. It would,
however, perhaps be more tedious than interesting to the reader, were we
to detail all that passed on the night in question in the queen's
apartment; to record all the witty and pleasant things that were said
and done by the queen, her ladies, and her poet. Be it enough to say,
that the latter retired at a pretty late hour; his imprudent passion, we
cannot say increased--for of increase it would not admit--but
strengthened in its wild and ambitious hopes.

From that fatal night, poor Chatelard firmly believed that his love was
returned--that he had inspired in the bosom of Mary a passion as ardent
as his own. Into this unhappy error the poet's own heated and disturbed
imagination had betrayed him, by representing in the light of special
marks of favour, occurrences that were merely the emanations of a kind
and gentle nature--thus fatally misled by a passion which, if notorious
for occasioning groundless fears, is no less so for inspiring unfounded
hopes. Such, at any rate, was its effect in the case of Chatelard on the
night in question. On gaining his own chamber, he flung himself into a
chair, and spent nearly the whole of the remainder of the night in the
indulgence of the wildest and most extravagant dreams of future bliss;
for, in the blindness of his passion and tumult of his hopes, he saw no
dangers, and feared no difficulties.

From this time forward, Chatelard's conduct to the queen became so
marked and unguarded in various particulars, as to excite her alarm, and
even to draw down upon the offender some occasional rebukes, although
these were at first sufficiently gentle and remote. Nor did the
imprudences of the infatuated poet escape the cold, keen eye of Murray.
He saw them, and noted them; but took care to wear the semblance of
unconsciousness. It was not his business to interrupt, by hinting
suspicions, the progress of an affair which he hoped would, on some
occasion or other, lead to consequences that he might turn to account.
Feeling this, it was not for him to help Chatelard and the queen to
elude his vigilance, and defeat his views, by discovering what he
observed, and thus putting them on their guard. This was not his
business; but it was his business to lie concealed, and to spring out on
his quarry the instant that its position invited to the effort. Coldly
and sternly, therefore, he watched the motions of Chatelard and his
sister; but was little satisfied to perceive nothing in the conduct of
the latter regarding the former which at all spoke of the feelings he
secretly desired to find. As it was impossible, however, for the earl
personally to watch all the movements of Chatelard, he looked around him
for some individual of the queen's household whom he might bribe to
perform the duties of a spy; and such a one he found amongst the
attendants whom Mary had brought with her from France, of which country
he was also a native. The name of this ungrateful and despicable wretch,
who undertook to betray a kind and generous mistress, whenever he should
discover anything in her conduct to betray, was Choisseul--a man of
pleasing manners and address, but of low and vicious habits. Without any
certain knowledge of his character, or any previous information
regarding him, the Earl of Murray's singular tact and penetration at
once singled him out as a likely person for his purposes. On this
presumption, he sent for him, and, cautiously and gradually opening him
up, found that he had judged correctly of his man.

"Choisseul," he said, on that person being ushered into his presence, "I
have good reason to think that you are one in whom I may put trust; and,
in this assurance, I have selected you for an especial mark of my
confidence. Do you know anything of this Chatelard, who has lately come
to court?"

"I do, my lor'. He is countryman of my own."

"So I understand. Well, then, I'll tell you what it is, Choisseul: I
believe the fellow has come here for no good--I believe, in short, that
he has designs upon the queen. Now, my good fellow, will you undertake
to ascertain this for me? Will you watch their proceedings, watch them
narrowly, and give me instant information of anything suspicious that
may come to your knowledge--and ye shall not miss of your reward?" added
the earl, now opening a little desk which stood before him, and taking
from it a well-filled purse.

Choisseul, with many bows and grimaces, readily undertook to play the
knave, and, with still more, took the price of his knavery, the purse
already alluded to, which the earl now handed him.

"Now, Choisseul," said Murray, just before dismissing the miscreant, "I
may depend on you?"

"Mine honneur," replied the Frenchman, placing his hand on his breast,
with a theatrical air, and bowing to the ground as he pronounced the
words--"Je suis votre serviteur till die."

"Enough," said the earl, waving his hand as a signal to him to retire;
"be vigilant and prompt in communicating with me when you have anything
of consequence to say."

Choisseul again bowed low, and left the apartment. In the meantime, the
gallant, accomplished, but imprudent Chatelard, hurried blindly along by
the impetuosity of his passion, and altogether unsettled by the
intoxicating belief that his love was returned--a belief which had now
taken so fast a hold of his understanding that nothing could loosen
it--proceeded from one impropriety to another, till he at length
committed one which all but brought matters to a crisis; and this was
avoided only by its having escaped the vigilance of Choisseul, and
having been compassionately concealed by the queen herself.

On retiring one night, early in February, 1563, to her sleeping
apartment, Mary and her attendants were suddenly alarmed by an
extraordinary movement in a small closet or wardrobe, in which was kept
the clothes the queen was in the habit of daily using. The maids would
have screamed out and fled from the apartment, but were checked in both
these feminine resorts by observing the calm and collected manner of
their mistress, in which there was not the slightest appearance of
perturbation.

"Ladies, ladies," she exclaimed, laughingly, as her attendants were
about to rush out of the room, "what a pretty pair of heroines ye are!
Shame, shame! ye surely would not leave your mistress alone, in the
midst of such a perilous adventure as this. Come hither," she added, at
the same time stepping towards her toilet, and taking up a small silver
lamp that burned on it, "and let us see who this intruder is--whether
ghost or gallant."

Saying this--her maids having returned, reassured by her
intrepidity--she proceeded, with steady step, towards the suspected
closet, seized the door by the handle, flung it boldly open, and
discovered, to the astonished eyes of her attendants, and to her own
inexpressible amazement, the poet Chatelard, armed with sword and
dagger. For some seconds the queen uttered not a syllable; but a flush
of indignation and of insulted pride suffused her exquisitely lovely
countenance.

"Chatelard," she at length said, in a tone of calm severity, and with a
dignity of manner becoming her high state and lineage, "come forth and
answer for this daring and atrocious conduct, this unheard-of insolence
and presumption." Chatelard obeyed, and was about to throw himself at
her feet, when she sternly forbade him.

"I want no apologies, presumptuous man," she said--"no craving of
forgiveness. I want explanation of this infamous proceeding, and that I
demand of you in the presence of my attendants here. Know ye not, sir,"
she went on, "that your head is forfeited by this offence, and that I
have but to give the word, and the forfeit will be exacted?"

"I know it, I know it," exclaimed Chatelard, persisting in throwing
himself on his knees; "but the threat has no terrors for me. It is your
displeasure alone--fairest, brightest of God's creatures--that I fear.
It is----"

"Peace, Chatelard," interrupted Mary, peremptorily. "What mean ye by
this language, sir? Would ye cut yourself off from all hope of pardon,
by adding offence upon offence? Rise, sir, and leave this apartment
instantly, I command you; I will now hear neither explanation nor
apology."

"Then, will you forgive me?" said Chatelard; "will you forgive a
presumption of which----"

"I will hear no more, sir," again interrupted the queen, indignantly.
"Begone, sir! Remain another instant, and I give the alarm. Your life
depends on your obedience." And Mary placed her hand on a small silver
bell, from which had she drawn the slightest sound, the poet's doom was
sealed, and she would have rung his funeral knell.

Chatelard now slowly rose from his knees, folded his arms across his
breast, and with downcast look, but without uttering another word,
strode out of the apartment. When he had gone, the queen, no longer
supported by the excitement occasioned by the presence of the intruder,
flung herself into a chair, greatly agitated and deadly pale. Here she
sat in silence for several minutes, evidently employed in endeavouring
to obtain a view of the late singular occurrence in all its bearings,
and in determining on the course which she herself ought to pursue
regarding it.

Having seemingly satisfied herself on these points--

"Ladies," she at length said--these ladies were two of her Maries, Mary
Livingstone and Mary Fleeming--"this is a most extraordinary
circumstance. Rash, thoughtless, presumptuous man, how could he have
been so utterly lost to every sense of propriety and of his own peril,
as to think of an act of such daring insolence?"

"Poor man, I pity him," here simply, but naturally enough, perhaps,
interrupted Mary Fleeming. "Doubtless, madam, you will report the matter
instantly to the earl?"

"Nay, Mary, I know not if I will, after all," replied the queen. "I
perhaps ought to do so; but methinks it would be hardly creditable to
me, as a woman, to bring this poor thoughtless young man to the
scaffold, whither, you know, my stern brother would have him instantly
dragged, if he knew of his offence; and besides, ladies," went on the
queen, in whose gentle bosom the kindly feelings of her nature had now
completely triumphed over those of insulted dignity and pride, "I know
not how far I am myself to blame in this matter. I fear me, I ought to
have been more guarded in my conduct towards this infatuated young man.
I should have kept him at a greater distance, and been more cautious of
admitting him to familiar converse, since he has evidently misconstrued
our affability and condescension. There may have been error there, you
see, ladies."

"Yet," said Mary Livingstone, "methinks the daring insolence of the man
ought not to go altogether unpunished, madam. If he has chosen to
misconstrue, it can be no fault of yours."

"Perhaps not," replied Mary. "As a queen, I certainly ought to give him
up to the laws; but as a woman I cannot. Yet shall he not go unpunished.
He shall be forthwith banished from our court and kingdom. To-morrow I
shall cause it to be intimated to him that he leave our court instantly,
and Scotland within four-and-twenty hours thereafter, on pain of our
highest displeasure, and peril of disclosure of his crime."

Having thus spoken, and having obtained a promise of secresy regarding
Chatelard's offence from her two attendants, Mary retired for the night,
not however, quite assured that she was pursuing the right course for
her own reputation, in thus screening the guilt of the poet; but
nevertheless determined, at all risks, to save him, in this instance at
least, from the consequence of his indiscretion. On the following
morning, the queen despatched a note to Chatelard, to the purpose which
we have represented her as expressing on the preceding night, and, in
obedience to the command it contained, he instantly left the palace, but
in a state of indescribable mental agitation and distraction; for in the
determination expressed by the queen he saw at once an end to all his
wild hopes, and more unendurable still, an assurance that he had wholly
mistaken the feelings with which Mary regarded him. We have said that
Chatelard obeyed one of the injunctions of the queen--that was, to leave
the palace instantly. He did so; but whether he conformed to the other
the sequel will show.

Two days after the occurrences just related, Mary set out for St.
Andrew's; taking the route of the Queensferry, and sleeping the first
night at Dunfermline, and the second at Burntisland. On the evening of
her arrival at the latter place, the queen, fatigued by her journey,
which had been prolonged by hunting and hawking, retired early to her
apartment. Here she had not been many minutes, when the door was thrown
suddenly open, and Chatelard entered.

"What! again, Chatelard!" exclaimed Mary, with the utmost indignation
and astonishment. "What means this, sir? How have you dared to intrude
yourself again into my apartment?"

Without making any reply to this salutation, Chatelard threw himself on
his knees before the queen, and, seizing the skirt of her robe, implored
her pardon for his presumption; adding, that he had been impelled to
this second intrusion solely by a desire to explain to her the motives
of his former conduct, which, he said, had been wrongly interpreted, and
to bid her farewell before he went into the banishment to which she had
doomed him.

"Rise, sir, rise," said Mary; "I will listen to no explanations forced
on me in this extraordinary manner. I desire that you instantly quit
this apartment. This repetition of your offence, sir, I will neither
bear with nor overlook. Rise, I command you, and begone!"

Instead of obeying, the infatuated poet not only persisted in remaining
in the position he was in, but, still keeping hold of the queen's robe,
began to speak the language of passion and love. The queen endeavoured
to release herself from his hold, and was in the act of attempting to do
so, when the door of the apartment, which Chatelard had closed behind
him, was violently thrown open, and the Earl of Murray entered. Having
advanced two or three steps, he stood still, and, folding his arms
across his breast, looked sternly, but in silence, first at the queen,
and then at Chatelard; keeping, at the same time, sufficiently near the
door to prevent the escape of the latter, in case he should make such an
attempt. Having gazed on them for some time without opening his lips,
but with an ominous expression of countenance--

"Well, Sir Poet," he at length said, addressing Chatelard, with cold
deliberation, "pray do me the favour to enlighten me as to the meaning
of your having thus intruded yourself into the queen's apartment. Why do
I find you here, sir, and wherefore have I found you in the position
from which you have just now risen? Pray, sir, explain."

"I came here, my lord," replied Chatelard, with firmness and dignity,
"to take leave of Her Majesty before returning to France, for which I
set out to-morrow."

An ironical and incredulous smile played on the stern countenance of
Murray. "A strange place this, methinks, and a strange season, for
leave-taking; and yet stranger than all the language in which I just now
heard you speak. You are aware, I presume, sir," he added, "that you are
just now in the queen's sleeping apartment, where none dare intrude but
on the peril of their lives. But probably, madam," he said, now turning
to the queen, without waiting any reply to his last remark, "you can
explain the meaning of this extraordinary scene."

"You had better, my lord," replied Mary, evasively--for she was still
reluctant to commit the unfortunate poet--"obtain what explanations you
desire from Chatelard himself. He surely is the fittest person to
explain his own conduct."

"True, madam," said Murray, sneeringly, "but I thought it not by any
means improbable that you might be as well informed on the point in
question as the gentleman himself."

"Your insinuation is rude, my lord," replied the queen, haughtily; and,
without vouchsafing any other remark, walked away to the further end of
the apartment, leaving the earl and Chatelard together.

Murray now saw, from the perfectly composed and independent manner of
the queen, that he could make out nothing to her prejudice from the case
before him, nor elicit the slightest evidence of anything like
connivance, on the part of Mary, at Chatelard's intrusion. Seeing this,
he determined on proceeding against the unfortunate poet with the utmost
rigour to which his imprudence had exposed him, in the hope that
severity would wring from him such confessions as would implicate the
queen.

Having come to this resolution--"Sir," he said, addressing Chatelard,
"prepare to abide the consequences of your presumption." And he
proceeded to the door, called an attendant, and desired him to send the
captain of the guard and a party to him instantly.

In a few minutes, they appeared, when the earl, addressing the officer
just named, and pointing to Chatelard, desired him to put that gentleman
in ward; and the latter was immediately hurried out of the apartment.
When the guard, with their prisoner, had left the queen's chamber, the
earl walked up to Mary, who, with her head leaning pensively on her
hand, had been silently contemplating the proceedings that were going
forward in her apartment.

"Madam," said Murray, on approaching her, "I think you may consider
yourself in safety for this night, at any rate, from any further
intrusion from this itinerant versifier; and it shall be my fault if he
ever again annoys you or any one else."

"What, brother!" exclaimed Mary, in evident alarm at this ambiguous, but
ominous hint--"you will not surely proceed to extremities against the
unfortunate young man?"

"By St Bride, but I will though," replied Murray, angrily. "Why, madam,
has not your reputation as a woman, and your dignity as a queen, both
been assailed by this insolent foreigner, in the daring act he has
done?"

"Nay, my lord," replied the queen, haughtily, "methinks it will take
much more than this to affect my reputation. I indeed marvel much to
hear you speak thus, my lord. My dignity, again, can be debased only by
mine own acts, and cannot be affected by the act of another."

"Nevertheless, madam," rejoined her brother, "ye cannot stop slanderous
tongues, and I know not how the world may construe this circumstance.
Both your honour and station require that this presumtuous knave suffer
the penalty of his crime in its utmost rigour. What would the world say
else? Why, it would have suspicions that ought not for an instant to be
associated with the name of Mary Stuart."

"But you will not have his life taken, brother?" said Mary, in a gentle
tone--subdued by the thoughts of the severe doom that threatened the
unfortunate gentleman, and placing her hand affectionately on the earl's
arm as she spoke. "Can ye not banish him forth of the realm, or imprison
him--anything short of death, which, methinks, would be, after all, hard
measure for the offence?"

"You have reasons, doubtless, madam," said the earl, coldly and bluntly,
"for this tenderness."

"I have," said Mary, indignantly; "but not, my lord, such as you would
seem to insinuate. My reasons are, humanity and a feeling of compassion
for the misguided and unhappy youth."

"Chatelard shall have such mercy, madam, as your Majesty's Privy Council
may deem him deserving of," replied the earl, turning round on his heel,
and quitting the apartment.

On leaving the presence of the queen, the Earl of Murray retired to his
own chamber where he was shortly after, waited upon by Choisseul, who
had been for some time watching his return.

"Ha, Choisseul art there?" said the earl, with an unusual expression of
satisfaction on his countenance, on the former's entrance. "Thou hast
done well, friend: I found matters exactly as you stated, and am obliged
by the promptness and accuracy of your information."

"Vere happy, my lor', I am serve to your satisfaction," replied
Choisseul, bowing low. "I vas vatch Monsieur Chatelard as vone cat shall
vatch vone leetle mice, and did caught him at las."

"You did well, Choisseul, and shall be suitably recompensed. Dost know
how the fellow came here, and when?"

"He did come in vone leetle barque, my lor' from over de riviere, on de
todder side opposite."

"Ah, so!" said the earl. "Well, you may now retire, Choisseul. To-morrow
I shall see to your reward."

Choisseul bowed, and withdrew.

When he had retired, the earl sat down to a small writing table, and,
late as the hour was, began writing with great assiduity--an employment
at which he continued until he had written eight or ten different
letters, each of considerable length. These were addressed to various
members of the Queen's Privy Council in Edinburgh, and to some of the
law officers of the crown. They were all nearly copies of each other,
and contained an account of Chatelard's conduct, with a charge to the
several parties addressed to repair to St. Andrews on the second day
following, for the purpose of holding a court on the offender, and
awarding him such punishment as the case might seem to demand.

On the day succeeding that on which the occurrence just related took
place, the queen and her retinue proceeded to St. Andrews, whither the
prisoner Chatelard was also carried; and, on the next again, the
unfortunate gentleman was brought to trial, the scene of which was an
apartment in the Castle of St Andrews, which had been hastily prepared
for the occasion. In the centre of this apartment was placed a large
oblong oaken table, covered with crimson velvet, and surrounded by a
circle of high-backed chairs, with cushions covered with the same
material. These were subsequently occupied by eight or ten persons of
the Privy Council, including Mary's secretary of state, Maitland of
Lethington, who sat at one end of the table. At the opposite end sat the
Earl of Murray; the prisoner occupying a place in the centre at one of
the sides. During the investigation which followed into the offence of
Chatelard, the Earl of Murray made repeated indirect attempts to lead
him to make statements prejudicial to the queen; urging him, with a show
of candour and pretended regard for justice, to inform the court of
anything and everything which he thought might be available in his
defence, without regard to the rank or condition of those whom such
statements might implicate. This language was too plain to be
misunderstood. Every one present perceived that it conveyed a pointed
allusion to the queen. Chatelard, amongst the rest, felt that it did so,
and indignantly repelled the insinuation.

"I have none," he said, "to accuse but myself; nothing to blame but my
own folly. Folly, did I say?" went on the fearless enthusiast; "it was
no folly--it was love, love, love--all-powerful love--love for her, the
noblest, the loveliest of created beings, for whom I could die ten
thousand deaths. It was love for her who has been to me the breath of
life, the light of mine eyes, the idol of my heart; around which were
entwined all the feelings and susceptibilities of my nature, even as the
ivy entwines the tree--the constant theme of my dreams by night; the
sole subject of my thoughts by day. It has been hinted to me that I may
blame freely, where to blame may serve me. But whom shall I blame? Not
her, surely, who is the object of my idolatry--my sun, moon, and
stars--my heaven, my soul, my existence. Not her, surely; for she is
faultless as the unborn babe, pure and spotless as the snow-wreath in
the hollow of the mountain. Who shall maintain the contrary fies in his
throat, and is a foul-mouthed, villanous slanderer."

Here the enthusiastic and somewhat incoherent speaker was abruptly
interrupted by Maitland of Lethington, who, rising to his feet, and
resting his hands on the low table around which Chatelard's judges were
seated, said, looking at the prisoner--

"Friend, ye must speak to your defence, if ye would speak at all. This
that you have said is nothing to the purpose; and you cannot be
permitted to take up the time of this court with such rhapsodies as
these, that make not for any point of your accusation. Think ye not so,
my lords?" he added, glancing around the table.

Several nods of assent spoke acquiescence. When Maitland had concluded--

"I have done, then, my lords," said Chatelard, bowing, and seating
himself. "I have no more to say."

A short conversation now took place amongst the prisoner's judges, when
sentence of death was unanimously agreed to, and he was ordered to be
beheaded on the following day, the 22d of February, 1563.

On the rising of the court, the Earl of Murray repaired to the queen,
and informed her of the doom awarded against Chatelard. Mary was greatly
affected by the intelligence. She burst into tears, exclaiming--

"Oh, unhappy, thrice unhappy, countenance! thou hast been given me for a
curse, instead of a blessing--the ruin of these who love me best--that,
by inspiring a silly passion, at once dangerous and worthless, will not
permit one to remain near me in the character of friend! My lord, my
lord," she continued, in great agitation, "can you not, will you not
save the unhappy young man? I beseech thee, I implore thee, by the ties
of consanguinity that connect us, by the duty ye owe to me as thy
sovereign, to spare his life!"

"You know not what you ask, madam," replied Murray, stalking up and down
the apartment. "How can his life be spared consistently with your
honour? Save him, and you will set a thousand slanderous tongues
a-wagging. It may not, must not, be."

Mary herself could not deny the force of this remark, and, finding she
had nothing to oppose to it, she flung herself into a chair, and again
burst into tears. In this condition the earl left her, to give orders
respecting the execution of Chatelard on the following day, and to put
another proceeding in train for obtaining that result which he had aimed
at on the trial of the unfortunate young man. Sending again for
Choisseul--

"Friend," he said, on that person's entering the apartment, "I wish
another small piece of service at your hands."

Choisseul bowed, and expressed his readiness to do anything he might be
required to do.

"I vas proud to discharge all de drops of my blood in your service, my
lor'," said the knave, with a profound obeisance.

The earl carelessly nodded approbation.

"To-night, then, Choisseul," he went on, "you will repair to the dungeon
in which Chatelard is confined. You will see him as a friend. You
understand me?"

"Ah, well, my lor', vere well."

"Just so. Well, then, you will hint to him that you have reason to
believe he might yet save his life by confessing a participation in his
guilt on the part of the queen. You may add, though not as from me, of
course, that I have no doubt of his having been encouraged to those
liberties for which his life is forfeited; and you may say that you know
I feel for him, and would readily procure his pardon, if he would only
give me a reasonable ground or pretext for doing so, by showing that
there were _others_ equally in fault with him. Do you entirely
understand me, Choisseul?"

"Entirely, my lor'," replied the latter; "bright, clear, as noonday at
the sun."

"So, then, return to me when you have seen Chatelard, and let me know
the result," said the earl.

Choisseul once more withdrew, to perform the treacherous and knavish
part assigned him. About midnight he sought the dungeon of the unhappy
gentleman, and, having been admitted by the guards, found him busily
employed in writing; the indulgence of a lamp, with pen, ink, and paper,
having, at his most earnest request, been afforded him. Indeed, these
were more readily and willingly given than he was aware of. They were
given in the hope that he would commit something to writing which,
without his intending it, might compromise the character of the queen.
But in this her enemies were disappointed.

On Choisseul's entering Chatelard's dungeon, the latter, as we have
already said, was busily engaged in writing. He was inditing a last
farewell to the queen in verse. On this employment he was so intent,
that he did not observe, or at least pay any attention to, the entrance
of Choisseul, but continued writing on till he had completed his task,
which now, however, occupied only a very few minutes. On finishing--

"'Tis done," he said, and threw down his pen with violence on the table.
"These are the last notes of the harp of Chatelard. Ha, Choisseul!" he
immediately added, and only now for the first time seeming conscious of
that person's presence; "I am glad to see you, my countryman. This is
kind. I thought there were none in this strange land to care for me. But
they shall see, Choisseul," he added, proudly, "how a Frenchman and a
poet can die. That is, boldly and bravely. He were no true poet whose
soul was not elevated above the fear of death. I said, my friend," he
went on, after a momentary pause, and sighing deeply as he spoke, "that
I thought there were none in this land to care for me, or to sorrow for
me--and perhaps it is so; but there is one, Choisseul, whom I would not
willingly believe indifferent to my fate. She surely, much as I have
offended her, will say, 'Poor Chatelard!' Nay, methinks I see a tear
standing in that peerless eye, when she recalls the memory of her
departed poet. That--that, Choisseul," said the unhappy captive, with an
enthusiasm which even the near approach of death had not been able to
abate--"that would be something worth dying for!"

Choisseul smiled.

"You hold your life lightly, indeed, Chatelard," he said, speaking in
his native language, "if you think its loss compensated by a woman's
tear."

"Ah, Choisseul, but such a woman!" exclaimed Chatelard.

"Well, well," replied the former, again smiling; "but you can have no
doubt that _she_ at least will regret your death. _She_ loved you too
well not to deplore your fate."

"Did she?" exclaimed Chatelard, eagerly, and with such a look of inquiry
and doubt as greatly disappointed the asserter. "You know who I mean,
then; but how know ye that which you have just now said? Assure me that
ye speak true, Choisseul, and I shall die happy."

"Ah, bah! you know it yourself, my friend, better than I," replied the
latter. "No use in concealing it now," he added, with an intelligent
look.

"Concealing what, sir?" said Chatelard, in a tone of mingled surprise
and displeasure.

"Why, the affection the queen entertained for you," replied Choisseul.
"We all know, my friend, you would not have done what you did, had she
not encouraged your addresses. And I'll tell you what, Chatelard," he
went on, "I have reason to believe that your life would yet be spared,
if you would only show that this was so."

"Ah, I understand you," said Chatelard, with suppressed passion. "If I
will accuse the queen--if I will put her in the power of her
enemies--her enemies will be obliged to me. In other words, I may save
my life by sacrificing her reputation; and it would be little matter
whether what I said should be true or not. Is it not so, Choisseul?"
Then, without waiting for an answer--"Villain, devil that thou art," he
exclaimed, now suddenly giving full swing to the passion that had been
raised within him, "how hast thou dared to come to me with such an
infamous proposal as this? Didst think, most dastardly knave, that my
soul was as mean as thine own? Begone, begone, ruffian! Thy presence,
thy breath, pollutes my dungeon more than the fetid damps that exhale
from its walls--more than the noxious reptiles that crawl on its floor.
Begone! begone, I say!" And he seized the now trembling caitiff by the
throat, and dashed him against the door of the cell, with a violence
that instantly brought in the guards who were stationed on the outside.
These, seeing how matters stood, hurried Choisseul out of the dungeon,
and again secured the door on its unfortunate inmate.

On leaving Chatelard, Choisseul repaired to the Earl of Murray, but with
infinitely less confidence in his looks and manner than on the former
occasion when his villany had been successful. To the earl he detailed
the particulars of his interview with Chatelard; not forgetting to
mention the rough treatment he had received from the infuriated poet.

"Then he'll confess nothing, Choisseul?" said Murray, when the former
had done speaking.

"Not anything at all, my lor'. Dere is no hope; for he make no more of
dying than I do of taking vone leetle pinch of snuff."

"Obstinate fool," exclaimed the earl, evidently chagrined and
disappointed. "Let him die, then! You may retire, Choisseul," he
abruptly added.

Choisseul obeyed.

"His execution, at any rate, shall be public," said the earl to himself,
when the latter had left him. "Perhaps he may make some confession on
the scaffold, and it will be well to have it amply testified."

On the following day, Chatelard was led out to execution, when his
gentleman-like appearance and noble bearing excited the utmost sympathy
of the crowd. On ascending the scaffold, he pulled a small volume from
his pocket, opened it, and read aloud, with great dignity and composure,
Ronsard's Hymn on Death. When he had done, he turned towards that part
of the Castle of St Andrew's where he supposed the queen to be, and,
kissing his hand, waved a graceful adieu, exclaiming--"Farewell,
loveliest and most cruel princess whom the world contains!"

Having uttered these words, he laid his head, with the utmost composure,
on the block. The axe of the executioner fell, and the high-souled,
accomplished, but enthusiastic Chatelard was no more.



CHRISTIE OF THE CLEEK.


Though the records of history and everyday experience teach us that
human nature, when pressed beyond certain limits by the force of stern
necessity, loses all trace of the lineaments of the lord of the
creation, and degenerates as far below the grade of brute existence as
it is, when not subjected to any such power, above it; yet it is
remarkable how determinedly mankind cling to a sceptical incredulity in
regard to those facts which derogate, in a very great degree, from the
dignity of the character of their species. The story of Christiecleek
has been considered by many as only fit for being, what it has been for
five hundred years, a nursery bugbear, and yet it is narrated by Winton,
one of the least credulous of historians, was attended by circumstances
rendering it highly probable at the time, and has been corroborated by
instances of _civilised_ cannabalism, produced by necessity, in cases of
shipwreck, of almost yearly occurrence.

The united powers of war and famine, which have so often poured forth
their fury on the devoted head of poor Scotland, at no time exhibited
greater malignity than in the beginning of the reign of David II. For
about fifty years, the country had scarcely ever enjoyed a year of
quiet--with, perhaps, the exception of a short period of the reign of
Bruce. Repeatedly swept from one end to the other by the invading armies
of the Edwards, carrying the sword and the faggot in every direction,
she was, on the very instant of the departure of the foreign foes (in
all cases starved out of a burned and devastated land), laid hold of by
the harpies of intestine wars. The strong resilient energies of the
country could have thrown off the effects of one attack, however severe
and however protracted; but a series of incursions of the same disease,
at intervals allowing of no time for recruiting her powers, produced a
political marasmus--a confirmed famine--one of the most dreadful evils,
including in itself all others, that ever was visited on mankind.

It would be difficult to draw a picture--because imagination falls short
of the powers of a proper portraiture--of the misery and desolation of
Scotland at the time we have mentioned. The land had got gradually out
of cultivation, and the herds of black cattle and sheep, on which the
people relied, in default of the productive powers of agriculture, had
been either driven into England, or consumed by the myriads of soldiers
of the English invading armies. Great numbers of the people, having
nothing wherewith to allay the pangs of hunger, though they had plenty
of money, quitted their country in despair, and took refuge in Flanders.
Those who had no money to pay their passage, left their homes, and
betook themselves to the woods, where, to appease their agonies, they
lay on the ground, and devoured, like the inhabitants of their sties,
the acorns and the nuts that had fallen from the trees. In the want of
these, the very branches were laid hold of and gnawed; and many poor
creatures were found lying dead, with the half-masticated boughs in
their clenched hands. The only remedial influence that was experienced,
was the growth of dysenteries and other intestine diseases, which,
produced by hunger and becoming epidemic, kindly swept off thousands who
would otherwise have died of protracted famine.

At a wild spot near the Grampian Hills, a number of destitute beings had
collected, for the purpose of catching deer (a few of which still
remained), to keep in the spark of life. They agreed to associate
together, and divide their prey, which was dressed in a mountain cave,
where they had assembled. Every morning they sallied forth, women and
all, on the dreadful errand of taking advantage of chance, in supplying
them with any species of wild animals that came in their way, to satisfy
the imperative demands of hunger. They got a few creatures at first,
consisting chiefly of hares and foxes, and occasionally wolves, as
ferocious and hungry as their captors; and such was the extremity to
which they were often reduced, that they sat down on the spot where the
animals were caught, divided the smoking limbs among their number, and
devoured them without any culinary preparation.

This supply very soon ceased--the animals in the neighbourhood having
either been consumed or frightened away to more inaccessible places. The
wretched beings, like others in their situation, had recourse to the
woods for acorns; but the time of the year had passed, and no nuts were
to be found. Weakness preyed on their limbs; and several of their
number, unable longer to go in search of food, which was nowhere to be
found, lay on the floor of the cavern in the agonies of a hunger which
their stronger companions, concerned for their own fate, would not
alleviate. All ties between the members of the association began to give
way before the despair of absolute famine. They ceased all personal
communication; silence, feeding on the morbid forms of misery called up
by diseased imaginations, reigned throughout the society of skeletons,
and hollow eyes, which spoke unutterable things, glanced through the
gloom of the cavern, where a glimmering fire, on which they had, for a
time, prepared the little meat they had procured, was still kept up, by
adding a few pieces of wood from the neighbouring forest. No notice was
taken of each other's agonies, nor could the groans which mixed and
sounded with a hollow noise through the dark recess, have been
distinguished by the ear of sympathy; an occasional scream from a female
sufferer who experienced a paroxysm of more than her ordinary agony, was
only capable of fixing the attention for an instant, till individual
pain laid hold again of the tortured feelings.

A person of the name of Andrew Christie, a butcher, originally from
Perth, had endeavoured, at first, to organise the society, with a view
to save himself and his fellow-sufferers. He was a strong, hardy man;
and, if any of the number could be said to retain a small portion of
self-command, in the midst of the horrible scene of suffering which
surrounded them, it was this man. He was still able to walk, though with
difficulty, and continued to feed the fire, going out occasionally and
seizing on grubs that were to be found about the mouth of the cavern.
The others were unable to follow his example, and even he latterly was
unfitted for his loathsome search. All were now nearly in the same
predicament: agony and despair reigned throughout, to the exclusion of a
single beam of hope of any one ever again visiting the haunts of man. At
Christie's side a woman ceased to groan; an intermission of agony was a
circumstance, and the only circumstance to be remarked. The thought
struck him she was dead; he laid his hand upon her mouth to be assured
of the fact; she was no more! The dead body was a talisman in the temple
of misery--in a short time, that body was gone!

The Rubicon of the strongest of natural prejudices was passed, with the
goading furies of hunger and despair behind. A prejudice overcome is an
acquisition of liberty, though it may be for evil. The death of the
woman had saved them all from death; but the efficacy of the salvation
would postpone a similar course of relief. Christie saw the predicament
of his friends, and proposed in the hollow, husky voice of starvation,
that one of their number should die by lot, and that then, having
recovered strength, they should proceed to the mountain pass and procure
victims.

This oration was received with _groans_, meant to be of applause. The
lot of death fell on another woman, who was sacrificed to the prevailing
demon. A consequent recovery of strength now fitted the survivors for
their dreadful task. They proceeded to the mountain pass, headed by
Christie, and killed a traveller, by knocking him on the head with a
hammer, and then removed him to the cavern, where his body was treated in
the same manner as that of the woman on whom the lot of death had
fallen. They repeated this operation whenever their hunger returned;
making no selection of their victims, unless when there was a choice
between a foot-passenger and a horseman--the latter of whom, always
preferred for the sake of his horse, was dragged from his seat with a
large iron hook, fixed to the end of a pole--an invention of Christie's,
serving afterwards to give him the dreadful name by which he became so
well known. That which hunger at first suggested became afterwards a
matter of choice, if not of fiendish delight. The silent process of
assuaging the pain arising from want subsequently changed into a banquet
of cannibals; the song of rivalry was sounded in dithyrambic measure
over the dead body of the victim, and the corrybantic dance of the
wretches who required to still conscience by noise, or die, was footed
to the wild music which, escaping from the cavern, rung among the hills.
Such were the obsequies which Scotchmen, resigning the nature of man,
amidst unheard-of agonies, celebrated over the corpses of their
countrymen.

These things reached the ears of government; and an armed force was
despatched to the hills to seize the cannibals. Several of them were
caught; but Christie and some others escaped, and were never captured.
The bones of their victims were collected, and conveyed to Perth; where,
upon being counted, it appeared that they had killed no fewer than
thirty travellers. From these transactions sprung that name,
Christiecleek, which is so familiar to the ears of Scotchmen.
"Christiecleek! Christiecleek!" became instantly the national nursery
bugbear. No child would cry after the charmed name escaped from the lips
of the nurse; and even old people shuddered at the mention of a term
which produced ideas so revolting to human nature, and so derogatory of
Scottish character.

Now it is said that, some time after the performance of the dreadful
tragedy we have narrated, an old man in the town of Dumfries, who had
three children by his wife, quarrelled her often for the use of a term
intended simply to pacify her children when they cried, but which he
declared was too much even for his ears. He was a respectable merchant,
had earned a considerable sum of money by his trade, and was reputed a
most godly man, attending divine service regularly, and performing all
the domestic duties with order and great suavity of manner. His
neighbours looked up to him with love and respect, and solicited his
counsel in their difficulties. His name--David Maxwell--was applauded in
the neighbourhood, and he received great sympathy from all who knew him,
in consequence of having, as was reported, lost an only brother among
Christiecleek's victims--a fact he had concealed from his wife, till her
use of the name compelled him to mention it to her, but which afterwards
came to be well known.

The silence of the mother had, however, no effect upon the urchins, who,
the more they were requested to cease terrifying each other by their
national _terriculamentum_, "Christiecleek," the more terrible it
appeared to them, and the more they used it. If they abstained from the
use of the word in the presence of their parents, they were the more
ready to have recourse to it in the passages of the house, and in the
dark rooms, and wherever the dreaded being might be supposed to be. The
pastime was general throughout Scotland; and David Maxwell's children
only followed an example which has been repeated for five hundred years.
"Christiecleek!--Christiecleek!" What Scotchman has not heard the
dreaded words? Time rolled on, and the Misses Maxwell resigned their
childish pastime for the duties of women. Their father had become a very
old man; and the attentions which their mother could not bestow, were
willingly yielded by the young women, who were remarked as being very
beautiful, as well as very good. They loved their father dearly, and
looked upon their filial duties as willing tributes of affection. After
they became intrusted with the secret, they substituted for the cry of
their youth, which had given their father so much pain, pity for the
brother of the victim of the execrated fiend.

At last David Maxwell came to die; and, as he lay on his bed, surrounded
by his wife and daughters, he seemed to be wrestling with some dreadful
thought which allowed him no rest, but wrung from him, incessantly,
heavy groans and muttered prayers. His wife pressed him to open his
heart to her, or, if he was disinclined to repose that confidence in her
when dying, which he had awarded to her so liberally during a long
union, he should, she recommended, send for Father John of the Monastery
of St Agnes, and be shrived. The daughters wept as they heard these
melancholy statements, and the old man sympathised in their sorrow,
which seemed to give him additional pain. At last he seemed inclined to
be communicative, and, after a struggle, said to his wife--

"Wha is to tak care o' my dochters when I am consigned to that cauld
habitation whar a faither's love and an enemy's anger are alike unfelt
and unknown? My effects will be sufficient for the support o' my
household; but money, without a guardian, is only a temptation to
destroyers and deceivers. If I could get this point settled to my
satisfaction, I micht die in peace."

"You never tauld me o' yer freens, David," said his wife--"a
circumstance that has often grieved me. The hundreds o' Maxwells in the
Stewartry and in Dumfries-shire surely contain among them some relation,
however distant; but my uncle will act as guardian to our dochters, and
ye hae tried his honesty."

"Yet I dinna want relations," groaned the dying man. "I hae a
_brither_."

"A brither," ejaculated the mother and daughter in astonishment; "was he
no killed by the monster, Christiecleek, in the Highland cavern?"

"No," answered David, with great pain.

"Whar lives he, and what's his Christian name?" cried the wife, in
amazement.

"Is it his _Christian_ name ye ask?" said the old man. "Surely David,"
replied the wife--"his surname maun be Maxwell."

"But it is not Maxwell," said he, still groaning.

"Not Maxwell!" said the wife. "What is it then?"

"_Christie!_" ejaculated David, with a groan.

The mention of this name produced a strange effect on the minds of the
wife and daughters, who, in the brother, saw (as they thought) at once
the hated Christiecleek, and found an explanation of the horror which
David Maxwell had uniformly exhibited when the name was mentioned in his
presence. They had at last discovered the true solution of what had
appeared so wonderful; and, having retired for a few minutes, to allow
their excitement to subside, they, by comparing notes, came to the
conclusion that their father, having been ashamed of his connection with
the unnatural being, had changed his name, and dropped all intercourse
with him; but that now, when he was about to die, his feelings had
overpowered him, and forced him to make the awful confession he had
uttered. Pained and shamed by this newly-discovered connection, they
were not regardless of what was due to him whose shame and grief had
been even greater than theirs, and, accordingly, resolved to yield all
the consolation in their power to the good man who could not help having
a bad brother. On their return to the bedside, they found him in great
agony both of mind and body.

"This brither, David," said the wife, "I fear, is little worthy o' your
friendship, and the change o' your name is, doubtless, the consequence
o' a virtuous shame o' the connection. But can it be possible that he is
that man o' the mountain cavern, whose name terrifies the bairns o'
Scotland, and maks even the witches o' the glens raise their bony hands
in wonder and execration? Tell us, David, freely, if this be the burden
which presses sae heavily on yer mind. Yer wife and dochters will think
nae less o' you for having been unfortunate; and consolation is never
sae usefu as when it is applied to a grief that is nae langer secret.
The surgeon's skill is o' little avail when the disease is unknown."

This speech, containing apparently the fatal secret, produced a great
effect upon the bedridden patient, who rolled from side to side, and
sawed the air with his sinewy hands, like one in a state of madness.

"We were speakin o' guardians for my dochters," said he, at last, "and I
said I had a brither whase surname is Christie. You promised me
consolation. Is this your comfort to a deein man? For twenty years I
have hated the mention o' that dreadfu name; and now, when I am on my
death-bed, speakin o' curators for my bairns, ye rack my ears by tellin
me I am the brither o' _Christiecleek_! Would Christiecleek be a
suitable guardian for my dochters? Speak, Agnes--say if ye think
Christiecleek would tak care o' their bodies and their gowd as weel as
he tended the victims o' the Highland cave?"

The wife saw she had gone too far, and begged his pardon for having made
the suggestion.

"Ye will forgive me, David," said she, "for the remark I hae dune ye
great injustice; for how is it possible to conceive that sae guid a man
could be sae nearly related to a monster? But ye hae to explain to me
the change o' name. How hae you and your brither different surnames?"

"_Because_," said the dying man, turning round, and staring with
lacklustre eyes broadly in the face of his wife--"_because I am
Christiecleek!_"



Transcriber's notes:

- Obvious punctuation errors repaired.
- Title page: No glossary included in the original.
- pg 010: 'ferula' corrected to 'ferule'
- pg 081: 'douce' corrected to 'douse'
- pg 095: 'iron gripe' corrected to 'iron grip'
- pg 107; 'spitfire' corrected to 'Spitfire'
- pg 211: 'neices' corrected to 'nieces'
- pg 223: 'Shakpere' corrected to 'Shakspere' (to match GWL)





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