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

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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



                         LONDON:
             WALTER SCOTT, 24 WARWICK LANE,
                AND NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE.
                          1887.



                         CONTENTS.


                                                        PAGE

THE VACANT CHAIR               (_John Mackay Wilson_)      1

THE FAA'S REVENGE              (_John Mackay Wilson_)     18

KATE KENNEDY                   (_Alexander Leighton_)     50

RECOLLECTIONS OF FERGUSON             (_Hugh Miller_)     83

THE DISASTERS
       OF JOHNNY ARMSTRONG     (_Alexander Campbell_)    128

THE PROFESSOR'S TALES--(_Professor Thomas Gillespie_):--

     THE MOUNTAIN STORM                                  160

     THE FAIR MAID OF CELLARDYKES                        172

PRESCRIPTION;

THE COUNTESS OF WISTONBURY      (_Alexander Campbell_)   225

MIDSIDE MAGGIE; OR, THE BANNOCK O' TOLLISHILL--
                                (_John Mackay Wilson_)   257



PREFACE.


This series of Tales, now so well known in this country and also in
America, was begun by JOHN MACKAY WILSON, originally a printer, and who
subsequently betook himself to literature. In the beginning of the
undertaking he was inspired by a success probably greater than he had
ever anticipated, and a sudden and wide-spread reputation induced him to
overtask his energies, in a manner inconsistent with the care due to a
delicate constitution. After having carried on the work, almost
single-handed, for a period of more than a year--furnishing a tale every
week--he took ill, and died. Subsequently, the charge of conducting the
work devolved upon the present Editor, who was fortunate enough to
secure the assistance of certain writers well qualified to sustain the
reputation which the first part of the series had acquired. Among these
were the late Hugh Miller, the late Professor Thomas Gillespie of St.
Andrew's, Alexander Campbell, Alexander and John Bethune, and John
Howell, all of whom possessed those natural gifts, enabling them to
succeed in a species of literature which, while in one sense it may be
called the most easy, is, in another, perhaps among the most difficult
of any.

The only condition by which the natural promptings of their genius might
have been restrained was, that the contributions should be genuine
stories, not the ordinary mixture of narrative, didactic essay, and
fanciful prolusion, but tales in the proper every-day sense, with such
an objectiveness as would portray, graphically and naturally, the men
and women of the times, acting on the stage where they were destined to
perform their strange parts, and would exclude all false colourings of a
sentimental fiction, belonging to mere subjective moods of the writer's
fancy or feeling. The greatest care was also taken with the moral aspect
of the Tales, with the view that parents and guardians might feel a
confidence that, in committing them into the hands of their children and
wards, they would be imparting the means of instruction, and at the same
time securing a guarantee for the growth of moral convictions. By such
means, the Tales were kept true to history, legend, morality, and man's
nature, and, at the same time, made acceptable to the great class of
readers who had declared their predilection in favour of the manner of
the early examples.

The Tales in this series have been carefully selected and revised; and
the reader will be pleased to be informed that, in the course of the
publication, there will, for the purpose of imparting to it a fresh
interest, be inserted New Tales, written by authors deemed capable of
attaining the mark of the Original Series.

YORK LODGE, TRINITY,
    _March_, 1857.



                               WILSON'S

                         TALES OF THE BORDERS,

                           AND OF SCOTLAND.



THE VACANT CHAIR.[1]

[1] Our commencement with "The Vacant Chair"--the first written of the
Tales of the Borders--is not inconsistent with our principle of
selection in this edition, which is to distribute the contributions of
the authors, so as to secure variety without any view to an early
exhaustion of the best of the Tales.--_Ed._


You have all heard of the Cheviot mountains. They are a rough, rugged,
majestic chain of hills, which a poet might term the Roman wall of
nature; crowned with snow, belted with storms, surrounded by pastures
and fruitful fields, and still dividing the northern portion of Great
Britain from the southern. With their proud summits piercing the clouds,
and their dark rocky declivities frowning upon the glens below, they
appear symbolical of the wild and untamable spirits of the Borderers who
once inhabited their sides. We say, you have all heard of the Cheviots,
and know them to be very high hills, like a huge clasp riveting England
and Scotland together; but we are not aware that you may have heard of
Marchlaw, an old, gray-looking farm-house, substantial as a modern
fortress, recently, and, for aught we know to the contrary, still
inhabited by Peter Elliot, the proprietor of some five hundred
surrounding acres. The boundaries of Peter's farm, indeed, were defined
neither by fields, hedges, nor stone walls. A wooden stake here, and a
stone there, at considerable distances from each other, were the general
landmarks; but neither Peter nor his neighbours considered a few acres
worth quarrelling about; and their sheep frequently visited each other's
pastures in a friendly way, harmoniously sharing a family dinner, in the
same spirit as their masters made themselves free at each other's
tables.

Peter was placed in very unpleasant circumstances, owing to the
situation of Marchlaw House, which, unfortunately, was built immediately
across the "ideal line," dividing the two kingdoms; and his misfortune
was, that, being born within it, he knew not whether he was an
Englishman or a Scotchman. He could trace his ancestral line no farther
back than his great-grandfather, who, it appeared from the family Bible,
had, together with his grandfather and father, claimed Marchlaw as their
birth-place. They, however, were not involved in the same perplexities
as their descendant. The parlour was distinctly acknowledged to be in
Scotland, and two-thirds of the kitchen were as certainly allowed to be
in England: his three ancestors were born in the room over the parlour,
and, therefore, were Scotchmen beyond question; but Peter, unluckily,
being brought into the world before the death of his grandfather, his
parents occupied a room immediately over the debatable boundary line
which crossed the kitchen. The room, though scarcely eight feet square,
was evidently situated between the two countries; but, no one being able
to ascertain what portion belonged to each, Peter, after many arguments
and altercations upon the subject, was driven to the disagreeable
alternative of confessing he knew not what countryman he was. What
rendered the confession the more painful was, that it was Peter's
highest ambition to be thought a Scotchman. All his arable land lay on
the Scotch side; his mother was collaterally related to the Stuarts; and
few families were more ancient or respectable than the Elliots. Peter's
speech, indeed, betrayed him to be a walking partition between the two
kingdoms, a living representation of the Union; for in one word he
pronounced the letter _r_ with the broad, masculine sound of the North
Briton, and in the next with the liquid _burr_ of the Northumbrians.

Peter, or, if you prefer it, Peter Elliot, Esquire of Marchlaw, in the
counties of Northumberland and Roxburgh, was, for many years, the best
runner, leaper, and wrestler between Wooler and Jedburgh. Whirled from
his hand, the ponderous bullet whizzed through the air like a pigeon on
the wing; and the best putter on the Borders quailed from competition.
As a feather in his grasp, he seized the unwieldy hammer, swept it round
and round his head, accompanying with agile limb its evolutions, swiftly
as swallows play around a circle, and hurled it from his hands like a
shot from a rifle, till antagonists shrunk back, and the spectators
burst into a shout. "Well done, Squire! the Squire for ever!" once
exclaimed a servile observer of titles. "Squire! wha are ye squiring
at?" returned Peter. "Confound ye! where was ye when I was christened
Squire? My name's Peter Elliot--your man, or onybody's man, at whatever
they like!"

Peter's soul was free, bounding, and buoyant, as the wind that carolled
in a zephyr, or shouted in a hurricane, upon his native hills; and his
body was thirteen stone of healthy substantial flesh, steeped in the
spirits of life. He had been long married, but marriage had wrought no
change upon him. They who suppose that wedlock transforms the lark into
an owl, offer an insult to the lovely beings who, brightening our
darkest hours with the smiles of affection, teach us that that only is
unbecoming in the husband which is disgraceful in the man. Nearly twenty
years had passed over them; but Janet was still as kind, and, in his
eyes, as beautiful as when, bestowing on him her hand, she blushed her
vows at the altar; and he was still as happy, as generous, and as free.
Nine fair children sat around their domestic hearth, and one, the
youngling of the flock, smiled upon its mother's knee. Peter had never
known sorrow; he was blest in his wife, in his children, in his flocks.
He had become richer than his fathers. He was beloved by his neighbours,
the tillers of his ground, and his herdsmen; yea, no man envied his
prosperity. But a blight passed over the harvest of his joys, and gall
was rained into the cup of his felicity.

It was Christmas-day, and a more melancholy-looking sun never rose on
the 25th of December. One vast, sable cloud, like a universal pall,
overspread the heavens. For weeks, the ground had been covered with
clear, dazzling snow; and as, throughout the day, the rain continued its
unwearied and monotonous drizzle, the earth assumed a character and
appearance melancholy and troubled as the heavens. Like a mastiff that
has lost its owner, the wind howled dolefully down the glens, and was
re-echoed from the caves of the mountains, as the lamentations of a
legion of invisible spirits. The frowning, snow-clad precipices were
instinct with motion, as avalanche upon avalanche, the larger burying
the less, crowded downward in their tremendous journey to the plain. The
simple mountain rills had assumed the majesty of rivers; the broader
streams were swollen into the wild torrent, and, gushing forth as
cataracts, in fury and in foam, enveloped the valleys in an angry flood.
But, at Marchlaw, the fire blazed blithely; the kitchen groaned beneath
the load of preparations for a joyful feast; and glad faces glided from
room to room.

Peter Elliot kept Christmas, not so much because it was Christmas, as in
honour of its being the birthday of Thomas, his first-born, who, that
day, entered his nineteenth year. With a father's love, his heart
yearned for all his children; but Thomas was the pride of his eyes.
Cards of apology had not then found their way among our Border hills;
and as all knew that, although Peter admitted no spirits within his
threshold, nor a drunkard at his table, he was, nevertheless, no
niggard in his hospitality, his invitations were accepted without
ceremony. The guests were assembled; and the kitchen being the only
apartment in the building large enough to contain them, the cloth was
spread upon a long, clear, oaken table, stretching from England into
Scotland. On the English end of the board were placed a ponderous
plum-pudding, studded with temptation, and a smoking sirloin; on
Scotland, a savoury and well-seasoned haggis, with a sheep's-head and
trotters; while the intermediate space was filled with the good things
of this life, common to both kingdoms and to the season.

The guests from the north and from the south were arranged
promiscuously. Every seat was filled--save one. The chair by Peter's
right hand remained unoccupied. He had raised his hands before his eyes,
and besought a blessing on what was placed before them, and was
preparing to carve for his visitors, when his eyes fell upon the vacant
chair. The knife dropped upon the table. Anxiety flashed across his
countenance, like an arrow from an unseen hand.

"Janet, where is Thomas?" he inquired; "hae nane o' ye seen him?" and,
without waiting an answer, he continued--"How is it possible he can be
absent at a time like this? And on such a day, too? Excuse me a minute,
friends, till I just step out and see if I can find him. Since ever I
kept this day, as mony o' ye ken, he has always been at my right hand,
in that very chair; and I canna think o' beginning our dinner while I
see it empty."

"If the filling of the chair be all," said a pert young sheep-farmer,
named Johnson, "I will step into it till Master Thomas arrive."

"Ye're not a faither, young man," said Peter, and walked out of the
room.

Minute succeeded minute, but Peter returned not. The guests became
hungry, peevish, and gloomy, while an excellent dinner continued
spoiling before them. Mrs. Elliot, whose good-nature was the most
prominent feature in her character, strove, by every possible effort, to
beguile the unpleasant impressions she perceived gathering upon their
countenances.

"Peter is just as bad as him," she remarked, "to hae gane to seek him
when he kenned the dinner wouldna keep. And I'm sure Thomas kenned it
would be ready at one o'clock to a minute. It's sae unthinking and
unfriendly like to keep folk waiting." And, endeavouring to smile upon a
beautiful black-haired girl of seventeen, who sat by her elbow, she
continued in an anxious whisper--"Did ye see naething o' him, Elizabeth,
hinny?"

The maiden blushed deeply; the question evidently gave freedom to a
tear, which had, for some time, been an unwilling prisoner in the
brightest eyes in the room; and the monosyllable, "No," that trembled
from her lips, was audible only to the ear of the inquirer. In vain Mrs.
Elliot despatched one of her children after another, in quest of their
father and brother; they came and went, but brought no tidings more
cheering than the moaning of the hollow wind. Minutes rolled into hours,
yet neither came. She perceived the prouder of her guests preparing to
withdraw, and, observing that "Thomas's absence was so singular and
unaccountable, and so unlike either him or his father, she didna ken
what apology to make to her friends for such treatment; but it was
needless waiting, and begged they would use no ceremony, but just
begin."

No second invitation was necessary. Good humour appeared to be restored,
and sirloins, pies, pasties, and moor-fowl began to disappear like the
lost son. For a moment, Mrs. Elliot apparently partook in the
restoration of cheerfulness; but a low sigh at her elbow again drove the
colour from her rosy cheeks. Her eye wandered to the farther end of the
table, and rested on the unoccupied seat of her husband, and the vacant
chair of her first-born. Her heart fell heavily within her; all the
mother gushed into her bosom; and, rising from the table, "What in the
world can be the meaning o' this?" said she, as she hurried, with a
troubled countenance, towards the door. Her husband met her on the
threshold.

"Where hae ye been, Peter?" said she, eagerly; "hae ye seen naething o'
him?"

"Naething! naething!" replied he; "is he no cast up yet?" And, with a
melancholy glance, his eyes sought an answer in the deserted chair. His
lips quivered, his tongue faltered.

"Gude forgie me!" said he; "and such a day for even an enemy to be out
in! I've been up and doun every way that I can think on, but not a
living creature has seen or heard tell o' him. Ye'll excuse me,
neebors," he added, leaving the house; "I must awa again, for I canna
rest."

"I ken by mysel', friends," said Adam Bell, a decent-looking
Northumbrian, "that a faither's heart is as sensitive as the apple o'
his e'e; and I think we would show a want o' natural sympathy and
respect for our worthy neighbour, if we didna every one get his foot
into the stirrup without loss o' time, and assist him in his search.
For, in my rough, country way o' thinking, it must be something
particularly out o' the common that would tempt Thomas to be amissing.
Indeed, I needna say _tempt_, for there could be no inclination in the
way. And our hills," he concluded, in a lower tone, "are not ower chancy
in other respects, besides the breaking up o' the storm."

"Oh!" said Mrs. Elliot, wringing her hands, "I have had the coming o'
this about me for days and days. My head was growing dizzy with
happiness, but thoughts came stealing upon me like ghosts, and I felt a
lonely soughing about my heart, without being able to tell the cause;
but the cause is come at last! And my dear Thomas--the very pride and
staff o' my life--is lost!--lost to me for ever!"

"I ken, Mrs. Elliot," replied the Northumbrian, "it is an easy matter to
say compose yourself, for them that dinna ken what it is to feel. But,
at the same time, in our plain, country way o' thinking, we are always
ready to believe the worst. I've often heard my father say, and I've as
often remarked it myself, that, before anything happens to a body, there
is _a something_ comes ower them, like a cloud before the face o' the
sun; a sort o' dumb whispering about the breast from the other world.
And though I trust there is naething o' the kind in your case, yet, as
you observe, when I find myself growing dizzy, as it were, with
happiness, it makes good a saying o' my mother's, poor body! 'Bairns,
bairns,' she used to say, 'there is ower muckle singing in your heads
to-night; we will have a shower before bedtime.' And I never, in my born
days, saw it fail."

At any other period, Mr. Bell's dissertation on presentiments would have
been found a fitting text on which to hang all the dreams, wraiths,
warnings, and marvellous circumstances, that had been handed down to the
company from the days of their grandfathers; but, in the present
instance, they were too much occupied in consultation regarding the
different routes to be taken in their search.

Twelve horsemen, and some half-dozen pedestrians, were seen hurrying in
divers directions from Marchlaw, as the last faint lights of a
melancholy day were yielding to the heavy darkness which appeared
pressing in solid masses down the sides of the mountains. The wives and
daughters of the party were alone left with the disconsolate mother, who
alternately pressed her weeping children to her heart, and told them to
weep not, for their brother would soon return; while the tears stole
down her own cheeks, and the infant in her arms wept because its mother
wept. Her friends strove with each other to inspire hope, and poured
upon her ear their mingled and loquacious consolation. But one remained
silent. The daughter of Adam Bell, who sat by Mrs. Elliot's elbow at
table, had shrunk into an obscure corner of the room. Before her face
she held a handkerchief wet with tears. Her bosom throbbed convulsively;
and, as occasionally her broken sighs burst from their prison-house, a
significant whisper passed among the younger part of the company.

Mrs. Elliot approached her, and taking her hand tenderly within both of
hers--"O hinny! hinny!" said she, "yer sighs gae through my heart like a
knife! An' what can I do to comfort ye? Come, Elizabeth, my bonny love,
let us hope for the best. Ye see before ye a sorrowin' mother!--a mother
that fondly hoped to see you an'--I canna say it!--an' am ill qualified
to gie comfort, when my own heart is like a furnace! But, oh! let us try
and remember the blessed portion, 'Whom the LORD loveth HE chasteneth,'
an' inwardly pray for strength to say, 'His will be done!'"

Time stole on towards midnight, and one by one the unsuccessful party
returned. As foot after foot approached, every breath was held to
listen. "No, no, no!" cried the mother again and again, with increasing
anguish, "it's no the foot o' my ain bairn;" while her keen gaze still
remained riveted upon the door, and was not withdrawn, nor the hope of
despair relinquished, till the individual entered, and, with a silent
and ominous shake of his head, betokened his fruitless efforts. The
clock had struck twelve; all were returned save the father. The wind
howled more wildly; the rain poured upon the windows in ceaseless
torrents; and the roaring of the mountain rivers gave a character of
deeper ghostliness to their sepulchral silence; for they sat, each wrapt
in forebodings, listening to the storm; and no sounds were heard, save
the groans of the mother, the weeping of her children, and the bitter
and broken sobs of the bereaved maiden, who leaned her head upon her
father's bosom, refusing to be comforted.

At length the barking of the farm-dog announced footsteps at a distance.
Every ear was raised to listen, every eye turned to the door; but,
before the tread was yet audible to the listeners--"Oh! it is only
Peter's foot!" said the miserable mother, and, weeping, rose to meet
him.

"Janet, Janet!" he exclaimed, as he entered, and threw his arms around
her neck, "what's this come upon us at last?"

He cast an inquisitive glance around his dwelling, and a convulsive
shiver passed over his manly frame, as his eye again fell on the vacant
chair, which no one had ventured to occupy. Hour succeeded hour, but the
company separated not; and low, sorrowful whispers mingled with the
lamentations of the parents.

"Neighbours," said Adam Bell, "the morn is a new day, and we will wait
to see what it may bring forth; but, in the meantime, let us read a
portion o' the Divine word, an' kneel together in prayer, that, whether
or not the day-dawn cause light to shine upon this singular bereavement,
the Sun o' Righteousness may arise wi' healing on his wings, upon the
hearts o' this afflicted family, an' upon the hearts o' all present."

"Amen!" responded Peter, wringing his hands; and his friend, taking down
the Ha' Bible, read the chapter wherein it is written--"It is better to
be in the house of mourning than in the house of feasting;" and again
the portion which sayeth--"It is well for me that I have been afflicted,
for before I was afflicted I went astray."

The morning came, but brought no tidings of the lost son. After a solemn
farewell, all the visitants, save Adam Bell and his daughter, returned
every one to their own house; and the disconsolate father, with his
servants, again renewed their search among the hills and surrounding
villages.

Days, weeks, months, and years rolled on. Time had subdued the anguish
of the parents into a holy calm; but their lost first-born was not
forgotten, although no trace of his fate had been discovered. The
general belief was, that he had perished on the breaking up of the snow;
and the few in whose remembrance he still lived, merely spoke of his
death as a "very extraordinary circumstance," remarking that "he was a
wild, venturesome sort o' lad."

Christmas had succeeded Christmas, and Peter Elliot still kept it in
commemoration of the birthday of him who was not. For the first few
years after the loss of their son, sadness and silence characterized the
party who sat down to dinner at Marchlaw, and still at Peter's right
hand was placed the vacant chair. But, as the younger branches of the
family advanced in years, the remembrance of their brother became less
poignant. Christmas was, with all around them, a day of rejoicing, and
they began to make merry with their friends; while their parents partook
in their enjoyment, with a smile, half of approval and half of sorrow.

Twelve years had passed away; Christmas had again come. It was the
counterpart of its fatal predecessor. The hills had not yet cast off
their summer verdure; the sun, although shorn of its heat, had lost none
of its brightness or glory, and looked down upon the earth as though
participating in its gladness; and the clear blue sky was tranquil as
the sea sleeping beneath the moon. Many visitors had again assembled at
Marchlaw. The sons of Mr. Elliot, and the young men of the party, were
assembled upon a level green near the house, amusing themselves with
throwing the hammer, and other Border games, while himself and the elder
guests stood by as spectators, recounting the deeds of their youth.
Johnson, the sheep-farmer, whom we have already mentioned, now a brawny
and gigantic fellow of two-and-thirty, bore away in every game the palm
from all competitors. More than once, as Peter beheld his sons defeated,
he felt the spirit of youth glowing in his veins, and, "Oh!" muttered
he, in bitterness, "had my Thomas been spared to me, he would hae thrown
his heart's bluid after the hammer, before he would hae been beat by
e'er a Johnson in the country!"

While he thus soliloquized, and with difficulty restrained an impulse to
compete with the victor himself, a dark, foreign-looking, strong-built
seaman, unceremoniously approached, and, with his arms folded, cast a
look of contempt upon the boasting conqueror. Every eye was turned with
a scrutinizing glance upon the stranger. In height he could not exceed
five feet nine, but his whole frame was the model of muscular strength;
his features open and manly, but deeply sunburnt and weather-beaten; his
long, glossy, black hair, curled into ringlets by the breeze and the
billow, fell thickly over his temples and forehead; and whiskers of a
similar hue, more conspicuous for size than elegance, gave a character
of fierceness to a countenance otherwise possessing a striking impress
of manly beauty. Without asking permission, he stepped forward, lifted
the hammer, and, swinging it around his head, hurled it upwards of five
yards beyond Johnson's most successful throw. "Well done!" shouted the
astonished spectators. The heart of Peter Elliot warmed within him, and
he was hurrying forward to grasp the stranger by the hand, when the
words groaned in his throat, "It was just such a throw as my Thomas
would have made!--my own lost Thomas!" The tears burst into his eyes,
and, without speaking, he turned back, and hurried towards the house to
conceal his emotion.

Successively, at every game, the stranger had defeated all who ventured
to oppose him, when a messenger announced that dinner waited their
arrival. Some of the guests were already seated, others entering; and,
as heretofore, placed beside Mrs. Elliot was Elizabeth Bell, still in
the noontide of her beauty; but sorrow had passed over her features,
like a veil before the countenance of an angel. Johnson, crest-fallen
and out of humour at his defeat, seated himself by her side. In early
life he had regarded Thomas Elliot as a rival for her affections; and,
stimulated by the knowledge that Adam Bell would be able to bestow
several thousands upon his daughter for a dowry, he yet prosecuted his
attentions with unabated assiduity, in despite of the daughter's
aversion and the coldness of her father. Peter had taken his place at
the table; and still by his side, unoccupied and sacred, appeared the
vacant chair, the chair of his first-born, whereon none had sat since
his mysterious death or disappearance.

"Bairns," said he, "did nane o' ye ask the sailor to come up and tak a
bit o' dinner wi' us?"

"We were afraid it might lead to a quarrel with Mr. Johnson," whispered
one of the sons.

"He is come without asking," replied the stranger, entering; "and the
wind shall blow from a new point if I destroy the mirth or happiness of
the company."

"Ye're a stranger, young man," said Peter, "or ye would ken this is no a
meeting o' mirth-makers. But, I assure ye, ye are welcome, heartily
welcome. Haste ye, lasses," he added to the servants; "some o' ye get a
chair for the gentleman."

"Gentleman, indeed!" muttered Johnson between his teeth.

"Never mind about a chair, my hearties," said the seaman; "this will
do!" And, before Peter could speak to withhold him, he had thrown
himself carelessly into the hallowed, the venerated, the
twelve-years-unoccupied chair! The spirit of sacrilege uttering
blasphemies from a pulpit could not have smitten a congregation of pious
worshippers with deeper horror and consternation, than did this filling
of the vacant chair the inhabitants of Marchlaw.

"Excuse me, sir! excuse me, sir!" said Peter, the words trembling upon
his tongue; "but ye cannot--ye cannot sit there!"

"O man! man!" cried Mrs. Elliot, "get out o' that! get out o'
that!--take my chair!--take ony chair i' the house!--but dinna, dinna
sit there! It has never been sat in by mortal being since the death o'
my dear bairn!--and to see it filled by another is a thing I canna
endure!"

"Sir! sir!" continued the father, "ye have done it through ignorance,
and we excuse ye. But that was my Thomas's seat! Twelve years this very
day--his birthday--he perished, Heaven kens how! He went out from our
sight, like the cloud that passes over the hills--never--never to
return. And, O sir, spare a father's feelings! for to see it filled
wrings the blood from my heart!"

"Give me your hand, my worthy soul!" exclaimed the seaman; "I
revere--nay, hang it! I would die for your feelings! But Tom Elliot was
my friend, and I cast anchor in this chair by special commission. I know
that a sudden broadside of joy is a bad thing; but, as I don't know how
to preach a sermon before telling you, all I have to say is--that Tom
an't dead."

"Not dead!" said Peter, grasping the hand of the stranger, and speaking
with an eagerness that almost choked his utterance: "O sir! sir! tell me
how!--how!--Did ye say, living?--Is my ain Thomas living?"

"Not dead, do ye say?" cried Mrs. Elliot, hurrying towards him and
grasping his other hand--"not dead! And shall I see my bairn again? Oh!
may the blessing o' Heaven, and the blessing o' a broken-hearted mother
be upon the bearer o' the gracious tidings! But tell me--tell me, how is
it possible! As ye would expect happiness here or hereafter, dinna,
dinna deceive me!"

"Deceive you!" returned the stranger, grasping, with impassioned
earnestness, their hands in his--"Never!--never! and all I can say
is--Tom Elliot is alive and hearty."

"No, no!" said Elizabeth, rising from her seat, "he does not deceive us;
there is that in his countenance which bespeaks a falsehood impossible."
And she also endeavoured to move towards him, when Johnson threw his arm
around her to withhold her.

"Hands off, you land-lubber!" exclaimed the seaman, springing towards
them, "or, shiver me! I'll show daylight through your timbers in the
turning of a hand-spike!" And, clasping the lovely girl in his arms,
"Betty! Betty, my love!" he cried, "don't you know your own Tom? Father,
mother, don't you know me? Have you really forgot your own son? If
twelve years have made some change on his face, his heart is sound as
ever."

His father, his mother, and his brothers, clung around him, weeping,
smiling, and mingling a hundred questions together. He threw his arms
around the neck of each, and in answer to their inquiries,
replied--"Well! well! there is time enough to answer questions, but not
to-day--not to-day!"

"No, my bairn," said his mother, "we'll ask you no questions--nobody
shall ask you any! But how--how were ye torn away from us, my love? And,
O hinny! where--where hae you been?"

"It's a long story, mother," said he, "and would take a week to tell it.
But, howsoever, to make a long story short, you remember when the
smugglers were pursued, and wished to conceal their brandy in our house,
my father prevented them; they left muttering revenge--and they have
been revenged. This day twelve years, I went out with the intention of
meeting Elizabeth and her father, when I came upon a party of the gang
concealed in Hell's Hole. In a moment half a dozen pistols were held to
my breast, and, tying my hands to my sides, they dragged me into the
cavern. Here I had not been long their prisoner, when the snow, rolling
down the mountains, almost totally blocked up its mouth. On the second
night they cut through the snow, and, hurrying me along with them, I was
bound to a horse between two, and, before daylight, found myself stowed,
like a piece of old junk, in the hold of a smuggling lugger. Within a
week I was shipped on board a Dutch man-of-war, and for six years was
kept dodging about on different stations, till our old yawning hulk
received orders to join the fleet, which was to fight against the
gallant Duncan at Camperdown. To think of fighting against my own
countrymen, my own flesh and blood, was worse than to be cut to pieces
by a cat-o'-nine tails; and, under cover of the smoke of the first
broadside, I sprang upon the gunwale, plunged into the sea, and swam for
the English fleet. Never, never shall I forget the moment that my feet
first trode upon the deck of a British frigate! My nerves felt as firm
as her oak, and my heart, free as the pennant that waved defiance from
her masthead! I was as active as any one during the battle; and when it
was over, and I found myself again among my own countrymen, and all
speaking my own language, I fancied--nay, hang it! I almost believed--I
should meet my father, my mother, or my dear Bess, on board of the
British frigate. I expected to see you all again in a few weeks at
farthest; but, instead of returning to Old England, before I was aware,
I found it was helm about with us. As to writing, I never had an
opportunity but once. We were anchored before a French fort; a packet
was lying alongside ready to sail; I had half a side written, and was
scratching my head to think how I should come over writing about you,
Bess, my love, when, as bad luck would have it, our lieutenant comes to
me, and says he, 'Elliot,' says he,' I know you like a little smart
service; come, my lad, take the head oar, while we board some of those
French bumb-boats under the batteries!' I couldn't say no. We pulled
ashore, made a bonfire of one of their craft, and were setting fire to a
second, when a deadly shower of small shot from the garrison scuttled
our boat, killed our commanding officer with half of the crew, and the
few who were left of us were made prisoners. It is of no use bothering
you by telling how we escaped from French prison. We did escape; and Tom
will once more fill his vacant chair."

Should any of our readers wish farther acquaintance with our friends,
all we can say is, the new year was still young when Adam Bell bestowed
his daughter's hand upon the heir of Marchlaw, and Peter beheld the once
vacant chair again occupied, and a namesake of the third generation
prattling on his knee!



THE FAA'S REVENGE.

A TALE OF THE BORDER GIPSIES.


Brown October was drawing to a close--the breeze had acquired a degree
of sharpness too strong to be merely termed bracing--and the fire, as
the saying is, was becoming the best flower in the garden--for the
hardiest and the latest plants had either shed their leaves, or their
flowers had shrivelled at the breath of approaching winter--when a
stranger drew his seat towards the parlour fire of the Three-Half-Moons
inn, in Rothbury. He had sat for the space of half an hour when a party
entered, who, like himself (as appeared from their conversation), were
strangers, or rather visitors of the scenery, curiosities, and
antiquities in the vicinity. One of them having ordered the waiter to
bring each of them a glass of brandy and warm water, without appearing
to notice the presence of the first mentioned stranger, after a few
remarks on the objects of interest in the neighbourhood, the following
conversation took place amongst them:--

"Why," said one, "but even Rothbury here, secluded as it is from the
world, and shut out from the daily intercourse of men, is a noted place.
It was here that the ancient and famous northern bard and unrivalled
ballad writer, Bernard Rumney, was born, bred, and died. Here, too, was
born Dr. Brown, who, like Young and Home, united the characters of
divine and dramatist, and was the author of '_Barbarossa_,' '_The Cure
of Saul_,' and other works, of which posterity and his country are
proud. The immediate neighbourhood, also, was the birth-place of the
inspired boy, the heaven-taught mathematician, George Coughran, who
knew no rival, and who bade fair to eclipse the glory of Newton, but
whom death struck down ere he had reached the years of manhood."

"Why, I can't tell," said another; "I don't know much about what you've
been talking of; but I know, for one thing, that Rothbury was a famous
place for every sort of games; and, at Fastren's E'en times, the rule
was, every male inhabitant above eight years of age to pay a shilling,
or out to the foot-ball. It was noted for its game-cocks, too--they were
the best breed on the Borders."

"May be so," said the first speaker; "but though I should be loath to
see the foot-ball, or any other innocent game which keeps up a manly
spirit, put down, yet I do trust that the brutal practice of
cock-fighting will be abolished, not only on the Borders, but throughout
every country which professes the name of Christian; and I rejoice that
the practice is falling into disrepute. But, although my hairs are not
yet honoured with the silver tints of age, I am old enough to remember,
that, when a boy at school on the Scottish side of the Border, at every
Fastren's E'en which you have spoken of, every schoolboy was expected to
provide a cock for the battle, or main, and the teacher or his deputy
presided as umpire. The same practice prevailed on the southern Border.
It is a very old, savage amusement, even in this country; and perhaps
the preceptors of youth, in former days, considered it _classical_, and
that it would instil into their pupils sentiments of emulation; inasmuch
as the practice is said to have taken rise from Themistocles perceiving
two cocks tearing at and fighting with each other, while marching his
army against the Persians, when he called upon his soldiers to observe
them, and remarked that they neither fought for territory, defence of
country, nor for glory, but they fought because the one would not yield
to, or be defeated by the other; and he desired his soldiers to take a
_moral_ lesson from the barn-door fowls. Cock-fighting thus became among
the heathen Greeks a political precept and a religious observance--and
the _Christian_ inhabitants of Britain, disregarding the _religious and
political moral_, kept up the practice, adding to it more disgusting
barbarity, for _their amusement_."

"Coom," said a third, who, from his tongue, appeared to be a thorough
Northumbrian, "we wur talking about Rothbury, but you are goin' to give
us a regular sarmin on cock-fighting. Let's hae none o' that. You was
saying what clever chaps had been born here--but none o' ye mentioned
Jamie Allan, the gipsy and Northumberland piper, who was born here as
weel as the best o' them. But I hae heard that Rothbury, as weel as
Yetholm and Tweedmouth Moor, was a great resort for the Faa or gipsy
gangs in former times. Now, I understand that thae folk were a sort o'
bastard Egyptians; and though I am nae scholar, it strikes me forcibly
that the meaning o' the word _gipsies_, is just _Egypts_, or
_Gypties_--a contraction and corruption o' _Gyptian_!"

"Gipsies," said he who spoke of Rumney and Brown, and abused the
practice of cock-fighting, "still do in some degree, and formerly did in
great numbers, infest this county; and I will tell you a story
concerning them."

"Do so," said the thorough Northumbrian; "I like a story when it's weel
put thegither. The gipsies were queer folk. I've heard my faither tell
many a funny thing about them, when he used to whistle 'Felton Loanin,'
which was made by awd piper Allan--Jamie's faither." And here the
speaker struck up a lively air, which, to the stranger by the fire,
seemed a sort of parody on the well-known tune of "Johnny Cope."

The other then proceeded with his tale, thus:--

You have all heard of the celebrated Johnny Faa, the Lord and Earl of
Little Egypt, who penetrated into Scotland in the reign of James IV.,
and with whom that gallant monarch was glad to conclude a treaty. Johnny
was not only the king, but the first of the Faa gang of whom we have
mention. I am not aware that gipsies get the name of Faas anywhere but
upon the Borders; and though it is difficult to account for the name
satisfactorily, it is said to have had its origin from a family of the
name of _Fall_ or _Fa'_, who resided here (in Rothbury), and that their
superiority in their cunning and desperate profession, gave the same
cognomen to all and sundry who followed the same mode of life upon the
Borders. One thing is certain, that the name _Faa_ not only was given to
individuals whose surname might be _Fall_, but to the _Winters_ and
_Clarkes_--_id genus omne_--gipsy families well known on the Borders.
Since waste lands, which were their hiding-places and resorts, began to
be cultivated, and especially since the sun of knowledge snuffed out the
taper of superstition and credulity, most of them are beginning to form
a part of society, to learn trades of industry, and live with men. Those
who still prefer their fathers' vagabond mode of life--finding that, in
the northern counties, their old trade of fortune-telling is at a
discount, and that thieving has thinned their tribe and is
dangerous--now follow the more useful and respectable callings of
muggers, besom-makers, and tinkers. I do not know whether, in etiquette,
I ought to give precedence to the besom-maker or tinker; though, as
compared with them, I should certainly suppose that the "muggers" of the
present day belong to the Faa aristocracy; if it be not that they, like
others, derive their nobility from descent of blood rather than weight
of pocket--and that, after all, the mugger with his encampment, his
caravans, horses, crystal, and crockery, is but a mere wealthy plebeian
or _bourgeois_ in the vagrant community.--But to my tale.

On a dark and tempestuous night in the December of 1628, a Faa gang
requested shelter in the out-houses of the laird of Clennel. The laird
himself had retired to rest; and his domestics being fewer in number
than the Faas, feared to refuse them their request.

"Ye shall have up-putting for the night, good neighbours," said Andrew
Smith, who was a sort of major-domo in the laird's household, and he
spoke in a tone of mingled authority and terror. "But, sir," added he,
addressing the chief of the tribe--"I will trust to your honour that ye
will allow none o' your folk to be making free with the kye, or the
sheep, or the poultry--that is, that ye will not allow them to mistake
ony o' them for your own, lest it bring me into trouble. For the laird
has been in a fearful rage at some o' your people lately; and if
onything were to be amissing in the morning, or he kenned that ye had
been here, it might be as meikle as my life is worth."

"Tush, man!" said Willie Faa, the king of the tribe, "ye dree the death
ye'll never die. Willie Faa and his folk maun live as weel as the laird
o' Clennel. But, there's my thumb, not a four-footed thing, nor the
feather o' a bird, shall be touched by me or mine. But I see the light
is out in the laird's chamber window--he is asleep and high up amang the
turrets--and wherefore should ye set human bodies in byres and stables
in a night like this, when your Ha' fire is bleezing bonnily, and there
is room eneugh around it for us a'? Gie us a seat by the cheek o' your
hearth, and ye shall be nae loser; and I promise ye that we shall be
off, bag and baggage, before the skreigh o' day, or the laird kens where
his head lies."

Andrew would fain have refused this request, but he knew that it
amounted to a command; and, moreover, while he had been speaking with
the chief of the tribe, the maid-servants of the household, who had
followed him and the other men-servants to the door, had divers of them
been solicited by the females of the gang to have futurity revealed to
them. And whether it indeed be that curiosity is more powerful in woman
than in man (as it is generally said to be), I do not profess to
determine; but certain it is, that the laird of Clennel's maid-servants,
immediately on the hint being given by the gipsies, felt a very ardent
desire to have a page or two from the sybilline leaves read to them--at
least that part of them which related to their future husbands, and the
time when they should obtain them. Therefore, they backed the petition
or command of King Willie, and said to Andrew--

"Really, Mr. Smith, it would be very unchristian-like to put poor
wandering folk into cauld out-houses on a night like this; and, as
Willie says, there is room enough in the Ha'."

"That may be a' very true, lasses," returned Andrew, "but only ye think
what a dirdum there would be if the laird were to waken or get wit o't!"

"Fearna the laird," said Elspeth, the wife of King Willie--"I will lay a
spell on him that he canna be roused frae sleep, till I, at sunrise,
wash my hands in Darden Lough."

The sybil then raised her arms and waved them fantastically in the air,
uttering, as she waved them, the following uncouth rhymes by way of
incantation--

    "Bonny Queen Mab, bonny Queen Mab,
      Wave ye your wee bits o' poppy wings
    Ower Clennel's laird, that he may sleep
      Till I hae washed where Darden springs."

Thus assured, Andrew yielded to his fears and the wishes of his
fellow-servants, and ushered the Faas into his master's hall for the
night. But scarce had they taken their seats upon the oaken forms around
the fire, when--

"Come," said the Faa king, "the night is cold, pinching cold, Mr. Smith:
and, while the fire warms without, is there naething in the cellar that
will warm within? See to it, Andrew, man--thou art no churl, or they
face is fause."

"Really, sir," replied Andrew--and, in spite of all his efforts to
appear at ease, his tongue faultered as he spoke--"I'm not altogether
certain what to say upon that subject; for ye observe that our laird is
really a very singular man; ye might as weel put your head in the fire
there as displease him in the smallest; and though Heaven kens that I
would gie to you just as freely as I would tak to mysel, yet ye'll
observe that the liquor in the cellars is not mine, but his--and they
are never sae weel plenished but I believe he would miss a thimblefu'.
But there is some excellent cold beef in the pantry, if ye could put up
wi' the like o' it, and the home-brewed which we servants use."

"Andrew," returned the Faa king, proudly--"castle have I none, flocks
and herds have I none, neither have I haughs where the wheat, and the
oats, and the barley grow--but, like Ishmael, my great forefather, every
man's hand is against me, and mine against them--yet, when I am hungry,
I never lack the flesh-pots o' my native land, where the moorfowl and
the venison make brown broo together. Cauld meat agrees nae wi' my
stomach, and servants' drink was never brewed for the lord o' Little
Egypt. Ye comprehend me, Andrew?"

"Oh, I daresay I do, sir," said the chief domestic of the house of
Clennel; "but only, as I have said, ye will recollect that the drink is
not mine to give; and if I venture upon a jug, I hope ye winna think o'
asking for another."

"We shall try it," said the royal vagrant.

Andrew, with trembling and reluctance, proceeded to the cellar, and
returned with a large earthen vessel filled with the choicest
home-brewed, which he placed upon a table in the midst of them.

      "Then each took a smack
       Of the old black jack,
    While the fire burned in the hall."

The Faa king pronounced the liquor to be palatable, and drank to his
better acquaintance with the cellars of the laird of Clennel; and his
gang followed his example.

Now, I should remark that Willie Faa, the chief of his tribe, was a man
of gigantic stature; the colour of his skin was the dingy brown peculiar
to his race; his arms were of remarkable length, and his limbs a union
of strength and lightness; his raven hair was mingled with grey; while,
in his dark eyes, the impetuosity of youth and the cunning of age seemed
blended together. It is in vain to speak of his dress, for it was
changed daily as his circumstances or avocations directed. He was ever
ready to assume all characters, from the courtier down to the mendicant.
Like his wife, he was skilled in the reading of no book but the book of
fate. Now, Elspeth was a less agreeable personage to look upon than even
her husband. The hue of her skin was as dark as his. She was also of his
age--a woman of full fifty. She was the tallest female in her tribe; but
her stoutness took away from her stature. Her eyes were small and
piercing, her nose aquiline, and her upper lip was "bearded like the
pard."

While her husband sat at his carousals, and handing the beverage to his
followers and the domestics of the house, Elspeth sat examining the
lines upon the palms of the hands of the maid-servants--pursuing her
calling as a spaewife. And ever as she traced the lines of matrimony,
the sybil would pause and exclaim--

"Ha!--money!--money!--cross my loof again, hinny. There is fortune
before ye! Let me see! A spur!--a sword!--a shield!--a gowden purse!
Heaven bless ye! They are there!--there, as plain as a pikestaff; they
are a' in your path. But cross my loof again, hinny, for until siller
again cross it, I canna see whether they are to be yours or no."

Thus did Elspeth go on until her "loof had been crossed" by the last
coin amongst the domestics of the house of Clennel; and when these were
exhausted, their trinkets were demanded and given to assist the spell of
the prophetess. Good fortune was prognosticated to the most of them, and
especially to those who crossed the loof of the reader of futurity most
freely; but to others, perils, and sudden deaths, and disappointments in
love, and grief in wedlock, were hinted, though to all and each of these
forebodings, a something like hope--an undefined way of escape--was
pended.

Now, as the voice of Elspeth rose in solemn tones, and as the mystery of
her manner increased, not only were the maid-servants stricken with awe
and reverence for the wondrous woman, but the men-servants also began to
inquire into their fate. And as they extended their hands, and Elspeth
traced the lines of the past upon them, ever and anon she spoke strange
words, which intimated secret facts; and she spoke also of love-makings
and likings; and ever, as she spoke, she would raise her head and grin a
ghastly smile, now at the individual whose hand she was examining, and
again at a maid-servant whose fortune she had read; while the former
would smile and the latter blush, and their fellow domestics exclaim--

"That's wonderfu'!--that dings a'!--ye are queer folk! hoo in the world
do ye ken?"

Even the curiosity of Mr. Andrew Smith was raised, and his wonder
excited; and, after he had quaffed his third cup with the gipsy king,
he, too, reverentially approached the bearded princess, extending his
hand, and begging to know what futurity had in store for him.

She raised it before her eyes, she rubbed hers over it.

"It is a dark and a difficult hand," muttered she: "here are ships and
the sea, and crossing the sea, and great danger, and a way to avoid
it--but the gowd!--the gowd that's there! And yet ye may lose it a'!
Cross my loof, sir--yours is an ill hand to spae--for it's set wi'
fortune, and danger and adventure."

Andrew gave her all the money in his possession. Now it was understood
that she was to return the money and the trinkets with which her loof
had been crossed; and Andrew's curiosity overcoming his fears, he
ventured to intrust his property in her keeping; for, as he thought, it
was not every day that people could have everything that was to happen
unto them revealed. But when she had again looked upon his hand--

"It winna do," said she--"I canna see ower the danger ye hae to
encounter, the seas ye hae to cross, and the mountains o' gowd that lie
before ye yet--ye maun cross my loof again." And when, with a woful
countenance, he stated that he had crossed it with his last coin--

"Ye hae a chronometer, man," said she--"it tells you the minutes now, it
may enable me to show ye those that are to come!"

Andrew hesitated, and, with doubt and unwillingness, placed the
chronometer in her hand.

Elspeth wore a short cloak of faded crimson; and in a sort of pouch in
it, every coin, trinket, and other article of value which was put into
her hands were deposited, in order, as she stated, to forward her mystic
operations. Now, the chronometer had just disappeared in the general
receptacle of offerings to the oracle, when heavy footsteps were heard
descending the staircase leading to the hall. Poor Andrew, the ruler of
the household, gasped--the blood forsook his cheeks, his knees
involuntarily knocked one against another, and he stammered out--

"For Heaven's sake, gie me my chronometer!--Oh, gie me it!--we are a'
ruined!"

"It canna be returned till the spell's completed," rejoined Elspeth, in
a solemn and determined tone--and her countenance betrayed nothing of
her dupe's uneasiness; while her husband deliberately placed his right
hand upon a sort of dagger which he wore beneath a large coarse jacket
that was loosely flung over his shoulders. The males in his retinue,
who were eight in number, followed his example.

In another moment, the laird, with wrath upon his countenance, burst
into the hall.

"Andrew Smith," cried he, sternly, and stamping his foot fiercely on the
floor, "what scene is this I see? Answer me, ye robber, answer me;--ye
shall hang for it!"

"O sir! sir!" groaned Andrew, "mercy!--mercy!--O sir!" and he wrung his
hands together and shook exceedingly.

"Ye fause knave!" continued the laird, grasping him by the neck--and
dashing him from him, Andrew fell flat upon the floor, and his terror
had almost shook him from his feet before--"Speak, ye fause knave!"
resumed the laird; "what means your carousin' wi' sic a gang? Ye robber,
speak!" And he kicked him with his foot as he lay upon the ground.

"O sir!--mercy, sir!" vociferated Andrew, in the stupor and wildness of
terror; "I canna speak!--ye hae killed me outright! I am dead--stone
dead! But it wasna my blame--they'll a' say that, if they speak the
truth."

"Out! out, ye thieves!--ye gang o' plunderers, born to the gallows!--out
o' my house!" added the laird, addressing Willie Faa and his followers.

"Thieves! ye acred loon!" exclaimed the Faa king, starting to his feet,
and drawing himself up to his full height--"wha does the worm that
burrows in the lands o' Clennel ca' thieves? Thieves, say ye!--speak
such words to your equals, but no to me. Your forebears came ower wi'
the Norman, invaded the nation, and seized upon land--mine invaded it
also, and only laid a tax upon the flocks, the cattle, and the
poultry--and wha ca' ye thieves?--or wi' what grace do ye speak the
word?"

"Away, ye audacious vagrant!" continued the laird; "ken ye not that the
king's authority is in my hands?--and for your former plunderings, if I
again find you setting foot upon ground o' mine, on the nearest tree ye
shall find a gibbet."

"Boast awa--boast awa, man," said Willie; "ye are safe here, for me and
mine winna harm ye; and it is a fougie cock indeed that darena craw in
its ain barn-yard. But wait until the day when we may meet upon the wide
moor, wi' only twa bits o' steel between us, and see wha shall brag
then."

"Away!--instantly away!" exclaimed Clennel, drawing his sword, and
waving it threateningly over the head of the gipsy.

"Proud, cauld-hearted, and unfeeling mortal," said Elspeth, "will ye
turn fellow-beings from beneath your roof in a night like this, when the
fox darena creep frae its hole, and the raven trembles on the tree?"

"Out! out! ye witch!" rejoined the laird.

"Farewell, Clennel," said the Faa king; "we will leave your roof, and
seek the shelter o' the hill-side. But ye shall rue! As I speak, man, ye
shall rue it!"

"Rue it!" screamed Elspeth, rising--and her small dark eyes flashed with
indignation--"he shall rue it--the bairn unborn shall rue it--and the
bann o' Elspeth Faa shall be on Clennel and his kin, until his hearth be
desolate and his spirit howl within him like the tempest which this
night rages in the heavens!"

The servants shrank together into a corner of the hall, to avoid the
rage of their master; and they shook the more at the threatening words
of the weird woman, lest she should involve them in his doom; but he
laughed with scorn at her words.

"Proud, pitiless fool," resumed Elspeth, more bitterly than before,
"repress your scorn. Whom, think ye, ye treat wi' contempt? Ken ye not
that the humble adder which ye tread upon can destroy ye--that the very
wasp can sting ye, and there is poison in its sting? Ye laugh, but for
your want of humanity this night, sorrow shall turn your head grey, lang
before age sit down upon your brow."

"Off! off! ye wretches!" added the laird; "vent your threats on the
wind, if it will hear ye, for I regard them as little as it will. But
keep out o' my way for the future, as ye would escape the honours o' a
hempen cravat, and the hereditary exaltation o' your race."

Willie Faa made a sign to his followers, and without speaking they
instantly rose and departed; but, as he himself reached the door, he
turned round, and significantly striking the hilt of his dagger,
exclaimed--

"Clennel! ye shall rue it!"

And the hoarse voice of Elspeth without, as the sound was borne away on
the storm, was heard crying--"He shall rue it!" and repeating her
imprecations.

Until now, poor Andrew Smith had lain groaning upon the floor more dead
than alive, though not exactly "stone dead" as he expressed it; and
ever, as he heard his master's angry voice, he groaned the more, until
in his agony he doubted his existence. When, therefore, on the departure
of the Faas, the laird dragged him to his feet, and feeling some pity
for his terror, spoke to him more mildly, Andrew gazed vacantly around
him, his teeth chattering together, and he first placed his hands upon
his sides, to feel whether he was still indeed the identical flesh,
blood, and bones of Andrew Smith, or his disembodied spirit; and being
assured that he was still a man, he put down his hand to feel for his
chronometer, and again he groaned bitterly--and although he now knew he
was not dead, he almost wished he were so. The other servants thought
also of their money and their trinkets, which, as well as poor Andrew's
chronometer, Elspeth, in the hurry in which she was rudely driven from
the house, had, by a slip of memory, neglected to return to their lawful
owners.

It is unnecessary to dwell upon the laird's anger at his domestics, or
farther to describe Andrew's agitation; but I may say that the laird was
not wroth against the Faa gang without reason. They had committed
ravages on his flocks--they had carried off the choicest of his
oxen--they destroyed his deer--they plundered him of his poultry--and
they even made free with the grain that he reared, and which he could
spare least of all. But Willie Faa considered every landed proprietor as
his enemy, and thought it his duty to quarter on them. Moreover, it was
his boisterous laugh, as he pushed round the tankard, which aroused the
laird from his slumbers, and broke Elspeth's spell. And the destruction
of the charm, by the appearance of their master, before she had washed
her hands in Darden Lough, caused those who had parted with their money
and trinkets to grieve for them the more, and to doubt the promises of
the prophetess, or to

             "Take all for gospel that the spaefolk say."

Many weeks, however, had not passed until the laird of Clennel found
that Elspeth the gipsy's threat, that he should "_rue it_," meant more
than idle words. His cattle sickened and died in their stalls, or the
choicest of them disappeared; his favourite horses were found maimed in
the mornings, wounded and bleeding in the fields; and, notwithstanding
the vigilance of his shepherds, the depredations on his flocks augmented
tenfold. He doubted not but that Willie Faa and his tribe were the
authors of all the evils which were besetting him: but he knew also
their power and their matchless craft, which rendered it almost
impossible either to detect or punish them. He had a favourite steed,
which had borne him in boyhood, and in battle when he served in foreign
wars, and one morning when he went into his park, he found it lying
bleeding upon the ground. Grief and indignation strove together in
arousing revenge within his bosom. He ordered his sluthhound to be
brought, and his dependants to be summoned together, and to bring arms
with them. He had previously observed foot-prints on the ground, and he
exclaimed--

"Now the fiend take the Faas, they shall find whose turn it is to rue
before the sun gae down."

The gong was pealed on the turrets of Clennel Hall, and the kempers with
their poles bounded in every direction, with the fleetness of mountain
stags, to summon all capable of bearing arms to the presence of the
laird. The mandate was readily obeyed; and within two hours thirty armed
men appeared in the park. The sluthhound was led to the footprint; and
after following it for many a weary mile over moss, moor, and mountain,
it stood and howled, and lashed its lips with its tongue, and again ran
as though its prey were at hand, as it approached what might be called a
gap in the wilderness between Keyheugh and Clovencrag.

Now, in the space between these desolate crags stood some score of
peels, or rather half hovels, half encampments--and this primitive city
in the wilderness was the capital of the Faa king's people.

"Now for vengeance!" exclaimed Clennel; and his desire of revenge was
excited the more from perceiving several of the choicest of his cattle,
which had disappeared, grazing before the doors or holes of the gipsy
village.

"Bring whins and heather," he continued--"pile them around it, and burn
the den of thieves to the ground."

His order was speedily obeyed, and when he commanded the trumpet to be
sounded, that the inmates might defend themselves if they dared, only
two or three men and women of extreme age, and some half-dozen children,
crawled upon their hands and knees from the huts--for it was impossible
to stand upright in them.

The aged men and women howled when they beheld the work of destruction
that was in preparation, and the children screamed when they heard them
howl. But the laird of Clennel had been injured, and he turned a deaf
ear to their misery. A light was struck, and a dozen torches applied at
once. The whins crackled, the heather blazed, and the flames overtopped
the hovels which they surrounded, and which within an hour became a heap
of smouldering ashes.

Clennel and his dependants returned home, driving the cattle which had
been stolen from him before them, and rejoicing in what they had done.
On the following day, Willie Faa and a part of his tribe returned to the
place of rendezvous--their city and home in the mountains--and they
found it a heap of smoking ruins, and the old men and the old women of
the tribe--their fathers and their mothers--sitting wailing upon the
ruins, and warming over them their shivering limbs, while the children
wept around them for food.

"Whose work is this?" inquired Willie, while anxiety and anger flashed
in his eyes.

"The Laird o' Clennel!--the Laird o' Clennel!" answered every voice at
the same instant.

"By this I swear!" exclaimed the king of the Faas, drawing his dagger
from beneath his coat, "from this night henceforth he is laird nor man
nae langer." And he turned hastily from the ruins, as if to put his
threat in execution.

"Stay, ye madcap!" cried Elspeth, following him, "would ye fling away
revenge for half a minute's satisfaction?"

"No, wife," cried he, "nae mair than I would sacrifice living a free and
a fu' life for half an hour's hangin'."

"Stop, then," returned she, "and let our vengeance fa' upon him, so that
it may wring his life away, drap by drap, until his heart be dry; and
grief, shame, and sorrow burn him up, as he has here burned house and
home o' Elspeth Faa and her kindred."

"What mean ye, woman?" said Willie, hastily; "if I thought ye would come
between me and my revenge, I would drive this bit steel through you wi'
as goodwill as I shall drive it through him."

"And ye shall be welcome," said Elspeth. She drew him aside, and
whispered a few minutes in his ear. He listened attentively. At times he
seemed to start, and at length, sheathing his dagger and grasping her
hand, he exclaimed--"Excellent, Elspeth!--ye have it!--ye have it!"

At this period, the laird of Clennel was about thirty years of age, and
two years before he had been married to Eleanor de Vere, a lady alike
distinguished for her beauty and accomplishments. They had an infant
son, who was the delight of his mother, and his father's pride. Now, for
two years after the conflagration of their little town, Clennel heard
nothing of his old enemies the Faas, neither did they molest him, nor
had they been seen in the neighbourhood, and he rejoiced in having
cleared his estate of such dangerous visitors. But the Faa king,
listening to the advice of his wife, only "nursed his wrath to keep it
warm," and retired from the neighbourhood, that he might accomplish, in
its proper season, his design of vengeance more effectually, and with
greater cruelty.

The infant heir of the house of Clennel had been named Henry, and he was
about completing his third year--an age at which children are, perhaps,
most interesting, and when their fondling and their prattling sink
deepest into a parent's heart--for all is then beheld on childhood's
sunny side, and all is innocence and love. Now, it was in a lovely day
in April, when every bird had begun its annual song, and flowers were
bursting into beauty, buds into leaves, and the earth resuming its green
mantle, when Lady Clennel and her infant son, who then, as I have said,
was about three years of age, went forth to enjoy the loveliness and the
luxuries of nature, in the woods which surrounded their mansion, and
Andrew Smith accompanied them as their guide and protector. They had
proceeded somewhat more than a mile from the house, and the child, at
intervals breaking away from them, sometimes ran before his mother, and
at others sauntered behind her, pulling the wild flowers that strewed
their path, when a man, springing from a dark thicket, seized the child
in his arms, and again darted into the wood. Lady Clennel screamed
aloud, and rushed after him. Andrew, who was coming dreaming behind, got
but a glance of the ruffian stranger--but that glance was enough to
reveal to him the tall, terrible figure of Willie Faa, the Gipsy king.

There are moments when, and circumstances under which even cowards
become courageous, and this was one of those moments and circumstances
which suddenly inspired Andrew (who was naturally no hero) with courage.
He, indeed, loved the child as though he had been his own; and following
the example of Lady Clennel, he drew his sword and rushed into the wood.
He possessed considerable speed of foot, and he soon passed the wretched
mother, and came in sight of the pursued. The unhappy lady, who ran
panting and screaming as she rushed along, unable to keep pace with
them, lost all trace of where the robber of her child had fled, and her
cries of agony and bereavement rang through the woods.

Andrew, however, though he did not gain ground upon the gipsy, still
kept within sight of him, and shouted to him as he ran, saying that all
the dependants of Clennel would soon be on horseback at his heels, and
trusting that every moment he would drop the child upon the ground.
Still Faa flew forward, bearing the boy in his arm, and disregarding the
cries and threats of his pursuer. He knew that Andrew's was not what
could be called a heart of steel, but he was aware that he had a
powerful arm, and could use a sword as well as a better man; and he knew
also that cowards will fight as desperately, when their life is at
stake, as the brave.

The desperate chase continued for four hours, and till after the sun had
set, and the gloaming was falling thick on the hills. Andrew, being
younger and unencumbered, had at length gained ground upon the gipsy,
and was within ten yards of him when he reached the Coquet side, about a
mile below this town, at the hideous Thrumb, where the deep river, for
many yards, rushes through a mere chasm in the rock. The Faa, with the
child beneath his arm, leaped across the fearful gulf, and the dark
flood gushed between him and his pursuer. He turned round, and, with a
horrid laugh, looked towards Andrew and unsheathed his dagger. But even
at this moment the unwonted courage of the chief servant of Clennel did
not fail him, and as he rushed up and down upon one side of the gulf,
that he might spring across and avoid the dagger of the gipsy, the other
ran in like manner on the other side; and when Andrew stood as if ready
to leap, the Faa king, pointing with his dagger to the dark flood that
rolled between them, cried--

"See, fool! eternity divides us!"

"And for that bairn's sake, ye wretch, I'll brave it!" exclaimed Andrew,
while his teeth gnashed together; and he stepped back, in order that he
might spring across with the greater force and safety.

"Hold man!" cried the Faa; "attempt to cross to me, and I will plunge
this bonny heir o' Clennel into the flood below."

"Oh, gracious! gracious!" cried Andrew, and his resolution and courage
forsook him; "ye monster!--ye barbarian!--oh, what shall I do now!"

"Go back whence you came," said the gipsy, "or follow me another step
and the child dies."

"Oh, ye butcher!--ye murderer!" continued the other--and he tore his
hair in agony--"hae ye nae mercy?"

"Sic mercy as your maister had," returned the Faa, "when he burned our
dwellings about the ears o' the aged and infirm, and o' my helpless
bairns! Ye shall find in me the mercy o' the fasting wolf, o' the tiger
when it laps blood!"

Andrew perceived that to rescue the child was now impossible, and with a
heavy heart he returned to his master's house, in which there was no
sound save that of lamentation.

For many weeks, yea months, the laird of Clennel, his friends and his
servants, sought anxiously throughout every part of the country to
obtain tidings of his child, but their search was vain. It was long ere
his lady was expected to recover the shock, and the affliction sat heavy
on his soul, while in his misery he vowed revenge upon all of the gipsy
race. But neither Willie Faa nor any of his tribe were again seen upon
his estates, or heard of in their neighbourhood.

Four years were passed from the time that their son was stolen from
them, and an infant daughter smiled upon the knee of Lady Clennel; and
oft as it smiled in her face, and stretched its little hands towards
her, she would burst into tears, as the smile and the infantine fondness
of her little daughter reminded her of her lost Henry. They had had
other children, but they had died while but a few weeks old.

For two years there had been a maiden in the household named Susan, and
to her care, when the child was not in her own arms, Lady Clennel
intrusted her infant daughter; for every one loved Susan, because of her
affectionate nature and docile manners--she was, moreover, an orphan,
and they pitied while they loved her. But one evening, when Lady Clennel
desired that her daughter might be brought her in order that she might
present her to a company who had come to visit them (an excusable,
though not always a pleasant vanity in mothers), neither Susan nor the
child were to be found. Wild fears seized the bosom of the already
bereaved mother, and her husband felt his heart throb within him. They
sought the woods, the hills, the cottages around; they wandered by the
sides of the rivers and the mountain burns, but no one had seen, no
trace could be discovered of either the girl or the child.

I will not, because I cannot, describe the overwhelming misery of the
afflicted parents. Lady Clennel spent her days in tears and her nights
in dreams of her children, and her husband sank into a settled
melancholy, while his hatred of the Faa race became more implacable, and
he burst into frequent exclamations of vengeance against them.

More than fifteen years had passed, and though the poignancy of their
grief had abated, yet their sadness was not removed, for they had been
able to hear nothing that could throw light upon the fate of their
children. About this period, sheep were again missed from the flocks,
and, in one night, the hen-roosts were emptied. There needed no other
proof that a Faa gang was again in the neighbourhood. Now,
Northumberland at that period was still thickly covered with wood, and
abounded with places where thieves might conceal themselves in security.
Partly from a desire of vengeance, and partly from the hope of being
able to extort from some of the tribe information respecting his
children, Clennel armed his servants, and taking his hounds with him,
set out in quest of the plunderers.

For two days their search was unsuccessful, but on the third the dogs
raised their savage cry, and rushed into a thicket in a deep glen
amongst the mountains. Clennel and his followers hurried forward, and in
a few minutes perceived the fires of the Faa encampment. The hounds had
already alarmed the vagrant colony, they had sprung upon many of them
and torn their flesh with their tusks; but the Faas defended themselves
against them with their poniards, and, before Clennel's approach, more
than half his hounds lay dead upon the ground, and his enemies fled.
Yet there was one poor girl amongst them, who had been attacked by a
fierce hound, and whom no one attempted to rescue, as she strove to
defend herself against it with her bare hands. Her screams for
assistance rose louder and more loud; and as Clennel and his followers
drew near, and her companions fled, they turned round, and, with a
fiendish laugh, cried--

"Rue it now!"

Maddened more keenly by the words, he was following on in pursuit,
without rescuing the screaming girl from the teeth of the hound, or
seeming to perceive her, when a woman, suddenly turning round from
amongst the flying gypsies, exclaimed--

"For your sake!--for Heaven's sake! Laird Clennel! save my bairn!"

He turned hastily aside, and, seizing the hound by the throat, tore it
from the lacerated girl, who sank, bleeding, terrified, and exhausted,
upon the ground. Her features were beautiful, and her yellow hair
contrasted ill with the tawny hue of her countenance and the snowy
whiteness of her bosom, which in the struggle had been revealed. The
elder gipsy woman approached. She knelt by the side of the wounded girl.

"O my bairn!" she exclaimed, "what has this day brought upon me!--they
have murdered you! This is rueing, indeed; and I rue too!"

"Susan!" exclaimed Clennel, as he listened to her words, and his eyes
had been for several seconds fixed upon her countenance.

"Yes!--Susan!--guilty Susan!" cried the gipsy.

"Wretch!" he exclaimed, "my child!--where is my child?--is
_this_"----and he gazed on the poor girl, his voice failed him, and he
burst into tears.

"Yes!--yes!" replied she bitterly, "it is her--there lies your
daughter--look upon her face."

He needed, indeed, but to look upon her countenance--disfigured as it
was, and dyed with weeds to give it a sallow hue--to behold in it every
lineament of her mother's, lovely as when they first met his eye and
entered his heart. He flung himself on the ground by her side, he raised
her head, he kissed her cheek, he exclaimed, "My child!--my child!--my
lost one! I have destroyed thee!"

He bound up her lacerated arms, and applied a flask of wine, which he
carried with him, to her lips, and he supported her on his knee, and
again kissing her cheek, sobbed, "My child!--my own!"

Andrew Smith also bent over her and said, "Oh, it is her! there isna the
smallest doubt o' that. I could swear to her among a thousand. She's her
mother's very picture." And, turning to Susan, he added, "O Susan,
woman, but ye hae been a terrible hypocrite!"

Clennel having placed his daughter on horseback before him, supporting
her with his arm, Susan was set between two of his followers, and
conducted to the Hall.

Before the tidings were made known to Lady Clennel, the wounds of her
daughter were carefully dressed, the dye that changed the colour of her
countenance was removed, and her gipsy garb was exchanged for more
seemly apparel.

Clennel anxiously entered the apartment of his lady, to reveal to her
the tale of joy; but when he entered, he wist not how to introduce it.
He knew that excess of sudden joy was not less dangerous than excess of
grief, and his countenance was troubled, though its expression was less
sad than it had been for many years.

"Eleanor," he at length began, "cheer up."

"Why, I am not sadder than usual, dear," replied she, in her wonted
gentle manner; "and to be more cheerful would ill become one who has
endured my sorrows."

"True, true," said he, "but our affliction may not be so severe as we
have thought--there may be hope--there may be joy for us yet."

"What mean ye, husband?" inquired she, eagerly; "have ye heard
aught--aught of my children?--you have!--you have!--your countenance
speaks it."

"Yes, dear Eleanor," returned he, "I have heard of our daughter."

"And she lives?--she lives?--tell me that she lives!"

"Yes, she lives."

"And I shall see her--I shall embrace my child again?"

"Yes, love, yes," replied he, and burst into tears.

"When--oh, when?" she exclaimed, "can you take me to her now?"

"Be calm, my sweet one. You shall see our child--our long-lost child.
You shall see her now--she is here."

"Here!--my child!" she exclaimed, and sank back upon her seat.

Words would fail to paint the tender interview--the mother's joy--the
daughter's wonder--the long, the passionate embrace--the tears of
all--the looks--the words--the moments of unutterable feeling.

I shall next notice the confession of Susan. Clennel promised her
forgiveness if she would confess the whole truth; and he doubted not,
that from her he would also obtain tidings of his son, and learn where
he might find him, if he yet lived. I shall give her story in her own
words.

"When I came amongst you," she began, "I said that I was an orphan, and
I told ye truly, so far as I knew myself. I have been reared amongst the
people ye call gipsies from infancy. They fed me before I could provide
for myself. I have wandered with them through many lands. They taught me
many things; and, while young, sent me as a servant into families, that
I might gather information to assist them in upholding their mysteries
of fortune-telling, I dared not to disobey them--they kept me as their
slave--and I knew that they would destroy my life for an act of
disobedience. I was in London when ye cruelly burned down the bit town
between the Keyheugh and Clovencrag. That night would have been your
last, but Elspeth Faa vowed more cruel vengeance than death on you and
yours. After our king had carried away your son, I was ordered from
London to assist in the plot o' revenge. I at length succeeded in
getting into your family, and the rest ye know. When ye were a' busy wi'
your company, I slipped into the woods wi' the bairn in my arms, where
others were ready to meet us; and long before ye missed us, we were
miles across the hills, and frae that day to this your daughter has
passed as mine."

"But tell me all, woman," cried Clennel, "as you hope for either pardon
or protection--where is my son, my little Harry? Does he live?--where
shall I find him?"

"As I live," replied Susan, "I cannot tell. There are but two know
concerning him--and that is the king and his wife Elspeth; and there is
but one way of discovering anything respecting him, which is by crossing
Elspeth's loof, that she may betray her husband: and she would do it for
revenge's sake, for an ill husband has he been to her, and in her old
days he has discarded her for another."

"And where may she be found?" inquired Clennel, earnestly.

"That," added Susan, "is a question I cannot answer. She was with the
people in the glen to-day, and was first to raise the laugh when your
dog fastened its teeth in the flesh of your ain bairn. But she may be
far to seek and ill to find now--for she is wi' those that travel fast
and far, and that will not see her hindmost."

Deep was the disappointment of the laird when he found he could obtain
no tidings of his son. But, at the intercession of his daughter (whose
untutored mind her fond mother had begun to instruct), Susan was freely
pardoned, promised protection from her tribe, and again admitted as one
of the household.

I might describe the anxious care of the fond mother, as, day by day,
she sat by her new-found and lovely daughter's side, teaching her, and
telling her of a hundred things of which she had never heard before,
while her father sat gazing and listening near them, rejoicing over
both.

But the ray of sunshine which had penetrated the house of Clennel was
not destined to be of long duration. At that period a fearful cloud
overhung the whole land, and the fury of civil war seemed about to burst
forth.

The threatening storm did explode; a bigoted king overstepped his
prerogative, set at nought the rights and the liberties of the subject,
and an indignant people stained their hands with blood. A political
convulsion shook the empire to its centre. Families and individuals
became involved in the general catastrophe; and the house of Clennel did
not escape. In common with the majority of the English gentry of that
period, Clennel was a stanch loyalist, and if not exactly a lover of the
king, or an ardent admirer of his acts, yet one who would fight for the
crown though it should (as it was expressed about the time) "hang by a
bush." When, therefore, the parliament declared war against the king,
and the name of Cromwell spread awe throughout the country, and when
some said that a prophet and deliverer had risen amongst them, and
others an ambitious hypocrite and a tyrant, Clennel armed a body of his
dependants, and hastened to the assistance of his sovereign, leaving his
wife and his newly-found daughter with the promise of a speedy return.

It is unnecessary to describe all that he did or encountered during the
civil wars. He had been a zealous partizan of the first Charles, and he
fought for the fortunes of his son to the last. He was present at the
battle of Worcester, which Cromwell calls his "crowning mercy," in the
September of 1651, where the already dispirited royalists were finally
routed; and he fought by the side of the king until the streets were
heaped with dead; and when Charles fled, he, with others, accompanied
him to the borders of Staffordshire.

Having bid the young prince an affectionate farewell, Clennel turned
back, with the intention of proceeding on his journey, on the following
day, to Northumberland, though he was aware, that, from the part which
he had taken in the royal cause, even his person was in danger. Yet the
desire again to behold his wife and daughter overcame his fears, and the
thought of meeting them in some degree consoled him for the fate of his
prince, and the result of the struggle in which he had been engaged.

But he had not proceeded far when he was met by two men dressed as
soldiers of the Parliamentary army--the one a veteran with grey hairs,
and the other a youth. The shades of night had set in; but the latter he
instantly recognized as a young soldier whom he had that day wounded in
the streets of Worcester.

"Stand!" said the old man, as they met him; and the younger drew his
sword.

"If I stand!" exclaimed Clennel, "it shall not be when an old man and a
boy command me." And, following their example, he unsheathed his sword.

"Boy!" exclaimed the youth; "whom call ye boy?--think ye, because ye
wounded me this morn, that fortune shall aye sit on your arm?--yield or
try."

They made several thrusts at each other, and the old man, as an
indifferent spectator, stood looking on. But the youth, by a dexterous
blow, shivered the sword in Clennel's hand, and left him at his mercy.

"Now yield ye," he exclaimed; "the chance is mine now--in the morning it
was thine."

"Ye seem a fair foe," replied Clennel, "and loath am I to yield, but
that I am weaponless."

"Despatch him at once!" growled the old man. "If he spilled your blood
in the morning, there can be no harm in spilling his the night--and
especially after giein' him a fair chance."

"Father," returned the youth, "would ye have me to kill a man in cold
blood?"

"Let him submit to be bound then, hands and eyes, or I will," cried the
senior.

The younger obeyed, and Clennel, finding himself disarmed, submitted to
his fate; and his hands were bound, and his eyes tied up, so that he
knew not where they led him.

After wandering many miles, and having lain upon what appeared the cold
earth for a lodging, he was aroused from a comfortless and troubled
sleep, by a person tearing the bandage from his eyes, and ordering him
to prepare for his trial. He started to his feet. He looked around, and
beheld that he stood in the midst of a gipsy encampment. He was not a
man given to fear, but a sickness came over his heart when he thought of
his wife and daughter, and that, knowing the character of the people in
whose power he was, he should never behold them again.

The males of the Faa tribe began to assemble in a sort of half circle in
the area of the encampment, and in the midst of them, towering over the
heads of all, he immediately distinguished the tall figure of Willie
Faa, in whom he also discovered the grey-haired Parliamentary soldier of
the previous night. But the youth with whom he had twice contended and
once wounded, and by whom he had been made prisoner, he was unable to
single out amongst them.

He was rudely dragged before them, and Willie Faa cried--"Ken ye the
culprit?"

"Clennel o' Northumberland!--our enemy!" exclaimed twenty voices.

"Yes," continued Willie, "Clennel our enemy--the burner o' our humble
habitations--that left the auld, the sick, the infirm, and the helpless,
and the infants o' our kindred, to perish in the flaming ruins. Had we
burned his house, the punishment would have been death; and shall we do
less to him than he would do to us?"

"No! no!" they exclaimed with one voice.

"But," added Willie, "though he would have disgraced us wi' a gallows,
as he has been a soldier, I propose that he hae the honour o' a
soldier's death, and that Harry Faa be appointed to shoot him."

"All! all! all!" was the cry.

"He shall die with the setting sun," said Willie, and again they cried,
"Agreed!"

Such was the form of trial which Clennel underwent, when he was again
rudely dragged away, and placed in a tent round which four strong Faas
kept guard. He had not been alone an hour, when his judge, the Faa king,
entered, and addressed him--

"Now, Laird Clennel, say ye that I haena lived to see day about wi' ye?
When ye turned me frae beneath your roof, when the drift was fierce and
the wind howled in the moors, was it not tauld to ye that _ye would rue
it_!--but ye mocked the admonition and the threat, and, after that,
cruelly burned us out o' house and ha'. When I came hame, I saw my auld
mother, that was within three years o' a hunder, couring ower the
reeking ruins, without a wa' to shelter her, and crooning curses on the
doer o' the black deed. There were my youngest bairns, too, crouching by
their granny's side, starving wi' hunger as weel as wi' cauld, for ye
had burned a', and haudin' their bits o' hands before the burnin' ruins
o' the house that they were born in, to warm them! That night I vowed
vengeance on you; and even on that night I would have executed it, but I
was prevented; and glad am I now that I was prevented, for my vengeance
has been complete--or a' but complete. Wi' my ain hand I snatched your
son and heir from his mother's side, and a terrible chase I had for it;
but revenge lent me baith strength and speed. And when ye had anither
bairn that was like to live, I forced a lassie, that some o' our folk
had stolen when an infant, to bring it to us. Ye have got your daughter
back again, but no before she has cost ye mony a sad heart and mony a
saut tear; and that was some revenge. But the substance o' my
satisfaction and revenge lies in what I hae to tell ye. Ye die this
night as the sun gaes down; and, hearken to me now--the young soldier
whom ye wounded on the streets o' Worcester, and who last night made you
prisoner, was your son--your heir--your lost son! Ha! ha!--Clennel, am I
revenged?"

"My son!" screamed the prisoner--"monster, what is it that ye say?
Strike me dead, now I am in your power--but torment me not!"

"Ha! ha! ha!" again laughed the grey-haired savage--"man, ye are about
to die, and ye know not ye are born. Ye have not heard half I have to
tell. I heard that ye had joined the standard o' King Charles. I, a king
in my ain right, care for neither your king nor parliament; but I
resolved to wear, for a time, the cloth o' old Noll, and to make your
son do the same, that I might hae an opportunity o' meeting you as an
enemy, and seeing _him_ strike you to the heart. That satisfaction I had
not; but I had its equivalent. Yesterday, I saw you shed his blood on
the streets o' Worcester, and in the evening he gave you a prisoner into
my hands that desired you."

"Grey-haired monster!" exclaimed Clennel. "Have ye no feeling--no heart?
Speak ye to torment me, or tell me truly, have I seen my son?"

"Patience, man!" said the Faa, with a smile of sardonic triumph--"my
story is but half finished. It was the blood o' your son ye shed
yesterday at Worcester--it was your son who disarmed ye, and gave ye
into my power; and, best o' a'!--now, hear me! hear me! lose not a
word!--it is the hand o' your son that this night, at sunset, shall send
you to eternity! Now, tell me, Clennel, am I no revenged? Do ye no rue
it?"

"Wretch! wretch!" cried the miserable parent, "in mercy strike me dead.
If I have raised my sword against my son, let that suffice ye!--but
spare, oh, spare my child from being an involuntary parricide!"

"Hush, fool!" said the Faa; "I have waited for this consummation o' my
revenge for twenty years, and think ye that I will be deprived o' it now
by a few whining words? Remember, sunset!" he added, and left the tent.

Evening came, and the disk of the sun began to disappear behind the
western hills. Men and women, the old and the young, amongst the Faas,
came out from their encampment to behold the death of their enemy.
Clennel was brought forth between two, his hands fastened to his sides,
and a bandage round his mouth, to prevent him making himself known to
his executioner. A rope was also brought round his body, and he was tied
to the trunk of an old ash tree. The women of the tribe began a sort of
yell or coronach; and their king, stepping forward, and smiling savagely
in the face of his victim, cried aloud--

"Harry Faa! stand forth and perform the duty your tribe have imposed on
you."

A young man, reluctantly, and with a slow and trembling step, issued
from one of the tents. He carried a musket in his hand, and placed
himself in front of the prisoner, at about twenty yards from him.

"Make ready!" cried Willie Faa, in a voice like thunder. And the youth,
though his hands shook, levelled the musket at his victim.

But, at that moment, one who, to appearance, seemed a maniac, sprang
from a clump of whins behind the ash tree where the prisoner was bound,
and, throwing herself before him, she cried--"Hold!--would you murder
your own father? Harry Clennel!--would you murder your father? Mind ye
not when ye was stolen frae your mother's side, as ye gathered wild
flowers in the wood?"

It was Elspeth Faa.

The musket dropped from the hands of the intended executioner--a
thousand recollections, that he had often fancied dreams, rushed across
his memory. He again seized the musket, he rushed forward to his father,
but, ere he reached, Elspeth had cut the cords that bound the laird, and
placed a dagger in his hand for his defence, and, with extended arms, he
flew to meet the youth, crying--"My son!--my son!"

The old Faa king shook with rage and disappointment, and his first
impulse was to poniard his wife--but he feared to do so; for although he
had injured her, and had not seen her for years, her influence was
greater with the tribe than his.

"Now, Willie," cried she, addressing him, "wha rues it now? Fareweel for
ance and a'--and the bairn I brought up will find a shelter for my auld
head."

It were vain to tell how Clennel and his son wept on each other's neck,
and how they exchanged forgiveness. But such was the influence of
Elspeth, that they departed from the midst of the Faas unmolested, and
she accompanied them.

Imagination must picture the scene when the long-lost son flung himself
upon the bosom of his mother, and pressed his sister's hand in his.
Clennel Hall rang with the sounds of joy for many days; and, ere they
were ended, Andrew Smith placed a ring upon the finger of Susan, and
they became one flesh--she a respectable woman. And old Elspeth lived to
the age of ninety and seven years beneath its roof.



KATE KENNEDY;

OR, THE MAID OF INNERKEPPLE.


Innerkepple was, some three hundred years ago, as complete a
fortification as could be seen along the Borders--presenting its
bastions, its turrets and donjon, and all the appurtenances of a
military strength, in the face of a Border riever, with that solemn air
of defiance that belongs to the style of the old castles. Many a blow of
a mangonel it had received; and Scotch and English engines of war had,
with equal force and address, poured into its old grey ribs their
destructive bolts; every wound was an acquisition of glory; and, unless
where a breach demanded a repair for the sake of security, the scars on
the old warrior were allowed to remain as a proof of his prowess.
Indeed, these very wounds appearing on the walls had their names--being
christened after the leaders of the sieges that had been in vain
directed against it; and, among the number, the kings of England might
have been seen indicated by the futile instruments of vengeance they had
flung into the rough ribs of old Innerkepple. But let us proceed. The
proprietor, good Walter Kennedy, better known by the appellative of
Innerkepple, was not unlike the old strength which he inhabited; being
an old, rough, burly baron, on whose face Time had succeeded in making
many impressions, notwithstanding of all the opposing energies of a soul
that gloried, in all manner of ways, of cheating the old greybeard of
his rights and clearing off _his scores_. As a good spirit is said to be
like good old wine, getting softer and more balmy as it increases in
age, old Innerkepple proved, by his good humour and jovial manners, the
sterling qualities of his heart, which seemed, as he progressed in
years, to swell in proportion as that organ in others shrivelled and
decreased. He saw nothing in age but the necessity it imposes of having
more frequent recourse to its great enemy, the grape; and that power he
delighted to bow to, as he bent his head to empty the flagon which his
forebear, Kenneth, got from the first King James, as a reward for his
services against the house of Albany. Yet the good humour of the old
baron was not that of the toper, which, produced by the bowl, would not
exist but for its inspiring draught; the feeling of happiness and
universal good-will lay at the bottom of the heart itself, and was only
swelled into a state of glorious ebullition by the charm of the magic of
the vine branch--the true Mercurial _caduceus_, the only true magic wand
upon earth.

Though the spirit of antiquarianism is seldom associated with the
swelling affections of the heart that is dedicated to Momus, old
Innerkepple had, notwithstanding, been able to combine the two qualities
or powers. Sitting in his old wainscotted hall, over a goblet of spiced
Tokay, there were three old subjects he loved to speculate upon; and
these were--his old castle, with its chronicled wounds, where the Genius
of War sat alongside of the "auld carle" Time, in grim companionship;
secondly, the family tree of the Innerkepples--with himself, a good old
branch, kept green by good humour and Tokay, at the further verge; and a
small green twig, as slender as a lily stalk, issuing from the old
branch--no other than the daughter of Innerkepple, the fair Kate
Kennedy, a buxom damsel, of goodly proportions, and as merry, with the
aid of health and young sparkling blood, as the old baron was with the
spiced wine of Tokay; and, in the third place, there was the true
legitimate study of the antiquary, the ancient wine itself, the mortal
years of which he counted with an eye as bright as Cocker's over a
triumphant solution. As this last subject grew upon him, he became
inspired, like the old poet of Teos, and the rafters of Innerkepple rang
to the sound of his voice, tuned to the air of "The Guidwife o'
Tullybody," and fraught with the deeds, active and passive, of the
barons of Innerkepple and their castle.

The fair Katherine Kennedy inherited her father's good humour, and,
maugre all the polishing and freezing influences of high birth, retained
her inborn freedom of thought and action, heedless whether the
contortion of the _buccæ_ in a broad laugh were consistent with the
placidity of beauty, or the scream of the heart-excited risibility were
in accordance with the formula of high breeding. Buxom in her person,
and gay in her manners, she formed the most enchanting baggage of all
the care-killing damsels of her day--the most exquisite ronion that ever
chased Melancholy from her yellow throne on the face of Hypochondria, or
threw the cracker of her persiflage into the midst of the crew of blue
devils that bind down care-worn mortals by the bonds of _ennui_. She was
no antiquary, even in the limited sense of her father's study of the
science of cobwebs; being rather given to _neoterics_, or the science
which teaches the qualities of things of to-day or yesterday. Age in all
things she hated with a very good feminine spirit of detestation; and,
following up her principles, she arrived at the conclusion that youth
and beauty were two of the very best qualities that could be possessed
by a lover. Her father's impassioned praises of the old branches of the
tree of the Innerkepples--comprehending the brave Ludovick, who fell at
Homildon, and the memorable Walter, who sold his life at the price of a
score of fat Englishmen at the red Flodden--produced only her best and
loudest laugh, as she figured to herself the folly of preferring the
rugged trunk to the green branches that suspend at their points the
red-cheeked apple full of sweetness and juice. Neither cared the
hilarious damsel much for the reverend turrets of Innerkepple. Her
father's description, full of good humour as it was, of the various
perils they had passed, and the service they had done their country,
seemed to her, as she stood on the old walls, listening to the
narrative, like the croak of the old corbies that sat on the pinnacles;
and her laugh came again full of glee through the loopholes, or echoed
from the battered curtain or recesses of the ballium.

That such a person as merry old Innerkepple should have a bitter and
relentless foe in the proprietor of the old strength called Otterstone,
in the neighbourhood, is one of the most instructive facts connected
with the system of war and pillage that prevailed on the Borders,
principally during the reign of Henry VIII. of England and James V. of
Scotland, when the spirit of religion furnished a cause of aggression
that could not have been afforded by the pugnacious temperaments of the
victims of attack. Magnus Fotheringham of Otterstone had had a deadly
feud with Kenneth Kennedy, the father of the good old Innerkepple, and
ever since had nourished against his neighbour a deadly spite, which he
had taken many means of gratifying. His opponent had acted merely on the
defensive; but his plea had been so well vindicated by his retainers,
who loved him with the affection of children, that the splenetic
aggressor had been twice repulsed with great slaughter. Most readily
would the jovial baron, who had never given any cause of offence, have
seized upon the demon of Enmity, and, _obtorto collo_, forced the fiend
into the smoking flagon of spiced wine, while he held out the hand of
friendship to his hereditary foe; but such was Otterstone's inveteracy,
that he would not meet him but with arms in his hands, so that all the
endeavours of the warm-hearted and jolly Innerkepple to overcome the
hostility of his neighbour, were looked upon as secret modes of wishing
to entrap him, and take vengeance on him for his repeated attacks upon
the old castle.

Some short time previous to the period about which we shall become more
interested, Innerkepple, with twenty rangers, was riding the marches of
his property, when he was set upon by his enemy, who had nearly twice
that number of retainers. Taking up with great spirit the plea of their
lord, the men who were attacked rallied round the old chief, and fought
for him like lions, drowning (perhaps purposely) in the noise of the
battle the cries of Innerkepple, who roared, at the top of his voice--

"Otterstone, man--hear me!--A pint o' my auld Canary will do baith you
and me mair guid than a' that bluid o' your men and mine. Stop the
fecht, man. I hae nae feud against you, an' I'm no answerable for the
wrangs o' thy father Kenneth."

These peaceful words were lost amidst the sounds of the battle, and
Otterstone construed the contortions of the peacemaker into indications
of revenge, and his bawling was set down as his mode of inspiriting his
followers. The fight accordingly progressed, old Innerkepple at
intervals holding up a white handkerchief as a sign of peace; but which,
having been used by him in stopping the wounds of one of his men, was
received with its blood-marks as a signal of revenge, both by his men
and those of the aggressor. The strife accordingly increased, and all
was soon mixed up in the confusion of the melée.

"Has feud ran awa wi' yer senses, Otterstone?" again roared the good old
baron. "I'll gie yer son, wha's at St. Omers, the hand o' my dochter
Kate. Do you hear me, man? If you will mix the bluids o' oor twa houses,
let it be dune by Haly Kirk."

His words never reached Otterstone; but his own men who adored and
idolized their beautiful young mistress, whose unvaried cheerfulness and
kindness had won their hearts, heard the proposition of their master
with astonishment and dissatisfaction. They were still sorely pressed by
their enemy, who, seeing the stained handkerchief in the hands of
Innerkepple, were roused to stronger efforts. At this moment an
extraordinary vision met their eyes. A detachment of retainers from the
castle came forward in the most regular warlike array, having at their
head their young mistress, armed with a helmet and a light jerkin, and
bearing in her hand a sword of suitable proportions. A loud shout from
the worsted combatants expressed their satisfaction and surprise, and in
a moment the assistant corps joined their friends, and commenced to
fight. The unusual vision relaxed for a moment the energies of
Otterstone's men; but a cry from their chief, that they would that day
be ten times vanquished if they were defeated by a female leader, again
inspired them, and instigated them to the fight.

"Press forward, brave vassals of Innerkepple!" cried Katherine. "Your
foes have no fair damsel to inspire them; and who shall resist those
whose arms are nerved in defence of an old chief and a young mistress?
He who kills the greatest number of Otterstone's men shall have the
privilege of demanding a woman's guerdon from Katherine Kennedy. If this
be not enough to make ye fight like lions, ye deserve to be hung in
chains on the towers of Otterstone."

Smiling as she uttered her strange speech, she hurried to her father,
who was still making all the efforts in his power to bring about a
parley. He had got within a few yards of Otterstone, and it required all
the energies of Katherine to keep him back and defend him from insidious
blows--an office she executed with great agility, by keeping her light
sword whirling round her head, and inflicting wounds--not perhaps of
great depth--on those who were ungallant and temerarious enough to
approach her parent.

"See, Otterstone, man," cried the laird, still intent on peace, and
sorry for the deadly work that was going on around him. "Is she no fit
to mak heirs to Otterstone? Up wi' yer helm, Kate, and show him yer fair
face. Ha! man, stop this bluidy work, and let us mend a' by a carousal.
Deil's in the heart and stamack o' the man that prefers warring to
wassailing!"

"He does not hear you, father," cried Kate. "We must defend ourselves.
On, brave followers! Ye know your guerdon. Gallant knights have kneeled
for it and been refused it. You are to fight for it, and to receive it.
Hurrah for Innerkepple!" And she swung her light falchion round her
head, while the war-cry of the family, "_Festina lente!_" arose in
answer to her inspiriting appeal, and the men rushed forward with new
ardour on their foes.

"You are as bluid-thirsty as he is, Kate," cried the baron. "What mean
ye, woman? Haste ye up to Otterstone, and fling yer arms round his neck,
and greet a guid greet, according to the fashion o' womankind. Awa!
haste ye, and say, mairower, that ye'll be the wife o' his son, and join
the twa baronies that are gaping for ane anither. Quick, woman; tears
are mere water--thin aneuch, Gude kens!--but thae men's bluid is thicker
than my vintage o' the year '90."

"Katherine Kennedy never yet wept either to friend or foe, unless in the
wild glee of her frolics," replied the maiden. "By the bones of Camilla!
I thought I was only fit for sewing battle scenes on satin, and laughing
as I killed a knight with my needle; but I find I have the Innerkepple
blood in my veins, and my cheek is glowing like a blood-red rose. Take
care of yourself, good father, and leave the affair to me. A single
glance of my eye has more power in it than the command of the proudest
baron of the Borders. On, good hearts!" And she again rode among the
men, and inspired them with her voice and looks.

The effect of the silvery tones of the voice of Katherine on the hearts
of her father's retainers was electric; they fought like lions, and it
soon became apparent to Otterstone that a woman is a more dangerous
enemy than a man. The cry, "For the fair maid of Innerkepple!" resounded
among the combatants, and soon exhibited greater virtue than the war-cry
of the house. Against men actuated by the chivalrous feelings that
naturally arose out of the defence of a beautiful woman, all resistance
was vain; the ranks of Otterstone's men were broken, and this advantage
having been seized by their opponents, whose energies were rising every
moment, as the sound of Katherine's voice saluted their ears, a route
ensued, and the usual consequences of that last resource of the
vanquished--flight--were soon apparent in the wounded victims, who fell
ingloriously with wounds on their backs. The pursuers were inclined to
continue the pursuit even to the walls of Otterstone, but Katherine
called them back.

"To slay the flying," said she, with a laugh, as the usual hilarity of
her spirits returned upon her, "is what I call effeminate warfare. When
men flee, women pursue; and what get they for their pains more than the
wench got from Theseus, whom she hunted for his heart, and got, as our
hunters do, the kick of his heel? Away, and carry in our disabled, that
I may, with woman's art, cure the wounds that have been received in
defence of a woman."

The men obeyed with alacrity, and Innerkepple himself stared in
amazement at his daughter, who had always before appeared to him as a
wild romp, fit only for killing men with her beauty, or tormenting them
with the elfin tricks or bewitching waggeries of her restless salient
spirit.

"I'll hae ye in the wainscotted ha', Kate," said the father, as he
entered his private chamber, leaning on the arm of his daughter,
"painted wi' helm, habergeon, and halberd, and placed alongside o' Lewie
o' Homildon and Watt o' Flodden."

"I care not, father," replied Katherine, "if you give the painter
instructions to paint me laughing at those famous progenitors of our
house, who were foolish enough to give their lives for that glory I can
purchase for nothing, and get the lives of my enemies to boot; but I
must go and minister to the gallant men who have been wounded."

"Minister first to your father, Kate," replied Innerkepple, with a
knowing look.

"And to your father's daughter, you would add," replied she, with a
smile. "A bridal and a battle lack wine." And, hastening to a cupboard,
she took out and placed on the table a flagon and two cups, the latter
of which she filled.

"Rest to the souls of the men I have slain!" said she, laughing, as she
lifted the wine cup to her head, while her father was performing the
same act.

"What! did ye kill ony o' Otterstone's men?" said Innerkepple.

"Every time I lifted up my visor," replied she, "I scattered death
around me. Ha! ha! what fools men are! Their bodies are tenantless; we
women are the souls that live outside of them, and take up our residence
within their clayey precincts only when we have an object to serve. The
tourney has taught me the power of our sex; and there I have thrown my
spirit into the man I hated, to gratify my humour by seeing him, poor
caitiff! as he caught my hazel eye, writhe and wring, and contort
himself into all the attitudes of Proteus."

"Wicked imp!" said Innerkepple, laughing.

"And when he had sufficiently twisted himself," continued she, "I have,
with a grave face given the same hazel eye to his opponent, and set his
body in motion in the same way. The serpent-charmer is nothing to a
woman. By this art, I to-day gained the victory; and I'll stake my
auburn toupée against thy grey wig, that I beat, in the same way, the
boldest baron of the Borders."

"By the faith o' Innerkepple, ye're no blate, Kate!" said the old baron,
still laughing; "but come, let us see our wounded men"--taking his
daughter's arm.

"Leave their wounds to me, father," said she. "The sting of the
tarantula is cured by an old song. We women are the true leeches;
doctors are quacks and medicasters to us. We kill and cure like the
Delphic sword, which makes wounds and heals them by alternate strokes."

"Ever at your quips, roisterer," said Innerkepple, as they arrived at
the court.

The wounded men had been brought in, and were consigned to the care of
one of the retainers, skilled in medicine, Katherine's medicaments--her
looks and tones--being reserved for a balsamic application, after the
wounds were cicatrized. The other retainers were, meanwhile, busy in
consultation, as might have been seen by their congregating into
parties, talking low, and throwing looks at Innerkepple and his fair
daughter, as they stood on the steps of the inner door of the castle.

"The guerdon! the guerdon!" at last said one of the vassals, advancing
and throwing himself at the feet of Kate.

"Ha! ha! I forgot," replied she laughing; "but turn up thy face--art
thou the man?"

"So say my companions, fair leddy," replied he. "I brocht doon wi' this
arm five o' Otterstone's men."

"With that arm!" replied she, "and what spirit nerved the dead lumber,
thinkest thou?"

"Dootless yours, fair leddy," answered he, smiling knowingly; "but,
though the spirit was borrowed, I'm no the less entitled to my reward."

"A good stickler for the rights of your sex," answered she, keeping up
the humour; "but what guerdon demandest thou?"

"That whilk knights hae sued in vain for at your fair feet," answered
the man, smiling, as he uttered nearly the words she had used at the
battle.

"Caught in my own snare," replied she, laughing loudly.

"Ah, Kate, Kate!" said the baron, joining in the humour, "hoo mony
gallant barons, and knights, and gentlemen hae ye tormented by thae fair
lips o' yours, which carry in their cunnin' words a defence o' themsels
sae weel contrived that nane daur approach them! Ye're caught at last.
Stand to yer richts, man. A kiss was promised ye, and by the honour o'
Innerkepple, a kiss ye'll hae, if I should haud her head by a grip o'
her bonny auburn locks."

"Hold! hold!" cried Katherine; "this matter dependeth on the answer to a
question. Art thou married, sirrah?"

The man hesitated, fearful of being caught by his clever adversary.

"Have a care o' yoursel, Gregory," said Innerkepple, "ye're on dangerous
ground."

"What if I am or am not?" said the man, cautiously, turning up his eye
into the face of the wicked querist.

"If thou art not," said she, "then would a kiss of so fair a damsel be
to thee beyond the value of a croft of the best land o' the barony o'
Innerkepple; but if thou art, then would the guerdon be as nothing to
the kiss of thy wife, and as the weight of a feather in the scale
against an oxengate of good land."

"I'm no married," replied the man; "but, an't please yer leddyship, I'll
take the oxengate."

"Audacious varlet!" cried Kate, rejoicing in the adroitness she
exhibited; "wouldst thou prefer a piece of earth to a kiss of Kate
Kennedy--a boon which the gayest knights of the Borders have sued for in
vain! But 'tis well--thou hast refused the guerdon. Ha! ha! Men of
Innerkepple, ye are witnesses to the fact. This man hath spurned my
guerdon, and sought dull earth for my rosy lips."

"We are witnesses," cried the retainers; and the court-yard rang with the
laugh which the cleverness of their fair mistress had elicited from
those who envied Gregory of his privilege.

"Kate, Kate!" said the old baron, joining in the laugh, "will ever
mortal be able to seize what are sae weel guarded? I believe ye will be
able to argue yer husband oot o' his richts o' proving whether thae
little traitors be made of mortal flesh or ripe cherries. But wine is
better than women's lips; and since Kate has sae cleverly got quit o'
her obligation, I'll mak amends by gieing ye a _surrogatum_."

Several measures of good old wine were served out to the men by the
hands of Katherine, who rejoiced in the contradiction of refusing one
thing to give a better. Her health, and that of Innerkepple, were drunk
with loud shouts of approbation; and the wassail was kept up till a late
hour of the night.

Meanwhile, Otterstone was struggling with his disappointment, and
nourishing a deep spirit of revenge. The shame of his defeat,
accomplished by a girl, was insufferable; and the gnawing pain of the
loss of honour and men, in a cause where he had calculated securely on
crushing his supposed enemy, affected him so severely, that he sent, it
was reported, for his son, who had lived from his infancy at St. Omers,
to come over to administer to him consolation. When Innerkepple heard of
these things, he marvelled greatly at the stubbornness of his neighbour,
whom he wished, above all things, to drag, _nolente volente_, into a
deep wassail in the old wainscotted hall of his castle, whereby he
might drown, with reason itself, all their hereditary grudges, and
transform a foe into a friend. These feelings were also participated in
by the warlike Kate, who acknowledged that she did not, on that
memorable day, fight for anything on earth that she knew of, but the
safety of her father, and the sheer glory of victory. She entertained
the best possible feelings towards Otterstone, though she admitted, with
a laugh, that if his men had not that day run for their lives, she would
have fought till they and their lord lay all dead upon the field, and
the glory of Otterstone was extinguished for ever.

A considerable period that passed in quietness, seemed to indicate that
the anger of the vanquished baron had escaped by the valves appointed by
nature for freeing the liver of its redundant bile. Meanwhile,
Innerkepple's universal love of mankind increased, as his friendship for
the juice of the grape grew stronger and stronger, and his potations
waxed deeper and deeper; so that he was represented, all over the
Borders, as being the most jovial baron of his time. The fame of Kate
also went abroad like fire-flaughts; but no one knew what to make of
her--whether to set her down as a beautiful virago, or as a merry imp of
sportive devilry, who fought her father's enemy with the same good-will
she felt towards the lovers whom she delighted with her beauty and
gaiety, and tormented by her cruel waggeries and wiles.

This apparent quietness, and the consequent freedom from all danger,
induced the old baron to comply with a request made to him by King
James, to lend him forty of his followers, to aid in suppressing some
disturbances caused by a number of outlawed reivers at that time
ravaging the Borders. Katherine gave her consent to the measure; but she
wisely exacted the condition that the men should not be removed to a
greater distance from the castle than ten miles. When James' emissary
asked her why she adjected this condition to her father's agreement, she
answered, with that waggish mystery in which she often loved to indulge,
that she had such a universal love for his--the emissary's--sex, that
she could not suffer the idea of her gallant men being further removed
from her than the distance on which she had condescended. A question for
explanation only produced another wicked _quodlibet_; so that the royal
messenger was obliged to be contented with a reason that sounded in his
ears very like a contempt of royal authority--a circumstance for which
she cared no more than she did for the mute expression of admiration of
her beauty, that her quick eye detected on the face of the deputy.

The men having been detached from the castle for the service of the
king, there remained only a small number, not more than sufficient for
occupying the more important stations on the walls of the strength.
There was, however, no cause for alarm; and old Innerkepple continued to
speculate over his spiced Tokay, on his three grand subjects of
antiquarian research; while Katherine followed her various occupations
of listening to and laughing at his reveries, sewing battle scenes on
satin, and killing her knights with her needle, in as many grotesque
ways as her inventive fancy could devise. One day the sound of a horn
cut right through the middle a long pull of Canary in the act of being
perfected by the old baron's powers of swallow; and, in a short time,
the warder came in and said that a wine merchant, with sumpter mules and
panniers, was at the end of the drawbridge, and had expressed a strong
desire to submit his commodity to the test of such a famous judge of the
spirit of the grape as the baron of Innerkepple, whose name had gone
forth as transcending that of all modern wine-drinkers.

"A wine merchant!" ejaculated Innerkepple, smacking his lips after his
interrupted draught of vintage '90. "What species o' sma' potation does
he deal in? Ha! ha! It suits my humour to see the quack's een reel, as
he finds his tongue and palate glued thegither wi' what I ca' wine, and
gets them loosed again by his ain coloured water. Show him in, George."

"Whar is my leddy, yer Honour?" said the seneschal, looking bluntly.
"Will she consent to the drawbridge bein' raised at a time when the
castle's nearly empty?"

"She has just gane into the green parlour in the west tower," said the
baron. "But I'll tak Kate in my ain hands. She likes fun as weel as her
auld father, and will laugh to see this quack beaten wi' his ain bowls."

The seneschal withdrew, though reluctantly, and casting his eyes about
for the indispensable Katherine; but she was not within his reach, and
he felt himself compelled, by the impatience of the old baron, to admit
the merchant. The creaking hinges of the bridge resounded through the
castle and the merchant and his mules were seen by Katherine, looking
through a loophole, slowly making their way into the castle. It was too
late for her now to consider of the propriety of the permission to
enter; so she leant her chin on her hand, and quietly scanned the
stranger, as he crossed the bridge, driving his mules before him with a
large stick, which he brought down with a loud thwack on their
backs--accompanying his act with a loud "Whoop, ho!" and occasionally
throwing his eyes over the walls as he proceeded.

"Whom have we here?" said she, as she communed with herself, and nodded
her head, still apparent through the loophole. "By'r Lady! neither
Gascon nor Fleming, or my eyes are no better than my father's, when he
looks at _antiques_ through the red medium of his vintage of '90.
Perchance, a lover come to run away with Kate Kennedy. Hey! the thought
tickles my wild wits, and sends me on the wings of fancy into the
regions of romance. Yet I have not read that the catching and carrying
off of _Tartars_ hath anything to do with the themes of romantic
love-errantry. I'm witty at the expense of this poor packman; but,
seriously, Katherine Kennedy must carry off her lover. True to the
difference that opposes me to the rest of my sex, I could not love a man
whom I did not vanquish and abduct, as a riever does the chattels of the
farmer."

Continuing her gaze, as she laughed at her own strange thoughts, she saw
the merchant bind his mules to a ring fixed in the inside of the wall,
and take out of his panniers a vessel, with which he proceeded in the
direction of the door that led to the hall. When the merchant had
disappeared, she saw one of the retainers of the castle examining
intently the mules and their panniers. He looked up and caught her eye;
and placing his finger on his forehead, made a sign for her to come
down. She obeyed with her usual alacrity, and in a moment was at the
side of the retainer, who, slipping gently under the shade of the
castle, so as to be out of the view of those within the hall,
communicated to the ear of Katherine some intelligence of an important
nature. The man looked grave; Kate snapped her fingers; the fire of her
eyes glanced from the balls like the sparks of struck flint, and the
expression of her countenance indicated that she had formed a purpose
which she gloried in executing.

"Hark ye, Gregory," said she; "I am still your debtor, but I require
again your services." And, looking carefully around her, she whispered
some words into the ear of the man; and, upon receiving his nod of
intelligence and assent, sprung up the steps that led to the hall.

The wine merchant was, as she entered, sitting at the oaken table,
opposite to the old baron, who was holding up in his hand a species of
glass jug, and looking through it with that peculiar expression which is
only to be found in the face of a luxurious wine-toper in the act of
passing sentence.

"Wha, in God's name, are ye, man?" cried the baron, under the cover of
whose speech Kate slipped cleverly up to the window, and sat down, with
her cheek resting on her hand, in apparent listlessness, but eyeing
intently the stranger. "I could have wad the picture o' my ancestor,
Watt o' Flodden, or King Henry's turret, in the east wing o'
Innerkepple, wi' its twenty wounds, mair precious than goold, that there
wasna a cup o' vintage '90 in Scotland except what I had mysel. Whar got
ye't, man? Are ye the Devil? Hae ye brocht it frae my ain cellars?
Speak, Satan!"

"Vy, _mon cher_ Innerkepple," replied the merchant, "did I not know that
you were one grand biberon--I mean drinker of vin? It is known all over
the marches--I mean the Bordures. Aha! no one Frenchman could cheat the
famous Innerkepple; so I brought the best that was in all my celliers.
Is it not grand and magnifique?"

"Grand an' magnifique, man!" replied Innerkepple, as he sipped the wine
with the gravity of a judge. "It's mair than a' that, man, if my tongue
could coin a word to express its ain sense o' what it is at this moment
enjoying. But the organ's stupified wi' sheer delight, and forgets its
very mither's tongue; an' nae wonder, for my very een, that didna taste
it, reel and get drunk wi' the sight." And the delighted baron took
another pull of the goblet.

"Aha! Innerkepple, you are von of the grandest biberons I have ever seen
in all this contrée," said the merchant. "It is one great pleasir to
trafique vit von so learned in the science of _bon gout_. That grand
smack of your lips would tempt me to ruin myself, and drink mine own
commodity."

"Hae ye a stock o' the treasure?" said the baron; "I canna suppose it."

"Just five barrils in my celliers at Berwick," answered the merchant,
"containing quatre hundred pints de Paris in each one of them."

"I could walk on my bare feet to Berwick to see it and taste it," said
the baron; "but what clatter o' a horse's feet is that in the court,
Kate?"

"Ha! sure it is my mules," said the Frenchman, starting to his feet in
alarm.

"Oh! keep your seat, Monsieur Merchant," cried Kate, laughing and
looking out of the window. "Can a lady not despatch her servitor to
Selkirk for a pair of sandals, that should this day have been on my feet
in place of in Gilbert Skinner's hands, without raising folks from their
wine?"

The Frenchman was satisfied, and retook his seat; but the baron looked
at Kate, as if at a loss to know what freak had now come into her
inventive head. The letting down of the drawbridge, and the sound of the
horse's feet passing along the sounding wood, verified her statement,
but carried no conviction to the mind of Innerkepple. He had long
ceased, however, the vain effort to understand the workings of his
daughter's mind, and on the present occasion he was occupied about too
important a subject to be interested in the vagaries of a madcap wench.

"By the Virgin!" she said again, "my jennet will lose her own sandals in
going for mine, if Gregory thus strikes the rowels into her sides."

Covering, by these words, the rapid departure of the messenger, she
turned her eyes to continue the study of the merchant, whom she watched
with feline assiduity. The conversation was again resumed.

"Five barrels, said ye, Monsieur?" resumed Innerkepple. "Let me
see--that, wi' what I hae mysel, may see me out; but it will be a guid
heir-loom to Kate's husband. What is the price?"

"One merk the gallon of four pints de Paris," answered the merchant.

("Yet I see no marks of Otterstone about him," muttered Kate to herself.
"How beautiful he is, maugre his disguise! Had he come on a message of
love, in place of war, I would have taken him prisoner, and bound him
with the rays of light that come from my languishing eyes.")

"That's dear, man," said Innerkepple. "But ye're a cunning rogue; if I
keep drinking at this rate, the price will sink as the flavour rises,
and ye'll catch me, as men do gudgeons, by the tongue."

"Aha! _mon cher_ Innerkepple," said the merchant, "you have von
excellent humour of fun about ye. If I vere not _un pauvre merchand_, I
would have one grand plaisir in getting _mouillé_--I mean drunk--vit
you."

("Ha! my treacherous Adonis, art on that tack, with a foul wind in thy
fair face?" was Kate's mental ejaculation. "If thou nearest thy haven, I
am a worse pilot than Palinurus.")

"Wi' wine like that before ane," responded the baron, "the topers
alongside o' ye may be Frenchmen or Dutchmen, warriors or warlocks,
wraiths or wassailers, merchants or mahouns--a's alike. It will put a
soul into a ghaist, a yearning heart into a gowl, and a spirit o'
nobility in the breast o' ane wha never quartered arms but wi' the fair
anes o' flesh an' bluid that belang to his wife. I'll be oblivious o' a'
warldly things before Kate's sandals come frae Selkirk; but yer price,
man, I fear, will stick to me to the end."

"I cannot make one deduction," said the merchant, "but I vill give to
the men in the base-court one jolly debauch of very good vin, vich is in
my hampers."

("The kaim of chanticleer is in the wind's eye," muttered Katherine.
"Thou pointest nobly for the direction of treachery; but my sandals
will be back from Selkirk long before I am obliged to march with thee to
the prison of Otterstone.")

"Weel, mak it a merk," said Innerkepple, "for five pints, an' a bouse to
my retainers, wha are as muckle beloved by me as if they were my bairns;
an' I will close wi' ye."

"Vell, that is one covenant _inter nous_," said the merchant; "but I
cannot return to Berwick until _demain_--I mean the morrow; and we vill
have the long night for one jolly carousal. I vill go _sans delai_, and
give the poor fellows, in the meantime, one leetle tasting of the grand
cheer."

("Then I am too long here," muttered Kate. "Alexander told his men that
the Persian stream was poisonous, to prevent them from stopping to
drink, whereby they would have fallen into the hands of the enemy. One
not less than he--ha! ha!--will save her men, by telling them there is
treachery in the cup.")

She descended instantly to the base-court, and, passing from one guard
to another, she whispered in their ears certain instructions, which, by
the nodding of their heads, they seemed to understand, while those she
had not time to visit received from their neighbours the communication
at second-hand, and thus, in a short space of time, she prepared the
whole retainers for the part they were destined to play. She had
scarcely finished this part of her operations, and got out of the court,
when the wine merchant made his appearance on the steps leading to the
hall. He nodded pleasantly to the men, and, proceeding to his mules,
took out of one of the panniers a large vessel filled with wine. This he
laid on the flagstones of the base-court, and alongside of it he placed
a large cup. He then called out to the retainers to approach, and seemed
pleased with the readiness with which they complied with his request.

"Mine very good fellows," said he, "I have sold your master,
Innerkepple, one grand quantity of vine; and he says I am under one
obligation to treat you vit a hamper, for the sake of the grand
affection he bears to you. You may drink as much as ever you vill
please; and ven this is brought to one termination, I will supply you
vit more."

"We're a' under a suitable obligation to ye, sir," replied the oldest of
the retainers, a sly, pawky Scotchman--"and winna fail to do credit to
the present ye've sae nobly presented to us; but do ye no hear
Innerkepple callin' for ye frae the ha'? Awa, sir, to the guid baron,
and leave us to our carouse."

"Ay," said another; "we'll inform ye when this is finished."

"Finished!" said a third; "we'll be a' on oor backs before we see the
end o't."

"Aha! excellent jolly troup!" cried the merchant, delighted with this
company.

The voice of Katherine, who appeared on the steps leading to the hall,
now arrested their attention.

"My father is impatient for thee, good merchant," said she.

"_Ma chere_ leddy," replied he, "I will be there _a present_." And,
looking up to see that she had again disappeared--"Drink, my jolly
mates," he continued. "It is the grand matiere, the _bon_ stuff, the
excellent good liqueur. Aha! you will be so merry, and you know you have
the consent of Innerkepple."

"We'll be a' as drunk as bats," said he who spoke first, with a sly
leer.

"The Deil tak him wha has the beddin' o' us!" said another.

"So say I," added half-a-dozen of voices.

"Then I am the Deil's property," said the warder, "unless I am saved by
the power o' the wine; and, by my faith, I'll no spare't."

"Aha! very good! excellent joke!" cried the delighted merchant. "Drink,
and shame the Diable, as we say in France. Wine comes from the gods, and
is the grand poison of Beelzebub."

And, after enjoying deep potations, the merchant returned to the hall,
amidst the laughter and pretended applause of the men. The moment he had
disappeared, Katherine got carried to the spot a measure filled with
wine and water; and, having emptied in another vessel the contents of
the merchant's hamper, the thin and innocuous potation was poured in to
supply its place. The men assisted in the operation; and, all being
finished, they began to carouse with great glee and jollity.

"I said, my leddy, to the merchant, that we would be a' as drunk as
bats," said one of the humorists; "and sure this is a fair beginning;
for wha could stand drink o' this fearfu' strength?"

"The Deil tak him wha has the beddin' o' us!" said the other, laughing,
as he drank off a glass of the thin mixture.

"Then I am the Deil's property," said the warder, "unless I am saved by
the power o' this strong drink."

And thus the men, encouraged by the smiles of Kate, who was, with great
activity, conducting the ceremonies, seemed to be getting boisterous on
the strength of the merchant's wine. Their jokes raised real laughter;
and the noise of their mirth went up and entered into the hall, falling
like incense on the heart of the merchant. Katherine, meanwhile, again
betook herself to her station at the hall window, using assiduously both
her eyes and ears; the former being directed to a dark fir plantation
that stood to the left of the castle, and the latter occupied by the
conversations of her father and the merchant.

"My men," said Innerkepple, "seem to be following the example o' their
master. They are gettin' noisy. I hope, Monsieur, ye were moderate in
yer present. A castle-fu' o' drunk men is as bad as a headfu' o'
intoxicated notions."

("Hurrah for the French merchant! Long life to him! May he continue as
strong as his liquor!")

"Aha! the jolly good fellows are feeling the sting of the spirit," said
the merchant, with sparkling eyes.

"Ungratefu' dogs!" rejoined Innerkepple; "I treat them as if they were
my sons, and hear hoo they praise a stranger for a bellyfu' o' wine! My
beer never produced sae muckle froth o' flattery. But this wine o'
yours, Monsieur, drowns a' my indignation."

("Long life to Innerkepple and the fair Katherine!")

"Now you are getting the grand adulation," said the Frenchman. "Ha! they
are a jovial troup of good chaps, and deserve one grand potation; but I
gave them only one leetle hamper, for fear they should get _mouillé_."

"Very considerate, Monsieur, very prudent and kind," said the baron;
"for twa-thirds o' my men are fechtin fer Jamie, and we hae a kittle
neebor in Otterstone, whase son I hear has come hame frae St. Omers.
By-the-by, saw ye the callant in France? They say he's sair ashamed o'
the defeat o' his father by the generalship o' my dochter Kate."

"Ha! did _ma chere_ leddy combattre Otterstone?" ejaculated the
Frenchman, laughing. "Very good! ha! ha! ha! I did not know that, ven I
sold him one quantity of vin yesterday; but I assure you, _mon cher_
Innerkepple, he is not at all your enemy, and his son did praise _ma
chere_ leddy as the most magnificent vench in all the contrée."

("Excellently sustained," muttered Katherine to herself. "How I do love
the roll of that dark eye, and the curl of that lip covered with the
black moustache! Can so much beauty conceal a deadly purpose? But the
'magnificent vench' shall earn yet a better title to the soubriquet out
of thy discomfiture, fair, deceitful, sweet devil.")

"I only wish I had Otterstone whar you are, man," said Innerkepple, "wi'
the liquor as sweet an' my bile nae bitterer. I would conquer him in
better style than did my dochter, though, I confess, she man[oe]uvred
him beautifully."

("Perdition to the faes o' Innerkepple! and, chief o' them, the fause
Otterstone, the leddy-licked loon!")

"Helas! The master and the men have the very different creeds," said the
Frenchman, shrugging his shoulders; "but my vin is making the _bon_
companions choleric. Ha! ha!"

("It is--it is!" muttered Katherine, as she strained her eyes to catch
the signal of a white handkerchief, that floated on the top of one of
the trees in the fir-wood.)

She now abruptly left the hall, and proceeded to the place in the court
occupied by those who were wassailing on the coloured water she had
brewed for them with her fair hands. They were busily occupied by the
manifestations of their mirth, which was not altogether simulated. A
cessation of the noise evinced the effect of her presence among those
who deified her.

"Up with the merry strain, my jolly revellers!" said she, smiling, and
immediately "Bertram the Archer," in loud notes, rung in the ballium:--

    "And Bertram held aloft the horn,
      Filled wi' the bluid-red wyne,
    And three times has he loudly sworn
      His luve he winna tyne.

    "My Anne sits on yon eastern tower,
      An' greets baith day and night,
    An' sorrows for her luver lost,
      An' right turned into might.

    "'Then hie ye all, my merry men,
      To yonder lordly ha'!
    An if they winna ope the gate,
      We'll scale the burly wa'.

    "'Hurra!' then shouted Bertram's men,
      And loudly they hae sworn,
    That they will right their gallant knigh
      Before the opening morn."[2]

[2] Pinkerton gives only one verse of "Bertram the Archer," but
Innerkepple's men did not require to be antiquaries.

Under the cover of the noise of the song, which was sung with
bacchanalian glee, Katherine communicated her farther instructions to
the man who had assumed the principal direction; and, retreating
quickly, lest the wine merchant should come out and surprise her, she
left the revellers to continue their work. She was soon again at her
post at the window. The boon companions within the hall were still busy
with their conversation and their wine; and by this time the shades of
evening had begun to darken the view from the castle, and envelop the
towers in gloom; the rooks had retired to rest, the owls had taken up
the screech note which pains the sensitive ear of night, and the bats
were beginning to flap their leathern wings on the rough sides of the
old walls.

The sounds of the revellers in the court-yard began gradually to die
away, and the strains of "Bertram the Archer" were limited to a weak
repetition of the last lines, somewhat curtailed of their legitimate
syllables:--

    "And we will right our gallant knight
      Before the opening morn."

These indications of the effect of the wine increased, till, by-and-by,
all seemed to be muffled up in silence. The circumstance seemed to be
noticed at once by the wine merchant; but he took no notice of it to
Innerkepple whom he still continued to ply with the rich vintage. Kate's
senses were all on the alert, and she watched every scene of the acting
drama, set agoing by her own master mind. A noise was now heard at the
door of the hall, as if some one wished to get in, but could not effect
an opening.

"Who's there?" cried Kate, as she proceeded to open the door.

"It's me, your Leddyship's Honour," answered George, the seneschal, as
he staggered, apparently in the last stage of drunkenness, into the
hall.

"What means this?" cried Innerkepple, rising up, and not very well able
to stand himself. "The warder o' my castle in that condition, an' a' our
lives dependin' on his prudence!"

"Your Honour's maist forgiving pardon," said the warder. "I am come
here, maist lordly Innerkepple"--hiccup--"to inform your Highness that
a' the men o' the castle are lying in the base-court like swine. I am
the only sober man in the hale menyie"--hic--hic. "But whar's the ferly?
The strength o' the Frenchman's wine would have floored the strongest
hensure o' the Borders"--hiccup--"an' I would hae been like the rest, if
I hadna been the keeper o' the keys o' Innerkepple."

("As well as Roscius, George," muttered Kate, as she, with a smile,
contemplated the actor.)

"George, George, man," said the baron, "ye're just as bad as the rest.
You've been ower guid to them, Monsieur; but this _mooliness_, as ye ca'
it, has a' its dangers in thae times, when castles are surprised an'
taen like sleepin' mawkins in bushes o' broom. Awa to yer bed ahint the
gratin', man, an' sleep aff the wine, as fast as it is possible for a
drunk man to do."

George bowed, and staggered out of the hall, to betake himself to his
couch.

"Aha! this is one sad misadventure," said the merchant. "I did not know
there vas half so much strength in this vin. Let us see the jolly
topers, mon noble Innerkepple. It is one grand vision to a vendeur of
good vin to see the biberons lying on the ground, all _mouillé_. Helas!
I was very wrong; but mon noble baron will forgive the grand fault of
liberality."

The merchant rose, and, giving his arm to Innerkepple, who had some
difficulty in steadying himself, proceeded towards the court, where they
saw verified the report of the warder. The men were lying about the
yard, apparently in a state of perfect insensibility. The wine measure
was empty and overturned; several drinking horns lay scattered around;
and everything betokened a deep debauch.

"This maun hae been potent liquor," said the baron, taking up one of the
cups, in which a few drops remained, and drinking it. "Ha! man, puir
gear after a'. A man micht drink three gallons o't, and dance to the
tune o' Gilquhisker after he has finished. What's the meaning o' this?"

"Aha! your tongue is _mouillé_, mon noble Innerkepple," said the
merchant.

"It may be sae," replied the baron; "but it wasna made mooly, as ye
denominate it, by drink like that. I canna understand it, Monsieur."

As he stood musing on the strange circumstance, he caught, by the light
of a torch, the eye of Kate at the window, and felt his bewilderment
increased by a leer in that dark bewitching orb, whose language appeared
to him often--and never more so than at present--like Greek. His
attention was next claimed by the merchant, who proposed that the men
should be allowed to sleep out their inebriety where they lay. This
proposition was reasonable; and it would, besides, operate as a proper
punishment for their exceeding the limits of that prudence which their
duty to their master required them to observe. The baron agreed to it,
and, seeking again the support of the Frenchman's arm, he returned to
the hall.

The night was now fast closing in. An old female domestic had placed
lamps in the hall, and some supper was served up to the baron and the
merchant. Kate retired, as she said, to her couch; but it may be
surmised that an antechamber received her fair person, where she had
something else to do than to sleep. The loud snoring of the men in the
court-yard was heard distinctly, mixing with the screams of the owls
that perched on the turrets. The two biberons sat down to partake of the
supper, and prepare their stomachs, as Innerkepple said, for another
bouse of the grand liquor. The conduct of the two carousers now assumed
aspects very different from each other. The baron was gradually getting
more easy and comfortable, while the merchant displayed an extreme
restlessness and anxiety. The praises of his wine fell dead upon his
ear, and the jokes of the good Innerkepple seemed to have become vapid
and tiresome to him.

"That's a grand chorus in the court-yard, Monsieur," said the baron.
"Singing, snoring, groaning, are the three successive acts o' the
wassailers. They would have been better engaged eating their supper.
Yah! I'm gettin' sleepy, Monsieur."

"Helas! helas!" ejaculated the merchant. "You prick my memory, mon noble
Innerkepple. My poor mules! They have got no souper. Ah! cruel master
that I am to forget the _pauvre_ animals that have got no language to
tell their wants."

("So, so--the time approaches," ejaculated Kate, mentally, as she
watched behind the door.)

"Pardon me, _mon cher_ baron," he continued, "I vill go and give them
one leetle feed, and return to you _a present_. I have got beans in my
hampers."

"Humanity needs nae pardon, man," replied the baron, nodding with sleep.
"Awa and feed the puir creatures; but tak care an' no tramp on an' kill
ony o' my brave men in yer effort to save the lives o' yer mules."

"Never fear," said the other, taking from his pocket a small lantern,
which he lighted. "Travellers stand in grand need of this machine," he
continued. "I will return on the instant."

He now left the baron to his sleep, and crept stealthily along the
passage to the door leading to the court. He was followed, unseen, by
Katherine, who watched every motion. He felt some difficulty in avoiding
the men, who still lay on the ground; but with careful steps he reached
the wall, and suddenly sprung on the parapet.

"Prepare!" whispered Katherine into the ears of the prostrate retainers;
"the time approaches."

While thus engaged, she kept her eye upon the dark shadow of the
merchant, and saw with surprise a blue light flash up from the top of
the wall, and throw its ominous glare on the surrounding objects. A
scream of the birds on the castle walls announced their wonder at the
strange vision, and Katherine concluded that the merchant had thus
produced his signal from some phosphorescent mixture, which he had
ignited by the aid of the lantern. The light was followed instantly by a
shrill blast of a horn. With a bound he reached the floor of the court,
and, hastening to the warder's post, threw off the guard of the wheel,
and, with all the art and rapidity of a seneschal, prepared for letting
down the bridge. All was still as death; there seemed to be no
interruption to his proceedings; but he started as he saw the rays of a
lamp thrown from a loophole over his head, upon that part of the moat
which the bridge covered. He had gone too far to recede, the creaking of
the hinges grated, and down came the bridge with a hollow sound. A rush
was now heard as of a body of men pressing forward to take possession
of the passage; and tramp, tramp came the sounds of the marching
invaders over the hollow-sounding wood. All was still silent within the
castle, and the sound of the procession continued. In an instant, a
dense, dark body issued from the fir-wood, and rushed with heavy
impetuous force on the rear of the corps that were passing into the
castle; and, simultaneously with that movement, the whole body of the
men within the castle pressed forward to the end of the bridge, and met
the front of the intruders, who were thus hedged in by two forces that
had taken them by surprise, in both front and rear.

"Caught in our own snare!" cried the voice of old Otterstone.

"Disarm them," sounded shrilly from the lips of Katherine Kennedy.

And a scuffle of wrestling men sent its fearful, deathlike sound through
the dark ballium. The strife was short and comparatively silent. The men
who had rushed from the wood, and who were no other than the absent
retainers of Innerkepple, coming from behind, and those within the
strength meeting them in front, produced such an alarm in the enclosed
troops, that the arms were taken from their hands as if they had been
struck with palsy. Every two men seized their prisoner, while some
holding burning torches came running forward, to show the revengeful
baron the full extent of his shame. Ranged along the court, the
spectacle presented by the prisoners was striking and grotesque. Their
eyes sought in surprise the form of a female, who, with a sword in one
hand and a torch in the other, stood in front of them, as the genius of
their misfortune.

The hall door was now opened, where the old baron still sat sound asleep
in his chair, unconscious of all these proceedings. The prisoners were
led into the spacious apartment, and ranged along the sides in long
ranks. Innerkepple rubbed his eyes, stared, rubbed them again, and
seemed lost in perfect bewilderment. All was conducted in dumb show. The
proud and revengeful Otterstone was placed alongside of the good baron,
his enemy; and Kate smiled as she contemplated the strange looks which
the two rivals threw upon each other.

"Right happy am I," said Katherine, coming forward in the midst of the
assembly, "to meet my good friends, the noble Otterstone and his men, in
my father's hall, under the auspices of a healing friendship. Father, I
offer thee the hand of Otterstone. Otterstone, I offer thee the hand of
Innerkepple. Ye have long been separated by strife and war, though, on
the one side, there was always a good feeling of generous kindliness,
opposed to a bitterness that had no cause, and a revenge that knew no
excuse. Born nobles and neighbours, educated civilized men, and baptized
Christians, why should ye be foes? but, above all, why should the one
strike with the sword of war the hand that has held out to him the
wine-cup? My father has ever been thy friend, noble Otterstone, and thou
hast ever been his foe. How is this? Ah! I know it. Thou wert ignorant,
noble guest, of my good father's generous and friendly feelings, and I
have taken this opportunity of introducing you to each other, that ye
may mutually come to the knowledge of each other's better qualities and
intentions."

"What, in the name o' heaven, means a' this, Kate?" ejaculated
Innerkepple, in still unsubdued amazement. "Am I dreamin', or am I
betrayed? Whar is the wine merchant? Hoo cam ye here, Otterstone? Am I a
prisoner in my ain castle, and my ain men and dochter laughing at my
misfortune? But ye spoke o' friendship, Kate. Is it possible,
Otterstone, ye hae repented o' yer ill will, and come to mak amends for
past grievances?"

"Thou hast heard him, Otterstone," said Kate. "Wilt thou still refuse
the hand?"

The chief hesitated; but the good-humoured looks of Innerkepple melted
him, and he held out the right hand of good-fellowship to the old baron,
who seized it cordially, and shook it heartily.

"Now," said Kate, "we must seal this friendship with a cup of wine.
Bring in the wine merchant."

The Frenchman was produced by the warder, along with the remaining
hampers of the wine that had been left in the court-yard. As may have
been already surmised, he was no other than the son of old Otterstone.
Surprised and confounded by all these proceedings, he stood in the midst
of the company, looking first at his father, and then at Innerkepple,
without forgetting Kate, who stood like a majestic queen, enjoying the
triumph of her spirit and ingenuity. Above all things, he wondered at
the smile of good humour in the face of his father; and his surprise
knew no bounds when he saw every one around as well pleased as if they
had been convened for the ends of friendship.

"Hector," said old Otterstone, looking at his son, "the game is up. This
maiden has outwitted us, and we are caught in our own snare. Off with
thy disguise, and show this noble damsel that thou art worthy of her
best smiles."

Hector obeyed, and took off his wig, and the clumsy habiliments that
covered his armour, and stood in the midst of the assembly, a young man
of exquisite beauty.

"The wine merchant, Hector Fotheringham!" cried Innerkepple. "Ah, Kate,
Kate! is this the way ye bring yer lovers to Innerkepple ha'?--in the
shape o' a wine merchant--the only form o' the Deevil I wad like to see
on this earth? Ha! ye baggage, weel do ye ken hoo to get at the heart o'
your faither. But whar was the use o' secresy, woman? And you, Hector,
man, I needed nae bribe o' Tokay to be friendly to the lover o' my
dochter. A fine youth--a fine youth. Surely, surely, this man was made
for my dochter Kate."

"And thy daughter Kate was made for him," cried Otterstone.

The retainers of both houses shouted applause, and the hall rang with
the noise. The wine, which was intended for deception and treachery, was
circulated freely, and opened the hearts of the company. Innerkepple was
ready again for his Tokay, and, lifting a large goblet to his head--

"To the union o' the twa hooses!" cried he. "And I wish I had twenty
dochters, and Otterstone as mony sons, that they micht a' be married
thegither; but, on this condition, that the bridegrooms should a' come
in the shape o' wine merchants."

"Hurra, hurra!" shouted the retainers. The night was spent in good
humour and revelry. All was restored; and, in a short time, the two
houses were united by the marriage of Hector Fotheringham and Katherine
Kennedy.



RECOLLECTIONS OF FERGUSON.[3]

CHAPTER I.

    "Of Ferguson, the bauld and slee."--BURNS.

[3] The perusal of this paper, written at an early period by the
lamented Hugh Miller, cannot fail to suggest some reflections on the
fate of the author himself and that of the poet he describes. It would
be simply fanciful to draw from his choice of subject, and the sympathy
he manifests for the victim of insanity, any conclusion of a felt
affinity of mental type on his part. We would presently get into the
obscure subject of presentiments. It is true that Hugh Miller wrote
poetry, and was thus subject to the Nemesis; but we insist for no more
than a case of coincidence, leaving to psychologists to settle the
question of the alleged connection between certain poetical types of
mind and eventual madness--cases of which are so plentifully recorded in
Germany.--_Ed._


I have, I believe, as little of the egotist in my composition as most
men; nor would I deem the story of my life, though by no means unvaried
by incident, of interest enough to repay the trouble of either writing
or perusing it, were it the story of my own life only; but, though an
obscure man myself, I have been singularly fortunate in my friends. The
party-coloured tissue of my recollections is strangely interwoven, if I
may so speak, with pieces of the domestic history of men whose names
have become as familiar to our ears as that of our country itself; and I
have been induced to struggle with the delicacy which renders one
unwilling to speak much of one's self, and to overcome the dread of
exertion natural to a period of life greatly advanced, through a desire
of preserving to my countrymen a few notices, which would otherwise be
lost to them, of two of their greatest favourites. I could once reckon
among my dearest and most familiar friends, Robert Burns and Robert
Ferguson.

It is now rather more than sixty years since I studied for a few weeks
at the University of St. Andrew's. I was the son of very poor parents,
who resided in a seaport town on the western coast of Scotland. My
father was a house-carpenter, a quiet, serious man, of industrious
habits and great simplicity of character, but miserably depressed in his
circumstances, through a sickly habit of body: my mother was a
warm-hearted, excellent woman, endowed with no ordinary share of shrewd
good sense and sound feeling, and indefatigable in her exertions for my
father and the family. I was taught to read at a very early age, by an
old woman in the neighbourhood--such a person as Shenstone describes in
his "Schoolmistress;" and, being naturally of a reflective turn, I had
begun, long ere I had attained my tenth year, to derive almost my sole
amusement from books. I read incessantly; and after exhausting the
shelves of all the neighbours, and reading every variety of work that
fell in my way--from "The Pilgrim's Progress" of Bunyan, and the Gospel
Sonnets of Erskine, to a treatise on fortification by Vauban, and the
"History of the Heavens" by the Abbé Pluche--I would have pined away for
lack of my accustomed exercise, had not a benevolent baronet in the
neighbourhood, for whom my father occasionally wrought, taken a fancy to
me, and thrown open to my perusal a large and well-selected library. Nor
did his kindness terminate until, after having secured to me all of
learning that the parish school afforded, he had settled me, now in my
seventeenth year, at the University.

Youth is the season of warm friendships and romantic wishes and hopes.
We say of the child, in its first attempts to totter along the wall, or
when it has first learned to rise beside its mother's knee, that it is
yet too weak to stand alone; and we may employ the same language in
describing a young and ardent mind. It is, like the child, too weak to
stand alone, and anxiously seeks out some kindred mind on which to lean.
I had had my intimates at school, who, though of no very superior cast,
had served me, if I may so speak, as resting-places, when wearied with
my studies, or when I had exhausted my lighter reading; and now, at St.
Andrew's, where I knew no one, I began to experience the unhappiness of
an unsatisfied sociality. My schoolfellows were mostly stiff, illiterate
lads, who, with a little bad Latin and worse Greek, plumed themselves
mightily on their scholarship; and I had little inducement to form any
intimacies among them; for, of all men, the ignorant scholar is the
least amusing. Among the students of the upper classes, however, there
was at least one individual with whom I longed to be acquainted. He was
apparently much about my own age, rather below than above the middle
size, and rather delicately than robustly formed; but I have rarely seen
a more elegant figure or more interesting face. His features were small,
and there was what might perhaps be deemed a too feminine delicacy in
the whole contour; but there was a broad and very high expansion of
forehead, which, even in those days, when we were acquainted with only
the phrenology taught by Plato, might be regarded as the index of a
capacious and powerful mind; and the brilliant light of his large black
eyes, seemed to give earnest of its activity.

"Who, in the name of wonder, is that?" I inquired of a class-fellow, as
this interesting-looking young man passed me for the first time.

"A clever, but very unsettled fellow from Edinburgh," replied the lad;
"a capital linguist, for he gained our first bursary three years ago;
but our Professor says he is certain he will never do any good. He cares
nothing for the company of scholars like himself; and employs
himself--though he excels, I believe, in English composition--in writing
vulgar Scotch rhymes, like Allan Ramsay. His name is Robert Ferguson."

I felt, from this moment, a strong desire to rank among the friends of
one who cared nothing for the company of such men as my class-fellow,
and who, though acquainted with the literature of England and Rome,
could dwell with interest on the simple poetry of his native country.

There is no place in the neighbourhood of St. Andrew's where a leisure
hour may be spent more agreeably than among the ruins of the Cathedral.
I was not slow in discovering the eligibilities of the spot; and it soon
became one of my favourite haunts. One evening, a few weeks after I had
entered on my course at college, I had seated myself among the ruins in
a little ivied nook fronting the setting sun, and was deeply engaged
with the melancholy Jaques in the forest of Ardennes, when, on hearing a
light footstep, I looked up, and saw the Edinburgh student whose
appearance had so interested me, not four yards away. He was busied with
his pencil and his tablets, and muttering, as he went, in a half audible
voice, what, from the inflection of the tones, seemed to be verse. On
seeing me, he started, and apologizing, in a few hurried but courteous
words, for what he termed the involuntary intrusion, would have passed;
but, on my rising and stepping up to him, he stood.

"I am afraid, Mr. Ferguson," I said, "'tis I who owe _you_ an apology;
the ruins have long been yours, and I am but an intruder. But you must
pardon me; I have often heard of them in the west, where they are
hallowed, even more than they are here, from their connection with the
history of some of our noblest Reformers; and, besides, I see no place
in the neighbourhood where Shakspeare can be read to more advantage."

"Ah," said he, taking the volume out of my hand, "a reader of Shakspeare
and an admirer of Knox. I question whether the heresiarch and the poet
had much in common."

"Nay, now, Mr. Ferguson," I replied, "you are too true a Scot to
question that. They had much, very much in common. Knox was no rude
Jack Cade, but a great and powerful-minded man; decidedly as much so as
any of the nobler conceptions of the dramatist--his Cæsars, Brutuses, or
Othellos. Buchanan could have told you that he had even much of the
spirit of the poet in him, and wanted only the art; and just remember
how Milton speaks of him in his "Areopagitica." Had the poet of
"Paradise Lost" thought regarding him as it has become fashionable to
think and speak now, he would hardly have apostrophized him as--_Knox,
the reformer of a nation--a great man animated by the spirit of God_."

"Pardon me," said the young man, "I am little acquainted with the prose
writings of Milton; and have, indeed, picked up most of my opinions of
Knox at second-hand. But I have read his _merry_ account of the murder
of Beaton, and found nothing to alter my preconceived notions of him,
from either the matter or manner of the narrative. Now that I think of
it, however, my opinion of Bacon would be no very adequate one, were it
formed solely from the extract of his history of Henry VII., given by
Kaimes in his late publication.--Will you not extend your walk?"

We quitted the ruins together, and went sauntering along the shore.
There was a rich sunset glow on the water, and the hills that rise on
the opposite side of the Frith stretched their undulating line of azure
under a gorgeous canopy of crimson and gold. My companion pointed to the
scene:--"These glorious clouds," he said, "are but wreaths of vapour;
and these lovely hills, accumulations of earth and stone. And it is thus
with all the past--with the past of our own little histories, that
borrows so much of its golden beauty from the medium through which we
survey it--with the past, too, of all history. There is poetry in the
remote--the bleak hill seems a darker firmament, and the chill wreath of
vapour a river of fire. And you, sir, seem to have contemplated the
history of our stern Reformers through this poetical medium, till you
forget that the poetry was not in them, but in that through which you
surveyed them."

"Ah, Mr. Ferguson," I replied, "you must permit me to make a
distinction. I acquiesce fully in the justice of your remark; the
analogy, too, is nice and striking, but I would fain carry it a little
further. Every eye can see the beauty of the remote; but there is a
beauty in the near--an interest, at least--which every eye cannot see.
Each of the thousand little plants that spring up at our feet, has an
interest and beauty to the botanist; the mineralogist would find
something to engage him in every little stone. And it is thus with the
poetry of life--all have a sense of it in the remote and the distant;
but it is only the men who stand high in the art--its men of profound
science--that can discover it in the near. The _mediocre_ poet shares
but the commoner gift, and so he seeks his themes in ages or countries
far removed from his own; while the man of nobler powers, knowing that
all nature is instinct with poetry, seeks and finds it in the men and
scenes in his immediate neighbourhood. As to our Reformers"----

"Pardon me," said the young poet; "the remark strikes me, and, ere we
lose it in something else, I must furnish you with an illustration.
There is an acquaintance of mine, a lad much about my own age, greatly
addicted to the study of poetry. He has been making verses all his
life-long; he began ere he had learned to write them even; and his
judgment has been gradually overgrowing his earlier compositions, as you
see the advancing tide rising on the beach and obliterating the prints
on the sand. Now, I have observed, that, in all his earlier
compositions, he went far from home; he could not attempt a pastoral
without first transporting himself to the vales of Arcady; or an ode to
Pity or Hope, without losing the warm living sentiment in the dead,
cold, personifications of the Greek. The Hope and Pity he addressed
were, not the undying attendants of human nature, but the shadowy
spectres of a remote age. Now, however, I feel that a change has come
over me. I seek for poetry among the fields and cottages of my own land.
I--a--a--the friend of whom I speak----But I interrupted your remark on
the Reformers."

"Nay," I replied, "if you go on so, I would much rather listen than
speak. I only meant to say that the Knoxes and Melvilles of our country
have been robbed of the admiration and sympathy of many a kindred
spirit, by the strangely erroneous notions that have been abroad
regarding them for at least the last two ages. Knox, I am convinced,
would have been as great as Jeremy Taylor, had he not been greater."

We sauntered along the shore till the evening had darkened into night,
lost in an agreeable interchange of thought, "Ah!" at length exclaimed
my companion, "I had almost forgotten my engagement, Mr. Lindsay; but it
must not part us. You are a stranger here, and I must introduce you to
some of my acquaintance. There are a few of us--choice spirits, of
course--who meet every Saturday evening at John Hogg's; and I must just
bring you to see them. There may be much less wit than mirth among us;
but you will find us all sober when at the gayest; and old John will be
quite a study for you."



CHAPTER II.

    "Say, ye red gowns that aften here,
    Hae toasted cakes to Katie's beer,
    Gin e'er thir days hae had their peer,
                      Sae blythe, sae daft!
    Ye'll ne'er again in life's career,
                      Sit half sae saft."
                                    _Elegy on John Hogg._

We returned to town; and, after threading a few of the narrower lanes,
entered by a low door into a long dark room, dimly lighted by a fire. A
tall thin woman was employed in skinning a bundle of dried fish at a
table in a corner.

"Where's the guidman, Kate?" said my companion, changing the sweet pure
English in which he had hitherto spoken for his mother tongue.

"John's ben in the spence," replied the woman. "Little Andrew, the
wratch, has been makin' a totum wi' his faither's ae razor, an' the puir
man's trying to shave himsel yonder, an' girnan like a sheep's head on
the tangs."

"Oh, the wratch! the ill-deedie wratch!" said John, stalking into the
room in a towering passion, his face covered with suds and scratches--"I
might as weel shave mysel wi' a mussel shillet. Rob Ferguson, man, is
that you!"

"Wearie warld, John," said the poet, "for a' oor philosophy."

"Philosophy!--it's but a snare, Rob--just vanity an' vexation o'
speerit, as Solomon says. An' isna it clear heterodox besides? Ye study
an' study till your brains gang about like a whirligig; an' then, like
bairns in a boat that see the land sailin', ye think it's the solid
yearth that's turnin' roun'. An' this ye ca' philosophy; as if David
hadna tauld us that the warld sits coshly on the waters, an' canna be
moved."

"Hoot, John," rejoined my companion, "it's no me, but Jamie Brown, that
differs wi' you on these matters. I'm a Hoggonian, ye ken. The auld Jews
were, doubtless, gran' Christians, an' wherefore no guid philosophers
too? But it was cruel o' you to unkennel me this mornin' afore six, an'
I up sae lang at my studies the nicht afore."

"Ah, Rob, Rob!" said John--"studying in _Tam Dun's_ kirk. Ye'll be a
minister, like a' the lave."

"Mendin' fast, John," rejoined the poet. "I was in your kirk on Sabbath
last, hearing worthy Mr. Corkindale; whatever else he may hae to fear,
he's in nae danger o' '_thinking his ain thoughts_,' honest man."

"In oor kirk!" said John; "ye're dune, then, wi' precentin' in yer
ain--an' troth nae wonder. What could hae possessed ye to gie up the
puir chield's name i' the prayer, an' him sittin' at yer lug?"

I was unacquainted with the circumstance to which he alluded, and
requested an explanation. "Oh, ye see," said John, "Rob, amang a' the
ither gifts that he misguides, has the gift o' a sweet voice; an'
naething else would ser' some o' oor Professors than to hae him for
their precentor. They micht as weel hae thocht o' an organ--it wad be
just as devout; but the soun's everything now, laddie, ye ken, an' the
heart naething. Weel, Rob, as ye may think, was less than pleased wi'
the job, an' tauld them he could whistle better than sing; but it wasna
that they wanted, and sae it behoved him to tak his seat in the box. An'
lest the folk should no be pleased wi' ae key to ae tune, he gied them,
for the first twa or three days, a hale bunch to each; an' there was
never sic singing in St. Andrew's afore. Weel, but for a' that it
behoved him still to precent, though he has got rid o' it at last--for
what did he do twa Sabbaths agone, but put up drucken Tarn Moffat's name
in the prayer--the very chield that was sittin' at his elbow, though
the minister couldna see him. An' when the puir stibbler was prayin' for
the reprobate as weel's he could, ae half o' the kirk was needcessitated
to come oot, that they micht keep decent, an' the ither half to swallow
their pocket napkins. But what think ye"----

"Hoot, John, now, leave oot the moral," said the poet. "Here's a' the
lads."

Half a dozen young students entered as he spoke; and, after a hearty
greeting, and when he had introduced me to them one by one, as a choice
fellow of immense reading, the door was barred, and we sat down to half
a dozen of home brewed, and a huge platter of dried fish. There was much
mirth and no little humour. Ferguson sat at the head of the table, and
old John Hogg at the foot. I thought of Eastcheap, and the revels of
Prince Henry; but our Falstaff was an old Scotch Seceder, and our Prince
a gifted young fellow, who owed all his influence over his fellows to
the force of his genius alone.

"Prithee, Hal," I said, "let us drink to Sir John."

"Why, yes," said the poet, "with all my heart. Not quite so fine a
fellow, though, 'bating his Scotch honesty. Half Sir John's genius would
have served for an epic poet--half his courage for a hero."

"His courage!" exclaimed one of the lads.

"Yes, Willie, his courage, man. Do you think a coward could have run
away with half the coolness? With a tithe of the courage necessary for
such a retreat, a man would have stood and fought till he died. Sir John
must have been a fine fellow in his youth."

"In mony a droll way may a man fa' on the drap drink," remarked John;
"an' meikle ill, dootless, does it do in takin' aff the edge o' the
speerit--the mair if the edge be a fine razor edge, an' no the edge o' a
whittle. I mind about fifty years ago, when I was a slip o' a
callant,"----

"Losh, John!" exclaimed one of the lads, "hae ye been fechtin wi' the
cats? sic a scrapit face!"

"Wheesht," said Ferguson; "we owe the illustration to that, but dinna
interrupt the story."

"Fifty years ago, when I was a slip o' a callant," continued John, "unco
curious, an' fond o' kennin everything, as callants will be,"----

"Hoot, John," said one of the students, interrupting him, "can ye no cut
short, man? Rob promised last Saturday to gie us, 'Fie, let us a' to the
bridal,' an' ye see the ale an' the nicht's baith wearin' dune."

"The song, Rob, the song!" exclaimed half a dozen voices at once; and
John's story was lost in the clamour.

"Nay, now," said the good-natured poet, "that's less than kind; the auld
man's stories are aye worth the hearing, an' he can relish the
auld-warld fisher-sang wi' the best o' ye. But we maun hae the story
yet."

He struck up the old Scotch ditty, "Fie let us a' to the bridal," which
he sung with great power and brilliancy; for his voice was a richly
modulated one, and there was a fulness of meaning imparted to the words
which wonderfully heightened the effect. "How strange it is," he
remarked to me when he had finished, "that our English neighbours deny
us humour! The songs of no country equal our Scotch ones in that
quality. Are you acquainted with 'The Guidwife of Auchtermuchty?'"

"Well," I replied; "but so are not the English. It strikes me that, with
the exception of Smollet's novels, all our Scotch humour is locked up in
our native tongue. No man can employ in works of humour any language of
which he is not a thorough master; and few of our Scotch writers, with
all their elegance, have attained the necessary command of that
colloquial English which Addison and Swift employed when they were
merry."

"A braw redd delivery," said John, addressing me. "Are ye gaun to be a
minister tae?"

"Not quite sure yet," I replied.

"Ah," rejoined the old man, "'twas better for the Kirk when the minister
just made himsel ready for it, an' then waited till he kent whether it
wanted him. There's young Rob Ferguson beside you,"--

"Setting oot for the Kirk," said the young poet, interrupting him, "an'
yet drinkin' ale on Saturday at e'en wi' old John Hogg."

"Weel, weel, laddie, it's easier for the best o' us to find fault wi'
ithers than to mend oorsels. Ye have the head, onyhow; but Jamie Brown
tells me it's a doctor ye're gaun to be, after a'."

"Nonsense, John Hogg--I wonder how a man o' your standing"----

"Nonsense, I grant you," said one of the students; "but true enough for
a' that, Bob. Ye see, John, Bob an' I were at the King's Muirs last
Saturday, an ca'ed at the _pendicle_, in the passing, for a cup o' whey;
when the guidwife tellt us there was ane o' the callants, who had broken
into the milk-house twa nichts afore, lyin' ill o' a surfeit. 'Dangerous
case,' said Bob; 'but let me see him; I have studied to small purpose if
I know nothing o' medicine, my good woman.' Weel, the woman was just
glad enough to bring him to the bedside; an' no wonder--ye never saw a
wiser phiz in your lives--Dr. Dumpie's was naething till't; an', after
he had sucked the head o' his stick for ten minutes, an' fand the loon's
pulse, an' asked mair questions than the guidwife liked to answer, he
prescribed. But, losh! sic a prescription! A day's fasting an' twa
ladles o' nettle kail was the gist o't; but then there went mair Latin
to the tail o' that, than oor neebor the Doctor ever had to lose."

But I dwell too long on the conversation of this evening. I feel,
however, a deep interest in recalling it to memory. The education of
Ferguson was of a twofold character--he studied in the schools and among
the people; but it was in the latter tract alone that he acquired the
materials of all his better poetry; and I feel as if, for at least one
brief evening, I was admitted to the privileges of a class-fellow, and
sat with him on the same form. The company broke up a little after ten;
and I did not again hear of John Hogg till I read his elegy, about four
years after, among the poems of my friend. It is by no means one of the
happiest pieces in the volume, nor, it strikes me, highly
characteristic; but I have often perused it with an interest very
independent of its merits.



CHAPTER III.

    "But he is weak--both man and boy
     Has been an idler in the land."--WORDSWORTH.


I was attempting to listen, on the evening of the following Sunday, to a
dull, listless discourse--one of the discourses so common at this
period, in which there was fine writing without genius, and fine
religion without Christianity--when a person who had just taken his
place beside me, tapped me on the shoulder, and thrust a letter into my
hand. It was my newly-acquired friend of the previous evening; and we
shook hands heartily under the pew.

"That letter has just been handed me by an acquaintance from your part
of the country," he whispered; "I trust it contains nothing unpleasant."

I raised it to the light, and on ascertaining that it was sealed and
edged with black, rose and quitted the church, followed by my friend. It
intimated, in two brief lines that my patron, the baronet, had been
killed by a fall from his horse a few evenings before; and that, dying
intestate the allowance which had hitherto enabled me to prosecute my
studies necessarily dropped. I crumpled up the paper in my hand.

"You have learned something very unpleasant," said Ferguson. "Pardon
me--I have no wish to intrude; but, if at all agreeable, I would fain
spend the evening with you."

My heart filled, and grasping his hand, I briefly intimated the purport
of the communication, and we walked out together in the direction of the
ruins.

"It is, perhaps, as hard, Mr. Ferguson," I said, "to fall from one's
hopes as from the place to which they pointed. I was ambitious--too
ambitious, it may be--to rise from that level on which man acts the part
of a machine, and tasks merely his body, to that higher level on which
he performs the proper part of a rational creature, and employs only his
mind. But that ambition need influence me no longer. My poor mother,
too--I had trusted to be of use to her."

"Ah, my friend," said Ferguson, "I can tell you of a case quite as
hopeless as your own--perhaps more so. But it will make you deem my
sympathy the result of mere selfishness. In scarce any respect do our
circumstances differ."

We had reached the ruins: the evening was calm and mild as when I had
walked out on the preceding one; but the hour was earlier, and the sun
hung higher over the hill. A newly-formed grave occupied the level spot
in front of the little ivied corner.

"Let us seat ourselves here," said my companion, "and I will tell you a
story--I am afraid a rather tame one; for there is nothing of adventure
in it, and nothing of incident; but it may at least show you that I am
not unfitted to be your friend. It is now nearly two years since I lost
my father. He was no common man--common neither in intellect nor in
sentiment; but though he once fondly hoped it should be otherwise--for
in early youth he indulged in all the dreams of the poet--he now fills a
grave as nameless as the one before us. He was a native of
Aberdeenshire; but held, latterly, an inferior situation in the office
of the British Linen Company in Edinburgh, where I was born. Ever since
I remember him, he had awakened too fully to the realities of life, and
they pressed too hard on his spirits, to leave him space for the
indulgence of his earlier fancies; but he could dream for his children,
though not for himself; or, as I should perhaps rather say, his children
fell heir to all his more juvenile hopes of fortune, and influence, and
space in the world's eye;--and, for himself, he indulged in hopes of a
later growth and firmer texture, which pointed from the present scene of
things to the future. I have an only brother, my senior by several
years, a lad of much energy, both physical and mental; in brief, one of
those mixtures of reflection and activity which seem best formed for
rising in the world. My father deemed him most fitted for commerce, and
had influence enough to get him introduced into the counting-house of a
respectable Edinburgh merchant. I was always of a graver turn--in part,
perhaps, the effect of less robust health--and me he intended for the
Church. I have been a dreamer, Mr. Lindsay, from my earliest
years--prone to melancholy, and fond of books and of solitude; and the
peculiarities of this temperament the sanguine old man, though no mean
judge of character, had mistaken for a serious and reflective
disposition. You are acquainted with literature, and know something,
from books at least, of the lives of literary men. Judge, then, of his
prospect of usefulness in any profession, who has lived, ever since he
knew himself, among the poets. My hopes, from my earliest years, have
been hopes of celebrity as a writer--not of wealth, or of influence, or
of accomplishing any of the thousand aims which furnish the great bulk
of mankind with motives. You will laugh at me. There is something so
emphatically shadowy and unreal in the object of this ambition, that
even the full attainment of it provokes a smile. For who does not know

    'How vain that second life in others' breath,
     The estate which wits inherit after death!'

And what can be more fraught with the ludicrous than a union of this
shadowy ambition with _mediocre_ parts and attainments! But I digress.

"It is now rather more than three years since I entered the classes
here. I competed for a bursary, and was fortunate enough to secure one.
Believe me, Mr. Lindsay, I am little ambitious of the fame of mere
scholarship, and yet I cannot express to you the triumph of that day. I
had seen my poor father labouring, far, far beyond his strength, for my
brother and myself--closely engaged during the day with his duties in
the bank, and copying at night in a lawyer's office. I had seen, with a
throbbing heart, his tall wasted frame becoming tremulous and bent, and
the grey hair thinning on his temples; and I now felt that I could ease
him of at least part of the burden. In the excitement of the moment, I
could hope that I was destined to rise in the world--to gain a name in
it, and something more. You know how a slight success grows in
importance when we can deem it the earnest of future good fortune. I
met, too, with a kind and influential friend in one of the professors,
the late Dr. Wilkie. Alas! good, benevolent man! you may see his tomb
yonder beside the wall; and, on my return from St. Andrew's, at the
close of the session, I found my father on his deathbed. My brother
Henry--who had been unfortunate, and, I am afraid, something worse--had
quitted the counting-house and entered aboard of a man-of-war as a
common sailor; and the poor old man, whose heart had been bound up in
him, never held up his head after.

"On the evening of my father's funeral, I could have lain down and died.
I never before felt how thoroughly I am unfitted for the world--how
totally I want strength. My father, I have said, had intended me for the
Church; and, in my progress onward from class to class, and from school
to college, I had thought but little of each particular step, as it
engaged me for the time, and nothing of the ultimate objects to which it
led. All my more vigorous aspirations were directed to a remote future
and an unsubstantial shadow. But I had witnessed, beside my father's
bed, what had led me seriously to reflect on the ostensible aim for
which I lived and studied; and the more carefully I weighed myself in
the balance, the more did I find myself awanting. You have heard of Mr.
Brown of the Secession, the author of the "Dictionary of the Bible." He
was an old acquaintance of my father's; and, on hearing of his illness,
had come all the way from Haddington to see him. I felt, for the first
time, as kneeling beside his bed, I heard my father's breathings
becoming every moment shorter and more difficult, and listened to the
prayers of the clergyman, that I had no business in the Church. And thus
I still continue to feel. 'Twere an easy matter to produce such things
as pass for sermons among us, and to go respectably enough through the
mere routine of the profession; but I cannot help feeling that, though I
might do all this and more, my duty, as a clergyman, would be still left
undone. I want singleness of aim--I want earnestness of heart. I cannot
teach men effectually how to live well; I cannot show them, with aught
of confidence, how they may die safe. I cannot enter the Church without
acting the part of a hypocrite; and the miserable part of the hypocrite
it shall never be mine to act. Heaven help me! I am too little a
practical moralist myself to attempt teaching morals to others.

"But I must conclude my story, if story it may be called:--I saw my
poor mother and my little sister deprived, by my father's death, of
their sole stay, and strove to exert myself in their behalf. In the
daytime I copied in a lawyer's office; my nights were spent among the
poets. You will deem it the very madness of vanity, Mr. Lindsay; but I
could not live without my dreams of literary eminence. I felt that life
would be a blank waste without them; and I feel so still. Do not laugh
at my weakness, when I say I would rather live in the memory of my
country than enjoy her fairest lands--that I dread a nameless grave many
times more than the grave itself. But, I am afraid, the life of the
literary aspirant is rarely a happy one; and I, alas! am one of the
weakest of the class. It is of importance that the means of living be
not disjoined from the end for which we live; and I feel that, in my
case, the disunion is complete. The wants and evils of life are around
me; but the energies through which those should be provided for, and
these warded off, are otherwise employed. I am like a man pressing
onward through a hot and bloody fight, his breast open to every blow,
and tremblingly alive to the sense of injury and the feeling of pain,
but totally unprepared either to attack or defend. And then those
miserable depressions of spirits to which all men who draw largely on
their imagination are so subject; and that wavering irregularity of
effort which seems so unavoidably the effect of pursuing a distant and
doubtful aim, and which proves so hostile to the formation of every
better habit--alas! to a steady morality itself. But I weary you, Mr.
Lindsay; besides, my story is told. I am groping onward, I know not
whither; and, in a few months hence, when my last session shall have
closed, I shall be exactly where you are at present."

He ceased speaking, and there was a pause of several minutes. I felt
soothed and gratified. There was a sweet melancholy music in the tones
of his voice, that sunk to my very heart; and the confidence he reposed
in me flattered my pride. "How was it," I at length said, "that you were
the gayest in the party of last night?"

"I do not know that I can better answer you," he replied, "than by
telling you a singular dream which I had about the time of my father's
death. I dreamed that I had suddenly quitted the world, and was
journeying, by a long and dreary passage, to the place of final
punishment. A blue, dismal light glimmered along the lower wall of the
vault; and, from the darkness above, where there flickered a thousand
undefined shapes--things without form or outline--I could hear
deeply-drawn sighs, and long hollow groans and convulsive sobbings, and
the prolonged moanings of an unceasing anguish. I was aware, however,
though I knew not how, that these were but the expressions of a lesser
misery, and that the seats of severer torment were still before me. I
went on and on, and the vault widened, and the light increased, and the
sounds changed. There were loud laughters and low mutterings, in the
tone of ridicule; and shouts of triumph and exultation; and, in brief,
all the thousand mingled tones of a gay and joyous revel. Can these, I
exclaimed, be the sounds of misery when at the deepest? 'Bethink thee,'
said a shadowy form beside me--'bethink thee if it be not so on earth.'
And as I remembered that it was so, and bethought me of the mad revels
of shipwrecked seamen and of plague-stricken cities, I awoke. But on
this subject you must spare me."

"Forgive me," I said; "to-morrow I leave college, and not with the less
reluctance that I must part from you. But I shall yet find you occupying
a place among the _literati_ of our country, and shall remember, with
pride, that you were my friend."

He sighed deeply. "My hopes rise and fall with my spirits," he said;
"and to-night I am melancholy. Do you ever go to buffets with yourself,
Mr. Lindsay? Do you ever mock, in your sadder moods, the hopes which
render you happiest when you are gay? Ah! 'tis bitter warfare when a man
contends with Hope!--when he sees her, with little aid from the
personifying influence, as a thing distinct from himself--a lying spirit
that comes to flatter and deceive him. It is thus I see her to-night.

   "See'st thou that grave?--does mortal know
    Aught of the dust that lies below?
    'Tis foul, 'tis damp, 'tis void of form--
    A bed where winds the loathsome worm;
    A little heap, mouldering and brown,
    Like that on flowerless meadow thrown
    By mossy stream, when winter reigns
    O'er leafless woods and wasted plains:
    And yet that brown, damp, formless heap
    Once glowed with feelings keen and deep;
    Once eyed the light, once heard each sound
    Of earth, air, wave, that murmurs round.
    But now, ah! now, the name it bore,
    Sex, age, or form, is known no more.
    This, this alone, O Hope! I know,
    That once the dust that lies below,
    Was, like myself, of human race,
    And made this world its dwelling-place.
    Ah! this, when death has swept away
    The myriads of life's present day,
    Though bright the visions raised by thee,
    Will all my fame, my history be!"

We quitted the ruins and returned to town.

"Have you yet formed," inquired my companion, "any plan for the future?"

"I quit St. Andrew's," I replied, "to-morrow morning. I have an uncle,
the master of a West Indiaman, now in the Clyde. Some years ago I had a
fancy for the life of a sailor, which has evaporated, however, with many
of my other boyish fancies and predilections; but I am strong and
active, and it strikes me there is less competition on sea at present
than on land. A man of tolerable steadiness and intelligence has a
better chance of rising as a sailor than as a mechanic. I shall set out,
therefore, with my uncle on his first voyage."



CHAPTER IV.

   "At first, I thought the swankie didna ill--
    Again I glowr'd, to hear him better still;
    Bauld, slee, an' sweet, his lines mair glorious grew,
    Glow'd round the heart, an' glanc'd the soul out through."
                                            ALEXANDER WILSON.


I had seen both the Indies and traversed the wide Pacific, ere I again
set foot on the Eastern coast of Scotland. My uncle, the shipmaster, was
dead, and I was still a common sailor; but I was light-hearted and
skilful in my profession, and as much inclined to hope as ever. Besides,
I had begun to doubt, and there cannot be a more consoling doubt when
one is unfortunate, whether a man may not enjoy as much happiness in the
lower walks of life as in the upper. In one of my later voyages, the
vessel in which I sailed had lain for several weeks at Boston in North
America--then a scene of those fierce and angry contentions which
eventually separated the colonies from the mother country; and when in
this place, I had become acquainted, by the merest accident in the
world, with the brother of my friend the poet. I was passing through one
of the meaner lanes, when I saw my old college friend, as I thought,
looking out at me from the window of a crazy wooden building--a sort of
fencing academy, much frequented, I was told, by the Federalists of
Boston. I crossed the lane in two huge strides.

"Mr. Ferguson," I said--"Mr. Ferguson," for he was withdrawing his head,
"do you not remember me?"

"Not quite sure," he replied; "I have met with many sailors in my time;
but I must just see."

He had stepped down to the door ere I had discovered my mistake. He was
a taller and stronger-looking man than my friend, and his senior
apparently by six or eight years; but nothing could be more striking
than the resemblance which he bore to him, both in face and figure. I
apologized.

"But have you not a brother, a native of Edinburgh," I inquired, "who
studied at St. Andrew's about four years ago?--never before, certainly,
did I see so remarkable a likeness."

--"As that which I bear to Robert?" he said. "Happy to hear it. Robert
is a brother of whom a man may well be proud, and I am glad to resemble
him in any way. But you must go in with me, and tell me all you know
regarding him. He was a thin pale slip of a boy when I left Scotland--a
mighty reader, and fond of sauntering into by-holes and corners; I
scarcely knew what to make of him; but he has made much of himself. His
name has been blown far and wide within the last two years."

He showed me through a large waste apartment, furnished with a few deal
seats, and with here and there a fencing foil leaning against the wall,
into a sort of closet at the upper end, separated from the main room by
a partition of undressed slabs. There was a charcoal stove in the one
corner, and a truckle bed in the other; a few shelves laden with books
ran along the wall; there was a small chest raised on a stool
immediately below the window, to serve as a writing desk, and another
stool standing beside it. A few cooking utensils scattered round the
room, and a corner cupboard, completed the entire furniture of the
place.

"There is a certain limited number born to be rich, Jack," said my new
companion, "and I just don't happen to be among them; but I have one
stool for myself, you see, and, now that I have unshipped my desk,
another for a visitor, and so get on well enough."

I related briefly the story of my intimacy with his brother; and we were
soon on such terms as to be in a fair way of emptying a bottle of rum
together.

"You remind me of old times," said my new acquaintance. "I am weary of
these illiterate, boisterous, longsided Americans, who talk only of
politics and dollars. And yet there are first-rate men among them too. I
met, some years since, with a Philadelphia printer, whom I cannot help
regarding as one of the ablest, best-informed men I ever conversed with.
But there is nothing like general knowledge among the average class; a
mighty privilege of conceit, however."

"They are just in that stage," I remarked, "in which it needs all the
vigour of an able man to bring his mind into anything like cultivation.
There must be many more facilities of improvement ere the mediocritist
can develop himself. He is in the egg still in America, and must sleep
there till the next age.--But when last heard you of your brother?"

"Why," he replied, "when all the world heard of him--with the last
number of _Ruddiman's Magazine_. Where can you have been bottled up from
literature of late? Why, man, Robert stands first among our Scotch
poets."

"Ah! 'tis long since I have anticipated something like that for him," I
said; "but, for the last two years, I have seen only two books,
Shakspeare and 'The Spectator.' Pray, do show me some of the magazines."

The magazines were produced; and I heard, for the first time, in a
foreign land and from the recitation of the poet's brother, some of the
most national and most highly-finished of his productions. My eyes
filled and my heart wandered to Scotland and her cottage homes, as,
shutting the book, he repeated to me, in a voice faltering with emotion,
stanza after stanza of the "Farmer's Ingle."

"Do you not see it?--do you not see it all?" exclaimed my companion;
"the wide smoky room, with the bright turf fire, the blackened rafters
shining above, the straw-wrought settle below, the farmer and the
farmer's wife, and auld grannie and the bairns. Never was there truer
painting; and, oh, how it works on a Scotch heart! But hear this other
piece."

He read "Sandy and Willie."

"Far, far ahead of Ramsay," I exclaimed. "More imagination, more spirit,
more intellect, and as much truth and nature. Robert has gained his end
already. Hurra for poor old Scotland!--these pieces must live for ever.
But do repeat to me the 'Farmer's Ingle' once more."

We read, one by one, all the poems in the magazine, dwelling on each
stanza, and expatiating on every recollection of home which the images
awakened. My companion was, like his brother, a kind, open-hearted man,
of superior intellect; much less prone to despondency, however, and of a
more equal temperament. Ere we parted, which was not until next morning,
he had communicated to me all his plans for the future, and all his
fondly cherished hopes of returning to Scotland with wealth enough to be
of use to his friends. He seemed to be one of those universal geniuses
who do a thousand things well, but want steadiness enough to turn any of
them to good account. He showed me a treatise on the use of the sword,
which he had just prepared for the press; and a series of letters on the
stamp act, which had appeared, from time to time, in one of the Boston
newspapers, and in which he had taken part with the Americans.

"I make a good many dollars in these stirring times," he said. "All the
Yankees seem to be of opinion that they will be best heard across the
water when they have got arms in their hands, and have learned how to
use them; and I know a little of both the sword and the musket. But the
warlike spirit is frightfully thirsty, somehow, and consumes a world of
rum; and so I have not yet begun to make rich."

He shared with me his supper and bed for the night; and, after rising in
the morning ere I awoke, and writing a long letter for Robert, which he
gave me in the hope I might soon meet with him, he accompanied me to the
vessel, then on the eve of sailing, and we parted, as it proved, for
ever. I know nothing of his after life, or how or where it terminated;
but I have learned that, shortly before the death of his gifted brother,
his circumstances enabled him to send his mother a small remittance for
the use of the family. He was evidently one of the kind-hearted,
improvident few, who can share a very little, and whose destiny it is to
have only a very little to share.



CHAPTER V.

   "O Ferguson! thy glorious parts
    Ill suited law's dry, musty arts!
    My curse upon your whunstane hearts,
      Ye Embrugh gentry!
    The tithe o' what ye waste at cartes
      Wad stow'd his pantry!"
                                     BURNS.


I visited Edinburgh, for the first time, in the latter part of the
autumn of 1773, about two months after I had sailed from Boston. It was
on a fine calm morning--one of those clear sunshiny mornings of October,
when the gossamer goes sailing about in long cottony threads, so light
and fleecy that they seem the skeleton remains of extinct cloudlets; and
when the distant hills, with their covering of grey frost rime, seem,
through the clear cold atmosphere, as if chiselled in marble. The sun
was rising over the town through a deep blood-coloured haze--the smoke
of a thousand fires; and the huge fantastic piles of masonry that
stretched along the ridge, looked dim and spectral through the cloud,
like the ghosts of an army of giants. I felt half a foot taller as I
strode on towards the town. It was Edinburgh I was approaching--the
scene of so many proud associations to a lover of Scotland; and I was
going to meet as an early friend one of the first of Scottish poets. I
entered the town. There was a book stall in a corner of the street; and
I turned aside for half a minute to glance my eye over the books.

"Ferguson's Poems!" I exclaimed, taking up a little volume. "I was not
aware they had appeared in a separate form. How do you sell this?"

"Just like a' the ither booksellers," said the man who kept the
stall--"that's nane o' the buiks that come doun in a hurry--just for the
marked selling price." I threw down the money.

"Could you tell me anything of the writer?" I said. "I have a letter for
him from America."

"Oh, that'll be frae his brither Henry, I'll wad; a clever cheild too,
but ower fond o' the drap drink, maybe, like Rob himsel'. Baith o' them
fine humane chields, though, without a grain o' pride. Rob takes a stan'
wi' me sometimes o' half an hour at a time, an' we clatter ower the
buiks; an', if I'm no mista'en, yon's him just yonder--the thin, pale
slip o' a lad wi' the broad brow. Ay, an' he's just comin' this way."

"Anything new to-day, Thomas?" said the young man, coming up to the
stall. "I want a cheap second-hand copy of Ramsay's 'Evergreen;' and,
like a good man as you are, you must just try and find it for me."

Though considerably altered--for he was taller and thinner than when at
college, and his complexion had assumed a deep sallow hue--I recognised
him at once, and presented him with the letter.

"Ah! from brother Henry," said he, breaking it open, and glancing his
eye over the contents. "What--_old college chum, Mr. Lindsay_!" he
exclaimed, turning to me. "Yes, sure enough; how happy I am we should
have met! Come this way--let us get out of the streets."

We passed hurriedly through the Canongate and along the front of
Holyrood-house, and were soon in the King's Park, which seemed this
morning as if left to ourselves.

"Dear me, and this is you yourself!--and we have again met, Mr.
Lindsay!" said Ferguson; "I thought we were never to meet more. Nothing,
for a long time, has made me half so glad. And so you have been a sailor
for the last four years. Do let us sit down here in the warm sunshine,
beside St. Anthony's Well, and tell me all your story, and how you
happened to meet with brother Henry."

We sat down, and I briefly related, at his bidding, all that had
befallen me since we had parted at St. Andrew's, and how I was still a
common sailor, but, in the main, perhaps, not less happy than many who
commanded a fleet.

"Ah, you have been a fortunate fellow," he said; "you have seen much and
enjoyed much; and I have been rusting in unhappiness at home. Would that
I had gone to sea along with you!"

"Nay, now, that won't do," I replied. "But you are merely taking Bacon's
method of blunting the edge of envy. You have scarcely yet attained the
years of mature manhood, and yet your name has gone abroad over the
whole length and breadth of the land, and over many other lands besides.
I have cried over your poems three thousand miles away, and felt all the
prouder of my country for the sake of my friend. And yet you would fain
persuade me that you wish the charm reversed, and that you were just
such an obscure salt-water man as myself!"

"You remember," said my companion, "the story of the half-man,
half-marble prince of the Arabian tale. One part was a living creature,
one part a stone; but the parts were incorporated, and the mixture was
misery. I am just such a poor unhappy creature as the enchanted prince
of the story."

"You surprise and distress me," I rejoined. "Have you not accomplished
all you so fondly purposed--realized even your warmest wishes? And this,
too, in early life. Your most sanguine hopes pointed but to a name,
which you yourself perhaps was never to hear, but which was to dwell on
men's tongues when the grave had closed over you. And now the name is
gained, and you live to enjoy it. I see the _living_ part of your lot,
and it seems instinct with happiness; but in what does the _dead_, the
stony part, consist?"

He shook his head, and looked up mournfully in my face; there was a
pause of a few seconds. "You, Mr. Lindsay," he at length replied, "you
who are of an equable steady temperament, can know little, from
experience, of the unhappiness of the man who lives only in extremes,
who is either madly gay or miserably depressed. Try and realize the
feelings of one whose mind is like a broken harp--all the medium tones
gone, and only the higher and lower left; of one, too, whose
circumstances seem of a piece with his mind, who can enjoy the exercise
of his better powers, and yet can only live by the monotonous drudgery
of copying page after page in a clerk's office; of one who is
continually either groping his way amid a chill melancholy fog of
nervous depression, or carried headlong, by a wild gaiety, to all which
his better judgment would instruct him to avoid; of one who, when he
indulges most in the pride of superior intellect, cannot away with the
thought that that intellect is on the eve of breaking up, and that he
must yet rate infinitely lower in the scale of rationality than any of
the nameless thousands who carry on the ordinary concerns of life around
him."

I was grieved and astonished, and knew not what to answer. "You are in a
gloomy mood to-day," I at length said; "you are immersed in one of the
fogs you describe; and all the surrounding objects take a tinge of
darkness from the medium through which you survey them. Come, now, you
must make an exertion, and shake off your melancholy. I have told you
all my story, as I best could, and you must tell me all yours in
return."

"Well," he replied, "I shall, though it mayn't be the best way in the
world of dissipating my melancholy. I think I must have told you, when
at college, that I had a maternal uncle of considerable wealth, and, as
the world goes, respectability, who resided in Aberdeenshire. He was
placed on what one may term the table-land of society; and my poor
mother, whose recollections of him were limited to a period when there
is warmth in the feelings of the most ordinary minds, had hoped that he
would willingly exert his influence in my behalf. Much, doubtless,
depends on one's setting out in life; and it would have been something
to have been enabled to step into it from a level like that occupied by
my relative. I paid him a visit shortly after leaving college, and met
with apparent kindness. But I can see beyond the surface, Mr. Lindsay,
and I soon saw that my uncle was entirely a different man from the
brother whom my mother remembered. He had risen, by a course of slow
industry, from comparative poverty, and his feelings had worn out in the
process. The character was case-hardened all over; and the polish it
bore--for I have rarely met a smoother man--seemed no improvement. He
was, in brief, one of the class content to dwell for ever in mere
decencies, with consciences made up of the conventional moralities, who
think by precedent, bow to public opinion as their god, and estimate
merit by its weight in guineas."

"And so your visit," I said, "was a very brief one?"

"You distress me," he replied. "It should have been so; but it was not.
But what could I do? Ever since my father's death I had been taught to
consider this man as my natural guardian, and I was now unwilling to
part with my last hope. But this is not all. Under much apparent
activity, my friend, there is a substratum of apathetical indolence in
my disposition: I move rapidly when in motion, but when at rest there is
a dull inertness in the character, which the will, when unassisted by
passion, is too feeble to overcome. Poor, weak creature that I am! I had
sitten down by my uncle's fireside, and felt unwilling to rise. Pity me,
my friend--I deserve your pity--but, oh, do not despise me!"

"Forgive me, Mr. Ferguson," I said; "I have given you pain--but surely
most unwittingly."

"I am ever a fool," he continued; "but my story lags; and, surely, there
is little in it on which it were pleasure to dwell. I sat at this man's
table for six months, and saw, day after day, his manner towards me
becoming more constrained and his politeness more cold; and yet I staid
on, till at last my clothes were worn threadbare, and he began to feel
that the shabbiness of the nephew affected the respectability of the
uncle. His friend the soap-boiler, and his friend the oil-merchant, and
his friend the manager of the hemp manufactory, with their wives and
daughters--all people of high standing in the world--occasionally
honoured his table with their presence, and how could he be other than
ashamed of mine? It vexes me that I cannot even yet be cool on the
subject--it vexes me that a creature so sordid should have so much the
power to move me--but I cannot, I cannot master my feelings. He--he told
me--and with whom should the blame rest, but with the weak, spiritless
thing who lingered on in mean, bitter dependence, to hear what he had to
tell?--he told me that all his friends were respectable, and that my
appearance was no longer that of a person whom he could wish to see at
his table, or introduce to any one as his nephew. And I had staid to
hear all this!

"I can hardly tell you how I got home. I travelled, stage after stage,
along the rough dusty roads, with a weak and feverish body, and almost
despairing mind. On meeting with my mother, I could have laid my head on
her bosom and cried like a child. I took to my bed in a high fever, and
trusted that all my troubles were soon to terminate; but, when the die
was cast, it turned up life. I resumed my old miserable employments--for
what could I else?--and, that I might be less unhappy in the prosecution
of them, my old amusements too. I copied during the day in a clerk's
office that I might live, and wrote during the night that I might be
known. And I have in part, perhaps, attained my object. I have pursued
and caught hold of the shadow on which my heart had been so long set;
and if it prove empty, and untangible, and unsatisfactory, like every
other shadow, the blame surely must rest with the pursuer, not with the
thing pursued. I weary you, Mr. Lindsay; but one word more. There are
hours when the mind, weakened by exertion, or by the teazing monotony of
an employment which tasks without exercising it, can no longer exert its
powers, and when, feeling that sociality is a law of our nature, we seek
the society of our fellow-men. With a creature so much the sport of
impulse as I am, it is of these hours of weakness that conscience takes
most note. God help me! I have been told that life is short; but it
stretches on, and on, and on before me; and I know not how it is to be
passed through."

My spirits had so sunk during this singular conversation, that I had no
heart to reply.

"You are silent, Mr. Lindsay," said the poet; "I have made you as
melancholy as myself; but look around you, and say if ever you have seen
a lovelier spot. See how richly the yellow sunshine slants along the
green sides of Arthur's Seat, and how the thin blue smoke, that has come
floating from the town, fills the bottom of yonder grassy dell, as if it
were a little lake. Mark, too, how boldly the cliffs stand out along its
sides, each with its little patch of shadow. And here, beside us, is St.
Anthony's Well, so famous in song, coming gushing out to the sunshine,
and then gliding away through the grass like a snake. Had the Deity
purposed that man should be miserable, he would surely never have placed
him in so fair a world. Perhaps much of our unhappiness originates in
our mistaking our proper scope, and thus setting out from the first with
a false aim."

"Unquestionably," I replied, "there is no man who has not some part to
perform; and, if it be a great and uncommon part, and the powers which
fit him for it proportionably great and uncommon, nature would be in
error could he slight it with impunity. See, there is a wild bee bending
the flower beside you. Even that little creature has a capacity of
happiness and misery; it derives its sense of pleasure from whatever
runs in the line of its instincts, its experience of unhappiness from
whatever thwarts and opposes them; and can it be supposed that so wise a
law should regulate the instincts of only inferior creatures? No, my
friend, it is surely a law of our nature also."

"And have you not something else to infer?" said the poet.

"Yes," I replied, "that you are occupied differently from what the scope
and constitution of your mind demand; differently both in your hours of
employment and of relaxation. But do take heart, you will yet find your
proper place, and all shall be well."

"Alas! no, my friend," said he, rising from the sward. "I could once
entertain such a hope; but I cannot now. My mind is no longer what it
was to me in my happier days, a sort of _terra incognita_, without
bounds or limits. I can see over and beyond it, and have fallen from all
my hopes regarding it. It is not so much the gloom of present
circumstances that disheartens me, as a depressing knowledge of myself,
an abiding conviction that I am a weak dreamer, unfitted for every
occupation of life, and not less so for the greater employments of
literature than for any of the others. I feel that I am a little man and
a little poet, with barely vigour enough to make one half effort at a
time, but wholly devoid of the sustaining will, that highest faculty of
the highest order of minds, which can direct a thousand vigorous efforts
to the accomplishment of one important object. Would that I could
exchange my half celebrity--and it can never be other than a half
celebrity--for a temper as equable and a fortitude as unshrinking as
yours! But I weary you with my complaints; I am a very coward; and you
will deem me as selfish as I am weak."

We parted. The poet, sadly and unwillingly, went to copy deeds in the
office of the commissary clerk, and I, almost reconciled to obscurity
and hard labour, to assist in unloading a Baltic trader in the harbour
of Leith.



CHAPTER VI.

         "Speech without aim and without end employ."--CRABBE.


After the lapse of nine months, I again returned to Edinburgh. During
that period, I had been so shut out from literature and the world, that
I had heard nothing of my friend the poet; and it was with a beating
heart I left the vessel, on my first leisure evening, to pay him a
visit. It was about the middle of July; the day had been close and
sultry, and the heavens overcharged with grey ponderous clouds; and, as
I passed hurriedly along the walk which leads from Leith to Edinburgh, I
could hear the newly awakened thunder, bellowing far in the south, peal
after peal, like the artillery of two hostile armies. I reached the door
of the poet's humble domicile, and had raised my hand to the knocker,
when I heard some one singing from within, in a voice by far the most
touchingly mournful I had ever listened to. The tones struck on my
heart; and a frightful suspicion crossed my mind, as I set down the
knocker, that the singer was no other than my friend. But in what
wretched circumstances! what fearful state of mind! I shuddered as I
listened, and heard the strain waxing louder and yet more mournful, and
could distinguish that the words were those of a simple old ballad:--

   "O Marti'mas wind, when wilt thou blaw,
      An' shake the green leaves aff the tree?
    O gentle death, when wilt thou come,
      An' tak a life that wearies me?"

I could listen no longer, but raised the latch and went in. The evening
was gloomy, and the apartment ill lighted; but I could see the singer, a
spectral-looking figure, sitting on a bed in the corner, with the
bedclothes wrapped round his shoulders, and a napkin deeply stained
with blood on his head. An elderly female, who stood beside him, was
striving to soothe him, and busied from time to time in adjusting the
clothes, which were ever and anon falling off, as he nodded his head in
time to the music. A young girl of great beauty sat weeping at the
bedfoot.

"O dearest Robert," said the woman, "you will destroy your poor head;
and Margaret your sister, whom you used to love so much, will break her
heart. Do lie down, dearest, and take a little rest. Your head is
fearfully gashed, and if the bandages loose a second time, you will
bleed to death. Do, dearest Robert, for your poor old mother, to whom
you were always so kind and dutiful a son till now--for your poor old
mother's sake, do lie down."

The song ceased for a moment, and the tears came bursting from my eyes
as the tune changed, and he again sang:--

   "O mither dear, make ye my bed,
      For my heart it's flichterin' sair;
    An' oh, gin I've vexed ye, mither dear,
      I'll never vex ye mair.
    I've staid ar'out the lang dark nicht,
      I' the sleet an' the plashy rain;
    But, mither dear, make ye my bed,
      An' I'll ne'er gang out again."

"Dearest, dearest Robert," continued the poor, heart-broken woman, "do
lie down; for your poor old mother's sake, do lie down."

"No, no," he exclaimed, in a hurried voice, "not just now, mother, not
just now. Here is my friend, Mr. Lindsay, come to see me--my true
friend, Mr. Lindsay, the sailor, who has sailed all round and round the
world; and I have much, much to ask him. A chair, Margaret, for Mr.
Lindsay. I must be a preacher like John Knox, you know--like the great
John Knox, the reformer of a nation--and Mr. Lindsay knows all about
him. A chair, Margaret, for Mr. Lindsay."

I am not ashamed to say it was with tears, and in a voice faltering with
emotion, that I apologized to the poor woman for my intrusion at such a
time. Were it otherwise, I might well conclude my heart had grown hard
as a piece of the nether millstone.

"I had known Robert at College," I said--"had loved and respected him;
and had now come to pay him a visit, after an absence of several months,
wholly unprepared for finding him in his present condition." And it
would seem that my tears pled for me, and proved to the poor afflicted
woman and her daughter, by far the most efficient part of my apology.

"All my friends have left me now, Mr. Lindsay," said the unfortunate
poet--"they have all left me now; they love this present world. We were
all going down, down, down; there was the roll of a river behind us; it
came bursting over the high rocks, roaring, rolling, foaming down upon
us; and though the fog was thick and dark below--far below, in the place
to which we were going--I could see the red fire shining through--the
red, hot, unquenchable fire; and we were all going down, down, down.
Mother, mother, tell Mr. Lindsay I am going to be put on my trials
to-morrow. Careless creature that I am--life is short, and I have lost
much time; but I am going to be put on my trials to-morrow, and shall
come forth a preacher of the word."

The thunder which had hitherto been muttering at a distance--each peal,
however, nearer and louder than the preceding one--now began to roll
overhead, and the lightning, as it passed the window, to illumine every
object within. The hapless poet stretched out his thin wasted arm, as if
addressing a congregation from the pulpit:--

"There were the flashings of lightning," he said, "and the roll of
thunder; and the trumpet waxed louder and louder. And around the summit
of the mountain were the foldings of thick clouds, and the shadow fell
brown and dark over the wide expanse of the desert. And the wild beasts
lay trembling in their dens. But, lo! where the sun breaks through the
opening of the cloud, there is the glitter of tents--the glitter of ten
thousand tents that rise over the sandy waste, thick as waves of the
sea. And there, there is the voice of the dance and of the revel, and
the winding of horns and the clash of cymbals. Oh, sit nearer me,
dearest mother, for the room is growing dark, dark; and, oh, my poor
head!

   'The lady sat on the castle wa',
      Look'd ower baith dale and down,
    And then she spied Gil-Morice head
      Come steering through the town.'

Do, dearest mother, put your cool hand on my brow, and do hold it fast
ere it part. How fearfully--oh, how fearfully it aches!--and oh, how it
thunders!" He sunk backward on the pillow, apparently exhausted. "Gone,
gone, gone," he muttered; "my mind gone for ever. But God's will be
done."

I rose to leave the room; for I could restrain my feelings no longer.

"Stay, Mr. Lindsay," said the poet, in a feeble voice; "I hear the rain
dashing on the pavement; you must not go till it abates. Would that you
could pray beside me!--but, no--you are not like the dissolute
companions who have now all left me, but you are not yet fitted for
that; and, alas! I cannot pray for myself. Mother, mother, see that
there be prayers at my lykewake; for--

   'Her lykewake, it was piously spent
      In social prayer and praise,
    Performed by judicious men,
      Who stricken were in days.
   'And many a heavy, heavy heart
      Was in that mournful place;
    And many a weary, weary thought
      On her who slept in peace.'

They will come all to my lykewake, mother, won't they?--yes, all, though
they have left me now. Yes, and they will come far to see my grave. I
was poor, very poor, you know, and they looked down upon me; and I was
no son or cousin of theirs, and so they could do nothing for me. Oh, but
they might have looked less coldly! But they will all come to my grave,
mother; they will come all to my grave; and they will say--'Would he
were living now to know how kind we are!' But they will look as coldly
as ever on the living poet beside them--yes, till they have broken his
heart; and then they will go to his grave too. O dearest mother, do lay
your cool hand on my brow."

He lay silent and exhausted, and, in a few minutes, I could hope, from
the hardness of his breathing, that he had fallen asleep.

"How long," I inquired of his sister, in a low whisper, "has Mr.
Ferguson been so unwell, and what has injured his head?"

"Alas!" said the girl, "my brother has been unsettled in mind for nearly
the last six months. We first knew it one evening on his coming home
from the country, where he had been for a few days with a friend. He
burnt a large heap of papers that he had been employed on for weeks
before--songs and poems that his friends say were the finest things he
ever wrote; but he burnt them all, for he was going to be a preacher of
the word, he said, and it did not become a preacher of the word to be a
writer of light rhymes. And, O sir! his mind has been carried ever
since; but he has been always gentle and affectionate, and his sole
delight has lain in reading the Bible. Good Dr. Erskine, of the
Greyfriars, often comes to our house, and sits with him for hours
together; for there are times when his mind seems stronger than ever,
and he says wonderful things, that seem to hover, the minister says,
between the extravagance natural to his present sad condition, and the
higher flights of a philosophic genius. And we had hoped that he was
getting better; but, O sir, our hopes have had a sad ending. He went
out, a few evenings ago, to call on an old acquaintance; and, in
descending a stair, missed footing, and fell to the bottom; and his head
has been fearfully injured by the stones. He has been just as you have
seen him ever since; and, oh! I much fear he cannot now recover. Alas!
my poor brother!--never, never was there a more affectionate heart."



CHAPTER VII.

                        "A lowly muse!
    She sings of reptiles yet in song unknown."


I returned to the vessel with a heavy heart; and it was nearly three
months from this time ere I again set foot in Edinburgh. Alas! for my
unfortunate friend! He was now an inmate of the asylum, and on the verge
of dissolution. I was thrown, by accident, shortly after my arrival at
this time, into the company of one of his boon companions. I had gone
into a tavern with a brother sailor--a shrewd, honest skipper, from the
north country; and, finding the place occupied by half a dozen young
fellows, who were growing noisy over their liquor, I would have
immediately gone out again, had I not caught, in the passing, a few
words regarding my friend. And so, drawing to a side-table, I sat down.

"Believe me," said one of the topers, a dissolute-looking young man,
"it's all over with Bob Ferguson--all over; and I knew it from the
moment he grew religious. Had old Brown tried to convert me, I would
have broken his face."

"What Brown?" inquired one of his companions.

"Is that all you know?" rejoined the other. "Why, John Brown of
Haddington, the Seceder. Bob was at Haddington last year, at the
election; and, one morning, when in the horrors, after holding a rum
night of it, who should he meet in the churchyard but old John
Brown?--he writes, you know, a big book on the Bible. Well, he lectured
Bob at a pretty rate, about election and the call, I suppose; and the
poor fellow has been mad ever since. Your health, Jamie. For my own
part, I'm a freewill man, and detest all cant and humbug."

"And what has come of Ferguson now?" asked one of the others.

"Oh, mad, sir, mad," rejoined the toper--"reading the Bible all day, and
cooped up in the asylum yonder. 'Twas I who brought him to it.--But,
lads, the glass has been standing for the last half-hour.--'Twas I and
Jack Robinson who brought him to it, as I say. He was getting wild; and
so we got a sedan for him, and trumped up a story of an invitation for
tea from a lady, and he came with us as quietly as a lamb. But, if you
could have heard the shriek he gave when the chair stopped, and he saw
where we had brought him! I never heard anything half so horrible--it
rang in my ears for a week after; and then, how the mad people in the
upper rooms howled and gibbered in reply, till the very roof echoed!
People say he is getting better; but, when I last saw him, he was as
religious as ever, and spoke so much about heaven, that it was
uncomfortable to hear him. Great loss to his friends, after all the
expense they have been at with his education."

"You seem to have been intimate with Mr. Ferguson," I said.

"Oh, intimate with Bob!" he rejoined; "we were hand and glove, man. I
have sat with him in Lucky Middlemass's, almost every evening, for two
years; and I have given him hints for some of the best things in his
book. 'Twas I who tumbled down the cage in the Meadows, and began
breaking the lamps.

   'Ye who oft finish care in Lethe's cup,
    Who love to swear and roar, and _keep it up_,
    List to a brother's voice, whose sole delight
    Is sleep all day, and riot all the night.'

There's spirit for you! But Bob was never sound at bottom; and I have
told him so. 'Bob,' I have said, 'Bob, you're but a hypocrite after all,
man--without half the spunk you pretend to. Why don't you take a pattern
by me, who fear nothing, and believe only the agreeable? But, poor
fellow, he had weak nerves, and a church-going propensity that did him
no good; and you see the effects. 'Twas all nonsense, Tom, of his
throwing the squib into the Glassite meeting-house. Between you and I,
that was a cut far beyond him in his best days, poet as he was. 'Twas I
who did it, man, and never was there a cleaner row in auld Reekie."

"Heartless, contemptible puppy!" said my comrade, the sailor, as we left
the room. "Your poor friend must be ill, indeed, if he be but half as
insane as his quondam companion. But he cannot: there is no madness like
that of the heart. What could have induced a man of genius to associate
with a thing so thoroughly despicable?"

"The same misery, Miller," I said, "that brings a man _acquainted with
strange bedfellows_."



CHAPTER VIII.

   "O thou, my elder brother in misfortune,
    By far my elder brother in the muses,
    With tears I pity thy unhappy fate!"--BURNS.


The asylum in which my unfortunate friend was confined, at this time the
only one in Edinburgh, was situated in an angle of the city wall. It was
a dismal-looking mansion, shut in on every side, by the neighbouring
houses, from the view of the surrounding country; and so effectually
covered up from the nearer street, by a large building in front, that it
seemed possible enough to pass a lifetime in Edinburgh without coming to
the knowledge of its existence. I shuddered as I looked up to its
blackened walls, thinly sprinkled with miserable-looking windows, barred
with iron, and thought of it as a sort of burial-place of dead minds.
But it was a Golgotha, which, with more than the horrors of the grave,
had neither its rest nor its silence. I was startled, as I entered the
cell of the hapless poet, by a shout of laughter from a neighbouring
room, which was answered from a dark recess behind me, by a fearfully
prolonged shriek, and the clanking of chains. The mother and sister of
Ferguson were sitting beside his pallet, on a sort of stone settle which
stood out from the wall; and the poet himself, weak and exhausted, and
worn to a shadow, but apparently in his right mind, lay extended on the
straw. He made an attempt to rise as I entered; but the effort was above
his strength, and, again lying down, he extended his hand.

"This is kind, Mr. Lindsay," he said; "it is ill for me to be alone in
these days; and yet I have few visitors, save my poor old mother and
Margaret. But who cares for the unhappy?"

I sat down on the settle beside him, still retaining his hand. "I have
been at sea, and in foreign countries," I said, "since I last saw you,
Mr. Ferguson, and it was only this morning I returned; but believe me
there are many, many of your countrymen who sympathize sincerely in your
affliction, and take a warm interest in your recovery."

He sighed deeply. "Ah," he replied, "I know too well the nature of that
sympathy. You never find it at the bedside of the sufferer--it
evaporates in a few barren expressions of idle pity; and yet, after all,
it is but a paying the poet in kind. He calls so often on the world to
sympathize over fictitious misfortune, that the feeling wears out, and
becomes a mere mood of the imagination; and, with this light, attenuated
pity of his own weaving, it regards his own real sorrows. Dearest
mother, the evening is damp and chill--do gather the bedclothes round
me, and sit on my feet; they are so very cold and so dead, that they
cannot be colder a week hence."

"O Robert, why do you speak so?" said the poor woman, as she gathered
the clothes round him, and sat on his feet. "You know you are coming
home to-morrow."

"To-morrow!" he said--"if I see to-morrow, I shall have completed my
twenty-fourth year--a small part, surely, of the threescore and ten; but
what matters it when 'tis past?"

"You were ever, my friend, of a melancholy temperament," I said, "and
too little disposed to hope. Indulge in brighter views of the future,
and all shall yet be well."

"I can now hope that it shall," he said. "Yes, all shall be well with
me--and that very soon. But, oh, how this nature of ours shrinks from
dissolution!--yes, and all the lower natures too. You remember, mother,
the poor starling that was killed in the room beside us? Oh, how it
struggled with its ruthless enemy, and filled the whole place with its
shrieks of terror and agony. And yet, poor little thing! it had been
true, all life long, to the laws of its nature, and had no sins to
account for, and no judge to meet. There is a shrinking of heart as I
look before me, and yet I can hope that all shall yet be well with
me--and that very soon. Would that I had been wise in time! Would that I
had thought more and earlier of the things which pertain to my eternal
peace! more of a living soul, and less of a dying name! But, oh, 'tis a
glorious provision, through which a way of return is opened up even at
the eleventh hour!"

We sat round him in silence; an indescribable feeling of awe pervaded my
whole mind, and his sister was affected to tears.

"Margaret," he said, in a feeble voice--"Margaret, you will find my
Bible in yonder little recess; 'tis all I have to leave you; but keep
it, dearest sister, and use it, and, in times of sorrow and suffering
that come to all, you will know how to prize the legacy of your poor
brother. Many, many books do well enough for life; but there is only one
of any value when we come to die.

"You have been a voyager of late, Mr. Lindsay," he continued, "and I
have been a voyager too. I have been journeying in darkness and
discomfort, amid strange unearthly shapes of dread and horror, with no
reason to direct and no will to govern. Oh, the unspeakable unhappiness
of these wanderings!--these dreams of suspicion, and fear, and hatred,
in which shadow and substance, the true and the false, were so wrought
up and mingled together, that they formed but one fantastic and
miserable whole. And, oh! the unutterable horror of every momentary
return to a recollection of what I had been once, and a sense of what I
had become! Oh, when I awoke amid the terrors of the night--when I
turned me on the rustling straw, and heard the wild wail and yet wilder
laugh--when I heard and shuddered, and then felt the demon in all his
might coming over me, till I laughed and wailed with the others--oh the
misery! the utter misery!--But 'tis over, my friend--'tis all over; a
few, few tedious days, a few, few weary nights, and all my sufferings
shall be over."

I had covered my face with my hands, but the tears came bursting through
my fingers; the mother and sister of the poet sobbed aloud.

"Why sorrow for me, sirs?" he said; "why grieve for me? I am well, quite
well, and want for nothing. But 'tis cold; oh, 'tis very cold, and the
blood seems freezing at my heart. Ah, but there is neither pain nor cold
where I am going, and I trust it shall be well with my soul. Dearest,
dearest mother, I always told you it would come to this at last."

The keeper had entered to intimate to us that the hour for locking up
the cells was already past, and we now rose to leave the place. I
stretched out my hand to my unfortunate friend; he took it in silence,
and his thin attenuated fingers felt cold within my grasp, like those of
a corpse. His mother stooped down to embrace him.

"Oh, do not go yet, mother," he said--"do not go yet--do not leave me;
but it must be so, and I only distress you. Pray for me, dearest mother,
and, oh, forgive me; I have been a grief and a burden to you all
life-long; but I ever loved you, mother; and, oh, you have been kind,
kind and forgiving--and now your task is over. May God bless and reward
you! Margaret, dearest Margaret, farewell!"

We parted, and, as it proved, for ever. Robert Ferguson expired during
the night; and when the keeper entered the cell next morning, to prepare
him for quitting the asylum, all that remained of this most hapless of
the children of genius, was a pallid and wasted corpse, that lay
stiffening on the straw. I am now a very old man, and the feelings wear
out; but I find that my heart is even yet susceptible of emotion, and
that the source of tears is not yet dried up.



THE DISASTERS
OF JOHNNY ARMSTRONG.


Johnny Armstrong, the hero of our tale, was, and, for aught we know to
the contrary, still is, an inhabitant of the town of Carlisle. He was a
stout, thickset, little man, with a round, good-humoured, ruddy
countenance, and somewhere about fifty years of age at the period to
which our story refers. Although possessed of a good deal of natural
shrewdness, Johnny was, on the whole, rather a simple sort of person.
His character, in short, was that of an honest, well-meaning,
inoffensive man, but with parts that certainly did not shine with a very
dazzling lustre. Johnny was, to business, an ironmonger, and had, by
patient industry and upright dealing, acquired a small independency. He
had stuck to the counter of his little dingy shop for upwards of twenty
years, and used to boast that, during all that time, he had opened and
shut his shop with his own hands every day, not even excepting one. The
result of this steadiness and attention to business was, as has been
already said, a competency.

Fortunately for Johnny, this propensity to stick fast--which he did like
a limpet--was natural to him. It was a part of his constitution. He had
no desire whatever to travel, or, rather, he had a positive dislike to
it--a dislike, indeed, which was so great that, for an entire quarter of
a century, he had never been three miles out of Carlisle. But when
Johnny had waxed pretty rich, somewhat corpulent, and rather oldish, he
was suddenly struck, one fine summer afternoon, as he stood at the door
of his shop with his hands in his breeches pockets, (a favourite
attitude,) with an amiable and ardent desire to see certain of his
relations who lived at Brechin, in the north of Scotland; and--there is
no accounting for these things--on that afternoon Johnny came to the
extraordinary resolution of paying them a visit--of performing a journey
of upwards of a hundred miles, even as the crow flies. It was a strange
and a desperate resolution for a man of Johnny's peculiar temperament
and habits; but so it was. Travel he would, and travel he did. On the
third day after the doughty determination just alluded to had been
formed, Johnny, swathed in an ample brown greatcoat, with a red
comforter about his neck, appeared in the stable yard of the inn where
most of the stage coaches that passed through Carlisle put up. Of these
there were three: one for Dumfries, one for Glasgow, and one for
Edinburgh--the latter being Johnny's coach; for his route was by the
metropolis. We had almost forgotten to say that Johnny, who was a
widower, was accompanied on this occasion by his son, Johnny junior, an
only child, whom it was his intention to take along with him. The boy
was about fourteen years of age, and though, upon the whole, a shrewd
enough lad for his time of life, did not promise to be a much brighter
genius than his father. In fact he was rather lumpish.

On arriving at the inn yard--it was about eight o'clock at night, and
pretty dark, being the latter end of September--Johnny Armstrong found
the coach apparently about to start, the horses being all yoked; but the
vehicle happened, at the moment he entered the yard, to be in charge of
an ostler--not of either the guard or driver, who had both gone out of
the way for an instant. Desirous of securing a good seat for his son,
Johnny Armstrong opened the coach door, thrust the lad in, and was about
to follow himself, when he discovered that he had forgotten his watch.
On making this discovery, he banged too the coach door without saying a
word, and hurried home as fast as his little, thick, short legs would
allow him, to recover his time-piece. On his return, which was in less
than five minutes, Johnny himself stepped into the vehicle, which was
now crowded with passengers, and, in a few seconds, was rattling away at
a rapid rate towards Edinburgh. The night was pitch dark, not a star
twinkled; and it was not until Johnny arrived at his journey's end--that
is, at Edinburgh--that he discovered his son was not in the coach, and
had never been there at all. We will not attempt to describe Johnny's
amazement and distress of mind on making this most extraordinary and
most alarming discovery. They were dreadful. In great agitation, he
inquired at every one of the passengers if they had not seen his son,
and one and all denied they ever had. The thing was mysterious and
perfectly inexplicable.

"I put the boy into the coach with my own hands," said Johnny Armstrong,
in great perturbation, to the guard and half crying as he spoke.

"Very odd," said the guard.

"Very odd, indeed," said Johnny.

"Are you sure it was _our_ coach, Mr. Armstrong?" inquired the guard.

The emphasis on the word _our_ was startling. It evidently meant more
than met the ear; and Johnny felt that it did so, and he was startled
accordingly.

"_Your_ coach?" he replied, but now with some hesitation of manner. "It
surely was. What other coach could it be?"

"Why, it may have been the Glasgow coach," said the guard; "and I rather
think it _must_ have been. You have made a mistake, sir, be assured, and
put the boy into the wrong coach. We start from the same place, and at
the same hour, five minutes or so in or over."

The mention of this possibility, nay certainty--for Johnny had actually
dispatched the boy to Glasgow--instantly struck him dumb. It relieved
him, indeed, from the misery arising from a dread of some terrible
accident having happened the lad, but threw him into great tribulation
as to his fate in Glasgow, without money or friends. But this being,
after all, comparatively but a small affair, Johnny was now, what he had
not been before, able to pay attention to minor things.

"Be sae guid," said Johnny to the guard, who was on the top of the
coach, busy unloosing packages, "as haun me doun my trunk."

"No trunk of yours here, sir," said the guard. "You'll have sent it away
to Glasgow with the boy."

"No, no," replied Johnny, sadly perplexed by this new misfortune. "I
sent it wi' the lass to the inn half an hour before I gaed mysel."

"Oh, then, in that case," said the guard, "ten to one it's away to
Dumfries, and not to Glasgow."

And truly such was the fact. The girl, a fresh-caught country lass, had
thrown it on the first coach she found, saying her master would
immediately follow--and that happened to be the Dumfries one. Here,
then, was Johnny safely arrived himself, indeed, at Edinburgh; but his
son was gone to Glasgow, and his trunk to Dumfries--all with the
greatest precision imaginable. Next day, Johnny Armstrong, being
extremely uneasy about his boy, started for Glasgow on board of one of
the canal passage boats; while the lad, being equally uneasy about his
father, and, moreover, ill at ease on sundry other accounts, did
precisely the same thing with the difference of direction--that is, he
started for Edinburgh by a similar conveyance; and so well timed had
each of their respective departures been, that, without knowing it, they
passed each other exactly halfway between the two cities. On arriving at
Glasgow, Johnny Armstrong could not, for a long while, discover any
trace of his son; but at length succeeded in tracking him to the canal
boat--which led him rightly to conclude that he had proceeded to
Edinburgh. On coming to this conclusion, Johnny again started for the
metropolis, where he safely arrived about two hours after his son had
left it for home, whither, finding no trace of his father in Edinburgh,
he had wisely directed his steps. Johnny Armstrong, now greatly
distressed about the object of his paternal solicitude, whom he vainly
sought up and down the city, at last also bent his way homewards,
thinking, what was true, that the boy might have gone home; and there
indeed he found him. Thus nearly a week had been spent, and that in
almost constant travel, and Johnny found himself precisely at the point
from which he had set out. However, in three days, after having, in the
meantime, recovered his trunk, he again set out on his travels to
Brechin; for his courage was not in the least abated by what had
happened; but on this occasion unaccompanied by his son, as he would not
again run the risk of losing him, or of exposing himself to that
distress of mind on his account, of which he had been before a victim.
In the case of Johnny's second progress, there was "no mistake"
whatever, of any kind--at least at starting. Both himself and his trunk
arrived in perfect safety, and in due time, at Edinburgh.

Johnny's next route was to steam it to Kirkaldy from Newhaven. The boat
started at six a.m.; and, having informed himself of this particular, he
determined to be at the point of embarkation in good time. But he was
rather late, and, on finding this, he ran every foot of the way from
Edinburgh to the steam-boat, and was in a dreadful state of exhaustion
when he reached it; but, by his exertions, he saved his distance,
thereby exhibiting another proof that all is not lost that's in danger.
An instant longer, however, and he would have been too late, for the
vessel was just on the eve of starting. Johnny leapt on board, or rather
was bundled on board; for Johnny, as already hinted, was in what is
called good bodily condition--rather extra, indeed--and was, moreover,
waxing a little stiff about the joints; so that he could not get over
the side of the boat so cleverly as he would have done some twenty years
before. Over and above all this, he was quite exhausted with the race
against time which he had just run. Seeing his distressed condition, and
that the boat was on the point of sailing, two of the hands leapt on the
pier, when the one seizing him by the waistband of the breeches, and the
other by the breast, they fairly pitched him into the vessel, throwing
his trunk after him. As it was pouring rain, Johnny, on recovering his
perpendicular, immediately descended into the cabin, and, in the next
instant, the boat was ploughing her way through the deep. For two hours
after he had embarked, it continued to rain without intermission; and
for these two hours he remained snug below without stirring. At the end
of this period, however, it cleared up a little, and, in a short while
thereafter, became perfectly fair. Having discovered this he ascended to
the deck, to see what was going on. The captain of the vessel was
himself at the helm; he, therefore, sidled towards him, and, after
making some remarks on the weather and the scenery, asked the captain,
in the blandest and civilest tones imaginable, when he expected they
would be at Kirkaldy. The man stared at Johnny with a look of
astonishment, not unmingled with displeasure; but at length said--

"Kirkaldy, sir! What do you mean by asking me that question? I don't
know when _you_ expect to be at Kirkaldy, but _I_ don't expect to be
there for a twelvemonth at least."

"No!--od, that's queer!" quoth Johnny, amazed in his turn; but thinking,
after a moment, that the captain meant to be facetious, he merely
added--"I wad think, captain, that we wad be there much about the same
time."

"Ay, ay, may be; but, I say, none of your gammon, friend," said the
latter, gruffly, and now getting really angry at what he conceived to be
some attempt to play upon him, though he could not see the drift of the
joke. "Mind your own business, friend, and I'll mind mine."

This he said with an air that conveyed very plainly a hint that Johnny
should take himself off, which, without saying any more, he accordingly
did. Much perplexed by the captain's conduct, he now sauntered towards
the fore part of the vessel, where he caught the engineer just as he was
about to descend into the engine-room. Johnny tapped him gently on the
shoulder, and the man, wiping his dripping face with a handful of tow,
looked up to him, while Johnny, afraid to put the question, but anxious
to know when he really would be at Kirkaldy, lowered himself down, by
placing his hands on his knees, so as to bring his face on a level with
the person he was addressing, and, in the mildest accents, and with a
countenance beaming with gentleness, he popped the question in a low,
soft whisper, as if to deprecate the man's wrath. On the fatal inquiry
being made at him, the engineer, as the captain had done before him,
stared at Johnny Armstrong, in amazement, for a second or two, then
burst into a hoarse laugh, and, without vouchsafing any other reply,
plunged down into his den.

"What in a' the earth can be the meanin' o' this?" quoth Johnny to
himself, now ten times more perplexed than ever. "What can there be in
my simple, natural, and reasonable question, to astonish folk sae
muckle?"

This was an inquiry which Johnny might put to himself, but it was one
which he could by no means answer. Being, however, an easy, good-natured
man, and seeing how much offence in one instance, and subject for mirth
in another, he had unwittingly given, by putting it, he resolved to make
no further inquiries into the matter, but to await in patience the
arrival of the boat at her destination--an event which he had the sense
to perceive would be neither forwarded nor retarded by his obtaining or
being refused the information he had desired to be possessed of. The
boat arrived in due time at the wished-for haven, and Johnny landed with
the other passengers; the captain giving him a wipe, as he stepped on
the plank that was to convey him ashore, about his Kirkaldy inquiries,
by asking him, though now in perfect good humour, if he knew the precise
length of that celebrated town; but Johnny merely smiled and passed on.

On landing, Johnny Armstrong proceeded to what had the appearance of,
and really was, a respectable inn. Here, as it was now pretty far in the
day, he had some dinner, and afterwards treated himself to a tumbler of
toddy and a peep at the papers. While thus comfortably enjoying himself,
the waiter having chanced to pop into the room, Johnny raised his eye
from the paper he was reading, and, looking the lad in the face--

"Can ye tell me, friend," he said, "when the coach for Dundee starts?"

"There's no coach at all from this to Dundee, sir," replied the waiter.

"No!" said Johnny, a little nonplused by this information. "That's odd."
The waiter saw nothing odd in it.

"I was told," continued Johnny, "that there were twa or three coaches
daily from this to Dundee."

"Oh, no, sir," said the lad, coolly, "you have been misinformed; but if
you wish to go to Dundee, sir," he added--desirous of being as obliging
as possible--"your best way is to go by steam from this to Newhaven, and
from that cross over to Kirkaldy!!!"

At this fatal word, which seemed doomed to work Johnny much wo, the
glass which he was about to raise to his lips fell on the floor, and
went into a thousand pieces.

"Kirkaldy, laddie!" exclaimed Johnny Armstrong, with an expression of
consternation in his face which it would require Cruikshank's art and
skill to do justice to--"Gude hae a care o' me, is _this_ no Kirkaldy?"

"Kirkaldy, sir!" replied the waiter, no less amazed than Johnny, though
in his case it was at the absurdity of the inquiry--"oh, no, sir," with
a smile--"this is Alloa!!!"

Alloa it was, to be sure; for Johnny had taken the wrong boat, and that
was all. On embarking, he had made no inquiries at those belonging to
the vessel, and, of course, those in the vessel had put none to him--and
this was the result. He was comfortably planted at Alloa, instead of
Kirkaldy, which all our readers know lies in a very different direction;
and this denouement also explains the captain's displeasure with his
passenger, and the engineer's mirth. At the moment this extraordinary
_eclaircissement_ took place between Johnny Armstrong and the waiter of
the King's Arms, there happened to be a ship captain in the room--for it
was the public one; and this person, who was a good-natured fellow, at
once amused by, and pitying Johnny's dilemma, turned towards him, and
inquired if it was his intention to go any further than Dundee.

Johnny said that it was--he intended going to Brechin.

"Oh, in that case," said the captain, "you had better just go with me.
In an hour after this I sail for Montrose, which is within eight miles
of Brechin, and I'll be very glad to give you a cast so far, and we
shan't differ about the terms. Fine, smart little vessel mine, and, with
a spanking breeze from the west or sou'-west, which we'll very likely
catch about Queensferry, I'll land you in a jiffey within a trifle of
your journey's end--a devilish sight cleverer, I warrant you, than your
round-about way of steaming and coaching it, and at half the money too."

Johnny Armstrong was all gratitude for this very opportune piece of
kindness, and gladly closed with the offer--the captain and he taking a
couple of additional tumblers each, on the head of it, to begin with. We
say to begin with; for it by no means ended with the quantity named. The
captain was a jolly dog, and loved his liquor, and was, withal, so
facetious a companion, that he prevailed on his new friend to swallow a
great deal more than did him any good. To tell a truth, which, however,
we would not have known at Carlisle, Johnny Armstrong, who had the
character of a sober man, got, on this occasion, into a rather
discreditable condition, and, in this state, he was escorted by the
captain--who stood liquor like a water-cask--to the vessel, and was once
more embarked; but it was now on board the _Fifteen Sisters_ of
Skatehaven. On getting him on board, the captain, seeing the state he
was in, prudently bundled him down into the cabin, and thrust him into
his own bed, where he immediately fell into a profound sleep that
extended over twelve mortal hours. At the end of this period, however,
Johnny awoke; but it was not by any means of his own accord, for he was
awakened by a variety of stimulants, or _rousers_, if we may be allowed
to coin a word for the occasion, all operating at once. These were, a
tremendous uproar on the deck, a fearful rolling of the vessel, the
roaring of wind, and the splashing, dashing, and gurling of waves; and,
to crown all, a feeling of deadly sickness. When he first opened his
eyes, he could not conceive where he was, or what was the meaning of the
furious motion that he felt, and of the tremendous sounds that he heard.
A few minutes' cogitation with himself, however, solved the mystery, and
exposed to him his true position. In great alarm--for he thought the
vessel was on the eve of going down--Johnny Armstrong rolled himself out
of his bed, and crawled in his shirt up the cabin ladder. On gaining the
summit, he found himself confronted by the captain, who, with a very
serious face, was standing by the helm.

"Are--are--are--we--near--Mon--trose, captain?" inquired Johnny, in a
voice rendered so feeble by sickness and terror, that it was impossible
to hear him a yard off, amidst the roaring of the winds and waves; for
we suppose we need not more explicitly state, that he was in the midst
of a storm, and as pretty a one it was as the most devoted admirer of
the picturesque could desire to see.

"What?" roared the captain, in a voice of thunder, at the same time
stooping down to catch his feeble interrogatory. Johnny repeated it;
but, ere he could obtain an answer, a raking wave, which came in at the
stern, took him full on the breast as he stood on the companion ladder,
with his bust just above the level of the deck, sent him down, heels
over head, into the cabin, and, in a twinkling, buried him in a foot and
a half of water on the floor, where he lay for some time at full length,
sprawling and floundering amidst the wreck which the sudden and violent
influx of water had occasioned. On recovering from the stunning effects
of his descent--for he had, amongst other small matters, received a
violent contusion on the head--Johnny for an instant imagined that he
had somehow or other got to the bottom of the sea. Finding, however, at
length, that this was not precisely the case, he arose, though dripping
with wet, yet not very like a sea god, and having denuded himself of his
only garment, his shirt, crawled into his bed, where he now determined
to await quietly and patiently the fate that might be intended for him;
and this fate, he had no doubt, was suffocation by drowning.

"Very extraordinar this," said Johnny Armstrong to himself, as he lay
musing in bed on the perilous situation into which he had so simply and
innocently got--"very extraordinar, that I couldna get the length o'
Brechin without a' this uproar, and confusion, and difficulty, and
danger; this knocking about frae place to place, half drooned and half
murdered. Here have I been now for mair than a week at it, and it's my
opinion I'm no twenty mile nearer't yet than I was, for a' this kick up.
Dear me," he went on soliloquizing, "I'm sure Brechin's no sic an out o'
the way place. The road's straught, and the distance no great. Then,
how, in the name o' wonder, is it that I canna mak' it out like ither
folk, let me do as I like?"

Thus cogitated Johnny Armstrong as he lay on his bed of sickness,
sorrow, and danger. But his cogitations could in no way mend the matter,
nor, though they could, was he long permitted to indulge in them; for
that mortal sickness under which he had been before suffering, but which
the little incident of the visit from the wave, with its consequences,
had temporarily banished, again returned with tenfold vigour, making him
regardless of all sublunary things--even of life itself. In this state
of supineness and suffering did Johnny lie for three entire days and
nights--for so long did the storm continue with unabated fury--the
vessel having, for some four-and-twenty hours previously, been quite
unmanageable, and driving at the mercy of the winds and waves. A
dreadful crash, however, at length announced that some horrible crisis
was at hand. The vessel had struck, and, in a few seconds more, she was
in a thousand pieces, and her unfortunate crew, including Johnny
Armstrong, were struggling in the waves. From this instant he lost all
consciousness; and, when he again awoke to life, he found himself lying
on the sea-beach; but how he had come there he never could tell, nor
could he at all conjecture by what accident his life had been saved,
when all the rest in the ill-fated vessel had perished; for Johnny was
indeed the only person that had escaped. On coming to himself he started
to his feet, and gazed around him, with a bewildered look, to see if any
object would present itself that might help him to guess where he was.
But his survey affording him no such aid to recognition, he began to
move inland, in the hope of meeting with somebody who could give him
the information desired; and in this he was not disappointed, that is,
he did meet somebody; but the appearance of that somebody surprised
Johnny "pretty considerably." He had a high-crowned hat on, such as
Johnny had never seen in his life before; an enormous pair of breeches;
and a pipe a yard long in his mouth. His _tout ensemble_, in short, was
exceeding strange in Johnny Armstrong's eyes. Nevertheless, he accosted
him.

"Can ye tell me, freen, how far I may be frae Brechin?" he inquired.

The stranger shook his head, but made no reply.

"I'm sayin', freen," repeated Johnny, in a louder tone, thinking that
his friend, as he called him, might possibly be dull of hearing, "can ye
tell me if I'm onything near Brechin?"

The stranger again shook his head, but still said nothing. Johnny was
confounded. At length, however, after puffing away for some seconds with
a suddenly-increased energy, he slowly withdrew his pipe from his mouth,
and delivered himself of what sounded to Johnny's ears very much like
this, spoken with great rapidity.

"Futra butara rap a ruara dutera muttera purra murra footra den,
Preekin, humph."

Of this Johnny of course could make nothing, no more than the reader
can, further than recognising in the word "Preekin" a resemblance to the
name of the town he so anxiously inquired after; and he was sorely
perplexed thereat. Neither could he at all comprehend what sort of a
being he had fallen in with.

"I dinna understan' a word o' what ye say, freen," at length said
Johnny, staring hard at the stranger with open mouth.

"Umph!" said the latter; and he again withdrew his pipe from his mouth,
and again sent a volley of his "dutera mutteras" about Johnny's ears,
to precisely the same purpose as before.

Finding that it was of no use making any further attempt at
conversation, Johnny passed on, not doubting that he had met either with
a _dummy_ or a madman. But what was Johnny's amazement when, shortly
afterwards, meeting a woman, whose dress, in its own way, was equally
odd and strange with that of the person he had just left, he was
answered (that is, to his queries again about Brechin), in the same
gibberish in which the former had responded to him.

"What can be the meanin' o' this?" said Johnny to himself, in great
perplexity of mind, as he jogged on, after leaving the lady in the same
unsatisfactory way as he had left the gentleman. "Whar in a' the earth
can I hae gotten to, that naebody I meet wi' can understan' a word o'
plain English, or can speak themsels onything like an intelligible
language?"

He now began to think that he had probably got into the Highlands; but,
although this supposition might account for the strangeness of the
language he had heard, it would not, he perceived, tally very well with
the enormous breeches which the gentleman he had met with wore, and
which he had seen from a distance others wearing, knowing, as he did
very well, that the national dress of the Highlanders was the kilt, of
which the trousers in question were the very antipodes. There was
another circumstance, too, that appeared to Johnny at variance with his
first conjecture, namely, that he might have got into the Highlands.
Where he was there were no high lands, not an eminence the height of a
mole-hill. On the contrary, the whole country, as far as his eye could
reach, seemed one vast plain. Though greatly puzzled by these
reflections, Johnny jogged on, and his progress at length brought him to
a respectable-looking farm-house.

"'Od," said Johnny, "I'll surely get a mouthfu' o' sense frae somebody
here, an' fin' out whar I am."

In this Johnny certainly did succeed; but not much to his comfort, as
the sequel will show. The first person he addressed, on approaching the
house, was a little girl, who, when he spoke, stared at him in the
greatest amazement, then rushed screaming into the house. This
proceeding brought out several young men and women, to whom Johnny now
addressed himself; but the only answer he obtained was a stare of
astonishment similar to the child's, and then a general burst of
laughter. At length one of the girls went into the house and brought out
a jolly-looking elderly man, who, from certain parts of his dress,
seemed to be in the seafaring way.

"Vell, mine freend, vat you vant?" said this person, who spoke broken
English--"vere you come from?"

"I cam last frae Alloa," said Johnny, "and I want to ken, sir, if I'm
onything near to Brechin?"

"Preekin! Vere dat?"

"'Od, I thocht everbody in Scotland kent that," said Johnny, smiling.

"Ah! maybe Scotlan', mine freend, but no Hollands," replied he of the
broken English.

"I dinna ken whether they ken't it in Holland or no," said Johnny,
"that's a country I'm no in the least acquaint wi'; but I'm sure it's
weel aneuch kent in Scotland."

"Ah! maybe Scotlan', but no Hollands, my freend," repeated the man,
smiling in his turn; "but you vas in Hollands."

"Never in my life," said Johnny, earnestly.

"No, no," replied the man, impatiently, "you vas no in Hollands--but you
vas in Hollands."

Johnny could make nothing of this; but it was soon cleared up by the
person adding, "You vas in Hollands _now_--dis moment."

We will not even attempt to describe Johnny's amazement, horror, and
consternation, on this announcement being made to him, for we feel how
vain it would be, and how far short any idea we could convey would be of
the reality.

"Holland!" said Johnny. "Heaven hae a care o' me! Ye surely dinna mean
to say that I'm in Holland the noo?"

"To be sure I vas," said the Dutchman, smiling at Johnny's ludicrous
perturbation. "Mine Got, did you not know you vas in Hollands? Vere you
come from, in all de vorlds, you not know dat?"

"I tell't ye already," replied Johnny, with a most rueful countenance,
"that I cam last frae Alloa. But ye're surely no in earnest, freen," he
added, in a desperate hope that it might, after all, be but a joke,
"when ye say that I'm in Holland?"

"Ah! sure earneest--no doubt--true," said the Dutchman, now laughing
outright at Johnny's perplexity.

As in the former case, we presume we need not be more explicit in saying
that Johnny had actually been wrecked on the coast of Holland.

"Weel, weel," said the Brechin voyager, with an air expressive of more
calmness and resignation than might have been expected, "this does cowe
the gowan! How, in Heaven's name, am I ever to fin' my way hame again?
Little did I think I was ever to be landed this way amang savages."

Johnny Armstrong, it will be here observed, could have been no great
reader--otherwise, he never would have applied the term savages to so
decent, industrious, and civilized a people as the Dutch. The Dutchman,
who was a kind, good-natured fellow--taking no offence whatever at
Johnny's unbecoming expression, because probably he did not understand
it, and compassionating his situation--now invited him into the house,
where Johnny, having succeeded in conveying to the whole household,
through the medium of the speaker of broken English, the story of his
misfortunes, was treated with much hospitality. With these kind people
Johnny Armstrong remained for about a week--for they would not allow him
to go sooner--when, having entirely recovered from the effects of his
sea voyage and shipwreck, he proceeded to Rotterdam; being accompanied
and assisted in all his movements by his benevolent host, Dunder Vander
Dunder, of Slootzsloykin. On arriving at Rotterdam, a passage was
engaged for Johnny on board one of the Leith packets, or regular
traders, in which he was next day snugly deposited; and, in an hour
after, he was again braving the dangers of the ocean. For some time all
went on well on this occasion with him, and he was beginning to feel
comfortable, and even happy, from the prospect of being soon again in
his native land, and from the superior accommodations of the vessel in
which he was embarked--far surpassing, as they did, those of the
unfortunate _Sisters_ of Skatehaven. His present ship was, in truth, a
remarkably fine one, and altogether seemed well adapted for encountering
the elements. The weather, too, was moderate, and the wind fair; so that
a quick and pleasant passage was confidently anticipated by all on
board, including Johnny Armstrong. All these agreeable circumstances
combined, made him feel extremely comfortable and happy; and, in the
exuberance of his feelings, and from the exciting sense of having at
length triumphed over his misfortunes--it might almost be said his
fate--Johnny even began to joke and laugh with those whom he found
willing to joke and laugh with him. It was while in this happy frame of
mind, and as he stood luxuriously leaning over the bulwark of the
vessel, that the captain suddenly espied a little, smart, cutter-looking
craft, sailing exactly in the same course with themselves, and
evidently endeavouring to make up with them.

"What can the folk be wantin'?" quoth Johnny Armstrong, taking an
interest in the approaching barge. His question was one which nobody
could answer. In the meantime, the little vessel, moving with great
velocity, was fast nearing them, when the captain, now convinced that
those in her desired to have some communication with him, arrested his
own vessel's way, and awaited their coming. In a very few minutes, the
little cutter was alongside, and two men leapt from her to the deck of
the packet, when one of them, approaching the captain, told him that
they were messengers, that they had a warrant against John Jones, a
native of Britain, for debt, and that they had reason to believe he was
in the vessel. The captain said he did not believe he had any such
passenger on board, but informed them that they were perfectly at
liberty to search the ship. During this conversation, the other officer
kept his eye fixed on Johnny Armstrong, and when rejoined by his
comrade, seemed to inform him--for their language was not
understood--that there was something about that person well worthy of
his attention. They now both looked at Johnny, and appeared both
convinced that he was a fit subject for further inquiry. Accordingly one
of them addressed him:--

"Your name vas John Jones, mynheer?"

"No, sir," said Johnny; "my name's John Armstrong."

"Ah, a small shange--dat is all. You vas John, and he vas John, and you
be both John togidder; so, you must come to de shore wid us."

"Catch me there, lads," quoth Johnny. "The deil a shore I'll gang to,
please Providence, but Leith shore. Na, na; I've had aneuch o' this
wark, and I'm determined to bring't till an' end noo."

"Donner and blitzen!" shouted out one of the men, passionately, "but
you must go!"--at the same time seizing Johnny by the collar, and
drawing a pistol from his bosom.

In utter amazement at this extraordinary treatment, Johnny Armstrong
imploringly called on the captain and the other passengers for
protection; but, as none of them were in the least acquainted with him,
and therefore did not know whether he was John Jones or not, they all
declined interfering--the captain saying that it would be more than his
ship and situation were worth to aid any one in resisting the laws of
the country--that he could not, dare not do it. His appeals, therefore,
to those around him being vain, he was eventually bundled into the
cutter and conveyed on shore, placed in a temporary place of confinement
for the night, and next day carried before a magistrate to be
identified. To effect this, several witnesses were called, when one and
all of them, after examining Johnny pretty narrowly, pronounced, to the
great disappointment of the officers who had apprehended him, that he
was _not_ the man! They, however, asserted that the resemblance between
the real and supposed John Jones was very remarkable. On the discovery
being made that the prisoner was not Jones, the magistrate apologized to
Johnny in the most polite terms for the trouble he had been put to, and
expressed great regret for the mistake of the officers; but said that,
as the witnesses had stated there was a strong resemblance--an
unfortunate one, he must call it--between him and the real defaulter,
and seeing, moreover, that they were both natives of Britain, the
officers were perfectly justified in doing what they had done, however
much the hardship of the case might be matter of regret. The magistrate
having thus delivered himself, Johnny Armstrong was dismissed with great
civility, and wished, by all present, safe home to his own country--a
wish in which he most heartily concurred, but which seemed to him more
easily entertained than gratified. On regaining his liberty, the first
thing he did was to endeavour to find out when the next ship sailed for
Scotland; he having, of course, lost that in which he had first
embarked, and, to his great consternation and dismay, learned that there
would be no vessel for a fortnight. This was sad intelligence to Johnny;
for, to add to his other distresses, his funds were now waxing low, and
he felt that it would require the utmost economy to enable him to spin
out the time and leave sufficient to pay his passage to his native land.
This economy he could very easily have practised at home, for he had a
natural tendency that way; but he did not know how to set about it in a
foreign country. His unhappiness and anxiety, therefore, on this point
were very great. In this dilemma, he bethought him of again seeking out
and quartering on his friend Vander Dunder, of Slootzsloykin, till the
vessel should sail; but not having, of course, a word of Dutch, he could
make no inquiries on the subject of his route, or indeed of anything
regarding his friend at all. This idea, therefore, he ultimately
abandoned, principally through a fear that he should, by some mistake,
be despatched upon a wrong scent, a species of disaster to which he was
now so sensitively alive, that he would neither turn to the right nor to
the left without having made himself perfectly sure that he was about to
take the right course; and, as to conveyances of all kinds, of which he
now entertained an especial suspicion, he had prudently determined that
he would know every particular about them and their destinations before
he would put a foot in one of them, for he had found, from dear-bought
experience, that if he did not take this precaution, the chance was that
he would never reach the place he desired to get at, and might be
whisked away to some unknown country, where he would never more be heard
of.

Under this wholesome terror, Johnny made no attempt to find out his
friend Vander Dunder; but chance effected, in part at least, what his
limited knowledge of Dutch put it out of his power, with set purpose, to
accomplish. On turning the corner of a street, who should he have the
good fortune to meet with but Vander Dunder. The astonishment of the
good Dutchman on seeing Johnny was great, so great, indeed, as to
overcome the natural phlegm of his constitution. Holding up his hands in
amazement--

"Mine Got, my freend! are you shipwrack agen?" he exclaimed.

"No, no," quoth Johnny--"bad aneuch, but no just sae bad as that." And
he proceeded to inform his friend of the real state of the case.

The good-natured Dutchman was shocked at the recital, and felt ten times
more than ever for Johnny's unhappy situation and complicated
misfortunes. When he had concluded his affecting story--

"I tell you what you do, mine goot freend," said Vander Dunder--"you go
vith me to Slootzsloykin, and you remain vith me dere till your ship
sail. You do dat, mine goot freend."

"Wi' a' my heart," said Johnny, "and muckle obleeged to ye for yer
kindness."

"No, no--no obleege at all," replied the kind-hearted Dutchman,
impatiently. "Yo do the same to me in your coontry if I was shipwrack
and in misfortune, and put to trooble for an innocent thief."

"Aweel, maybe I wad; but, nevertheless, its kind o' you to offer me the
shelter o' yer roof," replied Johnny.

Dunder Vander Dunder now took his friend into a tavern, and treated him
to a glass of schnaps. Shortly thereafter the two embarked in a canal
boat for Slootzsloykin, where they finally arrived in safety. Here
Johnny met with the same kind treatment as before; and of that kindness
there was no abatement during the whole fortnight of his sojourn. At the
end of this period, Johnny Armstrong once more set out for Rotterdam, on
the day previous to the sailing of the vessel in which he now hoped to
reach his native land, without further molestation or interruption. And,
certainly, everything had the appearance of going right on this
occasion. The vessel, with Johnny on board, sailed at the appointed
time, and, before embarking, he had read distinctly on the ticket--a
large black board, with yellow letters, which was fastened to the
shrouds--that she was bound for Leith, and was the identical vessel he
had had in his eye. So far as this went, there could be no mistake
whatever. There was, indeed, one little circumstance that startled
Johnny, but which he had not discovered till the vessel had been some
time at sea. This was, that all the crew were Dutchmen, there not being
a Scotchman amongst them. The circumstance did not, indeed, greatly
alarm Johnny, but he certainly did think it a little odd; for he
naturally expected that, as she was a Leith vessel, her crew would be,
for the most part, at any rate, natives of Britain. However, he made no
remarks on the subject, thinking it, as it really was, a matter of
perfect indifference whether they were Scotchmen or Dutchmen. There were
two or three passengers in the vessel besides himself; but they were all
foreigners too, so that he could hold no converse with any of them; and
thus debarred from intercourse with his fellow voyagers, he sat by
himself, gazing from the deck of the vessel on the waste of waters with
which he was surrounded, and musing on the strange series of mishaps of
which he had so simply and innocently become the victim. It was while
thus employed--the vessel having been now a good many hours at sea, and
at the moment scudding away before a fine fresh breeze--that the captain
approached Johnny, and in very polite and civil terms, demanded his
passage money. As he spoke in Dutch, however, the latter did not
understand him. The captain observing this, and now guessing what
countryman he was, addressed him in very good English, and in that
language repeated his demand. With this demand, Johnny instantly
complied; and, finding that he was a civil, good-natured fellow, began
to open up a little conversation with him. His first remark was, that he
hoped they would have good weather. The captain hoped so too. His second
remark was, that they had a fine breeze. The captain agreed with
him--said it was a delightful breeze--and added that, if it continued to
blow as it then blew for four-and-twenty hours, he expected they would
be all safe at _Rouen_!

"At whar?" shouted out Johnny, looking aghast at the speaker.

"At Rouen, to be sure," repeated the captain, wondering at Johnny's
amazement.

"Gude's mercy!" exclaimed Johnny, with dreadful energy, "are ye no gaun
to Leith?--is this no a Leith boat?"

"Oh, no," said the captain smiling; "this is the Rouen packet. Were ye
not aware of that, sir? You have got into a sad scrape, my friend, if
you were not," he added, and now laughing outright at the dismal
expression of Johnny's countenance.

"Heaven hae a care o' me!" said Johnny despairingly. "Did I no read
distinctly on the ticket that was fastened to yer shroods, that ye were
bound for Leith?"

"Yes, yes," replied the captain, "you may have seen such a ticket as you
speak of, and there was certainly such a ticket on our shrouds as you
say, but it did not refer to this ship, but to the vessel outside of us.
We allowed the board to be exhibited on our shrouds merely to
accommodate our neighbour, as it could not be read from his--he being on
the outside, and we next the quay. That, my friend, is a piece of
civility very commonly practised at seaports by one vessel to another,
when similarly situated as we and they were. You will see it at all
quays and wharfs."

Johnny Armstrong groaned, but said nothing. At length, however, he
muttered, in a tone of Christian-like resignation--

"The Lord's will be dune! I see it's settled that I am never to get hame
again; but to be keepit gaun frae place to place ower the face o' the
earth, like anither wanderin' Jew. Gude hae a care o' me, but this is
awfu'! Its judgment like."

It certainly was very remarkable, but not in the least mysterious. This
new mistake of Johnny, like all the rest, was a perfectly simple
occurrence; and, like them, too, arose as plainly and naturally out of
circumstances as it was possible for any effect to do from a cause. But,
however, this may be, the captain--although he could not help laughing
at the awkward predicament of his passenger--really felt for him, seeing
the distress he was in, and was so much influenced by this feeling as to
offer to convey him back to Rotterdam, to which, he said, he would
return in two days, free of any charge; adding, with a smile, and with
the kind intention of reconciling Johnny to what could not now be
helped, that it was nothing, after all--that it would make a difference
of only a few days--and that it would be always showing him a little
more of the world.

"Mony thanks to ye," said Johnny, perceiving and appreciating the
friendly purpose of the captain; "and I'll e'en tak advantage o' yer
kind offer; but as to seein' the world, by my faith, I've seen now about
just as muckle o't as I want to see, and maybe a trifle mair--a hantle
mair, at ony rate, than I ever expected to see." Then, in a
soliloquizing tone and manner--"God keep me, whar's Brechin noo! A' that
I wanted, and a' that I intended, was to get to that bit paltry place;
and, instead o' that, here am I within a stane-cast o' the north pole,
for aught I ken to the contrar, and, to a' appearances, no half dune
wi't yet. Heaven kens whar I'll be sent niest!--maybe be landed on
Owhyhee, or on some desert island, like another Robinson Crusoe. Na,
it's certain, if things gang on muckle langer this way."

Of the drift or scope of these remarks, or, at any rate, of the feelings
that dictated them, the captain could make nothing, not knowing Johnny's
precise circumstances; nor did he seek to have them explained, but
contented himself with repeating his offer of conveying Johnny back to
Rotterdam, and renewing his well-meant efforts to reconcile him to his
fate, in so far as his present voyage was concerned. In the meantime,
the wind continued to blow in a manner perfectly satisfactory in every
respect to all on board the _Jungfrau_ of Rotterdam and Rouen; and, in
about the space of time mentioned by the captain, the vessel reached her
destination in safety. Johnny Armstrong, whose whole mind was absorbed
by anxiety to reach that home which he yet seemed destined never again
to see, took no interest whatever in the scenes presented to him in the
part of the world he was now in. Indeed, he never left the vessel at
all, for fear she would slip through his fingers; for, if he was afraid
of accidents of this kind before, he was ten times more so now; and,
with this fear upon him, that the packet might, by some chance or other,
escape him, he determined to stick by her--never to lose sight of her
for a moment, till she had conveyed him back to Rotterdam; and his
vigilance ultimately secured the end he had in view. The _Jungfrau_
sailed from Rouen with Johnny on board, and, in due time, deposited him
once more at Rotterdam. But what was Johnny's surprise, what Dunder
Vander Dunder's amazement, when they again encountered one another, and
that within ten minutes of the former's landing! The amazement of the
latter, however, was, on this occasion, evidently mingled with a degree
of suspicion of the perfect uprightness of Johnny's character. He began
now to think, in short, that there had been more in the circumstance of
Johnny's apprehension than he had been informed of. He did not like
these frequent reappearances; he thought them very odd--and he did not
hesitate to say so.

"Mine Got! vat you here again for, man? Vat is de meaning of all dis,
mine goot freend?" he exclaimed, with a somewhat dry and doubtful
manner, quite at variance with the cordial tone of his former greetings.

Johnny Armstrong explained to him, but seemingly without obtaining
implicit credence for all he said. When he had done--

"'Tis veree odd," said Vander Dunder, coldly; "veree straunge. But, you
really vant to go to Scotlan, dere is vessel going to sail for Leet now,
and I vill see you on board mineself."

It was very questionable whether Vander's civility, in this case,
proceeded from a desire really to serve Johnny, or from a wish to get
fairly rid of him. However this might be, Johnny readily accepted his
offer, and at once accompanied him to the vessel he alluded to, which
was, indeed, on the point of sailing. Vander, taking care that there
should be no mistake in this case, conducted him down into the cabin,
and waited on the quay till he saw the vessel fairly under weigh.

Having brought the disasters of Johnny Armstrong to this point, we
proceed now to finish what we assure our readers, is an "ower true
tale."

As we were strolling down the pier of Leith, with a friend, one
afternoon in the year 18--, we saw a vessel making for the harbour. It
was high water, and the scene altogether was a very pleasing and a very
stirring one. But, amongst the various objects of interest that
presented themselves, there was none that attracted so much of our
attention as the stately vessel that, with outspread canvas, was rapidly
nearing the pier. We asked a seaman who stood beside us, where she was
from. He replied--"Rotterdam."

On approaching the pier, the vessel shortened sail, and, by this
process, enabled us deliberately to scan her decks from our elevated
position, as she glided gently along with us. During this scrutiny, we
observed amongst the passengers a stout little man in a brown greatcoat,
with a large red comforter about his neck, and his hat secured on his
head--for it was blowing pretty hard--by a blue pocket-handkerchief,
which was passed beneath his chin, and gave him, in a very particular
manner, the peculiar air of a traveller or _vóyageur_. There was nothing
whatever in the appearance of the little man in the brown greatcoat
which would have led any one to suppose, _à priori_, that there possibly
could be anything remarkable or extraordinary in his history; but I was
induced suddenly to change my opinion, or at least to take some interest
in him, by my friend's exclaiming, in the utmost amazement, and, at the
same time, pointing to him with the red comforter--

"Gracious Heaven, if there is not Johnny Armstrong! Or it is his ghost!"

"No ghost at all, we warrant you," said we; "ghosts do not generally
wear greatcoats and red comforters. But who in all the world is Johnny
Armstrong?"

"Johnny Armstrong," replied our friend, greatly excited, "is a person, a
particular acquaintance of mine, who has been missing these six weeks;
and who was supposed, by everybody who knew him, to have perished by
some accident or other, but of what nature could never be ascertained,
on his way to Brechin, where he had gone to visit some relations."

We felt interested in Johnny, by this brief sketch of his mysterious
story; and, not a little curious to know where on earth he could
possibly have been all the time, we readily closed with our friend's
proposal to run round to the berth for which we saw the vessel was
making, and to await his coming on shore.

"But how, in all the world," said our friend, communing with himself
during this interval, "has he got into a vessel from Rotterdam? He could
not have been there, surely? It's impossible."

As to this we could say nothing, not knowing at the time anything at all
of Johnny's adventures; but of these we were not now long kept in
ignorance. On his stepping on shore, our friend seized him joyously by
the hand, and expressed great satisfaction at seeing him again. This
satisfaction appeared to be mutual; for Johnny returned his friend's
grasp with great cordiality and warmth. The first salutations over--

"But where on all the earth, Mr. Armstrong," said our friend, "have you
been for these three months back?"

Johnny smiled, and said it was "ower lang a tale" to tell where we then
were; but, as he meant to stop either in Leith or Edinburgh for the
night, it being now pretty far in the evening, if my friend and I would
adjourn with him to some respectable house, where he could get a night's
quarters, he would give us the whole story of his adventures. With this
proposal we readily closed; and on Johnny asking if we could point out
such a house as he alluded to, we at once named the New Ship Tavern.
Thither we accordingly repaired; and, in less than two hours thereafter,
we were put, good reader, in possession, by Johnny himself, of that part
of his story to which the preceding pages have been devoted. What
follows--for Johnny's misfortunes had not yet terminated--we learned
afterwards from another quarter.

On the next day--we mean the day succeeding the evening we spent with
Johnny--the latter proceeded to Edinburgh, with the view of taking
coach there for Carlisle. But, in making his way up Catherine Street,
and when precisely opposite No. 12, Calton Street--we like to be
particular--Johnny found himself suddenly accosted by one of his oldest
and most intimate friends. This was a Mr. James Stevenson, a
fellow-townsman and fellow-shopkeeper of his own.

The astonishment of the latter, on meeting with Johnny, and, indeed, of
finding him at all in the land of the living, was very great; and he
sufficiently expressed this feeling by the lively and highly excited
manner in which he addressed him.

Having put the usual queries, with that air of intense interest which
they naturally excited, as to where Johnny had been, what he had been
about, &c. &c., and having obtained a brief sketch of his adventures,
with the promise of a fuller one afterwards, Mr. Stevenson, in reply,
asked Johnny what course he was now steering.

"Hame, to be sure," said Johnny, with a smile. "It's time noo, I
think--I'm just sae far on my way to tak' oot a ticket for the coach."

"Ye needna do that unless ye like," replied Johnny's friend. "Ye may
save your siller, and no be abune an hour langer tarried, by takin' a
seat wi' me in the gig I hae in wi' me. I'm sure ye're welcome, and I'll
be blythe o' your company."

"Hae ye a gig in wi' ye?" said Johnny, looking pleased by the
intelligence.

"'Deed hae I, Mr. Armstrong, and ye'll just clink down beside me in't."

"I'll do that wi' great thankfu'ness," replied Johnny, "and muckle
obleeged by the offer."

The friends now walked away, arm in arm together; and in about two hours
afterwards--Mr. Stevenson having, in the meantime, despatched what
business he had to do in the city--they were both, seated in the gig,
and birring it on merrily towards Carlisle.

Neither Mr. Stevenson nor Johnny, however, were great whips--a
deficiency which was by no means compensated for by the circumstance of
their having a rather spirited horse, although blind of an eye. He was,
in truth, a very troublesome animal; boggling and shying at everything
that presented itself to his solitary optic. Notwithstanding this, the
travellers got on very well for a time, and were whirling over the
ground at a rapid rate, when an unlucky cart of hay came in their way at
a narrow turn of the road. How this simple occurrence should have
operated so unfavourably as it did for them, we shall explain.

A cart of hay is not a very alarming object to rational creatures like
ourselves, but to the one-eyed horse of the travellers it appeared a
very serious affair; for it had no sooner presented itself to his
solitary organ of vision than he pricked up his ears, snorted furiously,
and began to exhibit sundry other symptoms of disquietude. By dint,
however, of some well-directed punishment from Jamie Stevenson's whip,
which Johnny increased by an energetic application of his stick, the
restive animal was brought _up_ to the waggon of hay; but, for some
time, the inducements just mentioned failed to prevail on him to _pass_
it.

At length, however, Johnny having added greatly to the vigour of his
blows with his stick, and his neighbour to that of his strokes with the
whip, the horse _did_ pass the waggon, and that with a vengeance. Taking
heart, or rather becoming desperate, he bolted past it with the rapidity
of a cannon shot; and not only this, but when he had cleared it,
continued the velocity of his movements with unabated energy, to the
great discomfort and no small terror of both Johnny and his companion,
who now found themselves going at a rate which they had neither
anticipated nor desired. Indeed, this was so very great that both
directly saw that something was wrong. Both saw, in short, what was,
indeed, too true, that the horse had fairly run away with them; for he
was now going like the wind, with fury and distraction in his looks. It
was a shocking and most dreadfully alarming affair; and so Johnny and
his friend felt it to be, as might be distinctly seen by their
horror-stricken faces.

On discovering the predicament they were in, both the travellers--the
one dropping his whip, and the other his stick--seized on the reins, and
began pulling with all their might, in the desperate hope of checking
the animal's speed by main force; Johnny, in his terror, exclaiming the
while, distractedly--

"Mair o't yet, mair o't yet! Lord have a care o' me, but this is awfu'!
This is waur than onything I hae met wi' yet. Waur than the _Fifteen
Sisters_, Dutchmen, and a'. God be wi' us! are my misfortunes never to
hae an end, till they hae finished me outricht? Am I never to get safe
to either ae place or anither?--either to hame or to Brechin? Surely ane
o' them might be permitted to me. O, Jamie, see hoo he's gaun! He doesna
seem to fin' us at his hurdies, nae mair than if we war a pair o'
preencushions."

This was true enough. The horse in his fury did not indeed seem to feel
either them or the vehicle they were seated in, but pushed madly
onwards, till he came to where the road divided itself into two distinct
roads--the one being the right one, and the other, of course, the
wrong--when, as if inspired by Johnny's evil genius, he at once took the
latter, and in little more than twenty minutes, had him and his friend
fully half as many miles out of their way. Now, however, the catastrophe
was to be wound up. A milestone caught one of the wheels of the gig,
canted it over, and threw Johnny sprawling on the road with a broken
leg; his friend, although also thrown, escaping wholly unhurt.

"Aweel, here it's at last," said Johnny, sitting up in the mud amongst
which he had been planted, and fully believing that his injuries were
fatal. "Here it's at last. I'm clean dune for noo, after a' my escapes.
It may be noo plainly seen, I think," he went on, "that some evil spirit
has had me in its power, for these six weeks past at ony rate, and has
been gowfin' me about the world like a fitba', to kill me wi' a gig at
last."

Luckily, Johnny's injuries did not prove so serious as he had feared
they would do; and no less fortunate was it that the accident to which
they were owing happened not far from a small country town in which
there was a resident surgeon. To the latter place Johnny was immediately
removed on a temporary bier, hastily constructed for the purpose by some
labouring men who chanced to be near the spot where the accident
happened, and there he lay for six entire weeks, when the surgeon above
alluded to, and who had attended him all that time, intimated to him
that he might now venture to return home. Delighted with the
intelligence, Johnny instantly acted on it, and next day entered
Carlisle triumphantly in a post-chaise--not looking, nor really being,
after all, much the worse for his unprecedented adventures, save and
except a lameness in the injured limb, which ever after imparted to his
movements the graceful up-and-down motion produced by that peculiar
longitudinal proportion of the nether limbs, designated by the
descriptive definition of "a short leg and a shorter." Having, with this
last occurrence, concluded the story of Johnny's disasters, we have only
to add that Johnny has never, to this good hour, got the length of
Brechin--nor will, he says, ever again make the attempt.



THE PROFESSOR'S TALES.[4]
THE MOUNTAIN STORM.

[4] The author of these stories (to be continued), the well-known
Professor Thomas Gillespie, was one of the principal writers in
_Blackwood_ during the "storm and stress" period of that magazine. As an
author, his peculiarity consisted in vivid descriptions of scenery and
incidents coming within the range of a very eccentric experience, all
given with a versatility and _abandon_ which he could not restrain, and
which, being the reflex of a poetical enthusiasm, formed the charm of
his writings.--_Ed._


Packman _loquitur_.--For several days the wind had been easterly, with
an intense frost. At last, however, the weather subsided into a calm and
dense fog, under which, at mid-day, it was difficult to find one's way
amidst those mountain tracks along which, in general, my route lay. The
grass and heath were absolutely loaded with hoar-frost. My cheeks became
encompassed by a powdered covering; my breath was intensely visible, and
floated and lingered about my face with an oppressive and almost
suffocating density. No sun, moon, or star had appeared for upwards of
forty-eight hours; when, according to my preconcerted plan, I reached
the farm town of Burnfoot. I was now in the centre of Queensberry Hills,
the most notable sheep-pasturage in the south of Scotland. It was about
three o'clock of the fifteenth day of January, when, under a cheerful
welcome from the guidwife, I rested my pack (for, be it known, I belong
to this class of peripatetic merchants) upon the meal ark, disengaged my
arms from the leather straps by which the pack was suspended from my
shoulders, and proceeded to light my pipe at the blazing peat-fire.
Refreshments, such as are best suited to the _packman's drouth_, were
soon and amply supplied, and I had the happiness of seeing my old
acquaintances (for I visited Burnfoot twice a year, on my going and
coming from Glasgow to Manchester) drop _in_ from their several
avocations, one after another, and all truly rejoiced to behold my face,
and still more delighted to inspect the treasure and the wonders of "the
pack." At last the guidman himself suspended his plaid from the mid-door
head, put off his shoes and leggings, assumed his slippers, along with
his prescriptive seat at the head or upper end of the lang-settle. The
guidwife, returning _butt_ from bedding the youngest of some half-score
of children, welcomed her husband with a look of the most genuine
affection. She put a little creepie stool under his feet, felt that his
clothes were not wet, scolded the dogs to a respectful distance, and
inspired the peats into a double blaze. The oldest daughter, now "woman
grown," sat combing the hoar-frost from her raven locks, and looking out
from beneath beautifully arched and bushy eyebrows upon the interesting
addition which had been made to the meal-ark. Some half-a-score of
healthy lads and lasses occupied the bench ayont the fire, o'er-canopied
by sheep-skins, aprons, stockings, and footless hose. The dogs, after
various and somewhat noisy differences had been adjusted, fell into
order and position around the hearth, enjoying the warmth, and licking,
peacefully and carefully, the wet from their sides. The cat, by this
time, had made a returning motion from the cupboard head, from which she
had been watching the arrangements and movements beneath. As this
appeared to "Help" to be an infringement of the terms of armistice and
of the frontier laws, he sprang with eagerness over the hearth. Pussy,
finding it dangerous, under this sudden and somewhat unexpected
movement, "_dare terga_," instantly drew up her whole body into an
attitude not only of defence, but defiance; curving herself into a
bristling crescent, with the head of a dragon attached to it, and, with
one horrid hiss and sputter, compelled Help first to hesitate and then
to retreat.

   "Three paces back the youth retired,
      And saved himself from harm."

The guidwife, however,--who seemed not unaccustomed to such
demonstrations, and who manifestly acted on the humane principle of
assisting the weaker by assailing the stronger combatant--gave Help such
demonstrations of her intentions, as at once reduced matters to the
_status quo ante bellum_. (I have as good a right to scholarship as my
brother packman, Plato, who carried oil to Egypt.) Thus peace and good
order being restored, the treasures of my burden became an immediate and
a universal subject of inquiry. I was compelled, nothing loath, to
unstrap my various packages, and disclose to view all the varied
treasures of the spindle and loom. Shawls were spread out into enormous
display, with central, and corner, and border ornaments, the most
amazing and the most fashionable; waistcoat pieces of every stripe and
figure, from the straight line to the circle, of every hue and colouring
which the rainbow exhibits, were unfolded in the presence and under the
scrutinizing thumb of many purchasers. The guidwife herself half coaxed
and half scolded a fine remnant of Flanders lace, of most tempting
aspect, out of the guidman's reluctant pocket. The very dogs seemed
anxious to be accommodated, and applied their noses to some unopened
bales, with a knowing look of inquiry. Things were proceeding in this
manner, when the door opened, and there entered a young man of the most
prepossessing appearance; in fact, what Burns terms a "strapping youth."
I could observe that, at his entrance, the daughter's eye (of whom I
have formerly made mention) immediately kindled into an expression of
the most universal kindness and benevolence. Hitherto she had taken but
a limited interest in what was going on; but now she became the most
prominent figure in the group--whilst the mother dusted a chair for the
welcome stranger with her apron, and the guidman welcomed him with a--

"Come awa, Willie Wilson, an' tak a seat. The nicht's gay dark an'
dreary. I wonder how ye cleared the Whitstane Cleugh and the Side Scaur,
man, on sic an eerie nicht."

"Indeed," responded the stranger, casting a look, in the meantime,
towards the guidman's buxom, and, indeed, lovely daughter--"indeed, it's
an unco fearfu' nicht--sic a mist and sic a cauld I hae seldom if ever
encountered; but I dinna ken hoo it was--I coulda rest at hame till I
had tellt ye a' the news o' the last Langhom market."

"Ay, ay," interrupted the guidwife; "the last Langhom market, man, is an
auld tale noo, I trow. Na, na, yer mither's son camna here on sic a
nicht, and at sic an hour, on sic an unmeaning errand"--finishing her
sentence, however, by a whisper into Willie's ear, which brought a
deeper red into his cheek, and seemed to operate in a similar manner on
the apparently deeply engaged daughter.

"But, Watty," continued my fair purchaser, "you _must_ give me this
Bible a little cheaper--it's ower dear, man--heard ever onybody o' five
white shillings gien for a Bible, and it only a New Testament, after
a'?--it's baith a sin an' a shame, Watty."

After some suitable reluctance, I was on the point of reducing the price
by a single sixpence, when Willie Wilson advanced towards the pack, and
at once taking up the book and the conversation--

"Ower dear, Jessie, my dear!--it's the word o' God, ye ken--his ain
precious word; and I'll e'en mak ye a present o' the book at Watty's ain
price. Ye ken he maun live, as we a' do, by his trade."

The money was instantly paid down from a purse pretty will filled; for
William Wilson was the son of a wealthy and much respected sheep-farmer
in the neighbourhood, and had had his name _once_ called in the kirk,
along with that of "Janet Harkness of Burnfoot, both in this parish."

"Hoot noo, bairns," rejoined the mother; "ye're baith wrang--that Bible
winna do ava. Ye maun hae a big ha' Bible to take the buik wi', and
worship the God o' yer fathers nicht and morning, as they hae dune afore
ye; and Watty will bring ye ane frae Glasgow the next time he comes
roun'; and it will, maybe, be usefu', ye ken, in _anither way_."

"Tout, mither, wi' yer nonsense," interrupted the conscious bride; "I
never liked to see my name and age marked and pointed out to onybody on
oor muckle Bible; sae just haud yer tongue, mither, and tak a present
frae William and _me_," added she, blushing deeply, "o' that big printed
Testament. The minister, ye ken, seldom meddles wi' the auld Bible,
unless it be a bit o' the Psalms; and yer een noo are no sae gleg as
they were whan ye were married to my father there."

The father, overcome by this well-timed and well-directed evidence of
goodness, piety, and filial affection, rose from his seat on the
long-settle, and, with tears in his eyes, pronounced a most fervent
benediction over the shoulders of his child.

"O God in heaven, bless and preserve my dear Jessie!" said he--his
child's tears now falling fast and faster. "Oh, may the God of thy
fathers make thee happy--thee and thine--him there and his!--and when
thy mother's grey hairs and mine are laid and hid in the dust, mayest
thou have children, such as thy fond and dutiful self, to bless and
comfort, to rejoice and support thy heart!"

There was not, by this time, a dry eye in the family; and, as a painful
silence was on the point of succeeding to this outbreaking of nature,
the venerable parent slowly and deliberately took down the big ha' Bible
from its bole in the wall, and, placing it on the lang-settle table, he
proceeded to family worship with the usual solemn prefatory
annunciation--"Let us worship God."

Love, filial affection, and piety--what a noble, what a beautiful
triumvirate! By means of these, Scotland has rendered herself
comparatively great, independent, and happy. These are the graces which,
in beautiful union, have protected her liberties, sweetened her
enjoyments, and exalted her head amongst the nations, and which, over
all, have cast an expression and a feature irresistibly winning and
nationally characteristic. It is over such scenes as the kitchen
fireside of Burnfoot now presented, that the soul hovers with
ever-awakening and ever-intenser delight; that even amidst the coldness,
and unconcern, and irreligion of an iron age, the mind, at least at
intervals, is redeemed into ecstasy, and feels, in spite of habit, and
example, and deadened apprehensions, that there is a beauty in pure and
virgin love, a depth in genuine and spontaneous filial regard, and an
impulse in communion with Him that is most high, which, even when taken
separately, are hallowing, sacred, and elevating; but which, when
blended and softened down into one great and leading feature, prove
incontestably that man is, in his origin and unalloyed nature, but a
little lower than the angels.

Such was the aspect of matters in this sequestered and sanctified
dwelling, when the house seemed, all at once, to be smitten, like Job's,
at the four corners. The soot fell in showers into the grate; the
rafters creaked; the dust descended; every door in the house rattled on
its sneck and hinges; and the very dogs sprung at once from their
slumbers and barked. There was something so awful in the suddenness and
violence of the commotion, that the prayer was abruptly and suddenly
brought to a conclusion.

"Ay, fearfu', sirs!" were John Harkness' first words when springing to
his feet; "but there's an awfu' nicht. Open the outer door, Jamie, and
let us see what it is like." The outer door was opened; but the drift
burst in with such a suffocating swirl, that a strong lad who
encountered it, reeled and gasped for breath.

"The hogs!" exclaimed the guidman, "and the gimmers!--where did ye leave
them, Jamie?"

"In Capleslacks," was the answer, "by east the Dod. The wind has set in
frae the nor'-east, and fifty score o' sheep, if this continue, will
never see the mornin'."

But what was to be done?

    "The wind blew as 'twould blawn its last,"

and the whole atmosphere was one almost solid wreath of penetrating
snow; when you thrust forth your hand into the open air, it was as if
you had perforated an iceberg. Burnfoot stands at the convergence of two
mountain glens, adown one of which the tempest came as from a
funnel--collected, compressed, irresistible. There was a momentary look
of suspense--every one eying the rest with an expression of indecision
and utter helplessness. The young couple, by some law of affinity, stood
together in a corner. The shepherd lads, with Jamie Hogg at their head,
were employed in adjusting plaids to their persons. The guidman had
already resumed his leggings, and the dogs were all exceedingly
excited--amazed at this unexpected movement, but perfectly resolved to
do their duty.

"Jamie," said the guidman, "you and I will try to mak oor way by the
Head Scaur to Capleyetts, where the main hirsel was left; and Will, Tam,
and Geordie will see after the hogs and gimmers ayont the Dod."

"I, too," exclaimed a voice from the corner, over which, however, a fair
hand was pressed, and which was therefore but indistinctly heard--"I
will--(canna ye let me speak, Jessie!)--I will not, I shall not be left
behind--I will accompany the guidman, and do what I can to seek and to
save."

"Indeed and indeed, my dear William, ye can do nae guid--ye dinna ken
the grun' like my faither; and there's mony a kittle step forbye the
Head Scaur; and, the Lord be wi' us! on sic a nicht too." So saying, she
clasped her betrothed firmly around the neck, and absolutely compelled
him to relinquish his purpose. Having gained this one object, the fair
and affectionate bride rushed across the room to her father, and falling
down on her knees, grasped him by the legs, and exclaimed--

"O mither, mither! come and help me--come and help me! faither, my dear
faither, let Jamie Hogg gang, and the rest; they are young, ye ken, and
as weel acquant as yersel' wi' the ly o' the glens! but this is no a
nicht for the faither o' a family to risk his life to save his
substance. O faither, faither! I am soon, ye ken, to leave you and bonny
Burnfoot--grant me, oh, grant me this one, this last request!"

The mother sat all this while wringing her hands and exclaiming--

"Ay, ay, Jenny, get him to stay, get him to stay!"

The father answered not a word, but, making a sign to Hogg, and
whistling on Help, and at the same time kissing his _now_ all but
fainting child, he rushed out of the door (as Mrs. Harkness said) "like
a fey man," and he and his companion, with a suitable accompaniment of
dogs, were almost instantly invisible. The three other lads, suitably
armed and accompanied, followed the example set to them, and the
guidwife, the two lovers, five or six younger branches, and the female
servants of the family, with myself, remained at home in a state of
anxiety and suspense which can be better conceived than expressed.

    "The varnished clock that clicked behind the door,"

with a force and a stroke loud and painful in the extreme, struck first
ten, then eleven, then twelve; but there was no return. Again and again
were voices heard commingling with the tempest's rush; again and again
did the outer door seem to move backwards on its hinges; but nothing
entered save the shrill pipe of the blast, accompanied by the comminuted
drift, which penetrated through every seam and cranny. This state of
uncertainty was awful; even the ascertained reality of death, partial or
universal, had perhaps less of soul-benumbing cold in it than this
inconceivable suspense. It required Willie Wilson's utmost efforts and
mine to keep the frantic woman from madly rushing into the drift; and
the voice of lamentation was sad and loud amongst the children and the
servant lasses--each of the latter class lamented, indeed, the fate of
all, but there was always an under prayer offered up for the safety of
Geordie, or Will, or Jamie, in particular. At last the three lads who
had encompassed the Dod arrived--alive, indeed, but almost breathless
and frozen to death. They had, however, surmounted incredible
difficulties, and had succeeded in placing their hirsel in a position of
comparative security; but where were Jamie Hogg and the guidman? The
violence of the storm had nothing abated, the snow was every moment
accumulating, and the danger and difficulty increasing tenfold. Spirits,
heat, and friction gradually restored the three lads to their senses,
and to the kind attentions of their several favourites of the female
order; but _there_ sat the mother and the daughter, whilst the father
was either, in all probability, dead or dying. The very thought was
distracting; and, accordingly, the young bride, now turning to her lover
with a look of inexpressible anguish, exclaimed--

"O Willie! my ain dear Willie, ye maun gang, after a', ye maun gang this
instant," (Willie was on his feet and plaided whilst yet the sentence
was unfinished,) "and try to rescue my dear, dear faither from this
awfu' and untimely end; but tak care, oh tak care o' the big Scaur, and
keep far west by Caplecleuch, and maybe ye'll meet them coming back that
way." These last words were lost in the drift, whilst Willie Wilson,
with his faithful follower, Rover, were penetrating, and flouncing, and
floundering their way towards the place pointed out.

In about half an hour after this, the howl and scratch of a dog were
heard at the door-back, and Help immediately rushed in, the welcome
forerunner of his master and Hogg. They had, indeed, had a fearful
struggle, and fearful wanderings; but, in endeavouring to avoid the
dangerous, because precipitous, Head Scaur, they had wandered from the
track, and from the object of their travel; and, after having been
inclined once or twice to lie down and take a rest (the deceitful
messenger of death), they had at last got upon the track of Caple Water;
and, by keeping to its windings--which they had often traced at the risk
of being drowned--they had at last weathered the old cham'er, the byre,
and peat-stack, and were now, thank God! within "bigget wa's."

But where, alas! was Willie Wilson? Him, in consequence of their
deviations, they had missed; and over him, thus exposed, the tempest was
still renewing at intervals its hurricane gusts. There was one scream
heard, such as would have penetrated the heart of a tiger, and all was
still. There she lay, the beauteous, but now marble bride; her head
reposing on her mother's lap, her lips pale as the snowdrop, her eyes
fixed and soulless, her cheek without a tint, and her mouth half-open
and breathless. Long, long was the withdrawment--again and again was the
dram-glass applied to the mouth, to catch the first expiration of
returning breath--ere the frame began to quiver, the hands to move, the
lips and cheeks to colour, and the eyes to indicate the approaching
return to reason and perception.

"I have killed him! I have killed him!" were the first frantic accents.
"I have murdered, murdered my dear Willie! It was me that sent
him--forced him--compelled him out--out into the drift--the cold, cold
drift. Away!" added the maniac--"away! I'll go after him--I'll perish
with him--where he lies, there will I lie, and there will I be buried.
What! is there none of ye that will make an effort to save a
perishing--a choking--oh, my God! a suffocating man?"

Hereupon she again sank backwards, and was prevented from falling by the
arms of a father.

"O my child!" said parental love and affection--"O my dear wean!--oh, be
patient!--God is guid--He has preserved _us_ all--He will not desert
_him_ in the hour of his need--He neither slumbers nor sleeps--His hand
is not shortened that He cannot save--and what He can, He will--He never
deserted any that trusted in Him. O my child! my bairn!--my
first-born!--be patient--be patient. There--there--there is a scratch at
the door-back--it is Rover."

And to be sure Rover it was--but Rover in despair. His faithful
companion and friend only entered the house to solicit immediate aid--he
ran round and round, looking up into the face of every one with an
expression of the most imploring anxiety. The poor frantic girl sprung
from her father's embrace, and clung to the neck of the well-known
cur--she absolutely kissed him--(oh, to what will not love, omnipotent,
virtuous love, descend!)--then rising, in renewed recollection, she sat
herself down on the long-settle beside her father, and burst into loud
and passionate grief.

It was now manifest to all that something must be attempted, else the
young farmer must perish. Hogg, though awfully exhausted, was the first
to volunteer a new excursion. The whole band were at once on their
feet; but Jessie now clung to her father, as she had formerly done to
her lover, and would not let him go--indeed, the guidman was in no
danger of putting his purpose into effect, for he could scarcely stand
on his feet. He sat, or rather fell down, consequently, beside his
daughter, and continued in constant prayer and supplication at the
throne of grace. The daughter listened, and said she was comforted--the
voyagers were again on their way--the tempest had somewhat abated--the
moon had once or twice shone out--and there was now a greater chance of
success in their undertaking.

How we all contrived to exist during an interval of about two hours, I
cannot say; but this I know, that the endurance of this second trial was
worse than the first, to all but the sweet bride herself. Her mind had
now taken a more calm and religious view of the case. She repeated, at
intervals and pauses in her father's ejaculatory prayer--

"Yes--oh, yes--_His_ will--His holy will be done! The Lord giveth and
the Lord taketh away--blessed be the name of the Lord for ever! We shall
meet again--oh, yes--where the weary are at rest.

   'A few short years of evil past,
      We reach the happy shore
    Where death-divided friends at last
      Shall meet, to part no more.'

O father, is not that a gracious saying, and worthy of all acceptation!"

At length the door opened, and in walked William Wilson.

The reader need scarcely to be told that the sagacious dog had left his
master floundered, and unable to extricate himself in a snow wreath;
that the same faithful guide had taken the searchers to the spot, where
they found Wilson just in the act of falling into a sleep--from which,
indeed, but for the providential sagacity of his dog, he had never
wakened; and that, by means of some spirits which they had taken in a
bottle, they completely restored and conducted him home.

    "Lives there one with soul so dead"

as not now to image the happy meeting betwixt bride and bridegroom, and,
above all, the influence which this trial had upon the happiness and
religious character of their future married and prosperous lot?

It is, indeed, long since I have laid aside the pack--to which, after a
good education, I had taken, from a wandering propensity--and taken up
my residence in the flourishing village of Thornhill, Dumfriesshire;
living, at first, on the profits of my shop, and now retired on my
little, but, to me, ample competency; but I still have great pleasure in
paying a yearly visit to my friends of Mitchelslacks, and in recalling
with them, over a comfortable meal, the interesting incidents of the
snow storm 1794.



THE FAIR MAID OF CELLARDYKES.


I did not like the idea of having all the specimens of the fine arts in
Europe collected into one "bonne bouche" at the Louvre. It was like
collecting, while a boy, a handful of strawberries, and devouring them
at one indiscriminating gulp. I do not like floral exhibitions, for the
same reason. I had rather a thousand times meet my old and my new
friends in my solitary walks, or in my country rambles. All museums in
this way confound and bewilder me; and had the Turk not been master of
Greece, I should have preferred a view of the Elgin marbles in the land
of their nativity. And it is for a similar reason that my mind still
reverts, with a kind of dreamy delight, to the time when I viewed
mankind in detail, and in all their individual and natural
peculiarities, rather than _en masse_, and in one regimental uniform.
Educate up! Educate up! Invent machinery--discover agencies--saddle
nature with the panniers of labour--and, at last, stand alongside of
her, clothed, from the peasant to the prince, in the wonders of her
manufacture, and merrily whistling, in idle unconcern, to the tune of
her unerring despatch! But what have we gained? One mass of
similarities: the housemaid, the housekeeper, the lady, and the
princess, speaking the same language, clothed in the same habiliments,
and enjoying the same immunities from corporeal labour--the colours of
the rainbow whirled and blended into one glare of white! Towards this
_ultimatum_ we are now fast hastening. Where is the shepherd
stocking-weaver, with his wires and his fingers moving invisibly? Where
the "wee and the muckle wheel," with the aged dames, in pletted toys,
singing "Tarry woo?" Where the hodden-grey clad patriarch, sitting in
the midst of his family, and mixing familiarly, and in perfect equality
with all the household--servant and child? My heart constantly warms to
these recollections; and I feel as if wandering over a landscape
variegated by pleasant and contrasting colouring, and overshadowed with
associations which have long been a part of myself. One exception to the
general progression and assimilation still happily remains to gratify, I
must confess, my liking for things as they were. The fisher population
of Newhaven, Buckhaven, and Cellardykes--(my observation extends no
farther, and I limit my remarks accordingly)--are, in fact, the Scottish
highlanders, the Irish, the Welsh, and the Manks of Fisherdom. Differing
each somewhat from the other, they are united by one common bond of
character--they are varieties of the same animal--the different species
under one genus. I like this. I am always in high spirits when I pass
through a fishing village or a fisher street. No accumulation of filth
in every hue--of shell, and gill, and fish-tail--can disgust me. I even
smell a sweet savour from their empty baskets, as they exhale themselves
dry in the sunbeam. And then there is a hue of robust health over all.
No mincing of matters. Female arms and legs of the true Tuscan
order--cheeks and chins where neither the rose nor the bone has been
stinted. Children of the dub and the mire--all agog in demi-nudity, and
following nature most vociferously. Snug, comfortable cabins, where
garish day makes no unhandsome inquiries, and where rousing fires and
plentiful meals abide from June to January. They have a language, too,
of their own--the true Mucklebacket dialect; and freely and firmly do
they throw from them censure, praise, or ribaldry. The men are here but
men; mere human machines--useful, but not ornamental--necessary
incumbrances rather than valuable protectors. "Poor creature!" says Meg
of the Mucklebacket, "she canna maintain a man." Sir Walter saw through
the character I am labouring to describe; and, in one sentence, put life
and identity into it. I know he was exceedingly fond of conversing with
fisherwomen in particular. But, whilst such are the general features,
each locality I have mentioned has its distinctive lineaments. The
Newhaven fisherwoman (for the man is unknown) is a bundle of snug
comfort. Her body, her dress, her countenance, her basket, her voice,
all partake of the same character of _enbonpointness_. Yet there is
nothing at all untidy about her. She may ensconce her large limbs in
more plaiden coverings than the gravedigger in "Hamlet" had waistcoats,
but still she moves without constraint; and under a burden which would
press my lady's waiting-maid to the carpet, she moves free, firm,
elastic. Her tongue is not labour-logged, her feet are not
creel-retarded; but, altogether unconscious of the presence of hundreds,
she holds on her way and her discourse as if she were a caravan in the
desert. She is to be found in every street and alley of Auld Reekie,
till her work is accomplished. Her voice of call is exceedingly musical,
and sounds sweetly in the ears of the infirm and bedrid. All night long
she holds her stand close by the theatre, with her broad knife and her
opened oyster. In vain does the young spark endeavour to engage her in
licentious talk. He soon discovers that, wherever her feelings or
affections tend, they do not point in his favour. Thus, loaded with
pence, and primed with gin, she returns by midnight to her home--there
to share a supper-pint with her man and her neighbours, and to prepare,
by deep repose, for the duties of a new day. Far happier and far more
useful she, in her day and generation, than that thing of fashion which
men call a beau or a belle--in whose labours no one rejoices, and in
whose bosom no sentiment but self finds a place. In Buckhaven, again,
the Salique law prevails. There men are men, and women mere appendages.
The sea department is here all in all. The women, indeed, crawl a little
way, and through a few deserted fields, into the surrounding country;
but the man drives the cart, and the cart carries the fish; and the fish
are found in all the larger inland towns eastward. Cellardykes is a
mixture of the two--a kind of William and Mary government, where, side
by side, at the same cart, and not unfrequently in the same boat, are to
be found man and woman, lad and lass. Oh, it is a pretty sight to see
the Cellardyke fishers leaving the coast for the herring-fishing in the
north! I witnessed it some years ago, as I passed to Edinburgh; and this
year I witnessed it again.

Meeting and conversing with my old friend the minister of the parish of
Kilrenny, we laid us down on the sunny slope of the brae facing the east
and the Isle of May, whilst he gave me the following narrative:--

Thomas Laing and Sarah Black were born and brought up under the same
roof--namely, that double-storied tenement which stands somewhat by
itself, overlooking the harbour. They entered by the same outer door,
but occupied each a separate story. Thomas Laing was always a stout,
hardy, fearless boy, better acquainted with every boat on the station
than with his single questions, and far fonder of little Sarah's company
than of the schoolmaster's. Sarah was likewise a healthy, stirring
child, extremely sensitive and easily offended, but capable, at the same
time, of the deepest feelings of gratitude and attachment. Thomas Laing
was, in fact, her champion, her Don Quixote, from the time when he could
square his arms and manage his fists; and much mischief and obloquy did
he suffer among his companions on account of his chivalrous defence of
little Sally. One day whilst the fisher boys and girls were playing on
the pier, whilst the tide was at the full, a mischievous boy, wishing to
annoy Thomas, pushed little Sall into the harbour, where, but for
Thomas's timely and skilful aid (for he was an excellent swimmer,) she
would probably have been drowned. Having placed his favourite in a
condition and place of safety, Tom felled the offender, with a terrible
fister, to the earth. The blow had taken place on the pit of the
stomach, and was mortal. Tom was taken up, imprisoned, and tried for
manslaughter; but, on account of his youth--being then only thirteen--he
was merely imprisoned for a certain number of months. Poor Sally, on
whose account Tom had incurred the punishment of the law, visited him,
as did many good-natured fishermen, whilst in prison, where he always
expressed extreme contrition for his rashness. After the expiry of his
imprisonment, Tom returned to Cellardykes, only to take farewell of his
parents, and his now more than ever dear Sally. He could not bear, he
said, to face the parents of the boy whose death he had occasioned. The
parting was momentary. He promised to spend one night at home; but he
had no such intention--and, for several years, nobody knew what had
become of Thomas Laing. The subject was at first a speculation, then a
wonder, next an occasional recollection; and, in a few months, the place
which once knew bold Tom Laing, knew him no more. Even his parents,
engaged as they were in the active pursuits of fishing, and surrounded
as they were by a large and dependent family, soon learned to forget
him. One bosom alone retained the image of Tom, more faithfully and
indelibly than ever did coin the impression of royalty. Meanwhile, Sarah
grew--for she was a year older than Tom--into womanhood, and fairly took
her share in all the more laborious parts of a fisher's life. She could
row a boat, carry a creel, or drive a cart with the best of them; and,
whilst her frame was thus hardened, her limbs acquired a consistency and
proportion which bespoke the buxom woman rather than the bonny lass. Her
eye, however, was large and brown, and her lips had that variety of
expression which lips only can exhibit. Many a jolly fisher wished and
attempted to press these lips to his; but was always repulsed. She
neither spoke of her Thomas, nor did she grieve for him much in secret;
but her heart revolted from a union with any other person whilst Thomas
might still be alive. Upon a person differently situated, the passion
(for passion assuredly it was) which she entertained for her absent
lover, might and would have produced very different effects. Had Sarah
been a young boarding-school miss, she would assuredly either have
eloped with another, or have died in a madhouse; had she been a
sentimental sprig of gentility, consumption must have followed: but
Sarah was neither of these. She had a heart to feel, and deeply too; but
she knew that labour was her destiny, and that when "want came in at the
door, love escapes by the window." So she just laboured, laughed, ate,
drank, and slept, very much like other people. Yet few sailors came to
the place whom she did not question about Thomas; and many a time and
oft did she retire to the rocks of a Sabbath eve, to think of and pray
for Thomas Laing. People imagine, from the free and open mariner, and
talk of the fisherwomen, that they are all or generally people of
doubtful morality. Never was there a greater mistake. To the public in
general they are inaccessible; they almost universally intermarry with
one another; and there are fewer cases (said my reverend informant) of
public or sessional reproof in Cellardykes, than in any other district
of my parish. But, from the precarious and somewhat solitary nature of
their employment, they are exceedingly superstitious; and I had access
to know, that many a sly sixpence passed from Sally's pocket into old
Effie the wise woman's, with the view of having the cards cut and cups
read for poor Thomas.

Time, however, passed on--with time came, but did not pass misfortune.
Sally's father, who had long been addicted, at intervals, to hard
drinking, was found one morning dead at the bottom of a cliff, over
which, in returning home inebriated, he had tumbled. There were now
three sisters, all below twelve, to provide for, and Sally's mother had
long been almost bedrid with severe and chronic rheumatism;
consequently, the burden of supporting this helpless family devolved
upon Sarah, who was now in the bloom and in the strength of her
womanhood. Instead of sitting down, however, to lament what could not be
helped, Sarah immediately redoubled her diligence. She even learned to
row a boat as well as a man, and contrived, by the help of the men her
father used to employ, to keep his boat still going. Things prospered
with her for a while; but, in a sudden storm, wherein five boats
perished with all on board, she lost her whole resources. They are a
high-minded people those Cellardyke fishers. The Blacks scorned to come
upon the session. The young girls salted herrings, and cried haddocks in
small baskets through the village and the adjoining burghs, and Sarah
contrived still to keep up a cart for country service. Meanwhile, Sarah
became the object of attention through the whole neighbourhood. Though
somewhat larger in feature and limb than the Venus de Medicis, she was,
notwithstanding, tight, clean, and sunny--her skin white as snow, and
her frame a well-proportioned Doric--just such a help-mate as a husband
who has to rough it through life might be disposed to select. Captain
William M'Guffock, or, as he was commonly called, Big Bill, was the
commander of a coasting craft, and a man of considerable substance.
True, he was considerably older than Sally, and a widower, but he had no
family, and a "bien house to bide in." You see that manse-looking
tenement there, on the broad head towards the east--that was Captain
M'Guffock's residence when his seafaring avocations did not demand his
presence elsewhere. Well, Bill came acourting to Sally; but Sally
"looked asclent and unco skeich." Someway or other, whenever she thought
of matrimony--which she did occasionally--she at the same time thought
of Thomas Laing, and, as she expressed it, her heart _scunnered_ at the
thought. Consequently, Bill made little progress in his courtship; which
was likewise liable to be interrupted, for weeks at a time, by his
professional voyages. At last a letter arrived from on board a king's
vessel, then lying in Leith Roads, apprising Thomas Laing's relatives
that he had died of fever on the West India station. This news affected
Sally more than anything which had hitherto happened to her. She shut
herself up for two hours in her mother's bedroom, weeping aloud and
bitterly, exclaiming, from time to time--"Oh! my Thomas!--my own dearest
Thomas! I shall never love man again. I am thine in life and in
death--in time and in eternity!" In vain did the poor bedrid woman try
to comfort her daughter. Nature had her way; and, in less than three
hours, Sarah Black was again in the streets, following, with a confused
but a cheerful look, her ordinary occupation. This grief of Sarah's, had
it been well nursed, might well have lasted a twelvemonth; but, luckily
for Sarah, and for the labouring classes in general, she had not time to
nurse her grief to keep it warm. "Give us this day our daily bread,"
said a poor helpless mother and three somewhat dependent sisters--and
Sarah's exertions were redoubled.

"Oh, what a feelingless woman!" said Mrs. Paterson to me, as Sarah
passed her door one day in my presence, absolutely singing--"Oh, what a
feelingless woman!--and her father dead, and her mother bedrid, and poor
Thomas Laing, whom she made such a fuss about, gone too--and there is
she, absolutely singing after all!"

Mrs. Paterson is now Mrs. Robson, having married her second husband just
six weeks after the death of the first, whom her improper conduct and
unhappy temper contributed first to render miserable here, and at last
to convey to the churchyard! Verily (added the worthy clergyman), the
heart is deceitful above all things. But what, after all, could poor
Sarah do, but marry Will M'Guffock, and thus amply provide, not only for
herself, but for her mother and sister? Had Thomas (and her heart heaved
at the thought) still been alive, she thought, she never would have
brought herself to think of it in earnest; but now that Thomas had long
ceased to think of her or of anything earthly, why should she not make a
man happy who seemed distractedly in love with her, and at the same time
honourably provide for her poor and dependent relatives? In the
meantime, the sacramental occasion came round, and I had a private
meeting previous to the first communion with Sarah Black. To me, in
secret, she laid open her whole heart as if in the presence of her God;
and I found her, though not a well-informed Christian by any means on
doctrinal points, yet well disposed and exceedingly humble; in short, I
had great pleasure in putting a token into her hand, at which she
continued to look for an instant, and then returned it to me. I
expressed surprise, at least by my looks. "I fear," said she, "that I am
_unworthy_; for I have not told you that I am thinking of marrying a man
whom I cannot love, merely to provide for our family. Is not this a
sin?--and can I, with an intention of doing what I know to be wrong,
safely communicate?" I assured her that, instead of thinking it a sin, I
thought her resolution commendable, particularly as the object of her
real affection was beyond its reach; and I mention the circumstance to
show that there is often much honour, and even delicacy of feeling,
natural as well as religious, under very uncongenial circumstances and
appearances. Having satisfied her mind on this subject, I had the
pleasure to see her at the communion table, conducting herself with much
seeming seriousness of spirit. I could see her shed tears, and formed
the very best opinion of her from her conduct throughout.

In a few days or weeks after this, the proclamation lines were put into
my hands, and I had the pleasure of uniting her to Captain M'Guffock in
due course. They had, however, only been married a few weeks, when an
occurrence of a very awkward character threw her and her husband, who
was, in fact, an ill-tempered, passionate man, into much perplexity. The
captain was absent on a coasting voyage, as usual; and his wife was
superintending the washing of some clothes, whilst the sun was setting.
It was a lovely evening in the month of July, and the fishing boats were
spread out all over the mouth of the Firth, from the East Neuk to the
Isle of May, in the same manner in which you see them at present. Mrs.
M'Guffock's mind assumed, notwithstanding the glorious scenery around
her, a serious cast, for she could not help recalling many such evenings
in which she had rejoiced in company and in unison with her beloved
Thomas. She felt and knew that it was wrong to indulge such emotions;
but she could not help it. At last, altogether overcome, she threw
herself forward on the green turf, and prayed audibly--"O my God, give
me strength and grace to forget my own truly beloved Thomas! Alas! he
knows not the struggles which I have to exclude him from my sinful
meditations. Even suppose he were again to arise from the dead, and
appear in all the reality of his youthful being, I must, and would fly
from him as from my most dangerous foe." She lifted up her eyes in the
twilight, and in the next instant felt herself in the arms of a powerful
person, who pressed her in silence to his breast. Amazed and bewildered,
she neither screamed nor fainted, but, putting his eager kisses aside,
calmly inquired who he was who dared thus to insult her. She had no
sooner pronounced the inquiry, than she heard the words, "Thomas--your
own Thomas!" pronounced in tones which could not be mistaken. This,
indeed, overpowered her; and, with a scream of agony, she sank down dead
on the earth. This brought immediate assistance; but she was found lying
by herself, and talking wildly about her Thomas Laing. Everybody who
heard her concluded that she had either actually seen her lover's ghost,
or that her mind had given way under the pressure of regret for her
marriage, and that she was now actually a lunatic. For twelve hours she
continued to evince the most manifest marks of insanity; but sleep at
last soothed and restored her, and she immediately sent for me. I
endeavoured to persuade her that it must be all a delusion, and that the
imagination oftentimes created such fancies. I gave instances from books
which I had read, as well as from a particular friend of my own who had
long been subject to such delusive impressions, and at last she became
actually persuaded that there had been no reality in what she had so
vividly perceived, and still most distinctly and fearfully recollected.
I took occasion then to urge upon her the exceeding sinfulness of
allowing any image to come betwixt her and her lawful married husband;
and left her restored, if not to her usual serenity, at least to a
conviction that she had only been disturbed by a vision.

When her husband returned, I took him aside, and explained my views of
the case, and stated my most decided apprehension that some similar
impression might return upon her nerves, and that her sisters (her
mother being now removed by death) should dwell in the same house with
her. To this, however, the captain objected, on the score that, though
he was willing to pay a person to take care of them in their own house,
he did not deem them proper company, in short, for a _captain's wife_. I
disliked the reasoning, and told him so; but he became passionate, and I
saw it was useless to contend further. From that day, however, Bill
M'Guffock seemed to have become an altered man. Jealousy, or something
nearly resembling it, took possession of his heart; and he even ventured
to affirm that his wife had a paramour somewhere concealed, with whom,
in his long and necessary absences, she associated. He alleged, too,
that in her sleep she would repeat the name of her favourite, and in
terms of present love and fondness. I now saw that I had not known the
depth of "a first love," otherwise I should not have advised this
unhappy marriage, all advantageous as it was in a worldly point of view.
A sailor's life, however, is one of manifest risk, and in less than a
twelvemonth Sarah M'Guffock was a young widow, without incumbrance, and
with her rights to her just share of the captain's effects. Her sorrow
for the death of her husband was, I believe, sincere; but I observed
that she took an early opportunity of joining her sisters in her old
habitation, immediately beneath that still tenanted by the friends of
Laing.

Matters were in this situation, when I was surprised one evening, whilst
sitting meditating in the manse of Kilrenny, about dusk, with a visit
from a tall and well-dressed stranger. He asked me at once if I could
give him a private interview for a few minutes, as he had something of
importance to communicate. Having taken him into my study, and shut the
door, I reached him a chair, and desired him to proceed.

"I had left the parish," said the stranger, "before you were minister of
Kilrenny, in the time of worthy Mr. Brown, and therefore you will
probably not know even my name. I am Thomas Laing!"

"I did not indeed," said I, "know you, but I have heard much about you;
and I know one who has taken but too deep an interest in your fate. But
how comes it," added I, beginning to think that I was conversing either
with a vision or an impostor--"how comes it that you are here, seemingly
alive and well, whilst we have all been assured of your death some years
ago?"

The stranger started, and immediately exclaimed--"Dead!--dead!--who said
I was dead?"

"Why," said I, "there was a letter came, I think, to your own father,
mentioning your death by fever in the West Indies."

"Do I look like a dead man?" said the stranger; but, immediately
becoming absent and embarrassed, he sat for a while silent, and then
resumed:--"Some one," said he, "has imposed upon my dear Sarah, and for
the basest of purposes. I now see it all. My dear girl has been sadly
used."

"This is, indeed, strange," said I; "but let me hear how it is that I
have the honour of a visit from you at this time and in this place?"

"Oh," replied Thomas Laing (for it was he in verity), "I will soon give
you the whole story:--

"When I left this, fourteen years ago come the time, I embarked at
Greenock, working my way out to New York. As I was an excellent hand at
a rope and an oar, I early attracted the captain's notice, who made some
inquiries respecting my place of birth and my views in life. I told him
that I was literally "at sea," having nothing particularly in view--that
I had been bred a fisher, and understood sailing and rowing as well as
any one on board. The captain seemed to have something in his head, for
he nodded to me, saying, 'Very well, we will see what can be done for
you when we arrive at New York.' When we were off Newfoundland, we were
overtaken by a terrible storm, which drove us completely out of our
latitude, till, at last, we struck on a sandbank--the sea making for
several hours a complete breach over the deck. Many were swept away into
the devouring flood; whilst some of us--amongst several others the
captain and myself--clung to what remained of the ship's masts till the
storm somewhat abated. We then got the boat launched, and made for land,
which we could see looming at some distance ahead. We got, however,
entangled amongst currents and breakers; and, within sight of a boat
which was making towards us from the shore, we fairly upset--and I
remember nothing more till I awoke, in dreadful torment, in some
fishermen's boat. Beside me lay the captain, the rest had perished. When
we arrived at the land, we were placed in one of the fishermen's huts,
where we were most kindly treated--assisting, as we did occasionally, in
the daily labours of the cod fishery. I displayed so much alertness and
skill in this employment, that the factor on the station made me an
advantageous offer, if I would remain with them and assist in their
labours. With this offer, having no other object distinctly in view, I
complied. But my kind and good-hearted captain, possessing less
dexterity in this employment, was early shipped at his own request for
England. The most of the hands, about two hundred in all, on the station
where I remained, were Scotch and Irish, and a merry, jovial set we
were. The men had wives and families; and the governor or factor lived
in a large slated house, very like your manse, upon a gentle eminence, a
little inland. Towards the coast the land is sandy and flat; but in the
interior there is much wood, a very rich soil, and excellent fresh
water. Where we remained the water was brackish, and constituted the
chief inconvenience of our station. The factor or agent, commonly called
by the men the governor, used to visit us almost every day, and remained
much on board when ships were loading for Europe. One fine summer's day
we were all enjoying the luxury of bathing, when, all on a sudden, the
shout was raised--'A shark! a shark!' I had just taken my place in the
boat, and was still undressed, when I observed one man disappear, being
dragged under the water by the sea monster. The factor, who was swimming
about in the neighbourhood, seemed to be paralyzed by terror, for he
made for the boat, plashing like a dog, with his hands and arms
frequently stretched out of the water. I saw his danger, and immediately
plunged in to his rescue, which, with some difficulty, I at last
effected.

"Poor Pat Moonie was seen no more; nor did the devouring monster
reappear. The factor immediately acknowledged his obligations to me, by
carrying me home with him, and introducing me to his lady and an only
daughter--I think I never beheld a more beautiful creature; but I looked
upon her as a being of a different order from myself, and I still
thought of my own dear Sally and sweet home at Cellardykes. Through the
factor's kindness, I got the management of a boat's crew, with
considerable emolument which belonged to the situation. I then behoved
to dress better, at least while on land, than I used to do, and I was an
almost daily visitor at Codfield House, the name of the captain's
residence. My affairs prospered; I made, and had no way of spending
money. The factor was my banker, and his fair daughter wrote out the
acknowledgments for her father to sign. One beautiful Sabbath-day, after
the factor--who officiated at our small station as clergyman--had read
us prayers and a sermon, I took a walk into the interior of the country,
where, with a book in her hand, and an accompaniment of Newfoundland
dogs, I chanced to meet with Miss Woodburn, the factor's beautiful
child. She was only fourteen, but quite grown, and as blooming a piece
of womanhood as ever wore kid gloves or black leather. She seemed
somewhat embarrassed at my presence, and blushed scarlet, entreating me
to prevent one of her dogs from running away with her glove, which he
was playfully tossing about in his mouth. The dog would not surrender
his charge to any one but to his mistress; and, in the struggle, he bit
my hand somewhat severely. You may see the marks of his teeth there
still" (holding out his hand while he spoke). "Poor Miss Woodburn knew
not what to do first; she immediately dropped the book which she was
reading--scolded the offending dog to a distance--took up the glove,
which the dog at her bidding had dropped, and wrapped it close and
firmly around my bleeding hand; a band of long grass served for thread
to make all secure, and in a few days my hand was in a fair way of
recovery--but not so my heart; I felt as if I had been all at once
transformed into a gentleman--the soft touch of Miss Eliza's fair
fingers seemed to have transformed me, skin, flesh, and bones, into
another species of being. I shook like an aspen leaf whenever I thought
of our interesting interview; and I could observe that Eliza changed
colour, and looked out of the window whenever I entered the room. But,
sir, I am too particular, and I will now hasten to a close." I entreated
him (said the parson) to go on in his own way, and without any reference
to my leisure. He then proceeded:--"Well, sir, from year to year I
prospered, and from year to year got more deeply in love with the angel
which moved about in my presence. At last our attachment became manifest
to the young lady's parent; and, to my great surprise, it was proposed
that we should make a voyage to New York, and there be united in
matrimony. All this while, sir, I thought of my own dear Sally, and the
thought not unfrequently made me miserable; but what was Sally to me
now?--perhaps she was dead--perhaps she was married--perhaps--but I
could scarcely think it--she had forgot me; and then the blooming
rosebud was ever in my presence, and hallowed me, by its superior purity
and beauty, into a complete gentleman. Well, married we were at New
York, and for several months I was the happiest of men, and my dear wife
(I know it) the happiest of women; but the time of her labour
approached--and child and mother lie buried in the cemetery at New York,
where we had now fixed our residence." (Here poor Thomas wept
plentifully, and, after a pause proceeded.)--"I could not reside longer
in a place which was so dismally associated in my mind; so, having wound
up my worldly affairs, and placed my little fortune--about one thousand
pounds--in the bank, I embarked for Europe, along with my father and
mother-in-law, who were going home to end their days in the place of
their nativity, Belfast, in Ireland. I determined upon landing at the
Cove of Cork, to visit once more my native village, and to have at least
one interview with Sally. I learned, on my arrival at Largo, that Sally
was married to the old captain. I resolved, however, ere I went finally
to settle in Belfast, to have one stolen peep at my first love--my own
dear Sally. I came upon her whilst repeating my name in her prayers--I
embraced her convulsively--repeated her name twice in her hearing--heard
her scream--saw her faint--kissed her fondly again and again--and,
strangers appearing, I immediately absconded."

"This," said the minister, "explains all;--but go on--I am anxious to
hear the conclusion of your somewhat eventful history."

"Why, I was off immediately for Belfast, where I at present reside with
my father-in-law, whose temper, since the loss of his child, has been
much altered for the worse. But I am here on a particular errand, in
which your kind offices, sir--for I have heard of your goodness of
heart--may be of service to me. I observed the death of the old captain
in the newspaper, and I am here once more to enjoy an interview with his
widow. I wish you, sir, to break the business to her; meanwhile, I will
lodge at the Old Inn, Mrs. Laing's, at Anstruther, and await your
return."

I agreed (continued the parson of Kilrenny) to wait upon the widow; and
to see, in fact, how the wind set, in regard to "first love." I found
her, as I expected, neatly clad in her habiliments of widowhood, and
employed in making some dresses for a sister's marriage. I asked and
obtained a private interview, when I detailed, as cautiously as I could,
the particulars of Thomas Laing's history. I could observe that her
whole frame shook occasionally, and that tears came, again and again,
into her eyes. I was present, but a fortnight ago, at their first
interview at the inn; and I never saw two human beings evince more real
attachment for each other. On their bended knees, and with faces turned
towards heaven, did they unite in thanking God that he had permitted
them, to have another interview with each other in this world of
uncertainty and death. It has been since discovered that the letter
announcing Laing's death was a forgery of the old captain, which has
reconciled his widow very much to the idea of shortening her days of
mourning. In a word, this evening, and in a few hours, I am going to
unite the widower and the widowed, together with a younger sister and a
fine young sailor, in the holy bonds of matrimony; and, as a punishment
for your giving me all this trouble in narrating this story, I shall
insist upon your eating fresh herring, with the fresh-herring Presbytery
of St. Andrew's, which meets here at Mrs. Laing's to-day, and afterwards
witnessing the double ceremony.

To this I assented, and certainly never spent an evening more agreeably
than that which I divided betwixt the merry lads of St. Andrew's
Presbytery, and the fair dames and maidens of Cellardykes, who graced
the marriage ceremony. Such dancing as there was, and such screaming,
and such music, and such laughing; yet, amidst it all, Mr. and Mrs.
Laing preserved that decent decorum, which plainly said, "We will not
mar the happiness of the young; but we feel the goodness and providence
of our God too deeply, to permit us to join in the noisy part of the
festivity."

"The fair maid of Cellardykes," with her kind-hearted husband--I may
mention, for the satisfaction of my fair readers in particular--may now
be seen daily at their own door, and in their own garden, on the face of
the steep which overlooks the village. They have already lived three
years in complete happiness, and have been blessed with two as fine
healthy children as a Cellardykes sun ever rose upon. Mr. Laing has
become an elder in the church, and both husband and wife are most
exemplary in the discharge of their religious, as well as relative
duties. God has blessed them with an ample competence; and sure is the
writer of this narrative, that no poor fisherman or woman ever applied
to this worthy couple without obtaining relief.

One circumstance more, and my narrative closes. As Mr. Laing was one
evening taking a walk along the seashore, viewing the boats as they
mustered for the herring fishing, he was shot at from behind one of the
rocks, and severely wounded in the shoulder--the ball or slug-shot
having lodged in the clavicle, and refusing, for some days, to be
extracted. The hue-and-cry was immediately raised; but the guilty person
was nowhere to be seen. He had escaped in a boat, or had hid himself in
a crevice of the rock, or in some private and friendly house in the
village. Poor Thomas Laing was carried home to his distracted wife more
dead than alive; and Dr. Goodsir being called, disclosed that, in his
present state, the lead could not be extracted. Poor Sarah was never a
moment from her husband's side, who fevered, and became occasionally
delirious--talking incoherently of murder and shipwreck, and Woodburn,
and love, and marriage, and Sarah Black. All within his brain was one
mad wheel of mixed and confused colours, such as children make when they
wheel a stick, dyed white, black, and red, rapidly around. Suspicion,
from the first, fell upon the brother of the boy Rob Paterson, whom
Laing had killed many years before. Revenge is the most enduring,
perhaps, of all the passions, and rather feeds upon itself than decays.
Like fame, "it acquires strength by time;" and it was suspected that Dan
Paterson, a reckless and a dissipated man, had done the deed. In
confirmation of this supposition, Dan was nowhere to be found, and it
was strongly suspected that his wife and his son, who returned at
midnight with the boat, had set Dan on shore somewhere on the coast, and
that he had effected his escape. Death, for some time, seemed every day
and hour nearer at hand; but at last the symptoms softened, the fever
mitigated, the swelling subsided, and, after much careful and skilful
surgery, most admirably conducted by Dr. Goodsir's son, the ball was
extracted. The wound closed without mortification; and, in a week or
two, Mr. Laing was not only out of danger, but out of bed, and walking
about, as he does to this hour, with his arm in a sling. It was about
the period of his recovery, that Dan Paterson was taken as he was
skulking about in the west country, apparently looking out for a ship in
which to sail to America. He was immediately brought back to
Cellardykes, and lodged in Anstruther prison. Mr. Laing would willingly
have forborne the prosecution; but the law behoved to have its course.
Dan was tried for "maiming with the intention of murder," and was
condemned to fourteen years' transportation. This happened in the year
1822, the year of the King's visit to Scotland. Mr. and Mrs. Laing
actually waited upon his Majesty King George the Fourth, at the palace
of Dalkeith, and, backed by the learned judge and counsel, obtained a
commutation of the punishment, from banishment to imprisonment for a
limited period. The great argument in his favour was the provocation he
had received. Dan Paterson now inhabits a neat cottage in the village,
and Mr. Laing has quite set him up with a boat of his own, ready rigged
and fitted for use. He has entirely reformed, has become a member of a
temperance society, and his wife and family are as happy as the day is
long. Mr. and Mrs. Laing are supplied with the very best of fish, and
stockings and mittens are manufactured by the Patersons for the little
Laings, particularly during boisterous weather, when fishing is out of
the question. Thus has a wise Providence made even the wrath of man to
praise him. The truth of the above narrative may be tested any day, by
waiting upon the Rev. Mr. Dickson, or upon the parties themselves at
Braehead of Cellardykes.



PRESCRIPTION;

OR, THE 29TH OF SEPTEMBER.


The serene calmness and holy inspiration of some of our cottage retreats
in Scotland are often the envy of the town-poet or philosopher, who
looks upon the sequestered spots as possessing all the beauty and repose
of the beatific Beulah, where the feet of the pilgrim found repose, and
his spirit rest. The desire arises out of that discontent which, less or
more, is the inheritance of man in this sphere; it is the residuum of
the worldly feelings which, like the clay that, in inspired hands, gave
the power of sight to the blind, opens the eyes to immortality. The wish
for retirement belongs to good, if it is not a part of the great
principle that inclines us to look far away to purer regions for the
rest which is never disturbed, and the joy that knows no abatement. Yet
how vain are often our thoughts as we survey the white-washed hut in the
valley, covered with honeysuckle and white roses; the plot before the
door; the croonin dame on her tripod; the lass with the lint-white
locks, singing, in snatches of Nature's own language, her purest
feelings, like the swelling of a mountain spring! The heart is not still
there, any more than in the crowded mart. The birds whistle, but they
die too; the rose blooms, but it is eaten in the heart by the palmer
worm; the sun shines, but there is a shade at his back. Alas for mortal
aspirations--there is nothing here of one side. Like the two parties who
fought for the truth of the two pleas--that the statue was white, or
that it was black--we find, after all our labour lost, that one side is
of the one colour, and the other of the opposite. These thoughts arise
in us at this moment, as we recollect the little cottage of Homestead,
situated in a collateral valley on the Borders. We were born at a
stone-cast from it; and, even in the dream of age, see issuing from it,
or entering it, a creature who might have stood for Wordsworth's
Highland Girl--a slender, gracile thing, retiring and modest; as
delicate in her feelings as in the hue of her complexion; her thoughts
of her glen and waterfall only natural to her--all others, fearful even
to herself, glenting forth through a flushed medium, which equally
betrayed the workings of the blood in the transparent veins--a being of
young life, elasticity, and sensitiveness, such as, like some modest
flower, we find only in certain recesses of the valleys in
mountain-lands. Such were you, Alice Scott, when you first darted across
our path on the hills. We have said that we see you now through the
dream of age; and, holding to the parallel, there is a change o'er the
mood of our vision, for we see you again in a form like that of "The
Ladye Geraldine"--your mountain russets off; the bandeau that bound the
flying locks laid aside; the irritability and flush of the young spirit
abated; and, instead of these, the gown of silk, the coif of satin, and
the slow and dignified step of conscious worth and superiority. And
whence this change?

The young female we have thus apostrophised, was the daughter of Adam
Scott, a cottar, who occupied the small cottage of Homestead, under the
proprietor of Whitecraigs--a fine property, lying to the south of the
cottage; and the mansion of which is yet to be seen by the traveller who
seeks the Tweed by the windings of the river Lyne. Old Adam died, and
left his widow and daughter to the protection of his superior, Mr.
Hayston, who, recollecting the services and stanch qualities of his
tenant, did not despise the charge. The small bield was allowed to the
mother and daughter, rent free; and some assistance, in addition to the
produce of their hands, enabled them to live as thousands in this
country live, whose capability of supporting life might be deemed a
problem difficult of solution by those whose only care is how to destroy
God's gifts. Nature is as curious in her disposal of qualities as the
great genius of chance or convention is of the distribution of means.
Literature has worn out the characteristic and gloomy lines of the
description of the fair and the good; and the impatience of the mind of
the nineteenth century--a mind greedy of caricature, and regardless of
written sentiment--may warn us from the portrayment of what people now
like better to see than to read or hear of. Away, then, with the usual
terms, and let old Dame Scott and her daughter be deemed as of those
beings who have interested you in the quiet recesses of humble poverty,
where Nature, as if in sport or satire, loves to play fantastic tricks.
If you have no living models to go by, call up some of the pages of the
thousand volumes that have been multiplied on a subject which has been
more spoiled by poetical imagery, than benefited by sober observation.

Within about five years of the death of the husband and father, old
Hayston died, and left Whitecraigs to his only son, Hector, who was kind
enough to continue the gift of the father to the inmates of Homestead;
but he loaded them with a condition, unspoken, yet implied. The young
laird and the pretty cottage maiden had foregathered often amidst the
romantic scenes on the Lyne; and that which Nature probably intended as
a guard and a mean of segregation--the shrinking timidity of her own
mountain child, when looked upon by the eye of, to her,
aristocracy--only tended to an opposite effect. A poet has compared love
to an Eastern bird, which loses all its beauty when it flies, and it is
as true as it is a pretty conceit; but if there was any feathered
creature whose wings, reflecting, from its monaul tints, the sun in
greater splendour, when on the wing, it would supply as applicable and
not less poetical an emblem of the object of the little god's
heart-stirrings; and so it seemed to the young laird of Whitecraigs,
that, as Alice Scott bounded away over the green hills, or down by the
Lyne banks, at his approach, her flight added to the interest which she
had already inspired when she had no means of escape. But, as the
wildest doe may be caught and tamed, so was she, who was as a white one
removed from the herd. The young man possessed attractions beside those
of imputed wealth and station; and probably, though we mean not to be
severe upon the sex, the process by which his affection had been
increased was reversed in its effects upon her, to whom assiduous
seeking was as the assiduous retreating had been to him.

Yet all was, we believe, honourable in the intentions of young Hayston;
and, as for Alice, she was in the primeval condition of a total
unconsciousness of evil. The "one blossom on earth's tree," as the poet
has it, was by her yet unplucked, nor knew she how many thousands have
had cause to sing--

   "I have plucked the one blossom that hangs on earth's tree;
    I have lived--I have loved, and die."

Her former timidity was the _à priori_ proof of the strength of the
feeling that followed, when the sensitiveness of fear gave way to
confidence. Town loves are a thing of sorry account: the best of them
are a mere preference of the one to the many; and he who is fortunate
enough to outshine his rivals, may pride himself in the possession of
some superior recommendations which have achieved a triumph. Were he to
look better to it, he might detect something, too, in the force of
resources. At best, a few hundred pounds will turn the scale; for he is
by all that a better man; and the trained eye of town beauties has a
strange responsive twinkle in the glare of the one thing needful. In the
remote and beautiful parts of a romantic country, things are otherwise
ordered: affection there, is as the mountain flower to the gallipot
rose; and it is a mockery to tell us that the difference is only
perceptible to those who are weak enough to be romantic. A doughty
warrior would recognise and acknowledge the difference, and fight a
great deal better too, after he had blubbered over a mountain or glen
born love for a creature who would look upon him as the soul of the
retreat, and hang on his breast in the outpourings of Nature's feelings.
That young Whitecraigs appreciated the triumph he had secured, there can
be no reason to doubt. He had been within the drying atmosphere of
towns, and had sung and waltzed, probably, with a round hundred of
creatures who understood the passion, much as Audrey understood
poetry--deeming it honest enough, but yet a composition made up of the
elements of side glances, arias, smorzando-sighs, and quadrilles. With
Alice Scott on his bosom, the quiet glen as their retreat, the green
umbrageous woods their defence, its birds as their musicians, and the
wimpling Lyne as the speaking Naiad, he forgot, if he did not despise,
the scenes he had left. She flew from him now no longer. The fowler had
succeeded to captivate, not intentionally to kill.

Two years passed over in this intercourse. There was no secret about it.
The dame was well apprised of their proceeding; and the open frankness
of the youth dispelled all the fears of wrong which the innocence of the
daughter, undefended by experience, might have scarcely guaranteed to
one who, at least, had heard something of the ways of the world. The
income from Whitecraigs, somewhere about seven hundred a-year, was more
than sufficient for the expenditure of the older Haystons; and Hector,
at this time, did not seem inclined to alter the line of life followed
by his fathers. He had not spoken of marriage to the mother; but he had
not hesitated to breathe into the ear of Alice all that was necessary to
lead her to the conclusion, to which her heart jumped, that she was to
be the lady of the stately white mansion that, at one time, had appeared
to her as a great temple where humble worshippers of the glen and the
wood might not lay their sandals at the doorway. She had entered the
vestibule only as an alms-seeker, and trembled to think she might have
been observed throwing a side glance into the interior, where
pier-glasses might have reflected the form of the russet-clad child of
the valley and hill. The tale has been told a thousand times, and the
world is not mended by it. The young master pressed her to his bosom,
imprinted a kiss, and was away into the mazes of life in the metropolis,
whither some affairs, left unsettled by his father, carried him. Six
months passed away, and the rents of the succeeding term were collected
by Mr. Pringle, the agent of the family, in Peebles. There was no word
for poor Alice, though the small allowance was handed in by the agent,
who, ignorant of the state of matters between the young couple, informed
the mother that the master of Whitecraigs was on the eve of being
married to a young lady of some wealth in the metropolis. The statement
was heard by the daughter; and what henceforth but that of Thekla's
song:--

   "The clouds are flying, the woods are sighing--
    The maiden is walking the grassy shore;
    And as the wave breaks with might, with might,
    She singeth aloud through the darksome night;
    But a tear is in her troubled eye."

Alice Scott was changed; yet, who shall tell what that change was? If
the slow and even progress of the spirit may defy the eye of the
metaphysician, who may describe its moods of disturbance? Poetry is
familiar with these things, and we have fair rhymes to tell us of the
wanderings, and the lonely musings by mountain streams, and the eye that
looks and sees not, and the wasting form, and the words that come like
the sounds from deep caves; yet, after all, they tell us but little,
and that little is but to tickle us with the resonance of spoken
sentiment, leaving the sad truth as little understood as before. True it
was, that Alice Scott did all these things, and more too: the charm of
the hills and the water banks was gone: the light spirit that carried
her along, as if borne on the winds, was quenched; the songs by which
she gladdened the ears of her mother, as she plied her portable handwork
on the green, was no more heard mingling its notes with the music of the
Lyne; and the face that shone transparently, like painted alabaster, as
if part of the light came from within, was as the poet says--

   "Like an April morn
    Clad in a wintry cloud."

Nor did additional time seem to possess any power save that of
increasing the pain of the heart-stroke. Most of the griefs of mortals
have their appointed modes of alleviation--some are complaining griefs,
some are talkative, and some sorrows are sociable for selfishness. But
the heart-wound of her who has only those scenes of nature which were
associated with the image of the unkind one, to wear off the impressions
of which, under other hues, they form a part, is a silent mourner. There
is enough of a painful eloquence around her, and her voice would be only
the small whisper that is lost in the wailings of the storm in the glen.
Yet painful as the language is, she courts it in silence, even while it
mixes and blends with the poison which consumes her. It was in vain that
her mother, who saw with a parental eye the malady which is the best
understood by those of her class and age, urged her with kindness to
betake herself to her household duties. She was seldom to be prevailed
upon to remain within doors; the hill-side, or the bosom of the glen, or
the back of the willows by the water-side, were her choice. Ordinary
meal times were forgotten or unheeded, where Nature had renounced her
cravings, or given all her energies to the heart.

The next intelligence received at Homestead was that of the marriage of
Hector Hayston, and his departure for France. The servants at
Whitecraigs were discharged, as if there had been no expectation, for a
long period, of the return of the young laird. The supply to the two
females was increased, and paid by Mr. Pringle, who, now probably aware
of the situation of Alice, delicately avoided any allusion to his
employer. Report, however, was busy with her tales; and the absence of
the youth was attributed to the workings of conscience or of shame.
There was little truth in the report. The object of his first affections
might easily have been banished from Whitecraigs, and he who had been
guilty of leaving her maybe supposed capable of removing her from scenes
which could only add to her sorrow. A true solution of his conduct might
have been found in the fact, that Hayston was now following his
pleasures in the society of his wife's friends--a gay and lavish
circle--and did not wish to detract from his enjoyment by adding
banishment and destitution to a wrong now irremediable. Little more was
heard of him for some time, with the exception of a floating report,
that he had borrowed, through his agent, the sum of ten thousand pounds
from a Mr. Colville, a neighbouring proprietor, and pledged to him
Whitecraigs in security. The circumstance interested greatly the
neighbouring proprietors, who shook their heads in significant augury of
the probable fate of their young neighbour in the whirlpool of
continental life. Yet the allowance to Dame Scott at the next term was
regularly paid; and if there was a tear in her eye, as she looked, first
at the money, and then at the thin, pallid creature who sat silent at
the window, it was not that she dreaded its discontinuance from the
result of the extravagance of the giver. The effect of the act of
payment of the money had, on a former occasion, been noticed by Pringle
on the conduct of Alice: it was on this occasion repeated. She rose from
her seat, looked steadfastly for a moment at the gift as it lay on the
table, placed her hand on her forehead, and flitted out of the room. The
eye of the agent followed her from the window: her step was hurried,
without an object of impulse. She might go--but whither? probably she
knew not herself; yet on she sped till she was lost among the trees on
the edge of the glen.

Thus longer time passed, but there seemed no change to Alice, save in
the continual decrease of the frame, under the pressure of a mind that
communed with the past, and only looked to the future as containing some
day that would witness the termination of her sorrows. The anglers on
the Lyne became familiar with her figure, for they had seen it on the
heights, with her garments floating in the breeze, and had come up to
her as she sat by the waterside, but they passed on. At the worst she
could be but one whose spirit was not settled enough to admit of her
according with the ways of honest maidens; and they might regret that
the beauty that still lurked amidst the ravages of the disease of the
heart, had not been turned to better account. It is thus that one part
of mankind surveys another: they form their theory of a condition whose
secret nature is only known to its possessor; draw their moral from
false premises, formed as a compliment to their own conduct and
situation, and pass on to their pleasure.

Yet there occurred an important exception to these remarks:--One day
Alice had taken up her seat on the banks of a small pond in front of the
house of Whitecraigs. She sat opposite to the front of the dwelling, and
seemed to survey its closed windows and deserted appearance, with the
long grass growing up through the gravel of the walks--the broken
pailings and decayed out-houses; a scene that might be supposed to
harmonize with the feelings of a mind broken and desolate. There might
seem even a consanguinity in the causes of the condition of both. The
scene might have suited the genius of a Danby. There was no living
creature to disturb the silence. The house of faded white, among the
dark trees, cheerless and forsaken; the face of Alice Scott emaciated
and pale, with the lustre of the loch, shining in the sun, reflected on
it, directed towards the habitation of which she should have been
mistress; her eyes, which had forgotten the relief of tears, fixed on
the scene so pregnant with unavailing reminiscences--with these we would
aid the artist.

But the charm was gone, as a voice sounded behind her. She started, and,
according to her custom, would have fled as the hare that remembers the
snare; but she was detained. A man, advanced in years, poorly clad, with
hair well smitten with snow tints, and a staff in his hand, stood beside
her, holding her by the skirt of the gown.

"I am weary," said he; "I have walked from Moffat, and would sit here
for a time, if you would speak to me of the scenes and people of these
parts." And the application of his hand again to her gown secured a
compliance, dictated more by fear than inclination. She sat, while she
trembled. "You are fair," continued he; "but my experience of sorrow
tells me that grief has been busier with your young heart than years. I
will not pry into your secrets. To whom does Whitecraigs now belong?"

The name had not been breathed by her to mortal since that day she had
heard of the intended marriage. She made an effort to pronounce it,
failed, and fixed her eyes on the pond. The stranger gazed on her,
waiting for her reply.

"Hector Hayston," she at length muttered.

"And why has he left so fair a retreat to the desolation that has
overtaken it?" rejoined he again. The question was still more
unfortunate. She had no power to reply. Her face was turned from him,
and repressed breathings heaved her bosom. "You may tell me, then, if
one Dame Scott lives in these parts?" he said again, as he marked her
strange manner, and probably augured that his prior question was fraught
with pain.

"Yes--yes," she replied, with a sudden start, as if relieved from pain,
while she regained her feet; "yonder lives my mother."

The stranger stood with his eyes fixed upon her, as if in deep scrutiny
of the inexplicable features of her character and appearance; but he
added not a word, till he saw her move as if she wished to be gone.

"You will go with me?" he said.

But the words were scarcely uttered, when she was away through the
woods, leaving him to seek his way to the house of her mother, whither,
accordingly, he directed his steps, from some prior knowledge he
possessed of the locality about which he had been making inquiries. As
he went along, he seemed wrapt in meditation--again and again looking
back, to endeavour to get another sight of the girl, who was now seated
on the edge of the stream, and again seized by some engrossing thought
that claimed all the energies of his spirit. On coming up to the door of
the cottage, he tapped gently with his long staff; and, upon being
required by the dame to enter, he passed into the middle of the floor,
and stood and surveyed the house and its inmate.

"I have nothing for you," said the latter; "so you must pass on to those
whom God has ordained as the distributors of what the needy require.
Alas! I am myself but a beggar."

The words seemed to have been wrung out of her by the meditative mood in
which the stranger had found her, and, whether it was that the interest
which had been excited in him by the appearance of the daughter had
been increased by the confession of the mother, or that there was some
secret cause working in his mind, he passed his hand over his eyes, and
for a moment turned away his head.

"I have been both a beggar and a giver in my day," he replied, as he
laid down his hat and staff, and took a chair opposite to the dame; "and
I am weary of the one character and of the other. I have got with a
curse; and I have given for ingratitude. But I may here give, and you
may receive, without either. There is an unoccupied bed; I am weary of
wandering, and have enough to pay for rest."

"That is better than charity," rejoined the dame--"ay, even the charity
of the stranger."

"And why of the _stranger_, dame?" added he. "I have hitherto thought
that the charity of _friends_ was that which might be most easily borne.
And who may be your benefactor?"

"Hector Hayston of Whitecraigs," replied she, hanging her head, and
drawing a deep breath.

The stranger detected the same symptoms of pain in the mother as those
he had observed in the daughter.

"Then forgets he not his cottars in his absence," he added. "But why has
he left a retreat fairer than any I have yet seen throughout a long
pilgrimage over many lands?"

"We will not speak of that," she replied, rising slowly, and going to
the window, where she stood for a time in silence.

"You have a daughter, dame," resumed the man, as he watched the
indications of movement in the heart of the mother. "I saw her sitting
looking at the mansion of Whitecraigs. I fear she can lend you small
aid; yet, if her powers of mind and body were equal to the beauty that
has too clearly faded from her cheeks, methinks you would have had
small need to have taken the charity of either friends or strangers."

"Ay, poor Alice! poor Alice!" rejoined the mother, turning suddenly, and
applying her hand to something which required not her care at that
time--"Ay, poor Alice!" she added.

"Is it a bargain, then," said he, wishing to retreat from a subject that
so evidently pained her, "that I may remain here for a time, on your own
terms of remuneration?"

"It may be as you say," replied she, again taking her seat; "but only on
a condition."

"What is it?" inquired he.

"That you never mention the name of Hector Hayston, or of Whitecraigs,
while Alice is by. She harms no one; and I would not see her harmed."

"I perceive," said he, muttering to himself, "that I am not the only one
in the world who carries in his bosom a secret. But," he continued, in a
louder tone, "your condition, dame, shall be fulfilled; and now I may
hold myself to be your lodger." And he proceeded to take from the
stuffed pockets of his coat some night-clothes of a homely character,
and handed them to the dame. "And now," he said, "you may be, now or
after, wondering who he may be who has thus come, like a weary bird from
the waste that seeks refuge among the sere leaves, to live in the
habitation of sorrow. But you must question me not; and farther than my
name, which is Wallace, you may know nothing of me till after the 29th
day of September--ay, ay," he continued, as if calculating, "the 29th
day of September."

The dame started as she heard the mention of the day, looked steadfastly
at him, and was silent.

"Yes," he continued, "that day past, and I will once more draw my breath
freely in the land of my fathers; and my foot, which has only bowed the
head of the heather-bell in the valley, may yet collect energy enough
from my unstrung nerves to press fearlessly the sod of the mountain. How
long is it since your husband died?"

"Seven years," replied she.

"Well, short as our acquaintance has yet been," said he, "our words have
been only of unpleasant things. Now, I require refreshment; and here is
some small pay in advance, to remove the ordinary prejudice against
strangers. We shall be better acquainted by times. I will take, now,
what is readiest in the house; for you may guess, from my attire, that I
have been accustomed to that fare by which the poor contrive to spin out
the weary term of their pilgrimage."

So much being arranged, the dame set about preparing a meal; and Mr.
Wallace, as he had called himself, proceeded to transform his staff into
a fishing-rod, and arrange his other small matters connected with his
future residence. When the humble dish was prepared, the dame went out,
and, taking her position on a green tumulus that rose between the
cottage and the Lyne, stood, and, placing her hands over her eyes,
looked down the water. Her eye, accustomed to the search, detected the
form of her daughter far down the stream, and, waving her hand to her,
she beckoned her home. But she came not; and the two inmates sat down to
their repast.

"This shall be for my poor Alice," said the mother, as she laid aside a
portion of the frugal fare; "but she will take it at her own time, or
perhaps not at all."

"And yet how much she needs it," added the stranger, "her wasted form
and pale face too plainly show."

"There is a sad change there, sir," rejoined she. "There was not a
fairer or more gentle creature from Tweedscross to Tweedmouth than Alice
Scott; nor did ever the foot of light-hearted innocence pass swifter
over the hill or down the glen. You have seen her to-day where she is
often to be seen--by the pond opposite the closed-up house of
Whitecraigs--and may wonder to hear how one so wasted may still reach
the hill-heads; yet there, too, she is sometimes seen. I have struggled
sore to make her what she once was; but in vain. She will wander and
wander, and return and wander again; nor will this cease till I some day
find her dead body among the seggs of the Lyne, or in the lirk of the
hill. When I know you better, I may tell you more. At present, I am
eating the bread of one who is more connected with this sad subject than
I may now confess; and I have never been accounted ungrateful."

The stranger was moved, and ate his meal in meditative silence. In an
hour afterwards, Alice returned to the house, and, as she entered,
started as her eye met that of him who had, by his questions, stirred to
greater activity the feelings that were already too busy with her heart;
but her fears were removed, by his avoidance of the subject which had
pained her; and a few hours seemed to have rendered him as indifferent
to her as seemed the other objects around her. Some days passed, and the
widow would have been as well satisfied with her lodger as he was with
her, had it not been that he enjoined secrecy as to his residence in the
house--retiring to the spence when any one entered; and if at any time
he went along the Lyne in the morning, he avoided those whom he met; and
betook himself to private acts in the inner apartment during the day. At
times he left the cottage in the evening, and did not return for two
days; but whither he went, the inmates knew not. The dame conjectured he
had been as far as Peebles; but her reason was merely that he brought
newspapers with him, and intelligence of matters transacting there. The
secrecy was not suited to the open and simple manners to which she had
been accustomed; but she recollected his words, that on the 29th of
September, she would know all concerning him. Now these words were
connected by a chain of associations that startled her. The 29th of
September had been set apart by her deceased husband as a day of prayer.
He had never allowed it to pass without an offering of the contrite
heart to God; this practice he had continued till his death, and she had
witnessed the act repeated for fifteen years. She was no more
superstitious than the rest of her class; she was, indeed, probably less
so; and her theories, formed for an adequate explanation of the
startling coincidence, were probably as philosophical as if they had
been formed by reason acting under the astute direction of scepticism.
Yet where is the mind, untutored or learned, that can throw away at all
times, at all hours--when the heart is in the sunshine of the cheerful
day of worldly intercourse, or in the deep shadow of the wing of
eternity--all thoughts of all powers save those of natural causes, which
are themselves a mystery? We may sport with the subject; but it comes
again back on the heart, and we sigh in whispering words of fear, that
in the hands of God we are nothing.

One day Mr. Wallace was seated at breakfast; he had been away for two
nights; Alice was sitting by the side of the fire, looking into the
heart of the red embers, and the mother was superintending the
breakfast; he took out a newspaper from his pocket, and, without a word
of premonition, read a paragraph in a deep, solemn voice.

"Died at ---- Street, London, Maria Knight, wife of Hector Hayston,
Esq., of Whitecraigs, in the county of Peebles, in Scotland."

A peculiar sound struggled in the throat of Alice; but it passed, and
she was silent. The mother sat and looked Wallace in the face, to
ascertain what construction to put upon the occurrence which he had thus
read with an emphasis betokening a greater interest than it might
demand from one, as yet, all but ignorant, as she thought, of the true
circumstances of the condition of her daughter. He made no commentary on
what he had read; but looking again at the paper, and turning it over,
as if searching for some other news, he fixed his eyes on an
advertisement in the fourth page. He then read--

"On the 1st day of October next, there will be exposed to public roup
and sale, within the Town-Hall of Peebles, by virtue of the powers of
sale contained in a mortgage granted by Hector Hayston, Esq., of
Whitecraigs, in favour of George Colville of Haughton, all and hail the
lands and estate of Whitecraigs, situated in the parish of ----, and
shire of Peebles, with the mansion-house, offices, &c."

He then laid down the paper, and, looking the widow full in the face--

"The day of sale of Whitecraigs," said he, "is the _second_ day after
the 29th of September. It would have been too much had it been on that
day itself."

No reply was made to his remark. The announcement called up in the mind
of the dame more than she could express; but that which concerned more
closely herself, was too apparently veiled with no mystery. The sale of
Whitecraigs was the ejection of herself and daughter from Homestead; and
she knew not whither she and her daughter were now to be driven, to seek
refuge and sustenance from a world from which she had been so long
estranged.

"All things come to a termination," she said. "For many years I have
lived here, wife and widow; and if I have felt sorrow, I have also
enjoyed. The world is wide; and if I may be obliged to ask and to
receive charity, the God who moves the hand to give it, may not
again--now that His purpose may be served by my contrition--select that
of the destroyer of my child. But there is another that must be taken
from these haunts;" and, turning to Alice, whose face was still
directed to the fire, she gazed on her hapless daughter, while the tear
stole down her cheeks.

Wallace's eye was fixed on the couple. He seemed to understand the
allusion of the mother, which indicated plainly enough, that though the
hills and glens of Whitecraigs had been the scene of the ruin of her
daughter's peace, she anticipated still more fatal consequences from
taking her away from them. Meanwhile, Alice, who had listened to and
understood all, arose from her seat.

"I will never leave Whitecraigs, mother," she said; and bent her steps
towards the door.

"Let her follow her fancy," said Wallace. Then relapsing into a fit of
musing, he added--"the 29th of September of this year will soon be of
the time that is. For twenty years I have looked forward to that
day--under a burning sun, far from my native land, I have sighed for
it--in the midnight hour I have counted the years and days that were
between. Every anniversary was devoted to the God who has chastened the
heart of the sinner; and there was need, when that heart was full of the
thoughts inspired by that day, and penitence came on the wings of
terror. Now it approaches; and I have not miscalculated the benefits it
may pour on other heads than mine."

"Alas!" said the widow, as she cast her eye through the window after her
daughter, "there is no appointed day for the termination of the sorrows
of that poor creature. To the broken-hearted, one day as another,
sunshine or shower, is the same. But what hand shall bear Alice Scott
from Whitecraigs?"

"Perhaps none," replied Wallace, as, taking up the newspaper, he retired
to an inner apartment, where he usually spent the day. Some hours
passed; and, in the afternoon, Mr. Pringle, while passing, took occasion
to call at Homestead, and informed the widow that it would be her duty
to look out for another habitation, as Whitecraigs was to be sold by the
creditor, Mr. Colville, whose object in granting the loan was, if
possible, to take advantage of the difficulties into which extravagance
had plunged the young proprietor, and to bring the property into the
market, that he might purchase it as an appanage of the old estate of
Haughton, from which it had been disjoined. He represented it as a cruel
proceeding, and that its cruelty was enhanced by the circumstance of the
sale being advertised in the same paper which contained the intelligence
of the death of Hector's young wife. Another listener might have replied
that God's ways are just; but Dame Scott, if she thought at the time of
her daughter, considered also that Hayston had supported her for many
years.

"Good dame," added the agent, "it might have been well for my young
friend if he had remained at Whitecraigs. I never saw the wife he
married, and has just lost in the bloom of youth; but she must have been
fair indeed, if she was fairer than she whom he left. Yet Hector's
better principles did not, I am satisfied, entirely forsake him. The
disinclination he has shown to visit his paternal property, was the
result of a clinging remembrance of her he left mourning in the midst of
its glens; nor do I wonder at it, for even I have turned aside to avoid
the sight of Alice Scott. Misfortunes, however, are sometimes mercies;
and the change of residence you will be now driven to, may aid in the
cure of a disease that is only fed by these scenes of Whitecraigs."

He here paused, and, putting his hand in his pocket, took out some
money.

"This may be the last gift," he said, as he presented it to her, "that
Hector Hayston may ever send you. These are his words. His fortunes are
ruined, his wife is dead, and, worse than all, his peace of mind is
fled."

"Heaven have mercy on him!" replied the widow. "One word of reproach has
never escaped the lips of me or my daughter. I have suffered in this
cottage without murmuring, and the glens and hollows of Whitecraigs have
alone heard the complainings of Alice Scott. She will cling to these
places to the last; but were the windows of the deserted house again
opened, with strange faces there, and maybe the lights of the
entertainments of the happy shining through them, she might feel less
pleasure in sitting by the pond from which she now so often surveys the
deserted mansion. This last gift, sir, moves my tears--yea, for all I
and mine have suffered from Hector Hayston."

The agent had performed his duty, and departed with the promise that he
would, of his own accord, endeavour to prevail upon some of his
employers to grant her a cottage, if the purchaser of Whitecraigs should
resist an appeal for her to remain. He had no sooner gone, than the
stranger Wallace, who had heard the conversation, entered. He asked her
how much money Hector had sent as his last gift; and, on being
informed--

"That young man," he said, "has fallen a victim to the allurements of a
town life. The story of your daughter has been known to me; but I have
avoided the mention of the name of Hayston, which could only have
yielded pain without an amelioration of its cause. That gift speaks to
me volumes. Even fashion has not sterilized the heart of that young man.
He has erred--he may have transgressed--but for all, all, there is a
29th of September!"

The allusion he thus made was as inscrutable as ever. Again she
reflected upon her husband's conduct upon that day of the year; and
again, as she had done a hundred times, searched the face of the
speaker. But she abstained from question; and the day passed, and others
came, till the eventful morning was ushered in by sunshine. Wallace was
up by times; and his prayers were heard directed to the Throne of Mercy,
in thanks and heart-expressed contrition. In the forenoon he went forth
with freedom, climbed the hills, and conversed with the anglers he met
on the Lyne. He seemed as if relieved from some weighty burden; and the
dame, who had carefully watched his motions, waited anxiously for the
secret. He had not, however, pledged himself to reveal it on that day.
He had only said that all would be made known some time after the day
had passed; and, accordingly, he made no declaration. Yet, at bedtime,
he was again engaged in prayers, and even during the night he was heard
muttering expressions of thanksgiving to the Author of the day, and what
the day bringeth.

On the following morning, he announced his intention of going to
Peebles, whither he was supposed to have gone before; but now his manner
of going was changed. He purposed taking the coach, which, as it passed
within some miles of Whitecraigs, he intended to wait for, and on
departing--

"You will not hear of me till to-morrow night," he said. "I can now face
man; would that I could with the same confidence hold up my countenance
to God. Alice Scott," he continued, as he looked to the girl, "I will
not forget you in my absence. Your day of sorrow has been long; but
there may yet be a 29th of September even to you."

And, taking the maiden kindly in his arms, he whispered some words in
her ear, in which the magic syllables of a name she trembled to hear
were mixed. Her eyes exhibited a momentary brightness, a deep sigh
heaved her bosom, and again her head declined, with a whisper on her
lips--"Never, O never!" In a moment after, he was gone; and the widow
was left to ascertain from Alice what he had said, to bring again, even
for a moment, the blood to her cheek.

On the day after, there was a crowd of people in the Town-Hall of
Peebles, and the auctioneer was reading aloud the articles of roup of
the lands of Whitecraigs. Mr. Colville was there in high hopes; but
there were others too, who seemed inclined to disappoint them. The
property was set up at the price of fifteen thousand pounds, and that
sum was soon offered by the holder of the mortgage. Other bodes quickly
followed, and a competition commenced, which soon raised the price to
eighteen thousand, at which it seemed to be destined to be given to
Haughton. The other competitors appeared timid; and several declared
themselves done, one by one, until no one was expected to advance a
pound higher. All was silence, save for the voice of the auctioneer; and
he had already begun his ominous once, twice, when a voice which had not
yet been heard, cried--"Eighteen thousand two hundred." The hammer was
suspended, and all eyes turned to view the doughty assailant, who would,
at the end of the day, vanquish the champion who had as yet retained the
field. Those eyes recognised in the bidder a man poorly clothed, and
more like an alms-seeker than the purchaser of an estate--no other was
that man than Mr. Wallace. The auctioneer looked at him; others looked
and wondered; and Haughton gloomed, as he advanced another hundred; and
that was soon followed by a hundred more, which led to a competition
that seemed to be embittered on the one part by pride and contempt, and
on the other by determination. Hundred upon hundred followed in rapid
succession, till Haughton gave up in despair, and a shout rung through
the hall as the hammer fell, and the estate was declared the property of
the humble stranger, whom no one knew, and whom no one would have
considered worth more than the clothes he carried on his back. A
certificate of a banker at Peebles--that he held in his hands funds,
belonging to the purchaser, of greater amount than the price--satisfied
the judge of the roup; and the party were divided in circles, conversing
on the strange turn which had been given to the sale of Whitecraigs.

On the same night, Wallace returned to Homestead, and sat down
composedly to the humble meal that had been prepared for him by the
widow. Alice was in her usual seat; and the placidity of manner which
distinguished them from ordinary sufferers, spoke their usual obedience
to the Divine will.

"This day the property of Whitecraigs has changed masters!" said he.

"And who has purchased it?" inquired the mother.

"He who is now sitting before you!" replied he.

Alice turned her head to look at him; the mother sat mute with surprise;
while he rose and fastened the door.

"It is even so," he continued, as he again sat down; "David Scott, the
brother of your husband, and the uncle of Alice, has this day purchased
Whitecraigs."

A faint scream from the mother followed this announcement, and,
recovering herself, she again fixed her eyes on the stranger.

"It is true," continued he; "I am the brother of your deceased husband.
For two years after you were married to Adam, you would, doubtless, hear
him speak of me, as then engaged in a calling of which I may now be
ashamed, for I was one of the most daring smugglers on the Solway. The
29th of September, 17--, dawned upon me, yet with hands unsullied in the
blood of man; but the sun of that day set upon me as proscribed by God
and my country. My name was read on the house walls, and execration
followed my steps, as I flew from cave to cave. Yet who could have told
that that day in which my evil spirit wrought its greatest triumph over
good, was that whose evening shades closed upon a repentant soul!"

He paused, and placed his hand on his brow.

"These things are to me as an old dream," replied the widow, looking
round her, as if in search of memorials of stationary space. "My husband
never afterwards mentioned your name, save to inform me that you had
died in the West Indies; yet now I see the import of his devotion, in
the coming round of the day that shamed the honest family to whom he
belonged."

"And it was to save that shame, and to secure my safety under my assumed
name, that, after I flew to the islands of the west, I got intelligence
of my death sent to Scotland. What other than the issue of this day must
have been in the view of the great Disposer of events, when, in addition
to the grace He poured on the heart of the sinner, He invested the arm
that had been lifted against His creatures with the prosperity that
filled my coffers! But, alas! though I may have reason to trust to the
forgiveness of Heaven, that of man I may never expect."

"And punishment still awaits you?" rejoined she.

"No, no!" he cried, as he rose and placed his foot firmly on the floor.
"I am free--the heart may hate me, the tongue may scorn me, the hand may
point at me, but it dare not strike. On the 29th of September I was no
longer amenable to the laws for the crime which drove me to foreign
lands: twenty years free the culprit from the vengeance of man; the last
day of that period was the 29th of September--it is past; and now God is
my only judge." He again paused. "But I must live still as David
Wallace. The name of Scott shall not be sullied by me. As David Wallace
I have made my fortune, and as David Wallace made my supplications to
Heaven. By the same name I have bought Whitecraigs, and by that name I
shall make it over to one who may yet retrieve the honour of our humble
house--to Alice, who should, through other means, have been mistress.
Come to your natural protector, Alice, and tell him if you will consent
to be the lady of Whitecraigs."

The girl, on whom the ordinary occurrences of life now seldom made any
impression, had listened attentively to the extraordinary facts and
intentions thus evolved; and, at his bidding, rose and stood by his
side. He took her hand, and looked into her face.

"I knew," said he, "that I was pledged not to mention a certain name
while you were by; and I kept my word, with the exception of the whisper
I stole into your ear on the day I set out for Peebles. But things are
now changed. The rights of Whitecraigs are now in the act of being made
out in your name. Within a month you will be mistress of that mansion,
and of those green dells and hills you have loved to wander among in joy
and in sorrow. Now, will you answer me a question?"

"I will!" she replied.

"What would be your answer to Hector Hayston--who is now no longer a
husband, and no longer rich--were he to come to Whitecraigs and make
amends for all that is by and gone? Would you receive him kindly, or
turn him from the door of the house of his fathers?"

The question was too sudden, or too touchingly devised. She looked for a
moment in his face, burst into tears, and hid her face in his breast.

"Try her poor heart not thus!" cried the mother. "Time, that as yet has
done nothing but made ravages, may now, when things are so changed, work
miracles. Do not press the question. A woman and a mother knows better
than you can do what are now her feelings. The answer is not
asked--Alice, your uncle has taken back his question!"

"I have--I have!" replied he, as he pressed her to his breast. "Look up,
my dear Alice. I have, in my pride and power, been hasty, and thought I
could rule the heart of woman as I have done my own, even in its
rebellion against God. I have yet all to learn of those secret workings
of the spirit, in all save repentance. I never myself knew what it was
to love, far less what it is to love and be forsaken. No more--no more.
I will not again touch those strings."

And, rising hurriedly, he consigned the maid to her mother, and went
out, to afford her time to collect again her thoughts. During the
following week the furniture of Whitecraigs was disposed of by Mr.
Pringle, for behoof of the other creditors of Hayston, and purchased by
the uncle, who took another journey to Peebles, for the purpose of
negotiating the sale, and making further preparations for obtaining
entry. In a fortnight after, the keys were sent to Homestead by a
messenger, while the making up of the titles was in the course of
progress. It was no part of the intention of Wallace to reside in the
mansion-house: his object was still secrecy; and, though the form and
character of the transaction might lead ultimately to a discovery, he
cared not. By the prescription of the crime he had committed, he was
free from punishment; while, by retaining his name, and living
ostensibly in a humble condition, he had a chance of escaping a
detection of his true character, at the same time that he might, by
humility and good services, render himself more acceptable to that Great
Power whose servant he now considered himself to be.

On the twenty-first day of October, the house of Whitecraigs was again
open. Servants had been procured from Peebles; the fires were again
burning; the wreaths of smoke again ascended from among the trees; and
life and living action were taking the place of desertedness. On the
forenoon of that day, Wallace took the two females from Homestead, and
conducted them, hanging on his arms, to their new place of residence. To
speak of feelings, where a change comprehended an entire revolution of
a life of habit, thought, and sentiment, would be as vain as
unintelligible. From that day, when the uncle had put the trying
question to his niece, a change might have been detected working a
gradual influence on her appearance and conduct. Might we say that hope
had again lighted her taper within the recesses where all had been so
long dreary darkness! The change would not authorize an affirmative--it
would have startled the ear that might have feared and yet loved the
sounds. One not less versed in human nature might be safer in the
construction derived from the new objects, new duties, new desires, new
thoughts, from all the thousand things that act on the mind in this
wonderful scene of man's existence; but would he be truer to the nature
of the heart that has once loved? We may be contented with a mean, where
extremes shoot into the darkness of our mysterious nature. Alice Scott
took in gradually the interests of her new sphere; did not despise the
apparel suited to it; did not reject the manners that adorned it; did
not turn a deaf ear or a dead eye to the eloquent ministers that lay
around amidst the beauties of Whitecraigs and hailed her as mistress,
where she was once a servant, if not a beggar.

Meanwhile the house of Homestead was enlarged, to fit it as a residence
for the uncle. Mr. Pringle was continued agent for the proprietress of
Whitecraigs; and, while many, doubtless, speculated on a thousand
theories as to these strange occurrences, we may not deny to Hector
Hayston, wherever he was, or in whatever circumstances, some interest in
what concerned him so nearly as the disposal of his estate, and the
fortune of her by whom his first affections had been awakened. Neither
shall we say that Wallace and Pringle had not, too, their secret views
and understandings, and that the latter was not silent where the
interests of his old employer called for confidence. In all which we
may be justified by the fact that, one day, the agent of Whitecraigs
introduced to the bachelor of Homestead a young man: it was the former
proprietor of Whitecraigs.

"It is natural, Mr. Wallace," said Mr. Pringle, "that one should wish to
revisit the scenes of his youth--especially," he added, with a smile,
"when these have been one's own property, come from prior generations,
and lost by the thoughtlessness of youth."

"It is," replied Wallace, renouncing his usual gravity, "even though
there should be no one there who might claim the hand of old friendship.
But this young man has only, as yet, seen the hill-tops of his father's
lands; and these claim no seclusion from the eye of the traveller. He
might wish, with greater ardency, to see the bed where his mother lay
when she bore him, or the cradle (which may still be in the house) where
she rocked him to sleep."

"God be merciful to me!" replied the youth, as he turned away his head.
"This man touches strings whose vibrations harrow me. Sir," he added,
"were you ever yourself in the situation of him whose feelings you have
thus, from good motives, quickened so painfully?"

"What Whitecraigs and she who lives now in the house yonder were or are
to you, Scotland and my kindred were to me; but the house where I was
born knows me not, and the bed and the cradle do not own me. But Alice
Scott recognised me as a fellow-creature, whatever more I say not; and
even that, from one so good, and, even yet, so beautiful--is something
to live for. No more. I know all. Will you risk a meeting?"

"Mr. Pringle will answer for me," replied he, as he turned, with a full
heart, to the window.

"And I will answer for Mr. Pringle," said Wallace.

"But who will answer for _her_?" rejoined the other.

"Stay there," said Wallace. "I will return in a few minutes."

And, bending his steps to Whitecraigs House, he was, for a time, engaged
with Alice and her mother. He again returned to Homestead; and, in a few
minutes after, the three were walking towards the mansion. The eye of
the young man glanced furtively from side to side, as if to catch
glimpses of old features which had become strange to him; but in the
direction of the house he seemed to have no power to look--lagging
behind, and displaying an anxiety to be concealed, by the bodies of the
others, from the view of the windows. On arriving at the house, Wallace
and Pringle went into an apartment where the mother was seated. Hector
stood in the passage: he feared that Alice was there, and would not
enter.

"Think you," whispered Wallace, quickly returning to him, "that I, whom
you accused of touching tender chords, am so little acquainted with
human nature as to admit of witnesses to your meeting with Alice Scott?
There, the green parlour in the west wing," he continued, pointing up
the inside stair to a room well known to the youth. "If you cannot
effect it, who may try? Go--go!"

"I cannot--I cannot!" he replied, in deep tones. "My feet will not carry
me. That room was my mother's favourite parlour. A thousand associations
are busy with me. And now, who sits there?"

"Come, come!" said Pringle, as he came forth, in consequence of hearing
Hayston's irresolution. "What did you expect on coming here? Alice to
come and fly to you with open arms?"

"No, sir; to reject me with a wave of disdain!" replied the youth. "I am
smitten from within, and confidence has left me. Let me see her mother
first. My cruelty to her has been mixed with kindness, and she may give
me some heart."

And he turned to the apartment where the mother sat.

"Your confidence will not be restored by anything the mother can say!"
rejoined Pringle, who was getting alarmed for the success of his
efforts. "Alice is now mistress here, and must be won by contrition, and
a prayer for forgiveness."

"Ho!" interjected Wallace. "To what tends this mummery? Must I take you
by the hand, and lead you to one who, for years, has seen you in every
flitting shade of the hills, and heard you in every note of the sighing
winds of the valley?"

"To hate me as I deserve to be hated!" replied Hayston, still
irresolute. "None of you can give me any ground for hope, and seem to
push me on to experience a rejection which may seal my misery for ever!"

Wallace smiled in silence, beckoned Pringle into the room beside the
mother, and taking Hayston by the arm, with a show of humour that
accorded but indifferently with the real anguish of doubt and dismay by
which the young man's mind was occupied, forced him on to the first step
of the inside stair.

"You are now fairly committed!" said he, smiling; "to retreat, is ruin;
to advance, happiness, and love, and peace."

And he retreated to the room where Pringle was, leaving the youth to the
strength or weakness of his own resolution. His tread was now heard,
slow and hesitating, on the stair. Some time elapsed before the sound of
the opening door was heard; and that it remained for a time open, held
by the doubtful hand, might also have been observed. At last it was
shut; and quick steps on the floor indicated that the first look had not
been fraught with rejection.

The party below were, meanwhile, speculating on the result of the
meeting. Even the mother was not certain that it would, at first, be
attended with success. Alice had yielded no consent; and it was only
from the mother's construction of her looks, that she had given her
authority for the interview.

"All is now decided, for good or evil," said Wallace. "Go up stairs, and
bring us a report of the state of affairs."

The mother obeyed; and, after a considerable time, returned, with her
eyes swimming in tears.

"Is it so?" said her friend. "Is it really so? Has all my labour been
fruitless?"

"No," replied she; "but I could not stand the sight. I found her lying
on the breast of Hector, sobbing out the sorrows of years. Her eyes have
been long dry. The heart is at last opened."

"Too good a sight for me to lose," replied her friend. "For twenty years
I have only known the tears of penitence: I will now experience those
that flow from the happiness of others."

And, with these words, he hurried up stairs. We would follow, but that
we are aware of the danger of treading ground almost forbidden to
inspiration. Within two hours afterwards, Hector Hayston and Alice Scott
were again among the glens of Whitecraigs, seeking out those places
where, before, they used to breathe the accents of a first affection.
The one had been true to the end; and the other had been false only to
learn the beauty of truth. We have given these details from a true
record, and have derived pleasure from the recollections they have
awakened; but we fairly admit, that we would yield one half of what we
have experienced of the good, to have marked that day the workings of
the retrieved spirit in the eyes, and speech, and manners of Alice
Scott. These are nature's true magic. The drooping flower that is all
but dead in the dry, parched soil, raises its head, takes on fresh
colours, and gives forth fresh odours, as the spring showers fall on its
withered leaves. Oh! there is a magic there that escapes not even the
eye of dull labour, retiring home sick of all but the repose he needs.
But the process in the frame that is the temple of beauty, worth,
intelligence, sensibility, rearing all in loveliness afresh, out of what
was deemed the ruins only of what is the greatest and best of God's
works--to see this, and to feel it, is to rejoice that we are placed in
a world that, with all its elements of vice and sorrow, is yet a place
where the good and the virtuous may find something analogous to that for
which the spirit pants in other worlds.

Yet, though we saw it not, we have enough of the conception, through
fancy, to be thankful for the gift even of the _ideal_ of the good; and
here we are satisfied that we have more. Hector Hayston and Alice Scott
were married. David Wallace's history was long concealed, but curiosity
finally triumphed; yet with no effect calculated to impair the
equanimity of a mind which repentance, and a reliance on God's grace,
had long rendered independent of the opinions of men. He had wrought for
evil, and good came of it; and he lived long to see, in the house of
Whitecraigs, its master, mistress, and children, the benefits of the
prescription which the 29th of September effected--a principle of the
law of Scotland that was long deemed inconsistent with the good of the
land, but now more properly considered as being no less in unison with
the feelings of man than it is with divine mercy.



THE COUNTESS OF WISTONBURY.


In the summer of 1836 I had occasion to make a journey into Wiltshire,
in England. As the business that called me there, although of sufficient
importance to me, would have no interest whatever for the reader, I will
readily be excused, I dare say, from saying of what nature that business
was. It will more concern him, from its connection with the sequel, to
know that my residence, while in England, was in a certain beautiful
little village at the southern extremity of the shire above named, and
that mine host, during my stay there, was the worthy landlord of the
White Hart Inn, as intelligent and well-informed a man as it has often
been my good fortune to meet with. The nature of the business which made
me a guest of Michael Jones, left me a great deal more spare time than I
knew well what to do with. It hung heavy upon my hands; and my good
host, perceiving this, suggested a little excursion, which, he said, he
thought would dispose of one day, at any rate, agreeably enough.

"I would recommend you, sir," he said, "to pay a visit to Oxton Hall,
the seat of the Earl of Wistonbury.[5] It is one of the finest
residences in England; and, as the family are not there just now, you
may see the whole house, both inside and outside. If you think of it, I
will give you a line to the butler, a very old friend of mine, and he
will be glad to show you all that's worth seeing about the place."

[5] Under this name we choose, for obvious reasons, to conceal the real
one.--_Ed._

"How far distant is it?" I inquired.

"Oh, not more than three miles and a half--little more than an hour's
easy walk," replied mine host.

"Excellent!" said I; "thank you for the hint, landlord. Let me have the
introduction to the butler you spoke about, and I'll set off directly."

In less than five minutes, a card, addressed to Mr. John Grafton,
butler, Oxton Hall, was put into my hands, and in two minutes more I was
on my way to the ancient seat of the Earls of Wistonbury. The directions
given me as to my route, carefully noted on my part, brought me, in
little more than an hour, to a spacious and noble gateway, secured by a
magnificent gate of cast-iron. This I at once recognised, from the
description given me by Mr. Jones, to be the principal entrance to Oxton
Hall. Satisfied that it was so, I unhesitatingly entered--and the house
of one of the proudest of England's aristocracy stood before me, in all
its lordly magnificence. A spacious lawn, of the brightest and most
beautiful verdure, dotted over with noble oaks, and tenanted by some
scores of fallow-deer, stretched far and wide on every side. In the
centre of this splendid park--such a park as England alone can
exhibit--arose the mansion-house, an ancient and stately pile, of great
extent and lofty structure.

Having found the person to whose civilities I was recommended by mine
host of the White Hart--a mild and pleasant-looking old man, of about
seventy years of age--I put my credentials into his hands. On reading
it, the old man looked at me smilingly, and said that he would have much
pleasure in obliging his good friend Mr. Jones, by showing me all that
was worth seeing both in and about the house; and many things both
curious and rare, and, I may add, both costly and splendid, did I see
ere another hour had passed away; but fearing the reader's patience
would scarcely stand the trial of a description of them, I refrain from
the experiment, and proceed to say, that, just as our survey of the
house was concluded, my cicerone, as if suddenly recollecting himself,
said--

"By-the-by, sir, perhaps you would like to see the picture gallery,
although it is hardly worth seeing just now--most of the pictures having
been removed to our house in Grosvenor Square last winter; and, being in
this denuded state, I never think of showing it to visitors. There are,
however, a few portraits of different members of the family still left,
and these you may see if you have any curiosity regarding them."

Such curiosity I avowed I felt, and was immediately conducted into the
presence of a number of the pictorial ancestry of the illustrious house
of Wistonbury. The greater part of the pictures had been removed, as my
conductor had informed me; but a few still remained scattered along the
lofty walls of the gallery.

"That," said my cicerone, pointing to a grim warrior, clad from head to
heel in a panoply of steel,--"that is Henry, first Earl of Wistonbury,
who fell in Palestine during the holy wars; and this," directing my
attention to another picture, "is the grandfather of the present Earl."

"A very handsome and pleasant-looking young man," said I, struck with
the forcible representation of these qualities which the painting
exhibited.

"Ay," replied the old man, "and as good as he was handsome. He is the
pride of the house; and the country around yet rings with his name,
associated with all that is kind and charitable."

"And who is this lovely creature?" said I, now pointing in my turn to
the portrait of a young female of the most exquisite beauty--the face
strikingly resembling some of the best executed likenesses of the
unfortunate Queen Mary--which hung beside that of the Good Earl of
Wistonbury, as the nobleman of whom my cicerone had just spoken was
called throughout the country.

"That lady, sir," replied the latter, "was his wife--the Countess of
Wistonbury. She was one of the most beautiful women of her time; and,
like her husband, was beloved by all around her, for the gentleness of
her manners and benevolence of her disposition."

"But what's this?" said I, advancing a little nearer the picture, to
examine something in her attire that puzzled me. "A Scotch plaid!" I
exclaimed in considerable surprise, on ascertaining that this was the
article of dress which had perplexed me. "Pray, what has the Scotch
plaid to do here? How happens it that we find a Countess of Wistonbury
arrayed in the costume of Caledonia?"

"Why, sir, the reason is good--perfectly satisfactory," replied Mr.
Grafton, smilingly. "She was a native of that country."

"Indeed!" said I. "A countrywoman of mine! Of what family?" added I.

My conductor smiled.

"Truly," said he, after a pause, "that is a question easier put than
answered."

"What!" said I, "was she not of some distinguished house?"

"By no means, sir," replied Mr. Grafton. "She was a person of the
humblest birth and station; but this did not hinder her from becoming
Countess of Wistonbury, nor from being one of the best as well as most
beautiful that ever bore the title."

"Ah, ha!" said I to myself, "here's a story for the 'Tales of the
Borders.'" I did not say this to Mr. Grafton, however; but to him I did
say--"There must be some interesting story connected with this lady. The
history of her singular good fortune must be curious, and well worth
hearing."

"Why, it certainly is," replied my conductor, with the air of one who,
while he cannot but acknowledge that there is interest in a certain
piece of information which he possesses, is yet so familiar with it
himself, has owned it so long, and communicated it so often, that his
feelings seem to belie his words--the former remaining unmoved by the
tale which the latter unfolds. "There is certainly something curious in
the Countess's story," said Mr. Grafton; "and, now that we have seen
everything that is worth seeing, if you will come with me to my little
refectory, I will tell you all about it over a tankard of fine old ale
and a slice of cold round."

Need I say, good reader, that I at once and gladly accepted an
invitation that so happily combined the intellectual and the sensual?
You will give me credit for more sense; and the following story will
prove at once that your good opinion is not misplaced, that I must have
been an attentive listener, and, lastly, that I must be blessed with a
pretty retentive memory. I relate the story in my own way, but without
taking the slightest liberty with any single one of the details given me
by my informant, who, from having been upwards of forty-five years in
the service of the Earls of Wistonbury, and, during the greater part of
that time their principal and most confidential domestic, was minutely
and accurately informed regarding every remarkable event that had
occurred in the family for several generations back.

"But, before we leave this part of the house," resumed Mr. Grafton, "be
so good as step with me a moment into this small room here, till I show
you a certain little article that cuts some figure in the story which I
shall shortly tell you."

Saying this, he led the way into the small apartment he alluded to, and,
conducting me towards a handsome ebony or blackwood cabinet that
occupied one end of the room, he threw open its little folding doors,
and exhibited to me, not some rich or rare curiosity, as I had expected,
but a small, plain, very plain--or I should, perhaps, rather say very
coarse--country-looking, blue-painted chest.

"Do you see that little chest, sir?" said Mr. Grafton, smilingly.

"I do," said I; "and it seems a very homely article to be so splendidly
entombed, and so carefully kept."

"Yet," replied Mr. Grafton, "homely as it is, and small as is its
intrinsic value, that is one of the heir-looms of the family, and one of
the most fondly-cherished of them all."

"Indeed!" said I, in some surprise. "Then I am very sure it cannot be
for its marketable worth. It wouldn't bring sixpence."

"I verily believe it would not," replied Mr. Grafton. "Yet the Earl of
Wistonbury would not part with that little chest for a good round sum, I
warrant ye."

"Pray, explain, my good sir."

"I will. That little, blue-painted chest contained all the worldly
wealth--a few articles of female dress--of the lady whose portrait you
were just now so much admiring, when she became Countess of Wistonbury."

"Why, then," said I, "that is proof that riches, at any rate, had
nothing to do with her promotion to that high rank."

"They certainly had not," replied my aged friend. "But all this you will
learn more particularly in the story which I shall tell you presently.
You will then learn, also, how the little, blue-painted chest comes to
figure in the history of a countess."

Saying this, Mr. Grafton shut the doors of the cabinet, when we left the
apartment, and, in a few minutes after, I found myself in what my worthy
old host called his refectory. This was a snug little room, most
comfortably furnished, and in which I observed a very large quantity of
silver plate,--being, I presumed, the depository of that portion of the
family's wealth. My good old friend now rung his bell, when a female
servant appeared.

"Let's have summut to eat, Betsy," said the old man; and never was order
more promptly or more effectively obeyed.

In an instant the table, which occupied the centre of the floor,
absolutely creaked under the load of good things with which it was
encumbered. The "slice of cold round," I found, was but a _nomme de
guerre_ with the old man, and meant everything in the edible way that
was choice and savoury. To this conclusion I came from seeing the table
before me covered with a great variety of good things, amongst which
rose, conspicuous in the centre, a huge venison pasty. When the
_loading_ of the table was completed, and the servant had retired--

"Now," said the old man, looking at me with a significant smile, and at
the same time drawing a bunch of small keys from his pocket, from which
he carefully singled out one, "since Betsy has done her part so well,
let me see if I can't do mine as creditably."

Saying this, he opened what I thought a sly-looking little cupboard, and
brought forth from its mysterious recess an aristocratic-looking bottle,
sealed with black wax, and whose shoulders were still thickly coated
with sawdust. Handling this venerable bottle with a lightness and
delicacy of touch which a long practice only could have given, and with
a degree of reverence which an _à priori_ knowledge of its contents only
could have inspired, my worthy host tenderly brushed off its coating of
sawdust, gently inserted the screw, drew the cork, with a calm,
cautious, steady pull, and, in the next moment, had filled up two
brimmers of the finest old port that the cellars of Oxton Hall could
produce. Having done ample justice to the good things before us--

"Now, my good sir, the story, the story, if you please," said I.

"Oh, to be sure," replied my kind host, smiling. "The story you shall
have. But first let us take another glass of wine, to inspire me with
fortitude to begin so long a story, and you with patience to listen to
it."

The procedure thus recommended having been complied with, the good old
man immediately began:--

"About a hundred and thirteen years since," he said, "there lived in the
neighbourhood of one of the principal cities in Scotland, a farmer of
the name of Flowerdew. He was a man of respectable character, and of
sober and industrious habits. His family consisted only of himself, his
wife, and an only child--a daughter, named Jessy. Gentle and
affectionate, of the most winning manners, and surpassingly beautiful in
form and feature, Jessy was not only the darling of her father, but the
favourite character of the neighbourhood in which she lived. All yielded
the homage of admiration to her supreme loveliness, and of the tenderest
esteem to her worth.

For many years, Jessy's father contrived, notwithstanding of an enormous
rent, to keep pace with the world, and eventually to raise himself a
little above it; but, in despite of all his industry and all his
prudence, reverses came. A succession of bad crops was followed by a
series of losses of various kinds, and James Flowerdew found himself a
ruined man.

'It's not for myself I care,' said the honest man, when speaking one day
with his wife of the misfortunes which had overwhelmed them--'it's for
our puir bit lassie, guidwife. God help her! I thought to have left her
independent; but it's been ordained otherwise, and we must submit. But
what's to become of her I know not. Being brocht up a little abune the
common, she cannot be asked to enter into the service of ony o' our
neebors; yet, I see nae other way o't. It must come to that in the lang
run.'

'I suppose it must, guidman--I suppose it must,' replied his wife,
raising the corner of her apron to her eye, and then bursting into
tears. 'My puir, dear, gentle lassie,' she exclaimed, 'it's a sad change
to her; but I ken she'll meet it cheerfully, and without repining. But,
guidman, if to service she must go, and I fancy there's little doot o'
that, wouldna it be better if we could get her into the service of some
respectable family in the toon, than to put her wi' ony o' our neebors,
where she might be reminded o' her fall, as they will call it?'

'It's a good thought, Lizzy,' replied her husband, musingly, as he gazed
in sadness on the fire that burned before him. 'It's a good thought,' he
said. 'She will be there unknown, and her feelings saved from the taunts
of callous impertinence. I will think of it,' added Flowerdew. 'In the
meantime, guidwife, prepare Jessy, the best way you can, for the change
of situation in life which she is about to meet with. I canna do it. It
would break my heart a'thegither.'

This painful task Mrs. Flowerdew undertook; and, as she expected, found
her daughter not only reconciled to the step which was proposed for her,
but eager and anxious to be put in a way of doing for herself, and, as
she fondly hoped and affectionately said, of aiding her parents.

Shortly after this, the ruin which had overtaken James Flowerdew began
to present itself in its most instant and most distressing shapes.
Arrestments were laid on his funds in all quarters. Visits of messengers
were frequent, almost daily; and his whole stock and crop were
sequestrated by the landlord, and a day for the sale fixed. This last
was a sight from which Flowerdew anxiously wished to save his daughter,
and he meant to do so, if he could, by finding her 'a place' previous to
the day of sale.

The duty of looking out for a situation for Jessy in town Flowerdew
took upon himself, from the circumstance of his having been in the habit
for many years of supplying a number of respectable families with the
produce of his farm, which he generally delivered himself, his simple
character and industrious habits not permitting him to see any
degradation in driving his own cart on these occasions. Flowerdew had
thus formed a personal acquaintance with many families of the better
class, which he thought might be useful to him in his present views.

Amongst the oldest and most respected of his customers was a learned
professor, whom, to avoid what might be an inconvenient identification
of circumstances, we shall call Lockerby. With this gentleman Flowerdew
resolved to begin his inquiries respecting a situation for his daughter.
He did so, and on being introduced to him, explained the purpose of his
visit.

'Dear me, Mr. Flowerdew!' said the worthy professor, in surprise at the
application, 'I thought--I all along thought, that your circumstances
would entitle your daughter, whose modesty of demeanour and great beauty
of person I have had frequent opportunities of admiring--she having
called here frequently, as you know, on various occasions connected with
our little traffic--I say, I thought your circumstances would entitle
your daughter to look for something higher than the situation of a
domestic servant.'

'I once thought so myself, professor,' replied Mr. Flowerdew, with a
tear standing in his eye; 'but it has turned out otherwise. The truth
is, that I have lately met with such reverses as have entirely ruined
me. I am about to be ejected from my farm, and must betake myself to
daily labour for a subsistence. In this explanation you will see the
reason why I apply to you for a situation in your family for my
daughter.'

'Too clearly--too clearly,' replied the worthy professor sincerely
grieving for the misfortunes of a man whom he had long known, and whose
uprightness of conduct and character he had long appreciated. 'I am
seriously distressed, Mr. Flowerdew,' he added, 'to learn all
this--seriously distressed, indeed; but, in the meantime, let us consult
Mrs. Lockerby on the subject of your present visit.' And he rang the
bell, and desired the servant who answered it, to request his wife to
come to him. She came, and on being informed of Mr. Flowerdew's
application in behalf of his daughter, at once agreed to receive her
into her service; adding, that she might, if she chose, enter on her
duties immediately. It was finally arranged that Jessy should take
possession of her situation on the following day.

Highly gratified at having got admission for his daughter into so worthy
and respectable a family, Flowerdew returned home with a lighter heart
than he had possessed for some time before. He felt that his Jessy was
now, in a manner, provided for; and that, although the situation was a
humble one, and far short of what he had once expected for her, it was
yet a creditable one, and one presenting no mean field for the exercise
of some of the best qualities which a woman can possess.

Equally pleased with her father at the opening that had been found for
her, the gentle girl lost no time in making such preparations as the
impending change in her position in life rendered necessary. Part of
these preparations, all cheerfully performed, consisted in packing a
small trunk with her clothes, and in other procedures of a similar kind.
In this employment her mother endeavoured to assist her, but was too
much affected by the sadness of the task to afford any very efficient
aid, although her daughter did all she could, by assuming a
light-heartedness which she could not altogether feel, to assuage the
grief to which her mother was every moment giving way.

'Why grieve yourself in that way, mother?' she would say, pausing in her
operations, and flinging her arms around her parent's neck. 'I assure
you I am happy at the prospect of being put in a way of doing for
myself; I consider it no hardship--not in the least. I will take a pride
in discharging my new duties faithfully and diligently; and I hope that,
even in the humble sphere in which I am about to move, I shall contrive
to make myself both esteemed and respected.'

'_That_ I dinna doubt--that I dinna doubt, my dear lassie,' replied her
mother; 'but, oh, it goes to my heart to see you gaun into the service
o' ithers. I never expected to see the day. Oh, this is a sad change
that's come over us a'!' And again the poor woman burst into a paroxysm
of grief.

'Mother,' said the girl, 'you will dishearten me if you go on in this
way.' Then smiling through the tears of affection that glistened on her
eye, and assuming a tone of affected cheerfulness, 'Come now, dear
mother, do drop this desponding tone. There's better days in store for
us yet. We'll get above all this by-and-by. In the meantime it is our
duty, as Christians, to submit to the destiny that has been decreed us
with patience and resignation. Come, mother, I'll sing you the song you
used always to like so well to hear me sing.' And, without waiting for
any remark in reply, or pausing in her employment, the girl immediately
began, in a voice whose richness of tone and deep pathos possessed the
most thrilling power:--

   'A cheerfu' heart's been always mine,
      Whatever might betide me, O!
    In foul or fair, in shade or shine,
      I've aye had that to guide me, O!

    When luck cam chappin' at my door,
      Wi' right goodwill I cheered him, O!
    And whan misfortune cam, I swore
      The ne'er a bit I feared him, O!'

'O lassie, lassie!' exclaimed Jessy's mother, here interrupting her, and
now smiling as she spoke--'how can ye think o' singing at such a time?
But God lang vouchsafe ye sae light and cheerfu' a heart! It's a great
blessing, Jessy, and canna be prized too highly.'

'I'm aware of it, mother,' replied her daughter, 'and am, I trust,
thankful for it. I dinna see, after a', that anything should seriously
distress us--but guilt. If we keep free o' _that_, what hae we to fear?
A' ither mischances will mend, or if they dinna, they'll at least smooth
doon wi' time.'

'But why are ye no puttin' up your silk goun, Jessy?' here interposed
her mother, abruptly; seeing her daughter laying aside the article of
dress she referred to, as if she did not intend it should have a place
in the little chest she was packing.

'The silk gown, mother, I'll no tak wi' me,' replied Jessy, smiling;
'I'll leave't at hame till better times come roun'. It would hardly
become my station now, mother, to be gaun flaunting about in silks.'

'Too true, Jessy,' said her mother with a sigh. 'It may be as weel, as
ye say, to leave't at hame for a wee, till times mend wi' us at ony
rate, although God only knows when that may be, if ever.'

'I'll keep it for my wedding gown, mother,' said Jessy, laughingly, and
with an intention of counteracting the depressing tendency of her
inadvertent remarks on the propriety of her leaving her silk gown
behind. 'I'll keep it for my wedding dress, mother,' she said, 'although
it's mair than likely that a plainer attire will be mair suitable for
that occasion too.'

'Nae sayin', Jessy,' replied her mother. 'Ye'll maybe get a canny laird
yet, that can ride to market wi' siller spurs on his boots and gowd lace
on his hat.'

'Far less will please me, mither,' replied Jessy, blushing and laughing
at the same time. 'I never, even in our best days, looked so high, and
it would ill become me to do so now.'

With such conversation as this did mother and daughter endeavour to
divert their minds from dwelling on the painful reflection which the
latter's occupation was so well calculated to excite.

An early hour of the following morning saw Jessy Flowerdew seated in a
little cart, well lined with straw by her doting father, who proposed
driving her himself into the city. A _small, blue-painted chest_, a
bandbox, and one or two small bundles, formed the whole of her
travelling accompaniments. She herself was wrapped in a scarlet mantle,
and wore on her head a light straw bonnet, of tasteful shape, and
admirably adapted to the complexion and contour of the fine countenance
which it gracefully enclosed.

After a delay of a few minutes--for the cart in which Jessy was seated
was still standing at the door--her father, dressed in his Sunday's
suit, came out of the house, stepped up to the horse's head, took the
reins in his hand, and gently put in motion the little humble conveyance
which was to bear his daughter away from the home of her childhood, and
to place her in the house of the stranger. Unable to sustain the agony
of a last parting, Jessy's mother had not come out of the house to see
her daughter start on her journey; but she was seen, when the cart had
proceeded a little way, standing at the door, with her apron at her
eyes, looking after it with an expression of the most heartfelt sorrow.

'There's my mother, father,' said Jessy, in a choking voice, on getting
a sight of the former in the affecting attitude above described--but she
could add no more. In the next instant her face was buried in her
handkerchief. Her father turned round on her calling his attention to
her mother, but instantly, and without saying a word, resumed the
silent, plodding pace which the circumstance had for a moment
interrupted.

In little more than an hour the humble equipage, whose progress we have
been tracing, entered the city. Humble, however, as that equipage was,
it did not prevent the passers-by from marking the singular beauty of
her by whom it was occupied. Many were they who looked round, and stood
and gazed in admiration after the little cart and its occupant, as they
rattled along the 'stony street.' Their further progress, however, was
now a short one. In a few minutes Flowerdew and his daughter found
themselves at the professor's door. The former now tenderly lifted out
Jessy from the cart--for her sylph-like form, so light and slender, was
nothing in the arms of the robust farmer--and placed her in safety on
the flag-stones. Her little trunk and bandbox were next taken out by the
same friendly hand, and deposited beside her. This done, Flowerdew
rapped at the professor's door. It was opened. The father and daughter
entered; and, in an hour after--long before which her father had left
her--the latter was engaged in the duties of her new situation.

Days, weeks, and months, as they will always do, now passed away, but
they still found Jessy in the service of her first employers, whose
esteem she had gained by the gentleness of her nature, the modesty of
her demeanour, and the extreme propriety of her conduct.

At the time of her first entering into the service of Professor
Lockerby, Jessy Flowerdew had just completed her sixteenth year. The
charms of her person had not then attained their full perfection. But
now that two years more had passed over her head--for this interval must
be understood to have elapsed before we resume our tale--her face and
figure had attained the zenith of their beauty, a beauty that struck
every beholder, and in every beholder excited feelings of unqualified
admiration.

It was about the end of two years after Jessy's advent into the family
of the professor, that the latter one morning, raising his head from a
letter which he had just been reading, and, turning to the former, who
was in the act of removing the breakfast equipage, said--

'Jessy, my girl, will you be so good as put the little parlour and
bedroom up stairs in the best order you can, as I expect a young
gentleman to-morrow, who is to become a boarder with us.'

Jessy courtseyed her acquiescence in the order just given her, and
retired from the apartment to fulfil it.

On the following day a travelling carriage, whose panels were adorned
with a coronet, drove up to the door of Professor Lockerby. From this
carriage descended a young man, apparently between nineteen and twenty
years of age, of the most prepossessing appearance. His countenance was
pale, but bore an expression of extreme mildness and benevolence. His
figure was tall and slender, but handsomely formed; while his whole
manner and bearing bespoke the man of high birth and breeding.

On descending from his carriage, the young man was received by the
professor with the most respectful deference--too respectful it seemed
to be for the taste of him to whom it was addressed, for he instantly
broke through the cold formality of the meeting, by grasping the
professor's hand, and shaking it with the heartiest and most cordial
goodwill, saying while he did so--

'I hope I see you well, professor.'

'In perfect health, I thank you, my lord,' replied the professor. 'I
hope you left your good lady mother, the countess, well.'

'Quite well--I'm obliged to you, professor--as lively and stirring, and
active as ever. Hot and hasty, and a little queenly in her style now and
then, as you know, but still the open heart and the open hand of the
Wistonburys.'

'I have the honour of knowing the countess well, my lord,' replied the
professor, 'and can bear testimony to the nobleness of her nature and
disposition. I have known many, many instances of it.'

With such conversation as this, the professor and his noble boarder--for
such was the young man whom we have just introduced to the
reader--entered the house. Who this young man was, and what was his
object in taking up his abode with Professor Lockerby, we will explain
in a few words, although such explanation is rendered in part nearly
unnecessary by the conversation just recorded between him and the
professor. It may not be amiss, however, to say, in more distinct terms,
that he was the Earl of Wistonbury, a rank which he had attained just a
year before, by the sudden and premature death of his father, who died
in the forty-fifth year of his age. Since his accession to the title of
his ancestors, the young earl had continued to live in retirement with
his mother, a woman of a noble, elevated, and generous soul, well
becoming her high lineage--for she, too, was descended of one of the
noblest families in England--but in whose temper there was occasionally
made visible a dash of the leaven of aristocracy.

On her son, the young earl, her only surviving child, she doted with all
the affection of the fondest and tenderest of mothers; and well worthy
was that son of all the love she could bestow. His was one of those
natures which no earthly elevation can corrupt, no factitious system
deprive of its innate simplicity.

The promotion of the young earl to the head of his illustrious house,
was, however, a premature one in more respects than one. One of these
was to be found in the circumstance of the young man's being found
unprepared--at least so he judged himself--in the matter of education,
to fill with credit the high station to which he was so unexpectedly
called. His education, in truth, had been rather neglected; and it was
to make up for this neglect, to recover his lost ground with all the
speed possible, that he was now come to reside for a few months with
Professor Lockerby, who had once acted as tutor in his father's family
to a brother who had died young.

Such, then, was the professor's boarder, and such was the purpose for
which he became so.

The favourable impression which the youthful earl's first appearance had
made, suffered no diminution by length of acquaintance. Mild and
unpresuming, he won the love of all who came in contact with him. The
little personal services he required, he always solicited, never
commanded; and what he could with any propriety do himself, he always
did, without seeking other assistance.

A quiet and unostentatious inmate of the professor's, time rolled
rapidly, but gently and imperceptibly, over the head of the young earl,
until a single week only intervened between the moment referred to, and
the period fixed on for his return to Oxton Hall.

Thus, nearly six months had elapsed, not a very long period, but one in
which much may be accomplished, and in which many a change may take
place. And by such features were the six months marked, which the young
Earl of Wistonbury had spent in the house of Professor Lockerby. In that
time, by dint of unrelaxing assiduity and intense application, he had
acquired a respectable knowledge of both Latin and Greek, and in that
time, too, he had taken a step which was to affect the whole tenor of
his after life, and to make him either happy or miserable, as it had
been fortunately or unfortunately made. What that step was we shall
divulge, through precisely the same singular process by which it
actually came to the knowledge of the other parties interested.

One evening, at the period to which we a short while since
alluded--namely, about a week previous to the expiry of the proposed
term of the earl's residence with Professor Lockerby--as Jessy Flowerdew
was about to remove the tea equipage from the table of the little
parlour in which the professor and his noble pupil usually conducted
their studies, the latter suddenly rose from his seat, and, looking at
their fair handmaiden with a serious countenance, said--

'Jessy, my love, you must not perform this service again, nor any other
of a similar kind. You are now my wife--you are now Countess of
Wistonbury.'

We leave it to the reader to imagine, after his own surprise has a
little subsided, what was that of the worthy professor, on hearing his
noble pupil make so extraordinary, so astounding a declaration--a
declaration not less remarkable for its import, than for the occasion on
which, and the manner in which it was made.

On recovering from his astonishment, 'My lord,' said the good professor,
with a grave and stern countenance, 'be good enough to inform me what
this extraordinary conduct means? What can have been your motive, my
lord, for using the highly improper and most unguarded language which I
have just now heard you utter?'

The young earl, with the greatest calmness and deference of manner,
approached the professor, laid his hand upon his heart, and, with a
graceful inclination, said, slowly and emphatically--

'Upon my honour, sir, she _is_ my wife!'

'What, my lord!' exclaimed the still more and more amazed professor--and
now starting from his chair in his excitation--'do you repeat your most
unbecoming and incredible assertion?'

'I do, sir,' replied the earl, in the same calm and respectful manner.
'I do repeat it, and say, before God, that Jessy Flowerdew is the
lawfully married wife of the Earl of Wistonbury.'

'Well, my lord, well,' said the professor, in angry agitation, 'I know
what is my duty in this most extraordinary case. It is to give instant
notice to the countess, your mother, of what I must call, my lord, the
extremely rash and unadvised step you have taken.'

To this threat and rebuke, the earl replied, with the utmost composure
and politeness of manner--'I was not unprepared, sir, for your
resentment on this occasion. Neither do I take it in the least amiss.
You merely do your duty when you tell me I have forgotten mine. But the
step I have taken, sir, allow me to say, although it may appear
unadvised, has not been so in reality. I have weighed well the
consequences, and am quite prepared to abide them.'

'Be it so, my lord, be it so,' replied the professor. 'I have only now
to remark that, as you say you were prepared for _my_ resentment, I hope
you are also prepared for your mother's, my lord--a matter of much more
serious moment.'

'My mother, sir, I will take in my own hands,' replied the earl; 'she
can resent, but she can also forgive.'

'I have no more to say, my lord, no more,' rejoined Mr. Lockerby; 'the
matter must now be put into the hands of those who have a better right
to judge of its propriety than I have. I shall presume on no further
remark on the subject.'

'Come, sir,' said the earl, smiling and extending his hand to the
professor, 'let this, if you please, be no cause for difference between
us. I propose that we allow the matter to lie in abeyance until my
mother has been appealed to; she being the only person, you know, who
has a right to be displeased with my proceeding, or whose wishes I was
called upon to consult in this matter.'

'Excuse me, my lord,' replied the worthy professor; 'but I must
positively decline all interchange of courtesies which may, by any
possibility, be construed into an overlooking of this very extraordinary
affair.'

'Well, well, my good sir,' said the earl, smiling, and still maintaining
the equanimity of his temper, 'judge of me as charitably as you can. In
the morning, we shall meet, I trust, better friends.' Saying this, he
took up one of the candles which were on the table before him, bade the
professor a polite and respectful good night, and retired to his own
apartment.

The earl had no sooner withdrawn than Mr. Lockerby, after collecting
himself a little, commenced inditing a letter to the Countess Dowager of
Wistonbury, apprising her of what had just occurred. In speaking,
however, of the 'degrading' connection which her son had made, the
honest man's sense of justice compelled him to add a qualifying
explanation of the term which he had employed--'degrading, I mean,' he
said, '_in point of wealth, rank, and accomplishments_; for, in all
other respects, in conduct and character, in temper and disposition,
and, above all, in personal appearance--for she is certainly eminently
beautiful--I must admit that her superior may not easily be found.'

The letter that contained these remarks, with the other information
connected with it, the professor despatched on the same night on which
it was written; and, having done this, awaited with what composure and
fortitude he could command, the dreadful explosion of aristocratic wrath
and indignation, which, he had no doubt, would speedily follow.

Leaving matters in this extraordinary position in the house of Professor
Lockerby we shall shift the scene, for a moment, to the Countess
Dowager of Wistonbury's sitting apartment in Oxton Hall; and we shall
choose the moment when her favourite footman, Jacob Asterley, has
entered her presence, after his return from a call at the post-office in
the neighbouring village; the time being the second day after the
occurrence just previously related--namely, the despatch to Oxton Hall
of Professor Lockerby's letter.

'Well, Jacob, any letters for me to-day?' said the countess, on the
entrance of that worthy official.

'One, my lady, from Scotland,' replied the servant, deferentially, and,
at the same time, opening the bag in which the letters were usually
carried to and from the post-house.

'Ah! from the earl,' said the countess.

'No, my lady, I rather think not. The address is not in his lordship's
handwriting.'

'Oh! the good Professor Lockerby,' said the countess, contemplating for
a moment the address of the letter in question, which was now in her
ladyship's hands. 'I hope nothing unpleasant has occurred to my son.'
And while she spoke, she hurriedly broke the seal, and, in the next
instant, was intently engaged in perusing the intelligence which it had
secured from the prying curiosity of parties whom it did not concern.

It would take a much abler pen than that now employed in tracing these
lines, to convey anything like an adequate idea of the mingled
expression of amazement, indignation, and grief exhibited on the
countenance, and in every act and attitude of the proud Countess of
Wistonbury, on reading the story of her son's degradation. The flush of
haughty resentment was succeeded by the sudden paleness of despair; and
in frequent alternation did these strong expressions of varied feeling
flit across the fine countenance--still fine, although it had looked on
fifty summers--of the heart-stricken mother, as she proceeded in her
perusal of the fatal document. On completing the perusal, the countess
threw herself in silent distraction on a sofa, and, still holding the
open letter in her hand, sank into a maze of wild and wandering
thoughts. These, however, seemed at length to concentrate in one
decisive and sudden resolution. Starting from the reclining posture into
which she had thrown herself, she advanced towards the bell-pull, rung
furiously, and, when the servant entered to know what were her
commands--

'Order the travelling carriage instantly, Jacob,' she said--'instantly,
instantly; and let four of my best horses be put in the harness. What do
you stare at, fool?' she added, irritated at the look of astonishment
which the inexplicable violence of her manner had called into the
countenance of her trusty domestic. 'Do as you are ordered, directly.'
The man bowed and withdrew; and in pursuance of the commands he had
received, proceeded to the stables.

'Here's a start, Thomas!' he said, addressing a jolly-looking fellow,
who was busily employed in brushing up some harness; 'the travelling
carriage directly, and four of your best horses for my lady.'

'Why, what the devil's the matter now?' replied Thomas, pausing in his
operations; 'where's the old girl a-going to?'

'Not knowing, can't say,' replied Jacob; 'but she's in a woundy fuss, I
warrant you. Never seed her in such a quandary in my life. Something's
wrong somewhere, I guess.'

'Well, well, all's one to me,' said Thomas, with philosophical
indifference; 'but it looks like a long start, where-ever it may be to;
so I'll get my traps in order.' And this duty was so expeditiously
performed, that, in less than fifteen minutes, the very handsome
travelling carriage of the Earl of Wistonbury, drawn by four spanking
bays, flashed up to the door of Oxton Hall. In an instant after, it was
occupied by the dowager countess, and in another, was rattling away for
Scotland, at the utmost speed of the noble animals by which it was
drawn.

Changing here, once more, the scene of our story, we return to the house
of Professor Lockerby. There matters continued in that ominous state of
quiescence, that significant and portentous calm, that precedes the
bursting of the storm. Between the professor and the young earl, not a
word more had passed on the subject of the latter's extraordinary
declaration. Neither had made the slightest subsequent allusion to it,
but continued their studies precisely as they had done before; although,
perhaps, a degree of restraint--a consciousness of some point of
difference between them--might now be discerned in their correspondence.
Both, in short, seemed to have tacitly agreed to abide the result of the
professor's letter to the countess, before taking any other step, or
expressing any other feeling, on the subject to which that letter
related. The anticipated crisis which the professor and his noble pupil
were thus composedly awaiting, soon arrived. On the third day after that
remarkable one on which the young Earl of Wistonbury had avowed the
humble daughter of an humble Scotch farmer to be his wife, a carriage
and four, which, we need scarcely say, was the same we saw start from
Oxton Hall, drove furiously up to the door of Professor Lockerby. The
horses' flanks sent forth clouds of smoke; their mouths and
fore-shoulders were covered with foam; and the carriage itself was
almost encased in mud. Everything, in short, told of a long and rapid
journey. And it was so. Night and day, without one hour's intermission,
had that carriage prosecuted its journey. In an instant after, the
carriage stopped; its steps were down, and, bridling with high and lofty
indignation, the Dowager Countess of Wistonbury descended, and, ere any
one of the professor's family were aware of her arrival, she had entered
the house, the door being accidentally open, and was calling loudly for
'her boy.'

'Where is my son?' she exclaimed, as she made her way into the interior
of the house: 'where is the Earl of Wistonbury?'

In a moment after the Earl of Wistonbury, who had heard and instantly
recognized his mother's voice, was before her, and was about to rush
into her arms, when she haughtily thrust him back, saying--

'Degraded, spiritless boy, dare not too approach me! You have blotted
the noblest, the proudest scutcheon of England. Where is Professor
Lockerby?'

The professor was by her side before she had completed the sentence,
when, seeing her agitation--

'My good lady,' he said, in his most persuasive tone, 'do allow me to
entreat of you to be composed, and to have the honour of conducting you
up stairs.'

'Anywhere!--anywhere, professor!' exclaimed the countess; 'but, alas! go
where I will, I cannot escape the misery of my own thoughts, nor the
disgrace which my unworthy son has brought upon my head.'

Without making any reply to this outburst of passionate feeling, the
professor took the countess respectfully by the hand, and silently
conducted her to his drawing-room. With stately step the countess
entered, and walked slowly to the further end of the apartment; this
gained, she turned round, and, when she had done so, a sight awaited her
for which she was but little prepared. This was her son and Jessy
Flowerdew, kneeling side by side, and, by their attitude, eloquently
imploring her forgiveness. It was just one of those sights best
calculated to work on the nobler nature of the Countess of Wistonbury,
and to call up the finer feelings of her generous heart. For some
seconds she looked at the kneeling pair in silent astonishment; her eye,
however, chiefly fixed on the beauteous countenance of Jessy Flowerdew,
pale with terror and emotion, and wet with tears. Having gazed for some
time on this extraordinary sight, without betraying the slightest
symptom of the feelings beyond that of surprise, with which it had
inspired her, the countess slowly advanced towards the kneeling couple.
She still, however, uttered no word, and discovered no emotion; but a
sudden change had come over her proud spirit. That spirit was now laid,
and its place occupied by all the generous impulses of her nature.
Keeping her eye steadily fixed on the kneeling fair one before her, she
approached her, paused a moment, extended her hand, placed it on the
ivory forehead of Jessy Flowerdew, gently laid back her rich auburn
hair, and, as she did so, said, in a tremulous, but emphatic voice--

'You _are_, indeed, a lovely girl! God bless you! Alfred, my son, rise,'
she added, in a low, but calm and solemn tone; 'I forgive you.' And she
extended her hand towards him. The earl seized it, kissed it
affectionately, and bathed it with his tears.

'Rise, my lady--rise, my fair Countess of Wistonbury,' she now said, and
herself aiding in the act she commanded, 'I acknowledge you as my
daughter, and we must now see to fitting you to the high station to
which my son's favour has promoted you, and of which, I trust, you will
prove as worthy in point of conduct as you assuredly already are in that
of personal beauty. God bless you both! And may every happiness that the
conjugal state affords, be yours! Professor,' she added, and now turning
round to that gentleman, 'you will think this weakness--a mother's
weakness--and perhaps it is so--but I would myself fain attribute it to
a more worthy feeling, and, if I know my own heart, it is so. But let
that pass. I _am_ reconciled to the step my son has taken, and
reverently leave it to God, and fearlessly to man, to judge of the
motives by which I have been influenced. I trust they are such as to
merit the approbation of both.'

Surprised, and greatly affected by the unexpected turn which matters had
taken, so contrary to what he had anticipated, the worthy professor had
listened to these expressions of the countess with averted head, and
making the most ingenious use of the handkerchief which he held to his
face that he could, to conceal the real purpose for which he employed
it. When she had done--

'Madam,' he said, with great agitation and confusion of manner, and
still busily plying the handkerchief in its pretended vocation--'Madam,
I--I--I am surprised--much affected, I assure you--much affected, my
lady--with this striking instance of what a noble and generous nature is
capable. I was by no means prepared for it. It does you infinite honour,
my lady--infinite honour; and will, I trust, in its result, be
productive of all that happiness to you which your magnanimous conduct
so eminently deserves.'

'I trust I have acted rightly, professor,' was the brief reply of the
countess, as she again turned to the young couple, who were now standing
on the floor beside her, 'I hope I have; and, if my heart does not
deceive me, I am sure I have.'

'You are warranted, my lady, in the confidence you express in the
uprightness, the generosity of your conduct on this very remarkable
occasion--perfectly warranted,' replied the professor. 'It is an
unexampled instance of greatness, of liberality of mind, and as such I
must always look on it.'

Thus, then, terminated this extraordinary scene. It was subsequently
arranged that the marriage of the earl should, in the meantime, be kept
as secret as possible, and that the young countess should, in the
interim, be sent for a year or two to one of the most celebrated
seminaries of female education in England, under an assumed name, and
that, when she should have acquired the attainments and the polish
befitting her high station, she should be produced to the world as the
Countess of Wistonbury.

Acting upon this plan of proceedings, the same carriage that brought
down the earl's mother, bore away, on the following day, together with
that lady, the young earl and his bride; the latter, to commence her
educational noviciate in England; the former, to while away the time as
he best could until that noviciate should expire, a period which he
proposed to render less irksome by a tour on the continent.

About two years after the occurrence of the events just related--it
might be more, perhaps nearly three--Oxton Hall presented a scene of
prodigious confusion and bustle. Little carts of provender were daily
seen making frequent visits to the house. Huge old grates, in deserted
kitchens, that had not been in use for a century before, were cleared of
their rubbish, and glowing with blazing fires, at which enormous roasts
were solemnly revolving. Menials were running to and fro in all
directions, and a crowd of powdered and richly-liveried lackeys bustled
backwards and forwards through the gorgeous apartments, loaded with
silver plate, and bearing huge baskets of wine. Everything at Oxton
Hall, in short, betokened preparations for a splendid fête--and such, in
truth, was the case. To this fête all the nobility and gentry, within a
circuit of ten to fifteen miles were invited; and such an affair it
promised to be, altogether, as had not been seen at Oxton Hall since the
marriage of the last earl--a period of nearly thirty years. None of
those invited knew, or could guess, what was the particular reason for
so extensive a merry-making. Its scale, they learned, was most
magnificent, and the invitations unprecedentedly numerous.

The whole affair was thus somewhat of a puzzle to the good people who
were to figure as guests at the impending fête; but they comforted
themselves with the reflection that they would know all about it by and
by. In the meantime, the day appointed for the celebration of the
proposed festival at Oxton Hall arrived; and, amongst the other
preparations which more markedly characterized it, was the appearance of
several long tables extended on the lawn in front of the house, and
which were intended for the accommodation of the earl's tenantry, who
were also invited to share in the coming festivities. Towards the
afternoon of the day alluded to, carriages and vehicles of all
descriptions, and of various degrees of elegance, were seen, in
seemingly endless numbers, streaming along the spacious and
well-gravelled walks that led, by many a graceful curve, through the
surrounding lawn, to the noble portals of Oxton Hall. These, by turns,
drew up in front of the principal entrance to the house, and delivered
their several cargoes of lords and ladies, knights and squires, all
honourable personages, and of high degree. An inferior description of
equipages, again, and occupied by persons of a different class, sturdy
yeomen and their wives and daughters, found ther way, or rather were
guided as they came, to a different destination, but with no difference
in the hospitality of their reception. All were alike welcome to Oxton
Hall on this auspicious day. By and by the hour of dinner came, and,
when it did, it exhibited a splendid scene in the magnificent
dining-room of the Earl of Wistonbury. In this dining-room were
assembled a party of at least a hundred-and-fifty ladies and gentlemen,
all in their best attire. Down the middle of the spacious apartment ran
a table of ample length and breadth, and capable of accommodating with
ease even the formidable array by which it was shortly to be
surrounded. On this spacious board glittered as much wealth, in the
shape of silver plate, as would have bought a barony, while everything
around showed that it was still but a small portion of the riches of its
noble owner. At the further end of the lordly hall, in an elevated
recess or interior balcony, were stationed a band of musicians, to
contribute the choicest specimens of the art to the hilarity of the
evening. Altogether the scene was one of the most imposing that can well
be conceived, an effect which was not a little heightened by the antique
character of the noble apartment in which it was exhibited, one of whose
most striking features was a large oriel window, filled with the most
beautifully stained glass, which threw its subdued and sombre light on
the magnificent scene beneath. Hitherto the young earl had not been seen
by any of the company; his mother, the countess-dowager, having
discharged the duties of hospitality in receiving the guests. Many were
the inquiries made for the absent lord of the mansion; but these were
all answered evasively, although always concluded with the assurance
that he would appear in good time.

Satisfied with this assurance, the subject was no further pressed at the
moment; but, as the dinner hour approached, and the earl had not yet
presented himself, considerable curiosity and impatience began to be
manifested amongst the assembled guests. These feelings increased every
moment, and had attained their height, when the party found themselves
called on to take their seats at table, and yet no earl had appeared.
The general surprise was further excited on its being observed that the
countess-dowager did not, as usual, take the chair at the head of the
table, as was expected, but placed herself on its right. The chair at
the foot of the table remained also yet unoccupied; and great was the
wonder what all this could mean. It was now soon to be explained. Just
as the party had taken their seats, a folding-door, at the further end
of the hall, flew open, and the young Earl of Wistonbury entered,
leading by the hand a young female of exceeding beauty, attired in a
dress of the most dazzling splendour, over which was gracefully thrown a
Scottish plaid. Bowing slightly, but with a graceful and cordial
expression, and smiling affably as he advanced, the earl conducted his
fair charge to the head of the table, where, after a pause of a few
seconds, which he purposely made in order to afford his guests an
opportunity of marking the extreme loveliness of the lady whom he had
thus so unexpectedly introduced to them--an opportunity which was not
thrown away, as was evident from the murmur of admiration that ran round
the brilliant assembly--the earl thus shortly addressed his wondering
guests--

'Permit me, my friends,' he said, 'to introduce to you the Countess of
Wistonbury!'

A shout of applause from the gentlemen, and a waving of handkerchiefs
by the ladies, hailed the pleasing and unexpected intelligence--an
homage whose duration and intensity was increased by the singularly
graceful manner with which it was received and acknowledged by her to
whom it was paid. Nothing could be more captivating than the modest,
winning sweetness of her smile, nothing more pleasing to behold than the
gentle grace of her every motion. On all present the impression was that
she was a woman of birth, education, and high breeding, and nothing in
the part she subsequently acted tended in the slightest degree to affect
this idea. The young and lovely countess conducted herself throughout
the whole of this eventful evening, as she did throughout the remainder
of her life, with the most perfect propriety; and thus evinced that the
pains taken to fit Jessy Flowerdew for the high station to which a
singular good fortune had called her, was very far from having been
taken in vain.

At the conclusion of the banquet, the earl entreated the indulgence of
the company for an absence for himself and the countess of a quarter of
an hour. This being of course readily acquiesced in, the earl and his
beauteous young wife were seen, arm and arm, on the lawn, going towards
the tables at which his tenantry were enjoying his hospitality. Here he
went through precisely the same ceremony of introduction with that which
we have described as having taken place in the banquet-hall; and here it
was greeted with the same enthusiasm, and acknowledged by the countess
with the same grace and propriety. This proceeding over, the earl and
his young bride returned to their party, when one of the most joyous
evenings followed that the banqueting-room of Oxton Hall had ever
witnessed. There is only now to add, that Jessy Flowerdew's subsequent
conduct as Countess of Wistonbury proved her in every respect worthy of
the high place to which she had been elevated. A mildness and gentleness
of disposition, and a winning modesty of demeanour, which all the wealth
and state with which she was surrounded could not in the slightest
degree impair, distinguished her through life; and no less distinguished
was she by the generosity and benevolence of her nature, a nature which
her change of destiny was wholly unable to pervert."

Such, then, good reader, is the history of the lady whose portrait, in
which she appears habited in a Scottish plaid, adorns, with others, the
walls of the picture gallery of Oxton Hall, in Wiltshire.



MIDSIDE MAGGY;

OR,

THE BANNOCK O' TOLLISHILL.

    "Every bannock had its maik, but the bannock o' Tollishill."
                                                _Scottish Proverb._


Belike, gentle reader, thou hast often heard the proverb quoted above,
that "Every bannock had its maik, but the bannock o' Tollishill." The
saying hath its origin in a romantic tradition of the Lammermoors, which
I shall relate to thee. Tollishill is the name of a sheep-farm in
Berwickshire, situated in the parish of Lauder. Formerly, it was divided
into three farms, which were occupied by different tenants; and, by way
of distinguishing it from the others, that in which dwelt the subjects
of our present story was generally called Midside, and our heroine
obtained the appellation of Midside Maggy. Tollishill was the property
of John, second Earl, and afterwards Duke of Lauderdale--a personage
whom I shall more than once, in these tales, have occasion to bring
before mine readers, and whose character posterity hath small cause to
hold in veneration. Yet it is a black character, indeed, in which there
is not to be found one streak of sunshine; and the story of the "Bannock
of Tollishill" referreth to such a streak in the history of John, the
Lord of Thirlestane.

Time hath numbered somewhat more than a hundred and ninety years since
Thomas Hardie became tenant of the principal farm of Tollishill. Now,
that the reader may picture Thomas Hardie as he was, and as tradition
hath described him, he or she must imagine a tall, strong, and
fresh-coloured man of fifty; a few hairs of grey mingling with his brown
locks; a countenance expressive of much good nature and some
intelligence; while a Lowland bonnet was drawn over his brow. The other
parts of his dress were of coarse, grey, homespun cloth, manufactured in
Earlston; and across his shoulders, in summer as well as in winter, he
wore the mountain plaid. His principles assimilated to those held by the
men of the covenant; but Thomas, though a native of the hills, was not
without the worldly prudence which is considered as being more
immediately the characteristic of the buying and selling children of
society. His landlord was no favourer of the Covenant; and, though
Thomas wished well to the cause, he did not see the necessity for making
his laird, the Lord of Lauderdale, his enemy for its sake. He,
therefore, judged it wise to remain a neutral spectator of the religious
and political struggles of the period.

But Thomas was a bachelor. Half a century had he been in the world, and
the eyes of no woman had had power to throw a spark into his heart. In
his single, solitary state, he was happy, or he thought himself happy;
and that is much the same thing. But an accident occurred which led him
first to believe, and eventually to feel, that he was but a solitary and
comfortless moorland farmer, toiling for he knew not what, and laying up
treasure he knew not for whom. Yea, and while others had their wives
spinning, carding, knitting, and smiling before them, and their bairns
running laughing and sporting round about them, he was but a poor
deserted creature, with nobody to care for, or to care for him. Every
person had some object to strive for and to make them strive but Thomas
Hardie; or, to use his own words, he was "just in the situation o' a
tewhit that has lost its mate--_te-wheet! te-wheet!_ it cried, flapping
its wings impatiently and forlornly--and _te-wheet! te-wheet!_ answered
vacant echo frae the dreary glens."

Thomas had been to Morpeth disposing of a part of his hirsels, and he
had found a much better market for them than he anticipated. He
returned, therefore, with a heavy purse, which generally hath a tendency
to create a light and merry heart; and he arrived at Westruther, and
went into a hostel, where, three or four times in the year, he was in
the habit of spending a cheerful evening with his friends. He had called
for a quegh of the landlady's best, and he sat down at his ease with the
liquor before him, for he had but a short way to travel. He also pulled
out his tobacco-box and his pipe, and began to inhale the fumes of what,
up to that period, was almost a forbidden weed. But we question much if
the royal book of James the Sixth of Scotland and First of England,
which he published against the use of tobacco, ever found its way into
the Lammermoors, though the Indian weed did; therefore, Thomas Hardie
sat enjoying his glass and his pipe, unconscious or regardless of the
fulminations which he who was king in his boyhood, had published against
the latter. But he had not sat long, when a fair maiden, an acquaintance
of "mine hostess," entered the hostelry, and began to assist her in the
cutting out or fashioning of a crimson kirtle. Her voice fell upon the
ears of Thomas like the "music of sweet sounds." He had never heard a
voice before that not only fell softly on his ear, but left a lingering
murmur in his heart. She, too, was a young thing of not more than
eighteen. If ever hair might be called "gowden," it was hers. It was a
light and shining bronze, where the prevalence of the golden hue gave a
colour to the whole. Her face was a thing of beauty, over which health
spread its roseate hue, yet softly, as though the westling winds had
caused the leaves of the blushing rose to kiss her cheeks, and leave
their delicate hues and impression behind them. She was of a middle
stature, and her figure was such, although arrayed in homely garments,
as would have commanded the worship of a connoisseur of grace and
symmetry. But beyond all that kindled a flame within the hitherto
obdurate heart of Thomas, was the witching influence of her smile. For a
full hour he sat with his eyes fixed upon her; save at intervals, when
he withdrew them to look into the unwonted agitation of his own breast,
and examine the cause.

"Amongst the daughters of women," thought he unto himself--for he had a
sprinkling of the language of the age about him--"none have I seen so
beautiful. Her cheeks bloom bonnier than the heather on Tollishill, and
her bosom seems saft as the new-shorn fleece. Her smile is like a blink
o' sunshine, and would mak summer to those on whom it fell a' the year
round."

He also discovered, for the first time, that "Tollishill was a dull
place, especially in the winter season." When, therefore, the fair
damsel had arrayed the fashion of the kirtle and departed, without once
having seemed to observe Thomas, he said unto the goodwife of the
hostelry--"And wha, noo, if it be a fair question, may that bonnie
lassie be?"

"She is indeed a bonnie lassie," answered the landlady, "and a guid
lassie, too; and I hae nae doot but, as ye are a single man, Maister
Hardie, yer question is fair enough. Her name is Margaret Lylestone, and
she is the only bairn o' a puir infirm widow that cam to live here some
twa or three years syne. They cam frae south owre some way, and I am
sure they hae seen better days. We thocht at first that the auld woman
had been a Catholic; but I suppose that isna the case, though they
certainly are baith o' them strong Episcopawlians, and in nae way
favourable to the preachers or the word o' the Covenant; but I maun say
for Maggie, that she is a bonny, sweet-tempered, and obleegin
lassie--though, puir thing, her mother has brocht her up in a wrang
way."

Many days had not passed ere Thomas Hardie, arrayed in his Sunday
habiliments, paid another visit to Westruther; and he cautiously asked
of the goodwife of the hostel many questions concerning Margaret; and
although she jeered him, and said that "Maggy would ne'er think o' a
grey-haired carle like him," he brooded over the fond fancy; and
although on this visit he saw her not, he returned to Tollishill,
thinking of her as his bride. It was a difficult thing for a man of
fifty, who had been the companion of solitude from his youth upwards,
and who had lived in single blessedness amidst the silence of the hills,
without feeling the workings of the heart, or being subjected to the
influence of its passions--I say, it was indeed difficult for such a one
to declare, in the ear of a blooming maiden of eighteen, the tale of his
first affections. But an opportunity arrived which enabled him to
disembosom the burden that pressed upon his heart.

It has been mentioned that Margaret Lylestone and her mother were poor;
and the latter, who had long been bowed down with infirmities, was
supported by the industry of her daughter. They had also a cow, which
was permitted to graze upon the hills without fee or reward; and, with
the milk which it produced, and the cheese they manufactured, together
with the poor earnings of Margaret, positive want was long kept from
them. But the old woman became more and more infirm--the hand of death
seemed stretching over her. She required nourishment which Margaret
could not procure for her; and, that it might be procured--that her
mother might live and not die--the fair maiden sent the cow to Kelso to
be sold, from whence the seller was to bring with him the restoratives
that her parent required.

Now, it so was that Thomas Hardie, the tenant of Tollishill, was in
Kelso market when the cow of Widow Lylestone was offered for sale; and,
as it possessed the characteristic marks of a good milcher, he inquired
to whom it belonged. On being answered, he turned round for a few
moments, and stood thoughtful; but again turning to the individual who
had been intrusted to dispose of it, he inquired--

"And wherefore is she selling it?"

"Really, Maister Hardie," replied the other, "I could not positively
say, but I hae little doot it is for want--absolute necessity. The auld
woman's very frail and very ill--I hae to tak a' sort o' things oot to
her the nicht frae the doctor's, after selling the cow, and it's no in
the power o' things that her dochter, industrious as she is, should be
able to get them for her otherwise."

Thomas again turned aside, and drew his sleeve across his eyes. Having
inquired the price sought for the cow, he handed the money to the
seller, and gave the animal in charge to one of his herdsmen. He left
the market earlier than usual, and directed his servant that the cow
should be taken to Westruther.

It was drawing towards gloaming before Thomas approached the habitation
of the widow; and, before he could summon courage to enter it for the
first time, he sauntered for several minutes, backward and forward on
the moor, by the side of the Blackadder, which there silently wends its
way, as a dull and simple burn, through the moss. He felt all the
awkwardness of an old man struggling beneath the influence of a young
feeling. He thought of what he should say, how he should act, and how he
would be received. At length he had composed a short introductory and
explanatory speech which pleased him. He thought it contained both
feeling and delicacy (according to his notions of the latter) in their
proper proportions, and after repeating it three or four times over by
the side of the Blackadder, he proceeded towards the cottage, still
repeating it to himself as he went. But, when he raised his hand and
knocked at the door, his heart gave a similar knock upon his bosom, as
though it mimicked him; and every idea, every word of the introductory
speech which he had studied and repeated again and again, short though
it was, was knocked from his memory. The door was opened by Margaret,
who invited him to enter. She was beautiful as when he first beheld
her--he thought more beautiful--for she now spoke to him. Her mother sat
in an arm-chair, by the side of the peat fire, and was supported by
pillows. He took off his bonnet, and performed an awkward but his best
salutation.

"I beg your pardon," said he, hesitatingly, "for the liberty I have
taken in calling upon you. But--I was in Kelso the day--and"----He
paused, and turned his bonnet once or twice in his hands. "And," he
resumed, "I observed, or rather, I should say, I learned that ye
intended to sell your cow; but I also heard that ye was very ill,
and"----Here he made another pause. "I say I heard that ye was very ill,
and I thocht it would be a hardship for ye to part wi' crummie, and
especially at a time when ye are sure to stand maist in need o' every
help. So I bought the cow--but, as I say, it would be a very great
hardship for ye to be without the milk, and what the cheese may bring,
at a time like this; and, therefore, I hae ordered her to be brocht back
to ye, and ane o' my men will bring her hame presently. Never consider
the cow as mine, for a bachelor farmer like me can better afford to want
the siller, than ye can to want yer cow; and I micht hae spent it far
mair foolishly, and wi' less satisfaction. Indeed, if ye only but think
that good I've dune, I'm mair than paid."

"Maister Hardie," said the widow, "what have I, a stranger widow woman,
done to deserve this kindness at your hands? Or how is it in the power
o' words for me to thank ye? HE who provideth for the widow and the
fatherless will not permit you to go unrewarded, though I cannot. O
Margaret, hinny," added she, "thank our benefactor as we ought to thank
him, for I cannot."

Fair Margaret's thanks were a flood of tears.

"Oh, dinna greet!" said Thomas; "I would ten times ower rather no hae
bocht the cow, but hae lost the siller, than I would hae been the cause
o' a single tear rowin' doun yer bonny cheeks."

"O sir," answered the widow, "but they are tears o' gratitude that
distress my bairn, and nae tears are mair precious."

I might tell how Thomas sat down by the peat fire between the widow and
her daughter, and how he took the hand of the latter, and entreated her
to dry up her tears, saying that his chief happiness would be to be
thought their friend, and to deserve their esteem. The cow was brought
back to the widow's, and Thomas returned to Tollishill with his
herdsman. But, from that night, he became almost a daily visitor at the
house of Mrs. Lylestone. He provided whatever she required--all that was
ordered for her. He spoke not of love to Margaret, but he wooed her
through his kindness to her mother. It was, perhaps, the most direct
avenue to her affections. Yet it was not because Thomas thought so that
he pursued this course, but because he wanted confidence to make his
appeal in a manner more formal or direct.

The widow lingered many months; and all that lay within the power of
human means he caused to be done for her, to restore her to health and
strength, or at least to smooth her dying pillow. But the last was all
that could be done. Where death spreadeth the shadow of his wing, there
is no escape from sinking beneath the baneful influence of its shade.
Mrs. Lylestone, finding that the hour of her departure drew near, took
the hand of her benefactor, and when she had thanked him for all the
kindness which he had shown towards her, she added--

"But, O sir, there is one thing that makes the hand of death heavy. When
the sod is cauld upon my breast, who will look after my puir orphan--my
bonny faitherless and motherless Margaret? Where will she find a hame?"

"O mem," said Thomas, "if the like o' me durst say it, she needna hae
far to gang, to find a hame and a heart too. Would she only be mine, I
would be her protector--a' that I have should be hers."

A gleam of joy brightened in the eye of the dying widow.

"Margaret!" she exclaimed, faintly; and Margaret laid her face upon the
bed, and wept. "O my bairn! my puir bairn!" continued her mother, "shall
I see ye protected and provided for before I am 'where the wicked cease
from troubling and the weary are at rest,' which canna be lang noo?"

Thomas groaned--tears glistened in his eyes--he held his breath in
suspense. The moment of trial, of condemnation or acquittal, of
happiness or misery, had arrived. With an eager impatience he waited to
hear her answer. But Margaret's heart was prepared for his proposal. He
had first touched it with gratitude--he had obtained her esteem; and
where these sentiments prevail in the bosom of a woman whose affections
have not been bestowed upon another, love is not far distant--if it be
not between them, and a part of both.

"Did ever I disobey you, mother?" sobbed Margaret, raising her parent's
hand to her lips.

"No, my bairn, no!" answered the widow. And raising herself in the bed,
she took her daughter's hand and placed it in the hand of Thomas Hardie.

"Oh!" said he, "is this possible? Does my bonny Margaret really consent
to make me the happiest man on earth? Shall I hae a gem at Tollishill
that I wadna exchange for a monarch's diadem?"

It is sufficient to say that the young and lovely Margaret Lylestone
became Mrs. Hardie of Tollishill; or, as she was generally called,
"_Midside Maggie_." Her mother died within three months after their
marriage, but died in peace, having, as she said, "seen her dear bairn
blessed wi' a leal and a kind guidman, and ane that was weel to do."

For two years after their marriage, and not a happier couple than Thomas
and Midside Maggie was to be found on all the long Lammermoors, in the
Merse, nor yet in the broad Lothians. They saw the broom and the heather
bloom in their season, and they heard the mavis sing before their
dwelling; yea, they beheld the snow falling on the mountains, and the
drift sweeping down the glens; but while the former delighted, the
latter harmed them not, and from all they drew mutual joy and happiness.
Thomas said that "Maggy was a matchless wife;" and she that "he was a
kind, kind husband."

But the third winter was one of terror among the hills. It was near the
new year; the snow began to fall on a Saturday, and when the following
Friday came, the storm had not ceased. It was accompanied by frost and a
fierce wind, and the drift swept and whirled like awful pillars of
alabaster, down the hills, and along the glens--

                "Sweeping the flocks and herds."

Fearful was the wrath of the tempest on the Lammermoors. Many farmers
suffered severely, but none more severely than Thomas Hardie of
Tollishill. Hundreds of his sheep had perished in a single night. He was
brought from prosperity to the brink of adversity.

But another winter came round. It commenced with a severity scarce
inferior to that which had preceded it, and again scores of his sheep
were buried in the snow. But February had not passed, and scarce had the
sun entered what is represented as the astronomical sign of the _two
fish_, in the heavens, when the genial influence of spring fell with
almost summer warmth upon the earth. During the night the dews came
heavily on the ground, and the sun sucked it up in a vapour. But the
herbage grew rapidly, and the flocks ate of it greedily, and licked the
dew ere the sun rose to dry it up. It brought the murrain amongst them;
they died by hundreds; and those that even fattened, but did not die, no
man would purchase; or, if purchased, it was only upon the understanding
that the money should be returned if the animals were found unsound.
These misfortunes were too much for Thomas Hardie. Within two years he
found himself a ruined man. But he grieved not for the loss of his
flocks, nor yet for his own sake, but for that of his fair young wife,
whom he loved as the apple of his eye. Many, when they heard of his
misfortunes, said that they were sorry for bonny Midside Maggy.

But, worst of all, the rent-day of Thomas Hardie drew near; and for the
first time since he had held a farm, he was unable to meet his landlord
with his money in his hand. Margaret beheld the agony of his spirit, and
she knew its cause. She put on her Sunday hood and kirtle; and
professing to her husband that she wished to go to Lauder, she took her
way to Thirlestane Castle, the residence of their proud landlord, before
whom every tenant in arrear trembled. With a shaking hand she knocked at
the hall door, and after much perseverance and entreaty, was admitted
into the presence of the haughty earl. She curtsied low before him.

"Well, what want ye, my bonny lass?" said Lauderdale, eyeing her
significantly.

"May it please yer lordship," replied Margaret, "I am the wife o' yer
tenant, Thomas Hardie o' Tollishill; an' a guid tenant he has been to
yer lordship for twenty years and mair, as yer lordship maun weel ken."

"He has been my tenant for more than twenty years, say ye?" interrupted
Lauderdale; "and ye say ye are his wife: why, looking on thy bonny face,
I should say that the heather hasna bloomed twenty times on the knowes
o' Tollishill since thy mother bore thee. Yet ye say ye are his wife!
Beshrew me, but Thomas Hardie is a man o' taste. Arena ye his daughter?"

"No, my lord; his first, his only, an' his lawfu' wife--an' I would only
say, that to ye an' yer faither before ye, for mair than twenty years,
he has paid his rent regularly an' faithfully; but the seasons hae
visited us sairly, very sairly, for twa years successively, my lord, an'
the drift has destroyed, an' the rot rooted oot oor flocks, sae that we
are hardly able to haud up oor heads amang oor neebors, and to meet yer
lordship at yer rent-day is oot o' oor power; therefore hae I come to ye
to implore ye, that we may hae time to gather oor feet, an' to gie yer
lordship an' every man his due, when it is in oor power."

"Hear me, guidwife," rejoined the earl; "were I to listen to such
stories as yours, I might have every farmer's wife on my estates coming
whimpering and whinging, till I was left to shake a purse with naething
in't, and allowing others the benefit o' my lands. But it is not every
day that a face like yours comes in the shape o' sorrow before me; and,
for ae kiss o' your cherry mou', (and ye may take my compliments to your
auld man for his taste,) ye shall have a discharge for your half-year's
rent, and see if that may set your husband on his feet again."

"Na, yer lordship, na!" replied Margaret; "it would ill become ony woman
in my situation in life, an' especially a married ane, to be daffin with
sic as yer lordship. I am the wife o' Thomas Hardie, wha is a guid
guidman to me, an' I cam here this day to entreat ye to deal kindly wi'
him in the day o' his misfortune."

"Troth," replied Lauderdale--who could feel the force of virtue in
others, though he did not always practise it in his own person--"I hae
heard o' the blossom o' Tollishill before, an' a bonny flower ye are to
blossom in an auld man's bower; but I find ye modest as ye are bonny,
an' upon one condition will I grant yer request. Ye hae tauld me o' yer
hirsels being buried wi' the drift, an' that the snaw has covered the
May primrose on Leader braes; now it is Martinmas, an' if in June ye
bring me a snowball, not only shall ye be quit o' yer back rent, but ye
shall sit free in Tollishill till Martinmas next. But see that in June
ye bring me the snowball or the rent."

Margaret made her obeisance before the earl, and, thanking him,
withdrew. But she feared the coming of June; for to raise the rent even
then she well knew would be a thing impossible, and she thought also it
would be equally so to preserve a snow-ball beneath the melting sun of
June. Though young, she had too much prudence and honesty to keep a
secret from her husband; it was her maxim, and it was a good one, that
"there ought to be no secrets between a man and his wife, which the one
would conceal from the other." She therefore told him of her journey to
Thirlestane, and of all that had passed between her and the earl. Thomas
kissed her cheek, and called her his "bonny, artless Maggy;" but he had
no more hope of seeing a snowball in June than she had, and he said,
"the bargain was like the bargain o' a crafty Lauderdale."

Again the winter storms howled upon the Lammermoors, and the snow lay
deep upon the hills. Thomas and his herdsmen were busied in exertions to
preserve the remainder of his flocks; but, one day, when the westling
winds breathed with a thawing influence upon the snow-clad hills,
Margaret went forth to where there was a small, deep, and shadowed
ravine by the side of the Leader. In it the rivulet formed a pool, and
seemed to sleep, and there the grey trout loved to lie at ease; for a
high dark rock, over which the brushwood grew, overhung it, and the
rays of the sun fell not upon it. In the rock, and near the side of the
stream, was a deep cavity, and Margaret formed a snowball on the brae
top, and she rolled it slowly down into the shadowed glen, till it
attained the magnitude of an avalanche in miniature. She trode upon it,
and pressed it firmly together, till it obtained almost the hardness and
consistency of ice. She rolled it far into the cavity, and blocked up
the mouth of the aperture, so that neither light nor air might penetrate
the strange coffer in which she had deposited the equally strange rent
of Tollishill. Verily, common as ice-houses are in our day, let not
Midside Maggy be deprived of the merit of their invention.

I have said that it was her maxim to keep no secret from her husband;
but, as it is said there is no rule without an exception, even so it was
in the case of Margaret, and there was one secret which she communicated
not to Thomas, and that was--the secret of the hidden snowball.

But June came, and Thomas Hardie was a sorrowful man. He had in no
measure overcome the calamities of former seasons, and he was still
unprepared with his rent. Margaret shared not his sorrow, but strove to
cheer him, and said--

"We shall hae a snawba' in June, though I climb to the top o' Cheviot
for it."

"O my bonny lassie," replied he--and he could see the summit of Cheviot
from his farm--"dinna deceive yersel' wi' what could only be words
spoken in jest; but, at ony rate, I perceive there has been nae snaw on
Cheviot for a month past."

Now, not a week had passed, but Margaret had visited the aperture in the
ravine, where the snowball was concealed, not through idle curiosity, to
perceive whether it had melted away, but more effectually to stop up
every crevice that might have been made in the materials with which she
had blocked up the mouth of the cavity.

But the third day of the dreadful month had not passed, when a messenger
arrived at Tollishill from Thirlestane with the abrupt mandate--"_June
has come!_"

"And we shall be at Thirlestane the morn," answered Margaret.

"O my doo," said Thomas, "what nonsense are ye talking!--that isna like
ye, Margaret; I'll be in Greenlaw Jail the morn; and oor bits o' things
in the hoose, and oor flocks, will be seized by the harpies o' the
law--and the only thing that distresses me is, what is to come o' you
hinny."

"Dinna dree the death ye'll never dee," said Margaret affectionately;
"we shall see, if we be spared, what the morn will bring."

"The fortitude o' yer mind, Margaret," said Thomas, taking her hand; and
he intended to have said more, to have finished a sentence in admiration
of her worth, but his heart filled, and he was silent.

On the following morning, Margaret said unto him--

"Now, Thomas, if ye are ready, we'll gang to Thirlestane. It is aye waur
to expect or think o' an evil than to face it."

"Margaret, dear," said he, "I canna comprehend ye--wherefore should I
thrust my head into the lion's den? It will soon enough seek me in my
path."

Nevertheless, she said unto him, "Come," and bade him be of good heart;
and he rose and accompanied her. But she conducted him to the deep
ravine, where the waters seem to sleep and no sunbeam ever falls; and,
as she removed the earth and the stones, with which she had blocked up
the mouth of the cavity in the rock, he stood wondering. She entered the
aperture, and rolled forth the firm mass of snow, which was yet too
large to be lifted by hands. When Thomas saw this, he smiled and wept
at the same instant, and he pressed his wife's cheek to his bosom, and
said--

"Great has been the care o' my poor Margaret; but it is o' no avail;
for, though ye hae proved mair than a match for the seasons, the
proposal was but a jest o' Lauderdale."

"What is a man but his word?" replied Margaret; "and him a nobleman
too."

"Nobility are but men," answered Thomas, "and seldom better men than
ither folk. Believe me, if we were to gang afore him wi' a snawba' in
oor hands, we should only get lauched at for our pains."

"It was his ain agreement," added she; "and, at ony rate, we can be
naething the waur for seeing if he will abide by it."

Breaking the snowy mass, she rolled up a portion of it in a napkin, and
they went towards Thirlestane together; though often did Thomas stop by
the way and say--

"Margaret, dear, I'm perfectly ashamed to gang upon this business; as
sure as I am standing here, as I have tauld ye, we will only get
oorselves lauched at."

"I would rather be lauched at," added she, "than despised for breaking
my word; and, if oor laird break his noo, wha wadna despise him?"

Harmonious as their wedded life had hitherto been, there was what might
well nigh be called bickerings between them on the road; for Thomas felt
or believed that she was leading him on a fool's errand. But they
arrived at the castle of Thirlestane, and were ushered into the mansion
of its proud lord.

"Ha!" said the earl, as they entered, "bonny Midside Maggy and her auld
guidman! Well, what bring ye?--the rents o' Tollishill, or their
equivalent?" Thomas looked at his young wife, for he saw nothing to give
him hope on the countenance of Lauderdale, and he thought that he
pronounced the word "_equivalent_" with a sneer.

"I bring ye snaw in June, my lord," replied Margaret, "agreeably to the
terms o' yer bargain; and I'm sorry, for your sake and oors, that it
hasna yet been in oor power to bring gowd instead o't."

Loud laughed the earl as Margaret unrolled the huge snowball before him;
and Thomas thought unto himself, "I said how it would be." But
Lauderdale, calling for his writing materials, sat down and wrote, and
he placed in the hands of Thomas a discharge, not only for his back
rent, but for all that should otherwise be due at the ensuing Martinmas.

Thomas Hardie bowed and bowed again before the earl, low and yet lower,
awkwardly and still more awkwardly, and he endeavoured to thank him, but
his tongue faltered in the performance of its office. He could have
taken his hand in his and wrung it fervently, leaving his fingers to
express what his tongue could not; but his laird was an earl, and there
was a necessary distance to be observed between an earl and a Lammermoor
farmer.

"Thank not me, goodman," said Lauderdale, "but thank the modesty and
discretion o' yer winsome wife."

Margaret was silent; but gratitude for the kindness which the earl had
shown unto her husband and herself took deep root in her heart.
Gratitude, indeed, formed the predominating principle in her character,
and fitted her even for acts of heroism.

The unexpected and unwonted generosity of the earl had enabled Thomas
Hardie to overcome the losses with which the fury of the seasons had
overwhelmed him, and he prospered beyond any farmer on the hills. But,
while he prospered, the Earl of Lauderdale, in his turn, was overtaken
by adversity. The stormy times of the civil wars raged, and it is well
known with what devotedness Lauderdale followed the fortunes of the
king. When the Commonwealth began, he was made prisoner, conveyed to
London, and confined in the Tower. There, nine years of captivity crept
slowly and gloomily over him; but they neither taught him mercy to
others nor to moderate his ambition, as was manifested when power and
prosperity again cast their beams upon him. But he now lingered in the
Tower, without prospect or hope of release, living upon the bare
sustenance of a prisoner, while his tenants dwelt on his estates, and
did as they pleased with his rents, as though they should not again
behold the face of a landlord.

But Midside Maggy grieved for the fate of him whose generosity had
brought prosperity, such as they had never known before, to herself and
to her husband; and, in the fulness of her gratitude, she was ever
planning schemes for his deliverance; and she urged upon her husband
that it was their duty to attempt to deliver their benefactor from
captivity, as he had delivered them from the iron grasp of ruin, when
misfortune lay heavily on them. Now, as duly as the rent-day came, from
the Martinmas to which the snowball had been his discharge, Thomas
Hardie faithfully and punctually locked away his rent to the last
farthing, that he might deliver it into the hands of his laird, should
he again be permitted to claim his own; but he saw not in what way they
could attempt his deliverance, as his wife proposed.

"Thomas," said she, "there are ten lang years o' rent due, and we hae
the siller locked away. It is o' nae use to us, for it isna oors; but it
may be o' use to him. It would enable him to fare better in his prison,
and maybe to put a handfu' o' gowd into the hands o' his keepers, and
thereby to escape abroad, and it wad furnish him wi' the means o' living
when he was abroad. Remember his kindness to us, and think that there is
nae sin equal to the sin o' ingratitude."

"But," added Thomas, "in what way could we get the money to him? for, if
we were to send it, it would never reach him, and, as a prisoner, he
wouldna be allooed to receive it."

"Let us tak it to him oorsels, then," said Margaret.

"Tak it oorsels!" exclaimed Thomas, in amazement, "a' the way to London!
It is oot o' the question a'thegither, Margaret. We wad be robbed o'
every plack before we got half-way; or, if we were even there, hoo, in
a' the world, do ye think we could get it to him, or that we would be
allooed to see him?"

"Leave that to me," was her reply; "only say ye will gang, and a' that
shall be accomplished. There is nae obstacle in the way but the want o'
yer consent. But the debt, and the ingratitude o' it thegither, hang
heavy upon my heart."

Thomas at length yielded to the importunities of his wife, and agreed
that they should make a pilgrimage to London, to pay his rent to his
captive laird; though how they were to carry the gold in safety, through
an unsettled country, a distance of more than three hundred miles, was a
difficulty he could not overcome. But Margaret removed his fears; she
desired him to count out the gold, and place it before her; and when he
had done so, she went to the meal-tub and took out a quantity of pease
and of barley meal mixed, sufficient to knead a goodly fadge or bannock;
and, when she had kneaded it, and rolled it out, she took the golden
pieces and pressed them into the paste of the embryo bannock, and again
she doubled it together, and again rolled it out, and kneaded into it
the remainder of the gold. She then fashioned it into a thick bannock,
and placing it on the hearth, covered it with the red ashes of the
peats.

Thomas sat marvelling, as the formation of the singular purse proceeded,
and when he beheld the operation completed, and the bannock placed upon
the hearth to bake, he only exclaimed--"Weel, woman's ingenuity dings
a'! I wadna hae thocht o' the like o' that, had I lived a thoosand
years! O Margaret, hinny, but ye are a strange ane."

"Hoots," replied she, "I'm sure ye micht easily hae imagined that it was
the safest plan we could hae thocht upon to carry the siller in safety;
for I am sure there isna a thief between the Tweed and Lon'on toun, that
would covet or carry awa a bear bannock."

"Troth, my doo, and I believe ye're richt," replied Thomas; "but wha
could hae thocht o' sic an expedient? Sure there never was a bannock
baked like the bannock o' Tollishill."

On the third day after this, an old man and a fair lad, before the sun
had yet risen, were observed crossing the English Border. They
alternately carried a wallet across their shoulders, which contained a
few articles of apparel and a bannock. They were dressed as shepherds,
and passengers turned and gazed on them as they passed along; for the
beauty of the youth's countenance excited their admiration. Never had
Lowland bonnet covered so fair a brow. The elder stranger was Thomas
Hardie, and the youth none other than his Midside Maggy.

I will not follow them through the stages of their long and weary
journey, nor dwell upon the perils and adventures they encountered by
the way. But, on the third week after they had left Tollishill, and when
they were beyond the town called Stevenage, and almost within sight of
the metropolis, they were met by an elderly military-looking man, who,
struck with the lovely countenance of the seeming youth, their dress,
and way-worn appearance, accosted them, saying--"Good morrow, strangers;
ye seem to have travelled far. Is this fair youth your son, old man?"

"He is a gay sib freend," answered Thomas.

"And whence come ye?" continued the stranger.

"Frae Leader Haughs, on the bonny Borders o' the north countrie,"
replied Margaret.

"And whence go ye?" resumed the other.

"First tell me wha ye may be that are sae inquisitive," interrupted
Thomas, in a tone which betrayed something like impatience.

"Some call me George Monk," replied the stranger mildly, "others, Honest
George. I am a general in the Parliamentary army." Thomas reverentially
raised his hand to his bonnet, and bowed his head.

"Then pardon me, sir," added Margaret, "and if ye indeed be the guid and
gallant general, sma' offence will ye tak at onything that may be said
amiss by a country laddie. We are tenants o' the Lord o' Lauderdale,
whom ye now keep in captivity; and, though we mayna think as he thinks,
yet we never faund him but a guid landlord; and little guid, in my
opinion, it can do ony body to keep him, as he has been noo for nine
years, caged up like a bird. Therefore, though oor ain business that has
brocht us up to London should fail, I winna regret the journey, since it
has afforded me an opportunity o' seein yer Excellency, and soliciting
yer interest, which maun be pooerfu' in behalf o' oor laird, and that ye
would release him frae his prison, and, if he michtna remain in this
countrie, obtain permission for him to gang abroad."

"Ye plead fairly and honestly for yer laird, fair youth," returned the
general; "yet, though he is no man to be trusted, I needs say he hath
had his portion of captivity measured out abundantly; and, since ye have
minded me of him, ere a week go round I will think of what may be done
for Lauderdale." Other questions were asked and answered--some truly,
and some evasively; and Thomas and Margaret blessing Honest George in
their hearts, went on their way rejoicing at having met him.

On arriving in London, she laid aside the shepherd's garb in which she
had journeyed, and resumed her wonted apparel. On the second day after
their arrival, she went out upon Tower-hill, dressed as a Scottish
peasant girl, with a basket on her arm; and in the basket were a few
ballads, and the bannock of Tollishill. She affected silliness, and,
acting the part of a wandering minstrel, went singing her ballads
towards the gate of the Tower. Thomas followed her at a distance. Her
appearance interested the guard; and as she stood singing before the
gate--"What want ye, pretty face?" inquired the officer of the guard.
"Your alms, if you please," said she, smiling innocently, "and to sing a
bonny Scotch sang to the Laird o' Lauderdale."

The officer and the sentinels laughed; and, after she had sang them
another song or two, she was permitted to enter the gate, and a soldier
pointed out to her the room in which Lauderdale was confined. On
arriving before the grated windows of his prison, she raised her eyes
towards them, and began to sing "_Leader Haughs_." The wild, sweet
melody of his native land, drew Lauderdale to the windows of his
prison-house, and in the countenance of the minstrel he remembered the
lovely features of Midside Maggy. He requested permission of the keeper
that she should be admitted to his presence; and his request was
complied with.

"Bless thee, sweet face!" said the earl, as she was admitted into his
prison; "and you have not forgotten the snowball in June?" And he took
her hand to raise it to his lips.

"Hooly, hooly, my guid lord," said she, withdrawing her hand; "my
fingers were made for nae sic purpose--Thomas Hardie is here"--and she
laid her hand upon her fair bosom--"though now standing withoot the yett
o' the Tower." Lauderdale again wondered, and, with a look of mingled
curiosity and confusion, inquired--"Wherefore do ye come--and why do ye
seek me?" "I brocht ye a snaw-ba' before," said she, "for yer rent--I
bring ye a bannock noo." And she took the bannock from the basket and
placed it before him.

"Woman," added he, "are ye really as demented as I thocht ye but feigned
to be, when ye sang before the window."

"The proof o' the bannock," replied Margaret, "will be in the breakin'
o't."

"Then, goodwife, it will not be easily proved," said he--and he took the
bannock, and, with some difficulty, broke it over his knee; but, when he
beheld the golden coins that were kneaded through it, for the first,
perhaps the last and only time in his existence, the Earl of Lauderdale
burst into tears and exclaimed--"Well, every bannock has its maik, but
the bannock o' Tollishill! Yet, kind as ye hae been, the gold is useless
to ane that groans in hopeless captivity."

"Yours has been a long captivity," said Margaret; "but it is not
hopeless; and, if honest General Monk is to be trusted, from what he
tauld me not three days by-gane, before a week gae roond, ye will be at
liberty to go abroad, and there the bannock o' Tollishill may be o'
use."

The wonder of Lauderdale increased, and he replied--"Monk will keep his
word--but what mean ye of him?"

And she related to him the interview they had had with the general by
the way. Lauderdale took her hand, a ray of hope and joy spread over his
face, and he added--

"Never shall ye rue the bakin' o' the bannock, if auld times come back
again."

Margaret left the tower, singing as she had entered it, and joined her
husband, whom she found leaning over the railing around the moat, and
anxiously waiting her return. They spent a few days more in London, to
rest and to gaze upon its wonders, and again set out upon their journey
to Tollishill. General Monk remembered his promise; within a week, the
Earl of Lauderdale was liberated, with permission to go abroad, and
there, as Margaret had intimated, he found the bannock of Tollishill of
service.

A few more years passed round, during which old Thomas Hardie still
prospered; but, during those years, the Commonwealth came to an end, the
king was recalled, and with him, as one of his chief favourites,
returned the Earl of Lauderdale. And, when he arrived in Scotland,
clothed with power, whatever else he forgot, he remembered the bannock
of Tollishill. Arrayed in what might have passed as royal state, and
attended by fifty of his followers, he rode to the dwelling of Thomas
Hardie and Midside Maggy; and when they came forth to meet him, he
dismounted and drew forth a costly silver girdle of strange workmanship,
and fastened it round her jimp waist, saying--"Wear this, for now it is
my turn to be grateful, and for your husband's life, and your life, and
the life of the generation after ye" (for they had children), "ye shall
sit rent free on the lands ye now farm. For, truly, every bannock had
its maik but the bannock o' Tollishill."

Thomas and Margaret felt their hearts too full to express their thanks;
and ere they could speak, the earl, mounting his horse, rode towards
Thirlestane; and his followers, waving their bonnets, shouted--"Long
live Midside Maggy, queen of Tollishill."

Such is the story of "The Bannock o' Tollishill;" and it is only
necessary to add, for the information of the curious, that I believe the
silver girdle may be seen until this day, in the neighbourhood of
Tollishill, and in the possession of a descendant of Midside Maggy, to
whom it was given.

       *       *       *       *       *

[TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE:

1. On page 28, last line, page 74, footnote, and page 155, last line,
missing text has been restored from scans atThe Internet Archive.

A few missing letters or words at the ends of lines have been restored
from the same source.

2. The French word "mouillé" appears, apparently randomly, both with
and without the acute accent. Since the accent is clearly required,
it has been restored where necessary.

3. On page 2, antepenultimate line, "bewrayed" has been corrected to
"betrayed".

4. In this Latin-1 version, the only substitution effected is that the
oe-diphthong is indicated by [oe].]





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