Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland, Volume III
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland, Volume III" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

OF SCOTLAND, VOLUME III***


WILSON'S TALES OF THE BORDERS AND OF SCOTLAND.

Historical, Traditionary, & Imaginative.

With a Glossary.

Revised by

ALEXANDER LEIGHTON,

One of the Original Editors and Contributors.

VOL. III.



London:
Walter Scott, 14 Paternoster Square
And Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.
1885.



CONTENTS.

   WIDOW OF DUNSKAITH,            (_Hugh Miller_),                   1

   THE WHITSOME TRAGEDY,          (_John Mackay Wilson_),           20

   THE SURGEON'S TALES,           (_Alexander Leighton_)--
      THE DIVER AND THE BELL,                                       53

   AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF WILLIE SMITH, (_Alexander Campbell_),           85

   THE PROFESSOR'S TALES,         (_Professor Thomas Gillespie_)--
      PHEBE FORTUNE,                                               117

   THE ROYAL BRIDAL,              (_John Mackay Wilson_),          134

   THE ROYAL RAID,                (_Alexander Leighton_),          166

   THE EXPERIMENTER,              (_John Howell_),                 198

   THE YOUNG LAIRD,               (_Alexander Bethune_),           230

   THE RIVAL NIGHTCAPS,            (_Alexander Campbell_),         263



WILSON'S

TALES OF THE BORDERS

AND OF SCOTLAND.



THE WIDOW OF DUNSKAITH.

    "Oh, mony a shriek, that waefu' night,
      Rose frae the stormy main;
    An' mony a bootless vow was made,
      An' mony a prayer vain;
    An' mithers wept, an' widows mourned
      For mony a weary day;
    An' maidens, ance o' blithest mood,
      Grew sad, and pined away."


The northern Sutor of Cromarty is of a bolder character than even the
southern one--abrupt, and stern, and precipitous as that is. It presents
a loftier and more unbroken wall of rock; and, where it bounds on the
Moray Frith, there is a savage magnificence in its cliffs and caves, and
in the wild solitude of its beach, which we find nowhere equalled on the
shores of the other. It is more exposed, too, in the time of tempest:
the waves often rise, during the storms of winter, more than a hundred
feet against its precipices, festooning them, even at that height, with
wreaths of kelp and tangle; and, for miles within the bay, we may hear,
at such seasons, the savage uproar that maddens amid its cliffs and
caverns, coming booming over the lashings of the nearer waves, like the
roar of artillery. There is a sublimity of desolation on its shores, the
effects of a conflict maintained for ages, and on a scale so gigantic.
The isolated, spire-like crags that rise along its base, are so drilled
and bored by the incessant lashings of the surf, and are ground down
into shapes so fantastic, that they seem but the wasted skeletons of
their former selves; and we find almost every natural fissure in the
solid rock hollowed into an immense cavern, whose very ceiling, though
the head turns as we look up to it, owes evidently its comparative
smoothness to the action of the waves. One of the most remarkable of
these recesses occupies what we may term the apex of a lofty promontory.
The entrance, unlike that of most of the others, is narrow and rugged,
though of great height; but it widens within into a shadowy chamber,
perplexed, like the nave of a cathedral, by uncertain cross lights, that
come glimmering into it through two lesser openings, which perforate the
opposite sides of the promontory. It is a strange, ghostly-looking
place; there is a sort of moonlight greenness in the twilight which
forms its noon, and the denser shadows which rest along its sides; a
blackness, so profound that it mocks the eye, hangs over a lofty passage
which leads from it, like a corridor, still deeper into the bowels of
the hill; the light falls on a sprinkling of half-buried bones, the
remains of animals that, in the depth of winter, have creeped into it
for shelter, and to die; and, when the winds are up, and the hoarse roar
of the waves comes reverberated from its inner recesses, or creeps
howling along its roof, it needs no over-active fancy to people its
avenues with the shapes of beings long since departed from every gayer
and softer scene, but which still rise uncalled to the imagination in
those by-corners of nature which seem dedicated, like this cavern, to
the wild, the desolate, and the solitary.

There is a little rocky bay a few hundred yards to the west, which has
been known for ages, to all the seafaring men of the place, as the Cova
Green. It is such a place as we are sometimes made acquainted with in
the narratives of disastrous shipwrecks. First, there is a broad
semicircular strip of beach, with a wilderness of insulated piles of
rock in front; and so steep and continuous is the wall of precipices
which rises behind, that, though we may see directly over head the
grassy slopes of the hill, with here and there a few straggling firs, no
human foot ever gained the nearer edge. The bay of the Cova Green is a
prison to which the sea presents the only outlet; and the numerous caves
which open along its sides, like the arches of an amphitheatre, seem but
its darker cells. It is, in truth, a wild impressive place, full of
beauty and terror, and with none of the squalidness of the mere dungeon
about it. There is a puny littleness in our brick and lime receptacles
of misery and languor which speaks as audibly of the feebleness of man,
as of his crimes or his inhumanity; but here all is great and
magnificent--and there is much, too, that is pleasing. Many of the
higher cliffs, which rise beyond the influence of the spray, are
tapestried with ivy; we may see the heron watching on the ledges beside
her bundle of withered twigs, or the blue hawk darting from her cell;
there is life on every side of us--life in even the wild tumbling of the
waves, and in the stream of pure water which, rushing from the higher
edge of the precipice in a long white cord, gradually untwists itself by
the way, and spatters ceaselessly among the stones over the entrance of
one of the caves. Nor does the scene want its old story to strengthen
its hold on the imagination.

I am wretchedly uncertain in my dates, but it must have been some time
late in the reign of Queen Anne, that a fishing yawl, after vainly
labouring for hours to enter the bay of Cromarty, during a strong gale
from the west, was forced, at nightfall, to relinquish the attempt, and
take shelter in the Cova Green. The crew consisted of but two
persons--an old fisherman and his son. Both had been thoroughly drenched
by the spray, and chilled by the piercing wind, which, accompanied by
thick snow showers, had blown all day through the opening, from off the
snowy top of Ben Wyvis; and it was with no ordinary satisfaction that,
as they opened the little bay on their last tack, they saw the red gleam
of a fire flickering from one of the caves, and a boat drawn upon the
beach.

"It must be some of the Tarbet fishermen," said the old man, "wind-bound
like ourselves; but wiser than us, in having made provision for it. I
shall feel willing enough to share their fire with them for the night."

"But see," remarked the younger, "that there be no unwillingness on the
other side. I am much mistaken if that be not the boat of my cousins the
Macinlas, who would so fain have broken my head last Rhorichie Tryst.
But, hap what may, father, the night is getting worse, and we have no
choice of quarters. Hard up your helm, or we shall barely clear the
Skerries; there now, every nail an anchor." He leaped ashore, carrying
with him the small hawser attached to the stern, which he wound securely
round a jutting crag, and then stood for a few seconds until the old
man, who moved but heavily along the thwarts, had come up to him. All
was comparatively calm under the lee of the precipices; but the wind was
roaring fearfully in the woods above, and whistling amid the furze and
ivy of the higher cliff; and the two boatmen, as they entered the cave,
could see the flakes of a thick snow shower, that had just begun to
descend, circling round and round in the eddy.

The place was occupied by three men, who were sitting beside the fire,
on blocks of stone which had been rolled from the beach. Two of them
were young, and comparatively commonplace-looking persons; the third was
a grey-headed old man, apparently of great muscular strength though long
past his prime, and of a peculiarly sinister cast of countenance. A keg
of spirits, which was placed end up in front of them, served as a table;
there were little drinking measures of tin on it, and the mask-like,
stolid expressions of the two younger men showed that they had been
indulging freely. The elder was apparently sober. They all started to
their feet on the entrance of the fishermen, and one of the younger,
laying hold of the little cask, pitched it hurriedly into a dark corner
of the cave.

"HIS peace be here!" was the simple greeting of the elder fisherman, as
he came forward. "Eachen Macinla," he continued, addressing the old man,
"we have not met for years before--not, I believe, since the death o' my
puir sister, when we parted such ill friends; but we are short-lived
creatures ourselves, Eachen--surely our anger should be short-lived too;
and I have come to crave from you a seat by your fire."

"William Beth," replied Eachen, "it was no wish of mine we should ever
meet; but to a seat by the fire you are welcome."

Old Macinla and his sons resumed their seats, the two fishermen took
their places fronting them, and for some time neither party exchanged a
word.

A fire, composed mostly of fragments of wreck and driftwood, threw up
its broad cheerful flame towards the roof; but so spacious was the
cavern that, except where here and there a whiter mass of stalactites,
or bolder projection of cliff stood out from the darkness, the light
seemed lost in it. A dense body of smoke, which stretched its blue level
surface from side to side, and concealed the roof, went rolling outwards
like an inverted river.

"This is but a gousty lodging-place," remarked the old fisherman, as he
looked round him; "but I have seen a worse. I wish the folk at home kent
we were half sae snug; and then the fire, too--I have always felt
something companionable in a fire, something consolable, as it were; it
appears, somehow, as if it were a creature like ourselves, and had life
in it." The remark seemed directed to no one in particular, and there
was no reply. In a second attempt at conversation, the fisherman
addressed himself to the old man.

"It has vexed me," he said, "that our young folk shouldna, for my
sister's sake, be on more friendly terms, Eachen. They hae been
quarrelling, an' I wish to see the quarrel made up." The old man,
without deigning a reply, knit his grey shaggy brows, and looked
doggedly at the fire.

"Nay, now," continued the fisherman, "we are getting auld men, Eachen,
an' wauld better bury our hard thoughts o' ane anither afore we come to
be buried ourselves. What if we were sent to the Cova Green the night,
just that we might part friends!"

Eachen fixed his keen scrutinizing glance on the speaker--it was but for
a moment; there was a tremulous motion of the under lip as he withdrew
it, and a setting of the teeth--the expression of mingled hatred and
anger; but the tone of his reply savoured more of sullen indifference
than of passion.

"William Beth," he said, "ye hae tricked my boys out o' the bit property
that suld hae come to them by their mother; it's no lang since they
barely escaped being murdered by your son. What more want you? But ye
perhaps think it better that the time should be passed in making hollow
lip professions o' good will, than that it suld be employed in clearing
off an old score."

"Ay," hiccuped out the elder of the two sons, "the houses might come my
way, then; an', besides, gin Helen Henry were to lose her ae joe, the
ither might hae a better chance. Rise, brither--rise, man, an' fight for
me an' your sweetheart." The younger lad, who seemed verging towards the
last stage of intoxication, struck his clenched fist against his palm,
and attempted to rise.

"Look ye, uncle," exclaimed the younger fisherman, a powerful-looking
and very handsome stripling, as he sprang to his feet, "your threat
might be spared. Our little property was my grandfather's, and naturally
descended to his only son; and, as for the affair at Rhorichie, I dare
either of my cousins to say the quarrel was of my seeking. I have no
wish to raise my hand against the sons or the husband of my aunt; but,
if forced to it, you will find that neither my father nor myself are
wholly at your mercy."

"Whisht, Earnest," said the old fisherman, laying his hand on the hand
of the young man; "sit down--your uncle maun hae ither thoughts. It is
now fifteen years, Eachen," he continued, "since I was called to my
sister's deathbed. You yourself canna forget what passed there. There
had been grief, an' cauld, an' hunger, beside that bed. I'll no say you
were willingly unkind--few folk are that but when they hae some purpose
to serve by it, an' you could have none; but you laid no restraint on a
harsh temper, and none on a craving habit that forgets everything but
itsel; and so my puir sister perished in the middle o' her days--a
wasted, heart-broken thing. It's no that I wish to hurt you. I mind how
we passed our youth thegither, among the wild Buccaneers; it was a bad
school, Eachen; an' I owre often feel I havena unlearned a' my ain
lessons, to wonder that you shouldna hae unlearned a' yours. But we're
getting old men, Eachen, an' we have now what we hadna in our young
days, the advantage o' the light. Dinna let us die fools in the sight o'
Him who is so willing to give us wisdom--dinna let us die enemies. We
have been early friends, though maybe no for good; we have fought afore
now at the same gun; we have been united by the luve o' her that's now
in the dust; an' there are our boys--the nearest o' kin to ane anither
that death has spared. But, what I feel as strongly as a' the rest,
Eachen--we hae done meikle ill thegither. I can hardly think o' a past
sin without thinking o' you, an' thinking too, that, if a creature like
me may hope he has found pardon, you shouldna despair. Eachen, we maun
be friends."

The features of the stern old man relaxed. "You are perhaps right,
William," he at length replied; "but ye were aye a luckier man than
me--luckier for this world, I'm sure, an' maybe for the next. I had aye
to seek, an' aften without finding, the good that came in your gate o'
itsel. Now that age is coming upon us, ye get a snug rental frae the
little houses, an' I hae naething; an' ye hae character an' credit, but
wha would trust me, or cares for me? Ye hae been made an elder o' the
kirk, too, I hear, an' I am still a reprobate; but we were a' born to be
just what we are, an' sae maun submit. An' your son, too, shares in your
luck; he has heart an' hand, an' my whelps hae neither; an' the girl
Henry, that scouts that sot there, likes him--but what wonder o' that?
But you are right, William--we maun be friends. Pledge me." The little
cask was produced; and, filling the measures, he nodded to Earnest and
his father. They pledged him; when, as if seized by a sudden frenzy, he
filled his measure thrice in hasty succession, draining it each time to
the bottom, and then flung it down with a short hoarse laugh. His sons,
who would fain have joined with him, he repulsed with a firmness of
manner which he had not before exhibited. "No, whelps," he said--"get
sober as fast as ye can."

"We had better," whispered Earnest to his father, "not sleep in the cave
to-night."

"Let me hear now o' your quarrel, Earnest," said Eachen--"your father
was a more prudent man than you; and, however much he wronged me, did it
without quarrelling."

"The quarrel was none of my seeking," replied Earnest. "I was insulted
by your sons, and would have borne it for the sake of what they seemed
to forget; but there was another whom they also insulted, and that I
could not bear."

"The girl Henry--and what then?"

"Why, my cousins may tell the rest. They were mean enough to take odds
against me; and I just beat the two spiritless fellows that did so."

But why record the quarrels of this unfortunate evening? An hour or two
passed away in disagreeable bickerings, during which the patience of
even the old fisherman was worn out, and that of Earnest had failed him
altogether. They both quitted the cave, boisterous as the night was, and
it was now stormier than ever; and, heaving off their boat, till she
rode at the full length of her swing from the shore, sheltered
themselves under the sail. The Macinlas returned next evening to Tarbet;
but, though the wind moderated during the day, the yawl of William Beth
did not enter the bay of Cromarty. Weeks passed away, during which the
clergyman of the place corresponded, regarding the missing fishermen,
with all the lower parts of the Frith; but they had disappeared, as it
seemed, for ever.

Where the northern Sutor sinks into the low sandy tract that nearly
fronts the town of Cromarty, there is a narrow grassy terrace raised but
a few yards over the level of the beach. It is sheltered behind by a
steep undulating bank; for, though the rock here and there juts out, it
is too rich in vegetation to be termed a precipice. To the east, the
coast retires into a semicircular rocky recess, terminating seawards in
a lofty, dark-browed precipice, and bristling, throughout all its
extent, with a countless multitude of crags, that, at every heave of the
wave, break the surface into a thousand eddies. Towards the west, there
is a broken and somewhat dreary waste of sand. The terrace itself,
however, is a sweet little spot, with its grassy slopes, that recline
towards the sun, partially covered with thickets of wild-rose and
honeysuckle, and studded, in their season, with violets, and daisies,
and the delicate rock geranium. Towards its eastern extremity, with the
bank rising immediately behind, and an open space in front, which seemed
to have been cultivated at one time as a garden, there stood a
picturesque little cottage. It was that of the widow of William Beth.
Five years had now elapsed since the disappearance of her son and
husband, and the cottage bore the marks of neglect and decay. The door
and window, bleached white by the sea winds, shook loosely to every
breeze; clusters of chickweed luxuriated in the hollows of the thatch,
or mantled over the eaves; and a honeysuckle that had twisted itself
round the chimney, lay withering in a tangled mass at the foot of the
wall. But the progress of decay was more marked in the widow herself
than in her dwelling. She had had to contend with grief and penury: a
grief not the less undermining in its effects, from the circumstance of
its being sometimes suspended by hope--a penury so extreme that every
succeeding day seemed as if won by some providential interference from
absolute want. And she was now, to all appearance, fast sinking in the
struggle. The autumn was well nigh over: she had been weak and ailing
for months before, and had now become so feeble as to be confined for
days together to her bed. But, happily, the poor solitary woman had, at
least, one attached friend in the daughter of a farmer of the parish, a
young and beautiful girl, who, though naturally of no melancholy
temperament, seemed to derive almost all she enjoyed of pleasure from
the society of the widow. Helen Henry was in her twenty-third year; but
she seemed older in spirit than in years. She was thin and pale, though
exquisitely formed; there was a drooping heaviness in her fine eyes, and
a cast of pensive thought on her forehead, that spoke of a longer
experience of grief than so brief a portion of life might be supposed to
have furnished. She had once lovers; but they had gradually dropped away
in the despair of moving her, and awed by a deep and settled pensiveness
which, in the gayest season of youth, her character had suddenly but
permanently assumed. Besides, they all knew her affections were already
engaged, and had come to learn, though late and unwillingly, that there
are cases in which no rival can be more formidable than a dead one.

Autumn, I have said, was near its close. The weather had given
indications of an early and severe winter; and the widow, whose worn-out
and delicate frame was affected by every change of atmosphere, had for a
few days been more than usually indisposed. It was now long past noon,
and she had but just risen. The apartment, however, bore witness that
her young friend had paid her the accustomed morning visit; the fire was
blazing on a clean comfortable-looking hearth, and every little piece of
furniture it contained was arranged with the most scrupulous care. Her
devotions were hardly over, when the well-known tap was again heard at
the door.

"Come in, my lassie," said the widow, and then lowering her voice, as
the light foot of her friend was heard on the threshold--"God," she
said, "has been ever kind to me--far, very far aboon my best deservings;
and, oh, may He bless and reward her who has done so meikle, meikle for
me!" The young girl entered and took her seat beside her.

"You told me, mother," she said, "that to-morrow is Earnest's birthday.
I have been thinking of it all last night, and feel as if my heart were
turning into stone. But when I am alone, it is always so. There is a
cold death-like weight at my breast that makes me unhappy, though, when
I come to you, and we speak together, the feeling passes away, and I
become cheerful."

"Ah, my bairn," replied the old woman; "I fear I'm no your friend,
meikle as I love you. We speak owre, owre often o' the lost; for our
foolish hearts find mair pleasure in that than in anything else; but ill
does it fit us for being alone. Weel do I ken your feeling--a stone
deadness o' the heart, a feeling there are no words to express, but that
seems as it were insensibility itself turning into pain; an' I ken, too,
my lassie, that it is nursed by the very means ye take to flee from it.
Ye maun learn to think mair o' the living and less o' the dead. Little,
little does it matter, how a puir worn-out creature like me passes the
few broken days o' life that remains to her; but ye are young, my Helen,
an' the world is a' before you; an' ye maun just try an' live for it."

"To-morrow," rejoined Helen, "is Earnest's birthday. Is it no strange
that, when our minds make pictures o' the dead, it is always as they
looked best, an' kindest, an' maist life-like. I have been seeing
Earnest all night long, as when I saw him on his _last_ birthday; an',
oh, the sharpness o' the pang, when, every now an' then, the back o' the
picture is turned to me, an' I see him as he is--dust!"

The widow grasped her young friend by the hand. "Helen," she said, "you
will get better when I am taken from you; but, so long as we continue to
meet, our thoughts will aye be running the one way. I had a strange
dream last night, an' must tell it you. You see yon rock to the east, in
the middle o' the little bay, that now rises through the back draught o'
the sea, like the hull o' a ship, an' is now buried in a mountain o'
foam. I dreamed I was sitting on that rock, in what seemed a bonny
summer's morning; the sun was glancin' on the water; an' I could see the
white sand far down at the bottom, wi' the reflection o' the little
wavies running o'er it in long curls o' gowd. But there was no way o'
leaving the rock, for the deep waters were round an' round me; an' I saw
the tide covering one wee bittie after another, till at last the whole
was covered. An' yet I had but little fear; for I remembered that baith
Earnest an' William were in the sea afore me; an' I had the feeling that
I could hae rest nowhere but wi' them. The water at last closed o'er me,
an' I sank frae aff the rock to the sand at the bottom. But death seemed
to have no power given him to hurt me; an' I walked as light as ever I
hae done on a gowany brae, through the green depths o' the sea. I saw
the silvery glitter o' the trout an' the salmon, shining to the sun, far
far aboon me, like white pigeons in the lift; an' around me there were
crimson starfish, an' sea-flowers, an' long trailing plants that waved
in the tide like streamers; an' at length I came to a steep rock wi' a
little cave like a tomb in it. 'Here,' I said, 'is the end o' my
journey--William is here, an' Earnest.' An', as I looked into the cave,
I saw there were bones in it, an' I prepared to take my place beside
them. But, as I stooped to enter, some one called me, an' on looking up,
there was William. 'Lillias,' he said, 'it is not night yet, nor is that
your bed; you are to sleep, not with me, but with Earnest--haste you
home, for he is waiting you.' 'Oh, take me to him! I said; an' then all
at once I found myself on the shore, dizzied an' blinded wi' the bright
sunshine; for, at the cave, there was a darkness like that o' a simmer's
gloamin; an', when I looked up for William, it was Earnest that stood
before me, life-like an' handsome as ever; an' you were beside him.'"

The day had been gloomy and lowering, and, though there was little wind,
a tremendous sea, that, as the evening advanced, rose higher and higher
against the neighbouring precipice, had been rolling ashore since
morning. The wind now began to blow in long hollow gusts among the
cliffs, and the rain to patter against the widow's casement.

"It will be a storm from the sea," she said; "the scarts an' gulls hae
been flying landward sin' daybreak, an' I hae never seen the ground
swell come home heavier against the rocks. Wae's me for the puir
sailors!"

"In the lang stormy nights," said Helen, "I canna sleep for thinking o'
them, though I have no one to bind me to them now. Only look how the sea
rages among the rocks, as if it were a thing o' life an' passion!--that
last wave rose to the crane's nest. An', look, yonder is a boat rounding
the rock wi' only one man in it. It dances on the surf as if it were a
cork, an' the wee bittie o' sail, sae black an' weet, seems scarcely
bigger than a napkin. Is it no bearing in for the boat haven below?"

"My poor old eyes," replied the widow, "are growing dim, an' surely no
wonder; but yet I think I should ken that boatman. Is it no Eachen
Macinla o' Tarbet?"

"Hard-hearted, cruel old man," exclaimed the maiden, "what can be taking
him here? Look how his skiff shoots in like an arrow on the long roll o'
the surf!--an' now she is high on the beach. How unfeeling it was o' him
to rob you o' your little property in the very first o' your grief! But,
see, he is so worn out that he can hardly walk over the rough stones.
Ah, me, he is down! wretched old man. I must run to his assistance--but
no, he has risen again. See he is coming straight to the house; an' now
he is at the door." In a moment after, Eachen entered the cottage.

"I am perishing, Lillias," he said, "with cold an' hunger, an' can gang
nae farther; surely ye'll no shut your door on me in a night like this."

The poor widow had been taught in a far different school. She
relinquished to the worn-out fisherman her seat by the fire, now
hurriedly heaped with fresh fuel, and hastened to set before him the
simple viands which her cottage afforded.

As the night darkened, the storm increased. The wind roared among the
rocks like the rattling of a thousand carriages over a paved street; and
there were times when, after a sudden pause, the blast struck the
cottage, as if it were a huge missile flung against it, and pressed on
its roof and walls till the very floor rocked, and the rafters strained
and shivered like the beams of a stranded vessel. There was a ceaseless
patter of mingled rain and snow--now lower, now louder; and the fearful
thunderings of the waves, as they raged among the pointed crags, was
mingled with the hoarse roll of the storm along the beach. The old man
sat beside the fire, fronting the widow and her companion, with his head
reclined nearly as low as his knee, and his hands covering his face.
There was no attempt at conversation. He seemed to shudder every time
the blast yelled along the roof; and, as a fiercer gust burst open the
door, there was a half-muttered ejaculation.

"Heaven itsel hae mercy on them! for what can man do in a night like
this?"

"It is black as pitch," exclaimed Helen, who had risen to draw the bolt;
"an' the drift flies sae thick that it feels to the hand like a solid
snaw wreath. An', oh, how it lightens?"

"Heaven itsel hae mercy on them!" again ejaculated the old man. "My two
boys," said he, addressing the widow, "are at the far Frith; an' how can
an open boat live in a night like this?"

There seemed something magical in the communication--something that
awakened all the sympathies of the poor bereaved woman; and she felt she
could forgive him every unkindness.

"Wae's me!" she exclaimed, "it was in such a night as this, an' scarcely
sae wild, that my Earnest perished." The old man groaned and wrung his
hands.

In one of the pauses of the hurricane, there was a gun heard from the
sea, and shortly after a second. "Some puir vessel in distress," said
the widow; "but, alas! where can succour come frae in sae terrible a
night? There is help only in Ane. Wae's me! would we no better light up
a blaze on the floor, an', dearest Helen, draw off the cover frae the
window. My puir Earnest has told me that my light has aften shewed him
his bearing frae the deadly bed o' Dunskaith. That last gun"--for a
third was now heard booming over the mingled roar of the sea and the
wind--"that last gun came frae the very rock edge. Wae's me, wae's me!
maun they perish, an' sae near!" Helen hastily lighted a bundle of more
fir, that threw up its red, sputtering blaze half-way to the roof, and,
dropping the covering, continued to wave it opposite the window. Guns
were still heard at measured intervals, but apparently from a safer
offing; and the last, as it sounded faintly against the wind, came
evidently from the interior of the bay.

"She has escaped," said the old man; "it's a feeble hand that canna do
good when the heart is willing--but what has mine been doing a' life
long?" He looked at the widow and shuddered.

Towards morning, the wind fell, and the moon, in her last quarter, rose
red and glaring out of the Frith, lighting the melancholy roll of the
waves, that still came like mountains, and the broad white belt of surf
that skirted the shores. The old fisherman left the cottage, and
sauntered along the beach. It was heaped with huge wreaths of kelp and
tangle uprooted by the storm, and in the hollow of the rocky bay lay the
scattered fragments of a boat. Eachen stooped to pick up a piece of the
wreck, in the fearful expectation of finding some known mark by which to
recognise it, when the light fell full on the swollen face of a corpse
that seemed staring at him from out a wreath of weed. It was that of his
eldest son. The body of the younger, fearfully gashed and mangled by the
rocks, lay a few yards farther to the east.

The morning was as pleasant as the night had been boisterous; and,
except that the distant hills were covered with snow, and that a heavy
swell still continued to roll in from the sea, there remained scarce any
trace of the recent tempest. Every hollow of the neighbouring hill had
its little runnel, formed by the rains of the previous night, that now
splashed and glistened to the sun. The bushes round the cottage were
well nigh divested of their leaves; but their red berries--hips and
haws, and the juicy fruit of the honeysuckle--gleamed cheerfully to the
light; and a warm steam of vapour, like that of a May morning, rose from
the roof and the little mossy platform in front. But the scene seemed to
have something more than merely its beauty to recommend it to a young
man, drawn apparently to the spot, with many others, by the fate of the
two unfortunate fishermen, and who now stood gazing on the rocks, and
the hills, and the cottage, as a lover on the features of his mistress.
The bodies had been carried to an old storehouse, which may still be
seen a short mile to the west, and the crowds that, during the early
part of the morning, had been perambulating the beach, gazing at the
wreck, and discussing the various probabilities of the accident, had
gradually dispersed. But this solitary individual, whom no one knew,
remained behind. He was a tall and swarthy, though very handsome man, of
about five-and-twenty, with a slight scar on his left cheek; his dress,
which was plain and neat, was distinguished from that of the common
seaman by three narrow stripes of gold lace on the upper part of one of
the sleeves. He had twice stepped towards the cottage door, and twice
drawn back, as if influenced by some unaccountable feeling--timidity,
perhaps, or bashfulness; and yet the bearing of the man gave little
indication of either. But, at length, as if he had gathered heart, he
raised the latch and went in.

The widow, who had had many visitors that morning, seemed to be
scarcely aware of his entrance; she was sitting on a low seat beside the
fire, her face covered with her hands, while the tremulous rocking
motion of her body showed that she was still brooding over the
distresses of the previous night. Her companion, who had thrown herself
across the bed, was fast asleep. The stranger seated himself beside the
fire, which seemed dying amid its ashes, and, turning sedulously from
the light of the window, laid his hand gently on the widow's shoulder.
She started, and looked up.

"I have strange news for you," he said. "You have long mourned for your
husband and your son; but, though the old man has been dead for years,
your son, Earnest, is still alive, and is now in the harbour of
Cromarty. He is lieutenant of the vessel whose guns you must have heard
during the night."

The poor woman seemed to have lost all power of reply.

"I am a friend of Earnest's," continued the stranger; "and have come to
prepare you for meeting with him. It is now five years since his father
and he were blown off to sea by a strong gale from the land. They drove
before it for four days, when they were picked up by an armed vessel
then cruising in the North Sea, and which soon after sailed for the
coast of Spanish America. The poor old man sank under the fatigues he
had undergone; though Earnest, better able from his youth to endure
hardship, was little affected by them. He accompanied us on our Spanish
expedition--indeed, he had no choice, for we touched at no British port
after meeting with him; and, through good fortune, and what his
companions call merit, he has risen to be the second man aboard; and has
now brought home with him gold enough, from the Spaniards, to make his
old mother comfortable. He saw your light yesterevening, and steered by
it to the roadstead, blessing you all the way. Tell me, for he anxiously
wished me to inquire of you, whether Helen Henry is yet unmarried."

"It is Earnest--it is Earnest himself!" exclaimed the maiden, as she
started from the widow's bed. In a moment after she was locked in his
arms. But why dwell on a scene which I feel myself unfitted to describe?

It was ill, before evening, with old Eachen Macinla. The fatigues of the
previous day, the grief and horror of the following night, had
prostrated his energies, bodily and mental, and he now lay tossing, in a
waste apartment of the storehouse, in the delirium of a fever. The
bodies of his two sons occupied the floor below. He muttered,
unceasingly, in his ravings, of William and Earnest Beth. They were
standing beside him, he said, and every time he attempted to pray for
his poor boys and himself, the stern old man laid his cold swollen hand
on his lips.

"Why trouble me?" he exclaimed. "Why stare with your white dead eyes on
me? Away, old man! the little black shells are sticking in your gray
hairs; away to your place! Was it I who raised the wind on the sea?--was
it I?--was it I? Uh, u!--no--no, you were asleep--you were fast asleep,
and could not see me cut the swing; and, besides, it was only a piece of
rope. Keep away--touch me not; I am a free man, and will plead for my
life. Please your honour, I did not murder these two men; I only cut the
rope that fastened their boat to the land. Ha! ha! ha! he has ordered
them away, and they have both left me unskaithed." At this moment
Earnest Beth entered the apartment, and approached the bed. The
miserable old man raised himself on his elbow, and, regarding him with a
horrid stare, shrieked out--"Here is Earnest Beth come for me a second
time!" and, sinking back on the pillow, instantly expired.



THE WHITSOME TRAGEDY.


When our forefathers were compelled to give up the ancient practice of
crossing the Borders, and of seizing and driving home whatever cattle
they could lay their hands upon, without caring or inquiring who might
be their owner--in order to supply their necessities, both as regarded
providing themselves with cattle and with articles of wearing apparel,
they were forced to become buyers or sellers at the annual and other
fairs on both sides of the Border. Hence they had, as we still have, the
fairs of Stagshawbank, Whitsunbank, St. Ninian's, St. James's, and St.
Boswell's; with the fairs of Wooler, Dunse, Chirnside, Swinton, and of
many other towns and villages. Of the latter, several fell into disuse;
and that of Whitsome was discontinued. Whitsome, or White's home, is the
name of a village and small agricultural parish in the Merse, which is
bounded by the parishes of Swinton, Ladykirk, Edrom, and Hutton. Now, as
has been stated, Whitsome, in common with many other villages, enjoyed
the privilege of having held at it an annual fair. But, though the old
practice of lifting cattle, and of every man taking what he could, had
been suppressed, the laws were not able to extinguish the ancient Border
spirit which produced such doings; and, at the annual fairs, it often
broke forth in riot, and terminated in blood. It was in consequence of
one of those scenes, and in order to suppress them, that the people of
Whitsome were deprived of a fair being held there; the particulars
whereof, in the following story, will be unfolded.

About the middle of the seventeenth century, there resided on the banks
of the Till, and a few miles above its junction with the Tweed, a widow
of the name of Barbara Moor. She had had seven sons; but they and her
husband had all fallen in the troubles of the period, and she was left
bereaved, desolate, and without a comforter. Many said that affliction
had turned her brain; but even before she was acquainted with days of
sorrow or with nights of lamentation, there was often a burning wildness
in her words, and her manners were not as those of other women. There
was a tinge of extravagance, and a character of vehemence, in all her
actions. Some of her neighbours sympathised with her, because of the
affliction that rendered her hearth desolate; but the greater part
beheld her with reverential respect, or looked upon her with fear and
trembling, believing her to be leagued with the inhabitants of the
invisible world, and familiar with the moon and stars, reading in their
courses the destinies of nations and of individuals as in a book. The
character of a being who could read the decrees of fate, and even in
some instances control the purposes of men, was certainly that which she
seemed most pleased to assume; and its wildness soothed her troubled
thoughts, or directed them into other channels.

In her youth, and before her father had been compelled to bow his head
to the authority of the wardens of the marches, she had resided in a
castellated building, of greater strength than magnitude, one of the
minor strongholds on the Border, and which might have been termed towers
for the protection of stolen cattle. But, when the two nations came
beneath the sovereignty of one monarch, and the spear of war was
transformed into a pruning-hook, there went forth a decree that the
strongholds, great and small, along the Borders should be destroyed; and
amongst those that were rendered defenceless and uninhabitable was the
turret which, for many generations, had been occupied by the ancestors
of Barbara Moor. During the life-time of her husband, she had resided in
a comfortable-looking farm-house, the appearance of which indicated that
its inhabitants were of a more peaceful character than were those who, a
few years before, had occupied the prison-like houses of strength. She
now resided in a small mud-built and turf-covered hovel, which in winter
afforded but a sorry shelter from the "pelting of the pitiless storm."

But Barbara was used to bear the scorching sun of summer and the cold
and storms of winter. She walked in the midst of the tempest, and bowed
not her head; and she held converse with the wild lightning and the
fierce hail, speaking of them as the ministers of her will. For nearly
nine months every year she was absent from her clay-built hovel, and
none knew whither she wandered.

It is necessary, however, for the development of our story, that we
here make further mention of her husband and her sons. The elder Moor
had been a daring freebooter in his youth; and often in the morning, and
even at dead of night, the "fray of support," the cry for help, and the
sudden summons for neighbours and kinsmen to rise and ride, were raised
wheresoever he trode; and the sleuth-hounds were let loose upon his
track. It was his boast that he dared to ride farther to humble an enemy
than any other reiver on either side of the Border. If he saw, or if he
heard, of a herd of cattle or a flock of sheep to his liking, he
immediately "marked it for his own," and seldom failed in securing it;
and though the property so obtained was not purchased with money, it was
often procured with a part of his own blood--and with the blood, and not
unfrequently the lives, of his friends, followers, and relatives. And
when law and justice became stronger than the reiver's right, they by no
means tamed his spirit. Though necessity, then, compelled him to be a
buyer and seller of cattle, he looked upon the occupation and the
necessity as a disgrace, and he sighed for the honoured and happier days
of his youth, when the freebooter's might was the freebooter's right.
His sons were young men deeply imbued with his spirit; and it was their
chiefest pleasure, during the long winter evenings, to sit and listen to
him, while he recorded the exploits and the hairbreadth escapes of his
early days. He frequently related to them strange adventures and
contests which he had in his youth with one Walter Cunningham, who
resided near Simprin, in Berwickshire, and who was not only regarded as
a wealthy man, but as one of the boldest on the Borders. He had often
boasted of the number of his herds, and defied the stoutest heart in
Northumberland to lay hand upon their horns. The elder Moor had heard
this defiance, and being resolved to prove that he had both a hand and a
heart to put the defiance to the test, the following is one of the
adventures which he related to his sons in connection therewith:--

"It was about the Martinmas," he said, "when the leaves were becoming
few and blighted on the trees; I was courting your mother at the time,
and her faither had consented to our marriage; but, at the same time, he
half cast up to me, that I had but an ill-plenished house to take home a
wife to--that I had neither meal in the press, kye in the byre, nor oxen
in the court-yard. His own mailing was but poorly provided at the time;
and had he looked at hame, he hardly would have ventured to throw a
reflection at me.

"'Weel, sir, said I to him, 'I dinna deny but what you say is true; but
I have supple heels, a ready hand, a good sword, and a stout heart, and
I ken a canny byre where there are threescore o' sleak beasties, weel
worth the harrying.'

"'Now ye speak like a lad of sense and mettle,' said the old man; 'and
on the first night that ye bring them hame, the plumpest and the fattest
o' them shall be slaughtered for the marriage-feast of you and Barbara.'

"Then up spoke your mother's brother, and a winsome young man he was as
ye would have found between Tweed and Tyne; and 'Jonathan,' says he to
me, 'when ye gang to drive hame the herd, I shall go wi' thee, for the
sake of a bout with the bold, bragging Cunningham, of Simprin--for I
will lay thee my sword 'gainst a tailor's bodkin, it is him ye mean.'

"'It is him, Duncan,' said I--for your uncle's name was Duncan--'though
weel do I ken that he keeps them strongly guarded, and blood will flow,
and weapons be broken, before we get them into our possession. But gie
me your hand, my lad--we two shall be a match for him and a' his
backing. What ye take shall be your own, and what I take, your sister's;
and your faither shanna cast up my toom bink and my ill-stocked
mailing.'

"'Weel spoken, bairns!' cried your grandfaither, who had been a first
hand at such ploys in his young days; 'weel spoken! I'm glad to see that
the spirits of the young generation arena gaun backward; though, since
King Jamie gaed to be King in London, as weel as at Edinburgh, our laws
are only fit for a few women, and everything is done that can be done to
banish manhood, and make it a crime.'

"'Go upon no such an errand,' said your mother to both of us; 'for there
is blood upon baith your brows, and there is death in your path.'

"'Havers, lassie!' cried her faither angrily; 'are ye at your randering
again?--what blood do ye see on their brows mair than I do, or what
death can ye perceive in their path? All your mother's Highland kinsfolk
were never able to throw their second-sighted glamour into my een, and
my own bairn shanna.

"'Call it randers, or what ye will,' answered she; 'but I see it plain
as I see the grey hairs upon your head, that death and lamentation are
gathering round my father's hearth, and are hovering and screaming owre
it, like vultures round a desolate place.'

"Her words made my flesh to creep upon my bones; for, both before that,
and a hundred times since, I have heard her say dark and strange things,
which sooner or later have owre truly come to pass. However, the foray
across to Simprin was delayed till after our marriage; and your mother
almost persuaded me to give up all thoughts of it, and instead of my
former habits of life, to cultivate the bit ground which my forefaithers
had held for two hundred years, for the consideration of an armed man's
service. But her brother taunted me, and said I was no better than
Samson lying wi' his head on the lap of Dalilah, and that I had not only
given his sister my heart to keep, but my courage also. A taunt was a
thing that I never could endure, and that I never would put up wi' from
any man that ever was born--and I hope none of ye ever will, or, as I am
your faither! ye should be no longer my sons!

"'Weel, this night be it,' said I to your uncle, 'The Tweed will be
fordable at Norham--I will have my shelty and weapons ready precisely at
eleven, and get two friends to accompany us that I can trust. Do ye the
like, and we shall see whose courage will stand firmest before morning.'

"We gave each other our hands upon it, and said it was a bargain, and
immediately set about making preparations for the excursion. Before the
appointed hour, he rode up to my door, accompanied by two of his
faither's servants; and I with my two friends were in readiness waiting
for him. Your mother was very bitter against our purpose, and her words
and her warnings made my very heart to shake within my breast. Her eyes
flashed, as if they had been balls of fire, and her very bosom heaved up
and down wi' agitation.

"'Husband!--brother!' she cried, 'listen to me, and give up the mad
errand on which ye are bent; for the bloodhound is snuffing the air and
gnashing its teeth, and the hooded crow clapping its wings for a feast,
and the owl has looked east, west, north, and south, from the auld
turret--it has screamed wi' joy, and its eyes are fixed on Simprin! Be
wise--be warned--or the moon will set and the sun rise upon unburied
bones. Cunningham of Simprin is strong and powerful; he is strong wi'
men, he is strong wi' money; and his herds and his hirsels are strongly
guarded. Again I say to ye, be wise--be warned--desist!--or auld men
will tear their grey hairs, and wives mourn; and those only that live by
the gibbet, rejoice wi' the bloodhound and bird of prey!'

"Her words made us both uncomfortable; but we had often been engaged in
such exploits before the expedition was determined on; and we couldna,
in the presence of the four men that we had engaged to accompany us,
abandon it. They were fearless and experienced hands at the trade; but
the new laws on the Borders had reduced them to great privations, and
their teeth were watering for the flesh-pots of bygone days, no matter
at what risk they were to be obtained.

"It was a delightful moonlight night--almost as bright as day; the
moon's brightness put out the stars, and not aboon a dozen were visible,
though there wasna half that number of clouds in the whole heavens, and
they were just like white sheets, that spirits might be sleeping on in
the air! We proceeded by way of Twisel to Norham, where we crossed the
Tweed to Ladykirk; and as at midnight we passed by the auld kirkyard, I
believe I actually put my hands to my ears, lest I should hear the
howlets flapping their wings and screaming in the belfry, and turned my
face away from it in a sort of apprehension of seeing a spirit, or
something waur, upon every grave; for your mother's prophecies were
uppermost in my mind, in spite of all that I could say or strive to
think. And I believe that your uncle's mind was troubled wi' the same
sort of fears or fancies; for we were both silent the greater part of
the road, and spoke very little to each other.

"However, just about one o'clock, and when the moon was beginning to
edge down upon the Lammermuirs, we arrived at an enclosure, in which
Cunningham had sixty head of cattle penned. The six of us had but little
difficulty in breaking down the gate that opened to the enclosure; and
just as we were beginning to drive out the cattle, a man started up on a
sort of tower place that was built upon the wall that surrounded them,
and hurled a kind of instrument round his head, that made a noise like a
thousand corn-craiks crying together in concert, and trying which would
craik loudest and fastest. At the unearthly sound, the cattle also
commenced a louting that might easily have been heard at two or three
miles off.

"It at once struck me, as the best and wisest step for us to take, that
we should put spurs into our horses, and gallop back to Tweedside; for I
kenned it would be impossible for us to secure a single cow, surrounded,
as we were sure to be in a few minutes, by sixty or a hundred men; and
though I was no coward, I was aware that there could be but little
bravery in six men attempting to give battle to sixty. But, before I had
time to come to a determination, or even to speak, I saw your uncle's
pistol flash; and even, I may say, before I heard the report, I
perceived the man tumble down headlong from the turret on the wall,
among the horns of the cattle.

"'Ye have done wrong in shooting the lad,' said I; 'ye have raised the
whole country side; and presently Cunningham and all his host will be at
our heels.'

"'No fear,' said he; 'there is small danger of that--a dead tongue tells
no tales. And Cunningham and his host, as you term them, may be at our
face, but never shall they be at our heels, unless it be marching or
fighting against a common enemy.'

"We began, therefore, to drive out the cattle; but scarce had we driven
them from the enclosure, and turned their heads towards the Tweed, when
we heard the baying of Cunningham's blood-hounds, and the shouts of his
people.

"The sounds of their horses' feet became audible, and every moment they
gained ground upon us. It was apparent that, if we persisted in keeping
possession of the cattle, and attempting to drive them before us, within
two minutes, and we would be within swords' length of each other.

"'Brother,' said I to your uncle, as I turned and perceived that the
number of our pursuers could not be under thirty, and was conscious that
that number would soon be doubled--'Brother,' said I, 'let us spur on
our horses, and leave the cattle to cover our retreat. It is no disgrace
for six men to flee before sixty.'

"'Be it so,' he said; but it was too late. The cattle, scared by the
shouting of our pursuers, the howling of their blood-hounds, and the
flashing of their torches (for they had lighted fir branches to pursue
us, as the moon was setting), tossed their horns in the air, and ran
wildly to and fro; so that the horses, in their turn, were scared to
pass through them, and we were so hemmed in between thick woods, that
there was no riding round them.

"The followers of Cunningham surrounded us with a wild shout, and a cry
for revenge. But we drew close together--we formed ourselves into a
little circle--and waiting the attack of our antagonists, we contended
with them hand to hand. Ten of them lay writhing on the earth, or had
retired, wounded, from the contest; while our little band remained
unwounded, unbroken. For more than a quarter of an hour, we maintained
the unequal fight. But victory, on our side, was impossible, and escape
all but hopeless. Your uncle was the first of our number that fell. The
sword of an enemy had pierced his bosom, and I heard him shout to me, in
a voice rendered dismal with agony, never to yield!--to fight to the
last! as he lay bleeding on the ground.

"I was then contending, hand to hand, with Cunningham. In our rage, we
had closed by the side of each other, and each grasped the other by the
throat. He shortened his sword, and, with a triumphant laugh, was
lunging it at my side, when, with a sudden and violent effort, I hurled
him from the saddle. As he rose, he thrust his sword into the breast of
the horse on which I rode, which reared, sprang forward, and fell, and I
was thrown upon the ground, in the midst of enemies.

"Two of the four who accompanied us were also wounded, and disabled
from continuing the fight; and the other two, upon seeing your uncle and
myself upon the ground, surrendered. In my fall, my hand quitted not my
sword. I sprang to my feet, and smote around me to the right and to the
left, with the fury of a wild beast. My object was to cut my way through
my adversaries to the woods. I at length succeeded; but not until I had
been thrice wounded. I rushed forward among the trees, until the sound
of my pursuers died away; but the moon had gone down, and I knew not in
what direction I ran, but pressed onward and onward, until exhausted,
through loss of blood, I fell upon the ground. A sleep that was nae
sleep came owre me, and a dream that was nae dream stealed owre my
senses; while the blood continued oozing from my wounds, and my soul was
creeping away. Something was growing owre my faculties, just like the
opening of a starry night, as the gloaming dies away, and star after
star peeps out. I at first felt happy; just steeped, as it were, in a
sensation of pleasantness; and there were sounds like sweet music in my
ears. But the feeling of happiness was changed, I kenned not how, for
one of pain--the feeling of pleasantness for one of horror--and the
sweet sounds into dismal howls. I started up--I grasped my sword firmer
in my hand; but the howls departed not wi' the disturbed sleep from
which I had been startled; but they broke upon my ear, louder and
nearer--the howls of the savage sleuth-hound, that had been sent to
track me. I heard the horrid beast snuff the air, and break into short,
hurried, and savage howls of delight, within a few yards of me. I had
not strength to fly; and if I had had strength, flight would have been
impossible. My pursuers seemed to have lost trace of the animal; for I
could neither hear their footsteps nor the sound of their voices. I made
no attempt at flight, but stood waiting its approach, with my sword
uplifted to smite it. Loss of blood had brought a dimness over my eyes,
which, added to the darkness of the wood, made me that I had rather to
grope and listen for the animal, than perceive it, as it might attempt
to spring upon me. I would rather have met ten enemies than, in
darkness, and in my then fainting state, have waited the attack of that
savage beast. It sprang upon me--I struck towards it with my sword, and
wounded it; but the weapon came in contact with the tangled branches of
the underwood, and the force of the blow was broken. In another moment
and I felt the paws of the monster upon my breast. I grasped it by the
throat, and we fell upon the ground together--my enemy uppermost. Its
teeth were in my shoulder. After several vain attempts, I drove my sword
through its body. The howls of the fierce beast were terrible. It
withdrew its teeth from my shoulder, and struggled to escape; but I
still held it by the throat--with the grip of death I held it--and
still, still strove to pierce it again and again. I held it till it was
stiff, cold, and dead!

"Wounded, faint, and weary as I was, I ventured from the woods before
morning broke, and crossed the Tweed at Kersfield. The sun rose at the
very moment that I turned the corner of the hill which conceals our
house from the public road, and revealed to me your mother, sitting on
the blue stone at the door, as cold and frozen-like to appearance as if
she had sat there the livelong night (as I afterwards understood she
had.) Her hands were clasped together, her eyes were raised upward, and
her lips were moving, as if she were repeating a prayer, or muttering a
charm. When she saw me approaching the door, she rose from the stone,
and, striking her hand upon her brow, cried--'Jonathan Moor! ye cruel
man! ye disregarder of the warnings of her whose life is as the shadow
of your life! said I not that the hound was howling, and the raven was
flapping its wings for a feast?--yet ye would not listen to my voice!
And my brother!--where is my brother?--the son of my mother--more
headstrong and foolish than yoursel'! Ye daurna answer, and ye needna
answer. He is dead! The horse of Cunningham have trampled on his body,
and he lies unburied.'

"I didna ken how to find words to speak to her, and, indeed, I was
hardly able to speak; for the pain and stiffness of my wounds were
terrible to endure, and there was a sickness about my heart that made me
that I could have been willing to have lain down and died; and even
welcomed death, as a weary man would welcome sleep.

"I was almost recovered from my wounds before we were exactly certain
as to your uncle's fate; and that was when three out of the four that
had accompanied us were permitted by Cunningham to return home, the
other having died of his wounds a few days after the unlucky foray. From
their account, it appeared that the person shot by your uncle, while
watching the cattle against the inroads of an enemy, was none other than
the only brother of Cunningham. He was not aware of his brother's death
until after the affray, when he was found lying in the enclosure, into
which the cattle were again driven. He was offering a free pardon to all
his prisoners, save him by whose hand his brother fell, upon condition
that they would betray him, when your uncle, starting up from the
uncouth litter of branches, rudely torn from the trees, and upon which
he was carried, cried out--'I did it!--my hand brought him down from his
watch-box, like a crow from its roost!'

"'To the turret wi' him!' exclaimed Cunningham wildly; 'and fling him
from its pinnacle to the yard below.'

"The fierce command was fiercely and willingly obeyed. Your uncle was
borne to the top of the tower over the wall, and hurled headlong to the
ground; and he lay there, with the cattle trampling upon him, and the
dogs licking his sores, until he was dead.

"Your mother heard the tidings in silence; but, from that day until
this, she has never been as she used to be. Her anger is awful in a
woman; and she vows and says the day will come when she will have
revenge upon the name of Cunningham. She has spoken little of her gift
of second-sight since ye were born; but she is often subject to long and
gloomy fits of silent melancholy, as ye have all been witnesses; and I
attribute it all to our foray to Simprin. But" (the old man would add in
conclusion), "would that the good old times were come back again, when I
could meet Cunningham in the field; and he should find the hand that
unhorsed him five and twenty years syne has lost but little of its
strength."

Now, the eldest sons of Jonathan and Barbara Moor were twins, and the
youngest were also twins, and they had no daughters living. The two
eldest were seven and twenty, and the two youngest seventeen, when the
civil war between the King and the Parliament took place. Walter
Cunningham and three sons, with several of his dependants, joined the
royal army, and he had but another son, who was then but an infant of a
few months old, and whose mother had died ere his infant lips drew from
her breast the nourishment of life. That infant he regarded as the
Benjamin of his age, and loved him with a double love for his mother's
sake. But, deeming that his duty to his King called him to arms, he,
with his three eldest sons and followers, took the field, leaving the
infant in the charge of a tried nurse.

Now, when Jonathan Moor heard that his old enemy had joined the King's
standard, although he was too much of an ancient Borderer to care aught
for either one party or another, or for any cause save his own hand;
yet, to know that Cunningham had joined the King's party, was enough to
induce him to join the army of the Parliament. He knew nothing about the
quarrel--and he cared nothing; neither did he understand anything of the
religious disputes of the period; for, generally speaking, religion upon
the Borders in those days was at a very low ebb. In Berwick, and other
places, John Knox, the dauntless apostle of the north, with others of
his followers, had laboured some years before; but their success was not
great; the Borderers could not be made to understand why they should not
"take who had the power," even though kings and wardens issued laws, and
clergymen denounced judgments against the practice. It was of no use to
tell them "Thou shalt not steal;" the difficulty was to convince them
what was theft. It was, therefore, merely because his former adversary
and his sons were in the King's army, that Jonathan Moor, with his sons,
joined the army of the Parliament.

Barbara protested bitterly against the departure of her husband and her
sons to take part in the wars. "Wherefore, Jonathan," she cried,
"wherefore will ye sacrifice yourself, and why will ye gie up my winsome
sons to the jaws of death? Is there not enough provided for the eagles'
and the ravens' banquet, without their bonny blue een to peck at? Bide
at hame, and, with my bairns, plough up the green fields, that the earth
may provide us with food, as a fond mother, from its bosom. But go ye to
the wars, and your destiny is written--your doom is sealed. The
blackness of lonely midnight hangs owre me as my widow's hood, and, like
Rachel, I shall be left to weep for my children, for they will not be!
Turn again, my husband, and my sons lay down your weapons of war.
Hearken unto my voice, and remember that ye never knew one of my words
fall to the ground. If ye go now, ye rush upon the swords that are
sharpened for your destruction, and ye hasten to fatten the raven and
the worm; for the winds shall sing your dirge, as your bonny yellow hair
waves to the blast, and the gloaming and the night fling a shroud owre
your uncoffined limbs. Ye go, but ye winna return. Ye will see the sun
rise, but not set--and these are hard words for a mother to say."

But her husband and her sons were men of war. They loved its tumult and
its strife, as a hound loveth the sound that calls it to the chase, or a
war-horse the echoes of the bugle; and, though they at times trembled at
her wild words, they regarded them not. Taking their route by way of
Coldstream, Greenlaw, and Soutra Hill, in order to avoid the army of
General Leslie, which then occupied the eastern part of Lammermuir, they
descended towards Dunbar, where they enrolled themselves as volunteers
in the army of Cromwell. A few days after their arrival, they joined a
skirmishing party, and, in a wild glen, near to Spot, they encountered a
similar company that had been sent out by General Leslie. In the latter
party, were Walter Cunningham and his three sons, and he, indeed, was
their commander.

It was with a look of ruthless delight that Jonathan Moor descried his
old enemy at the head of the opposite party; and he said unto his
sons--"Yonder is the murderer of your uncle--Cunningham of Simprin, with
his three young birkies brawly mounted, and riding sprucely at his back.
But, before night, the braw plumes in their beavers shall be trampled on
the earth, and the horse will be lame that carries one of them back.
Stick ye by my side, and ride ye where I ride; for it will be music to
your mother's soul to ken that her brother's death is avenged, and by
the hands of her own flesh and blood."

The two parties rode forward and met each other. The Cunninghams and the
Moors were face to face. The two fathers sat as if fixed upon their
saddles for a few seconds, eyeing each other with looks of deadly hatred
and ferocity, and recalling the days and the strife of other years.

Though neither party mustered fifty, the onset was fierce and
furious--the struggle long and desperate; and, on each side, more than
half their original number lay dead or wounded on the ground. Amongst
the former were the seven sons of Jonathan Moor, and the three sons of
Walter Cunningham. The old men maintained a desperate combat with each
other, apart from the rest, until breathless and exhausted, both for a
few minutes paused, each holding the point of his sword towards the
other's breast; and they now looked once more in each other's face, and
again upon the ground, where they beheld the dead bodies of their sons.
Grief seemed to seek expression in redoubled rage--again their swords
clashed against each other, and gleamed in the sunbeams, rapid as the
fitful lightning. After a long and sore contention, in which both had
given and received wounds, they fell upon the ground together; but Moor
received his death-wound on the ground, and he fell to rise no more.

"I die!" he gasped, still grasping his antagonist by the breast--"I die,
Cunningham--with my children, whom I have led to death, I die! But,
remember, there is one left to avenge our deaths, and she will avenge
them seven-fold!"

Thus saying, his head fell back upon the ground, and he spoke not again.
Cunningham, disengaging himself from the dead man's grasp, went towards
the bodies of his children, and throwing himself upon the earth by their
side, he kissed their lifeless eyeballs, and mourned over them. His
grief was too intense, and his wounds too severe, to permit him
continuing with the army, and he returned to his estate near Simprin, to
watch over and protect his infant and only surviving son.

When the tidings were brought to Barbara Moor, that she, in one day, had
been bereaved of her husband and seven sons, and that the former had
fallen by the hand of Cunningham, the destroyer of her brother, she sat
and listened to the bearer of the evil tidings as one deprived of the
power of speech and motion. Her cheeks, her eyes, manifested no change;
but she sat calm, fixed, and entranced in the apathy of death. Her hands
remained folded upon her bosom, and her head moved not. The messenger
stood wondering and horror-struck, and twice he repeated his melancholy
tale; but the listener took no outward note either of his words or his
presence, and he departed, marvelling at the silent sorrow of the widow.

"I knew it, man," she exclaimed, starting from her death-like trance
after the messenger had departed--"I knew they would not return to me. I
told them, but they believed me not--they would not hearken to my words.
Miserable, deserted being that I am! wherefore should I live to mourn
with the winter winds, or make a companion of the fearsome echoes that
howl in the dark glens? Has not my husband, and have not my seven
winsome sons, than whom there were not in Northumberland seven comelier
lads--not to say brothers--oh, have not they, in one day, been snatched
away, and swallowed up from me, as a jewel that is flung into the deep
sea! But I will live to be avenged of their deaths, and my brother's
death; and their destroyer shall not dandle a bairn upon his knee, or
kiss its cheek, while mine are _all, all_ dead, and in a strange grave,
and even wi' no one near to pull up the noxious nettle that may be
waving ower their once bonny and snow-white bosoms!"

Thus raved the wretched and childless mother; and from that day she was
as one who had no fixed abode or resting-place; but, throughout the
greater part of the year, wandered to and fro, no one could tell
whither; and when she was found near the scenes of happier years, it was
as a lonely dweller in the clay-built hovel of which mention has been
made. She was a woman of a strong, perhaps it might be said a strange
mind; but her imagination was stronger--it was fevered, and early
tinctured with gloomy superstitions, until they became like a portion of
her creed and her existence; and her afflictions tended to increase its
morbidness.

The life of Walter Cunningham now became wrapt up in that of his only
son--the child was ever before his eyes, and he watched over his growth
as over a tender plant. His sole "care was to increase his store," and
lay up treasure for the child of his age, the youngest and the only
survivor of his flock. The number of his flocks and of his herds
increased greatly, and he was in the habit of attending the fairs upon
the Borders, to dispose of them. It was Whitsome fair; and he sent there
many of his cattle and his sheep for sale. He also attended it, and he
took with him his son, who was then a boy of from three to four years of
age.

It was drawing towards evening, and Mr. Cunningham, in concluding a
bargain with a person who had bought a number of his cattle, was
separated from his child. He had not been absent from the spot where he
had left him for ten minutes; but the child had disappeared; and search
was made for him throughout the fair, but he was nowhere to be found,
neither could any one give tidings of him. The anxious father sought his
lost child from booth to booth; and, with his friends, he also searched
the adjoining woods. He called his son by name, till, from far amidst
the trees, it was echoed back; but that cheerless echo, or the scream of
a startled bird, was the only reply. The disappearance of the child was
a mystery which no one could unriddle. His father, during the few
minutes that he was to be absent, had left him in charge of a servant,
who confessed having entered a drinking booth, and as the liquor went
round, he perceived not that the child had left his side. For many days
his father sought him sorrowing; but all search proved vain.

Mr. Cunningham returned to his house, a heart-broken and miserable man.
The last, the only being that he loved on earth, had disappeared from
his fond gaze, even as a beautiful vapour of strange shapes and gorgeous
colours, which we gaze upon in the heavens, and turning from it but for
a moment, we look for it again--but it is not. He refused to listen to
words of consolation, or even of hope; and for several years he left not
his house, but sat in loneliness, making a companion of his sorrow.

Now, it was on a dark and dismal winter night, seven years after the
disappearance of his son, when the hail rattled fiercely against the
narrow casements of his habitation, and the wind howled wildly over the
earth, tearing the branches from the naked trees, and causing the cattle
to crowd together for shelter--that a wild voice was heard singing a
wilder dirge, as if to the measure and music of the storm. The sound
came from an open shed adjoining the house, where the cattle had been
placed for shelter.

The servants informed their master that a strange woman, whose wits
seemed disordered, had crept into the shed, where, before morning, from
the fury of the storm, she would doubtless perish. They took a light,
and he accompanied them to the shed.

Before them a wretched being sat upon the straw, and the hail dashed
bitterly against her unshrinking, but time-worn and storm-beaten
features. Her grey hairs waved loose and wildly in the wind. Her hands
were clasped together upon her breast; and, as she sat, she sang the
wild and melancholy dirge that has been mentioned. The burden of the
strain was "Childless!--childless!--childless!" And again it waxed
louder, and a prayer for vengeance was wildly sung. She sat and
continued her dirge, regardless of their presence, and appeared as
though she saw them not. The tears gathered in the eyes of Mr.
Cunningham, as he listened to her dark words, and his limbs shook with a
trembling motion.

"Take her into the house," said he, "and give her food and shelter for
the night. If my poor boy yet live, he may be now perishing, with none
to shelter him."

At his mention of his lost son, her wild strain suddenly ceased. She
started to her feet; and, as she fixed upon him her haggard features,
while her grey hairs and the many-coloured rags that covered her waved
in the stormy wind, she seemed as though she were not an inhabitant of
the earth, but rather the demon of the storm.

"Ha! ha! ha!" she cried, with a hideous laugh, that made the beholders
and the hearers shudder; "shelter from you!--the murderer of my
brother!--of my husband!--of my children!--of my seven fair sons!--you
that have made me childless! Back to thy dwelling, dog; and, if it will
add another drop of torturing anxiety to your soul, to know that your
son lives, and that you shall see him, but never know him--learn that he
does live! He lives!"

"Where, woman?--where?" exclaimed the wretched father.

She hastily dashed a sort of lantern from the hand of the servant who
held it, and, rushing from the shed towards the open fields, again
laughed more dismally than before, and cried, "Where? She whom you have
made childless, leaves that _where_ to torture you for ever!"

The wretched father rushed after her; but, in the darkness, the noise,
and tempest of the night, it was impossible to trace in what direction
she had fled. As every reader must be already aware, the strange and
fearful-looking woman was Barbara Moor, the widowed and childless
mother. The words which she had spoken, regarding his son being yet
alive, increased the anxious misery of Walter Cunningham. It caused his
wounds, the anguish of which time had in some degree abated, to bleed
afresh. At one time he doubted, and at another he believed, the words
which the seeming maniac had uttered; and he made journeys to many
places, in the hope of again meeting her, and of extorting from her a
confession where he should find his son, or of obtaining some
information that might throw light upon his fate. But his journeys then
were as fruitless as his former inquiries.

We must here introduce another character to our readers, in the person
of Sandy Reed. At the period at which we introduce him, he was a
widower, between forty and fifty years of age, with an only daughter,
named Anne, a child of five years old; and his house was kept by a
maiden aunt, who was on the aged side of sixty. Sandy was a farmer near
the Reed water, in Northumberland, and as fine a specimen of the ancient
Northumbrian farmer as could be met with--a distinct race, a few samples
of whom were here and there to be found within the last thirty
years--free, careless, hospitable, happy, boisterous, unlettered, and
half-civilized. Sandy was one of these in their primitive state. He was
in truth--

    "A fine old English farmer,
    One of the olden time."

He was as hardy as the hills on which his sheep fed. He was ready at all
times either to shake hands or to break a head--to give or to take. No
one ever entered his house and went out hungry. He had a bed, a bite,
and a bottle for every one; and he was wont to say that he would rather
treat a beggar than lose good company. He was no respecter of rank, nor
did he understand much concerning it. He judged of the respect due to
every one by what he called the "rule of good fellows." Burns makes the
wife of Tam o' Shanter say--

    "Ilka horse ye ca'ed a shoe on,
    The smith and you gat roarin' fu' on."

But Tam had been but the degenerated shadow of Sandy Reed; for every
time he had to pay a visit to the smith with his nag, they would have

    "Been fu' for weeks thegither!"

When he had business at Morpeth market, his journey home never occupied
less than a fortnight, though the distance was not quite thirty miles;
for the worthy farmer had to stop three or four days at every hostelry
by the way, for the sake of company, as he affirmed, and the good of the
road; but he cared not much for going half-a-dozen miles out of his way
to add another house of entertainment to the number; and it mattered not
to him whether the company he met with were Roundheads or Cavaliers,
provided they could show the heel-taps of their bottle, and in the
intervals of bringing in a new one, wrestle, run, leap, or put, or
quarrel in a friendly way, if they preferred it.

But we shall record a portion of Sandy's adventures, so far as they are
connected with our story, in his own words. The following was one of his
favourite anecdotes of himself:--

"It was about three years after my wife's death, poor body," (he began)
"that I had been owre at Morpeth market, wi' four score o' ewes and six
score o' hogs. I was at least comfortable when I left Morpeth, but
noughts aboon comfortable; for I had only had twenty queghs[1] o'
English gin (which, thou must understand, in our part o' the country,
means Cheviot-made whisky), and seven o' them were public-house ones,
which wouldna count aboon three or four guid ones--so thou seest that I
had had noughts in the world to make me onything but sober. Hoos'ever, I
just thought to mysel', thinks I--drat! I'll away round by Elsdon, and
see what a' my cronies there are about. So, 'To the right, Dobbin, my
canny fellow,' said I to my nag--and it was as wise an animal as ever
man had to speak to; it knawed every word I said, and understud me
whether I was drunk or sober, mony a time, when ne'er a one else could
make out what I said. But the poor beast had had sae meikle experience
wi' me, that it knawed what I meant by a wink as weel as a nod. So I
said to it--'To the right, Dobbin, my canny fellow; thou shalt be
foddered at awd Betty Bell's t'night, and if a' be as it shud be, thou
shalt hae a rest t'morrow tee, into the bargain.' So Dobbin took away
across the moor to Elsdon, just as natural as a Christian could hae
done. Weel, when I reached Elsdon, and went into Betty Bell's, there
were five o' my cronies sitting. They were a' trumps, and they gied me
three cheers when I went in, for they knawed that I was out and out a
gud 'un.

"'Ha! Sandy!' said they, 'thou'rt welcome, my canny lad--we just wanted
you to make the half dozen. Hast thou been at Morpeth?'

"'Yea,' said I, 'and hae just come round by Elsdon to hae a boot wi'
thee.'

"'So be it,' said they; and we sat down in gud earnest, and three
glorious days we had, and would have had mair, but that we drank Betty
Bell's cupboards dry. The stars were just beginning to wink out as I got
my feet in the stirrups, and to confess the truth, I was winking far
worse than the stars. However, Dobbin took across the moors, and I was
in the high road for my home. How it was I dinna knaw; but I rather
think that I had fallen asleep, and that something or other had scared
the nag, and I had slipped out o' the saddle. I mind o' lying very cauld
and uncomfortable, half-dreaming, half-waking, and I daresay, more than
three parts the worse o' drink. I mind, tee, o' calling to my aunt as I
thought, 'Auntie!--do thou hear?--bring another blanket to throw owre
me, and put out that light--I canna get a wink o' sleep for it.' Then I
thought I found something upon my breast, that was like my little Anne's
head, and I put my hand out, and I said, 'Is that thee, Anne love?' But
there was no answer; and I gied the head a shake, when, my conscience!
there was such a frightened squall got up, that I sprang right upon my
feet, and, to my astonishment, there had I been lying upon the moor, wi'
Dobbin at my side, and the light which I wished to have put out was
neither more nor less than the moon! But what surprised me most of all,
and put me about what to dow, was, that what I had taken for my little
Anne that had creeped to my side, as she often did when I came home, was
nowther more nor less than a wee, ragged infant laddie, that had been
lying fast asleep, wi' his head upon my bosom! There wasna a living
creature in human shape upon the moor but our two sells; and how he came
there was a miracle to me! 'Laddie,' says I, where dost thou come frae?
What be thy faither, eh?--or thy mother? Be they alive?--or who brought
thee here? Come, tell me, and I will gie thee a penny.'

"But the poor bairn seemed more bewildered to find itsel' where it was
than I did, and the more I offered to speak to it, it cried the louder.

"'Why, thou needna cry,' said I, 'I winna eat thee; but how came thou
here?--and where be thy faither and mother?'

"However, I could get nought but screams and cries o' terror out o' the
little innocent; so I cried all round the moor at the very pitch o' my
voice,--'Holloa!--be there any one within hearing that has lost a
bairn?' But I am thinking that I might have cried till now, and nobody
would have answered, for it is my belief the bairn came there by magic!
I canna say that I have seen the fairy folk mysel', though I have heard
them often enough, but I am inclined to believe that they had a hand in
stealing away the infant laddie frae his parents, and laying his head
upon my breast on the moor. I declare to thee, though I couldna stand
steady, I was at a stand still what to do. I couldna leave the infant to
perish upon the moor, or I shud never hae been able to sleep in my bed
again wi' the thoughts on't; and whenever I had to go to Morpeth, why, I
should hae been afeared that its little ghost would hae haunted me in
the home-coming; and, if I would hae been afeard o' it, it is mair than
I would hae been o' meeting the biggest man in a' Northumberland. But if
I took it hame, why I thought again there would be sic talking and
laughing amang a' wur neighbours, who would be saying that the bairn was
a son o' my awn, and my awd aunt would lecture me dead about it.
However, finding I could mak naething out o' the infant, I lifted him up
on saddle before me, and took him home wi' me.

"'Why, what be that thou hast brought, Sandy lad?' asked my awd aunt,
as she came to the door to meet me.

"'Why, it be a bairn, aunt, that I found on the moor, poor thing,' said
I.

"'A bairn!' quoth she--'I hope thou be na the faither o't, Sandy?'

"'I'll gie thee my hand and word on't, aunt,' said I, 'that I knaw
nowther the faither nor mother o't; and from the way in which I found it
upon the moor, I doubt whether ever it had owther the one or the other.'

"My aunt was easier satisfied than I expected, and, by degrees, I let
out the whole secret o' the story o' finding him, both to her and to my
neighbours. Nobody ever came to own him, and he soon grew to be a credit
to the manner in which I had brought him up. Before he could be more
than seventeen, he was a match for ony man on Reed water or Coquet side,
at ony thing they dared to take him up at. I was proud o' the laddie,
for he did honour to the education I had gien him; and, before he was
eighteen, he was as tall as mysel'. He isna nineteen yet; and my
daughter Anne and him are bonnier than ony twa pictures that ever were
hung up in the Duke o' Northumberland's castle. Ay, and they be as fond
o' each other as two wood pigeons. It wud do thy heart gud to see them
walking by Reed water side together, wi' such looks o' happiness in
their eyes that ye wud say sorrow could never dim them wi' a tear. Anne
will be a year, or maybe two, awder than him; but, as soon as I think he
will be one-and-twenty, they shall be a wedded pair. Ay, and at my
death, the farm shall be his tee--for a better lad ye winna meet in a'
Northumberland, nor yet in a' the counties round about it. He has a kind
heart and a ready hand; and his marrow, where strength, courage, or a
determined spirit are wanted, I haena met wi'. There is, to be sure, a
half-dementit, wild awd wife, they ca' Babby Moor, that gangs fleeing
about wur hills, for a' the world like an evil speerit, and she puts
strange notions into his head, and makes a cloud o' uneasiness, as it
were, sit upon his brow. When I saw that I would have to keep him, I
didna ken what name to gie him; but after consulting wi' my friends and
the clergyman o' the parish, it was agreed that he should bear the
surname o' wur family, and my faither's Christian name; so we called him
Patrick Reed. But the daft awd wife came upon him one day amang the
hills, and she pretended to look on his brow, and read the lines on his
hand, and tald him, frae them, that Patrick Reed wasna his real name,
but he would find it out some day--that he was born to be rich, though
he might never be rich--and that he had an awd grey-haired faither that
was mourning for him night and day, and that he had adopted the son of a
relation to be his heir. When he came home he was greatly troubled, but
he was too open-hearted to conceal from me, or from Anne, the cause of
his uneasiness; and when he had tould us a' that the mad awd wife had
said, I tried to laugh him out o' thinking about it, and bade him bring
the bottle and take a glass like a man, and never mind it. But Patrick
was nae drinker; and he gravely said to me, that the face o' the
half-daft woman came owre his brain like a confused dream--that he had
something like a remembrance of what she had said; and he also thought
that he remembered having seen her. I wish the witch had been in the
bottom o' the sea ere she met wi' him; for ever syne then--though Anne
and he are as kind and as loving as ever--he isna half the lad that he
used to be; and there is nae getting him now to take a game at
onything--though he could beat everybody--for either love or money."

Such was one of the stories which rough, honest, fear-nothing Sandy
Reed told, in relating his adventures. Now, it came to pass, when
Patrick, the foundling of whom he has spoken, had been sheltered beneath
his roof for the space of seventeen years, that Sandy, having introduced
the cultivation of turnips upon the lowlands of his farm, proposed to go
to Whitsome fair, to purchase cattle to fatten with them, and also sheep
from the Lammermuirs to eat them on the ground. He was now more than
threescore, and he was less capable of long journeys than he had been;
and he requested that his adopted son Patrick, who was also to be his
son-in-law, should accompany him; and it was agreed that they should set
out for Whitsome together.

But, on the evening before their departure, as the maiden Anne was
returning from a visit to the wife of a neighbouring farmer, she was
intercepted within a mile of her father's house. The sibyl-like figure of
Barbara Moor stood before her, and exclaimed--"Stand, maiden! Ye love the
young man whom ye call Patrick--whom your father has so called--and who
resides beneath his roof. He loves you; and ye shall be wed, if I, who
have his destiny in my hand, have strength to direct it! And yet there
must be more blood!--more!--for I am childless!--childless!--childless!
We are not even yet!" She paused, and pressed her hand upon her brow;
while the maiden, startled at her manner, trembled before her. But she
again added--"Yes! yes!--ye shall be wed--the bauble wealth shall be
yours, and ye deserve happiness. But hearken, ye maiden, for on the
obeying of my words depends your fate. When your faither and Patrick set
out for Whitsome fair, request ye to accompany them--insist that ye do,
and ye shall return here a wealthy and a wedded wife; for she says it
whose words were never wasted on the wind. Swear, maiden, that ye will
perform what I have commanded ye."

"Woman!" said Anne, quaking as she spoke, "I never swore, and I winna
swear; but I give thee my hand that I will obey thee. I will go to
Whitsome fair wi' my faither and Patrick."

"Go! go!" cried the sibyl, "lest the dark spirit come upon me; and he
whom ye call Patrick shall die by his father's hand, or his father by
his. But speak not of whom ye have seen, nor of what ye have heard--but
go and do as ye have been commanded. Be silent till we meet again."

Anne bent her head in terror, and promised to obey; and the weird woman,
again exclaiming--"Go!--be silent!--obey!" hastened from her sight.

When Anne entered the house, her father, and her adopted brother, or
lover, were making ready for their journey. She sat down silently and
thoughtfully in a corner of the apartment, and her half-suppressed sighs
reached their ears.

"Why, what in the globe, daughter Anne," said her father, "can make thee
sigh? Art thou sad because Patrick is to leave thee to go to a fair for
a day or two? I suppose thou wouldn't hae troubled thy head, had thy
father been to be absent as many months. But I don't blame thee; I mind
I was tender-hearted at thy age, too--but Patrick knaws better what to
say to thee than I do."

"Dear Anne," whispered the youth, taking her hand, "what ails thee?"

"Ask my father," she rejoined, hesitatingly, "that I may accompany you
to Whitsome fair to-morrow."

"Nay, thou canst not go, dear," returned Patrick; "it is a long ride and
a rough one; and the society thou wilt meet with will afford thee no
pleasure, and but small amusement."

"I must go," she replied--"a strange being has laid a terrible command
on me!"

"A grey-haired, wild-looking woman?" ejaculated Patrick, and his voice
trembled as he spoke.

"Ask me no more," was her reply, "I must--I will accompany you."

"A dead dream," said the youth, "seems bursting into life within my
brain. There are once familiar words ready to leap to my tongue that I
cannot utter; and long forgotten memories haunting my mind, and flinging
their shadows over it as though the substance again were approaching.
But the woman that ye speak of!--yes! yes!--there is something more than
a dream, dear Anne, that links my fate with her! I remember--I am sure
it is no fancy--I do remember having been at a fair when I was a
child--a mere child--and the woman ye allude to was there! Yes!
yes!--you must accompany us! I feel, I am certain, that woman hath,
indeed, my destiny in her hands!"

"Gudeness me!" exclaimed Sandy, "what is it that ye twasome are saying
between ye? Is there ony light thrown upon the awd story; or, is it only
the half-crazed randy--(forgie me for ca'ing the poor afflicted creature
by ony sic name)--but, I say, is it only some o' the same nonsense that
Babby Moor has been cramming into Anne's ear wi' which she has filled
thine, lad? Upon my word, if I had my will o' the awd witch, I would
douk her in the Reed till she confessed that every story she has tould
to thee was a lie from end to end."

"Well, father," said Patrick--for he always called Sandy father--"let
Anne accompany us to the fair--she requests it, and I will also request
it for her."

"Ou, ye knaw," said Sandy, "if ye hae made up yer minds between
yourselves that ye are determined to gang, I suppose it would be o' no
use for me to offer opposition to owther o' the two o' ye. So, if thou
wilt go, get thee ready, Anne, my dear, for it will take us to be off
frae here by twelve o'clock t'night, for it is a lang ride, and a rugged
ride, as thou wilt find it to thy cost, ere ye be back again. I was
never there for my own part; but I hear that the sale o' feeding cattle
is expected to be gud--and there I maun be. So, get thee ready,
daughter, if ye will go, and hap thysel' weel up."

At midnight, Sandy Reed, his daughter, and his adopted son, with three
or four farm-servants, all mounted on light, but strong and active
horses, accustomed to the character of the country, set out for Whitsome
fair.

They arrived at Whitsome before noon on the following day, having
crossed the Tweed at Coldstream. There was one individual in the fair
who had some hundred head of cattle exhibited for sale, and that was old
Cunningham of Simprin. He himself was present; but he took but small
interest in the transactions, for he was becoming old, and was in
general melancholy; and a nephew, whom he intended to make his heir,
accompanied him, and in most matters made bargains for him and in his
name.

Now, Sandy Reed, after walking through the market, said the only lot
that would suit him was that of Cunningham of Simprin. We may here
observe that, throughout the day, young Patrick became thoughtful and
more thoughtful. Even the presence of Anne, who leaned upon his arm,
could hardly summon up a passing smile into his features.

After much disputing and sore bargain-making, Sandy Reed, at a good
round sum, became the purchaser of all the stock that old Walter
Cunningham exhibited in the fair. And when the bargain had been
completed, the seller, the buyer, and their servants, retired to a booth
together; the former to treat his customer with a bottle, and the latter
to spend the "luck-penny," which, on such occasions, he was wont to say,
would burn a hole in his pocket before he got home.

Both were men who were accustomed to drink deep--for old Cunningham had
sought to drown his sorrows in the bottle; and what would have been
death to another man took no effect upon him. Sandy saw him swallow
glass after glass, without his countenance betraying any symptom of
change, with vexation; for he had never before met with a superior,
either at the bacchanalian board, or at aught else. But, as the liquor
went round, the old men began to forget their age (and for a time, for
the first time, Walter Cunningham forgot his sorrows), and they boasted
of what they had done; and forgetful that each was above threescore,
they were ever and anon about to profess what they could still do; but
on such occasions, Anne Reed, who sat by her father's elbow, gently and
unobserved, admonished him.

Now, when Sandy found that he might not speak of what he could do, he
thought there could be no harm in saying what his adopted son Patrick
could do. He offered to match him at anything against any man in
Berwickshire, yea in all Scotland. The blood of old Cunningham boiled at
the bravado. He said he had had three sons--yea, he hoped to have said
four--any of whom would have stopped the boasting, and taken up the
challenge of his Northumbrian friend. But he said he had still a nephew,
and he would risk him against Sandy's champion.

"A bargain be it," cried Sandy, and the young men proceeded to various
trials of strength; but the nephew of Cunningham, though apparently a
strong man, was as a weaned child in the hands of young Patrick. Their
countrymen, on both sides, became enraged, and it soon became a national
quarrel. Scores were engaged on either side--knives were drawn and blood
spilt: and headmost in the fray, but unarmed, was Sandy Reed, striking
to the ground every one on whom his hand fell. But at length he fell,
pierced by a knife, by the edge of a pool of water; and his last words
were--"Revenge me, Patrick--protect my Anne--mine is yours!"

When weapons were exhibited, young Patrick drew one also, and he dealt
a wound at every blow. Just as he heard the voice of his foster-father,
he held the aged Cunningham by the throat, and his hand was uplifted to
avenge his protector's death by the sacrifice of the old man's--when a
loud, a hurried, and a wild voice cried aloud--"Hold, parricide!
hold!--he against whom your hand is raised is your father!"

It was the voice of Barbara Moor. The young man's arms fell by his side
as if a palsy had smitten them. He remembered the voice of the sibyl.

"What say ye!" cried the agonised old man--"who is my son?--how shall I
know him?" For he, too, remembered her and well.

"He whose hand has been raised against your life," she cried, "and on
whose bosom ye will remember and find the mark of a berry!
Farewell!--farewell!" she added--"I am childless--ye are not." She had
been wounded in the conflict as she rushed forward, and she sank down
and died. We might lengthen our story with details; but it would be
fruitless. In young Patrick old Cunningham found his long lost son; with
her last breath Barbara Moor acknowledged how she had decoyed him from
the tent, at the fair, where his father had left him; and how, when she
saw Sandy Reed asleep upon the moor, she had administered to the child a
sleeping draught, and laid him upon his breast. Vain would it be to
describe the joy of the old man, and as vain would it be to speak of the
double chagrin of the nephew, who lost not only his laurels during the
day, but also his hope of riches. Anne sorrowed many days for her
father; but gave her hand to him who, in compliance with her request,
his father continued to call Patrick; the fountain by the side of which
her father fell is still known in the village of Whitsome by the name of
_Reed's Well_; and, on account of the life lost, and the blood shed on
that occasion, Whitsome fair has been prohibited unto this day.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] The wooden quegh, used as a drinking vessel in those days,
contained rather more than would fill a wine glass.



THE SURGEON'S TALES.

THE DIVER AND THE BELL.


I have witnessed various states of the mind and body of the wonderfully
constructed creature, man; and have written down those cases where the
two mutually operate upon each other, in such a manner as to bring out
startling characteristics, which, by many, are scarcely believed to
belong to our nature. I am now to exhibit a case, where an extreme love
of mental excitement produced by extraordinary sights and positions,
gave rise to a species of disease, which we have no name for in our
nosology. The individual was a Mr. Y----, a gentleman of fortune, who
came to reside in the town where I practise. When I first visited him, I
found him a poor emaciated creature, sick of the world, dying of
_ennui_, thirsting after morbid excitements, yet shuddering at the
recollection of what he had witnessed. I saw at once that he was a
victim of some engrossing master passion, that had fed upon the natural
feelings and sentiments, till his whole soul was under the power and
operation of the presiding demon; and got him to give me an account of
the manner in which he became enthralled.

Even now, he began--and he trembled as the thoughts he was to evolve
recurred to him, even now, though it is fully two years since I was
placed in one of the most extraordinary situations in which man was ever
doomed to be, I cannot call up again the ideas and sensations which then
occupied my mind, without trembling, and endeavouring to fly, as it
were, from myself, and, by seeking for natural thoughts among natural
appearances and converse, rear up again the belief that I am a regularly
organized being, capable of again becoming happy among the sons of men.
But the thought still haunts me as a spectre, that I may be once more,
by some other cause not less fortuitous than that which then took me out
of the region of experience, precipitated, in spite of all my care, into
some new position, where the feelings which we are led to consider as a
part of our nature, may be so entirely changed that no new world we are
capable of conceiving any notion of, could possibly produce a more
extraordinary disruption of all the old workings of the brain. Oh! it is
a fearful thought, but one seldom entertained by the slaves of
experience. Changes occur daily to all men; but, in the general case,
each mere worldly position of ever-changing circumstances, possesses so
much of the form and character of some prior one, that we are very soon
reconciled to the idea of a variety composed of a mere mutation of the
mixture of old elements. The mind, looked upon as a microcosm peopled by
the representations of things that be--of the past and possible, of the
future and probable--is held to be our own little world, with which, and
all its inhabitants, we are or may be familiar; we forget that there are
recesses in it, or capabilities within it, that may contain or produce
things as new as striking, as horrible as if they were the creations of
an unknown power, out of elements we never saw or heard of. A sane
person, living and acting in the world, may be for a time mad, but with
the difference, that, while ordinary maniacs know not their condition,
he may be conscious of a thinking identity, while all his thoughts seem
to be imposed upon him by other powers than those that regulate this
sphere, and he is himself, what he was, but placed in a new world, and
acted on by new impulses at which he shudders, but which he is sternly
bound to receive and feel. What a view does this open up to the state of
man in this lower world!--how much is there in it of a cause of
humiliation and trembling. I am myself, from what I suffered, altogether
a changed being; having no faith in the stability of things; conceiving
myself placed among dangerous rocks and precipices, from which, in the
next moment, I may fall, I know not where; and eyeing with doubt and
dismay even the most composed and settled of all the circumstances of
life. He is a happy man who is doomed to pass from the cradle to the
grave, without having cause to _experience_ the faithlessness of
experience, who has only read of those dreadful disruptions of the mind
and feelings, that scatter the old elements, in order that some new
consolidating power may throw them into forms and combinations a
thousand times more horrible than all the creation of dark brooding
incubus.

Like most other men of an ardent and imaginative temperament, I was
dissatisfied with the dull routine of ordinary things. I used to feed my
fancy with creatures of the possible, and, without the aid of artificial
stimulants of the brain, often conjured up imaginary beings and
predicaments which had a charm for me, I cannot very well explain or
account for. I cared little for dreams, or the artificial combinations
produced by narcotics; they had too little of reality for me: I never
was satisfied with a mere effort of the fancy, where the judgment was
entirely in abeyance, or at least mocked by what it had no control over.
In the world around me, I found food for my appetite; whatever I saw or
heard of the _real_, I wrought upon in my solitary moments, till I
produced creations, that, being actually within the limits of the
possible, I could survey with the satisfaction that I was contemplating
what might or would be actually experienced in some future stage of the
world. Yet it is a fact--and no one who knows anything of morbid
indulgences of this kind can doubt it--that it is questionable, even to
myself, whether, upon the whole, I ever derived any real pleasure from
these moods of the mind. The imaginary positions I loved most, were
generally of the painful kind: the greater the sufferings of the
personages concerned in my various plots of combined circumstances, the
more was my propensity gratified. From this morbid state of excitement,
I was, of course, often precipitated, by the mere decay of the cerebral
energy that fed it; and when I was forced again to contemplate and mix
with the common affairs of life, I felt the contrast operate to the
disadvantage of even the most stirring incidents that are daily
befalling mankind. I was, indeed, much in the position of those who
stimulate the fancy by extraneous applications; all the boasted efforts
of judgment I tried to mix up with and control the workings of my fancy,
I found were but a species of delusive energies, to take myself out of a
class of dreamers I heartily despised. I was, in fact, just as complete
a visionary as they--with this difference,--I thought I required to
satisfy the condition of a waking judgment, which, after all, had very
little to do in the matter.

There was, however, one peculiarity of my character not found among my
class of visionaries. I was always anxious to throw myself into
situations that, being new and wonderful, might supply my mind with a
species of experience, from which, in my after moods, I might draw, as
from a real source, all the _substrata_ of my creations. I visited
asylums, executions, and dissecting-rooms; accompanied Mr ----, the
aeronaut, in his ascent from Manchester; when on the Continent, I stood
below the falls of Terne, and descended into that hell upon earth, the
mines of Presburg; yet I must avow that I was a coward; the very
experiences I courted, I often trembled at, not only at the time when
the objects were busy with my senses, and sending their influences
through my nerves to my brain, but afterwards, when I called up the
images to my mind, and threw them into the forms that obeyed the
creative power of my fancy. I was also, in some degree, peculiar in
caring little for the works of fictioneers; if I were to try to account
for this, I would trace the cause to the same disposition of mind that
led me to despise all artificial modes of stimulus. The fancies of other
men roused my scepticism; my own, founded always on experience, and
never going beyond the province of the possible, seemed to me to possess
a reality sufficient to satisfy the conditions of my deluded judgment.
It had been fortunate for me had I been less exclusive in my resources
of gratification; and oh, how dearly I paid for these my imaginative
flights, may too soon be made apparent to those who follow me in my
narrative, to be benefited, I trust, from my errors.

I had nearly exhausted all my stock of real perceptions, and was
beginning to be forced to recombine my old thoughts, so as to produce
new associations of the strange and wonderful, when I accidentally met
with Mr W----, a gentleman well known in the world of experimental
science by the improvements he made on the diving-bell, in addition to
the contributions of Rennie and Spalding. I was then living at E----,
and he was on his way to Portsmouth, to superintend the workings of a
bell that had been sent thither for the purpose of recovering the specie
contained in the ship A----, which had been sunk on her return from
South America. He described to me the construction of the bell, the
manner in which it was worked, and the many extraordinary sights that
the divers saw in the course of their submarine operations. I told him
that I had accompanied Mr ----, the aeronaut, in his ascent from
Manchester, and had often felt a strong desire to reverse my former
flight, and descend into the great deep, to see its wonders, and compare
my sensations with those I had already experienced in the air. He told
me that my wish might easily be gratified; adding that, although he had
never been beyond the top of a steeple, he could take it upon him to
assure me, that the feeling of vastness and sublimity induced by an
aerial ascent, was almost in direct contrast to the sensations of the
diver--the one being comparable to the effects produced by the enlarged
views of generalization, indulged in by speculative ontologists--the
other, to those that result from the inductive process of searching into
the physical arcana of nature. He was not aware of the bent of my mind,
or his comparison might have been made more suitable to the feelings of
one who cared far less for science than the monstrous things of
thaumatology; but he had said enough, or rather the mere mention of the
subject was sufficient to fire my fancy; and, after he left me, I
brooded continually on the subject of the bed of the great deep--that
world unexplored by man, where strange creatures obey laws unknown to
us, and feed on the dead bodies of those who relentlessly pursue them;
where the bones of the men of distant nations meet and cross each
other--those of the sons of science and those of the unlettered negro,
bound together by tangled sea-weed--orbless skulls, the receptacles of
unclassified reptiles, lying on the treasures that the living man sighed
to bring home, as the reward of his toils in foreign lands; and where
the very mystery of the unexplored recesses throws a green shadow over
the strange inhabitants and things of the earth, buried there for
countless ages, that makes the whole watery world like a vision of
enchantment. I had found a new source of unthought of reveries, that
would supply my enraptured hours with aliment according to my wishes.
The objects to be seen within the short space circumscribed by the bell,
or comprehended within the range of its lights, could not be many; but
there was the new mode, as it were, of existence--the breathing under
water, the living in the element of the creatures of the deep, all the
multifarious sensations that would spring up in the mind and body, as if
some new power of life and feeling penetrated to the very well-springs
of existence.

A letter from Mr W---- soon afterwards invited me to Portsmouth, from
which I was then not far distant. The divers had been for some time
busy; a great part of the wreck had been laid open, and some curious
discoveries been made, and treasures recovered, which inspired the
workmen with ardour. On the following day, I was at the scene of
operation. When I went on board of the lighter, from which the bell was
suspended, I examined the apparatus. The bell was then down, the men
stood holding the crane, and listening attentively to hear the signals
that were, every now and then, coming from the divers. At a little
distance was the apparatus of the air-pump, which several other workmen
were busily engaged working. The whole scene was calculated to produce
an extraordinary impression on a beholder. The sky was hazy; the air
thick and oppressive, from the heat of the sun acting upon the dense
medium of a mist that hung on the water; there was not a breath of wind
to ruffle the surface of the calm deep; the only sound heard was the
whizzing of the air-pump, and the clang of the apparatus by which it was
worked. There was nothing seen of the bell; it was far down in the bosom
of the deep. The chain, by which it was suspended, dipped into the sea
and disappeared, carrying the mind with it down to the grim recesses
where living, breathing men were buried. Clear as the waters were, the
eye could not reach the depth to which the huge living cemetery had
descended; a recoiling feeling, which made the heart leap, followed the
effort to trace the chain down, down through the translucent sea. The
red sun, struggling through the mist, was reflected in a lurid glow from
the surface of the deep. As the air-pump ceased for short intervals, and
absolute silence reigned around, a clang, unlike any sounds of earth,
came upon the ear--

    "As if the ocean's heart were stirred
    With inward life, a sound is heard."

It was a signal from those in the bell; it seemed as if the sea
trembled, and old Ocean spoke from the deeper recesses of his soul. The
sound struck the ear as something unnatural, or what might be conceived
to issue from a sepulchre when the spirits of the dead hold converse in
the still night. The signal was answered; and, in a short time
afterwards, there were heard three successive strokes quickly
repeated--clang, clang, clang. The quickness of the strokes, and the
strangeness of the sound, coming whence such sounds are never heard,
seemed the doom-peal of these men.

    "The sea around me, in that sickly light,
    Shewed like the upturning of a mighty grave."

But the sound told other things to the workmen: the wheel began to
revolve; after many revolutions, the waters began to boil as if moved by
a ground swell, and the large black engine appeared rising up like a
mighty monster of the deep.

When the bell was fairly suspended above the water, the crane was
pulled round, and the heavy appendage was wheeled over the deck of the
lighter. There were three individuals in it, seated high and dry upon
the _vis-à-vis_ seats. There were instruments of various kinds hung
round the inside, the uses of which were explained to me. The men told
me that a storm, a few days before, had so broken up and removed the
wreck, that it would be necessary to pull the lighter a little farther
to the eastward. It came out, too, with some indications of terror which
they attempted to conceal, that the dead bodies of those who had
perished in the cabin were beginning to make their appearance, now that
the hull was broken. Mr W---- looked at me askance, as if to ascertain
whether that circumstance would have any effect in making me forego my
purpose in descending; and, doubtless, he observed me shudder. But he
knew me not: the expedition possessed greater, perhaps grimmer charms to
me on that account: the horror that passed over me, as I heard the
statement of the men, was only an indication that my zeal was stirred by
the expectation of food for my depraved appetite.

"Dead men are not the most dangerous enemies of divers," said Mr W----,
with a grim smile. "We have sometimes greater reason to be alarmed from
inroads of the living inhabitants of the waters. It is not a week yet
since the fearful _tenth_ signal rung from the deep; and, upon the
machine being raised in great alarm by the workers of the crane, it was
ascertained that a shoal of finners (some of them fourteen feet long)
had passed close by the mouth of the bell, with a noise like the rushing
of a mighty army. But the alarm was greater on the side of the creatures
themselves: on observing the bell with the men in it, they lashed their
tails with fearful fury, till the waters seemed to boil in the midst of
them, and the whole host were enshrined in a thick muddy medium that
prevented the divers from seeing an inch before them. The sound,
meanwhile, was like that of thunder--snorting, lashing, and shrill
cries, produced by some action of their breathing organs, were mixed
together; and the confusion into which they were thrown precipitated
many of them on the sides of the bell, which being at the time suspended
from within five feet of the ground, swung from side to side in such a
manner as to rouse the fears of the workmen above before the signal
reached their ears. In a short time afterwards, when the bell was
raised, we saw the shoal making with great speed to the westward,
blowing, as they careered onwards, with a loud noise. I never knew of a
circumstance of the same kind before; and to-day you will not, I trust,
be alarmed by such visitors."

This statement roused my fears, already excited by what I had heard of
the dead bodies that lay on the wreck; but I adhered to my purpose. The
lighter was moved about twenty feet eastward, and the bell was again
swung round to be let down, it being resolved that I should accompany
the divers in their next descent. I watched the operations with an
interest derived from my expected position in the same circumstances
with these fearless men. The huge mass hung in the air, dangling over
the smooth surface of the sea; and the signal being given, was plunged
down. In a moment it had disappeared, and a heavy mass of waters rushed
on, swelling and boiling in the abyss, that seemed to have entombed the
daring adventurers. The rolling off of the chain in a long succession of
coils, and the disappearance of link after link, filled the mind with a
shuddering impression of the depth to which they were attaining. The
signal was again given; the air-pump began to play and whiz, and my
thoughts, burdened with the superstitious fear produced by the
narratives I had heard, took a new direction, picturing the men among
the floating bodies of the dead mariners, which, among the green lights
of the sea, would appear invested with additional horrors--the monsters
of the deep playing round them, or feasting upon the decayed
limbs--numberless crabs, sea urchins, and centipedes, crawling on
members once consecrated to beauty. The silence on board the lighter
aided my fancy in its gloomy revels; and when the clang of the hammer on
the bell announced the wish of the divers to rise again, I started from
a seat on a coil of ropes which I had in my musings taken possession
of--having been oblivious of the intervening half hour, during which I
had been shadowing forth the secrets of the green charnel-house, with
its surface lying smiling before me in the lurid glare of the still
enshrouded sun.

At last, I was called to take my seat in the bell. One of the men came
out to make room for me; but, before I entered, the crane was swung
round to the west side of the lighter, as the men reported that a more
likely field of investigation lay in that direction, where they had
observed a bright body which they took for a mass of glittering specie,
probably rolled out of the packages, and lying there from its greater
specific gravity. On mounting up into the bell, where the two remaining
workmen were refreshing themselves with brandy to recover the play of
the lungs, which, in the last descent, had suffered from a deficiency of
oxygen, I felt a creeping sensation pass over me, in spite of my efforts
to be calm and firm. This I attributed to the already excited state of
my fancy, from the long train of musings I had indulged in over the
green deep. In my ascent with the aeronaut, I experienced a sensation in
some degree similar to that feeling of lofty awe which accompanies the
expectation of the grand impulse of sublimity--[Greek: ton sphodron kai
enthousiastikon pathos]; but now the action of the heart seemed tending
towards a collapse rather than a swell: I felt already the chilling
effect of the cold element before I had descended into its womb. I
looked round me with a nervous eye, and threw the colours of my fancy on
even common objects. The dull yolks of glass placed round the sides to
give light, pale and lustreless--the iron tools, wet and brown with
rust--the black leather flasks of spirits--the big hammer used for
signals of distress--were all strange and invested with new characters;
and the two men, Jenkins, an Englishman, and Vanderhoek, a German, with
sallow countenances, rendered paler than usual by the effects of the
confined air, seemed rather to belong to the watery element from which
they had emerged, than to the fair and smiling earth. I attempted to
look unconcernedly; but the German, as he was lifting his flask to his
head, scanned me with a ludicrous gaze, and, whether it was that the
brandy had, in some degree, inclined him to a merriment that in my eyes
seemed like the grin of a demon, or that he wished to let me hear the
_ringing_ sound of the bell when the human voice echoed within it, I
know not; but he accompanied his potations with a stanza of Burger's
famous Zechlied:--

    "Ich will einst, bei ja und nein
    Vor dem Zapfen sterben
    Alles, meinen Wein nur nicht
    Lass' Ich frohen erben."

And, finishing the verse, he looked again at me, to notice the effect
produced on me by the reverberation of the tones, which, reflected from
all sides, mixed as it were in the middle, and loaded the ear with a
confused ringing noise, similar to what I once heard when nearly drowned
in the Thames. If the man had had any intention to increase my alarm, he
could not have taken a more effectual way of compassing his intention;
for his language--the true and natural diction of spirits--responded to
by the confused ringing echoes of the bell, and acting upon a mind
already enervated by the weight of the genius of superstition, appeared
to be all that was necessary to complete the alarm which I in vain
attempted to conceal.

"All ready, Vanderhoek?" cried Mr W----.

"Ja, ja, herr," responded Vanderhoek. "Pull away, Crane-meistern."

And as the men began to work, he dashed carelessly into another stanza
of his favourite ballad. I know not if you are acquainted with German;
but I cannot resist the desire of gratifying my own ears with a
repetition of the sounds of the thrilling consonants which produced so
great an effect on me on that occasion. His voice was rough and
guttural:--

    "Wann der Wein in Himmelsclang,
      Wandelt mein Geklimper,
    Sind Homer, and Ossian,
      Gegen mich nur Stumper."

I would have called out to the man to cease his singing, had I not been
afraid of being set down for a coward. The continued sound within
prevented me from observing the motion of the bell, as it gradually
swung off the deck; but the increasing novelty of my situation, as I saw
myself suspended over the calm sea into which I was immediately to be
plunged, fixed my attention, while it increased my nervousness. I would
now have retreated, had it been in my power. The calculated knowledge of
the process of submersion, and of my absolute safety under the laws of
hydraulics, lost so much of its power under the reigning influence of
the natural instinctive horror of being plunged into the womb of the
ocean, that I thought myself on the eve of being drowned; and the same
feeling I had experienced when struggling half-dead with the waters of
the Thames took hold of me by anticipation. Meanwhile, the German
started broken snatches of his song; the bell was gradually descending;
the space of pure light between the rim and the green surface of the sea
was growing every minute less and less. It was upon that decreasing
circle of air that my eye was most intensely fixed; it grew brighter as
the inside of the bell grew darker, till in a moment it appeared like a
bright line of gold-coloured light.

"There," said Jenkins to me, in a loud tone. "That is the last glimpse.
This is the most trying moment for inexperienced divers, when the last
beam of day is extinguished."

I could not reply to him. The circle had disappeared; the water was
below our feet; we were partially submerged. I looked up to the yolks of
glass, but the light that struggled through them was so pale and sickly
that I turned my eyes to the sea below me as a relief to my confined
vision. We were now fast descending--one by one the gas lights were
changed from their dim paleness to a green hue, the same as that of the
sea below us, and, in an instant after, I heard a loud whizzing, which
was produced by the displaced body of waters rushing impetuously into
the void made by the descending bell. The sound made me instinctively
turn my head upwards, as if I had been in the attitude of addressing the
King of the heavens, whom I had left in the regions of upper air. I grew
dizzy, and thought I would have fallen from the bench, down into the
bottom of the sea. My nervousness made me grasp firmly the plank, as my
only means of safety from what I conceived to be impending destruction.
Whether that sound then ceased, or my hearing became more obtuse, I know
not; but the first thing, after a few minutes, that I was conscious of
was the grasp of the hand of Jenkins, who held me firm by the arm, and
the guttural sounds of the German, as he still carelessly sung detached
lines of his ballad. On looking up, the green lights swam in my eyes;
but the whizzing sound had greatly ceased; and I directed again my gaze
to the apparently bottomless element below, which was as calm as glass,
and through which I saw, flying past the mouth of the bell, innumerable
fishes, reflecting, as they darted off, a thousand varied hues, in the
midst of the green medium through which they hurried.

The continued descent was made apparent to the eye by the progress of
the rim of the bell through the water, and indicated, in another form,
by the creaking sound of the crane on the lighter, which, rendered
indistinct by the medium of the water, seemed to come from miles
distant. Though partially recovered from the first effects of the
submersion, I had no proper idea of time, and there was no mode of
measuring the depth. It seemed to me as if we had descended many
furlongs, though we had not got beyond ten fathoms: I could not get quit
of the idea, though I arranged my thoughts in the process of
calculation. Jenkins had now let go my arm, as he saw that I was able to
sit without danger of falling; and the German was busy peering through
his bushy eyebrows down into the deep, as if he expected soon "to see
the land." I almost instinctively gazed down for the same object, and it
was not without an effort at discrimination by the power of my judgment
that I discovered myself seeking a vision of the bottom of the sea, as
if it had been a haven for a shipwrecked mariner in distress. While my
eyes were thus fixed on the waters--in which I could see nothing but the
swarms of fishes flying past, or reeling in the confusion of terror--I
was startled, almost to falling off the bench, by a loud reverberating
clang on the side of the bell. My first impression was, that the bell
had struck on a rock; and I turned fearfully to seek the eye of Jenkins.
He held the large hammer in his hand with which he had given the stroke.
He told me that he wanted more air, and that this was the signal to the
workers of the air-pump. His eye was fixed on the air holes, with which
the pipes communicated. I thought he appeared alarmed; he exchanged a
look with Vanderhoek, and the eye of the latter was soon also fixed on
the same spot. We were yet still descending, and the German, turning
round, pointed down. I followed his finger, and saw a thick, hazy-like
appearance, as if the waters were troubled, and masses of long sea-weed
brushed against the rim of the bell. Vanderhoek immediately seized the
hammer, rang two loud peals, and the motion downwards ceased. We hung
suspended in the sea, I know not how many fathoms down. A loud hissing
sound came from the air-valves; but it was every moment interrupted, as
if some part of the apparatus failed in its continuous working. The eyes
of both Jenkins and Vanderhoek were again intensely fixed upon the
holes; it was too manifest to me that they both saw something wrong in
the working of the air pumps, though they said nothing to me; and,
indeed, I was so much affected by their ominous looks that I could put
no question to them.

"Is there not an under current here, Karl?" said Jenkins, attempting to
appear composed.

"Ja," replied Vanderhoek; "see, there is von gut sign. The meer-weeds
are drifting to the east; and see, there is von piece of the wreck
moving from the west."

I looked down, and saw the edge of a piece of black timber making its
appearance within the verge of the rim of the bell; but, in consequence
of the small angle afforded by our pent-up position, we could not
observe more than two inches of it. Large bushes of confusedly entangled
sea-weed were brushing past, and, as they stuck about the rim, darkened
the interior so much that we could scarcely see each other. These seemed
of but small importance to Jenkins, who was evidently still unsatisfied
with the working of the pumps, and got upon his feet to examine into the
cause of their irregular and interrupted action. It struck me, at this
time, that Jenkins' question about the current had more meaning in it
than was made apparent to me: I suspected that he entertained fears that
the air tubes had got entangled in some way with the bell chain. His
efforts did not seem to produce any greater regularity of action in the
tubes; the whizzing noise continued every now and then to be
interrupted; at one time, it stopped altogether for about a minute. The
machinery was working reluctantly, and with a struggling difficulty that
was apparent to the eye and ear; but other proofs of a more decided and
fearful kind were awaiting us. I felt a painful load at my breast, as if
I wanted air; my respiration became quick and unsatisfactory; a swimming
of the head came over me; I could scarcely see my companions without
great effort to fix my wavering vision. The darkness at the mouth of the
bell continued to increase; the piece of the wreck was moving slowly
under us; the weeds were increasing. I could perceive that Vanderhoek
was also labouring for breath; Jenkins, relinquishing his efforts at the
air tube mouths, turned, looked wildly at his neighbour, and, staggering
down upon the bench, struggled to get hold of the hammer, which, when he
grasped it tremblingly, fell out of his hands down into the bottom of
the sea.

"In the name of God! what is the meaning of all this, Jenkins?" I cried,
in a voice that was choked for want of air.

He lay upon the bench, and gasped, apparently unable to speak; he looked
to Vanderhoek, and pointed to an instrument in the shape of a
mattock--shaking his hand, and muttering indistinctly, "Haste! haste!"

The sign and words were perfectly understood by Vanderhoek as well as
by myself. I looked on, with the intense agony of fear and impeded
lungs, and added some irregular and confused signs (for my voice died in
my choking throat) to the German to obey the request of his
neighbour--but these were unnecessary: the man himself saw the fearful
position in which we were placed, with as keen a perception of the
danger, and as anxious a wish to remove it, as either of us. He was,
however, struggling for want of air to a greater extent than either
Jenkins or myself. His face was swollen and blue, his mouth open, his
eyes protruding from his head, his breast heaving like one under the
weight of the angel of death. Yet he tried to combat the antagonist
powers of cruel fate; and, raising his body from the bench, he bent
forward to clutch the mattock, with which to give the clangs that formed
the signal to raise us from our water-bound prison. He had to reach over
the body of Jenkins, who lay coiled up, almost lifeless from
suffocation; then, in his efforts to get at the instrument, he fell down
through the mouth of the bell, and stuck fast among the tangled weed. At
this very instant, I heard again the sound of the air-pump whizzing in
my ears: it came like the music of angels; and, while Vanderhoek hung
fast by a rope that was attached to the bench, I felt the inspiring
power of the oxygen coming through the air tubes: my breast rose--my
lungs inhaled the sweet aliment--I felt strength infused into my blood
and nerves--and, raising myself, laid hold of Vanderhoek; but my energy
failed in the effort that exceeded my powers; he fell from my grasp, and
plunged overhead among the waters and loose weeds by the side of the
dark piece of the wreck, that still seemed to move, though almost
imperceptibly, to the east. It was a little time before he came to the
surface again, which satisfied me that we were still a considerable way
from the bottom, notwithstanding of the accumulation of algæ that had
deceived us into a contrary opinion. When his head again appeared within
the bell, I was struck fearfully by the horrid expression of his face,
which, pale before, now looked green and hideous through the wreaths of
weed that hung round his hair. The influx of atmospheric air partially
revived his energies for self-preservation; then laying hold of the
rope, he got a clutch of the bench, and clambered up. He seemed shocked
by some cause of terror, even greater than the danger to which we were
yet exposed.

"Shrecken! shrecken!" he muttered, with difficulty. "There is von corpse
of a woman there--there--down in the wreck!"

And he pointed to the black fragment of the broken ship that lay below
us.

"That is nothing, man," said I. "Give the signal, if you can. See, the
air-pump has stopped again. The men in the lighter know not our peril."

He attempted again to seize the mattock, and succeeded in grasping it;
but the small supply of air that had been sent us by the temporary
opening of the impeded tube, had been only sufficient to revive us
slightly; and the suddenness with which his powers were again
prostrated, by the recurring weakness that succeeded the cessation of
the supply of the natural aliment of the lungs, prevented him from
imparting strength to the signal. He gave one weak blow on the side of
the bell, and the instrument fell out of his nerveless hands upon the
bench. In a few moments more he was stretched beside Jenkins. I myself
now tried to lift my arms to seize the instrument. I succeeded only in
placing my hands upon it--I was unable to grasp it, and fell, with my
back on the side of the bell, powerless, and struggling, with open mouth
and heaving sternum, for what came not--a breath of living air.

We must, at this time, have been fully twenty minutes under water; and,
as it was our intention to have been an hour, there seemed to be no
chance of our being drawn up until we had all expired. I saw plainly, by
the noises that came from the tubes, that the men conceived they were
working regularly; and, so long as no signal was heard, they would work
on, ignorant of the dreadful situation in which we lay. I cast my eyes
on my companions. They lay like dead men; my only wonder, now that I can
calmly think of the subject, is, that they still kept upon the seats,
and did not tumble into the deep. I had scarcely any power of thinking.
I sat, writhing under the spasmodic action of suffocation, my eyes fixed
in the sockets, my brain swimming, and a burning sensation, like that
which attends a paroxysm of brain fever, shooting through the recesses
of thought. The recollection of that moment is even yet madness. The
bell was almost dark, and the green light that came through the yolks of
glass, fell faintly on the blue swollen faces of my companions, who I
thought were dead. I had still power to observe that there was a new
feature rising in that unprecedented situation of man's sufferings. Was
it possible, it may fairly be asked, that fate had it in store to add to
these agonies?

While thus I sat fixed immovably by weakness and despair, I observed
that the waters were rising visibly upon us, probably from the
absorption of the small quantity of oxygen that remained in the tainted
air around us. It had risen up half way between the rim and the seats,
and was gradually gaining upon me. A foot more would bring it to the
level of where I sat. My feet were already immersed, and the coldness
produced by the water operated in combination with the spasms in my
labouring chest to destroy vitality. The black fragment of the wreck
rose with the waters, and raised obliquely the side of the bell, which
may have been an additional cause for the rising of the sea within.
Through my glazed eye I saw, lying in a hollow of the broken raft, a
white figure--probably that seen by Vanderhoek when he fell into the
sea. By and by, it became more visible as the waters rose, and I saw
that it was the body of a female who had perished in the vessel. The
image of the apparition has haunted me to this hour, and shall do till I
die. A part of the dress which she had worn when she perished, still
clung to her--about the half of the skirt of a silk gown that had been
of some light colour, but had changed to a greenish hue. It was bound to
the waist by a sash or belt of a darker shade. Her bosom was bare, and
bore the same sickly hue of pale green; her face was placid; the eyes
were open; but one of the balls had been extracted by some reptile of
the deep; her long hair flowed among the weeds; and, hanging from the
lobe of the left ear, I saw a clear gem that shone with the brightness
of the stone called _aqua marina_. One of the arms had been taken off a
little above the elbow; the flesh at the end of the stump appeared
bloodless, and bleached to the colour of the skin; and limpets and other
kinds of small shell-fish lay on or adhered to the cuticle. My feelings
recoil from the recollections of the horrors of that apparition; and I
fear I may incur the charge of endeavouring to produce an effect by the
vulgar mode of harassing the mind with a minute description, too easily
effected, of what, for the sake of humanity, should be concealed.

There the body lay in all its green horror. It was rising gradually to
my side, within the bell, through the gloom of which the pale skin and
light robes sent a sickly gleam. I had no power to move myself away from
it. My body was bent so that my face was within a few inches of it; and
a slight undulation of the waters that were rising into the bell inch by
inch, imparted to the corpse a motion that made it dodge upwards and
downwards, as if it made efforts to touch my countenance. All was as
silent as death; for the slight agitation of the sea produced no noise.
I was gasping for breath; a short period would have put an end to my
sufferings, had not the air tubes again begun to send forth slight
hissing sounds, and a small portion of the food of the lungs came to
afford me sufficient power to contemplate, with greater distinctness and
increased agony, all the circumstances of my situation. I felt the small
boon instinctively as a relief: my breast again opened; I was able to
raise my head so as to be more beyond the touch of the floating corpse;
and as I lifted it, my eye fell on the flask of spirits that hung within
reach on the side of the bell. I now struggled to seize it, and
succeeded; but it was with many painful efforts that I got a portion of
the liquor poured into my mouth. The half-dead physical powers of my
system were, by this application, stimulated into something like
vitality, and I listened attentively, while my eye was still riveted on
the corpse that lay at my side, to the sound of the tubes. A motion of
the right limb of Vanderhoek attracted my attention, and raised a hope
that, if the air still continued to be supplied, he would recover; I
knew, too, that as the bell filled again with the atmospheric supply,
the waters would recede. But all my hopes were again prostrated; the
valve ceased; the entrance of the air was again stopped; I applied the
flask hastily again to my lips before the spasms of suffocation came
again upon me, but the power of the spirits seemed to have fled, having
no more influence over my system than a draught of water.

Thus was I again precipitated into my former condition of weakness and
helplessness--the choking symptoms of suffocation increased again in
intensity, and I was under the necessity to lie down on the seat, with
my head again on a level with the corpse of the female, that still kept
moving and dodging by my side. I was now as powerless to push it away as
I was before to remove myself from it. I felt it touch my skin. Its face
was close to mine--the pale cold cheek rubbed upon my chin and lips. The
glazed eye seemed fixed upon me, and the stump of the torn arm struck
upon me as the body moved. A higher undulation sometimes threw her
flowing hair over my eyes, where it lay till another movement of the
corpse took it off. I would have shut the lids of the protruding orbs
that stood fixed in my head, if I had had any power; but I could not--my
whole face being swollen, and the muscles as rigid as if in death. I was
thus compelled to receive the vision into my mind; and the touch seemed
to cling to the decaying sensibilities, as if it formed a part of them.
It is impossible that my sufferings could have lasted many minutes
longer if the air tubes had been entirely closed; but, as if it had been
determined by the stern fates that I should be suspended for a length of
time between life and death, there were kept up, at almost regular
intervals, two or three whizzing sounds of the entangled and obstructed
apparatus--an indication that small supplies of air were at these
moments thrown in upon me. It was only these sounds, the dodging of the
pale-green corpse, the touches of its cold skin, the light of its glazed
eye, the dark figures of my two companions, and the general gloom of the
bell, relieved slightly by the greenish-hued yolks of glass, that I was
sensible of perceiving. The internal workings of my mind seemed to have
ceased. I had scarcely any consciousness of a conception--the whole
cerebral functions concerned in thought and feeling being limited to
undefined sensation, that had only some connection with the power of
external perception.

Even this partial state of consciousness had died gradually away, for,
during a short period, I was totally beyond the reach of the power of
any external object. There is a blank in my recollection of these
touches and visions, which, though scarcely at the time coming within
the province of mind, have since been the most vivid perceptions ever
treasured up in my memory. Yet that period of all but total death was no
relief to me. The dim hazy vision of all around me dawned again, like
the shadowy renovations of a fearful dream that has sunk in sleep, and
risen again as the troubled fancy regained a portion of its activity.
These indistinct shadows of consciousness, as they came in the wake of
the physical power that felt the quickening influence of another draft
of air, carried more insufferable sensations in their dark forms than
had accompanied my more distinct perceptions. They were mere filmy
traces, broken and unconnected--exhibiting to me sometimes only the
darkness of the bell, sometimes the mere face; occasionally limited to
the eye alone, the stump of the arm alone, the ear-ring alone; sometimes
merely the two stretched-out forms of the men; sometimes the green deep
and the tangled sea-weed. Then the array of all the things around me
would suddenly flash upon me with a unity and a vividness that produced
one gleam of almost entire consciousness--in another moment
extinguished--and succeeded by another period of all but death--to be
again followed by a succession of the broken fragments of vision, when
the living powers were in a slight degree revived. I leave it to
physiologists and psychologists to account for these sudden exertions of
the reluming powers of the mind in the very lowest state of the dying
faculties. We see something of the same kind in the physical
economy--moments of strength in the most exhausted weakness--bright
glows of the taper of life in the socket of death--a collected unity of
power in moments of dissolution, as if the spirit made a last struggle
to assert its lost authority over the great archangel. I can speak at
least to their effects--a wretched boon of nature to miserable man,
where he can say no more than that he feels--that the boasted energies
of the soul seem to be all rolled up in one sensation of undescribable
pain.

I was awakened from this state of stupor by a loud clanking of chains
upon the top of the bell; and I heard the sound at the very moment when
I felt myself drawing a long breath. I had been unconscious of the
working of the air-pump, which must have been going on for some time,
though I cannot tell how long. The bell was replenished. I breathed
again freely, and became sensible. I looked round me, and saw all
things in the same position as formerly. The corpse was still by my
side, and my newly awakened horror made me struggle to rise. I
succeeded so far as to lean upon my arm, whereby I removed myself some
space from the dead body. The rattling of the chains still continued,
and I had the power of thinking so far, as to conjecture that efforts
were being made to draw up the bell. But new incidents were now in
progress. The air had revived Vanderhoek. I saw him stretching out his
arms, as if to relieve his chest, which was heaving violently. He drew
long inspirations, and struggled to turn himself on the seat. He
succeeded, and I saw his face, which was dreadfully swollen, and of a
dark livid colour. His eyes were wide open, and the light of life and
returning vision seemed to be illumining them. The first perception he
was conscious of was the vision of the corpse. His eye-balls turned,
fixed upon it, and recoiled from it; and strange guttural sounds, with
half-articulated words--"Shrecklich--shrecken!"--were wrung from him.
He looked wildly around him, shuddered, and grasped convulsively the
bench. Meanwhile, the rattling of the chains on the bell continued, and
a sudden jerk almost precipitated me into the sea. The bell had clearly
moved; the next moment it shook violently, from another effort to raise
it; it appeared to me to revolve; another sudden jerk followed; it rose
perceptibly; the water rushed in to fill up the void; the corpse of the
woman whirled round in the eddy; and I saw Jenkins' body fall from the
bench into the sea, and disappear.

Vanderhoek, who had now recovered his consciousness, uttered a loud cry
as he saw his companion sink. The continued fresh air seemed to
strengthen him far more rapidly than it did me, and I perceived that he
now made violent struggles to lay hold of the mattock. He succeeded
beyond my expectation; despair nerved his arm; he clutched the
instrument, and rung three successive clangs on the side of the bell.
These were probably unnecessary, as it was manifest now that those on
the lighter were doing everything in their power to rescue us from our
perilous situation. The chains still clanked, and we had ascended
perceptibly, though how far I had no means of ascertaining. There was
another stoppage, the German sat with the instrument still in his hand,
and his eye fixed on the body of the woman, which, from the continued
whirling of the water, span round and round, as if it had been placed
upon a pivot. After looking thus for a few moments, he started suddenly,
then reaching up his hand, seized wildly another flask that hung near
him, drained it to the bottom, and flung away the empty vessel. Some
time passed before I felt any further motion upwards; and the large
quantity of strong liquor that Vanderhoek had thrown into his still weak
body, operated upon him with a quickness that surprised me. He began to
get furious, talked incoherently, swung the iron mattock backwards and
forwards, and sung stanzas of the "Zechlied." This was a new source of
terror to me. He looked wildly at me as if he did not know who I was;
swore the oaths of his country, in which the words "teufel, donner,
blitzen," rang pre-eminently; used threats against me, as the cause of
all that had occurred to him and his companion. Then he looked at the
corpse, and, in a paroxysm of madness, struck the mattock into its white
bosom, accompanying his action with wild oaths. I expected every moment
that the next stroke would be on my own head, and sat in readiness to
seize the weapon, and, if possible, debilitated as I was, to wrench it
from his hands. My efforts to calm and pacify him were unavailing. I
pointed to the side of the bell, and, in broken accents, for I could yet
scarcely speak, told him to ring again; but he did not seem to
understand; giving me wild looks, showering broken oaths upon me, and
holding up the mattock in a threatening attitude, as if he would cleave
my head in twain.

During all this painful period the air was regularly supplied; but the
efforts of those on the lighter had not been able to raise us further.
In the midst of Vanderhoek's ravings, I thought I heard a sound above,
unlike that of the apparatus by which the bell was wrought. It was a
creaking, crashing sound, as if the bell were forcing up some heavy
piece of wood with which it was encumbered. The thought struck me
instantly that the cause of all our misfortunes lay in the drifting of
some large piece of the wreck over the top of the bell, which had got
entangled with the air-tubes and chain, and defied all the efforts of
the workmen to raise us. The creaking sound continued, and, mixing with
the whizzing of the air-tubes, the grating of the chain, and the
roarings and yells of Vanderhoek, made the scene more dismal than it had
yet been. I was in danger of my life--but momentarily redeemed, as it
were, from the precincts of eternity--every minute, from the fierceness
of the raving being beside me; and I could scarcely hope that all those
protracted efforts of the workmen would ever raise us from the immense
depth at which we were thus fixed by some great cause. I looked in the
placid face of the corpse, and wished that I were as far removed as her
spirit was from these complicated evils of the lower deep, and the
scarcely less remediable ills of the upper world. But I was soon roused
from my dark reverie: a louder crash than I had yet heard sounded over
the bell, and produced such an effect upon the excited mind of
Vanderhoek, that he roused his body suddenly, and struck a fierce blow
at me with the iron instrument he still held in his hand. He had
over-calculated his partially-recovered strength, and tumbled into the
sea alongside of the corpse. I hesitated whether I should aid him in
getting up. I saw him struggling and clinging by the garments of the
body, which he tore--so tender was the material--into shreds. As his
hold gave way, he clutched the body itself, which, sinking with his
weight, disappeared, leaving him to clamber for support round the lower
part of the benches. I could not see him drown, though I shuddered at
the danger which awaited me when he might recover his position. At that
very moment I distinctly felt the bell ascending; and a fierce whirling
and boiling of the waters rushing into the void, would in an instant
have sucked him down to rise no more, if I had not seized him by the
bushy hair of the head. In that position I held him as firmly as my
impaired strength would permit. The bell still ascended, and the buoying
power of the water kept him swimming, and made him obey my slightest
impulse. The submersion and the contact into which he had come with the
corpse had manifestly removed the effects of the liquor, and his
imploring eye was eloquent in its appeal to me to continue my grasp.
This I did while the bell continued to ascend; the light began to
increase in the yolks of glass; and the voices of the men in the lighter
greeted my ear. In a moment afterwards, I saw the light of the sun
shining red through the windows; in another moment the circle of bright
effulgence between the bell and the sea met my enraptured eye. A loud
cry of terror came from the workmen as they saw the body of Vanderhoek
swimming in the sea. They ceased their process of raising; and swinging
the bell to a side, some one got hold of the German, and I let go the
grasp of his hair. Two or three more turns of the crane brought the bell
on a level with the lighter. I sprung down upon the deck, and fell back
in a swoon.

When I recovered, I saw several people standing round me, among whom
there was an individual who claimed, for a time, my undivided gaze. He
was a tall, handsome individual, dressed in deep mournings. He had a
white pocket handkerchief in his hands, which he applied frequently to
his eyes; and he looked at me anxiously as he saw me recovering from the
effects of the syncope into which I had fallen. He was proceeding to put
some questions to me, when Mr. W---- interfered, and stated that I ought
to be allowed time to collect my energies before my mind was led again
into the subject of what I had suffered during the time we were in the
deep. I was, accordingly, assisted on shore; and, having been put to
bed, slept for several hours so soundly that I do not think a single
image of what I had seen and heard during that dismal scene occurred to
my fancy; but, when in the act of wakening, a confused influx of ideas,
all derived from the source of my sufferings, rushed into my mind, and
for a few minutes I conceived that I was still in the bell, that I heard
the sound of the air tubes, saw Jenkins fall, the corpse lying beside
me, Vanderhoek hanging by my grasp of his hair, and all the minutiæ of
horrors that then encompassed me; a commotion which comes over me often
yet, like a species of monomania, when I will start up, and cling to the
bedposts, and scream for terror. It being known that I was awake, Mr.
W---- and the stranger came to me. It was their object to get an account
of all that had occurred during my descent. I gave it as nearly as I
could recollect, and, when I came to describe the appearance and figure
of the corpse of the female, I saw the stranger change colour, his frame
trembled, his lips turned pale, and he rose and walked through the room
as if afraid to listen to my narrative.

"What means this?" said I to Mr. W----, in a low tone.

"The female whose body you saw in the bell," he replied, "was the wife
of Mr. G----. He stands before you. He was saved from the wreck, and she
perished."

"Good God! and I have already given a part of the shocking detail," I
responded.

The stranger heard me, as he paced the room, returned, and sat down by
my bedside.

"I am not satisfied that it was my Agnes," he exclaimed, in broken
accents, while the tears flowed over his cheeks. "There was a
waiting-maid along with us--describe her more particularly. _I can
listen._"

As he uttered these words, I could perceive that he contracted his
nerves, his hands were clenched, and over his frame there passed a
shiver that seemed to mock the resolution to confirm the mind by a mere
physical action. I proceeded to give a fuller account of her dress and
ear-ring, the character of her face and figure, so far as I could
discover them. Every word seemed to enter his very soul. He turned round
again. There was something he wished to say, but he hesitated, trembled,
and stammered.

"Was that fair form mutilated?" he asked, at length, "O God! I picture
my Agnes torn by monsters of the deep, and hideous urchins resting on
her bosom. Yet, why do I ask knowledge that must sit for ever on my
heart, and engender visions that in the hours of night must torture my
soul, to the end of my pilgrimage in this dark world?"

I hesitated to say more; the orbless socket--the torn stump of the
arm--the limpets that clung to her skin--the bosom pierced by
Vanderhoek's mattock, were all before me, and shook my soul. But why
should I have added an artificial misery to wretchedness like his? I
would not dwell on the subject. The stranger imputed my disinclination
to satisfy his morbid desire for information to its true cause. A
paroxysm of sorrow seized him. He rose suddenly, took his hat, and,
covering his pallid face with his handkerchief, rushed out of the room.
How often have I thought of that individual! I never saw him again; but
his image is for ever associated with the vision of that corpse, shining
in the sickly green hue of the medium in which it lay. The body was
never found; he never saw it. And was it not well for him? What would
have been his agony, to have seen the beloved of his bosom as I saw her,
to have treasured up in his mind the lineaments of that face, the
harrowing minutiæ of her mutilated form?

I got an account from Mr. W---- of what took place on board of the
lighter while the bell was down. It was a long time, he said, before
anything was suspected to be wrong, as the men often remain down for an
hour without a single signal coming from them. The difficulty of working
the air-pumps first roused their suspicions; and when they found that
the bell would not respond to the action of the crane, they knew at once
that it had got fixed among some part of the wreck. I need not detail
their efforts to relieve us; they are possessed of no interest; the
result is known; but who shall know, as I experienced, the horrors of
that period?

My patient, when he had finished his narrative, put his hand over his
eyes, and shuddered. I could do little for an individual thus situated;
but I visited him often, more with a view to the benefit of science,
than from any hope of rescuing him from the dominion of the power he
had, like Frankenstein, created, to satisfy a diseased craving of the
mind, and trembled at after it was formed, as he found himself helpless
and weak in his energies to exorcise it. The continued brooding of his
sick fancy over all the strange forms he had seen, produced, in a still
greater degree, a weakness of the mind itself, that is, a weakness as
regards the sane condition of the mind; for his imagination, drawing a
morbid _pabulum_ from his disease, grew stronger and stronger in its
capacity to invest the images he gloated over with more fearful
characteristics, till often, as I was informed, he started up in the
middle of the night and screamed out that he was in the present act of
suffering again all he had already experienced. But what struck me as
still more remarkable in this victim, was, that any change that took
place upon him for the better, in respect of his physical economy, was,
while accompanied by a partial release from the domination of his old
fancies, generally attended by a kind of new-born desire for another and
a new supply of his stimulant visions. This discovery I made one day,
when, as I felicitated myself on having effected a confirmation of his
nerves, by the application of a course of tonics, I told him that I
myself was on the eve of encountering all the unpleasant feelings
attendant upon the performance of a painful operation on a very
beautiful patient, whose life might too likely fall a sacrifice to her
desire to get quit of a mortal disease. His eye brightened, he held out
his hands, and supplicated me to allow him to be present, under the
assumed character of a surgeon. My refusal produced disappointment and
chagrin; and he often afterwards harped on the cruelty of my resolution
to discomfit him. He afterwards went to another part of the country to
reside with his relations; and the last notice I had of him was, that he
was seen bending his skeleton body over the blackened corpses of several
individuals who had been burnt to death in the conflagration of a large
dwelling-house in the town where he resided.



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF WILLIE SMITH.


If I thocht the world would tak the least interest in the matter, I wad
tell it the where an' the when o' my birth, in conformity wi' auld use
an' wont in the case o' biographical sketches; but, takin it for granted
that the world cares as little about me as I care about it--an', Gude
kens, that's little aneuch, thanks to the industry o' my faither, that
made me independent o't!--I shall merely say, wi' regard to the
particulars above alluded to, that I was born in a certain thrivin,
populous bit touny in the south, an' that I am, at this present writin,
somewhat aulder than I was yesterday. I dinna choose to be mair
particular on the point, because I dinna see that my age has onything
mair to do wi' my story, than the ages o' witnesses hae wi' their
evidence. Bein born in the usual way, in the usual way was I
christened--(_Anglice_, baptised); but hereon hangs a tale, or rather a
dizzen o' them. My faither's name was Willie Smith, my paternal
grandfather's name was Willie Smith, I had an uncle whase name was
Willie Smith, an' twa cousins whase names were Willie Smith; an' it was
determined that I should be a Willie Smith too, in order, I suppose, to
mak sure o' perpetuatin that very rare an' euphonious family name. But,
oh, that they had ca'ed me Nebuchadnezzar, or Fynmackowl, or
Chrononhotonthologos, or ony name in the sma'est degree distinctive, an'
no that confounded ane, that seems to me to belang to every third man I
meet. It wad hae saved me a world o' misery, an' disappointment, an'
suffering o' a' sorts. It's just incredible the mischief that simple
circumstance has wrought me--I mean, the ca'in me Willie Smith. It may
appear, I dare say, a harmless aneuch thing to you, guid reader, but, my
feth, ca' ye yersel Willie Smith just for ae twelvemonth, an' ye'll find
it's nae such joke as ye may think, especially if there be half-a-dizzen
o' Willie Smiths leevin in the same street wi' ye; whilk is a' but
certain to be the case, gang to where ye like. I ken I could never get
oot o' their neighbourhood, an' mony a shift an' change I hae made for
that express purpose. I maun confess, however, that the name's no
a'thegither without its advantages. Mony a scrape I hae got skaithless
oot o', when I was a boy, in consequence o' its frequency. In the first
schule I was at, there war three Willie Smiths, besides me, an' it was
thus almost impossible, in many cases, to ascertain which was the real
delinquent when mischief had been perpetrated; an' the result was, that
the wrang Willie Smith was as often punished as the right ane; but as I,
of course, was frequently in the former predicament, I am no sure that,
if the account were fairly balanced, I wad be found to hae been a great
gainer after a'. Latterly, however, I certainly was not; for the
maister, finding the difficulty o' distinguishing between the Smiths,
an' that the course o' justice was thus interrupted, at last adopted the
sure plan o' whippin a' the Willie Smiths thegither, whenever any one o'
the unfortunate name was charged wi' ony transgression. We were thus
incorporated, as it were, rolled into one, and dealt wi' accordingly, in
a' cases o' punishment.

My schule days owre, I began the world in the capacity o' shopman to
my faither, wha was a hosier to business, and carried on a sma', but
canny trade in that line. He wasna to ca' wealthy, but he was in easy
aneuch circumstances, an' had laid by a trifle, which was intended for
me, his only son an' heir. I was now in my twentieth year, the heyday of
youth; an', why should I hesitate to say it, a sensible, judicious,
well-meanin, an' good-lookin lad, but (I hesitate to say this, though)
wi' a great deal mair sentiment in my nature than was at a' necessary
for a hosier. How I had come by it, Heaven knows; but so it was. I was
fu' o' romance, an' fine feelin, an' a' that sort o' thing, an' wi' a
heart most annoyingly susceptible o' the tender passion. It was just
like tinder, as somebody has said--I think it was Burns--catched fire in
an instant. For some time, however, as is the case with most youths, I
dare say, my love was general, and was pretty equally divided amongst
_all_ the young and good-lookin o' the other sex whom I happened to see
or meet wi'; but it at length concentrated, an' dwelt on one object
alone--(this was a case o' love at first sicht)--a beautiful an' amiable
girl, wha attended the same kirk in which I sat. I hadna the slightest
personal acquaintance wi' her, nor ony access to her society; but this
didna hinder me adorin her in my secret heart, nor prevent me puttin
doon stockins to customers when they asked for nightcaps. In short,
before I kent whar I was, I was plump owre head an' ears in love,
distractin love, wi' my fair enslaver, an' rendered useless baith to
mysel an' every ither body. Never did the tender passion so engross, so
absorb the feelins an' faculties o' a human bein, as it did those o' me,
Willie Smith the hosier, on this occasion. I was absolutely beside
mysel, an' felt as if livin and breathin in a world o' my ain. This
continued for several months; an' yet, durin all that time, I had
remained content wi' worshippin the object o' my adoration at a
distance, an' that only on Sundays, for I rarely saw her through the
week. Whan I said, however, that I was content wi' this state o'
matters, I am no sure that I hae said precisely what was true. Had I
said that I lacked courage to mak ony nearer advances, I wad, perhaps,
hae expressed mysel fully mair correctly. This was, in fact, the case; I
couldna muster fortitude aneuch to break the ice, an' yet I didna want
encouragement either. My fair captivator soon discovered the state o' my
feelins regardin her, as she couldna but do, for my een war never aff
her, an' my looks war charged wi' an expression that was easily aneuch
interpreted. She therefore--at least I thocht sae--kent perfectly weel
how the laun lay; an' if I didna mak a guid use o' the impression I had
made in my turn--for this I thocht I saw too in sundry little nameless
things--the faut was my ain, as I didna want such encouragement as a
modest and virtuous girl could, under the circumstances, haud oot to a
lover. She looked wi' an interest on me, which she couldna conceal
whanever we met, an' I frequently detected the corner o' her bright blue
eye turned towards me in the kirk. Often, also, have I seen her sittin
in melancholy abstraction when she should hae been listenin to the
minister; but could _I_ blame her, whan she was thinkin o' me? Of
_that_, from all I could see an' mark, I was satisfied.

At length, unable to endure the distraction o' my feelins langer, and
encouraged by the wee symptoms o' reciprocal affection which I had
marked in my enslaver, assurin me o' my bein on pretty safe ground, I
cam to the desperate resolution o' makin a decisive move in the
business. I resolved to _write_ my beloved; to confess my passion, and
to beg that she would allow me to introduce myself to her. This
resolution, however, I fand it much easier to adopt than to execute.
There was a faint-heartedness aboot me that I couldna get the better o';
and a score o' sheets o' paper perished in the attempts I made to
concoct something suitable to the occasion. At length, I succeeded; that
is, I accomplished such a letter as I felt convinced I couldna surpass,
although I wrought at it for a twelvemonth.

Havin faulded this letter, which I did wi' a tremblin hand and
palpitatin heart, I clapt it into my pocket-book, whar it lay for three
days, for want o' courage to dispatch it, and, in some sort, for want o'
opportunity too; for if I sent it by the post, there was a danger o't
fa'in into the hands o' Lizzy's faither--Lizzy Barton bein the name o'
my enthraller; and there was naebody else that I could think o' employin
in the business. At length, however, I determined to dispatch it at a'
hazards. There was a wee bit ragged, smart, intelligent laddie, that
used to be constantly playing at bools aboot oor shop-door, and whom we
sometimes sent on bits o' sma' messages through the toun; and on him I
determined to devolve the important mission of deliverin my letter.
Accordingly, ae day when my faither was oot, and naebody in the shop but
mysel--

"Jock," cried I, waggin the boy in, "come here a minnit." Jock instantly
leaped to his feet--for he was on his knees, most earnestly engaged in
plunkin, at the moment--and, crammin a handfu o' bools into his pocket,
was, in a twinklin, before me; when, wipin his nose wi' the sleeve o'
his jacket, and looking up in my face as he spoke--

"What's yer wull, sir?" said Jock.

"Do ye ken Mr. Barton's, Jock?" said I.

"Brawly, sir," replied Jock.

"Weel, Jock, my man," continued I, but wi' a degree o' trepidation that
I had great difficulty in concealin frae the boy, "tak this letter, and
go to Mr. Barton's wi't, and rap canny at the door, and ask if Miss
Barton's in. If she's in, ask a word o' her; and, when she comes, slip
this letter into her haun. If she's no in, bring back the letter to me,
and let naebody see't. Mind it's for _Miss Barton_, Jock, and nae ane
else. Sae ye maunna be paveein't aboot, but keep it carefully hidden
under yer jacket, till ye see Miss Barton hersel; then whup it oot, and
slip it into her hand that way;"--and here I fugled the proper motion to
Jock. "Noo, Jock," I continued, "if ye go through this job correctly and
cleverly, I'll gie ye a saxpence." Jock's eyes glistened wi' delight at
the magnificence o' the promised reward, so far transcendin what he had
been accustomed to receive. He wad hae thocht himsel handsomely paid wi'
a ha'penny, and wad hae run sax miles ony day for a penny.

Having dispatched Jock, after seein the letter carefully buttoned up
inside his jacket, I waited his return wi' a painfulness o' suspense,
and intensity o' feelin, that I wad rather leave to the reader's
imagination, than attempt to describe. It was most distressin--most
agitatin. At length, Jock appeared--I mean in the distance. My heart
began to beat violently. He bounced into the shop; my trepidation became
excessive; my knees trembled; my lips grew as white as paper; I could
hardly speak. At last--

"Jock," said I, wi' a great effort, "did ye see her?"

"Yes," said Jock, "and I gied her the letter."

"And what did she say?"

"She asked wha it was frae."

"And ye tell't her?"

"Ay."

"And what did she say then?"

"She just leugh, pleased-like; and her face grew red, and she stappit it
in her bosom, and said, 'Vera weel, my man:' and syne shut the door."

Oh, what pen could describe the feelins o' joy, o' transport, that were
mine at this ecstatic moment! She had smiled wi' delight on hearin my
name; she had blushed when my letter was put into her hands; and she had
put that letter--oh, delicious thought!--into her bosom. The proof o'
her love was conclusive. There was nae mistakin what were her feelins
towards me. Jock's artless tale had put that beyond a' doot. I was noo
put nearly distracted wi' joy. But, if the merely gracious reception of
my letter was capable o' inspirin me wi' this feelin, what degree o'
happiness could be imparted by a reply to it, and that o' the most
favourable kind? (It could be ascertained by the Rule o' Three.) That
degree o' happiness, whatever it is, was bestowed on me. In the course
of the ensuing day, I received the following sweet billet by the
postman, written by Lizzy's own dear hand:--

"Miss Barton presents her compliments to Mr. Smith, and will be happy of
his company to tea, to-morrow evening, at six o'clock."

Oh, hoo I noo langed for the "to-morrow evenin at six o'clock!" And yet
I trembled at its approach, wi' an undefined, but overwhelmin feelin o'
mingled love and shame, and hope and fear. It was just what I may ca' a
delightfully painfu' predicament. Regardless, however, o' my feelins,
the appointed hour cam round, and whan it did, it saw me dressed in my
best, and, wi' a flutterin heart, stan'in at Lizzy's faither's door, wi'
the knocker in my hand. I knocked. I heard a movement o' the sneck
behind. The door opened, and my angel stood before me. I smiled and
blushed intensely, without sayin a word. Miss Barton stared at me wi' a
look o' cauld composed surprise. At length--

"Miss Barton," I stammered oot, "I am come, according to your
invitation, to"----

"My invitation, sir!" said Miss Barton, noo a little confused, an'
blushin in her turn. "What invitation? I haena the pleasure o' ony
acquaintance wi' ye, sir. Ye're a perfect stranger to me."

"I houp no a'thegither, Miss Barton," replied I, makin an abortive
attempt at a captivatin smile. "I took the liberty o' addressin a letter
to ye yesterday; an' here's yer invitation on the back o't," continued
I, an' noo puttin her ain card into her hands. The puir lassie looked
confounded, an', in great agitation, said--

"Oh, sir, it's a mistak! I'm so sorry. It's an entire mistak on my
part. Yer'e no the person at a' I meant. I thocht the letter was frae
anither gentleman--a different person a'thegither. It's the name has
misled me. I am really so sorry." An' she curtsied politely to me, an'
shut the door.

Ay, here, then, was a pretty dooncome to a' my air-built castles o' luve
an' happiness! It was a mistak, was it?--a mistak? I wasna the person at
a'! She thocht the letter was frae anither gentleman a'thegither! An',
pray, wha was this gentleman? A' that, an' a deal mair, I subsequently
fand oot. The gentleman was a certain Willie Smith--a young, guid-lookin
fallow, who sat in the same kirk wi' us, an' between whom an' Lizzy
there had lang existed the telegraphic correspondence o' looks an'
smiles, an' sighs, an' blushes--in fact, just such a correspondence as I
had carried on mysel, wi' this important difference, however, that it
wasna a' on ae side, as it noo appeared it had been in my case. The
other Willie Smith's returns were real, while mine were only imaginary.
I needna enlarge on the subject o' my feelins under this grievous an'
heart-rendin disappointment. It will be aneuch to say that it pat me
nearly beside mysel, an' that it was amaist a hale week before I tasted
a morsel o' food o' ony kind. I was in a sad state; but time, that cures
a' ills, at length cured mine, too, although it didna remove my regret
that a name so unhappily frequent as Willie Smith had ever been bestowed
on me.

Havin already described mysel as bein o' a susceptible nature, and bein
at this time in the prime o' youth, it winna surprise the reader to
learn that I soon after this fell in love a second time. The object o'
my affections, on this occasion, was a pretty girl, whom I met wi' at
the house o' a mutual freen. She was a stranger in oor toun, an' had
come frae Glasgow--o' which city she was a native--on a short visit to a
relation. The acquaintance which I formed wi' this amiable creature soon
ripened into the most ardent affection, an' I had every reason, very
early, to believe that my love was returned. The subsequent progress of
our intimacy established the delightful fact. We eventually stood on the
footin o' avowed, an' all but absolutely betrothed lovers. Soon after
this, Lucy Craig, which was the name of my beloved, returned to Glasgow,
but not before we had settled to maintain a close and regular
correspondence.

The correspondence wi' Lucy, to which I hae alluded, subsequently took
place; an', for several months--durin which I had made, besides, twa or
three runs to Glasgow, to see her--mony a sweet epistle passed between
us--epistles fu' o' lowin love, an' sparklin hopes, an' joy. I may as
weel here remark, too, that, on the occasions o' my visits to Lucy, I
was maist cordially an' kindly received by her mother--a fine, decent,
motherly body, an' a widow--Lucy's father havin died several years
before. Aweel, as I said, our correspondence went on closely an'
uninterruptedly; but I maun noo add, wi' a restriction as to time, an'
say for aboot five months, at the end o' which time it suddenly ceased,
on the pairt o' Lucy, a'thegither. She was due me a letter at the time;
for I had written three close on the back o' each other, which were yet
unanswered. In the greatest impatience an' uneasiness, I first waited ae
week, an' then anither, an' anither, an' anither, till they ran up to
aboot six, whan, unable langer to thole the misery which her seemin
negligence, or it micht be something waur, had created, I determined on
puttin my fit in the coach, an' gaun slap richt through mysel, to
ascertain the cause o' her extraordinary silence. To this
proceedin--that is, my gaun to Glasgow--I was further induced by anither
circumstance. There was a mercantile hoose there, wi' which my faither
had dealt for twenty years, an' which had gotten, frae first to last,
mony a thoosan pounds o' his money--a' weel an' punctually paid. Noo, it
happened that, twa or three days before this, my faither had dispatched
an order to this house for a fresh supply o' guids, whan, to oor
inexpressible amazement, we received, instead o' the guids, a letter
plumply refusin ony further credit, an' demandin, under a threat o'
immediate prosecution, payment o' oor current account--amountin to aboot
£150. To us this was a most extraordinary affair, an' wholly
inexplicable, an' we resolved to know what it meant, by personal
application to the firm. This, then, was anither purpose I had to serve
in gaun to Glasgow, to which I accordingly set out, wi' the folks
hunner-an'-fifty pounds in my pocket.

On arrivin in the city just named, my first ca', of course, was on Lucy.
But this wasna accomplished withoot a great deal o' previous painfu
feelin. It was twa or three minutes before I could rap. At length I
raised the knocker, an' struck. Lucy opened the door. She stared wildly
at me, for a second, an' then, utterin a scream, ran into the house,
exclaimin, distractedly--"O James, James! mother, mother! here's Mr.
Smith's ghost!" And she screamed again more loudly than ever, an' flung
herself on the sofa, in a violent fit o' hysterics.

Here, then, was a pretty reception. I was confounded, but stepped
leisurely into the hoose, after Lucy, whom I found extended on the sofa,
an' her mother an' a strange gentleman beside her--a stranger to me at
least--endeavouring to soothe her, and calm her violence. On the mother,
my presence seemed to hae nearly as extraordinary an effect as on the
dochter. Whan I entered the room, she, too, set up a skirl, and fled as
far back frae me as the apartment wad admit, exclaimin--

"Lord be aboot us, Mr. Smith! is that you? Can it be possible? Are ye in
the body, or are ye but a wanderin spirit? Lord hae a care o' us, are ye
really an' truly leevin, Mr. Smith?"

"Guid folks," said I, as calmly as I could, in reply to this strange
rhapsody, "will ye be sae kind as tell me what a' this means?" An' first
I looked at the dochter, wha was still lyin on the sofa, wi' her face
buried wi' fricht in the cushions, and then at the mother, wha was
sittin in a chair, starin at me, an' gaspin for breath, but noo
evidently satisfied that I was at least nae ghaist.

"Means, Mr. Smith!" said she, at intervals, as she could get breath to
speak; "oh, man, didna we hear that ye were dead! Haena we thocht that
ye were in yer grave for this month past! Dear me, but this is
extraordinar! But will ye just step this way wi' me a minnit." An' she
led the way into another room, whither I followed her, in the hope o'
getting an explanation o' the singular scene which had just taken place;
an' this explanation I did get. On our entering the apartment, my
conductress shut the door, an', desirin me to tak a seat, thus
began--"Dear me, Mr. Smith, but this is a most extraordinar, an' I maun
say, a most unlucky affair. Werena we tell't, a month ago, that ye were
dead an' buried, an' that by mair than ane--ay an' by the carrier frae
yer ain place, too, at whom Lucy made inquiry the moment we heard it?
An', mair than a' that," continued Mrs. Craig, "here's yer death
mentioned in ane o' the newspapers o' yer ain place." Saying this, she
took an auld newspaper frae a shelf, an', after lookin for the place to
which she wanted to direct my attention, put it into my hands, wi' her
thoom on the following piece o' intelligence:--"Died, on the 16th
current, at his father's house, ----, Mr. William Smith, in the 23d year
of his age."

"Noo, Mr. Smith," said Mrs. Craig, triumphantly, "what were we to think
o' a' this, but that ye were really an' truly buried? The place, yer
name, yer age, a' richt to a tittle. What else could we think?"

"Indeed, Mrs. Craig," said I, smilin, "it is an odd business, an' I
dinna wunnur at yer bein deceived; but it's a' easily aneuch explained.
It's this confounded name o' mine that's at the bottom o' a' the
mischief. The Willie Smith here mentioned, I need hardly say, I suppose,
is no me; but I kent him weel aneuch, an' a decent lad he was--he just
lived twa or three doors frae us; an', as to the carrier misleadin ye, I
dinna wunnur at that either--for he wad naturally think ye were inquirin
after the deceased. But there's nae harm dune, Mrs. Craig," continued I.

"I'm no sure o' that," interrupted my hostess, wi' a look an' expression
o' voice that rather took me aback, as indeed, had also the _triumphant_
manner in which she had appealed to me if they could be blamed for havin
believed me dead. This she was aye pressin on me, an' I was rather
surprised at it; but it was to be fully accounted for.

"No!" said I, whan Mrs. Craig expressed her uncertainty as to there bein
ony mischief dune; "isna there Lucy to the fore, lookin as weel an' as
healthy as ever I saw her, an'"----

"Lucy's married!" interposed Mrs. Craig, firmly and solemnly.

"Married!" exclaimed I, starting frae my seat, in horror an'
amazement--"Lucy married!"

"'Deed is she, Mr. Smith, an' yon was her husband ye saw; an' ye canna
blame her, puir thing! I'm sure mony a sair heart she had after ye. I
thocht she wad hae gratten her een oot; but, bein sure ye were dead, an'
a guid offer comin in the way, ye ken, she couldna refuse't. It wad hae
been the heicht o' imprudence. Sae she juist dried her een, puir thing,
an' buckled to."

"Exactly, Mrs. Craig--exactly," said I, here interruptin her; "I
understan ye--ye need sae nae mair." An' I rushed oot o' the door like a
madman, an' through the streets, withoot kennin either what I was doin
or whar I was gaun. On recovering my composure a little, I fand mysel in
the Green o' Glasgow, an' close by the river side. The clear, calm, deep
water tempted me, in the desperation o' my thochts. Ae plunge, an' a'
this distractin turmoil that was rackin my soul, an' tearin my bosom
asunder, wad be stilled. In this frame o' mind, I gazed gloomily on the
glidin stream; but, as I gazed, better thochts gradually presented
themsels, an' finally, resentment took the place o' despondency, whan I
reflected on the heartless haste o' Lucy to wed anither, thereby
convincin me that, in losin her, my loss was by nae means great. So
then, to mak a lang story short, in place o' jumpin into the Clyde, I
hied me to a tavern, ate as hearty a supper as ever I ate in my life,
drank a guid, steeve tumbler o' toddy, tumbled into bed, sleepit as
sound as a caterpillar in winter, an' awoke next mornin as fresh as a
daisy an' as licht as a lark, free frae a' concern aboot Lucy, an'
perfectly satisfied that I had acted quite richt in no droonin mysel on
the previous nicht.

Havin noo got quit o' my love affairs, my first business, next day, was
to ca' on the mercantile firm alluded to in another part o' the
narrative; and to their countin-hoose I accordingly directed my
steps--and thae steps, when I entered their premises, were a wee
haughty, for I felt at once the strength o' the money in my pouch, and a
sense o' havin been ill-used by them. On enterin the countin-hoose, I
fand the principal there alane, seated at a desk.

This gentleman I knew personally, and he kent me too; for I had
frequently ca'ed at his office in the way o' business, and on these
occasions he had aye come forrit to me wi' extended hand and a smilin
countenance. On the present, however, he did naething o' the kind. He
sat still, and, lookin sternly at me as I approached him--

"Well, Mr. Smith," he said, "are ye come to settle that account? Short
accounts make long friends, you know," he added, but wi' a sort o'
ferocious smile, if there be such a thing.

"I wad like first to ken, sir," I replied, "what was the meanin o' yer
writin us sic a letter as we had frae ye the ither day?"

"Why, Mr. Smith," said Mr. Drysdale, which was the gentleman's name,
"under the peculiar circumstances of the case, I don't see there was
anything in that letter that ought to have surprised you. It was a
perfectly natural and reasonable effort on our part to recover our own."

"A reasonable effort, sir, to recover your own!" said I indignantly.
"What do you mean? My faither has dealt wi' ye these twenty years, and I
don't suppose ye ever fand it necessary to mak ony effort to recover
your money oot o' his hands. I rather think ye were aye paid withoot
askin."

"Oh, yes, yes," replied Mr. Drysdale, doggedly; "but I repeat that
recent circumstances have altered the case materially."

"What circumstances do ye allude to, sir?" said I, wi' increasin
passion.

"What circumstances, sir, do I allude to?" replied Mr. Drysdale,
fiercely. "I don't suppose you required to come here for that
information; but you shall have it nevertheless, since you ask it." And,
proceeding to a file of newspapers, he detached one, and, throwing it on
the desk before me, placed his finger, as Mrs. Craig had done on another
occasion, on the bankrupt list, and desired me to look at _that_. I did
so, and read, in this catalogue of unfortunates, the name of "William
Smith, merchant, ----. Creditors to meet," &c. &c.

"Now, sir," said Mr. Drysdale, with a triumphant sneer, "are you
satisfied?"

"Perfectly, sir," I replied; "but you will please to observe that that
William Smith is not my father. He's a totally different person."

"What!" exclaimed Mr. Drysdale, "not your father! Who is he, then? I
didn't know there was any other William Smith, of any note in trade, in
your town. I did not, indeed, look particularly at the designation; but
took it for granted it was your father, as, to my certain knowledge,
many others have also done."

"Indeed!" replied I; "why, that is mair serious. Some steps maun be taen
to remedy that mischief."

"Without a moment's delay," said Mr. Drysdale, who was already a changed
man. "Your father must advertise directly, saying he's not the William
Smith whose name appears in the bankrupt list of such a date. Lose not a
moment in doing this, or your credit'll be cracked throughout the three
kingdoms. It has already suffered seriously here, I can assure you."

Having paid Mr. Drysdale his account, which he wasna noo for
acceptin--sayin that, if we had the sma'est occasion for the money, to
use it freely, without regardin them--and havin thanked him for his
advice as to counteracting the evil report that had gane abroad
respectin us, I hurried awa to put it in execution; and thinkin it very
hard to be subjected to a' this trouble sae innocently, and to hae, at
ane and the same time, a pair o' such calamities sae oddly thrust upon
me, as my ain death, and the bankruptcy o' my faither. However, sae it
was. But my business noo was to remedy, as far as possible, the mischief
that had been done by the unfounded rumour o' oor insolvency. Wi' this
view I hastened awa to a newspaper office, to begin the cure by an
advertisement; and, in doin this, I had occasion to pass the
coach-office whar I had landed the day before. Observin the place, I
thocht I micht as weel step in and secure my ticket for the following
day, when it was my intention to return hame. Accordingly, into the
office I gaed; and, whan I did sae, I fand the clerk in earnest
conversation wi' twa men, ane o' whom was busily employed in lookin owre
the way-book or register o' passengers' names. They didna at first
observe me enter; but, whan they did, there was an instant pause in
their conversation; and I observed the clerk, after he had glanced at
me, tippin a significant wink to ane, and gently punchin the other wi'
his elbow. Then a' three glanced at me. I couldna understand it.
However, I said nothing; thinkin they were settlin some private business
thegither, and, oot o' guid nature, wad rather wait a minute or twa than
interrupt them. But my waiting wasna lang. Before I had been an instant
in the office, ane o' the men cam roun to whar I was stan'in, and,
lookin me fiercely in the face, said--

"What's your name, sir, if you please?"

"My name, sir!" replied I, as angrily--for I thocht the fellow put the
question in a very impertinent sort o' way--"what business hae ye wi' my
name?"

"Oh, mair than ye're aware o', p'raps," says he. "An' it's a bad sign o'
a man whan he'll no tell his name," says he. This touched me to the
quick, an' I dare say the vagabond kent it wad, an' did it on purpose.
It was a wipe at my character which I could by nae means submit to. So
says I to him, says I--

"Freen, ye'll observe that I'm no denyin my name--I'm only disputin yer
richt to demand it. I'm no ashamed o' my name, sir, although it
certainly has cost me some trouble in my day. My name, sir, is William
Smith--sae mak o't what ye like."

"I should mak a couple o' guineas o't, at the very least," said the
fellow, wi' a smile; and at the same time catchin me by the breast o' my
coat, and sayin that I was his prisoner.

"Prisoner!" exclaimed I, in amazement, "prisoner! what do you mean?"

"I mean just exactly what I say," said the fellow, quite coolly; and,
thinkin he saw in me some show o' a spirit o' resistance, whilk there
really was, he touched me wi' a bit thing like a wean's whistle, and
winked to his neebor to come to his assistance, which the latter
immediately did, and catched me by the ither breast o' my coat.

"Come along," said baith, now beginnin to drag me wi' them.

"No a fit," said I, resistin, "till I ken what for I'm used this way."

"Oh! ye don't know, Mr. Innocence!" said the fellow wha first took hand
o' me; "not you--you're amazed, an't you? You can't suppose there's such
a thing as fugæ warrants out against you! And you can't believe I should
have such a thing in my pocket," added the scoonril, takin' a piece o'
paper oot o' his pouch, and haudin't up before my een, but oot o' my
reach. "There, my lad, are you satisfied now? That's the thing I walks
by."

Then, havin replaced the paper in his pouch, he went on, but now,
apparently, more for the information of the bystanders (of whom there
was, by this time, a considerable number gathered together), than for
mine.

"You're apprehended, Mr. Smith, by virtue of a fugæ warrant, obtained at
the instance of Messrs. Hodgson, Brothers, & Co., on the evidence of two
credible witnesses--namely, Robert Smart and Henry Allan--who have
deponed that you were going beyond seas; you being indebted to the said
Hodgson, Brothers, & Co., in the sum of £74. 15s. 9d. sterling money.
There's cause and ground for yer apprehension, Mr. Smith," continued the
fellow; "so, no more about it, but come along quietly, and at once, or it
may be worse for you."

"I'll see you shot first," said I. "I ken naething aboot your Hodgson,
Brothers--never heard o' them before. I owe them nae money, nor onybody
else, but what I can pay; and I haena, nor ever had, ony intention
whatever o' leavin my ain country."

"A' quite natural statement'; these, Mr. Smith," said the man wha first
took haud o' me; "but ye'll observe we're no bound to believe them. All
that we have to do, is to execute our duty. If you are wronged, you may
have your redress by legal process. In the meantime, ye go with us." And
again the two commenced draggin me oot o' the office.

"May I be hanged if I do, then!" said I, passionately; for my blood was
noo gettin up. It wad hae been far better for me, in the end, if I had
taen things calmly--for I could easily hae proven my identity, and, of
course, the messengers' error in apprehendin me; but my prudence and
patience baith gave way before the strong feelin o' resentment, which a
sense o' the injustice I was sufferin had excited.

"May I be hanged if I do, then!" said I; and wi' that I hit ane o' the
fellows a wap on the face that sent him staggerin to the other side o'
the office. Havin done this, I turned roun', quick as thocht, and
collared the ane that still held by me, a proceedin which was
immediately followed by a wrestle o' the most ferocious and determined
character. I was the stouter man o' the twa, however, and wad sune hae
laid my antagonist on the breadth o' his back, but for his neebor, who,
now rendered furious by the blow which I had gien him, sprang on me like
a tiger; and, between them I was borne to the groun', the twa fa'in on
the tap o' me. Here, again, however, the battle was renewed. I continued
to kick and box richt and left, wi' a vigour that made me still
formidable to my enemies; while they, to do them justice, lent me kicks
and blows in return, that nearly ca'ed the life out o' me. There, then,
were we a' three rowin on the floor, sometimes ane uppermost an'
sometimes anither, wi' oor faces streamin o' blude, and oor coats a'
torn in the most ruinous manner. It was an awfu' scene, and such a ane
as hadna been seen often in that office before, I dare say. As micht be
expected, we had a numerous audience, too The office was filled wi'
folk, the door was choked up wi' them, and there was an immense crowd in
the street, and clusters at the window, a' tryin to get a sicht or a
knowledge o' what was proceedin within. Baith the commotion and the
concourse, in fact, was tremendous--just appallin to look at. But this
was a state o' matters that couldna last lang. My assailants havin ca'ed
in the assistance o' a couple o' great, big, stout fallows o' porters, I
was finally pinned to the floor, whan my hauns bein secured by a pair o'
handcuffs, I was raised to my feet, again collared by the twa officers,
and a cry havin been made to clear the road, I was led oot o' the office
in procession; a messenger on each side o' me, the twa porters ahint,
and ane before, openin a passage through the crowd, whose remarks, as I
gaed alang, were highly flatterin to me:--

"What an awfu'-like ruffian!" said ane. "What a murderous-lookin
scoonril!" said anither.

"What's he been doin?" inquired a third.

"Robbin the mail-coach," answered a fourth; "and they say he has
murdered the guard an' twa passengers."

"Oh! the monster!" exclaimed an auld wife, whom this piece of accurate
information had reached; "the savage, bloody monster! Was ever the like
heard tell o'! The gallows is owre guid for him."

In short, I heard mysel, as I was led alang, charged wi' every crime
that human wickedness is capable o', although I perceived that the
robbery o' the mail, and the murders o' the guard and passengers, was
the favourite and prevailing notion; a notion which, I presumed, had
arisen frae the circumstance o' the row's havin had its origin in a
coach office. Some reports hae been waur founded. As to the reflections
on my appearance, I couldna reasonably quarrel wi' them: for, really, it
was far frae bein prepossessin; and o' this I was quite sensible. My
coat was hingin in tatters aboot me; my hat was crushed oot o' a' shape;
and my face was hideously disfigured wi' blude, and wi' unnatural
swellins frae the blows I had gotten.

Wi' the reflections on my appearance, then, as I hae said, greatly
improved as it was by the display o' my handcuffs, I couldna justly fin'
faut. By-and-by, however, we reached the jail; and into ane o' its
strongest and best secured apartments was I immediately conducted. Havin
seen me fairly lodged here, my captors took their leave o' me; ane o'
them sayin, as he quitted the cell, and shakin his head as he spoke--

"If ye don't rue this job, friend, my name's not what it is--that's
all."

The door bein noo closed on me, an' a fine opportunity bein thus
presented me for indulgin in a little reflection on my present
circumstances an' situation, I accordingly began to do so; but I fand it
by nae means a very agreeable employment. Amang ither things, it struck
me that I had exposed mysel' sadly, and very unnecessarily, since I
could easily, as I believe I hae before remarked, hae shown that they
had put the saddle on the wrong horse; but I had allowed my passion to
get the better o' me, an' instead o' takin the richt and prudent course
o' establishin this by a quiet procedure, had resisted, an' foucht like
a thief taen in the fact. However, the business was noo hoo to mend the
matter, an' it was some time before I could discover precisely hoo this
was to be done--at least wi' a' that expedition I wad hae liked. At last
it struck me that I couldna do better than intimate my situation to Mr.
Drysdale, an' request o' him to come an' see me. This, then, I
immediately did--the jailor furnishin me wi' paper, pen, an' ink, an'
undertakin to have my letter delivered as directed, which was faithfully
executed; for, in less than half-an-hour, Mr. Drysdale, laughin' like to
split his sides, entered my cell.

"What's this, Mr. Smith?--what's this has happened ye, man?" said he,
when the laughing would let him speak. "Ye see what it is to hae a bad
name. I tell't ye there was mair than me mistaen aboot this affair. It's
a most unlucky name yours."

"Confound the name, sir!" said I. "It's like to be baith the ruin an'
the death o' me. But what can I do? I canna get quit o't, an' maun just
fecht oot wi't the best way I can."

I wasna at first a'thegither in such a laughin humour as my visitor, yet
I couldna help joinin him in the lang run, whan we took twa or three
guid roun's o't, an' then proceeded to business. Mr. Drysdale said he
wad bail me to ony amount, if that were necessary to my immediate
liberation; but proposed that he should, in the first place, call on
Hodgson, Brothers, whom he knew intimately, an' state the case to them.
This he accordingly did; an', in aboot a quarter o' an hour, returned to
me in the jail, wi' ane o' thae gentlemen alang wi' him. Mr. Hodgson
expressed the utmost concern for what had happened, an' offered me ony
reasonable recompense I might name for the injury an' detention to which
I had been subjected. This, however, I declined, but expressed a wish
that the messengers wha had apprehended me micht be keel-hauled a bit
for the rashness o' their proceedins.

"As to that, Mr. Smith," said Mr. Hodgson, smilin, "I think you had as
well 'let a-be for let a-be' there. They have been sadly mauled by you,
I understand, and it strikes me to be a drawn battle between you."

"Weel, weel," said I, laughin, "e'en let it be sae, then; but the
scoonrils ocht to be mair carefu' wha they lay their hands on."

"They ought, no doubt," said Mr. Hodgson; "but, in this case there was
really some excuse for them. Our debtor, whom I dare say you know very
well, is a young man of the name of William Smith--a grocer in your own
town, who began business there some months ago. Now, he has failed, as I
dare say you know, also--has shut shop--swindled his creditors--and fled
the country. This was the fellow we wanted to catch; and, you being from
the same place, of the same name, and of, as I take it, about the same
age, it is really no great wonder that the men were deceived."

I allowed that it was not; but said it was rather hard that the sins o'
a' the Willie Smiths in the country should be visited on my shouthers.
"There's no a piece o' villany done by, nor a misfortune happens to a
Willie Smith," said I, "but it's fastened on me. It's really hard."

My twa visitors laughingly admitted the hardship o' the case, but
advised me to be as patient under't as I could--a wishy-washy aneuch
sort o' advice; but it was a', I dare say, they had to offer.

I need hardly say that the jail doors were noo instantly thrown open to
me, nor that I lost nae time in availin mysel' o' the liberty to which
they invited. The first thing I did on gettin oot was to provide mysel
wi' a new coat and hat; for, until this was done, I wasna in a fit state
to be seen, an' couldna think o' walkin the streets in the torn-down and
blackguard lookin condition in which my captors had left me. Havin,
however, improved my outward man a little, and brushed up my face a
bit--but on which, notwithstandin a' I could do, there continued to
remain some ugly traces o' my late adventure--I thocht I couldna do
better, as I had noo a lang idle evenin before me, than ca' on twa or
three auld and intimate acquaintances o' our family that resided in
Glasgow. In pursuance o' this resolution, I began wi' some decent folks
o' the name o' Robertson, distant relations o' our ain, and from whom I
had, on the occasion o' former visits, o' which I had made twa or three,
met wi' the most kind an' cordial welcome; and o' this I naturally
expected a repetition in the present instance. What was my surprise and
mortification, then, whan I fand it quite the reverse--most markedly
sae!

"Oh, William, is that you!" said Mrs. Robertson, drily, and wi' a degree
o' stiffness and cauldness in her manner which I couldna understan'.
"_Will_ ye stap in a bit?" she added, hesitatingly and evidently wi'
reluctance. Weel, she used to fling her arms aboot me, and pu' me in.
But it was noo, "_Will_ ye step in?" I did, but sune saw there was
something wrang; but what it was I couldna conjecture. I overheard her
husband and dochters _refusin_ Mrs. Robertson's request to them to come
ben and see me. They used to a' rush aboot me, like a torrent. In short,
I perceived that I was a very unwelcome visitor, and that a speedy
retreat on my part wad be highly approved of. Amongst other hints o'
this, was Mrs. Robertson's scarcely speakin three words to me a' the
time I sat wi' her, and no makin ony offer o' the sma'est refreshment.
Her behaviour to me was a'thegither exceedinly strange and mysterious;
but what struck me as maist singular, was her aye speakin o' my faither
wi' a compassionatin air. "Puir, puir man!" she wad say; "Gude help us!
it's a weary warl' this! Ane canna tell what their weans are to come to.
Muckle grief and sorrow, I'm sure, do they bring to parents' hearts."
These truths bein obvious and general, I couldna deny them, although I
was greatly at a loss to see ony particular occasion for advertin to
them at the time. Wearied oot at length wi' Mrs. Robertson's truisms,
and disgusted wi' her incivility and uncourteous manner to me, I took up
my hat, and decamped, wi' as little ceremony as I had been received. I
was, in truth, baith provoked and perplexed by her extraordinary
treatment o' me, and couldna at a' conjecture to what it could be owin.

But let the reader fancy, if he can, what was my surprise when I fand
mysel' treated in almost precisely the same way in every ither hoose at
which I ca'ed subsequently to this. There was, in every instance, the
same astonishment expressed at seein me, the same cauldness exhibited,
and the same mysterious silence maintained durin my visit. I was
perfectly confounded at it; but couldna, of course, ask ony explanation,
as there was naething sae palpably oot o' joint as to admit o't. Havin
made my roun' o' ca's wi' the success and comfort I hae mentioned, I
returned to my quarters, and, orderin a tumbler o' toddy, sat down
amongst a heap o' newspapers, to amuse mysel' the best way I could till
bedtime. The first paper I took up was a Glasgow one, published that
day. I skimmed it ower till I cam to a paragraph wi' the followin takin
title--"Desperate Ruffian." This catched my e'e at ance; for I was aye
fond o' readin aboot desperate ruffians, and horrible accidents, and
atrocious murders, &c. &c. "So," says I to mysel', "here's a feast." And
I threw up my legs on the firm on which I was seated, drew the candle
nearer me, took a mouthfu' oot o' my tumbler, and made every
preparation, in short, for a quiet, deliberate, comfortable read; and
this I got, to my heart's content. The paragraph, which began wi'
"Desperate Ruffian," went on thus:--

"This morning, a scene, at once one of the most disgraceful and
ludicrous which we have witnessed for some time, took place in one of
the coach-offices of this city. A fellow of the name of William Smith, a
young man of about twenty-three or twenty-four years of age, from ----,
who is charged with various acts of swindling, and is well known as a
person of infamous character, was apprehended on a fugæ warrant, by our
two active criminal officers, Messrs. Rob and Ramage, in the ----
coach-office, just as he was about to take out a ticket for Greenock,
whither he intended to proceed for the purpose of embarking for America
with his ill-got gains. The ruffian, on being first apprehended, denied
his name; but, finding this not avail him, he violently assaulted the
officers in the execution of their duty, and, being a powerful man, it
was not until those very deserving men had suffered severely in their
persons, and obtained the aid of the bystanders, that he was finally
secured. This, however, was ultimately accomplished, when the fellow
being securely handcuffed, was conducted to jail, and lodged in one of
the strongest cells, where he will, of course, remain until brought to
trial. There is a rumour that Smith has been concerned in some late
coach robbery; but we have heard no particulars, and cannot vouch for
its truth, although, from his appearance, we should suppose him to be
perfectly capable of anything."

Weel, guid reader, what do ye think o' that? Wasna that a pretty morsel
for me to swallow? It is true that I needna hae felt very uneasy aboot
the description o' a character that didna belang to me; but it maun be
observed that there was here that mixture o' fact and fiction which, in
cases o' rumour, it is sae difficult to separate. Moreover, I was
certainly the person spoken o', however erroneously represented; there
was nae denyin that. I was mingled up wi' the business, and the very
process o' establishin my innocence was certain to gie me a most
unpleasant notoriety; and was likely, besides, no to be in every case
successful. In short, I fand, tak it ony way I liked, that it couldna be
reckoned otherwise than as a most unlucky affair. It was noo, too, that
I began to smell a rat regardin the treatment I had met wi' frae the
different acquaintances I had ca'ed upon. They had either seen the
paragraph which I hae just quoted, or had heard o't. The same belief
explained to me the cause o' Mrs. Robertson's reflections on the risin
generation o' mankind, and her extraordinary sympathy for my father.
There could be nae doot o't--and thus was the mystery solved. Of this I
was still further satisfied, when, on takin up anither Glasgow paper o'
the same day, I fand that it also contained an account o' the mornin's
affair. The twa paragraphs were, on the whole, pretty much alike in
substance; but, in the second ane, there were twa or three incidental
circumstances mentioned that added to the interest o' the story
considerably.

Such, then, was the readin wi' which I beguiled the time on the evenin
o' which I am speakin; an' I leave it to the reader o' thae pages to
judge hoo far it was calculated to soothe my previously harassed
feelins, an' to afford me the relaxation an' amusement I sought, an' o'
which I had sae much need. At first, I resolved on takin every possible
public an' private measure that could be commanded to counteract the
evil reports, o' ae kind an' anither, under which baith mysel personally
an' my family were labourin. I thocht on gaun roun to a' the
acquaintances on whom I had just been ca'in, an' explainin to them the
real state o' the case; an' then followin up this proceedin wi' ca'in on
the editors o' the twa papers in which the injurious statements had
appeared, an' requestin, nay, insistin, on their puttin in a true
version o' the story, at the same time carefully markin my identity, an'
separatin me frae a' discreditable transactions, of every kind, degree,
an' character whatsoever. A' this I thocht o' doin, I say; but, on
reflection, I changed my mind, an' determined no to gie mysel ony such
trouble, but just to let things tak their course, an' trust to my ain
conduct, an' the weel-kent respectability o' my faither, for the guid
opinion o' the warld. Anent the rumour o' oor bankruptcy, however, I
thocht there could be nae harm in puttin in an advertisement or twa,
contradictory o't; an' this was accordingly done, in the following brief
terms:--

"William Smith, hosier, ----, begs to inform his friends and the
public, that he is not the same person whose name appears in the
bankrupt list published in the ---- newspaper of the 15th inst. All
claims on the advertiser will be paid, on demand, at his shop."

This advertisement I handed into the offices o' twa Glasgow papers that
same nicht, an' next mornin saw me safely perched on the tap o' the
coach for oor ain place, glad that a' my misadventures were owre, an'
that I was soon to be at hame again; for I was sick o' Glasgow--an' the
reader will allow no withoot some reason. The coach on which I was
mounted was just aboot to start, the driver had taen the reins in his
hand, an' the guard was strugglin to get up the last trunk, whan the
waiter o' the inn in which I had been stoppin, an' which was at the head
o' a prodigiously lang close, just at the startin-place, cam rinnin up,
an' cried, lookin at the same time at the passengers--

"Is there a Mr. Smith here?"

I expected that half-a-dozen at least wad hae owned the name; but, to my
surprise, there was no Mr. Smith amang them, but mysel.

"They ca' me Smith, my man--what is it?" said I, wi' a suspicious look;
for I noo stood greatly in awe o' my ain name--no bein sure what
mischief it micht lead me into.

"There's a gentleman up in the hoose wants to see you directly," said
the lad.

"But I canna go till him, man--ye see the coach is just gaun to start,"
said I.

"Ay, but he says that's o' nae consequence. Ye maun come till him. He
has something o' importance to say to ye."

Thinkin it wasna advisable to slight a message o' sae pressin a nature,
an' curious to ken wha it was that could be wantin me, an' what he could
be wantin me for, I leaped down, resolvin to mak my legs, which were gay
an' lang an' souple anes, save my distance, an' havin nae doubt they
wad, critical as the case was. I up the close like a shot, an' into the
hoose; but, though _I_ was in a hurry, the waiter wha had come for me
was in nane. He didna appear for five minutes after; an', as he was the
only person wha kent onything aboot a message bein sent after me, I had
to wait his return, before I could find oot the person wha wanted me.
This, however, he noo effected for me; but not before a good deal mair
time was lost. The gentleman who wished to see me was dressin; so I was
shewn into a room, while the waiter went to inform him o' my arrival. In
a minute or twa after--durin which I was dancin aboot in a fever of
impatience, for fear o' losin the coach--the door o' the apartment flew
open, an' a laughin, joyous-lookin fellow, with a loud "Aha, Bob!" an'
extended hand, rushed in; but he didna rush far. The instant he got his
ee fairly on me, he stopped short, an', lookin as grave's a rat, bowed
politely, an' said he was exceedingly sorry to perceive that he had
committed a gross mistake.

"The fact is, my dear sir," he said, becomin again affable, to
reconcile me, I suppose, to the unfortunate blunder, an' speakin wi'
great volubility, "my name is Smith, which, I suppose, is yours too,
sir. I'm from London. Now, you see, my dear sir, my brother Bob, who
lives in Ireland, and whom I haven't seen for some years, was to have
met me here last night, agreeably to arrangements made by letter, and we
were to have gone this morning, as it were, by the same coach in which
you were going, to visit some friends in that part of the country to
which it runs. Well, you see, I arrived here only this morning early;
but the first thing I did was to inquire if there was a Mr. Smith in the
house, and I was distinctly told by the rascal of a waiter that there
was no person of that name. Well, what does the fellow do, but come
running to my bedside, a little ago, and tells me that there _had been_
a Mr. Smith in the house over night, and that he was at that moment on
the top of the ---- coach. Well, my dear sir, did not I immediately and
very naturally conclude that this Mr. Smith must be my brother! And thus
has this unlucky mistake happened. 'Pon my honour, I am most sorry for
it--exceedingly sorry, indeed."

Bein naturally o' a very placable disposition, I didna say much in reply
to this harangue; but, mutterin something aboot there bein nae help
for't, rushed oot o' the hoose, an' down the confounded lang close, as
fast as my legs could carry me, and that was pretty fast; but no fast
aneuch to catch the coach. It was aff an' awa, mony a lang minute afore.

"Aweel," said I, on discoverin this, "but this does beat cock-fechtin!
What, in heaven's name, am I to do wi' this unfortunate patronymic o'
mine? It's crossin me wi' mischief o' ae kind or anither at every step.
I suppose I'll be hanged in a mistake next. That'll be the end o't. I'll
change't, if I leeve to get hame--I'll change't, let what like be the
consequence, or I'll hae an _alias_ added till't, before waur comes o't;
for this'll never do."

In such reflections as thae did I expend the impatient feelin that the
loss o' the coach, an' the recollection o' certain ither sma' incidents,
with which the reader is acquainted, had gien rise to. But little guid
they did me; an' this I at length fand oot. Sae I just gied a bit smile
to mysel, an' made up my mind to wait patiently for the next coach,
which started the same nicht, though at a pretty late hour. Late as that
hour was, however, it cam roun, an', whan it did, it fand me, withoot
havin met wi' ony ither misfortune in the interim, mounted again on the
tap o' a coach. This time I was allowed to keep my seat in peace. The
coach drove awa, an' me alang wi't; an', in twal hours thereafter, I
fand mysel in my faither's hoose, safe and soun', after a' that had
happened me.

Shortly after the occurrences which I have just related, my puir faither
departed this life, and I, as his only son and heir, succeeded to a' his
possessions--stock, lock, and barrel; and I now only wanted a wife to
complete my establishment, and fix my position in society. This,
however, didna remain lang a desideratum wi' me. A wife I got, and as
guid a ane as ever man was blessed wi'; but it was rather a curious sort
o' way that I got her. Ae nicht, pretty late, in the summer o' the year
1796, a rather smart rap comes to our door. We were a' in bed--mother,
servant lass, and a'; but, on hearin't, I bangs up, on wi' my claes,
lichts a cannle, and opens the door. On doing this, then, I sees a
porter loaded wi' trunks and bandboxes, and behint him a very pretty,
genteel-lookin young woman.

"Here's a frien o' yours come to see you, frae Edinburgh," says the
porter, whom I kent weel aneuch; and wi' this the young leddy comes
forward, wi' a licht step, and ane o' the prettiest smiles I ever saw;
and, says she, haudin oot her haun to me--

"Ye'll no ken me, Mr. Smith, I dare say?"

"No, indeed, mem," says I--"I do not."

"I'm a cousin o' yours," said she--"Margaret Smith, and a dochter o'
your uncle William's."

"Frae Edinburgh," said I, takin her cordially by the haun, and leadin
her into the parlour.

"The same," said she smilin again; "and I'm just come doun to spend a
day or twa wi' ye, if ye hae room for me, and winna think me owre
troublesome."

"Room!" said I--"plenty o' room; and, as for trouble, dinna mention
that." And I assisted my fair cousin to remove her shawl and other haps.
This cousin, I may mention by the way, I had never seen before; and
neither had she ever seen ony o' us, although we knew perfectly weel o'
each other's existence. But this within parentheses.

Havin seen my pretty cousin--for she was really a bonny-lookin and
modest creature--made so far comfortable, I ran joyfully to my mother,
to inform her o' oor acquisition. My mother, who had never seen her
either, was delighted wi' the intelligence, and instantly rose to
welcome her. The servant was roused oot o' her bed, a little supper
prepared, and some delightful hours we spent together. I was charmed wi'
my fair cousin; so intelligent, so lively, so sensible, so
accomplished--so much o' everything, in short, that was captivatin in a
young and beautifu' woman. Nor was my mother less delighted wi' her than
I was. There were, indeed, some things spoken o' in the course o'
conversation between my mother, and oor guest, and I, relatin to family
affairs, in which we couldna somehow or other come to a distinct
understandin. There was something like cross-purposes between us; and I
observed that my fair cousin was extraordinary ignorant o' a' matters
concerning us, and o' the circumstances o' a number o' oor mutual
relations. But this neither my mother nor I thought much o', either. It
was just sae like a bit lively thochtless lassie, wha couldna be
expected to hae either the genealogy of a' her friends, or their
particular callins or residences, at her finger ends. However, as I said
before, we spent a pleasant evening thegither; and this followed by
eight as pleasant days, durin which time our fair guest continued to
make rapid progress in the affections o' baith my mother and me;
although, of course, the regard she excited was somewhat different in
its nature in the twa cases. In mine it was love--in my mother's esteem.
But a' this was to hae a sudden and curious termination. At the end o'
the eight days above alluded to, happenin to tak up a newspaper, I was
attracted by an advertisement bearing the following highly interesting
title--"Young Lady Missing." I read on, and found, to my amazement, that
the young lady was no other than my fair cousin. The notice stated, that
she had gone down to ----, to visit some relations; had left Edinburgh,
by the ---- coach, on the mornin of the 10th, and had been safely set
down at ----; but that her relations there had seen nothing of her, and
that no trace of her could since be found. The advertisement concluded
by offering a handsome reward to any one who could give any such
information as might lead to a discovery of the young lady, either to
Mr. William Smith, haberdasher, ----, or to Mr. William Smith, No. 19,
Lavender Street, Edinburgh.

Here, then, was a queer business. But, bein now somewhat accustomed to
thae things, I was at nae loss to discover the meanin o't. The young
lady wasna my cousin at a'--she had come to the wrang shop. She was a
niece o' Willie Smith the haberdasher's--and there was the mystery
solved at ance. It turned oot precisely sae. There was an awfu kick-up,
and an awfu rejoicin, and shakin o' hands, and writin o' letters, and
sae forth, after I had announced to the different parties how the matter
stood, and brocht them thegither. But I wasna gaun to lose my fair
cousin this way. I followed her to Willie Smith's, whar I was a welcome
aneuch guest, and availed mysel to the full o' the advantages which a
curious chance had thrown in my way, by eventually makin her my wife;
and, as I said before, a most admirable one she made, and still maks, as
she is sittin by my elbow at this present writin.

Noo, guid reader, sae far hae I brocht the story o' my life, or
perhaps, rather o' my unfortunate name, (no a'thegither so unfortunate
either, since it helped me to sic a wife,) and I maun stop; but it's for
want o' room, and, I assure you, no for want o' matter. What I hae
tell't ye is no a tithe o' the sufferings I hae endured through this
unhappy patronymic o' mine. In truth, it was but the beginnin o' them.
The rest I may relate to ye on some future day. In the meantime, guid
reader, I bid ye fareweel, wi' a sincere houp that yer name's no Willie
Smith.



THE PROFESSOR'S TALES.

PHEBE FORTUNE.


I have now been upwards of forty years minister of the parish of C----.
Soon after I became minister, I stumbled one morning upon a small parcel
lying in a turnip field adjoining the manse. It appeared to me at first
to be a large hedgehog; but, upon further investigation, I found that it
was a seemingly new-born infant, wrapt carefully up in warm flannel, and
dressed in clothes which indicated anything but extreme poverty. There
was a kirk-road through the turnip field--my wonted passage to my glebe
land every morning; and the infant had manifestly been deposited with a
reference to my habits. I could not possibly miss seeing it--it lay
completely across my path--a road almost untrod by anybody save myself.

As I happened to have a young, and a pretty large--or, in other phrase,
small--family of my own, I hesitated at first how to proceed; but a
moment's reflection taught me the necessity of acting rather than of
thinking; and I gathered up the little innocent in my arms, and hastened
back, with all possible speed, to the manse. The little hands of the
helpless existence were moving backwards and forwards, up and down; and
its lips plainly indicated a desire for its natural beverage.

"Bless me!" said my dear wife, as I entered; "bless me, my dear, what's
that you are bringing us?"

"It's a child," said I; "an infant--beautiful as day--only look at it."

"None of your nonsense," said spousie, looking somewhat archly in my
face. "I'm sure, ye ken, we hae mae weans than we hae meat for already.
But where in all the world did you pick up this sweet little
darling?"--for, by this time, my wife had opened the flannel coverings,
and examined the features of the young stranger carefully.

My second youngest girl, about four years of age, had joined us, and,
falling down on her knees, kissed the foundling's cheeks all over. In
fact, the news spread all over the manse in less than no time; and I had
my two eldest boys--then preparing for school--my eldest daughter, and
the two maid-servants, all tumbling into the parlour in a world of
amazement. My wife, however, having recovered from her first surprise
and burst of natural affection, began, very naturally, to speculate
about the parentage of the uninvited visitant. She examined its dress;
and, amongst other discoveries, found a piece of paper attached to the
body of the frock, inscribed with these words, in a plain printed
hand--"I am not what I seem. My name is Phebe." On searching a little
more particularly, a hundred-pound note was found stitched into a small
purse or bag, suspended from the infant's neck. We were all amazement.
My wife was all at once persuaded that the infant must be the offspring
of some lady of high quality, and that, by keeping her in our family, we
should be absolutely enriched by presents of hundred-pound notes every
other morning. She seemed to look upon poor Phebe as the philosopher's
stone, and thought that gold would, in future, be as plentiful in our
house as brass coinage had hitherto been. But who could be the mother of
this pretty, sweet, dear, darling, lovely child? Could it be--and she
whispered me knowingly in the ear; but I shook my head, and looked
equally knowing. Could it be Lady M----? I looked incredulity, and my
wife pushed her speculations no further. By this time my oldest daughter
had arranged Phebe's dress, and made all snug; and the poor little
infant gave audible intimation of a desire for food. What was to be
done? This question occupied us for about a quarter of an hour, when we
at last recollected that Lord C----'s gardener's wife had yesterday
buried her infant. She was immediately sent for, and, having no children
of her own, agreed, after some persuasion and the promise of a handsome
reward, to suckle poor Phebe. It was, indeed, beautifully interesting to
observe how Phebe's little hands wandered over the source of her
sustenance, and seemed to say, as plainly as hands could speak it, "I
have you now, and will not part with you again." Phebe grew--opened her
sweet blue eyes--smiled--and won all hearts in the course of a month.
But she was still a heathen, or, in other words, unbaptised; and, after
consulting the session, whom I advertised of all the circumstances, it
was agreed that the gardener's wife should take the vows, and name the
child. We all wept at the christening; there was something so unusual
and overpowering, so mysterious and exciting, in the whole transaction.
My wife suggested that she should be called "Phebe Monday," that being
the day on which she was found; but, somehow or other, I disliked the
combination of sounds exceedingly; and at last, at the suggestion of the
nurse-mother, we affixed Fortune to her Christian designation; and,
after the ceremony, which was performed in the gardener's house, we
drank a glass of ginger wine to the health and long life of little Phebe
Fortune, the foundling. Through the kindness of Lord C----, I had the
privilege of walking when I chose in his extensive gardens and
pleasure-grounds, which were in my parish, and adjoining to the manse;
and it was on one of the smooth-rolled grass walks of this garden that I
conducted little Phebe's first steps, when she put down her little foot
for the first time, and stood almost erect on the grass. Oh, how the
little doll screamed and chuckled as she tumbled over and rolled about;
ever and anon stretching out her little hand, and asking, as it were, my
assistance in aiding her inexperience and weakness. However, "_Tentando
fimus fabri_," by effort, frequently repeated, success is at last
secured; and Phebe at last flew off from me like an arrow, and, like an
arrow, too, alighted head foremost on the soft sward. Phebe won all
hearts when she began to syllable people's names. Me she called
"minny-man;" my wife, "minny-man-minny;" and her own nurse, "mother, ma,
ma, bonny ma! guid ma!" Year rolled on after year, and little Phebe was
the talk of all the country round. People passing on the highroad
stopped and spoke to her. Phebe used often to visit the manse, and to
play with my youngest daughter, only a few months younger than herself,
whilst I have often sat in my elbow chair, called in the family "Snug,"
and said to myself, "I am sure I cannot tell which of these children I
am most attached to." All the features and properties of little Phebe
were aristocratic: beautiful feet and anckles; small, little plump
hands, and finely-tapered fingers; an eye of the purest water and the
most noble expression, beaming through a curtain of deep blue, under a
canopy of the finest auburn; a brow, nose, lips, and chin, all
exquisitely formed and proportioned. No child in the neighbourhood could
be compared with Phebe. Even my wife, prejudiced as she naturally was in
favour of her own offspring, used sometimes to say--"Our Jessie looks
well enough; but that child Phebe is a pear of another tree." To this I
readily assented, as I had no inclination to hint either the identity of
the tree or the affinity of the fruit.

One day I was walking with little Phebe (who had now attained her
seventh year, and exhausted the last penny of the hundred pounds) in my
own little garden--we were quite alone, when the girl all at once
stopped her playfulness (for she was now a very lark), and, taking a
hold of my hand, pulled me gently, nothing loath, into an adjoining
little arbour: after I was seated, and Phebe had taken her wonted
station betwixt my knees, reserving either knee for future convenience,
the little angel looked up in my face so innocently and so sweetly,
saying--

"You are Jessie's pa, are not you?"

"Yes," I replied, "my dear child, I am."

"But where is my pa? have I no pa? Gardener says you know all about it."

I regretted exceedingly that anything should have passed betwixt the
foster-parents and their charge upon the subject; but, since it was so,
I judged it best at once to tell the child the truth, the whole truth,
and nothing but the truth. Phebe looked me most intently in the face as
I proceeded; and when I had finished by kissing her, and assuring her
that whilst I lived she should never want a pa, the poor dear burst into
tears, exclaiming, in an accent of complete misery--

"No pa! no ma! Everybody has pa's and ma's but Phebe. Dear, dear
minny"--a term by which she still addressed me--"can you not tell me
anything about my own ma?"

I assured her that I could not, having not the least information on the
subject.

"Maybe she's dead"--and here again her feelings overcame her, and she
laid her head on my knee, with all its luxuriant tresses; and I felt the
tears warm on my person.

From this day Phebe Fortune became a different child. Even at an
early age she had learned to think; but had been hitherto very averse to
learning, or school education. She was henceforth diligent and
attentive, making rapid progress in reading, writing, and accounts. Her
foster-mother taught her sewing; and little Phebe, by the time she was
eleven years old, was quite accomplished in all the necessary and useful
parts of a female education. But, alas! the instability of human
affairs!--poor Phebe caught a fever, which she communicated to her
foster-mother, and which occasioned _her_ death in a few weeks, whilst
Phebe slowly recovered. The gardener's heart was broken--he had long
been subject to occasional fits of low spirits. Whether from accident or
not was never fully ascertained, nor even closely investigated; but he
was found one morning drowned, in a pond of water which ornamented the
east corner of the garden ground. As my own family was numerous, and my
stipend limited, I behoved to endeavour to place Phebe in some way of
doing for herself--still hoping, however, that time ere long would
withdraw the veil, and discover the sunny side of Phebe Fortune's
history. Seldom did a carriage pass the manse by the king's highway,
that my wife did not conjecture that it might perhaps stop at the bottom
of the avenue, and emit a fine lady, with fine manners and a genteel
tongue, to claim our now highly interesting ward. But the perverse
carriages persevered in rolling rapidly along, till at last, one fine
sunny afternoon, one did actually stop, and out stepped the lady,
middle-aged, splendidly attired, and advanced towards our habitation. My
wife's heart was at her mouth--she ran through the house in a few
seconds, from bottom to top, had Phebe put into her best attire, and all
diligence served upon the dusting and cleaning of carpets and chairs.
The lady appeared; but, to my wife's great disappointment, proved to be
no other than an old pupil of my own, who, in passing, had heard of my
residence, and wished kindly to renew an acquaintance interrupted by,
perhaps, not less than thirty years. Still my wife would not give up the
notion that Phebe resembled Lady D---- exceedingly, and that Lady D----
seemed to eye her with more complacency than any of the rest of the
children. In the course of conversation, I had occasion to acknowledge
that the beautiful being whom Lady D---- admired above all the rest of
my fine family was a foundling. This led to a detail of the whole
matter; and Lady D----, having conversed for a little with Phebe, took
such a liking to the girl that she proposed having her continually about
her person, as a kind of superior waiting-maid, half menial and half
companion, and to remove her from under our roof on the instant.
Although this was an offer too good and too opportune to be negatived,
yet we could not think of parting with our darling Phebe on so short a
warning; and, after some remonstrances on both sides, it was agreed that
the carriage should be sent for Phebe and me on a future day, which was
named, and that I should spend a few days with my old pupil, in her
recently acquired and lately inhabited mansion-house of Rosehall, little
more than thirty miles distant. The interval which took place betwixt
this proposal and its accomplishment was spent in needlework and other
little feminine preparations; and, as the day approached, we all felt as
if we could have wished that we had rejected the proposal with disdain.
Phebe was often seen in tears--but she was all resignation, and rejoiced
that I was to accompany her, and see her fairly entered. At last the
dreadful carriage, with its four horses, came into view at the foot of
our avenue (which, though possessed of a sufficiently imposing
appellation, was nothing more nor less than a very bad and nearly
impassable cart road), and we all began our march to meet the vehicle.
Promises of future visits were spoken of, and made, and solemnly sworn
to--a home, house, or manse was declared to Phebe at all times; but,
particularly, should she find herself unhappy in her new position; and
it was with difficulty that I got the now truly lovely, and all but
woman, Phebe, torn from the grasp and cling of my daughters, and handed
into the splendid and richly-lined chariot.

In the family of Lady D----, Phebe's duties were at once easy and
agreeable. She waited upon her mistress's bell in the morning, and was
soon taught how to assist at the toilet. During the day, she either read
aloud, whilst her Ladyship reposed after her forenoon's walk or drive,
or looked after the health and comfort of two favourite lap-dogs. At
night, again, she renewed her closet assistance, reading aloud some
paragraph which she had marked in a newspaper, and detailing such little
domestic incidents as came within the range of her somewhat limited
sphere of observation. Lord D---- was much engaged in public business
(being lord-lieutenant of the county), and in carrying on some
agricultural speculations by which he was much engrossed. There were two
young Honourables of the fair sex, and an only son--then attending his
studies at Oxford--children of the family. Phebe Fortune was now
fifteen, and seemed to increase in loveliness, and the most kindly,
intelligent expression of countenance, daily. Her eyes were heaven's own
_blue_--

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

And then, when she spoke or smiled, her countenance was altogether
overpowering; as well might you have attempted to look steadfastly upon
the sun in his midday radiance. Of _her_ far more truly and forcibly
might it have been said or sung, than of the "Lassie wi' the Lint-white
Locks"--

    "She talked, she smiled, my heart she wiled,
      She charmed my soul, I wat na hoo;
    But aye the stound, the deadly wound,
      Cam frae her een sae bonny blue."

Phebe, by my own arrangement with Lady D----, was not exposed to any
intimacy with the servants, male or female. She had her own apartment
and table; and all the menial duties were performed to her as regularly
as to any branch of the family. It was soon after my return from a three
weeks' visit at Rosehall, that I received the following letter from
Phebe. I got it at the post-office, unknown to any of my family; and I
kept it, as was my custom when I had anything agreeable to communicate,
till after dinner. The board having been cleared, and a tumbler of warm
toddy made, my wife's single glass having been filled out, and my
daughters having turned them all ear, I proceeded to read the following
maiden epistle of Phebe Fortune:--

     "Dear, dear Papa, and ever dear Mamma, and all my own Sisters
     dear--I am happy here; Lady D---- is so kind to me; and Lord D----
     looks very kind too, though he has not spoken to me yet--but then
     you see he is always engaged; and the honourable young ladies--but
     I do not think they are quite so kind; and they are so pretty too,
     and so happy looking! Oh, I wish they would like me! If they would
     only speak to me now and then as they pass me on the stair; but
     they only stop and laugh to one another, and then they toss their
     heads; and I can hear them say something about 'upsetting,' and
     'mamma's whim, and papa's absurdity.' I'm sure--I'm sure, my dear
     parents--(for, alas! I have none other, though I dream sometimes
     that I have, and I feel so happy and delighted, that I always awake
     crying)--but what was I going to say?--you know I never wrote any
     letters before, and you will excuse this I know--I could not, I am
     sure, speak of whim or absurdity in regard to you, my dear
     benefactors. But I will try never to mind it. Lady D---- is so very
     kind. I sometimes go out with the little dogs, Poodle and Clara;
     they are such dear pets, I could take them, and do often take them
     to my bosom. And then, the other day, when I was sitting playing
     with Clara and Poodle, beneath the elm tree, the gardener's son
     passed me, and--no he did not pass, that is to say not all at
     once--but he stopped, and asked me to take a flower, which he had
     pulled for me, which I did, and then he offered to show me through
     the hot houses, but I did not go. My dear mamma, do you think I
     should have gone? And then he left me; but yesterday a little boy
     gave me the following letter. And all that the letter contains is
     this--

         "If you love me as I love thee,
         What a loving couple we shall be!"

     Love him!--oh, no--no--no--I will never, never walk that way
     again--I will never, never speak to him more. I love you, my own
     dear papa, and mamma, and my sisters, and Lady D----, and the two
     little dear doggies; but I never could love Donald M'Naughton; not
     but that he is good-looking, too, and young, and respected in the
     family; but he never can be a father or mother to me you know, as
     you have been. Oh! do write me soon, soon--and tell me all about
     the garden, and the ash-tree, and the arbour, and the flowers, and
     old Neptune, your favourite, and everything. I remain, most
     affectionately, yours,
                                                  PHEBE FORTUNE.

     "P.S.--But Fortune is not my name. Oh, that I had a name worth
     writing!--such a name as Lindsay, Crawford, Hamilton, Douglas. Oh!
     how beautifully Phebe Douglas would look on paper, and sound in
     one's ear!"

Such was the state of Phebe's mind and feelings at that interesting
period of life when the female is in the transition from the mere girl
to the real woman; and it was about this very period, when all the
feelings are peculiarly alive to each fine impulse, that it fell to
Phebe's lot to be severely tried. Day after day, and week after week,
Lady D---- missed some valuable article of dress, some Flanders lace,
some costly trinket, a ring it might be, or a bracelet. At last Lady
D---- thought it proper to inform her lord of the fact, who, upon
obtaining a search warrant unknown to any one save his lady, had the
trunks of the whole household establishment strictly searched. Poor
Phebe's little chest, "wi' her a' int," discovered, to the amazement of
all, the whole lot of the missing articles. Lady D----looked as if she
had been suddenly struck with lightning; whilst poor Phebe regarded the
whole as a jest, a method adopted by her lady, or his lordship, to try
her character and firmness. She absolutely laughed at the denouement,
and seemed altogether unconcerned about the matter. This, to his
lordship in particular, appeared to be a confirmation of guilt; and he
immediately ordered her person to be secured, evidence of her guilt to
be made out, and a criminal trial to be instituted. When the full truth
dawned upon poor Phebe, she sat as one would do who is vainly
endeavouring to recollect something which has escaped his memory. Her
colour left her; she was pale as Parian marble; her eyes became dim, and
her ears sang; she fainted; and it was not till after great and repeated
exertion that she was recovered, through the usual painful steps, to a
perception of the outward world. She looked wildly around her. Lady
D---- was standing with her handkerchief at her eyes--she had wept
aloud.

"O Phebe," said her ladyship, "are you guilty of this?"

Phebe repeated the word "guilty" twice, looked wildly on Lady D----'s
eyes, and then, in an unsettled and alarmed manner, all round the room.

"Guilty!" she repeated--"Guilty of what? Who is guilty? It is not he. I
am sure he could not be guilty. Oh, no--no--no--he is my father, my
friend, my protector, my minny, my dear, dear minny--he could not do it!
he never did it! You are all wrong!--and my poor, poor, head, is
odd--odd--odd." Thus saying, she clasped her forehead in a frenzied
manner, and nature again came to her relief in a second pause of
insensibility, from which she only recovered to indicate that her
remaining faculties had seemingly left her. Time, however, gradually
awakened her to a perception of the sad reality; and it was from a
chamber in the castle, to which she was confined, that she wrote the
following letter to her original and kind protector:--

     "OH, MY EVER DEAR FRIEND--Your Phebe is accused of--I cannot write
     it, I cannot bear to look at the horrid word--of stealing. Oh, that
     you had let me lie where the wickedness of an unknown parent
     exposed my helplessness to the random tread of the passenger! Oh,
     come and see me; I grow positively confused; your Phebe is
     imprisoned in her own chamber; but my poor head is swimming
     again--there--there--I see everybody whirling about on the chimney
     tops--there they go--there they go! I can only see to write
                                                         PHEBE."

There was no date to this sad scrawl; but it needed none; for in
twenty-four hours after it had arrived at the manse, I had set out on my
way to Rosehall. The meeting betwixt the foster-father and the child
was, of course, exceedingly affecting. Investigations into the whole
matter were renewed, but no other way could be thought of for accounting
for the presence of the missing property in Phebe's locked trunk, than
the supposition which implied her guilt.

"I could stake my life, my salvation," said I, "on Phebe's innocence."
But Lord D---- doubted; his Lady could not have believed it possible;
but still there were, she said, similar cases on record--one, quite in
point, had just occurred in her neighbourhood, where the guilty party
had, up to the dishonest act, borne a very high character. The circuit
trial came on in about ten days, and Phebe, accompanied by the minister,
and the best legal advice, was seated at the bar on her trial. Witnesses
were examined, who swore that they saw the trunk opened, and Lady
D----'s property discovered; others, particularly the lady's maid, swore
that she all along suspected Phebe, from seeing her always shutting, and
often locking her door inside. She once looked through the key-hole, and
saw Phebe busied with her trunk; she saw something in her hand that
sparkled. Phebe had no exculpatory evidence but her simple averment that
she knew not how the articles came there--she never brought them. The
king's advocate having restricted the sentence, and the jury having
brought in unanimously a verdict of guilty, the judge was on the point
of pronouncing a sentence of banishment, when the poor pannel fainted.
It was a most affecting scene to hear the sentence of banishment
pronounced over a piece of insensate clay. All wept--even the judge; and
Phebe was carried out of court, apparently quite dead.

Next morning I was found sitting with a cheerful countenance by Phebe's
couch, in the prison-house. I had good news I said to impart to her:--

"The girl who has been the principal witness against you, has been
suddenly seized, during the night, with an excruciating and evidently
fatal disease; in the agonies of death she has confessed to me, and in
the presence of Lady D---- too, that she had sworn to a lie; that she
herself with her own hand, and by means of a false key, placed the
articles--which she had originally stolen with the view of retaining
them--in your chest. This she had done from jealousy, having observed
that her lover, the gardener's son, had fixed his affections upon you."

All this was solemnly attested in the presence of witnesses, and all
this was conveyed in a suitable manner to the judge; in consequence of
which, and through the usual preliminary steps, Phebe was set free, and
again admitted into the full confidence and the friendship of the
family.

It so happened, that a young nobleman had witnessed the whole trial
from the bench, and had taken an exceeding interest in Phebe, whose
beautiful and modest demeanour and countenance not even despair could
entirely disfigure. Having made some inquiries respecting her history,
he was led to make more, and discovered considerable emotion when I
unfolded the whole truth to him. Still he said nothing, but took his
departure, with many thanks for the information given. In a few days,
this same young nobleman, of remarkably fine features, and pleasing
expression, returned to the Manse of C----, having an elderly gentleman
in the carriage along with him. He requested a private interview with
me; and, in the presence of his friend, I travelled over again the whole
particulars of the foundling's story, comparing dates, and investigating
seeming inconsistencies. At last, he declared, at once, and in tears of
amazement and joy--"Phebe Fortune is my own--my only _sister_!" I looked
incredulous, and almost hinted at insanity; but the young nobleman still
persevered in his averment. His father, a nobleman of high rank, far
south of the Tweed, in order to gratify a passion which had driven him
almost mad, had consented to _pretend_ to marry privately (his own
father being still alive, and set upon his son's marrying his cousin the
Honourable Miss D----), a most beautiful girl, the daughter of a Chester
yeoman of high respectability. The lady was removed from her native
home, and lodged in a remote quarter of the town of Liverpool. A report
was fabricated, and spread abroad by means of the newspapers, that a
lady, who was minutely described, had jumped one evening into a boat,
and, being rowed, at her request, to some distance, had plunged into the
sea, and perished. Phebe's parents investigated the matter, as far as
the boatman's evidence was concerned, and were satisfied from his
description of her person, that their dear Phebe, who, for some time
past, had appeared troubled and even dispirited, had adopted suicide as
a refuge from all her earthly cares. Phebe and the Honourable Mr. L----
met frequently in secret, and a daughter was the fruit of their
interviews. This daughter the young nobleman proposed to put out to
nurse; but, in reality, to put beyond the reach of being ever recognised
as his. A confidential person was obtained, herself a Scotchwoman, to
carry the child into Fife, and there to expose it, under the
circumstances and with the provision already mentioned. This person
chanced to be a parishioner of mine, and the consequences were as
already described. Having executed her task, she married a soldier, with
whom she soon after sailed for our West India settlements. Phebe's
second birth proved to be a male; and the boy was about to be removed in
a similar manner from the mother, when she absconded from her now
tyrannical husband, and her concealed home, refusing to be again
separated from her own offspring. Her parents, who had regarded her as
dead, were sufficiently surprised, but by no means gratified, when Phebe
appeared again with the child in her arms. In the meantime, Lord
L----died, and the Honourable youth became Baron L---- of Houston-hope.
Poor Phebe's averment respecting her previous marriage was regarded,
even by her parents, as somewhat suspicious; and not being able to
command the testimony of the person who married them, she was compelled
to remain silent. The effort, however, soon cost her her life; and the
boy, by his acknowledged father's interest, was placed in the army, and
sent out to the West Indies. There he accidentally met with the woman
his mother had often mentioned to him, who had carried off his sister.
She confessed the whole truth to him; and, after a year or two, they
both returned in the same ship to England. By this time, the noble
husband being free to dispose of his hand in matrimony, proposed, not
for his cousin, as his father had contemplated, but for the daughter of
an exceedingly wealthy Liverpool merchant. This person happened to be
the near relative of him who had called what was deemed only a pretended
priest to perform the marriage ceremony; and, seeing the danger which
his relative would run, should he give away his daughter, in hopes of
her offspring heiring the title and property, when a legitimate heir
probably existed, he divulged the secret to his relations. This
naturally led to a denouement; and Lord L---- being thus frustrated in
his object, and being at the same time a person governed more by passion
than reason, shot the person who had deceived him through the arm; and
then, thinking that he had committed murder, he blew out his own brains.

The brother of Phebe, after a long and complicated legal investigation,
was declared and served heir to the title and vast property. Taking the
clergyman who had married his mother along with him, he had gone into
Scotland, partly to visit his uncle, Lord D----, and partly, by the
assistance of the priest and the Scotchwoman, to discover what had
become of his sister. Her likeness to himself and his mother had struck
him forcibly in court, and the investigation and discovery followed.

To describe the interview betwixt the brother and sister is far beyond
my power. Every heart will appreciate it more than ink and paper can
possibly express. It was a pure--a long--a terrible embrace; but it
spoke volumes, heart met heart, and lips were glued to lips, till
breathing became inconvenient. All parties rejoiced. Phebe, on her way
south along with her brother, spent a whole day at the Manse. I was
absolutely insane with joy; and my wife told me privately--"My dear, our
fortune is made; we'll get all our boys out to India now." My daughters,
too, kissed and fondled their sister, "and all went merry as a marriage
bell."

    "How sweet is pleasure after pain!"

The contrast of Phebe's fortune greatly enhanced the enjoyment; and, in
the space of a few short months, Phebe Fortune was married to her own
cousin, the son of Lord and Lady D----, her kind protectors. The old
couple are still alive; but their children, with a numerous offspring,
live upon one of their estates in Ayrshire, and exhibit to all around
them the blessings which a humane and generous aristocracy may
disseminate amidst neighbours and dependents. The brother of Phebe, Lord
L----, still remains a bachelor; but has proved to his mother's
relatives, as well as to the parties who befriended her by deceiving his
dishonourable parent, that he feels the obligation, and rewards it, by
making them one way or another entirely independent.

I go my weekly rounds amongst those now happy families, and have
experienced the truth of my wife's prophecy; for both my boys are
advantageously disposed of, and, on the marriage of my eldest daughter,
Phebe Fortune made her a present of one thousand pounds.



THE ROYAL BRIDAL;

OR,

THE KING MAY COME IN THE CADGER'S WAY.


Early in July, in the year of grace 1503, Lamberton Moor presented a
proud and right noble spectacle. Upon it was outspread a city of
pavilions, some of them covered with cloth of the gorgeous purple and
glowing crimson, and decorated with ornaments of gold and silver. To and
fro, upon brave steeds, richly caparisoned, rode a hundred lords and
their followers, with many a score of gay and gallant knights and their
attendant gentlemen. Fair ladies, too, the loveliest and the noblest in
the land, were there. The sounds of music from many instruments rolled
over the heath. The lance gleamed, and the claymore flashed, and
war-steeds neighed, as the notes of the bugle rang loud for the
tournament. It seemed as if the genius of chivalry had fixed its court
upon the heath.

It may be meet, however, that we say a word or two concerning
Lamberton, for though, now-a-days, it may lack the notoriety of Gretna
in the annals of matrimony, and though its "_run of business_" may be of
a humbler character, there was a time when it could boast of prouder
visitors than ever graced the Gretna blacksmith's temple. To the reader,
therefore, who is unacquainted with our eastern Borders, it may be
necessary to say, that, at the northern boundary of the lands
appertaining to the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed, and about three miles, a
furlong, and few odd yards from that oft-recorded good town, a dry stone
wall, some thirty inches in height, runs from the lofty and
perpendicular sea-banks, over a portion of what may be termed the
fag-end of Lammermoor, and now forming a separation between the laws of
Scotland and the jurisdiction of the said good town; and on crossing to
the northern side of this humble but important stone wall, you stand on
the lands of Lamberton. Rather more than a stone-throw from the sea, the
great north road between London and Edinburgh forms a gap in the wall
aforesaid, or rather "dyke;" and there, on either side of the road,
stands a low house, in which Hymen's high priests are ever ready to make
one flesh of their worshippers. About a quarter of a mile north of
these, may still be traced something of the ruins of the kirk, where the
princess of England became the bride of the Scottish king, and the first
link of the golden chain of UNION, which eventually clasped the two
nations in one, may be said to have been formed.

The gay and gallant company were assembled on Lamberton, for within the
walls of its kirk, the young, ardent, and chivalrous James IV. of
Scotland was to receive the hand of his fair bride, Margaret of England,
whom Dunbar describes as a

    "Fresche rose, of cullor reid and white."

The wild heath presented all the splendour of a court, and the
amusements of a crowded city. Upon it were thousands of spectators, who
had come to witness the royal exhibitions, and the first durable bond of
amity between two rival nations. Some crowded to behold the tourneyings
of the knights with sword, spear, and battle-axe; others to witness the
representation of plays, written "expressly for the occasion;" while a
third party were delighted with the grotesque figures and positions of
the morris-dancers; and a fourth joined in, or were spectators of, the
humbler athletic exercises of wrestling, leaping, putting the stone, and
throwing the hammer.

All, too, were anxious to see the young king, whose courage and
generosity were the theme of minstrels, and of whom one sayeth--

    "And ye Christian princes, whosoever ye be,
      If ye be destitute of a noble captayne,
    Take James of Scotland for his audacitie
      And proved manhood, if ye will laud attayne."

But the young monarch was as remarkable for his gallantry and
eccentricity, as for his generosity and courage; and no one seemed able
to tell whether or not he lodged in the magnificent pavilion over which
the royal standard of Scotland waved, or whether he intended to welcome
his royal bride by proxy.

But our story requires that, for a time, we leave princes, knights, and
tournaments, and notice humbler personages, and more homely amusements.
At a distance from the pavilion, the tourneyings, the music, the plays,
and other exhibitions, was a crowd composed of some seven or eight
hundred peasantry engaged in and witnessing the athletic games of the
Borders. Near these were a number of humbler booths, in which the
spectators and competitors might regale themselves with the spirits and
tippeny then in use.

Amongst the competitors was one called Meikle Robin, or Robin Meikle. He
was strength personified. His stature exceeded six feet; his shoulders
were broad, his chest round, his limbs well and strongly put together.
He was a man of prodigious bone and sinews. At throwing the hammer, at
putting the stone, no man could stand before him. He distanced all who
came against him, and, while he did so, he seemed to put forth not half
his strength, while his skill appeared equal to the power of his arm.

Now, amongst the spectators of the sports, there stood one who was
known for many miles around by the appellation of _Strong Andrew_. He
was not so tall, by three inches, as the conqueror of the day; nor could
he measure with him either across the shoulders or around the chest;
and, in fact, he was rather a thin man than otherwise, nor did he appear
a powerful one--but his bones were well set. His sinews were all
strength--they were not encumbered with flesh. He was as much a model of
activity and suppleness, as Meikle Robin was of bodily power. Now,
Andrew was a native of Eyemouth; he was about three and thirty years of
age, and he united in his person the callings of a fisherman and cadger;
or, in other words, Andrew, being without mother, sister, wife, or
servant, sold himself the fish which he had caught. His domestic
establishment consisted of a very large and a very wise water-dog, and a
small pony; and with the last-mentioned animal he carried his fish
around the country. For several days, and on the day in question, he had
brought his store for sale to the camps or pavilions at Lamberton, where
he had found a ready and an excellent market. There, as Andrew stood and
witnessed the championship of Meikle Robin, his blood boiled within him;
and, "Oh," thought he, "but if I had onybody that I could trust to take
care o' the Galloway and my jacket, _and the siller_, but I wad take the
conceit oot o' ye, big as ye are."

Andrew possessed his country's courage and its caution in equal
proportions; and, like a wise man, he did not choose to trust his money
by risking it to strangers. In such a motley company it would not be
safe to do so now a-days; but it would have been much less so then. For,
at that time, and especially on the Borders, the law of _mine_ and
_thine_ was still imperfectly understood. But Andrew's determination to
humble the champion was well-nigh overcoming his caution, when the
former again stepped into the ring, and cast off his jacket for a
wrestling bout. He stood looking round him for a minute; and it was
evident that every one was afraid to enter the lists against him. Andrew
could endure it no longer; and he was saying--"Will ony person tak
charge o' my Gallow-way?"----

When a young man of middle stature, and whose dress bespoke him to be a
domestic of one of the noblemen who had come to witness the royal
festival, and grace it with their presence, entered the lists. Without
even throwing off his bonnet, he stretched out his arms to encounter the
champion, who met him--somewhat after the fashion that Goliath met
David--with contempt. But the first grasp of the stranger, as he seized
his arms above the elbows, instead of throwing them round his waist (as
was, and is the unscientific practice of the Borders), informed Robin
that he had no common customer to deal with. Robin, as a wrestler, in a
great measure trusted to mere strength and tripping. He knew nothing of
turning an antagonist from his centre of gravity by a well-timed and
well-directed touch. He therefore threw his arms around the back of his
opponent (so far as the grasp which the other had got of them would
permit), with the intention of giving him a "Hawick hug," but he found
he could not join his hands together so as to effect his purpose, and
his strength could not accomplish it. Ignorant of his antagonist's mode
of attack, he had allowed him an advantage over him; and when he
endeavoured to gain it by tripping his heels, the other suddenly changed
his feet, favoured Robin with a "Devonian kick," and suddenly dashing
his bended knee against his person, Robin lost his footing, and fell
upon his back, with the stranger above him.

The spectators shouted; and Andrew, mounting his pony, exclaimed aloud--

"Weel dune, stranger--I'm as glad as though I had gotten a gowden coin."

Now, it is but justice to Andrew to say that he had repeatedly defeated
Meikle Robin, both at wresting, cudgel-playing, and every athletic
exercise; but I shall give the reader an account of his having done so
on one occasion in his own words, as it is necessary for the forwarding
of our narrative.

Andrew went to Lamberton with his fish on the following day, and again
he found a profitable market; and some words had again passed between
him and Meikle Robin; but, as he was returning home, he overtook the
stranger by whom Robin had been defeated.

"Losh, man!" said Andrew, pulling up his pony, "is this ye? I canna tell
ye hoo glad I am to see ye, for I've dune naething but thocht o' ye ever
since yesterday, when I saw ye tak the brag oot o' Meikle Robin, just as
easily as I would bend a willy-wand. Now, I hope, sir, although ye are a
stranger, ye no think ill o' my familiarity?"

"Think ill, comrade," said the other, "why should I do so?"

"Why, I watna," said Andrew, "but there seems to be sae mony kind o'
butterflies getting about the court now, wi' their frills and their
gold-laced jackets, from what I can judge o' their appearance for some
days past on the Moor, that I wasna sure but it might be like-master
like-man wi' ye, and I was uncertain how to speak to ye. I didna ken but
that, in some things, ye might imitate your superiors, and treat a
cadger body as though they hadna been o' the same flesh an blood wi'
yoursel."

The stranger laughed, and repeated the adage--

"Why--the king may come in the cadger's way."

"Very true, sir," said Andrew, "and may find him a man mair like
himsel than he imagines. But, sir, what I was gaun to say to you--and it
is connected wi' your defeating o' Meikle Robin yesterday--(at least I
wish to make it connected wi' it). Weel, just five days syne, I was at
Lamberton--it was the very day after the royal party arrived--and Robin
was there. Perhaps you was there yoursel; but the tents were there, and
the games, and the shows, and everything was going on just the same as
ye saw them yesterday. But, as I was telling ye, Meikle Robin was there.
Now, he gets the brag o' being the best cudgel-player, putter, and
wrestler, in a' Berwickshire--and, between you and I, that is a
character that I didna like to hear gaun past mysel. However, as I was
saying, on the day after the royal party had come to the Moor, and the
games were begun, he had the ball fairly at his foot, and fient a ane
durst tak him up ava. He was terribly insulting in the pride o' his
victoriousness, and, in order to humble him, some were running frae tent
to tent to look for Strong Andrew--(that is me, ye observe; for they ca'
me that as a sort o' nickname--though for what reason I know not). At
last they got me. I had had a quegh or twa, and I was gay weel on--(for
I never in my born days had had such a market for my fish; indeed, I got
whatever I asked, and I was wishing in my heart that the king's marriage
party would stop at Lammerton Moor for a twelvemonth)--but, though I had
a drappie ower the score, Robin was as sober as a judge; for, plague tak
him! he kenned what he was doing--he was ower cunnin to drink, and laid
himsel out for a quarrel. It was his aim to carry the 'gree' ower a'
upon the Moor at everything, that the king, who is said to be as fond o'
thae sort o' sports as onybody, might tak notice o' him, and do
something for him. There was a cowardliness in the very idea o' such
conduct--it showed a fox's heart in the carcase o' a bullock. Weel,
those that were seeking me got me, and clean off hand I awa to the tent
where he was making a' his great braggadocio, and, says I to him,
'Robin,' says I, 'I'm your man at onything ye like, and for whatever ye
like. I'll run ye--or, I'll jump ye--I'll putt the stone wi' ye--or,
_I'll fight ye_--and, if ye like it better, I'll wrestle ye--or try ye
at the cudgels--and dinna be cutting your capers there ower a wheen
callants.' Weel, up he got, and a ring was made aback o' the tent. He
had an oak stick as thick as your wrist, and I had naething but the bit
half switch that I hae in my hand the now, for driving up the Galloway.
Mine was a mere bog-reed to his, independent o' its being fully six
inches shorter--and, if ye ken onything about cudgelling, that was a
material point. 'Od, sir, I found I couldna cope wi' him. My stick, or
rather switch, was nae better than half a dozen o' rashes plaited
together. 'Will ony o' ye lend me a stick, gentlemen?' cried I to the
bystanders, while I keepit guarding him off the best way I could. Aboon
a dozen were offered in an instant. I gript at the nearest. Now 'Heaven
hae mercy on ye!' said I, and gied him a whissel beneath the elbow, and,
before ye could say Jock Robison! cam clink across his knee. I declare
to ye, sir, he cam spinning down like a totum. He talked nae mair o'
wrestling, or cudgelling, or onything else that day. I settled him for
four-and-twenty hours at ony rate. Weel, sir, I was perfectly delighted
when I saw you lay him on the broad o' his back yesterday; and I had nae
mair words wi' him, frae the day that I humbled him, until about four
hours syne, when I met in wi' him on the Moor, amang three or four o'
his cronies, at his auld trade o' boasting again. I had nae patience wi'
him. But he had a drop ower meikle, and, at ony rate, I thought there
could be nae honour in beating the same man twice. But, says I to him
'Ye needna craw sae loud, for, independent o' me bringing ye to the
ground at cudgelling, and making ye no worth a doit, I saw a youngster
that wrestled wi' ye yesterday, twist ye like a barley-strae.' And, to
do him justice, sir, he didna attempt to deny it, but said that ye wud
do the same by me, if I would try ye, and offered to back ye against ony
man in the twa kingdoms. Now, sir, I looked about all the day in the
crowd, just to see if I could clap my een on ye, and to ask ye, in a
friendly way, if ye would let me try what sort o' stuff ye are made o',
but I couldna fall in wi' ye; and now I'm really glad that I hae met wi'
ye--and as this is a gay level place here, and the ground is not very
hard, what do ye say if we try a thraw, in a neighbourly way; and after
that, we can cut a bit branch frae ane o' the allers, for a cudgelling
bout. Ye will really very particularly oblige me, sir, if ye will."

The stranger readily replied, "With all my heart, friend--be it so."

Andrew cast off his jacket and bonnet, and, throwing them on the ground,
his large water-dog, which was called Cæsar, placed himself beside them.

"Dinna thraw till I get a grip," cried Andrew, as the stranger had him
already lifted from his feet--"that's no fair--it's no our country way
o' thrawing."

The request was granted, and only granted, when Andrew measured his
length upon the ground, and his dog sprang forward to attack the victor.

"Get back, Cæsar!" shouted its master--"It was a fair fa', I canna deny
it! Sorrow tak me if I thought there was a man in ten parishes could hae
done the like! Gie's yer hand," said he, as he rose to his feet; "I'll
thraw nor cudgel nae mair wi' you; but, as sure as my name's Andrew, I
would bite my last coin through the middle, to gie ye the half o't,
should ye want it. I like to meet wi' a good man, even though he should
be better than mysel--and, in the particular o' wrestling, I allow that
ye do bang me--though I dinna say how we might stand in other respects,
for they've no been tried. But it was a fair fa'. 'Od, ye gied me a jirk
as though I had been touched by lightning."

Before reaching Eyemouth, they came to a change-house by the wayside,
which was kept by a widow, called Nancy Hewitt; and who was not only
noted on account of the excellence of the liquor with which she supplied
her customers, but who also had a daughter, named Janet, whose beauty
rendered her the toast of the countryside.

"I am always in the habit," said Andrew, "o' stopping here for
refreshment, and, if ye hae nae objections, we'll toom a stoup
together."

"Cheerily, cheerily," answered his companion.

The fair daughter of the hostess was from home when they entered, and
Andrew inquired after her with a solicitude that bespoke something more
between them than mere acquaintanceship. The stranger slightly intimated
that he had heard of her, and, after a few seemingly indifferent
questions respecting her, for a few minutes became silent and
thoughtful.

"Hoot, man," said Andrew, "I am vexed to see ye sae dowie--gie cauld
care a kick like a foot-ba'. This is nae time to be sad when the king is
merry, and the country's merry, an' we're a' happy thegither. Cheer up,
I say, man--what's the matter wi' ye?--care has a strange look on a
body's shouthers at seven or eight and twenty; and I dinna think ye can
be mair. I am on the wrang side o' three and thirty, and I would snap my
fingers at it, were it blawing its breath in my face as snell as a drift
on an open moor! Losh man! what ails ye? Ye would say I had met wi' a
friar in orders grey, lamenting owre the sins o' the world, and the
poverty o' his pocket, instead o' a young bang fellow like you, that's a
match for onybody. Come, here's to the health o' bonny Jenny Hewitt."

"With all my heart," said the stranger; and, pronouncing the name of the
fair maiden, quaffed off his liquor.

"Now, that's wiselike; there's some spirit in that," said Andrew,
following his example; "let's be merry while we can; that's aye my
creed. The ne'er a grain o' guid, as I used to say to my mother, comes
out o' melancholy. Let's hae a sang--I see you hae a singing face--or
I'll gie ye ane mysel, to mak a beginning."

So saying, with a voice like thunder broken into music, he sang as
follows:--

            In our young, young days,
            When the gowany braes
    Were our temple o' joy and glee,
      Some dour auld body would shake his head,
    And tell us our gladness away would flee,
      And our hearts beat as heavy as lead.
        Stupid auld body--silly auld body--
          His mother spained him wi' a canker-worm.
        In our auld, auld days, the gowany braes
          Are memory's rainbows owre time and storm.

            In our proud young days,
            When the gowany braes
    Kenn'd the feet o' my love and me,
      Some ill-matched carle would girn and say--
    "Puir things! wi' a twalmonth's marriage, and ye
      Will find love like a snaw-ba' decay."
        Stupid auld carle--leein' auld carle--
          His mother spained him wi' a canker-worm.
        In our auld, auld days, like gowany braes,
          Our love unchang'd, has its youthfu' form.

            In our grey-haired days,
            When the gowany braes
    Are owre steep for our feet to climb--
      When her back is bowed, and her lovely e'e,
    Once bricht as a beam frae the sun, is dim--
      She'll be still my bit lassie to me.
        Stupid auld body--wicked auld body--
          Love, like the gowan's a winter liver.
        The smile o' a wife is the sun o' its life,
          An' her bosom a brae where it blooms for ever.

A few minutes after Andrew had concluded his song, the fair daughter of
their hostess entered the house. Andrew's first glance bespoke the
lover, and the smile with which she returned it showed that the young
fisherman and cadger was not an unaccepted wooer.

"By my sooth, fair maiden," said the stranger, "and thy sweet face
doesna belie its fame; admiration fails in painting the loveliness of
thy glowing cheeks, and thine een might make a moonbeam blush!"

He seemed practised in the art of gallantry, and poured into her ear
other compliments in a similar strain. She hung her head, and turned it
aside from him, as a woman will when flattered, or when she wishes to be
flattered, but she did not rise to depart; and he felt that the incense
which he offered to her beauty was not unacceptable. But the words and
the attentions of the stranger were as daggers in the ears, and as
wormwood in the heart of Andrew.

"The mischief rive his smooth tongue out o' his head!" thought Andrew;
"but though I hae nae chance in speaking balderdash wi' him, and though
he did thraw me (and it was maybe by an unmanly quirk after a'), I'll
let her see, if he has the glibest tongue, wha has the manliest arm!"

Neither love nor liquor, however, can allay the cravings of a hungry
stomach, and the stranger (who evidently beguiled Andrew to drink more
than the portion that ought to have fallen to him) called for something
to eat, by way of a relish.

"O sir," said Nancy Hewitt, their hostess, "I'm verra sorry an' vexed
that I hae naething in the house that I could gie ye--naething o'
kitchen kind but the haddocks which Andrew left this forenoon; an' I hae
been sae thrang wi' folk gaun back an' forret to Lamberton, that they're
no gutted yet. But if ye could tak them, ye are welcome to them."

"Gut two, then, good dame, and prepare them," said the stranger.

"I doubt, sir, twa winna do," said she, "for they're but sma'--I had
better gut thrie."

"Certainly, _gut thrie_," said Andrew; "I brought the stranger in--and
what is a haddie, or what are they worth?" for Andrew was anxious that
the attention of his companion should be turned to anything, were it
only withdrawn from Janet's face.

"You are a generous-hearted fellow," said the stranger, "and _gut thrie_
shall I call you, if we meet again."

Having therefore partaken of his repast, he proposed that they should
again fill the stoup to friendship's growth; and although Andrew was
wroth and jealous because of the words which he had spoken, and the
attention he had shewn to fair Janet, he was not made of materials to
resist the proposition to have another cup. But while they were yet
drinking it, Andrew's pony, which had repeatedly raised its fore foot
and struck it heavily on the ground, as if calling on its master to
"come," being either scared, or its patience being utterly exhausted,
set off at a canter from the door. He had rushed out without his bonnet,
but, before he reached the road, it was fully forty yards a-head of him,
and the louder he called on it, the nearer did the pony increase its
pace to a gallop.

Andrew had scarce reached the door, when the stranger drew out a
well-lined purse, and, after jerking it in his hand, he again replaced
it in his pocket, and more boldly than before renewed his gallantries to
fair Janet. Emboldened, however, by what he conceived to have been his
recent success, he now overshot the mark; and, as Andrew again reached
the house, he was aroused by the cries of--

"Mother! Mother!--O Andrew! Andrew!"

Old Nancy's voice, too, broke upon his ears at its highest scolding
pitch; but he could only distinguish the word "Scoundrel!"

He rushed into the room, and there he beheld his own Janet struggling in
the embrace of the stranger.

"Villain!" cried Andrew, and the other started round--but with our
fisherman at all times it was but a word and a blow--and his blood,
which before had been heated and fermenting, now boiled--he raised his
hand and dealt a blow at his companion, which, before he could parry it,
laid him prostrate on the floor.

"Base loon!" cried the stranger, starting to his feet, "ye shall rue
that blow." And he flung off his bonnet as if to return it.

"Hooly, billy," said Andrew, "there is as little manliness in fighting
afore women as there was in your conduct to my bit Janet. But naething
will gie me mair satisfaction than a round wi' ye--so wi' a' my
heart--come to the door, and the best man for it."

Blood was issuing from the lips of the stranger, but he seemed nothing
loath to accompany his quondam friend to the door. Janet, however, flung
her arms around Andrew, and the old woman stood between them, and
implored them, for her sake, to keep the peace towards each other.

"O sir!" cried she, "let there be nae such carryings on in my house. My
dochter and me are twa lone women, and the disgrace o' such an
on-carrying, and at such a time, too, when the king an a' the gentry are
in the neighbourhood, might be attended by there's nae saying what
consequences to me and mine. Andrew, man, I wonder that ye haena mair
sense."

"Sense!" returned Andrew, "I hae baith sense and feeling; and had it
been the king himsel that I saw layin a hand upon my Janet, I would hae
served him in the same way that I did that man."

"Ye brag largely and freely, neighbour," said the stranger; throwing
down a noble upon the table to pay for his entertainment; "but we shall
meet again, where there are no women to interfere."

"Tak up your gowd, sir," replied Andrew, "for though I can boast o' nae
sic siller, coppers will pay for a' that we have had. I brought you in
here to treat ye, and our quarrel shall make nae difference as to that.
Sae put up your gowd again; and as to meeting ye--I will meet ye the
night, the morn, at ony place, or at ony time."

"I shall ask ye to meet me before ye dare," said the stranger; and
leaving the coin upon the table as he left the house, "the gowd," added
he, "will buy a gown and a bodice for the bosom of bonny Janet."

"I insist, sir, that you tak back the siller," cried Andrew.

"Dearsake, Andrew," said old Nancy, "he's no offering it to you! It's no
you that has ony richt to refuse it." And taking up the piece, she
examined it with a look of satisfaction, turning it round and round in
her fingers--wrapped it in a small piece of linen rag, which lay in a
corner of the room, and mechanically slipped it into her pocket. But it
was neither every day, every week, nor every year, that Nancy Hewitt saw
a coin of gold.

On the third day after the encounter between Strong Andrew and the
stranger, the last and great day of the festivities on Lamberton took
place; for on that day the royal bride was to arrive. The summer sun
ushered in a glorious morning--its beams fell as a sheet of gold on the
broad ocean, melting down and chaining its waves in repose. To the south
lay Lindisferne, where St. Cuthbert had wrought miracles, with the Ferne
Isles where he lived, prayed, and died, and the proud rock on which King
Ida reigned.[2] They seemed to sleep in the morning sunbeams--smiling in
sleep. To the north was gigantic St. Abb's, stretching out into the sea,
as if reposing on its breast; amidst their feet and behind them,
stretched the Moor and its purple heather; while, from the distance, the
Cheviots looked down on them; and Hallidon, manured by the bones of
slaughtered thousands, lay at their hand.

Yet, before sunrise, thousands were crowding to the gay scene, from
every corner of Berwickshire, and from Roxburgh and the Eastern Lothian.
The pavilions exhibited more costly decorations. Fair ladies, in their
gayest attire, hung upon the arms of brave knights. An immense
amphitheatre, where the great tourneyings and combats of the day were to
take place, was seated round; and at one part of it was a richly
canopied dais, where the young king, with his blooming queen, and the
chief peers and ladies of both countries, were to sit, and witness the
spectacle. Merry music reverbed in every direction, and the rocks and
the glens re-echoed it; and ever and anon, as it pealed around, the
assembled thousands shouted--"Long live our guid king James, and his
bonny bride." Around the pavilions, too, strutted the courtiers with the
huge ruffles of their shirts reaching over their shoulders--their
scented gloves--flat bonnets, set on the one side of their heads like
the cap of a modern dandy--spangled slippers, and a bunch of ribbons at
their knees.

Amongst the more humble followers of the court, the immortal Dunbar,
who was neglected in his own day, and who has been scarce less neglected
and overlooked by posterity, was conspicuous. The poet-priest appeared
to be a director of the intellectual amusements of the day. But although
they delighted the multitude, and he afterwards immortalised the
marriage of his royal master, by his exquisite poem of "The Thistle and
the Rose," he was doomed to experience that genius could neither procure
the patronage of kings nor church preferment; and, in truth, it was
small preferment with which Dunbar would have been satisfied, for, after
dancing the courtier in vain (and they were then a race of beings of
new-birth in Scotland), we find him saying--

    "Greit abbais graith I nill to gather
    But _ane kirk scant coverit with hadder,
    For I of lytil wald be fane_."

But, in the days of poor Dunbar, church patronage seems to have been
conferred somewhat after the fashion of our own times, if not worse, for
he again says--

    "I knaw nocht how the kirk is gydit,
    But benefices are nocht leil divydit;
    Sum men hes sevin, and I nocht ane!"

All around wore a glad and a sunny look, and, while the morning was yet
young, the sound of the salute from the cannon on the ramparts of
Berwick, announced that the royal bride was approaching. The pavilions
occupied a commanding situation on the heath, and the noble retinue of
the princes could be observed moving along, their gay colours flashing
in the sun, a few minutes after they issued from the walls of the town.
A loud, a long, and a glad shout burst from the Scottish host, as they
observed them approach, and hundreds of knights and nobles, dashing
their glittering spurs into the sides of their proudly caparisoned
steeds, rode forth to meet them, and to give their welcome, and offer
their first homage to their future queen. There was a movement and a
buzz of joy throughout the multitude; and they moved towards the ancient
kirk.

The procession that accompanied the young princess of England into
Scotland drew near; at its head rode the proud Earl of Surrey, the Earl
of Northumberland, warden of the eastern marches, with many hundreds
more, the flower of England's nobility and gentry, in their costliest
array. In the procession, also, were thousands of the inhabitants of
Northumberland; and the good citizens of Berwick-upon-Tweed, headed by
their captain, Lord Thomas Darcy, and the porter of their gates, Mr.
Christopher Clapham, who was appointed one of the trustees on the part
of the king of England, to see that the terms of his daughter's jointure
were duly fulfilled.

There, however, was less eagerness on the part of the young monarch to
behold his bride than on that of his subjects. We will not say that he
had exactly imbibed the principles of a libertine, but it is well known
that he was a _gallant_ in the most _liberal_ signification of the term,
and that his amours extended to all ranks. He had, therefore, until he
had well nigh reached his thirtieth year, evaded the curb of matrimony;
and it was not until the necessity of his marriage, for the welfare of
his country, was urged upon him by his nobles, that he agreed to take
the hand of young Margaret of England. And of her it might have been
truly said, that his

    "Peggy was a young thing,
    Just entering in her teens,"

for she had hardly completed her fourteenth year. But she was a
well-grown girl, one on whom was opening the dawn of loveliest
womanhood--she was beautiful, and the gentleness of her temper exceeded
her beauty. Young James was the most chivalrous prince of his age: he
worshipped beauty, and he could not appear coldly before one of the sex.
And having come to the determination (though unwillingly) to give up his
bachelorism, or, as he called it, liberty, he at length resolved to meet
his bride as became one whose name was chronicled on the page of
chivalry. He accordingly arrayed himself in a jacket of black velvet,
edged with crimson, and the edgings bordered with a white fur. His
doublet was of the finest satin, and of a violet colour; his spurs were
of gold, his hose crimson, and precious stones bespangled his
shirt-collar. The reiterated shouts of the multitude announced the
approach of the queen, and, thus arrayed, the young king rode forth to
greet her.

He entered the kirk, at the further end of which stood his fair bride
between the Earls of Surrey and Northumberland. He started, he seemed to
pause as his eyes fell upon her, but in a moment they were again lighted
up with more than their wonted lustre. He had heard of her loveliness,
but report had failed in doing justice to the picture. He approached to
where she stood--he sank upon his knee--he raised her hand to his lips.
The English nobility were struck with admiration at the delicate
gallantry of the Scottish king.

I need not enter into the particulars of the ceremony. The youthful
monarch conducted his yet more youthful bride and her attendants to his
pavilion, while the heralds summoned the knights to the tournament, and
prepared the other sports of the day. He took his lute and performed
before her, and he sang words of his own composition, which related to
her--for, like others of his family that had gone before, and that came
after him, James had a spark of poetry in his soul.

"And dost thou understand this instrument, my own love?" said he,
handing her the lute.

She blushed, and, taking it in her hand, began to "discourse most
eloquent music," and James, filled with admiration, again sinking on his
knee, and clasping his hands together, remained in this attitude before
her, until the trumpets of the heralds announced that the knights were
in readiness for the tournament.

Thousands were crowded around the circle in which the knights were to
exhibit their skill and prowess. The royal party took their seats on the
dais prepared for them. Several trials of skill, with sword, spear, and
battle-axe, had taken place, and the spectators had awarded to the
successful competitors their shouts of approbation, when the young king,
who sat beside his queen, surrounded by the Lords Surrey and
Northumberland, and the nobles of his kindred, together with the ladies
of high degree, said--

"Troth, my lords, and whatever ye may think, they play it but coldly.
Excuse me, your Majesty, for a few minutes," continued he, addressing
his young bride; "I must put spirit into the spectacle."

Thus saying, the young monarch left the side of his bride, and, for a
time, the same breaking of swords, spears, and battle-axes continued,
when the chief herald of the tournament announced the SAVAGE KNIGHT. He
entered the lists on foot, a visor concealing his face, arrayed as an
Indian chief. He was clothed in a skin fitting tightly to his body,
which gave half of it the appearance of nudity. In his left hand he held
a javelin, in his right hand he brandished a spear.

"Who is he?" was the murmur that rang through the crowd; but no one
could tell, and the knights in the area knew not. He walked towards the
centre of the circle--he raised his spear--he shook it in defiance
towards every knight that stood around--and they were there from England
as well as from Scotland. But they seemed to demur amongst themselves
who should first measure their strength with him. Not that they either
feared his strength or skill, but that, knowing the eccentricity of the
king, they apprehended that the individual whom he had sent against
them, in such an uncouth garb, and who was to hold combat with them at
such extravagant odds, they being on horseback, while he was on foot,
might be no true knight, but some base-born man whom the monarch had
sent against them for a jest's sake. But, while they communed together,
the _Savage Knight_ approached near where they stood, and, crying to
them, said--

"What is it ye fear, Sir Knights, that ye hold consultation together.
Is it my mailed body, or panoplied steed?--or fear ye that my blood is
base enough to rust your swords? Come on, ye are welcome to a trial of
its colour."

Provoked by his taunt, several sprang from their horses, and appeared
emulous who should encounter him. But, at the very onset, the Savage
Knight wrested the sword of the first who opposed him from his hand. In
a few minutes the second was in like manner discomfited, and, after a
long and desperate encounter, the third was hurled to the ground, and
the weapon of the wild knight was pointed to his throat. The spectators
rent the air with acclamations. Again the unknown stood in the midst of
the circle, and brandished his spear in defiance. But enough had been
seen of his strength and his skill, and no man dared to encounter him.
Again the multitude shouted more loudly, and he walked around the
amphitheatre, bowing lowly towards the spectators, and receiving their
congratulations.

Now, in the midst of the motley congregation, and almost at the point
farthest removed from the dais of royalty, stood none other than Strong
Andrew, with bonny Janet under his arm; and it so happened, that when
the Savage Knight was within view of where Andrew stood, his visor fell,
and, though it was instantly replaced, it enabled our sturdy fisherman
to obtain a glance of his countenance, and he exclaimed--

"'Od save us, Janet, woman, look, look look!--do ye see wha it is!
Confound me, if it isna the very chield that I gied the clout in the lug
to in your mother's the other night for his good behaviour. Weel, as
sure as death, I gie him credit for what he has done--he's ta'en the
measure o' their feet, onyway! A knight!--he's nae mair a knight than
I'm ane--but it shows that knights are nae better than other folk."

There was a pause for a short space--again the monarch sat upon the
dais by the side of his blooming bride. The great spectacle of the day
was about to be exhibited. This spectacle was a battle in earnest
between an equal number of Borderers and Highlanders. The heralds and
the marshals of the combat rode round the amphitheatre, and proclaimed
that rewards would be bestowed on all who signalized themselves by their
courage, and to the most distinguished a purse of gold would be given by
the hands of the king himself. Numbers of armed clansmen and Borderers
entered the area. Andrew's fingers began to move, and his fists were
suddenly clenched, relaxed, and clenched again. He began to move his
shoulders also. His whole body became restless, and his soul manifested
the same symptoms, and he half involuntarily exclaimed--

"Now, here's a chance!"

"Chance for what, Andrew dear?" inquired Janet, tremulously--for she
knew his nature.

"To mak a fortune in a moment," returned he, eagerly--"to be married the
morn! The king is to gie a purse o' gold!"

Now, the only obstacle that stood between the immediate union of Andrew
and Janet was his poverty.

"Oh, come awa, Andrew, love," said she, imploringly, and pulling his arm
as she spoke; "I see your drift!--come awa--come awa--we have seen
enough. Dinna be after ony sic nonsense, or thrawing awa your life on
sic an errand."

"Wheesht, Janet, hinny--wheesht," said he; "dinna be talking havers.
Just stand you here--there's not the smallest danger--I'll be back to ye
in ten minutes or a quarter of an hour at the utmost--ye may tak my word
upon that."

"Andrew!" cried she, "are ye out o' yer mind a'thegither--or do ye want
to put me out o' mine! I really think it looks like it! O man, would ye
be guilty o' murdering yoursel, I may say!--come awa--come awa,
dear--for I'll no stand to see it."

"Hoot, Janet, hinny," returned he, "come, dear, dinna be silly."

Now, the number of the Highland party was completed, and they stood, a
band of hardy, determined, and desperate-looking men; but the party of
the Borderers was one deficient.

"Is there not another," cried the herald, "to stand forth, and maintain
with his sword the honour and courage of the Borders?"

"Yes! here am I!" shouted Andrew, and drawing Janet's arm from his;
"now, dearest," added he, hastily, "just hae patience--just stand here
for ten minutes--and I'll let ye see what I can do."

She would have detained him; but in a moment he sprang into the
amphitheatre, and exclaimed--

"Now, Sir Knights, ye that hae been trying yer hands at the tourneyings,
will ony o' ye hae the guidness to obleege me wi' the loan o' yer sword
for a wee while, and I'll be bond for ye I'll no disgrace it--I'll try
the temper o' it in earnest."

Andrew instantly had a dozen to choose upon; and he took his place
amongst the Borderers.

When he joined them, those who knew him, said--"The day is ours--Andrew
is a host in himsel."

The marshals gave the signal for the onset; and a deadly, a savage
onset it was. Swords were shivered to the hilt. Men, who had done each
other no wrong, who had never met before, grasped each other by the
throat--the Highland dirk and the Border knife were drawn. Men plunged
them into each other--they fell together--they rolled, the one over the
other, in the struggles and the agonies of death. The wounded strewed
the ground--they strove to crawl from the strife of their comrades. The
dead lay upon the dying, and the dying on the dead. Death had reaped a
harvest from both parties; and no man could tell on which side would lie
the victory. Yet no man could stand before the sword-arm of
Andrew--antagonist after antagonist fell before him. He rushed to every
part of the combat; and wheresoever he went, the advantage was in favour
of the Borderers. He was the champion of the field--the hero of the
fight. The king gave a signal (perhaps because his young queen was
horrified with the game of butchery), and at the command of the marshals
the combatants on both sides laid down their arms. Reiterated shouts
again rang from the spectators. Some clapped their hands and
cried--"Eyemouth yet!"--"Wha's like Andrew!"--"We'll carry him hame
shouther high!" cried some of his townsmen.

During the combat, poor Janet had been blind with anxiety, and was
supported in the arms of the spectators who saw him rush from her side.
But as the shouts of his name burst on her ear, consciousness returned;
and she beheld him, with the sword in his hand, hastening towards her.
Yet ere he had reached where she stood, he was summoned, by the
men-at-arms, who had kept the multitude from pressing into the
amphitheatre, to appear before the king, to receive from his hands the
promised reward.

Anxious as he had been to obtain the prize, poor Andrew, notwithstanding
his heroism, trembled at the thought of appearing in the presence of a
monarch. His idea of the king was composed of imaginings of power, and
greatness, and wisdom, and splendour--he knew him to be a man, but he
did not think of him as such. And he said to those who summoned him to
the royal presence--

"Oh, save us a', sirs! what shall I say to him? or what will he say to
me? How shall I behave? I would rather want the siller than gang wi'
ye!"

In this state of tremor and anxiety, Andrew was conducted towards the
canopied dais before the Majesty of Scotland. He was led to the foot of
the steps which ascended to the seat where the monarch and his bride
sat. His eyes were riveted to the ground, and he needed not to doff his
bonnet, for he had lost it in the conflict.

"Look up, brave cock o' the Borders," said the monarch; "certes, man, ye
would hae an ill-faured face if ye needed to hide it, after exhibiting
sic a heart and arm."

Andrew raised his head in confusion; but scarce had his eyes fallen on
the countenance of the king, when he started back, as though he beheld
the face of a spirit.

"Ha! traitor!" exclaimed the monarch, and a frown gathered on his brow.

In a moment, Andrew perceived that his victor-wrestler--his crony in
Lucky Hewitt's--the tempter of his Janet--the man whom he had felled
with a blow, and whose blood he had drawn--and the King of Scotland, was
one and the same person.

"Guid gracious!" exclaimed Andrew, "I'm a done man!"

"Seize him!" said the king.

But ere he had said it, Andrew recollected that if he had a good right
hand, he had a pair of as good heels; and if he had trusted to the one a
few minutes before, he would trust to the latter now, and away he
bounded like a startled deer, carrying his sword in his hand.

A few seconds elapsed before the astonished servants of the king
recovered presence of mind to pursue him. As he fled, the dense crowd
that encircled the amphitheatre surrounded him; but many of them knew
him--none had forgotten his terrible courage--and, although they heard
the cry re-echoed by the attendants of the monarch to seize him, they
opened an avenue when he approached, and permitted him to rush through
them. Though, perhaps, the fear of the sword which he brandished in his
hand, and the terrible effects of which they had all witnessed,
contributed not less than admiration of his courage, to procure him his
ready egress from amongst them.

He rushed towards the sea-banks, and suddenly disappeared where they
seemed precipitous, and was lost to his pursuers; and after an hour's
search, they returned to the king, stating that they had lost trace of
him, and could not find him.

"Go back, ye bull-dogs!" exclaimed our monarch, angrily; "seek him--find
him--nor again enter our presence until ye again bring him bound before
us at Holyrood."

They therefore again proceeded in quest of the unfortunate fugitive; and
the monarch having conducted his royal bride to the pavilion, cast off
his jacket of black velvet, and arrayed himself in one of cloth of gold,
with edgings of purple and of sable fur. His favourite steed,
caparisoned to carry two, and with its panoply embroidered with jewels,
was brought before his pavilion. The monarch approached the door,
leading his queen in his hand. He lightly vaulted into the saddle--he
again took the hand of his bride, and placed her behind him; and in this
manner, a hundred peers and nobles following in his train, the King of
Scotland conducted his young queen through the land, and to the palace
of his fathers. The people shouted as the royal cavalcade departed, and
Scotch and English voices joined in the cry of--"Long live Scotland's
king and queen." Yet there were some who were silent, and who thought
that poor Andrew the fisherman, the champion of the day, had been
cruelly treated, though they knew not his offence. Those who knew him,
said--

"It bangs a'! we're sure Andrew never saw the king in his life before.
He never was ten miles out o' Eyemouth in his days. We ha'e kenned him
since a callant, and never heard a word laid against his character. The
king must hae taken him for somebody else--and he was foolish to run for
it."

But, while the multitude shouted, and joined in the festivities of the
day, there was one that hurried through the midst of them, wringing her
hands, and weeping as she went--even poor Janet. At the moment when she
was roused from the stupefaction of feeling produced by the horrors of
the conflict, and when her arms were outstretched to welcome her hero,
as he was flying to them in triumph, she had seen him led before his
prince, to receive his praise and his royal gifts; but, instead of
these, she heard him denounced as a _traitor_, as the king's words were
echoed round. She beheld him fly for safety, and armed men pursuing him.
She was bewildered--wildly bewildered. But every motion gave place to
anguish; and she returned to her mother's house alone, and sank upon her
bed, and wept.

She could scarce relate to her parent the cause of her grief; but
others, who had been witnesses of the regal festival, called at Widow
Hewitt's for refreshment, as they returned home, and from them she
gathered that her intended son-in-law had been the champion of the day;
but that, when he had been led forward to receive the purse from the
hands of the king, the monarch, instead of bestowing it, denounced him
as a traitor; "and when he fled," added they, "his majesty ordered him
to be brought to him dead or alive!"--for, in the days of our fathers,
men used the _license_ that is exemplified in the fable of the Black
Crows, quite as much as it is used now. The king certainly had commanded
that Andrew should be brought to him; but he had said nothing of his
being brought _dead_.

Nancy lifted her hands in astonishment as high as her ceiling (and it
was not a high one, and was formed of rushes)--"Preserve us, sirs!" said
she, "ye perfectly astonish me athegither! Poor chield! I'm sure Andrew
wadna harm a dog! A _traitor!_ say ye, the king ca'ed him? That's
something very bad, isn't it? An' surely--na, na, Andrew couldna be
guilty o't--the king maun be a strange sort o' man."

But, about midnight, a gentle knocking was heard at the window, and a
well-known voice said, in an undertone--

"Janet! Janet! it is me!"

"It is _him_ mother! it is Andrew! they haena gotten him yet!" And she
ran to the door and admitted him; and, when he had entered, she
continued, "O Andrew! what, in the name o' wonder, is the meaning o' the
king's being in a passion at ye? What did ye say or do to him?--or what
can be the meaning o't?"

"It is really very singular, Andrew," interrupted the old woman; "what
_hae_ ye done?--what _is really the meaning o't_?"

"Meaning!" said Andrew, "ye may weel ask that! I maun get awa' into
England this very night, or my life's no worth a straw; and it's ten
chances to ane that it may be safe there. Wha is the king, think
ye?--now, just think wha?"

"Wha _is_ the king!" said Nancy, with a look, and in a tone of
astonishment--"I dinna comprehend ye, Andrew--what do ye mean? Wha can
the king be, but just the king."

"Oh!" said Andrew, "ye mind the chield that cam here wi' me the other
night, that left the gowd noble for the three haddies that him and I had
atween us, and that I gied a clout in the haffets to, and brought the
blood ower his lips, for his behaviour to Jenny!--_yon was the king!_"

"Yon the king!" cried Janet.

"Yon the king?" exclaimed her mother; "and hae I really had the king o'
Scotland in my house, sitting at my fireside, and cooked a supper for
him! Weel, I think, yon the king! Aha! he's a bonny man!"

"O mother!" exclaimed Janet; "bonny here, bonny there, dinna talk
sae--he is threatening the life o' poor Andrew, who has got into trouble
and sorrow on my account. Oh, dear me! what shall I do,
Andrew!--Andrew!" she continued, and wrung her hands.

"There's just ae thing, hinny," said he; "I must endeavour to get to the
other side o' the Tweed, before folk are astir in the morning; so I maun
leave ye directly, but I just ventured to come and bid ye fareweel. And
there's just ae thing that I hae to say and to request, and that is,
that, if I darena come back to Scotland to marry ye, that ye will come
owre to England to me, as soon as I can get into some way o' providing
for ye. Will ye promise, Jenny?"

"Oh yes! yes, Andrew!" she cried, "I'll come to ye--for it is entirely
on my account that ye've to flee. But I'll do mair than that; for this
very week I will go to Edinburgh, and I will watch in the way o' the
king and the queen, and on my knees I'll implore him to pardon ye; and
if he refuses, I ken what I ken."

"Na, na, Jenny dear," said he, "dinna think o' that--I wad rather suffer
banishment, and live in jeopardy for ever, than that ye should place
yoursel in his power or in his presence. But what do ye ken, dear?"

"Ken!" replied she; "if he refuses to pardon ye, I'll threaten to tell
the queen what he said to me, and what offers he made to me when ye was
running out after the powny."

Andrew was about to answer her, when he started at a heavy sound of
footsteps approaching the cottage.

"They are in search o' me!" he exclaimed.

Instantly a dozen of armed men entered the cottage.

"We have found him," cried they to their companions without; "the
traitor is here."

Andrew, finding that resistance would be hopeless, gave up the sword
which he still carried, and suffered them to bind his arms. Jenny clung
round his neck and wept. Her mother sat speechless with terror.

"Fareweel, Jenny, dear!" said Andrew--"fareweel!--Dinna distress yoursel
sae--things mayna turn out sae ill as we apprehend. I can hardly think
that the king will be sae cruel and sae unjust as to tak my life. Is
that no your opinion, sirs?" added he, addressing the armed men.

"We are not to be your judges," said he who appeared to be their leader;
"ye are our prisoner, by his Majesty's command, and that is a' we ken
about the matter. But ye are denounced as a traitor, and the king spares
nane such."

Poor Janet shrieked as she heard the hopeless and cruel words, and again
cried--

"But the queen shall ken a'!"

Jenny's arms were rudely torn from around his neck, and he was dragged
from the house; and his arms, as I have stated, being bound, he was
placed behind a horseman, and his body was fastened to that of the
trooper. In this manner he was conducted to Edinburgh, where he was cast
into prison to await his doom.

Within two days, Janet and her mother were seized also, at the very
moment when the former was preparing to set out to implore his
pardon--and accused of harbouring and concealing in their house one whom
the king had denounced as guilty of treason.

Janet submitted to her fate without a murmur, and only said--"Weel, if
Andrew be to suffer upon my account, I am willing to do the same for
his. But surely neither you nor the king can be sae cruel as to harm my
poor auld mother!"

"Oh, dear! dear!" cried the old woman to those who came to apprehend
her--"Was there ever the like o' this seen or heard tell o'! Before I
kenned wha the king was, I took him to be a kind lad and a canny lad,
and he canna say but I showed him every attention, and even prevented
Andrew from striking him again; and what gratification can it be to him
to tak awa the life o' a lone widow, and a bit helpless lassie?"

But, notwithstanding her remonstrances, Nancy Hewitt and her beautiful
daughter were conducted as prisoners to the metropolis.

On the fourth day of his confinement, Andrew was summoned before King
James and his nobles, to receive his sentence and undergo its
punishment. The monarch, in the midst of his lords, sat in a large
apartment in the castle; armed men, with naked swords in their hands,
stood around, and the frown gathered on his face as the prisoner was led
into his presence.

Andrew bowed before the monarch, then raised his head and looked around,
with an expression on his countenance which showed that, although he
expected death, he feared it not.

"How now, ye traitor knave!" said the king, sternly; "do ye deny that ye
raised your hand against our royal person?"

"No!" was the brief and bold reply of the dauntless fisherman.

"Ye have heard, kinsmen," continued the monarch, "his confession of his
guiltiness from his own lips--what punishment do ye award him?"

"Death! the traitor's doom!" replied the nobles.

"Nay, troth," said James, "we shall be less just than merciful; and
because of his brave bearing at Lamberton, his life shall be
spared--but, certes, the hand that was raised against our person shall
be struck off.--Prepare the block!"

Now, the block was brought into the midst of the floor, and Andrew was
made to kneel, and his arm was bared and placed upon it--and the
executioner stood by with his drawn sword, waiting the signal from the
king to strike off the hand, when the fair young queen, with her
attendants, entered the apartment. The king rose to meet her, saying--

"What would my fair queen?"

"A boon! a boon! my liege," playfully replied the blooming princess;
"that ye strike not off the hand of this audacious man, but that ye
chain it for his life."

"Be it so, my fair one," said the king; and, taking the sword of the
executioner in his hand, he touched the kneeling culprit on the shoulder
with it, saying--"Rise up SIR ANDREW GUT-THRIE, and thus do we chain
your offending hand!"--the young queen at the same moment raised a veil
with which she had concealed the features of bonny Janet, and the king
taking her hand, placed it in Andrew's.

"My conscience!" exclaimed Andrew, "am I in existence!--do I dream, or
what?--O Jenny, woman!--O your Majesty!--what shall I say?"

"Nothing," replied the monarch, "but the king cam' in the cadger's
way--and Sir Andrew Gut-thrie and his bonny bride shall be provided
for."

FOOTNOTES:

[2] Bamborough.



THE ROYAL RAID.


Among the promoters of the wars and disturbances which so long
ravaged the Border counties, authors have been anxious to class
prominently the tender sex; not, however, in the way in which it was
imputed to these fair assuagers of man's misfortunes, that they shed the
blood of knights, in the times of Froissart. A whole book has been
penned--and another might follow it--on the wars and dissensions
produced by beautiful women; and, without mounting upwards to Eve, it
has been thought very well to begin with the maiden of Troy, who
produced the most spirited piece of knight-errantry that ever was acted
on the stage of the world. But, in almost every case on record, it was
the beauty of the fair disturbers, that, inflaming the spirit of
rivalship, set men a-fighting with so much zeal; and true it seems to
be, that, when beauty went into disrepute, and gunpowder came into
fashion--both much about the same time--we have never had what may be
called a _bona fide_ heroic battle. But the part which the Border fair
ones had in the bloody scenes of that distracted section of the country,
is represented to have been very different. The housewife, in those
times, served up to her hungry lord, under an imposing dish, a pair of
spurs; and this is represented as having been the gentle mode by which
the dame intimated that it was necessary for her lord to supply the
larder. The Flower of Yarrow herself did not disdain to stimulate, in
this way, the foraying spirit of old Harden. But we have good authority
that there were beautiful exceptions from this barbarous practice; and,
among these, we may safely place the unfortunate lady of Cockburn of
Henderland, the fair subject of the pathetic ballad of "The Border
Widow"--a strain which, so long as poetry shall hold any influence over
the heart of man, will continue to draw "soft pity's tear." If every
Border chieftain's wife had been like this lady, we would have heard and
read less of raids and robberies: the dish of spurs, that sent their
lords to the foray, would have been exchanged for the soft embracing
arms of affection, applied to keep them at home; and the blessings of
domestic peace would have harmonized with and softened the spirits which
a love of riot and rapine inflamed into excesses so often ending in
death. We have wept over her grave; and who that has seen the old stone
in Henderland churchyard--now broken in three pieces, but bearing still
that epitaph which Longinus would have pronounced sublime, "Here lies
Parys of Cockburn, and his wife Marjory"--and looked on the old ruins of
their castle, now scarcely sufficient for a resting place for the grey
owl--could resist the rising emotion, or quell the heaving breast of
pity? There lie Parys of Cockburn, and his wife Marjory! How little does
that simple chronicle tell! and yet how much. The eloquence of that
pregnant negative of ultra-simplicity, is felt by those who know their
fate; but how many have trod on the three parts of the broken tombstone,
deciphered the divided syllables, and walked on, and never inquired who
was Parys of Cockburn, or Marjory his wife! Their bones have long
mouldered into the dust that now feeds a few wild alpine plants; their
tombstone is a broken ruin, and will soon pass away; their castle, at a
few paces' distance, is also a ruin of a few black weathered stones; and
the land they were proud to call their own, dignifies another name. The
sculptor has failed, but the poet has succeeded; and time may flap his
dark pinion in vain over the deserted churchyard of Henderland.

The Cockburns of Henderland were an old family of Selkirkshire. Long before
the estate passed into the hands of strangers, we find the name and
title holding a respectable place among the lists of chieftains that
held a divided rule on the Borders. Those who have gratified themselves,
as we have done, by a view of St. Mary's Loch, and the classic streams
of the Ettrick and Yarrow, cannot fail to have seen the old property of
Henderland, situated on the Megget, a small stream that runs into the
loch. That was once the seat of the Cockburns; but there is a sad change
there now. In the time of Lesly the historian, the whole of the country
round Henderland, and the property itself, were covered with wood, that
afforded shelter to the largest stags in Scotland; and now, there is
scarcely a single tree that rears its head for miles around. Not distant
from the mansion-house of the present proprietor, the ruins of the old
castellated residence of the Cockburns may be seen; and, in the deserted
burying-ground that surrounded the chapel, there is the broken
tombstone, recording the deaths of the last members of the family, in
the simple terms we have already mentioned. These are the appearances
presented now; but, in the beginning of the sixteenth century,
Henderland was a close retreat, surrounded by wood and water. The family
castle stood in the midst of a dense wood of firs, mixed, in those parts
where the soil supported the king of the forest, with large oaks. The
Megget, rolling along its brattling stream, to St. Mary's, was, when in
its calm moods, made available for the ends of picturesque beauty; and,
when swollen by the mountain rills, served as a defence to the grounds
and residence. In building their strengths, all the Border chiefs had
particular reference to the natural advantages of the situation: the
middle of a morass, the edge of a precipice rising from a mountain
torrent, or a small island in the midst of a lake or river, were held to
be favoured localities; and Selkirkshire, in curious accordance with the
habits of the people, had and has no want of these natural strongholds.
Henderland had, perhaps, less to boast of, in point of natural strength,
than Tushielaw, Mangerton, and some other of the Border residences; but,
in the beauty of its wooded scenery, and the picturesque effect of
sleeping lochs and roaring torrents, it might not be excelled in all the
Borders.

In the minority of James V., Henderland Tower was occupied by Parys
(supposed to be a corrupted orthography of Paris) Cockburn. He was then
comparatively a young man, and inherited, with the property of a Border
chief, all the usual characteristics of that class of lairds--a natural,
inborn valour being looked upon as the principal of all the qualities of
the heart; and yet, unfortunately, applied, by a habit that had assumed
the strength of an instinct, to the strife of contending families, the
enterprises of pillage, and the contentions of a circumscribed ambition.
There was no peculiarity of the Borderers more remarkable than the union
of a high valour that would have immortalized many a knight within the
palisades, and the habit of overturning the rights of property--descending
even to the grade of petty larceny. Now-a-days, theft and cowardice are
generally supposed to be nearly allied; but, in those days, the chief of
a large clan, inhabiting a stately castle, and famous for a noble
courage throughout the land, could pause, in the progress homewards,
with half-a-dozen of his neighbour's kine; look, with a furacious eye,
on a bundle of hay, and regret, in his heart, that it had not four legs
like a cow, by which he could make it steal itself home to his
semi-baronial residence.[3] These apparently inconsistent and opposite
qualities were possessed by the laird of Henderland. There was not in
all Liddesdale a nobler champion of the rights of war; and few there
were that entered more keenly into the spirit of enterprise, to take
from his neighbour a fat steer, and then fight, as nobly as ever did
King Robert for a lost kingdom, in defence of his horned prey. The
riever in Cockburn was, however, a character of mere habit; for he
possessed qualities of heart and mind which raised him far above the
Border chiefs with whom he was usually ranked. He could fight to the
effusion of blood that came from within an inch of the coronary veins of
his heart, for the property of a cow, that, next day, he would divide
among the poor; and he was often heard to say, that, if Henderland had
been among "the Lowdens," he would have been a gay courtier, a supporter
of the throne, and a friend of the poor, if not the king's almoner
himself. In addition to these qualities, he carried a noble figure, and
an open, intelligent countenance, that expressed the feelings of a heart
as susceptible of the social affections as it was of the emotions that
produced his lawless enterprises.

The interior of Henderland Castle, at this time, was graced by the
presence of one of the fairest of women, and the most dutiful and
affectionate of wives. The lot of Marjory Scott, the wife of Cockburn,
was, indeed, in all respects, save in the possession of a husband she
loved devotedly, unfortunately cast; because, in person, mind, and
heart, she was formed for gracing the polished drawing-room of refined
and civilized life, and imparting to the nursery the charm of a soft,
kind, and doting mother, whose love of strict moral discipline was only
one phase of her maternal affection. Become the wife of a Border chief
from the force of an irresistible early passion, she was as much the
domesticated lover of in-door enjoyments, the cultivator of the social
affections, and the admirer of love and tranquillity, as if she had
occupied a retreat in Arcadia. She had brought her husband three
children, all as fair as herself, one girl and two boys, whom she, in
playful kindness, declared she would rear in the fear of God, the love
of man, and the hearty hatred of Border rieving in all its gradations,
from the laird's enforcing of blackmail, to the prowess of the laird's
Jock, whose depredations extended to the minutiæ of Laverna's
sacrifices:--

    "Baith hen and cock,
    And reel and rock,
    The laird's Jock
    All with him takes."

She had early entertained the expectation that she would cure her
husband of his Border practices; and, though she had not as yet
succeeded in that hope, she had placed before him such a picture of
domestic bliss, in the working influences of all the finer and higher
sentiments, seen and heard in the acts and speech of every member of his
little family, that he became daily more reconciled to her views of the
happiness of life, at the same time that he could not resist the
heart-stirring stimulus of a raid, to give him, as he said with a smile,
a higher relish for his domestic enjoyments.

A fine family picture, preserved as a legend of the house of Henderland,
represents Cockburn and Marjory sitting beneath an immense elm, the only
tree of that kind near the castle, and rendered curious on another
account, with their three children beside them, engaged in swinging from
its branches, and other gambols of innocent childhood. The anxious wife
had, for a time, succeeded in her endeavours to keep her husband at
home; but, latterly, some indications, on the part of the chief's
retainers, having been caught by her vigilant eye, she dreaded another
outbreak of that daring spirit which she had not yet been able
effectually to quell.

"It will not conceal, Parys," said she, "that there are yet in this
bosom, where your Marjory's head has sought the refuge of love,
frightened by war, some embers of your old spirit ready to flame again.
Is it not so? Love hath sharp eyes. It is not for stag hunting that your
followers are stringing their bows. The love of your old pastime, like
that of an old concealed passion, will act in such a manner as defieth
all the art of concealment. I noticed, last night, as you spoke to
Scott's John, who was booming his bow to show the power of the cord,
that the sound went to your heart. Tushielaw oweth you a debt of
vengeance. Is it not so? Come, now, confess that it is not for nothing
that the old sword points have been risped on the sharping-stone on the
ballium?"

"Tush, Marjory!" replied Cockburn, "you alarm the ear of the watchful
Helen, who suspendeth her play to listen to her mother's fears. Such is
thy training, that our young Hector will lose Henderland before the sods
have grown together over his father's grave, in that small burying
ground around our chapel. And you have unmanned me too, Maudge. You have
much to answer for to the manes of the old Cockburns, who lie sleeping
in their quiet beds there, after a jolly life of sturdy stouthrieving
from Yarrow to the Esk. What would the laird of Gilnockie say if he
heard that Cockburn's bairns were taught to read--ay, and to play on
harpsichords, and teylins, and dulcimers. By my faith, Maudge, but he
would laugh a good laugh."

"And yet," answered she, "I have seen the clear drop shining in her
father's eye as Helen touched the strings to the soft melodies of Auld
Scotland. Come, now, Parys, was not that sweet dream dearer to ye than
the fever of the strife of Border foray?"

"Ay, Maudge," responded he, "I confess that you have taught me that
there is more in man's heart than he himself dreams of. I once thought
that the highest of human enjoyments was a victory lost and won, with a
hundred head of cattle driven before the returning host, in triumph, to
Henderland; but, in yon withdrawing-room in the west wing, in which your
cunning hands have placed the seductive couch, where one may lie and see
roses blooming so near that he may smell their odours, and hear witching
strains stealing from these musical things of wood and wire, the charm
of the foray is broken, and the riever's spirit overcome. I wish I saw
old Mangerton twisting his leathern cheeks under these arts of domestic
peace. Every tear would have its avenging oath. He would trow old
Henderland turret bewitched."

"But you have cunningly led me away from my subject, Parys. Is it not
true that you are to cut through my silken bands with the restless
sword? Are you not again to turn the fearless eye of the eagle on the
cliff where Tushielaw hangs like a beetling crag? Is Helen's song to be
changed for the raven war-cry; and the blessings of our peaceful
household, for the curses of revengeful war?"

"How high mounteth Hector on my grandfather's elm!" responded Cockburn,
playfully, evading her question. "The fearless rogue will hang himself,
and realize the prophecy of Merlin the wild, regarding our house--

    'On Cockburn's elm, on Henderland lee,
    A Cockburn laird shall hangit be.'"

"God forfend!" ejaculated Marjory. "Hector, undo that cord, and descend.
My ears ring with old Lailoken's prophetic rhyme, when I look on that
swing. I shall have it removed."

"Ha ha!" cried Cockburn, laughing, and glad to get rid of the original
topic. "Don't you know, Maudge, that my grandsire was a dabbler in
prophetic visions; and, think ye, he would have been fool enough to
plant and water, as he is said to have done, his descendant's wuddy? But
I have a good mind to cut down the tree, and make Lailoken's prophecy a
physical impossibility."

As Cockburn spoke, he cast his eye wistfully to the sky, as if he felt
an anxiety as to the state of the weather, an act which did not escape
the observation of his wife, on whom the allusion to Merlin's prophecy,
generally current at that time, had produced an effect not remarkable at
a period when this species of soothsaying still retained the credit it
had acquired by the success of the poet of Ercildoun. At another time,
her strong mind would not have acknowledged the power of the rhythmic
ravings of a wandering maniac; but she had got some obscure hints of the
wrath of the young King James V. against the Border chiefs; and the
tender solicitude of a doting wife traced, by a process perhaps unknown
to herself, some connection between Merlin's saying and the proof she
now had of a concealed intention, on the part of Cockburn, to disregard
all her efforts to reclaim him, by imbuing his mind with a perception of
the pleasures of domestic happiness, from his old habits of rieving and
fighting with his neighbours.

"It is--it is, Parys," she exclaimed, with a trembling voice--"It is too
true that you are bent on the execution of your old threat against
Tushielaw. I have an accumulation of proofs against you, and can read it
even in your countenance. Do you love me, Parys?--say if you have any
love for your Marjory--say if your affection is changed towards those
dear pledges of our happiness, who, enjoying the sports of their age,
are unconscious that their father is meditating that which may, ere the
morn's sun gild those woods, render them fatherless, and bring sorrow
o'er the house of Henderland? There are two dangers awaiting you:
Tushielaw's arm, that has incarnadined the waters of Ettrick with the
blood of many a proud foe; and the vengeance of King James, whose
youthful fire his nobles, they say, cannot quell."

"This is not the cry of 'houghs in the pot,' Marjory," replied he,
still laughing--"the hint of the Border chieftains' wives, when they
want more beef for the larder. But calm ye, love. Young James will not
travel hither to fulfil old Lailoken's rhyme, and Tushielaw's arm hath
no power over Cockburn. Truly, I do intend to weed thy pretty arbours,
Maudge; and, peradventure, I may even essay to sing a bass to thy sweet
ballad of "Lustye May, with Flora Queen;" and such a domesticated
creature shall I be that, like Hercules, you may see me, ere long, ply
the distaff--a pretty sight for Adam Scott's warlike eye."

Cockburn's merriment fell with a lurid glare over the heart of his
wife, who, seeing him determined to cover his designs by light raillery,
replied nothing; but, calling to her her three children, kissed them,
and bade them set aside their sports, and return with her to the Castle.
As they passed along, Cockburn still cast a wistful eye to the skies,
which wore a threatening aspect--the sun having been surrounded in his
setting with large folds of clouds, whose bellying forms came dipping
near the mountains; while the pale form of the moon, scarcely
distinguishable in the falling gloaming, seemed to be sailing through
broken masses of vapour, like a labouring bark in a stormy sea; and, now
and then, a deep hollow moan among the woods came on the ear, like the
far echo of dying thunder. About the Castle, the followers of Cockburn
were observed, by the anxious eye of Marjory, to be all secretly
employed in repairing their arms or habiliments--an occupation they
threw aside, stealthily, when they saw their mistress; but not until she
had observed what they had thus endeavoured to conceal. Their
countenances exhibited that mixture of repressed joy and affected
seriousness which the expectation of being gratified by a luxury from
which the heart has long been debarred by some external power, produces
in the presence of one hostile to the gratification. So strong was the
desire of marauding and spoliation in that distracted part of the
country, that an expedition was then looked upon in nearly the light in
which a fair, or maiden-feast, or penny-wedding, would be contemplated
by more civilized revellers. These indications Marjory noticed; and,
turning up her eyes in the face of her husband, she sighed heavily, and
sought her apartment. Soon afterwards she proceeded to put her children
to rest, making them offer up to heaven a prayer to avert from the head
of their father a danger they did not understand, but enough to them, if
they saw it in the face of their mother, whose looks were their laws,
and whose smiles were the sunlight of their young hearts.

"This is a prettier sight," muttered she, in soft accents, as she looked
upon the faces of the beautiful and innocent supplicants--"this is
surely a fairer sight, and better calculated to fill and delight the
heart of mortal, than what my Parys is now, I fear, preparing to behold.
How different is the expression of the faces of these innocents,
upturned to heaven in supplication and thankfulness, from the
torch-flared countenances of blood and revenge which these retainers
will turn on the heights of Tushielaw, in the presence of their master!
Nor is my Parys insensible to this difference; but, wo for the force of
education and habit over good hearts! Ask, my little Hector, of your
Father in heaven that, if you live to be a Border chief, you may be
loyal to your king, and a promoter of peace in the castle, and
contentedness and happiness in the cottage."

The little embryo chieftain obeyed the words of his mother; and all
looked up in her face anxiously, as they saw the tears stealing down her
cheeks. Each asked the cause of her grief, and volunteered an
assuagement, as if their little swelling hearts contained the power of
the instant amelioration of her sorrow. She looked upon them in silence;
and in a little time they were consigned to rest and sleep, and utter
oblivion of all the cares of this world.

After these maternal cares, Marjory sat and listened to the proceedings
in the ballium of the Castle. Cockburn did not come up, being either
occupied in preparations for his expedition against Adam Scott, or
unwilling to expose his designs again to the danger of defeat, by the
expostulations or entreaties of his anxious wife. Meanwhile, as she
listened, every whisper or accidental sound of sword or spear went to
her heart, and stirred up, in confused array, the fears of love. One
hope remained to her, that the moon would hide her head, and leave the
world to the empire of darkness--so unfavourable to the designs of the
riever, that the moon's minions would not fight under another power.
There were clear indications in the heavens of a coming storm; for the
moon still toiled on through the clouds, and the booming of the low,
sullen wind in the woods was getting higher and higher. These sounds she
hailed with hope; but, the next moment, the clang of a falling spear
consigned her to her fears. At a late hour, Cockburn came up to his
sleeping-room, and silently retired to pretended rest; while she, with
her solicitude increased, retired also to her couch, but with no
disposition to become oblivious of the fatal operations of her husband,
though her tender nature forbade further efforts in a cause that seemed
hopeless. Resigning herself to the powers of fear, and the other
disquieting influences of the solemn hour of midnight, she lay quiet,
and submitted to the current of inauspicious thoughts that flowed
through her mind. A disturbed slumber fell over her, sufficient only to
make a slight division between the world of dreams and that of reality,
and to allow her waking thoughts to pass in new and changing forms
before the eye of the dreaming fancy, which again, in its turn, invested
them with attributes suitable to the complexion of her waking sorrows.
During this interval, Cockburn rose; and, dressing himself, went quietly
out of the chamber--his movements having only tended to give some new
impulse to her half-dreamy sensations, ineffectual as they were to
recall her to the cares of a night vigil. A loud crash was the first
sound that awoke her; and opening her eyes, and becoming collected, she
recognised, in the sharp sound, the grating fall of the portcullis. A
shrill horn now winded among the woods, though its sound was scarcely
distinguishable among the repressed bellowings of the night winds that
seemed to have risen considerably since she had been overcome by her
slumber. She was satisfied that the whole retinue, with her husband at
their head, were off to the beetling Castle of Tushielaw, from whose
heights so many a riever had been precipitated into the Ettrick.

This conviction, coming, as it did, on the back of a disturbed slumber,
in which her dreams had partaken of the dire nature of a nightmare,
increased her fears. She could rest no longer, and rising and dressing
herself, she sat down at the casement, and listened to ascertain if any
of the sounds of the cavalcade could be distinguished. She could satisfy
herself of enough to indicate the route they had taken--away over the
hills that separate the vales of Ettrick and Yarrow, and by the path
that has since got the name of the King's Road, leading directly to the
Tower of Tushielaw. But a quick and threatening change in the weather
soon attracted her attention. The booming of the wind seemed to cease,
and, shortly after, the clouds, through the openings of which the moon
had been seen labouring during the previous part of the night, appeared
to run rapidly together, so as to conceal the face of the night queen,
and to present a homogenous mass of dark vapour over all the heavens. A
flash of vivid lightning now flared in her eyes, and left her for a
moment in suspense whether she had not been blinded by the bright fluid;
then on came the peal of thunder, which reverberating among the
mountains like discharges of artillery, filled her with that peculiar
awe which the speaking clouds throw over the hearts of mortals. The rain
came down in torrents, and had scarcely begun to pour, when the
speat-rills of the high lands were heard dashing down like angry spirits
to swell the Henderland Burn and the Megget, and raise the fury of these
mountain streams. The sound of the thunder had awoke the children, who,
leaving in terror their beds, came running to their mother, to seek that
protection which could alone allay their fears. Circling round her
knees, they hid their heads among the folds of her clothes, or clambered
to her bosom, and twined their arms round her neck. It was in vain she
asked them to return to bed; they conceived themselves safer on the
breast of their mother, though she still sat at the casement, and the
lightning glanced in their eyes, than they could be in their beds,
muffled up in the bedclothes, and listening to the successive peals of
thunder. As she sat in this attitude, with the children cowering into
her bosom, like little chickens under the wing of their mother, she
observed that the thunder approached nearer and nearer, as the period
between the flash and the peal diminished gradually to a second; and a
sudden flash among the trees, accompanied with a crackling noise,
connected with some destructive operation of the bolt, indicated that
mischief had been done in that quarter of the wood. It was where the elm
stood, the subject of Merlin's rhyme; and this circumstance sent the
current of her thoughts in that direction, where there was so much
aliment for her excited fancy. She silently prayed that the tree might
be destroyed; and its towering top, above all others of the wood, held
out some hope that her strange wish might be realized.

The sound of a man's voice--that of Dick of the Muir, as he was
styled--the individual who kept the gate of the Tower--was heard
shouting to some one without, in reply to some request made by the
latter. It was now about two in the morning, and Marjory could not
conceive what could be the purpose of the stranger's visit at that
dreary hour.

"What want ye wi' my Leddie at this time, man?" said Dick. "My master's
frae hame, and my commission doesna extend to opening the gate to
strangers on night visits."

"But I'm nae stranger, Dick," replied the other. "I served the Cockburns
before ye was born, and hae wandered many a weary step, in the midst o'
this storm, to speak a word to the ear o' my Leddie. The time o' my
visit is a good sign o' the importance o' my counsel. For God's sake,
open, man! or ye may rue this hour to that o' your deein struggle, when
Laird and Leddie may be in the moil there, ahint the auld chapel, and a'
through the laziness o' their warder."

"Raff i' the mire!" cried the warder--saluting him after the custom of
the times, when every man had a distinctive appellation, in the absence
of sirnames. "I took ye, man, for ane o' Tushielaw's scouts."

The creaking of the hinges of the gate was now heard.

"What brings ye frae Peebles, man?" continued the warder, "in sic a
night as this, when a witch wouldna venture on the Skelf Hill, far less
owre North Berwick Law."

"It's no to tell ye that Merlin's elm has fa'en," rejoined Ralph; "but
three oaks on three sides o't are lying on the earth, and that stately
tree may be a gallows still. You say, Henderland's frae hame. I'm glad
o' the news. It's his leddie I want to see: an' she maun be roused frae
her couch to speak to her auld servitor. Time bides nae man; neither
does King James."

Another peal of thunder drowned the conversation of the man: and
Marjory, rousing her little refugees, urged them to return to their
beds, that she might be left to hear the intelligence of this midnight
messenger, whose words already, so far as she had heard them, carried
tokens of evil. His reference to the king struck a chord that prior
solitude had made sensitive; and even the remark as to the tree that had
escaped the bolt, had in it a peculiar power over her shattered nerves.
Her fears operated upon the children, who, even to the youngest, put
strange questions to her.

"Why are you here, mother, in the lightning?" cried Hector.--"And where
is my father?" inquired Helen.--"See that flash again!" said Margaret,
as she buried her head in her mother's bosom.

"Poor, helpless, little ones!" ejaculated she. "How little know ye that
that which fears ye most, is to me the smallest of my terrors! If man's
wrath were quenched, heaven's would be easily averted. This messenger's
intelligence may seal your fates, and be felt in its consequences to the
last term of your lives. Come, loves, to bed. Hear ye that foot in the
stair?"

The allusion to a mysterious visitor accomplished what the lightning of
heaven could not effect--such is the secret power of mystery over the
young heart. Rising from her lap, they hurried away to their beds, and
left the not less terrified mother to hear the intelligence of the night
messenger. The door opened, and Ralph stood before her.

"God be thanked, my Leddie Cockburn," said he, in a repressed voice,
and with fearful looks--"God be thanked, for Henderland's absence! The
king, wi' his nobles, are at Peebles, on their way to Liddesdale, to tak
vengeance on the chiefs o' the Borders, wha hae been foremost in the
foray and the rieving raid. They whisper yonder that there's a hangman
in the train, wi' ropes, to hang the ring-leaders on their castle
buttresses; and Henderland is to be their first victim. O my Leddie!
dispatch, quick as thae flashes o' levin, a messenger to the master, and
tell him to flee to England, till the king's wrath has blawn owre. I hae
braved this awful storm, auld as I am, to save my master; and, if I but
saw him safe frae the king's ire, I could lay my banes at the foot o'
the grave o' the Cockburns."

"I have been looking for this Ralph," answered Marjory, as she lifted
her hands to seize her hair, in her distress. "Even now, God be
merciful! my husband is in the very act of rieving and rebellion. But
what said ye of Merlin's Elm, man? Is it not skaithed? Speak, no secrets
now; are the trees beside it blasted, and does it stand?"

"I hae heard yer Leddieship laugh at that auld rhyme," replied the
servitor. "Fear naething for a madman's freak. But it's true that three
oaks by its side are blasted, riven and laid on the earth, and yet it
stands."

"Strange, strange are the ways of heaven," cried she, wringing her
hands. "Ralph, you must be the messenger to my husband. Haste and saddle
my grey jennet, and flee by the Riever's Road, to Tushielaw. Tell
Henderland and Adam Scott, that King James comes, with a halter, to
avenge the rights of royalty and peace. Cry it forth in the midst of
their battle. If he will not flee, take his horse's head, and lead him
to England. Away, away, for mercy and Henderland's sake, good Ralph, and
whisper in his ear--hark ye, man, 'tis no woman's dream--whisper the
fate of Lailoken's tree. The thunder may drown his laugh."

The faithful servant obeyed the command of his former mistress; and,
hastening as fast as his old limbs would enable him, mounted Marjory's
grey jennet, and was soon out in the midst of the storm. The only
remaining servant left in the tower, besides the warder, was, at the
same time, despatched, by his half-frantic mistress, to proceed on the
road to Peebles, and reconnoitre the king's company, and convey to her
what intelligence he could learn in regard to its movements. By this
time it was now about three o'clock; but the morning was still dark, the
storm had not abated, the rain still poured, the lightning flashed, and
the neighbouring streams rolled over their rugged channels with a noise
that equalled the thunder which yet shook the heavens. Marjory again
took her seat on the casement; and her fancy, stimulated by her fears,
became again busy in the conjuration of images which, however fearful,
unhappily stood too great a chance of being realized. The substratum of
indisputable facts was itself a good foundation of fear:--The king,
angry, and breathing revenge against his rebellious subjects of the
Border, was at hand--even within a few miles of her husband's residence;
and the ensign of his authority and punishment was borne by the common
executioner; then he would detect her husband in the very commission of
that rebellious act against which the royal vengeance was to be
directed; and, above all, she feared--nay, she was certain, from her
knowledge of Henderland's free, bold spirit, that he would disdain to
fly, and would at once commit himself into the hands of a young incensed
monarch, who had travelled forty miles for his blood. These were
fearful, incontrovertible facts, and they were contemplated by a
solitary female in the dark hour of night, in the midst of one of the
fiercest storms that had ever visited that part of the country, and
under the blue lights of a fancy that, in spite of the appeals of
judgment, reverted to an old prophecy of a wonderful being, which seemed
to have been respected even by the lightning of heaven: the elm still
stood; its brethren of the forest had fallen; and the rope to be
attached to it was on its way to Henderland. Fearful forebodings took
possession of her mind; and, as her fears rose higher and higher, she
looked out in the dark, while the gleams of lightning played round her
couch, and every sound that differed from the roaring of the storm
arrested her ear, and kept her on the rack of painful anxiety. Her
little children, meanwhile, who had caught sympathetically her fears,
and could not divine the cause of their mother's vigil by the window in
a thunder storm, had renounced sleep; and, disregarding her efforts to
restrain them, must see her at intervals, and question her again and
again; and even from their sleeping apartment they sent their
exclamations of fear, and aggravated, by their sorrows and terror, the
misery of their mother.

In this condition Marjory remained for another hour. There was no stir
in the tower, where a female domestic or two lay, or slipped about,
under the weight of a fear, the cause of which had not been explained to
them. The silence internally, broken at times by the cries of the
restless children, formed a strange and awe-inspiring contrast to the
turmoil without, where darkness and the storm still held sway over the
earth. Oppressed by the sight of the black heavens, she yet trembled to
look for the first glimpse of dawn, which might be soon expected to be
seen struggling through the vapours of the storm. Light would bring the
king and the executioner; and she prayed that she might have an
opportunity of seeing her husband before the arrival of the royal
cavalcade, that she might fall on her knees, and implore his instant
flight into England; but her ears caught no sounds in the direction of
Tushielaw, save the thunder and the rain, and, at intervals, the scream
of the drenched owl or frightened hawk, or the wheep of the restless
lapwing, driven from the morass by the overwhelming torrent. Then came
the cry again, of "Mother, mother!" from her sleepless children,
responded to by her own, "Hush, hush, my darlings! your father cometh!"
when her pained ear sought again the direction of Peebles, and she
trembled as her fancy suggested the sound of hoof or horn.

Thus another hour passed, and her racked feelings were still uncheered
by a glimpse of hope. The strength of her soul seemed to have passed
into the physical organs of the eye and ear; and every change, from
darkness or silence, produced exacerbations of her fear, and painful
apprehension. The faint shade of light in the eastern heavens, which
gave tokens of the approaching dawn, might be a precursor of the king
and his retinue; and as her eye fell upon it, she listened again for the
coming tread. A very faint sound was now heard, and it was too evident
that it came not from Tushielaw; it was from the direction of Peebles,
and it sounded as if it were the tread of a horse. It must be, she
instantly thought, the scout of the king's cavalcade; for, in her
painful anxiety, she had forgotten her own messenger. The step
approached nearer and nearer; and more intense, in the same degree, grew
her apprehension, till the sound of her messenger's voice, calling the
warder, struck her ear--and she imagined she never heard a voice so
hollow and ominous of death. The man was admitted, and his heavy step up
the spiral stair, flustering in the toil of a vain precipitude in the
dark entrance, declared the impatience of his intelligence.

"Ah! my Leddie," said he, as he ran forward, breathlessly and fearfully,
"Ralph spoke truth. The king's party will be at the castle in less time
than an eagle may flee frae Dunyon to Ruberslaw. I hae seen them. They
carry torches to shew them the hill-paths, and keep them oot o' the saft
bogs. The light shone fearfully on the hill-sides, and the clatter o'
their horses' hoofs rang in my ears. I had seen enough, and made the
greatest speed to bring the ill news."

"Cockburn, Cockburn," ejaculated the disconsolate wife, "what power may
now save ye from thy fate? His proud spirit will disdain flight--ay, and
prompt a meeting with his executioner. What has become of Ralph?
Everything conspires toward the ruin of my hopes. You must to Tushielaw,
Thomas, and give a second warning to your master. Tell him of this
torch-light progress of the royal executioner, and warn him again to fly
for his life, and the life of one who lives through him. Yet,
stay--shall I not go myself? One messenger hath failed already--shall a
wife fail in the cause of her husband's life?"

"The mountain torrents are swelled, my Leddie," replied Thomas of the
Woodburn, "an' will be noo sweepin owre the Riever's Road, carryin baith
man an' horse to the howes; an' nane but an auld hill-roadster may ken
the richt tract frae that to ruin in the midst o' the darkness. Ye micht
as weel try to pass the Brig o' Dread, my Leddie. Yer bonnie body wad be
fund a corpse wi' the mornin's licht, an' Cockburn, pardoned by the king
maybe, micht greet owre't. Besides, ye should be here. A woman's voice
turns awa meikle wrath."

"Away, then, yourself, good Thomas!--I believe your counsel is good.
Heaven speed the message! Cockburn's delay gives me a glimmer of hope,
that Ralph hath already turned his head to England. If so be it, you
will report to me privately, and away from the ear of the king's
followers. If not, and if he cometh to meet the king, heaven look down
in mercy on these poor children, who still cry for their mother, and
will not rest!"

Thomas obeyed; and, as she turned to comfort her children, before she
again betook herself to her weary station, she heard the clatter of the
horse's heels over the gateway. The restlessness of her little ones
pained her: she imagined she saw, in their instinctive anxiety and fear,
some presage of coming evil, whereby, before another night, they might
be orphans; and all her efforts to remove the impression only tended to
confirm it--thus strangely and fantastically prophetic, is the
apprehensive heart. After again assuring them that their father was
coming, she sought her seat at the casement; and saw, now, the grey
dawn, throwing a stronger light over the bleak hills, and exhibiting the
white, foaming cataracts, dashing from brae to brae! Any hope of seeing
Cockburn, now, before the coming of the king, had gradually dwindled
away, and was extinct; and she as much feared to hear a sound from the
direction of Tushielaw, as she, an hour before, was anxious for that
indication of her husband's approach. Every instant she might expect to
hear the tramp of the king's horses; nothing could avert that sound from
her ear, or prevent it beating upon her heart. It came at last; she
heard it audibly, mixed with the discordant jingle of armour, and
striking her ear at the same time that a horrid glare of torch-light
pierced the deep wood, and arrested her eye. In a few minutes more, a
trumpet sounded a shrill blast; the feet of many restless horses raised
a confused noise, that was mixed with broken, under-toned ejaculations,
and clanking of swords and bucklers, and, after a minute or two of
comparative silence, came the high tones of a herald's voice, demanding
admittance in the name of King James. The warder repaired to his
mistress, and got his answer. The gate was opened, and Marjory saw the
cavalcade enter the base court surrounding the castle; while two large
bodies of soldiers, coming up about the same time, took their stations
on each side of the entrance. A circle was now formed by those who were
within the court; and the grim faces of the nobles, as they reflected
the glare of the torches, were revealed clearly to her gaze. In the
middle stood the young king, in close and secret counsel with his
confidential advisers, and, at last, the warder was called before his
Majesty, to account for the absence of his master, tell where he had
gone, and record his proceedings. The man reluctantly obeyed the call.

"Where is thy master, sirrah?" inquired the king.

The warder was silent, and the question was repeated in sterner tones.

"I keep only this castle, your Highness," replied the warder; "my master
is his ain keeper--an' a better there's no between the twa Tynes."

"Thou art a good keeper of thine own tongue, at least," said James,
angrily; "but we come not from court unprepared with remedies for
opening the mouths of close-hearted seneschals. Let Lithcraig attend."

An opening was now made in the circle of nobles, and a man, dressed in a
long black doublet, came forward, holding in his hands a rope, ready to
be suspended, and to suspend, in its turn, the disobedient warder.

"Throw thy cord over the buttress, there," cried one of the nobles;
"give the noose mouth enough to tell its own tale, and I will answer for
it bringing out his."

The man proceeded forward to a buttress of the castle completely
exposed to the eyes of Marjory, by the gleams that flared from the
torches; and she saw him deliberately go through the operation of making
the projection available for the purpose of a gallows, by binding the
cord to it, and suspending a running noose, which seemed to gape in grim
gesture for its victim. The moment the rope was suspended, James pointed
to it, and asked the warder to proceed and answer his questions. The
terrified man cast a wild eye on the relentless crowd around him, and
then on the engine of death that dangled before him, and, with faltering
tongue, told the king that Cockburn had gone on a midnight raid against
Adam Scott of Tushielaw, who, some time before, had made an assault on
Henderland, and carried off twenty head of cattle, besides wounding
several of Cockburn's men; he stated, farther, that there had been many
raids of late in Liddesdale; but that his master had had, until
Tushielaw roused him, scarcely any share in these struggles, preferring
the society of his lady, the fairest and the kindest woman of the
Borders, to the pleasures of rieving. This statement was received as
evidence against Cockburn.

All these transactions had been narrowly watched by Marjory, who was
now more and more satisfied that the doom of her husband was sealed, if
he made his appearance before the king in the humour he now exhibited.
She saw them bind the warder with ropes until their trial was over, that
he might remain in pledge for the truth of his statements; and the heads
again held counsel on the next step they should take in the unexpected
event of the "traitor," as they called him, not being found at home,
notwithstanding of their attempted surprise by a night visit. These
doings had occupied as much time as allowed the glimmer of early dawn to
pass into a grey light, that, while it did not render the torches
unnecessary, exhibited in strange and grotesque shades the group of dark
figures, their changing faces, moving heads, and inauspicious gestures,
on which the gleams of the torches flickered faintly, in struggles with
the rising morn. Above them, the dangling noose claimed her averted eye,
and sent through her nerves shivers that seemed to make the blood run
back in the veins, and stagnate about the heart. In any other position
but that in which she was placed, she would have made the castle ring
with involuntary screams; and it was only the intense anxiety with which
she watched every sound in the distance, in the struggling hope that
Cockburn would not make his appearance, that bound her down in the
silent, breathless mood which she now exhibited. Neither could she have
borne the extraordinary spectacle below her casement, had it not been
that her wish to watch every indication in the direction of Tushielaw,
overcame the feelings inspired by the moving tumult of fierce men that
waited there for the blood of her husband. Sometimes the thought found
its way through her anxiety--why did they not call for or visit her? But
the solution was not difficult; for she knew that men bent on purposes
of cruelty, do not court the mediation of women. And then again she
meditated, for a moment, a descent to them, and an attempt, by throwing
herself at the feet of the king, to secure, by anticipation, mercy to
her husband, when he might, if ever he should, be found. This last
thought was passing through her mind, and she had intuitively drawn her
clothes around her bosom, as a preparation for her rising resolution,
when her husband's horn, in all its well-known windings, struck her ear.
That sound had hitherto inspired the pulses of a living heart, and sent
through her veins the delightful tumult of a gratified hope; it had been
the prelude to the close embrace of affection; the flourish of joy on
the meeting again of separated hearts. It was now the death-knell of
both. She would have sunk to the ground as the sound fell on her ear,
but that the recess of the casement sustained her powerless frame. After
a few moments of insensibility, she again opened her eyes; and the first
vision that presented itself to her, was her husband marching into the
castle between two rows of the king's troops. He came nobly forward,
with a free, erect carriage, and a look undaunted by the scowls that
fell on him from every side. On coming up to the king, who stood in a
haughty, indignant attitude, he was prepared to throw himself at his
feet, when his eye caught the rope, with the noose at the end of it,
hanging from the buttress. He started, and threw a hurried look up to
the casement, where Marjory sat watching his every movement; but his
fortitude returned again, and making a step forward, he threw himself at
the feet of the king.

"Here doth an humble subject," he said, "deposit the loyalty he oweth to
his lawful king."

"On the eve, or in the midst of rebellion," cried James, in ironical
anger. "Seize the rebel! One caught in the act, maketh a good beginning.
Four reigns of Jameses have been merely borne or suffered, by beggarly
tolerance, by these Border sovereigns, and the best part of a kingdom
made an arena for the strife of the contention of petty kings, who rob,
and steal, and kill on all hands, heedless whether the victim be king or
knave. This shall be ended--by the faith of Scotland's king it shall!
'Habit and repute,' is good evidence by our old law against common
thieves; and I ask my nobles, too good a jury for such caitiffs, what a
common thief deserves?"

"To be strung up to the buttress," replied several voices, in deep
hollow sounds, that rung fearfully round the recesses of the ballium,
and reached the ear of Marjory.

"Parys Cockburn of Henderland," cried James, "hath, by a jury of our
nobles, been deemed worthy to die the death of a thief, and a rebel
against our authority. Let him be forthwith hanged till he be dead, on
the buttress of his own tower, as an example to evil doers in time to
come."

A quick movement of simultaneous, and, in many cases, intuitive
agitation, followed this order. Two men seized the unfortunate
gentleman, and proceeded to bind his hands behind his back, while the
executioner proceeded to let go the end of the rope, so as to bring
within his reach the noose, which had previously been purposely
elevated, so as to be more exposed to the eyes of the beholders. Every
step of these proceedings was observed by Marjory from her seat at the
window; and it was not till she saw the men lay hold of her husband, and
the executioner proceed to adjust the rope, that she ceased to be able
to watch the details of this extraordinary mock trial and real
condemnation. At that moment she uttered a loud scream, and fell on the
floor in a state of insensibility, from which she was roused by her
little daughter, Helen, who had come from her bed to ascertain her
mother's illness. Rising in a state of frenzy, she sought the door of
the apartment, with a view to throw herself between the king and her
husband; but the door was locked in the outside--a precaution,
doubtless, taken by the king's orders, to prevent a scene of a woman's
unavailing grief. The prospect, now, of being forced to remain in a
chamber a few feet above the gallows on which her husband, and the
object of her strongest and softest affections, was to be suspended, and
hanged like a common malefactor, rose on her bewildered view. Though she
might place her hands over her eyes, the _sound_ of his death would
reach her ear--the jerk of the fatal cord, the struggle of the choking
breath, the last sigh of her beloved Parys, would come to her, and
reason might remain to bear it. If she could close up both eyes and
ears, her fancy would exaggerate the acts performing around her, and
fill her mind with shapes and forms, if possible more hideous than the
dread spectres of the waking sense. Breaking loose from Helen, and also
from Hector--who had joined his sister, and had from the window got some
glimpse of the dire operations in progress in the court, and thus
ascertained the cause of his mother's scream--she ran round the
apartment, in the way of unfortunate maniacs, till her brain became
dizzy with the quick circumgyrations, and then stood ready to fall,
staring wildly at her children, who had followed her in her progress
with loud screams. Meanwhile, the buzz of the preparations for the
execution fell on her ear, and, running to the window, she held forth
her extended arms, and implored the king, in wildly pathetic words and
moans, to spare her husband. The king never moved his head; but many of
the men turned up their grim, embrowned faces, fixed their eyes on her
beautiful countenance, and saw her white arms wildly sawing the air,
without showing any indications of being moved. Cockburn himself, who
stood with his arms bound behind his back, his armour off, and the neck
of his doublet rolled down on his shoulders, could not trust his eye in
the direction of his wife and children, but stood with a look fixed on
the grey walls of his tower. The voice of the king was now heard,
crying, "Is everything prepared?" and, "Yes, my liege," rolled forth
from the mouth of the rough-toned executioner. The unfortunate Marjory,
in this extremity, turned from the window, and rushed into a
neighbouring room, from which a few steps of descent led to a window not
so far removed from a broken part of the wall as to prevent her getting
to the ground. In this, by a mighty effort, she succeeded, hearing, as
she hastened away, the shrill cries of her children following her, and
imploring her to return. Her brain was fired beyond the capability of
sane thought. The soldiers, who saw her fall on the ground, lifted her
up, and then pushed her rudely away from the ground they were ordered to
guard, confronting her otherwise impossible efforts to get forward by
their swords, and threatening to do her bodily injury if she dared to
resist their authority.

At this moment she heard a voice commanding some one to seize and
confine the wife of the culprit; and, getting more confused by the
occurrence of new and more harrowing incidents--the cries of her
children sounding from the window--the noise of those forwarding the
execution, if not at that very time, binding her husband to the gallows,
filling all the air with a confused buzz--and the coming of the men to
seize and secure her--she sprang forward out of a postern, and, with the
rapid step of flying despair, endeavoured to get beyond the dreadful
sounds which haunted her ear. In her flight--the consequence of the spur
of frenzy, as much as of a wish to lessen pain which was
insufferable--she came to the Henderland Linn, a mountain stream, that
falls rolling down the heights with a loud noise. It was much swelled,
and the waters were gushing and roaring over a ledge of rock that
crosses its course, and forms in that quarter a cascade--beautiful in
certain states of the river, but frightful when the spirit of the storms
has sent down the red stream to dash over the height. The noise was
welcome to her; and, exhausted, she threw herself down on a seat by the
side of the linn;[4] yet, so quick is the ear to catch, through other
sounds, that of the cause of a pregnant grief, that she heard the
increased noise of the crowd at the Castle, consequent on the execution
of the sentence of condemnation of her husband--a swelling shout, as of
a completed triumph, came on the wind; and, unable to bear this
consummation of all her woes, she ran forward, and threw herself down
with her head in the line of the cascade, that the roar of the waters
might drown the dreadful sound.

How long she lay in that extraordinary predicament, she was never able
to tell; but the sound of the roaring waters rang in her ear for many an
after day. When she ventured to raise her head, everything seemed quiet
at Henderland Tower; and the silence now appeared to her more dreadful
than the former excitement. The storm, which had been gradually ceasing,
was lulled, and the morn had now attained to a grey daylight. She knew
not what step to pursue. She would remain, and she would not remain; she
would return to the Tower, and she trembled at the thought. Starting up,
she began to retrace her steps slowly back through the wood, stopping at
every interval of a few moments, to listen if she could hear any sound.
Looking around, she saw, disappearing from an old road that led away to
Tushielaw, the last of the king's troops; and she omened sadly that they
had completed their work. She hesitated again, whether she should
proceed to a place where she would inevitably behold a sight that might
unsettle her reason. But whether could she fly? What could she do? Her
little children were there; it was still her home, and the dead body of
her beloved husband was also there. But judgment might vacillate
according to its laws; her feet had an impulse forward, which philosophy
might not explain. She was hastening towards the Castle, and she
scarcely knew that she was occupied in that act, in the absence of
distinct volition. Looking up, she saw an old domestic running towards
her; who, on coming up, wished her to relinquish her determination to go
towards the Castle, and requested her to sojourn for a time in the
woods, or wait till she sent for a jennet, to carry her to some house.
She would give no explanation of her reasons for this advice; but looked
terrified and confused when Marjory put to her some broken words of
interrogation. Marjory could abide no parley, and, gently pushing the
old attendant aside, hurried forward to the Castle, and entered the
postern. The ballium was empty; the retainers of her husband had been
marched off before the forces of the king; and any domestics that were
left had fled to the woods in terror. She lifted her eye to the
buttress, and saw suspended there the dead body of her husband. At the
window of her apartment were her children, looking on the dreadful
spectacle. The two elder had cried till their throats were dried and
paralysed; and the youngest, who understood nothing of these
proceedings, laughed when it saw its mother, and clapped its little
hands for joy.

A knife, that lay alongside the place of execution, was seized by the
unhappy wife; and, through a loophole that was opposite to the rope, she
stretched her hand, and severed the fatal cord. The body fell with a
crash upon the ground. Life was extinct; but who would convince the
frantic wife that her beloved Parys was gone for ever? She hung upon the
dead body till, as the day advanced, the terrified domestics came in,
and took her away from the harrowing spectacle. Force had to be applied
to effect the humane purpose; and, for many a night, the screams that
came from the west wing of Henderland spoke eloquently the misery of
this child of misfortune. Cockburn was buried in the chapel ground near
the Tower. Some time afterwards, when her grief could bear the recital,
she wished to know what took place between her husband and the two
messengers on that dreadful night--and she was gratified by the
intelligence. Scott of Tushielaw had got intelligence of Cockburn's
intentions, and was upon the watch to defend his property. A severe
conflict ensued, in which several men on both sides were severely
wounded. In the very midst of the fray, Ralph rode up to Cockburn, and
delivered his message; but the proud chief replied, that he would face
King James if he were the Prince of Evil himself; but that he could not
pay his respects to his king till he first humbled the proud Tushielaw.
A like effort was made by Thomas, and with a similar result. In fact, it
appeared that Cockburn entertained no fear of danger from the visit of
the king, and treated the story of the gallows' rope as a mere vision of
some terrified mind; at least, if he had any doubts on that subject--and
reports of the fiery temper of the king might have roused his
suspicions--he conceived that a bold bearing would do him more good than
a pusillanimous demeanour; and, as for flight, he despised it, as well
as disapproved of it, on grounds of fancied prudence, seeing that he
would thereby admit his guilt, and prove his pusillanimity, while it
might ultimately turn out that the king's intentions were not hostile,
whereby he would be exposed to the ridicule and scorn of both king and
subjects. Having beat off Scott's retainers, and secured in this way, as
he thought, a fancied victory, he marched direct on to his own Tower;
and, as he approached, sounded his horn in his usual way, to tell his
wife that he entertained no fear, and to impress upon the mind of the
king the boldness of the innocence of a man who had only been performing
an act of self defence, in teaching an old enemy that he would not
commit an assault upon him again with impunity.

In the course of time, Marjory Cockburn recovered slightly from the
effects of these terrible visitations, and often she expressed her
surprise that Lailoken's prophecy about the elm tree had not been proved
by the events of that night; but some people thought that King James,
who knew the prophecy well, wished to reduce the credit of soothsaying,
and therefore hanged Cockburn on the buttress of the Tower, instead of
the tree. Her little children played, as usual, round her; and, if a
relenting fate had had in reserve any means for alleviating her grief,
surely they might have been found in the prattle of innocence, and the
hopes of a mother; but it was not ordained that she should be thus
relieved. Every day saw a change on her; she gradually declined, till
she took on the appearance of a skeleton. About three years after the
death of Cockburn, Marjory died, doubtless, of that disease which
(though discredited by many altogether) kills more mortals than typhus
itself--a broken heart. The property had previously been escheated to
the king, and the name of the Cockburns of Henderland never flourished
again. She was buried in the grave of her beloved Parys; and some
relation, who knew the loves and misfortunes of the pair, caused the
foresaid stone to be erected, with the inscription we have copied, and
shall copy again--"Here lie Parys of Cockburn and his wife Marjory."

FOOTNOTES:

[3] The old story of Scott of Harden and the hay sow, is well
known.

[4] Few travellers on the Borders have passed unnoticed the
"lady's seat."--ED.



THE EXPERIMENTER.


No one who has escaped an imminent danger can resist the impulse that
compels him to look back upon it, although the recollection harrows up
his soul. It is now nearly thirty years since the events of which I
write occurred; still they are as indelibly impressed upon my memory as
the felon's brand upon his brow. It has rarely been the fortune of those
miserable beings to whose number I had a narrow escape from adding one,
to retain so lively a recollection of a long train of mental anguish.
Even at this lengthened period from the occurrence of the events
referred to, in my solitary walks, or when sleep forsakes my pillow,
they will embody themselves, and pass in vivid succession over my mind;
tears unbidden fill my eyes, and my heart melts in gratitude for my
deliverance from so sad a fate--carried out under the cloud of night,
buried like a dog, within sea-mark, or in the boundary of two
proprietors' lands--entailing disgrace upon my family, and a horror of
my memory, even scaring the simple husbandman from the neighbourhood of
the spot where my ashes lay.

I was the only child of an aged father, the last of a family who had,
in former days, been of no small consequence in that part of the country
where he resided; but before his day, the numerous acres of land his
forefathers had possessed owned other lords. All he inherited was the
respect of the old people, and the tradition of former grandeur. His
elder brother, of a more enterprising turn of mind, at their father's
death had sold off the wrecks of a long train of mismanaged property,
divided the proceeds between himself and my father, and, after an
affectionate adieu, set off for the West Indies. My father, less
enterprising, remained where all his affections were fixed, and farmed a
few acres from one of the new proprietors--void of ambition, content to
glide down the stream of life unknowing and unknown by the busy world,
all his cares concentrated on me, whom he intended for the church, and
educated accordingly. For several years, and until misfortunes pressed
so heavily upon him, he maintained me at college. When his means failed,
I returned to my disconsolate parents, to consult how I should now
proceed--whether to go out to Jamaica to my uncle, or commence teacher.
My father had applied to his brother for aid in his difficulties, and
been refused. The fears of my mother, and the wounded pride of my father
determined my fate--I commenced teacher, and succeeded equal to my
ambition.

My income was small; but my habits were simple and temperate, and my
means supplied my wants abundantly. From the first dawnings of reason,
my mind was of a studious, inquisitive turn; I thirsted after knowledge
of every kind; and, while ardent in all my pursuits, I was of a joyous
and hoping disposition. All was sunshine to me; even the blighting of my
prospects at college affected not a mind which felt a consciousness of
being able to soar to any height; a thousand projects floated through
it, each of which, for a season, seemed sufficient to rear me to the
pinnacle of fortune and fame. Thus had I dreamed on for three years. One
of my many objects of study engrossed the greater portion of my
thoughts--the mysterious tie that united soul and body. Could I untie
this Gordian knot--and I was vain enough to hope I might--then would I
rank amongst earth's brightest ornaments, and fill a niche with Newton
and Bacon. This extraordinary subject had even when at school, engaged
the greater part of my thoughts. Often have I left my fellows at play,
and stolen to some distant part of the churchyard, to muse and commune
with myself, not without a boyish hope that some kind tenant of the tomb
would reveal to me his mighty secret. Void of fear, I have implored the
presence of spirits under the cloud of night. The feeling that filled my
mind was an enthusiasm, which, though years and changes have rolled over
my head, is still remembered with a sensation of pleasure.

I had kept my school for three years, to the satisfaction of the
parents of my pupils and my own. My cup of enjoyment was full to
overflowing. I had proceeded so far with several works of science; every
one of which, ere I began, was to establish my fame, but each was
quickly abandoned for some new idea. I had resumed again the first
object of my inquiry, and was busily arranging materials for effecting
the glorious discovery, when I was seized by an epidemic fever that was
committing fearful ravages in the parish. All after this, for several
weeks, is a blank in my memory, a hiatus in my consciousness. Contrary
to the expectations of all that attended, I became convalescent. My
strength slowly returned; but my mind had undergone a complete change:
its buoyancy had fled, and no longer, like a butterfly, fluttering from
one flower of fancy to another, it was fixed on the one engrossing
object; yet I was conscious that the faculties of which I had once felt
so proud, were now weak as those of an infant; and, dreamy and listless,
I began to wander into the fields. My school had broken up. The greater
part of my pupils were with a successful competitor who now supplied my
place. This deepened my gloom; and I often returned with a feeling that
my task on earth was accomplished--that all that remained for me was to
die--that I was a cumberer of the earth. I never complained, but bore
all in silence. I cared not for myself; but when I looked to my parents,
I resolved to struggle on, and did struggle manfully. I felt as a
drowning man, who sees an object almost within his reach, that, were he
enabled to grasp it, would secure his safety. He struggles and plunges
towards it in vain, every succeeding effort only serving to diminish his
hopes of escape, while, by allowing himself to sink in the stream, he
would cease to suffer in a moment. To the eye of a casual observer, I
had regained my wonted health, neither was there any strong indication
of the change that had come over my feelings; yet to speak or act was
painful to me, and I could not endure to be looked at with more than a
passing glance--shrinking like a criminal, and fearing lest the thoughts
that were passing in my mind might be discovered.

A strange sensation had, for some time, taken possession of me. I felt
as if in a false position, by some means or other, to me
inscrutable--that I had, at some former period of existence, either on
this earth or some other planet, lived, acted, and witnessed, as I was
now doing. Nothing appeared new to me: every incident of unwonted
occurrence produced a dreamy effect of memory, as if I had experienced
it before. This frame of mind was more annoying than painful, for I even
at times felt a faint pleasure in it, and strove to anticipate events
that were lodged in the womb of futurity: but my efforts were vain; I
could not penetrate the mist; I could only recognise the objects as it
cleared away.

At this time I was so fortunate as to procure the situation of
amanuensis to a literary gentleman, who was employed upon a work of
great extent, but of little interest. My labour was entirely mechanical.
The confinement and the sedentary nature of my employment wrought still
greater change on me; for hours I have sat, like an automaton, copying
passages I felt no interest in, held only to my task by the
consciousness of being no longer burthensome to my parents. An entire
new train of ideas began to pass through my mind in rapid succession;
some of them so fearful and horrid that I trembled for myself. I felt as
if impelled to crime by some power almost irresistible, and a strange
pleasure in meditating upon deeds of blood took possession of me. My
favourite subject, the mysterious connection between soul and body, was
again strong upon me, and I longed to witness the last agonies of a
person dying by violence. It was necessary to elucidate my theory, and
the desire to obtain the knowledge, increased. The crime and all its
horrors never occurred to me as any thing but a great, a magnanimous
action, a sacrifice of my own feelings for the benefit of mankind.

One evening my employer detained me much later than he was wont. We sat
as usual--he at one side of the table, I at the other. I had, all the
afternoon, been much stronger than I had for some time before, and felt
more confidence in myself than I had done for several weeks. No
sensation gave indication of the misery that was to fill my heart. All
at once my mind was hurled, as if by a whirlwind, from its calm. My
employer stooped over a book, in which he was deeply engaged--his head
was towards me. I was mending my pen with a stout, ivory-handled
desk-knife. The temptation came upon me, with hideous force, to plunge
the knife into his head, and obtain the great object I so long had
desired. In this fearful moment I even reasoned--if I dare use the
often-abused term--that the wound would be small, and hidden by the
hair, so that no man could ever know, far less blame me for the act. I
grasped the knife firmly in my hand, changing it to the best position to
strike with effect. My mind felt pleased and happy. I actually exulted
in the opportunity. My arm was raised to strike the unconscious victim
of my madness, when he raised his head, and looked me in the face. I
sank into my seat, with a faint scream, and wept like a babe. The
impulse had passed away, like a hideous nightmare. I shook in every
limb, and raised my eyes to heaven, imploring pardon, and sighed forth a
mental prayer of thanks; while the intended victim of my madness,
unconscious of the danger he had escaped, did his utmost to soothe the
agitation and distress which I could not conceal. I could no longer look
upon his benign and placid countenance without a shudder of horror, such
as the wretch must feel who is dragged to the spot where the body of his
murdered victim lies witnessing against him. I felt that he was a victim
snatched from me by a merciful God--a victim I had murdered in my heart.
That same night I gave up my situation, much against the desire of my
kind employer, and returned to my parents' roof, the most to be pitied
of living men.

For several days I never left my bed, and scarcely took any food. My
mind felt, at times, quite confused; at other times, strange ideas shot
transitorily through it, with the vividness of lightning; but they were
only coruscations, and left no impressions. I forgot them as quickly as
they arose, and sank again into gloom. My malady began gradually to
assume a new turn. Phantoms began to visit me; the sages of antiquity
were my guests. I hailed them, at first, with pleasure, and enjoyed
their presence, but soon grew weary of the voiceless, fleeting
communion. In vain I spoke to them, or put questions in the most
impassioned tones. No sound ever met my ear save my own. Yet there was a
strange community of sentiment--an intercourse of soul between us; for
they would shoot their ideas in through my eyes--smile, or look
grave--and nod, assent, or shake the head, as various thoughts passed
through my mind. After the first visits, I ceased to use articulated
language; it was a joyless communion, a languid inanity, and I felt as
if my own soul was no longer a dweller in its earthly tabernacle, but
held a mysterious middle state between life and death. In vain I
endeavoured to exert my energies. I left my bed, and began to move
about; still this new torment clung to me. I possessed a strange power.
I had only to think of any event in history, and the whole was present
before me, even the scenes around becoming changed to the places where
the circumstances happened. I wished my memory annihilated; I strove not
to think. My very endeavours called up more vividly new and strange
ideas; wherever I was, the place seemed peopled by phantoms. Wherever I
turned my eyes, a moving pageant of gorgeous or hideous figures,
strangely real, were before me.

Oh, how I loathed my situation! Yet I complained to no one--not even to
my parents; enduring all in secret, and hearing the bitter taunts of
friends and acquaintances, who passed their heart-cutting remarks upon
my indolence, and strange way of passing my time. To the eye of a casual
observer, I was in good health, and shrunk from making known my painful
and unheard-of state, lest I should be considered insane, and treated as
such, by being placed in confinement--an idea that made me shudder. I
often doubted my own sanity; yet I felt not like ordinary madmen. I had
a consciousness that I was under some strong delusion, and what I saw
could not be real; still, my visions were not the less annoying and
painful. The only intervals of rest I enjoyed, was when the desire to
witness the last expiring throb of a person dying by violence haunted
me, which it did at times, if possible, with more overwhelming force
than ever. This was the more unaccountable to me, for I am naturally of
a humane and benevolent disposition; and, when not overpowered by a gust
of passion, timid and averse to acts of strife and violence of any
kind--shuddering and becoming faint at the sight of blood. My mental
sufferings, from these conflicts between my natural turn of mind and its
morbid state, became so great, that life grew a burden more than I could
long endure. Still, I shrunk from self-destruction; or, more properly
speaking, the thought never occurred to me; for, had it come with half
the force of the others by which I was enslaved, I would have, in a
moment, obeyed the impulse. I had no idea of any crime, or a wish to
witness the sufferings of the individual. I felt as a patriot might feel
who sacrifices all for the good of his country--immolating my own
feelings at the altar of science, and deeming the realization of my
dreams of vital importance to mankind, who had hitherto been unable to
discover the mysterious link that bound soul and body together.

At length, the thought came into my distracted mind that I might be
able to try the great experiment upon myself; and a sensation near akin
to joy came over me, as I turned over the various ways in which this
might be accomplished. My whole invention was at work, contriving the
safest mode in which I could approach nearest, without crossing "that
bourne from whence there is no return;" and I felt, for days, all the
pleasures and disappointments of a projector, adapting or rejecting the
various schemes by turns. Bred at a short distance from the beach, I
swam well. To fasten a weight to my body, sufficient to sink me, with a
knife in my hand, to cut the cord as the last pang came upon me, and
then rise to the surface, often presented itself, and was as often
rejected. I might be so weak, as not to rise, or, in my confusion, I
might stab myself in my effort to cut the cord, and the secret would be
lost. At length, I fixed upon the following mode. Unknown to my parents
or any one, I prepared the little room I had occupied from childhood,
and, with a feeling of pride, called my study, by carefully securing
from it all access of air, as far as was in my power; then, attaching a
cord to the door and window, so contrived that the slightest pull would
throw them wide open, I placed a chair in the centre of the room, and a
chaffer of burning charcoal by its side. With a feeling of exultation, I
sat down to complete my experiment. The cords were fixed to my arms, so
that, when I fell from my seat unconscious, the door and window would
open, and restore animation by the access of vital air. I would thus
attain my object, without exposing myself, or becoming the subject of
public remark, which at all times was most hateful to me. I watched
every mutation of feeling. For the first few minutes, I felt no change,
except that the room became warmer and more agreeable. Gradually my
breathing became more quick; but not in the least laboured. A gentle
perspiration came upon me, accompanied by a luxurious languor, such as
if I had ate a plentiful dinner, and stretched myself upon a sunny bank;
an irresistible desire to sleep was stealing over me. My feelings were
highly pleasing; but a stupor gradually came over me, and banished
thought. My next sensation was a thrill of agony, which no words can
express. It was more intense than if thousands of pointed instruments
had been thrust into every muscle of my body--plucked out, and again
thrust in, with the rapidity of lightning. Thrilling coruscations of
vivid light flashed across my eyes. I attempted to shriek--only a faint
groan escaped; my organs of voice refused to obey their office. Human
nature could not continue to suffer as I suffered. Again I sank into
unconsciousness, and again my agony came on me, though not so intense as
before. Faint glimmerings of thought began to visit me. The first was
that the agonies of death were upon me; that I was in danger of sitting
too long; and, with a convulsive effort I attempted to throw myself from
the chair, but felt I was restrained. Opening my eyes, I found them dim
and visionless; a dull and benumbing sensation made me feel as if my
brain was bursting my head; whether it was day or night I could not
distinguish; my ears were filled with confused sounds, mixed with a
hissing and booming that distracted me; I felt faint and sick, so as I
never felt before or since. That I was dying, I firmly believed; and
again I attempted to sink from off the chair. As consciousness returned,
I found myself stretched upon my bed. Still, all was darkness and
confusion, I fell into a lethargy or sleep, which lasted for hours.

When I awoke, my mother sat weeping by the side of my bed; her
suppressed sob was the first sound that fell upon my ear. Never can I
forget that moment!--her melting woe, as she sat stooping towards me;
the anguish expressed in my father's countenance, as he stood supporting
himself upon the back of her chair, his eyes bent on my face. I turned
myself upon my pillow, and gave vent to a flood of tears.

Before a word had been exchanged, the surgeon, to whose exertions I was
indebted for my restoration to life, entered. To his inquiries after me,
my mother answered, that, for the last few hours, I had been in a quiet
sleep, and had just moved and turned as if I had awakened; but that,
agreeable to his desire, she had not spoken to me. Without answering
her, he stooped over the bed to feel my pulse. I turned to him, and
inquired what had happened. A mutual explanation took place. That I had
attempted suicide, both he and my parents believed, until, to vindicate
myself, I gave them a minute account of the object I had in view in what
I had done. He listened with intense interest, not unmixed with
astonishment, as he gradually drew from me an account of my long train
of mental anguish. I could at once perceive that he did not ridicule me,
but rather sympathised with me, and blamed me much for not making my
case known long before, as it was not, he hoped, beyond the reach of
medicine. He told me of several cases in which he had been successful,
nearly similar to my own, although not to the extent of duration and
variety of change. The following, which had nearly been as fatal, and
would have been as inexplicable, made the greatest impression on me.

The subject of his narrative was the wife of a near neighbour of ours,
who had been dead for some years. At the time both were well stricken in
age, and remarkable both for their piety and walk in life. Their family,
the greater part of whom were alive, had all reached manhood, and were
engaged in active duties in different parts of the country. The old
couple themselves were living on the fruits of their early industry and
economy, in a small solitary cottage, calmly closing the evening of a
well-spent life. The first attack of the malady was sudden and severe,
its approach being unperceived by any one, even by the sufferer. Both
had spent the day at church, and returned, conversing with their
neighbours, until they reached their own cottage, where they sat reading
their Bible, or conversing on subjects derived from it, until the
herd-boy brought home the cow from the common pasture. On looking up,
the woman saw the cow standing and lowing at the byre door. She rose
from her seat, and went to admit and attend to the welcome guest. She
did not return to the house after an unusually protracted stay; and her
husband, beginning to be uneasy, and fearful lest the cow might have
kicked or hurt her, went to ascertain the cause of her tarrying. Struck
with horror, he found her talking in a fearful strain to an imaginary
second person, the cow still uncared for, and the milking-pail upside
down, she standing upon the bottom, busy adjusting a halter to one of
the beams, and imploring the ideal person not to go until she could get
all ready to accompany him to that happy land of which he spoke, and to
which he showed her the way. Her distressed husband, rushing forward,
clasped her in his arms as she was putting the noose over her head. She
screamed and resisted with all her energies, calling upon the phantom to
rescue her from her cruel husband. For several weeks she remained in
this state, confined and strictly watched. The surgeon succeeded in
subduing the disease; and when reason returned, she had no consciousness
of anything that had happened during the interval; but, with a grateful
heart, returned thanks to God for preservation and recovery.

My pride was wounded to observe that the surgeon thought I was insane,
for he quoted the above case as a parallel to mine. This I remonstrated
against; and, although I could perceive a credulous smile upon his
features, I at once cheerfully agreed to put myself under his care. When
he retired for the evening, I found that I was indebted for my escape
from death to a strange circumstance--the death of my uncle, my father's
brother, who had returned from the West Indies some years before with
considerable wealth and a broken constitution. We had never seen him
since his return. Prosperity had brought to him no pleasure, riches no
enjoyment. From being one of the most joyous and liberal of lads before
he left home, he had returned to his country sullen and avaricious; with
all his wealth, a poorer man, in mind, than when he left it--suffering
from a continued dread of poverty, and the victim of hypochondria.

"Poor John!" my father would say, "how I pity you! Your money is not
your own; you are only the gatherer for some other person. You dare not
enjoy a shilling; neither can you take it with you when you die." My
father had just received an intimation from a lawyer, requesting his
immediate attendance in Edinburgh, where his brother had died suddenly
the evening before, to make arrangements for his funeral, and look after
his effects, as he believed he had died intestate. My mother had
hastened up stairs with the intelligence, and to request me to come
down, when she found me seated upon the chair, with my head sunk upon my
breast, as if I had been in a profound sleep. Overcome by the vapour,
she sank upon the floor; the noise of her fall brought up my father,
whose first task was to rush to me, give me a gentle shake, and then
look in agony at me and at his wife. When he took his hand from me, I
fell to the floor by the side of my mother, and the window opened as I
had contrived. Uttering a cry of anguish, he seized the wife of his
bosom in his arms, hurried out of the fatal room, sent the servant girl
for the surgeon, and returned for me, who was lying as if dead, my eyes
open and fixed, dull and void of expression. My mother soon recovered; a
few neighbours came to her aid; and the surgeon was, fortunately, soon
found. Their utmost efforts were for long, to all appearance, of little
avail. The surgeon had almost despaired of success; at length his
patience and skill were rewarded by my returning animation. The rest is
already known.

So violent was the shock my constitution had sustained, from the action
of the noxious gas, that it was several weeks before I was enabled to
leave my room. The skill of my surgeon was evidently operating a
beneficial change upon my mind. The languor and heaviness, mixed with
restless anxiety, which had so long oppressed me, began to yield to the
powers of his prescriptions; my hallucinations became less annoying and
more distant in their attacks, until they entirely ceased, and I was
restored to the full enjoyment of existence. Change of scene was his
final medicine; and this I most cheerfully agreed to take, for my
circumstances were now affluent, and enabled me to live or wander where
I might choose. My restless mind would at times dwell with peculiar
pleasure upon some one favoured project or other; and, fearful lest I
should fall again into some new philosophical dream, I resolved to
travel. With a stout horse and a heavy purse, I bade adieu to my parents
for a short time, and rode out of my native valley, accompanied by
Malcolm Dow, a stout lad who had been reared in the family, as my
servant.

I would have gone to the Continent, and visited the banks of the Rhine,
Switzerland, and Italy; but I bethought me of the delightful and
romantic scenery of our own dear land, with its infinitely varied
beauties; the endless pleasure I would have in viewing them, in all
their bearings, from the dark frowning passes in the Highlands, where
rock rises piled upon rock, and the impetuous cataract makes the
stoutest eye reel in looking on it, to the wimpling stream that glides
through some bosky dell, where wild flowers spangle the banks, driving
some village mill, whose distant clack, mingling with the murmur of the
stream and the song of birds from the woods, forms a concert so sweet to
the lover of nature. Without an object further than amusement, Malcolm
and I jogged on for the Falls of the Clyde. Early in the afternoon, we
arrived in Lanark, where I resolved to stop for a few days; and leaving
Malcolm at the inn, looking after the horses, I walked out by the West
Port, to visit the Falls of Stonebyres. I descended the steep brae to
the old bridge, where I sat for some time, enjoying the sweep of the
river, which was considerably swollen at the time, and the falls were in
great magnificence. I could hear the roar of the waters as they dashed
over from fall to fall, and perceive the grey mist that rose from the
abyss. As I sat absorbed in the scene, a venerable personage, evidently
of the class of farmers in the neighbourhood, came to me, and, after the
salutation of strangers, he seated himself upon the parapet by my side,
and joined in conversation and anecdote of the scenes around. He agreed
with me that Clyde was a lovely stream; but added, it was a bloody one.
I felt shocked at such an epithet being applied to the object of my
present admiration, and requested his reason for it.

"O sir," he said, "my reason is too good for giving it that name; it
has been the grave of thousands, and will yet swallow more in its greedy
bosom. My only son, the hope of my declining years, perished in its
waves; and even here where we sit, before this bridge was built, a scene
of heroic fortitude and resignation was exhibited to sorrowing numbers,
who could render no aid--a scene indeed not surpassed in ancient or
modern history."

Struck by his manner, I requested him to give me the account as he had
heard it.

"You shall hear it," said he, "as I had it when a boy, from my
grandfather, who was one of the sorrowing witnesses of the event. There
lived, in a cottage on the banks, some distance up the stream from where
we are at present, a pious and industrious man, who had a very small
farm attached to the ferry, which he rented; the boat that plied across
the river for the accommodation of passengers was his principal support.
He was very poor, and had a numerous family--very young--to provide for
by his exertions. The river was much swollen by heavy rains which had
fallen for some days. It was the day of the fair at Lanark, and he
rejoiced in the gains he should acquire. He was resolute and athletic,
and, from long practice, knew the ferry well. The labours of the day had
passed off with cheerfulness; the river had continued to rise rapidly,
the evening was coming on, and the last boat-load, among whom was my
grandfather, were embarked. He pushed out into the stream, and,
skilfully as he manoeuvred his boat, the river carried them down
considerably below the usual landing place. The steady boatman, of all
that were in danger, was alone collected, and free from alarm. His wife,
who stood on the side with an infant in her arms, mingled cries and
prayers with the roaring of the swollen river. At length he neared the
side at an eddy, and the passengers waded to the green banks. His wife
and all called to him to step out also, and haul the boat out of the
stream; but they implored him in vain, for he relied too much upon his
own skill and strength, and heeded them not. Two or three passengers
stood on the opposite bank, wishing to cross also; and the temptation of
a few more pence induced him to push again into the angry stream, after
a kind assurance to his wife, and those with her, that there was no
danger. Scarce had he spoke, when it was evident that he and the boat
were as much the sport of the swollen Clyde, as a withered leaf. The
skiff shot along like an arrow towards the fall. A wild scream arose
from both sides of the river; all aid was out of human power, yet no cry
for help escaped him; he sat down with calm resignation, pulled his
bonnet over his eyes, and, muffling his face in his plaid, cried--'Jesus
have mercy!' and, ere the sounds died away, he was swept over the
tremendous fall, and perished."

The scene seemed to pass before me, as I listened to him, and gazed
upon the stream. We parted, and I proceeded to view the fearfully
majestic spot, where the river on my right, increasing its angry
roarings, gushed over the awful rock. Descending the footpath on my
right, the whole scene of terror and grandeur burst upon me. The evening
was approaching apace, and slowly and reluctantly I began to ascend,
after having scrambled to almost every accessible spot on the side where
I was. So much did the noise and sublimity affect me, that I felt one of
my unsettled fits stealing over my mind. Strange thoughts began to
arise. I quickened my pace until I reached the top of the height; and
the glorious view--the beautiful sloping braes of Nemplar, and the
village gilded by the beams of the setting sun--burst upon me. I again
longed for a view of the magnificent fan-looking cascade from a new
point; and so imperative was my desire that I never thought of the
danger. Stepping to the brink of the chasm, where the fearful tumult
raged many feet below, I could only catch an angular glance; and, to
extend it, I caught a bush, and leaned forward upon one hand and my
knees. Dreadful moment! horrid recollection!--I felt the bank giving
way. A convulsive effort to regain my equilibrium, and a stifled cry for
mercy, are all I recollect--my heart collapsed, and all consciousness
ceased.

How long I continued in this state I have no means of ascertaining; my
first sensation was a sickness that almost made me again relapse into
insensibility, accompanied by a feeling of pain in all my limbs.
Languidly I opened my eyes; all was dark as midnight. The roar of the
waters stupified every sense. The horrors of my situation chilled my
soul, and annihilated all my courage. How I retained, by the energies of
despair, unaided by reason, my half pendulous position, I cannot
explain. I was, for a time after consciousness returned, incapable of
reflection; my mind, a chaos of fear and horror. I felt wet to the skin,
from the thin spray, which fell upon and enveloped me like a cloud; a
profuse sweat stood upon my forehead, and rolling down in large drops,
made my eyes smart. I grasped something that sustained me, yet I
scarcely knew how. Gradually the sickness left me, and cool thoughts of
my perilous situation began to occupy my mind; my energies and native
desire of preservation began to strengthen. My first care was to
ascertain if any of my bones were broken. My legs hung over a ledge of
the rock, upon which the rest of my body lay supported by my hands,
which still clung to the small object I had grasped; cautiously I moved
my legs, the one after the other: no bone was broken; but I found them
painful in many places. Still clinging to my hold, on which I felt my
whole chance of escape from being plunged into the gulf below depended,
I, for some time, and by many useless efforts, attempted to get my knees
upon the ledge of rock; my position was becoming every minute more
painful, and I less able to retain it; my arms were benumbed, and my
hands powerless, from being so long above my head. I dared not pull
myself up, for the falling of stones and earth, when I first made the
attempt, gave fearful note of the feeble tenure by which I was
sustained. My left hand began to cramp; the fear of instant annihilation
seized me; I could hold by it no longer. I grasped still more firmly by
my right, and, stretching my left, found relief, by moving it gently
about, to restore the circulation. I dared not bring it down, lest the
other had failed; and, stretching farther than I had yet done, it
touched something hard and erect; it was the stem of a stoutish bush,
that grew out of a crevice in the rock. A ray of hope darted through my
mind. I grasped it, still keeping my first hold, and got my knees on the
ledge. To stand on my feet was now an easy effort. The joy of that
movement, in the midst of my sufferings and despair, I shall never
forget. I felt as if snatched from the roaring abyss. My nearly
exhausted strength began to be renewed; I felt comparative comfort; yet
I would have given all I possessed for my deliverance; my escape was not
yet more certain, or my situation much less perilous. I found that I
still held clutched in my right hand the bush that had given way, and
been the cause of my disaster; but how far I had fallen, or at what part
of the hideous chasm I had been mercifully arrested, I had no means to
ascertain; for I stood, like a Russian peasant ready to receive the
knout, with my face to the wall of rocks. I looked to the right side and
to the left; all was the most impenetrable darkness. My arms, now that
the weight of my body was taken from them, felt if possible more
benumbed. I groped with my feet as far as I could, and found my standing
very narrow, but inclining rather into than from the rock. I loosened
one hand, and with an effort, that I thought would have dislocated my
shoulder, brought it to my side. The tingling sensation I felt from the
returning circulation, almost made me cry aloud. As I found that I still
stood firm, I undid the grasp of my left hand, but not before I had
turned my face from the rock. I now stood facing the raging flood; but
its roaring was all I could distinguish. I now looked towards the
Heavens, and thought I could perceive the stars dimly, through the thick
cloud of spray in which I was involved. I leaned against the rocks, but
my legs began to fail me, and trembled under the weight of my body. I
was imperatively compelled, while strength remained, again to change my
posture, and at length succeeded, and seated myself upon the ledge, my
legs dangling over the edge.

Now, for the first time, I felt as if I were at ease, and began to
calculate on the chances of my escape--feeling that my situation was so
much improved that there was every reason to hope I should be able to
sit out the fearful night, be once more snatched from death, and witness
the dawn usher in the glorious orb of day, when I felt assured every
effort would be made for my rescue. I gazed intensely down the roaring
void, in hopes to see some indication that I was sought after. Malcolm I
knew would strain every nerve, nay, peril his own life, to save mine. I
thought I now could perceive first one dark red ball or light upon the
edge of the stream, quickly moving, followed by others. The blood-red
glare, as they approached, gradually became more bright, surrounded by a
lighter halo; but they threw no ray where I sat, anxiously watching
them. Their bearers were invisible from where I was. At length they came
nearer the whirling pool, and cast a red shade on the water, where it
shot over the last shelf. I could look no longer--my brain whirled, I
closed my eyes, I felt as if I would have fallen, even after they were
shut with all my force. I shouted with all my might, in hopes they might
hear my voice. Vain effort!--no sound less loud than the thunders of
Heaven could be distinguished amid the turmoil of waters.

Again I ventured to open my eyes. The lights had disappeared. I felt,
if possible, more forlorn than I had yet done; my heart began to sink; I
laid myself along upon the hard rock, and, commending myself to God,
became more calm and resigned to my fate. If ever there was a prayer in
which true sorrow for sin, and humble confidence in the goodness and
mercy of God, were poured from the human breast, it was from that
fearful place. After my devotions, a calm feeling stole over my mind. I
laid my head down, and, strange as it may appear, fell sound asleep as a
cradled babe, and awoke refreshed. The horrors of the earlier part of
the night came upon me like a fearful dream. The waters thundered in my
ears. I opened my eyes, and looked up. The first rays of the sun,
glancing upon the mists raised by the falls, formed numerous rainbows. I
dared not to look down to the abyss, or forward to the rushing stream.
With a feeling of utter helplessness, I turned my face again to the
rock, and looked up. A cry of hope and thanksgiving escaped my lips--the
top of the bank was only a few feet from where I lay! Rising to my
knees, and holding by the bushes, I poured forth my morning prayers of
thanksgiving and supplication for deliverance. I rose to my feet; the
edge was only a little above my reach--my situation was still fearfully
critical. Whether to risk all, and, by my own efforts, free myself, or
wait until aid came, I turned over in my mind for a few minutes, as I
examined the space above me. The noise of the waters, and agitation of
my mind, were again beginning to render my situation more and more
perilous, and I felt there was no time to lose. It was far more
appalling in the glare of day than the cloud of night, and, with a
desperate energy, I made the attempt, clinging to what I could grasp. I
know not how I succeeded, until I lay stretched upon the verge of the
gulf, secure from danger. I dared not rise to my feet--I crept upon my
hands and knees for several yards, then sprang up, nor looked behind.
Unheeding the path I took, I ran until I sank exhausted, the roar of the
waters no longer sounding in my ears. The sight of the place was now
hateful to me. I resolved not to visit it again, or see the other
falls--indeed, I was very ill, from the night's exposure to damp, and
the sufferings of my mind.

Without hat or shoes, I entered the inn of the village. On raising the
people from their beds, my appearance was so suspicious, that it was
with difficulty they allowed me to enter; but a seven-shilling piece,
which I tendered to the landlady, acted as a charm in raising her good
opinion of me. I obtained a warm bed, and a cordial, while she prepared
breakfast, and dried my clothes, which were soiled and wet. I evaded all
her artful inquiries to learn how I had come into my present situation.
It looked so improbable, even to myself, that I thought no one would
give credit to my relation; and the rumours upon my former escape made
me resolve to keep it secret from every one, even Malcolm, to whom I
wrote to come over to me with the horses.

I remained in my room until his arrival, which was not until late in
the forenoon. When he arrived, I thought he would have gone distracted
with joy--he wept and laughed by turns--gazing at times with a vacant
stare, then touching me to prove my identity. After he became more
composed, I learned that it was currently reported and believed in
Lanark, that I had perished in the river. Malcolm had waited for me with
extreme impatience, after nightfall, until about ten o'clock, when he
could be induced by the landlord of the inn to remain no longer, and
even the landlord had become uneasy. After some delay, several men were
engaged to accompany Malcolm in his search for me, and, having procured
torches and a lantern, they proceeded to the side of the river, beneath
the fall, and, after searching every spot they could reach in the
darkness of the night, for more than a mile on each side, they again, on
Malcolm's importunities, and his offer of a handsome reward, renewed
their search the second time. In an eddy not far below the fall, one of
them discovered my hat, sunk near the margin, and filled with water and
mud. That I had been drowned none of the party had the smallest doubt.
The search had continued for upwards of three hours, their torches were
burned out, and the men refused to remain longer; but no persuasion
could induce Malcolm to leave the side of the swollen river, where he
had remained during the short interval till day; the landlord promising
to return early, with drags, and men, to search for my body. In this
manner they had been employed, until all hope had fled, and they,
accompanied by Malcolm, had returned to the inn, where he found my
letter. Confused by hope and doubt, he had hurried on foot, and run to
me. Moved by his affection, I gave him a sum of money, to reward the
landlord and his assistants, telling him I was extremely sorry for the
alarm and trouble I had put them all to; but that my hat having fallen
in, and my not returning, were caused by a circumstance I did not choose
to explain.

As I felt no serious inconvenience from my adventure, I rose and
dressed, and left the village for Glasgow, after dinner. As we passed
the Cartland Bridge, I shut my eyes, to prevent my seeing the river, and
put spurs to my horse, to quit the scene where I had suffered so much in
so short a time.

After wandering over the greater part of Scotland for several weeks, I
became weary of enjoyment, and turned our horses' heads homewards by the
coast of Ayrshire, with a view to visit the Island of Arran, and then
cross the country to Stirling, by Loch Lomond. We had reached Largs, on
the coast of Ayrshire, and saw the Isle of Bute, the Cumbraes, and the
lofty summits of Arran, rise out of the Firth of Clyde, in beautiful
succession. At this time steamboats were unknown. I agreed with the
landlord of the inn to have our horses carefully sent round by Glasgow,
to wait us at Dumbarton, and set out for the beach, to enjoy the scene,
and agree for a boat to carry us on our aquatic excursion; but the time
passed on, and evening approached when we were at a considerable
distance from the town. We had been sometimes upon the beach, at others
among the rocks, as fancy led. I said to Malcolm that I would now return
to our inn, and cause our landlord to make arrangements for a boat. As
we hurried away from the shore towards the town, four men, in seamen's
apparel, rushed from behind a rock, and pinioned our arms before we were
aware. Two of them held pistols in their hands, threatening to fire if
we uttered a sound, and pushed us before them to the spot whence they
had issued. Here we found two other similar characters; the whole were
stout, athletic men, of different ages, bronzed by the weather.

The place where we were was close by the beach, under a rock which
beetled out for a few feet--the sea, at full, coming almost up to the
base--but protruding sufficiently to conceal, except in front, a number
of people. Still pointing the pistols to our breasts, and almost
touching our vests, they bound our hands together behind our backs, and,
taking our handkerchiefs from our pockets, covered our faces. We were
silent and passive in their hands; yet in agony of fear. They placed us
upon the hard rock, and we dared not ask one question, to ascertain the
cause of our detention. From the few words that we could pick up out of
their conversation, which was carried on in whispers, I could learn that
the disposal of our persons engaged them. Malcolm could contain his
fears no longer, and began to plead for mercy for his master and
himself. One of the fellows snapped his pistol; I could hear the click
and smell the powder.

"You are in luck this bout," said a voice; "but don't make me try it
again; she never flashed in the pan before. We don't threaten for
naught; so bless your luck, and take warning."

A long period of fearful suspense ensued, in which my imagination
conjured up a thousand objects of horror and suffering. The sea-breeze
gently sighed among the rocks, and we heard the soft cadence of the
gentle waves that fell near our feet, as the tide advanced. That we had
become objects of alarm to a band of lawless men, whose lives were spent
in violating the laws of their country, I was fully aware, but in what
manner I knew not, unless that, by our sauntering about the rocks, they
had suspected us to belong to the excise. In such cases I had heard that
they were apt to do deeds of violence; but Malcolm's escape prevented me
from speaking a word, or requesting an explanation. At length the sound
of oars pulled steadily and with caution, fell upon my ears; and a
confused suppressed sound of many voices soon followed; then there was
the trampling of feet through the water and upon the rock, with the
noise as if numerous articles were placed close to where we sat.
Shivering from cold, we sat in anxious suspense. That I had been right
in my conjecture, I felt now assured; and, at this moment, I thought
they were delivering their cargo. Soon the movements ceased; we were
grasped by powerful hands, again threatened with death if we uttered a
word, and placed in a boat, which, by the motion, seemed to glide
through the water for a considerable time. No word was spoken by those
in the boat, except in whispers. Again I found it touch the beach. We
were lifted out, and placed upon the edge of the water, the cords cut
from our wrists, and, in one moment after, the sound of the departing
boat fell upon our gratified ears. We were alone, and the first use we
made of our regained liberty, was to take the mufflings from our faces.
All was dark around, nor could we discern any object except the faint
phosphoric light that marked the margin of the waves here and there,
like golden threads, as they broke at our feet.

We now breathed more freely; our situation, though far from comfortable,
was free from the dread of immediate violence; for we stood alone and
solitary upon an unknown beach--but whether in Ayrshire, Bute, or
Argyle, we had no means to ascertain. From our painful position while in
the boat, the time had hung so heavy on us that it appeared we had
sailed a great distance. Not so much as to the value of a farthing had
been taken from our persons, nor any violence used, more than was
necessary to keep us silent and prevent our escape. I now, indeed,
think, that the pistol which was snapped at Malcolm, had only powder in
the pan, to intimidate. After consulting for some time on the best means
of extricating ourselves from the necessity of passing the night on the
exposed beach, we agreed to proceed inland, at any risk, whether of
falls or a ducking, in quest of a roof to cover us. Before we left, I
groped the face of my watch--to see it was impossible, the night was so
dark. I found the hands to indicate half-past ten; so we had thus been
four hours in the hands of our captors.

Stumbling or falling at every few steps, we now proceeded slowly on.
Malcolm, who preceded me, once or twice plunged into quagmires, through
which I followed, until I was almost spent. At length a faint light, at
some distance, caught our eyes. Onwards we urged, until we could
distinguish a cottage, from whose small window the light proceeded.
After scrambling over a low, loose stone wall, we found ourselves in the
cottage garden. I looked in at the window, and could perceive a man and
two women--one old, the other young--seated by the fire. There was no
other light of any kind burning; and the dull ray of the fire gave to
the interior a gloomy appearance, save where it fell on the three
individuals who sat crouching before it. There being no door on the side
we were on, we walked to the front, and knocked for admittance. This
side of the cottage gave no indication of any light being within--the
window being carefully closed. For some time we knocked in vain--no
answer was made. At length, our knockings were answered by a female
voice--

"What want ye here at this time o' nicht, disturbing a lone woman?"

"My good woman," I replied, "we are strangers, who know not where we
are. Be so kind as open the door to us."

"Gae 'wa--gae 'wa; I will do nae sic thing; I hae nae uppitting for ye."

"My good woman," said I, in the most soothing manner I could, "do, for
charity, open the door. We are like to perish from fatigue, and can
proceed no further. You shall be paid whatever you ask for any
accommodation you can afford, were it only to sit by your fire until
daybreak."

After some time spent in entreaties, the door was cautiously opened by
a female, who held a small lamp in her hand, and we were ushered into a
small apartment--not the same we had seen, but a dark and uncomfortable
place. She appeared to be greatly alarmed, and requested us not to make
any noise, or to speak loud, whatever we heard, or we might bring her
into danger for her humanity, and ourselves into greater hazard. We
would, she added, have ourselves alone to blame for any evil that might
follow. Taking the lamp with her, she retired, saying she would bring us
refreshments in a few minutes. We now regretted being admitted into this
mysterious shelter; yet the looks of the woman--the younger of the two
we had seen from the back of the house--were soft and sweet, rather
inclining to melancholy. We had no time to communicate our suspicions
before her return. She set before us a bottle containing some brandy, a
jug of water, and a sufficient quantity of bread and cheese; and urged
us to make haste and retire to bed. Having filled a glass of the liquor,
she gave it to Malcolm. He drank it off at once, with great pleasure. My
eyes were upon her. I saw a shade of anxiety on her countenance,
succeeded by a look of satisfaction, when he returned the empty glass. I
cannot account for it, but a suspicion came upon me that there was more
in the giving of the liquor than courtesy; and I resolved not to taste
it. She filled out the same quantity for me; but I declined it. Her look
changed--she became embarrassed--and she requested me to take it, as it
was to do me good. There was a something in the tone of her voice, and a
benignity in her manner, that almost did away with my suspicions. I took
the glass in my hand, and, requesting her to fill a cup of water for me,
lifted the glass to my head. While she poured the water, I emptied the
liquor into the bosom of my vest, placed, by the same movement, the
glass to my mouth, and, returning it to her, drank off the water. She
immediately retired; saying, with a smile, in which there was much of
good nature--

"I am sorry for your poor accommodation. Good night!"

I now began to reflect upon my situation. Fear predominated. I had been
led into it I scarce knew how. I blamed myself for entering; yet I was
not aware of what was to take place in it. We were, unarmed and
fatigued, on a part of the coast I knew not where. I looked to my watch;
it wanted a few minutes of twelve; we had not been one quarter of an
hour under the roof. I looked at Malcolm, by the feeble light of the
lamp, wondering why he neither moved nor spoke. He was in a dead sleep,
leaning upon his high-backed wooden chair. I attempted to rouse him, in
vain, by shaking him. That the brandy had been drugged, I was now
convinced. My heart sank within me. I glanced round, for means to
escape, and procure help to rescue my faithful servant; but there was
neither window nor fireplace in the small room in which we were. I
placed my hand upon the door, to rush into the other apartment; but the
recollection of the man I had seen, the suspicion that there might be
more in the house, and the girl's warning, detained me. As I stood,
sweating with agony, I heard voices in conversation in the other
apartment.

"Mary," said the old woman, "ye are owre softhearted for the trade we
are engaged in. Ye will, some time or ither, rue yer failing."

"Mither," was the reply, "I may rue it, but ne'er repent it. I couldna,
for the life o' me, keep twa human creatures pleading for shelter, wha
kendna whar to gang in a mirk nicht like this. Did I do wrang, Jamie?"

"I fear you have, Mary," said the man. "If Captain Bately finds them
here when he arrives--he is such a devil!--I know not what he may do to
them; he is so jealous and fearful of informers; and, this trip, he has
a rich cargo for the Glasgow merchants."

"I'm no feared, if ye dinna inform yersel," said the daughter; "for I
hae given them baith a dram o' the Dutchman's bottle, that will keep
them quiet aneugh, or I'm sair cheated; for it's nae weaker for me."

At this period of the conversation, I heard the tramp of horses' feet
and the voices of several men approaching the house. The door was opened
without knocking, and several men entered. One of them demanded if all
was right.

"Sae far as I hae heard, captain," said the old woman.

"So far good, old mother," replied he. "James, have you seen our agent
from Glasgow?--how goes it there?"

"All right, captain," said James.

"I will then make a good run of it," rejoined the other. "But I was
nearly making a bad one. Two of these land-sharks were watching our
motions under the rocks; fortunately, they were observed, and put out of
the way in time. All had been up with me this trip, had they got back to
Largs before we were cleared. Come, lads, bait your horses quickly; we
have a long way through the muirs ere dawn."

He was interrupted by the scraping and furious barking of a dog at the
door where I stood listening. My heart leaped as if it would burst, my
temples throbbed, and my ears rung; yet my presence of mind did not
forsake me. Imitating Malcolm, I placed myself in my chair, and feigned
myself dead asleep.

So many voices spoke at once that I could not make out a word that was
said, except imprecations and entreaties. The lamp still burned upon the
table before me. The door opened, and the captain entered, accompanied
by several others.

"Dear captain," said Mary, "they are not informers--they are strangers,
and fast asleep. Harm them not, for mercy's sake!"

"Silly wench!" replied the captain. "Peace!--I say, peace! These are
the same rascals who were watching us this whole afternoon. How the
devil came they here, if they have not some knowledge of our
proceedings? Look to your arms, my lads! We will shew them they have
caught a Tartar." I heard one pistol cocked, then another. How I
restrained myself from shewing my agitation I know not; I was nearly
fainting.

"Captain," cried Mary, "you shall not harm them, or you must do to me as
you do to them. You are as safe as ye were before I let them in. Do ye
no see they are dead asleep?--try them, and believe me for aince, like a
good fellow."

"I don't wish to do more than is necessary for my own safety," said he;
"perhaps they are not what I take them for; but fellows will talk of
what they see." Taking Malcolm by the shoulder, he gave him a shake, as
I saw through between my eyelids, nearly closed. "Fellow," he cried,
"who are you?" Malcolm neither heard nor felt him; so powerful had the
opiate been. He passed the lamp before his eyes, and made a blow at his
head with the but-end of his pistol. Malcolm moved not a muscle of his
face. He was satisfied. After passing the lamp so close before my eyes
that one of my eyebrows was nearly singed by the flame, he set it slowly
upon the table, and I felt the muzzle of the pistol touch my temple. I
moved not a muscle of my face. It was withdrawn, and I heard him pace
the room for a moment, muttering curses at the young woman, who
endeavoured to soothe his rage. No other person spoke. He paused at
length, and, lifting the lamp, held it again to my face.

"I am satisfied--all is right," said he; "but, if you dare again, Mary,
to do the same, you and your mother may go hang for me--that's all.
Come, boys, be moving--we lose time." In a few minutes afterwards, I
heard the sound of their horses' feet leaving the house. My lungs
recovered their elasticity; I breathed more freely. Mary entered, and,
lifting the lamp to remove it, looked upon us in tears. I would have
spoken, but refrained, lest I had given farther alarm and uneasiness to
one so kind and humane. She looked upon us, smiling through her tears.

"Poor men!" she said, "yer hearts were at ease when mine, for your sake
and my ain, was like to break; yet, I dinna think he wad killed ye,
devil as he is, if ye didna fight wi' him; but he wad carried ye awa to
Holland, or France; and then what wad yer puir wives, if ye hae them,
hae suffered, no kenning what had come owre ye? Oh, that I could but get
free o' them, and Jamie gie up this way o' life!" (A heavy sigh
followed.) "But ye are sleeping sound and sweet, when I am sleepless. O
Jamie, will ye no leave thae night adventures, and be content wi what ye
can earn through the day?" She gently shut the door as she retired, and
all became still as death. With a feeling of security I laid myself upon
the bed, and soon fell into a profound sleep. It was late in the morning
ere I awoke. Malcolm was awake; his movements had roused me. He was
still confused from the effects of the opiate, and was gazing wildly
around the apartment. After taking a heavy draught of the water, he
became quite collected. I rose, and we entered the larger part of the
cottage, where the mother and daughter were busy preparing breakfast.
After the usual salutations, and an apology for the badness of our
lodging, I inquired how far we were from Largs, and was informed it was
about three miles from where we were. Feeling myself much indisposed,
and threatened with a severe cold, I resolved to return home as direct
as I could, not choosing to run the risk of any more such adventures. I
despatched Malcolm to the inn, to prevent the horses being sent off to
Dumbarton, and to bring them as quick as possible to where I now was.
During his stay, I became more and more interested in the gentle Mary.
She was not in the least embarrassed, as she thought that I was
unconscious of what had passed through the night. I felt it would be a
cruel return for her kindness to mention it, and alarm her fears for her
lover, for such I supposed him to be. I could have gained no object by
doing so. I already knew, from what I had heard, that she was connected
with a band of smugglers, whose calling she loathed.

There was a firmness of purpose, mixed with her gentleness, displayed
during the time the band and their captain were in the house, which
shewed I could gain no information as to them, from her; neither did I
feel any anxiety to know more than I did, or ever to be in their company
again. Had I had the wish to give information of the lawless band, I
could only inform as to the females; the others had managed so well I
could not have identified one of them.

At length my horses arrived, and I prepared to depart. As I took my
leave, I put five guineas into the hand of Mary. She looked at the sum,
then at me, and refused to accept any remuneration for our shelter.

"Keep it," said I, "to enable you to induce James to quit his dangerous
trade." She blushed, trembled, and then became pale as death. My heart
smote me for what I had said. She gave me such an anxious, imploring
look, as her trembling lips murmured--

"Oh, what shall I do?"

"Fear nothing, Mary, from me; I owe you much more for your goodness of
heart. If you and James will come to reside near Allan Gow, he shall do
all in his power to assist you." Amidst blessings from the mother, and
the silent gratitude of the daughter, I rode off, on my way to Glasgow,
and on the following day was under my parents' roof.

It is now many years since then. James and Mary are settled in the
neighbourhood, and prosperous. Malcolm is still with me; but whether
servant or companion, I can scarce tell at times. When my strange
imaginations come upon me--for I have never been, for any length of time
free from them--he is almost master of my small establishment.



THE YOUNG LAIRD.[5]


In one of the midland counties of Scotland lies the estate of Sir
Patrick Felspar. On this estate, and on the southern declivity of a
moderately-high hill, stood, about thirty years ago, two old-fashioned
farmsteads, called Nettlebank and Sunnybraes, of which, as we have a
long story to tell, we can only say that the former--being the
largest--was tenanted by Mr. Black, and the latter by William Chrighton;
that the family of the one consisted of a boy and a girl called
_Gilbert_ and _Nancy_; and that the other was the father of an only son,
named _George_.

The harvest had been concluded, and preparations were making for
lifting the potato crop, when Mrs. Black was taken ill of a fever; and
her husband, on discovering that she was seriously indisposed, after
sending the servant girl to "tell Elspeth Roger that her mistress wished
to speak with her," left the house, to which he did not return for
several days. Elspeth, who was the wife of one of the farm servants,
being thus sent for, hastened to her mistress's presence. On entering
the room, and seeing the state of the sufferer, she saw at once that a
sick nurse was indispensable; and, though she had herself a husband and
two children to attend to, and, consequently, could be but ill spared
from her own house, she readily offered her services, and was accepted.

By her advice, medical assistance was immediately procured; and the
kind-hearted matron continued to attend the sick-bed of her mistress,
night and day, for three weeks, during which period Mr. Black was seldom
at home. Hitherto, the doctor had entertained hopes of his patient's
recovery; but, on the eighteenth day, to Elspeth's anxious inquiries, he
only shook his head, and bade her "not be surprised whatever should
happen." His words were deemed ominous: a messenger was despatched to
bring Mr. Black home; and, on the following day, his wife died. Upon
this sad occasion, Nancy seemed to be the only real mourner; for, though
her father and brother hung their heads, and looked demure for a day or
two, even the semblance of sorrow vanished before the exciting potations
which they swallowed at the _dregy_.[6] Nancy, however, did feel the
loss of her mother, and mourned it as deeply as her young heart could.
And, as she had been oftener than once rebuked with great severity by
her remaining parent, for what he called her _blubbering_, when grief
overcame her she frequently sought a hiding place for her tears in the
house of Elspeth, who, with the heart and the feelings of her sex,
shared the sorrows of the poor girl while she strove to alleviate them.
But she was soon deprived of this refuge; for, in a few days after the
funeral, Elspeth, who had probably caught the infection while attending
the deathbed of her mistress, found herself in the grasp of the same
terrible disease which had carried her mistress off; and Nancy, to avoid
the same fate, was debarred from entering the door of her humble friend
and only comforter.

On such occasions, to have one who will listen patiently to a recital
of our sorrows, and respond to them with a sigh, a look of sympathy, a
tear, or a word, in which the tone of the voice bespeaks a reciprocity
of feeling, is comfort, and almost the only comfort of which the case
admits; for the lengthened speech and the studied harangue, containing,
as they are supposed to do, "the words of consolation," often fall upon
the ear without reaching the heart. Such a comforter Nancy Black found
in George Chrighton, or, as he was universally termed, _the laddie
Geordie_. This boy, who was one of her schoolfellows, and nearly of her
own age, attracted by her sorrowful looks and the tears which sometimes
stole down her cheeks, left the boisterous sports of the other boys, and
devoted his hours of play to walking with her, or sitting in some
retired corner, and listening to her little "tale of wo." Hitherto, the
roads by which they came and went had been different; but now he
discovered a new one, by following which he could accompany her till
within a short distance of Nettlebank; and, at the place where they had
separated in the evening, he always waited for her appearance on the
next morning. Youthful friendships are soon formed. Ere disappointment
has done its work, and experience taught its salutary, though painful
lesson, there is little room for suspicion on either side, and the
hearts of the parties amalgamate, like meeting waters. Thus, the two
became _friends_, almost before they could understand the meaning of the
word.

While Nancy Black and her boyish companion were thus forming an
affection for each other, as pure, and certainly as deep, as any which
ever subsisted between persons of their years, Elspeth Roger was lying
dangerously ill. But her sickness was not "unto death:" and, after being
confined for twenty-four days, during which her life had been several
times despaired of by all who saw her, she began to recover. Scarcely,
however, was she able to move about, and bestow some attention on their
household concerns, when her husband began to complain; and, in a few
hours, he was laid upon that bed from which she had arisen, with all the
symptoms of a most malignant case of the same disease. Elspeth, who, in
the midst of many struggles, and without the outward show of more than
ordinary affection, was attached to her husband, now became fixed to his
bedside. Forgetting the weakness consequent on her own imperfect
recovery, and fearful of allowing hands less careful than her own to
approach him, she attended him, night and day, with a solicitude which
none save those who have all they value in the world at stake, can
comprehend. Medical advice was promptly procured. But, in spite of
medical skill, tender nursing, and tears shed apart, David Roger died.
Of Elspeth's grief upon this occasion, it were superfluous to speak.
Suffice it that, after many years had passed by, the general expression
of her countenance, and the tear which occasionally stole down her cheek
at the mention of his name, showed that she had not forgotten the
husband of her youth.

Though this event must have been distressing to the widow, her distress
was aggravated when, on the second day from that on which her husband
had been interred, Mr. Black told her that, "as he had engaged another
servant, and required his house, she must remove at the term." The first
week of November was now past; the term was on the 22d of that month;
every house in the neighbourhood was either occupied, or already let for
the coming year; and this information came to the heart of Elspeth like
a thunder-shock. It was what she had never dreamed of, and never thought
of providing for. For herself, she might have been careless; but when
she reflected on her children, the feelings of the mother awoke in her
bosom, and made her, for the time, superior to despair. Day after day,
she went in quest of a hovel to shelter them from the rigour of the
coming winter, and night after night she returned without having found
one. It seemed as if Heaven had determined to make her a houseless
wanderer; for not a single untenanted habitation could she hear of. But
we must leave her to pursue her fruitless search, and attend, for a
little, to what was going on elsewhere.

One evening, after George Chrighton had returned from school, without
taking time to snatch his accustomed morsel of bread from the _aumry_,
he inquired for his father, and hurried off in quest of him. Having
discovered the object of his search in the stack-yard--"Father," cried
the boy, as soon as he was within ear-shot, "hae ye heard that Mr. Black
intends to make Elspeth Roger flit at the term; an' she canna get a
house for hersel an' her bairns in a' the country?"

"I did hear she was gaun to flit," said the old man, composedly; "but
whatfor canna she get a house?"

"I dinna ken," was the boy's eager reply; "but she's been seekin ane
this aught days, an mair; an' Nan Black says, if somebody doesna help
her, she maun tak her twa bairns, an' gang an' beg.--Noo, faither, could
we no do something? There's our auld barn: I would mak the clay-cats,[7]
an' we might pit up a lum; an' I would help Jock to howk a hole i' the
wa', an' it wouldna tak muckle to get a _windock_; an'--an'--I've
forgotten what I was gaun to say; but I'm sure we can pit up the lum;
an' the woman canna lie out by."

"I daresay ye're richt, laddie," said his father, after raising his
hat, and scratching the hinder part of his head for a few seconds. "The
auld barn micht do. There's some bits o' sticks lyin at the end o' the
byre, an' some auld nails i' the stable--as mony o' baith as would be
required, I believe. Jock could bring a cartfu o' clay the nicht yet--he
could mak the cats the morn; ye micht bide at hame a day frae the
school, an' carry them in; an' I could pit up the lum mysel."

"But it would need a hallan too, faither," rejoined George.

"Hoot ay," said his father, "it would need a hallan, an' a hantle things
forby; an', after a' has been done that we can do, the place will be but
little, an' unco inconvenient; but it'll aye be a hole to shelter her
an' her bairnies frae the drift, afore they can get a better. An', e'en
though the scheme had been less feasible than it is, it maks my heart
glad to see that--laddie as ye are--ye hae a thought for ither folk's
distress."

"Na," interrupted George, "na, faither; it wasna me--it was Nan Black
spoke about it first, an' I only promised to tell ye."

"Weel, weel, laddie," rejoined the other, "I'm glad to hear that Nan
Black, as ye ca' her, is likely to turn out a better _woman_, if she be
spared, than ever her faither was a _man_--but, as he has a' his actions
to account for, of him I would say naething." With these words, the
worthy farmer was about to resume his labours, when his son, flushed
with the success of his plan, exclaimed--

"But will we no tell her, faither? Her mind canna be at ease afore she
ken about some place."

"That's weel minded too," said the father--"she's maybe gotten a house
already; but, in case she hasna, gang ye owre to your mither, an' tell
her I bade ye get a piece; an', when ye've gotten it, ye can rin yont,
some time afore it be dark, an' see a' about it. An' ye can tell her
that, if she likes, she's welcome to our auld barn, for a year; an', if
she taks it, we's no fa' oot about the rent."

Though George obeyed his father so far as to go the length of the house
door, he could not find time to go in for his promised _piece_; and,
without opening it, he turned, and set off at the top of his speed in
the direction of Nettlebank.

Return we now to the widow's cottage. The poor woman was far from
having recovered, when she was called upon to attend the deathbed of her
husband. The fatigue, terror, anxiety, and want of rest, from which she
had suffered during that period, might have been sufficient to break
down even the strongest constitution. When to these are added weeks of
wandering in quest of a habitation, the reader will hardly be surprised
when he is told that her animal strength was gone--her spirits sunk, and
despair seemed to be closing around her. With a frame completely worn
out, a head which ached, blistered feet, and, we might almost add, a
"bleeding heart," she sat by her fire one evening--her head resting on
her hand, and her eyes fixed upon her children, while sighs convulsed
her bosom. She wished to commit her little ones to the care of their
Maker; but such was the state of her mind, that she fancied she could
not perform even this duty, and the thought called forth another and a
deeper sigh. While she was thus employed, Nancy Black opened the door
unperceived, and, standing at her side, awoke her from her dream of
despondency by saying, in a half whispering, half faltering
voice--"Elspeth, dinna break your heart. I think I ken where you'll get
a house, noo. I was speaking about you, the day, to Geordie Chrighton,
at the school, an' he says they could soon mak a house o' their auld
barn; and that his faither will never hesitate"----

To this the mother was listening, and almost thinking the news too good
for being true, when the speaker was interrupted by some one coming
against the inner door of the apartment with such force as nearly to
break it. On hearing the noise, the widow rose to give the stranger
admittance; but he waited not for her services. Putting one hand to his
nose--the part which had produced the noise--and the other to the latch,
before another second had elapsed, George Chrighton stood in the middle
of the floor, panting from the rapidity of his march; and, without
taking time to recover breath, he began to deliver his message by
saying--"Elspeth, my father sent me owre to tell ye that, if ye want a
house, ye may get our auld barn. Jock's to bring a cartful o' clay--he's
to mak the cats the morn; I'm to bide at hame frae the school, an' carry
them in; an' my faither's to put up the lum. An'--what is't I was gaun
to say?--ou ay--tak it--tak it, Elspeth; an', if he'll no gie ye it for
naething, I'll keep a' the bawbees I get, to help ye to pay for't." Here
he paused, fairly out of breath. The substance of his message, however,
was delivered, and he now stood silent, and almost fearful of hearing
that she had already got a house.

The widow, bewildered by her own feelings, the excited manner of the
boy, and the intelligence which he brought, was also silent. Nor was it
till Nancy Black had whispered, "It's true enough--Geordie never tells
lies," that she recollected it was her part to make a reply.

Hitherto the boy had not been aware of the presence of his schoolfellow;
but no sooner had he heard her voice, than his eye brightened, and he
turned as if to seek the reward of his labours from her; and--girl as
she was--he found it in her approving smile. But that smile was of short
duration; for as soon as she had a full view of his face, it passed
away, and, hurrying toward him, she exclaimed, in an anxious tone--"What
ails you, Geordie? What's that on your upper lip, an' your chin?"

"What is't?" repeated the youngster, drawing the back of his hand
across the place alluded to, as if to ascertain if anything was wrong in
that quarter; and then, examining the hand so employed, he
continued--"What is't? It's bluid; but where it comes frae I canna
tell." After a short pause, during which he recollected the opposition
he had met from the door--"It's my nose--it's just my nose," he added,
laughing as he spoke, to free the heart of Nancy from those
apprehensions, the shade of which he saw gathering on her countenance.
"I didna ken the door was steekit afore my nose played crack on the
sneck--and noo it's bluidin."

Sure enough, his nose was bleeding, and had been so ever since he came
in, though unobserved. The attention of the widow and Nancy was
instantly directed to staunch the bleeding: the latter brought the key
from the outer door, and the former placed it between his shoulders,
bathing his temples at the same time with cold water. In a few minutes
the blood ceased to flow, and, after his face had been washed, Nancy's
smile returned.

When they were about to depart, the widow, taking one in each hand, and
drawing them close together, said--"May God bless ye baith, my bonny
bairns! An', in his ain way an' time, He _will_ bless ye; for, when men
and women had forsaken me, an' my heart was sinking in despair, ye have
provided a hame for the widow and the faitherless. May His blessing rest
on ye, an' may He be your friend when ither friends forsake you!"

The _clay-cats_ were made, and carried in, in the manner proposed; the
lum was constructed, and the old barn made as commodious as possible;
and, in a few days after, Elspeth and her two children came to inhabit
it. But though it was only intended for a temporary residence, when a
twelvemonth had passed, she did not leave it. She had made herself
useful in many ways to the farmer, by assisting him with his farm-work;
and, as both felt loath to part, she became a sort of fixture on the
farm of Sunnybraes.

There is still one circumstance connected with her removal, which must
be noticed. Mr. Black, in general, did little to deserve commendation;
but he could not endure the idea of any one becoming more popular than
himself; and, as William Chrighton was warmly praised for his conduct in
this affair, he soon began to regard him with a feeling which was more
akin to deep-rooted hatred than ill-will.

We now pass over a period of six years, during which nothing of
importance occurred--save that those who, at the commencement of this
period, had been mere infants, were now boys and girls; those who had
been boys and girls, were now men and women; and of those who had then
been men and women, many were now in their graves. Nor of those who
remained had a single individual escaped, without having undergone some
change. In some, the gaiety of youth had been exchanged for the
thoughtful expression of maturer years; upon the foreheads of others,
grey hairs were seen where glossy ringlets were wont to wave; the rosy
hue which had once adorned the cheek, was now broken into streaks; and
on brows formerly smooth, the handwriting of care was now visible.

About this time, Sir Patrick Felspar, after being absent for a number of
years, paid a short visit to his tenants. On coming to Sunnybraes, and
expressing himself highly satisfied with William Chrighton's manner of
farming and general management, that individual thought it a favourable
opportunity for introducing Elspeth and her two children to his notice.
The story seemed to affect him, and he immediately proposed taking the
boy into his own service. This proposal was agreed to; and, at his
departure, Sandy Roger accompanied him to London, where we must leave
him.

George Chrighton, though only a schoolboy when we last noticed him, was
now a stout-looking, well-built young man, rather above the middle size,
and, for some time past, he had been his father's only assistant at
Sunnybraes. Nor was the change which had been produced on Nancy Black
less conspicuous. From being a mere girl, in the course of six years she
had become a beautiful maiden, in the last of her teens, and with a
natural modesty, which, though it added greatly to her other charms,
almost unfitted her for the situation she occupied in her father's
household. Of this youthful pair, it was generally surmised in the
neighbourhood, that the attachment which had begun in their school days,
had "grown with their growth, and strengthened with their strength,"
till it had ripened into love.

Such surmises have often been made before, upon occasions where there
was not even the shadow of a foundation for them. But, in the present
instance, the gossips and tattlers were not so far wrong; for the two
were really lovers, though, from the implacable temper of Mr. Black,
they found it necessary to conceal their affection; and, for two years
more, in as far as an open confession is concerned, they did conceal it.
They were not, however, wholly without their "stolen interviews," which,
though "few and far between," with the additional disadvantage of being
_short_, were, in this case, sufficient to keep the flame alive. They
also found means of occasionally exchanging notices of each other upon
_paper_--that _dernier resort_ of all unfortunate lovers.

Catherine Roger, who had hitherto been thought and spoken of as the
_lassie Kate_, was now beginning to expand into the young woman,
and--smitten with her charms, as wise people began to suppose--Andrew
Sharp, one of Mr. Black's farm-servants, had, of late, become rather a
regular visitor at her mother's. At first, he came with a quantity of
worsted, "to see if she would knit a pair of stockings for him;" next,
he "came to see if she would darn the heels of a pair of stockings;"
and, by and by, he sometimes ventured to "come owre, just to speer for
her." While his business was thus, to all appearance, exclusively with
the mother, he frequently found an opportunity of stealing a look at the
daughter, or, more fortunate still, of exchanging a word with her, as if
by the by. It is probable, however, that the former--

    "Wi' a woman's wyles, could spy
    What made the youth sae bashfu an' sae grave;"

and, whatever her fears might be, there is no reason to doubt that she
was

    "Weel pleased to see her bairn respected like the lave."

Andrew, though young, was by no means deficient in shrewdness; he was
naturally of an obliging turn--a quiet conscientious lad--a great
favourite with his young mistress, and he was sometimes made the bearer
of those paper messengers which went between the lovers.

The leases of both farms were now within a year of being out, and both
the farmers had begun to use what interest they could to have them
renewed. As to the success of William Chrighton, those who pretended to
see farther than their neighbours, shook their heads, and seemed
uncertain; but of Mr. Black being successful, no one seemed to entertain
the smallest doubt. Sir Patrick, of late, had left the management of
those matters wholly to his factor, Mr. Goosequill; and, in the esteem
of this individual, Mr. Black now stood deservedly high. Scarcely a
month had been allowed to pass, for the last two years, without a
present of poultry, eggs, butter, or cheese being sent from Nettlebank
to the factor. Upon these occasions, Gilbert was commonly the bearer,
and he always stayed over night, and either drank toddy with the
representative of the laird, or poured flatteries into the ear of Miss
Grizzy, his daughter. At these doings, far-sighted people shook their
heads again, and said that Mr. Black's hens were never sold in a rainy
day, except to serve some purpose, and darkly hinted at the possibility
of his taking both farms.

Shortly after these matters began to be agitated, the old knight died,
and was succeeded by his son, who had always been spoken of on the
estate as the _young laird_. It was further understood that the young
Sir Patrick had been abroad for the last nine months; and, according to
the accounts which were circulated, he was not expected home for several
months to come. This circumstance afforded an excuse to Mr. Goosequill
for declining to renew the lease of Sunnybraes, as he alleged that he
could not do so till he had positive instructions from the young laird
to that effect. At the end of four months, a letter from Sandy Roger
informed his mother that Sir Patrick had returned to London shortly
after his father's death; and, since his return, that he had treated him
with a degree of kindness such as he had never expected to experience
from a master. The game was now up; and the factor, finding that it was
so, despatched the following letter to the laird:--

     "SIR,--As you have been graciously pleased to continue that trust
     which your much-lamented father was pleased to repose in me--a
     trust which, from my knowledge of local affairs, I hope I shall be
     able to discharge with honour to myself and advantage to you--and
     as the leases of your farms of Nettlebank and Sunnybraes expire at
     Martinmas ensuing, I should hold myself wanting in that interest
     which I have ever felt for the prosperity of the family, if I did
     not acquaint you of the following particulars. William Chrighton,
     the present tenant of Sunnybraes, has now made application to have
     the lease of that farm renewed; but, as he is a man of no
     substance, belongs to the old school, is incapable of conducting
     improvements upon an extensive scale, and merely struggles on from
     year to year, I have declined to give him any answer till I should
     know what was your pleasure thereanent. I have also received an
     offer for the said farm from Mr. Black, bearing an advance of rent.
     This gentleman is in a thriving way; he has a turn for business,
     and everything prospers with him; he has extensive connections,
     and, what is of more importance to the present purpose, he has a
     son of age to take the management of a farm, who is an excellent
     agriculturist. Mr. Black proposes to take both farms--Nettlebank at
     the old rent, and the other at an advance; and, if his offers are
     accepted, I have no hesitation in saying that he will soon improve
     this portion of your estate to a great extent. I would therefore
     recommend him to your notice. Hoping that _that_ knowledge of local
     affairs which I have acquired from long experience, may still be of
     some service to you, I am, Sir, your very humble servant,

                                             "GAVIN GOOSEQUILL."

To this communication, the factor, in due time, received the following
laconic reply:--

     "Sir,--I thank you for your friendly advice, and the attention to
     my concerns which you manifest; but, as it is my wish that the old
     tenants should remain, you may let Messrs. Chrighton and Henderson
     have their farms at the old rent, if they choose.--Yours,

                                                   "P. FELSPAR."

This entirely disconcerted the schemes of these friends. Mr. Henderson
was the tenant who had been in Nettlebank before Mr. Black; and the
young laird, who had not been in Scotland since he was four years of
age, as yet knew nothing of his having left it. Gavin Goosequill felt
rather at a loss how to proceed; but, recollecting that "in the
multitude of counsellers there is safety," he determined to consult Mr.
Black, and, for this purpose, paid a visit to Nettlebank. What was the
result of this consultation is not exactly known; but, as Mr. Black
shook hands with the factor, and was about to bid him "good night,"
Andrew Sharp, who stood waiting with the horse, heard the latter
say--"Well, I think we have it after all. I shall delay matters as long
as I can, and then write, recommending farther delay; this will give us
time to do something, and, if I am not deceived, both will be yours in
the end."

The oracular words "do something," and "both will be yours," made an
impression on Andrew's mind. When he reflected on the expiration of the
leases, the character of his master, and the surmises which he had
heard, he felt convinced that the first part of the factor's speech had
a reference to the farms, while the last part of it implied some plot,
which was hatching, to forward their schemes. This conviction suggested
the probability that William Chrighton would not be allowed to remain in
Sunnybraes; and, as his removal must be attended with the removal of
Catherine Roger, to he knew not how great a distance, he felt somewhat
spiritless and disconcerted. Time seemed to stand still; and, after
ruminating for a season on the means of averting such a misfortune, he
took a pair of stockings, and, having placed them on the hearthstone of
his bothie--no one being present--he proceeded to pound that part of
them called the _heels_ with the head of the poker. By this means, he
soon produced something very like a worn hole in each; and then, taking
them under his arm, and putting a quantity of worsted into his pocket,
he set off to Sunnybraes to get them darned. When there, as his
"dulness" did not leave him so quickly as he had anticipated, and as he
was, moreover, loath to sit silent in the presence of one whose good
opinion he was so anxious to procure, while Elspeth was darning the
stockings, he told Catherine the whole story--what he had heard the
factor say, and the conclusions and inferences which he had drawn
therefrom--taking care, however, neither to mention his "dulness," nor
the manner in which he had produced the holes in the heels of his
stockings.

"Weel, lassie," said Elspeth when he was gone, "frae what we ken aboot
Mr. Black, the thing's clear enough. He's lookin after Sunnybraes for
his muckle gomeril o' a son; an', if Gavin Goosequill can get it for
him, by hook or by crook, by lies or by true tales, he'll no want it
lang. The hens, an' the jucks, an' the geese, an' the turkeys, that gaed
frae Nettlebank, hae done their _errand_ weel enough, I warrant them;
an' noo we maun try to do oors--at least, we maun _try_--to help them
that hae been helpers to baith you an' me."

"But hoo can we help them, mither?" inquired Catherine, with a look of
surprise--"what can we do?"

"I'll tell ye what we can do, lassie," rejoined her mother; "the young
laird will never hear a word o' truth aboot either his farmers or his
farms. It's easy for Gavin Goosequill to stap his head as fu' o' lies as
it can haud; an', when this is done, it's but saying that the laird
wants Mr. Black to get baith the farms; an' syne, Mr. Chrighton, an' you
an' me too, maun flit. Noo, as your brither, Sandy, is the young laird's
servant, ye maun e'en try if ye can write a letter to him, an' tell him
o' a' this ongaun. Though it's no very weel written, he'll maybe mak oot
to read it; an', if he's no sair changed since he left his mother an'
his hame, _he'll_ tell the laird the truth."

Catherine was ready to comply with her mother's proposal. A letter was
accordingly written; and, after being closed with a piece of shoemakers'
rosin, instead of wax, and supplied with an address by George Chrighton,
it was, on the following day, put in the post-office. In about three
weeks from the date of this letter, though no answer was returned to it,
Mr. Goosequill received the following note from the laird, which appears
to have been an answer to another communication of his.

     "DEAR SIR,--I have received yours of the 1st August; and I am now
     convinced that the affair requires delay and serious consideration.
     I shall endeavour to turn your advice to some account; and, in the
     meantime, you need give yourself no farther trouble about the
     letting of the farms.--Yours,                    P. FELSPAR.

     "P.S.--You may assure the tenants that neither of them will suffer
     injustice at my hands."

Things now appeared favourable; but, as Mr. Goosequill seldom trusted
more to appearances than was necessary, he took an early opportunity of
calling upon William Chrighton, to say that "he believed any farther
application on his part for the farm would be useless, and must only
tend to irritate the laird." He hinted, farther, that, if Sir Patrick
should raise an action against him, he might get heavy damages for the
bad repair in which the steading then was. After having expended a good
deal of learning and law-Latin in illustrating this subject, Mr.
Goosequill concluded, by saying, that, so far as he could judge from his
last communication, and as Sir Patrick was a proud man, and could not
endure to be thwarted in his plans, the best course he could adopt was,
simply, to pay his rent, and quit the farm at Martinmas.

To these proposals the old farmer demurred. "I have always paid my rent
on rent-day," said he; "I have made many improvements upon the farm to
enable me to pay that rent; and for the steading, though I am not bound
to keep it in repair, by building a new barn and cart-sheds, at my own
expense, I have made it worth at least sixty pounds more than it was at
the beginning of the tack. Now," continued he, "I can see no reason the
laird can have for being _irritated_ at me for endeavouring to keep
possession of the farm on which I was born, and on which I have lived
till I am growing an old man."

"You may do as you please," said Mr. Goosequill, gravely--"only I have
warned you; and, if you are determined to persist, you may save yourself
the trouble of writing; for I have Sir Patrick's authority for saying
that he is coming down to Scotland to settle these matters himself."

Having thus counselled, he adjourned to Nettlebank, where he no doubt
counselled more; but through this labyrinth we shall not follow him.
Only Andrew Sharp, who again brought out his horse, heard him say, as he
was about to depart, "Well, I think I have the old scrub for the new
barn, and, in the meantime, Mr. Gilbert, who is really a smart lad, must
try to do a little."

"Fear not for him," rejoined the other; "he knows what he is working
for--Miss Grizzy's fair face is worth wanting an hour's sleep for ony
time."

Many of our readers will still recollect the disastrous harvest of 1817:
October was begun before harvest-work commenced at all; and, after it
did commence, day after day the rain poured down as if the sky had been
an ocean supported by a sieve. It was after an evening of storm and
darkness had succeeded to one of these distressing days, that a stranger
arrived at Nettlebank, and requested lodgings for the night. The servant
girl, who opened the door, said, "She wouldna let him in, but she would
tell her master." Her master accordingly came, and, without ceremony,
told him to begone, for he harboured no wandering vagabonds about his
_town_.

The stranger attempted to plead his ignorance of the country and the
darkness of the night, as excuses for being allowed to remain; but Mr.
Black cut him short, by telling him, in a tone which was distinctly
heard at the farthest corner of the house, to march off, or he would
instantly unchain the house-dog and set loose the terriers, and let them
make a supper of him. Oaths and abusive language followed; but the
stranger did not wait to hear more. He had proceeded as far as the
corner of the garden wall, where a wicket gate communicated with the
front door, and was muttering vengeance to himself, when he was accosted
by Nancy.

"I am sorry," said she, "we cannot give you lodgings for the night--my
father is so passionate; but here is something to help you on your
journey." The stranger seemed unwilling to take the shilling, which she
was attempting to put into his hand. "It is hardly worth your
acceptance," said she; "but it is all I have at present. I cannot tell
how much I feel on your account--exposed as you have been to the rain.
But, as this is no night for a stranger to be abroad in, only come with
me a few steps, till I can procure a guide to conduct you to the next
farm, where you will find shelter."

"The farmer of the next farm may perhaps treat me like the farmer of
this--and what then?" inquired the stranger, whose wrath had not yet
altogether subsided.

"God forbid!" was Nancy's reply; "but he will not--I know he will not."
She then led the way to a low door, through the seams of which light was
visible, and, tapping gently, pronounced the word "Andrew." As soon as
the door was opened--"Here is a stranger," said she, addressing the
young man who acted as porter; "and when I grow richer I will endeavour
to reward you, if you would get your greatcoat and shew him the road; or
rather go with him to Sunnybraes, and tell them he wants lodgings for
the night"--then, lowering her voice almost to a whisper, and drawing
closer as she spoke, she added--"and, if they seem to hesitate, draw
George aside, and tell him I sent you." The lad was hastening to obey
his mistress's orders, when she called after him, "Stay--I had
forgot--bring a greatcoat for him also."

The stranger, who had now caught a full view of her in the light which
issued from the open door, thought he had seldom seen a fairer face or a
finer form, and, wet as he was, he felt a wish to cultivate her
acquaintance by farther conversation; but she gave him no time; for,
almost before the last word was spoken, she disappeared.--"Tell George!"
muttered he, as he listened to her retiring footsteps--"this is
something, however."

At Sunnybraes, Andrew found his young mistress's provisionary clause
altogether unnecessary; for, no sooner had he announced his errand, than
the old farmer rose to make way for the stranger: "Get up, George," said
he to his son; "an' you, Meg," turning to his wife, "lift out owre your
wheel, an' let the poor lad in by to the fire. An' d'ye hear?--if ever
whisky did mortal creature guid, it maun be on a night like this; sae,
though I drink nane mysel, gang ye and gie him a glass."

The stranger was accordingly placed by the fire, and a glass was
brought; but still it was considered that, as he must be drenched to the
skin, a shift of clothes would be necessary. On this proposal being
made, Mrs. Chrighton cast a significant look, first at her son, and then
at her husband:--

"Hoot, woman," cried the latter, interpreting her look, "bring the duds,
an', if ye hae ony fear about them, the lassie Kate can gie ye a help to
wash them, some weety day. An' weety days are like to be owre rife noo,
for ony guid they're doin.--Our guidewife," he continued, addressing
their guest, "has aye been fear'd for infectious diseases since a
beggar-wife brought the fever to the town mair than fourteen years back.
But, though ye had five-and-twenty fevers--ay, fifty o' them--that's no
enough to let you get your death o' cauld wi thae weet claes on; sae ye
maun e'en consent to shift yoursel."

The stranger's language was a strange mixture of the best English and
the broadest Scotch; and this circumstance, after exciting a degree of
surprise in the minds of all, induced the guidwife to make some indirect
inquiries concerning his profession and station in society.

"I've been thinkin ye're no just a here-a-wa man, by your tongue," said
she; "an', if I'm no mista'en, ye've seen better days; for, when I was
bringin butt your wet claes to get them dried, though your bit jacket
an' your breeks were just corduroy, I couldna help noticin that there is
no a bit bonnier linen inowre our door than the sark ye had on."

To these observations it seemed as if the stranger scarce knew how to
reply--he passed his hand across his brow, and was silent for some
seconds. But, on recovering himself, he told them that his name was
Duncan Cowpet--that he had been born in Scotland, but his parents had
removed to England when he was very young--that he had lately been a
traveller for a house in London, but his master being now dead, and
himself out of employment, he had thought of visiting his native
country; he added that, though his dress was rather plain, he was not
destitute of money, and concluded by offering to pay them for the
trouble they had already been at on his account, and also for his
night's lodging.

"Na, na," said the old farmer, his eyes brightening as he spoke, "we
never took payment for sheltering the head of a houseless stranger, nor
will we noo. But ye were sayin that ye're out o' employment; as this is
a backward season, an' we have a hantle to do, an' mair than a', as I'm
turned frail and feckless mysel, an' unco sair fashed wi' rheumatisms,
I've been thinkin if ye could consent to stay an' help us for a owk or
twa, maybe ye would be nae waur, an' we could gie you as guid wages as
ony ither body."

To this proposal Duncan offered no objection, only he wished to
stipulate for a bed in the house, as, he said, he had never been
accustomed to lie in barns; and, as a guarantee that he would neither
injure their property, nor run off without giving them notice, he
offered to place five guineas in the hands of the guidman--remarking,
that it was all the ready money he had about him. "And as to wages," he
continued, "I _wull_ ask no more than what you _wull_ think I work for."
The five guineas were accepted, not as a guarantee for his good
behaviour, but that they might be in safe keeping. He was given to
understand that he might have them at any time; and, when the family
retired to rest, he was accommodated with a bed in the house.

On the following morning, which happened to be fair, he was employed in
the labours of the season; and, though he manifested an uncommon degree
of awkwardness, George Chrighton, who was his fellow _bandster_, did
everything in his power to instruct and assist him in his new
profession; so that he succeeded in performing his part of the labour
till breakfast time. After this meal had been despatched, as each
youngster drew closer to his favourite lass, Duncan, following the
example thus set before him, began to attach himself to Catherine Roger,
who, though the youngest, and perhaps the fairest, seemed to have no
sweetheart present. But Catherine, though thus left alone, was far from
encouraging his attentions; and, with great dexterity, she contrived,
during what remained of the breakfast hour, always to keep her mother's
person between her and him--thus defeating his strong inclination to
imitate the conduct of some of his fellow-labourers, by placing his arm
around her neck.

On rising to recommence the labours of the day, Duncan found that his
hands were blistered, and that it would be extremely difficult for him
to resume his work; but George again assisted him, by inquiring if any
of the lasses would be so kind as come and dress the injured parts.
Catherine, notwithstanding her former coyness, was the first to obey.
Bounding, with a light step, to her small repository of bandages and
thread, she was back in a moment; and, spreading a small quantity of a
very healing ointment, which her mother had previously prepared, upon a
piece of linen cloth, she applied it to the part where the skin was
beginning to peel off, with the dexterity of an experienced surgeon,
and, having fastened it with a bandage drawn sufficiently tight, she was
at her work again before Duncan could move his lips to thank her. He was
now offered a pair of gloves, and with them, and the soothing nature of
the ointment, his labour was less painful than he had anticipated, till
their operations were interrupted by the rain.

Frosty mornings and rainy days, with short intervals of fair weather,
succeeded each other. When in the field, Duncan had always an
opportunity of seeing Catherine; but, though he really did endeavour to
ingratiate himself in her favour, she still dexterously contrived to
eschew all his attentions. He was not in love with her; but he felt
attached to her by the same sort of feeling with which one regards a
beautiful picture, or any other object which delights the senses. The
symmetry of her form, the brilliancy of her complexion, and the lustre
of her eyes, excited his admiration; and, in the absence of other
objects, drew his attention. In this state of mind, he frequently
puzzled his brains to account for the strangeness of her manners; and,
one evening, shortly after his arrival, he resolved to introduce himself
to her mother; if, peradventure, his so doing might throw some light
upon the subject. With this intention, he had passed the little window,
and was approaching the door, when he heard a chair overturned and a
noise within, as if some one had fled to the farther end of the house in
great confusion. This induced him to listen for a moment; and, while
thus listening, he heard Elspeth exclaim--

"What i' the warld's come owre the lassie noo!--whaur hae ye run till,
Kate? Na, I never saw the like o' that! The sark ye was mendin at, lyin
i' the aise-hole, an' a red cinder aboon't!--if I hadna grippit it, it
might hae been a' in a lowe lang afore ye cam to look for't; an' Andrew
would only gotten a pouchfu o' aise to tak hame wi' him on Saturday
nicht, instead of a sark." Duncan was no eavesdropper; but his curiosity
was strongly excited by what he had heard, and he could neither go in
nor drag himself with sufficient speed from the door.

As Elspeth was concluding her ejaculations, the frightened damsel
returned, and was heard to say, in a suppressed tone--"O mither, dinna
be angry--I thought I saw Duncan Cowpet come past the window, an' I ran
to be out o' his gait. I canna bide him; his een's never off me the hail
day, an' mony a time I dinna ken whar to look."

"Hoot, lassie," rejoined her mother; "ye aye mak bogles o' windlestraes.
Duncan is an honest lad, I'll warrant him, an' willin to work, too,
though he's no very guid o't. But, for a' that, dinna think that I want
ye to draw up wi' him; for I wouldna hae ye to gie ony encouragement to
anither man on earth, as lang as Andrew Sharp pays mair respect to you
than the lave. But only tak my advice--neither rin awa when ye see
Duncan coming, nor seem to notice his attentions when he comes, and
he'll soon bestow them on some ither body."

"I'll rather cut my finger for an excuse to bide at hame, though, afore
I gang to the field when he's there," was Catherine's half-pettish
reply.

"Confound ye if ye do ony sic thing!" cried her mother: "though Sandy
pays the house-rent, noo, recollect the guidman can ill spare ony o' his
shearers when the weather is fair."

Duncan stood to hear no more; if he had formerly admired Catherine for
her beauty, he now respected her for the principles upon which she
acted, and he wished for an opportunity to convince her that he too
could act a disinterested part. On the following day, his conduct was
such as to free her mind from most of those disagreeable feelings which
hitherto she had entertained; and, when he repeated his visit in the
evening, though she again saw him pass the window, she did not run away.
After he was seated, he spoke of Andrew Sharp, and gratefully adverted
to his kindness in conducting him to Sunnybraes on an evening when few
would have cared for venturing abroad. Catherine's fears were now gone;
she felt as if she could have died to serve the man who spoke favourably
of her lover; and the conversation was kept up with the greatest
cordiality upon all sides. Local affairs came to be discussed; and, as
Duncan seemed curious to gain information concerning the farms, and the
character of the farmers in the neighbourhood, Elspeth, in her
endeavours to satisfy his curiosity, told him all she knew of Mr. Black
and Mr. Goosequill, with their supposed schemes for the ejectment of
William Chrighton.

It was now the latter end of October, and still the harvest was far
from being completed. The watch-dog had died, and the horses began to
exhibit symptoms of lameness, which were the more distressing, that the
securing of the crop depended entirely upon their ability to labour. Two
of the cattle were brought home, by the boy who herded them, in a
diseased state, and the same evening one of them died. On the following
morning, one of the horses was found unable to rise; and, before noon,
he was dead also. It seemed as if the fates had conspired to ruin the
old farmer and his family; day after day, horses, cattle, and other live
stock, sickened and died; and, in a short time, he found himself without
the means of prosecuting the labours of so precarious a season, with any
prospect of success. To add to his distress, a summons was now served
against him for fifty pounds, "which," as that document affirmed, "he
still owed, and had refused to pay to the creditors of Mr. Rickledyke,
for the building of his barn, &c." Mr. Rickledyke was the contractor who
had been employed on this occasion; the whole of the money had not been
paid when he became bankrupt; and, though the old farmer was perfectly
certain that he had paid it, when he recollected that the bankrupt was a
friend of Mr. Goosequill's, and that the money had been paid in his
office, he felt convinced that the whole was a trick, intended to
embarrass if not to ruin him. He recollected farther, that, as a _stamp_
could not, at the time, be obtained, for giving him a discharge, he had
left the place without any voucher for the payment of the debt, beyond
the testimony of two witnesses who were now dead; and thus he had no
alternative but to pay it again.

The appearance of the law officers, at Sunnybraes, gave rise to a
report, which was industriously spread, that William Chrighton was
either a bankrupt or about to become one; and every individual who had
the slightest claim upon him, came hurrying in with distraints and
summonses; and, to complete the catastrophe, on Saturday, about noon,
Mr. Goosequill made his appearance, with the proper assistants, and
placed the whole of the crop, stocking, &c., on the farm of Sunnybraes,
under sequestration for the rent.

All hope of continuing in the farm was now at an end, and it only
remained to make the most of the wreck which was still left. On Sabbath
morning, the sky had cleared; the wind shifted about to the north, and,
on the afternoon of the same day, a strong frost set in. The frost,
accompanied by a sharp breeze, continued throughout the evening, and,
as soon as midnight was past, the old man and his son prepared to
embrace so favourable an opportunity for securing a portion of the
victual which was still exposed. While they were engaged in these
preparations, Duncan was left to the care of Mrs. Chrighton, who had
been instructed to furnish him with some _warm meat_, and a greatcoat.
After these injunctions had been obeyed, as he sat by the fire, while
she stood over him with anxiety and distress depicted in her
countenance--"O Duncan," said she, "it's a terrible thing for honest
folk to be sae sair harassed. If lairds would only look after their
affairs themselves, instead of trusting them to factors, I'm sure it
would be better for a' parties. But it's a' owre with us, and there's
naething noo but to tak some cothouse, and the guidman maun e'en work
in a ditch, and I maun spin for the morsel that supports our lives.
George, too, is so disgusted with the usage we have received, that he
speaks of going off to America. And Nancy Black--poor lassie! my heart
is aye sair when I think about her--they've had a likin for ane anither
since they were bairns at the school, and, if things had gane richt,
they might been happy, and we might been comfortable; but that, like
the rest of our prospects, is at an end." Mrs. Chrighton's disjointed
observations--particularly what related to Nancy Black, were a mystery
to Duncan; and, though he wished to have an explanation, as the cart
was now ready and he was called, he was obliged to console himself with
the expectation that time might enable him to discover their meaning.

When they reached the field, the moon was shining clear, the wind was
blowing a stiff gale from the north, and the sheaves of corn, where any
moisture had attached to them, were frozen as hard as iron. There was
only one of the working horses now serviceable: to supply the place of
another, a colt had been that morning pressed into the service; but,
owing to the awkwardness of this animal, the cart was overturned and
broken in such a manner as to render the assistance of the smith
necessary before it could be again used. Duncan Cowpet, who,
notwithstanding his unlucky name, had escaped unhurt, volunteered his
services for this expedition, and went off, with the cart and one of the
horses, to the smithy. When he reached Nettlebank, on his return from
the smithy, he had nearly driven his cart over Nancy Black, who,
whitened by the falling snow, was leaning against the garden wall, and
appeared to have been shedding tears. On discovering him, she
endeavoured to assume an air of cheerfulness, and asked if he would stop
for a short time, as she would have a message for him. Being answered in
the affirmative, she hurried into the house, and in a few minutes
returned with a piece of folded paper, which she requested him to give
to his master's son. "But stay," said she, as he was putting it into his
pocket--"it is not closed--I had forgot;" and then, after a short pause,
she added--"but perhaps you do not read _write_?"

"Na," said Duncan, speaking in an accent much broader than the
provincial dialect--"na, my faither was owre puir for giein me ony buke
lear." This seemed to satisfy the damsel, and she intrusted him with the
letter in its unclosed state, only enjoining him to show it to nobody,
and give it into the hands of George Chrighton.

After nightfall, George said that "he must go to the smithy for some
things which had been forgotten in the forenoon," and wished to see
Duncan, to give him some orders about foddering the remaining horses.
But Duncan was nowhere to be found; and, after performing the task
himself--the evening being now well advanced--he took the road for the
smithy. It seemed, however, that he had business elsewhere; for, on
reaching Nettlebank, he climbed over the garden wall, and, tapping
gently at a low window, he was answered by a sigh from within. The door
was immediately opened without noise, and a female form stood by his
side. He placed her arm in his, and they passed silently to the barn,
where they both stood without speaking for some time, and both sighed
deeply. At last--

"George," said Nancy Black--for it was she--"I have done wrong in
requesting you to meet me to-night; but I have been so much agitated
with what I have heard of late that I could not do otherwise."

"What have you heard, my love?" inquired the other, in a tone of the
deepest tenderness--"only tell me, and, whatever your feelings may be,
there is at least one heart ready to share them."

"I thought I could tell you all," said Nancy, "before you were here; but
now, when you are beside me, I cannot, and yet I must; for, though my
father and brother are from home, they may soon be back, and I may be
missed from the house. Did you ever hear," she continued, evidently
placing her feelings under a strong restraint as she spoke--"did you
ever hear that your dog was poisoned?"

"I was never told so," said George; "but, perhaps, I have suspected that
the dog, and the horses and the cattle likewise, were poisoned; and,
perhaps, I have suspected who did it. But, if that were the worst, we
might get over it still; and you must not distress yourself, my love,
for dogs and horses."

"But I have other causes of distress," said she, still keeping her
feelings under the same control. "We had Mr. Goosequill here last night
and this forenoon; and, from parts of the conversation which passed when
they were more than half drunk, I learned that Gilbert and Miss
Goosequill are to be married, and Sunnybraes is to be their residence,
which the factor says he is certain he can now get at my father's offer.
Oh, how my heart burns to think a daughter must thus reveal a parent's
disgrace!"

"Nay, my dearest, do not distress yourself for this," rejoined the
other. "Though my father cannot resign Sunnybraes to you and me, as he
had intended, to mourn over it will not mend the matter. Let Gilbert and
Grizzy enjoy the farm; but, before they can establish themselves on it,
I will be on my passage to America; and, in a few years, with the
blessing of God, I may be able to return--a better man than the farmer
of Sunnybraes; and then, Nancy--but, first, promise that you will love
me till"--

Here he was interrupted by the sobs of her whom he addressed. It was
long before she could speak; and, when she could speak, long and
earnestly did she try to dissuade him from his purpose. But the youth,
perceiving no prospect of their union, except by the plan which he
proposed to adopt, was inflexible. Finding all her entreaties were
vain--

"Then it is as my heart foreboded," said she. "To-day I heard from
Andrew Sharp of your intention of going to America. I walked out to
conceal my feelings; and, while leaning on the garden wall, forgetful of
everything else, your servant passed, and then the wish rose in my heart
to see you once more. After I had made my foolish request, I had still
another wish ungratified, and that was, in case my arguments should
fail, as they have done, that you would carry along with you some
remembrance of her whom you once professed to love. This is woman's
weakness, but perhaps you will pardon it; and perhaps you will keep the
gift, though no better than a child's bauble, for the sake of the
giver."

"I will--I will!" interrupted George, eagerly, whilst he took her hand.

"I am half ashamed of it," she continued; "it is only a small sampler,
on which, shortly after leaving school, I sewed your father and mother's
names at full length, and yours, and--and mine--I may tell you this now,
when we are about to part, perhaps for ever. No one ever saw me put a
stitch in it. Will you keep it for my sake?"

"While life remains," said the lover; "run, my love, and bring it, that
I may place it in my bosom."

"It is here already," said she, "and that is the reason why I wished our
meeting to be in this place. Fearing lest my father should come home,
and prevent me getting it from the house, I brought it out and concealed
it here."

With these words, she made a few steps aside; and, as she stooped down
to bring her little keepsake from under the empty sacks which covered
it, instead of returning with it, she started and screamed. George flew
to her assistance. Something seemed stirring among the sacks, as if an
animal had been attempting to rise; he laid hold of it, and dragged a
heavy body after him to the door. The moon, which was now up, showed his
burden to be a man; and, grasping him by the collar--"Scoundrel!" he
said, "what business had you there?" then, turning him round to have a
better view of his face--"Duncan!" he added--his anger in some measure
yielding to surprise--"I had nearly given you a thrashing; but you have
been our guest, and assisted us in our difficulties, and I must hear
from your own lips that you are guilty, before I pass sentence upon
you." With these words he quitted his grasp.

The blood flushed Duncan's cheek, and for some seconds he seemed
uncertain whether to offer resistance or sue for peace. At last he
said--holding out his hand, which the other as frankly took--"If you had
_thrashed_ me, it would have been no more than I deserved. But perhaps
you shall have no reason afterwards to repent of having spared yourself
this labour; for, though I had my own reasons for doing as I have
done"--

These words were spoken in good English, with an accent and a dignity
altogether different from the speaker's former mode of speaking; but,
before he could proceed, he was saluted, by a rough voice from behind,
with the words--"I shall _thrash you_, you skulking vagabond!" And, at
the same moment, he was grasped roughly by the collar by Mr. Black, who
raised a heavy oaken cudgel to strike him on the head. Had that blow
descended, the probability is that Duncan Cowpet would have slept with
his fathers; but George Chrighton wrenched the stick from the hand of
the infuriated man.

"Unchain the dog!" bawled Mr. Black, in a voice of thunder.

"I'll s-et loose Cae-sar," hickuped his son. But, instead of doing as he
said, he lay down beside the animal, and began, in good earnest, to that
operation which the "dog" must perform before he can "turn to his
vomit."

Mr. Black still continued to keep a hold of Duncan with one hand, and to
strike him with the other, till George, stepping behind him, threw him
quietly down upon a quantity of straw; and he, too, began to discharge
the contents of his over-loaded stomach. Nancy, who, up to this moment
had stood in speechless terror, now stepped from the barn.

"Fly, fly," she whispered. "My father is drunk. I know it. He has never
seen me; and you may escape. I will find some means of sending it. Fly,
I conjure you!" And she pushed him gently from her.

On the following morning, Duncan was amissing; and, like a fool, he
had run off and left his five guineas behind him. But the mystery was
about to be cleared up. A little after daybreak, letters were delivered
to the whole of the parties concerned, summoning them to meet the
_laird_ at an inn in the neighbourhood; and the surprise of all may be
easily imagined when they discovered that Sir Patrick Felspar was no
other than Duncan Cowpet in a different dress. The result was such as
might have been expected from a laird who had learned the truth from
observation and experience. We have only room to add, that shortly
thereafter two marriages were celebrated--two individuals who had been
accustomed to hold their heads high were effectually humbled; and, to
this day, whenever any farmer, or other individual, is supposed to be
dealing unfairly with his neighbours, it is a common saying in the
district--"Send Duncan Cowpet, to see what he is about."

FOOTNOTES:

[5] We may claim for this tale the peculiarity of its having
been the first essay of its author, Alexander Bethune, the self-educated
"Fifeshire labourer." This excellent and ingenious man became
subsequently well known by his volume of "Tales and Sketches of the
Scottish Peasantry," published by Mr. Adam Black, and designated at the
time a literary phenomenon. It was truly said of him by the Spectator:
"Alexander Bethune, if he had written anonymously, might have passed for
a regular litterateur." Along with his brother John "the Fifeshire
forester," he published, in 1889, "Practical Economy"--a work which
deserves to be reprinted and spread among the people, as containing the
true secret of domestic happiness, so well exemplified in the contented
and virtuous lives of its humble authors.--ED.

[6] Repast, so called, to which, in some parts of the country,
the friends of the deceased are invited after the funeral.

[7] The materials of which a mud-wall is constructed in many
parts of Scotland.



THE RIVAL NIGHTCAPS.


One little sentence gave rise to all the disputes of the old
philosophers, from Parmenides down to Aristotle, and that was composed
of three words, _ex nihilo nihil_--nothing can come out of nothing--upon
which were raised the doctrines of the atomists, incorporealists,
epicureans, theists, and atheists, and all the other races of dreamers
that have disturbed the common sense, lethargy, or comfort of the world
for thousands of years; so that nothing could have better proved the
absolute nothingness of their favourite maxim, that nothing could come
from nothing, than the effects of that very dogma itself, for nothing
ever made such a stir in the moral world, since it deserved to be called
something. But a more extraordinary circumstance is, that, though we
every day see the most gigantic consequences result from what may be
termed, paradoxically, _less than nothing_, there are certain
metaphysical wiseacres who still stick to the old maxim, in spite of
their own senses, even that of feeling, and declare it to be true
gospel. Let them read the tale of real every-day life we are now to lay
before them, and then say, if they dare, that it is impossible that
anything can come out of inanity. But, to proceed:--

In the neighbourhood of the suburban village of Bridgeton, near
Glasgow, there lived, a good many years ago, a worthy man, and an
excellent weaver, of the name of Thomas Callender, and his wife, a
bustling, active woman, but, if anything, a little of what is called the
randy. We have said that Thomas's occupation was the loom. It was so;
but, be it known, that he was not a mere journeyman weaver--one who is
obliged to toil for the subsistence of the day that is passing over him,
and whose sole dependence is on the labour of his hands. By no means.
Thomas had been all his days a careful, thrifty man, and had made his
hay while the sun shone;--when wages were good, he had saved money--as
much as could keep him in a small way, independent of labour, should
sickness, or any other casualty, render it necessary for him to fall
back on his secret resources. Being, at the time we speak of, however,
suffering under no bodily affliction of any kind, but, on the contrary,
being hale and hearty, and not much past the meridian of life, he
continued at his loom, although, perhaps, not altogether with the
perseverance and assiduity which had distinguished the earlier part of
his brilliant career. The consciousness of independence, and, probably,
some slight preliminary touches from approaching eild, had rather abated
the energy of his exertions; yet Thomas still made a fair week's wage of
it, as matters went. Now, with a portion of the honest wealth which he
had acquired, Mr. Callender had built himself a good substantial
tenement--the first floor of which was occupied by looms, which were let
on hire; the second was his own place of residence; and the third was
divided into small domiciles, and let to various tenants. To the house
was attached a small garden, a kail-yard, in which he was wont,
occasionally, to recreate himself with certain botanical and
horticultural pursuits, the latter being specially directed to the
cultivation of greens, cabbages, leeks, and other savoury and useful pot
herbs. Of his house and garden altogether, Mr. Callender was, and
reasonably enough, not a little proud; for it was, certainly, a snug
little property; and, moreover, it was entirely the creation of his own
industry.

But Thomas's mansion stood not alone in its glory. A rival stood near.
This was the dwelling of Mr. John Anderson, in almost every respect the
perfect counterpart of that of Mr. Thomas Callender--a similarity which
is in part accounted for by the facts, that John was also a weaver, that
he too had made a little money by a life of industry and economy, and
that the house was built by himself. By what we have just said, then, we
have shown, we presume, that Thomas and John were near neighbours; and,
having done so, it follows, of course, that their wives were near
neighbours also; but we beg to remark, regarding the latter, that it by
no means follows that they were friends, or that they had any liking for
each other. The fact, indeed, was quite otherwise. They hated each other
with great cordiality--a hatred in which a feeling of jealousy of each
other's manifestations of wealth, whether in matters relating to their
respective houses or persons, or those of their husbands, was the
principal feature. Any new article of dress which the one was seen to
display, was sure to be immediately repeated, or, if possible, surpassed
by the other; and the same spirit of retaliation was carried throughout
every department of their domestic economy.

Between the husbands, too, there was no great good-will; for, besides
being influenced, to a certain extent, in their feelings towards each
other by their wives, they had had a serious difference on their own
account. John Anderson, on evil purpose intent, had once stoned some
ducks of Thomas Callender's out of a dub, situated in the rear of, and
midway between the two houses; claiming said dub for the especial use of
_his_ ducks alone; and, on that occasion, had maimed and otherwise
severely injured a very fine drake, the property of his neighbour,
Thomas Callender. Now, Thomas very naturally resented this unneighbourly
proceeding on the part of John; and, further, insisted that his ducks
had as good a right to the dub as Anderson's. Anderson denied the
justice of this claim; Callender maintained it; and the consequence was
a series of law proceedings, which mulcted each of them of somewhere
about fifty pounds sterling money, and finally ended in the decision,
that they should divide the dub between them in equal portions, which
was accordingly done.

The good-will, then, towards each other, between the husbands, was thus
not much greater than between their wives; but, in their case, of
course, it was not marked by any of those outbreaks and overt acts which
distinguished the enmity of their better halves. The dislike of the
former was passive, that of the latter active--most indefatigably
active; for Mrs. Anderson was every bit as spirited a woman as her
neighbour, Mrs. Callender, and was a dead match for her in any way she
might try.

Thus stood matters between these two rival houses of York and
Lancaster, when Mrs. Callender, on looking from one of her windows one
day, observed that the head of her rival's husband, who was at the
moment recreating himself in his garden, was comfortably set off with a
splendid new striped Kilmarnock nightcap. Now, when Mrs. Callender saw
this, and recollected the very shabby, faded article of the same
denomination--"mair like a dish-cloot," as she muttered to herself,
"than onything else"--which her Thomas wore, she determined on instantly
providing him with a new one; resolved, as she also remarked to herself,
not to let the Anderson's beat her, even in the matter of a nightcap.
But Mrs. Callender not only resolved on rivalling her neighbour, in the
matter of having a new nightcap for her husband, but in surpassing her
in the quality of the said nightcap. She determined that her "man's"
should be a red one; "a far mair genteeler thing," as she said to
herself, "than John Anderson's vulgar striped Kilmarnock." Having
settled this matter to her own satisfaction, and having dexterously
prepared her husband for the vision of a new nightcap--which she did by
urging sundry reasons, totally different from those under whose
influence she really acted, as she knew that he would never give into
such an absurdity as a rivalship with his neighbour in the matter of a
nightcap--this matter settled then, we say, the following day saw Mrs.
Callender sailing into Glasgow, to purchase a red nightcap for her
husband--a mission which, we need not say, she very easily accomplished.
Her choice was one of the brightest hue she could find--a flaming
article, that absolutely dazzled Thomas with the intensity of its glare,
when it was triumphantly unrolled before him.

"Jenny," said the latter, in perfect simplicity of heart, and utter
ignorance of the true cause of his wife's care of his comfort in the
present instance--"Jenny, but that _is_ a bonny thing," he said, looking
admiringly at the gaudy commodity, into which he had now thrust his hand
and part of his arm, in order to give it all possible extension, and
thus holding it up before him as he spoke.

"Really it _is_ a bonny thing," he repeated, "and, I warrant, a
comfortable."

"Isna't?" replied his wife, triumphantly. And she would have added, "How
far prettier and mair genteeler a thing than John Anderson's!" But, as
this would have betrayed secrets, she refrained, and merely added, "Now,
my man, Tammas, ye'll just wear't when ye gang about the doors and the
yard. It'll mak ye look decent and respectable--what ye wasna in that
creeshy cloot ye're wearin, that made ye look mair like a tauty bogle
than a Christian man."

Thomas merely smiled at these remarks, and made no reply in words.

Thus far, then, Mrs. Callender's plot had gone on swimmingly. There
only wanted now her husband's appearance in the garden in his new red
nightcap; where the latter could not but be seen by her rival, to
complete her triumph--and this satisfaction she was not long denied.
Thomas, at her suggestion, warily and cautiously urged however,
instantly took the field in his new nightcap; and the result was as
complete and decisive as the heart of a woman, in Mrs. Callender's
circumstances, could desire. Mrs. Anderson saw the nightcap, guessed the
cause of its appearance, and resolved to be avenged. In that moment,
when her sight was blasted, her pride humbled, and her spirits roused,
which they were all at one and the same time by the vision of Thomas
Callender's new red nightcap, she resolved on getting her husband to
strike the striped cap, and mount one of precisely the same
description--better if possible, but she was not sure if this could be
had.

Now, on prevailing on _her_ husband to submit to the acquisition of
another new nightcap, Mrs. Anderson had a much more difficult task to
perform than her rival; for the cap that John was already provided with,
unlike Thomas's, was not a week out of the shop, and no earthly good
reason, one would think, could therefore be urged, why he should so soon
get another. But what will not woman's wit accomplish? Anything! As
proof of this, if proof were wanted, we need only mention that Mrs.
Anderson _did_ succeed in this delicate and difficult negotiation, and
prevailed upon John, first, to allow her to go into Glasgow to buy him a
new red nightcap, and to promise to wear it when it should be bought.
How she accomplished this--what sort of reasoning she employed--we know
not; but certain it is that it was done. Thus fully warranted, eagerly
and cleverly did Mrs. Anderson, on the instant, prepare to execute the
mission to which this warrant referred. In ten minutes she was dressed,
and, in one more was on her way to Glasgow to make the desiderated
purchase. Experiencing, of course, as little difficulty in effecting
this matter as her rival had done, Mrs. Anderson soon found herself in
possession of a red nightcap, as bright, every bit, as Mr. Callender's;
and this cap she had the happiness of drawing on the head of her
unconscious husband, who, we need scarcely add, knew as little of the
real cause of his being fitted out with this new piece of head-gear as
his neighbour, Callender.

Thus far, then, with Mrs. Anderson too, went the plot of the nightcaps
smoothly; and all that she also now wanted to attain the end she aimed
at, was her husband's appearance in _his_ garden, with his new
acquisition on.

This consummation she also quickly brought round. John sallied out with
his red nightcap; and, oh, joy of joys! Mrs. Callender saw it. Ay, Mrs.
Callender saw it--at once recognised in it the spirit which had dictated
its display; and deep and deadly was the revenge that she vowed.

"Becky, Becky," she exclaimed, in a tone of lofty indignation--and thus
summoning to her presence, from an adjoining apartment, her daughter, a
little girl of about ten years of age--"rin owre dereckly to Lucky
Anderson's and tell her to give me my jeely can immediately." And Mrs.
Callender stamped her foot, grew red in the face, and exhibited sundry
other symptoms of towering passion. Becky instantly obeyed the order so
peremptorily given; and, while she is doing so, we may throw in a
digressive word or two, by the way of more fully enlightening the reader
regarding the turn which matters seemed now about to take. Be it known
to him, then, that the demand for the jelly pot, which was now about to
be made on Mrs. Anderson, was not a _bona fide_ proceeding. It was not
made in good faith; for Mrs. Callender knew well, and had been told so
fifty times, that the said jelly pot was no longer in existence as a
jelly pot; and moreover, she had been, as often as she was told this,
offered full compensation, which might be about three farthings sterling
money of this realm, for the demolished commodity. Moreover, again, it
was three years since it had been borrowed. From all this, the reader
will at once perceive, what was the fact, that the sending for the said
jelly pot, on the present occasion, and in the way described, was a mere
breaking of ground previous to the performance of some other
contemplated operations. It was, in truth, entirely a tactical
proceeding--a dexterously and ingeniously laid pretext for a certain
intended measure which could not decently have stood on its own simple
merits. In proof of this, we need only state, that it is beyond all
question that nothing could have disappointed Mrs. Callender more than
the return of the desiderated jelly pot. But this, she knew, she had not
to fear, and the result showed that she was right. The girl shortly came
back with the usual reply--that the pot was broken; but that Mrs.
Anderson would cheerfully pay the value of it, if Mrs. Callender would
say what that was. To the inexpressible satisfaction of the latter,
however, the message, on this occasion, was accompanied by some
impertinences which no woman of spirit could tamely submit to. She was
told, for instance, that "she made mair noise aboot her paltry, dirty
jelly mug, a thousand times, than it was a' worth," and was ironically,
and, we may add, insultingly entreated, "for ony sake to mak nae mair
wark aboot it, and a dizzen wad be sent her for't."

"My troth, and there's a stock o' impidence for ye!" said Mrs.
Callender, on her little daughter having delivered herself of all the
small provocatives with which she had been charged. "There's impidence
for ye!" she said, planting her hands in her sides, and looking the very
personification of injured innocence. "Was the like o't ever heard?
First to borrow, and then to break my jeely mug, and noo to tell me,
whan I'm seekin my ain, that I'm makin mair noise aboot it than it's a'
worth! My certy, but she _has_ a brazen face. The auld wizzened,
upsettin limmer that she is. Set _them_ up, indeed wi' red nicht-caps."
Now, this was the last member of Mrs. Callender's philippic, but it was
by no means the least. In fact, it was the whole gist of the matter--the
sum and substance, and, we need not add, the real and true cause of her
present amiable feeling towards her worthy neighbours, John Anderson and
his wife. Adjusting her _mutch_ now on her head, and spreading her apron
decorously before her, Mrs. Callender intimated her intention of
proceeding instantly to Mrs. Anderson's to demand her jelly pot in
person, and to seek, at the same time, satisfaction for the insulting
message that had been sent her. Acting on this resolution, she forthwith
commenced her march towards the domicile of John Anderson, nursing, the
while, her wrath to keep it warm. On reaching the door, she announced
her presence by a series of sharp, open-the-door-instantly knocks, which
were promptly attended to, and the visitor courteously admitted.

"Mrs. Anderson," said Mrs. Callender, on entering, and assuming a
calmness and composure of demeanour that was sadly belied by the
suppressed agitation, or rather fury, which she could not conceal, "I'm
just come to ask ye if ye'll be sae guid, _Mem_, as gie me my jeely
mug."

"Yer jeely mug, Mrs. Callender!" exclaimed Mrs. Anderson, raising
herself to her utmost height, and already beginning to exhibit symptoms
of incipient indignation. "Yer jeely mug, Mrs. Callender!" she repeated,
with a provokingly ironical emphasis. "Dear help me, woman, but ye _do_
mak an awfu wark about that jeely mug o' yours. I'm sure it wasna sae
muckle worth; and ye hae been often tell't that it was broken, but that
we wad willingly pay ye for't."

"It's no payment I want, Mrs. Anderson," replied Mrs. Callender, with a
high-spirited toss of the head. "I want my mug, and my mug I'll hae. Do
ye hear that?" And here Mrs. Callender struck her clenched fist on the
open side of her left hand, in the impressive way peculiar to some
ladies when under the influence of passion. "And, since ye come to that
o't, let me tell ye ye're a very insultin, ill-bred woman, to tell me
that it wasna muckle worth, after ye hae broken't."

"My word, lass," replied Mrs. Anderson, bridling up, with flushed
countenance, and head erect, to the calumniator, "but ye're no blate to
ca' me thae names i' my ain house."

"Ay, I'll ca' ye thae names, and waur too, in yer ain house, or onywhar
else," replied the other belligerent, clenching her teeth fiercely
together, and thrusting her face with most intense ferocity into the
countenance of her antagonist. "Ay, here or onywhar else," she replied,
"I'll ca' ye a mean-spirited, impident woman--an upsettin impident
woman! Set your man up, indeed, wi' a red nichtkep!"

"An' what for no?" replied Mrs. Anderson with a look of triumphant
inquiry. "He's as weel able to pay for't as you, and maybe, if a' was
kent, a hantle better. A red nichtkep, indeed, ye impertinent hizzy!"

"'Od, an' ye hizzy me, I'll te-e-e-eer the liver out o' ye!" exclaimed
the now infuriated Mrs. Callender, at the same instant seizing her
antagonist by the hair of the head and _mutch_ together, and, in a
twinkling, tearing the latter into a thousand shreds. Active hostilities
being now fairly commenced, a series of brilliant operations, both
offensive and defensive, immediately ensued. The first act of aggression
on the part of Mrs. Callender--namely, demolishing her opponent's
head-gear--was returned by the latter by a precisely similar proceeding;
that is, by tearing _her_ mutch into fragments.

This preliminary operation performed, the combatants resorted to
certain various other demonstrative acts of love and friendship; but now
with such accompaniments of screams and exclamations as quickly filled
the apartment which was the scene of strife, with neighbours, who
instantly began to attempt to effect a separation of the combatants.
While they were thus employed, in came John Anderson, who had been out
of the way when the tug of war began, and close upon his heels came Mr.
Callender, whose ears an alarming report of the contest in which his
gallant spouse was engaged, had reached. Both gentlemen were, at the
moment, in their red nightcaps, and might thus be considerd as the
standard bearers of the combatants.

"Whats' a' this o't?" exclaimed Mr. Anderson, pushing into the centre of
the crowd by which the two women were surrounded.

"O, the hizzy!" exclaimed his wife, who had, at the instant, about a
yard of her antagonist's hair rolled about her hand. "It's a' aboot your
nichtkep, John, and her curst jeely mug. A' aboot your nichtkep, and the
jeely mug."

Now, this allusion to the jelly pot, John perfectly understood, but that
to the nightcap he did not, nor did he attend to it; but, as became a
dutiful and loving husband to do in such circumstances, immediately took
the part of his wife, and was in the act of thrusting her antagonist
aside, which operation he was performing somewhat rudely, when he was
collared from behind by his neighbour, Thomas Callender, who naturally
enough enrolled himself at once on the side of his better half.

"Hauns aff, John!" exclaimed Mr. Callender--their old grudge fanning
the flame of that hostility which was at this moment rapidly increasing
in the bosoms of both the gentlemen, as he gave Mr. Anderson sundry
energetic tugs and twists, with a view of putting him _hors de combat_.
"Hauns aff, neebor!" he said. "Hauns aff, if ye please, till we ken wha
has the richt o' this bisness, and what it's a' about."

"Pu' doon their pride, Tam!--pu' doon their pride!" exclaimed Mrs.
Callender, who, although intently engaged at the moment in tearing out a
handful of her opponent's hair, was yet aware of the reinforcement that
had come to her aid. "Pu' doon their pride, Tam. Tack a claut o' John's
nichtkep. The limmer says they're better able to afford ane than we
are."

While Mrs. Callender was thus expressing the particular sentiments
which occupied her mind at the moment, John Anderson had turned round to
resent the liberty which the former had taken of collaring him; and this
resentment he expressed by collaring his assailant in turn. The
consequence of this proceeding was a violent struggle, which finally
ended in a close stand-up fight between the male combatants, who shewed
great spirit, although, perhaps, not a great deal of science. John
Anderson, in particular, struck out manfully, and, in a twinkling,
tapped the claret of his antagonist, Tom Callender. Tom, in return, made
some fair attempts at closing up the day-lights of John Anderson, but,
truth compels us to say, without success. The fight now became
general--the wives having quitted their holds of each other, and flown
to the rescue of their respective husbands. They were thus all bundled
together in one indiscriminate and unintelligible melée. One leading
object or purpose, however, was discernible on the part of the female
combatants. This was to get hold of the red nightcaps--each that of her
husband's antagonist; and, after a good deal of scrambling, and
clutching, and punching, they both succeeded in tearing off the
obnoxious head-dress, with each a handful of the unfortunate wearer's
hair along with it. While this was going on, the conflicting, but firmly
united mass of combatants, who were all bundled, or rather locked
together in close and deadly strife, was rolling heavily, sometimes one
way, and sometimes another, sometimes ending with a thud against a
partition, that made the whole house shake, sometimes with a ponderous
lodgment against a door, which, unable to resist the shock, flew open,
and landed the belligerents at their full length on the floor, where
they rolled over one another in a very edifying and picturesque manner.

But this could not continue very long, and neither did it. A
consummation or catastrophe occurred, which suddenly, and at once, put
an end to the affray. In one of those heavy lee-lurches which the
closely united combatants made, they came thundering against the frail
legs of a dresser, which was ingeniously contrived to support two or
three tiers of shelves, which, again, were laden with stoneware, the
pride of Mrs. Anderson's heart, built up with nice and dexterous
contrivance, so as to shew to the greatest advantage. Need we say what
was the consequence of this rude assault on the legs of the
aforementioned dresser, supporting, as it did, this huge superstructure
of shelves and crockery? Scarcely. But we will. Down, then, came the
dresser; and down, as a necessary corollary, came also the shelves,
depositing their contents with an astounding crash upon the floor, not a
jug out of some eight or ten, of various shapes and sizes, not a plate
out of some scores, not a bowl out of a dozen, not a cup or saucer out
of an entire set, escaping total demolition. The destruction was
frightful--unprecedented in the annals of domestic mishaps. On the
combatants the effect of the thundering crash of the crockery, or
smashables, as they have been sometimes characteristically designated,
was somewhat like that which has been known to be produced in a
sea-fight by the blowing up of a ship. Hostilities were instantly
suspended; all looking with silent horror on the dreadful scene of ruin
around them. Nor did any disposition to renew the contest return. On the
contrary, there was an evident inclination, on the part of two of the
combatants--namely, Mr. Callender and his wife--to evacuate the
premises. Appalled at the extent of the mischief done, and visited with
an awkward feeling of probable responsibility, they gradually edged
towards the door, and, finally, sneaked out of the house without saying
a word.

"If there's law or justice in the land," exclaimed Mrs. Anderson, in
high excitation, as she swept together the fragments of her demolished
crockery, "I'll hae't on Tam Callender and his wife. May I niver see the
morn, if I haena them afore the Shirra before a week gangs owre my head!
I hae a set aff, noo, against her jeely mug, I think."

"It's been a bonny business," replied her husband; "but what on earth
was't a' aboot?"

"What was't a' aboot!" repeated his wife, with some asperity of manner,
but now possessed of presence of mind enough to shift the ground of
quarrel, which she felt would comprise her with her husband. "Didna I
tell ye that already? What should it be a' aboot, but her confounded
jeely mug! But I'll mak her pay for this day's wark, or I'm sair
cheated. It'll be as bad a job this for them as the duck-dub, I'm
thinkin."

"We hadna muckle to brag o' there oursels, guidwife," interposed her
husband, calmly.

"See, there," said Mrs. Anderson, either not heeding, or not hearing
John's remark. "See, there," she said, holding up a fragment of one of
the broken vessels, "there's the end o' my bonny cheeny jug, that I was
sae vogie o', and that hadna its neebor in braid Scotland." And a tear
glistened in the eye of the susceptible mourner, as she contemplated the
melancholy remains, and recalled to memory the departed splendours of
the ill-fated tankard. Quietly dashing, however, the tear of sorrow
aside, both her person and spirit assumed the lofty attitude of
determined vengeance; and, "_she'll_ rue this," she now went on, "if
there be ony law or justice in the kingdom. It'll be a dear jug to
_her_, or my name's no what it is."

Equally indignant with his wife at the assault and battery committed by
the Callenders, but less talkative, John sat quietly ruminating on the
events of the evening, and, anon, still continuing to raise his hand, at
intervals, to his mangled countenance. With the same taciturnity, he
subsequently assisted Mrs. Anderson to throw the collected fragments of
the broken dishes into a hamper, and to carry and deposit said hamper in
an adjoining closet, where, it was determined, they should be carefully
kept as evidence of the extent of the damage which had been sustained.

In the meantime, neither Mrs. Thomas Callender nor Mr. Thomas Callender
felt by any means at ease respecting the crockery catastrophe. Although
feeling that it was a mere casualty of war, and an unforeseen and
unpremeditated result of a fair and equal contest, they yet could not
help entertaining some vague apprehension for the consequences. They
felt, in short, that it might be made a question whether they were not
liable for the damage done, seeing that they had intruded themselves
into their neighbour's house, where they had no right to go. It was
under some such awkward fear as this that Mr. Callender, who had also
obtained an evasive account of the cause of quarrel, said, with an
unusually long and grave face, to his wife, on their gaining their own
house, and holding, at the same time, a handkerchief to his still
bleeding and now greatly swollen proboscis--

"Yon was a deevil o' a stramash, Mirran. I never heard the like o't. It
was awfu'. I think I hear the noise o' the crashing plates and bowls in
my lugs yet."

"Deil may care! Let them tak it!" replied Mrs. Callender, endeavouring
to assume a disregard of consequences, which she was evidently very far
from feeling. "She was aye owre vain o' her crockery; so that better
couldna happen her."

"Ay," replied her husband; "but yon smashing o't was rather a serious
business."

"It was just music to my lugs, then," said Mrs. Callender, boldly.

"Maybe," rejoined her husband, "but I doot we'll hae to pay the piper.
They'll try't ony way, I'm jalousin."

"Let them. There'll be nae law or justice in the country if they mak
that oot," responded Mrs. Callender, and exhibiting, in this sentiment,
the very striking difference of opinion between the two ladies, of the
law and justice of the land.

The fears, however, which Mr. Callender openly expressed, as above
recorded, and which his wife felt but concealed, were not groundless. On
the evening of the very next day after the battle of the nightcaps, as
Thomas Callender was sitting in his elbow-chair by the fire, luxuriously
enjoying its grateful warmth, and the ease and comfort of his slippers
and red nightcap, which he had drawn well down over his ears, he was
suddenly startled by a sharp, loud rap at the door. Mrs. Callender
hastened to open it, when two papers were thrust into her hands by an
equivocal-looking personage, who, without saying a word, wheeled round
on his heel the instant he had placed the mysterious documents in her
possession, and hastened away.

With some misgivings as to the contents of these papers, Mrs. Callender
placed them before her husband.

"What's this?" said the latter, with a look of great alarm, and placing
his spectacles on his nose, preparatory to a deliberate perusal of the
suspicious documents. His glasses wiped and adjusted, Thomas unfolded
the papers, held them up close to the candle, and found them to be a
couple of summonses, one for himself and one for his wife. These
summonses, we need hardly say, were at the instance of their neighbour,
John Anderson, and exhibited a charge of assault and battery, and claim
for damages, to the extent of two pounds fourteen shillings sterling,
for demolition of certain articles of stoneware, &c. &c. &c.

"Ay," said Thomas, laying down the fatal papers. "Faith, here it is,
then! We're gaun to get it ruch an roun', noo, Mirran. I was dootin
this. But we'll defen', we'll defen'," added Thomas, who was, or, we
rather suspect, imagined himself to be, a bit of a lawyer, ever since
the affair of the duck-dub, during which he had picked up some law
terms, but without any accompanying knowledge whatever of their import
or applicability. "We'll defen', we'll defen'," he said, with great
confidence of manner, "and gie them a revised condescendence for't that
they'll fin gayan teuch to chow. But we maun obey the ceetation, in the
first place, to prevent decreet in absence, whilk wad gie the pursuer,
in this case, everything his ain way."

"Defen'!" exclaimed Mrs. Callender, with high indignation; "my faith,
that we wull, I warrant them, and maybe a hantle mair. We'll maybe no be
content wi' defendin, but strike oot, and gar _them_ staun aboot."

"Noo, there ye show yer ignorance o' the law, Mirran," said her husband,
with judicial gravity; "for ye see"----

"Tuts, law or no law," replied Mrs. Callender, impatiently--"I ken
what's justice and common sense; an' that's aneuch for me. An' justice
I'll hae, Tam," she continued, with such an increase of excitement as
brought on the usual climax in such cases, of striking one of her
clenched hands on her open palm--"An' justice I will hae, Tam, on thae
Andersons, if it's to be had for love or money."

"We'll try't, ony way," said her husband, folding up the summonses, and
putting them carefully into his breeches pocket. "Since it has come to
this, we'll gie them law for't."

In the spirit and temper of bold defiance expressed in the preceding
colloquy, Mr. Callender and his wife awaited the day and hour appointed
for their appearance in the Sheriff Court at Glasgow. This day and hour
in due time came, and, when it did, it found both parties, pursuers and
defenders, in the awful presence of the judge. Both the ladies were
decked out in their best and grandest attire, while each of their
husbands rejoiced in his Sunday's suit. It was a great occasion for both
parties. On first recognising each other, the ladies exchanged looks
which were truly edifying to behold. Mrs. Anderson's was that of calm,
dignified triumph; and which, if translated into her own vernacular,
would have said, "My word, lass, but ye'll fin whar ye are noo." Mrs.
Callender's, again, was that of bold defiance, and told of a spirit that
was unconquerable--game to the last being the most strongly marked and
leading expression, at this interesting moment, of her majestic
countenance. Close beside where Mrs. Anderson sat, and evidently under
her charge, there stood an object which, from the oddness of its
appearing in its present situation, attracted a good deal of notice, and
excited some speculation amongst those present in the court, and which
particularly interested Mrs. Callender and her worthy spouse. This was a
hamper--a very large one. People wondered what could be in it, and for
what purpose it was there. They could solve neither of these problems;
but the reader can, we dare say. He will at once conjecture--and, if he
does so, he will conjecture rightly--that the hamper in question
contained the remains of the smashables spoken of formerly at some
length, and that it was to be produced in court by the pursuers, as
evidence of the nature and extent of the damage done.

The original idea of bringing forward this article, for the purpose
mentioned, was Mrs. Anderson's; and, having been approved of by her
husband, it had been that morning carted to the court-house, and
thereafter carried to and deposited in its present situation by the
united exertions of the pursuers, who relied greatly on the effect it
would produce when its lid should be thrown open, and the melancholy
spectacle of demolished crockery it concealed exhibited.

The case of Mr. and Mrs. Anderson _versus_ Mr. and Mrs. Callender being
pretty far down in the roll, it was nearly two hours before it was
called. This event, however, at length took place. The names of the
pursuers and defenders resounded through the court room, in the slow,
drawling, nasal-toned voice of the crier. Mrs. Anderson, escorted by her
loving spouse, sailed up the middle of the apartment, and placed herself
before the judge. With no less dignity of manner, and with, at least, an
equal stateliness of step, Mrs. Callender, accompanied by her lord and
master, sailed up after her, and took her place a little to one side.
The parties being thus arranged, proceedings commenced. Mrs. Anderson
was asked to state her case; Mrs. Anderson was not slow to accept the
invitation. She at once began:--

"Ye see, my lord, sir, the matter was just this--and I daur _her_ there"
(a look of intense defiance at Mrs. Callender) "to deny a word, my lord,
sir, o' what I'm gaun to say; although I daur say she wad do't if she
could."

"My good woman," here interposed the judge, who had a nervous
apprehension of the forensic eloquence of such female pleaders as the
one now before him, "will you have the goodness to confine yourself
strictly to a simple statement of your case?"

"Weel, my lord, sir, I will. Ye see, then, the matter is just this."

And Mrs. Anderson forthwith proceeded to detail the particulars of the
quarrel and subsequent encounter, with a minuteness and
circumstantiality which, we fear, the reader would think rather tedious
were we here to repeat. In this statement of her case, Mrs. Anderson,
having the fear of her husband's presence before her eyes, made no
allusion whatever to the nightcaps, but rested the whole quarrel on the
jelly pot. Now, this was a circumstance which Mrs. Callender noted, and
of which she, on the instant, determined to take a desperate advantage.
Regardless of all consequences, and, amongst the rest, of discovering to
her husband the underhand part she had been playing in regard to the
affair of the nightcap, she resolved on publicly exposing, as she
imagined, the falsehood and pride of her hated rival, by stating the
facts of the case as to the celebrated nightcaps. To this revenge she
determined on sacrificing every other consideration. To return, however,
in the meantime, to the proceedings in court.

The statements of the pursuers being now exhausted, the defenders were
called upon to give their version of the story. On this summons, both
Mrs. Callender and her husband pressed themselves into a central
position, with the apparent intention of both entering on the defences
at the same time. And this proved to be the fact. On being specially and
directly invited by the judge to open the case--

"Ye see, my lord," began Mr. Thomas Callender; and--

"My lord, sir, ye see," began, at the same instant, _Mrs._ Thomas
Callender.

"Now, now," here interposed the judge, waving his hand impatiently, "one
at a time, if you please. One at a time."

"Surely," replied Mr. Callender. "Staun aside, guidwife, staun aside,"
he said; at the same time gently pushing his wife back with his left
hand as he spoke. _"I'll_ lay doon the case to his lordship."

"Ye'll do nae sic a thing, Thomas; _I'll_ do't," exclaimed Mrs.
Callender, not only resisting her husband's attempt to thrust her into
the rear, but forcibly placing _him_ in that relative position; while
she herself advanced a pace or two nearer to the bench. On gaining this
vantage ground, Mrs. Callender at once began, and with great emphasis
and circumstantiality detailed the whole story of the nightcaps;
carefully modelling it so, however, as to show that her own part in the
transaction was a _bona fide_ proceeding; on the part of her rival, the
reverse; and that the whole quarrel, with its consequent demolition of
crockery, was entirely the result of Mrs. Anderson's "upsettin' pride,
and vanity, and jealousy." During the delivery of these details, the
court was convulsed with laughter, in which the sheriff himself had much
difficulty to refrain from joining.

On the husbands of the two women, however, they had a very different
effect. Amazed, confounded, and grievously affronted at this unexpected
disclosure of the ridiculous part they had been made to perform by their
respective wives, they both sneaked out of court, amidst renewed peals
of laughter, leaving the latter to finish the case the best way they
could. How this was effected we know not, as at this point ends our
story of the rival nightcaps.



END OF VOL III



 +-----------------------------------------------+
 | Transcriber's note:                           |
 |                                               |
 | Inconsistent spelling and punctuation were    |
 | not changed.                                  |
 |                                               |
 | TOC: Changed Pheebe to Phebe                  |
 | Page 3 Changed throroughly to thoroughly      |
 | Page 34 Changed gripe to grip                 |
 | Page 42 Changed Engglish to English           |
 | Page 90 Changes transsport to transport       |
 | Page 161 Changed Nanny to Nancy               |
 | Page 173 Changed Mause to Maudge              |
 | Page 173 Changed phrophetic to prophetic      |
 | Page 174 Changed rythmic to rhythmic          |
 | Page 206 Changed unconcious to unconscious    |
 +-----------------------------------------------+





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland, Volume III" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home