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Title: Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland Volume 18 - Historical, Traditionary, & Imaginative.
Author: Leighton, Alexander, 1800-1874
Language: English
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                            Wilson's
                      Tales of the Borders
                        AND OF SCOTLAND.

    HISTORICAL, TRADITIONARY, & IMAGINATIVE.

    WITH A GLOSSARY.

    REVISED BY
    ALEXANDER LEIGHTON,
    _One of the Original Editors and Contributors._

    VOL. XVIII.

    LONDON:
    WALTER SCOTT, 14 PATERNOSTER SQUARE,
    AND NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE.
    1884.



  CONTENTS

                                                                Page

  THOMAS OF CHARTRES,                           (_Hugh Miller_),   1

  THE FUGITIVE,                          (_John Mackay Wilson_),  33

  THE BRIDE OF BRAMBLEHAUGH,             (_Alexander Leighton_),  63

  GLEANINGS OF THE COVENANT,    (_Professor Thomas Gillespie_)--

      XIV. JAMES RENWICK,                                         95

      XV. OLD ISBEL KIRK,                                        105

      XVI. THE CURLERS,                                          110

      XVII. THE VIOLATED COFFIN,                                 119

  THE SURGEON'S TALES,                  (_Alexander Leighton_)--

            THE MONOMANIAC,                                      127

  THE FOUNDLING AT SEA,                  (_Alexander Campbell_), 159

  THE ASSASSIN,                          (_Alexander Campbell_), 178

  THE PRISONER OF WAR,                          (_John Howell_), 191

  WILLIE WASTLE'S ACCOUNT OF HIS WIFE,   (_John Mackay Wilson_), 223

  THE STONE-BREAKER,                     (_Alexander Campbell_), 255

  LAIRD RORIESON'S WILL,                 (_Alexander Leighton_), 276



WILSON'S TALES OF THE BORDERS AND OF SCOTLAND.



THOMAS OF CHARTRES.


One morning, early in the spring of 1298, a small Scottish vessel lay
becalmed in the middle of the Irish Channel, about fifteen leagues to
the south of the Isle of Man. During the whole of the previous night,
she had been borne steadily southward, by a light breeze from off the
fast receding island; but it had sunk as the sun rose, and she was now
heaving slowly to the swell, which still continued to roll onward, in
long glassy ridges from the north. A thick fog had risen as the wind
fell--one of those low sea fogs which, leaving the central heavens
comparatively clear, hangs its dense, impervious volumes around the
horizon; and the little vessel lay as if imprisoned within a circular
wall of darkness, while the sun, reddened by the haze, looked down
cheerily upon her from above. She was a small and very rude-looking
vessel, furnished with two lug-sails of dark brown, much in the manner
of a modern Dutch lugger; with a poop and forecastle singularly high,
compared with her height in the waist; and with sides which, attaining
their full breadth scarcely a foot over the water, sloped abruptly
inwards, towards the deck, like the wall of a mole or pier. The
parapet-like bulwarks of both poop and forecastle were cut into deep
embrasures, and ran, like those of a tower, all around the areas they
enclosed, looking down nearly as loftily on the midships as on the
water. The sides were black as pitch could render them--the sails
scarcely less dark; but, as if to shew man's love of the ornamental in
even the rudest stage of art, a huge misshapen lion flared in vermillion
on the prow, and over the stern hung the blue flag of Scotland, with the
silver cross of St Andrew stretching from corner to corner.

From eight to ten seamen lounged about the decks. They were
uncouth-looking men, heavily attired in jerkins and caps of blue
woollen, with long, thick beards, and strongly-marked features. The
master, a man considerably advanced in life--for, though his eye seemed
as bright as ever, his hair and beard had become white as snow--was
rather better dressed. He wore above his jerkin a short cloak of blue
which confessed, in its finer texture, the superiority of the looms of
Flanders over those of his own country; and a slender cord of silver ran
round a cap of the same material. His nether garments, however, were
coarse and rude as those of his seamen; and the shoes he wore were
fashioned, like theirs, of the undressed skin of the deer, with the hair
still attached; giving to the foot that brush-like appearance which had
acquired to his countrymen of the age, from their more polished
neighbours, the appellation of rough-footed Scots. Neither the number,
nor the appearance of the crew, singular and wild as the latter was,
gave the vessel aught of a warlike aspect; and yet there were
appearances that might have led one to doubt whether she was quite so
unprepared for attack or defence as at the first view might be premised.
There ran round the butt of each mast a rack filled with spears, of more
knightly appearance than could have belonged to a few rude seamen--for
of some of these the handles were chased with silver, and to some there
were strips of pennon attached; and a rich crimson cloak, with several
pieces of mail, were spread out to the morning sun, on one of the
shrouds.

The crew, we have said, were lounging about the deck, unemployed in the
calm, when a strong, iron-studded door opened in the poop, and a young
and very handsome man stepped forward.

"Has my unfortunate cloak escaped stain?" he said to the master. "Your
sea-water is no brightener of colour."

"It will not yet much ashame you, Clelland," said the master, "even amid
the gallants of France; but, were it worse, there is little fear, with
these eyes of yours, of being overlooked by the ladies."

"Nay, now, Brichan, that's but a light compliment from so grave a man as
you," said Clelland. "You forget how small a chance I shall have beside
my cousin."

"Not jealous of the Governor, Clelland, I hope?" said the old man,
gaily. "Nay, trust me, you are in little danger. Sir William is perhaps
quite as handsome a man as you, and taller by the head and shoulders;
but, trust me, no one will ever think of him as a pretty fellow. He
stands too much alone for that. Has he risen yet?"

"Risen!--he has been with the chaplain for I know not how long. Their
Latin broke in upon my dreams two hours ago. But what have we yonder, on
the edge of that bank of fog! Is it one of the mermaidens you were
telling me of yesterday?"

"Nay," said the master, "it is but a poor seal, risen to take the air.
But what have we beyond it? By heavens I see the dim outline of a large
vessel, through the fog! and yonder, not half a bow-shot beyond, there
is another! Saints forbid that it be not the English fleet, or the ships
of Thomas of Chartres! Clelland, good Clelland, do call up the Governor
and his company!"

Clelland stepped up to the door in the poop, and shouted hastily to his
companions within--"Strange sails in sight!--supposed enemies--it were
well to don your armours." And then turning to a seaman. "Assist me,
good fellow," he said, "in bracing on mine."

"Thomas of Chartres, to a certainty!" exclaimed the master--"and not a
breath to bear us away! Would to heavens that I were dead and buried, or
had never been born!"

"Why all this ado, Brichan?" said Clelland, who, assisted by the sailor,
was coolly buckling on his mail. "It was never your wont before, to be
thus annoyed by danger."

"It is not for myself I fear, noble Clelland," said the master, "if the
Governor were but away and safe. But, oh, to think that the pride and
stay of Scotland should fall into the merciless hands of a pirate dog!
Would that my own life, and the lives of all my crew, could but purchase
his safety!"

"Take heart, old man," said Clelland, with dignity. "Heaven watches over
the fortunes of the Governor of Scotland; nor will it suffer him to fall
obscurely by the hands of a mere plunderer of merchants and seamen.--Rax
me my long spear."

As he spoke, the Governor himself stepped forward from the door in the
poop, enveloped from head to foot in complete armour. He was a man of
more than kingly presence--taller, by nearly a foot, than even the
tallest man on deck, and broader across the shoulders by full six
inches; but so admirably was his frame moulded, that, though his stature
rose to the gigantic, no one could think of him as a giant. His visor
was up, and exhibited a set of high handsome features, and two of the
finest blue eyes that ever served as indexes to the feelings of a human
soul. His chin and upper lip were thickly covered with hair of that
golden colour so often sung by the elder poets; and a few curling locks
of rather darker shade escaped from under his helmet. A man of middle
stature and grave saturnine aspect, who wore a monk's frock over a coat
of mail, came up behind him.

"What is to befall us now, cousin Clelland?" said the Governor. "Does
not the truce extend over the channel, think you?"

"Ah, these are not English enemies, noble sir," replied the master. "We
have fallen on the fleet of the infamous Thomas of Chartres."

"And who is Thomas of Chartres?" asked the Governor.

"A cruel and bloodthirsty pirate--the terror of these seas for the last
sixteen years. Wo is me!--we have neither force enough to fight, nor
wind to bear us away!"

"Two large vessels," said the Governor, stepping up to the side, "full
of armed men, too; but we muster fifty, besides the sailors; and, if
they attempt boarding us, it must be by boat. Is it not so, master? The
calm which fixes us here, must prevent them from laying alongside and
overmastering us."

"Ah, yes, noble sir," said the master; "but we see only a part of the
fleet."

"Were there ten fleets," exclaimed Clelland, impatiently, "I have met
with as great odds ashore--and here comes Crawford."

The door in the poop was again thrown open, and from forty to fifty
warriors, in complete armour, headed by a tall and powerful-looking man,
came crowding out, and then thronged around the masts, to disengage
their spears. They were all robust and hardy-looking men--the flower
apparently of a country side; and the coolness and promptitude with
which they ranged themselves round their leader, to wait his commands,
shewed that it was not now for the first time they had been called on to
prepare for battle. They were, in truth, tried veterans of the long and
bloody struggle which their country had maintained with Edward--men who,
ere they had united under a leader worthy to command them, had resisted
the enemy individually, and preserved, amid their woods and fastnesses,
at least their personal independence. Such a party of such men, however
great the odds opposed to them, could not, in any circumstances, be
deemed other than formidable.

"We are not born for peace, countryman," said the Governor--"war follows
us even here. Meanwhile, lie down, that the enemy mark not our numbers.
That foremost vessel is lowering her boat, and yonder tall man in
scarlet, who takes his seat in the bows, seems to be a leader."

"It is Thomas of Chartres, himself," said the master. "I know him well.
Some five-and-twenty years ago, we sailed together from Palestine."

"And what," asked the Governor, "could have brought a false pirate
there?"

"He was no false pirate then," replied the master, "but a true Christian
knight; and bravely did he fight for the sepulchre. But, on his return
to France, where he had been pledged to meet with his lady-love, he fell
under the displeasure of the King, his master; and, ever since, he has
been a wanderer and a pirate. You will see, as he approaches, the
scallop in his basnet; and be sure he will be the first man to board
us."

"Excellent," exclaimed the Governor, gaily; "we shall hold him hostage
for the good behaviour of his fleet. Mark me, cousin Crawford. His barge
shoves off, and the men bend to their oars. He will be here in a
twinkling. Do you stand by our good Ancient--would there were but wind
enough to unfurl it!--and the instant he bids us strike, why, lower it
to the deck; but be as sure you hoist it again when you see him fairly
aboard. And you, dear Clelland, do you take your stand here on the deck
beside me, and see to it, when I am dealing with the pirate, that you
keep your long spear between us and his crew. It will be strange if he
boast of his victory this bout."

The men, at the command of their leader, had prostrated themselves on
the deck, while his two brethren in arms, Crawford and Clelland,
stationed themselves at his bidding--the one on the vessel's poop,
directly under the pennon, the other at his side in the midships. The
pirate's barge, glittering to the sun with arms and armour, and crowded
with men, rowed lustily towards them; but, while yet a full hundred
yards away, a sudden breeze from the west began to murmur through the
shrouds, and the bellying sails swelled slowly over the side.

"Heaven's mercy be praised!" exclaimed the master, "we shall escape them
yet. Lay her easy to the wind, good Crawford--lay her easy to the wind,
and we shall bear out through them all."

"Nay, cousin, nay," said the Governor, his eyes flashing with eagerness,
"the pirate must not escape us so. Lay the vessel to. Turn her head full
to the wind. And you, captain, draw off your men to the hold. We must
not lose our good sailors; and these woollens of yours will scarcely
turn a French arrow. Nay, 'tis I who am master now"--for the old man
seemed disposed to linger. "I may resign my charge, perhaps, by and by;
but you must obey me now."

The master and his sailors left the deck. The barge of the pirate came
sweeping onward till within two spears' length of the vessel, and then
hailed her with no courtly summons of surrender. "Strike, dogs, strike!
or you shall fare the worse!" It was the pirate himself who spoke, and
Crawford, at his bidding, pulled down the Ancient. The barge dashed
alongside. Thomas of Chartres, a very tall and very powerful man, seized
hold of the bulwark rail with one hand, and bearing a naked sword in the
other, leaped fearlessly aboard, within half a yard of where the
Governor stood, half-concealed by the shrouds and the bulwarks. In a
moment the sword was struck down, and the intruder locked in the
tremendous grasp of the first champion of his time. Crawford hoisted the
Ancient, yard-high, to the new-risen breeze; while Clelland struck his
long spear against the pirate who had leaped on the gunwale to follow
his leader, with such hearty good-will that the steel passed through
targe and corselet, and he fell back a dead man into the boat. In an
instant the concealed party had sprung from the deck, and fifty Scottish
spears bristled over the gunwale, interposing their impenetrable hedge
between the pirate crew and their leader. For a moment, the latter had
striven to move his antagonist; but, powerful and sinewy as he was, he
might as well have attempted to uproot an oak of an hundred summers.
While yet every muscle was strained in the exertion, the Governor swung
him from off his feet, suspended him at arm's length for full half a
moment in the air, and then dashed him violently against the deck. A
stream of blood gushed from mouth and nostril, and he lay stunned and
senseless where he fell. Meanwhile, the crew of the barge, taken by
surprise, and outnumbered, shoved off a boat's length beyond reach of
the spears, and then rested on their oars.

"He revives," said the warrior in the monk's frock, going up to the
fallen pirate. "Reiver though he be, he has fought for the holy
sepulchre, and has worn golden spurs."

"I will deal with him right knightly," said the Governor. "Yield thee,
Sir Thomas of Chartres," he continued, bending over the prisoner, and
holding up a dagger to his face--"yield thee true hostage for the good
conduct of thy fleet--or shall I call the confessor?"

"I yield me true hostage," said the fallen man. "But who art thou,
terrible warrior, that o'ermasterest De Longoville of France as if he
were a stripling of twelve summers? Art Wallace, the Scottish
Champion!"

"Thou yieldest, De Longoville," said the Governor, "to Sir William
Wallace of Elderslie. But how is it that I meet, in the infamous Thomas
of Chartres, that true soldier of the Cross, De Longoville? I have heard
minstrels sing of thy deeds against the Saracen, Sir Knight, while I was
yet a boy; and yet here art thou now, the dread of the wandering sailor
and the merchant--a chief among thieves and pirates."

"Alas! noble Wallace, thou sayest too truly," said Sir Thomas; "but yet
wouldst thou deem me as worthy of pity as of censure, didst thou but
know all, and the remorse I even now endure. For a full year have I
determined to quit this wild, unknightly mode of life, and go a pilgrim
as of old; not to fight for the sepulchre--for the battles of the Cross
are over--not to fight, but to die for it. But I accept, noble champion,
this my first defeat on sea, as a message from heaven. Accept of me as
true soldier under thee, and I will fight for thee in thy country's
quarrel, to the death."

"Most willingly, brave De Longoville," said the Governor, as he raised
him from the deck; "Scotland needs sorely the use of such swords as
thine."

"And deem not her cause less holy," said the monk--for monk he was, the
well-known Chaplain Blair--"deem not her cause less holy than that of
the sepulchre itself; nor think that thou shalt eradicate the stain of
past dishonour less surely in her battles. The cause of justice, De
Longoville, is the cause of God, contend for it where we may."

Wallace returned to De Longoville the sword of which he had so lately
disarmed him; and the pirate admiral, on learning that the champion was
bound for Rochelle, issued orders to his fleet, which, now that the mist
rose, was found to consist of six large vessels, to follow close in
their wake. The breeze blew steadily from the north-west, and the ships
went careering along, each in her own long furrow of white, towards the
port of their destination; the pirate vessels keeping aloof full two
bowshots from the Scotsman--for so De Longoville had ordered, to prevent
suspicion of treachery. He had set aside his armour, and now appeared to
his new associates as a man of noble and knightly bearing, tall and
stalwart as any warrior aboard, save the Governor; and, though his hair
was blanched around his temples, and indicated the approach of age, the
light step and quick sparkling eye gave evidence that his vigour of
frame still remained undiminished. He sat apart, with the Governor and
his two kinsmen, Clelland and Crawford, in the cabin under the poop. It
was a rude, unornamented apartment, as might be expected, from the
general appearance of the vessel; but the profusion of arms and pieces
of armour which hung from the sides, glittering to the light that found
entrance through a casement in the deck, bestowed on the place an air of
higher pretension. A table with food and wine was placed before the
warriors.

"It is now twenty-six years, or thereby," said De Longoville, "since I
quitted Palestine for France, with the good Louis. I had fought by his
side on the disastrous field of Massouna, and did all that a man of
mould might to rescue him from the Saracens, when he fell into their
hands, exhausted by his wounds and his sore sickness. But that day was
written a day of defeat and disaster to the soldiers of the Cross. Nor
need I say how I took my stand, with the best of my countrymen, on the
walls of Damietta, and maintained them for the good cause, despite of
the assembled forces of the Moslem, until we had bought back our king
from captivity, by yielding up the city we defended for his ransom. It
is enough for a disgraced man and a captive to say that my services were
not overlooked by those whose notice was most an honour; and that, ere I
embarked for France, I received the badge of knighthood from the hand
of the good Louis himself.

"You all know of how different a character Charles of Anjou was from his
brother the king. I had returned from the crusade rich, only in honour,
and found the lady of my affections under close thrall by her parents,
who had resolved that she should marry Loithaire, Lord of Languedoc. I
knew that her heart was all my own; but I knew, besides, that I must
become wealthy ere I could hope to compete for her with a rival such as
Loithaire; and the good Pope Nicholas having made over the crown of the
Two Sicilies to Charles of Anjou, in an evil hour I entered the army
with which Charles was to wrest it from the bastard Manfred--having
certain assurance, from the tyrant himself, that, if he succeeded, I
should become one of the nobles of Sicily. We encountered Manfred at
Beneventura, and the bastard was defeated and slain. But I must blush,
as a knight, for the honour of knighthood--as a Frenchman, for the fair
fame of my country--when I think of the cruelties which followed. Not
the worst tyrants of old Rome could have surpassed Charles of Anjou in
his butcheries. The blood plashed under the hoofs of his charger as he
passed through the cities of his future kingdom; and, when he had borne
down all opposition, 'twould seem as if, in his eagerness to destroy all
who might resist, he had also determined to extirpate all who could
obey. But his policy proved as unsound as 'twas cruel and unjust, as the
terrible _Eve of the Vespers_ has since shown. The Princes of Germany,
headed by the chivalrous Conradine of Swabia, united against us in the
cause of the people. But the arms of France were again triumphant; the
confederacy was broken, and the gallant Conradine fell into the hands of
Charles. It was I, warriors of Scotland! to whom he surrendered; and I
had granted him, as became a knight, an assurance of knightly
protection. But would that my arms had been hewn off at the shoulders
when I first beat down his sword, and intercepted his retreat! The
infamous Charles treated my knightly assurance with scorn; and--can you
credit such baseness, noble Wallace!--he ordered Conradine of Swabia--a
true knight, and an independent prince--for instant execution, as if he
were a common malefactor. My blood boils, even now, when I recall that
terrible scene of injustice and cruelty. The soldiers of France crowded
round the scaffold; and I was among them, burning with shame and rage.
Ere Conradine bent him to the executioner, he took off his glove, and
throwing it amongst us, adjured us, if we were not all as dead to honour
as our leader, to bear it to some of his kinsmen, who would receive it
as a pledge of investiture in his rights, and as beqeathing the
obligation to revenge his death. Will you blame me, noble Wallace! that,
Frenchman as I was, I seized the glove of Conradine, and fled the army
of Charles; and that, ere I returned to France, I delivered it up to
Pedro of Arragon, the near kinsman of the last Prince of Swabia?

"My king and friend, the good Louis, had sailed from France for
Palestine, on his last hapless voyage, ere I had executed my mission. On
my return to France, however, I found a galley of Toulon on the eve of
quitting port, to join with his fleet, then on the coast of Africa, and,
snatching a hurried interview with the lady of my affections, maugre the
vigilance of her relatives, I embarked to fight under Louis, as of old,
for the blessed sepulchre. We landed near Tunis, and saw the tents of
France glittering to the sun. But all was silent as midnight, and the
royal standard hung reversed over the pavilion of the good Louis. He had
died that morning of the plague; and his base and cruel brother, the
false Charles of Anjou, sat beside the corpse. I felt that I had fallen
among my enemies; for though the young King was there, he was weak and
inexperienced, and open to the influence of his uncle. The first knight
I met, as I entered the camp, was Loithaire of Languedoc--now the wily
friend and counsellor of Charles. There were lying witnesses suborned
against me, who accused me of the most incredible and unheard-of
practices; and of these Loithaire was the chief. 'Twas in vain I
demanded the combat, as a test of my innocence. The combat was denied
me; my sword was broken before the assembled chivalry of France; my
shield reversed; and sentence was passed that I should be burnt at a
stake, and my ashes scattered to the four winds of heaven. But it was
not written that I should perish so. Scarce an hour before the opening
of the day appointed for my execution, I broke from prison, assisted by
a brother soldier, whose life I had saved in Palestine, and escaped to
France.

"I was a broken and ruined man. But how wondrous the force of true
affection! My Agnes knew this; and yet, knowing all, she contrived to
elude her guardians, and fled with me to the sea-shore, where we
embarked, in a ship of Normandy, for the south of Ireland. From that
hour De Longoville has fought under no banner but his own. I renounced,
in my anger, my allegiance to my country-nay, declared war with the
sovereign who had so injured me. The years passed, and desperate and
dishonoured men like myself came flocking to me as their leader, till
not Philip himself, or my old enemy Charles, had more kingly authority
on land than De Longoville on the sea. But let no man again deceive
himself as I have done. I had reasoned on the lax morality and doubtful
honour of kings, and asked myself why I might not, as the admiral and
prince of my fleet, achieve a less guilty, though not less splendid
glory than the bastard William of Normandy, or Edward of England, or my
old enemy Charles of Anjou. But I have long since been taught that what
were high achievements and honourable conquest in the admiral of a
hundred vessels, is but sheer piracy in the captain of six. I can trust,
however, that the last days of De Longoville may yet be deemed equal to
the first; and that the middle term of his life may be forgiven him for
its beginning and its close. Not a month since, I carried my wife and
daughter to France, and took final leave of them, with the purpose of
setting out on my pilgrimage to Palestine. That intention, noble
Wallace! is now altered; and I must again seek them out, that they may
accompany me to Scotland."

"The foul stain of treason, brave Longoville, must be removed," said the
Governor. "Charles of Anjou has long since gone to his account: does the
Lord of Languedoc still survive!"

"He still lives," replied the admiral; "his years do not outnumber my
own."

"Then must he either retract the vile calumny, or grant you the combat.
The young Philip has pledged his knightly word, when he solicited the
visit I am now voyaging to pay him, that he would grant me the first
boon I craved in person, should it involve the alienation of his fairest
province. That boon, brave De Longoville, will, at least, present you
with the means of regaining your fair fame."

De Longoville knelt on the cabin floor, and kissed the hand of the
Governor. The conversation glided imperceptibly to other and lighter
matters; time passed gaily in the recital of stories of chivalrous
endurance or exploit; and the gale, which still blew steadily from the
north-west, promised a speedy accomplishment of their voyage. For four
days they sailed without shifting back or lowering sail; and, on the
morning of the fifth, cast anchor in the harbour of Rochelle.

On the evening of the second day after their arrival, a single knight
was pricking his steed through one of the glades of the immense forest
which, at this period, covered the greater part of the province of
Poitiers. He had been passing, ever since morning, through what seemed
an interminable wilderness of wood--here clustered into almost
impenetrable thickets shagged with an undergrowth of thorn, there
opening into long bosky glades and avenues that seemed, however, only to
lead into recesses still more solitary and remote than those that
darkened around him. During the early part of the day, the sun had
looked down gaily among the trees, checkering the sward below with a
carpeting of alternate light and shadow; and the knight, a lover of
falconry and the chase, had rode jocundly on through the peopled
solitude; ever and anon grasping his spear, with the eager spirit of the
huntsman, as the fawn started up beside his courser, and shot like a
meteor across the avenue, or the wild boar or wolf rustled in the
neighbouring brake. Towards evening, however, the eternal sameness of
the landscape had begun to fatigue him; the sun, too, had disappeared,
long before his setting, in a veil of impenetrable vapour, mottled with
grey, ponderous clouds, betokening an approaching storm; and the
horseman pressed eagerly onward, in the hope of reaching, ere its
bursting, the hostelry in which he had purposed to pass the evening. He
had either, however, mistaken his way or miscalculated his distance; for
after passing dell and dingle, glade and thicket, in monotonous
succession, for hours on hours, the forest still seemed as dense and
unending, and the hostelry as distant as ever. A brown and sleepy horror
seemed to settle over the trees as the evening darkened; the thunder
began to bellow in long peals, far to the south, and a few heavy drops
to patter from time to time on the leaves, giving indication of the
approaching deluge. The knight had just resigned himself to encounter
all the horrors of the storm, when, on descending into a little bosky
hollow, through which there passed a minute streamlet, he found himself
in front of a deserted hermitage. It was a cell, opening, like an
Egyptian tomb, in the face of a low precipice. A rude stone-cross,
tapestried with ivy, rose immediately over the narrow door-way.

"The saints be praised!" exclaimed the knight, leaping lightly from his
horse. "I shall e'en avail myself of the good shelter they have
provided. But thou, poor Biscay," he continued, patting his steed,
"wouldst that thou wert with thy master, mine host of the Three _Fleurs
de Lis!_--there is scant stabling for thee here. This way, however, good
Biscay--this way. Thou must bide the storm as thou best may'st in yonder
hollow of the rock." And, leading the animal to the hollow, he fastened
him to the stem of a huge ivy, and then entered the hermitage.

It consisted of one small rude apartment, hewn, apparently with immense
labour, in the living rock. A seat and bed of stone occupied the
opposite sides; and in the extreme end, fronting the door, there was a
rude image of the Virgin, with a small altar of mouldering stone, placed
before it. The evening was oppressively sultry, and, taking his seat on
the bedside, the knight unlaced and set aside his helmet, exhibiting to
the fast-dying light, the brown curling hair and handsome features of
our old acquaintance Clelland--for it was no other than he. The thunder
began to roll in louder and longer peals, and the lightning to illumine,
at brief intervals, every glade and dingle without, and every minute
object within; when a loud scream of dismay and terror, blent with the
infuriated howl of some wild animal, rose from the upper part of the
dell, and Clelland had but snatched up his spear and leaped out into the
storm, when a young female, closely pursued by an enormous wolf, came
rushing down the declivity, in the direction of the hermitage; but, in
crossing the little stream, overcome apparently by fatigue and terror,
she stumbled and fell. To interpose his person between the poor girl and
her ravenous pursuer was with Clelland the work of one moment; to make
such prompt and efficient use of his spear that the steel head passed
through and through the monster, and then buried itself in the earth
beneath, was his employment in the next. The black blood came spouting
out along the shaft, crimsoning both his hands to the wrists; and the
transfixed savage, writhing itself round on the wood in its mortal
agony, and gnashing its immense fangs, just uttered one tremendous howl
that could be heard even above the pealing of the thunder, and then
belched out his life at his feet. He raised the fallen girl, who seemed
for a moment to have sunk into a state of partial swoon, and,
disengaging his good weapon from the bleeding carcass, he supported her
to the hermitage in the rock.

She was attired in the garb of a common peasant of the age and country;
but there was even yet light enough to shew that her beauty was of a
more dignified expression than is almost ever to be found in a
cottage--exquisite in colour and form as that which we meet with in the
latter, may often be. There was a subdued elegance, too, in her few
brief, but earnest expressions of gratitude to her deliverer, that
consorted equally ill with her attire. On entering the hermitage, she
knelt before the altar, and prayed in silence; while Clelland took his
seat on the stone couch where he had before placed his helmet, leaving
to his new companion the settle on the opposite side. Meanwhile the
storm without had increased tenfold. The thunder rolled overhead, peal
after peal, without break or pause; so that the outbursting of every
fresh clap was mingled with the echoes in which the wide-spread forest
had replied to the last. At times, the opposite acclivity, with all its
thickets, seemed as if enveloped in an atmosphere of fire--at times one
immense seam of forked lightning came ploughing the pitchy gloom of the
heavens, from the centre to the horizon. The wild beasts of the forest
were abroad. Clelland could hear their fierce howlings mingled with the
terrific bellowings of the heavens. The dead sultry calm was suddenly
broken. A hurricane went raging through the woods. There was a creaking,
crackling, rushing sound among the trees, as they strained and quivered
to the blast; and a roaring, like that of some huge cataract, showed
that a waterspout had burst in the upper part of the dell, and that the
little stream was coming down in thunder--a wide and impetuous torrent.
Clelland's fair companion still remained kneeling before the altar.
'Twould seem as her prayer of thanks for her great deliverance had
changed into an earnest and oft-reiterated petition for still further
protection.

In a pause of the storm, the frightful howlings of a flock of wolves
were heard rising from over the hermitage, as if hundreds had assembled
on its roof of rock. Clelland sprung from his seat, and, grasping his
spear, stood in the doorway.

"We shall have to bide siege," he said to his companion. "I knew not
that these fierce creatures mustered so thickly here."

"Heaven be our protection!" said the maiden. "They fill every recess of
the forest. I had left my mother's this evening for but an
instant--'twas in quest of a tame fawn--when the monster from whose
murderous fangs you delivered me, started up between me and my home; and
I had to fly from instant destruction into the thick of the forest."

"And so your place of residence is quite at hand?" said Clelland. "In
the course of a long day's journey, I have not met with a single human
habitation."

"The hermitage," replied the maiden, "is but a short half-mile from my
mother's--would that we were but safe there!"

As she spoke, the howling of the wolves burst out again, in frightful
chorus, from above, and at least a score of the ravenous animals came
leaping down over the rock, brushing in their descent the ivy and the
underwood. Clelland couched his spear, so that nothing could enter by
the narrow doorway without encountering its sharp point. But the wolves
came not to the attack; and their yells and howlings from the hollow of
the rock, blent with the terrified snortings and pawings of poor Biscay,
shewed that they were bent on an easier conquest, and bulkier, though
less noble prey. The animal, in his first struggle, broke loose from his
fastenings, and went galloping madly past; and an intensely bright flash
of lightning, that illumined the whole scene of terror without, shewed
him in the act of straining up the opposite bank, with a huge wolf
fastened to his lacerated back, and closely pursued by full twenty more.

It was, in truth, a night of dread and terror. Towards morning, however,
the storm gradually sunk into a calm as dead as that which had preceded
it, and a clear, starry sky looked down on the again silent forest. The
maiden, now that there was less of danger, was rendered thoroughly
unhappy by thoughts of her mother. She had left her, she said, but for
an instant--left her solitary in her dwelling; and how must she have
passed so terrible a night! Clelland strove to quiet her fears. There
was a little cloud in the east, he said, already reddening on its lower
edge; in an hour longer, it would be broad day, and he could then
conduct her to her mother's.

"You have not always worn such a dress as that which you now wear," he
continued; "nor have you spent all your days on the edge of the forest.
Does your father still live?"

There was a pause for a moment.

"I am a native of France," she at length said; "but I have passed most
of my time in other countries. My father, in fulfilment of a vow, is now
bound on a pilgrimage to Palestine."

"And may I not crave your name?" asked Clelland.

"My name," she replied, "is Bertha de Longoville. Brave and courtly
warrior, but for whose generous and knightly daring I would have found
yester-evening a horrid tomb in the ravenous maw of the wolf, do not, I
pray you, ask me more. A vow binds me to secrecy for the time."

"Nay, fear not, gentle maiden," said Clelland, "that what you but wish
to keep secret, I shall once urge you to reveal. But hear me, lady, and
then judge how far I am to be trusted. You are the only daughter of Sir
Thomas de Longoville, once a true soldier of the blessed Cross, but, in
his latter days, less fortunate in his quarrels. Your father is now in
France, and in two weeks hence will be in Paris."

"Saints and angels!" exclaimed the maiden, "he has fallen into the hands
of his enemies!"

"Not so, lady; he is among his best friends. The knightly word of Sir
William Wallace of Elderslie, who never broke faith with friend or
enemy, is pledged for his safe-keeping. With my kinsman, he is secure of
at least safety--perhaps even of grace and pardon. But the day has
broken, maiden; suffer me to conduct you to your mother's."

They left the hermitage together, and ascended the side of the dell. As
they passed the hollow in the rock, a bright patch of blood caught the
eye of Clelland.

"Ah, poor Biscay!" he exclaimed; "there is all that now remains of him;
and how to procure another steed in this wild district, I know not. My
kinsman will be at Paris long ere his herald gets there. Well, there
have been greater mishaps. Yonder is the carcass of the wolf I slew
yester-evening, half eaten by his savage companions."

The morning, we have said, was calm and still; but the storm of the
preceding night had left behind it no doubtful vestiges of its fury.
The stream had fallen to its old level, and went tinkling along its
channel, with a murmur that only served to shew how complete was the
silence; but the banks were torn and hollowed by the recent torrent, and
tangled wreaths of brushwood and foliage lay high on the sides of the
dell. The broken and ragged appearance of the forest gave evidence of
the force of the hurricane. The fallen trees lay thick on the sides of
the more exposed acclivities--some reclining like spears, half bent to
the charge, athwart the spreading boughs of such of their neighbours as
the storm had spared; others lay as if levelled by the woodman, save
that their long flexile roots had thrown up vast fragments of turf,
resembling the broken ruins of cottages. And, in an opening of the wood,
a gigantic oak, the slow growth of centuries, lay scattered over the
soil, in raw and splintery fragments, that gave strange evidence of the
irresistible force of the agent employed in its destruction. The trees
opened as they advanced, and they emerged from the forest as the first
beams of the sun had begun to glitter on the topmost boughs. A low,
moory plain, walled in by a range of distant hills, and mottled with a
few patches of corn, and a few miserable cottages, lay before them. A
grey detached tower, somewhat resembling that of an English village
church, rose on the forest edge, scarce a hundred yards away.

"Yonder tower, Sir Knight," said the maiden, "is the dwelling of my
mother. Alas! what must she not have endured during the protracted
horrors of the night!"

"There is, at least, joy waiting her now," said Clelland; "and all will
soon be well."

They approached the tower. It was a small and very picturesque erection,
of three low stories in height, with projecting turrets at the front
corners, connected by a hanging bartizan, over which there rose a sharp
serrated gable, to the height of about two stories more. A row of
circular shot-holes, and a low, narrow door-way, were the only openings
in the lower storey--the few windows in the upper, long and narrow, and
scarce equal in size to a Norman shield, were thickly barred with iron.
The building had altogether a dilapidated and deserted appearance; for
the turrets were broken-edged and mouldering, and some of the large
square flags had slidden from off the stone roof, and lay in the moat,
which, from a reservoir, had degenerated into a quagmire, mantled over
with aquatic plants, and with, here and there, a bush of willow
springing out from the sides. A single plank afforded a rather doubtful
passage across; and the iron-studded door of the fortalice lay wide
open. Clelland hung back as the maiden entered.

"My daughter! my Bertha!" exclaimed a female voice from within; "and do
you yet live! and are you again restored to me!"

The Knight entered, and found the maiden in the embrace of her mother.

"That I still live," said Bertha, "I owe it to this brave and courtly
knight. But for his generous daring, your daughter would have found
strange burial in the ravenous maw of a wolf."

The mother turned round to Clelland, and grasped his mailed hand in both
hers.

"The saints be your blessing and reward!" she exclaimed; "for I cannot
repay you. God himself be your reward!--for earth bears no price
adequate to the benefit. You have restored to the lonely and the broken
in spirit her only stay and comfort."

"Nay, madam," said Clelland, "I would have done as much for the meanest
serf; for Bertha de Longoville I could have laid down my life."

The mother again grasped his hand. She was a tall and a still beautiful
woman, though considerably turned of forty, and though she yet bore
impressed on her countenance no unequivocal traces of the distress of
the night. She told them of her sufferings; and was made acquainted in
turn with the frightful adventure in the hermitage, and, more startling
still, with the resolution of her husband to confront his calumniators
at the court of France.

"We must set out instantly on our journey to Paris, Bertha," said the
matron; "your father, in his imminent peril, must not lack some one, at
least to comfort, if not to assist him."

"Nay," said Clelland, "ere your setting out, you must first take rest
enough, to recover the fatigues and watching of the night. And, besides,
how could two unprotected females travel through such a country as this?
Hear me, lady: I was hastening to Paris in advance of my party; but now
that I have missed my way and lost my good steed, they will be all there
before me. It matters but little. My kinsman can well afford wanting a
herald. I shall cast myself on your hospitality for the day; and,
to-morrow, should you feel yourself fully recovered, you shall set out
for Paris, under such convoy as I can afford you."

Both ladies expressed their warmest gratitude for the kind and generous
offer; and there was that in the thanks of the younger which Clelland
would have deemed price sufficient for a service much less redolent of
pleasure than that he had just tendered. She was in truth one of the
loveliest women he had ever seen; tall and graceful, and with a
countenance exquisite in form and colour. But, with all of the bodily
and the material that constitutes beauty, it was mainly to expression,
that index of the soul, that she owed her power. There was a steady
light in the dark hazel eye, joined to an air of quiet, unobtrusive
self-possession, which seemed to sit on the polished and finely formed
forehead, that gave evidence of a strong and equable mind; while the
sweet smile that seemed to lurk about the mouth, and the air of softness
spread over the lower part of the face, shewed that there mingled with
the stronger traits of her character the feminine gentleness and
sweetness of disposition, so fascinating in the sex. A little girl from
one of the distant cottages entered the building with a milking pail in
her hands.

"Ah, my good Annette," said the matron, "you left me by much too soon
yester-evening; but it matters not now. You must busy yourself in
getting breakfast for us--meanwhile, good Sir Knight, this way. The
tower is a wild ruin, but all its apartments are not equally ruinous."

They ascended, by a stair hollowed in the thickness of the wall, to an
upper story. There was but one apartment on each floor; so that the
entire building consisted but of four, and the two closet-like recesses
in the turrets. The apartment they now entered was lined with dark oak;
a massy table of the same material occupied the centre; and a row of
ponderous stools, like those which Cowper describes in his "Task," ran
along the wall. An immense chimney, supported by two rude pillars of
stone, and piled with half-charred billets of wood, projected over the
floor; the lintel, an oblong tablet about three feet in height, was
roughened by uncouth heraldic sculptures of merwomen playing on harps,
and two knights in complete armour fronting each other as in the
tilt-yard. The windows were small and dark, and barred with iron; and
through one of these that opened to the east, the morning sun, now risen
half a spear's length over the forest, found entrance, in a square
slanting rule of yellow light, which fell on the floor under a square
recess in the opposite wall. The little girl entered immediately after
the ladies and Clelland, bearing fire and fuel; a cheerful blaze soon
roared in the chimney; and, as the morning felt keen and chill after the
recent storm, they seated themselves before it. An hour passed in
courtly and animated dialogue, and then breakfast was served up.

The younger lady would fain have prolonged the conversation--for it had
turned on the struggles of the Scots, and the wonderful exploits of
Wallace--had not her mother reminded her that they stood much in need of
rest to strengthen them for their approaching journey. They both,
therefore, retired to their sleeping apartments in the turrets; while
the knight, providing himself with a bow and a few arrows, sallied out
into the forest. The practice in woodcraft, which he had acquired under
his kinsman, who, in his reverses, could levy on only the woods and
moors, stood him in so good stead, that, when dinner-time came round, a
noble haunch of venison and two plump pheasants smoked on the board. But
Bertha alone made her appearance. Her mother, she said, still felt
fatigued, and slightly indisposed; but she trusted to be able to join
them in the course of the evening.

There was nothing Clelland had so anxiously wished for, when spending
the earlier part of the day in the wood, as some such opportunity of
passing a few hours with Bertha. And yet, now that the opportunity had
occurred, he scarce knew how to employ it. The radiant smile of the
maiden--her light, elegant form, and lovely features--had haunted him
all the morning; and he wisely enough thought there could be but little
harm in frankly telling her so. But, now that the fair occasion had
offered, he found that all his usual frankness had left him, and that he
could scarce say anything, even on matters more indifferent. And, what
seemed not a little strange, too, the maiden was scarcely more at her
ease than himself, and could find not a great deal more to say. Dinner
passed almost in silence; and Bertha, rising to the square recess in the
wall, drew from it a flagon filled with wine, which she placed before
her guest and a vellum volume, bound in velvet and gold.

"This," she said, "is a wonderful romaunt, written by a countryman of
yours, of whom I have heard the strangest stories. Can you tell me aught
regarding him?"

"Ah!" said the knight, taking up the volume, "the book of Tristram. I am
not too young, lady, to have seen the writer--the good Thomas of
Erceldoune."

"Seen Thomas of Erceldoune! Thomas the Rhymer!" exclaimed the lady. "And
is it sooth that his prophecies never fail, and that he now lives in
Elf-land?"

"Nay, lady, the good Thomas sleeps in Lauderdale, with his fathers. But
we trust much to his prophecies. They have given us heart and hope amid
our darkest reverses. He predicted the years of oppression and suffering
which, through the death of our good Alexander, have wasted our country;
but he prophesied, also, our deliverance through my kinsman, Sir William
of Elderslie. We have already seen much of the evil he foresaw, and
much, also, of the good. Scotland, though still threatened by the power
of Edward, is at this moment free."

"I have long wished," said Bertha, "to see those warriors of Scotland
whose fame is filling all Europe. And now that wish is gratified--nay,
more than gratified."

"You see but one of her minor warriors," said Clelland; "but at Paris
you shall meet with the Governor himself. Your father, Bertha, should he
succeed in clearing his fair fame--and I know he will--sets out with us
for Scotland. Will not you and the lady your mother also accompany us?"

"I had deemed my father bound on a pilgrimage to the holy sepulchre,"
said Bertha.

"But he has since thought," said Clelland, "how much better it were to
live gloriously fighting in a just quarrel beside the first warrior of
the world, than to perish obscurely in some loathsome pesthouse of the
Far East. I myself heard him tender his services to my kinsman."

"Then be sure," said Bertha, "my mother and I will not be separated from
him. Might one find in Scotland, Sir Knight, some such quiet tower as
this, where two defenceless women may bide the issue of the contest?"

"Why defenceless, lady? There are many gallant swords in Scotland that
would needs be beaten down ere you could come to harm. And why not now
accept of Clelland's? Scotland has greater warriors and better swords;
but, trust me, lady, she cannot boast of a truer heart. Accept of me,
lady, as your bounden knight."

A rich flush of crimson suffused the face and neck of the maiden, as she
held out her hand to Clelland, who raised it respectfully to his lips.

"I accept of thee, noble warrior," she said, "as true and faithful
knight, seeing that thy own generous tender of service doth but second
what Heaven had purposed, when, in my imminent peril in the wood, it
sent thee to my rescue. Trust me, warrior, never yet had lady knight
whom she respected more."

Clelland again raised her hand to his lips.

"I have a sister, lady," he said, "whose years do not outnumber your
own. She lives lonely, since the death of my mother, in the home of my
fathers--a tower roomier and stronger than this, and on the edge of a
forest nearly as widely spread. You will be her companion, lady, and her
friend; and your mother will be mistress of the mansion. On the morrow,
we set out for Paris."

The style in which the party travelled was sufficiently humble. Four
small and very shaggy palfreys were provided from the neighbouring
cottages: the ladies and Clelland were mounted on three of these; and
the fourth, led by a hind, carried the luggage of the party. Before
setting out, the lady had entrusted to the charge of the knight, a
small, but very ponderous casket of ebony.

"It needs, in these unsettled times," she said, "some such person to
care for it; and Bertha and I would fare all the worse for wanting it."

The journey was long and tedious, and the daily stages of the party
necessarily short. Their route lay through a wild, half-cultivated
country, which seemed to owe much to the hand of nature, but little to
that of man. There was an ever-recurring succession, day after day, of
dreary, wide-spreading forests, with comparatively narrow spaces
between, which, from the imperfect and doubtful traces of industry which
they exhibited, seemed as if but lately reclaimed from a state of
nature. Groups of miserable serfs, bound to the soil even more rigidly
than their fellow-slaves the cattle, were plying their unskilful and
unproductive labours in the fields. They passed scattered assemblages of
dingy hovels, with here and there a grim feudal tower rising in the
midst--giving evidence, by the strength of its defences, of the
insecurity and turbulence of the time. The travellers they met with were
but few. Occasionally a strolling troubadour or harper accompanied them
part of the way, on his journey from one baronial castle to another. At
times, they met with armed parties of travelling merchants, bound for
some distant fair; at times with disbanded artisans, wandering about in
quest of employment; soldiers in search of a master; or pilgrims newly
returned from Palestine, attired in cloaks of grey, and bearing the
scallop in their caps. The hind, their attendant, bore in his scrip,
from stage to stage, their provisions for the day; and their evenings
were passed in some rude hostelry by the way-side. The third week had
passed, ere, one evening on the edge of twilight, they alighted at the
hostel of St Denis, and ascertained, from mine host, that they were now
within half a stage of Paris.

The hostel was crowded with travellers; and the ladies and Clelland, for
the early part of the evening, were fain to take their places in the
common room beside the fire. A young and handsome troubadour, whose
jemmy jerkin, and cap of green, edged with silver, shewed that he was
either one of the more wealthy of his class, or under the patronage of
some rich nobleman, and who had courteously risen to yield place to
Bertha, had succeeded in reseating himself beside the knight.

"The hostel swarms with company," said Clelland, addressing him--"pray,
good minstrel, canst tell me the occasion? Is there a fair holds
to-morrow?"

"Ah, Sir Knight," said the minstrel, "I should rather ask of thee,
seeing thy tongue shews thee to be a Scot. Dost not know that thy
countryman, the brave Wallace of Elderslie, is at court, and that all
who can, in any wise, leave their homes for a season, are leaving them,
to see him? It is not once in a lifetime that such a knight may be
looked at. And, besides, have you not heard that the combat comes on
to-morrow?"

"I have heard of nothing," said Clelland; "my route has lain, of late,
through the remoter parts of the country. What combat?"

"Sir Thomas de Longoville, so long a true soldier of the cross--so long,
too, a wandering pirate--has defied to mortal combat, Loithaire of
Languedoc; and our fair Philip, through the intercession of Wallace, has
granted him the lists."

Both the ladies started at the intelligence; and the elder, wrapping up
her face in her mantle, bent her head well nigh to her knee.

"And how, good minstrel," said Bertha, in a voice tremulous from
anxiety, "how is it thought the combat will go?"

"That rests with Heaven, fair lady," said the minstrel. "Loithaire is
known far and wide, as a striker in the lists; but who has not also
heard of De Longoville, and his wars with the fierce Saracen? Many seem
to think, too, that he has been foully injured by Loithaire. That soul
of knightly honour, the good Lord Jonville, has already renewed his
friendship with him, as his friend and comrade in the battles of
Palestine, and will attend him to-morrow in the lists."

"May all the saints reward him!" ejaculated the elder lady.

"And at what hour, Sir Minstrel," asked the knight, "does the combat
come on?"

"At the turn of noon," replied the minstrel, "when the shadow first
veers to the east. I go to Paris, to find new theme for a ballad, and to
see the good Wallace, who is himself the theme of so many."

The travellers were early on the road. With all their haste and anxiety,
however, they saw the sun climbing towards the middle heavens, while the
city was yet several miles distant. They spurred on their jaded
palfreys, and entered the suburbs about noon. What was properly the city
of Paris in this age, occupied one of the larger islands of the Seine,
and was surrounded by a high wall, flanked at the angles by massy
towers, and strengthened by rows of thickly-set buttresses; but, on
either side the river, there were immense assemblages of the dirtiest
and meanest hovels that the necessities of man had ever huddled
together. The travellers, however, found but little time for remark in
passing through. All Paris had poured out her inhabitants, to witness
the combat, and they now crowded an upper island of the Seine, which the
chivalry of the age had appropriated as a scene of games, tournaments,
and duels. Clelland and the ladies had but reached the opposite bank,
when a flourish of trumpets told them that the combatants had taken
their places in the lists, and were waiting the signal to engage.

"No further, ladies, no further," said the knight, "or we shall entangle
ourselves in the outer skirts of the crowd, and see nothing. This way;
let us ascend this eminence, and the scene, though somewhat distant,
will be all before us."

They ascended a smooth green knoll, the burial mound of some chieftain
of the olden time, that overlooked the river. The island lay but a short
furlong away. They could look over the heads of the congregated
thousands into the open lists, and see the brilliant assemblage of the
beauty and gallantry of France, which the fame of De Longoville and his
opponent, and the singular nature of their quarrel, had drawn together.
The sun glanced gaily on arms and armour, on many a robe of rich
embroidery and many a costly jewel, and high over the whole, the
oriflame of France, so famous in story, waved its flames of crimson and
gold to the breeze. Knights and squires traversed the area, in gay and
glittering confusion; and at either end there sat a warrior on
horseback, as still and motionless as if sculptured in bronze. The
champion at the northern end was cased from head to foot in sable
armour, and beside him, under the blue pennon of Scotland, there stood a
group of knights, who, though tall and stately as any in the lists,
seemed lessened almost to boys in the presence of a gigantic warrior in
bright mail, who, like Saul among the people, raised his head and
shoulders over the proud crests of the assembled chivalry of France.

"Yonder, ladies--yonder is my kinsman," exclaimed Clelland; "yonder is
Wallace of Elderslie; and the champion beside him is Sir Thomas de
Longoville."

There was a second flourish of trumpets. Bertha flung herself on her
knees on the sward, and raised her hands to her eyes. Her mother almost
fainted outright.

"Nay," said Clelland, "that is but the signal to clear the lists; the
knights hurry behind the palisades, and the champions are left alone.
Fear not, dearest Bertha!--there is a God in heaven, and----Ah, there is
the third flourish! The champions strike their spurs deep into their
chargers; and see how they rush forward, like thunder clouds before a
hurricane! They close!--they close!--hark to the crash!--their steeds
are thrown back on their haunches! Look up, Bertha! look up!--your
father has won--he has won! Loithaire is flung from his saddle, the
spear of De Longoville has passed through hauberk and corslet; I saw the
steel head glitter red at the felon's back. Look up, ladies! look
up!--De Longoville is safe; nay, more--restored to the honour and fair
fame of his early manhood. Let us hasten and join him, that we may add
our congratulations to those of his friends."

Why dwell longer on the story of Thomas de Longoville? No Scotsman
acquainted with Blind Harry need be told how frequent and honourable the
mention of his name occurs in the latter pages of that historian.
Scotland became his adopted country, and well and chivalrously did he
fight in her battles; till, at length, when well nigh worn out by the
fatigues and hardships of a long and active life, the decisive victory
at Bannockburn gave him to enjoy an old age of peace and leisure, in the
society of his lady, on the lands of his son-in-law. Need we add it was
the gallant Clelland who stood in this relation to him? The chosen
knight of Bertha had become her favoured lover, and the favoured lover a
fond and devoted husband. Of the Governor more anon. There was a time,
at least, when Scotsmen did not soon weary of stories of the Wight
Wallace.



THE FUGITIVE.



CHAPTER I.


When Prince Charles Edward, at the head of his hardy Highlanders, took
up his head-quarters in Edinburgh, issuing proclamations and holding
levees, amongst those who attended the latter was a young Englishman,
named Henry Blackett, then a student at the university, and the son of a
Sir John Blackett of Winburn Priory, in Cheshire. His mother had been a
Miss Cameron, a native of Inverness-shire, and the daughter of a poor
but proud military officer. From her he had imbibed principles or
prejudices in favour of the house of Stuart; and when he had been
introduced to the young adventurer at Holyrood, and witnessed the zeal
of his army, his enthusiasm was kindled--there was a romance in the
undertaking which pleased his love of enterprise, and he resolved to
offer his sword to the Prince, and hazard his fortunes with him. The
offer was at once graciously and gratefully accepted, and Henry Blackett
was enrolled as an officer in the rebel army.

He followed the Prince through prosperity and adversity, and when
Charles became a fugitive in the land of his fathers, Henry Blackett was
one of the last to forsake him. He, too, was hunted from one
hiding-place to another; like him whom he had served, he was a fugitive,
and a price was set upon his head.

As has been stated, he imbibed his principles in favour of the house of
Stuart from his mother; but she had been dead for several years. His
father was a weak man--one of whom it may be said that he had no
principles at all; but being knighted by King George, on the occasion
of his performing some civic duty, he became a violent defender of the
house of Brunswick, and he vowed that, if the law did not, he would
disinherit his son for having taken up arras in defence of Charles. But
what chiefly strengthened him in this resolution, was not so much his
devotion for the reigning family, as his attachment to one Miss Norton,
the daughter of a Squire Norton of Norton Hall. She was a young lady of
much beauty, and mistress of what are called accomplishments; but, in
saying this much, I have recorded all her virtues. Her father's
character might be summed up in one brief sentence--he was a deep,
designing, needy villain. He was a gambler--a gentleman by birth--a
knave in practice. He had long been on terms of familiarity with Sir
John Blackett--he knew his weakness, and he knew his wealth, and he
rejoiced in the attachment which he saw him manifesting for his
daughter, in the hope that it would be the means of bringing his estates
within his control. But the property of Sir John being entailed, it
consequently would devolve on Henry as his only surviving son. He,
therefore, was an obstacle to the accomplishment of the schemes on which
Norton brooded; and when the latter found that he had joined the army of
the young Chevalier, he was chiefly instrumental in having his name
included in the list of those for whose apprehension rewards were
offered; and he privately, and at his own expense, employed spies to go
in quest of him. He also endeavoured to excite his father more bitterly
against him. Nor did his designs rest here--but, as he beheld the
fondness of the knight for his daughter increase, he, with the cunning
of a demon, proposed to him to break the entail; and when the other
inquired how it could be done, he replied--"Nothing is more simple; deny
him to be your heir--pronounce him illegitimate. There is no living
witness of your marriage with his mother. The only document to prove it
is some thumbed leaf in the register of an obscure parish church in the
Highlands of Scotland; and we can secure it."

To this most unnatural proposal the weak and wicked old man consented;
and I shall now describe the means employed by Norton to become
possessed of the parish register referred to.

Squire Norton had a son who was in all respects worthy of such a
father--he was the image of his mind and person. In short, he was one of
the _things_ who, in those days, resembled those who in our own call
themselves _men of the world_, forsooth! and who, under that
name, infest and corrupt society--making a boast of their
worthlessness--poisoning innocence--triumphing in their work of
ruin--and laughing, like spirits of desolation, over the daughter's
misery and disgrace, the father's anguish, the wretched mother's tears,
and the shame of a family, which they have accomplished. There are such
creatures, who disgrace both the soul and the shape of man, who are mere
shreds and patches of debauchery--sweepings from the shops of the
tailor, the milliner, and the hair-dresser--who live upon the plunder
obtained under false pretences from the industrious--who giggle, ogle,
pat a snuff-box, or affect to nod in a church, to be thought sceptics or
fine gentlemen. One of such was young Norton; and he was sent down to
Scotland to destroy the only proof which Henry Blackett, in the event of
his being pardoned, could bring forward in support of his legitimacy.

He arrived at a lonely village in Inverness-shire, near which the
cottage formerly occupied by Major Cameron, the grandfather of Henry,
was situated; and of whom he found that few of the inhabitants
remembered more than that "there lived a man." Finding the only inn that
was in the village much more cleanly and comfortable than he had
anticipated, he resolved to make it his hotel during his residence, and
inquired of the landlady if there were any one in the village with whom
a gentleman could spend an evening, and obtain information respecting
the neighbourhood.

"Fu' shurely! fu' shurely, sir!" replied his Highland hostess--"there pe
te auld tominie."

"Who?" inquired he, not exactly comprehending her Celtic accent.

"Wha put te auld tominie?" returned she; "an' a tiscreet, goot
shentleman he pe as in a' te toun."

"The dominie?--the dominie?" he repeated, in a tone of perplexity.

"Oigh! oigh! te tominie," added she, "tat teaches te pits o' pairns, an'
raises te psalm in te kirk."

He now comprehended her meaning; and from her coupling the dominie's
name with the kirk, believed that he might be of use to him in the
accomplishment of his object, and desired that he might be sent for.

"Oigh!" returned she, smiling, "an' he no pe lang, for he like te
trappie unco weel."

Within five minutes, Dugald Mackay, precentor, teacher, and parish-clerk
of Glencleugh, entered the parlour of Mrs Macnab. Never was a more
striking contrast exhibited in castle or in cottage. Here stood young
Norton, bedecked with all the foppery of an exquisite of his day; and
there stood Dugald Mackay, his thick bushy grey hair falling on his
shoulders, holding in his hand a hat not half the size of his head,
which had neither been made nor bought for him, and which had become
brown with service, and was now stitched in many places, to keep it
together. Round it was wrapped a narrow stripe of crape browner than
itself, and over all winded several yards of gut and hair-line, with
hooks attached, betokening his angling propensities. Dugald was a
thickset old man, with a face blooming like his native heather. His feet
were thrust into immense brogues, as brown as his hat, and their
formidable patches shewed that their wearer could use the _lingle_ and
_elshun_, although his profession was to "teach the young idea how to
shoot." He wore tartan hose--black breeches, fastened at the knees by
silver gilt buckles, and much the worse for the wear, while, from the
accumulation of ink and dust, they might have stood upright. His vest
was huge and double-breasted, its colour not recognised by painters; and
his shoulders were covered by a very small tartan coat, the tails of
which hardly reached his waist. Such was Dugald Mackay; and the youth,
plying him with the bottle, endeavoured to ascertain how far he could
render him subservient to his purpose.

"You appear fond of angling," said Norton.

"Fond o' fishing?" returned the man of letters; "ou ay; ou ay!--hur hae
mony time filt te creel o' te shentlemen frae Inverness, for te
sixpence, and te shilling, and te pig crown, not to let tem gaun pack
wi' te empty pasket. And hur will teach your honour, or tress your
honour's hooks, should you be stopping to fish. Here pe goot sport to
your honour," continued he, raising a bumper to his lips.

The other, glad to assign a plausible pretext for his visit, said that
he had come a few days for the sake of fishing, and inquired how long
his guest had been in the neighbourhood.

"Hur peen schulemaister and parish-clerk in Glencleugh for forty year,"
replied Dugald.

"Parish-clerk!" said Norton, eagerly, and checking himself,
continued--"that is--in the church you mean, you raise the tunes?"

"Ou ay, hur nainsel' pe precenter too," answered Dugald; "put hur be
schulemaister and parish-clerk into te pargain."

"And what are your duties as parish-clerk?" inquired the other, in a
tone of indifference.

"Ou, it pe to keep te pooks wi' te marriages, te christenings, and te
deaths. Here pe to your honour's very goot luck again," said he,
swallowing another bumper.

Thus the holder of the birch and parish chronicler began to help himself
to one glass after another, until the candles began to dance reels and
strathspeys before him. At length the angler, expressing a wish to see
such a curiosity as the matrimonial and baptismal register of a hamlet
so remote, out sallied Dugald, describing curved lines as he went, and
shortly returned, bearing the eventful quartos under his arm. Norton
looked through them, laughing, jesting, and professing to be amused, and
his eye quickly fell upon the page which he sought. Dugald laughed,
drank, and talked, until his rough head sank upon his breast, and
certain nasal sounds gave notice that the schoolmaster was abroad. In a
moment, Norton transferred the leaf which contained the certificate of
Lady Blackett's marriage, from the volume to his pocket. His father had
ordered him to destroy it; but the son, vicious as the father,
determined to keep it, and to hold it over him as an instrument of
terror to extort money. The dominie being roused to take one glass more
by way of a night-cap, was led home, as usual, by Mrs Macnab's
servant-of-all-work, who carried the volumes.

Shortly after this, the marriage between Sir John Blackett and Miss
Norton took place; her father rejoiced in the success of his schemes,
and Henry was disinherited and disowned.



CHAPTER II.


While the latter events which we have recorded in the last chapter were
taking place, Henry Blackett, the rebel soldier, was a fugitive, flying
from hiding-place to hiding-place, seeking concealment in the mountains
and in the glens, in the forest and crowded city, assuming every
disguise, and hunted from covert to covert. A reward was not offered for
his apprehension, in particular by government, but he was included
amongst those whom loyal subjects were forbidden to conceal; and two
emissaries, sent out by Norton, sought him continually, to deliver him
up. Ignorant of his father's marriage, or of the villain's part he had
acted towards him, though conscious of his anger at his having joined
Prince Charles, he was wandering in Dumfries-shire, by the shores of the
Solway, disguised as a sailor, and watching an opportunity to return
home, when the hunters after his life suddenly sprang upon him,
exclaiming--"Ha! Blackett, the traitor!--the five hundred pounds are
ours!"

Armed only with the branch of a tree, which he carried partly for
defence, and as a walking-stick, he repelled them with the desperate
fierceness of a man whose life is at stake. One he disabled, and the
other being unable to contend against him singly, permitted him to
escape. He rushed at his utmost speed across the fields for many miles,
avoiding the highways and public paths, until he sank panting and
exhausted on the ground. He had not lain long in this situation when he
was discovered by a wealthy farmer, who was known in the neighbourhood
by the appellation of "canny Willie Galloway."

"Puir young chield," said Willie, casting on him a look of compassion,
"ye seem sadly distressed. Do ye think I could be o' ony service to ye?
From yer appearance, ye wadna be the waur o' a nicht's lodging, and I
can only say that ye are heartily welcome to't."

Henry had been so long the object of pursuit and persecution, that he
regarded every one with suspicion; and starting to his feet and grasping
the branch firmer in his hand, he said--"Know you what you say?--or
would you betray the wretched?"

"It is o' nae manner o' use gripping your stick," said Willie, calmly,
"for I'm allooed to be a first-rate cudgel-player--the best atween
Stranraer and Dumfries. But, as to kennin' what I said, I was offerin'
ye a nicht's lodgings; and as to betrayin' the wretched, I wadna see a
hawk strike doon a sparrow, not a spider a midge, if I could prevent
it."

"You seem honest," said Henry; "I am miserable, and will trust you."

"Be thankit," answered the other; "I dare to say I'm as honest as my
neebors; and, as ye seem in distress, I will be very happy to serve ye,
if I can do't in a creditable way."

Willie Galloway was a bachelor of five and forty, and his house was kept
by an old woman, a distant relative, called Janet White. Henry
accompanied him home, and communicated to him his story. Willie took a
liking for him, and vowed that he would not only shelter him, while he
had a roof over his head, but that he would defend him against every
enemy, while he had a hand that he could lift; and, the better to ensure
his concealment, he proposed that he should pass as his sister's son,
and not even write to his father to intimate where he was, until the
persecution against those who had "been _out_ with poor Charlie," was
past.

In the neighbourhood of Willie's farm, there resided an elderly
gentleman, named Laird Howison. He was an eccentric but most
kind-hearted man, of whom many believed and said that his imagination
was stronger then his reason; and in so saying, it was probable that
they were not far from the truth. But of that the reader will determine
as he sees more of the laird. There resided with him a beautiful orphan
girl, named Helen Marshall, the daughter of the late parish clergyman,
and to whom he had been left guardian from her childhood. But, as she
grew up in loveliness before him, she became as a dream of futurity that
soothed and cheered his existence; and, although he was already on the
wrong side of fifty, he resolved that, as soon as she was twenty-one,
he would offer her his hand and fortune. Janet White, the housekeeper
and relative of Willie Galloway, had nursed Helen in infancy; and the
lovely maiden was, therefore, a frequent visitor at his house. She there
met Henry, and neither saw nor listened to him with indifference; and
her beauty, sense, and gentleness, made a like impression upon him.
Willie, though a bachelor, had penetration enough to perceive that when
they met there was meaning in their eyes; and he began to rally
Henry--saying, "Now, there would be a match for ye!--when the storm has
blawn owre your head, just tak ye that bonny Scotch lassie hame to
England wi' ye as yer wife, and ye will find her a treasure, such as ye
may wander the world round and no find her marrow."

As their intimacy and affection increased, Henry communicated to Helen
the secret of his birth and situation; and, like a true woman, she loved
him the more for the dangers to which he was exposed. He had remained
more than eight months with his friend and protector; and, imagining
that the persecution against himself, and others who had acted in the
same cause, was now abated in its fury, he forwarded a letter to his
father, at Winburn Priory, announcing his intention of venturing home in
a few days, and begging his forgiveness and protection, until his pardon
could be procured. He, however, intimated to Willie Galloway, his desire
to secure the hand of Helen before he left.

"Weel, if she be agreeable," said Willie "--and I hae every reason to
believe she is--I wadna blame ye for taking that step ava; for her auld
gowk o' a guardian, Laird Howison, (though a very worthy man in some
respecks), vows that he is determined to marry her himsel, as soon as
she is ane and twenty; and, as he is up aboot London at present, ye
couldna hae a better opportunity. Therefore, only ye and Helen say the
word, and I'll arrange the business for ye in less than nae time."

The fair maiden consented; a clergyman had joined their hands, and
pronounced the benediction over them--the ceremony was concluded, but it
was only concluded, when the two ruffians, who have been already
mentioned as hired by Norton to search for him and secure his
apprehension, and who before had met him by the side of the Solway,
followed by two soldiers, burst into the apartment, crying--"Secure the
traitor! It is he!--Harry Blackett!"

Helen screamed aloud and clasped her hands.

"Ye lie! ye lie!" cried Willie--"it is my sister's son--meddle wi' him
wha daur, and us twa will fecht you four, even in the presence o' the
minister."

So saying, he seized hold of a chair, and raised it to repel them. Henry
followed his example. The soldiers threateningly raised their fire-arms.
Willie suddenly swang round the chair with his utmost strength, and
dashed down their arms. Henry hastily kissed the brow of his fair bride,
and, rushing through the midst of them, darted from the house, while
Willie, as rapidly following him, closed the door behind him, and
holding it fast, cried--"Run, Harry, my lad!--run for bare life, and
I'll keep them fast here!"

For several days, the soldiers searched the neighbourhood for the
fugitive; but they found him not, and no one knew where he had fled.
Within a week, Helen disappeared from Primrose Hall, the seat of her
guardian, Laird Howison; and the general belief was, that she had set
out for Cheshire, to the father of her bridegroom, to intercede with him
to use his influence in his son's behalf. "And," said Willie, "if she
doesna move him to forgie his son, and do his duty towards him, then I
say that he has a heart harder than a whin-rock."

But no one knew the object of her departure, nor whither she had gone.
Laird Howison had not returned; and, after several weeks had passed, and
Willie Galloway was unable to hear ought of either Helen or Henry, he
resolved to proceed to Cheshire, to make inquiries after them; and for
this purpose purchased an entire suit of new and fashionable raiment.



CHAPTER III.


On a beautiful summer morning, an old man, slightly stooping in his
gait, was slowly walking down a green lane which led in the direction
from Warrington to Winburn Priory. Behind him, at a rapid pace, followed
a younger man, of a muscular frame, exceedingly well-dressed, and
carrying over his arm a thick chequered plaid, like those worn in the
pastoral districts of Scotland. He overtook the elder pedestrian, and
accosted him, saying--

"Here's a bonny morning, freend."

"Sir?" said the old man inquiringly, slightly lifting his hat, and not
exactly comprehending his companion.

"Losh, but he's a mannerly auld body that," thought the other; "I see
the siller upon this suit o' claes has been weel-wared;" and added
aloud, "I was observing it's a delightful morning, sir, and as
delightful a country-side; it wad be a paradise, were it no sae flat."

"Ah, sir!" replied the old man; "but I fear as how the country looks
like a paradise without its innocence."

"Ye talk very rationally, honest man," said the other, whom the reader
will have recognised to be Willie Galloway; "and, if I am no mistaen, ye
maun hae some cause to mak the remark. But, dear me, sir, only look
round ye, and see the trees in a' their glory, the flowers in a' their
innocence; or just look at the rowing burn there, wimplin alang by oor
side, like refined silver, beneath a sun only less glorious than the
Hand that made it; and see hoo the bits o' fish are whittering round,
wagging their tails, and whisking back and forrit, as happy as kings!
Look at the lovely and the cheerfu' face o' a' Nature--or just listen
to the music o' thae sinless creatures in the hedges, and in the blue
lift--and ye will say that, but for the inventions and deceitfulness o'
man's heart, this earth wad be a paradise still. But I tell ye what,
freend--I believe that were an irreligious man just to get up before
sunrise at a season like this, and gang into the fields and listen to
the laverock, and look around on the earth, and on the majesty o' the
heavens rising, he wadna stand for half-an-hoor until, if naebody were
seeing him, he would drap doun on his knees and pray."

Much of Willie's sermon was lost on the old man; he, however,
comprehended a part, and said, "Why, sir, I know as how I always find my
mind more in tune for the service of the church, by a walk in the
fields, and the singing of the birds, than by all the instruments of the
orchestra."

"Orchestra!" said Willie, "what do ye mean?--that's a strange place to
gather devotion frae!"

"The orchestra of the church," returned the other.

"The orchestra o' the church!" said Willie, in surprise--"what's that? I
never heard o't before. There's the poopit, and the precentor's desk,
the pews and the square seats, and doun stairs and the gallery--but ye
nonplus me about the orchestra."

"Why, our lord of the manor," continued the old man, "is one who cares
for nothing that's good, and he will give nothing; and as we are not
rich enough to buy an organ, we have only a bass viol, two tenors, and a
flute."

"Fiddles and a flute in a place o' worship!" exclaimed Willie.

"Yes, sir," replied the other, marvelling at his manner.

"Weel," returned Willie, standing suddenly still, and striking his staff
upon the ground, "that beats a'! And will ye tell me, sir, hoo it is
possible to worship yer Creator by scraping catgut, or blawing wind
through a hollow stick?"

"Why, master," said the old man, "the use of instruments in worship is
as old as the times of the prophets, and I can't see why it should be
given up. But dost thou think, now, that thou couldst go into Chester
cathedral at twilight, while the organ filled all round about thee with
its deep music, without feeling in thy heart that thou wast in a house
of praise. Why, sir, at such a time thou couldst not commit a wicked
action. The very sound, while it lifted up thy soul with delight, would
awe thee."

When their controversy had ended, Willie inquired--"Do ye ken a family
o' the name o' Blackett, that lives aboot this neeborhood?"

"I should," answered the old man; "forty years did I eat of their
bread."

"Then, after sic lang service, ye'll just be like ane o' the family?"
replied Willie.

"Alas!" said the other, shaking his head.

"Ye dinna mean to say," resumed Willie, in a tone of surprise, "that
they hae turned ye aff, in your auld age, as some heartless wretch wad
sell the noble animal that had carried him when a callant, to a cadger,
because it had grown howe-backet, and lost its speed o' foot. But I hope
that young Mr Henry had nae hand in it?"

"Henry!--no! no!" cried the old man eagerly--"bless him! Did you know Mr
Henry, your honour?"

"I did," said Willie; "and I hae come from Scotland ance errand to see
him."

"But, sir," inquired the old man, tremulously, "do you know where to
find him?"

"I expect to find him, by this time, at his father's house."

"Alas!" answered the old domestic, "there has been no one at the priory
for more than twelve months. I don't know where the old knight is. Henry
has not been here since he went to Edinburgh, and that is nigh to five
years gone now."

"Ye dumfounder me, auld man," exclaimed Willie; "but where, in the name
o' guidness, where's the wife?--where's Mrs Blackett?"

"You will mean your countrywoman, I suppose," said the other.

"To be sure I mean her," said Willie--"wha else could I mean?"

"Ah! wo is me!" sighed his companion, and he burst into tears as he
spoke, "dost see the churchyard, just before us?--and they have raised
no stone to mark the spot."

"Dead!" ejaculated Willie, becoming pale with horror, and fixing upon
his fellow-pedestrian a look of agony--"Ye dinna say--dead!"

"Even so!--even so!" said the old domestic, sobbing aloud.

"And hoo was it?" cried Willie; "was it a fair strae death--or just
grief, puir thing--just grief?"

"Why, I can't say how it was," answered his informant; "but I wish I
durst tell all I think."

"Say it!--say it!" exclaimed Willie, vehemently, "what do you mean by,
if you durst say all you think? If there be the shadow o' foul play, I
will sift it to the bottom, though it cost me a thousand pounds; and
there is anither that will gie mair."

"Ah, sir, I am but a friendless old man," replied the other, "that could
not stand the weight of a stronger arm."

"Plague take their arms!" cried Willie, handling his cudgel, as if to
shew the strength of his own--"tell what ye think, and they'll have
strong arms that dare touch a hair o' yer head."

"Well, master," was the reply, "I don't like to say too much to
strangers, but if thou makest any stay in these parts, I may tell thee
something; and I fear that wherever poor Henry is, he is in need of
friends. But perhaps your honour would wish to see her grave?"

"Her grave!" ejaculated Willie--"yes! yes! yes!--her grave!--O misery!
have I come frae Dumfries-shire to see a sicht like this?"

The old man led the way over the stile, hanging his head and sighing as
he went. Willie followed him, drawing his sleeve across his eyes, as was
his custom when his heart was touched, and forgetting the dress of the
gentleman which he wore, in the feelings of the man.

"The family vault is in yonder corner," said his conductor, as they
turned across the churchyard.

"Save us, friend!" exclaimed Willie, looking towards the spot, "saw ye
ever the like o' yon?--a poor miserable dementit creature, wringing his
hands as though his heart would break!"

"Tis he! 'tis he!" shouted the old man, springing forward with the
alacrity of youth, "my child!--my dear young master!"

"Oh! conscience o' man!" exclaimed Willie, "what sort o' a dream is
this? It canna be possible! _Her_ dead, and _him_, oot o' his judgment,
mourning owre her grave in the garb o' a beggar!"

"Ha! discovered again!" cried Henry fiercely, and starting round as he
spoke; but immediately recognising the old domestic, on whom time had
not wrought such a metamorphosis as dress had upon Willie Galloway--"Ha,
Jonathan! old Jonathan Holditch!" he added, "do I again see the face of
a friend!" and instantly discovering Willie, he sprang forward and
grasped his extended hand in both of his.

The old man sat down upon the grave and wept.

"Don't weep, Jonathan," said Henry, "I trust that we shall soon have
cause to rejoice."

"I wish a' may be richt yet," thought Willie; "I took him to be rather
dementit at the first glance, and _rejoice_ is rather a strange word to
use owre a young wife's grave. Puir fellow!"

"Yes, Master Henry," said Jonathan, "I do rejoice that the worst is
past; but I must weep too, for there be many things in all this that I
do not understand."

"Nor me either," said Willie; "but ye say ye think more than ye dare
tell."

"Why is it, Jonathan," continued Henry, "that there is no stone to mark
my mother's grave? There is room enough in our burial place. Why is
there nothing to her memory?" he continued, bending his eyes upon her
sepulchre. "Her _memory_!" he added; "cold, cruel grave; and is memory
all that is left me of such a parent? Is the dumb dust, beneath this
unlettered stone--all!--all! that I can now call mother? Has she no
monument but the tears of her only surviving child?"

"A' about his mother," muttered Willie, "who has been dead for four
years, and no a word aboot puir Helen! As sure as I'm a living man this
is beyont my comprehension--I dinna think he can be _a'thegither
there_!"

Henry turned towards him and said, "I have much to ask, my dear friend,
but my heart is so filled with griefs and forebodings already, that the
words I would utter tremble on my tongue; but what of my Helen--tell me,
what of her?"

"She--she's--weel," gasped Willie, bewildered; "that is--I--I hope--I
trust--that--oh, losh, Mr Blackett, I dinna ken whare I am, nor what I
am saying, for my brain is as daized as a body's that is driven owre wi'
a drift, and rowed amang the snaw! Has there been onybody buried here
lately?"

"Mr Galloway!--Mr Galloway!" exclaimed Henry, half-choked with
agitation, and wringing his hand in his, while the perspiration burst
upon his brow--"in the name of wretchedness--what--what do you mean?"

"Oh, dinna speak to me!" said Willie, waving his hand; "ask that auld
man."

"Jonathan?" exclaimed Henry.

"I don't know what the gentleman means," said the old man; "but no one
has been buried here since your honoured mother, and that is four years
ago."

"And whase grave--whase grave did ye bring me to look at?" inquired
Willie, eagerly.

"My lady's," answered he.

"Yer leddy's!" returned Willie--"do you mean Mr Blackett's mother?"

"Whom else could I mean?" asked old Jonathan, in a tone of wonder.

"Wha else could you mean!" repeated Willie; "then, be thankit! _she's_
no dead!--ye say _she's_ no dead!" and he literally leapt for joy.

"Who dead?" inquired the old man, with increased astonishment.

"Wha dead, ye stupid auld body!--did I no say _his wife_, as plain as I
could speak?"

"_Whose_ wife?" inquired Jonathan, looking from Willie to his master in
bewilderment.

"Whose wife!" reiterated Willie, weeping, laughing, and twirling his
stick; "shame fa' ye--ye may ask that noo, after knocking my heart oot
o' the place o't wi' yer palaver. Whase wife do ye say?--ask Mr Henry."

"Mr Galloway!" interrupted Henry, "am I to understand that you believed
this to be the grave of my beloved Helen?--or, how could you suppose it?
Has she left Primrose Hall?--or, has our marriage----Tell me all you
know, for I wist not what I would ask."

Willie then related to him what the reader already knows--namely, that
she had left Dumfries-shire, and was supposed to have gone to his
father's.

"Blessings on the day that these eyes beheld the dear lady, then,"
exclaimed old Jonathan; "for I could vow that she is under my roof now."

"Under _your_ roof!" cried Henry.

"Was ye doited, auld man, that ye didna tell me that before?" said
Willie.

"I knew no more of my young master's marriage, until just now, than
these gravestones do," said Jonathan; "the dear lady who is with us told
nothing to me. Only my wife told me that she knew she loved our young
master."

"But why is she lodging with you, Jonathan? I have learned that my
father is abroad, and is it that he is soon expected home?"

"A fever caused her to be an inmate of my poor roof," answered Jonathan,
"after she had been rudely driven from the gate as a common beggar. But
I am no longer thy father's servant--and I wish, for thy sake, I could
forget he was thy father; for he has done that which might make the
blessed bones beneath our feet start from their grave. And there is no
one about the Priory now, but the creatures of the villain Norton."

Henry entreated that the old man would not speak harshly of his father,
though he had so treated them; and he briefly informed them, that, on
flying from Scotland to escape his pursuers even at his father's lodge,
he again met one of the individuals who had hunted him as "Blackett, the
traitor," and who had attempted to seize him in the hour of his
marriage--and that even there the cry was again raised against him; and
a band, thirsting for his blood-money, joined in the pursuit. He had
fled to the churchyard, and found concealment in the family vault, where
he had remained until they then discovered him, as, in the early
morning, he had ventured out.

Willie counselled that there was now small vengeance to be apprehended
from the persecution of the government; and when Jonathan stated that
Sir John had married the daughter of Norton, and disinherited Henry by
denying his marriage with his mother, Willie exclaimed--"I see it a', Mr
Henry, just as clear as the A, B, C. This rascal, ye ca' Norton, or your
faither, (forgie me for saying sae,) has employed the villains wha
hunted for yer life; it has been mair them than the government that has
been to blame. Therefore, my advice is, let us go and drive the thieves
out o' the house by force."

Henry, who was speechless with grief, horror, and disgust, agreed to the
proposition of his friend, and they proceeded to the Priory by a shorter
road than the lodge.

Henry knocked loudly at the door, which was opened by a man-servant, who
attempted to shut it in his face; but, in a moment the door was driven
back upon its hinges, and the menial lay extended along the lobby; and
Henry, with his sturdy ally, and old Jonathan, rushed in. Alarmed by the
sound, the other servants, male and female, hurried to the spot; and
epithets, too opprobrious to be written, were the mildest they applied
to the young heir, as he demanded admission.

"Then let us gie them club-law for it," cried Willie, "if they will have
it; and they shall have it to their heart's content, if I ance begin
it."

Armed with such weapons as they could seize at the moment, the servants
menacingly opposed their entrance; but Henry, dashing through them,
rushed towards the stairs, where he was followed by four men-servants,
two armed with swords, and the others with kitchen utensils.

But Willie, following at their heels, cried--"Come back!" and, bringing
his cudgel round his head, with one tremendous swoop caused it to rattle
across the unprotected legs of the two last of the pursuers, and, almost
at the same instant, before their comrades had ascended five steps from
the ground, they, from the same cause, descended backwards, rolling and
roaring over their companions. Within three seconds, all four were
conquered, disarmed, and unable to rise. As the discomfited garrison of
the Priory gathered themselves together, (much in the attitude of Turks
or tailors,) groaning, writhing, and ruefully rubbing their stockings,
Willie, with the composed look of a philosopher, addressed to them this
consoling and important information--"Noo, sirs, I hope ye are a'
_sensibly_ convinced, what guid service a bit hazel may do in a willing
hand; and if ony o' yer banes are broken, I would recommend ye to send
for the doctor before the swelling gets stiff about them. But ye couldna
hae broken banes at a cannier place on a' the leg than just where I gied
ye the bits o' clinks; they were hearty licks, and would gie them a
clean snap, so that, in the matter o' six weeks, ye may be on your feet
again."

Old Jonathan had already followed Henry up stairs; and Willie having
finished his exhortation, proceeded in quest of them. Henry succeeded in
obtaining a change of raiment; and having sent for one who had been long
a tenant upon the estate, he left the house in charge to him, with
orders that he should immediately turn from it all the creatures of
Norton, and engage other servants; and he and his friend, Willie,
proceeded to the house of old Jonathan, where, as the latter supposed, a
lady that he believed to be the wife of his young master, then was.



CHAPTER IV.


Mrs Holditch (the wife of old Jonathan) was wandering up the lane in
quest of her husband, wondering at the length of his absence, and
fretting for his return; for "the sweet lady," as she termed Helen,
"would not take breakfast without them." She had proceeded about half a
mile from the cottage, when she was met by none other than Laird Howison
of Primrose Hall, and the following dialogue took place:--

"Will ye hae the kindness to inform me, ma'am, if the person that used
to keep the gate of Sir John Blackett lives ony way aboot here?"

"He does, sir," replied she, with low obeisance.

"And, oh!" interrupted he, earnestly, "know ye if there be a young leddy
frae Scotland stopping there at present--for I have heard that there is?
Ye'll no think me inquisitive, ma'am; for really if ye kenned what
motive I hae for asking, ye would think it motive enough."

"There be, your honour," returned she, "and a dear excellent young lady
she is."

"Oh! if it be her that I mean," said he, "that she is _dear_, indeed, I
have owre guid reason to ken, and her excellence is written on every
line o' her beautiful countenance. But, if I'm no detaining ye, ma'am,
may I just ask her name?"

"She bade us call her Helen, sir," replied she; "we know no other."

"Yes! yes!" cried he, "it's just Helen!--Helen, and nothing else to me!
Mony a time has that name been offered up wi' my prayers. But I thought,
ma'am, ye said she bade _you_ call her Helen."

"Yes, your honour," said she; "I be the wife of old Jonathan Holditch,
and she be staying with us now."

"Bless you!" he exclaimed, "for the shelter which yer roof has afforded
to the head o' an orphan. But, oh! what like is _your_ Helen? Is her
neck whiter than the drifted snaw? Does her hair fa' in gowden ringlets,
like the clouds that curl round the brows o' the setting sun? Is her
form delicate as the willow, but stately as the young pine? Is her
countenance beautiful as the light o' laughing day, when it chases
sickness and darkness together from the chamber o' the invalid? If she
isna a' this--if her voice isna sweeter than the sough o' music on a
river--dear and excellent she may be, and they may call her Helen--but,
oh! she isna my _Helen_!--for there is none in the world like unto
_mine_. But, no! no!--she is _not mine now_! O Helen, woman! did I
expect this? Excuse me, ma'am, ye'll think my conduct strange; but, when
my poor seared-up heart thinks o' past enjoyment, it makes me forget
mysel'. Do you think your Helen is the same that I hae come to seek?"

"A sweeter and a lovelier lady," said she, "never called Christian man
father. She had business at Winburn Priory; but my husband says she was
driven away from the gate like a dog."

"It is her!" exclaimed he, "and she's no been at the Priory, then?"

"No, sir," returned she.

"Nor seen ony o' the Blackett family?" added he, eagerly.

"No, sir; for there be none of them in the neighbourhood," answered she.

"What's this I hear!" cried he:--"Gracious! if I may again hope!--and
why for no? But how is it that she is stopping wi' you?--wherefore did
she not return to the home where she has been cherished from infancy,
and where she will aye be welcome. Has Helen forgot me a'thegither?"

"Alas, sir!" said she; "it was partly grief, I believe, that brought on
a bad fever, and I had fears the sweet, patient creature would have died
in my hands. I sat by her bedside, watching night after night; and, oh!
sir, I daresay as how it was about you that she sometimes talked, and
wept, and laughed, and talked again, poor thing."

"And did _ye_," he inquired, fumbling with, a pocket book; "did _ye_
watch owre her? I'm your debtor for that. And ye think she spoke about
_me_--my name's Howison, ma'am--Thomas Howison of Primrose Hall, in the
county o' Dumfries. She would, maybe, call me _Thomas_!"

"Mr Howison!" replied the old woman: "yes, your honour, she often
mentioned such a name--very often."

"Did she really," added he; "did she mention me?--and often spoke about
me--often? Then she's no forgotten me a'thegither!"

He thrust a bank-note into the hands of Mrs Holditch, which she refused
to accept, saying that "the dear lady had more than paid her for all
that she had done already." But, while she spoke, they had arrived
within sight of the cottage, and he suddenly bounded forward,
exclaiming--"Oh! haud my heart!" as he beheld Helen, sitting looking
from the window--"yonder she is! yonder she is! O Helen! Helen!" he
cried, rushing towards the door--"wherefore did ye leave me?--why hae ye
forsaken me? But, joy o' my heart, I winna upbraid ye; for I hae found
ye again."

With an agitated step, she advanced to meet him--she extended her hand
towards him--she faltered--"My kind, kind benefactor."

He heard the words she uttered--with a glance he beheld the
marriage-ring upon her finger--he stood still in the midst of his
transport--his outstretched arms fell motionless by his side--"O Helen,
woman!" he cried in agony, "do ye really say _benefactor_?--that isna
the word I wish to hear frae ye. Ye never ca'ed me _benefactor_ before!"

The few words spoken by the old woman had called up his buried hopes;
but the word _benefactor_ had again whelmed him in despair.

"Oh!" he continued, dashing away the tears from his eyes, "my poor mind
is flung away upon a whirlwind, and my brain is the sport o' every
shadow! O Helen! I thought ye had forgotten me!"

"Forgotten you, my kind dear friend!" said she; "I have not, I will not,
I cannot forget you; and wherefore would you forget that I can only
remember you as a friend?"

"Poor, miserable, and deluded being that I am," added he; "I expected,
from what the mistress o' this house told me, that I wouldna be welcomed
by the cauldrife names o' _friend_ or _benefactor_. Do ye mind since ye
used to call me _Thomas_?"

"Mr Howison," answered she, "I know this visit has been made in
kindness--let me believe in parental anxiety. You have not now to learn
that I am a wife, and you can have heard nothing here to lead you to
think otherwise. I will not pretend to misunderstand your language. But
by what name can I call you save that of friend?--it was the first and
the only one by which I have ever known you."

"No, Helen," cried he, wringing her hand; "there was a time when ye only
said _Thomas!_ and the sound o' that ae word frae yer lips was a waff o'
music, which echoed, like the vibrations o' an angel's harp, about my
heart for hours and for hours!"

"If," added she, "from having been taught by you to call you by that
name in childhood, when I regarded you as my guardian, and you
condescended to be my playmate, will you upbraid me with ceasing to use
it now, when respect to you and to myself demand the use of another? Or
can you, by any act of mine, place another meaning upon my having used
it, than obedience to your wishes, and the familiarity of a thoughtless
girl? And, knowing this, is it possible that the best of men will heap
sorrow upon sorrow on the head of a friendless and afflicted woman?"

"Oh, dinna say friendless, Helen," cried he; "friendless ye canna be
while I am in existence. Ye hae torn the scales from my eyes, and the
first use o' sicht has been to show me that the past has been delusion,
and that the future is misery, solitary madness, or despair! And hae I
really a' this time mistaen sweetness for love, and familiarity for
affection? Do ye really say that it was only familiarity, Helen?"

"The feelings of a sister for a brother," she answered; "of a daughter
for a father."

"True," said he; "I see it now; I was, indeed, older than your father--I
didna recollect that."

He sat thoughtful for a few minutes, when Helen, to change the subject,
inquired after her old nurse, Janet White.

"Poor body," said he, raising his head, "her spirits are clean gone. I
understand she sits mourning for you by the fire, cowering thegither
like a pigeon that's lost its mate, or a ewe whose lamb has been struck
dead by its side. It would wring tears from a heart o' stane to hear her
lamenting, morning, noon, and night, for her 'dear bairn,' as she aye
ca'ed ye--rocking her head and chirming owre her sorrow, like a hen bird
owre its rifled nest. I had her owre at the Hall the day after I cam
back frae London, and just afore I cam here to seek for ye. But there is
naething aboot it that she taks delight in noo. And, when I strove to
amuse her, by taking her through the garden and plantations, (though I
stood mair in need o' comfort mysel'), she would stand still and lean
her head against a tree, in the very middle o' some o' the bonniest
spots, while a tear came rowing down her cheeks, and look in my face wi'
such a sorrowfu' expression, that a thousand arrows, entering my breast
at ance, couldna hae caused me mair agony. I felt that I was a puir,
solitary, and despised being, only cast into the midst o' a paradise,
that my comfortless bosom might appear the blacker and the more dismal.
The puir auld body saw what was passing within me, and she shook her
head, saying, 'Oh, sir! had I seen ye leading my bairn down thir bonny
avenues as your wife, Janet White would have been a happy woman.' Then
she wrung her withered hands, and the tears hailed down her cheeks
faster and faster; while I hadna a word o' consolation to say to her,
had it been to save my life. For the very chirping o' the birds grew
irksome, and the young leaves and the silky flowers painful to look
upon. O Helen! if ye only kenned what we a' suffer on yer account! If ye
only kenned what it is to have hope spired up, and affection preying
upon your ain heart for nourishment, ye wadna be angry at onything I
say."

"Think not it is possible," she replied, while her tears flowed faster
than her words; "but wherefore feed a hopeless passion, the indulgence
of which is now criminal?"

"Oh! forgie ye!" he exclaimed, vehemently; "dinna say that, Helen!
Hopeless it may be, but not _criminal_! That is the only cruel word I
ever heard frae yer lips! I didna think onybody would hae said that to
me! Did you really say _criminal_? But, oh! as matters stand, if ye'd
only alloo me to say anither word or twa anent the subject, and if ye
wadna just crush me as a moth, and tak pleasure in my agonies--or hae me
to perish wi' the sunless desolation o' my ain breast--ye'll alloo me to
say them. They relate to my last consolation--the last tie that links me
and the world together!"

"Speak," said Helen; "let not me be the cause of misery I can have power
to prevent."

"Oh, then!" replied he, "be not angry at what I'm going to say; and
mind, that, on your answer depends the future happiness or misery o' a
fellow-being. Yes, Helen! upon your word depends life and hope--madness
and misery; I say life and hope--for, if ye destroy the one, the other
winna hand lang oot; and I say madness--for, oh! if ye had been a
witness o' the wild and the melancholy days and nights that I hae
passed since I learned that ye had left me, and felt my heart burning
and beating, and my brain loup, louping for ever, like a living
substance, and shooting and stinging through my head, like stings o'
fire, till I neither kenned whar I was, nor what I did; but stood still,
or rushed out in agony, and screamed to the wind, or gripped at the echo
o' my voice!--I say, if ye had seen this, ye wadna think it strange that
I made use o' the words. And, now, as ye have heard nothing from----from
Henry Blackett, from the night that the ceremony o' marriage was
performed--and if ye should hear nothing o' him for seven years to come,
ye will then, ye ken, be at liberty--and will ye say that I may hope,
then? O Helen, woman! say but the word, and I'll wait the seven years,
as Jacob did for Rachel, and count them but a day if my Helen will bless
me wi' a smile o' hope!"

As he thus spoke, Mrs Holditch bustled into the room, exclaiming--"O
sweet lady, here be one coming thee knows--see! see! there be my
husband, and our own dear young master Henry, come to make us happy
again!"

"My Henry!" exclaimed Helen, springing towards the door--"where--oh,
where?".

"Here, my beloved! here!" replied Henry, meeting her on the threshold.

Poor Laird Howison stood dumb, his mouth open, his eyes extended,
staring on vacancy. He beheld the object of his delirious love sink into
her husband's arms, and saw no more. He clasped his hands together, and,
with a deep groan, reeled against the wall. Henry and Helen, in the
ecstasy of meeting each other, were unconscious of all around, and
Willie Galloway was the first to observe his countryman.

"Preserve us! you here, too, Mr Howison!" said he. But the features of
the laird remained rivetted in agony, and betrayed no symptom of
recognition. The mention of the laird's name by Willie, arrested the
attention of Henry, and approaching him, he said--"Sir, to you I ought
to offer an apology."

The unhappy man wildly grasped the hand of Henry, and seizing also
Helen's, he exclaimed--"It is a' owre now! The chain is forged, and the
iron is round my soul. But I bless you baith. Tak her! tak her!--and
hear me, Henry Blackett--as ye would escape wrath and judgment, be kind
to her as the westlin' winds and the morning dews to the leaves o'
spring. Let it be your part to clothe her countenance wi' smiles and her
bosom wi' joy! Fareweel, Helen!--look up!--let me, for the last time,
look upon your face, and I will carry that look upon my memory to the
grave!"

She gazed upon him wildly, crying--"Stay!--stay!--you must not leave
us!"

"Now!--now, it is past!" he cried; "it was a sair struggle, but reason
mastered it! Fareweel, Helen!--fareweel!"

Thus saying, he rushed out of the house, and Willie Galloway followed
him; but, although fleet of foot, he was compelled to give up the
pursuit.

A few minutes after the abrupt and wild departure of the laird, and
before Helen had recovered from the shock, the ruffians, who, at the
instigation of Norton, had hunted after Henry to deliver him up to the
government, and from whom he had already twice escaped, rushed into the
room, exclaiming--"Secure the traitor!"

Henry sprang back to defend himself, and Willie Galloway, who had
returned, threw himself into a pugilistic attitude. But Helen, stepping
between her husband and his pursuers, drew a paper from her bosom, and
placing it in his hands, said--"My Henry is free! he is pardoned!--the
king hath signed it!--laugh at the bloodhounds!" And, as she spoke, she
sank upon his breast. He opened the paper; it was his pardon under the
royal signature and the royal seal! "My own!--my wife!--my wife!" cried
Henry, pressing her to his heart, and weeping on her neck.

"That crowns a'!" exclaimed Willie Galloway; "O Helen!--what a lassie ye
are!"

The ruffians slunk from the room in confusion, and Willie informed them
that the sooner they were out of sight it would be the better for them.

Helen, on leaving Scotland, had proceeded to London, where, through the
interest of a friend of Laird Howison's, she gained access to the Duke
of Cumberland, and throwing herself at his feet, had, through him,
obtained her husband's pardon, and that pardon she had carried next her
bosom to his father's house, hoping to find him there.

       *       *       *       *       *

Having divided this tale into chapters, we now come to the



CONCLUSION.


Henry being now pardoned, Willie Galloway advised that he should take
his wife to his father's house, and remain there, adding--"Mind ye,
Maister Henry, that possession is nine points o' law--and if ye be in
want o' the matter o' five hundred pounds for present use, or for mair
to prove your birthright at law, I am the man that will advance it, and
that will leave no stone unturned till I see you righted."

Willie's suggestion was acted upon; and Henry and Helen took up their
abode in the Priory, where they had been but a few weeks, when he
obtained information that his father had fallen in a duel, and that his
adversary was none other than Squire Norton, the father of his then
wife; but with his dying breath he declared, in the presence of his
seconds, and invoked them to record it, that his injured son Henry was
his only and lawful heir.

"That," exclaimed Norton, with a savage laugh over his dying antagonist,
"it will cost him some trouble to prove!"

The murderer, in the name of a child which his daughter had borne to Sir
John, had the hardihood to enter legal proceedings to obtain the estate.

Henry applied to the parish of Glencleugh for the register of his
mother's marriage; but no such record was found. Old Dugald Mackay had a
dreamy recollection of such a marriage taking place; but he said--"It pe
very strange that it isna in te pook; hur canna swear to it."

Many thought that the day would be given against Henry, and pitied him;
but before judgment was pronounced in the case, young Norton was found
guilty of forgery, and condemned to undergo the just severity of the
law. Previous to his ignominious death, in the presence of witnesses, he
confessed the injury he had done to Henry by tearing the leaves from the
parish register, and directed where they might be found. They were
found--old Norton fled from the country, and Henry obtained undisputed
possession of the estate; but on his father's widow and child he settled
a competency.

Laird Howison's sorrow moderated as his years increased; and when Henry
and Helen had children, and when they had grown up to run about, he
requested that they should be sent to him every year, to pull the
primroses around Primrose Hall; and they were sent. One of them, a girl,
the image of her mother, he often wept over, and said, he hoped to live
to love her, as he had loved her mother. Willie Galloway often visited
his friends in Cheshire, and remained "canny Willie" to the end of the
chapter.



THE BRIDE OF BRAMBLEHAUGH.[1]


It has been stated by the greatest critics the world ever saw--whose
names we would mention, if we did not wish to avoid interfering with the
simplicity of our humble annals--that no fictitious character ought to
be made at once virtuous and unfortunate; and the reason given for it is
that mankind, having a natural tendency to a belief of an adjustment,
even in this world, of the claims of virtue and the deserts of vice, are
displeased with a representation which at once overturns this belief,
and creates dissatisfaction with the ways of Providence. This may be
very good criticism, and we have no wish to find fault with it as
applied to works intended to produce a certain effect on the minds of
readers; but, so long as Nature and Providence work with machinery whose
secret springs are hid from our view, and evince--doubtless for wise
purposes--a disregard of the adjustment of rewards and punishments for
virtue and vice, we shall not want a higher authority than critics for
exhibiting things as they are, and portraying on the page of truth, wet
with unavailing tears, goodness that went to the grave, not only
unrewarded, but struck down with griefs that should have dried the heart
and grizzled the hairs of the wicked.

In a little haugh that runs parallel to the Tweed--at a part of its
course not far from Peebles, and through which there creeps, over a bed
of white pebbles, a little burn, whose voice is so small, except at
certain places where a larger stone raises its "sweet anger" to the
height of a tiny "buller," that the lowest note of the goldfinch drowns
it and charms it to silence--there stood, about the middle of the last
century, a cottage. Its white walls and dark roof, with some white roses
and honeysuckle flowering on its walls, bespoke the humble retreat of
contentment and comfort. The place went by the name of Bramblehaugh,
from the sides of the small burn being lined, for several miles, with
the bramble. The sloping collateral ground was covered with shrubs and
trees of various kinds, which harboured, in the summer months, a great
collection of birds--the blackbird, the starling, the mavis, and others
of the tuneful choir--whose notes rendered harmonious the secluded scene
where they sang unmolested. The spot is one of those which, scattered
sparingly over a wild country, woo the footsteps of lovers of nature,
and, by a few months of their simple charms, regenerate the health,
while they quicken and gratify the business-clouded fancies of the
denizens of smoky towns.

The cottage we have now described was occupied by David Mearns, and his
wife Elizabeth, called, by our national contraction, Betty. These
individuals earned a livelihood, and nothing more, by the mode in which
poor cotters in Scotland contrive to spin out an existence; the leading
feature of which, contentment, the result of necessity, is often falsely
denominated happiness by those whose positive pleasures, chequered by a
few misfortunes, are forgotten in the contemplation of a state of life
almost entirely negative. Difficulties that cannot be overcome deaden
the energies that have in vain been exerted to surmount them; and, when
all efforts to better our condition are relinquished, we acquire a
credit for contentedness, which is only a forced adaptation of limited
means to an unchangeable end. David Mearns, who had, in his younger
days, been ruined by a high farm, had learned from misfortune what he
would not have been very apt to have received from the much-applauded
philosophy which is said to generate a disposition to be pleased with
our lot. The bitterness of disappointment, and the wish to get beyond
the reach of obligations he could not discharge, suggested the remedy of
a reliance simply on his capability of earning a cotter's subsistence;
and having procured a cheap lease of the little domicile of
Bramblehaugh, he set himself down, with the partner of his hopes and
misfortunes, to eat, with that simulated contentment we have noticed,
the food of his hard labour, with the relish of health, and to extract
from the lot thus forced upon him as much happiness as it would yield.
The cottage and the small piece of ground attached to it, was the
property of an old man, who, having made a great deal of money by the
very means that had failed in the hands of David Mearns, had purchased
the property of Burnbank, lying on the side of the small rivulet already
mentioned, and, in consequence, it was said, of Betty Mearns bearing the
same name, (Cherrytrees,) though there was no relationship between them,
had let to David the small premises at a low rent.

A single child had blessed the marriage of David Mearns and his wife--a
daughter, called Euphemia, though generally, for the sake of brevity and
kindliness, called Effie; an interesting girl, who, at the period we
speak of, had arrived at the age of sixteen years. In a place where
there were few to raise the rude standard of beauty formed in the minds
of a limited country population, she was accounted "bonny"--a
much-abused word, no doubt, in Scotland, but yet having a very fair and
legitimate application to an interesting young creature, whose blue
eyes, however little real town beauty they may have expressed or
illuminated, gave out much tenderness and feeling, accompanied by that
inexpressible look of pure, unaffected modesty, which is the first, but
the most difficult gesture of the female manner attempted to be imitated
by those who are destitute of the feeling that produces it. An
expression of pensiveness--perhaps the fruit of the early misfortunes of
her parents operating on the tender mind of infancy, ever quick in
catching, with instinctive sympathy, the feeling that saddens or
enlivens the spirits of a mother--was seldom abroad from her
countenance, imparting to it a deep interest, and, by suggesting a wish
to relieve the cause of so early an indication of incipient melancholy,
creating an instant friendship, which subsequent intercourse did not
diminish.

Walter Cherrytrees, the Laird of Burnbank, a man approaching seventy
years of age, had a daughter, Lucy, about the same age as Effie Mearns.
He had lost his wife about fifteen years before; and--though a feeling
of anxiousness often found its way to his heart, suggesting to his
vacant mind, as the cure of his listlessness and the balm of his
bereavement, another wife--he had for a long time been nearly equally
poised between the hope of Lucy becoming his comfort in his old age, and
the wish for a tender partner of pleasures which, without participation,
lose their relish. His daughter, Lucy, was a sprightly, showy girl, who,
having got a good education, might, with the prospect she had of
inheriting her father's property, have been entitled to look for a
husband among the sons of the neighbouring proprietors, if her father's
secluded mode of life, and plain, blunt manners, had not to a great
extent limited her intercourse to a few acquaintances, by no means equal
to him in point of wealth or status, however estimable they might have
been in other respects. A more pleasant companion to the old Laird of
Burnbank could not be found, from the one end of Bramblehaugh to the
other, than David Mearns, his tenant, whose honesty and bluntness, set
off by a fertility of simple anecdote, had charms for one of the same
habits of thought and feeling, which all the disadvantages of his
poverty could not counterbalance. The intimacy of the fathers produced,
at a very early period, a friendship between the daughters, who,
notwithstanding, could not boast of the resemblance of thought and
manners, and community of feeling, which formed the foundation of the
attachment existing between the parents.

This friendship was not exclusive of some acquaintanceships with the
neighbouring young men and women, which, however, were in general
mutual; neither of the two young maidens having formed any intimacy with
another without, her friend participating in the friendship. Among
others, Lewis Campbell, the son of a neighbouring farmer, who had been a
large creditor of David Mearns at the time of his failure, called
sometimes at the cottage of Bramblehaugh, and was soon smitten with a
strong love for Effie. They sometimes indulged in long walks by the side
of the river.

We may anticipate, when we say that the hours spent in these
excursions--in which the greatest beauties of external nature, and the
strongest and purest emotions of two loving hearts, acting in
co-operation and harmony, formed a present and a future such as poets
dream of, and the world never realizes, but in momentary glimpses--were
the happiest of these lovers. Effie's inseparable companion, Lucy,
frequently met them as they sauntered along by the house of Burnbank;
and the soft breathings of ardent affection were relieved by the gay and
innocent prattle of the companions, who enjoyed, though in different
degrees, the conversation and manners of the young lover. The simplicity
and single-heartedness of Effie were entirely exclusive of a single
thought unfavourable to an equal openness and frankness on the part of
her companion, whom she had informed, in her artless way, of the state
of her affections. But what might not have resulted from a mere
acquaintanceship between Lucy and Effie's lover, was called forth by the
pride of the former, whose spirit of emulation, excited by the good
fortune of her poor friend, suggested a secret wish to alienate the
affections of Lewis from her companion, and direct them to herself. The
wish to be beloved, though the mere effect of emulation, is the surest
of the artificial modes by which love itself is generated in the heart
of the wisher; and Lucy soon became, unknown for a time to Effie, as
much enamoured of young Lewis as was her unsuspecting friend.

The first intimation that Effie received of the state of Lucy's feelings
towards her lover, was from Lewis himself. Sitting at a part of the
haugh called the Cross Knowe, from the circumstance of an old Romish
cruciform stone that stood on the top of a gentle elevation--a place
much resorted to by the lovers--Lewis, unable to conceal a single
thought or feeling from one who so well deserved his confidence, first
told her of the perfidy of her friend.

"You are not so well supplied with sweethearts, Effie," he began, "as I
am; for I can boast of two besides you."

"That speaks little in your favour, Lewie," replied she; "for, if it was
my wish, I could hae a' the young men o' the haugh makin love to me frae
mornin to e'en."

"That remark, Effie," said Lewis, "implies that I have courted, or at
least received marks of affection, from others besides you, while I was
leading you to suppose that my heart was entirely yours. Now, that is
not justified by what I said; for one may have sweethearts, and neither
know nor acknowledge them as such."

"Maybe I am wrang, Lewie," said Effie; "but what was I to think but that
the twa ither sweethearts ye mentioned were acknowledged by ye? It's no
in the pooer o' my puir heart to conceive how a young woman could love
are that neither kenned nor acknowledged her love. But I speak frae my
ain simple, an' maybe worthless thoughts. The world's wide, an' haulds
black an' fair, weak an' strong, heigh and laigh; an' wharfore no also
hearts an' minds as different as their bodies? The birds o' this haugh
hae only their ain single luves; but they're a' coloured alike that
belang to ae kind. Would that it had been God's pleasure to mak mankind
like thae bonny birds!"

"I fear, Effie," replied Lewis, "that a statement of mine, intended to
be partly in jest, has been construed by you in such a manner as to
produce to you pain. God is my witness that I am as single-hearted in my
affection as the birds of this haugh; and gaudier colours, sweeter
notes, and better scented bowers will never interfere with the love I
bear to Effie Mearns."

"What meant ye, then, Lewie, by sayin ye had twa sweethearts besides
Effie Mearns?" said she.

"That you shall immediately know," replied Lewis "and you will think
more highly of me when I shew you, by my revealing secrets, not indeed
confided to me, but still secrets, that you have all my heart and the
thoughts that it contains. The first of my other lovers you will not be
jealous of, for she is old Lizzy Buchanan, or, as she calls herself,
Buwhanan, my nurse, who loves me as well as you do, Effie; but the
other, I fear, may create in you an unpleasant feeling of confidence
misplaced, and friendship repaid by something like treachery. Surely I
need say no more."

"Is it indeed sae, Lewie?" said she. "It's lang sin I whispered--and my
heart beat and my limbs trembled as I did it--in the ear o' Lucy
Cherrytrees, that my puir, silly thoughts were never aff Lewie Campbell.
And what think ye she said to me? She said I needna look far ayont
Bramblehaugh for a bonnier and a brawer lover."

"Then," replied Lewis, "I am not much better off than you are; for she
told me that your simplicity, she feared, was art, and that your poverty
made any beauty you had; and she doubted if that bonny face was not a
great snare for the ruin of a penniless lover."

"Sae, sae," said she, sighing deeply; "and has the fair face o' life's
friendship put on the looks o' the hypocrite at the very time when
greater confidence was required? I hae read in Laird Cherrytrees' books
he is sae kind as lend me, many an example o' fause and faithless
creatures, baith men and women, o' the world, o' the great cities that
lie far ayont oor humble sphere; but little did I think that here in
Bramblehaugh, where our bughts ken nae nicht-thieves, and our hen-roosts
nae reynards, there was ane, and that ane my friend, wha could smile in
my face at the very moment she was tryin to ruin me in the eyes o' ane
wha is dearest to me on earth."

As she thus poured forth her feelings with greater loquacity than she
generally exhibited--being for the most part quiet and gentle--the tears
flowed down her cheeks in great profusion, and she sobbed bitterly, in
spite of all the efforts of Lewis to satisfy her that Lucy's endeavours
to lessen her in his estimation were entirely fruitless.

"Apprehend nothing, dear Effie, from the discovered treachery of a false
friend," said he, as he pressed her to his bosom. "It has less power
with me than the whispers of that gentle burn have on the sleeping
echoes of the Eagle's Rock that only answers to the voice of the
tempest."

"It's no that, Lewie," replied she, wiping away her tears, "that gies me
pain. I hae nae fear o' faith and troth that has been pledged, and
better than pledged; for I hae seen it i' yer looks, and heard it i' the
soonds o' yer deep-drawn sighs. Thae tears are for a broken
friendship--for the return o' evil for guid--for the withered blossoms
o' a bonny flower I hae cherished and watered, in the hope it wad yield
me a sweet smell when I kissed its leaves i' the daffin o' youth or the
kindliness o' age. If it is sae sair to lose a friend, what, Lewie--what
wad it be to lose a lover?"

"The very existence of great evils, Effie," said he, "makes us happy,
in the thought that they are beyond our reach."

"But did I no think," said she, "that I was beyond the reach o' the pain
o' experiencing the fauseness o' Lucy Cherrytrees--the very creature o'
a' ithers, I hae chosen as my bosom friend--to whom I confided a' my
thochts and the very secret o' my love?"

"But it is an ill wind that blaws naebody guid, as they say, Effie,"
said Lewis. "I can better appreciate your goodness, now that I have
experienced the faithlessness of another."

"An' if I hae lost a friend," replied Effie, "I am the mair sure o' my
lover. Ye dinna ken, Lewie, how muckle this has raised you even in my
mind, whar ye hae aye occupied the highest place. Ye hae rejected the
offered luve o' the braw heiress o' Burnbank, for the humble dochter o'
David Mearns, wha earns his bread in the sweat o' his brow. Oh! what can
a puir, penniless cottager's dochter gie in return to the man wha, for
her sake, turns his back on a big ha', a thoosand braid acres, an' a
braw heiress?"

"Her simple, genuine, unsophisticated heart," replied Lewis, "with one
unchangeable, devoted affection beating in its core. Were Burnbank Hall
as big as the Parliament House, and Burnbank itself longer than the
lands watered by the Brambleburn, and Lucy Cherrytrees as fair as our
unfortunate Mary Stuart, I would not give my simple Effie, with no more
property of her own than the bandeau that binds her fair locks, for Lucy
Cherrytrees and all her lands."

The two lovers continued their evening walks, indulging in conversations
which, embracing the subject of their affection, and anticipating the
pleasures of their ultimate union, realized that fullest enjoyment of
hope which is said to transcend possession. No notice was taken of their
mutual sentiments on the subject of Lucy Cherrytrees' affection for
Lewis, and her unjustifiable attempts to displace her old friend, to
make room for herself in the heart of the contested object of their
wishes.

Matters continued in this state for some time, Effie being regularly
gratified by a visit from Lewis three times a-week. On one occasion a
whole week passed without any intelligence of her lover. Her inquiries
had produced no satisfactory explanation of the unusual occurrence; and
Fancy, under the spell of the genius of Fear, was busy in her vocation
of drawing dark pictures of coming evil. At last she was told by her
father, who had procured the intelligence from a friend of George
Campbell, the father, that young Lewis had been suspected of an
intention to marry the poor daughter of the cottager, David Mearns, and
had been despatched, without a minute's premonition, 'to an uncle, who
was a merchant in Rio de Janeiro. No time had been given to him to write
to Effie; and care had been taken to prevent him from sending her any
intelligence while he remained at Liverpool, previous to his departure.
The statement was corroborated by intelligence to the same effect,
procured by one of Laird Cherrytrees' servants from one of the servants
of George Campbell, who told it to Lucy, and who again told it to Effie,
with tears in her eyes, which she took every care to conceal. The effect
produced on the mind of Effie Mearns, by this unexpected misfortune, was
proportioned to its magnitude, and the susceptibility of the feelings of
the delicate individual on whom it operated. For many days she wept
incessantly, refusing the ordinary sustenance of a life which she now
deemed of no importance to herself or to any one else. All attempts at
comforting a bruised heart were--as they generally are in cases of
disappointed love--unavailing; and the effects of time seemed only
apparent in a quieter, though not in any degree less poignant sorrow.
Every object kept alive the remembrance of the youth who had first made
an impression on her heart, and whose image was graven on every spot of
the neighbourhood which had been consecrated by the exchange of a mutual
passion. The scenes of their wanderings, hallowed as they had been in
her memory, were now peopled with undefined terrors; and every time that
she was forced abroad to take that air and exercise which latterly
seemed indispensable to her existence, her sorrow received an accession
of power from every tree under which they had sat, and every knowe or
dell where they had listened to the musical loves of the birds, as they
exchanged their own in not less eloquent sighs.

The first circumstance that produced any effect on the mind of the
disconsolate maiden, was a misfortune of another kind, which, realizing
the old adage, seemed to follow with all due rapidity the footsteps of
its precursor. Her mother, who sat on one side of the fire, while Effie
occupied her usual seat in a corner of the cottage in the other, had
been using all the force of her rude but impressive eloquence to get her
daughter to adopt the means that were in her power for the amelioration
of a grief which might render her childless.

"I am gettin auld, Effie," she said, "an' you are the only are I can
look to for administerin to yer faither an' to me that comfort we hae a
richt to expect at the hands o' a dochter wha never yet was deficient in
her duty. Our poverty, which winna be made ony less severe, as ye may
weel ken, by the income o' years, will mak yer attention to us mair
necessary; an' it may even be--God meise the means!--that your weak
hands may yet be required to work for the support o' yer auld parents. I
hae lang intended to speak to you in this way, and it was only pity for
my puir heart-broken Effie that put me aff frae day to day, in the
expectation that either some news wad come frae Lewie, or that ye wad
get consolation frae anither and a higher source, to support ye for
trials ye may yet hae to bear up against, for the sake o' them that
brocht ye into the world. A' ither means hae been tried to get ye to
determine to live, an' no lay yersel doun to dee, an' they havin failed,
what can I do but try the last remedy in my pooer--to speak, as I hae
now dune, to yer guid sense, an' lay afore ye the duties o' a dutifu'
bairn, which are far aboon the thochts o' a disappointed love. Promise,
now, my bonny Effie, that ye will try to gie up yer mournin, for the
sake o' parents whase love for ye is nae less than Lewie Campbell's."

As Betty finished her impressive admonition to Effie, who acknowledged
its force, and inwardly determined on complying with the request of her
mother, an unusual noise at the door of the cottage startled her anxious
ear. It seemed that a number of people were approaching the cottage, and
the groans of one in deep distress and pain were mixed with the low talk
of the crowd, who, from those inexpressible indications which the ear
can catch and analyse ere the mind is conscious of the operation, seemed
already to sympathise with one to whom they were bearing a grief. Housed
by that anticipative fear of evil which all unfortunate people feel,
Betty ran to the door, followed by her daughter, and opened it--to let
in the mangled body of her husband; who, in felling an oak, on the
property of Burnbank, had fallen under the weight of the tree, and got
his leg broken, and one of his arms dislocated at the shoulder-joint. He
was conveyed, by the kind neighbours, to a bed; and, by the time they
got him undressed, for the purpose of his wounds being submitted to the
curative process of the doctor, that individual arrived, and proceeded
to perform the painful operation of setting the broken bones. The full
effect of this misfortune to Effie and her mother was for a time
suspended by the call made upon them to relieve the sufferings of the
father and husband; and it was not till the bustle ceased, and the
neighbours (excepting two women, whose services, in addition to those
of the wife and daughter, might still be required) went away, that they
felt the full force of the gigantic evil that had befallen them, the
consequences of which might extend through the remaining years of their
existence.

A period of no less than eighteen months passed away, and David Mearns
was still unable to do more than, with assistance, to rise from his bed,
and sit, during a part of the day, by the fire, or at the window. During
the whole of this time, he had been tended by his daughter with
assiduous care. Her filial sympathies, called into active operation by
the sorrows of her parent, filled up the void that had been made in her
heart by the departure of her lover; and a new source of grief effected
(however paradoxical it may seem) a change in the morbid melancholy to
which she had been enslaved, which, although not for mental health or
ease, was so much in favour of exertion and remedial exercise, that she
came to present the appearance of one inclined to endeavour to sustain
her sorrow, rather than resign herself to the fatal power of an
irremediable woe. Among the visitors who took an interest in a family
reduced by one stroke to want and all its attendant evils, Laird
Cherrytrees evinced the strongest concern for the fate of his friend;
and, by a timeous contribution of necessary assistance, ameliorated, in
so far as man could, the unhappy condition of virtue under the load of
misery. The many visits of the good old laird, and the long periods of
time he passed by the bedside of the patient, enabled him to see and
appreciate the devoted attention of Effie to her parent; and often, as
she flew at the slightest indication of a wish for something to assuage
pain, or remove the uneasiness produced by the long confinement, he
would stop the current of his narrative, and fix his eyes on the kind
maiden, so long as her tender office engaged her attention and feelings
These long looks, not unaccompanied at times with a deep sigh, were
attributed, as they well might, to admiration and approbation of so much
filial affection and devotedness exercised towards one whom the old
laird respected above all his friends.

The visits of Laird Cherrytrees were at first twice or thrice a-week.
His infirm body already begun to exhibit the effects of old age,
prevented him from walking; and such was the anxiety he felt for the
unhappy patient, that he mounted his old pony, Donald, nearly as frail
as his master, to enable him to administer consolation so much required.
He came always at the same hour; Effie, who expected him, was often at
the door ready to receive him; and, while she held old Donald's head
till he dismounted, welcomed her father's friend with so much sincerity
and pleasure, that if she had failed in her ostlership, he would have
felt a disappointment he would not have liked to express. Even when at a
distance from the cottage, he strained his eyes to endeavour to catch a
glimpse of the faithful attendant; and, if he did not see her, the rein
of Donald was relaxed, and he was allowed to saunter along at his own
pleasure, or even to eat grass by the roadside, (a luxury he delighted
in from his having once belonged to a cadger,) so as to give Effie time
to get to her post.

The three days of the week on which Laird Cherrytrees was in the habit
of visiting David Mearns, were Monday, Thursday, and Saturday; and he
seldom came without bringing something to the poor family--either some
money for old Betty; some preserves, prepared by Lucy, for the invalid;
or a book, or a flower from Burnbank garden, for Effie. When his
conversation with David was finished--and every day it seemed to get
shorter and shorter, though there seemed no lack of either subjects or
ideas--he commenced to talk with Effie, chiefly on the nature and
contents of the books he brought her to read; and nothing seemed to
delight him more than to sit in the large arm-chair by David's bedside,
and hear Effie discoursing, _ex cathedra_, (on a three-footed stool at
the foot of the bed, opposite to the Laird's chair,) with her
characteristic simplicity and good sense, on the subjects he himself had
suggested. But, notwithstanding all her efforts to appear well-pleased
in presence of the man who was supporting her family, her train of
thoughts was often broken in upon by the recollections of Lewis
Campbell, and she would sit for an hour at a time, with the eyes of the
Laird fixed on her melancholy face, as if he had been all that time in
mute cogitation, suggesting some remedy for her sorrow. His ideas and
feelings seemed to be operated upon by the same power that ruled the
mind of the maiden; for his face followed, in its changing expressions,
the mutations of her countenance. Her melancholy seemed to be
communicated by a glance of her watery eye, as the thought of Lewis
entered her mind; and when she recovered from her gloomy reverie, a
corresponding indication of relief lighted up the grey, twinkling orbs
of the old Laird. This custom of "glowrin," for whole hours at a time,
on the face of the sensitive girl, at first painful to her, became a
matter of indifference; and the position and attitudes of the three
individuals--Betty being generally engaged about the house--undergoing,
while the Laird was present, no change, came to assume something like
the natural properties of the parties, as if they had been fixtures, or
lay figures for the study of a painter.

Every time the Laird came to the cottage, he extended the period of his
stay, and, latterly, he did not stir till a servant from Burnbank, sent
by Lucy, came to take him home. It seemed as if he could not get enough
of "glowrin;" for, latterly, all his occupation, which at first
consisted of rational conversation, merged in that mute eloquence of the
eye, or rather in that inebriation of the orb, "drinking of light,"
which lovers of sights, especially female countenances, are so fond of.
The visits had been so regular, not a day being ever missed, that, as
Effie held the stirrup till he mounted Donald, during all which time the
process of "glowrin" went on as regularly as at the bedside of David,
she never thought of asking, and he never thought of stating, when he
would call again. Time had stamped the act of calling with the impress
of unchangeable custom. The caseless clock of David's cottage was not
more regular; the only change being that already observed--that the time
of the Laird's stay gradually and gradually lengthened.

The homage paid by Effie to Laird Cherrytrees was, as may easily be
conceived, the respect, attention, and kindness of an open-hearted girl,
filled with gratitude to the preserver of the lives of her and her
parents. Every evening she offered up, at her bedside, prayers for the
preservation and happiness of the man but for whose kindness starvation
might have overtaken the helpless invalid, and not much less helpless
wife and daughter. In their prayers the "amen" of David and his wife was
the most heart-felt expression of love and gratitude that ever came from
the lips of mortal. This feeling, however, did not prevent David Mearns
and Betty from sometimes indulging, in the absence of Effie (in all
likelihood giving freedom to her tears, as she sat in some favourite
retreat of her absent lover,) in some remarks on the extraordinary
conduct of Laird Cherrytrees. They soon saw through the secret, and
resolved upon drawing him out; for which purpose Effie was to be called
away on the occasion of the next visit.

The Laird came as he used to do, took his seat, and resumed his gazing.
Effie pleased him exceedingly, by an account she gave him of the last
book he brought to her; and, throwing himself back in the arm chair, he
seemed, for a time, wrapped in meditation. Effie obeyed, in the
meantime, her mother's request, to come for a few minutes to the green
to assist her in her work; and, when the Laird again applied his eyes
to their accustomed vocation, he was surprised, but not (for once)
displeased, at her disappearance. A great struggle now commenced between
some wish and a restraint. He looked round the cottage, and then turned
his eyes on David; acts which he repeated several times. Incipient
syllables of words half-formed died away in his struggling throat. He
moved restlessly in the large chair, and twirled his silver-headed cane
in his hand. He even rose, went to the door, looked out, came back
again, and took his seat without saying a word. Holding away his face
from David, he at last made out a few words, uttered with great
difficulty.

"She's a fine lassie, Effie," he said.

"A bonnier an' a better never was brocht up in Bramblehaugh, savin yer
ain Lucy," replied David.

"Hoo auld is she noo?" said the Laird, still holding away his face.

"She will be nineteen come the time," replied David.

"It's a pity she's sae young," rejoined the Laird, with a great
struggle, and making a noise with his cane, as if he had repented of his
words, and wished to drown them before they reached the ears of David.

"I dinna think sae, beggin yer Honour's pardon," replied David. "We need
her assistance, in this trial; an' I'm just thinkin o' some way she
micht use her hands--an she's willing aneugh, puir cratur--for our
assistance."

"Are ye no pleased wi' my assistance?" said the Laird, displeased at
something in David's reply.

"Yer Honour has saved our lives," replied David, feelingly, "an' it wad
only be because we are ashamed o yer guidness that we wad wish our
dochter to tak a part o' that burden aff ane wha is under nae obligation
to serve us."

"If I hae been yer friend, ye hae been mine," said the Laird. "I hae got
guid advices frae ye; an', even noo, I hae something to ask ye
concernin mysel, that nae ither man i' the haugh could sae weel answer."

"What is that, yer Honour?" said David.

"What do ye think, David Mearns, I should do," said the Laird, moving
about in the chair in evident perplexity, "if my dochter Lucy were to
tak a husband an' leave Burnbank? I carena aboot fa'in into the hands o'
Jenny Mucklewham, wha, for this some time past, has neither cleaned my
buckles nor brushed my coat as I wad wish. She says I'm mair fashious;
but that's a mere excuse."

"I hae seen aulder men marry again," said David, thinking he would
please the Laird, by giving him such an answer as he was clearly fishing
for.

"Aulder men, David, man!" replied the Laird, looking down at his person,
and adjusting his wig. "Did I ask ye onything aboot my age? I wanted
merely your advice, what I should do in certain circumstances, an' ye
gie me a comparison for an answer.--Do ye think I should marry?"

"If yer Honour has ony wish in that way, I think ye should," said David.

"I never yet did wrang in following your advice, David Mearns," said the
Laird. "--She's a fine lassie, Effie."

"Ou, ay," responded David, at a loss what more to say.

"Very fine," again said the Laird, turning his face partially from the
window, so as the tail of his eye reached David's face, and waiting for
something more.

David could, however, say nothing. The very circumstance of the Laird's
wishing him to say something pertinent to the purpose already so broadly
hinted at, prevented him from touching so delicate a subject; and,
notwithstanding of another application of the tail of the Laird's eye,
he was silent.

"Ye hae gien me ae advice, David," said the Laird, in despair of getting
anything more out of David without a question: "could ye no tell me
_wha_ I should marry, man?" And having achieved this announcement, he
rose and walked to the window.

"That's owre delicate a subject for me to gie an advice on, yer Honour,"
replied David. "The doo lays aside ninety-nine guid straes, an' taks the
hundredth, though a crooked ane, for its nest. Ye maun judge for
yersel."

"What say ye to yer ain Effie, then?" said the Laird, relieved at last
from a dreadful burden.

"If yer Honour likes the lassie, an' she'll tak yer Honour, I can hae
nae objections," replied David.

The Laird, who seemed twenty years younger after this declaration, took
David by the hand, and shook it till the pain of his dislocated arm
almost made him cry.

"Will ye speak to her aboot it. David!" said he, still holding his hand.
"The best farm o' Burnbank will be your reward. Plead for me, David, my
best friend. Tell Betty aboot it, and get her to use a mother's pooer.
If I can trust my een, Effie doesna dislike me. If a' gaes weel, ye may
hae Ravelrigg, or Braidacre, or Muirfield--onything that's in my pooer
to gie, David." And the old lover, exhausted by the struggle and
excitement he had suffered, sank back into the chair.

"I will do my best," replied David. And the old Laird sighed, and
absolutely groaned with pure, unmixed satisfaction.

At the end of this scene, Effie and her mother came in. The damsel took
her old seat on the three-footed stool at the foot of the bed; the eyes
of the Laird sought again her face, where he thought they had a better
right now to rest. No more was spoken; enough for a day had been said
and done; and, with a parting look to David, to keep him in remembrance
of his promise, and a purse of money slipped into the hand of Betty, as
a solvent of any obstacle that might exist in her mind, the lover went
to the door to receive Donald from the soft hands of Effie, who, as was
her custom, had gone out before him, to lead the old cadger to the door,
and hold the bridle till he with an effort got into the saddle. The only
difference Effie could observe in his departure this day, was a kind of
mock-gallant wave of the hand, as he, with more than usual spirit,
struck his spurless heels into Donald's sides, and tried to rise in the
saddle, in response to the hobble of the old Highlander.

The Laird had been scarcely out of the house, when David had a communing
with his wife, in absence of Effie, on the extraordinary intimation made
by the old lover. Betty was agreeable to the match; but the tear came
into her eye as she thought of the sacrifice poor Effie was to be called
upon to make. Neither of them could answer for the consent of Effie,
whose melancholy, though somewhat ameliorated, was little diminished,
and whose recollections of Lewis Campbell were as vivid as they were on
the day of his departure. When she returned from one of her solitary
rambles, which fed her passion and increased her grief, she was
delicately told of the intentions of Laird Cherrytrees. The announcement
of the extraordinary intelligence produced an effect which neither her
father nor mother could have anticipated. A quick operation of her mind
placed before her all the affectionate acts of attention she had for
years been in the habit of applying to the old friend of her father, and
the preserver of their lives. Gratitude, operating in one of the most
grateful hearts that ever beat in the bosom of mortal, had produced in
her an exuberant kindness, a devotedness of a species of affection due
by a child to its godfather, a playful freedom of the confidence of one
who relied on the disparity of years for a license from even the
suspicion of a possibility of any other relation existing between them.
That now came back upon her, loaded with self-reproach and shame, and
attributing to her misconstrued attentions the extraordinary passion
that had taken hold of the heart of the old Laird. She was totally
unable to make any reply to her parents. The image of Lewis Campbell,
never absent from her mind, assumed a new form, and swam in the tears
which flowed from her eyes. The natural contrast between age and youth,
love and gratitude, assumed its legitimate strength. The first feeling
of her mind was, that she would suffer the death that had for a time
been impending over her, and whose finger was already on her breaking
heart, rather than comply with the wishes of her father and mother. They
saw the struggle that was in her mind, and abstained from pressing what
they had suggested. They did not ask her even to give her sentiments;
but the silent tears that stole down her cheek and dropped in her lap
from her drooping head, required no spoken commentary to tell them the
extent of her grief, and the resolution at least of a heart that might
entirely break, as it appeared to be breaking, but never could forget.

There was little sleep for the eyes of Effie on the succeeding night.
Her sobs reached the ears of her parents, who, unable to yield her
consolation, were obliged to leave her to wrestle with her grief;
sending up a silent prayer to the Author of all good dispensations, that
He might assuage the sorrow of one who had already, with exemplary
patience, submitted to the rod of affliction. The sacredness of her
feelings was too well appreciated by her parents to admit of any offer
of counsel, where deep-seated affection, the work of mysterious
instinct, stood in solemn derision of the vulgar ideas of this world's
expediency. The struggle in her mind arose from the strength of her
love, and the power of her filial devotion. No part of the attendant
circumstances or probable consequences of her decision escaped her mind.
She knew that she never could be happy as the wife of any other
individual, even of suitable age, than Lewis Campbell. But this
concerned only herself; and she knew, and trembled as she thought, that
the result of her decision might be the destitution, the want, perhaps
the death of her parents; their all depended on the breath of the man
whom she, by the sign of her finger, might change from a friend to a
foe; and she might thereby become the destroyer of those who gave her
being.

The morning came, but brought neither sleep nor relief to the unhappy
maiden. Her parents seemed inclined not to advert to the subject that
day, but to let her struggle on with her own thoughts. The hour of the
Laird's visit approached, and he was already on the road for the home of
his beloved, whom his ardent fancy pictured standing smiling at the
door, ready as usual to receive him and lead him into the house.
Donald--who knew a reverie in his master bettor than he did himself, and
did not fail to take advantage of it--ambled on with diminished speed.
The Laird approached the cottage. No Effie was there. His bright visions
took flight, and were succeeded by a cold shiver, the precursor of a
gloomy train of ideas, which pictured a refusal and all its attendant
horrors. He drew up the head of Donald, and even invited him to partake
of the long grass which grew by the way-side. He counted the moments as
Donald devoured the food; and, from time to time, lifted his eyes to see
if Effie was yet at the cottage door. She was not, to be seen--and she
had not been absent before for many months. His mind was unprepared for
a refusal; the ground-swell of his previous excited fancy distracted him
amidst the dead stillness of despair. He looked again, and for the last
time that day. Effie was not yet there. He turned the head of the
delighted, and no doubt astonished Donald, and quietly sought again the
house of Burnbank.

The same procedure was gone through on the succeeding day. Laird
Cherrytrees again proceeded to the cottage of David Mearns; and, as he
sauntered along, he thought it impossible that Effie should again be
absent from her post. He was too good a man, and too conceited a lover,
as all old lovers are, to allow his mind to dwell on the probable
operation of necessity and the fear of injuring her father's patron, on
the mind of the daughter; and yet a lurking, rebellious idea suggested
that he would rather see Effie at the door, impelled by that cause, than
absent altogether. His hopes again beat high, and Donald was pricked on
to the goal of his wishes with an asperity he did not relish so well as
a reverie. The spot was attained. Effie was still absent. Donald was
again remitted to the long grass, and all the resources of a lover's
mind were called up, to enable him to face the evil that awaited him.
But all was in vain--he found it impossible to proceed.

"I am rejected," he muttered to himself, with a sigh; "a cottager's
dochter has refused the Laird o' Burnbank; but her cauldness an' cruelty
mak me like her the mair. Effie Mearns, Effie Mearns! hoo little do ye
ken what commotion ye hae produced in this puir, burstin heart! But,
though ye winna hae me, I winna desert yer faither. Hame, Donald, to
Burnbank." And, as he pulled up the bridle with his left hand, he wiped
away the tears that had collected in his eyes, and, casting many a look
back to the cottage, cantered slowly home.

These proceedings of the Laird had been noticed by Betty Mearns from the
window of the cottage, and she and David were at no loss to guess the
cause of them. They knew his timid, sensitive disposition, and truly
attributed his return to his not seeing Effie at the door waiting for
him as usual. Apprehensions now seized the good mother, that the Laird
might withdraw his attentions and assistance from the family, the result
of which would be nothing but misery and ruin; as David's fractured
limbs were yet far from being healed, and a long period must yet pass
before he could earn a penny to keep in their lives. These fears were
increased by a third and a fourth day having passed without a visit
from the Laird, who had, notwithstanding, been seen reconnoitering as
usual at a distance from the cottage. Effie herself saw how matters
stood, and learned, from the looks of her father and mother, sentiments
they seemed unwilling to declare. She was still much convulsed with the
struggle of the antagonist duties, wishes, emotions, and fears, that
rose in her mind; and the apprehensions of her parents, which she
considered well-founded, added to her sorrow an additional source of
anguish.

"This house," said David, at last overcome by his feelings, "has become
mair like an hospital that has lost its mortification than an honest
man's cottage. Effie sits greetin an' sabbin the hail day, an' you,
Betty, look forward to starvation, wi' the gruesome face o' despair. I
am unhappy mysel, besides being an invalid. What is this to end in? What
are we to do? How are we to live withoot meat, now that Burnbank, guid
man, has deserted us?"

"There has come naething frae Burnbank for five days," replied Betty;
"an' the siller I got frae the guid auld man, the last time he was here,
I payed awa i' the village for necessaries I had taen on afore we got
that help. Our girnel winna haud oot lang against three mous; an' if
Laird Cherrytrees bides awa muckle langer, I see naething for it but to
beg."

The tear started to the eye of David. He looked at Effie. She wept and
sobbed, and covered her face with her hands.

"Effie, woman," said David, "a' this micht hae been averted if ye had
just gane to the door, an' welcomed the auld Laird, as ye were wont.
He's a blate man, though a guid carl; an' he has, nae doot, thocht he
was unwelcome when yer auld practice o' waitin for him was gien up."

"I tauld her that, David," said Betty, "an' pressed her to gang to the
door, though it was only to gie the blate Laird a glimpse o' her, whilk
was a' he wanted to bring him in; but she only sabbed the mair. Unhappy
hour she first saw that callant, wha may now be dead or married for
ought she kens!--an yet for his sake maun a hail family dree the dule o'
this day's misery. Effie, woman, can ye no forget are wha hasna thocht
ye worth the trouble o tellin ye, by ae scrape o' his pen, whether he be
i' the land o' the livin!"

A sob was the only reply Effie could make to this appeal.

"I hae tauld Effie," said David, "what wad save us frae the ruin an'
starvation that stare us i' the face; but my mind's made up to suffer to
the end, though I should lie here wi' my broken banes, and dree the
pains o' hunger, rather than force my dochter to marry a man against her
ain choice. But, O Effie, woman, wad ye see yer puir faither, broken as
he is baith in mind and body, lie starvin here in his bed, wi' nae mair
pooer to earn a bite o' bread than the unspeaned bairn, and no mak a
sacrifice to save him?"

"Ay, faither," replied Effie, "I wad dee to save ye."

"But deein winna save either him or me," said Betty. "Naething will hae
that effect but yer agreein to be the leddy o' the braw hoose an' braid
acres o' Burnbank. Wae's me! what a difference between that condition,
wi' servants at yer nod, an' a' the comforts an' luxuries o' life at yer
command, an', abune a', the pooer o' makin happy yer auld faither and
mother, an' this awfu prospect o' dreein the very warst an' last o' a'
the evils o' life--want an' auld age--ill-matched pair! Effie, woman, my
bonny bairn, hae ye nae love in yer heart, but for Lewie Campbell? Wad
ye, for his sake, see a' this misfortune fa' on the heads o' yer
parents, whom, by the laws o' God an' man, ye are bound to honour,
serve, and obey?"

It was easier for Effie to say she would die to save her parents, than
that she would comply with the wish of her mother; but the feeling
appeal of her parent increased her agony, which induced another paroxysm
of hysterical sobs--the only answer she could yet make to her mother.

"Effie doesna care for either you or me, Betty," said David, "or she wad
hae little hesitation aboot marryin a guid, fresh, clean, rich, auld
man, to save her faither and mother frae poverty and starvation. I see
nae great sacrifice i' the matter. Her young heart mayna rejoice i' the
pleasures o' a daft love, but her guid sense will be gratified by a
feelin o' duty far aboon the vain, frawart freaks o' a silly, giddy,
youthfu passion. Let her refuse Laird Cherrytrees, an' when Lewie
Campbell comes hame, the owrecome bread o' the funeral o' her faither
may grace a waddin bought wi' the price o' his life."

"Dinna speak that way, faither," cried Effie, lifting up her hands; "I
canna stand that. You said ye wadna force me, an' ye _are_ forcin me.
Oh, my puir heart, wha or what will support ye when grief for my parents
turns me against ye? Faither, faither, when I am dead, Laird Cherrytrees
will be again yer friend. A little time will do't: will ye no wait?"

"Hunger waits only eight days, as the sayin is," replied he, "an ye'll
live mair than that time, I hope an' trow. I will be dead afore ye,
Effie, an' ye'll hae the consolation, as ye maybe drap a tear on the
mossy grey stane that covers the Mearnses i' the kirkyard o' our parish,
to think, if ye shouldna like to say, in case ye micht be heard--though
thinkin an' speakin's a' ane to God--that 'that stane was lifted ten
years suner than it micht hae been, because I liked Lewie Campbell
better than auld Laird Cherrytrees.'"

"An' it's no likely," said the mother, "that I wad be there to hear
Effie mak sae waefu a speech. If I binna lyin wi' the Mearns, I'll be
wi' the Cherrytrees o' Mossnook--nae relations o' the Burnbanks, though
maybe as guid a family. But, afore I'm mixed wi' the dust o' that auld
hoose, Effie--an' it mayna be lang--ye may join the twa Cherrytrees, an'
let the gravestanes o' the Mearns, as weel as the Mossnooks, lie yet a
score years langer withoot bein moved. It's a pity to disturb the lang
grass. Its sough i' the nichtwind keeps the bats frae pickin the auld
banes, an' maybe it may save yer mother's, if ye send her there afore
her time."

Effie's feelings could no longer withstand these appeals. Her sobbing
ceased suddenly; and, starting up from her seat, she looked to the old
clock that stood against the wall of the cottage. She noticed that it
was upon the hour of the Laird's usual visit.

"It is twelve o'clock, faither," she said, firmly--"this hoor decides
the fate o' Effie Mearns."

Walking to the door, she placed herself in the position she used to
occupy when she intended to welcome her father's friend. Now she was to
welcome a husband. Laird Cherrytrees was, as might have been expected,
allowing Donald to take his liberty of the road-side, grazing while he
was busy reconnoitering the cottage. The moment he saw the form of Effie
standing where he had for several long days wished to see her, he pulled
up Donald's bridle with the alacrity of youth, and, striking his sides
with his unarmed heels, made all the speed of a bridegroom to get to his
bride. The sight of the object he had gazed upon so unceasingly for so
long a time, and whom he had strained his eyes in vain to see during
these eventful days, operated like a charm on the old lover. He
discovered at first sight the red, swollen eyes of Effie; but he was too
happy in thinking he had been successful, as he had no doubt he had, to
meditate on the struggle which produced his bliss. Having taken a long
draught of the fountain of his hopes and happiness, and feasted his eyes
on the face of the maiden, who attempted to smile through her tears,
which he did sitting on his horse, and, without speaking a word--for,
loquacious in politics or rural economy, he was mute in love--he
dismounted, while Effie, as usual, held the reins. He lost no time in
getting into his chair, falling back into it like a breathless traveller
who has at last attained the end of his journey. David and Betty, who
construed Effie's conduct into a consent, took an early opportunity,
while she was still at the door, of letting the happy Laird know that
their daughter, as they conceived, was inclined to the match. The Laird
received the intelligence as if it had been too much for mortal to bear.
He was at first beyond the vulgar habit of speech. He sighed, turned his
eyes in their sockets, groaned, and wrung his hands. On recovering
himself, he exclaimed----

"Whar is she, Betty? Let me see the dear creature. David, ye'll hae
Ravelrigg; it's the best o' them a'. Whan is't to be, Betty? Ye maun fix
the day; an' ye maun brak the thing to Lucy, and to Jenny Mucklewham;
for I hae nae pooer. Let me see her--let me see the sweet creature this
instant."

Effie, at the request of her mother, came in and resumed her seat on the
three-footed stool. Her eyes were still swollen, and she looked
sorrowfully at her father. The Laird fixed his eyes on her; but his
loquacity was gone. He had not a word to say; but his "glowrin" was in
some degree changed, being accompanied by a soft smile of
self-complacency and contentment, and freed from the nervous
irritability with which he used to solicit with his eyes a look from the
object of his affections. His visit this day was shorter than it used to
be. Next day, Betty was to visit Burnbank, to arrange for the marriage.

Meanwhile, the unfortunate girl resigned herself as a self-sacrifice
into the hands of her mother. Bound with the silken bands of filial
affection, she renounced all desire of exercising her own free-will, or
indulging in those feelings of the female heart which are deemed so
strong as to demand the sacrifice often of all other earthly
considerations. The fate of Iphiginia has occupied the pens and tongues
of pitying mortals for thousands of years. A lovely woman sacrificed for
a fair wind, doomed to have the blood that mantled in the blushing
cheeks of beauty sprinkled on the altar of a false religion, is a
spectacle which the imagination cannot contemplate without a
participation of the strongest sympathies of the heart; yet there are,
in the common every-day world we now live in, many a scene in the act of
being performed, where, though there is no bloodshed and no smoking
altar exhibited, the sacrifice is not less than that of the Grecian
victim. Our blessed, holy altar of matrimony is often, by the wayward
feelings of man--for we here say nothing of vice or corrupt
conduct--made more cruel than those of Moloch and Chiun. There is many a
bloodless Iphiginia in those days, whose sufferings are unknown and
unsung, because confined to the heart that broke over them and concealed
them in death. The young, tender, and devoted female, who, for the love
she bears to her parents, consents to intermarry with rich age, to
embrace dry bones, to extend her sympathies to churlishness, caprice,
and ill-nature, or, what is worse, to the asthmatic giggle of a
superannuated love, while all the while her heart, cheated of its
tribute and swelling with indignation, requires to be watched by her
with vigilance and firmness, the cruelty of which she herself
feels--presents a form of self-sacrifice possessing claims on the pity
of mankind beyond those of the boasted self-immolation of ancient
devotees.

The silence and dejection of our bride were construed, by her parents,
into that seemly and becoming sedateness which sensible young women
think it proper to assume on the eve of so important a change in their
condition as marriage; while the happy bridegroom had come to that time
of life when he is pleased with submission, though it be expressed
through tears. No chemical menstruum has so much power in the
dissolution of the hardest metals as the self-complacency of an old
lover has in construing, according to his wishes, the actions, words, or
looks of the young woman who is destined to be his bride. Silence and
tears are expressive of happiness as well as of grief; and, so long as
the desire of the ancient philosopher is uncomplied with by the gods,
and there is no window to the heart, that organ in the young victim may
break while the sexagenarian bridegroom is enjoying the imputed silent,
restrained happiness of the object of his ill-timed affection.

The sadness and melancholy of the apparently-resigned Effie Mearns had
no effect on the noise and show of the preparations for her marriage
with her old lover. The marriages of old men are well known to be
celebrated with higher bugle notes from the trumpet of fame than any
others. A sumptuous dinner was to be given to the neighbouring lairds,
and the cotters were to be fed and regaled on the green opposite to the
mansion. Dancing and music were to add their charms to the gay scene;
and it was even alleged that the light of a bonfire would lend its
peculiar aid, in raising the joy of the guests, predisposed to hilarity
by plenteous potations, to the proper height suited to the conquest of
the old bridegroom over, at once, a young woman and old Time.

For days previous to the eventful one, Effie Mearns was not heard to
open her lips. She looked on all the gay preparations for her marriage
as if they had been the mournful acts of the undertaker employed in
laying the silver trimming on the coffin lid of a lover. The bedside of
her sick parent, who was still unable to rise, was the place where she
sat "shrouded in silence." She heard the conversations of her father and
mother about the progress of the preparations, without exhibiting so
much interest as to show that she understood them. Misgivings crossed
the minds of the old couple, and brought tears to their eyes, as they
contemplated the animated corpse that sat there, waiting the nod of the
master of ceremonies, and ready to perform the part assigned to it in
the forthcoming orgies of mournful joy; but they had gone too far to
recede, and it was even a subject of satisfaction to them that the
period of the celebration was so near, for otherwise they might have had
reason to fear that their daughter would not have survived the
intermediate time. When the bridegroom called, his ears were alarmed by
the voices of the parents, who saw the necessity of endeavouring to hide
the condition of their daughter; and he was satisfied, if he got, free
and unrestrained, "a feast of the eyes." His love was still expressed by
silent gazing; for it was too deep in his old heart for either words or
tears; if, indeed, there was moisture enough in the seat of his
affection for the suppliance of the _softest_ expression of the soft
passion.

The eventful day arrived. The marriage was to take place in the cottage,
where David Mearns still lay confined to bed. The sick man wore a
marriage favour attached to the breast of his shirt!--for Laird
Cherrytrees would be contented with no less a demonstration of his
participation in his unparalleled happiness. The still silent bride
_submitted_ passively to all the acts of her nimble dressers, whose
laugh seemed to strike her ears like funeral bells; yet she tried--poor
victim! to smile, though the clouded beam came through a tear which, by
its steadfastness, seemed to belong to the orb. The bridegroom came at
the very instant when he ought to have come--the hand of the clock not
having had time to leave the mark of notation. He was dressed in the
style of his earliest days, with cocked hat, laced coat, and a sky-blue
vest, embroidered in the richest manner; while a new wig, ordered from
the metropolis, imparted to him the freshness of youth. His cheek was
flushed with the blood which joy had forced, for a moment, from where it
was more needed, at the drying fountain of life; and his eye spoke a
happiness which his parched tongue could not have achieved, without
causing shame even to himself. Everything was new, spruce, perking,
self-complacent. The clergyman next came, and all was prepared.

Throughout all this time and all these preparations, not the slightest
change had been observed on the bride. After she was dressed, she took
her seat again, silently by the side of her father's sickbed, where she
sat like a statue. The ceremony was now to commence, and she stood up,
when required by the clergyman, as if she obeyed the command of an
executioner. It was noticed that she seemed to incline to be as near as
possible to her father's bed; and her unwillingness or inability to come
forward forced the clergyman and the bridegroom some paces from the
situation they at first held. The ceremony proceeded till it came to the
part where the consent of the parties is asked. The happy bridegroom
pronounced his response, quick, sharp, and with an air of conceit, which
brought a smile to the faces of the parties present. There was now a
pause for the consent of the bride. All eyes were fixed on her
death-like face. A severe struggle was going on in her bosom; yet her
countenance was unmoved, and no one conjectured that she suffered more
than sensitive females often do in her situation. The clergyman repeated
his question. There was still a pause--the eyes of all were riveted on
her. "I _canna_, I _canna_!" at last she exclaimed, in a voice of agony,
and fell back on the bed--a corpse!

Six months after the death of Effie Mearns, Lucy Cherrytrees was
married, without faint or swoon, to Lewis Campbell, who returned home,
in spite of his reported death. The union was against the consent of the
Laird, who soon died of either a broken heart or old age--no doctor
could have told which.

[Footnote 1: This story will suggest the remembrance of a popular ballad, but the
similarity is casual; for the circumstances are here true, if they may
not be found of every-day occurrence somewhere about the temple of
Mammon.--ED.]



GLEANINGS OF THE COVENANT.



XIV.--JAMES RENWICK.


In the times in which we live, party spirit is carried very far. Many
honest tradesmen, merchants, and shopkeepers, are ruined by their votes
at elections. The ordinary intercourse of social life is obstructed and
deranged. Friends go up to the polling station with friends, but
separate there, and become, it may be, the most inveterate enemies.
This, our later reformation of 1832, has cost us much; but our
sufferings are nothing to those which marked the two previous
reformations from Popery and Prelacy. In the one instance, fire and
faggot were the ordinary means adopted for defending political
arrangements; in the other, the gallows and the maiden did the same
work, and the boots and the thumbikins acted as ministering engines of
torture. The whole of society was convulsed; men's blood boiled in their
veins at the revolting sights which were almost daily obtruding upon
their attention; and their judgments being greatly influenced by their
feelings, it is not to be wondered at that they should, in a few
instances, have overshot, as it were, the mark--have sacrificed their
lives to the support of opinions which appear now not materially
different from those which their enemies pressed upon their acceptance.
It is a sad mistake to suppose that the friends of Presbytery, during
the fearful twenty-eight years' persecution of Charles and James, died
in the support of certain doctrines and forms of church government
merely. With these were, unhappily, or rather, as things have turned
out, fortunately, combined, political or civil liberty, the
establishment and support of a supreme power, vested in King, Lords,
and Commons--instead of being vested, by usurpation, merely in the King
alone. By avoiding to call Parliaments, and by obtaining supplies of
money from France and otherwise, the two last of the Stuart Despots had,
in fact, broken the compact of Government, and had exposed themselves
all along, through the twenty-eight years of persecution, to
dethronement for high treason. This was the strong view taken by those
who fought and who fell at Bothwell Bridge, and this was the view taken
by nine-tenths of the inhabitants of Scotland--of the descendants and
admirers of Bruce and Wallace--of Knox and Carstairs. James Renwick, the
last of the martyrs in the cause of religion and liberty, was executed
in Edinburgh in his twenty-sixth year. He was a young man of liberal
education, conducted both at the college of Edinburgh, and Groningen,
abroad--of the most amiable disposition, and the most unblemished moral
character--yet, simply because he avowed, and supported, and publicly
preached doctrines on which, in twelve months after his execution, the
British Government was based, he was adjudged to the death, and
ignominiously executed in the presence of his poor mother and other
relatives, as well as of the Edinburgh public. Mr Woodrow, in his
history of this man's life, alludes to some papers which he had seen,
containing notices of Mr Renwick's trials and hair-breadth escapes;
prior to his capture and execution--which, however, he refrains from
giving to the public. It so happens that, from my acquaintance with a
lineal descendent of the last of the Martyrs, I have it in my power, in
some measure, to supply the deficiency; his own note, or
memorandum-book, being still in existence, though it never has been, nor
ever will, probably, be published.

It was in the month of January 1688, that Mr Renwick was preaching,
after nightfall, to a few followers, at Braid Craigs, in the
neighbourhood of Edinburgh. The night was stormy--a cold east wind, with
occasional blasts of snow--whilst the moon, in her second quarter,
looked out, at intervals, on plaids and bonnets nestled to the leeward
of rocks and furze. It was a piteous sight to view rational and immortal
creatures reduced to a state upon the level with the hares and the
foxes. Renwick discoursed to them from the point of a rock which
protruded over the lee side of the Craigieknowe. His manner was solemn
and impressive. He was a young man of about twenty-five years of age;
and his mother, Elspeth Carson, sat immediately before him--an old woman
of threescore and upwards--in her tartan plaid and velvet hood. Her son
had been born to a larger promise, and had enjoyed an excellent academic
education; and much it had originally grieved the old woman's heart to
find all her hopes of seeing him minister of her native parish of
Glencairn, blasted; but his conscience would not allow him to conform;
and she had followed him in his wanderings and field-preachings, through
Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, and all along by the Pentland Hills, to
Edinburgh, where a sister of hers was married, and lived in a
respectable way on the Castle Hill. This evening, after psalm-singing
and prayer, Mr. Renwick had chosen for his text these words, in the
fourth verse of the eighteenth chapter of the book of Revelation--"Come
out of her, my people." The kindly phrase, "my people," was beautifully
insisted upon.

"There ye are," said Renwick, stretching out his hand to the darkening
sleet; "there ye are, a poor, shivering, fainting, despised, persecuted
remnant, whom the great ones despise, and the men of might, and of war,
and of blood, cut down with their swords, and rack with their tortures.
Ye are, like ye'r great Master, despised and rejected of men; but the
Master whom ye serve, and whom angels serve with veiled faces, and even
He who created and supports the sun, the moon, and the stars,
He--blessed be His name!--is not ashamed to acknowledge ye, under all
your humiliation, as _His_ people. 'Come out of her,' says He, '_my
people_.' O, sirs, this is a sweet and a loving invitation. Ye are '_His
people_,' the sheep of His pasture, after all; and who would have
thought it, that heard ye, but yesterday, denounced at the cross of
Edinburgh as traitors, and rebels, and non-conformists, as the
offscourings of the earth, the filth and the abomination in the eyes and
in the nostrils of the great and the mighty? 'Come out!' says the text,
and out ye have come--'done ere ye bade, guid Lord!' Ye may truly and
reverentially say--Here we are, guid Lord; we have come out from the
West Port, and from the Grassmarket, and from the Nether Bow, and from
the Canongate--out we have come, because we are thy people. We know thy
voice, and thy servants' voice, and a stranger and a hireling, with his
stipend and his worldly rewards, will we not follow; but we will listen
to him whose reward is with him; whose stipend is Thy divine
approbation; whose manse is the wilderness; and whose glebe land is the
barren rock and the shelterless knowe. Come out of _her_. There _she_
sits," (pointing towards Edinburgh, now visible in the scattered rays of
the moon,) "there she sits, like a lady, in her delicacies, and her
drawing-rooms, and her ball-rooms, and her closetings, and her
abominations. Ye can almost hear the hum of her many voices on the wings
of the tempest. There she sits in her easy chair, stretching her feet
downwards, from west to east, from castle to palace! But she has lost
her first love, and has deserted her covenanted husband. She hath gone
astray--she hath gone astray!--and He who made her hath denounced
her--He whose she was in the day of her betrothment, hath said--She is
no longer mine; 'come out of her, my people'--be not misled by her
witcheries, and her dalliance, and her smiles--be not terrified by her
threats, and cruelties, and her murderings--she is drunk, she is
drunk--and with the most dangerous and intoxicating beverage, too--she
is drunk with the blood of the saints. When shipwrecked and famishing
sailors kill each other, and drink the blood, it is written that they
immediately become mad, and, uttering all manner of blasphemies, expire!
Thus it is with the 'Lady of the rock'--she is now in her terrible
blasphemies, and will, by and by, expire in her frenzy. And who sits
upon her throne?--even the bloody Papist, who misrules these unhappy
lands--he, the usurper of a throne from which by law he is
debarred--even the cruel and Papistical _Duke_, whom men, in their folly
or in their fears, denominate 'KING'--he, too, is doomed--the decree
hath gone forth, and he will perish with her, because he would not _come
out_."

"Will he, indeed, Mr Bletherwell? But there are some here who must
perish first." So said the wily and infuriated Claverhouse, as he poured
in his men by a signal from the adjoining glen, (where the lonely
hermitage now stands in its silent beauty,) and in an instant had made
Renwick, and about ten of his followers--the old woman, his mother,
included--prisoners. This was done in an instant, for the arrangements
had been made prior to the hour of meeting, and Claverhouse, attired in
plaid and bonnet, had actually sat during the whole discourse, listening
to the speaker till once he should utter something treasonable, when, by
rising on a rock, and shaking the corners of his plaid, he brought the
troop up from their hiding-places, amidst the whins and the broom by
which the glen was at that time covered. Renwick, seeing all resistance
useless, and indeed forbidding his followers, who were not unprovided
for the occasion, to fire upon the military, marched onwards, in
silence, towards Edinburgh. As they passed along by the land now
denominated "Canaan," they halted at a small public-house kept by a
woman well known at the time by the nickname of "Red-herrings," on
account of her making frequent use of these viands to stimulate a desire
for her strong drink. Over her door-way, indeed, a red-herring and a
foaming tankard were rudely sketched on a sign-board, (like cause and
effect, or mere sequence!) in loving unity. The prisoners were
accommodated with standing-room in Tibby's kitchen; while the soldiers,
with their leader, occupied the ben-room and the only doorway--thus
securing their prisoners from all possibility of escape. Refreshments,
such as Tibby could muster, consisting principally of brandy and ale,
mixed up in about equal proportions of each, were distributed amongst
the soldiers--who were, in fact, from their long exposure in the open
air, in need of some such stimulants; whilst the poor prisoners were
only watched, and made a subject of great merriment by the soldiers. The
halt, however, was very temporary; but, temporary as it was, it enabled
several of the members of the field-meeting to reach Edinburgh, and to
apprise their friends, and what is termed the mob of the streets, of the
doings at "Braid Craigs." Onwards advanced the party--soldiers before
and behind, and their captives in the middle--till they reached the West
Port, at the foot of the Grassmarket. It was near about ten o'clock, and
the streets were in a buz with idle 'prentices, bakers' boys,
shoemakers' lads, &c. The march along the Grassmarket seemed to alarm
Clavers, for he halted his men, made them examine their firelocks,
spread themselves all around the prisoners, and, advancing himself in
front, and on his famous black horse, with drawn sword and holster
pistols, seemed to set all opposition at defiance. The party had already
gained the middle of that narrow and winding pass, the West Bow, when a
waggon, heavily loaded with stones, was hurled downwards upon the party,
with irresistible force and rapidity--Clavers's horse shied, and escaped
the moving destruction; but it came full force into the very midst of
the soldiers, who, from a natural instinct, turned off into open doors
and side closes; in this they were imitated by the poor prisoners, who
were better acquainted with the localities of the West Bow than the
soldiery. In an instant afterwards, a dense and armed mob rushed
headlong down the street, carrying all before them, and shouting aloud,
"Renwick for ever! Renwick for ever!" This was taken as a hint by the
prisoners, who, in an instant, had mixed with the mob; or sunk, as it
were, through the earth, into dark passages and cellars. "Fire!" was
Claverhouse's immediate order, so soon as the human torrent had reached
him; and _fire_ some of the soldiers did, but not to the injury of any
of the prisoners, but to that of a person--a bride, as it turned
out--who, in her curiosity or fear, had looked from a window above; she
was shot through the head, and died instantly. But, in the meantime, the
rescue was complete--Claverhouse, afraid manifestly of being shot from a
window, galloped up the brae, and made the best of his way to the
Castle, there to demand fresh troops to quell what he called an
insurrection: whilst, in the meantime, the men, after a very temporary
search or pursuit, marched onwards, with their muskets presented to the
open windows, in case any head should protrude. But no heads were to be
seen; and the soldiers escaped to the guard-house (to the Heart of
Midlothian) in safety. Here, however, a scene ensued of a most
heart-rending nature. Scarcely had the men grounded their muskets in the
guard-house, when a seeming maniac rushed upon them with an open knife,
and cut right and left like a fury. He was immediately secured, but not
till after many of the soldiers were bleeding profusely. They thrust him
immediately, bound hand and foot, into the black-hole, to await the
decision of next morning; but next morning death had decided his
fate--he had manifestly died of apoplexy, brought on by extreme
excitement. His mother, who had followed her son when he issued forth
deprived seemingly of reason, having lost sight of him in the darkness,
had learned next morning of his fate and situation. She came,
therefore, with the return of light, to the prison door, and had been
waiting hours before it was opened. At last Clavers arrived, and ordered
the maniac to be brought into his presence, and that of the Court, for
examination. But it was all over; and the distorted limbs and features
of a young and handsome man were all the mark by which a fond mother
could certify the identity of an only son. From this poor woman's
examination, it turned out that her son was to have been married on that
very day to a young woman whom he had long loved; but that he had been
called to see her corpse, after she was shot by the soldiery, and had
rushed out in the frantic and armed manner already described. The poor
woman, from that hour, became melancholy; refused to take food; and,
always calling upon the names of her "bonny murdered bairns," was found
dead one morning in her bed.

In the meantime, James Renwick had made the best of his way down the
Cowgate, and across, by a narrow wynd, into the Canongate, where a
friend of his kept a small public-house. He had gone to bed; but his
wife was still at the bar, and two men sat drinking in a small side
apartment. He asked immediately for her husband, and was recognised, but
with a wink and a look which but too plainly spoke her suspicion of the
persons who were witnesses of his entrance. Hereupon he called for some
refreshment, as if he had been a perfect stranger, and, seating himself
at a small table, began to read in a little note-book which he took from
his side pocket--"four, five, six, seven--yes, seven," said he--"and it
has cost me seven pounds my journey to Edinburgh." This he said so
audibly as to be heard by the persons who were sitting in the adjoining
box, that they might regard him as a stranger, and unconnected with
Edinburgh. But, as he afterwards expressed it, he deeply repented of the
attempt to mislead. The Lord, he said, had justly punished him for
distrusting his power to extricate him, as he had already done, from his
troubles. The men, after one had accosted him in a friendly tone about
the weather, or some indifferent subject, took their departure; and Mrs
Chalmers and he, now joined by the husband, enjoyed one hour's canny
crack ere bedtime, over some warm repast. The whole truth was made known
to them; but, though perfectly trustworthy themselves, they expressed a
doubt of their customers, who were known to be little better than hired
informers, who went about to public-houses, at the expense of the
Government, listening and prying if they could find any evidence against
the poor Covenanters. Next day, even before daylight, the house was
surrounded by armed men, and Renwick was demanded by name. Mr Chalmers
did not deny that he was in the house, but said that he came to him as
to a distant relation, and that he was no way connected with his
doctrines or opinions. In the meantime, Renwick was aroused, and had
resolved to sell his life as dearly as possible. He was a young and an
active man, and trusted, as he owned with great regret afterwards, to
his strength and activity, rather than to the mercy and the wisdom of
his Maker. So, rushing suddenly down stairs, and throwing himself,
whilst discharging a pistol, (which, however, did no harm), into the
street, he was out of sight in a twinkling; but, in passing along, his
hat fell off; and this circumstance drew the attention and suspicion of
every one whom he passed, to his appearance. One foot, in particular,
pressed hard upon him from behind, and a voice kept constantly crying,
"Stop thief!--stop thief!" He ran down a blind alley, on the other side
of the Canongate, and was at last taken, without resistance, by three
men, one of whom--and it was the one who had all along pursued him--was
the person who had accosted him last night in the public-house,
respecting the weather. He was immediately carried to prison, where he
remained--visited indeed by his mother--till next assizes, when he was
tried, condemned, and afterwards executed--the Last of the Martyrs!

The conversation which he had with his mother, his public confessions of
faith, and adherence to the covenanted cause, as well as his last
address, drowned at the time in the sound of drums--all these are given
at full length in Woodrow, (the edition of Dr Burns of Paisley), to
which I must refer the reader who is curious upon such subjects. In this
valuable work will likewise be found the inscription placed upon a very
handsome cippus, or monument of stone, erected to his memory. We give it
to the reader. There is another, if we mistake not, in the Greyfriars of
Edinburgh, somewhat in the same style. They are both equally simple and
touching.

                 In memory of the late
                REVEREND JAMES RENWICK,
    the last who suffered to the death for attachment to the
               Covenanted Cause of Christ
                      in Scotland.
        Born near this spot, 15th February, 1662,
                  and executed at the
                 Grassmarket, Edinburgh,
                          1688.
     "The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance."
                     Ps. cxli. and 6.
             Erected by subscription, 1828.

The late James Hastings, Esq. gave a donation of the ground. The
subscriptions, amounting to about £100, were collected at large from
Christians of all denominations; and the gentleman who took the most
active part in suggesting and carrying through the undertaking, was the
Rev. Gavin Mowat, minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Congregation at
Whithorn, and formerly at Scar-brig, in Penpont, Dumfries-shire. The
monument is placed upon the farm of Knees, at no great distance from the
farm-house where the martyr was born. It stands upon an eminence, from
which it may be seen at the distance of several miles down the glen, in
which the village of Monyaive is situated. It was visited last summer by
the author of this narrative; when the resolution, which has now been
very imperfectly fulfilled, was taken.



XV.--OLD ISBEL KIRK.


Isbel Kirk lived in Pothouse, Closeburn, in that very house where that
distinguished scholar, the late Professor Hunter of St Andrew's, was
born. She had never been married, and lived in a small lonely cottage,
with no companions but her cat and cricket, which chirped occasionally
from beneath the hudstone, against which her peat-fire was built. There
sat old, and now nearly blind, Isbel Kirk, spinning or carding wool,
crooning occasionally an old Scotch song, or, it might be, one of
David's psalms, and enjoying at intervals her pipe, a visit from her
next neighbour, Nancy Nivison, or her champit-potatoes--a luxury which
the west country, and that alone, has hitherto enjoyed. Two old Irish
women had settled some time before this on the skirts of the opposite
brae, where they had built a small turf cabin, and lived nobody could
well tell how. They were generally understood to make a kind of
precarious living, by going about the country periodically, giving
_pigs_ or crockery-ware in exchange for wool. Isbel Kirk was a most
simple, honest creature, living on little, but procuring that little by
her industry in spinning sale yarn, weaving garters, and using her
needle occasionally, to assist the guidwife of Gilchristland in
shirt-making for a large family. But the M'Dermots were the aversion of
everybody, and seldom visited even by the guidman of Barmoor, on whose
farm, or rather on the debatable skirts of it, they had sat down, almost
in spite of his teeth. He was a humane man; and, though he loved not
such visitors, yet he tolerated the nuisance, as his wife reckoned them
skilled in curing children's diseases, and in spaeing the young women's
fortunes. John Watson pastured sheep, where corn harvests now wave in
abundance; and his flocks spread about to the doors of the M'Dermots and
Isbel Kirk. These flocks gradually decreased, and much suspicion was
attached to his Irish and heathenish neighbours, for they attended no
place of worship, not even the conformed Curate's; but there was no
proof against them. At last, a search was suddenly and secretly
instituted under the authority of the Laird of Closeburn; and, although
much wool was found, still there were no entire fleeces, nor any means
left of bringing it home to the M'Dermots.

"Na, na, guidman," said the elder of the two harridans. "Na--ye needna
stir aboot the kail-pot in that way--ye'll find naething there but a
fine bit o' the dead braxy I gat frae the guidman o' Gilchristland, for
helping the mistress wi' her kirn, that wadna mak butter; but there are
folks that ye dinna suspect, and that are maybe no that far off either,
wha could very weel tell ye gin they liked whar yer braw gimmer yows
gang till."

Being pushed to be more particular, they were seemingly compelled at
last to intimate that auld Isbel Kirk, she and her friend, Nanny
Nivison, could give an account of the stolen sheep, if they liked. The
guidman would not credit such allegations; but the old women persisted
in their averment, and even offered to give the guidman of Barmoor
occular demonstration of the guilt of the twa _saunts_, as they called
them. A few days passed, and still a lamb or an old sheep would
disappear--they melted away gradually, and the guidman began to think
that his flocks must be bewitched, and that the devil himself must keep
a kitchen somewhere about the Chaise Craig, over which Archy Tait had
often seen the _old gentleman_ driving six-in-hand about twelve o'clock
at night. Returning, therefore, one morning to the M'Dermots, and
renewing the conversation respecting Isbel Kirk and Nanny Nivison, it
was agreed that one of the Irish sisterhood should walk over to Isbel's
with him next forenoon, and that she would give him evidence of the fate
of his flocks. Isbel was sitting before her door, in the sunshine of a
fine spring morning, when the guidman and Esther M'Dermot arrived. She
welcomed them kindly into her small but clean and neat cottage; and,
with all the despatch which her blindness would permit of, dusted for
their use an old-fashioned chair, and a round stool, which served the
double purpose of stool and table. The conversation went on as usual
about the weather, and the last sufferer in the cause of the Covenant,
when Esther M'Dermot went into a dark corner, and forthwith drew out
into the guidman's view, and to his infinite astonishment, a sheep's
head, which bore the well-known mark of the farm on its ears.

"Look there, guidman," said Esther, "isna that proof positive of the way
in which your braw hirsel is disposed of? By Jasus and the holy St
Patrick! and here is a foot too, and twa horns!"

Poor Isbel Kirk could scarcely be made to apprehend the meaning of all
this--indeed she could scarcely see the evidences of her guilt--and
assured the guidman, in the most unequivocal manner imaginable, that she
was innocent as the child unborn; indeed, she said, what should she do
with dead sheep, or how should she get hold of them, seeing she was old
and blind, and had not enjoyed a bit of mutton, or any other flesh,
meat, since the new year?

"Ay," responded old Esther; "but ye hae friends that can help ye; dinna
I whiles see, after dark, twa tall figures stealing o'er your way frae
the Whitside linn yonder! I'se warrant they dinna live on deaf nits,
after lying a' day in a dark and damp cave." Isbel held up her hands in
prayer, entreating the Lord to be merciful to her and to his ain
inheritance, and to discomfit the plans of his and her enemies.

"Ye may pray," said Elspat, "as ye like, but ye'll no mak the guidman
here distrust his ain een, wi' yer praying and yer Whiggery." This last
suggestion of the nightly visitors staggered Mr Watson not a little; he
well knew how friendly old Isbel was to the poor Covenanters, and
brought himself to conclude, under the weighty and conclusive evidence
before him, that Isbel might have persuaded herself that she was
rendering God good service by feeding his chosen people with the best of
his flock. Isbel could only protest her innocence and ignorance of the
way in which these evidences against her came there; whilst the guidman
and Esther took their leave--he threatening that the matter should not
rest where it was, and the old Irish jade pretending to commiserate
Isbel on the unfortunate discovery.

Next morning, the pothouse was surrounded, and carefully searched by a
detachment of Lag's men, to whom information of Isbel's harbouring
rebels had been (the reader may guess how) communicated. Having been
unsuccessful in their search, they put the poor blind creature to the
torture, because she would not discover, or, perhaps, could not reveal,
the retreat of the persecuted people. A burning match was put betwixt
her fingers, and she was firmly tied to a bedpost, whilst the fire was
blown into a flame by one of the soldiers. Not a feature in Isbel's
countenance changed; but her lips moved, and she was evidently deeply
absorbed in devotional exercise.

"Come, come, old Bleary," said one, "out with it! or we will roast you
on the coals, like a red herring, for Beelzebub's breakfast."

"Ye can only do what ye're permitted to do," said the poor sufferer,
now writhing with pain, and suffering all the agonies of martyrdom. "Ye
may burn this poor auld body, and reduce it to its natural dust; but ye
will never hear my tongue betray any of the poor persecuted remnant."

It is horrible to relate, but the fact cannot be disputed, that these
monsters stood by and blew the match till the poor creature's fingers
were actually burnt off--yet she only once cried for mercy; but, when
they mentioned the conditions, she fainted; and thus nature relieved her
from her sufferings. When she came again to herself, she found that they
had killed the only living creature which she could call companion, and
actually hung the body of the dead cat around her neck; but they were
gone, and her hands were untied.

During the ensuing night a watch was set upon poor Isbel's house,
thinking, as the persecutors did, that they would catch the nightly
visitants, who were yet ignorant of their friend's sufferings in their
behalf. The men lay concealed among brackens, on the bank opposite to
the pothouse, and near to Staffybiggin, the residence of the M'Dermots.
To their surprise, a figure, about twelve o'clock, came warily and
stealthily around a flock of sheep which lay ruminating in the hollow.
It was a female figure, if not the devil in a female garb. They
continued to keep silent and lie still. At last they saw the whole flock
driven over and across a thick-set bush of fern. One of the sheep
immediately began to struggle; but it was manifestly held by the
foot--in a few instants, two figures were seen dragging it into
M'Dermot's door. This naturally excited their surprise, and, rushing
immediately into the hut, they found the two old women in the act of
preparing in a pit--which, during the day time, was concealed--mutton
for their own use. The murder was now out. These wretched women had been
in the habit, for some years, of supplying themselves from the Barmoor
flocks; the one lying flat down upon her back amongst the furze, and
the other driving the sheep over her breast. Thus the sister who caught,
had an opportunity of selecting; and the best of the wedders had thus
from time to time disappeared.

Poor Isbel Kirk!--her innocence was now fully established; but it was
too late. Her kind friend Nanny Nivison attended her in her last
illness, and the guidman of Barmoor paid every humane attention. But the
ruffians of a mistaken and ill-advised government had deranged her
nervous system. Besides, the burn never properly healed; it at last
mortified, and she died almost insensible, either of pain or presence.
Her soul seemed to have left its frail tabernacle ere life was extinct.
The example we have here given is taken from that humble source, which
the historian leaves open to the gleaner. Indeed, the histories of those
times give but a very imperfect idea of the atrocities of that
remarkable period. The cottage door must be opened to get at the truth;
but the stately political historian seldom enters.



XVI.--THE CURLERS.


Winter 1684-5 was, like the last, cold, frosty, and stormy. The ice was
on lake and muir from new year's day till the month of March. Curling
was then, as it is still, the great winter amusement in the south and
west of Scotland. The ploughman lad rose by two o'clock of a frosty
morning, had the day's fodder threshed for the cattle, and was on the
ice, besom in hand, by nine o'clock. The farmer, after seeing things
right in the stable and the byre, was not long behind his servant. The
minister left his study and his M.S., his concordance, and his desk, for
the loch, and the rink, and the channel-stane. Even the laird himself
was not proof against the temptation, but often preferred full twelve
hours of rousing game on the ice, to all the fascinations of the drawing
or the billiard-room, or the study. Even the schoolmaster was incapable
of resisting the tempting and animating sound; and, at every peal of
laughter which broke upon his own and his pupils' ears, turned his eyes
and his steps towards the window which looked upon the adjoining loch;
and, at last, entirely overcome by the shout over a contested shot; off
he and his bevy swarmed, helter-skelter, across the Carse Meadow, to the
ice. From all accounts which I have heard of it, this was a notable
amongst many notable days. The factor was never in such play; the master
greatly outdid himself; the laird played hind-hand in beautiful style;
and Sutor John came up the rink "like Jehu in time o' need." Shots were
laid just a yard, right and left, before and behind the tee; shots were
taken out, and run off the ice with wonderful precision; guards, that
most ticklish of all plays, were rested just over the hog-score, so as
completely to cover the winner; inwicks were taken to a hair, and the
player's stone whirled in most gracefully, (like a lady in a country
dance), and settled, three-deep-guarded, upon the top of the tee. Chance
had her triumphs as well as good play. A random shot, driven with such
fury that the stone rebounded and split in two, deprived the opposite
side of four shots, and took the game. The sky was blue as indigo, and
the sun shot his beams over the Keir Hills in penetrating and
invigorating splendour. Old women frequented the loch with baskets; boys
and young lads skated gracefully around; the whisky-bottle did its duty;
and even the herons at the spring-wells had their necks greatly
elongated by the roaring fun. It was a capital day's sport. Little did
this happy scene exhibit of the suffering and the misery which was all
this while perpetrated by the men of violence. Clavers, the
ever-infamous, was in Wigtonshire with his Lambs; Grierson was lying in
his den of Lag, like a lion on the spring; Johnstone was on the Annan;
and Winram on the Doon; whilst Douglas was here, and there, and
everywhere, flying, like a malevolent spirit, from strath to strath, and
from hill to dale. The snow lay, and had long been lying, more than a
foot deep, crisp and white, over the bleak but beauteous wild; the sheep
were perishing for want of pasture; and many poor creatures were in
absolute want of the necessaries of life. (The potato, that true friend
of the people, had not yet made its way to any extent into Scotland).
Caves, dens, and outhouses were crowded with the persecuted flock. The
ousted ministers were still lifting up their voice in the wilderness,
and the distant hum of psalmody was heard afar amongst the hills, and by
the side of the frozen stream and the bare hawthorn. What a contrast did
all this present to the fun, frolic, and downright ecstacy of this day's
sport! But the night came, with its beef and its greens, and its song,
and its punch, and its anecdote, and its thrice-played games, and its
warm words, and its half-muttered threats, and its dispersion about
three in the morning.

"Wha was yon stranger?" said John Harkness to Sandy Gibson, as they met
next day on the hill. "I didna like the look o' him; an' yet he played
his stane weel, an' took a great lead in the conversation. I wish he
mayna be a spy, after a'; for I never heard o' ony Watsons in
Ecclefechan, till yon creature cast up."

"Indeed," said lang Sandy, "I didna like the creature--it got sae fou
an' impudent, late at nicht; an' then that puir haverel, Will Paterson,
cam in, an' let oot that the cave at Glencairn had been surprised, an'
the auld minister murdered. If it be na the case--as I believe it isna
hitherto--there was enough said last nicht to mak it necessary to hae
the puir, persecuted saint informed o' his danger."

"An' that's as true," responded John; "an' I think you an' I canna do
better than wear awa wast o'er whan the sun gaes down, an' let honest
Mr Lawson ken that his retreat is known. That Watson creature--didna ye
tent?--went aff, wi' the curate, a wee afore the lave; they were heard
busy talking together, in a low tone of voice, as they went hame to the
manse. I wonder what maks the laird--wha is a perfect gentleman, an' a
friend, too, o' the Covenanted truth--keep company, on the ice, or off
it, wi' that rotten-hearted, roupit creature, the curate o' Closeburn?"

"Indeed," replied the other, "he is sae clean daft aboot playing at
channel-stane, that, I believe, baith him, an' the dominie, an' the
factor--forby Souter Ferguson--would play wi' auld Symnie himself,
provided he was a keen and a guid shot! But it will be mirk dark--an'
there's nae moon--ere we mak Glencairn cave o't."

John Harkness and Sandy Gibson arrived at Monyaive, in Glencairn, a
little after dark. The cave was about a mile distant from the town; and,
with the view of refreshment, as well as of concerting the best way of
avoiding suspicion, they entered a small ale-house kept by an old woman
at the farther end of the bridge. They were shewn into a narrow and
meanly-furnished apartment, and called for a bottle of the best beer,
with a suitable accompaniment of bread and cheese. The landlady,
by-and-by, was sent for, and was asked to partake of her own beverage,
and questioned, in a careless and incidental manner, respecting the
news. She looked somewhat embarrassed; and, fixing her eyes upon a
keyhole, in a door which conducted to an adjoining apartment, she said,
in a whisper--

"I ken brawly wha ye are, an maybe, too, what ye're after; but ye hae
need to be active, lads; for there are those in that ither room that
wadna care though a yer heads, as well as those o' some ither folks that
shall be nameless were stuck on the West Port o' Edinbro."

In an instant, the two young farmers were _butt_ the house, and beside
Tibby Haddow's peat fire. In the course of a short, and, to all but
themselves, an inaudible conversation, they learned that Lag himself,
disguised as a common soldier, was in the next room, in close colloquy
with a person clothed in grey duffle, with a broad bonnet on his head.
From the description of the person, the two Closeburnians had no manner
of doubt that the information obtained last night, in regard to the
existence of a place of refuge in Glencairn, was now in the act of being
communicated.

"At one o'clock!" said a well-known voice--it was that of Lag, to a
certainty.

"Yes, at one," responded the stranger, Watson--whose voice was equally
well-known to the farmers--"at one!" And they parted--the one going
east, and the other west--and were lost in the darkness of night.

It was now past seven, with a clear, frosty night. What was to be done?
It was manifest that the cave was betrayed--at least, that the
_whereabouts_ was known--and it was likewise necessary that this
information should be conveyed to the poor inmate. But where was he to
find a refuge, after the cave had been vacated? It struck them, in
consulting, that if they could get the old woman to be friendly and
assisting, the escape might be effected before the time evidently fixed
upon for taking the cave by surprise. This was, however, a somewhat
dangerous experiment; for, although Tibby M'Murdo was known to be
favourable--as who amongst the lower classes was not?--to the
non-conformists, yet she might not choose to run the immense risk of
ruin and even death, which might result from her knowingly giving
harbour to a rebel. So, by way of sounding the old woman--who lived in
the house by herself, her granddaughter, who was at service in the town,
only visiting her occasionally--they proposed to stay all night in the
house, as they were in hourly expectation of a wool-dealer who had made
an appointment to meet them here, but who, owing to the heavy roads, had
manifestly been detained beyond the appointed time. The old woman had
various objections to this arrangement; but was at last persuaded to
make an addition to her fire, to put half-a-dozen bottles of her best
ale on the table, with a tappit hen, and what she termed "a wee drap o'
the creature," and to retire to rest about eight o'clock, her usual
hour, they having already paid for all, and promised not to leave the
house till she rose in the morning. At this time, about eight o'clock,
the night had suddenly became dark and cloudy, and there was a strange
noise up amongst the rocks overhead. It was manifest that there was a
change of weather fast approaching. At last the snow descended, the wind
arose, and it became a perfect tempest. Next morning, there were three
human beings in Tibby's small _ben_, busily employed in discussing the
good things already purchased, as well as in higgling and bothering
about the price of wool. The weather, which had been exceedingly
boisterous all night, had again cleared up into frost, and the
inhabitants of Monyaive were busied in cutting away the accumulated snow
from their doors, when in burst old Tibby's granddaughter, and, all at
once, with exceeding animation, made the following communication:--

"Ay, granny, ye never heard what has taen place this last nicht. I had
it a' frae Jock Johnston. Ye ken Jock--he's oor maister's foreman, an'
unco weel acquent wi' the dragoons that lodge in the Spread Eagle. Weel,
Jock tells me that Lag was here last nicht, in disguise like, an' that
they had gotten information, frae ane o' their spies like, aboot a cave
up by yonder where some o' the puir persecuted folks is concealed; an'
that, aboot ane o'clock o' this morning--an' an awsome morning it
was--they had marched on, three abreast, through the drift, carrying
strae alang wi' them an lighted matches; an' that they gaed straight to
the cave, an' immediately summoned the puir folks to come out and be
shot; and that they only answered by a groan, which tellt them as
plainly as could be, that the puir creatures were there; and that they
immediately set fire to the straes at the mooth o' the cave, and fairly
smoked them (Jock tells me) to death. Did ye ever hear the like o't?"

"O woman!" responded the grandmother, "but that is fearfu'!--these are
indeed fearfu' times; there is naebody sure o' their lives for
half-an-hour thegither, wha doesna gae to hear the fushionless curates!"

At this instant, one of the dragoons drew up his horse at the door,
asking if a man, such as he described, with a blue bonnet and a grey
duffle coat, had returned late last night, or rather this morning, to
bed. Old Tibby answered, in a quavering voice, that the man mentioned
had left her house about eight o'clock, and had not yet returned. The
dragoon appeared somewhat incredulous; and, giving his horse to the girl
to hold, he dashed at once and boldly into the room, where the three
persons already mentioned were seated. The young farmers questioned
immediately the propriety of his conduct; but he drew his sword, and
swore that he would make cats' meat of the first that should lay hold
upon him. He had no sooner said so, than a man sprang upon him from the
fireside, and, striking his sword-arm down with the poker, immediately
secured his person by such means as the place and time presented. The
fellow roared like a bull, blaspheming and vociferating mightily of the
crime of arresting a king's soldier in the discharge of his duty. But he
was hurried into a concealed bed, tied firmly down with ropes and even
blankets, and made to know that, unless he was silent, he might have to
pay for his disobedience with his life. When old Tibby saw how things
were going on, and that her house might suffer by such transactions,
she sallied forth as fast as her feeble limbs and well-worn staff would
carry her, exclaiming as she went--"We'll a' be slain--we'll a' be
slain!--the laird o' Lag will be here--and Clavers will be here--and the
King himself will be here--an' we'll a' be murdered--we'll a' be
murdered!" At this moment, the trooper appeared in his regimentals,
mounted his horse, and was off at full gallop. The granddaughter, now
relieved from holding the dragoon's horse, followed her grandmother, and
brought her lamp to the house; but, to their infinite surprise, there
was nobody there save the very cursing trooper whom she had seen so
recently ride off. His voice was loud, and his complainings fearful; but
neither Tibby nor her granddaughter durst go near him, as they were
fully convinced that he was a devil, and no man, since he had the power
at once of mounting a horse and flying rather than riding away, and, at
the same time, of lying cursing and swearing in a press bed in the
_ben_. At last a neighbour heard the tale, and, being less
superstitions, relieved the unfortunate prisoner from his rather awkward
predicament. He swore revenge, and to cut poor old Tibby into two with
his sword; but he found, upon searching for his weapon, that it was
absent, as well as his clothes, which had been forcibly stripped from
him when he was tied--and that without leave--and that he had nothing
for it but to thrust himself into canonicals--in which garb he actually
walked home to his quarters, amidst the shouts of his companions, and to
the astonishment of all the staring villagers.

As he was making the best of his way to hide his disgrace in the Spread
Eagle, he was told that his commanding officer, Sir Robert Grierson, had
been wishing to speak with him, for some time past. Upon appearing
immediately in the presence of authority, he was questioned in regard to
the mission on which he had been despatched, and was scarcely credited
when he narrated the treatment which he had met with, and the loss which
he had sustained. A detachment was immediately despatched in quest of
the thief, the _wool-merchant_, who had so cleverly supplied himself
with a passport from the king; and, after our soldier's person had been
unrobed, and attired for the present in his stable undress, Lag set out
with a few followers, to examine the cave, in order to be assured of Mr
Lawson's death. "They may gallop off with our horses," said Lag, in a
jocular manner, by the way; "but they will not easily gallop off with
the old choked hound, who has led us so many dances over the hills of
Queensberry and Auchenleck." At last, they arrived at the mouth of the
cave, and entered. Black and blue, and severely bruised, lay the dead
body before them. "Ah, ha!" said Lag, making his boot, as he expressed
it, acquainted with old Canticle's posteriors. "Ah, ha! my fleet bird of
the mountain, and we have caught you at last, and caught you
_napping_--ha, ha! Why don't you speak, old fire and brimstone? What!
not a word now!--and yet you had plenty when you preached from the Gouk
Thorn, to upwards of two thousand of your prick-eared, purse-mouthed,
canting followers. Come, my lads, we have less work to do now; we will
e'en back to quarters, and drink a safe voyage into the Holy Land, to
old Dumb-and-flat there!" So saying, he reined up his horse, and was on
the point of withdrawing the men, when one of them, who had eyed the
body, which was imperfectly seen in the dark cave, more nearly than the
rest, exclaimed--"And, by the Lord Harry, and we are all at fault, and
the game is off, on four living legs, after all--off and away! and we
standing drivelling here, when we should be many miles off in hot
pursuit of this cunning fox who has contrived to give us the slip once
more."

"What means the idiot?" vociferated Grierson.

"Mean!--why, what should I mean, Sir Robert, but that this here piece
of carrion is no more the stinking corpse of old Closeburn, than I am a
son of the Covenant!"

It turned out, upon investigation, that this was the body of the
informer Watson, who had preceded Lag to the cave during the terrible
drift; had been observed by John Harkness and Sandy Gibson, who were
then employed in removing Lawson to the small inn; and, after a drubbing
which disabled him from moving, he had been left the only tenant of the
cave. When Grierson came, as above mentioned, from the drift and the
cold, as well as the beating, he was unable to speak; but his groans
brought his miserable death upon him; and Lawson, by assuming the
dragoon's garb and steed, was enabled to escape, and to officiate, as
has been already mentioned in a former paper, for several years before
his death, in his own church, from which he had been so long and so
unjustly driven. Thus did it please God to punish the infamous conduct
of Watson, and to enable his own servant to effect his escape. The
dragoon's horse was found, one morning at day-light, neighing and
beating the hoof at old Tibby's door. It soon found an owner, but told
no stories respecting its late occupant, who was now snugly lodged in
William Graham's parlour in the guid town of Kendal. Graham and he were
cousins-german.



XVII.--THE VIOLATED COFFIN.


AN effort has, of late, been made to repel the allegations which, for
past ages, have been made against the infamous instruments of cruelty
during the twenty-eight years' persecution. The Covenanters have been
represented as factious democrats, setting at defiance all constituted
authority, and exposing themselves to the vengeance of law and justice.
These sentiments are apt to identify themselves with modern politics;
but we hope we will never see our country again devastated by
oppression, cruelty, and all the shootings, and headings, and hangings
of the Stuart despotism repeated. It becomes, therefore, the duty of
every friend of good and equal government to put his hand to the work,
and to support those principles under which Britain has flourished so
long, and every man has sat in safety and in peace under his own vine
and his own fig-tree. No train of reasoning, or of demonstration,
however, will suffice for this. The judgment is, in many occasions,
convinced of error and injustice, whilst the heart and the conduct
remain the same. There must be something in accordance with the
decisions of the judgment pressed home upon the feelings. There must be
vivid pictures of the workings of a system of misrule placed before the
mind's eye, so that a deep and a human interest may be felt in the
picture. The reader must open the doors of our suffering peasantry, and
witness their family and fireside bereavements. He must become their
companion under the snow-wreath and the damp cave--he must mount the
scaffold with them, and even listen to their last act and testimony. How
vast is the impression which a painter can, in this way, make upon the
spirit of the spectator! Let Allan's famous Circassian slave be an
instance in point; but the painter is limited to a single point of time,
and the relation which that bears and exhibits to what has gone before
or will come after; but the writer of narrative possesses the power of
shifting his telescope from eminence to eminence--of varying, _ad
libitum_, time, place, and circumstances--and thus of making up for the
acknowledged inferiority of written description of narratives to what is
submitted, as Horace says, "_Oculis fidelibus_," by his vast and
unlimited power of variety. The means, therefore, by which past
generations have been made to feel and acknowledge the inhumanities, the
scandalous atrocities of those blood-stained times, still remain
subservient to their original and long tried purposes; and it becomes
the imperious duty of every succeeding age to transmit and perpetuate
the impressions of abhorrence with which those times were regarded and
recollected. This duty, too, becomes so much the more necessary, as the
times become the more remote. The object which is rapidly passed and
distanced by the speed of the steam-engine, does not more naturally
diminish in dimensions to the eye, as it recedes into the depths of
distance, than do the events which, in passing, figured largely and
impressively, lose their bulk and their interest when removed from us by
the dim and darkening interval of successive centuries; and the only
method by which their natural and universal law can be modified, or in
any degree counteracted, is by a continuous and uninterrupted reference
to the past--by making what is old, recent by description and
imagination; and by more carefully tracing and acknowledging the
connection which past agents and times have, or may be supposed to have,
upon the present advancement and happiness of man. Had the devotedness
of the Covenanter and Nonconformist been less entire than it was--had
the arbitrary desires of a bigoted priesthood and a tyrant prince been
submitted to--then had the Duke of York been king to the end of his
days--Rome had again triumphed in her priesthood; and we at this hour,
if at all awakened from the influence of surrounding advancement to a
sense of our degradation, had been only enacting bloody Reformation,
instead of bloodless Reform, and suffering the incalculable miseries
which our forefathers, centuries ago, anticipated. Nay, more, but for
the lesson taught us by the friends of the Covenant and the conventicle,
where had been the great encouragement to resist political oppression in
all time to come, when the proudly elevated finger may point to the
record, which said, and still says, in letters indeed of blood--"A
people resolved to be free, can never be ultimately enslaved." The
Covenant had its use--and, immense in its own day, and in its immediate
efforts, it placed William, and law, and freedom on the throne of
Britain; but that is as nothing in the balance, when compared with the
less visible and more remote effects of this distinguished triumph:--It,
throughout all the last century, maintained a firm and unyielding
struggle with despotism, sometimes indeed worsted, but never altogether
subdued; and it has, of late years, issued in events and triumphs too
recent and too agitating to be now fairly and fully discussed. Nor will
the influence of the Covenant cease to be felt in our land, till God
shall have deserted her, and left her entirely to the freedom of her own
will, to the debasing influence of that luxury and corruption which has
formed the grave of every kingdom that has yet lived out its limited
period.

These Gleanings of the Covenant have been written under the impression,
and with the view above expressed; and it is hoped that the following
narrative, true in all its leading circumstances, and more than true in
the "vraisemblable," may contribute something to the object thus
distinctly stated.

The funeral of Thomas Thomson had advanced from the Gaitend to the
Lakehead. The accompaniment was numerous--the group was denser. Thomas
had lived respected, and died regretted. He was the father of five
helpless children, all females, and his wife was manifestly about to be
delivered of a sixth. Just as the procession had advanced to the house
of Will Coultart, a troop of ten men rode up. They had evidently been
drinking, and spoke not only blasphemously, but in terms of
intimidation.--"Stop, you cursed crew," said the leader. "He has escaped
law, but he shall not escape justice. Come here, lad;" and at once they
alighted from their horses, seized the coffin, and opening the lid, were
about to penetrate the corpse through and through. "Stop a little," said
John Ferguson, the famous souter of Closeburn; "there are maybe twa at
a bargain-making;" so saying, he lifted an axe which he took up at a
wright's door, and dared any one to disturb them in their Christian
duty. A "pell-mell" took place, in the midst of which poor Ferguson was
killed. He had two sons in the company, who, seeing how their father had
been used, rushed upon the dragoons, and were both of them severely
wounded. In the meantime, Douglas of Drumlanrig came up, and,
understanding how things went, ordered the soldiers to give in, and the
wounded men to be taken care off. All this was wondrous well; but what
follows is not so. The body of Ferguson was carried to Croalchapel; and
the two sons accompanied it, with many tears. Douglas seemed to feel
what had happened, and could not avoid accompanying the party home. He
entered the house of mourning, where there was a dead father, a weeping
widow, and two wounded sons. He entered, but he saw nothing but Peggy.
Poor Peggy was an only sister of these lads--an only daughter of her
murdered father. Douglas was a man of the world! Oh, my God, what a term
that is! and how much misery and horror does it not contain. Peggy was
really beautiful; not like Georgina Gordon, or Lady William, or Mrs
Norton, or Lady Blessington; for her beauty depended in no degree upon
art. Had you arrayed her in rags, and placed her in a poor's-house, she
would have appeared to advantage. Peggy, too, (the God who made her
knows,) was pure in soul, and innocent in act as is the angel Gabriel!
she never once thought of sinning, as a woman may, and does (sometimes)
sin; she lived for her father, whom she loved--and for her mother, whom
she did not greatly dislike. But her mother was a stepmother, and Peggy
liked her father. Guess, then, her grief, when Peggy saw her father
murdered, her brothers wounded, and knew the cause thereof. "Lift her,"
said Douglas to his men, after he had, in seeming humanity, seen the
corpse and brothers home; "lift her into Red Hob's saddle, and carry
her to Drumlanrig." No sooner said than done. The weeping, screaming
girl was lifted into the saddle, and conveyed, per force, to Drumlanrig.
At that gate there stood a figure clothed in dyed garments. It was the
elder brother of Peggy, he who had been least injured of the two. He
stood with his sword in his hand, and dared any one who would conduct
his sister into the abode of dishonour. Douglas snapped, and then fired
a pistol at him, but neither took effect. In the meantime, the brother
was secured, and the sister was carried into the "Blue Room," well known
afterwards as the infamous sleeping-chamber of old "Q." The not less
infamous, though ultimately repentant Douglas, advanced into the
chamber. The poor girl seemed as if she had seen a snake; she shrunk
from his approach and from his blandishments. She had previously opened
the window into the green walk; she had taken her resolve, and, in a few
instants, lay a maimed, almost mangled being, on the beautiful walks of
Drumlanrig. Douglas was manifestly struck by the incident, but not
converted. He took sufficient care to have the poor girl conveyed home,
and to have the brothers provided for, but his hour was not yet come. It
was not till after his frequent conversations with the minister of
Closeburn, that he came to a proper sense of his horrible conduct. But
what was the awful devastation of this family. The poor beauteous flower
Peggy, who was about to have been married to a farmer's son,
(Kirkpatrick of Auchincairn,) was by him rejected. He called at the
house sometime afterwards, with a view to see her; but he came full of
suspicion, and therefore unwilling to receive the truth. He had heard
the whole story, and must have known that his Peggy was at least as pure
in mind as she had been beautiful in person; but he belonged not
naturally to the noble stock of the family to which he was to have been
allied, and gave himself up to prejudice. The girl was still in bed, to
which, from her bruises, she had been confined for months. The meeting
might have been one which a poet would have gloried in describing, or a
painter in delineating and embellishing, with hues stolen from the arc
of Heaven! Alas! it was one only worthy of the pencil of a
Ribera--fraught with cruelty, and abounding in selfishness and
dishonour. The girl, as she turned her pale yet beautiful face on him,
told him the truth, and watched, with tears in her eyes, the effect of
her narrative on one whose image had never been absent from her mind, if
indeed it had not supported her in her struggle, and nerved her to the
purpose which preferred death to dishonour. Her bruises and wounds spoke
for her, and, to any one but her lover, would have proved that he was a
part of the object of her sacrifice. It was all to no purpose. The
eloquence of truth, of love, of nature, were lost upon him; nothing
would persuade him that the object of his love had not been degraded. He
turned a cold glance of doubt upon her, and turned to leave the room.
Peggy rushed out of bed, and, maimed and weak as she was, would have
stopped him. Her energies failed her--her lover was gone; and her
mother, roused by the cries of her pain, came and assisted her again
into bed. Poor Peggy heard no more of Kirkpatrick. She sickened and
died?--no! far worse!--she became desperate, married a blackguard, and
lived a drunkard; the sons were banished for firing at Douglas, as he
passed in his carriage through Thornhill; and the poor mother of the
whole family became--shall I tell it I--an object of charity! Thus was,
to my certain knowledge, at least to that of my ancestors, a most
creditable and well-doing family ruined, root and branch, by the
persecutors--or, in other words, by those who, without knowing what they
did, regarded the "Covenant" as an unholy thing, and fought the foremost
in the ranks of oppression and uniformity.

Now, there is not a word of this in Woodrow, or Burns, or even in the
MS. of the Advocate's Library; and yet we can assure the reader, that
the material facts are as true as is the death of Darnley, or the murder
of Rizzio! God bless you, madam! you have, and can have, and ought to
have no notion whatever of the united current of _horribility_, which
ran through the whole ocean of cruelty during these awful and most
terrific times! May the God that made, the Saviour that redeemed, and
the Holy Spirit that prepares us for heaven, make us thankful that in
_those times_ we do not live; and that such men as Woodrow and Burns
(the first and the last) have been raised up, to vindicate and to
justify such men as then suffered in their families, or in their
persons, for the covenanted cause of the Great Head of our Presbyterian
Church!



THE SURGEON'S TALES.



THE MONOMANIAC.


In some of my prior papers, I have had occasion to make some oblique
references to that disease called _pseudoblepsis imaginaria_--in other
words, a vision of objects not present. Cullen places it among local
diseases, as one of a depraved action of the organs contributing to
vision; whereby, of course, he would disjoin it from those cases of
madness where a depraved action of the brain itself produces the same
effect. In this, Cullen displays his ordinary acuteness; for we see many
instances where there is a fancied vision of objects not present,
without insanity; and, indeed, the whole doctrine of spirits has
latterly been founded on this distinction.[2] From the very intimate
connection, however, which exists between the visual organs and the
brain itself, it must always be a matter of great difficulty--if indeed,
in many cases, it be not entirely impossible--to make the distinction
available; for there are cases--such as that of the conscience-spectre,
and those that generally depend upon thoughts and feelings of more than
ordinary intensity--that seem to lie between the two extremes of merely
diseased visual organs and diseased brains; and, in so far as my
experience goes, I am free to say that I have seen more cases of
imaginary visions of distant objects, resulting from some terrible
excitement of the emotions, than from the better defined causes set
forth by the medical writers. Among the passions and emotions, again,
that in their undue influence over the sane condition of the mind, are
most likely to give rise to the diseased vision of _phantasmata_, I
would be inclined to place that which usually exerts so much absorbing
power over the young female heart. The cause lies on the surface. In the
case of the passions--of anger, revenge, fear, and so forth--the feeling
generally works itself out; and, in many cases, the object is so
unpleasant that the mind seeks relief from it, and flies it; while, in
the emotions of love, there is a morbid brooding over the cherished
image that takes hold of the fancy; the object is called up by the spell
of the passion placed before the mind's eye, and held there for hours,
days, and years, till the image becomes almost a stationary impression,
and is invested with all the attributes of a real presence. I do not
feel that I would be justified in saying that I am able to substantiate
the remark I have now made by many cases falling under my own
observation; the examples of _monomania_ in sane persons are not very
often to be met with; and I have heard many of my professional brethren
say, that they never experienced a single instance in all their
practice.

The case I am now to detail, occurred within two miles of the town of
----. The patient was a lady, Mrs C----, an individual of a nervous,
irritable temperament, and possessed of a glowing fancy, that, against
her will, brought up by-past scenes with a distinctness that was painful
to her. She had lately returned from India, whither she had accompanied
her husband, whom she left buried in a deep, watery grave in the channel
of the Mozambique. I had been attending her for a nervous ailment, which
had shattered her frame terribly, while it increased the powers of her
creative fancy, as well as the sensibility by which the mental images
were invested with their chief powers over her. She suffered also from a
tenderness in the _retina_, which forced her to shun the light. How this
latter complaint was associated with the other, I cannot explain,
unless upon the principle which regulates the connection between the
sensibility of the eye and the heated brains of those who labour under
inflammation of that organ. I was informed by her mother, Mrs L----, as
well as her sister, that she had come from India a perfect wreck, both
of mind and body; and, for a period of eighteen months afterwards, could
scarcely be prevailed upon to see any of her friends--shutting herself
up for whole days in her room, the windows of which were kept dark, to
prevent the light, which operated like a sharp sting, from falling upon
her irritable eyes. It was chiefly with a view to the removal of this
opthalmic affection, that I was requested to visit her; and I could very
soon perceive, that the visionary state of her mind was closely
connected with the habit of dark seclusion to which she was necessitated
to resort, for the purpose of avoiding the pain produced by the rays of
the sun. On my first interview, I found her sitting alone in the
darkened room, brooding over thoughts that seemed to exert a strong
influence over her; but she soon joined me in a conversation which,
diverging from the subject of her complaint, embraced topics that
brought out the peculiarity of her mind--a strong enthusiastic power of
portraying scenes of grief which she had witnessed, and which, as she
proceeded, seemed to rise before her with almost the vividness of
presence; yet, with her, judgment was as strong and healthy as that of
any day-dreamer among the wide class of mute poets, of whom there are
more in the world than of philosophers.

I could not detect properly her ailment, and resolved to question her
mother alone.

"Did you not notice anything peculiar about my daughter?" she said.

"The love of a shaded room, resulting from an irritability in the organs
of sight, is to me no great rarity," I replied.

"Though her fit has not been upon her," rejoined she, with an air of
melancholy, "it is not an hour gone since her scream rung shrilly
through this house, as if she had been in the hands of fiends; and, to
be plain with you, I left you to discover yourself what may be too soon
apparent. I fear for her mind, sir."

"I have seen no reason for the apprehension; but her scream, was it not
bodily pain?"

"I could wish that it had been mere bodily pain; but it was not. You
have not heard Isabella's history," she continued, in a low, whispering
tone. "She has experienced what might have turned the brain of any one.
I discovered something extraordinary in her about six months ago. One
evening, when the candles were shaded for the relief of her eyes, and I
and Maria were sitting by her, she stopped suddenly in the midst of our
conversation, and sat gazing intensely at something between her and the
wall; pointing out her finger, her mouth open, and scarcely drawing her
breath. I was terror-struck; for the idea immediately rushed into my
mind, that it was a symptom of insanity; but I had no time for
thought--a scream burst from her, and she fell at my feet in a faint.
When she recovered, she told us that she had seen, in the shaded light
of the candle, which assumed the blue tinge of the moonlight, the figure
of a dead body sitting upright in the waters, with the sailcloth in
which he was committed to the deep wrapped around him, and his pale face
directed towards her. At the recollection of the vision, she shuddered,
would not recur to the subject again, but betrayed otherwise no
wandering of the fancy. Several times since, the same object has
presented itself to her; and, what is extraordinary, it is always when
the candle is shaded; yet she exhibits the same judgment, and I could
never detect the slightest indication of a defect in the workings of her
mind. I sent for you to treat her eyes, and left it to you to see if
you could discover any symptoms of a diseased mind."

"Was the object she thus supposes present to her, ever exposed in
reality to the true waking sense?" said I, suspecting a case of
_monomania_.

"Did she not tell you?" rejoined she. "Come."

And leading me again into her daughter's darkened apartment, she
whispered something in her ear, retired, and left us together.

"Your mother informs, me, madam," said I, "that you have seen _what
exists not_; and I am anxious, from professional reasons, to know from
yourself whether I am to attribute it to the creative powers of an
active fancy, or to an affection of the visual organs, that I have read
more of than I have witnessed."

She started, and I saw I had touched a tender part--probably that
connected with her own suspicions that her mother and sister deemed her
insane.

"It was for this purpose, then, that you have been called to see me?"
she replied, hastily. "It is well; I shall be tested by one who at least
is not prejudiced. My mother and sister think that I am deranged. I need
not tell you that I consider myself sane, although I confess that this
illusion of the sense, to which I am subjected, makes me sometimes
suspicious of myself. Will you listen to my story?"

I replied that I would; and thus she began:--

Experience, sir, is a world merely to those who live in it--it exists
not--its laws cannot be communicated to the heart of youth; the
transfusion of the blood of the aged into the veins of the young to
produce wisdom, is not more vain than the displacing of the hopes of the
young mind by the cold maxims of what man has felt, trembled to feel,
and wished he could have anticipated, that he might have been prepared
for it. Such has ever been, such is, such will ever be, the history of
the sons and daughters of Adam. What but the changes into which I--still
comparatively a young woman--have passed--not, it would almost seem,
mutations of the same principle, but rather new states of
existence--could have wrung from a heart, where hope should still have
lighted her lamp, and illuminated my paths, these sentiments of a dearly
purchased experience? When I and George Cunningham, my schoolfellow, my
first and last lover, and subsequently my husband, passed those
brilliant days of youth's sunshine among the green holms and shaggy
dells of ----; following the same pursuits--conning the same
lessons--indulging in the same dreams of future happiness, and training
each other's hearts into a community of feeling and sentiment, till we
seemed one being, actuated by the same living principle: in how happy a
state of ignorance of those changes that awaited me in the world, did I
exist? I would fall into the hackneyed strain of artificial fiction
writing, were I to portray the pleasures of a companionship and love
that had its beginning in the very first impulses of feeling; with a
view to set off by contrast the subsequent events that awaited us, when
our happiness should have been realized.

When a woman of sensibility says she loves a man, she has told, through
a medium that works out the conditions of the responding powers of our
common nature, the heart, more than all the eulogistic eloquence of the
tongue could achieve, to show the estimate she forms of the qualities of
the object of her affections; but when she adds that that love
originated in the friendship of children, grew with the increase of the
powers of mind and body, and entered as a part into every feeling that
actuated the young hearts, she has expressed the terms of an endearment
so pure, tender, exclusive, and lasting, that it transcends all the
ordinary forms of the communion of spirits on earth. The attachment is
different from all others--it stands by itself; and to endeavour to
conceive its purity and force by any factitious mixture of friendship,
and the ordinary endearments of limited time and favourable
circumstances of meeting, would be as vain as all hypothetical
investigation into the nature of feeling must ever be. I cannot tell
when I first knew the young man whose name I have mentioned under an
emotion that shakes my frame; the syllables were a part of my early
lispings, and I cannot yet think that they are unconnected with a being
that has now no local habitation upon earth. Our parents were intimate
neighbours; and the woods and waters of ----, if their voices--sweeter
than articulated intelligence--could imitate the accents of man, would
tell best when they wooed us into that communion, which they cherished,
and witnessed, with an apparent participation of our joy, to open into
an early affection. The power of mutual objects of pleasure and
interest, especially if they are a part of the lovely province of
nature--the rural landscape, secluded and secreted from the eyes of all
the world besides, with its dells and fountains, birds and flowers--in
increasing the attachment of young hearts, has been often observed and
described; but we felt it. These inanimate objects are generally, and
were to us, not only a tie, but they shared a part of our love, as if in
some mysterious way they had become connected with, and a part of us.
The often imputed association of ideas is a poor and inadequate solution
of this work of nature: it is the effect put for the cause; the common,
boasted philosophy of man, who invents terms of familiar sound to
explain secrets eternally hidden from him. If we who felt, as few have
ever felt, the influence of these green, umbrageous shades--with their
nut-trees, bushes, flowers, and gowany leas; their singing birds, and
nests with speckled eggs; their half-concealed fountains of limpid
water, and running streams, and beds of white pebbles--in nourishing and
increasing our young loves, could not tell how or why they were invested
with such power; the philosopher, I deem, may resign the task, and say,
with a sigh, that it was nature, and nature alone, who did all this; and
the secret will remain unexplained.

We enjoyed ten years of this intercourse--I calculate from the fifth to
the fifteenth year of our youth--and every one of these years, as it
evolved the ripening powers of our minds, so it strengthened the
mingling affections of our hearts. We became lovers long before we knew
the sanctions and rights, and duties of pledged faith; we were each
other's by a troth, a thousand times spoken; exchanged and felt in the
throbbing embrace, the burning sighs, and the eloquent looks, that were
but the natural impulses of a feeling we rejoiced in, yet scarcely
comprehended. My heart, recoiling from the thoughts of after years,
luxuriates in the memory of these blissful hours; and, were not the
theme exhausted a thousand times by the eloquence of rapt feeling,
speaking with the tongue of inspiration, I could dwell on these early
rejoicings of unsullied spirits for ever.

My dream was not scattered--it was only changed in its form and hues,
when my youthful betrothed was removed from home, to go through a course
of navigation to fit him for the service of the sea, to which the
intentions of his father, and his own early wishes, led him. I could
have doubted my existence sooner than the faith of his heart; and he was
only gone to make those preparations for attaining a position in society
that would enable him to realize those fond and bright prospects we had
indulged in contemplating among the woods that resounded to pledges
exchanged in the face of heaven. The first place of his destination was
London, from whence, for a period of about three years, I heard from him
regularly by letters, which breathed with an increased warmth the same
sentiments we had repeated and interchanged so often during the long
period of our prior intercourse. Some time after this, he sailed to
India; then were my thoughts first tinged by the changing hues of
solitude; and my hopes and fears bound to the wayward circumstances of a
world which had as yet been to me a paradise.

I heard nothing from him for two long years after he left London. A
portrayment of my thoughts during that period would be a thousand times
more difficult than for the painter to seize and represent the changing
hues of the gem that, thrown on a tropic strand, reflects the endless
hues of the earth and sky. I trembled and hoped by turns but every idea
and every feeling were so strongly mingled with reminiscences of former
pleasures, the prospects of future happiness, the fears of a change in
his affections, or of his death, that I could not pronounce my mind as
being, at any given moment, aught but a medium of impressions that I
could not seize or fix, so as to contemplate myself. All I can say is,
that he was the presiding genius of every emotion with which my heart
was influenced; and, to those who have loved, that may be sufficient to
shew the utter devotion of every pulse of my being to the deified image
enshrined within my bosom. Now came the period of the realizing of my
dreams. George Cunninghame came back, and married me.

We had scarcely been two months married when my husband, whom I loved
more and more every day, got, by the influence of powerful friends, the
command of a large vessel--the _Griffin_--engaged in the trade to India.
It was arranged that I should accompany him, that, as we had been
associated from our earliest infancy, (our separation had been only that
of the body, and interfered not with the union of the immaterial
essence), we should still be together. In this resolution I rejoiced;
and, though by nature a coward, my love overcame all my terrors of the
great deep. The day was fixed for our departure. A lady passenger and
two servants were to go with us to the Cape, from whose society I
expected pleasure; and every preparation which love could suggest was
made to render me happy. We left the Downs on a calm day of December,
and went down the Channel with a rattling gale from the north. Life on
board of an Indiaman has been a thousand times described; and, would to
heaven I had nothing to detail but the ordinary conduct of civilized
men! Our chief officer was one Crawley, and our second a person of the
name of Buist--the only individual my husband had no confidence in being
Hans Kreutz, the steward, a German, who was whispered to have been
engaged as a maritime venatic, or pirate, in the West Indies: and, if
any man's character might be detected in his countenance, this
foreigner's disposition might have been read in lineaments marked by the
graver of passion. Part of what I have now said may have been the result
of after experience; yet I could perceive shadowings of evil at this
time, which I had not the knowledge of human nature to enable me to turn
to any account.

With a series of gentle breezes and fine weather, we came to the Cape,
where Mrs Hardy and her two servants were put ashore. One of the
servants had agreed to accompany me to Madras, and was to have come on
board again, to join us, before we left Table Bay. Whether she had
changed her mind, or been detained by some unforeseen cause, I know not,
but the boat came off without her; and all the information that I could
get was, that she was not to be found. I trembled to be left on board of
a vessel without a female companion, and strongly insisted upon George
to delay his departure until another effort should be made to endeavour
to find a servant in Cape Town; but, a favourable wind having sprung up
at that moment, Crawley remonstrated, in his peculiar mode of abject
petitioning; and my husband, having himself seen the advantage of
seizing the favourable opportunity for taking and accomplishing the
passage of the Mozambique, we departed, under a stiff gale; and, in a
short time, reached the middle of that famous Channel, where the fears
of the seamen have been so often excited by the reputed cannibalism of
the natives of Madagascar. At this time I was strangely beset by nightly
visions of terror, which I could impute to no other cause than the
stories that George had repeated to me of the wild character of these
savages. During the day, but more especially during the blue,
sulphurous, flame-coloured twilight of that region--I often fixed my eye
on the long, dark, umbrageous coast--followed the ranges of receding
heights--threaded the deep recesses of the valleys, that seemed to end
in dark caves, and peopled every haunt with festive savages performing
their unholy rites over a human victim, destined to form food for
creatures bearing that external impress of God's finger which marks the
lords of the creation. Those visions were always connected, in some way,
with myself; and I could not banish the idea, which clung to me with a
morbid power of adherence, that I might, alone and unprotected, be cast
into some of these cimmerian recesses, and be subjected to the
unutterable miseries of a fate a thousand times worse than death, and
what might follow death, by the usages of of eaters of human beings.
There was no cause for any such apprehensions; and I am now satisfied
that these dark creations of my fancy were in some mysterious way
connected with a disordered state of my physical economy; but I was not
then aware of such predisposing causes of mental gloom, and still
brooded over my imagined horrors, till I drove rest and sleep from my
pillow, and disturbed my husband with my pictured images of a danger
that he said was far removed from me. From him I got some support and
relief; but the faces of the men I saw around me, and especially those
of Crawley and Kreutz, seemed, to me, rather to reflect a corroboration
of my fears, than to afford me encouragement and support. The grim
visions retained their power over me; and, the wind having fallen off
almost to a dead calm, I found myself fixed in the very midst of the
scenes that thus nourished and perpetuated them. The depression of mind
produced by these frightful day-dreams and nightmares, made me sickly
and weak. I could scarcely take any food; every piece of flesh presented
to me, reminded me of the feasts of the inhabitants of that dark, dismal
island that lay stretching before me in the vapours of a tropical
climate, like a land of enchantment called up by fiends from the great
deep; the dyspeptic nausea of sickness was the very food of my gloomy
thoughts; and the co-operative powers of mind and body tended to the
increase of my misery, till I seemed a victim of confirmed hypochondria.

We were still fixed immovably in the same place: all motive powers
seemed to have forsaken the elements--the sea was like a sheet of glass,
the sails hung loose from the masts, and the men lay listless about,
overcome with heat, and yawning in lethargy. It was impossible to keep
me below. I required air to keep me breathing, and felt a strange
melancholy relief from fixing my eyes on the very scene of my terrors.
Every effort to occupy my mind was vain; and I lay, for hours at a time,
with my eyes fixed on the shore, piercing the deep, wooded hollows,
following the faint traces of the savages as they disappeared among the
thick trees, and investing every naked demon with all the
characteristics of the followers of the mysterious midnight rites in
which I conceived they engaged when the hour of their orgies came. I
often saw individuals--rendered gigantic by the magnifying medium of the
thick vapour--come down to the beach, and fix their gaze on us for a
time, and then pace back again to the wooded recesses. Sometimes, when
unable to sleep, I crept up from the cabin, and sat and surveyed the
silent scene around me--the hazy moon, throwing her thick beams over the
calm sea--the dark shadows of unknown birds sailing slowly through the
air, and uttering at intervals sounds I had never heard before--the
fires of the inhabitants among the trees on the coast, that sent up a
long column of red light through the atmosphere, and exhibited the
flitting bodies of the naked beings as they danced round the objects of
their rites. It is impossible for me, by any language of which I have
the power, to convey an adequate conception of my feelings during these
hours. They were realities to me; and, therefore, whatever may be said
against fanciful creations, I have a right to claim attention to states
of the mind and feelings that belong to our nature in certain positions.
At a late hour one night, I was engaged in those gloomy watchings and
reveries, when Kreutz came to me, and said the captain had been taken
suddenly ill. I turned my eyes from the scene along the shore I was
surveying, and fixed them for a moment on his face, where the light of
the moon sat in deep contrast with the long bushy hair that flowed round
his temples. A shudder--that might have been accounted for from the
state of my mind and the nature of the communication he had made to me,
but which I instinctively attributed, at the time, to the expression of
his face--passed over me, and, starting up, I hurried into the cabin off
the cuddy, where I found George under the grasp of relentless spasms of
the chest and stomach. He was stretched along on the floor, grasping the
carpet, which he had wound up into a coil, and vomiting violently into a
bason which he had hurriedly seized before he fell.

'Good God, Isabella!' he exclaimed, 'what is this? I am dying. That
villain Cr ----'

And, whether from weakness or prudence, he stopped, with the guttural
sound of these two letters, Cr, which applied equally to Crawley as to
Kreutz, and left me in doubt which of them he meant. At this moment
Buist the mate entered the cabin; and my agitation and the necessity of
affording relief to the sufferer, took my mind off the fearful subject
hinted at by the broken sentence I had heard. With the assistance of
Buist, I got him placed on the bed. There was no doctor on board, and I
was left to the suggestions of my own mind, for adopting means to save
him. These were applied, but without imparting any relief. The painful
symptoms continued, and he got every moment worse. Neither Crawley nor
Kreutz appeared; and when Buist went out to bring what was deemed
necessary for the patient, I hung over him, and asked him what he
conceived to have been the cause of his illness; but my question
startled him--he looked up wildly in my face; his mind was directed
towards heaven; and the means of salvation through the redeeming
influence of a believed divinity of Him who died on the cross, was the
subject alone on which he would speak. The scene, at this moment, around
me was extraordinary, and, though I cannot say I had any distinct
perception of the individual circumstances that combined to make up the
sum of my horrors, I can now see, as through a dark medium, the
co-operating elements. There was no candle in the cabin; the light of
the moon through the windows filling the apartment with a blue glare,
and tinging his pallid face with its hues. My mind, wrought up by the
dreamy visions I had indulged in previously, and labouring under a
disease which imparted to every feeling its own eliminated gloom, saw
even the darkest circumstances of my condition in a false and unnatural
aspect. The scenes of our youth and early love; the impressions of the
religious sentiments he was muttering in broken snatches; the view of
his approaching death; the dark means by which it was accomplished; my
condition after he should die, in the power of men I feared; the orgies
of the natives I had been contemplating; the deep grave, so fearful in
its dead calmness; and the monsters that revelled in it, to which he
would be consigned--all flitted through my brain; but with such
rapidity--driving out, by short energies, the more engrossing thoughts
concerned in the manner of his recovery--that I could not particularize
them, while I drew, by some synthetic process of the mind, their general
attributes, and thus increased the terror of the scene.

Two hours passed, and every moment made it more apparent that my husband
was posting to death. There was no sound heard throughout the ship
except the dull tread of the watch; and, at intervals, the whispers of
Crawley, as he communed stealthily with Buist, who went out of the cabin
repeatedly, to carry intelligence of the state of the sufferer. For
about three quarters of an hour he had been raving wildly. The detached
words he uttered raised, by their electric power, the working of my
fancy which filled up, by a train of thoughts scarcely more within the
province of reason, the chain of his wandering ideas. No connected
discourse on the subject of his illness, though mixed up with all the
reminiscences of an affection that had lasted since the period of
infancy, or the prospects that awaited me in the unprecedented position
in which I was about to be thrown, could have distracted me in the
manner effected by these insulated vocables, wrung by madness from
expiring life and reason. They ring in my ears even yet, when the beams
of the moon shine through the casements; and, even now, I think I see
that dimly lighted cabin, and my husband lying before me in the agonies
of death. I became, as if by some secret sympathy, as much deranged as
himself. As I watched him, I cast rapid looks around me--out upon the
still deep, in the direction of the fearful island--upon the articles of
domestic use lying in confusion, and exhibiting dimly-illuminated sides
and dark shades. It seemed to me some frightful dream; and, when I
turned my eyes again on the pale face which had been the object of my
excited fancy for so many years, saw the struggles of expiring nature,
and heard the wild accents that still came from his parched lips, I
screamed, and tore my hair in handfuls from my head. In that condition,
I saw him die; and the increase of my frenzy, produced by that
consummation of all evils, made me rush out, and forward to the side of
the ship. I felt all the stinging madness of the resolution to die--to
fly from the man who, I feared, had murdered him--to escape from that
island of cannibals, where I thought I would be left by my relentless
foes, by plunging into the deep, when Crawley, who had heard of his
demise, seized me, and dragged me back.

This paroxysm was succeeded by a kind of stupor that seized my whole
mind and body. I sat down on a cot in the side of the cabin, and saw
Kreutz bring in a light. The glare of it startled me; but it was only as
a vision that could not awake the sleeper. They proceeded to lay out my
husband on a table. They undressed him--for his clothes were still on;
and I saw them take a large sheet, wrap it round him, and pin it firmly
at all the folds. When their labours were finished, they took each a
large portion of brandy, and Crawley came forward and offered me a
portion. I had no power to push it from me. He held it to my mouth; but
my lips were motionless; and, tossing it off himself, he and the others
went out of the cabin. No precaution was taken to keep me within; but
the frenzy that had previously impelled me to self-destruction had
subsided, and I shuddered at what a few moments before appeared to me to
be a source of relief. I sat for hours in the position in which they
left me, gazing upon the dead body before me, but without the energy to
rise and look at the features of him who had formed the object of my
earliest devotions, the subject of all my fondest dreams of early youth
and matured womanhood, now lying there lifeless. I had scarcely, during
that period, consciousness of any object, but of a long, white figure
extended on the table, with the moonlight reflected from it. The stupor
left me--I cannot tell at what hour; and the first movement of living
energy in my brain was a stinging impulse to rush forward and seize the
body. I obeyed it, without a power to resist; and, tearing off the
folds, laid bare the face, which was as placid as I had ever seen it,
when, watching over him, I used to steal a look of him, during the hours
of night, as he slept by my side, in the moonlight that stole through
the cabin-window. In my agony, I clung to him--kissed the cold
lips--called out 'George! George!'--threw the folds of the sheet over
the face--again looked round me for some one to comfort me--felt the
consciousness of my perilous position--and, as a kind of refuge from the
despair that met me on every hand, withdrew again the folds, and acted
over again the frenzied parts of a madness that mocked the miseries of
the inmates of an asylum.

I must have exhausted myself by the excitement into which I was thrown;
for, some time afterwards, I found myself lying upon the cot, and
wakening again to a consciousness of all the ills that surrounded me.
The light of the moon had given place to the dull beams of earliest
dawn, which were only sufficient to shew me the extended figure on the
table, and the confusion into which the furniture of the cabin was
thrown. I heard the sounds of several footsteps in the cuddy. Sounds of
voices struck my ear; and, rising up, I crawled forward to a situation
where I could hear the communings from which my fate might be known.

'When the wind starts,' said Crawley--'it will be from the north--we
should turn and make all speed for Rio, where we may dispose of the
cargo, and then run the vessel to the West Indies. How do the men feel
disposed, Kreutz--all braced and steady?'

'All but Wingate and Ryder, who are watched by the others,' replied the
German. 'These dogs would mutiny, ha! ha!--mein gut friend Buist is
against their valking the plank; but they must either come in or go out.
Teufel! no mutineers aboard the Griffin.'

'Right, Hans,' said Crawley. 'Get Murdoch to knock together the
boards--we will bury him to-morrow; but the wife, man, what is to be
done with her?'

'Put her ashore, to be sure,' responded Kreutz. 'There is not von
difficulty there. The natives will be glad of her, and we want her not.
If this calm were gone, all would be gut and recht. That is the von
thing only that troubles me.'

'If there is no wind,' said Crawley, 'to carry us out of the channel,
there is none to bring any one to us.'

At this moment, I thought they heard some movements, produced by a
nervous trembling that came over me, and forced me to hold by a chair.
Some whisperings followed. Kreutz went away, and Crawley entered. I had
just time to retreat to the other side of the body of my husband. His
manner was now that which was natural to him--harsh and repulsive. He
ordered me peremptorily to the lower cabin. I had no power to resist, or
even to speak; but I saw, in the order, the eternal separation of me and
George; and, rushing forward, I withdrew the covering from his face, to
take the last look--to imprint the last kiss on his cold lips. The act
operated like the stirrings of conscience on the cowardly man of blood.
His averted eye glanced for an instant on the body, and, seizing the
coverlet, he wrapped up the countenance, and, taking me by the arm,
hurried me down to the apartment set apart for passengers. This cabin
was darker than the captain's, from some of the windows having been
changed into dead lights; and I considered myself pent up in a dungeon.
Hitherto my feelings had been, in a great measure, the result of
existing moving circumstances; but now I was left to reflection, in so
far as that act of the mind could be concerned in the attempt to picture
the extremities of a fate that seemed as unavoidable as unparalleled.
The diseased visions that had distracted me before any real evil
occurred, were changed, from their dreamy, shadowy character, to
realities. The lengthened trains of images that were required to satisfy
the cravings of hypochondria, fled; and, in their place, there was one
general, overwhelming fear, that seemed to engross all my thinking
energies, and left no power to particularize the visions of danger that
awaited me among the savages. There was only one presiding, prevailing
idea that served as the rallying point of my terrors; and that was the
dead body of George, with the white sheet in which he was swathed, and
the peculiarly-formed oaken table on which he was placed, and at which
we used to dine upon all the dainties to be found on board an Indiaman.
It was the steadfastness of this idea that excluded the images of the
fearful deep recesses--the Bacchanalian orgies of the savages--their
anthropophagous rites, their midnight revels; but retained, as it were,
hanging round it, the fear they had engendered, as a more complex
feeling. After Crawley had left me, I had thrown myself down on a
couch--an act of which I retained no consciousness; for afterwards, when
daylight began to break in through the only window that was not closed
up, I started to my feet, and did not know, for some time, that I was
separated from the corpse; the vision of which had, during the interval,
been so vivid, that it combined the conditions of figure and locality as
perfectly as if the object had been before me.

On the deck I now heard the sound of several loud voices, and afterwards
a scuffle, accompanied with the tramping of feet. There was then silence
for a time; but my ears were stung, on a sudden, by a scream, succeeded
by a plash, as if some one had been precipitated into the sea. A
gurgling noise, as if the individual were drowning, followed; and the
suspicion rushed into my mind, that they had made an example (to terrify
the others) of one of the men who had rebelled against the authority of
the mutineers. A silence, as deep as that of death, succeeded, which
lasted about an hour, at the end of which period the sound of the saw
and hammer were distinctly heard. I recollected the orders of Crawley,
for Murdoch, the carpenter, to prepare George's coffin. The knocking
continued for a considerable time, and produced such an effect upon me
that the ideas, which had been, as it were, chained up by the freezing
influence of the prevailing vision of the extended and rolled-up body,
broke away and careered through my mind with the velocity,
unconnectedness, and intensity, that belong to certain states of excited
mania. Images of the past and the future were mixed up in confusion; and
every succeeding thought stung me with increased pain, till the idea of
suicide again suggested itself, bringing in its train that which
destroyed it--the terror of an avenging God, who will pass judgment on
the takers of their own lives. I started, and sought forgiveness; and,
for the first time under this agony, felt the soft action of the balm of
a confided trust in Him who has mercy in endless stores for the good,
but who poured his fury even upon the house of Israel, for the blood
they shed upon the land. But, must I confess it, the relief I felt from
this high source was immediately again lost in the cold shiverings of
instinctive fear, as I heard the knocking cease, knew the coffin was
finished, and perceived, from the sounds in the cabin off the cuddy,
that they were putting the body into the rudely constructed box, with a
view of burying him in the deep sea.

Some indescribable emotion, at this time, forced me towards the cabin
window, although the sight of the water was frightful to me. It was
still and calm as ever, and the light was already sufficient to enable
me to see far down in its green recesses. I could not take my eye from
it. There were numerous creatures swimming about in it, some of which I
had got described to me, but many of them I had never seen before. They
seemed more hideous to me now than they had ever appeared when, on
former occasions, I sat and watched their motions. The large
bull-mouthed shark was there, rolling his huge body in apparent
lethargy, and turning up his white belly in grim playfulness, as if in
mockery of my misery. It had a charm about its truculent savageness that
riveted my attention, while it shook my frame. It was connected in my
mind with the fate of George's body, which, every moment, I expected to
hear plash in the sea, in the midst of that shoal of creatures with
strange forms and ravenous maws. An exacerbation of these sickly
feelings made me lift my eyes; but it was only to fix them on the not
less fearful island that lay before in the far distance, and now, in the
fogs of the morning, through which the red sun struggled to send his
beams, appeared a huge mass of inspissated vapour lying motionless on
the surface of the sea. The very indistinctness of this hazy vision
stimulated my fancy to its former morbid activity, and I saw again the
mystic wooded ravines, sacred to the rights of cannibalism, of which I
myself was doomed to be the object.

From this dream I was roused by the loud tread of men's feet over my
head, as if the individuals were bearing a load that increased the
heaviness of their steps. I was at no loss for the cause--they were
carrying the coffin with the body in it to midship, where it was to be
let down into its watery grave. In a short time afterwards, a gurgling
of the waters met my ear, and, struggling to the foot of the companion
ladder, I would have rushed upon deck if my strength would have
permitted; but I fell upon the steps, and, lying there, heard a cry from
some of them. I gathered, from the detached words I heard, that the
bottom of the coffin had given way, from its insufficiency and the
weight that had been put in it to make it sink; and that the body had
gone down, while the chest swam on the surface. Several feet were now
heard rapidly in motion, and the voice of Kreutz, who was running aft,
fell on my ear.

'Teufel!' I heard him say, 'we shall have that grim corpse when the
gallenblase--ha!--ha!--the gall bladder has burst, rising like von geist
from the bottom of the deep sea, and staring at us. Hell take the
stumper, Murdoch!'

These words, uttered by the German, were followed by some expression
from Crawley, no part of which I could make out, except the oaths
directed against the carpenter. The sounds died away; but I heard enough
to satisfy me of the fact that George's body had been consigned to the
deep with only the shroud to defend it against the attacks of the
ravenous creatures I had been contemplating. My mind was again forced,
and with increased energy, into the train of gloomy meditations
suggested by what I had heard; and so vivid were the visions that obeyed
the excited powers of my imagination, that I forgot, as I lay brooding
over them on the sofa to which I had staggered, the danger that next
awaited myself. I could not now look at the sea, for I feared to meet
the fact which would add probation to my imaginations--that the animals
I had seen there had disappeared to crowd round the prey that had been
given to them. Yet the actual vision of that dear form, mutilated, torn,
and devoured, could not, I am satisfied, have produced more insufferable
agony, than accompanied and resulted from the diseased imaginings in
which my fancy was engaged. The process that I pictured going on in the
bottom of the sea, was coloured by hues so sickly, and attended by
circumstances so distorted and grim, that all natural appearances,
however harrowing, must have fallen short of the power they exercised
over me. The positions in which I imagined him to be placed, were varied
in a greater degree than ever I had seen the human body; the expressions
of the countenance, though fixed by death, and not likely to be changed,
became as Protean as the changing postures of the limbs; and the marine
monsters that gambolled or fought around him for the prize, were
invested with forms, colours, and attributes, of a kind not limited to
what I had ever seen in the deep. The only idea that seemed to remain
stationary, and not liable to the mutations into which all the others
were every moment gliding, was the colour of the body, which was that of
the green medium in which he lay. That sickly hue pervaded all parts;
and even the dark or light colours of the inhabitants of the deep,
partook, more or less, of the prevailing tint. It seemed to be the
universal of all particulars, as time or space is the medium or
condition of existence of all thought and matter; I felt the
impossibility of any idea being true that did not partake of it; and, so
strongly was the feeling of the ex-natural that accompanied it, that
even now I cannot look at anything green without shuddering.

I cannot tell how long I was under the dominion of this train of
thought. I was, in a manner, torn from it by the entrance of Kreutz with
some food for me. He growled out a few words of mixed German and
English, and left it on the table. It is needless to say that I could
eat nothing. Even before these misfortunes overtook me, my appetite had
left me; but now I loathed all edibles. After having been roused from
the train of morbid imaginings in which I had been engaged, and which I
clung to as if they imparted to me some unnatural satisfaction, I felt
(and it is a curious fact) a recoiling disinclination to resume the grim
subject, and even resorted to some imbecile and despairing efforts to
avoid it. It was not that I expected any relief from forbearing: every
other subject that could be suggested by my position was equally fraught
with tears and pains; but that having, as I now suppose, exhausted, for
the time, the diseased workings, the view of an effort to call up again
the thoughts that had been as it were supplied by disease, penetrated me
with a sensation beyond the powers of endurance. For two or three hours
afterwards, my attention was directed to the proceedings upon deck; but
I could hear little beyond indistinct mutterings, and occasional sounds
of the treading of feet over me. The calm, which had lasted for many
days, still continued; and, until a wind sprung up, no effort could be
made by the mutineers to retrace their progress through the channel, and
proceed to their projected destination. At last the shades of night
began to fall; exhausted nature claimed some relief from her sufferings;
but the drowsiness that overcame me, was only a medium of a new series
of imaginings still more grotesque and unnatural than those that had
haunted me during the day.

When the morning dawned, I expected every moment the execution of the
purpose I had heard declared by Crawley, to put me ashore on the island;
and, during moments of more rational reflection, I could not account for
my not having been disposed of in this way on the previous day. The
terrors of that destiny were as strong upon me as ever; but, I must
confess, that the view of real evil, almost unprecedented, as it seemed,
in its extent and peculiarity, produced feelings entirely different from
what resulted from the prior musings of my hypochondriac fancy: I would
not be believed were I to say that the expected reality was not much
more painful than the sickly vision. The miseries were of different
kinds, proceeding from different causes, operating upon a mind in two
different states. There was something in my own power. I was not
justified in committing suicide as a mode of escape from an affliction
that God might have seen meet to put upon me; but all my reasonings on
this subject fled before the view of this next calamity that awaited me.
An extraordinary thought seized me, that I was not bound to hold life,
when, through my own body and sensibilities, God's laws were to be
overturned, and my sufferings were to be made a shame in the face of
heaven. I secreted a knife in my bosom, and sat in silent expectation of
the issue. I was again supplied with meat; but, on this occasion,
Crawley brought it to me--and here began a new evil. He resumed,
partially, his former dastardly sneaking manner; made love to me;
offered me the honour of being still a captain's wife, and accompanied
the offer with, obliquely-hinted threats of a due consequence of my
rejection of his suit. I spurned him; but I cannot dwell on the details
of this proceeding. His suit was persisted in for two or three days,
when, roused to madness, he told me, that next day, if I consented not,
I would be wedded to the natives of Madagascar. I traced the outline of
the knife through the covering of my bosom, and defied him.

The next night was clear, and somewhat chill--indications of a cessation
of the calm. The rudeness of Crawley had had the effect of keeping my
mind from falling into the grasp of the demon of diseased fantasy; but,
now my fate was fixed, I had no more to fear from him; and towards
midnight, I fell again into the train of imaginings that had formerly
haunted me. I had opened the cabin window for air--having felt a
suffocating oppression of the chest during the day, proceeding from the
extreme heat and the confined apartment. My eyes were again fixed in the
direction of the island. I could see the dark shade of the land lying
upon the gilded waters. All was still; my thoughts sought again the
deep--the grave of George, the fancied condition of his body; and, as my
ideas diverged to the calm scene around, it appeared to me as if all
nature were dead, and that my own pulsations were the only living
movements on earth. Lights now began to move along the shore, and then a
fire blazed up into the firmament. The bodies of the savages flitted
before it; I had seen the same appearances before; but I was now
connected with these orgies in a more _real_ manner than formerly. They
ceased, and my mind again sought the recesses of the green deep, where
all I loved on earth lay engulfed. My eye at times wandered over the
surface of the waters; but I feared to look downwards into their bosom.
My attention was suddenly fixed by an object in the sea. I put up my
hands and rubbed my eyes. Was I deceived by a fancy? No! a dead body was
there, not four yards distant from where I sat. It was that of my
husband, rolled up in the same white sheet in which I had seen him
extended on the oak table, and with his head raised somewhat above the
surface, by the weights placed in the shroud having, as I afterwards
thought, descended to the feet. A part of the sewing had been torn off
the head, which was bare--the face was openly exposed to me, the moon
shone upon it; I could perceive the very features, and even the
lustreless eyes, that seemed fixed on the ship. There was not a breath
of wind to ruffle the surface of the sea, which shone with a blue lustre
in the light of the moon; and the body was as motionless as if it had
been fixed on the earth. I have described, hitherto, what actually
befell me, with the various states of my mind under extraordinary
circumstances of pain and depression. My fancies belonged as much to
nature as the facts which excited and nourished them, and must be
believed by those who have studied the workings of the mind, even
unconnected with the principles and facts of pathology. This was,
however, no vision of the fancy, but a reality resulting from well-known
physical laws. I sat, fixed immovably, at the window, and felt no more
power of receding from it, than I formerly had of resigning my musings.
My eyes were fixed upon that countenance which had been the _beau ideal_
of love's idolatry--the fairest thing on earth, and the archetype of my
dreams of heaven. I could not fly from it, horrible as it seemed in its
blue glare and ghastly expression. I loved it while it shocked me; and
all my powers of thinking were bound up in freezing terror. I felt the
hair on my head move as the shrivelling skin became corrugated over my
temples. That, and the occasional throbbings of my heart, were the only
motions of any part of my being; but the body I gazed at seemed to be as
immovable, and its eyes seemed not less steadfastly fixed on me than
mine were on it.

How long I sat in this position I know not. There was no internal
impulse that moved me to desist. I could, I thought, have looked for
ever. Certain fearful objects possess a charm over the mind--and this
was one of them; but I have sometimes thought that the power lay in
producing the negative state of mental paralysis; for the instant my
attention was called to a strange noise upon the deck, I was suddenly
recalled to a natural sense of the fear it inspired. The sounds I heard
were a mixture of exclamations and objections, pronounced in tones of
fear and anger. I turned away my face from the dead body, with a strong
feeling of repugnance to contemplate it again; and, groping my way to
the companion-ladder, listened to what was going on above. Kreutz and
Crawley were in communication.

'There is more than chance in that frightful appearance,' I heard
Crawley say. 'And this calm too--it will never end. God have mercy on
us! Is there no man that will undertake to sink the body? I cannot stand
the gaze of these white balls. See! the face is directed towards me; and
yet I did not do the deed, though I authorized it. Will no one save me
from the glare of the grim avenger? I will give twenty gold pieces to
the man who will remove it to the deep. Go forward, Kreutz, and try if
you can prevail upon a bold heart to undertake the task!'

'Pho, man!' responded the German--'all von phantasy--anybody would have
risen in the same way--Teufel! I heed it not von peterpfenning. But the
men are alarmed, and begin to say that the captain has not got fair
play. Hush! seize your degen. There is von commotion before the mast.'

I now heard a tumult in the fore part of the vessel and began to
suspect that the crew had been led to believe that George had died a
natural death, and had been by some means prevailed upon to work the
vessel, when the wind rose in another direction, under the command of
Crawley. The noise increased, and with it the fears of the cowardly
villain whose conscience had been awakened by such strange means. Kreutz
had left him to try to pacify the men; and the tones of his
terror-struck voice continued to murmur around.

'There it still is,' he groaned, as his attention seemed to be divided
between the sight he contemplated and the tumult, 'gazing steadfastly
with these lack-lustre eyes for revenge. It is on me they are
fixed--immovably fixed--as a victim which the spirit that floats over
the body in that dead light of the moon demands, and will get. There is
a God above in that blue firmament, who sees all things. I am lost.
These men obey the call of a power that chooses that grim apparition as
its instrument to call down destruction on my head. Ha! Kreutz has no
influence here; the avengers are prepared.'

A step now came rapidly forward, and Kreutz's voice was again heard.

'If you will not try to quell them,' said he, 'all is lost. They swear
the captain has been murdered, and that verdamt traitor Buist heads them
on. Donner! shall Hans Kreutz die like one muzzled dog? On with degen in
hand, and it may not be too late! We have friends among the caitiffs;
strike down the first man; his blut will terrify them more than that
staring geist, which is, after all, only von natural body, with no more
spirit in it than the bones of my grandmutter. Frisch! frisch! auf, man!
come, come, dash in and strike the first mutineer!'

The cowardly spirit of Crawley was acted upon by the stern German; for I
heard him cry out--

'Hold there, men! what means this tumult--'sdeath?'

The rest of his words were drowned by the noise; but I heard the sounds
of his and Kreutz's feet as they rushed forward. In an instant, the
sound like that of a man falling prostrate on the deck, met my ear; and
then there rose a yell that rung through every cranny of the ship. All
seemed engaged in a desperate struggle. The words 'Revenge for our
captain!' often rose high above all the other sounds. The clanging of
many daggers followed; several bodies fell with a crash upon the deck,
and loud groans, as if from persons in the agonies of death, were mixed
with the cries of those who were struggling for victory. The tramping
and confusion increased, till all distinct sound seemed lost in a
general uproar. I got alarmed, and left my station at the foot of the
companion-ladder; but I knew not whither to fly. I took again my seat at
the window, as if I felt that there was an opening for me from which I
might fly from the fearful scene. My agitation had banished from my mind
for an instant the vision of the body; and I started again with
increased fear as my eyes fell upon the corpse that had apparently been
the cause of the uproar. It was still there, as motionless as before;
yet, I thought, still nearer to me. I saw the features still more
distinctly than ever, and found my mind again chained down by the charm
it threw over me. The sounds for a time seemed to come upon my ear from
a far, far distance, or like those heard in a dream; and like a dreamer,
too, I struggled to get away from a vision that I at once loved and
trembled at. The noises on deck seemed as those of the world, and the
object before me the creation of the fancy that bound my soul, but left
the sense of hearing open to living sounds. While in this state, I was
suddenly roused by a rush of several men into the cabin; they held
daggers in their hands and their countenances were besmeared with blood.
I looked at them, under the impression that they were my enemies, and
that the cause of Crawley had triumphed; but I was soon undeceived--they
told me that both he and Kreutz lay dead upon the deck, and that the
victorious party were determined to complete the voyage and take the
ship to Madras. The removal of one evil from a mind borne down by the
weight of many, only leaves a greater power of susceptibility of the
pain of what remains. The moment I heard of my own personal safety, I
recurred again to the subject that affected me more deeply than even the
fears of being consigned to the natives of the island--the dead body of
George was still in the waters. The men understood and appreciated my
sufferings. I again went to the cabin window, and, pointing to the
corpse, implored Buist, who was present, to get it taken up and buried.
He replied, that that had already been agreed upon, and orders were
given to that effect. Several of the men volunteered of themselves to
assist. A boat was put out, and I watched the solemn process. I saw them
drag up the body from the sea, and would have flown to the deck to
embrace once more the dearest object of my earthly affections; but I was
restrained from motives of humanity. I had reason to suppose that it had
been dreadfully mutilated, and that was the reason why I was saved the
pain of the sad sight. That same evening it was consigned again to the
deep; and with it sunk the bodies of his murderers, Crawley and Kreutz.

Next day, a breeze sprang up, and bore us away from that fatal place. My
eyes were fixed on it till I could see no longer any traces of that
island which had caused me so many fears. In a short time, we arrived in
India, where I remained about two months, and returned again with the
Griffin to Britain.

"Now, sir," she continued, "all these things are in the course of man's
doings in this strange world. It is also very natural that I should
think of him. But a more dreadful effect has followed. I shudder when I
think of it."

She stopped and looked at me, as if she were afraid to touch upon the
subject of the visual illusion. I told her that I understood the cause
of her fears; and having questioned her, I satisfied myself from her
answers that I had at last discovered a case of true _monomania_, in
which the patient conceived that she saw, with the same distinctness as
when she looked from the cabin window of the _Griffin_ the corpse of her
husband swimming in the sea, with the head and chest above the waters,
surrounded with the same blue moonlight, and every minute circumstance
attending the real presence.

I meditated a cure; but I frankly confess that it was my anxious wish to
witness her under the influence of the fit; and, with that view, I
purposed waiting upon her repeatedly in the evenings, when, under the
shaded light of the candle, it generally came over her. I was baffled in
this for several weeks, chiefly, I presume, from the circumstance of my
presence operating as an engagement of her mind; but one evening when I
was sitting with her mother in another room, the sister came suddenly,
and beckoned me into that occupied by my patient. The door was opened
quietly and, on looking in, I saw, for the first time, a vision-struck
victim of this extraordinary disease. She sat as if under a spell, her
arms extended, her eyes fixed on the imaginary object, and every sense
bound up in that which contemplated the spectre vision. The fit
ended with a loud scream; she fell back in her chair, crying
wildly--"George!--George!" and lay, for a minute or two, apparently
insensible.

I continued my study of this extraordinary case for a considerable
period; and, while I administered to her relief, I got her to explain to
me some things which may be of use to our profession. I need not say
that I was able to penetrate the dark secret of the seat of either the
pathology or the metaphysique of the disease. That it was connected with
the irritability of her nerves, and the affection of the eyes, there can
be little doubt; because, as she mended in health, the fits diminished
in number, and latterly went off. I may, however, state that, from all I
could learn from her, the fit was something of the nature of a
dream--all the objects around her, at the time, being as much unnoticed
as if they existed not; and although she was possessed with an absolute
conviction that the body of her husband was actually at the time
present, it was precisely that kind of conviction that we feel in a
vivid dream.

[Footnote 2: HIBBERT'S _Philosophy of Apparitions_; BREWSTER'S _Letters on
Natural Magic_; SCOTT'S _Letters on Witchcraft_, _&c._]



THE FOUNDLING AT SEA.


About the year 1708 or 1710, the good ship _Isabella_, Captain Hardy,
sailed from the port of Greenock for Bombay, being chartered by the East
India Company to carry out a quantity of arms and ammunition for the use
of the Company's forces.

The _Isabella_ carried out with her several passengers; amongst whom
were a lady, her child--a girl about three years of age--and a
servant-maid. This lady, whose name was Elderslie, was the wife of a
lieutenant in the British army, who was then with his regiment at
Calcutta, whither she was about to follow him; he having written home
that, as he had been fortunate enough to obtain some semi-civil
appointments in addition to his military services, he would, in all
probability, be a residenter there for many years. The lieutenant added
that, under these circumstances, he wished his "dear Betsy, and their
darling little Julia, to join him as soon as possible." And this, he
said, he had the less hesitation in requiring, that the appointments he
alluded to would render their situation easy and comfortable. It was
then in obedience to this invitation that Mrs Elderslie and her child
were now passengers on board the _Isabella_.

For about six weeks the gallant ship pursued her way prosperously--that
whole period being marked only by alternatives of temporary calms and
fair winds. The vessel was now off the coast of Guinea; and here an
inscrutable Providence had decreed that her ill-fated voyage--for it was
destined to be so, flattering as had been its outset--should terminate.
A storm arose--a dreadful storm--one of those wild bursts of elemental
fury which mock the might of man, and hoarsely laugh at his puny and
feeble efforts to resist their destructive powers. For two days and
nights the vessel, stript of every inch of canvass, drove wildly before
the wind; and, on the morning of the third day, struck furiously on a
reef of rocks, at about half a mile's distance from the shore. On the
ship striking, the crew--not doubting that she would immediately go to
pieces, for a dreadful sea was beating over her, and she was, besides,
every now and then, surging heavily against the rock on which she now
lay--instantly took to their boats, accompanied by the passengers. All
the passengers? No, not all. There was one amissing. It was Mrs
Elderslie. About ten minutes before the ship struck, that unfortunate
lady, together with two men and a boy, were swept from the deck by a
huge sea that broke over the stern; sending, with irresistible fury, a
rushing deluge of water, of many feet in depth, over the entire length
of the ship. Neither Mrs Elderslie nor any of the unhappy participators
in her dismal fate were seen again.

In the hurry and confusion of taking to the boats, none recollected that
there was still a child on board--the child of the unfortunate lady who
had just perished; or, if any did recollect this, none chose to run the
risk of missing the opportunity of escape presented by the boats, by
going in search of the hapless child, who was at that moment below in
the cabin. In the meantime, the overloaded boats--for they were much too
small to carry the numbers who were now crowded into them, especially in
such a sea as was then raging--had pushed off, and were labouring to
gain the shore. It was a destination they were doomed never to reach.
Before they had got half-way, both boats were swamped--the one
immediately after the other--and all on board perished, after a brief
struggle with the roaring and tumbling waves that were bellowing around
them.

From this moment, the storm, as if now satisfied with the mischief it
had wrought, began to abate. In half an hour it had altogether subsided;
and the waves, though still rolling heavily, had lost the violence and
energy of their former motion. They seemed worn out and exhausted by
their late fury.

The crew of the unfortunate vessel had left her, as we have said, in the
expectation that she would shortly go to pieces; but it would have been
better for them had they had more confidence in her strength, and
remained by her; for, strange to tell, she withstood the fury of the
elements, and, though sorely battered and shaken, her dark hull still
rested securely on the rock on which she had struck. The wreck of the
_Isabella_ had been witnessed from the shore by a crowd of the natives,
who had assembled directly opposite the fatal reef on which she had
struck. They would fain have gone out in their canoes to the unfortunate
vessel when she first struck, as was made evident by some unsuccessful
attempts they made to paddle towards her; but whether with a friendly or
hostile purpose, cannot be known. On the storm subsiding, however, they
renewed their attempts. A score of canoes started for the wreck, reached
it, and, in an instant after, the deck of the unfortunate vessel was
covered with wild Indians. Whooping and yelling in the savage excitement
occasioned by the novelty of everything around, they flew madly about
the deck, scrambled down into the hold, tore open bales and packages,
and possessed themselves of whatever most attracted their whimsical and
capricious fancies. While some were thus occupied in the hold, others
were ransacking the cabin. It was here, and at this moment, that a scene
of extraordinary interest took place. A huge savage, who was peering
curiously into one of the cabin beds, suddenly uttered a yell, so
piercing and unusual, that it attracted the notice of all his wild
companions; then, plunging his hand into the bed, drew forth, and held
up to the wondering gaze of the latter, a beautiful little girl of about
three years old. It was the daughter of the unfortunate Mrs Elderslie.
The unconscious child had slept during the whole of the catastrophe,
which had deprived her, first of her parent, and subsequently of her
protectors, and had only awoke with the shout of the savage who now held
her in his powerful, but not unfriendly grasp; for he seemed delighted
with his prize. He hugged the infant in his bosom, looked at it, laughed
over it, and performed a thousand antics expressive of his admiration
and affection for the fair and blooming child of which he had thus
strangely become possessed. The child, for some time, expressed great
terror of her new protector and his sable companions, calling loudly on
her mother; but the anxious and eager endearments of the former
gradually calmed her fears and quieted her cries.

In the meantime, the plunder of the vessel was going on vigorously in
all directions--above and below, in the cabin and forecastle, till, at
length, as much was collected as the savages thought their canoes would
safely carry. These, therefore, were now loaded with the booty; and the
whole fleet, shortly after, made for the shore.

In one of these canoes was little Julia Elderslie and her new protector,
who, by still maintaining his friendly charge over her, shewed that he
meant to appropriate her as a part of his share of the plunder.

On reaching the shore, the kind-hearted savage, as his whole conduct in
the affair shewed him to be, consigned his little protegée to the care
of a female--one of the group of women who were on the beach awaiting
the arrival of the canoes, and who appeared to be his wife.

The woman received the child with similar expressions of surprise and
delight with those which had marked her husband's conduct on his first
finding her. She turned her gently round and round, examined her with a
delighted curiosity, patted her cheeks, felt her legs and arms, and, in
short, handled her as if she had been some strange toy, or as if she
wished to be assured that she was really a thing of flesh and blood.

For two days the natives continued their plunder of the wreck. By the
third, the vessel had been cleared of every article of any value that
could be carried away; and on this being ascertained, a general division
of the spoil, accumulated on the shore, took place.

It was a scene of dreadful confusion and uproar, and more than once
threatened to terminate in bloodshed; but it eventually closed without
any such catastrophe. The partition was effected, the encampment was
broken up, and the whole band--men, women, and children, all loaded with
plunder--commenced their march into the interior; the little Julia
forming part of the burden of the man who had first appropriated her; a
labour in which he was from time to time relieved by his wife.

From three to four years after the occurrence of the events just
related, a Scotch merchant ship, the _Dolphin_ of Ayr, Captain
Clydesdale, bound for the Cape of Good Hope, while prosecuting her
voyage, unexpectedly run short of water, in consequence of the bursting
of a tank, when off the Gold Coast of Africa.

On being informed of the accident, the captain determined on running for
the land for the purpose of endeavouring to procure a further supply of
the indispensable necessary of which he had just sustained so serious a
loss.

The vessel was, accordingly, directed towards the coast, which she
neared in a few hours; and, finally, entered a small bay, which seemed
likely to afford at once the article wanted, and a safe anchorage for
the ship while she waited for its reception.

By a curious chance, the bay which the _Dolphin_ now entered was the
same in which the _Isabella_ had been wrecked upwards of three years
before. But of that ill-fated vessel there was now no trace; a
succession of storms, similar to that which had first hurled her on the
rocks, had at length accomplished her entire destruction: she had, in
time, been beaten to pieces, and had now wholly disappeared.

There was then no appearance of any kind, no memorial nor vestige by
which those on board the _Dolphin_ might learn, or at all suspect that
the locality they were now in had been the scene of so deep a tragedy as
that recorded in the early part of our tale.

All unconscious of this, the _Dolphin_ came to within pistol-shot not
only of the reef, but of the identical spot on which the _Isabella_ had
been wrecked.

Having come to anchor, a boat, filled with empty watercasks, was
despatched from the ship for the shore. In this boat was the captain,
first mate, and a pretty numerous party of men, all well armed, in case
of any interruption from the natives.

On landing, Captain Clydesdale, the mate, and two men, leaving the
others in the boat, set out in quest of water. The search was not a
tedious one. When they had walked about a quarter of a mile inland, the
gratifying noise of a waterfall struck upon their ears. Following the
delightful sound, they quickly reached a rocky dell into which a crystal
sheet of water, of considerable breadth, was falling from a height of
about fifteen feet; and, after sportively circling about for a moment in
a deep but clear pool below, sought the channel which conducted to the
sea, found it, and glided noiselessly away.

Delighted with this opportune discovery, Captain Clydesdale despatched
one of the men who was along with him to the boat, to order the others
up with the water casks.

Having seen the people commence the task of filling the latter, the
captain and mate, each armed with a musket, cutlass, and brace of
pistols, started for a walk a little farther inland, in order to obtain
a view of the country. For nearly an hour they wandered on, now scaling
heights, and now forcing their way through patches of tangled brushwood,
without meeting with any adventure, or seeing anything at all
extraordinary. They had now gained the banks of the stream which, lower
down, formed the cascade at which the water casks were filling; and this
they proposed to trace downwards, as its banks presented a clear and
open route, till they should reach the point whence they had started.

While jogging leisurely along this route, the adventurers, by turning a
projecting rock, suddenly opened a small bight or hollow, sheltered on
all sides, except towards the river, by the high grounds around it. In
the centre of this little glen was an Indian encampment! Alarmed at this
unexpected sight, the captain and mate abruptly halted, and would have
again retreated behind the projecting rock or knoll which had first
concealed them, and taken another route, but they perceived they were
seen by a group of male natives who were lolling on the grass in front
of the wigwams. On seeing the white men--who now stood fast, aware that
it was useless to attempt to retreat--the Indians sprang to their feet
with a loud yell, and rushed towards them. The captain and mate
instinctively brought down their muskets; for reason would have shown
them that resistance was equally useless with flight. The hostile
attitude, however, which they had assumed, had the effect of checking
the advance of the natives, who suddenly halted, and, to the great
relief of the captain and mate, made friendly signs of welcome to them.

Confiding in and returning these signs, the latter raised their muskets
and advanced towards the party, who now also resumed their march towards
the strangers. They met, when, after some attempts at conversation,
conducted on the part of the natives with great good-humour, but, on
both sides, altogether in vain, one of the former suddenly ran off at
full speed towards the wigwams, into one of which he plunged, and
instantly reappeared, leading a female child of six or seven years of
age by the hand. As he advanced towards the captain and mate, he kept
pointing to the child's face, then to his own, then towards those of the
strangers, and laughing loudly the while.

With an amazement which they would have found it difficult to express,
Clydesdale and his companion perceived that the child, now produced, was
fair, of regular features, smooth hair, and without any trace of African
origin. Exposure to a tropical sun had deeply embrowned her little
cheeks; but enough of bloom still remained, as, when coupled with other
characteristics, left no doubt on the minds of the captain and his mate
that the child, however it had come into its present situation, was of
European parentage.

His curiosity greatly excited by this extraordinary circumstance, Mr
Clydesdale now endeavoured to obtain some account of the child from the
natives; but he could make little or nothing of the attempted conference
on this subject. From what, however, he did gather, he came to the
conclusion--a very accurate one, as the reader may guess--that a
shipwreck had taken place on the coast, and that the child had been
saved by the natives.

Believing this to be the case, Captain Clydesdale now became anxious to
know whether any others had escaped; but could not make himself
understood. At length one of the savages, of more apt comprehension than
the others, seemed to have obtained a glimmering of the import of the
captain's queries, and fell upon an ingenious mode of replying to them.
Grasping Mr Clydesdale by the arm, he conducted him to a small pool of
water that was hard by. He then took a piece of bark that was lying on
the ground, placed about a dozen small pebbles on it, and launched it
into the pool. Then stooping down, he edged it over, till the stones
slid, one after the other, into the water, until one only remained.
Allowing the piece of bark now to right itself, and to float on the
water, he pointed to the single stone it carried, and then to the child;
thus intimating, as Mr Clydesdale understood it, and as it was evidently
meant to signify, that all had perished excepting the little girl.

While this primitive mode of communication was going on, the man who had
brought the child to Captain Clydesdale had returned to his wigwam, and
now reappeared, carrying several articles in his hand, which he held up
to the former. Mr Clydesdale took them in his hand, and found them to
consist of fragments of a child's dress, made, as he thought, after the
fashion of those in use in Scotland. On the corner of what appeared to
be the remains of a little shift, he discovered the initials, J. E. But
the most interesting relic produced on this occasion, was a small
locket, containing some rich black hair on one side, and on the other
the miniature of a young man in a military uniform, with the same
initials, J. E., engraven on the rim. This locket, the man who brought
it gave Captain Clydesdale to understand, had been found hanging around
the neck of the child when first discovered.

Satisfied now, beyond all doubt, of the child's European descent, Mr
Clydesdale approached her, took her kindly by the hand, and, hoping to
make something of her own testimony, began to put some questions to her;
but, to his great disappointment, found that she did not understand him,
although he spoke to her both in French and English. The little girl, in
truth, he soon discovered, neither understood nor spoke any language but
that of the tribe in whose hands she was.

It appeared, however, sufficiently clear to Captain Clydesdale, that a
shipwreck had taken place on the coast, and that at no very great
distance of time, and that the child before him had been on board of the
unfortunate vessel. Various circumstances, too, led him to the belief
that the ship had been a British one; and in this opinion he was joined
by the mate.

The result of the Captain's reflections on these points, was a
determination to take the child to Scotland with him, if he could
prevail upon her present possessors to part with her, and to take his
chance of making some discovery regarding her on his return home.

Having come to this resolution, he hastened to make known to the natives
his wish to have the little girl; and was well pleased to perceive that
the proposal, which they seemed at once to comprehend, was not received
with any surprise, far less indignation. Encouraged by this reception of
his overture, Captain Clydesdale now addressed himself particularly to
the man who appeared to be the guardian, or, perhaps, proprietor of the
child, and, unbuckling his cutlass from his side, presented it to
him--making him, at the same time, to understand that he offered it as
the price of the little girl. The man demurred. Captain Clydesdale
pulled a clasp-knife out of his pocket, and made signs that he would
give that also, provided the locket and fragment of shift, with the
initials on it, were given along with the child. This addition to the
first offer had the desired effect. The cutlass and knife were accepted,
the locket and shift given in exchange, and the little hand of the girl
placed in Captain Clydesdale's, to signify that she was now his
property. After some farther interchange of civilities with the natives,
the captain, his mate, and the little Julia Elderslie--for, we presume,
the reader has been all along perfectly aware that the child in question
was no other than that unfortunate little personage--proceeded on their
way towards the place where the watering party had been left. This spot
they reached in safety, after about an hour's walking, and found the men
waiting their return--the casks having been already all filled and
shipped.

In half an hour after, the boat was alongside the _Dolphin_, and little
Julia was handed upon deck; and, in less than another hour, the ship was
under weigh, and prosecuting her voyage to the Cape, where she
ultimately arrived in safety. During this time, Captain Clydesdale had
discovered in his Ponakonta--the name given to little Julia by the
Africans, and by which he delighted to call her--a disposition so docile
and affectionate, and a manner so gentle and unobtrusive, that he
already loved her with all the tenderness of a parent, and had secretly
resolved that he would adopt her as his own, and as such bring her up
and educate her, if no one possessed of a better right to discharge this
duty to her should ever appear.

In about six months after the occurrence of the events just related, the
good ship _Dolphin_ arrived safely at the harbour of Ayr, all well; and
the little demi-savage, Ponakonta, in high spirits, and already
beginning to jabber very passable English--an acquisition which still
more endeared her to her kind-hearted protector, who took great delight
in listening to her prattle, and in questioning her regarding her life
amongst the Africans--of which she was now able to give a tolerably
intelligible account. She had, however, no recollection whatever of the
shipwreck, nor of any incident connected with it. Some dreamy
reminiscences, indeed, she had of her mother; but, as might have been
expected, considering how very young she was when that catastrophe
happened which had deprived her of her parent, they were too vague and
indefinite to be of the slightest avail towards throwing any light on
her parentage.

On arriving at Ayr, Captain Clydesdale's first step, with regard to his
little charge, was to avail himself of every means he could think of to
make her singular history, with all its particulars, publicly known, in
the hope that it might bring some one forward who stood in some
relationship to her. The worthy man, however, took this step merely as
one that was right and proper in the case, and not, by any means, from
any desire to get rid of his little protegée. On the contrary, if truth
be told, he would have been sadly disappointed had any one appeared to
claim her. Nothing of this kind occurring, after a lapse of several
weeks, Captain Clydesdale--who, although pretty far advanced in years,
was unmarried, and had no domestic establishment of his own, being
almost constantly at sea--placed little Julia under the charge of some
female relatives, with instructions to give her every sort of education
befitting her years; for all of which--boarding, clothing, and
tuition--he came under an obligation to pay quarterly--giving a handsome
sum, in the meantime, to account. Having thus disposed of his protegée,
and satisfied that he had placed her in good hands, which was indeed the
case, Captain Clydesdale went again to sea--his destination, on this
occasion, being South America.

The worthy man, however, did not go away before having a parting
interview with his little Ponakonta, whom he kissed a thousand times,
nor before he had entreated for her every kindness and attention, during
his absence, at the hands of those whom he had now constituted her
guardians. It was upwards of two years before Captain Clydesdale
returned from this voyage; for it included several trading trips between
foreign ports; and thus was his absence prolonged.

Great was the good man's delight with the improvement which he found had
taken place on his little charge since his departure. She now spoke
English fluently; had made rapid progress in her education; and gave
promise of being more than ordinarily beautiful. Captain Clydesdale had
the farther satisfaction of learning that she was a universal
favourite--her gentle manners and affectionate disposition having
endeared her to all.

On first casting eyes on her protector, after his return from South
America, little Julia at once recognised him, flew towards him, flung
her arms about his neck, and wept for joy--calling him, in muttered
sounds, her father, her dear father. Deeply affected by the warmth of
the grateful child's regard, Captain Clydesdale, with streaming eyes,
took her up in his arms, hugged her to his bosom, and kissed her with
all the fervour of parental love. Soon after, Captain Clydesdale again
went to sea; and, by and by, again returned. Voyage after voyage
followed, of various lengths; and, after the termination of each, the
worthy man found his interesting protegée still advancing in the way of
improvement, and still strengthening her hold on the affections of those
around her.

Time thus passed on, until a period of nine years had slipped away; and
when it had, Julia Elderslie--who now bore, and had all along, since her
arrival in Scotland, borne, the name of Maria Clydesdale--was a blooming
and highly accomplished girl of sixteen.

It was about this period that Captain Clydesdale began to think of
retiring from the sea, and of settling at home for the remainder of his
life. He was now upwards of sixty years of age, and found himself fast
getting incompetent to the arduous duties of his profession.
Fortunately, he was in a condition, as regarded circumstances, to enable
him to effect the retirement he meditated. He was by no means rich; but,
having never married, he had accumulated sufficient to live upon, for
the few remaining years that might be vouchsafed him.

Part of Captain Clydesdale's little plan, on this occasion, was to rent
or purchase a small house in the neighbourhood of the village of
Fernlee, his native place, in the west of Scotland; to furnish it, and
to take his adopted daughter to live with him as his housekeeper. All
this was accordingly done; a house, a very pretty little cottage, with
garden behind, and flower-plot in front, was taken, furnished, and
occupied by Mr Clydesdale and his protegée. Here, for two years, they
enjoyed all the happiness of which their position and circumstances were
capable--and it was a happiness of a very enviable kind. No daughter,
however deep her love, could have conducted herself towards her parent
with more tenderness, or with more anxious solicitude for his ease and
comfort, than did Maria Clydesdale towards her protector. Nor could any
parent more sensibly feel, or more gratefully mark the affectionate
attentions of a child, than did Captain Clydesdale those of his Maria.

He doated on her, and to such a degree, that he never felt happy when
she was out of his sight.

More than satisfied with her lot, Maria sought no other scenes of
enjoyment than those of her humble home; and coveted no other happiness
than what she found in contributing to that of her benefactor.

Thus happily, then, flew two delightful years over the old man and his
adopted child; and, wrapped up in their felicity, they dreamt not of
reverses. But reverses came; Misfortune found her way even into their
lonely retirement. Within one week, Captain Clydesdale received
intelligence of the total loss of two vessels of which he was the
principal owner, and in which nearly all that he was worth was invested.
The blow was a severe and unexpected one, and affected the old man
deeply. Not on his own account, as he told his Maria, with a tear
standing in his eye, but on hers. "I had hoped," he said, "to leave you
in independence--an humble one indeed, but more than sufficient to place
you far beyond the reach of want. But now----" And the old man wrung his
hands in exquisite agony of grief.

Infinitely more distressed by the sight of her benefactor's unhappiness
than by the misfortune which occasioned it, Maria flung her arms about
his neck, and said everything she could think of to assuage his grief
and to reconcile him to what had happened. Amongst other things, she
told him that the accomplishments which his generosity had put her in
possession were more than sufficient to secure her an independence, or,
at least, the means of living comfortably; and that she would
immediately make them available for their common support.

"There are a number of wealthy families around us, my dear father," she
said, "from which I have no doubt of obtaining ample employment. I can
teach music, drawing, French, sewing, etc.; and will instantly make
application to the various quarters where I am likely to succeed in
turning them to account. Besides, father," she continued, "it is
probable that we shall soon have some great family in Park House; and,
in such case, I might calculate on obtaining some employment
there--perhaps enough of itself to occupy all my time."

To all this the old man made no reply--he could make none. He merely
took the amiable girl in his arms, embraced her, and bade God bless her.

Although the mention by Miss Clydesdale of the particular residence
above named appears a merely incidental circumstance, and one,
seemingly, of no great importance, it is yet one, as the sequel will
shew, so connected with our story, that a particular or two regarding it
may not be deemed superfluous.

Park House was a large, a magnificent mansion, with a splendid estate
attached, both of which were, at this moment, in the market. The house
was within a quarter of a mile of Captain Clydesdale's cottage, and the
reference in the advertisements to those who wished to see the house and
grounds, was made to the captain, who, with his usual readiness to
oblige, had undertaken this duty--a duty which he had already discharged
towards several visitors--none of whom, however, had become purchasers.
It was about a week after the period last referred to--namely, that
marked by the circumstance of Mr Clydesdale's losses--that a gentleman's
carriage drove up to the little gate which conducted to that worthy
man's residence. From this carriage descended a tall military-looking
man, of apparently about sixty years of age, who immediately advanced
towards the house. Captain Clydesdale, who saw him approaching, hastened
out to meet him. The latter, on seeing the captain, bowed politely, and
said--

"Captain Clydesdale, I presume, sir?"

"The same, at your service, sir," replied the honest seaman.

"You are referred, to, sir, I think, as the person to whom those wishing
to see Park House and grounds should apply."

"I am," replied Mr Clydesdale; "and will be happy to shew them to you,
sir."

"Thank you," said the visitor. "It is precisely for that purpose I have
taken the liberty of calling on you. I have some idea of purchasing the
estate, if I find it to answer my expectations."

"Will you have the goodness to step into the house, sir, for a few
moments, and I will then be at your service?" said Captain Clydesdale.

The gentleman bowed acquiescence, and, conducted by the former, walked
into the house, and was ushered into a little front parlour, in which
Miss Clydesdale was at the moment engaged in sewing. On the entrance of
the visitor, she rose, in some confusion, and was about to retire, when
the latter, entreating that he might not be the cause of driving her
away, she resumed her seat and her work. Having also seated himself, the
stranger now made some remarks of an ordinary character, by way of
filling up the interval occasioned by the absence of Captain Clydesdale.
Many words, however, had he not spoken, nor long had he looked on the
fair countenance of his companion, when he seemed struck by something in
her appearance which appeared at once to interest and perplex him. From
the moment that this feeling took possession of the stranger, he spoke
no more, but continued gazing earnestly at the downcast countenance of
Maria Clydesdale; who, conscious of, and abashed by the gaze, kept her
face close over the work in which she was engaged. From this awkward
situation, however, she was quickly relieved by the entrance of Captain
Clydesdale, who came to say that he was now ready to accompany his
visitor to Park House. The latter rose, wished Miss Clydesdale a good
morning; accompanying the expressions, however, with another of those
looks of interest and perplexity with which he had been from time to
time contemplating her for the last five or ten minutes, and followed
the captain out of the apartment.

"That interesting and very beautiful young lady whom I saw at your house
is your daughter, sir, I presume?" said the stranger to Captain
Clydesdale, as they proceeded together towards Park House.

"Yes, sir, she is: that is, I may _say_ she is; for I have brought her
up since she was a child; and she has never, at least, not since she was
five or six years of age, had any other protector than myself. She never
knew her parents."

"Ah! a foundling," said the gentleman.

"Yes, but under rather extraordinary circumstances. I found her amongst
the savages of the coast of Guinea."

"On the coast of Guinea!" exclaimed the stranger, in much amazement.
"Very extraordinary, indeed. What are the circumstances, if I may
inquire?"

Captain Clydesdale related them as they are already before the reader;
not omitting to mention the fragment of shift, with the initials on it,
and the locket with hair and miniature, which he still carefully kept.

On Captain Clydesdale concluding, the stranger suddenly stopped short,
and, looking at the former with a countenance pale with emotion,
said--"Good God, sir, what is this? I am bewildered, confounded. I know
not what to think. It is possible. Yet it cannot be. My name, sir, is
Elderslie, General Elderslie. I have just returned from the East Indies,
where I have been for the last seventeen years. Shortly after my going
out, my wife and child, a daughter, embarked on board the _Isabella_
from Greenock, to join me at Calcutta. The ship never reached her
destination; she was never more heard of; but there was a report that
she was seen, if not bespoken, off the Gold Coast; and from there being
no trace of her afterwards, it is more than probable that she was
wrecked on these shores; and, O God! it is probable also, although I
dare not allow myself to believe it, that this girl is--is my child! Let
us return, let us return instantly," he added, with increasing
agitation, and now grasping Captain Clydesdale by the arm, "that I may
see this locket you speak of. I gave such a trinket to my beloved, my
unfortunate wife. The initials you mention correspond exactly. My
child's name was Julia Elderslie; my own Christian name is James; and
the same initials are thus also on the rim of the locket."

"It is precisely so!" said Captain Clydesdale, with a degree of surprise
and emotion not less intense than those of the general's. "There _are_
the initials of J. E. also on the locket; and now that my attention is
called to the circumstance, there is a strong resemblance between the
miniature it encloses, and the person now before me."

"Let us hasten to the house, for God's sake! captain," said the general,
with breathless eagerness, "and have this matter cleared up, if
possible."

They returned to the house. Captain Clydesdale put the locket and the
fragment of the little shift, which bore the initials J. E., into the
hands of the general. He glanced at the latter, examined the former for
an instant with trembling hands, staggered backwards a pace or two, and
sank into a chair. It was the identical locket which, some twenty years
before, he had given to his wife. The miniature it contained, introduced
into the trinket at a subsequent period, was his own likeness.

"Bring me my child, Captain Clydesdale," said the general, on recovering
his composure; "for I can no longer doubt that your adopted daughter is,
indeed, my Julia."

Captain Clydesdale left the apartment, and in a moment returned leading
in Julia Elderslie, who had hitherto been kept in ignorance of what was
passing. On her entrance the general rushed towards her, took her by the
left hand, gently pushed the sleeve of her gown a little way up the
wrist, saw that the latter exhibited a small brown mole, and
exclaiming--"The proof is complete; you are--you are my daughter, the
image of your darling but ill-fated mother," took her in his arms in a
transport of joy.

The feelings of Julia Elderslie, on this extraordinary occasion, we need
not describe, they will readily be conceived. Neither need we detain the
reader with any further detail; seeing that, with the incident just
mentioned, the interest of our story terminates.

It will be enough now, then, to say, that General Elderslie, who had
amassed a princely fortune, bought the estate and mansion of Park House.
That he took every opportunity, and adopted every means he could think
of, of shewing his gratitude to Captain Clydesdale, for the generous
part he had acted towards his daughter. That this daughter ultimately
inherited his entire fortune; the general having never married a second
time; and that she finally married into a family of high rank and
extensive influence in the west of Scotland.



THE ASSASSIN.


At a late hour of an evening in the beginning of the year 1569, mine
host of the Stag and Hounds--the principal hostelry of Linlithgow at the
period referred to--was suddenly called from his liquor--the which
liquor he was at the moment enjoying with a few select friends who were
assembled in the public room of the house--to receive a traveller who
had just ridden up to the door.

Much as Andrew Nimmo--for such was the name of mine host--much, we say,
as Andrew loved custom, it was not without reluctance that he rose to
leave his party to attend the duties of his calling on the present
occasion. He would rather he had not been disturbed; for he was in the
middle of an exceedingly interesting story, when the summons reached
him, and was very unwilling to leave it unfinished. But business must be
attended to; its demands are imperative; and no man, after all, could be
more sensible of this than mine host of the Stag and Hounds. So, however
reluctant, from his seat he rose, and, telling his friends he would
rejoin them presently, hastened out of the apartment.

On reaching the door, Andrew found the traveller had dismounted. He was
standing by the head of his horse--a powerful black charger--and
seemingly waiting for some one to relieve him of the animal.

This duty Andrew now performed; he took hold of the bridle, after a word
or two of welcome to his guest, and asked whether he should put up the
horse and supper him?

"What else have I come here for?" replied the stranger, gruffly. "Surely
put him up; but I must see myself to his being properly suppered and
tended. If we expect a horse to do his duty, we must do our duty by
him. So lead the way, friend!"

Damped by the uncourteous manner of the traveller, Andrew made no
further reply than a muttered acquiescence in the justice of the remark
just made, but instantly led the horse away towards the stable; calling
out, as he went, on John Ramsay, the ostler, to come out with the
buet--_i.e._ lantern; for it was pitch dark, and a light, of course,
indispensable.

With the scrutinizing habits of his calling, mine host of the Stag and
Hounds had been secretly but anxiously endeavouring to make out his
customer; to arrive at some idea of his rank and profession, if he had
any; but the darkness of the night had prevented him from noting more
than that he was a man of tall stature, and, he thought, of a singularly
stern aspect.

When Ramsay had brought the light, however, mine host obtained farther
and better opportunities of pursuing his study of the stranger; and,
besides having his former remarks confirmed, now discovered that he had
the appearance of a person of some consideration, his dress being that
of a gentleman.

"Fine beast that, sir!" adventured mine host, after a silence of some
time, during which the latter and his guest had been standing together
overlooking the operation of John Ramsay as he fed and littered the
animal, whose noble proportions had elicited the remark. "Poorfu' beast,
sir," continued Mr Nimmo. "I think I hae never seen a better."

"Not often, friend, I daresay," replied the stranger, who was standing
erect, with folded arms, and carefully marking every proceeding of the
ostler. "For a long run and a swift, he is the animal for a man to trust
his life to."

Mine host was startled a little by the turn given to this remark: it
smelt somewhat, he thought, of the highway; or, at any rate, seemed to
carry with it a somewhat suspicious sort of reference. He was, however,
much too prudent a man to exhibit any indication of an opinion so
injurious to the character of his guest, and, therefore, merely said
laughingly--

"That he weel believed that if a man war in sic jeopardy as required his
trusting to horse legs for his life, he wad be safe aneuch on sic a
beast as that, especially if he got onything o' a reasonable start."

"Yes, give him ten minutes of a start, and there's not a witch that ever
rode over North Berwick Law on a broomstick that'll throw salt on his
tail, let alone a horse and rider of flesh and blood!" replied the
stranger, with a grim smile. "_I'll_ trust my life to him," he added,
emphatically, "and have no fears for the result."

The tendence on the much prized animal which was the subject of these
remarks having now been completed, mine host and his guest left the
stable, and proceeded to the house, which having entered, the former
ushered the latter into the public room, being the best in the house,
and the only one fit for the reception, as our worthy landlord deemed
it, of a personage of the stranger's apparent quality.

The latter at first shewed some reluctance to enter an apartment in
which there was already so many people assembled; for it was still
occupied by the company formerly alluded to; but, on being told by mine
host that he should have a table to himself, in a distant part of the
room, if he did not wish for society, he expressed himself reconciled to
the arrangement, and, walking into the apartment, took his place at its
upper end; then throwing himself down in a chair, having previously laid
aside his hat, cloak, and sword, he commenced a vigilant but silent
scrutiny of the party by which the table that occupied the centre of the
apartment was surrounded. While he was thus employed, the landlord, who
had gone for a moment about some household business, approached him to
receive his orders regarding his night's entertainment. The result of
the conference on this subject, was an order for supper, and for a
measure of wine to be brought in, in the meantime, until the former
should be prepared. The landlord bowed, and retired to execute his
commissions. In a minute after, a pewter measure of claret, with a tall
drinking glass, stood before the stranger. He filled up the latter from
the former, drank it off, and again set himself to the task of
scrutinizing the company before him--a task to which he now added that
of listening to their conversation, which seemed to be of a nature to
interest him much, if one might judge from the earnest intensity of his
look, and the varying but strongly marked expression of countenance with
which he listened to the various sentiments of the various speakers. The
subject of the conversation was the Regent Murray--his proceedings,
government, and character.

"Aweel, folk may say what they like o' the Regent," said one of the
speakers, "but I think he's managing matters very weel on the whole, and
I wish we may never hae a waur in his place. He's no a man to be trifled
wi'; and if he keeps a tight rein hand, he doesna o'erride the strength
o' his steed. He's a strict, justice-loving man; that I'll say o' him."

"Then ye say mair o' him than I wad, deacon," said another of the party.
"His strictness I grant ye; but as to his justice, there was unco little
o't, I think, in his treatment o' his sister: his conduct to that poor
woman has been most unnatural, most savage, selfish, and unfeelin.
That's my opinion o't, and it's the opinion o' mony a ane besides me."

"Weel, weel; every are has his ain mind o' thae things, Mr Clinkscales,"
replied the first speaker; "but for my part, I'll ay ride the ford as I
find it; that's my creed."

"Has ony o' ye heard," here interposed another of the party, "o' that
cruel case o' Hamilton's o' Bothwellhaugh? Ane o' the Queen's
Hamilton's," added the querist.

Some said they had, others that they had not. For the benefit of the
latter, the speaker explained. He said that Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh
was one of those who had been forfeited for the part he took at the
battle of Langside. That the person to whom his property was given by
the Regent, had turned Hamilton's wife out of her home, unclothed, and
in a wild and stormy night; and that the poor woman had died in
consequence of this cruel treatment.

"An' what's Hamilton sayin to that?" inquired one of the party.

"They say he's in an awfu takin about it," replied the first speaker,
"an' threatenin vengeance, richt an' left; particularly against the
Regent."

"I think little wonder o't," said another of the party. "It's a shamefu
business, and aneuch to mak ony man desperate."

"But is't true?" here inquired another.

The reply to this question came from a very unexpected quarter: it came
from the stranger, who, starting fiercely to his feet, and stretching
towards the company with a look and gesture of great excitement,
exclaimed--

"Yes, gentlemen, true it is--true as God is in heaven--true in every
particular. An eternal monument to the justice and clemency of the
tyrant Murray. The wife of Bothwellhaugh was turned naked out of her own
house in a cold and bitter night, and died of bodily suffering and a
broken heart. She did--she did. But"--and the stranger ground his teeth
and clenched his fist as he pronounced the word--"there will be a day of
count and reckoning. The vengeance, the deadly vengeance of a ruined,
deeply injured, and desperate man, will yet overtake the ruthless,
remorseless tyrant."

Having thus delivered himself, the stranger again retired to his former
place, reseated himself, and relapsed into his former silence; although
the deep and laboured respiration of recent excitement, which he could
not subdue, might still be distinctly heard even from the farthest end
of the apartment.

It was some time after the stranger had retired to his place before the
company felt disposed to resume their conversation. The incident which
had just occurred, the energy with which the stranger had spoken, and
the extreme excitement he had evinced, had had the effect of throwing
them all into that silent and reflective mood which the sudden display
of anything surprising or interesting is so apt to produce even in our
merriest and most thoughtless moments.

At length, however, the chill gradually wore off; the conversation was
resumed, at first in an under tone, and by fits and starts; by and by it
became more continuous; and, finally, began to flow with all its
original volume and freedom. No more allusion, however, was made by any
of the party to the case of Bothwellhaugh. This was a subject to which,
after what had taken place, none seemed to care about returning. Neither
did the stranger evince any desire to hold farther correspondence with
the revellers; but, on the contrary, appeared anxious to avoid it; nay,
one might almost have supposed that he regretted having obtruded himself
upon them at all, and that he could have wished that what he had uttered
in an unguarded moment had remained unsaid. Be this as it may, however,
he sought no farther intercourse with the party, but having hastily
despatched the supper which was placed before him, and finished his
measure of wine, he glided unobserved out of the apartment, and,
conducted by his host, retired to the sleeping chamber which had been
appointed for him.

On the following morning, the stranger, who was sojourning at the Stag
and Hounds, went out to transact, as he told his landlord, some business
in the town; saying, besides, that he would not probably return till
evening.

Strongly impressed by the manner and appearance of his guest, and not a
little awed by his grim and fierce aspect, he of the Stag and Hounds
could not help following him to the door, when he departed, and
furtively looking after him as he stalked down the main street of the
town; and much, as he looked at him, did he marvel what sort of business
it could be he was going about. This, however, was a point on which the
worthy man had no means of enlightening himself, and he was therefore
obliged to be content with the privilege of muttering some expressions
of the wonder he felt.

In the meantime, the stranger had turned an angle of the street, and
disappeared--at least from the view of the landlord of the Stag and
Hounds. Not from ours; for we shall follow and keep sight of him, and
endeavour to make out what he was so curious to know.

Having passed about half-way down the main street of the town, the
former suddenly halted before a large unoccupied house, with a balcony
in front. It was a residence of the Archbishop of St Andrew's. Standing
in front of this house, the stranger seemed to scan it with earnest
scrutiny. He looked from window to window with the most cautious and
deliberate vigilance, and appeared to be noting carefully their various
heights and positions. While pursuing this inquiry, he might also have
been frequently observed glancing, from time to time, on either side, as
if to see that no one was marking the earnestness of his examination of
the building.

Having apparently completed his survey of the front of the house, the
stranger passed round to the back part of the building, and proceeded to
the gate of the garden, which lay behind, and through which only was the
house accessible on that side. On reaching the gate, the stranger
paused, looked cautiously around him for a few seconds, when, observing
no one in sight, he hastily plunged his hand beneath his cloak, drew out
a key, applied it to the lock, opened the gate, passed quickly in, and
closed the door cautiously behind him.

With hurried step the intruder now proceeded to the house, drew forth
another key, inserted it into the lock of the main door, turned it
round, applied his foot to the latter, pushed it open, and entered the
building; having previously, as in the former instance, secured the door
behind him. Ascending the stair in the inside of the house, the
mysterious visitant now commenced a careful examination of the various
apartments on the second floor; and at length adopting one--a small
room, with one window to the front--made it the scene of his future
operations. These were, the laying on the floor a straw mattress, which
he dragged from another apartment, and hanging a piece of black
cloth--which he also found in the lumber-room, from whence he had taken
the mattress--against the wall of the apartment opposite the window.

Having completed these preparations, the secret workman went up to the
window, knelt down on the mattress, and levelling a stick, or staff,
which he found in the apartment, as if it had been a musket, seemed to
be trying where he might be best situated for firing at an object
without. This experiment he tried repeatedly; shifting his position from
place to place, until he appeared to have hit upon one that promised to
suit his purpose.

This ascertained, he rose from his knees; threw down the staff; glanced
around the apartment, as if to see that all was right; descended the
stair; came out of the house, locking the door after him; crossed the
garden, and passed out at the gate, locking that also before he left,
and with the same precaution that he had used at entering; that is,
looking around him to see that no one marked his proceedings.

The guest of the Stag and Hounds now returned to his inn, from which he
had been absent about two hours. At the door he was met by mine host,
who, touching his cap, asked if "his honour intended dining at his
house, as it was now about one of the clock," the general dinner-hour of
the period.

Without noticing the inquiry of his landlord--

"Be there any armourers in this town of yours, friend?" he said, "where
I could fit me with some weapons I want."

"Yes, indeed, there be one, and a main good one he is," replied the
other. "Tom Wilson, I warrant me, will fit your honour with any weapon
you can desire, from a pistolet to a culverin; from a two-handed sword
of six feet long, to a dagger like a bodkin. And as for armour, you may
have anything, everything from head-piece to leg-splent; all of the best
material, and first-rate workmanship."

"Where is this man Wilson's shop?" inquired the stranger.

"See you, sir," replied the other; "see you yonder projecting corner,
beyond the palace entrance?"

"I do."

"Well, sir, three doors beyond that, you will find Wilson's shop; and,
if your honour chooses, you may use my name with him, and he will not
serve you the worse, or the less reasonably, I warrant me. It is always
a recommendation to Tom to be a guest at the Stag and Hounds."

Without saying whether or not he would avail himself of the privilege
offered him of using his name, the mysterious stranger hastened away in
the direction pointed out to him, and, in half a minute after, he was in
the workshop of Wilson the armourer.

"Your pleasure, sir," said that person, advancing towards his customer
from an inner apartment.

"Have you a good store of fire-arms, friend?" inquired the latter.

"Pretty fair, sir; pretty fair," replied the armourer "What description
may you want?"

"Why, I want a carbine, friend--something of a sure piece--that will
carry its ball well to the mark. None of your bungling articles, that
first hang fire, and then throw their shot in every direction but the
right one. I would have a piece of good and certain execution."

"Here, then, sir, here is your commodity," said the armourer,
disengaging a short and heavy gun from an arms'-rack that occupied one
side of the shop. "Here is a piece that I can recommend. It will be the
fault of the hand or the eye when this barker misses its mark, I warrant
ye. I'd take in hand myself to smash an egg with it, with single ball,
at fifty yards distance. I have done it before now with a worse gun."

"I will not require any such feat from the piece as that, friend," said
Wilson's customer, drily; and having taken the gun in his hand, he began
to examine the lock, and to see that the piece was otherwise in
serviceable condition. Being satisfied that it was, he demanded the
price. It was named. The money was tendered, and accepted, and the
stranger departed with his purchase; having, however, previously
received from the armourer, in lieu of luck's-penny, although he offered
to pay for them, half a dozen balls, and a few charges of powder, to put
the capability of the gun to immediate trial. This, however, its new
proprietor did not think necessary; but, instead, returned to the
archbishop's house with it; and, after loading and priming it, placed it
in a corner of the apartment, which we have described him as having put
into so strange a state of preparation.

Leaving the house with the same cautious and stealthy step as before,
the stranger again returned to his inn; but it was now to leave it no
more for the night.

"What news stirring, friend?" said he to the landlord.

"Naething, sir," replied he, as he laid the cloth for his dinner; "only
that the Regent will pass through the town to-morrow. I hear he'll be
this way about twelve o'clock. The magistrates, I understand, hae gotten
notice to that effect."

"So," replied the stranger. "Then we shall have a sight."

"A brave sight, sir, for he is to be accompanied by a gallant cavalcade,
and the trades of the town are to turn out with banners and music to do
him honour. It will be a stirring day, sir, and I trust a good one for
my poor house here; for such doings make people as thirsty as so many
dry sponges."

To these remarks the guest made no reply, but proceeded with his dinner;
the materials for which having, in the meantime, been brought in, and
placed on the table by another attendant.

On the following morning, the little town of Linlithgow exhibited a
scene of unusual bustle. Hosts of idlers were seen gathered here and
there, along the whole line of the main street; and persons carrying
trades' banners--as yet, however, carefully rolled up--might be seen
hurrying in all directions to the various mustering-places of their
crafts. An occasional discharge of a culverin too; and, as the morning
advanced, a merry peal of bells heightened the promise of some impending
event of unusual occurrence. By and by, these symptoms of public
rejoicing became more and more marked: the groups of idlers increased;
the banners were unfurled; the firing of the culverins became more
frequent; and the bells either really did ring, or appeared to ring more
furiously.

It was when matters thus bespoke the near approach of a crisis--which
crisis, we may as well say at once, was the advent of the Regent--that
the mysterious lodger at the Stag and Hounds ordered his horse to be
brought to the door. The horse was brought; the stranger settled his
bill; and, saying to his landlord that he would witness the sight from
horseback more advantageously than on foot, mounted, and rode off in the
direction of the approaching cavalcade. In this direction, however, he
did not ride far; for, on gaining the eastern extremity of the town, he
suddenly wheeled round, and rode back in rear of the line of street,
until he reached the gate of the garden behind the mansion of the
Archbishop of St Andrew's, in which the mysterious preparation before
described had been made.

Having arrived at the gate, he dismounted, opened it, led in his horse,
and fastened him to a tree close by. This done, he removed the lintel,
or cross-bar, over the gate. The latter, contrary to his practice on
former occasions, he now left wide open, and proceeded towards the
house, into which he disappeared.

In less than a quarter of an hour after, the Regent had entered the
town. He was on horseback, surrounded by a number of friends, also
mounted, and followed by a numerous party of armed retainers.

As the cavalcade penetrated into the town, the crowd, which the occasion
had assembled, gradually became more and more dense, and the progress of
the Regent and his party consequently more slow; until, at length, they
were so packed in the narrow street, with the human wedges that were
forcing themselves around them, that it was with great difficulty they
could make any forward progress at all.

Becoming impatient with the delay thus occasioned, although carefully
concealing this impatience, the Regent, who was now directly opposite
the house of the Archbishop of St Andrew's, kept waving his hand to the
crowd, as if entreating them not to press so closely, that he might pass
on with more speed. The crowd endeavoured to comply with the wishes of
the Regent, but their efforts only added to the confusion, without
mending the matter in other respects. It was at this moment that all
eyes were suddenly directed towards the house of the Archbishop of St
Andrew's, in consequence of a shot being fired from one of the windows.
When these eyes looked an instant after again towards the Regent, he was
not to be seen; he had fallen from his horse, mortally wounded: a ball
had passed through his body. It was Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh who had
fired the fatal shot.

The friends and retainers of the Regent, seconded by the town's people,
flew to the house of the archbishop, and endeavoured to force the door,
in order to get at the murderer but it had been barricaded by the wily
assassin, and resisted their efforts long enough to allow of his
escaping from the house, mounting his horse, and darting through the
garden gate at the top of his utmost speed. He was pursued; but, thanks
to his good steed, pursued in vain, and subsequently escaped to France;
having done a deed which the moralist must condemn, but which cannot be
looked upon as altogether without palliation.



THE PRISONER OF WAR.


I had been preserved, through divine mercy, from one of the most
lingering and fearful deaths. I was rescued, I scarce knew how, after
the grim king of terror held me in his embrace, and all hope had fled.
As consciousness returned, my heart thrilled at the recollection of the
miseries I had endured while floating, a helpless being, on the bosom of
the ocean.[3] I shuddered to think, while I lay feeble as an infant in
the cabin of the vessel which was bearing me to my home, and whose
humane crew had been the means of my deliverance, that I was still at
the mercy of the winds and waves; but kind nursing, aided by youth and a
good constitution, quickly brought strength; and I was enabled, after a
few days, to come upon deck. On my first attempt, when my head rose
above the deck as I ascended the companion-ladder, and my eyes fell upon
the boundless waste of waters, a chill of horror shot through my frame.
Like a lone traveller who had suddenly met a lion in his path, I stood
paralysed; every nerve and muscle refused to act. I must have fallen
back into the cabin, had not my hand instinctively clung to their hold
for a few seconds. I could not withdraw my fixed gaze, while all I had
suffered rushed upon me like a hideous dream. Slowly my faculties
returned, when I ascended the deck, where I sat for a few hours. Each
day after this brought additional strength; so that, before we made
soundings, I was as strong and cheerful as I had ever been in my life.
The weather was squally, and I assisted the crew as much as was in my
power; and, when not so occupied, lay listlessly looking over the ship's
bows that bravely dashed aside the waves that rolled between me and the
home I now longed to reach, or walked the deck musing upon the joy my
return would impart to my over-indulgent parents.

As we neared the shores of Scotland, a circumstance occurred that both
greatly surprised and alarmed me. This was a sudden change in the
manners and temper of the crew. Care and anxiety took the place of their
wonted cheerfulness; the joyous laugh, or snatch of song, no longer
broke the monotonous hissing of the waves that rippled along the sides
of the vessel, or the dull whistle of the wind through the rigging. At
the first appearance of every sail that hove in sight, I could perceive
every eye turned to it with a look of alarm until she was made out.
Fearful of giving offence to my benefactors, I made no remark on the
subject for some time, although I felt disappointed at what I
saw--attributing it to cowardice; yet they were all stout, young,
resolute-looking fellows at other times. This scene of alarm, and
appearance of a wish to skulk below or conceal themselves, had occurred
twice in the course of the forenoon. After the last ship we encountered
was made out to be a merchant-brig, I could no longer refrain from
delivering my sentiments of the greater number of the crew, but
addressing the mate, said--

"Mr Ross, it is fortunate for us that these strange sails have turned
out to be British merchantmen. Had they proved to be French privateers,
we should have made but a poor stand, I fear, notwithstanding our eight
carronades."

"What makes you think so?" said he.

"Why, there is not a vessel that heaves in sight," said I, "but the men
look as if they wished themselves anywhere but where they are."

"Avast there, my man!" said he. "What! do you mean to say that they
would not stand by their guns while there was a chance? Yes, they would,
and long after; and, if you think otherwise, all I say is, you form
opinions and talk of what you know nothing about."

Casting an angry look at me--the only one he ever gave--he squirted his
quid over the bulwarks, and was walking away, when I stopped him.

"If I have given you offence, Mr Ross, nothing was farther from my
intention. I cannot but observe the alarm caused by every sail that
heaves in sight until she is made out to be a friend. Now, the little
time I was at sea, before I fell overboard and was saved by you, every
sail that hove in sight made the hearts of all on board leap for joy."

"Ho! ho!" and he laughed aloud. "Are you on that tack, my messmate? You
are quite out in your reckoning, and becalmed in a fog; but I shall soon
blow it away. There is not a man on board with whom I would not go into
action with the fullest reliance upon his courage; and, were we to meet
a French privateer, you would quickly see such a change as would satisfy
you that my confidence is not misplaced. Every face, that the moment
before expressed anxiety and alarm, would brighten up with joy; every
man would stand to his gun as cheerfully as to the helm. It is their
liberty the poor fellows are afraid of being deprived of by our own
men-of-war--the liberty to toil for their parents or wives where they
can get better wages than the Government allows. Danger, in any form,
they meet undaunted when duty calls; it is for their countrymen they
quail. Were the smallest sloop-of-war in the British navy to heave in
sight, and a boat put off from her with a boy of a midshipman and eight
or ten men, every one on board, who had not a protection, would shake in
his shoes at her approach; yet, against an enemy, every man would stand
to his gun until his ship was blown out of the water."

A new and painful feeling came over me as he spoke. I was myself an
entered seaman, and, of course, liable to impressment; but the idea of
being taken had never occurred to me. I wondered that it had not, after
the scenes I had witnessed in the frigate; but my longing for home had
entirely engrossed my mind. I was, indeed, home-sick, and weary of the
sea. From this moment, no one on board felt more alarm than I did at the
sight of a top-royal rising out of the distant waters. My feelings were
near akin to those of a felon in concealment.

At length we reached the Moray Firth, in the evening, and arrangements
were made for as many of the crew as could be spared to be landed at
Cromarty, where the vessel was to put in. This was to avoid the danger
of impressment in the Firth of Forth. I gave the captain an order upon
my father for my passage, and the expense he had been at on my account,
as I was to leave, with the others in the boat, as soon as we were off
the town, which we hoped to reach in the morning. My anxiety was so
great that I had kept the deck since nightfall. It was intensely dark;
nothing broke the gloom but the flashes of light that gleamed for a
moment upon the waves, as they rippled along the sides of the vessel,
and the dull rays of the binnacle-lamp before the man at the helm. Bell
after bell was struck, still I stood at the bows, leaning upon the
bowsprit, unmindful of the chill wind from under the foretopsail,
anxiously watching for the first tints of dawn. Tediously as the night
wore on, I thought, when morning dawned, it had fled far too fast.

The dark clouds began at length to melt away in the east, and the
distant mountain-tops to rise like grey clouds above the darkness that
still hid the shores from our view. Gradually the whole face of nature
began to emerge from the morning mists. We were just off the Sutors of
Cromarty. My heart leapt for joy at the near prospect of being once more
on firm ground, and so near home. Several of the crew had now joined
me, and all eyes were directed to the entrance of the bay. Only a few
minutes had elapsed in this pleasing hope--for it was still dullish on
the horizon--when the report of a gun from seaward of us, so near that I
thought it was alongside, made us start and look round. Each of us
seemed as if we had been turned into stone by the alarming sound; while,
so sudden was the revulsion of feeling, in my own case, that my heart
almost ceased to beat. There, not half-a-league to windward of us, lay a
frigate, with her sails shaking in the wind, and a boat, well-manned,
with an officer in her stern, putting off from her.

So completely were we overcome by the sudden appearance of this dreaded
object, which seemed to emerge from darkness, as the sun's first rays
fell upon and whitened her sails, that we stood incapable of thought or
action. The well-manned barge was carried, by the faint breeze and
impetus of her oars, almost as swift as a gull on the wing. The report
of the gun brought the captain and mate upon deck before we had
recovered from our stupor.

"Bear a hand, men!" cried Ross, as he sprung upon deck. "Man the
tacklefalls! clear the boat! and give them a run for it at least."

Roused by his voice, every nerve was strained, the boat lowered, and we
in her, ready to push off, when the captain called over the side--

"My lads, do as you think for the best; but it is of no use to try. The
frigate's boat will be under our stern ere you can gain way."

I stood in the act of pushing off, when the object we were going to
strain every nerve to avoid swept round the stern, and grappled us. We
hopelessly threw our oars upon the thwarts, and prepared to reascend the
vessel, to settle with the captain and bring away our chests. As for
myself, I had no call to leave the boat. All I possessed in the world
was upon my person, and half-a-guinea given me by the captain to carry
me home. The other three were getting their bags and chests ready to
lower into the boat, having got their wages from the captain, when he
called me to come on deck. I obeyed; when he said to the midshipman in
command of the boat--

"Sir, to prevent any unpleasant consequences arising to this poor
fellow, Elder, here, I shall let you know how he came on board of us. He
belonged to the _Latona_, and is no deserter, I assure you. Ross, bring
here our log-book, and satisfy the gentleman if he wishes." Ross obeyed;
and having examined it, the captain told the wretched state in which I
had been picked up, and the way in which I had accounted to him for the
accident. During the recital, he looked hard at me, no muscle of his
face indicating either pity or surprise. When the captain ceased to
speak, he only said--

"Well, my lad, you have for once had a narrow escape--you must hold
better on in future. I shall report to the captain, and get the D from
before your name. Tumble into the boat, my lads. Good day, captain."
And, in a few minutes afterwards, I was on board the _Edgar_,
seventy-four, and standing westwards for the Firth of Forth.

It was strange the change that came over the impressed men, when there
was no longer any hope of escape. Like true seamen, they bent to the
circumstance they could not remedy, and were, as soon as they got on
board, as much at home, and more cheerful, than they had been for many
days before. As for myself, I took it much to heart, and was very
melancholy when we entered the Firth and stood up to the roadstead. I
could hardly restrain my feelings when the city of Edinburgh came in
sight, and when I thought of the short distance in miles that divided me
from my parents and home--that home I had left so foolishly in the hopes
of being back at the conclusion of the war, which I now found was raging
more furiously, if possible, than when I left, and with much less
prospect of its termination. I would stand for hours gazing upon the
White Craig, the eastern extremity of the Pentland Hills, and wish I was
upon it, until my eyes were suffused with tears. I begged hard for the
first lieutenant to give me leave to go on shore, if only for
eight-and-forty hours, to visit my parents; but he refused my request,
fearful of my not returning. Several of the hands on board, natives of
Edinburgh, who had been long in the _Edgar_, obtained leave. With one of
them I sent a letter to my father, who came the following day. It was a
meeting of sorrow, not unmixed with upbraidings, on his part, for what I
had done; but we parted with regret--he to do what he could to obtain my
discharge, I under promise not to act so precipitately in future, if I
was once more a free agent. What steps were taken I know not, for next
morning we received orders to sail for the Nore. We had many faces on
board that looked as long as my own, for there were still several who
had obtained promise of leave whose turn had not come round. Wallace,
one of the mess I was in, had not been in his native city for ten years,
having been all that time voluntarily on board of men-of-war, either at
home or on foreign stations. He was to have had two days' leave the very
morning we sailed, and had doomed ten gold guineas, which he had long
kept for such purpose, to be expended in a blow-out in Edinburgh, among
his relations and friends. When the boatswain piped to weigh anchor,
Wallace, who was captain of the foretop, ran to his berth, opened his
chest, took out his long-hoarded store, and came on deck with it in his
hand. His looks bespoke rage and disappointment, bordering upon
insanity. He gazed upon the distant city that shone upon the gently
swelling hills glancing back the sun's rays, then at the purse of gold
in his hand. He seemed incapable of speech. A bitter smile curled his
lip, bespeaking the most intense scorn. I looked on, wondering what he
meant to do. It was but the scene of a minute. Suddenly raising his
hand, he threw the purse and gold over the side with all his force,
exclaiming:--"Go, vile trash! what use have I for you now? The first
action may lay me low!" Then, as if relieved from some oppressive load,
he mounted the rattlings to his duty with a smile of satisfaction; and
we bore away for the Nore, where I was draughted on board the _Repulse_,
sixty-four, and departed upon a cruise along the coast of Brittany; at
times lying off Brest harbour, and at others, standing along the coast
in search of the enemy. Employed in this monotonous duty, month followed
month, and year after year passed away.

It was now the year 1799. The century was drawing to a close; but the
interminable war seemed only commencing. I had become almost callous to
my fate. We were standing along, under a steady breeze, as close in
shore as we could with safety to the vessel. It was the dog-watch; and I
had only been a short time turned in when our good ship struck upon some
sunken rocks with such force that I thought she had gone to pieces.
Every one in a moment turned out. The night was as dark as pitch, and
the sea breaking over us, while we lay hard and fast. Everything was
done to lighten her in vain. She was making water very fast, in spite of
all our exertions at the pumps. Still there was not the smallest
confusion on board. Our discipline was as strict, and our officers as
promptly obeyed, as they were before our accident. As the tide rose, the
wind shifted, and blew a gale right upon the shore, causing the ship to
beat violently. Day at length dawned, and there, not one hundred fathoms
from our deck, lay a rocky and desolate-looking shore. We had been
forced over a reef of sunken rocks that were not in our charts; and,
during the darkness, as was supposed, had been carried in-shore by some
current; but, however it had happened, there we were, in a serious
scrape, the sea breaking over our decks, and our hold full of water.

Soon after daybreak we could perceive the peasantry crowding down to the
water's edge. Everything had been done that skill and resolution could
accomplish, to save the vessel, but in vain. We had nothing before our
eyes but instant death. The sea ran so high that no boat could live for
a moment in the broken water between us and the shore. The French
peasantry were making no effort for our safety, but running about and
looking on our deplorable situation, with apparently no other feeling
than that of curiosity. At this time, James Paterson, an Edinburgh lad,
volunteered to make the attempt to swim to the shore with a log-line,
and fearlessly let himself over the side. It was, to all appearance, a
hopeless attempt; for every one felt assured that he would be beat to
death against the rocks that lined the beach, on which the waves were
beating with great fury.

It was a period of fearful suspense; yet, dreadful as our situation was,
there was not the least unnecessary noise on board. All was prompt
attention and obedience. The weather was extremely cold, and the sea, at
times, making a complete breach over the ship, which we expected every
moment to go to pieces. As for myself, I meant to stow below and perish
with her, rather than to float about, bruised and maimed, and drown at
last. One half of the crew were only dressed in their shirts and
trousers, without shoes or stockings, as they had leaped from their
hammocks. When she struck, we had no leisure to put on more than our
trousers. Thus we stood, holding on by the nettings, or anything we
could lay hold of, to prevent our being washed off the decks, with our
eyes anxiously watching the progress of the brave Paterson, who swam
like an otter, the boatswain and his mates serving out the line to him.
We saw him near the rocks, and the people making signs to him. This was
the point of greatest danger, but, by the aid of the peasants, he
surmounted it.

Those on the beach gave a shout, which we replied to from the deck. A
hawser was made fast to the line, and secured on shore. It was not until
now that we began to hope; and with this hope arose an anxiety on the
part of every one to save what they could. I strove to reach my chest,
in which were a pair of new shoes and five guineas, but my efforts, like
those of the others, were vain; our under decks were flooded several
inches, and everything was loose and knocking about in the most furious
manner, from the rolling and pitching of the vessel upon the rocks, so
that I was but too happy to reach the decks without being crushed to
death. All I regretted was my shoes; the money I cared not for, and do
not think I would have taken it, as we expected to be plundered as soon
as we got to the beach.

After a great deal of fatigue, we all got safe to land, and now the
plundering began. There were no regular soldiers on the spot, but a
great many of the peasantry had firelocks and bayonets, and stood over
us, stripping those of the men, who had them, of their jackets and hats.
At first, we were disposed to resist, but soon found it to be of no use.
One of the fellows seized the chain of the watch belonging to one of our
men, and was in the act of pulling it from the pocket, when the owner,
Jack Smith, struck him to the ground with a blow of his fist. The next
moment poor Smith lay a lifeless corpse upon the sand, felled by a
stroke from the butt end of a musket.

There was no one present who seemed to have or who assumed any
authority, to whom our officers might appeal for protection; they were
not more respected than the men; all were searched and robbed as soon as
they arrived from the wreck. Poor Smith's fate taught us submission,
even while our bosoms burned with a desire for vengeance. One of my
messmates said aloud--"I would cheerfully stand before the muzzle of one
of the old _Repulse's_ thirty-twos, were she charged to the mouth with
grape well laid, to sweep these French robbers from the face of the
earth." As for myself, they took nothing from me. I had twopence in the
pocket of my trousers; when I saw what was going on, I took it out and
held it in my hand while they searched me. I more than once thought they
were going to strip me of my nether garments, and give me in exchange a
pair of their own gun-mouthed rags, which would scarcely have reached my
knees; for several of them looked at them as if they felt inclined to
make the exchange; but I escaped, and felt thankful.

We stood for several hours shivering upon the beach without food, fire,
or water, while the plunderers were busy picking up anything that
drifted ashore, but still keeping a strict watch over us; at length, the
chief magistrate of a neighbouring small town arrived, and to him our
officers complained of the usage we had received. He only shook his
head, and shrugged his shoulders, when the body of Smith was pointed out
to him. What could we do? A grave was dug for him on the spot where he
was murdered, and we were marched off into the interior. It was well on
in the afternoon before we reached the place where we were to halt. It
was a small poverty-stricken-like town, with an old ruinous church and
churchyard, surrounded by high walls, with an iron gate close by. Into
this chill, desolate place, we were crowded by the soldiers, the gate
locked upon us, and sentinels placed around the building. Here we
remained until the evening, when there was served out to every man a
small loaf, black as mud; yet, black as it was, I never ate a sweeter
morsel; for neither I nor any of my companions had tasted any food since
the evening before.

But how shall I express the horror we felt when we found we were to
remain where we were, in this old, ruined charnel-house of a church,
which could scarcely contain us all, unless we stood close together. To
lie down was out of the question; and, although we could, there were
neither straw, blankets, nor covering of any kind, to screen us from the
cold. We implored in vain to be removed; but these privations, bad as
they were, did not annoy us so much as the idea of spending the long
dark night in such a miserable place. By far the greater number of us
believed as firmly in the reality of ghosts as we did in our own
existence; and, of all places in the world, a church and churchyard,
from time immemorial, have been their favourite haunts, and the terror
of all who believe in their reality--even those who affect to disbelieve
in the visits of spirits to this earth, feel sensations which they would
not choose to own, when in a churchyard, in a dark night, with
gravestones and crumbling human bones around them. Of all men seamen are
the most superstitious, and give the most ready credence to ghost
stories. The unmanning feeling of fear, that had not touched a single
heart in the extremity of our danger from the storm, was now strongly
marked in every face, exaggerated by a horror of we knew not what. Fear
is contagious--we huddled together, and peered fearfully around,
expecting every moment to see some appalling vision or hear some
dreadful sound. Our sense of hearing was painfully acute--the smallest
noise made us start; but our feelings were too much racked to remain
long at the same intensity--they gradually became more obtuse as the
night wore on, until we at length began to entertain each other with
fearful stories of ghosts; feeling a strange satisfaction in increasing
the gloomy excitement under which we laboured. Had any of us begun a
humorous story, with the view of diverting our thoughts from their
present bent, and the circumstances we were in, I am certain he would
have been silenced in no gentle manner.

We might have been about two hours or less in this state, in the most
intense darkness--our own whispers being all that we could recognise of
each other, even although in contact--when a low pleasant murmur
suddenly fell upon our ears: It was the voice of Dick Bates, who, having
either been requested, or, moved by his present situation, had, of his
own accord, commenced singing in an under tone his favourite ballad of
"Hozier's Ghost." Now, Dick was the best singer in the whole crew, with
a voice like a singing bird; it was at this moment so low that, had it
been broad daylight, he would have appeared only to have been breathing
hard; yet it was at this time distinctly heard by all, and made our
flesh creep upon our bones, although a strange kind of pleasure was
mingled with the feeling. We scarcely breathed when he came to the
lines--

    "With three thousand ghosts beside him,
    And in groans did Vernon hail--
    Heed, O heed my fatal story,
    I am Hozier's injured Ghost."

I thought the whole was present before me, and I could see the scene the
poet described, and shuddered when he breathed forth--

    "See these ghastly spectres sweeping
      Mournful o'er this hated wave,
    Whose pale cheeks are stained with weeping--
      These were English captains brave.

    "See these numbers pale and horrid!
      These were once my seamen bold.
    Lo! each hangs his drooping forehead
      While his mournful tale is told."

I believe there was not a man in the old church who did not think he saw
the ghastly train of spectres flitting before his eyes, and who did not
feel every nerve thrill, and every hair of his head stand on end. Many
were the tales of superstition and of terror related, until overpowered
nature sank into sleep; but I have since often reflected that, of all
the accounts of fearful sights I heard, they were all related at second
hand, from the authority of others. No one asserted they themselves had
ever seen anything out of the ordinary course of nature except Bob
Nelson, and his was calculated to lead a more prejudiced observer
astray. It was as follows--

"It was during a voyage I made to New York from Greenock, in the brig
_Cochrane_, that I once saw, with my own eyes, a strange sight, such as
I hope never to witness again. Our cargo consisted of dry goods, and we
had several emigrants as passengers; in particular, a family of six in
the cabin, the husband and wife, with four children; they were wealthy,
and had sold off their farm stock to purchase land, and settle somewhere
in America. When they came on board at the quay of Greenock, they were
accompanied by a great many relations and friends, who took a most
affectionate leave of them; in particular one old woman, the mother of
the emigrant's wife. Her wailings were most pitiable; she wrung her
hands, and stood as if rooted to our decks. I heard her say more than
once--

"'Mary, I feel I shall never see you more, nor these lovely babes. O why
will you leave your aged mother to go mourning to her grave?'

"Her daughter looked more like one dead than alive, as she lay sobbing
upon the breast of her husband, her mother holding one of her hands
between both of her's. Poor soul, she looked as if her heart was
breaking, but spoke not; at length, the husband said--

"'O woman, have you no feeling for your daughter?'

"The old woman's grief seemed, all at once, turned into rage: she let
her daughter's hand drop, and, raising her hands, cursed him for
depriving her of her daughter; concluding with--

"'But, James, remember what I say; dead or alive, I shall yet see my
Mary.'

"The poor young woman was carried below in a faint and the old dame was
conveyed from the deck by the friends, for we were by this time cast
loose, and leaving our berth. For several days I saw nothing of the
farmer's family, as they were very sick; but the children had now begun
to play about the deck, and their father would leave the cabin for a
short time, once or twice a-day, for his wife remained very ill, and
confined to her bed. The haglike appearance of the old woman, in her
rage, had made a great impression on me, and had evidently sunk the
spirits of the young people; for I often saw, when the husband came on
deck, that he was much dejected. I felt it strange that the figure of
the old woman often occurred to my mind when I looked at him; and I
several times dreamed I saw her in my sleep, as I had seen her in
Greenock, but her appearance was more pale and hideous, and had so great
an effect upon me, that I always awoke in an agony, and cursed her from
my heart.

"About mid-passage we met with westerly gales and rough weather, which
caused the passengers to keep below for several days, and retarded our
passage much. It was blowing very hard. It was my turn at the wheel. In
the midwatch we had occasional showers. The clouds were scudding along
in immense bodies over the face of the moon, which was just at the full,
so that we had, at times, bright moonlight for a minute or two, then
gloom; but the night was not dark. I might have been at the wheel half
my time or so. My eye was fixed ahead to watch the set of the waves,
save when I glanced to the compass. I thought I saw something upon the
bowsprit in the gloom that was not there a moment before. I looked aloft
to see for a break in the clouds that the moon might shew me more
distinctly what it was. I looked ahead again, and there it still was,
but nearer the bows of the vessel. Still I could not make out what it
was. Soon a burst of moonlight shone forth, and I saw it resembled a
human figure, but whether man or woman I could not tell, for the moon
was as suddenly obscured as it had shone forth. I felt very queer; being
certain it was none of the crew--for the whole watch was aft at the
time--and I was sure that all the passengers were below, and no one had
come on deck since the watch had been changed. I looked at the spot
where I had seen it, and it was gone. I felt the greatest inclination to
tell what I had seen; but the fear of being laughed at, made me say
nothing of it at this time; I, however, never wished so much for
anything in my life as that my spell at the wheel was over, and the
watch passed. When, at length, I was released, I crept to the foxa, and
tumbled into my hammock, but could not close an eye for thinking of what
I had seen.

"Well, my mates, I was then, as I am now, in a pretty mess, and wished
myself as heartily out of the _Cochrane_ as we all do ourselves out of
this old foundered hulk of a church. I was fairly aground with fear, and
felt all of a tremble for the nights I must pass on board before we
reached New York, where I was determined to leave the brig if I saw any
more such sights. For a few days the gale continued, sometimes blowing
very hard, at others more moderate, but nothing uncommon occurred. At
length it abated, and we had pleasant weather. I began to think I had
been deceived, and was glad I had not spoken of what I had seen to any
of the crew. It was the afternoon, towards evening. I was again at the
wheel. The sun was setting in a bed of clouds, as gaily coloured as a
ship rejoicing--the colours of all nations floating aloft, from the
point of her bowsprit to the end of her jib-boom. The four children were
playing upon deck, laughing and full of joy at being once more relieved
from their long confinement in the cabin. I looked at their innocent
gambols and at the beautiful sky by turns, as much as my duty would
allow, and felt more happy than I had done since we sailed. It was so
pleasant to look ahead; for every face on deck wore a pleasing and
happy aspect. I looked again at the children's gambols; but I almost
dropped at the wheel. My hands and limbs refused to do their office.
There, before me, close by the children, stood the exact representation
of the old woman--so stern, so unearthly was her look, that I cannot
express it; but she was pale as the foam on the crest of a wave. I could
not call out. I had no power either to move tongue or limb. The yawing
of the vessel called the attention of the mate to me, who sung out to
hold her steady. I heard him, but could not obey. My whole faculties
were engrossed by the fearful vision. My eyes appeared as if they would
have started out of my head. One of the crew seized the wheel. All
looked at me with astonishment. I stood rivetted to the spot, pointing
to where the spectre stood; but no one saw anything but myself. The
captain was below in the cabin, with the farmer and his wife--the latter
of whom was known to all the crew to be very ill. As I looked to the
unearthly figure, attracted by a power I could not resist, the children
continued their play. The features of the old woman, I thought, relaxed,
and a sadness came over them, but it was of unearthly expression. The
figure glided from the children to the cabin-companion, and disappeared
below, when it as suddenly came again upon deck, accompanied by the
farmer's wife, pale and wasted. Both gazed upon the children. The young
woman appeared to wring her hands in great distress, as I had seen her
before she was carried below; but the old woman hurried her over the
side of the brig, and I saw no more of them. When they disappeared, my
faculties returned. I trembled as if I had been in an ague, and the cold
sweat stood in large drops upon my forehead. The mate and crew thought
that I had been in a fit, until I told them what I had seen. They looked
rather serious, but were much inclined to laugh at me. The mate began to
jaw me a little on my fancies. All had passed in a minute or two.
Scarce had the mate spoken a dozen of words, when the captain hurried
upon deck, much affected, and called to one of the female steerage
passengers to go instantly to the cabin and assist, as he feared the
farmer's wife was dead. The mate ceased to speak, and the rest of the
crew looked as amazed as I did at the strange occurrence. The captain
came to us. When he heard my strange story, he shook his head, and only
said it was a remarkable occurrence; but I had been deceived by some
illusion, and commanded us not to speak of it, for distressing the poor
husband. We resolved to obey him, as we were by this time nearly in with
the land, and expected to make it next day, which we did; and the poor
farmer was helped ashore, almost as death-like as the body of his wife,
which was buried in New York. I sailed several trips afterwards in the
_Cochrane_, but never saw anything out of the common afterwards in her
or anywhere else."

The first rays of the rising sun shone upon us all sound asleep, as
quiet and undisturbed as if we had passed the night under the roofs of
our fathers' houses; but I was cold, stiff, and sore when I awoke. I had
passed the night upon a flat gravestone outside of the church, for want
of room within, without any covering but my shirt and trousers--all I
had saved from the wreck. There was not a character engraved on the
stone that was not as distinctly marked on my body. It was of no use
grumbling or being cast down--we were fairly adrift, and must go with
the current. It was now that the buoyancy of a sailor's mind burst
forth. The old church and churchyard resounded with shouts and laughter,
that made the French sentinels think we had all gone mad. Some were busy
at leap-frog, others were pursuing each other among the ruins and
tomb-stones--all were in active exertion for the sake of warmth, and to
beguile the time; while the French gathered outside wherever they could
obtain a sight of us, and looked on in amazement at our frolics. I am
certain they were not without fear for us; for a few of the lads had
contrived to clamber to the top of the ruins; and were amusing
themselves by antics, at the hazard of their necks, and throwing small
pieces of lime at us below. The officer in command called to them to
come down; but they knew not what he said. Some of them cried out, in
answer to his call--"Speak like a Christian if you want us to understand
you, and don't wow like a dog." At this moment, Nick Williams, one of
our maintop men, had scaled the highest point of the walls, and had, at
the risk of his life, contrived to perch himself upon the crumbling
stone, and was huzzaing most vociferously. It was a daring and foolhardy
feat. A shout of admiration rose from the outside of the walls, when a
real British cheer answered it from within. Whether the officer was
enraged at the apparent defiance and disobedience to his commands, I
know not, but several muskets were fired through the rails of the gate,
and the balls recoiled from the walls. A shout of rage burst from us;
and a serious conflict was only prevented by the prudence of the petty
officers who were among us; for the enraged seamen had begun to collect
stones from the base of the ruined walls to hurl at the dastardly
guards, who were shouting, _"Vive la Nation!" "Vive la Republique!"_ Our
boatswain, who was a cool and resolute old tar, seeing that the storm
was still on the verge of bursting out--for we looked upon their cries
as insulting as their balls--by a happy thought, struck up the national
air, "God save the King," which we sung with an enthusiasm and strength
of lungs never, I am certain, surpassed before or since. If it had no
melody, it had a tone and sound equivalent to both. Many who still held
the stones in their hands, which they had lifted to hurl at the guards,
struck them together like cymbals, in regular time, to increase the
noise. The effect was most exhilarating and produced the desired effect
of turning our angry feeling into good-humour. So pleased were we, that
we gave them "Rule Britannia" in the same style, until we forgot, in our
enthusiasm, that we were prisoners, hungry, cold, and naked. Scarce had
the last loud cadence died away, when the gate was thrown open, and a
miserable allowance of the same black bread was served out to us, with
plenty of water, and the gate once more shut against us.

It was very strange that, among more than five hundred of us, not one
knew a word of French, and there were none of those who entered the
enclosure could speak a word of English, so that we knew not what those
who had the power over us meant to do. We conjectured that they intended
to keep us where we were until we were exchanged; and had already begun
to canvass the possibility of breaking out of the hated church and yard,
and making a bold push for our liberty, in the following night, by
overpowering our guards, seizing their arms, and passing along the
coast, until we reached some of the small ports, and making prizes of
all the vessels in it, and setting sail for England. A council was
actually deliberating in the church, composed of the petty officers and
a few of our picked hands, when our attention was roused by the sound of
martial music approaching the churchyard, where it halted, and we were
soon after turned out, and numbered to the officer in command.

The party who had just arrived consisted of two companies of soldiers of
the line, regularly clothed and armed, as the French troops were; while
those under whose charge we had been were only the armed peasantry of
the neighbourhood. We hoped the change would be for our advantage. We
saw at once we were going to be conveyed into the interior. Go where we
must, we felt we could not be worse fed, lodged, or used than we had
been. No harsh word was used to us by the regular troops; and, before we
had been a few hours on the road, we understood each other well enough
by dumb show, and marched on in good humour; we walking in the middle of
them like a drove of bullocks, as frolicsome as children, singing,
laughing, and putting practical jokes upon each other, to beguile the
way. Scarce had we travelled a couple of miles, until my bare feet
became sore from the small stones and bruises; yet I limped on in the
best manner I could, and as cheerfully as possible. I was in the front
as we were on the point of entering a village; the soldiers in file
enclosing us on either side, and bringing up the rear, so that we could
not walk faster or slower than they chose. A few hundred yards from the
entrance of the village, those in front turned round, and pointing to
the fowls of various kinds that were feeding on the highway before us,
made signs which we readily understood, and nodded significantly; they
then drew to each side of the road, and we behind them, leaving a gap in
the middle of the way like the prongs of a fork closed at the base. The
ducks, hens, and other fowls became alarmed as we came close upon them,
and ran for shelter to the vacant space in the middle, when the front
closed, and all were secured by those in the centre; the poor people,
their owners, calling in vain for restitution of their property. The
soldiers would not allow them to come within their ranks; and, at night,
when we stopped, the former procured wood for us to dress the stolen
fowls, after having received their proportion. This, I confess, was a
species of robbery; but we were starved by the allowance of government,
and we were in an enemy's country, who had plundered the shipwrecked
mariner cast upon their shores. We thought, therefore, although, of
course, the reasoning was wrong, that, in appropriating whatever we
could lay hands upon, we were merely making fair and just reprisals for
the losses we had sustained at the hands of our captors; but, the truth
is, we troubled ourselves very little about the right or wrong of the
matter, for we were lodged either in large empty barns, or ruined
churches, all the way to Rennes, and could, from hunger, have eaten a
jackass when we were allowed to rest for the night. Even yet, I remember
the relish a small piece of a roast pig or fowl had, without either
bread or salt, at this time, for we were not scrupulous what we lifted
that would eat, if we could carry it. In one village, five pigs
disappeared in this manner, and only the great weight of the parent
prevented her following them. At the time, it had not the appearance of
theft; there was so much fun in it that it resembled a great hunt, for
every eye was in quest of game, and all was done so quietly and
dexterously that there was not the least confusion or noise. We closed
so rapidly that the prey had no means of escape, nor room to move until
it was despatched; yet the people, as we passed, were often very kind to
us, so far as was in their power, for they appeared to be miserably
poor. When we reached Rennes my feet were so sore, swelled, and cut,
that I walked with great pain; numbers of us were in the same situation.
We did not pass straight through the town, but were halted, for some
time, in the market-place, while the inhabitants came in crowds to gaze
at the English prisoners; and a miserable sight we were. We might have
been here about half an hour, when a beautiful young lady came to where
we were, with a young woman behind her carrying a large basket filled
with shoes. I thought she had come to sell them, as so many were
barefoot. I saw her giving them to the men, and hirpled to the spot, and
looked with an anxious eye at the store which was diminishing fast. I
had still retained the twopence, and resolved to make an effort to
obtain a pair, but felt backward, conscious I had no equivalent to give
for them; holding out my coppers, I pointed to a pair which I thought
would answer me; I felt ashamed, and looked to the ground, pointing to
my feet when I had attracted her attention, for she was looking in
another direction. She took the shoes and gave them to me. I proffered
my little cash; she gently put my hand aside, and, by a sign, made me
know that I was welcome to them. I never saw a female so lovely as this
young lady; her clear, black eyes were swimming in tears, and her face
covered with blushes; her looks were so mild, so benevolent, she looked
like an angel sent from heaven to administer to our wants. Never before
or since have I felt the same sensation so intensely. It was delightful;
it was painful. I felt a choking in my throat. I could have wept, and
have found relief in it, but I was surrounded by those who would have
made sport of my emotion. I retired a few paces to make way for others,
in silence. I dared not utter a sound, lest my feelings had overpowered
me, but stood and gazed at the lovely creature until she retired. I felt
as if everything to be esteemed on earth was concentrated in her person
and mind. Had I been an admiral I would have gloried in calling her
mine; had it been necessary I could have faced death or any danger, to
free her from trouble or grief, with a feeling of joy and exultation.
Many a time has this fair creature been embodied in my mind's eye, as
fair and lovely as she was then, but I never saw her again.

Many others of the good inhabitants of Rennes administered to our wants.
I got, besides the shoes, a substitute for a jacket, and a straw hat
from an old man. Indeed, we saw in our route scarce any others except
old men, women, and boys. Women were driving the carts, and working in
the fields, and doing the work done by the men in Britain. From Rennes
we were marched to Perche, our final destination, in the same manner as
we had been from the coast, and lodged in prison; but I found it no
prison to me: men were so scarce at this time in France that we were
allowed to work out of prison if we chose, and only visited once a-week
to pass muster, and receive our allowance--so I soon found a master, or,
more properly, he found me in prison--a cart and plough-wright residing
a short distance from town.

Citizen Vauquin, in secret, was a staunch Royalist; but, in his common
conversation, a Republican. To me he was extremely kind, but our
communications were very limited, from my want of knowledge of French;
but I was picking it up with rapidity, and we soon contrived to
understand each other pretty well.

It was now well on in the spring, and the weather warm and agreeable. I
was busy at my work, when Vauquin, who was a stout, hale old man, came
to me; there was something comic in the expression of his countenance,
joy and vexation seemed by turns to pass over it, and at times to
struggle for mastery; he looked cautiously around lest any one might
overhear us, then said--

"Ah, France! beautiful France! these cursed Democrats have dimmed your
glory, and ruined you! We have lost our fleet in Egypt, and we fly
before the Germans. What can we have but defeat, while the best blood in
France either has been shed by her sons, or languishes in obscurity.
Could we be freed from the ruffians that tyrannize over us in any way
but this? We have suffered much, and must suffer more, before we see the
glories of France shine as they once shone in the courts of her kings.
Ha! Elder, your sailors are the devils that humble France; from your
riches the seas are covered with your ships, and the brave French,
plundered by their rulers, have few. What could be done with sixteen
ships when fifty were upon them?"

Piqued by his national vanity, I replied--

"Had Nelson had half the number, there would have been no fighting."

"Why no fighting, Monsieur?" said he.

"Because they would have run if they could," replied I; "or struck when
they saw no chance--that's all I have to say on the subject. If you
please let us change it, my friend."

"By all means," said he, "let us change it. We are a ruined and undone
people since we lost our King. The great nation are a people without a
head; and, when a house wants the head, all goes wrong."

"You and I are at one on this point," replied I. "But how comes it that
you are as democratic as any one in the neighbourhood when politics is
the subject of discourse? It is not so in Britain. Every man speaks his
mind; yet we have a king and a kingly government. I was led to believe,
before I left home, that in France alone there was liberty: for all men
were equal--freedom and equality being the law of the land."

"O Monsieur Elder!" exclaimed he, "freedom and equality are the worst
tyranny, as I shall shew you by my sad experience. When all men make the
law, who is to obey? Better one tyrant than one million; for, when every
one thinks he is a law-maker, no one thinks of obeying the law farther
than it pleases himself. Listen to me; and you shall hear the truth as I
have experienced it, and many thousands in France as well as I:--

"When first the people of France began to give attention to the writers
and haranguers against the oppression which we, no doubt, suffered, no
one was more enthusiastic than I was for the removal of the abuses; and
I thought no sacrifice could be too great to have them removed. I was,
at the time, carpenter to the great chateau which you see in the
distance. Our old lord, who was a severe master, had died only a few
years before, and had not the love of a single peasant in his wide
domains; but his son was the reverse of his parent--the friend and
benefactor of every one on his estate; yet he inherited a fund of
animosity which it would have taken years of his kindness and humanity
to have obliterated. In this state of matters, the troubles broke out.
He was on the side of the people, and aided, as far as in him lay, the
cause of improvement in the state, until the factions in Paris--who,
ruling the silly multitude, led them to believe that they were ruled by
them--struck at the root of all good government by insulting and
imprisoning the King. From this time, he took no active part in the
commotions, but remained at his chateau. I was his overseer, and managed
his affairs. I loved him with all my soul, for he was worthy of my love.
My ideas went still farther than his went, and I felt not displeased
with anything that had as yet occurred; for I knew the tenacity with
which the aristocracy clung to their privileges; but the cunning and
designing men who, under the faint shew of obeying the people, ruled
them at their will for mischief and disorder, ultimately, by taking the
life of the King, took the key-stone out of the arch which sheltered the
people, and brought the whole fabric of civil order about their ears. I
was confounded at the blindness I had laboured under; and, from that
hour, my whole ideas changed. But, alas! it was too late; and even those
that had lent a willing hand trembled at the mischief they had done.
Benefits are soon forgot; but the remembrance of injuries are indelible.
Numbers of needy plunderers had arrived from Paris, and overspread these
peaceful plains like evil spirits, rousing the worst feeling of our
peasantry into action. As yet, no serious outrage had been committed in
this quarter; but I too plainly saw that it would not long be deferred.
I requested my dear master to fly, as many others had done; for blood
had begun to flow like water in Paris and the provinces--not the blood
of the guilty, but the blood of the noble and virtuous; for, alas!
France had become the arena in the remorseless war of poverty against
property. The whole fabric of social order had been dissolved, and men
had returned to their original state of barbarism; like jackalls or
wolves, only banding together when they scented plunder. To be rich or
nobly born was a crime of the deepest dye, only to be atoned by blood.
I, with extreme pain, saw the storm gathering, and could only deplore
it; and what added to my anguish, was, I dared not argue against them;
for our old and worthy magistrates had been deposed, and others, more in
the spirit of the times, appointed. As yet, no blood had been shed in
Perche, but numbers were immured in prison; and, had I given the least
cause of suspicion, I would have been placed beyond the power of lending
that aid to the distressed which I was resolved to afford them, or
perish in the attempt. Several times I had entreated my young lord to
fly, and avoid the storm; but my entreaties were in vain. He thought far
too well of his fellow-men.

"At length a rumour reached us that two commissioners were on their way
to the chateau to sequestrate it for the use of the state: immediately
there was a violent commotion amongst the people--fearful of losing
their share of the plunder, all marched in a tumultuous manner to
assault it. Aware of what might ensue--for blood had begun to flow--I
got my young lord disguised as one of my workmen, and set to his
bench--that very one at which you work--and joined the crowd as they
approached the chateau. To prevent suspicion, no one shouted louder than
I, 'Down with the Tyrants!'--'Down with the Aristocrats!'--'_Vive la
Nation!_'--'_Vive la Republique!_' We entered the chateau, which was
searched in vain for my young lord. It was now that the true spirit of
the peasantry shewed itself in all its deformity; everything of value
was in a short time carried off or destroyed; while every quarter
resounded with execrations and cries for blood--the oppressions of the
father were alone remembered. How it occurred I have yet to learn, but
the youthful aristocrat was discovered in my shop; this was a severe
blow to me, for I was immediately seized by the furious crowd, charged
by them with the worst of crimes in their eyes, the concealing from them
a victim of their rage. It was a fearful hour. I expected to have been
torn to pieces upon the spot. My presence of mind did not forsake me: I
begged to be heard before the fatal daggers that were brandished around
reached my heart. I stood firm until a pause of the storm, when I
appealed to them not for mercy, but for revenge--revenge upon my lord
before I died. "I have been betrayed," I cried, "by some one. I appeal
to yourselves for my former love of my country. Let me die, but let it
be for my country, and let me be revenged upon the tyrants. Fire the
chateau!--'_Vive la Nation_,' '_A bas les Aristocrats_,' '_Vive la
Republique_'--and let me die by the light of the stronghold of tyranny
enveloped in flames."

"I now breathed more freely. Shouts rent the air; for like a weathercock
is a mob--ever pointing as the last breath of wind blows. '_Vive
Vauquin!_' resounded from every lip; the chateau was enveloped in
flames; its owner immersed in a dungeon to await his doom, already fixed
before the mock forms of justice were gone through. Think not the worse
of me for the part I acted; every paper and article of plate had been
concealed for some days before. To save, if possible, his life, no one
was louder in denouncing my lord than myself, for his having dared to
conceal himself in my shop. At my return, I began seriously to turn over
in my mind what steps I was next to pursue for his safety, now rendered
difficult, almost beyond my power to overcome. I feared not death, nor
any danger to myself, could my object have been attained by it. There
was not a moment to be lost; the following day was to have been the day
of his trial and death. The commissioners had arrived from Paris, and a
fête was resolved to be got up to welcome them. In a state of anxiety I
can hardly describe, I bustled about and waited upon the commissioners;
but my chief object was to ascertain the exact spot where the
aristocrats were confined. My lord was my chiefest care, for however
much I had, at the commencement of the revolution, wished for the
abused power of the nobles to be reduced, I had no wish for their ruin,
far less their murder; judge my horror when I learned that he was in the
lower dungeon of the prison, to which there was only one entrance
through the guard-room, which was constantly filled by the soldiers on
guard. With a heart void of hope I returned to my home. In an agony of
mind I threw myself upon my couch, that if possible I might exclude
every other thought but the one that I wished to fix my whole attention
upon: while I walked about, I felt like one distracted. At length, I was
so fortunate as to call to mind having, when a boy, heard my father tell
that he had assisted my grandfather in securing a door into the lower
dungeon, that led into another even more loathsome, where the Huguenots
were wont to be confined in the time of Louis the Fourteenth; this had a
door which led into the outer court of the prison, the walls of which
were in the hinder part, ruinous and neglected, as few of the present
people in authority knew of such a dungeon; the old door having been
long built up. A faint ray of hope shot through my mind; I started from
my bed, and, concealing what tools I judged to be necessary, proceeded
to the jail without being perceived--this was rendered the more easy as
every one was engaged preparing for the fête. I remained under the
shelter of the ruined wall until it was quite dark. A voice of mirth and
revelry sounded in the front of that prison, whose gloomy walls and
strong iron barred windows might, and no doubt did, enclose hearts more
sorrowful than mine, but none more anxious. My situation, solitary as it
was, was full of peril--I might be missed at the fête, and suspicion
roused if I was so fortunate as to succeed; but I allowed no selfish
thought to intrude. I was so fortunate as to find the low arched door I
had heard my father speak of; after considerable labour it yielded to my
efforts, and I entered the low and noisesome vault which had heard and
re-echoed the groans of so many victims of tyranny whose only fault was
adhering to the dictates of their consciences against an intolerant
priesthood. So baleful was the air I breathed, that I was forced to
retire, or I had fallen to the damp floor; again I entered, for I heard
the voice of my lord in prayer, and felt a new sort of assurance arise
in my mind; there was no distinguishing one object from another, so
impenetrable was the darkness, and the faint sound appeared to come from
no particular side of the dungeon. I commenced groping with my hands,
from the entrance, along the walls; it was a loathsome task, for they
were damp and ropy, and loathsome reptiles ever and anon made me
withdraw my fingers; still I groped on. At length I succeeded; the door
was forced to yield to my skill and efforts; all that divided me from
him I sought was the strong planks and plaster. I struck a sharp single
blow upon it, and paused--the voice of my master had ceased from the
commencement of my work upon the second door. It was a period of intense
anxiety, lest he should alarm his guards, if any of them had been in his
dungeon. To my first signal no answer was made: he knew not that he had
a friend so near, willing to sacrifice everything for his rescue. I
struck a second blow, and again listened; I heard him utter a faint
exclamation of surprise, and all was again still. The third time I
struck, and I heard a movement on the other side: the plaster was
struck, piercing a small hole, and we were enabled to communicate. I
found he was alone in his dismal dungeon. It was agreed that I was to
return in two hours with a disguise for him, after I had appeared at the
fête; and, in the meantime, I loosened the fastening so as he could
easily force it away should any thing happen to prevent my return; and,
these arrangements being made, I took my departure, in the same stealthy
manner in which I had reached him.

"With my heart still anxious but more at ease, I joined the festive
throng, and, joining in the dance for a short time, then retired, got
all ready, returned, with a view to relieve my lord from his dungeon,
and had the unspeakable pleasure to see him beyond its walls, dressed as
a peasant girl. Our parting was brief but sincere, my wishes for his
safety were equal to the extent of my love, but I have never heard of
him since; whether he went for La Vendee, or joined the allied army, I
never knew. As soon as I saw him safe out of the town, I returned to the
joyous group, and was among the last to leave it. My share in the escape
of my noble master was never even suspected; but from this time I have
wished the fall of the tyrants that have ruled France with a rod of
iron, and for the return of our King and nobility, until which time we
can never hope for tranquillity. I am not displeased at what can assist
in aiding their overthrow but I feel, as a true Frenchman, humbled at
every defeat our brave forces sustain. I love the beautiful fields of
France and all her sons, but I hate the demagogues who at present rule
her destinies."

Had I not been an exile against my will, I never had been more happy in
my life than I was at this time. I, no doubt, was a prisoner of war; but
it was only in name. I never saw my prison but once a-week, when I
appeared at the muster to receive my jail allowance, and returned to
citizen Vauquin's in a few hours after, or strayed where I chose within
the proscribed distance. Our visits to the prison always gave rise to an
afternoon of merriment and pleasure--a meeting of friends. Not one of us
wished to escape, or desired an exchange.

I was always a fortunate fellow. The four months I was here I improved
much in my drawing, and found the instructions of poor Walden of the
utmost service to me; and I was much benefited by a relation of
Vauquin's, who had studied the arts at Paris. It was thus I spent my
evenings; but I was never as yet allowed to enjoy my good fortune long.
We were ordered to be marched to the coast at Saint Malos, where a
cartel was to be in readiness to receive us. I bade adieu to my kind
friend, Citizen Vauquin, not without regret, and set out for the coast.
There was not a trace of pleasure at our release among us; we had no
cause, at least nine-tenths of us. For, as Bill Wates had foretold, off
Jersey we were brought too by the _Ramillies_, and crowded on board her.
The greater part were draughted to other men-of-war, but in her I
remained until she was paid off, at the peace.

[Footnote 3: See "The Man-of-war's Man."]



WILLIE WASTLE'S ACCOUNT OF HIS WIFE.

    "Sic a wife as Willie had!
    I wadna gie a button for her."
                               BURNS.[4]


"It was a very cruel dune thing in my neebor, Robert Burns, to mak a
sang aboot my wife and me," said Mr William Wastle, as he sat with a
friend over a jug of reeking toddy, in a tavern near the Bridge-end in
Dumfries where he had been attending the cattle market; "I didna think
it was neebor-like," he added; "indeed it was a rank libel upon baith
her and me; and I took it the worse, inasmuch as I always had a very
high respect for Maister Burns. Though he said that I 'dwalt on Tweed,'
and that I 'was a wabster,' yet everybody kenned wha the sang was aimed
at. Neither did my wife merit the description that has been drawn o'
her; for, though she was nae beauty, and hadna a face like a wax-doll,
yet there were thousands o' waur looking women to be met wi' than my
Kirsty; and to say that her mither was a 'tinkler,' was very
unjustifiable, for her parents were as decent and respectable people, in
their sphere o' life, as ye would hae found in a' Nithsdale. Her faither
had a small farm which joined on with one that I took a lease o', when I
was about one-and-twenty. Kirsty was about three years aulder; and,
though not a bonny woman, she was, in many respects, as ye shall hear in
the coorse o' my story, a very extraordinary one. I was in the habit o'
seeing her every day, and as I sometimes was working in a field next to
her, I had every opportunity o' observing her industry, and that, frae
mornin' till nicht, she was aye eident. This gave me a far higher
opinion o' her than if I had seen her gaun about wi' a buskit head; and
often, at meal-times, I used to stand and speak to her owre the dyke.
But, after we had been acquainted in this manner for some months, when
the cheerfu' summer weather came in, and the grass by the dyke-sides was
warm and green, and the bonny gowans blossomed among it, I louped owre
the dyke, and we sat doun and took our dinners together. I couldna have
believed it possible that a bit bare bannock and a drap skim milk wad
gang doun sae deliciously, but never before had I partaken o' onything
that was sae pleasant to the palate. One day I was quite surprised, when
I found that my arm had slipped unconsciously round her waist, and,
drawing her closer to my side, I seighed, and said--'O Kirsty, woman!'

"She pulled away my hand from her waist, and looking me in the face,
said--'Weel, Willie, man, what is't?'

"'Kirsty,' said I, 'I like ye.'"

"'I thocht as meikle,' quoth she, 'but could ye no hae said sae at
ance.'"

"'Perhaps I could, dear,' said I; 'but ye ken true love is aye blate;
however, if ye hae nae objections, I'll gang yont, after fothering time
the micht, and speak to yer faither and mither; and if they hae nae
objections, and ye have yer providin' ready, wi' yer guid-will and
consent, I shall gie up oor names, and we shall be cried on Sabbath
first.'

"'Oh,' said she, 'I haena lived for five-and-twenty years without
expectin' to get a guidman some day; and I hae had my providin' ready
since I was eighteen, an' a' o' my ain spinnin' and bleachin', an' the
lint bocht wi' what I had wrocht for; so that I am behauden to naebody.
My faither and mither have mair sense than to cast ony obstacle in the
way o' my weelfare; and, as ye are far frae bein' disagreeable to me, if
we are to be married, it may as weel be sune as syne, and we may be
cried on Sunday if ye think proper.'

"'O Kirsty, woman!' cried I, and I drew my arm round her waist again,
'ye hae made me as happy as a prince! I hardly ken which end o' me is
upmost!'

"'Na, Willie,' said she, 'there is nae necessity for ony nonsensical
raptures, ye ken perfectly weel that yer head is upmost, though I hae
heard my faither talk about some idiots that he ca's philosophers, who
say that the world whirls roond aboot like a cart-wheel on an axle-tree,
and that ance in every twenty-four hours our feet are upmost, and our
head downmost; but it will be lang or onybody get me to believe in sic
balderdash! As to yer being happy at present, it shall be nae faut o'
mine if ye are not aye sae; and if ye be aye as I would wish ye to be,
ye will never be unhappy.'

"Such, as near as I can recollect, is not only the history, but the
exact words o' oor courtship. Her faither and mither gied their consent
without the slightest hesitation. I remember her faither's words to me
were--'Weel, William, frae a' that I hae seen o' ye, ye appear to be a
very steady and industrious young man, and ane that is likely to do weel
in the world. I hae seen, also, wi' great satisfaction, that ye are very
regular in yer attendance upon the ordinances; there hasna been a
Sabbath, since ye cam to be oor neebor, that I hae missed ye oot o' yer
seat in the kirk. Frae a' that I hae heard concernin' ye, also, ye hae
always been a serious, sober, and weel-behaved young man. These things
are a great satisfaction to a faither when he finds them in the lad that
his dochter wishes to marry. Ye hae my consent to tak Kirsty; and,
though I say it, I believe ye will find her to mak as industrious,
carefu', and kind a wife, as ye would hae found if ye had sought through
a' broad Scotland for ane. I will say it, however, and before her face,
that there are some things in which she takes it o' her mother, and in
which she will hae her ain way. But this is her only faut. I'm sure
ye'll ne'er hae cause to complain o' her wasting a bawbee, or o' her
allowing even the heel o' a kebbuck to gang to unuse. It is needless for
me to say mair; but ye hae my full and free consent to marry when ye
like.'

"Then up spoke the auld guidwife, and said--'Weel, Willie, lad, if you
and Kirsty hae made up yer minds to mak a bargain o' it, I am as little
disposed to oppose yer inclinations as her faither is. A guid wife, I
sincerely believe, ye will find her prove to ye; and though her faither
says that in some things she will be like me, and have her ain way, let
me tell ye, lad, that is owre often necessary for a woman to do, wha is
striving everything in her power for the guid o' her husband and the
family, and sees him, just through foolishness, as it were, striving
against her. Ye are strange beings you men-folk to deal wi'. But ye
winna find her a bare bride, for she has a kist fu' o' linen o' her ain
spinnin', that may serve ye a' yer days, and even when ye are dead,
though ye should live for sixty years.'

"I thought it rather untimeous that the auld woman should hae spoken
aboot linen for oor grave-claes, before we were married; and I suppose
my countenance had hinted as much, for Kirsty seemed to hae observed it,
and she said--'My mother says what is and ought to be. It is aye best
to be provided for whatever may come; and as Death often gies nae
warning, I wadna like to be met wi' it, and to hae naething in the house
to lay me out in like a Christian.'

"I thought there was a vast deal o' sense and discretion in what she
said; and though I didna like the idea o' such a premature providing o'
winding-sheets, yet, after she spoke, I highly approved o' her prudence
and forethought.

"It was on a Monday afternoon, about three weeks after the time I have
been speaking o', that Kirsty, wi' her faither, and mother, and another
young lass, an acquaintance o' hers, that was to be best-maid, cam yont
to my house for her and me to be married. I had sent for ane o' my
brothers to be best-man, and he was with me waiting when they came. She
was not in the least discomposed, but behaved very modestly. In a few
minutes the minister arrived, when the ceremony immediately began, and
within a quarter of an hour she was mine, and I was hers, for the term
o' oor natural lives.

"From the time that I took the farm, I had no kind o' dishes in the
house, save a wooden bowie or twa, four trenchers, three piggins, and
twa bits o' tin cans, that I had bought from a travelling tinker for
twopence a-piece, and which Kirsty afterwards told me, were each a
halfpenny a-piece aboon their value. I dinna think that I had tasted tea
aboon a dozen times in the whole course o' my life; but, as it was
coming into general use, I thought it would look respectfu' to my bride,
before her faither and mother, if I should hae tea upon oor marriage
day, and I could ask the minister to stop and tak a dish wi' us. I
thought it would gie a character o' respectability to oor wedding.
Therefore, on the Saturday afore the marriage, I went to Dumfries, and
bought half a dozen o' bonny blue cups and saucers. I never durst tell
Kirsty how meikle I gied for them. It was with great difficulty that I
got them carried hame without breaking. I also bought two ounces o' the
best tea, and a whole pound o' brown sugar.

"I had a servant lassie at the time, the doohter o' a hind in the
neighbourhood; she was necessary to me to do the work about the house,
and to milk twa kye that I kept, to mak the cheese, and a part o' the
day to help the workers out wi' the bondage.

"'Lassie,' said I, when I got hame; 'do ye ken hoo to mak tea?'

"'I'm no very sure,' said she; 'but I think I do. I ance got a cup when
I wasna weel, frae the farmer's wife that my faither lives wi'. I'll
try.'

"'Here, then,' says I; 'tak care o' thir, and see that ye dinna break
them, or it will mak a breaking that ye wouldna like in your quarter's
wages.' So I gied her the cups and saucers to put awa carefully into the
press.

"'O maister,' says she; 'but noo, when I recollect, ye'll need a
tea-kettle, and a tea-pat, and a cream-pat, and teaspoons.'

"'Preserve me!' quoth I, 'the lassie is surely wrang in the head! Hoo
mony articles o' _tea_ and _cream_ hae ye there? The parritch kettle
will do as weel as a tea-kettle--where can be the difference? Your
tea-pats I ken naething aboot, and as for a cream-pat, set down the
cream-bowie; and as for spoons, ye fool, they dinna sip tea--they drink
it--just sirple it, as it were, oot o' the saucer.'

"'O sir,' said she; 'but they need a little spoon to stir it round to
mak the sugar melt--and that is weel minded, ye'll also require a
sugar-basin.'

"'Hoots! toots! lassie,' cried I, 'do ye intend to ruin me? By yer
account o' the matter, it would be almost as expensive to set up a tea
equipage, as a chariot equipage. No, no; just do as the miller's wife o'
Newmills did.'

"'And what way micht that be, sir?' inquired she.

"'Why,' said I, 'she took such as she had, and she never wanted! Just
ye tak such as ye have--cogie, bowie, or tinniken, never ye mind--show
ye your dexterity.'

"'Very weel, sir,' said she; 'I'll do the best I can.'

"But, just to exemplify another trait in my wife's character, I will
tell ye the upshot o' my cups and saucers. I confess that I was in a
state of very considerable perturbation; not only on account o' what the
lassie had told me about the want o' a tea-kettle, tea-pat, and so
forth, but also that, including the minister, there were seven o' us,
while I had but six cups; and I consoled mysel by thinking that, as
Kirsty and I were now _one_, she might drink oot o' the cup and I wad
tak the saucer, so that a cup and saucer would serve us baith; and I was
trustin to the ingenuity o' the lassie to find substitutes for the other
deficiencies, when she came ben to where we were sitting, and going
forward to Kirsty, says she--'Mistress, I have had the twa ounces o' tea
on boiling in a chappin o' water, for the last twa hoors--do ye think it
will be what is ca'ed _masked_ noo?'

"'Tea!' said my new-made wife, wi' a look o' astonishment; 'is the
lassie talking aboot _tea_? While I am to be in this house--and I
suppose that is to be for my life--there shall nae poisonous foreign
weed be used in it, nor come within the door, unless it be some drug
that a doctor orders. Take it off the fire, and throw the broo awa. My
certes! if young folk like us were to begin wi' sic extravagance, where
would be the upshot? Na, na, Willie,' said she, turning round to me,
'let us just begin precisely as we mean to end. At all events, let us
rather begin meanly, than end beggarly. I hae seen some folk, no aboon
oor condition in life, mak a great dash on their wedding-day; and some
o' them even hire gigs and coaches, forsooth, to tak a jaunt awa for a
dozen o' miles! Poor things! it was the first and last time that ony o'
them was either in gig or coach. But there shall be nae extravagance o'
that kind for me. My faither and mither care naething about tea, for
they hae never been used to it, and I'm sure that our friends here care
as little; and, asking the minister's pardon, I am perfectly sure and
certain, that tea can be nae treat to him, for he has it every day, and
it will be standing ready for him when he gangs hame. The supper will be
ready by eight o'clock, and those who wish it, may tak a glass o'
speerits in the meantime--as it isna every day that they are at my
wedding.'

"Her faither and mother looked remarkable proud and weel-pleased like at
what she said, just as if they wished to say to me--'There's a wife for
ye!' But I thought the minister seemed a good deal surprised, and in a
few minutes he took up his hat, wished us much joy, and went away. For
my part, I didna think sae much aboot my bride's lecture, as I rejoiced
that she thereby released me from the confusion I should have
experienced in exposing the poverty o' my tea equipage.

"It was on the very morning after oor marriage, and just as I was gaun
oot to my wark--'Willie,' says she, 'I think we should single the
turnips in the field west o' the hoose the day. The cotters' twa bondage
lasses, and me, will be able to manage it by the morn's nicht.'

"'O, my dear,' quoth I, 'but I hae nae intention that ye should gang out
into the fields to work, noo that ye are my wife. Let the servant-lass
gang out, and ye can look after the meat.'

"'Her! the idle taupie!' said she, 'we hae nae mair need for her than a
cart has for a third wheel. Mony a time it has grieved me to observe her
motions, when ye were out o' the way--and there would she and the other
twa wenches been standing, clashing for an hour at a time, and no
workin' a stroke. I often had it in my mind to tell ye, but only I
thought ye might think it forward in me, as I perceived ye had a
kindness for me. But I can baith do all that is to do in-doors, and
work out-by also, and at the end o' the quarter she shall leave.'

"'Wi' a' my heart,' says I, 'if ye wish it;' for it struck me she micht
be a wee thocht jealous o' the lassie; 'but there is no the sma'est
necessity for you working out in the fields; for though she leaves, we
can get a callant at threepence a-day, that would just do as muckle
out-work as she does, and ye would hae naething to attend to but the
affairs o' the hoose.'

"'O William!' replied she, 'I'm surprised to hear ye speak. Ye talk o'
threepence a-day just as if it were naething. Hoo mony starving families
are there, that threepence a-day would mak happy? It is my maxim never
to spend a penny unless it be laid out to the greatest possible
advantage. Ye should always keep that in view, every time ye put yer
hand in your pocket. He that saves a penny has as mony thanks, in the
lang run, as he that gies it awa. Threepence a-day, not including the
Sabbath, is eighteenpence a-week; noo, you that are a scholar, only
think how much that comes to in a twelvemonth. There are fifty-twa weeks
in the year--that is fifty-twa shillings; and fifty-twa sixpences
is--how much?'

"'Twenty-six shillings, my dear,' said I, for I was quite amused at her
calculation--the thing had never struck me before.

"'Weel,' added she, 'fifty-two shillings and twenty-six shillings, put
that together, and see how much it comes to.'

"'Oh,' says I, after half a minute's calculation, 'it will just be three
pounds, eighteen shillings, to a farthing.'

"'Noo,' cried she, 'only think o' that!--three pounds eighteen shillings
a-year; and ye would throw it away, just as if it were three puffs o'
breath! Now, William, just listen to me and tak tent--that is within twa
shillings o' four pounds. It would far mair than cleed you and me, out
and out, frae head to foot, from year's end to year's end. But at
present the wench's meat and wages come to three times that, and
therefore I am resolved, William, that while I am able to work, we shall
neither throw away the one nor the other. It is best that we should
understand each other in time: therefore, I just tell ye plainly, as I
said yesterday, that as I wish to end, I mean to begin. This very day,
this very morning and hour, I go out wi' the bondage lassies to single
the turnips; and, at the end o' the quarter, the lazy taupie
butt-a-house maun walk aboot her business.'

"'Weel, Kirsty, my darling,' says I, 'your way be it. Only I maun again
say, that I had no wish or inclination whatever to see you toiling and
thinning turnips beneath a burning sun, or maybe taking them up and
shawing them, when the cauld drift was cutting owre the face keener than
a razor.'

"'Weel, William,' quoth she, 'it is needless saying any more words about
it--it is my fixed and determined resolution.'

"'Then, hinny,' says I, 'if ye be absolutely resolved upon that, it is
o' no manner o' use to say ony mair upon the subject, of course--your
way be it.'

"So the servant lassie was discharged accordingly, and Kirsty did
everything hersel. Wet day and dry day, whatever kind o' wark was to be
done, there was she in the middle o' it, by her example spurring on the
bondagers. Even when we began to hae a family, I hae seen her working in
the fields wi' an infant on her back; and I am certain that for a dozen
o' harvests, while she was aye at the head o' the shearers, there was
aye our bairn that was youngest at the time, lying rowed up in a blanket
at the foot o' the rig, and playing wi' the stubble to amuse itsel.

"There were many that said that I was entirely under her thumb, and that
she had the maister-skep owre me. But that was a grand mistake, for she
by no means exercised onything like maistership owre me; though I am
free to confess, that I at all times paid a great degree o' deference to
her opinions, and that she had a very particular and powerfu' way o'
enforcing them. Yet, although I was in no way cowed by her, there wasna
a bairn that we had, from the auldest to the youngest, that durst play
_cheep_ before her. She certainly had her family under great subjection,
and their bringing up did her great credit. They were allowed time to
play like ither bairns--but from the time that they were able to make
use o' their hands, ye would hardly hae found it possible to come in
upon us, and seen ane o' them idle. All were busy wi' something; and no
ane o' them durst hae stepped owre a prin lying on the floor, without
stooping doun to tak it up, or passed onything that was out o' its place
without putting it right. For I will say for her again, that, if my
Kirsty wasna a bonny wife, she was not only a thrifty but a tidy ane,
and keepit every ane and every thing tidy around her.

"She was a strange woman for abhorring everything that was new-fangled.
She was a most devout believer in, and worshipper o' the wisdom o' oor
ancestors. She perfectly hated everything like change; and as to
onything that implied speculation, ye micht as weel hae spoken o'
profanation in her presence. She said she liked auld friends, auld
customs, auld fashions; and was the sworn enemy o' a' the innovations on
the practices and habits that had been handed doun frae generation to
generation. I dinna ken if ever she heard the names Whig or Tory in her
life; but if Tory mean an enemy o' change, then my Kirsty certainly was
a Tory o' the very purest water.

"I dinna suppose that she believed there was such a word as
_improvement_ in the whole Dictionary. She would hae allooed everything
to stand steadfast as Lot's wife, for ever and for ever. But, however,
just to gie ye a specimen or twa o' her remarkable disposition:--I think
it was about sixteen years after we were married, that I took a tack o'
an adjoining farm, which was much larger than the ane we occupied. I was
conscious it would require every penny we had scraped thegither, and
that we had saved, to stock it. My wife was by no means favourable to my
taking it. She said we kenned what we had done, but we didna ken what we
might do; and it was better to go on as we were doing, than to risk oor
a'. I acknowledge that there was a vast deal o' truth in what she said;
but, however, I saw that the farm was an excellent bargain, and I was
resolved to tak it, say what she might; and therefore, though she was
said to domineer owre me, yet, just to prove to every person round about
that I was not under a wife's government, I did tak it. I had not had it
twa years, when I began to find that thrashing wi' the flail would never
answer. Often, when the markets were on the rise, and when I could hae
turned owre many pounds into my ain pocket, I found it was a'thegither
impossible for me to get my corn thrashed in time to catch the markets
while they were high; and I am certain that, in the second year that I
had the new farm, I lost at least a hundred pounds frae that cause
alone--that is, I didna get a hundred pounds that I micht hae got, and
that was much the same as losing it oot o' my pocket. Thrashing machines
at that period were just beginning to come into vogue, but there was a
terrible outcry against them; and mony a ane said that they were an
invention o' the Prince o' Darkness; for my part I wish he would
never do mair ill upon the earth, than invent sic things as
thrashing-machines. Hooever, I saw plain and clearly the advantage that
the machine had owre the flail, and I was determined to hae ane. But
never did I see a woman in such a steer as the mention o' the thing put
Kirsty in! She went perfectly wild aboot it.

"'What, William!' she cried, 'what do ye talk aboot?' Losh me, man, have
ye nae mair sense?--have ye nae discretion whatever? Will ye really rush
upon ruin at a horse-race? Ye talk aboot getting a machine! How, I ask
ye, how do ye expect that ever ye could prosper for a single day after,
if ye were to throw oor twa decent barn-men oot o' employment, and their
families oot o' bread? I just ask ye that question, William. Does na the
proverb say--'Live and let live;' and hoo are men to live, if, by an
invention o' the Enemy o' mankind, ye tak work oot o' their hands, and
bread oot o' their mouths?"

"'Dear me, Kirsty!' said I, 'hoo is it possible that a woman o' your
excellent sense can talk such nonsense? Ye see very weel that, if I had
had a machine, I micht hae made a hundred pounds mair than I did by last
year's crops--that, certainly, would hae been a good turn to us--and,
tak my word for it, it is neither in the power nor in the nature o' the
Evil One to do a guid turn to onybody.'

"'Willie,' quoth she, 'ye talk like a silly man--like a very silly man,
indeed. If the Enemy o' mankind hadna it in his power to do for us what
we tak to be for oor guid, hoo in the warld do ye think he could tempt
us to our hurt? I say, that thrashing-machines are an invention o' his,
and that they are ane o' the instruments he is bringing up for the ruin
o' this country. It is him, and him alone, that is putting it into your
head to buy ane o' his infernal devices, in order that he may not only
ruin you, baith soul and body, by filling ye wi' a desire o' riches, an'
making ye the oppressor and the robber o' the poor, but that, through
your oppression and robbery, he may ruin them also, and bring them to
shame or the gallows!'

"'Forgie me, Kirsty,' said I, 'what in a' the world do ye mean? Hoo is
it possible that ye can talk aboot me as likely to be either an
oppressor or a robber o' the poor? I'll declare there never was a beggar
passed either me or my door, that ever I saw, but I gied him something.
I'm sure, guidwife, ye baith ken better o' me, and think better o' me
than to talk sae.'

"'Yes, William,' said she, 'I did think better o' ye; but I noo see
distinctly that the Enemy is leading ye blindfolded to your ruin. First,
through the pride o' your heart, he tempted ye to tak this big farm,
that, as ye thocht, ye might hasten to be rich; and now he is seducing
ye to buy ane o' his diabolical machines for the same end, and in order
that ye may not only deprive honest men and their families o' bread,
but, belike, rather than starve, tempt them to steal! And what ca' ye
that but oppressing and robbing the poor? Hooever, buy a machine!--buy
ane, and ye'll see what will be the upshot! If ye dinna repent it, say
I'm no your wife.'

"I confess her words were onything but agreeable to me, and they rather
set me a hesitating hoo to act. Hooever my mind was bent upon buying the
machine. I had said to several o' my neebors that I intended to hae ane
put up; and I was convinced that, if I drew back o' my word, it would be
said that my wife wouldna let me get it, and I would be made a general
laughing-stock--and that was a thing that I held in greater dread than
even my wife's lectures, severe as they sometimes were; therefore,
reason or nane, I got a machine put up. It caused a very general outcry
amongst a' the 'datal' men and their wives for miles round. At ae time I
even thocht that they would mob me and pull it to pieces. But all their
clamour was a mere snaw-flake fa'ing in the sea, compared wi' the
perpetual dirdum that Kirsty rang in my ears about it. She actually
threatened that judgments would follow, and I didna ken a' what. But, on
the morning o' the day that I yoked the horses into it, and began to
thrash wi' it for the first time I declare to you that she took the six
bairns wi' her, and absolutely went to her faither's, vowing to work for
them until the blood sprang from her finger-ends, rather then live wi' a
man that would be guilty o' such madness and iniquity.

"But having heard before dinner-time that I had had to employ a woman at
sixpence a-day to feed into the machine she came back as fast as her
feet could carry her, wi' a' the bairns behint her, and ordering the
stranger away, began to feed the machine hersel', and the bairns carried
her the sheaves.

"I saw that out o' a spirit o' pure wickedness, she was distressing
hersel' far beyond what there was the sma'est occasion for. It was as
clear as day, that indignation was working in her heart, like barm
fermenting in a bottle, and just about half an hour before we were to
leave off thrashing for the nicht, she was seized with a very alarming
pain in the breast. I saw and said it was a hysterical affection, and
was altogether the consequence o' the passion that she had given way to
on account o' the unlucky machine. She, however, denied that there were
such diseases in existence as either hysterical or nervous affections.
They were sham disorders, she said, that cam into the country wi' tea
and spirit-drinking; and she assuredly was free from indulging in either
the ane or the other. But she grew worse and worse, and was at last
obliged to sit down upon some straw on the barn-floor. I ventured
forward to her, and said--'Kirsty, woman, ye had better gang awa into
the house. Ye will do yersel' mair ill by sittin there, for there is a
current o' air through the loft, which, after you being warm with
working, may gie ye your death o' cauld. Rise up, dear, and gang awa
into the house, and try if a glass o' usquebae will do ye ony guid.'

"Maister Burns, the poet, has said--

    'She has an ee, she has but _ane_;'

but, certes, had he seen the look that she gied me as I then spoke to
her, he would hae been satisfied that she had _twa_! I saw it was o' nae
manner o' use for me either to offer advice or to express sympathy. The
wife o' an auld man that was called John Neilson, and who for several
years had been our barn-man, came into the machine-loft at the time, and
wi' a great deal o' concern she asked my wife what was like the matter
wi' her. Now this auld Peggy Neilson had the reputation, for miles
round, o' being an extraordinary _skilly_ woman. There wasna a bairn in
the parish took a sair throat, or got a burnt foot, or a cut finger, or
took a _dwam_ for a day or twa, but its mother said--'I maun hae Peggy
Neilson spoken to aboot that bairn, before it be owre late.' Kirsty,
therefore, told her hoo she was affected, when the other, wi' the
confidence o' a doctor o' medicine brought up at the first college in
the kingdom, said--'Then, ma'am, if that be the way ye feel, there is
naething in the warld sae guid for ye as a blast o' the pipe. I aye
carry a tinder-box and flint and steel wi' me, and ye are welcome to a
whuff o' my cutty.'

"Now, Kirsty was a bitter enemy to baith smoking and snuffing in
general; but she had great faith in the skill o' Peggy Neilson, and wad
far rather hae done whatever she advised than followed the prescription
o' the best doctor in a' the land. She took the auld woman's pipe,
therefore, and began to blaw through a spirit o' pain and perverseness
at the same moment. As I anticipated, it soon made her dizzy in the
head, and she had to be led to the house. Hooever, in a short time, the
pain she had been suffering was greatly abated, though whether the
smoking contributed towards removing it or not, I dinna pretend to say.
Just as she had been taen to the house, we were dune wi' thrashing for
the day, and I was very highly gratified wi' the day's wark.

"But I was very tired, and as soon as I had had my sowens I went to bed.
I several times thought, and remarked it, that there was a sort o' burnt
smell about.

"'Ay,' said Kirsty, who by this time was a great deal better; 'they who
will use the engines o' forbidden agents maun expect to smell them, as
in the end they will feel them.'

"Being conscious it was o' nae use to reason wi' her, for she in general
had the better o' me in an argument, I tried to compose mysel' to
sleep. But it was in vain to think o' closing my een, for the smell o'
burning grew stronger and stronger, and I was rising again,
saying--'There is something burning aboot somewhere, and I canna rest
until I hae seen what it is.'

"'Nor let other folk rest either,' said Kirsty.

"Just at that moment, oor eldest dochter, who was as perfect a picture
o' beauty as ever man looked upon wi' eyes o' admiration, and who being
alarmed by the smell, as well as me, had gane oot to examine from what
it proceeded came running oot o' breath, crying--'Faither! faither!-the
barn and everything is on fire!'

"'O goodness!' cried I, as I threw on part o' my claes in the twinkling
o' an ee; 'what wretch can hae been sae wicked as to do it!'

"'It's a judgment upon ye,' said Kirsty, 'for having such a thing about
the place, after a' the admonitions ye had against it. I said ye would
see what would be the upshot, and it hasna been lang o' coming.'

"'O ye tormenter o' my life!' cried I, as I ran oot o' the house; 'it's
your handy-work!'

"'Mine!' exclaimed she. 'O ye heartless man that ye are, how dare ye
presume either to say or think sic a thing!' and she followed me out.

"The whole stackyard was black wi' smoke--it was hardly possible to
breathe--and a great sheet o' fire, like the mouth o' a fiery dragon,
was rushing and roaring out at the barn-door. I didna ken what to do; I
was ready to rush head foremost into the middle o' the flames, as if
that I could hae crushed them out wi' the weight o' my body; and I am
persuaded that I would hae darted right into the machine loft, where the
flames were bursting through the very tiles, as frae the mouth o' a
volcano, had not my wife, and our eldest daughter Janet, flewn after me
and held me in their arms, the one crying--'Be calm, William--do
naething rashly--let us see to save what can be saved;' and the other
saying--'Faither! faither! dinna risk your life.'

"Now, there was a hard frost owre the entire face o' the ground, and
there wasna a drop o' water to be got within a quarter o' a mile; and
the whole o' my year's crop, with, the exception o' what had that day
been thrashed, was in the stackyard. I shouted at the pitch of my voice
for assistance, but the devouring flames soon roared louder than I did.
Kirsty, wi' her usual presence o' mind, began to clear away the straw
from around the barn, to prevent the fire from spreading, and she called
upon the bairns and me to follow her example. She also ordered a laddie
to set the horses out o' the stables, and the nowt oot o' the
'courtine,' and drive them into a field, where they would be oot o'
danger. A' our neighbours round aboot, in a short time arrived to our
assistance; but a' our combined efforts were unavailing. The wood wark
o' the machine was already on fire--the barn roof fell in, and up flew
such a volley o' smoke and firmament o' fire as man had never witnessed.
The sparks ascended in millions upon millions; and as they poured down
again like a shower o' fire, every stack that I had broke into a blaze,
and the whole produce o' my farm, corn, straw, and hay became as a
burning fiery furnace. It became impossible for ony living thing to
remain in the stackyard. From end to end, and round and round, it was
one fierce and awful flame. The heat was scorching, and the dense smoke
was baith blinding and suffocating. Every person was obliged to flee
from it. The very cattle in the field ran about in confusion, and moaned
wi' terror, and the horses neighed wi' fright, and pranced to and fro. I
stood at a distance, as motionless as a dead man, gazing wi' horror upon
the terrific scene o' desolation, beholding the destruction o' my
property--the burning up, as I may say, o' a' my prospects. The teeth in
my head chattered thegither, and every joint in my body seemed oot o'
its socket; and the raging o' destruction in the stackyard was naething
to the raging o' misery in my breast; and especially because I coudna
banish frae my brain the awfu' thought that the hand o' the wife o' my
bosom had lighted the conflagration. While I was standing in this state
o' speechless agony, and some around about me were pitying me, while
others in whispers said--'He had nae business to get a thrashing
machine, and the thing woudna hae happened,' Kirsty came forward to me,
and takin' me by the hand, said--'William, dinna be silly--appear like a
man before folk. Our loss is nae doubt great, but in time we may get
ower it; and be thankfu' that it is nae waur than it is like to be--for
your wife and bairns are spared to ye, and we have escaped unskaithed.'

"'Awa, ye descendant o' Judas Iscariot!' cried I; 'dinna speak to me!'

"'William,' said she, calmly, 'what infatuation possesses ye,
man?--dinna mak a fool o' yoursel'.'

"'Awa wi' ye!' cried I, perfectly shaking wi' rage.

"'Dear me!' I heard a neighbour remark to another; 'how gruffly he
speaks to Kirsty! I aye thought that she had the upperhand o' him, but
it doesna appear by his manner o' speaking to her.'

"Distracted, wretched, and angry as I was, I experienced a sort o'
secret pleasure at hearing the observation. I had shewn them that I
wasna a slave tied to my wife's apron-strings, as they supposed me to
be. Kirsty left me wi' a look that had baith scorn and pity in it. But
oor auldest lassie, my bonny fair-haired Janet--to look upon whose face
I always delighted beyond everything on earth--came running forward to
me; and throwing her arms about my neck, sobbed wi' her face upon my
breast, and softly whispered--'Dinna stand that way, faither, a' body is
looking at ye; and dinna speak harshly to my poor mother--she is
distressed enough without you being angry wi' her.' I bent my head upon
my bairn's shouther, and the tears ran doun my cheeks.

"By this time, everything was oot o' the house; and the fire was
prevented from reaching it, chiefly through the daring exertions o' a
hafflins laddie, whose name was James Patrick, who was the son o' a
neebor farmer, and who, though no aboon seventeen years o' age, I
observed was very fond o' oor bonny Janet; for I had often observed the
young creatures wandering in the loaning thegither; and when ye
mentioned the name o' the ane before the other, the blood rose to their
face.

"Next morning, the stackyard, barn, byres, and stables, presented a
fearful picture o' devastation. There was naething to be seen but the
still smoking heaps o' burnt straw and roofless buildings, wi' wreck and
ruin to the richt hand and to the left. Some thought that the calamity
would knock me aff my feet, and cause me to become a broken man--and I
thought myself that that would be its effect. But Kirsty was determined
that we should never sink while we had a finger to wag to keep us aboon
the water. Cheap as she had always maintained the house, she now keepit
it at almost no expense whatever. For more than two years, nothing was
allowed to come into it but what the farm produced, and what we had
within ourselves, neither in meat nor in claething.

"But though I witnessed all her exertions, nothing could satisfy my mind
that she was not the cause o' the destruction o' the machine, and
through it o' all that was in and about the stackyard. The idea haunted
me perpetually, and rendered me miserable, and I could not look upon my
wife without saving to mysel--'Is it possible that she could hae been
guilty o' such folly and great wickedness.' I was the more confirmed in
my suspicion, because she never again mentioned the subject o' the
machine in my hearing, neither would she allow it to be spoken aboot by
ony ane else.

"What gratified me maist, during the years that we had to undergo
privation, was the cheerfulness wi' which all the bairns submitted to
it; and I couldna deny that it was solely to her excellent manner o'
bringing them up. Our Janet, who was approaching what may be called
womanhood, was now talked o' through the hale country-side for her
beauty and sweet temper; and it pleased me to observe, that, during our
misfortune, the attentions o' James Patrick (through whose skilful
exertions oor house was saved frae the conflagration) increased. It was
admitted, on all hands, that a more winsome couple were never seen in
Nithsdale.

"Oor auldest son, David, who was only fifteen months younger than his
sister, had also grown to be o' great assistance to me. Before he was
seventeen he was capable o' man's work, which enabled me to do with a
hind less than I had formerly employed. My landlord, also, was very
considerate; and, the first year after the burning, he gave me back the
half o' the rent, which I, with great difficulty, had been able to
scrape thegether. But when I went hame, and, in the gladness o' my
heart, began to count down the money upon the table before Kirsty and
the bairns, and to tell them how good the laird had been--'Tak it up,
William!' cried she, 'tak it up, and gang back wi' it--he would consider
it an obligation a' the days o' our lives. I will be beholden to neither
laird nor lord! nor shall ony ane belonging to me--sae, tak back the
money, for it isna ours!'

"'Bless me!' thought I, 'but this is something very remarkable. This is
certainly another proof that she really is at the bottom o' the
fire-raising. It is the consciousness o' her guilt that makes her
shudder at and refuse the kind kindness o' the laird.'

"'It is braw talking, Kirsty,' said I, 'but I see nae necessity for
persons that hae been visited wi' a misfortune such as we met wi', and
wha hae suffered sae much on account o' it, to let their pride do them
an injury or exceed their discretion. Consider that we hae a rising
family to provide for.'

"'Consider what ye like,' quoth she, 'but, if ye accept the siller,
consider what will be the upshot. Ye would hae to be hat in hand to him
at all times and on all occasions. Yer very bairns would be, as it were,
his bought slaves. No, William, tak back the money--I order ye!'

"'Ye _order_ me!' cried I, 'there's a guid ane!--and where got ye
authority to order me. If ye will hae the siller taen back, tak it back
yersel.'

"Without saying another word, she absolutely whipped it off the table,
every plack and bawbee, into her apron; and, throwing on her rockelay
and hood, set aff to the laird's wi' it, where, as I was afterwards
given to understand, she threw it down upon his table wi' as little
ceremony as she had sweept it aft' mine.

"Ye may weel imagine that baith my astonishment and vexation were very
considerable. I had seen a good deal o' Kirsty, but the act o' taking
back the siller crowned a'!

"'Losh!' said I, in the pure bitterness o' my spirit, 'that caps
a'!--that is even worse than destroying the machine, wi' the stacks and
stabling into the bargain!'

"'What do ye mean about destroying the machine, faither?' inquired Janet
and David, almost at the same instant--'who do ye say destroyed it?'

"'Naebody,' said I, angrily, 'naebody!'--for I found I had said what I
ought not to hae said.

"'Really, faither,' said Janet, 'whatever it may be that ye think and
hint at, I am certain that ye do my mother a great injustice if ye
harbour a single thought to her prejudice. It may appear rather
proud-spirited her takin back the siller, though I hae na doubt, in the
lang run, but we'll a' approve o' it.'

"'That is exactly what I think, too,' said David.

"'Oh, nae dout!' said I, 'nae dout o' that!--for she has ye sae learned,
that everything she does, or that ony o' ye does, is always right; and
whatever I do must be wrang!' and I went oot o' the house in a pet,
driving the door behind me, and thinking about the machine and the loss
o' the siller.

"Hooever, I am happy to say, that although Kirsty did tak back the money
to the laird and leave it wi' him, yet, as I have already hinted to ye,
through her frugal management, within a few years we got the better o'
the burning. But there is a saying, that some folk are no sooner weel
than they're ill again--and I'm sure I may say that at that time. I no
sooner got the better o' the effects o' ae calamity, until another
overtook me. Ye hae heard what a terrible dirdum the erecting o'
toll-bars caused throughout the country, and upon the Borders in
particular. Kirsty was one o' those who cried oot most bitterly against
them. She threatened, that if it were attempted to place ane within ten
miles o' oor farm, she would tear it to pieces with her ain hands.

"'Here's a bonny time o' day, indeed!' said she, 'that a body canna gang
for a cart-load o' coals or peats, or tak their corn, or whatever it may
be, to the market, but they must pay whatever a set o' Justices o' the
Peace please to charge them for the liberty o' driving along the road.
Na, na! the roads did for our faithers before us, and they will do for
us. They went alang them free and without payment, and so will we; for I
defy any man to claim, what has been a public road for ages, as his
property. Only submit to such an imposition, and see what will be the
upshot. But, rather than they shall mak sic things in this
neighbourhood, I will raise the whole countryside.'

"Unfortunately in this, as in everything else, she verified her words. A
toll-bar was erected within half-a-mile o' oor door Kirsty was clean
mad about it. She threatened not only to break the yett to pieces, but
to hang the toll-keeper owre the yett-post if he offered resistance. I
thought o' my machine, and said little; and the more especially because
every ane, baith auld and young, and through the whole country, so far
as I could hear, were o' the same sentiments as Kirsty. There never was
onything proposed in this kingdom that was mair unpopular. And, I am
free to confess, that, with regard to the injustice o' toll-bars, I was
precisely o' the same way o' thinkin' as my wife--only I by no means
wished to carry things to the extremes that she wished to bring them to.

"I ought to tell ye, that our laird was more than suspected o' being the
principal cause o' us having a toll-bar placed so near us, so that we
could neither go to lime, coals, nor market, without gaun through it. I
was, therefore, almost glad that my wife had taken back the siller to
him, lest--as I was against raising a disturbance about the matter--folk
should say that my hands and tongue were tied wi' the siller which he
had given me back; for, if I didna wish to be considered the slave o' my
wife, as little did I desire to be thought the tool o' my landlord. But,
ae day, I had been in at Dumfries in the month o' July, selling my wool;
I had met wi' an excellent market, and a wool-buyer from Leeds and I got
very hearty thegether. He had bought from me before; and, on that day,
he bought all that I had. I knew him to be an excellent man, though a
keen Yorkshireman--and, ye ken, that the Yorkshire folk and we Scotchmen
are a gay tight match for ane anither--though I believe, after a', they
rather beat us at keeping the grip o' the siller; but as I intended to
say, I treated him, and he treated me, and a very agreeable day we had.
I recollect when he was pressing me to hae the other gill, I sang him a
bit hamely sang o' my ain composing. Ye shall hear it.

    Nay, dinna press, I winna stay,
      For drink shall ne'er abuse me;
    It's time to rise and gang away--
      Sae neibors ye'll excuse me.

    It's true I like a social gill,
      A friendly crack wi' cronies;
    But I like my wifie better still,
      Our Jennies an' our Johnnies.

    There's something by my ain fireside--
      A saft, a haly sweetness;
    I see, wi' mair than kingly pride,
      My hearth a heaven o' neatness

    Though whisky may gie care the fling,
      It's triumph's unco noisy;
    A jiffy it may pleasure bring,
      But comfort it destroys aye.

    But I can view my ain fireside
      Wi' a' a faither's rapture;--
    Wee Jenny's hand in mine will slide,
      While Davy reads his chapter.

    I like your company and yer crack,
      But there's ane I loo dearer,
    Ane wha will sit till I come back,
      Wi' ne'er a ane to cheer her.

    A waff o' joy comes owre her face
      The moment that she hears me;
    The supper--a' thing's in its place,
      An' wi' her smiles she cheers me.

However, I declare to you, it was very near ten o'clock before I left
the house we are sitting in at present, and put my foot in the stirrup.
But, as my friend Robin says--

    'Weel mounted on my grey mare Meg,'

I feared for naething; and, though I had sixteen lang Scots miles to
ride, I thought naething aboot it; for, as he says again--

    'Kings may be great, but I was glorious,
     Owre a' the ills o' life victorious!'

But, just as I had reached within about half a mile o' the toll-bar
that had been erected near my farm, I saw a sort o' light rising frae
the ground, and reflected on the sky. My heart sank within me in an
instant. I remembered the last time I had seen such a light. I thought
o' my burning stackyard, o' my ruined machine, and o' Kirsty! My first
impulse was to gallop forward, but a thousand thoughts, a thousand fears
cam owre me in an instant; and I thought that evil tidings come quick
enough o' their ain accord, without galloping to meet them. As I
approached the toll-bar, the flame and the reflection grew brighter and
brighter; and I heard the sound o' human voices, in loud and discordant
clamour. My forebodings told me, to use Kirsty's words, what would be
the upshot. I hadna reached within a hundred yards o' the bar, when,
aboon a' the shouting and the uproar, I heard her voice, the voice o' my
ain wife, crying--'Mak him promise that it shall ne'er be put up
again--mak him swear to it--or let his yett gang the gaet o' the
toll-yett!'

"In a moment all that I had dreaded I found to be true. At the sound o'
her voice, hounding on the enraged multitude, (though I didna altogether
disapprove o' what they were doing,) I plunged my spurs into my horse,
and galloped into the middle o' the outrageous crowd, crying--'Kirsty! I
say, Kirsty! awa hame wi' ye! What right or what authority had ye to be
there?'

"'Hear him! hear him!' cried the crowd, 'Willie has turned a toll-bar
man, and a laird man, because the Laird once offered him the half o' his
rent back again! Never mind him, Kirsty!--we'll stand yer friends!'

"'I thank ye, neighbours,' said she, 'but I require nae body to stand as
friends between my guidman and me. I ken it is my duty to obey him, that
is, when he is himsel', and comes hame at a reasonable time o' nicht;
but not when he is in a way that he doesna ken what he's saying, as he
is the nicht.'

"'Weel done, Mistress Wastle!' cried a dozen o' them; 'we see ye hae the
whip-hand o' him yet!'

"'The mischief tak ye!' cried I, 'for a wheen ill-mannered scoundrels;
but I'll let every mother's son and dochter among ye ken whase hand the
whip is in!'

"And, wi' that, I began to lay about me on every side; but, before I had
brought the whip half-a-dozen o' times round my head, I found that the
horse was out from under me; and there was I wi' my back upon the
ground, while, on the one side, was a heavy foot upon my breast, and, on
the other, Kirsty threatening ony ane that would injure a hair o' her
husband's head; and my son David and James Patrick rushing forward,
seized the man by the throat that had his foot upon my breast, and, in
an instant, they had him lying where I had lain; for they were stout,
powerfu' lads.

"But when I got upon my feet, and began to recover from the surprise
that I had met wi', there did I see the laird himsel, standing trembling
like an ash leaf in the middle o' the unruly mob--and, as ringleader o'
the whole, my wife Kirsty shaking her hand in his face, and endeavouring
to extort from him a promise, that there never should be another
toll-bar erected upon his grounds, while he was laird!

"'Kirsty!' I exclaimed, 'what are ye after? Are ye mad?'

"'No, William!' cried she, 'I am not mad, but I am standing out for our
rights against injustice; and sorry am I to perceive that, at a time
when everybody is crying out and raising their hand against the
oppression that is attempted to be practised upon them, my guidman
should be the only coward in the countryside.'

"'William Wastle!' said the terrified laird, whom some o' them were
handling very roughly, (and principally, I must confess, at the
instigation o' Kirsty,) 'I am glad to see that I have one tenant upon my
estate who is a true man; and I ask your protection.'

"'Such protection as I can afford, sir,' said I, 'ye shall have; but,
after the rough handling winch I have experienced this very moment, I
dout it is not much that is in my power to afford ye.'

"'Get yer faither awa to his bed, bairns!' cried my wife, as I was
driving my way through the crowd to the assistance o' the laird; and
I'll declare, if my son David, and James Patrick, didna actually come
behind me, and, lifting me aff my feet, carried me shouther-high a' the
way to my bedroom; and, in spite o' my threats, expostulations, and
commands, locked me into it.

"Weel, thought I, as I threw myself down upon the bed, without taking
aff my claes, (partly because I found my head wanted ballast to tak them
aff,) I said unto mysel--'This comes o' having a wise and headstrong
wife, and bairns o' her way o' bringing up. But if ever I marry again
and hae a family, I shall ken better how to act.'

"Notwithstanding all that I had undergone and witnessed, in the space o'
ten minutes, I fell fast asleep; and the first thing that I awoke to
recollect--that is, to be conscious o'--was my daughter Janet rushing to
my bedside, and crying--'Faither! faither! my mother is a prisoner!--my
poor dear mother, and James Patrick also!--and I heard the laird saying
that they would baith be transported, as the very least that could
happen them for last night's work, which I understand will be punished
more severely than even highway robbery!'

"I awoke like a man born to a consciousness o' horror, and o' naething
but horror. All that I had seen and heard and encountered on the night
before, was just as a dream to me, but a dismal dream I trow.

"'Where is yer mother?' I gasped, 'or what is it that ye are saying,
hinny? and--where is James Patrick?'

"'Oh!' cried my darling daughter, 'before this time they are baith in
Dumfries jail, for pu'ing down and burning the toll-yetts, and
threatening the life o' the laird. But everybody says it will gang
particularly hard against my mother and poor James; for, though every
one was to blame, they were what they ca' ringleaders.'

"I soon recollected enough o' the previous night's proceedings to
comprehend what my daughter said. I hurried on my claes, and awa I flew
to Dumfries. But I ought to tell ye, that the laird's servants had
ridden in every direction for assistance; and having got three or four
constables, and about a dozen o' the regular military, all armed wi'
swords and pistols, they made poor Kirsty and James Patrick, wi' about a
dozen others, prisoners, and conveyed them to Dumfries jail.

"When I was shewn into the prison, Kirsty and James, and the whole o'
them, were together. 'O Kirsty, woman!' said I, in great distress,
'could ye no hae keepit at hame while my back was turned! Why hae ye
brought the like o' this upon us? I'm sure ye kenned better! _Was the
destruction o' the machine and the stackyard no a warning to ye!_'

"'William,' answered she, 'what is it that ye mean?--is this a time to
cast upon me yer low-minded suspicions? Had ye last nicht acted as a
man, we micht hae got the laird to comply wi' our request; but it is
through you, and such as you, that everything in this unlucky country is
gaun to destruction; and sorry am I to say that ill o' ye--for a kind, a
good, and a faithfu' husband hae ye been to me, William.'

"'O sir!' said James Patrick, coming forward and taking me by the hand,
'may I just beg that ye will tak my respects to yer dochter Janet; and,
I hope, that whatever may be the issue o' this awkward affair, that she
will in no way look down upon me, because I happen to be as a sort o'
prisoner in a jail.' My heart rose to my mouth, and I hadna a word to
say to either my wife or him.

"'Weel," said I, as I left them, 'I must do the best I can to bring
baith o' ye aff; and, to accomplish it, the best lawyers in a' Scotland
shall be employed.'

"But to go on--at a very great expense, I, and the faither o' James
Patrick, had employed the very principal advocates that went upon the
Dumfries circuit; and they tauld us that we had naething to fear, and
that we might keep ourselves quite at ease.

"I was glad that my son David hadna been seized and imprisoned, as weel
as his mother and James Patrick, for he also had been ane o' the
ringleaders in the breaking doun and burning o' the toll-bars, and in
the assault upon the laird. But he escaped apprehension at the time, and
I suppose they thought that they had enough in custody to answer the
ends o' justice and the law, and, therefore, he was permitted to remain
unmolested.

"Now, sir, comes the most melancholy part o' my story. I had a quantity
o' wool to deliver to the Yorkshire buyer, I hae already mentioned, upon
a certain day. My son David was to drive the carts wi' it to Annan. It
was sair wark, and he had but little sleep for a fortnight thegether. It
caused him to travel night and day, load after load. Now, I needna tell
ye, that at that period the roads were literally bottomless. The horse
just went plunge, plunging, and the cart jerking, now to ae side, and
now to another, or giein a shake sufficient to drive the life out o' ony
body that was in it. Now, the one wheel was on a hill, and the other in
a hollow; or, again, baith were up to the axle-tree in mud, or the horse
half-swimming in water! And yet people cried out against toll-bars! But,
as I hae been telling ye, my son David had driven wool to Annan for a
fortnight, and he was sair worn out. The roads were in a dreadful
state--worse than if, now-a-days, ye were to attempt to drive through a
bog.

"Ae night, when he was expected hame, his sister Janet, and mysel' sat
lang up waiting upon him, and wondering what could be keeping him, when
a stranger rode up to the door, and asked if 'one Mr William Wastle
lived there?' I replied 'Yes!' And, oh! what think ye were his tidings,
but that my name had been seen upon the carts, that the horses had stuck
fast in the roads, and that my son David, who had fallen from the
shafts, had either been killed, or drowned among the horses' feet!

"I thought his brothers and sisters, and especially Janet, would have
gane oot o' their judgment. As for me, a' the trials I had had were but
as a drap in a bucket when compared wi' this!

"But, after I had mourned for a night, the worst was to come. Hoo was I
to tell his poor imprisoned mother!--imprisoned as she wis for opposing
the very thing that would hae saved her son's life!

"Next day I went to Dumfries; but I declare that I never saw the light
o' the sun hae sic a dismal appearance. The fields appeared to me as if
I saw them through a mist. Even distance wasna as it used to be. I was
admitted into the prison, but I winna--oh no! I canna repeat to ye the
manner in which I communicated the tidings to his mother! It was too
much for her then--it would be the same for me now! for naething in the
whole coorse o' my life ever shook me so much as the death o' my poor
David. But I remember o' saying to her, and I declare to you upon the
word o' a man, unthinkingly--'O Kirsty, woman! had we had toll-bars,
David might still hae been living!'

"'William, William!' she cried, and fell upon my neck, 'will ye kill me
outright!' And, for the first time in my life, I saw the tears gushing
down her cheeks. Those tears washed away the very remembrance o' the
machine, and the burning o' the stacks. I pressed her to my heart, and
my tears mingled wi' hers.

"I believe it was partly through our laird that baith Kirsty and James
Patrick were liberated without being brought to a trial. Her
imprisonment, and the death o' our son, had wrought a great change upon
my wife; and I think it was hardly three months after her being set at
liberty, that we were baith sent for to auld John Neilson the barnman's,
whose wife Peggy lay upon her death-bed. When we approached her bedside,
she raised herself upon her elbow, and said--'The burning o' yer barn
and stackyard has always been a mystery--hear the real truth from the
words o' a dying and guilty woman. Yer machine had thrown my husband out
o' employment, and when yer wife there gied me back the pipe, a whuff o'
which I said would do her good, _I let the burning dottle drap among the
straw_--nane o' ye observed it--ye were a' leaving the barn. Now, ye ken
the cause--on my death-bed I make the confession.'

"I declare I thought my heart would hae louped out o' my body. I pressed
my wife, against whom I had harboured such vile suspicions, to my
breast. She saw my meaning--she read my feelings.

"'William,' said she, kindly, 'if ye hae onything on yer mind that ye
wish to forget, so hae I; let us baith forget and forgie!'

"I felt Kirsty's bosom heaving upon mine, and I was happy.

"Within six months after this, James Patrick and our dochter Janet were
married; and an enviable couple they then were, and such they are unto
this day. And, as for my Kirsty, auld though she is, and though the sang
says--

    'I wadna gie a button for her,'

auld, I say, as she is, and wi' a' her faults, I would gie a' the
buttons upon my coat for her still, and a' the siller that ever was in
my pouch into the bargain."

[Footnote 4: Mr Allan Cunningham, in his Life of Burns, states the
following particulars respecting Willie's wife:--viz., that "He was a
farmer, who lived near Burns, at Ellisland. She was a very singular
woman--tea, she said, would be the ruin of the nation; sugar was a sore
evil; wheaten bread was only fit for babes; earthenware was a
pickpocket; wooden floors were but fit for thrashing upon; slated roofs,
cold; feathers good enough for fowls. In short, she abhorred change: and
whenever anything new appeared--such as harrows with iron teeth--'Ay!
ay!' she would exclaim, 'ye'll see the upshot!' Of all modern things she
disliked china most--she called it 'burnt clay,' and said 'it was only
fit for haudin' the broo o' stinkin' weeds,' as she called tea. On one
occasion, an English dealer in cups and saucers asked so much for his
wares, that he exasperated a peasant, who said, 'I canna purchase, but I
ken ane that will. Gang there,' said he, pointing to the house of
Willie's wife, 'dinna be blate or burd-moothed; ask a guid penny--she
has the siller!' Away went the poor dealer, spread out his wares before
her, and summed up all by asking a double price. A blow from her
crummock was his instant reward, which not only fell on his person, but
damaged his china. 'I'll learn ye,' quoth she, as she heard the saucers
jingle, 'to come wi' yer brazent English face, and yer bits o' burnt
clay to me!' She was an unlovely dame--her daughters, however, were
beautiful."--ED.]



THE STONE-BREAKER.


If any of our readers had had occasion to go out, for a couple of miles
or so, on the road leading from Edinburgh to the village of Carlops, any
time during the summer of the year 1836, they would have seen a little
old man--very old--employed in breaking metal for the roads. The exact
spot where _we_ saw him, was at the turn of the eastern shoulder of the
Pentland Hills; but the nature of his employment rendering him somewhat
migratory, he may have been seen by others in a different locality. In
the appearance of the old stone-breaker, there was nothing particularly
interesting--nothing to attract the attention of the passer-by--unless
it might be his great age. This, however, certainly was calculated to do
so; and when it did, it must have been accompanied by a painful feeling
at seeing one so old and feeble still toiling for the day that was
passing over him; and toiling, too, at one of the most dreary,
laborious, and miserable occupations which can well be conceived. Had
the old man no children who could provide for the little wants of their
aged parent, without the necessity of his still labouring for them--who
could secure him in that ease which exhausted nature demanded? It
appeared not. Perhaps it was a spirit of independence that nerved his
weak arm, and kept him toiling so far beyond the usual term of human
capability. Probably the proud-spirited old man would break no bread but
that which he had earned by the sweat of his brow and the labour of his
hands. Perhaps it was so. At any rate, this we know, that, at the early
hour of five in the morning, as regularly as the morning came, the old
stone-breaker had already commenced his monotonous labour. But this was
not all. He had also, by this early hour, walked upwards of four
miles--for so far distant was the scene of his occupation from the place
of his residence, Edinburgh. He must, therefore, have left home between
three and four o'clock, and this was his daily round, without
intermission, without variation, and without relaxation. A bottle of
butter-milk and a penny loaf formed each day's sustenance. His daily
earnings, labouring from five in the morning till six at night, averaged
about ninepence! Hear ye this, ye who ride in emblazoned carriages! Hear
ye this, ye loungers on the well-stuffed couch!--and hear it, ye
revellers at the festive board, who have never toiled for the luxuries
ye enjoy! Hear it, and think of it! But of this person we have other
things to tell; and to these we proceed.

One morning, just after he had commenced the labours of the day, a young
man, of about four or five and twenty years of age, accosted him, wished
him a good morning, and seated himself on the heap of broken metal on
which the old man was at work, and did so seemingly with the intention
of entering into conversation with him. This was a proceeding to which
the latter was much accustomed, it being a frequent practice with the
humbler class of wayfarers. The advances of the stranger, therefore, in
the present instance, did not for a moment interrupt his labours, or
slacken his assiduity. He hammered on without raising his head, even
while returning the greetings that were made him.

"A delightful view from this spot," said the young man, breaking in upon
a silence which had continued for some time after the first salutations
had passed between them.

"Yes," said the old man, drily; and, continuing his operations, he again
relapsed into his usual taciturnity; for, in truth, he was naturally of
a morose and uncommunicative disposition. Undeterred by his cold,
repulsive manner, the stranger again broke silence, and said, with a
deep-drawn sigh--

"How I envy these little birds that hop so joyously from spray to spray!
Their life is a happy one. Would to God I were one of them!"

The oddness of the expressions, and the earnestness with which they were
pronounced, had an effect on the labourer which few things had. They
induced him to pause in his work, to raise his head, and to look in the
face of the speaker, which he did with a smile of undefinable meaning.
It was the first full look he had taken of him, and it discovered to him
a countenance open and pleasing in its expression, but marked with deep
melancholy, and telling, in language not to be misunderstood, a tale of
heart-sickness of the most racking and depressing kind.

"Has your lot been ill cast, young man, that ye envy the bits o' burds
o' the air the freedom and the liberty that God has gien them?" said the
old man, eyeing the stranger scrutinizingly, with a keen, penetrating
grey eye, that had not even yet lost all its fire.

"It has," replied the latter. "I have been unfortunate in the world. I
have struggled hard with my fate, but it has at length overwhelmed me."

The old man muttered something unintelligibly, and, without vouchsafing
any other reply, resumed his labours. After another pause of some
duration, which, however, he had evidently employed in _thinking_ on the
declaration of unhappiness which had just been made him--

"Some folly o' your ain, young man, very likely," said he, carelessly,
and still knapping the stones, whose bulk it was his employment to
reduce.

"No," replied the young man, blushing; but it was a blush which he who
caused it did not see. "I cannot blame myself."

"Nae man does," interposed the stone-breaker; "he aye blames his
neighbours."

"Perhaps so," rejoined the stranger; "but you will allow that it is
perfectly possible for a man to be unfortunate without any fault on his
own part."

"I hae seldom seen't," replied the ungracious and unaccommodating old
man; and he hammered on.

"Well, perhaps so," said the youth; "but I hope you will not deny that
such things _may_ be."

"Canna say," was the brief, but sufficiently discouraging rejoinder.

"Then let us drop the subject," said the stranger, smilingly. "Each will
still judge of the world by his own experience. But, methinks, your own
case, my friend, is a hard enough one. To see a man of your years
labouring at this miserable employment, is a painful sight. Your debt to
fortune is also light, I should believe."

"I hae aye trusted mair to my ain industry than to fortune, young man. I
never pat it in her power to jilt me. I never trusted her, and
therefore, she has never deceived me; so her and me are quits." And the
old man plied away with his long, light hammer.

"Yet your earnings must be scanty?"

"I dinna compleen o' them."

"I daresay not; but will you not take it amiss my offering this small
addition to them?" And he tendered him a half-crown piece. "I have but
little to spare, and that must be my apology for offering you so
trifling a gift."

The man here again paused in his operations, and again looked full in
the face of the stranger, but without making any motion towards
accepting the proffered donation.

"I thocht ye said ye war in straits, young man," he said, and now
resting his elbow on the end of his hammer.

"And I said truly," replied the former, again colouring.

"Then hoo come ye to be sportin yer siller sae freely? I wad hae thocht
ye wad hae as muckle need o' a half-croon as I hae?"

"Perhaps I may," replied the stranger; "but that's not to hinder me from
feeling for others, nor from relieving their distresses so far as I
can."

"Foolish doctrine, young man, an' no' for this warl. It's nae wunner
that ye're in difficulties. I guessed the faut was yer ain, and noo I'm
sure o't. Put up yer half-croon, sir. I dinna tak charity."

"I hope, however, I have not offended you by the offer? It was well
meant."

"Ou, I daresay--I'm no the least offended; but tak an auld man's advice,
an' dinna let yer feelins hae the command o' yer purse-strings,
otherwise ye'll never hae muckle in't."

And the churlish old stone-breaker resumed his labours, and again
relapsed into taciturnity. Silent as he was, however, it was evident
that he was busily thinking, although none but himself could possibly
tell what was the subject of his thoughts; but this soon discovered
itself. After a short time, he again spoke--

"What may the nature an' cause o' yer defeeculties be, young man, an' I
may speer?" he said--"and I fancy I may, since ye hae been sae far free
on the subject o yer ain accord."

"That's soon told," replied the stranger. "Three years ago, an aunt,
with whom I was an especial favourite, left me two hundred and fifty
pounds. With this sum I set up in business in Edinburgh in the
ironmongery line, to which I was bred. My little trade prospered, and
gradually attained such an extent that I found I could not do without an
efficient assistant, who should look after the shop while I was out on
the necessary calls of business. In this predicament I bethought me of
my brother, who was a year older than myself, and accordingly sent for
him to Selkirkshire, where he resided with our father, assisting him in
his small farming operations; this being the business of the latter. My
brother came; and, for some time, was everything I could have
wished--sober, regular, and attentive; and we thus got on swimmingly.
This, however, was a state of matters which was not long to continue.
When my brother had about completed a year with me, I began to perceive
a gradual falling off in his anxiety about the interests of our little
business. I remonstrated with him on one or two occasions of palpable
neglect; but this, instead of inducing him to greater vigilance, had the
effect only of rendering him more and more careless. But I did not then
know the worst. I did not then know that, in place of aiding, he was
robbing me. This was the truth, however. He had formed an infamous
connection with a woman of disreputable character, and the consequence
was the adoption of a regular system of plunder on my little property,
to answer the calls which she was constantly making on my unfortunate
relative.

"About this time I took ill, and, not suspecting the integrity of my
brother, although aware of his carelessness, I did not hesitate to trust
him with the entire conduct of my affairs. Indeed, I could not help
myself in this particular; he best knowing my business, and being,
besides, the natural substitute for myself in such a case. For three
months was I confined, unable to leave my own room; and, when I did come
out, I found myself a ruined man. In this time, my brother had
appropriated almost every farthing that had been drawn to his own
purposes; and had, moreover, done the same by some of my largest and
best outstanding accounts; and, to sum up all, he had fled, I knew not
whither, on the day previous to that on which I made my first appearance
in my shop after my recovery. That is about ten days since."

"Did the rascal harry ye oot an' oot?" here interposed the old
stone-breaker, knapping away with great earnestness.

"No; there was a little on which he could not lay his hands--some
considerable accounts which are payable only yearly; there was also some
stock in the shop; but these, of course, are now the property of my
creditors."

"But could ye no get a settlement wi' them, an' go on?" inquired the
other, still knapping away assiduously. "I'm sure if you stated your
case, your creditors wadna be owre hard on ye."

"Perhaps they might not; but there is one circumstance that puts it out
of my power to make any attempt at arrangement. There is one bill of
fifty pounds, due to a Sheffield house, on which diligence has been
raised, and on which I am threatened with instant incarceration. In
truth, it is this proceeding that has brought me here so early this
morning. I expected to have been taken in my bed, as the charge was out
yesterday, and I am here to keep out of the way of the messengers. I am
thus deprived of the power of helping myself--of taking any steps
towards the adjustment of my affairs."

"An' could ye do any guid, think ye, if that debt wur paid, or in some
way arranged?" inquired the other.

"I think I could;" said the party questioned. "My good outstanding debts
are yet considerable, and so is the stock in the shop; so that, had a
little time been allowed me, I could have got round. But all that is
knocked on the head, by the impending diligence against me. That settles
the matter at once, by depriving me of the necessary liberty to go about
my affairs."

"It's a pity," said the man, drily. "Wha's the man o' business in
Edinburgh that thae Sheffield folk hae employed to prosecute ye? What
ca' ye him?"

"Mr Langridge."

"Ou ay, I hae heard o' him. An will he no gie ye ony indulgence?"

"He cannot. His instructions are imperative, otherwise he would, I am
convinced; for he is an excellent sort of man, and knows all about me
and my affairs. Indeed, so willing was he to have assisted me, that,
when the bill was first put into his hands, he wrote to his clients,
strongly recommending lenient measures and bearing testimony, on his own
knowledge, to the hardship of my case; but their reply was brief and
peremptory. It was to proceed against me instantly, and threatening him
with the loss of their business if he did not. For this uncompromising
severity they assigned as a reason, their having been lately 'taken in,'
as they expressed it, to a large extent, by a number of their Scotch
customers. So Mr. Langridge had no alternative but to do his duty, and
let matters take their course."

"True," replied the monosyllabic stone-breaker. It was all he said, or,
if he had intended to say more, which, however, is not probable, no
opportunity was afforded him; for at this moment three labouring men of
his acquaintance, who were on their way to their work, came up and began
conversing. On this interruption taking place, the young man rose,
wished him a good morning, which was merely replied to by a slight nod,
and went his way.

At this point in our story, we change the scene to the writing chambers
of Mr. Langridge, and the time we advance to the evening of the day on
which our tale opens.

It will surprise the reader to find our old stone-breaker, still wearing
the patched and threadbare clothes, the battered and torn hat, and the
coarse, strong shoes, which had never rejoiced in the contact of
blacking brush, in which he prosecuted his daily labours, ringing the
door-bell of Mr Langridge's house, about eight o'clock in the evening.
It will still more surprise him, perhaps, to find this man received,
notwithstanding the homeliness, we might have said wretchedness, of his
appearance, by Mr Langridge himself with great courtesy, and even with a
slight air of deference.

On his entering the apartment in which that gentleman was, the latter
immediately rose from his seat, and advanced, with extended hand,
towards him.

"Ah, Mr Lumsden," he exclaimed, "how do you do? I hope I see you well.
Come, my dear sir, take a chair." And he ran with eager civility for the
convenience he named, and placed it for the accommodation of his
visiter.

When the old man was seated--

"Well, my dear sir," said Mr Langridge, "I am sorry to say that _your
rents_ have not come so well in this last half-year as usual. We are
considerably short." And the man of business hurried to a large green
painted tin box, that stood amongst some others on a shelf, and bore on
its front the name of Lumsden, and from this drew forth what appeared to
be a list or rent roll, which he spread out on the table. "We are
considerably short," he said. "There's six or eight of your folks who
have paid nothing yet, and as many more who have made only partial
payments."

"Ay," said the man, crustily, "what's the meanin' o' that? Ye maun just
screw them up, Mr Langridge; for I canna want my siller, and I winna
want it. Hae thae folk Thamsons, paid yet?"

"Not a shilling more than you know of," replied Mr Langridge.

"Weel, then, Mr Langridge, ye maun just tak the necessary steps to
recover; for I'm determined to hae my rent. I'm no gaun to aloo mysel'
to be ruined this way. They wadna leave me a sark to my back, if I wad
let them. Ye maun just sequestrate, Mr Langridge--ye maun just
sequestrate, an' we'll help oorsels to payment, since they winna help
us."

"Oh, surely, surely, my dear sir. All fair and right. But I would just
mention to you, that though, latterly, they have been dilatory payers--I
would say, shamefully so--they are yet decent, honest, well-meaning
people, these Thomsons; and that, moreover, there is some reason for
their having been so remiss of late, although it is, certainly, none
whatever why you should want your rent."

"No, I fancy no," here interposed the other, with a triumphant chuckle.

"No, certainly not," went on Mr Langridge, who seemed to know well how
to manage his eccentric client; "but only, I would just mention to you,
that the _reason_ of the dilatoriness of the Thomsons, is the husband's
having been unable, from illness, to work for the last three months, and
that, in that time, they have also lost no less than two children. It is
rather a piteous case."

"An' what hae I to do wi' a' that?" exclaimed the other, impatiently.
"What hae I to do wi' a' that, I wad like to ken? Am I to be ca'ed on to
relieve a' the distress in the world? That wad be a bonny set o't. Am I
to be robbed o' my richts that others may be at ease? That I winna, I
warrant you. See that ye recover me thae folk's arrears, Mr Langridge,
by hook or by crook, and that immediately, though ye shouldna leave them
a stool to sit upon. That's _my_ instructions to _you_."

"And they shall be obeyed, Mr Lumsden," replied the man of
business--"obeyed to the letter. I merely mentioned the circumstance to
you, in order that you might be fully apprized of everything relating to
your tenants, which it is proper you should know."

"Weel, weel, but there's nae use in troublin' me wi' thae stories. I
dinna want to be plagued wi' folk makin' puir mouths. There's aye a
design on ane's pouch below't. By the bye, Mr Langridge," continued he,
after a momentary pause, "hae ye a young chield o' an airnmonger in your
hauns enow about some bill or anither that he canna pay."

"The name?" inquired Mr Langridge, musingly.

"Troth that I cannot tell you; for I never heard it, and forgot to
speer."

"Let me see--oh, ay--you will mean, I dare say, a young man of the name
of John Reid, poor fellow?"

"Very likely," said the client; "Is he a young man, an airnmonger to
business, and hae ye diligence against him enow on a fifty pound bill,
due to a Sheffield hoose?"

"The same," replied Mr Longridge. "These are exactly the circumstances.
How came you, Mr Lumsden," he added, smilingly, "to be so well informed
of them?"

"I'll maybe explain that afterwards; but, in the meantime, will ye tell
me what sort o' a lad this Mr Reid is? Is he a decent, weel-doin' young
man?"

"Remarkably so," replied Mr Langridge, "remarkably so, Mr Lumsden. I can
answer for that; for I have known him now for a good while, and have had
many opportunities of estimating his character."

"Then hoo cam he into his present difficulties?"

"Through the misconduct of a brother--entirely through the misconduct of
a brother." And Mr Langridge proceeded to give precisely the same
account of the young man's misfortunes, and of the present state of his
affairs, that he himself had given to the old stone-breaker, as already
detailed to the reader. When he had concluded--

"It seems to me rather a hard sort o' case," said the client. "But could
you no help him a wee on the score o' lenity?"

"I would willingly do it if I could; but it's not in my power. My
instructions are peremptory. I dare not do it but with a certainty of
losing the business of the pursuers, the best clients I have."

"Naething, then, 'll do but payin' the siller, I suppose?" said the
other.

"Nothing, nothing, I fear. My clients seem quite determined. They are
enraged at some smart losses which they have lately sustained in
Scotland, and will give no quarter."

"Then I suppose if they _war_ paid, they would be satisfied," said the
stone-breaker.

"Ha, ha, ha! Mr Lumsden, no doubt of _that_," exclaimed Mr Langridge,
laughing. "That would settle the business at once."

"I fancy sae," said the other, musingly. Then, after a pause--"An' think
ye the lad wad get on if this stane were taen frae aboot his neck?"

"I have no doubt of it--not the least," replied Mr Langridge, "for I
have every confidence in the young man's industry and uprightness of
principle. But he has no friend to back him, poor fellow: no one to help
him out of the scrape."

"Ye canna be quite sure o' that, Mr Langridge," said the old man. "What
if I hae taen a fancy to help him mysel?"

"You, Mr Lumsden!--you!" exclaimed Mr Langridge in great surprise. "What
motive on earth can you have for assisting him?"

"I didna say that I meant to assist him--I only asked ye, what if I took
a fancy to do't?"

"Why, to that I can only say that, if you have, he is all right, and
will get his head above water yet. But you surprise me, Mr Lumsden, by
this interest in Reid. May I ask how it comes about?"

"I'll tell you a' that presently, but I'll first tell you that I _do_
mean to assist the young man in his straits. I'll advance the money to
pay that bill for him. Will ye see to that, then, Mr Langridge? Put me
doon for the amount oot o' the funds in your hauns, and stay further
proceedins."

Mr Langridge could not express the surprise he felt on this
extraordinary intimation from a man who, although there were some good
points in his character, notwithstanding of the outward crust of
churlishness in which it was encased, he never believed capable of any
very striking act of generosity. Mr Langridge, we say, could not
express the surprise which this unlooked-for instance of that quality
in Mr Lumsden inspired, nor did he attempt it; for he justly considered
that such expression would be offensive to the old man, as implying a
belief that he had been deemed incapable of doing a benevolent thing. Mr
Langridge, therefore, kept his feelings, on the occasion, to himself,
and contented himself with promising compliance, and venturing a
muttered compliment or two, which, however, were ungraciously enough
received, on the old man's generosity.

"But whar's the young man to be fand?" inquired the latter.

"Why, that I cannot well tell you," replied Mr Langridge; "for I was
informed, in the course of the day, by the messengers whom I employed to
apprehend him, that he had left his lodging early in the morning, no
doubt in order to avoid them, and they could not ascertain where he had
gone to."

"Humph, that's awkward," replied the client. "I wad like to find him."

"I fear that will be difficult," replied Mr Langridge; "but I will call
off the bloodhounds in the meantime, and terminate proceedings."

"Ay, do sae, do sae. But can we no get haud o' the lad ony way?"

At this moment, a rap at the door of the apartment in which was Mr
Langridge and his client, interrupted further conversation on the
subject.

"Come in," exclaimed the former.

The door opened, and in walked two messengers, with Reid a prisoner
between them. We leave it to the reader to conceive the latter's
surprise, on beholding his acquaintance of the morning, the old
stone-breaker, seated in an arm-chair in Mr Langridge's writing-chamber.
But while he looked this surprise, he also seemed to feel acutely the
humiliation of his position. After a nod of recognition, he said, with
an attempt at a smile, and addressing himself to the old man--

"You see they have got me after all, my friend. But it was my own doing.
On reflection, I saw no use in endeavouring to avoid them, and gave
myself up, at least, threw myself in their way, in order to encounter
the worst at once, and be done with it."

"I daresay ye was richt, after a'," replied the stone-breaker; "it was
the best way. Mr Langridge," he added, and now rising from his seat,
"wad ye speak wi' me for a minnit, in another room?"

"Certainly, Mr Lumsden," replied Mr Langridge.

"Will we proceed with the prisoner?" inquired one of the messengers.

"No, remain where you are a moment, till I return;" and Mr Langridge led
the way out of the apartment, followed by the old stone-breaker. When
they had reached another room, and the door had been secured--

"Noo, Mr Langridge, anent what I was speaking to ye about regarding this
young man wha has come in sae curiously upon us, juist whan we were
wanting him--I dinna care to be seen in the matter, sae ye maun juist
manag't for me yersel."

"Had ye no better enjoy the satisfaction of your own good deed in
person, Mr Lumsden, by telling Mr Reid of the important service you
intend doing him?"

"I'll do naething o' the kind," replied the old stone-breaker, testily.
"I dinna want to be bothered wi't. Sae juist pay ye his bill and
charges, Mr Langridge, an' keep an e'e on his proceedins afterwards, an'
let me ken frae time to time hoo he's gettin on."

With these instructions Mr Langridge promised compliance; and, on his
having done so, the stone-breaker proposed to depart; but, just as he
was about doing so, he turned suddenly round to his man of business,
and said--

"About the Tamsons, Mr Langridge, ye needna, for a wee while, tak thae
staps again them that I was speakin aboot. Let them alane a wee till
they get roun a bit."

"I'll do so, Mr Lumsden," replied the worthy writer, who, the reader
will observe, had accomplished his generous purpose dexterously. He knew
his man, and acted accordingly.

"What's their arrears, again?" inquired the other.

"Half-a-year's rent--£3, 17s.," replied Mr Langridge.

"Ay, it's a heap o' siller--no to be fan at every dyke side. An' then,
there's this half-year rinning on, an' very near due. That'll mak--hoo
much?"

"Just £7, 14s. exactly, Mr Lumsden."

"Ay, exactly," replied the latter, who had been making a mental
calculation of the amount, and had arrived, although more slowly than
his experienced lawyer, at the same result. "A serious soom," added the
client.

"No trifle, indeed, Mr Lumsden," said Mr Langridge; "but it's safe
enough. They're honest people."

"Ye'r aye harpin on that string," replied the stone-breaker, surlily;
"but what signifies their honesty to me, if they'll no pay me my rent?"

"True, very true," said the law agent. "That's the only practical
honesty."

"See you an' get thae arrears, at ony rate, oot o' them, _if_ ye can, Mr
Langridge; an', if ye canna, I suppose we maun juist want them. Ye
needna push owre hard for them either, since they're in the state ye
say. But ye'll surely mak the present half-year oot o' them. That maun
be paid. Mind _that_, at ony rate, maun be paid, Mr Langridge." And
saying this, he placed his old tattered hat, which he had hitherto held
in his hand, on his head, and left the house.

On his departure, Mr Langridge hastily entered the apartment in which,
he had left the messengers with their prisoner.

"We're just waiting marching orders, Mr Langridge," said the latter, on
his entering, and making an attempt at playfulness, with which his
spirit but ill accorded. "My friends here are getting tired of their
charge, and anxious to be relieved of him."

"Are they so, Mr Reid?" replied Mr Langridge, smiling.

"Why, then, we had best relieve them at once." Then turning to the
principal officer--"Quit your prisoner, Maxwell--the debt is settled. Mr
Reid, you are at liberty."

The blood rushed to poor Reid's face, and then withdrew, leaving it as
pale as death, and yet he could express no part of the feelings which
caused these violent alternations. At length--

"Mr Langridge," he said, "what is the meaning of this? How do I come to
be liberated?"

"By the simplest and most effectual of all processes, Mr Reid," replied
the worthy writer, smiling; "by the payment of the debt."

"But _I_ have not paid the debt, Mr Langridge. I _could_ not pay the
debt."

"No; but somebody else might. The short and the long of it is, Mr Reid,
that a _friend_ has come forward, and settled the claim on which
diligence was raised against you. The bill, with interest and all
expenses, _is_ paid, and you are again a free man."

Again overwhelmed by his feelings, which were a thousand times more
eloquently expressed by a flood of silent tears than they could have
been by the most carefully rounded periods, it was some time before the
young man could pursue the conversation, or ask for the further
information which he yet intensely longed to possess. On recovering from
the burst of emotion which had, for the moment, deprived him of the
power of utterance--

"And _who_, pray, Mr Langridge, is this friend--this friend indeed?"

"Why, I do not know exactly whether I am at liberty to tell you, Mr
Reid," replied Mr Langridge. "The friend you allude to declined
transacting this matter personally with you, which seems to imply that
he did not care that you should know who he was; yet, as he certainly
did not expressly forbid me to disclose him, and as I think it but right
that you should know to whom you are indebted, I will venture to tell
you. Had you some conversation, at an early hour this morning, with an
old stone-breaker, on the highway side, about three or four miles from
town?"

"I had. The old man that was sitting here when I came in."

"The same. Well, what would you think if _he_ should have been the
friend in question? Would you expect from his manner, that he _would_ do
such a thing? or, from his appearance and occupation, that he could?"

"Certainly not--certainly not. The old man--the poor old man, to whom I
offered half-a-crown--who works for ninepence a-day--who never saw me in
his life before this morning--who knows nothing of me! Impossible, Mr
Langridge--impossible; he cannot be the man. You do not say that he is?"

"But I do though, Mr Reid, and that most distinctly. It is he, and no
other, I assure you, who has done you this friendly service."

"Then, if it be so, I know not what to say to it, Mr Langridge. I can
say nothing. I trust, however, I shall not be found wanting on the score
of gratitude. I can say no more. But will you be so good as inform me,
if you can, how the good man has come to do me so friendly a service?
Who on earth, or what is he?"

"Sit down, sit down, Mr Reid, and I'll answer all your questions--I'll
tell you all about him," replied Mr Langridge.

Mr Reid having complied with this invitation, the latter began:--

"The history of the old stone-breaker, my good sir, is a very short and
a very simple one. It contains no vicissitude, and to few, besides
ourselves, would be found possessing any particular interest. Your
friend was, in his youth, a soldier, and served, I believe, in the
American war. At his return home on the conclusion of that war, he was
discharged, still a young man, and shortly after married a woman with a
fortune" (smilingly) "of some five-and-twenty or thirty pounds. With
this sum the thrifty pair purchased two or three cows, and commenced the
business of cowfeeders. They prospered; for they were both saving and
industrious, and, in time, realized a considerable sum of money, which
they went on increasing. This they invested in house property from time
to time, till their possessions of this kind became very valuable.

"For upwards of forty years they continued in this way, when Mrs Lumsden
died, leaving her husband a lonely widower; for they had no children. On
the death of the former, the latter, who was now an old man, and unequal
to conducting, alone, the business in which his wife's activity and
industry had hitherto aided him, sold off his cows, and proposed to live
in retirement on the rents of his property; and this he did for some
time. Accustomed, however, to a life of constant labour and exertion,
the old man soon found the idleness on which he had thrown himself,
intolerably irksome. He became miserable from a mere want of having
something to do. While in this state of ennui, chancing one day to
stroll into the country, (this is what he told me himself,) he saw some
labouring men knapping stones by the way-side; and strange as the fancy
may seem, he was instantly struck with a desire of taking to this
occupation. He did so, and has, from that day to the present, now
upwards of ten years, pursued it with as much assiduity as if it was
his only resource for a subsistence. He has, as I already told you, no
family of his own; neither has he, I believe, any relation living; or,
if there be, they must be very remote; and, as he strictly confines his
expenditure to his daily earnings as a stone-breaker--some ninepence
a-day, I believe--his wealth is rapidly increasing, and is, at this
moment, no trifle, I assure you. Now, my good sir, when I tell you that
I am the law agent of this strange, eccentric person, and that I manage
all his business for him, I have told you everything about him that is
worth mentioning."

"There is just one thing, Mr Langridge," said Mr Reid, who had been an
attentive listener to the tale just told him, "that wants explanation:
can you give me the smallest shadow of a reason for the part he has
acted towards me?"

"Nay, there you puzzle me; I cannot. It appears as unaccountable to me
as to you, although I have known Mr Lumsden now for upwards of fifteen
years."

"Did you ever know him do a thing of this kind before?"

"Never! and I must say candidly, that, although he is by no means
deficient in kindness of heart, notwithstanding his rough exterior, I
did not believe him capable of such an act of generosity."

"It is an extraordinary matter," said Mr Reid; "and although I can have
but little right to inquire into the _motives_ for an act by which I am
so largely benefited--it seems ungracious to do so--yet would I give a
good round sum, if I had it to spare, to know the real cause of this
good man's friendship towards me."

"Why, that I suspect neither you nor I shall ever know. I question much,
indeed, if the principal actor in this affair himself could give a
reason for what he has done. It seems to me just one of those odd and
unaccountable things which eccentric men, like Mr Lumsden, will
sometimes do; and with this solution of the mystery, and the benefit it
has produced to you, I rather think, Mr Reid, you must be content. I
would, however, add, in order to redeem Mr Lumsden's act of generosity
from the character of a mere whim, that your case was one eminently
calculated to excite any latent feeling of benevolence which he might
possess; and that your manner and appearance--no flattery--are equally
well calculated to second a claim so established. Yourself, and your
peculiar circumstances, in short, had chanced to touch the right chord
in a right man's breast, and hence the response on which we are
speculating."

Having thus discussed the knotty point of the old stonebreaker's sudden
act of generosity, Mr Langridge invited Mr Reid to put his affairs into
his hands, promising that they should have the advantage, on his part,
of something more than mere professional zeal. This friendly invitation
the latter gladly accepted, and shortly after consigned all his business
matters to the care of the worthy writer, who exerted himself in behalf
of his client with an efficiency that soon placed the latter once more
in the way of well-doing. And well he did; having subsequently realised
a very handsome independency. In the success of the young man, no one
rejoiced more than the old stone-breaker, who frequently visited him in
his shop; sometimes merely for the purpose of seeing him; at others, to
purchase some of those little articles of ironmongery which the due
preservation of his dwelling-house property demanded. Let us state, too,
that, amongst his purchases, were, at different times, the hammer-heads
which he used in his occupation of stone-breaking.

In their first transaction in this way, there was something curiously
characteristic of the old man's peculiarities of temper. Mr Reid, not
yet perfectly aware of these peculiarities, declined, for some time,
putting any price on a couple of hammer-heads which his friend had
picked out. He would have made him a present of them; and, to the
latter's inquiry as to their price, replied, evasively, and laughing
while he spoke, that he would tell him that afterwards.

"I tak nae credit, young man," said the stone-breaker, crustily, "tell
me enow their cost." And he pulled out a small greasy leathern purse,
and was undoing its strings, when Mr Reid laid his hand on his arm to
prevent him, at the same time telling him that he would do him a favour
by accepting the hammer-heads in a present. "What is such a trifle
between you and me, Mr Lumsden--you to whom I owe everything?"

"You owe me a great deal mair than ye're ever likely to pay me, at ony
rate, young man, if this be the way ye transact business," replied the
other, with evident signs of displeasure. "Tell me the price o' thae
hammer-heads at ance, an' be dune wi't. I hae nae broo o' folk that
fling awa their guids as ye seem inclined to do."

Mr Reid blushed at the reproof, but, seeing at once how the land lay,
with regard to his customer's temper, he now plumply named the price of
the hammers, sevenpence each.

"Sevenpence!" exclaimed the old man. "I'll gie ye nae such price.
Doonricht robbery! I can get them as guid in ony shop in the toon for
saxpence ha'penny. If ye like to tak that price for them, ye may hae't.
If no, ye can keep them."

Mr Reid, now knowing his man somewhat better than he did at first,
demurred, but at length agreed to the abatement, and the transaction was
thus brought to a close.

We need hardly add, that the £50 advanced by the old man to Mr Reid were
subsequently repaid; but the call is more imperative on us to state,
that, on the former's death, which took place about two years after, the
latter found himself named in his will for a very considerable sum. One,
somewhat larger, was bequeathed by the same document to Mr Langridge.
The remainder was appropriated to various charities. And here, good
reader, ends the story of the Stone-Breaker.



LAIRD RORIESON'S WILL.


In the little town of Maybole there lived, some fifty years ago or more,
an old man of the name of George Rorieson, more commonly called Laird
Rorieson. He had been a kind of general merchant, or trafficker in any
kind of commodities which he thought would yield him a profit; and, by
dint of great sagacity, had made some very fortunate hits, and realised
a large sum of money. Having begun the world with a penny, he was
emphatically the maker of his own fortunes--a circumstance he was very
proud of, and loved to sound in the ears of certain individuals who
envied him his riches. Having amassed his money by an accumulation of
small sums, for a long course of years, he had gradually become narrower
and narrower, as his wealth increased; and, by the time he arrived at
the age of sixty, his penurious feelings had become so strong and
deeprooted that he could scarcely afford himself the means of a
comfortable subsistence.

It is almost needless to say that Laird Rorieson never had courage or
liberality of sentiment sufficient to give him an impulse towards
matrimony; and truly it was alleged that he never oven looked on
womankind with any feelings different from those with which he
contemplated his fellow-creatures generally; and these had always some
connection, one way or another, with making profit of them. But, though
he had no wife, he had a good store of nephews and nieces--somewhere
about twenty--all poor enough, God knows! but all as hopeful as brides
and bridegrooms of a great store of wealth and bliss being awaiting them
on the death of Uncle Geordie.

The affection which these twenty nephews and nieces shewed to Uncle
George was remarkable; but, somehow or another, the good uncle hated
them mortally, and, the bitterer he became, the more loving they
waxed--so that it was very wonderful to see so much human love and
sympathy thrown away upon an old churl who could have seen all the
devoted creatures at the devil.

It was indeed alleged that this crabbed miser had no love for any one,
all his affection being expended upon his money-bags: but we are bound
to say that this is not quite the truth; for there was a neighbour of
the name of Saunders Gibbieson, a bachelor, for whom the Laird really
felt some small twinges of human kindness. Saunders Gibbieson was as
true a Scotchman as ever threw the pawkie glamour of a twinkling grey
eye over the open face of an English victim. He was, as already said, a
bachelor; but unlike his friend Geordie, he loved the fair sex, and
vowed he would marry the bonniest lass o' Maybole the moment he was able
to sustain her "in bed, board, and washing." He had scraped together a
few pounds, maybe to the extent of a hundred or two, and looked forward
to making himself happy at no very distant period. He was a famous hand
at a political argument; and there was not a man in Maybole who could
touch him at driving a bargain.

As already said, Geordie had a kind of feeling towards Saunders, and
there can be no doubt that Saunders had as strong an affection for the
"auld rich grub," as he called him in his throat, as ever had any of the
twenty nephews and nieces already alluded to. In the evenings he often
went in and sat with him; and, by dint of curious jokes, "humorous
lees," and political anecdotes, he contrived to wile, for a few minutes,
the creature's heart from his money-bags, and unbend his puckered cheeks
and lips into a species of compromise between a laugh and a grin. It was
no wonder, then, that Geordie had a kind of liking for Saunders--seeing
he got value in amusement from him, without so much cost as even a
piece of old dry cheese, of a waught of thin ale. On the other hand, it
was difficult to see how Saunders could love the laird; and, indeed, it
was a matter of gossip what could induce a man so much in request as
Saunders Gibbieson to take so much pains in pouring into the "leather
lugs" of an old miser the precious jokes that would have set the biggest
table in Maybole in a roar.

Now the time came when Laird Rorieson began to feel the first touches of
that big black angel who loves to hug so fondly the sons of men. He was
ill--he was indeed very ill--and it would have done any man's heart good
to see the kindness and sympathy which his twenty nephews and nieces
paid him. Every hour one or other of them was calling at his house; and
his ears were regaled by the sympathetic tones which their love for
their dear uncle wrung from their tender hearts. Oh, it was beautiful to
behold! Such things do credit to our fallen nature. But the old grub
loved it not; and it was even said he cursed and swore in the very faces
of the kind creatures, just as if they had had an eye on the heavy
coffers of gold that lay in his house. This kindness on the part of his
nephews and nieces was thus converted into a kind of poison; for every
time they called, their uncle got into such a passion that his remaining
strength was well-nigh worn out. But he had still enough left to sign
his name; and the ungrateful creature resolved upon leaving all his gold
to found an hospital. He sent for a man of the law, and had a
consultation with locked doors, and all things seemed in a fair way for
the poor nephews and nieces being sacrificed for ever.

This circumstance came to the ears of Saunders Gibbieson, who had not
been an unattentive spectator of the extraordinary proceedings going on
in the house of his neighbour. As soon as he heard the news, he retired
and meditated, and communed with himself three hours on matters of deep
concernment to him and the generations that might descend from him. The
result of all this study was a resolution alike remarkable for its
eccentricity and sagacity; but Saunders' spirit dipped generally so deep
in the wells of wisdom that there was no wonder it should come forth
drunk, as it were, with the golden policy of cunning.

Now, all of a sudden, Saunders grew (as he said) very ill--as ill
indeed, or nearly as ill, as Laird Rorieson himself, but, so full was he
of brotherly love towards his neighbour, that his sudden illness did not
prevent him calling upon the latter one night, when there seemed to be
no great chance of their being disturbed by any of the sympathetic
nephews and nieces. He found Geordie very weakly, and sat down by the
bedside, to pour the balm of his friendship and consolation into the
sick man's ear. The Laird received him kindly, and as was his custom,
Saunders got him into a pleasant humour, by telling him something of a
curious nature that had occurred, or had been supposed by Saunders to
have occurred, during the day. He then began the more important part of
his work.

"You are ill, Laird," said he; "but I question muckle if ye're sae ill
as I am myself. For a long time I've been in a dwinin way, and, though I
hae kept up a fair appearance and good spirits, I've been gradually
getting thinner and weaker. I fear I'm in a fair way for anither warld."

"I'm sorry to hear't," replied the Laird. "It's a sad thing to dee." And
he shook as he uttered the word.

"Ay, an' it's a sad thing," said Saunders, "to be tormented in your
illness, wi' thae cursed corbies o' puir relations. The moment I began
to complain I've been tormented wi' a host o' nephews and nieces, wha
come and stare into my hollow een, as if they would count the draps o'
blude that are yet left in my heart."

"Ay, ay, are you in that plight too, Saunders?" groaned the Laird. "The
ravens have been croaking owre me for twa lang years. They come and
perch on the very bedposts, they croak, they whet their nebs, they look
into my face, and peer into my very heart. It's dreadful--and there's
nae remedy. I've tried to terrify them awa; but they come aye back
again. They've worn me fairly out."

"I've had many a meditation on the subject, Laird," said Saunders; "and,
between you and me, if there's a goose quill in a' Scotland, I'll hae a
shot at them. I haena muckle i' the warld--a thousand or twa maybe, hard
won, Geordie, as a' gowd is in thae hard times; but the deil a plack o't
they'll ever touch."

"Ye'll be to found an hospital?" said the Laird.

"Na, na," answered Saunders. "I'll found nae beggar's palace. I've
studied political economy owre lang to be ignorant o' the bad effects o'
public charities. They relax the sinews o' industry, and mak learned
mendicants. Besides, wha thanks the founder o' an hospital for his
charity? Nane!--nane! A puff or twa in the newspapers about Gibbieson's
mortification would be the hail upshot o' my reward; and sensible folk
would set me doun as an auld curmudgeon, wha hadna heart to love and
benefit a friend."

"There's some truth in that," muttered the Laird. "It's a pity a body
canna tak his gear wi' him. Sair hae I toiled for it, and, oh! it's
miserable! cruel! cruel! that I should be obliged to leav't to a
thankless warld! But what are ye to do wi'fc, Saivjders?"

"Indeed, I'm just to leave it a' to you, Laird," said Saunders. "I have
lang liked ye wi' a' the luve o' honest, leal friendship; and, after
muckle meditation, I canna fix on a mortal creature wha is mair deservin
o't than you, my guid auld freend. You have a fair chance o' recovering;
I have nane. Ye may enjoy my gear lang after the turf has grown
thegither owre my grave; and God bless the gift!"

"Kind, guid man!" cried the Laird, in a voice evincing strong emotion,
either of love or greed. "That _is_ kindness--ay, very different frae
the friendship o' my sisters' and brothers' bairns. After a', I believe
yer richt, Saunders--an hospital has nae gratitude; and what have we to
do wi' a cauld and heartless warld?"

"There's just ae difficulty I hae," said Saunders. "The will's written
and signed; but I dinna weel ken whar to lay it; for, when I'm dead,
thae deevils o' corbies may smell the bit paper and put it in the fire.
Maybe you would tak the charge o't for me, Laird."

"Ou ay," answered the Laird. "I'll keep it. The deil o' are o' them will
get it oot o' my clutches."

"Weel, weel, my dear friend," said Saunders. "I'll put it into a tin
box; the key ye'll find, after my breath's out, in the little cupboard
that's at the foot o' my bed--ye ken the place. They can mak naething o'
the key without the box; and, if you canna find the key, you can force
the box open. Oh, I would like to see you reading the will in the midst
o' the harpies."

"That's weel arranged, Saunders; ye can set about it as soon as you
like."

"I intend to do it instantly, Laird," replied the man. "I'll about it
this moment." And he rose and went out of the house.

In a short time, Saunders returned, holding in his hand a small tin box.
He laid it down upon the table, and, taking out a small key, opened it,
and took out a paper, entitled--"Last Will and Testament."

"There it is, my good friend," he said; and, replacing the paper in the
box, he locked it and placed it in an escritoire pointed out by the
Laird. He then went away.

Next day, the lawyer came to carry into effect the charitable resolution
of Laird Rorieson; but he found that a great change had taken place upon
the old man's sentiments. He was now adverse to a mortification, and
said he was resolved upon leaving his fortune to one whom he considered
to be a _real friend_, and, indeed, the only real friend he had upon
earth. The lawyer was surprised when he ascertained that this friend was
Saunders Gibbieson; but it was not his province to object--so he
departed straightway to carry into effect the new resolution of the
testator.

Two days afterwards, the Laird sent a message to Saunders to come and
speak with him. Saunders obeyed; walking in to him slowly, and
apparently with great effort, as if he had been labouring under a strong
disease.

"I have been thinking again and again, Saunders," said the Laird, "o'
yer great kindness. You are the first man that ever left me a farthing.
The warld has rugged aff me since ever I had a feather to pick. Nane has
ever offered me either a bite or a sup. You are the only friend I've
ever met upon earth."

"I hae only obeyed the dictates o' my heart," replied Saunders; "and I
am glad I have dune it, for I feel mysel very weakly, and fear the clock
o' this world's time will be wound up wi' me in a very short period."

"Maybe no so sune as ye think, Saunders," replied the Laird. "But my
purpose is executed. Saunders, you are my heir. Hand me that box there."

Saunders took up a small mahogany box that lay on the table, and handed
it to him.

"Here," continued the Laird, taking out a paper; "here is my will. It's
a' in your favour, Saunders--lands, houses, guids, and chattels,
heritable and moveable. Say naething; you are my heir. Ha! ha! let the
corbies croak. You've dune me a guid service; I winna be ahint ye. Tak
the box into yer ain keeping. I'll keep the key. Awa wi't this instant.
Ha! ha! let the corbies croak."

Saunders obeyed. He carried the box into his own house, placed it in his
cupboard, locked the door, and put the key into his pocket.

In about a month afterwards, old Laird Rorieson departed this life. On
the day of his death, his nephews and nieces were in great commotion,
and there was a terrible running to and fro, and much whispering, and
wondering, and gossiping--all on the great subject of the death of Uncle
Geordie. On the day of his funeral, they were all collected, to see
whether there was any will. They, of course, wished that there should be
none, because they, being his heirs, would succeed to all, if there was
no disposition of the old man's effects. By some means, Saunders
Gibbieson contrived to be present along with the expectants. Perhaps he
was allowed to be among them in the character of a witness; but indeed,
so certain were the nephews and nieces of having succeeded in their
efforts to please the dear old man, that they could afford to allow the
presence of any number of witnesses who could vouch for the sacred
gravity of their countenances, and the deep sorrows of their bereaved
hearts. Nor was Saunders less under the affection of lugubriousness
himself; so that it was altogether one of those beautiful sights so
often witnessed on such melancholy occasions, where every indication of
selfishness is banished, and nothing can be observed save that Christian
solemnity which proveth that "the devil hath been cast out of the heart
of man, even when he did appear to be strong." The nephews and the
nieces looked at Saunders, and Saunders looked at them, and so solemn
were these looks, that though the writer was searching about for a will,
no one seemed to care whether he found one or not. It has been said that
"the heart of man is deceitful above all things;" but of a surety the
adage could not have been spoken there, except with the determination to
get it disproved for once in the world, and the blessed object of
shewing to us sons of the seed of Abraham that we are not so wicked as
we are called.

At length the ominous little box was laid hold of and broken open,
amidst a pretty nonchalance, and lo! there was indeed a paper, bearing
the fearful word "Will," and the faces of the heirs turned as pale as
the paper itself. It was opened; but it was a fair, clean sheet of
paper, and not a drop of ink had stained its purity. "All safe, all
safe," muttered the heirs.

"Here is another box," said Saunders Gibbieson, holding up the mahogany
one; "let us try it." And he opened it, and took out Geordie's will. The
writer read it aloud. Saunders was sole heir to all the old miser's
possessions, amounting to £10,000. No one could tell the reason why
there were two papers marked "Will," and one of them a blank sheet; and
Saunders, simple man, did not trouble himself to give any explanation.


END OF VOL. XVIII.


       *       *       *       *       *

    Transcriber's Notes: Hyphen variations left as printed





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