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Title: The Brownie of Bodsbeck, and Other Tales (Vol. 1 of 2)
Author: Hogg, James, 1770-1835
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    THE
    BROWNIE OF BODSBECK;
    AND
    OTHER TALES.

    BY
    JAMES HOGG,
    AUTHOR OF “THE QUEEN’S WAKE,” &c. &c.

    “What, has this thing appeared again to–night?”

    IN TWO VOLUMES.

    VOL. I.

    EDINBURGH;
    PRINTED FOR WILLIAM BLACKWOOD, PRINCE’S–STREET:
    AND
    JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE–STREET, LONDON.

    1818.



    TO
    THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
    LADY ANNE SCOTT,
    OF BUCCLEUCH.

      To HER, whose bounty oft hath shed
    Joy round the peasant’s lowly bed,
    When trouble press’d and friends were few,
    And God and Angels only knew—
    To HER, who loves the board to cheer,
    And hearth of simple Cottager;
    Who loves the tale of rural kind,
    And wayward visions of his mind,
    I dedicate, with high delight,
    The themes of many a winter night.

      What other name on Yarrow’s vale
    Can Shepherd choose to grace his tale?
    There other living name is none
    Heard with one feeling,—one alone.
    Some heavenly charm must name endear
    That all men love, and all revere!
    Even the rude boy of rustic form,
    And robes all fluttering to the storm,
    Whose roguish lip and graceless eye
    Inclines to mock the passer by,
    Walks by the Maid with softer tread,
    And lowly bends his burly head,
    Following with eye of milder ray
    The gentle form that glides away.
    The little school–nymph, drawing near,
    Says, with a sly and courteous leer,
    As plain as eye and manner can,
    “Thou lov’st me—bless thee, Lady Anne!”
    Even babes catch the beloved theme,
    And learn to lisp their Lady’s name.

      The orphan’s blessing rests on thee;
    Happy thou art, and long shalt be!
    ’Tis not in sorrow, nor distress,
    Nor Fortune’s power, to make thee less.
    The heart, unaltered in its mood,
    That joys alone in doing good,
    And follows in the heavenly road,
    And steps where once an Angel trode,—
    The joys within such heart that burn,
    No loss can quench, nor time o’erturn!
    The stars may from their orbits bend,
    The mountains rock, the heavens rend,—
    The sun’s last ember cool and quiver,
    But these shall glow, and glow for ever!

      Then thou, who lov’st the shepherd’s home,
    And cherishest his lowly dome,
    O list the mystic lore sublime,
    Of fairy tales of ancient time.
    I learned them in the lonely glen,
    The last abodes of living men;
    Where never stranger came our way
    By summer night, or winter day;
    Where neighbouring hind or cot was none,
    Our converse was with Heaven alone,
    With voices through the cloud that sung,
    And brooding storms that round us hung.

      O Lady, judge, if judge you may,
    How stern and ample was the sway
    Of themes like these, when darkness fell,
    And gray–hair’d sires the tales would tell!
    When doors were barr’d, and eldron dame
    Plied at her task beside the flame,
    That through the smoke and gloom alone
    On dim and umber’d faces shone—
    The bleat of mountain goat on high,
    That from the cliff came quavering by;
    The echoing rock, the rushing flood,
    The cataract’s swell, the moaning wood,
    That undefined and mingled hum—
    Voice of the desart, never dumb!—
    All these have left within this heart
    A feeling tongue can ne’er impart;
    A wilder’d and unearthly flame,
    A something that’s without a name.

      And, Lady, thou wilt never deem
    Religious tale offensive theme;
    Our creeds may differ in degree,
    But small that difference sure can be!
    As flowers which vary in their dyes,
    We all shall bloom in Paradise.
    As sire who loves his children well,
    The loveliest face he cannot tell,—
    So ’tis with us. We are the same,
    One faith, one Father, and one aim.

      And had’st thou lived where I was bred,
    Amid the scenes where martyrs bled,
    Their sufferings all to thee endear’d
    By those most honour’d and revered;
    And where the wild dark streamlet raves,
    Had’st wept above their lonely graves,
    Thou would’st have felt, I know it true,
    As I have done, and aye must do.
    And for the same exalted cause,
    For mankind’s right, and nature’s laws,
    The cause of liberty divine,
    Thy fathers bled as well as mine.

      Then be it thine, O noble Maid,
    On some still eve these tales to read;
    And thou wilt read, I know full well,
    For still thou lovest the haunted dell;
    To linger by the sainted spring,
    And trace the ancient fairy ring
    Where moonlight revels long were held
    In many a lone sequester’d field,
    By Yarrow dens and Ettrick shaw,
    And the green mounds of Carterhaugh.

      O for one kindred heart that thought
    As minstrel must, and lady ought,
    That loves like thee the whispering wood,
    And range of mountain solitude!
    Think how more wild the greenwood scene,
    If times were still as they have been;
    If fairies, at the fall of even,
    Down from the eye–brow of the heaven,
    Or some aërial land afar,
    Came on the beam of rising star;
    Their lightsome gambols to renew,
    From the green leaf to quaff the dew,
    Or dance with such a graceful tread,
    As scarce to bend the gowan’s head!

      Think if thou wert, some evening still,
    Within thy wood of green Bowhill—
    Thy native wood!—the forest’s pride!
    Lover or sister by thy side;
    In converse sweet the hour to improve
    Of things below and things above,
    Of an existence scarce begun,
    And note the stars rise one by one.
    Just then, the moon and daylight blending,
    To see the fairy bands descending,
    Wheeling and shivering as they came,
    Like glimmering shreds of human frame;
    Or sailing, ’mid the golden air,
    In skiffs of yielding gossamer.

      O, I would wander forth alone
    Where human eye hath never shone,
    Away o’er continents and isles
    A thousand and a thousand miles,
    For one such eve to sit with thee,
    Their strains to hear and forms to see!
    Absent the while all fears of harm,
    Secure in Heaven’s protecting arm;
    To list the songs such beings sung,
    And hear them speak in human tongue;
    To see in beauty, perfect, pure,
    Of human face the miniature,
    And smile of being free from sin,
    That had not death impress’d within.
    Oh, can it ever be forgot
    What Scotland had, and now has not!

      Such scenes, dear Lady, now no more
    Are given, or fitted as before,
    To eye or ear of guilty dust;
    But when it comes, as come it must,
    The time when I, from earth set free,
    Shall turn the spark I fain would be;
    If there’s a land, as grandsires tell,
    Where Brownies, Elves, and Fairies dwell,
    There my first visit shall be sped—
    Journeyer of earth, go hide thy head!
    Of all thy travelling splendour shorn,
    Though in thy golden chariot borne!
    Yon little cloud of many a hue
    That wanders o’er the solar blue,
    That curls, and rolls, and fleets away
    Beyond the very springs of day,—
    That do I challenge and engage
    To be my travelling equipage,
    Then onward, onward, far to steer,
    The breeze of Heaven my charioteer;
    The soul’s own energy my guide,
    Eternal hope my all beside.
    At such a shrine who would not bow!
    Traveller of earth, where art thou now?

      Then let me for these legends claim,
    My young, my honour’d Lady’s name;
    That honour is reward complete,
    Yet I must crave, if not unmeet,
    One little boon—delightful task
    For maid to grant, or minstrel ask!

      One day, thou may’st remember well,
    For short the time since it befel,
    When o’er thy forest–bowers of oak,
    The eddying storm in darkness broke;
    Loud sung the blast adown the dell,
    And Yarrow lent her treble swell;
    The mountain’s form grew more sublime,
    Wrapt in its wreaths of rolling rime;
    And Newark Cairn, in hoary shroud,
    Appear’d like giant o’er the cloud:
    The eve fell dark, and grimly scowl’d,
    Loud and more loud the tempest howl’d;
    Without was turmoil, waste, and din,
    The kelpie’s cry was in the linn,
    But all was love and peace within!
    And aye, between, the melting strain
    Pour’d from thy woodland harp amain,
    Which, mixing with the storm around,
    Gave a wild cadence to the sound.

      That mingled scene, in every part,
    Hath so impressed thy shepherd’s heart,
    With glowing feelings, kindling bright
    Some filial visions of delight,
    That almost border upon pain,
    And he would hear those strains again.
    They brought delusions not to last,
    Blending the future with the past;
    Dreams of fair stems, in foliage new,
    Of flowers that spring where others grew
    Of beauty ne’er to be outdone,
    And stars that rise when sets the sun;
    The patriarchal days of yore,
    The mountain music heard no more,
    With all the scene before his eyes,
    A family’s and a nation’s ties—
    Bonds which the Heavens alone can rend,
    With Chief, with Father, and with Friend.
    No wonder that such scene refin’d
    Should dwell on rude enthusiast’s mind!
    Strange his reverse!—He little wist—
    Poor inmate of the cloud and mist!
    That ever he, as friend, should claim
    The proudest Caledonian name.

        J. H.

    ELTRIVE LAKE, _April 1st, 1818_.



THE BROWNIE OF BODSBECK.



CHAPTER I.


“It will be a bloody night in Gemsop this,” said Walter of Chapelhope,
as he sat one evening by the side of his little parlour fire, and wrung
the rim of his wet bonnet into the grate. His wife sat by his side,
airing a pair of clean hosen for her husband, to replace his wet ones.
She looked stedfastly in his face, but uttered not a word;—it was one
of those looks that cannot be described, but it bespoke the height of
curiosity, mingled with a kind of indefinite terror. She loved and
respected her husband, and sometimes was wont to teaze or cajole him
from his purpose; but one glance of his eye, or scowl of his eyebrow,
was a sufficient admonition to her when she ventured to use such
freedom.

The anxious stare that she bent on his face at this time was enquiry
enough, what he meant by the short and mysterious sentence he had just
uttered; but from the fulness of his heart he had said that which he
could not recal, and had no mind to commit himself farther. His eldest
son, John, was in the room too, which he had not remarked before he
spoke, and therefore he took the first opportunity to change the
subject. “Gudewife,” said he, tartly, “what are ye sittin glowrin like a
bendit wulcat there for? Gae away and get me something to eat; I’m like
to fa’ atwae wi’ sheer hunger.”

“Hunger, father!” said the lad; “I’m sure I saw ye take as much meat to
the hill with you as might have served six.”

Walter looked first over the one shoulder at him, and then over the
other, but, repressing his wrath, he sat silent about the space of two
minutes, as if he had not heard what the youth said. “Callant,” then
said he, with the greatest seeming composure, “rin away to the hill, an’
see after the eild nowt; ca’ them up by the Quare Burn, an’ bide wi’
them till they lie down, gin that sudna be till twal o’clock at
night—Gae away when I bid ye—What are ye mumgin at?” And saying so, he
gave him such a thwack on the neck and shoulders with the wet bonnet as
made him make the best of his way to the door. Whether he drove the
young cattle as far as the Quare Burn, or whether he looked after them
that night or not, Walter made no farther enquiry.

He sat still by his fire wrapt in deep thought, which seemed to increase
his uneasy and fretful mood. Maron Linton, (for that was the goodwife of
Chapelhope’s name) observing the bad humour of her husband, and knowing
for certain that something disagreeable had befallen him, wisely forbore
all intermeddling or teazing questions respecting the cause. Long
experience had taught her the danger of these. She bustled about, and
set him down the best fare that the house afforded; then, taking up her
tobacco pipe, she meditated an escape into the kitchen. She judged that
a good hearty meal by himself might somewhat abate his chagrin; and,
besides, the ominous words were still ringing in her ears—“It will be a
bloody night in Gemsop this”—and she longed to sound the shepherds that
were assembled around the kitchen fire, in order to find out their
import. Walter, however, perceiving her drift, stopped her short
with—“Gudewife, whar are ye gaun sae fast—Come back an’ sit down here,
I want to speak t’ye.”

Maron trembled at the tone in which these words were spoken, but
nevertheless did as she was desired, and sat down again by the fire.
“Weel, Watie, what is’t?” said she, in a low and humble tone.

Walter plied his spoon for some time without deigning any reply; then
turning full upon her, “Has Kate been in her bed every night this
week?” asked he seriously.

“Dear gudeman, whaten a question’s that to speer at me—What can hae put
sic a norie i’ your head as that?”

“That’s no answerin my question, Maron, but speerin ither twa instead
o’t—I axt ye gin Kate hadna been out o’ her bed for some nights
bygane.”

“How sude I ken ony thing about that, gudeman?—ye may gang an’ speer at
her—Out o’ her bed, quotha!—Na—there’ll nae young skempy amang them
wile her out o’ her bed i’the night–time.—Dear gudeman, what has put it
i’your head that our bairn stravaigs i’the night–time?”

“Na, na, Maron, there’s nae mortal soul will ever gar ye answer to the
point.”

“Dear gudeman, wha heard ever tell o’ a _mortal_ soul?—the soul’s no
mortal at a’—Didna ye hear our ain worthy curate–clerk say”——

“O, Maron! Maron! ye’ll aye be the auld woman, if the warld sude turn
upside–down!—Canna ye answer my question simply, ay or no, as far as ye
ken, whether our daughter has been out o’ her bed at midnight for some
nights bygane or no?—If ye ken that she has, canna ye tell me sae at
aince, without ganging about the bush? it’s a thing that deeply concerns
us baith.”

“Troth, gudeman, gin she hae been out o’ her bed, mony a honest man’s
bairn has been out o’ her bed at midnight afore her, an’ nae ill in her
mind nouther—the thing’s as common as the rising o’ the se’en sterns.”

Walter turned round towards his meal, after casting a look of pity and
despair upon his yokefellow, who went on at great length defending the
equivocal practice of young women who might deem it meet and convenient
to leave their beds occasionally by night; for that, without some mode
of private wooing, it was well known that no man in the country could
possibly procure a wife, for that darkness rendered a promise serious,
which passed in open day for a mere joke, or words of course; and at
length Maron Linton, with more sagacity than usual, concluded her
arguments with the following home remark:—“Ye ken fu’ weel, gudeman, ye
courtit me i’the howe o’ the night yoursel; an’ Him that kens the heart
kens weel that I hae never had cause to rue our bits o’ trysts i’the
dark—Na, na! mony’s the time an’ aft that I hae blest them, an’ thought
o’ them wi’ pleasure! We had ae kind o’ happiness then, Watie, we hae
another now, an’ we’ll hae another yet.”

There was something in this appeal that it would have been unnatural to
have resisted. There is a tenderness in the recollection of early scenes
of mutual joy and love, that invariably softens the asperity of our
nature, and draws the heart by an invisible bond toward the sharer of
these; but when they are at one view connected with the present and the
future, the delight receives a tinge of sublimity. In short, the appeal
was one of the most happy that ever fell from the lips of a simple and
ignorant, though a well–meaning woman. It was not lost upon Walter; who,
though of a rough exterior and impatient humour, was a good man. He took
his wife’s hand and squeezed it, while the pupil of his eye expanded
like that of a huge mountain ram, when he turns it away from the last
ray of the setting sun.

“My gude auld wife,” said he, “God bless ye!—Ye hae bits o’ queer gates
whiles, but I wadna part wi’ ye, or see ane o’ yer grey hairs wranged,
for a’ the ewes on the Hermon Law.”—Maron gave two or three sobs, and
put the corner of her check–apron upon the eye that was next
Walter.—“Fair fa’ your heart, Maron,” said he, “we’ll say nae mair
about it; but, my woman, we maun crack about our bits o’ hame affairs,
an’ I had the strongest reasons for coming to the truth o’ yon; however,
I’ll try ither means.—But, Maron Linton, there’s anither thing, that in
spite o’ my heart is like to breed me muckle grief, an’ trouble, an’
shame.—Maron, has the Brownie o’ Bodsbeck been ony mair seen about the
town?”

“Troth, gudeman, ye’re aye sae hard i’ the belief—wi’ a’ your kindness
to me and mine, ye hae a dour, stiff, unbowsome kind o’ nature in
ye—it’ll hardly souple whan steepit i’ yer ain e’esight—but I can tell
ye for news, ye’ll no hae a servant about yer house, man, woman, nor
boy, in less than a fortnight, if this wicked and malevolent spirit
canna be put away—an’ I may say i’ the language o’ Scripture, ‘My name
is Legion, for we are many.’ It’s no ae Brownie, nor twa, nor
half–a–score, that’s about the house, but a great hantle—they say
they’re ha’f deils ha’f fock—a thing that I dinna weel understand. But
how many bannocks think ye I hae baken in our house these eight days,
an’ no a crust o’ them to the fore but that wee bit on your trencher?”

“I little wot, gudewife; maybe half–a–dizen o’ dizens.”

“Half–a–dizen o’ dizens, gudeman!—aye sax dizen o’ dizens!—a’ the meal
girnels i’ the country wadna stand it, let abee the wee bit meal ark o’
Chapelhope.”

“Gudewife, I’m perfectly stoundit. I dinna ken what to say, or what to
think, or what to do; an’ the mair sae o’ what I have heard sin’ I gaed
to the hill—Auld John o’ the Muir, our herd, wha I ken wadna tell a lee
for the Laird o’ Drumelzier’s estate, saw an unco sight the night afore
last.”

“Mercy on us, gudeman! what mair has been seen about the town?”

“I’ll tell ye, gudewife—on Monanday night he cam yont to stop the ewes
aff the hogg–fence, the wind being eissel—it was a wee after midnight,
an’ the moon wasna just gane down—he was sittin i’ the scug o’ a bit
cleuch–brae, when, or ever he wist, his dog Keilder fell a gurrin’ an’
gurrin’, as he had seen something that he was terrified for—John took
him aneath his plaid, an’ held him, thinkin it was some sheep–stealers;
but or it was lang he saw a white thing an’ a black thing comin’ up the
Houm close thegither; they cam by within three catloups o’ him—he
grippit his cudgel firm, an’ was aince gaun to gie them strength o’ arm,
but his power failed him, an’ a’ his sinnens grew like dockans; there
was a kind o’ glamour cam o’er his een too, for a’ the hope an’ the
heaven grew as derk as tar an’ pitch—but the settin moon shone even in
their faces, and he saw them as weel as it had been fore–day. The tane
was a wee bit hurklin crile of an unearthly thing, as shrinkit an’ wan
as he had lien seven years i’ the grave; the tither was like a young
woman—an’ what d’ye think? he says he’ll gang to death wi’t that it was
outher our dochter or her wraith.”

Maron lifted up her eyes and her clasped hands toward the ceiling, and
broke out with the utmost vehemence into the following raving
ejaculation:—“O mercy, mercy! Watie Laidlaw!—O, may Him that dwalls
atween the Sherubeams be wi’ us, and preserve us and guide us, for we
are undone creatures!—O, Watie Laidlaw, Watie Laidlaw! there’s the
wheel within the wheel, the mystery o’ Babylon, the mother of harlots,
and abominations of the earth——”

“Maron Linton!—What are ye sayin?—Haud yer tongue, Maron Linton.”

“O gudeman, I thought it was the young fallows ye jaloosed her wi’—I
wish it had. I wad rather hae seen her i’the black stool, in the place
where repentance is to be hoped for; but now she’s i’the deil’s ain
hands. I jaloosed it, Watie—I kend it—I was sure o’t lang syne—our
bairn’s changed—she’s transplanted—she’s no Keaty Laidlaw now, but an
unearthly creature—we might weel hae kend that flesh an’ blude cude
never be sae bonny—Goodman, I hae an awsome tale to tell ye—Wha think
ye was it that killed Clavers’ Highlanders?”

“That, I suppose, will remain a mystery till the day when a’ secrets
will be cleared up, an’ a’ the deeds o’ darkness brought to light.”

“Sae may it be, Watie! Sae may it be! But it was neither ane nor other
but our ain only dochter Kate.”

“Ye’re ravin, Maron—troth, ye’re gaun daft—a bit sklendry lassie o’
aughteen kill sae mony armed Highlanders?—Hout fye! keep within bounds,
Maron.”

“I heard her wi’ thir lugs it’s i’my head—Stannin on that very room
floor, I heard her gie the orders to her Brownie. She was greetin whan I
cam in—I listened and heard her saying, while her heart was like to
loup, ‘Wae’s me! O wae’s me! or mid–day their blood will be rinning like
water!—The auld an’ the young, the bonny an’ the gude, the sick an’ the
woundit—That blude may cry to Heaven, but the cauld earth will drink it
up; days may be better, but waur they canna be! Down wi’ the clans,
Brownie, and spare nae ane.’ In less than ten minutes after that, the
men were found dead. Now, Watie, this is a plain an’ positive truth.”

Walter’s blood curdled within him at this relation. He was
superstitious, but he always affected to disbelieve the existence of the
Brownie, though the evidences were so strong as not to admit of any
doubt; but this double assurance, that his only daughter, whom he loved
above all the world besides, was leagued with evil spirits, utterly
confounded him. He charged his wife, in the most solemn manner, never
more, during her life, to mention the mysterious circumstance relating
to the death of the Highland soldiers. It is not easy to conceive a pair
in more consummate astonishment than Walter and his spouse were by the
time the conversation had reached this point. The one knew not what to
think, to reject, or believe—the other believed all, without
comprehending a single iota of that she did believe; her mind
endeavoured to grasp a dreadful imaginary form, but the dimensions were
too ample for its reasoning powers; they were soon dilated, burst, and
were blown about, as it were, in a world of vision and terror.



CHAPTER II.


Before proceeding with the incidents as they occurred, which is the
common way of telling a story in the country, it will be necessary to
explain some circumstances alluded to in the foregoing chapter.

Walter Laidlaw rented the extensive bounds of Chapelhope from the Laird
of Drummelzier. He was a substantial, and even a wealthy man, as times
went then, for he had a stock of 3000 sheep, cattle, and horses; and
had, besides, saved considerable sums of money, which he had lent out to
neighbouring farmers who were not in circumstances so independent as
himself.

He had one only daughter, his darling, who was adorned with every
accomplishment which the country could then afford, and with every
grace and beauty that a country maiden may possess. He had likewise two
sons, who were younger than she, and a number of shepherds and female
servants.

The time on which the incidents here recorded took place, was, I
believe, in the autumn of the year 1685, the most dismal and troublous
time that these districts of the south and west of Scotland ever saw, or
have since seen. The persecution for religion then raged in its wildest
and most unbridled fury: the Covenanters, or the whigs, as they were
then called, were proscribed, imprisoned, and at last hunted down like
wild beasts. Graham, Viscount of Dundee, better known by the detested
name of Clavers, set loose his savage troopers upon those peaceful
districts, with peremptory orders to plunder, waste, disperse, and
destroy the conventiclers, wherever they might be found.

All the outer parts of the lands of Chapelhope are broken into thousands
of deep black ruts, called by the country people _moss haggs_. Each of
the largest of these has a green stripe along its bottom; and in this
place in particular they are so numerous, so intersected and complex in
their lines, that, as a hiding–place, they are unequalled—men, foxes,
and sheep, may all there find cover with equal safety from being
discovered, and may hide for days and nights without being aware of one
another. The neighbouring farms to the westward abound with inaccessible
rocks, caverns, and ravines. To these mountains, therefore, the
shattered remains of the fugitives from the field of Bothwell Bridge, as
well as the broken and persecuted whigs from all the western and
southern counties, fled as to their last refuge. Being unacquainted,
however, with the inhabitants of the country in which they had taken
shelter—with their religious principles, or the opinions which they
held respecting the measures of government—they durst not trust them
with the secret of their retreat. They had watches set, sounds for
signals, and skulked away from one hiding–place to another at the
approach of the armed troop, the careless fowler, or the solitary
shepherd; yea, such precautions were they obliged to use, that they
often fled from the face of one another.

From the midst of that inhospitable wilderness—from those dark mosses
and unfrequented caverns—the prayers of the persecuted race nightly
arose to the throne of the Almighty—prayers, as all testified who heard
them, fraught with the most simple pathos, as well as the most bold and
vehement sublimity. In the solemn gloom of the evening, after the last
rays of day had disappeared, and again in the morning before they began
to streamer the east, the song of praise was sung to that Being, under
whose fatherly chastisement they were patiently suffering. These psalms,
always chaunted with ardour and wild melody, and borne on the light
breezes of the twilight, were often heard at a great distance. The heart
of the peasant grew chill, and his hairs stood all on end, as he hasted
home to alarm the cottage circle with a tale of horror. Lights were seen
moving by night in wilds and caverns where human thing never resided,
and where the foot of man seldom had trode.

The shepherds knew, or thought they knew, that no human being frequented
these places; and they believed, as well they might, that whole hordes
of spirits had taken possession of their remote and solitary dells. They
lived in terror and consternation. Those who had no tie in the country
left it, and retreated into the vales, where the habitations of men are
numerous, and where the fairy, the brownie, or the walking ghost, is
rarely seen. Such as had friends whom they could not leave, or sheep and
cattle upon the lands, as the farmers and shepherds had, were obliged to
remain, but their astonishment and awe continued to increase. They knew
there was but one Being to whom they could apply for protection against
these unearthly visitants; family worship was begun both at evening and
morning in the farmers’ hall and the most remote hamlet; and that age
introduced a spirit of devotion into those regions, which one hundred
and thirty years continuance of the utmost laxity and indecision in
religious principles has not yet been able wholly to eradicate.

It is likewise necessary to mention here, though perfectly well known,
that every corner of that distracted country was furnished with a
gownsman, to instruct the inhabitants in the _mild_ and _benignant_
principles of prelacy, but chiefly to act as spies upon the detested
whigs. In the fulfilment of this last task they were not remiss; they
proved the most inveterate and incorrigible enemies that the poor
covenanters had, even though heaven, earth, and hell seemed to have
combined against them.

The officiating priest at the kirk of Saint Mary of the Lowes had been
particularly active in this part of his commission. The smallest number
could not be convened for the purposes of public devotion—two or three
stragglers could not be seen crossing the country, but information was
instantly sent to Clavers, or some one of his officers; and, at the same
time, these devotional meetings were always described to be of the most
atrocious and rebellious nature. The whigs became grievously incensed
against this ecclesiastic, for, in the bleakest mountain of their native
land, they could not enjoy a lair in common with the foxes and the
wild–goats in peace, nor worship their God without annoyance in the dens
and caves of the earth. Their conventicles, though held in places ever
so remote, were broke in upon and dispersed by armed troops, and their
ministers and brethren carried away to prisons, to banishment, and to
death. They waxed desperate; and what will not desperate men do? They
way–laid, and seized upon one of the priest’s emissaries by night, a
young female, who was running on a message to Grierson of Lag. Overcome
with fear at being in custody of such frightful–looking fellows, with
their sallow cheeks and long beards, she confessed the whole, and gave
up her dispatches. They were of the most aggravated nature. Forthwith
two or three of the most hardy of the whigs, without the concurrence or
knowledge of their brethren, posted straight to the Virgin’s chapel that
very night, shot the chaplain, and buried him at a small distance from
his own little solitary mansion; at the same time giving out to the
country, that he was a sorcerer, an adulterer, and a character every way
evil. His name has accordingly been handed down to posterity as a most
horrid necromancer.

This was a rash and unpremeditated act; and, as might well have been
foreseen, the cure proved worse than the disease. It brought the armed
troops upon them both from the east and the west. Dundee came to
Traquair, and stationed companies of troops in a line across the
country. The Laird of Lag placed a body of men in the narrowest pass of
Moffatdale, in the only path by which these mountains are accessible.
Thus all communication was cut off between the mountain–men and the
western counties; for every one who went or came by that way, these
soldiers took prisoner, searched, and examined; and one lad, who was
coming from Moffat, carrying more bread than they thought he could well
account for, they shot dead on the spot just as he had dropt on his
knees to pray.

A curate, named Clerk, still remained, to keep an eye upon the whigs and
pester them. He had the charge of two chapels in that vicinity; the one
at a place now called Kirkhope, which was dedicated to Saint Irene, a
saint of whom the narrator of this story could give no account. The
other was dedicated to Saint Lawrence; the remains of it are still to be
seen at Chapelhope, in a small circular inclosure on the west side of
the burn. Clerk was as malevolent to the full against the proscribed
party as his late brother, but he wanted the abilities of the deceased;
he was ignorant, superstitious, and had assumed a part of the fanaticism
in religion of the adverse party, for it was the age and the country of
fanaticism, and nothing else would take. By that principally he had
gained some influence among his hearers, on whom he tried every
stimulant to influence them against the whigs. The goodwife of
Chapelhope was particularly attached to him and his tenets; he held her
completely in leading–strings; her concience approved of every thing, or
disapproved, merely as he directed; he flattered her for her deep
knowledge in true and sound divinity and the Holy Scriptures, although
of both she was grossly ignorant. But she had learned from her preceptor
a kind of cant—a jargon of religious terms and sentences of Scripture
mixed, of which she had great pride but little understanding. She was
just such a character as would have been a whig, had she ever had an
opportunity of hearing or conversing with any of that sect. Nothing
earthly could be so truly ludicrous as some of her exhibitions in a
religious style. The family and servants were in general swayed by their
mistress, who took a decided part with Clerk in all his schemes against
the whigs, and constantly dispatched one of her own servants to carry
his messages of information to the king’s officers. This circumstance
soon became known to the mountain–men, and though they were always
obliged to take refuge on the lands of Chapelhope by day, they avoided
carefully all communication with the family or shepherds (for several of
the shepherds on that farm lived in cottages at a great distance from
one another and from the farm–house.)

Walter despised Clerk and his tenets most heartily; he saw that he was
a shallow, hypocritical, and selfish being, and that he knew nothing of
the principles in which he pretended to instruct them; therefore he
sorely regretted the influence that he had gained over his family.
Neither did he approve of the rigid and rebellious principles which he
believed the Covenanters professed. When he met with any man, or
community of men, who believed firmly in any thing and held it sacred,
Walter revered that, and held it sacred likewise; but it was rather from
a deference to the belief and feelings of his fellow creatures than his
own conviction. In short, Walter was an honest, conscientious, good,
old–fashioned man, but he made no great fuss about religion, and many
supposed that he did not care a pin who was right or who was wrong.

On the 23d of August, Clavers (I think it best to denominate him so, as
he is always called by that name in the country,) dispatched nineteen
men from Traquair, under the command of one Copland, a gentleman
volunteer in his troop, and a very brave young man, to gain intelligence
concerning the murder of the curate, and use every means to bring the
perpetrators to justice. Copland and his men came to the mansion of the
late chaplain, where they remained all the night, and made every enquiry
that they could concerning the murderers. Several witnesses were brought
in and examined, and among others the very identical girl whom the whigs
took prisoner, and robbed of the dispatches. She had heard the letter
read by one of the gang who seized her, while the rest stood and
listened. It bore, “that great numbers of the broken and rebellious
traitors kenneled in the wilds around Loch–Skene, from whence they
committed depredations on all the countries about; that they likewise
made religious incursions into those districts, where great multitudes
attended their inflammatory harangues.” It also stated, “that a noted
incendiary was to preach on such a day in Kirkinhope Linn, where the
whole group might easily be surrounded and annihilated; that many of
them were armed with guns, bludgeons, and broadswords, but that they
were the most cowardly, heartless dogs alive; and that he himself, who
had private and certain information of all their hiding places, would
engage to rid the country of them in a few days, if Lag would allow him
but one company of soldiers.”

Copland now began to suspect that his force was too small to accomplish
any thing of moment; he determined, however, to make a dash into the
wild next morning, and, if possible, to seize some prisoners, and
thereby gain more accurate information. On the morning of the 24th,
having procured two trusty guides, he proceeded on his expedition. He
and nine of his followers went up by a place called Sheilhope, the other
nine by Chapelhope—they were to scour the broken ground, take all those
prisoners whom they found skulking, fire upon such as refused to stand,
and meet on a certain height at noon. Copland and his party reached the
appointed place without making any reprisal; they perceived some
stragglers on the heights and rocks at a great distance, who always
vanished away, like beings not of this world. Three of the other party
took one poor lad prisoner, who was so spent and emaciated that he had
been unable to fly at the signal–sound; but so intent were they on blood
that he was not ever brought before their leader, who never so much as
knew of the capture.

The guide was wont to relate the circumstances of this poor man’s trial
and execution, for, but for him, no such thing would ever have been
known; the death of a whig, or a straggler of any kind, was then a
matter of no concern—They were three Brae–mar Highlanders who took him;
like the most part of his associates, he answered their questions in a
surly manner, and by the most cutting retorts, which particularly
enraged a Donald Farquharson, one of the party, against him. “Weel,
I’ll pe pitting you to ’e test, and tat fery shun, my coot freen,” said
Donald; “and I’ll just pe teeling you, eince for a’, tat ye haif ne meer
but tway meenets and a half to leef.”

The poor forlorn wight answered, “that he expected no better at their
hands,—that he desired no longer time, and he hoped they would bear
patiently with him for that short space.” He then kneeled down and
prayed most fervently, while Donald, who wanted only a hair to make a
tether of, as the saying is, seemed watching diligently for a word at
which to quarrel. At length he spoke words to the following purport.
“Father, forgive these poor misled creatures, as I forgive them; they
are running blindly upon a wrong path, and without the power of thy
grace they shall never gain the right one more.” Donald, who did not
well understand the dialect in which the prisoner prayed, looked
shrewdly at his companions. “Dugald More,” said he—“Dugald More, fat’s
’e man saying?”

“He is praying,” replied the other, “that we may lose our way, and never
find it more.”

“Cot t‑‑n ’e soul o’ ’e tief, is he?” said Donald, and ran him through
with his bayonet.

The wounded man groaned, and cried most piteously, and even called out
“murder,” but there was none to rescue or regard him. The soldiers,
however, cut the matter short, by tossing him into a deep hole in the
morass, where he sunk in the mire and was seen no more.

When Copland arrived at the place of rendezvous, five out of his ten
associates were no where to be seen, nor did they make their appearance,
although he tarried there till two in the afternoon. The guide then
conducted him by the path on which those missing should have come, and
on arriving at a narrow pass in Chapelhope, he found the bodies of the
four soldiers and their guide mangled and defaced in no ordinary
way; and judging from this that he had been long enough in that
neighbourhood, he hasted back to Traquair with the news of the loss.
Clavers is said to have broke out into the most violent rage, and to
have sworn that night by the Blessed Virgin and all the Holy Trinity,
utterly to extirpate the seed of the d‑‑d whining psalm–singing race
from the face of the earth, and that ere Beltein there should not be as
much whig blood in Scotland as would make a dish of soup to a dog. He
however concealed from the privy council the loss of these five men, nor
did they ever know of it to this day.



CHAPTER III.


Things were precisely in this state, when the goodman of Chapelhope,
taking his plaid and staff, went out to the heights one misty day in
autumn to drive off a neighbour’s flock from his pasture; but, as Walter
was wont to relate the story himself, when any stranger came there on a
winter evening, as long as he lived, it may haply be acceptable to the
curious, and the lovers of rustic simplicity, to read it in his own
words, although he drew it out to an inordinate length, and perhaps kept
his own personal feelings and prowess too much in view for the
fastidious or critical reader to approve.

“It was on a mirk misty day in September,” said Walter, “I mind it
weel, that I took my plaid about me, and a bit gay steeve aik stick in
my hand, and away I sets to turn aff the Winterhopeburn sheep. The wind
had been east–about a’ that harst, I hae some sma’ reason ne’er to
forget it, and they had amaist gane wi’ a’ the gairs i’ our North Grain.
I weel expected I wad find them a’ in the scaithe that dark day, and I
was just amind to tak them hame in a drove to Aidie Andison’s door, and
say, ‘Here’s yer sheep for ye, lad; ye maun outher keep them better, or
else, gude faith, I’ll keep them for ye.’—I had been crost and put
about wi’ them a’ that year, and I was just gaun to bring the screw to
the neb o’ the mire–snipe.—Weel, off I sets—I had a special dog
at my feet, and a bit gay fine stick in my hand, and I was rather
cross–natured that day—‘Auld Wat’s no gaun to be o’er–trampit wi’ nane
o’ them, for a’ that’s come and gane yet,’ quo’ I to mysel as I gaed up
the burn.—Weel, I slings aye on wi’ a gay lang step; but, by the time
that I had won the Forkings, I gat collied amang the mist, sae derk,
that fient a spark I could see—Stogs aye on through cleuch and gill,
and a’ the gairs that they used to spounge, but, to my great mervel, I
can nouther see a hair of a ewe’s tail, nor can I hear the bleat of a
lamb, or the bell of a wether—No ane, outher of my ain or ither
folks!—‘Ay,’ says I to mysel, ‘what can be the meaning o’ this? od,
there has been somebody here afore me the day!’ I was just standin
looking about me amang the lang hags that lead out frae the head o’ the
North Grain, and considering what could be wort of a’ the sheep, when I
noticed my dog, Reaver, gaun coursing away forrit as he had been setting
a fox. What’s this, thinks I—On he gangs very angry like, cocking his
tail, and setting up his birses, till he wan to the very brink of a deep
hag; but when he gat there, my certy, he wasna lang in turning! Back he
comes, by me, an’ away as the deil had been chasing him; as terrified a
beast I saw never—Od, sir, I fand the very hairs o’ my head begin to
creep, and a prinkling through a’ my veins and skin like needles and
preens.—‘God guide us!’ thinks I, ‘what can this _be_?’ The day was
derk, derk; for I was in the very stamoch o’ the cludd, as it were;
still it was the day time, an’ the e’e o’ Heaven was open. I was as near
turned an’ run after my tike as ever I’ll miss, but I just fand a stound
o’ manheid gang through my heart, an’ forrit I sets wi’ a’ the vents o’
my head open. ‘If it’s flesh an’ blude,’ thinks I, ‘or it get the
owrance o’ auld Wat Laidlaw, od it sal get strength o’ arm for aince.’
It was a deep hag, as deep as the wa’s o’ this house, and a strip o’
green sward alang the bottom o’t; and when I came to the brow, what does
I see but twa lang liesh chaps lying sleeping at ither’s sides, baith
happit wi’ the same maud. ‘Hallo!’ cries I, wi’ a stern voice, ‘wha hae
we here?’ If ye had but seen how they lookit when they stertit up; od,
ye wad hae thought they were twa scoundrels wakened frae the dead! I
never saw twa mair hemp–looking dogs in my life.

‘What are ye feared for, lads? Whaten twa blades are ye? Or what are ye
seeking in sic a place as this?’

‘This is a derk day, gudeman.’

‘This is a derk day, gudeman! That’s sic an answer as I heard never. I
wish ye wad tell me something I dinna ken—and that’s wha ye are, and
what ye’re seeking here?’

‘We’re seeking nought o’ yours, friend.’

‘I dinna believe a word o’t—ye’re nae folk o’ this country—I doubt ye
ken o’er weel what stealing o’ sheep is—But if ye winna tell me plainly
and honestly your business here, the deil be my inmate gin I winna knock
your twa heads thegither.’

‘There is a gude auld say, honest man, _It is best to let sleeping dogs
lie, they may rise and bite you_.’

‘Bite _me_, lad!—Rise an’ bite _me_!—I wad like to see a dog on a’ the
heights o’ Chapelhope that wad snarl at me, let be to bite!’

“I had a gay steeve dour aik stick in my hand, an’ wi’ that I begoud to
heave’t up, no to strike them, but just to gi’e them a glisk o’ the
coming–on that was in’t. By this time they were baith on their feet; and
the ane that was neist me he gi’es the tabie of his jockey–coat a fling
back, and out he pu’s a braid sword frae aneath it—an’ wi’ the same
blink the ither whups a sma’ spear out o’ the heart o’ his aik stick,
‘Here’s for ye then, auld camstary,’ says they; ‘an unlucky fish gets an
unlucky bait.’ Od sir, I was rather stoundit; I began to look o’er my
shouther, but there was naething there but the swathes o’ mist. What wad
I hae gien for twa minutes of auld John o’ the Muchrah! However, there
was nae time to lose—it was come fairly to the neb o’ the mire–snipe
wi’ me. I never was gude when taken by surprise a’ my life—gie me a wee
time, an’ I turn quite foundemental then—sae, to tell the truth, in my
hurry I took the flier’s part, flang the plaid frae me, and ran off up
the hag as fast as my feet could carry me, an’ a’ the gate the
ragamuffian wi’ the sword was amaist close at my heels. The bottom o’
the hag was very narrow, twa could hardly rin abreast. My very bluid
began to rise at being chased by twa skebels, and I thought I heard a
voice within me, crying, ‘Dinna flee, Wat Laidlaw! dinna flee, auld Wat!
ye hae a gude cause by the end!’ I wheeled just round in a moment, sir,
and drew a desperate straik at the foremost, an’ sae little kend the
haniel about fencing, that instead o’ sweeing aff my downcome wi’ his
sword, he held up his sword–arm to save his head—I gart his arm just
snap like a pipe–stapple, and down fell his bit whittle to the ground,
and he on aboon it. The tither, wi’ his sma’ spear, durstna come on,
but ran for it; I followed, and was mettler o’ foot than he, but I
durstna grip him, for fear he had run his bit spit through my sma–fairns
i’ the struggle, for it was as sharp as a lance, but I keepit a little
back till I gat the end o’ my stick just i’ the how o’ his neck, and
then I gae him a push that soon gart him plew the flow with his nose. On
aboon him I gets, and the first thing I did was to fling away his bit
twig of a sword—I gart it shine through the air like a fiery
dragon—then I took him by the cuff o’ the neck, and lugged him back to
his neighbour, wha was lying graning in the hag. ‘Now, billies,’ says I,
‘ye shall answer face to face, it wad hae been as good soon as syne;
tell me directly wha ye are, and what’s your business here, or, d’ye
hear me, I’ll tye ye thegither like twa tikes, and tak ye to them that
will gar ye speak.’

‘Ah! lack–a–day, lack–a–day!’ said the wounded man, ‘ye’re a rash,
foolish, passionate man, whaever ye be.’

‘Ye’re maybe no very far wrang there,’ quo’ I; ‘but for aince, I trow, I
had gude reason. Ye thought to kill _me_ wi’ your bits o’ shabbles o’
swords!’

‘In the first place then,’ said he, ‘ken that we wadna hae shed ae drap
o’ your blood, nor wranged a hair o’ your head—all that we wanted was
to get quit of ye, to keep ye out o’ danger an’ scaith. Ye hae made a
bonny day’s wark on’t truly, we had naething in view but your ain
safety—but sin’ ye will ken ye maun ken; we belang to a poor proscribed
remnant, that hae fled from the face of a bloody persecution. We have
left all, and lost all, for the cause of our religion, and are driven
into this dismal wilderness, the only miserable retreat left us in our
native land.’

‘Od, sir! he hadna weel begun to speak till the light o’ the truth began
to dawn within me like the brek o’ the day–sky, an’ I grew as red too,
for the devil needna hae envied me my feelings at that time. I couldna
help saying to mysel, ‘Whow, whow, Wat Laidlaw! but ye hae made a bonny
job o’t this morning!—Here’s twa puir creatures, worn out wi’ famine
and watching, come to seek a last refuge amang your hags and mosses, and
ye maun fa’ to and be pelting and threshing on them like an incarnate
devil as ye are.—Oh, wae’s me! wae’s me!’—Lord, sir, I thought my
heart wad burst—There was a kind o’ yuke came into my een that I could
hardly bruke; but at length the muckle tears wan out wi’ a sair faught,
and down they came down ower my beard, dribble for dribble. The men saw
the pliskie that I was in, and there was a kind o’ ruefu’ benevolence i’
their looks, I never saw ony thing like it.’

‘Dinna be wae for us, honest man,’ said they; ‘we hae learned to
suffer—we hae kend nought else for this mony a lang and bloody year,
an’ we look for nought else for the wee while we hae to sojourn in this
weary world—we hae learned to suffer patiently, and to welcome our
sufferings as mercies.’

‘Ye’ve won a gude length, man,’ quo’ I; ‘but they’re mercies that I’m
never very fond o’—I wish ye had suffered under ony hand but mine, sin’
it be your lot.’

‘Dinna be sorry for us, honest man; there never was an act o’ mair
justice than this that ye hae inflicted. Last night there were fifteen
o’ us met at evening worship—we hadna tasted meat for days and nights;
to preserve our miserable lives, we stole a sheep, dressed, and ate it;
and wi’ this very arm that you hae disabled, did I grip and kill that
sheep. It was a great sin, nae doubt, but the necessity was also
great—I am sae far punished, and I hope the Lord will forgie the rest.’

‘If he dinna,’ quo’ I, ‘he’s no what I think him.’ Then he began a lang
serious harangue about the riches o’ free grace, and about the
wickedness o’ our nature; and said, that we could do naething o’
oursells _but_ sin. I said it was a hard construction, but I couldna
argy the point ava wi’ him—I never was a dab at these lang–winded
stories. Then they cam on about prelacy and heresies, and something they
ca’d the act of abjuration. I couldna follow him out at nae rate; but I
says, I pit nae doubt, callants, but ye’re right, for ye hae proven to
a’ the warld that ye think sae; and when a man feels conscious that he’s
right, I never believe he can be far wrang in sic matters. But that’s no
the point in question; let us consider what can be done for ye e’en
now—Poor souls! God kens, my heart’s sair for ye; but this land’s mine,
an’ a’ the sheep around ye, an’ ye’re welcome to half–a–dozen o’ the
best o’ them in sic a case.’

‘Ah! lack–a–day, lack–a–day! If ye be the gudeman o’ the Chapelhope,
ye’ll rue the day that ever ye saw us. If it’s kend that ye countenanced
us in word or deed, ye’re a ruined man; for the blood–hounds are near at
hand, and they’ll herry ye out and in, but and ben—Lack–a–day!
lack–a–day! in a wee while we may gang and come by the Chapelhope, and
nouther see a lum reek nor hear a cock craw; for Clavers is on the one
hand and Lag on the other, and they’re coming nearer and nearer us every
day, and hemming us in sairer and sairer—renounce us and deny us, as ye
wish to thrive.’

‘Na, na, lads, let them come—let them come their ways! Gin they should
take a’ the ewes and kye on the Chapelhope, I can stock it o’er again. I
dinna gie a bawbee about your leagues, and covenants, and associations,
for I think aye there’s a good deal o’ faction and dourness in them; but
or I’ll desert a fellow–creature that’s oppressed, if he’s an honest
man, and lippens to me, od, I’ll gie them the last drap o’ my heart’s
bluid.’

“When they heard that, they took me out to the tap of a knowe, and
began to whistle like plovers—nae herd alive could hae kend but they
were plovers—and or ever I wist, ilka hag, and den, and tod–hole round
about, seemed to be fu’ o’ plovers, for they fell a’ to the whistling
an’ answering ane another at the same time. I had often been wondering
how they staid sae lang on the heights that year, for I heard them aye
whewing e’en an’ morn; but little trowed I they were a’ twa–handed
plovers that I heard. In half an hour they had sic a squad gathered
thegither as e’e never glimed on. There ye might hae seen auld
gray–bearded ministers, lairds, weavers, and poor hinds, a’ sharing the
same hard fate. They were pale, ragged, and hungry, and several o’ them
lame and wounded; and they had athegither sic a haggard severity i’
their demeaner. Lord forgie me, gin I wasna feared to look at them!
There was ane o’ them a doctor blade, wha soon set the poor chield’s
arm; and he said, that after a’ it wasna broken, but only dislockit and
sair brizzed. That doctor was the gabbiest body ever I met wi’; he spake
for them a’, and I whiles feared that he sclented a wee. He tried a’
that he could to make me a Cameronian, but I wadna grip; and when I was
coming away to leave him, ‘Laidlaw,’ quo’ he, ‘we ken ye to be an
honest, honourable man; here you see a remnant of poor, forlorn,
misrepresented creatures, who have thrown themselves on your mercy; if
ye betray us, it will be the worse for ye both here and hereafter; if
you save and protect us, the prayers of the just win their way to
Heaven, though fiends should be standing by to oppose them—Ay, there’s
naething can stop _their_ journey, Laidlaw!—The winds canna blaw them
aside, the clouds canna drown them, and the lights o’ Heaven canna burn
them; and your name will stand at that bar where there’s nae cruel and
partial judge—What you gie to us, ye gie to your Maker, and he will
repay you seven fold.’ Od, the body was like to gar me play the bairn
and greet even out. Weel, I canna mind the half that he said, but he
endit wi’ this:—‘We have seen our friends all bound, banished, and
destroyed; they have died on the field, on the scaffold, and at the
stake; but the reek o’ their blood shall drive the cruel Stuarts frae
the land they have disgraced, and out of it a church of truth and
liberty shall spring. There is still a handfu’ remaining in Israel that
have not yet bowed the knee to Baal, nor yet kissed him—That remnant
has fled here to escape the cruelty of man; but a worse fate threatens
us now—we are all of us perishing with famine—For these three days we
have tasted nothing but the green moss, save a few wretched trouts,
eels, and adders.’ ‘Ethers, man!’ quo’ I,—‘For the love o’ God take
care how ye eat the ethers—ye may as weel cut your throats at aince as
eat them. Na, na, lad, that’s meat that will never do.’ I said nae mair,
but gae just a wave to my dog. ‘Reaver,’ quo’ I, ‘yon’s away.’—In three
minutes he had ten score o’ ewes and wedders at my hand. I grippit twa
o’ the best I could wale, and cut aff their heads wi’ my ain knife.
‘Now, doctor,’ quo’ I, ‘take these and roast them, and part them amang
ye the best way ye can—ye’ll find them better than the ethers—Lord,
man, it will never do to eat ethers.’”

After a hearty laugh, in which his guests generally joined, Walter
concluded thus: “That meeting cost me twa or three hunder round
bannocks, and mae gude ewes and wedders than I’ll say; but I never
missed them, and I never rued what I did. Folk may say as they like, but
I think aye the prayers out amang the hags and rash–bushes that year did
me nae ill—It is as good to hae a man’s blessing as his curse, let him
be what he may.”

Walter never went farther with his story straight onward than this; for
it began to involve family concerns, which he did not much like to
recount. He had a number of abstract stories about the Covenanters and
their persecutors; but as I must now proceed with the narrative as I
gathered it from others, these will be interwoven in their due course.



CHAPTER IV.


Walter visited them next day at the time and place appointed, taking
with him a dozen of bannocks and a small cheese. These he was obliged to
steal out of his own pantry, for he durst not by any means trust his
wife and family with the discovery he had made, knowing that he might as
well have confided it with the curate himself, the sworn enemy of his
motley protegees. They gathered around him with protestations of
gratitude and esteem; for the deserted and oppressed generally cling to
the first symptoms of friendship and protection with an ardency that too
often overshoots its aim. Walter naturally felt an honest pride, not so
much in that he had done, as that he intended to do; but before he
produced his repast, he began in a most serious way to question them
relating to some late incidents already mentioned.

They all with one assent declared, and took God to witness, that they
knew nothing at all about the death of the five soldiers; that it was
not perpetrated by them, nor any connected with them; nor could they
comprehend, in the least degree, how it was effected, if not by some
supernatural agency—a judgment sent down from Heaven for their bloody
intent. With regard to the murder of the priest, they were sorry that
they knew so much. It was perpetrated by a few rash men of their number,
but entirely without their concurrent assent, as well as knowledge; that
though his death might have been necessary to the saving of a great
number of valuable lives, they had, nevertheless, unanimously protested
against it; that the perpetrators had retired from their body, they knew
not whither; and that at that very time the Rev. Messrs Alexander
Shiels and James Renwick were engaged in arranging for publication a
general protest against many things alleged against them by their
enemies, and that among others.[A]

There was a candour in this to which Walter’s heart assented. He feasted
them with his plentiful and homely cheer—promised to visit them every
day, and so to employ his shepherds that none of them should come into
that quarter to distress them. Walter was as good as his word—He
visited them every day—told them all the news that he could gather of
the troops that beleagured them—of the executions that were weekly and
daily taking place—and of every thing else relating to the state of the
country. He came loaden with food to them daily; and when he found it
impossible to steal his own bread, butter, and cheese, he supplied their
wants from his flock. The numbers of the persecuted increased on his
hands incalculably—The gudewife of Chapelhope’s bannocks vanished by
scores, and the unconscionable, insatiable Brownie of Bodsbeck was
blamed for the whole.

Some time previous to this, a young vagrant, of the name of Kennedy,
chanced to be out on these moors shooting grouse, which were extremely
plentiful. He tarried until the twilight, for he had the art of calling
the heath–fowl around him in great numbers, by imitating the cry of the
hen. He took his station for this purpose in one of those moss–hags
formerly described; but he had not well begun to call ere his ears were
saluted by the whistling of so many plovers that he could not hear his
own voice. He was obliged to desist, and lay for some time listening, in
expectation that they would soon cease crying. When lying thus, he heard
distinctly the sound of something like human voices, that spoke in
whispers hard by him; he likewise imagined that he heard the pattering
of feet, which he took for those of horses, and, convinced that it was a
raid of the fairies, he became mortally afraid; he crept closer to the
earth, and in a short time heard a swell of the most mellifluous music
that ever rose on the night. He then got up, and fled with precipitation
away, as he thought, from the place whence the music seemed to arise;
but ere he had proceeded above an hundred paces, he met with one of the
strangest accidents that ever happened to man.

That same night, about, or a little before, the hour of midnight, two of
Laidlaw’s men, who happened to be awake, imagined that they heard a
slight noise without; they arose, and looked cautiously out at a small
hole that was in the end of the stable where they slept, and beheld to
their dismay the appearance of four men, who came toward them carrying a
coffin; on their coming close to the corner of the stable, where the two
men stood, the latter heard one of them say distinctly, in a whisper,
“Where shall we lay him?”

“We must leave him in the barn,” said another.

“I fear,” said a third, “the door of that will be locked;” and they past
on.

The men were petrified; they put on their clothes, but they durst not
move, until, in a short time thereafter, a dreadful bellowing and noise
burst forth about the door of the farm–house. The family was alarmed,
and gathered out to see what was the matter; and behold! there lay poor
Kennedy in a most piteous plight, and, in fact, stark staring mad. He
continued in a high fever all the night, and the next morning; but a
little after noon he became somewhat more calm, and related to them a
most marvellous tale indeed.

He said, that by the time he arose to fly from the sound of the music,
the moor was become extremely dark, and he could not see with any degree
of accuracy where he was running, but that he still continued to hear
the sounds, which, as he thought, came still nigher and nigher behind
him. He was, however, mistaken in this conjecture; for in a short space
he stumbled on a hole in the heath, into which he sunk at once, and fell
into a pit which he described as being at least fifty fathom deep; that
he there found himself immediately beside a multitude of hideous beings,
with green clothes, and blue faces, who sat in a circle round a small
golden lamp, gaping and singing with the most eldrich yells. In one
instant all became dark, and he felt a weight upon his breast that
seemed heavier than a mountain. They then lifted him up, and bore him
away through the air for hundreds of miles, amid regions of utter
darkness; but on his repeating the name of Jesus three times, they
brought him back, and laid him down in an insensible state at the door
of Chapelhope.

The feelings depicted in the features of the auditors were widely
different on the close of this wonderful relation. The beauteous
Katharine appeared full of anxious and woful concern, but no marks of
fear appeared in her lovely face. The servants trembled every limb, and
declared with one voice, that no man about Chapelhope was now sure of
his life for a moment, and that nothing less than double wages should
induce them to remain there another day. The goodwife lifted up her eyes
to Heaven, and cried, “O the vails! the vails!—the vails are poured,
and to pour!”

Walter pretended to laugh at the whole narration; but when he did, it
was with an altered countenance, for he observed, what none of them did,
that Kennedy had indeed been borne through the air by some means or
other; for his shoes were all covered with moss, which, if he had
walked, could not have been there, for the grass would have washed it
off from whatever quarter he had come.

Kennedy remained several days about Chapelhope in a thoughtful, half
delirious frame; but no entreaties could prevail with him at that time
to accompany the men of the place to where he supposed the accident had
happened, nor yet to give them any account where it was situated, for he
averred that he heard a voice say to him in a solemn tone, “If you wish
to live long, never tell what you have seen to–night, nor ever come this
way again.” Happy had it been for him had he attended all along to this
injunction. He slipped away from Chapelhope in a few days, and was no
more seen until the time that Copland and his men appeared there. It was
he who came as guide to that soldiers that were slain, and he fell with
them in the strait linn of the South Grain of Chapelhope.

These mysterious and unaccountable incidents by degrees impressed the
minds of the inhabitants with terror that cannot be described; no woman
or boy would go out of doors after sunset, on any account whatever, and
there was scarcely a man who durst venture forth alone after the fall of
evening. If they could have been sure that brownies and fairies had only
power to assume the human shape, they would not have been nearly in such
peril and perplexity; but there was no form of any thing animate or
inanimate, save that of a lamb, that they were sure of; they were of
course waylaid at every turn, and kept in continual agitation. An owl
was a most dangerous and suspicious–looking fellow—a white glede made
them quake, and keep a sharp look–out upon his course in the air—a
hare, with her large intelligent eyes and equivocal way of walking, was
an object of general distrust—and a cat, squalling after dark, was the
devil. Many were the ludicrous scenes that occurred, among which I
cannot help mentioning those which follow, as being particularly
whimsical.

Jasper, son to old John of the Muchrah, was the swiftest runner of his
time; but of all those whose minds were kept in continual agitation on
account of the late inundation of spirits into the country, Jasper was
the chief. He was beset by them morning and evening; and even at high
noon, if the day was dark, he never considered himself as quite safe. He
depended entirely upon his speed in running to avoid their hellish
intercourse; he essayed no other means—and many wonderful escapes he
effected by this species of exertion alone. He was wont to knit
stockings while tending his flock on the mountains; and happening to
drop some yarn one evening, it trailed after him in a long ravelled coil
along the sward. It was a little after the sun had gone down that Jasper
was coming whistling and singing over the shoulder of the Hermon Law,
when, chancing to cast a casual glance behind him, he espied something
in shape of a horrible serpent, with an unequal body, and an enormous
length of tail, coming stealing along the bent after him. His heart
leapt to his mouth, (as he expressed it,) and his hair bristled so that
it thrust the bonnet from his head. He knew that no such monster
inhabited these mountains, and it momently occurred to him that it was
the Brownie of Bodsbeck come to seize him in that most questionable
shape. He betook him to his old means of safety in great haste, never
doubting that he was well qualified to run from any object that crawled
on the ground with its belly; but, after running a considerable way, he
perceived his adversary coming at full stretch along the hill after him.
His speed was redoubled; and, as he noted now and then that his
inveterate pursuer gained no ground on him, his exertion was beyond that
of man. There were two shepherds on an opposite hill who saw Jasper
running without the plaid and the bonnet, and with a swiftness which
they described as quite inconceivable. The cause set conjecture at
defiance; but they remarked, that though he grew more and more spent,
whenever he glanced behind he exerted himself anew, and strained a
little harder. He continued his perseverance to the last, as any man
would do who was running for bare life, until he came to a brook called
the Ker Cleuch, in the crossing of which he fell down exhausted; he
turned on his back to essay a last defence, and, to his joyful
astonishment, perceived that the serpent likewise lay still and did not
move. The truth was then discovered; but many suspected that Jasper
never overcame that heat and that fright as long as he lived.

Jasper, among many encounters with the fairies and brownies, had another
that terminated in a manner not quite so pleasant. The Brownie of
Bodsbeck, or the Queen of the Fairies, (he was not sure which of them
it was,) came to him one night as he was lying alone, and wide awake, as
he conceived, and proffered him many fine things, and wealth and honours
in abundance, if he would go along to a very fine country, which Jasper
conjectured must have been Fairyland. He resisted all these tempting
offers in the most decided manner, until at length the countenance of
his visitant changed from the most placid and bewitching beauty to that
of a fiend. The horrible form grappled with him, laid hold of both his
wrists, and began to drag him off by force; but he struggled with all
the energy of a man in despair, and at length, by a violent exertion, he
disengaged his right hand. The enemy still continuing, however, to haul
him off with the other, he was obliged to have recourse to a desperate
expedient. Although quite naked, he reached his clothes with the one
hand and drew his knife; but, in endeavouring to cut off those fingers
which held his wrist so immovably fast, he fairly severed a piece of
the thumb from his own left hand.

This was the very way that Jasper told the story to his dying day,
denying stoutly that he was in a dream; and, singular as it may appear,
I can vouch for the truth of it. Jasper Hay died at Gattonside at a
right old age, in the year 1739; and they are yet alive who have heard
him tell those stories, and seen him without the thumb of the left hand.

Things went on in this distracted and doubtful manner until the time
when Walter is first introduced. On that day, at the meeting place, he
found no fewer than 130 of the poor wanderers, many of them assembled to
see him for the last time, and take an affectionate leave of him; for
they had previously resolved to part, and scatter themselves again over
the west country, even though certain death awaited them, as they could
not in conscience longer remain to be the utter ruin of one who was so
generous and friendly to them. They saw, that not only would his whole
stock be wasted, but he would himself be subjected to confiscation of
goods, and imprisonment, if to nothing worse. Walter said, the case
seemed hard either way; but he had been thinking, that perhaps, if they
remained quiet and inoffensive in that seclusion, the violence of the
government might in a little relax, and they might then retire to their
respective homes in peace. Walter soon heard with vexation that they
made conscience of _not living in peace_, but of proclaiming aloud to
the world the grievous wrongs and oppression that the church of Christ
in Scotland laboured under. The _doctor chap_, as Walter always called
him, illustrated at great length the sin that would lie to their charge,
should they remain quiet and passive in a time like that, when the
church’s all was at stake in these realms. “We are but a remnant,” added
he, “a poor despised remnant; but if none stand up for the truth of the
reformed religion, how are ever our liberties, civil or ecclesiastical,
to be obtained? There are many who think with us, and who feel with us,
who yet have not the courage to stand up for the truth; but the time
must ere long come, that the kingdoms of the land will join in
supporting a reformation, for the iniquity of the Amorite is wearing to
the full.”

Walter did not much like disputing about these matters; but in this he
felt that his reason acquiesced, and he answered thus: “Ye speak like a
true man, and a clever man, Doctor; and if I had a desperate cause by
the end, and wanted ane to back me in’t, the deil a step wad I gang
ayont this moss hag to find him; but, Doctor, there’s a time for every
thing. I wadna hae ye to fling away a gude cause, as I wad do a rotten
ewe, that winna haud ony langer. But dinna ye think that a fitter time
may come to mak a push? ye’ll maybe sell mae precious lives for nae end,
wi’ your declarations; take care that you, and the like o’ you, haena
these lives to answer for.—I like nae desperate broostles—od, man,
it’s like ane that’s just gaun to turn divour, taking on a’ the debt he
can.”

“Dinna fear, gudeman! dinna fear! There’s nae blood shed in sic a cause
that can ever be shed in vain. Na, na! that blood will argue better at
the bar o’ Heaven for poor distressed Scotland than all the prayers of
all the living. We hae done muckle, but we’ll do mair yet—muckle blood
has been wantonly and diabolically shed, and our’s may rin wi’ the
rest—we’ll no thraw’t wantonly and exultingly away; but, when our day
comes, we’ll gie it cheerfully—as cheerfully, gudeman, as ever ye paid
your mail to a kind landlord, even though the season had been hard and
stormy. We had aince enough of this warld’s wealth, and to spare; but we
hae naething now but our blood, and we’ll part wi’ that as cheerfully as
the rest. And it will tell some day! and ye may live to see it yet. But
enough, gudeman; we have all resolved, that, whatever the consequence
may be, to live no more on your bounty—therefore, do not urge it—but
give us all your hand—Farewell!—and may God bless you in all your
actings and undertakings!—There is little chance that we shall ever
meet again—We have no reward to give but our blessing and good wishes;
but, whenever a knee here present is bowed at the footstool of grace,
you will be remembered.”

Walter could not bear thus to part with them, and to give them up as it
were to certain destruction. He argued as well as he could on the
imprudence of the step they were going to take—of the impossibility of
their finding a retreat so inaccessible in all the bounds of the south
of Scotland, and the prospect that there was of the persecution soon
relaxing. But when he had said all that he could say, a thin spare old
man, with grey dishevelled locks, and looks, Walter said, as stern as
the adders that he had lately been eating, rose up to address him.
There was that in his manner which commanded the most intense attention.

“Dost thou talk of our rulers relaxing?” said he. “Blind and mistaken
man! thou dost not know them. No; they will never relax till their blood
shall be mixed with their sacrifices. That insatiate, gloomy, papistical
tyrant and usurper, the Duke of York, and his commissioner, have issued
laws and regulations more exterminating than ever. But yesterday we
received the woeful intelligence, that, within these eight days, one
hundred and fifty of our brethren have suffered by death or banishment,
and nearly one–half of these have been murdered, even without the sham
formality of trial or impeachment, nor had they intimation of the fate
that awaited them. York hath said in full assembly, ‘that neither the
realm nor the mother–church can ever be safe, until the south of
Scotland is again made a hunting forest;’ and his commissioner hath
sworn by the living God, ‘that never a whig shall again have time or
warning to prepare for Heaven, for that hell is too good for them.’ Can
we hope for these men relaxing? No! The detestable and bloody Clavers,
that wizard! that eater of toads! that locust of the infernal pit, hems
us in closer and closer on one side, and that Muscovite beast on the
other! They thirst for our blood; and our death and tortures are to them
matter of great sport and amusement. My name is Mackail! I had two brave
and beautiful sons, and I had but two; one of these had his brains shot
out on the moss of Monyhive without a question, charge, or reply. I
gathered up his brains and shattered skull with these hands, tied them
in my own napkin, and buried him alone, for no one durst assist me. His
murderers stood by and mocked me, cursed me for a dog, and swore if I
howled any more that they would send me after him. My eldest son, my
beloved Hew, was hung like a dog at the Market–cross of Edinburgh. I
conversed with him, I prayed with him in prison, kissed him, and bade
him farewell on the scaffold! My brave, my generous, my beautiful son! I
tell thee, man, thou who preachest up peace and forbearance with
tyrants, should ever the profligate Charles, or his diabolical
brother—should ever the murderer Clavers, or any of his hell–hounds of
the north, dare set foot in Heaven, one look from the calm benignant
face of my martyred son would drive them out howling!”

All this time the old man shed not a tear; his voice was wildly solemn,
but his looks were mixed with madness. He had up his hand to swear, to
pray, or to prophecy, Walter knew not which, but he was restrained by
his associates, and led aside, so that Walter saw no more of him; but he
said he could not get him out of his mind for many a day, for sic
another desperate auld body he had never seen.

These harangues took up much of the time that they had to spare, but ere
they parted Walter persuaded them, probably by his strong homely
reasoning, to remain where they were. He said, since they persisted in
refusing to take more of his flock, there was an extensive common beyond
the height, called Gemsope, which had been a royal forest, where many
gentlemen and wealthy farmers had sheep that fed promiscuously; and
considering their necessitous circumstances, he thought it no evil, and
he advised them to go and take from that glen as many as would serve to
support nature for a time;—that for his part he had many a good wedder
and dinmont there, and was willing to run his risk, which would then
fall equal on a number, and only on such as were rich and could well
bear it. In this plan, after some scruples which were overborne by the
majority, they at length fully and thankfully acquiesced.

That same day, on his way homeward, Walter heard the wonderful relation
of the apparition of his beloved daughter in the Hope at midnight; he
learned that Clavers would be there in a few days, and he had sent away
above 100 men to steal sheep—all these things made him thoughtful and
uneasy after he had reached his home, wet and fatigued.—“It will be a
bloody night in Gemsope this,” he said, sighing, not recollecting what
he said or to whom he said it. He could trust his wife with any of his
family concerns, but as long as she continued to be so much influenced
by the curate Clerk, the sworn enemy of his poor persecuted flock, he
durst not give her a hint of their retreat.

Walter became still more and more perplexed from all that he heard from
his wife, as well as from every one else—he found that, in truth, there
was some mysterious thing about his house—the whole family seemed
convinced of it—there were many things seen, heard, and done there that
he could in nowise account for in a rational way, and though he resisted
the general belief for a good while, that the house was haunted,
circumstances at length obliged him to yield to the torrent, and he
believed as faithfully in the Brownie of Bodsbeck as any of them all.

FOOTNOTE:

[A] This curious protest is still extant, and shows the true spirit of
the old Covenanters or Cameronians, as they have since been called,
better than any work remaining. It is called in the title page, “_An
informatory Vindication of a poor, wasted, misrepresented Remnant of the
suffering Anti–popish, Anti–prelatic, Anti–erastian, Anti–sectarian,
true Presbyterian Church of Christ in Scotland_.” It is dated at
Leadhills in 1687, and is the conjoint work of Mr James Renwick, and Mr
Alexander Shiels, author of _The Hind let loose_. The following is an
extract from it, p. 107:—

“And in like manner we do hereby disclaim all unwarrantable practices
committed by any few persons reputed to be of us, whereby the Lord hath
been offended, his cause wronged, and we all made to endure the scourge
of tongues; for which things we have desired to make conscience of
mourning before the Lord, both in public and private. As the
unwarrantable manner of killing that curate at the Corsephairn, though
he was a man of death both by the laws of God and man, and the fact not
materially murder; it being gone about contrary to our declaration,
common or competent consent, (the conclusion and deed being known only
to three or four persons) in a rash and not a Christian manner, and also
other offences being committed at the time; which miscarriages have
proven a mean to stop and retard lawful, laudable, and warrantable
proceeding, both as to matter and manner.”

These _other offences committed at the time_, unquestionably refer to
the slaughter of the Highland soldiers; about which, there was great
stir and numerous conjectures in the country; although, owing to the
revolution that immediately followed, the perpetrators were never taken,
nor the cause tried in a court of justice, nor indeed was the incident
ever generally known.



CHAPTER V.


The house which Walter occupied was on the very spot where the
farm–house of Chapelhope now stands, but it was twice as long; indeed, a
part of the house that is still standing, or was lately so, is the very
one that was built for Laidlaw when he first entered to that large farm.
There was likewise an outshot from the back of the house, called the Old
Room, which had a door that entered from without, as well as one from
the parlour within. The end of this apartment stood close to the bottom
of the steep bank behind the house, which was then thickly wooded, as
was the whole of the long bank behind, so that, consequently, any one,
with a little caution, might easily have gone out or come in there,
without being seen by any of the family. It contained a bed, in which
any casual vagrant, or itinerant pedlar slept, besides a great deal of
lumber; and as few entered there, it had altogether a damp, mouldy,
dismal appearance. There was likewise a dark closet in one corner of it,
with an old rusty lock, which none of the family had ever seen opened.

The most part of the family soon grew suspicious of this place. Sounds,
either real or imaginary, were heard issuing from it, and it was
carefully shunned by them all. Walter had always, as I said, mocked at
the idea of the Old Room being haunted, until that very night when we
began with him, and where, after many round–abouts, we have now found
him again.

It will be recollected that the conversation between Walter and his
wife, which is narrated in the first chapter of this book, terminated
with a charge from him never more to mention the mysterious story
relating to their daughter and these five men that were destroyed.
After this she retired about some housewife business, and left Walter by
himself to muse on that he had seen and heard. He was sitting musing,
and that deeply, on the strange apparition of his daughter that old John
had seen, when he thought he heard something behind him making a sound
as if it growled inwardly. He looked around and saw that it was his dog
Reaver, who was always an inmate of every place that his master
entered—he was standing in an attitude of rage, but at the same time
there was a mixture of wild terror in his appearance—His eyes, that
gleamed like red burning coals, were pointed directly to the door that
opened from the corner of the parlour into the Old Room—Walter was
astonished, for he well knew his acuteness, but he kept his eyes on him
and said not a word—The dog went forward with a movement scarce
perceptible, until he came close to the door, but on putting his nose
and ear to the bottom of it, he burst out with such a bay and howl as
were truly frightful, and ran about the apartment as if mad, trying to
break through the walls and window boards.—Walter was fairly overcome;
there is nothing frightens a shepherd so much as the seeing of his dog
frightened. The shepherd’s dog of the true breed will boldly attack any
animal on earth in defence of his master, or at his command; and it is
no good sign indeed when he appears terrified, for the shepherd well
knows that his dog can discover spirits by the savour of the wind, when
he is all unconscious that any such beings are near.

Walter fled into the kitchen with precipitation—he found all the family
standing in alarm, for they had heard the hideous uproar in the room.

“What’s the matter?” said half–a–dozen at once.

“What’s the matter!” said Walter, churlishly—“nothing at all is the
matter—tell me who of you were in the Old Room, and what you were
seeking there?”

“No—none of them had been in the Old Room—the whole of the family were
present, nor had one of them been away.”

Walter’s countenance changed—he fixed his eyes on the ground for the
space of a minute.

“Then I am sure,” said he, emphatically, “something worse is there.”

A breathless silence ensued; save that some groans and muttered prayers
issued from the lips of the goodwife, who sat in a posture of deep
humility, with her brow leaned on both hands.

“Some of you go and see,” added Walter, “what it _is_ that is in the Old
Room.”

Every eye in the house turned on another, but no one spoke or offered to
move. At length Katharine, who seemed in great anxiety lest any of them
should have had the courage to go, went lightly up to her father, and
said, “I will go, sir, if you please.”

“Do, my dear, and let some of the men go with you.”

“No, sir; none of the men shall go with me.”

“Well then, Keatie, make haste; light a candle, and I will go with you
myself.”

“No—with your leave, father, if I go, I go alone; no one shall go with
me.”

“And why, my love, may not I, your father, accompany you?”

“Because, should you go with me into the Old Room just now, perhaps you
might never be yourself again.”

Here the goodwife uttered a smothered scream, and muttered some
inarticulate ejaculations, appearing so much affected, that her
daughter, dreading she would fall into a fit, flew to support her; but
on this she grew ten times worse, screaming aloud, “Avoid thee, Satan!
avoid thee, Satan! avoid thee, imp of darkness and despair! avoid thee!
avoid thee!” And she laid about her violently with both hands. The
servants, taking it for granted that she was bewitched, or possessed,
fled aloof; but Walter, who knew better how matters stood with her mind
than they, ran across the floor to her in such haste and agitation, that
they supposed he was going to give her _strength of arm_, (his great
expedient when hardly controuled,) but in place of that, he lifted her
gently in his arms, and carried her to her bed, in the further end of
the house.

He then tried to sooth her by every means in his power; but she
continued in violent agitation, sighing, weeping, and praying
alternately, until she wrought herself into a high nervous fever.
Walter, growing alarmed for her reason, which seemed verging to a
dangerous precipice, kept close by her bed–side. A little before
midnight she grew calm; and he, thinking she had fallen asleep, left her
for a short time. Unfortunately, her daughter, drawn toward her by
filial regard and affection, softly then entered the room. Maron Linton
was not so sound asleep as was supposed; she instantly beheld the
approach of that now dreaded sorceress, and sitting up in her bed, she
screamed as loud as she was able. Katharine, moved by a natural impulse,
hasted forward to the couch to calm her parent; but the frenzied matron
sprung from her bed, threw up the window, and endeavoured to escape;
Katharine flew after her, and seized her by the waist. When Maron found
that she was fairly in her grasp at such an hour, and no help at hand,
she deemed all over with her, both body and soul; which certainly was a
case extreme enough. She hung by the sash of the window, struggled, and
yelled out, “Murder! murder! murder!—O Lord! O Lord!—save! save! save!
save!—Murder! murder!” &c. At length Walter rushed in and seized her,
ordering his weeping daughter instantly to bed.

Maron thanked Heaven for this wonderful and timely deliverance, and
persuaded now that Providence had a special and peculiar charge over
her, she became more calm than she had been since the first alarm; but
it was a dreadful certainty that she now possessed, that unearthly
beings inhabited the mansion along with her, and that her daughter was
one of the number, or in conjunction with them. She spent the night in
prayer, and so fervent was she in her devotions, that she seemed at
length to rest in the hope of their final accomplishment. She did not
fail, however, to hint to Walter that something decisive ought to be
done to their daughter. She did not actually say that she should be
burnt alive at a stake, but she spake of the trial by fire—or that it
might be better to throw her into the lake, to make the experiment
whether she would drown or not; for she well expected, in her own mind,
that when the creature found itself in such circumstances, it would fly
off with an eldrich laugh and some unintelligible saying to its own
clime; but she was at length persuaded by her husband to intrust the
whole matter to her reverend monitor, both as to the driving away the
herd of Brownies, and the exorcism of her daughter.

Never was man in such a predicament as Walter now found himself with
regard to his family. Katharine had never been a favourite with her
mother, who doated on her boys to the detriment of the girl, but to him
she was all in all. Her demeanour of late completely puzzled him—The
words that she had said to him the preceding evening had no appearance
of jocularity; besides, seriousness and truth formed her natural
character, and she had of late become more reserved and thoughtful than
she had ever been before.

The bed that she slept in faced into the parlour before mentioned;
that which Walter and his spouse occupied entered from another
apartment—their backs, however, were only separated by a thin wooden
partition. Walter kept awake all that night, thoughtful, and listening
to every sound. Every thing remained quiet till about the second crowing
of the cock; he then heard something that scratched like a rat, but
more regularly, and in more distinct time. After the noise had been
repeated three times at considerable intervals, he thought he heard his
daughter rising from her bed with extraordinary softness and caution—He
laid his ear to a seam, and distinctly heard the sound of words uttered
in a whisper, but of their import he could make nothing. He then heard
his daughter return to her bed with the same caution that she left it,
utter some sighs, and fall sound asleep.

After serious deliberation, Walter thought his best expedient was to
remove his daughter from home for some time; and next morning he
proposed to her to go and spend a week or two with her maternal uncle,
Thomas Linton, farmer at Gilmanscleuch. To this she objected on several
pretences; but at length, when urged to it, positively refused to leave
her father’s house at that time. He never in his life could say a harsh
word to her, but that day he appeared chagrined, and bade her, with
some asperity, keep away from her mother’s presence, as her malady,
which was a nervous complaint, required the utmost quietness. This she
promised with her accustomed cheerfulness, and they parted. During the
day she was absent for several hours, none knowing whither she went, or
by what way she returned.

On the same day, the servants, who had spent a sleepless night, packed
up bag and baggage, and went off in a body, all save one elderly woman,
who had lately come to the house, and was a stranger to them all. Her
name, she said, was Agnes Alexander, but she was better known by the
familiar one of Nanny Elshinder; her former history and connections were
doubtful, but she was of a cheerful complaisant temper, and always
performed what she was ordered to do without any remarks. Walter had
hired her at Moffat, in the fair called _The Third Friday_; and told
Maron when he came home, that “he had hired a wastlin auldish quean,
wha, he believed, was a wee crackit i’the head, but, poor thing, she
wasna like to get a place, and was sic a good soul he coudna think to
leave her destitute; and whanever he begoud to parley wi’ her, od, she
brought him to the neb o’ the mire–snipe directly.” Saving this good
woman, all the house servants, man, woman, and boy, deserted their
service, and neither promises nor threats could induce them to stay
another night about the town. They said, “they might as weel bide i’
hell; they wad gang afore Gibby Moray, the king’s shirra, whanever he
likit about it; or, gin he buid rather hae brawer burlymen, they wad
meet him face to face in the Parliment Close.”

Walter was now obliged to bring Jasper, his young shepherd, down from
the Muchrah, to assist him in the labour of the farm—the most unfit man
in the world for a haunted house. He knew that the Old Room was
frequented by his old adversary, the Brownie of Bodsbeck. He likewise
knew that his young mistress was a witch, or something worse, for the
late servants had told him, so that he had now a dangerous part to act.
Nevertheless, he came determined to take the bull by the horns; for as
he and his father had stocks of sheep upon the farm, they could not
leave their master, and he was never wont to disobey him. He had one
sole dependance—his swiftness of foot—that had never yet failed him in
eschewing them, save in the solitary instance of the serpent.

On the first day of his noviceship as a labourer, he and his master were
putting some ropes on the dwelling–house to keep on the thatch. Jasper
wanting something whereon to stand, for that purpose, and being within a
few yards of the door of the Old Room, and knowing that the tubs stood
there, thoughtlessly dashed into it to bring out one to stand on; but he
had not taken two steps within the door till he beheld a human face,
and nothing but a face and a head, looking deliberately at him. One
would have thought that such a man, seeing such a sight, would have
cried out, fled to his master on the other side of the house, or into
the kitchen to old Nanny. Jasper did none of them all. He turned round
with such velocity that he fell—hasted out at the door on all fours,
and took to the Piper–hill like a wild deer, praying fervently all the
way. His master saw him from the ladder where he stood, and called aloud
after him, but he deigned not to heed or look behind him—the head
without the body, and that at an ordinary distance from the ground, was
alone impressed on his mind, and refused a share to any other
consideration. He came not back to the Chapelhope that night.

Katharine, the young and comely friend of the Brownie, having discovered
that Jasper had been introduced to her familiar, and knowing his truth
and simplicity of heart, earnestly desired to sound him on the subject.
She knew he would return to assist her father and brothers with the farm
labour, in their present strait, by a certain hour next morning, and she
waited on him by the way. He came accordingly; but he knew her and her
connections better than she imagined. He tried to avoid her, first by
going down into the meadow, then by climbing the hill; but seeing that
she waylaid him both ways, and suspecting her intentions to be of the
very worst nature, he betook him to his old expedient—fled with
precipitation, and returned to the Muchrah.

Katharine could by no means comprehend this, and was particularly
concerned about it at this time, as she had something she wished to
reveal to him. Walter appeared gloomy and discontented all that day. The
corn was ripe, but not a sheaf of it cut down;—the hay was still
standing on the meadow, the lint was to pull, the potatoes to raise,
the tar to bring home, and the sheep to smear; and there was no one left
to do all this but he and his two boys. The gudewife, who used to bustle
about and do much household work, was confined to her room. His
daughter’s character, her demeanour, and even her humanity, were become
somewhat doubtful. Walter was truly in what he termed _a pickled
priminary_.

Katharine, being still debarred all access to her mother, began to dread
that she would be obliged to leave her father’s house; and, in case of a
last extremity, she bethought her of sounding the dispositions of old
Nanny. She was a character not easily to be comprehended. She spoke much
to herself, but little to any other person—worked so hard that she
seldom looked up, and all the while sung scraps of old songs and
ballads, the import of which it was impossible to understand; but she
often chaunted these with a pathos that seemed to flow from the heart,
and that never failed to affect the hearer. She wore a russet worsted
gown, clouted shoes, and a quoif, or mutch, upon her head, that was
crimped and plaited so close around her face that very little of the
latter was visible. In this guise was Nanny, toiling hard and singing
her mournful ditty, when Katharine came in and placed herself on a seat
by her side.

“Nanny, this seems to be more than ordinary a busy day with you; pray,
what is all this baking and boiling for?”

“Dear bairn, dear bairn, what do I ken—the like o’ me maun do as we’re
bidden—guests are coming, my bairn—O, ay—there’s mony a braw an’
bonny lad coming this way—mony a ane that will gaur a young thing’s
e’en stand i’ back water—

    “They are coming! they are coming!
      Alak! an’ wae’s me!
    Though the sword be in the hand,
      Yet the tear’s in the e’e.

    Is there blood in the moorlands
      Where the wild burnies rin?
    Or what gars the water
      Wind reid down the lin?

    O billy, dear billy,
      Your boding let be,
    For it’s nought but the reid lift
      That dazzles your e’e.”

“Prithee go on, Nanny; let me hear what it was that reddened the water?”

“Dear bairn, wha kens; some auld thing an’ out o’ date; but yet it is
sae like the days that we hae seen, ane wad think the poeter that made
it had the second sight. Mony a water as weel as the Clyde has run reid
wi’ blude, an’ that no sae lang sin’ syne!—ay, an’ the wild burnies
too! I hae seen them mysel leave a reid strip on the sand an’ the grey
stanes—but the hoody craw durstna pick there!—Dear bairn, has the
Chapelhope burn itsel never had the hue?”

Here Katharine’s glance and Nanny’s met each other, but were as quickly
withdrawn, for they dreaded one another’s converse; but they were soon
relieved from that dilemma by Nanny’s melancholy chime—

    “In yon green houm there sat a knight,—
      An’ the book lay open on his knee,
    An’ he laid his hand on his rusty sword.
      An’ turned to Heaven his watery e’e.

    But in yon houm there is a kirk,
      An’ in that kirk there is a pew,
    An’ in that pew there sat a king,
      Wha signed the deed we maun ever rue.

    He wasna king o’ fair Scotland,
      Though king o’ Scotland he should hae been,—
    And he lookit north to the land he loved,
      But aye the green leaves fell atween.

    The green leaves fell, an’ the river swell’d.
      An’ the brigg was guardit to the key;
    O, ever alak! said Hamilton
      That sic a day I should ever see!

    As ever ye saw the rain down fa’,
      Or yet the arrow gae from the bow—

“No, that’s not it—my memory is gane wi’ my last warldly hope—Hech!
dear bairn, but it is a sad warld to live in, without hope or love for
ony that’s in’t—I had aye some hope till now! but sic a dream as I had
last night!—I saw him aince again—Yes, I saw him bodily, or may I
never steer aff this bit.”—Here Nanny sobbed hard, and drew her arms
across her eyes.—“Come, come,” continued she, “gie me a bit sang, dear
bairn, an’ let it be an auld thing—they do ane’s heart gude thae bits
o’ auld sangs.”

“Rather tell me, Nanny—for we live in ignorance in this wild
place—what you think of all that blude that has been shed in our
country since the killing–time began? Do you think it has been lawfully
and rightfully shed?”

“Wha doubts it, dear bairn?—Wha doubts that?—But it will soon be ower
now—the traitors will soon be a’ strappit and strung—ay, ay—the last
o’ them will soon be hackit and hewed, an’ his bloody head stannin ower
the Wast Port—an’ there will be braw days than—we’ll be a’ right
than.”

Katharine sat silent and thoughtful, eyeing old Nanny with fixed
attention; but the muscles of her contracted face and wild unstable eye
were unintelligible. She therefore, with a desponding mien, went out,
and left the crazy dame to discourse and sing to herself. Nanny ceased
her baking, stood upright, and listened to the maid’s departing steps,
till judging her out of hearing; she then sung out, in what is now
termed the true _bravura_ style,

    “Then shall the black gown flap
      O’er desk and true man;
    Then shall the horny cap
      Shine like the new moon;
    An’ the kist fu’ o’ whistles
      That maks sic a cleary,
    Lool away, bool away,
      Till we grow weary.
            Till we grow weary, &c.

    Charlie, the cypher–man,
      Drink till ye stew dame;
    Jamie, the wafer–man,
      Eat till ye spue them;
    Lauderdale lick–my–fud,
      Binny and Geordie,
    Leish away, link away.
      Hell is afore ye.
            Hell is afore ye, &c.

    Græme will gang ower the brink,
      Down wi’ a flaughter;
    Lagg an’ Drumlandrick
      Will soon follow after;
    Johnston and Lithgow,
      Bruce and Macleary,
    Scowder their harigalds,
      Deils, wi’ a bleery.
            Till ye grow weary,” &c.

In the mean time, Katharine, on hearing the loud notes of the song, had
returned within the door to listen, and heard the most part of the lines
and names distinctly. She had heard it once before, and the singer
reported it to be a new song, and the composition of a young man who had
afterwards been executed in the Grass–Market. How Nanny came to sing
such a song, with so much seeming zest, after the violent prelatic
principles which she had so lately avowed, the maid could not well
comprehend, and she began to suspect that there was more in Nanny’s mind
than had yet been made manifest. Struck with this thought, and
ruminating upon it, she continued standing in the same position, and
heard Nanny sometimes crooning, and at other times talking rapidly and
fervently to herself. After much incoherent matter, lines of psalms, &c.
Katharine heard with astonishment the following questions and answers,
in which two distinct voices were imitated:—

“Were you at the meeting of the traitors at Lanark on the 12th of
January?”

“I never was amang traitors that I was certain of till this day—Let
them take that! bloody fruesome beasts.”

“Were you at Lanark on that day?”

“If you had been there you would have seen.”

“D‑‑n the old b‑‑! Burn her with matches—squeeze her with pincers as
long as there’s a whole piece of her together—then throw her into
prison, and let her lie till she rot—the old wrinkled hag of h‑‑! Good
woman, I pity you; you shall yet go free if you will tell us where you
last saw Hamilton and your own goodman.”

“Ye sall hing me up by the tongue first, and cut me a’ in collops while
I’m hingin.”

“Burn her in the cheek, cut baith her lugs out, and let her gae to h‑‑
her own way.”

After this strange soliloquy, the speaker sobbed aloud, spoke in a
suppressed voice for some time, and then began a strain so sweet and
melancholy, that it thrilled the hearer, and made her tremble where she
stood. The tune was something like the Broom of Cowdenknows, the
sweetest and most plaintive of the ancient Scottish airs; but it was
sung so slow, as to bear with it a kind of solemnity.

    “The kye are rowting in the lone,
      The ewes bleat on the brae,
    O, what can ail my auld gudeman,
      He bides sae lang away!

    An’ aye the Robin sang by the wud,
      An’ his note had a waesome fa’;
    An’ the corbie croupit in the clud,
      But he durstna light ava;

    Till out cam the wee grey moudiwort
      Frae neath the hollow stane,
    An’ it howkit a grave for the auld grey head,
      For the head lay a’ its lane!

    But I will seek out the Robin’s nest,
      An’ the nest of the ouzel shy,
    For the siller hair that is beddit there
      Maun wave aboon the sky.”

The sentiments of old Nanny appeared now to her young mistress to be
more doubtful than ever. Fain would she have interpreted them to be such
as she wished, but the path which that young female was now obliged to
tread required a circumspection beyond her experience and discernment
to preserve, while danger and death awaited the slightest deviation.



CHAPTER VI.


Next morning Clavers, with fifty dragoons, arrived at Chapelhope, where
they alighted on the green; and putting their horses to forage, he and
Sir Thomas Livingston, Captain Bruce, and Mr Adam Copland, before
mentioned, a gentleman of Clavers’ own troop, went straight into the
kitchen. Walter was absent at the hill. The goodwife was sitting lonely
in the east room, brooding over her trials and woes in this life, and
devising means to get rid of her daughter, and with her of all the
devouring spirits that haunted Chapelhope; consequently the first and
only person whom the gentlemen found in the kitchen was old Nanny.
Clavers, who entered first, kept a shy and sullen distance, for he never
was familiar with any one; but Bruce, who was a jocular Irish
gentleman, and well versed in harassing and inveigling the ignorant
country people to their destruction, made two low bows (almost to the
ground) to the astonished dame, and accosted her as follows: “How are
you to–day, mistress?—I hope you are very well?”

“Thank ye kindly, sir,” said Nanny, curtseying in return; “deed I’m no
sae weel as I hae been; I hae e’en seen better days; but I keep aye the
heart aboon, although the achings and the stitches hae been sair on me
the year.”

“Lack–a–day! I am so very sorry for that!—Where do they seize you?
about the heart, I suppose?—Oh, dear soul! to be sure you do not know
how sorry I am for your case—it must be so terribly bad! You should
have the goodness to consult your physician, and get blood let.”

“Dear bairn, I hae nae blude to spare—an’ as for doctors, I haena
muckle to lippen to them. To be sure, they are whiles the means, under
Providence”——

“Oho!” said he, putting his finger to his nose, and turning to his
associates with a wry face,—“Oho! the means under Providence!—a d‑‑d
whig, by ‑‑‑‑. Tell me, my dear and beautiful Mistress Stitchaback, do
you really believe in that blessed thing, Providence?”

“Do I believe in Providence!—Did ever ony body hear sic a question as
that? Gae away, ye muckle gouk—d’ye think to make a fool of a puir
body?”

So saying, she gave him a hearty slap on the cheek; at which his
companions laughing, Bruce became somewhat nettled, and, drawing out his
sword, he pointed at the recent stains of blood upon it. “Be so good as
to look here, my good lady,” said he, “and take very good note of all
that I say, and more; for harkee, you must either renounce Providence,
and all that I bid you renounce,—and you must, beside that, answer all
the questions that I shall ever be after asking,—or, do you see, I am a
great doctor—this is my very elegant lance—and I’ll draw the blood
that shall soon ease you of all your stitches and pains.”

“I dinna like your fleem ava, man—’tis rather ower grit for an auld
body’s veins. But ye’re surely some silly skemp of a fallow, to draw out
your sword on a puir auld woman. Dinna think, howanabee, that I care for
outher you or it. I’ll let ye see how little I mind ye; for weel I ken
your comrades wadna let ye fash me, e’en though ye were sae silly as to
offer. Na, na; d’ye ever think that little bonny demure–looking lad
there wad suffer ye to hurt a woman?—I wat wad he no! He has mair
discreation in his little finger than you hae i’ your hale bouk.—Now
try me, master doctor—I’ll nouther renounce ae thing that ye bid me,
nor answer ae question that ye speer at me.”

“In the first place, then, my good hearty dame, do you acknowledge or
renounce the Covenant?”

“Aha! he’s wise wha wats that, an’ as daft that speers.”

“Ay, or no, in a moment—No juggling with me, old Mrs Skinflint.”

“I’ll tell ye what ye do, master—if ony body speer at ye, gin auld
Nanny i’ the Chapelhope renounces the Covenant, shake your head an’ say
ye dinna ken.”

“And pray, my very beautiful girl, what do you keep this old tattered
book for?”

“For a fancy to gar fools speer, an’ ye’re the first—Come on now, sir,
wi’ your catechis—Wally–dye man! gin ye be nae better a fighter than
ye’re an examiner, ye may gie up the craft.”

Bruce here bit his lip, and looked so stern that Nanny, with a
hysterical laugh, ran away from him, and took shelter behind Clavers.

“You are a d‑‑d fool, Bruce,” said he, “and constantly blundering.—Our
business here, mistress, is to discover, if possible, who were the
murderers of an honest curate, and some of our own soldiers that were
slain in this neighbourhood while discharging their duty; if you can
give us any information on that subject, you shall be well rewarded.”

“Ye’ll hear about the curate, sir—ye’ll hear about him—he was found
out to be a warlock, and shot dead.—But ah, dear bairn! nane alive can
gie you information about the soldiers!—It was nae human hand did that
deed, and there was nae e’e out o’ heaven saw it done—There wasna a man
that day in a’ the Hope up an’ down—that deed will never be fund out,
unless a spirit rise frae the dead an’ tell o’t—Muckle fear, an’ muckle
grief it has been the cause o’ here!—But the men war a’ decently
buried; what mair could be done?”

“Do you say that my men were all decently buried?”

“Ay, troth, I wat weel, worthy sir, and wi’ the burial–service too.—My
master and mistress are strong king’s folk.”

“So you are not the mistress of this house?”

“A bonny like mistress I wad be, forsooth—Na, na, my mistress is sittin
be hersel ben the house there.” With that, Nanny fell a working and
singing full loud—

    “Little wats she wha’s coming,
    Little wats she wha’s coming,
    Strath and Correy’s ta’en the bent,
    An’ Ferriden an’ a’s coming;
    Knock and Craigen Sha’s coming,
    Keppoch an’ Macraw’s coming,
    Clan–Mackinnon’s ower the Kyle,
    An’ Donald Gun an’ a’s coming.”

Anxious now to explore the rest of the house, they left Nanny singing
her song, and entered the little parlour hastily, where, finding no one,
and dreading that some escape might be effected, Clavers and Livingston
burst into the Old Room, and Bruce and Copland into the other. In the
Old Room they found the beautiful witch Katharine, with the train of her
snow–white joup drawn over her head, who looked as if taken in some evil
act by surprise, and greatly confounded when she saw two gentlemen
enter her sanctuary in splendid uniforms. As they approached, she made a
slight curtsey, to which they deigned no return; but going straight up
to her, Clavers seized her by both wrists. “And is it, indeed, true,”
said he, “my beautiful shepherdess, that we have caught you at your
prayers so early this morning?”

“And what if you have, sir?” returned she.

“Why, nothing at all, save that I earnestly desire, and long exceedingly
to join with you in your devotional exercises,” laying hold of her in
the rudest manner.

Katharine screamed so loud that in an instant old Nanny was at their
side, with revenge gleaming from her half–shaded eyes, and heaving over
her shoulder a large green–kale gully, with which she would doubtless
have silenced the renowned Dundee for ever, had not Livingston sprung
forward with the utmost celerity, and caught her arm just as the stroke
was descending. But Nanny did not spare her voice; she lifted it up
with shouts on high, and never suffered one yell to lose hearing of
another.

Walter, having just then returned from the hill, and hearing the hideous
uproar in the Old Room, rushed into it forthwith to see what was the
matter. Katharine was just sinking, when her father entered, within the
grasp of the gentle and virtuous Clavers. The backs of both the knights
were towards Walter as he came in, and they were so engaged amid bustle
and din that neither of them perceived him, until he was close at their
backs. He was at least a foot taller than any of them, and nearly as
wide round the chest as them both. In one moment his immense fingers
grasped both their slender necks, almost meeting behind each of their
windpipes. They were rendered powerless at once—they attempted no more
struggling with the women, for so completely had Walter’s gripes
unnerved them, that they could scarcely lift their arms from their
sides; neither could they articulate a word, or utter any other sound
than a kind of choaked gasping for breath. Walter wheeled them about to
the light, and looked alternately at each of them, without quitting or
even slackening his hold.

“Callants, wha ir ye ava?—or what’s the meanin’ o’ a’ this unmencefu’
rampaging?”

Sir Thomas gave his name in a hoarse and broken voice; but Clavers,
whose nape Walter’s right hand embraced, and whose rudeness to his
daughter had set his mountain–blood a–boiling, could not answer a word.
Walter, slackening his hold somewhat, waited for an answer, but none
coming—

“Wha ir ye, I say, ye bit useless weazel–blawn like urf that ye’re?”

The haughty and insolent Clavers was stung with rage; but seeing no
immediate redress was to be had, he endeavoured to pronounce his dreaded
name, but it was in a whisper scarcely audible, and stuck in his
throat—“Jo—o—o Graham,” said he.

“Jock Graham do they ca’ ye?—Ye’re but an unmannerly whalp, man. And
ye’re baith king’s officers too!—Weel, I’ll tell ye what it is, my
denty clever callants; if it warna for the blood that’s i’ your master’s
veins, I wad nite your twa bits o’ pows thegither.”

He then threw them from him; the one the one way, and the other the
other, and lifting his huge oak staff, he strode out at the door,
saying, as he left them,—“Hech! are free men to be guidit this
gate—I’ll step down to the green to your commander, an’ tell him what
kind o’ chaps he keeps about him to send into fock’s houses.—Dirty
unmensefu’ things!”

Clavers soon recovering his breath, and being ready to burst with rage
and indignation, fell a cursing and fuming most violently; but Sir T.
Livingston could scarcely refrain from breaking out into a convulsion
of laughter. Clavers had already determined upon ample revenge, for the
violation of all the tender ties of nature was his delight, and wherever
there was wealth to be obtained, or a private pique to be revenged,
there never was wanting sufficient pretext in those days for cutting off
individuals, or whole families, as it suited. On the very day previous
to that, the Earl of Traquair had complained, in company with Clavers
and his officers, of a tenant of his, in a place called Bald, who would
neither cultivate his farm nor give it up. Captain Bruce asked if he
prayed in his family? The Earl answered jocularly, that he believed he
did nothing else. Bruce said that was enough; and the matter passed over
without any farther notice. But next morning, Bruce went out with four
dragoons, and shot the farmer as he was going out to his work. Instances
of this kind are numerous, if either history or tradition can be in
aught believed; but in all the annals of that age, there is scarcely a
single instance recorded of any redress having been granted to the
harassed country people for injuries received. At this time, the word of
Argyle’s rising had already spread, and Clavers actually traversed the
country more like an exterminating angel, than a commander of a
civilized army.

Such were the men with whom Walter had to do; and the worst thing of
all, he was not aware of it. He had heard of such things, but he did not
believe them; for he loved his king and country, and there was nothing
that vexed him more than hearing of aught to their disparagement; but
unluckily his notions of freedom and justice were far above what the
subjects of that reign could count upon.

When Clavers and Livingstone entered the Old Room, it will be remembered
that Bruce and Copland penetrated into the other. There they found the
goodwife of Chapelhope, neatly dressed in her old–fashioned style, and
reading on her Bible, an exercise in which she gloried, and of which she
was very proud.

Bruce instantly desired her “to lay that very comely and precious book
on the hottest place of all the beautiful fire, that was burning so
pleasantly with long crackling peat; and that then he would converse
with her about things that were, to be sure, of far greater and mightier
importance.”

“Hout, dear sir, ye ken that’s no consistent wi’ natural reason—Can any
thing be o’ greater importance than the tidings o’ grace an’ salvation,
an’ the joys o’ heaven?”

“Oho!” cried Bruce, and straddled around the room with his face turned
to the joists.—“My dear Copland, did you ever hear such a thing in all
the days that ever you have to live? Upon my soul, the old woman is
talking of grace, and salvation, and the joys of heaven too, by Saint
G‑‑! My dearest honey and darling, will you be so kind as stand up upon
the soles of your feet, and let me see what kind of a figure you will be
in heaven. Now, by the cross of Saint Patrick, I would take a journey
there to see you go swimming through Heaven in that same form, with
your long waist, and plaitted quoif, and that same charming face of
yours. Och! och! me! what a vile she whig we have got in this here
corner!—Copland, my dear soul, I foresee that all the ewes and kine of
Chapelhope will soon be rouped at the cross of Selkirk, and then what
blessed lawings we shall have! Now my dear mistress Grace, you must be
after renouncing the joys of heaven immediately; for upon my honour, the
very sight of your face would spoil the joys of any place whatever, and
the first thing you must do is to lay that delightful old book with the
beautiful margin along the side of it, on the coals; but before you do
that we shall sing to his praise and glory from the 7th verse of the
149th psalm.”

He then laid aside his helmet and sung the psalm, giving out each line
with a whine that was truly ludicrous, after which he put the Bible into
the goodwife’s hand, and desired her, in a serious tone, instantly to
lay it on the fire. The captain’s speech to his companions about the
ewes and kine of Chapelhope was not altogether lost on the conscience of
Maron Linton. It was not, as she afterwards said, like water spilt upon
the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. “Why, dear sir,” said
she, “ye ken, after a’, that the beuk’s naething but paper an’ ink, an’
three shillings an’ aughtpence will buy as gude a ane frae Geordy
Dabson, the morn, an’ if there be ony sin in’t, it will lye at your
door, an’ no at mine. I’ll ne’er haigel wi’ my king’s officer about
three and aughtpence.”

So saying, Maron laid the Bible on the fire, which soon consumed it to
ashes.

“Now, may the devil take me,” said Bruce, “if I do not believe that you
are a true woman after all, and if so, my purse is lighter by one half
than it was; but, my dear honey, you have the very individual and
genuine seeds of whiggism in your constitution—You have, I will swear,
been at many a harmless and innocent conventicle.”

“Ye ken little about me, sir.—Gude forbid that ever I countenanced sic
traitors to the kirk and state!”

“Amen! say I; but I prophecy and say unto thee, that the first
field–meeting into which thou goest in the beauty of holiness, thou
shalt be established for ever with thy one foot in Dan and the other in
Beersheba, and shalt return to thy respective place of abode as rank a
whig as ever swung in the Grass–Market.”

A long dialogue next ensued, in which the murder of the priest, Mass
John Binram, was discussed at full length, and by which Bruce and
Copland discerned, that superstitious as Maron was, she told them what
she deemed to be the truth, though in a strange round–about way. Just as
they were beginning to talk over the mysterious murder of the soldiers,
Claverhouse and Sir Thomas joined them, and Bruce, turning round to
them, said, “My lord, this very honest woman assures me, that she
believes the two principal murderers of the curate are lying concealed
in a linn not far hence, and there seems to be little doubt but that
they must likewise have been concerned in the murder of our soldiers.”

Clavers, the horrors of whose execrations are yet fresh in the memory of
our peasants, burst out as follows, to the astonishment of Bruce, who
was not aware of his chagrin, or of aught having befallen him.

“May the devil confound and d‑‑n them to hell!—May he make a brander of
their ribs to roast their souls on!”

Maron Linton, hearing herself called a good woman, and finding that she
was approven of, could not refrain from interfering here.

“Dear sir, my lord, ye sudna swear that gate, for it’s unco ill–faur’d
ye ken—an’ at ony rate, the deil canna damn naebody—if ye will swear,
swear sense.”

The rage of the general, and the simplicity of the goodwife, was such an
amusing contrast, that the three attendants laughed aloud. Clavers
turned his deep grey eye upon them, which more than the eye of any human
being resembled that of a serpent—offence gleamed in it.

“Gentlemen,” said he, “do you consider where you are, and what you are
about? Sacre! am I always to be trysted with boys and fools?”

He then began and examined the goodwife with much feigned deference and
civility, which so pleased her that she told him every thing with great
readiness. She was just beginning to relate the terrible, but
unfortunate story of the Brownie of Bodsbeck, and his train of officious
spirits; of the meat which they devoured, and in all probability would
have ended the relation with the woeful connection between the Brownie
and her daughter, and the part that she had taken in the murder of the
soldiers, when Walter entered the room with a discomposed mien, and gave
a new turn to the conversation. But that eventful scene must be left to
the next chapter.



CHAPTER VIII.


Walter, on coming to the troopers and asking for their leader, soon
discovered how roughly he had treated Clavers; and it being so much the
reverse of the reception he meant to have given him, he was particularly
vexed about it. Still he was conscious that he had done nothing that was
wrong, nor any thing that it did not behove a parent and a master of a
family to have done in the same circumstances; therefore there was
nothing farther from his intention than offering any apology. He entered
his own room, as he supposed he had a good right to do, bluntly enough.
He indeed touched the rim of his bonnet as he came in; but, seeing all
the officers covered, he stalked into the midst of them with that
immense circle of blue woollen on his head, which moved over their
helmets like a black cloud as he advanced. Bruce, who was well used to
insult the peasantry with impunity, seeing Walter striding majestically
by his general in this guise, with his wonted forwardness and jocularity
lifted up his sword, sheathed as it was, and with the point of it kicked
off Walter’s bonnet. The latter caught it again as it fell, and with his
fist, he made Bruce’s helmet ring against the wall; then again fitting
on his bonnet, he gave him such an indignant and reproving look, that
Bruce, having no encouragement from the eye of Clavers, resented it no
farther than by saying good–humouredly, “‘Pon my body and shoul, but the
carle keeps his good–looking head high enough.”

“Copland,” said Clavers, “desire Serjeant Daniel Roy Macpherson, with
eleven troopers, to attend.” They were instantly at the door. “Seize
and pinion that haughty rebel, together with all his family,” said he,
“and then go and search every corner, chest, and closet in the house;
for it is apparent that this is the nest and rendezvous of the murdering
fanatics who infest this country. Let the rest of the soldiers guard the
premises, that none escape to the mountains with tidings of our arrival.
This good dame we will first examine privately, and then dispose of her
as shall seem most meet.”

The command was promptly obeyed. Walter and all his family were taken
into custody, pinioned, and a guard set on them; the house was
ransacked; and in the meantime the general and his three associates
continued the examination of the goodwife. Clavers observed that, on the
entrance of Walter before, she seemed to be laid under some restraint,
stopped short in her narration, and said, “But there’s the gudeman;
he’ll tell ye it wi’ mair preceesion nor me;” and he had no doubt, if
she were left to herself, of worming as much out of her as would
condemn her husband, or at least furnish a pretext sufficient for the
forfeiture of his wealth. Clavers had caused to be sold, by public roup,
the whole stock on the farm of Phillhope, which belonged to Walter’s
brother–in–law, merely because it was proven that the farmer’s wife had
once been at a conventicle.

In the present instance, however, Clavers was mistaken, and fairly
overshot his mark; for poor Maron Linton was so overwhelmed with
astonishment when she saw her husband and family taken prisoners and
bound, that her speech lost all manner of coherence. She sobbed
aloud—complained one while, entreated another; and then muttered over
some ill–sorted phrases from the Scripture. When Clavers pressed his
questions, she answered him, weeping, “O dear sir, my lord, ye ken I
canna do naething, nor think naething, nor answer naething, unless ye
let Watie loose again; I find as I war naebody, nor nae soul, nor
naething ava wantin’ him, but just like a vacation or a shadow. O my
lord, set my twa bits o’ callants an’ my puir auld man loose again, and
I’ll say ony thing that ever ye like.”

Threats and proffers proved alike in vain. Maron’s mind, which
never was strong, had been of late so much unhinged by the terrors of
superstition, that it wavered in its frail tenement like “the baseless
fabric of a vision,” threatening to depart, and leave not a wreck
behind. Clavers told her that her husband’s life depended on the
promptness and sincerity of her answers, he having rendered himself
amenable to justice by rescuing his daughter by force, whom they had
taken prisoner on their arrival, having found her engaged in a very
suspicious employment. This only increased Maron’s agony; and at length
Clavers was obliged to give up the point, and ordered her into custody.

The soldiers had by this time taken old John of the Muchrah and another
of Laidlaw’s shepherds prisoners, who had come to assist their master
with the farm–work that day. All these Clavers examined separately; and
their answers, as taken down in short–hand by Mr Adam Copland, are still
extant, and at present in my possession. The following are some of them,
as decyphered by Mr J. W. Robertson, whose acquaintance with ancient
manuscripts is well known.

John Hay, shepherd in Muchrah, aged fifty–six, sworn and examined.

“Do you know such a man as the Rev. James Renwick?”

“Yes. I once heard him pray and preach for about the space of two
hours.”

“Was it on your master’s farm that he preached?”

“No, it was in a linn on the Earl Hill, in the march between two lairds’
lands, that he preached that day.”

“How durst you go to an unlawful conventicle?”

“I didna ken there was a law against it till after—it’s a wild place
this—we never hear ony o’ the news, unless it be twice a–year frae the
Moffat fairs. But as soon as I heard him praying and preaching against
the king I cam aff an’ left him, an’ brought a’ my lads an’ lasses wi’
me; but my wife wadna steer her fit—there she sat, shaking her head and
glooming at me; but I trow I cowed her for’t after.”

“What did he say of the king?”

“O, I canna mind—he said nae muckle gude o’ him.”

“Did he say that he was a bloody perjured tyrant?”

“Ay, he said muckle waur nor that. He said some gayan ill–farr’d things
about him. But I cam away and left him; I thought he was saying mair
than gude manners warrantit.”

“Were you in the Hope, as you call it; on that day that the king’s
soldiers were slain?”

“Ay, that I was; I was the first wha came on them whan they war just
new dead, an’ a’ reeking i’ their warm blude—Gude keep us a’ frae sic
sights again!—for my part, I never gat sic a confoundit gliff sin’ I
was born o’ my mother.”

“Describe the place where the corpses were lying.”

“It is a deep cleuch, wi’ a sma’ sheep rodding through the linn not a
foot wide; and if ye war to stite aff that, ye wad gang to the boddom o’
the linn wi’ a flaip.”

“Were the bodies then lying in the bottom of that linn?”

“Odd help ye, whar could they be lying else?—D’ye think they could lie
on the Cleuch–brae? Ye might as weel think to lie on the side o’ that
wa’ gin ye war dead.”

“How did it appear to you that they had been slain—were they cut with
swords, or pierced with bullets?”

“I canna say, but they war sair hashed.”

“How do you mean when you say they were hashed?”

“Champit like—a’ broozled and jurmummled, as it war.”

“Do you mean that they were cut, or cloven, or minced?”

“Na, na—no that ava—But they had gotten some sair doofs—They had been
terribly paikit and daddit wi’ something.”

“I do not in the least conceive what you mean.”

“That’s extrordnar, man—can ye no understand folk’s
mother–tongue?—I’ll mak it plain to you. Ye see, whan a thing comes on
ye that gate, that’s a dadd—sit still now. Then a paik, that’s a swapp
or a skelp like—when a thing comes on ye that way, that’s a paik. But a
doof’s warst ava—it’s”——

“Prithee hold; I now understand it all perfectly well.—What, then, is
your opinion with regard to these men’s death? How, or what way do you
think they were killed?”

“O, sir, there’s naebody can say. It was some extrordnar judgment,
that’s out of a’ doubt. There had been an unyerdly raid i’ the Hope that
day.”

“What reason have you for supposing such a thing?”

“Because there wasna a leevin soul i’ the hale Hope that day but
theirsels—they wadna surely hae felled ane another—It’s, by an’
attour, an awsome bit where they war killed; there hae been things baith
seen and heard about it; and I saw an apparition there mysel on the very
night before.”

“You saw an apparition at the place the night before, did you? And,
pray, what was that apparition like?”

“It was like a man and a woman.”

“Had the figure of the woman no resemblance to any one you had ever seen
before? Was it in any degree, for instance, like your master’s
daughter?”

“No unlike ava.”

“Then I think I can guess what the other form was like—Had it a bonnet
on its head?”

“Not a bonnet certainly, but it had the shape o’ ane.”

“I weened as much—And was it a tall gigantic figure?”

“Na, na, sir; the very contrair o’ that.”

“Are you certain of that you say? Was it not taller than the apparition
of the woman?”

“No half sae tall, sir.”

“Had it not some slight resemblance to your master, little as it was?
Did that not strike you?”

“Na, na, it was naething like my master, nor nae yerdly creature that
ever was seen; indeed it was nae creature ava.”

“What then do you suppose it was?”

“Lord kens!—A wraith, I hae little doubt. My een rins a’ wi’ water whan
I think about it yet.”

“Wraiths are quite common here, are they?”

“O yes, sir!—oure common. They appear aye afore death, especially if
the death be to be sudden.”

“And what are they generally like?”

“Sometimes like a light—sometimes like a windin–sheet—sometimes like
the body that’s to dee, gaen mad—and sometimes like a coffin made o’
moon–light.”

“Was it in the evening you saw this apparition?”

“It was a little after midnight.”

“And pray, what might be your business in such a place at that untimely
hour?—Explain that fully to me if you please.”

“I sall do that, sir, as weel as I can:—Our ewes, ye see, lie up in
the twa Grains an’ the Middle a’ the harst—Now, the Quave Brae again,
it’s our hogg–fence, that’s the hained grund like; and whenever the wind
gangs easterly about, then whan the auld luckies rise i’ the howe o’ the
night to get their rug, aff they come, snouckin a’ the way to the Lang
Bank, an’ the tither end o’ them round the Piper Snout, and into the
Quave Brae to the hained grund; an’ very often they think naething o’
landing i’ the mids o’ the corn. Now I never mindit the corn sae muckle;
but for them to gang wi’ the hogg–fence, I coudna bide that ava; for ye
ken, sir, how coud we turn our hand wi’ our pickle hoggs i’ winter if
their bit foggage war a’ riven up by the auld raikin hypalts ere ever a
smeary’s clute clattered on’t?”

Though Clavers was generally of an impatient temper, and loathed the
simplicity of nature, yet he could not help smiling at this elucidation,
which was much the same to him as if it had been delivered in the
language of the Moguls; but seeing the shepherd perfectly sincere, he
suffered him to go on to the end.

“Now, sir, ye ken the wind very often taks a swee away round to the
east i’ the night–time whan the wather’s gude i’ the harst months, an’
whanever this was the case, and the moon i’ the lift, I had e’en aye
obliged to rise at midnight, and gang round the hill an’ stop the auld
kimmers—very little did the turn—just a bit thraw yont the brae, an’
they kend my whistle, or my tike’s bark, as weel as I did mysel, still
they wadna do wantin’t. Weel, ye see, sir, I gets up an’ gangs to the
door—it was a bonny night—the moon was hingin o’er the derk brows o’
Hopertoody, an’ the lang black scaddaws had an eiry look—I turned my
neb the tither gate, an’ I fand the air was gane to the eissel; the
se’en starns had gaen oure the lum, an’ the tail o’ the king’s elwand
was just pointin to the Muchrah Crags. It’s the very time, quo’ I to
mysel, I needna think about lying down again—I maun leave Janet to lie
doverin by hersel for an hour or twa—Keilder, my fine dog, where are
ye?—He was as ready as me—he likes a play i’ the night–time brawly,
for he’s aye gettin a broostle at a hare, or a tod, or a foumart, or
some o’ thae beasts that gang snaikin about i’ the derk. Sae to mak a
lang tale short, sir, off we sets, Keilder an’ me, an’ soon comes to the
place. The ewes had been very mensefu’ that night, they had just comed
to the march and nae farther; sae, I says, puir things, sin’ ye hae been
sae leifu’, we’ll sit down an’ rest a while, the dog an’ me, an’ let ye
tak a pluck an’ fill yersels or we turn ye back up to your cauld
lairs again. Sae down we sits i’ the scaddaw of a bit derksome
cleuch–brae—naebody could hae seen us; and ere ever I wats, I hears by
the grumblin o’ my friend, that he outher saw or smelled something mair
than ordinar. I took him in aneath my plaid for fear o’ some grit
brainyell of an outbrik; and whan I lookit, there was a white thing and
a black thing new risen out o’ the solid yird! They cam close by me; and
whan I saw the moon shinin on their cauld white faces, I lost my sight
an’ swarfed clean away. Wae be to them for droichs, or ghaists, or
whatever they war, for aye sin’ syne the hogg–fence o’ the Quave Brae
has been harried an’ traisselled till its little better nor a drift
road—I darna gang an’ stop the ewes now for the saul that’s i’ my bouk,
an’ little do I wat what’s to come o’ the hoggs the year.”

“Well now, you have explained this much I believe to your own
satisfaction—Remember then, you are upon oath—Who do you think it was
that killed these men?”

“I think it was outher God or the deil, but whilk o’ them, I coudna
say.”

“And this is really your opinion?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Have you seen any strangers about your master’s house of late?”

“I saw one not long ago.”

“What sort of a man was he?”

“A douse–looking man wi’ a brown yaud; I took him for some wool–buyer.”

“Was he not rather like a preacher?”

“The man might hae preached for aught contrair till’t in his
appearance—I coudna say.”

“Are you certain it was not Mr Renwick?”

“I am certain.”

“Is your master a very religious man?”

“He’s weel eneugh that way—No that very reithe on’t; but the gudewife
hauds his neb right sair to the grindstane about it.”

“Does he perform family worship?”

“Sometimes.”

“Is he reckoned a great and exemplary performer of that duty?”

“Na, he’s nae great gun, I trow; but he warstles away at it as weel as
he can.”

“Can you repeat any part, or any particular passage of his usual
prayer?”

“I’m sure I might, for he gangs often aneuch oure some o’ them. Let me
see—there’s the still waters, and the green pastures, and the blood of
bulls and of goats; and then there’s the gos–hawk, and the slogy riddle,
and the tyrant an’ his lang neb; I hae the maist o’t i’ my head, but
then I canna mouband it.”

“What does he mean by the tyrant and his long neb?”

“Aha! But that’s mair nor ever I could find out yet. We whiles think he
means the Kelpy—him that raises the storms an’ the floods on us, ye
ken, and gars the waters an’ the burns come roarin down wi’ bracks o’
ice an’ snaw, an’ tak away our sheep. But whether it’s Kelpy, or
Clavers, or the Deil, we can never be sure, for we think it applies gay
an’ weel to them a’.”

“Repeat the passage as well as you can.”

“Bring down the tyrant an’ his lang neb, for he has done muckle ill this
year, and gie him a cup o’ thy wrath; an’ gin he winna tak that, gie him
kelty.”

“What is meant by kelty?”

“That’s double—it means twa cups—ony body kens that.”

“Does he ever mention the king in his prayer?”

“O yes: always.”

“What does he say about him?”

“Something about the sceptre of righteousness, and the standard of
truth. I ken he has some rhyme about him.”

“Indeed! And does he likewise make mention of the Covenant?”

“Ay, that’s after—that’s near the end, just afore the resurrection. O
yes, he harls aye in the Covenant there. ‘The bond o’ the everlasting
Covenant,’ as he ca’s it, weel ordered in all things, and sure.”

“Ay, that’s very well; that’s quite sufficient. Now, you have yourself
confessed, that you were at an unlawful and abominable conventicle,
holding fellowship with intercommuned rebels, along with your wife and
family. You _must_ be made an example of to the snarling and rebellious
hounds that are lurking in these bounds; but as you have answered me
with candour, though I might order you instantly to be shot, I will be
so indulgent as to give you your choice, whether you will go to prison
in Edinburgh, and be there tried by the Council, or submit to the
judgment which I may pronounce on you here?”

“O, sir, I canna win to Edinbrough at no rate—that’s impossible. What
think ye wad come o’ the sheep? The hogg–fence o’ the Quave Brae is
maistly ruined already; and war I to gae to the prison at Edinbrough, it
wad be mair loss than a’ that I’m worth. I maun just lippen to yoursel;
but ye maunna be very sair on me. I never did ony ill designedly; and as
for ony rebellion against the Bruce’s blood, I wad be hangit or I wad
think o’ sic a thing.”

“Take the old ignorant animal away—Burn him on the cheek, cut off his
ears, and do not part with him till he pay you down a fine of two
hundred merks, or value to that amount. And, do you hear, make him take
all the oaths twice; and a third oath, that he is never to repent of
these. By G‑‑; if either Monmouth or Argyle get him, they shall have a
perjured dog of him.”

As John was dragged off to this punishment, which was executed without
any mitigation, he shook his head and said, “Ah, lak–a day! I fear
things are muckle waur wi’ us than I had ony notion o’! I trowed aye
that even down truth an’ honesty bure some respect till now—I fear our
country’s a’ wrang thegither.”—Then looking back to Clavers, he added,
“Gude–sooth, lad, but ye’ll mak mae whigs wherever ye show your face,
than a’ the hill preachers o’ Scotland put thegither.”



CHAPTER IX.


It has been remarked by all the historians of that period, that the
proceedings of Clavers about this time were severe in the extreme. The
rising, both in the north and south at the same time, rendered the
situation of affairs somewhat ticklish. Still the Lowlands were then
perfectly peaceable; but he seemed determined, lest he should be called
away, to destroy the Covenanters, and all that hankered after civil and
religious liberty, root and branch. Certainly his behaviour at
Chapelhope that morning, was sufficient to stamp his character for ever
in that district, where it is still held in at least as great
detestation as that of the arch–fiend himself.

When the soldiers, by his order, seized and manacled Walter, he
protested vehemently against such outrage, and urged the general to
prove his fidelity to his sovereign by administering to him the test
oath, and the oath of abjuration; but this Clavers declined, and said to
him, with a sneer, that “they had other ways of trying dogs beside
that.”

When those who had been appointed to search the house came before him,
and gave in their report, among other things, they said they had found
as much bread new baked, and mutton newly cooked, as would be a
reasonable allowance for an hundred men for at least one whole day.
Clavers remarked, that in a family so few in number, this was proof
positive that others were supported from that house. “But we shall
disappoint the whigs of one hearty meal,” added he; and with that he
ordered the meat to be brought all out and set down upon the green—bid
his troopers eat as much as they could—feed their horses with the
bread which they left, and either destroy the remainder of the victuals
or carry them away.

It was in vain that Walter told him the honest truth, that the food was
provided solely for himself and his soldiers, as he knew they were to
come by that road, either on that day or the one following; nay, though
all the family avouched it, as they well might, he only remarked, with a
look of the utmost malignity, that “he never in his life knew a whig who
had not a d‑‑d lie ready on his tongue, or some kind of equivocation to
save his stinking life, but that they must necessarily all be taught who
they were dealing with.” He then made them all swear that they were to
tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and to utter
the most horrid imprecations on themselves and their souls for ever, if
they deviated in one single item; and beginning with old John, as
before related, he examined them all separately and out of hearing of
one another.

The interrogations and answers are much too long to be inserted here at
full length; but the only new circumstances that came to light were
these two. One of the young men deponed, that, when the bodies of the
soldiers were found in the Hope, their muskets were all loaded, which
showed that they had not fallen in a regular skirmish; and the other boy
swore, that he had lately seen eighty large thick bannocks baked in one
day in his father’s house, for that he had counted them three times over
as they stood cooling. This was another suspicious circumstance, and
Clavers determined to search it to the bottom. He sifted the two youths
backward and forward, trying to get the secret out of them by every wile
in his power; and because they were unable to give him any satisfactory
account who consumed all that store of bread, he caused his dragoons to
take hold of the youngest and gird his head with a cord, twisting it
with a horse pistol, until in some places it cut him to the skull. The
eldest he hung up to the beam by the thumbs until he fainted through
insufferable pain; but he could get nothing more out of them, for they
had at first told him all that they knew, being quite unconscious of any
evil.

Still bent, as it seemed, on the full conviction and ruin of the family,
he told the boys that they were two of the most consummate knaves and
rebels that he had in all his life seen; and that if they had any hopes
at all of going to Heaven, they should say their prayers, for in a few
minutes he would order them both to be shot.

John, the eldest, who possessed a good deal of his mother’s feebleness
of character, and was besides but newly recovered from a fainting fit,
was seized with a stupor, appeared quite passive, and acted precisely as
they bade him, without seeming to know what he did; but the youngest,
whose name was William, preserved an interesting firmness, in such a
trial, for a considerable time. On being advised by Clavers to tell all
he knew rather than die, and asked if he was not afraid of death? He
answered, with the tear in his eye, “I’m nouther feared for you nor
death, man. I think if fock may be guidit this way at their ain hames,
the sooner they’re dead the better.” Then turning his looks to his
brother, who kneeled according to the general’s order on the green
beside him, he added, with convulsive sobs, “But poor Jock’s gaun to be
shot too—I wonder what ye need kill him for?—What ill hae we ever done
t’ye?—Jock’s a very good callant—I canna pray weel, but if ye’ll let
my billy Jock gang, I’ll pray for ye as I can, and kiss ye too.”

Happy was it for the wits of poor Maron that she saw nothing of this
touching scene; she, as well as Walter, being then with the rest under a
strong guard in the Old Room. Clavers paid no regard to the kneeling
boy’s request. He caused his troopers to draw up around them, present
their firelocks, and then an executioner, who was always one of his
train, tied up both their eyes. He gave the word himself, and instantly
ten or twelve carabines were discharged on them at once. John fell flat
on the earth; but William, with a violent start, sprung to his feet,
and, being blindfolded, ran straight on the files of soldiers.

Clavers laid hold of him. “My brave little fellow,” said he, “the
soldiers have all missed you, bungling beasts that they are! and since
so wonderful a thing hath befallen, you shall yet have your life, though
a most notorious rebel, if you will tell me what people frequent your
father’s house.”

“What’s comed o’ Jock?” said the boy, “O tell me what’s comed o’ Jock,
for I canna see.”

“Jock is lying dead on the green there, all bathed in his blood,” said
Clavers; “poor wretch! it is over with him, and unless you instantly
tell me who it was that consumed all that store of bread that has been
baked in your father’s house for the last month, you must be sent after
him.”

William withdrew backward a few paces, and kneeling a second time down
on the sward with great decency and deliberation, “Shoot again,” said
he; “try me aince mair; an’ O see to airch a wee better this time. I wad
rather dee a hunder times, or I saw poor Jock lying a bloody corp.”

Clavers made a sign to one of his dragoons, who unbound William, and
took the bandage from his eyes. Regardless of all else, he looked wildly
around in search of his brother, and seeing his only companion lying
flat on his face, he at first turned away, as if wishing to escape from
a scene so dismal; but his helpless and forlorn situation staring him in
the face, and the idea doubtless recurring that he was never to part
with his brother, but forthwith to be slaughtered and carried to the
grave with him, he returned, went slowly up to the body, kneeled down
beside it, and pulling the napkin farther down over the face to keep the
dead features from view, he clasped his arms about his brother’s neck,
laid his cheek to his, and wept bitterly.

The narrator of this part of the tale was wont to say, that the scene
which followed had something more touching in it than any tongue could
describe, although Clavers and his troops only laughed at it. William
had now quite relinquished all sensations of fear or danger, and gave
full vent to a flood of passionate tenderness and despair. He clasped
his brother’s neck closer and closer, steeped his cheek with his tears,
and seemed to cling and grow to the body with a miserable fondness.
While he was giving full scope in this manner to the affections of his
young heart, his brother made a heave up with his head and shoulder,
saying at the same time, like one wakening from a dream, “Little Will,
is that you?—Haud aff—What ails ye?”

William raised up his head,—fixed his eyes on vacancy,—the tears
dried on his cheek, and his ruby lips were wide open,—the thing was
beyond his comprehension, and never was seen a more beautiful statue of
amazement. He durst not turn his eyes towards his brother, but he
uttered in words scarcely articulate, “Lord! I believe they hae missed
Jock too!”

Clavers had given private orders to his dragoons to fire over the heads
of the two boys, his intent being to intimidate them so much as to
eradicate every principle of firmness and power of concealment from
their tender minds; a scheme of his own fertile invention, and one which
he often practised upon young people with too sure effect. When William
found that his brother was really alive, and that both of them were to
be spared on condition that he gave up the names and marks of all the
people that had of late been at Chapelhope; he set himself with great
earnestness to recount them, along with every mark by which he
remembered them, determined that every hidden thing should be brought to
light, rather than that poor Jock should be shot at again.

“Weel, ye see, first there was Geordie Skin–him–alive the flesher, him
that took away the crocks and the paulies, and my brockit–lamb, and gae
me a penny for setting him through atween the lochs. Then there was
Hector Kennedy the tinkler, him that the bogles brought and laid down at
the door i’ the night–time—he suppit twa bickerfu’s o’ paritch, an’
cleekit out a hantle o’ geds an’ perches wi’ his toum. Then there was
Ned Huddersfield the woo–man, wi’ the leather bags and the skeenzie
thread—him that kissed our bire–woman i’ the barn in spite o’ her
teeth,—he had red cheeks and grit thees, and wasna unlike a glutton; he
misca’d my father’s woo, an’ said aye, ‘Nay, it’s nane clean,
howsomever,—it’s useless, that’s its warst fault.’ Then there was wee
Willie the nout herd, him that had the gude knife an’ the duddy breeks;
but the Brownie’s put him daft, an’ his mither had to come an’ tak him
away upon a cuddy.”

In this manner went he on particularizing every one he remembered, till
fairly cut short with a curse. John continued perfectly stupid, and when
examined, answered only _Yes_, or _No_, as their way of asking the
question dictated.

“Are there not great numbers of people who frequent your father’s house
during the night?”

“Yes.”

“Do you see and hear them, after you go to bed?”

“Yes.”

“What are they generally employed in when you hear them? Do they read,
and pray, and sing psalms?”

“Yes.”

“Do your father and mother always join them?”

“Yes.”

Here William could restrain himself no longer. “Gude faith, Jock, man,”
said he, “ye’re just telling a hirsel o’ eindown lees. It canna be lees
that the man wants, for that maks him nae the wiser; an’ for you to say
that my father rises to pray i’ the night–time, beats a’, when ye ken my
mither has baith to fleitch an’ fight or she can get him eggit on till’t
i’ the Sabbath e’enings. He’s ower glad to get it foughten decently by,
to rise an’ fa’ till’t again. O fye, Jock! I wad stand by the truth;
an’, at ony rate, no just gaung to hell open mouth.”

When the volley of musketry went off, all the prisoners started and
stared on one another; even the hundred veterans that guarded them
appeared by their looks to be wholly at a loss. Macpherson alone
ventured any remark on it. “Pe Cot’s life, fat she pe pluff pluffing at
now? May the teal more pe her soul’s salvation, if she do not believe te
man’s pe gone out of all reason.”

The women screamed; and Maron, whose tongue was a mere pendulum to the
workings of the heart within, went on sighing and praying; asking
questions, and answering them alternately; and at every pause, looked
earnestly to her husband, who leaned against the corner of the room,
ashamed that his bound hands should be seen.

“Och! Aigh me!” cried Maron,—“Dear sirs, what’s the fock shootin
at?—Eh?—I’m sure they hae nae battlers to fight wi’ there?—No ane—I
wat, no ane. Aigh now, sirs! the lives o’ God’s creatures!—They never
shoot nae callants, do they? Oh, na, na, they’ll never shoot innocent
bairns, puir things! They’ll maybe hae been trying how weel they could
vizy at the wild ducks; there’s a hantle o’ cleckins about the saughs o’
the lake. Hout ay, that’s a’.—He hasna forgotten to be gracious, nor is
his mercy clean gane.”

Thus poor Maron went on, and though she had but little discernment left,
she perceived that there was a tint of indignant madness in her
husband’s looks. His lips quivered—his eyes dilated—and the wrinkles
on his brow rolled up to the roots of his dark grizzled hair, “Watie,”
cried she, in a shrill and tremulous voice—“Watie, what ails ye—Oh!
tell me what ails ye, Watie?—What’s the fock shooting at? Eh? Ye’ll no
tell me what they’re shooting at, Watie?—Oh, oh, oh, oh!”

Walter uttered no word, nor did his daughter, who sat in dumb
astonishment, with her head almost bent to her feet; but old Nanny
joined in full chorus with her mistress, and a wild unearthly strain the
couple raised, till checked by Serjeant Roy Macpherson.

“Cot’s curse be t‑‑ning you to te everlasting teal! fat too–whooing pe
tat? Do you think that should the lenoch beg pe shot trou te poty, tat
is te son to yourself? Do you tink, you will too–whoo him up
akain?—Hay—Cot tamn, pe holding your paice.”



CHAPTER X.


Upon the whole, there was no proof against Walter. Presumption was
against him, but the evidence was rather in his favour. Military law,
however, prevailed; and he found that there was no redress to be had of
any grievance or insult, that this petty tyrant, in his caprice, thought
fit to inflict. His drivers were ordered to take the whole stock from
the farms of Kirkinhope, belonging to David Bryden, who lived at a
distance, because it was proven, that Mr Renwick had preached and
baptized some children on the bounds of that farm. That stock he caused
to be taken to Selkirk, and sent orders to the sheriff to sell it by
public roup, at the cross, to the highest bidder; but with Walter’s
stock he did not meddle at that time; so far did justice mark his
proceedings. He strongly suspected him, and wished to have him
convicted; and certainly would have taken all the family with him
prisoners, had not the curate–clerk arrived at that critical time. Him
Clavers consulted apart, and was soon given to understand the steadfast
loyalty of the gudewife, daughter, and all the family, save Walter,
whom, he said, he suspected of a secret connivance with the Cameronians.
This was merely to serve a selfish purpose, for the clerk suspected no
such thing at that time. It had the desired effect. Clavers set all the
rest of the family free, but took the good man with him prisoner; put
two of his best horses in requisition; mounted himself on a diminutive
poney, with the thumbikins on his hands, and his feet chained below its
belly. In this degrading situation, he was put under the care of
Serjeant Roy Macpherson and five troopers; and Clavers, with the rest
of his company, hasted, with great privacy and celerity, into that
inhospitable wild, which forms the boundary between Drummelzier and the
Johnstons of Annandale. The greater part of the fugitives had taken
shelter there at that time, it being the most inaccessible part in the
south of Scotland, and that where, of all others, they had been the
least troubled. No troops could subsist near them; and all that the
military could do was to set watches near every pass to and from these
mountains, where a few stragglers were killed, but not many in
proportion to the numbers that had there sought a retreat.

The Covenanters knew that Clavers would make a sweeping and
exterminating circuit about that time—incidents which were not to be
overlooked, had been paving the way for it—incidents with which the
main body of that people were totally unconnected. But it was usual at
that time, and a very unfair practice it was, that whatever was said,
or perpetrated, by any intemperate fanatical individual, or any crazy
wight, driven half mad by ill usage—whatever was said or done by such,
was always attributed to the whole sect as a body. It is too true that
the Privy Council chose, invariably, men void of all feeling or remorse
to lead these troops. A man had nothing to study but to be cruel enough
to rise in the army in those days; yet, because there was a Dalziel, a
Graham, a Creighton, and a Bruce among the king’s troops, it would be
unfair to suppose all the rest as void of every principle of feeling and
forbearance as they. In like manner, because some of the Covenanters
said violent and culpable things, and did worse, it is hard to blame the
whole body for these; for, in the scattered prowling way in which they
were driven to subsist, they had no controul over individuals.

They had been looking for the soldiers’ appearing there for several
days, and that same morning had been on the watch; but the day was now
so far advanced that they were waxen remiss, and had retired to their
dens and hiding–places. Besides, he came so suddenly upon them, that
some parties, as well as several stragglers, were instantly discovered.
A most determined pursuit ensued, Clavers exerted himself that day in
such a manner, gallopping over precipices, and cheering on his dragoons,
that all the country people who beheld him believed him to be a devil,
or at least mounted on one. The marks of that infernal courser’s feet
are shewn to this day on a steep, nearly perpendicular, below the Bubbly
Craig, along which he is said to have ridden at full speed, in order to
keep sight of a party of the flying Covenanters. At another place,
called the Blue Sklidder, on the Merk side, he had far outrode all his
officers and dragoons in the pursuit of five men, who fled straggling
athwart the steep. He had discharged both his pistols without effect;
and just as he was making ready to cleave down the hindmost with his
sabre, he was attacked by another party, who rolled huge stones at him
from the precipice above, and obliged him to make a hasty retreat.

Tradition has preserved the whole of his route that day with the utmost
minuteness. It is not easy to account for this. These minute traditions
are generally founded on truth; yet though two generations have scarcely
passed away since the date of this tale,[A] tradition, in this instance,
relates things impossible, else Clavers must indeed have been one of the
infernals. Often has the present relater of this tale stood over the
deep green marks of that courser’s hoof, many of which remain on that
hill, in awe and astonishment, to think that he was actually looking at
the traces made by the devil’s foot, or at least by a horse that once
belonged to him.

Five men were slain that day; but as they were all westland men, very
little is known concerning them. One of them was shot at a distance by
some dragoons who were in pursuit of him, just as he was entering a
morass, where he would certainly have escaped them. He is buried on a
place called the Watch Knowe, a little to the south–east of Loch Skene,
beside a cairn where he had often sat keeping watch for the approach of
enemies, from which circumstance the height derived its name. When he
fell, it being rough broken ground, they turned and rode off without
ever going up to the body. Four were surprised and taken prisoners on a
height called Ker–Cleuch–Ridge, who were brought to Clavers and shortly
examined on a little crook in the Erne Cleuch, a little above the old
steading at Hopertoudy.

Macpherson kept the high road, such as it was, with his prisoner; but
travelled no faster than just to keep up with the parties that were
scouring the hills on each side; and seeing these unfortunate men hunted
in from the hill, he rode up with his companions and charge to see the
issue, remarking to Walter, that “he woolt not pe much creat deal te
worse of scheeing fwat te Cot t‑‑n’d fwigs would pe getting.”

How did Walter’s heart smite him when he saw that one of them was the
sensible, judicious, and honourable fellow with whom he fought, and
whose arm he had dislocated by a blow with his stick! It was still
hanging in a sling made of a double rash rope.

They would renounce nothing, confess nothing, nor yield, in the
slightest degree, to the threats and insulting questions put by the
general. They expected no mercy, and they cringed for none; but seemed
all the while to regard him with pity and contempt. Walter often said
that he was an ill judge of the cause for which these men suffered; but
whatever might be said of it, they were heroes in that cause. Their
complexions were sallow, and bore marks of famine and other privations;
their beards untrimmed; their apparel all in rags, and their hats
slouched down about their ears with sleeping on the hills. All this they
had borne with resignation and without a murmur; and, when brought to
the last, before the most remorseless of the human race, they shewed no
symptoms of flinching or yielding up an item of the cause they had
espoused.

When asked “if they would pray for the king?”

They answered, “that they would with all their hearts;—they would pray
for his forgiveness, in time and place convenient, but not when every
profligate bade them, which were a loathful scurrility, and a mockery of
God.”

“Would they acknowledge him as their right and lawful sovereign?”

“No, that they would never do! He was a bloody and designing papist,
and had usurped a prerogative that belonged not to him. To acknowledge
the Duke of York for king, would be to acknowledge the divine
approbation of tyranny, oppression, usurpation, and all that militates
against religion or liberty, as well as justifying the abrogation of our
ancient law relating to the succession; and that, besides, he had
trampled on every civil and religious right, and was no king for
Scotland, or any land where the inhabitants did not chuse the most
abject and degrading slavery. For their parts, they would never
acknowledge him; and though it was but little that their protestations
and their blood could avail, they gave them freely. They had but few
left to mourn for them, and these few might never know of their fate;
but there was _One_ who knew their hearts, who saw their sufferings, and
in Him they trusted that the days of tyranny and oppression were wearing
to a close, and that a race yet to come might acknowledge that they had
not shed their blood in vain.”

Clavers ordered them all to be shot. They craved time to pray, but he
objected, sullenly alleging, that he had not time to spare. Mr Copland
said,—“My lord, you had better grant the poor wretches that small
indulgence.” On which Clavers took out his watch, and said he would
grant them two minutes, provided they did not howl. When the man with
the hurt arm turned round to kneel, Walter could not help crying out to
him in a voice half stifled with agony—

“Ah! lak–a–day, man! is it come to this with you, and that so soon? This
is a sad sight!”

The man pretended to put on a strange and astonished look towards his
benefactor.

“Whoever you are,” said he, “that pities the sufferings of a hapless
stranger, I thank you. May God requite you! but think of yourself, and
apply for mercy where it is to be found, for you are in the hands of
those whose boast it is to despise it.”

Walter at first thought this was strange, but he soon perceived the
policy of it, and wondered at his friend’s readiness at such an awful
hour, when any acknowledgment of connection would have been so fatal to
himself. They kneeled all down, clasped their hands together, turned
their faces to Heaven, and prayed in a scarce audible whisper. Captain
Bruce, in the mean time, kneeled behind the files, and prayed in
mockery, making a long face, wiping his eyes, and speaking in such a
ludicrous whine, that it was impossible for the gravest face to retain
its muscles unaltered. He had more to attend to him than the miserable
sufferers. When the two minutes were expired, Clavers, who held his
watch all the time, made a sign to the dragoons who were drawn up,
without giving any intimation to the sufferers, which, perhaps, was
merciful, and in a moment all the four were launched into eternity.

The soldiers, for what reason Walter never understood, stretched the
bodies all in a straight line on the brae, with their faces upwards, and
about a yard distant from one another, and then rode off as fast as they
could to get another hunt, as they called it. These four men were
afterwards carried by the fugitives, and some country people, and
decently interred in Ettrick church–yard. Their graves are all in a row
a few paces from the south–west corner of the present church. The
goodman of Chapelhope, some years thereafter, erected a head–stone over
the grave of the unfortunate sufferer whose arm he had broken, which,
with its rude sculpture, is to be seen to this day. His name was Walter
Biggar. A small heap of stones is raised on the place where they were
shot.

The last look which Walter took of the four corpses, as they lay
stretched on the brae, with the blood streaming from them, had nearly
turned his brain. His heart sunk within him. For years and days they
never left his mind’s eye, sleeping nor waking. He always thought he saw
them lying on the green sloping brae, with their pale visages, blue open
lips, clasped hands, and dim stedfast eyes still fixed on the Heavens.
He had heard Clavers and his officers called heroes: He wished those who
believed so had been there that day to have judged who were the greatest
heroes.

“There! let them take that!” said Captain Bruce, as he mounted his
horse.

“Poor misled unfortunate beings!” said Copland, and mounted his.

“Huh! Cot t‑‑n!” said Roy Macpherson, in a voice that seemed to struggle
for an outlet; and Walter, to his astonishment, saw a tear glistening on
his rough weather–beaten cheek, as he turned to ride away!

The pursuit continued unabated for the whole of that day. There was a
great deal of firing, but the hills of Polmoody were inaccessible to
cavalry. There was no more blood shed. They lodged that night at a place
called Kippelgill, where they put every thing in requisition about the
house, and killed some of the cattle. Clavers was in extremely bad
humour, and Walter had no doubt that he once intended to have sacrificed
him that night, but seemed to change his mind, after having again
examined him. He was very stern, and threatened him with the torture,
swearing that he knew him to be the supporter of that nest of miscreants
that harboured around him, and that though he should keep him prisoner
for a dozen years, he would have it proven on him. Walter made oath that
there had never one of them been within his door, consistent with his
knowledge; that he had never been at a conventicle; and proffered to
take the test, and oath of abjuration, if allowed to do so. All this
would not satisfy Clavers. Walter said he wondered at his discernment,
for, without the least evil or disloyal intent, he found he had rendered
himself liable to punishment, but how he could be aware of that he knew
not.

That night Walter was confined in a cow–house, under the same guard that
had conducted him from Chapelhope. The soldiers put his arms round one
of the stakes for the cattle, and then screwed on the thumbikins, so
that he was fastened to the stake without being much incommoded. When
Macpherson came in at a late hour, (for he was obliged likewise to take
up his abode in the cow–house over night), the first word he said was,—

“Cot t‑‑n, she no pe liking to schee an honest shentleman tied up to a
stake, as she were peing a poollock.”

He then began to lecture Walter on the magnitude of folly it would be in
him to run away, “when he took it into consideration that he had a ponny
fhamily, and sheeps, and horses, and bheasts, that would all pe maide
acchountable.”

Walter acknowledged the force of his reasoning; said it was sterling
common sense, and that nothing would induce him to attempt such a
dangerous experiment as attempting to make his escape. Macpherson then
loosed him altogether, and conversed with him until he fell asleep.
Walter asked him, what he thought of his case with the general?
Macpherson shook his head. Walter said there was not the shadow of a
proof against him!

“No!” said Macpherson; “py cot’s curse but there is! There is very much
deal of proof. Was not there my countrymen and scholdiers murdered on
your grhounds? Was not there mhore scoans, and prochin, and muttons in
your house, than would have peen eaten in a mhonth by the fhamily that
pelongs to yourself. By the pode more of the auld deal, but there is
more proof than would hang twenty poor peheoples.”

“That’s but sma’ comfort, man! But what think ye I should do?”

“Cot t‑‑n, if I know!—Who is it that is your Chief?”

“Chief!—What’s that?”

“Tat is te head of te clan—Te pig man of your name and fhamily.”

“In troth, man, an’ there isna ane o’ my name aboon mysel.”

“Fwat? Cot’s everlasting plissing! are you te chief of te clan,
M’Leadle? Then, sir, you are a shentleman indeed. Though your clan
should pe never so poor, you are a shentleman; and you must pe giving me
your hand; and you need not think any shame to pe giving me your hand;
for hersel pe a shentleman pred and porn, and furst coosin to Cluny
Macpherson’s sister–in–law. Who te deal dha more she pe this clan,
M’Leadle? She must be of Macleane. She ance pe prhother to ourselves,
but fell into great dishunity by the preaking off of Finlay Gorm More
Machalabin Macleane of Ilanterach and Ardnamurchan.”

Walter having thus set Daniel Roy Macpherson on the top of his
hobby–horse by chance, there was no end of the matter! He went on with
genealogies of uncouth names, and spoke of some old free–booters as the
greatest of all kings. Walter had no means of stopping him, but by
pretending to fall asleep, and when Macpherson weened that no one was
listening farther to him, he gave up the theme, turned himself over, and
uttered some fervent sentences in Gaelic, with heavy moans between.

“What’s that you are saying now,” said Walter, pretending to rouse
himself up.

“Pe sad works this,” said he. “Huh! Cot in heaven aye! Hersel would be
fighting te Campbells, sword in hand, for every inch of the Moor of
Rhanoch; but Cot t‑‑n, if she like to pe pluffing and shooting through
te podies of te poor helpless insignificant crheatures. T‑‑n’d foolish
ignorant peheople! Cot t‑‑n, if she pe having the good sense and
prhudence of a bheast.”

Walter commended his feeling, and again asked his advice with regard to
his own conduct.

“Who is te great man tat is te laird to yourself?” asked he.

“Mr Hay of Drumelzier,” was answered.

“Then lose not a mhoment in getting his very good report or security.
All goes by that. It will do more ghood than any stock of innocence; and
you had need to look very sharp, else he may soon cut you short. It’s a
very good and a very kind man, but she pe caring no more for the lives
of peoples, tan I would do for as many ptarmigans.”

Walter pondered on this hint throughout the night; and the more he did
so the more he was convinced, that, as the affairs of the country were
then conducted, Macpherson’s advice was of the first utility. He sent
for one of the shepherds of Kippelgill next morning, charged him with an
express to his family, and unable to do any thing further for himself,
submitted patiently to his fate.

Clavers having been informed that night that some great conventicles had
been held to the southward, he arose early, crossed the mountains by the
Pennera Corse, and entered that district of the south called Eskdale.
He had run short of ammunition by the way, and knowing of no other
supply, dispatched Bruce with 20 men by the way of Ettrick, to plunder
the aisle where the ancient and noble family of the Scotts of Thirlstane
were enshrined in massy leaden chests. From these he cut the lids, and
otherwise damaged them, scattering the bones about in the aisle; but the
Scotts of Daventon shortly after gathered up the relics of their
ancestors, which they again deposited in the chests,—closed them up
with wooden lids, and buried them deep under the aisle floor, that they
might no more be discomposed by the hand of wanton depravity.

At a place called the Steps of Glenderg, Clavers met with Sir James
Johnston of Westeraw, with fifty armed men, who gave him an exaggerated
account of the district of Eskdale, telling him of such and such
field–meetings, and what inflammatory discourses had there been
delivered, insinuating all the while that the whole dale ought to be
made an example of. Clavers rejoiced in his heart at this, for the works
of devastation and destruction were beginning to wear short. The
Covenanters were now so sorely reduced, that scarcely durst one show his
face, unless it were to the moon and stars of Heaven. A striking
instance of this I may here relate by the way, as it happened on the
very day to which my tale has conducted me.

A poor wanderer, named, I think, Matthew Douglas, had skulked about
these mountains, chiefly in a wild glen, called the Caldron, ever since
the battle of Bothwell–bridge. He had made several narrow, and, as he
thought, most providential escapes, but was at length quite overcome by
famine, cold, and watching; and finding his end approaching, he crept by
night into a poor widow’s house at Kennelburn, whose name, if my
informer is not mistaken, was Ann Hyslop. Ann was not a Cameronian, but
being of a gentle and humane disposition, she received the dying man
kindly—watched, and even wept over him, administering to all his wants.
But the vital springs of life were exhausted and dried up: He died on
the second day after his arrival, and was buried with great privacy, by
night, in the church–yard at Westerkirk.

Sir James Johnston had been a zealous Covenanter, and at first refused
the test with great indignation; but seeing the dangerous ground on
which he stood and that his hand was on the lion’s mane, he renounced
these principles; and, to render his apostacy effective, became for a
time a most violent distresser of his former friends. He knew at this
time that Clavers was coming round; and in order to ingratiate himself
with him, he had for several days been raging up and down the country
like a roaring lion, as they termed it. It came to his ears what Ann
Hyslop had done; whereon, pretending great rage, he went with his party
to the burial ground, digged the body out of the grave, and threw it
over the church–yard wall for beasts of prey to devour. Forthwith he
proceeded to Kennelburn—plundered the house of Ann Hyslop, and then
burnt it to ashes; but herself he could not find, for she had previously
absconded. Proceeding to the boundary of the county, he met and welcomed
Clavers to his assistance, breathing nothing but revenge against all
non–conformists, and those of his own district in particular.

Clavers knew mankind well. He perceived the moving cause of all this,
and did not appear so forward and hearty in the business as Sir James
expected. He resolved to ravage Eskdale, but to manage matters so that
the whole blame might fall on Johnston. This he effected so completely,
that he made that knight to be detested there as long as he lived, and
his memory to be abhorred after his decease. He found him forward in the
cause; and still the more so that he appeared to be, the more shy and
backward was Clavers, appearing to consent to every thing with
reluctance. They condemned the stocks of sheep on Fingland and the
Casways on very shallow grounds. Clavers proposed to spare them; but Sir
James swore that they should not be spared, that their owners might
learn the value of conventicles.

“Well, well,” said Clavers, “since you will have it so, let them be
driven off.”

In this manner they proceeded down that unhappy dale, and at Craikhaugh,
by sheer accident, lighted on Andrew Hyslop, son to the widow of
Kennelburn above–mentioned. Johnston apprehended him, cursed,
threatened, and gnashed his teeth on him with perfect rage. He was a
beautiful youth, only nineteen years of age. On his examination, it
appeared that he had not been at home, nor had any hand in sheltering
the deceased; but he knew, he said, that his mother had done so, and in
doing it, had done well; and he was satisfied that act of her’s would be
approven of in the eye of the Almighty.

Clavers asked, “Have you ever attended the field conventicles?”

“No.”

“Have you ever preached yourself?”

“No.”

“Do you think that you could preach?”

“I am sure I could not.”

“I’ll be d‑‑d but you can pray then,” said he.

He then proffered him his liberty if he would confess that his mother
had done wrong, but this he would in no wise do; for, he said, it would
be a sinful and shameful lie, he being convinced that his mother had
done what was her duty, and the duty of every Christian to do towards
his fellow–creatures.

Johnston swore he should be shot. Clavers hesitated, and made some
objections; but the other persisting, as Clavers knew he would, the
latter consented, as formerly, saying, “Well, well, since you will have
it so, let it be done—his blood be on your head, I am free of
it.—Daniel Roy Macpherson, draw up your file, and put the sentence in
execution.”

Hyslop kneeled down. They bade him put on his bonnet, and draw it over
his eyes; but this he calmly refused, saying, “He had done nothing of
which he was ashamed, and could look on his murderers and to Heaven
without dismay.”

When Macpherson heard this, and looked at him as he kneeled on the
ground with his hands pinioned, his beautiful young face turned toward
the sky, and his long fair ringlets hanging waving backward, his heart
melted within him, and the great tears had for sometime been hopping
down his cheeks. When Clavers gave the word of command to shoot the
youth, Macpherson drew up his men in a moment—wheeled them off at the
side—presented arms—and then answered the order of the general as
follows, in a voice that was quite choaked one while, and came forth in
great vollies at another—“Now, Cot t‑‑n—sh—sh—she’ll rather pe
fighting Clavers and all her draghoons, pe—pe—pefore she’ll pe killing
tat dear good lhad.”

Captain Bruce burst out into a horse–laugh, leaping and clapping his
hands on hearing such a singular reply; even Clavers had much ado to
suppress a smile, which, however, he effected by uttering a horrible
curse.

“I had forgot, Sir James,” said he; “Macpherson is as brave a man as
ever strode on a field of battle; but in domestic concerns, he has the
heart of a chicken.”

He then ordered four of his own guards to shoot him, which they executed
in a moment. Some of his acquaintances being present, they requested
permission of Clavers to bury him, which he readily granted, and he was
interred on the very spot where he fell. A grave stone was afterwards
erected over him, which is still to be seen at Craikhaugh, near the side
of the road, a little to the north of the Church of Eskdale–muir.

Clavers and his prisoner lodged at Westeraw that night. Johnston wanted
to have him shot; but to this Clavers objected, though rather in a
jocular manner.

Walter said, he was sure if Sir James had repeated his request another
time, that Clavers’ answer would have been, “Well, well, since you will
have it so,” &c.; but, fortunately for Walter, he desisted just in time.

These two redoubted champions continued their progress all next day; and
on the third, at evening, Clavers crossed Dryfe, with nine thousand
sheep, three hundred goats, and about as many cattle and horses, in his
train, taken from the people of Eskdale alone. He took care to herry Sir
James’s tenants, in particular, of every thing they possessed, and
apparently all by their laird’s desire, so that very little of the blame
attached to the general. He was heard to say to Sir Thomas Livingston
that night, “I trow, we hae left the silly turn–coat a pirn to
wind.”—But we must now leave them to continue their route of rapine
and devastation, and return to the distressed family of Chapelhope, in
order that we may watch the doings of the Brownie of Bodsbeck.

FOOTNOTE:

[A] One of the women baptized in the Linn of Riskinhope by Renwick that
year, has several children yet alive, not very aged people.



CHAPTER XI.


For all Maron Linton’s grievous distresses, the arrival of Clerk, the
curate, proved an antidote of no small avail. It was a great comfort to
her, in the midst of her afflictions; and after she had been assured by
him of Walter’s perfect safety, she became apparently more happy, and
certainly more loquacious, than she had been for a great while byegone.
She disclosed to him the dreadful secret, that her child was possessed
of an evil spirit, and implored his influence with Heaven, and his power
with hell, for its removal. This he readily undertook, on condition of
being locked up with the maiden for a night, or two at most. She was to
be left solely to his management; without the interference of any other
human being; and with the help only of the Bible, the lamp, and the
hour–glass, he declared that he would drive the unclean spirit from his
tabernacle of clay.

To these conditions Maron Linton gladly assented; and, with grateful and
fond acknowledgments, called him their benefactor and spiritual guide,
their deliverer and shield; but he checked her, and said, there was
still one condition more on which she behoved to condescend. It was
likely that he might be under the hard necessity of using some violent
measures in exorcising her, for it would be hard to drive the malignant
spirit from so sweet a habitation; but whatever noises might be heard,
no one was to interfere, or even listen, upon pain of being delivered up
to the foul spirit, soul and body; and it was ten to one that any who
was so imprudent as to intrude on these awful and mysterious rites,
might be torn in pieces.

Maron blest herself from all interference, and gave Nanny directions to
the same purport; as for the two boys, they slept out of hearing. She
likewise gave him the key, that he might lock both the doors of the Old
Room in the inside, and thus prevent all intrusions, should any be
offered. He said prayers in the family, to which Katharine was admitted;
and then taking the lamp and the hour–glass in his hand, and the Bible
below his arm, he departed into the Old Room, where, in about half an
hour afterwards, the maiden was summoned to attend him. He took her
respectfully by the hand, and seated her on a chair at the side of the
bed, saying, that he was commissioned by her worthy mother to hold a
little private conversation with her. Then locking the door, and putting
the key in his pocket, he added, “You are my prisoner for this night,
but be not alarmed; I have undertaken to drive an evil spirit away from
you, but both my exorcisms and orisons shall be adapted to the feelings
of a young maiden, and as agreeable to one whom I so much admire, as it
is in my power to make them.”

Katharine grew as pale as death as he uttered these words, and placed
himself cordially by her side.

It is unmeet to relate the conversation that ensued; but the worthy
curate soon showed off in his true colours, and with unblushing front
ventured a proposal that shocked the innocent and modest Katharine so
much, that she could only reply to it by holding up her hands, and
uttering a loud exclamation of astonishment. His further precedure soon
convinced her, that she was in the hands of a man who was determined to
take every advantage of the opportunity thus unwarrantably afforded him,
and to stick at no atrocity for the accomplishment of his purposes.

She neither descended to tears nor entreaties, but resisted all his
approaches with a firmness and dignity that he never conceived to have
formed any part of her character; and, when continuing to press her
hand, she said to him, “You had better keep your distance, Mass John
Clerk, and consider what befits your character, and the confidence
reposed in you by my unsuspecting parent; but I tell you, if you again
presume to touch me, though it were but with one of your fingers, I
will, in a moment, bring those out of the chink of the wall, or from
under that hearth, that shall lay you motionless at my feet in the
twinkling of an eye, or bear you off to any part of the creation that I
shall name.”

He smiled as she said this, and was about to turn it into a jest; but on
looking at her face, he perceived that there was not one trait of
jocularity in it. It beamed with a mystical serenity which sent a
chillness through his whole frame; and, for the first time, he deemed
her deranged, or possessed in some manner, he wist not how. Staunch,
however, to his honourable purpose, he became so unequivocal, that she
was obliged to devise some means of attaining a temporary cessation; and
feigning to hesitate on his proposal, she requested a minute or two to
speak.

“I am but young, Mass John,” said she, “and have no experience in the
ways of the world; and it seems, from what you have advanced, that I
attach more importance to some matters than they deserve. But I beg of
you to give me a little time to reflect on the proposal you have made.
See that hour–glass is half run out already: I only ask of you not to
disturb or importune me until it run out a second time.”

“And do you then promise to do as I request?” said he.

“I do,” returned she, “provided you still continue of the same mind as
you are now.”

“My mind is made up,” said he, “and my resolution taken in all that
relates to you; nevertheless, it would be hard to refuse a maid so
gentle and modest a request—I grant it—and should you attempt to break
off your engagement at the expiry of the time, it shall be the worse for
you.”

“Be it so,” replied she; “in the meantime let me be undisturbed till
then.” And so saying, she arose and went aside to the little table where
the Bible and the lamp were placed, and began with great seriousness to
search out, and peruse parts of the sacred volume.

Clerk liked not this contemplative mood, and tried every wile in his
power to draw her attention from the Scriptures. He sought out parts
which he desired her to read, if she would read; but from these she
turned away without deigning to regard them, and gently reminded him
that he had broken one of his conditions. “Maids only impose such
conditions on men,” said he, “as they desire should be broken.” At this
she regarded him with a look of ineffable contempt, and continued to
read on in her Bible.

The hour of midnight was now passed,—the sand had nearly run out for
the second time since the delay had been acceded to, and Clerk had been
for a while tapping the glass on the side, and shaking it, to make it
empty its contents the sooner. Katharine likewise began to eye it with
looks that manifested some degree of perturbation; she clasped the
Bible, and sate still in one position, as if listening attentively for
some sound or signal. The worthy curate at length held the hour–glass up
between her eye and the burning lamp,—the last lingering pile of sand
fell reluctantly out as he shook it in that position,—anxiety and
suspense settled more deeply on the lovely and serene face of Katharine;
but instead of a flexible timidity, it assumed an air of sternness. At
that instant the cock crew,—she started,—heaved a deep sigh, like one
that feels a sudden relief from pain, and a beam of joy shed its
radiance over her countenance. Clerk was astonished,—he could not
divine the source or cause of her emotions, but judging from his own
corrupt heart, he judged amiss. True however to his point, he reminded
her of her promise, and claimed its fulfilment. She deigned no reply to
his threats or promises, but kept her eye steadfastly fixed on another
part of the room. He bade her remember that he was not to be mocked, and
in spite of her exertions, he lifted her up in his arms, and carried her
across the room towards the bed. She uttered a loud scream, and in a
moment the outer–door that entered from the bank was opened, and a being
of such unearthly dimensions entered, as you may never wholly define. It
was the Brownie of Bodsbeck, sometimes mentioned before, small of
stature, and its whole form utterly mis–shaped. Its beard was long and
grey, while its look, and every lineament of its face, were indicative
of agony—its locks were thin, dishevelled, and white, and its back
hunched up behind its head. There seemed to be more of the same species
of hagard beings lingering behind at the door, but this alone advanced
with a slow majestic pace. Mass John uttered two involuntary cries,
somewhat resembling the shrill bellowings of an angry bull, mixed with
inarticulate rumblings,—sunk powerless on the floor, and, with a deep
shivering groan, fainted away. Katharine, stretching forth her hands,
flew to meet her unearthly guardian;—“Welcome, my watchful and
redoubted Brownie,” said she; “thou art well worthy to be familiar with
an empress, rather than an insignificant country maiden.”

    “Brownie’s here, Brownie’s there
    Brownie’s with thee every where,”

said the dwarfish spirit, and led her off in triumph.

Having bethought herself after she went out, she returned lightly, took
the keys from the pocket of the forlorn priest, extinguished the lamp,
and again disappeared, locking the door on the outside.

Mass John’s trance threw him into a heavy and perturbed slumber, which
overpowered him for a long space; and even after he awaked, it was long
before he could fathom the circumstances of his case, for he imagined he
had only been in a frightful and oppressive dream; till, beginning to
grope about, he discovered that he was lying on the damp floor with his
clothes on; and at length, without opening his eyes, he recovered by
degrees his reasoning faculties, and was able to retrace the
circumstances that led to his present situation. He arose in great
dismay—the day–light had begun to shine into the room, and finding that
both doors were locked, he deemed it unadvisable to make any noise, and
threw himself upon the bed. The retrospect of his adventure was fraught
with shame and astonishment. He had acted a considerable part in it, but
he had dreamed of a great deal more, and with all his ingenuity he could
not separate in his mind the real incidents from those that were
imaginary. He arose with the sun, and rapped gently at the inner–door,
which, to his still farther astonishment, was opened by Katharine, in
her usual neat and cleanly morning dress. He stared in her face, to mark
if he could read any meaning in it—he could distinguish none that spoke
a language to him either good or bad—it was a face of calm decent
serenity, and wore no shade of either shame or anger—somewhat paler
than it was the evening before, but still as lovely as ever. The curate
seemed gasping for breath, but not having courage to address her, he
walked forth to the open air.

It was a beautiful morning in September; the ground was covered with a
slight hoar frost, and a cloud of light haze (or as the country people
call it, _the blue ouder_,) slept upon the long valley of water, and
reached nearly midway up the hills. The morning sun shone full upon it,
making it appear like an ocean of silvery down. It vanished by
imperceptible degrees into the clear blue firmament, and was succeeded
by a warm sun and a southerly breeze. It was such a morning as could
not fail to cheer and re–animate every heart and frame, not wholly
overcome by guilt and disease—Clark’s were neither—he was depraved of
heart, but insensible to the evil of such a disposition; he had,
moreover, been a hanger–on from his youth upward, and had an effrontery
not to be outfaced. Of course, by the time he had finished a
three–hour’s walk, he felt himself so much refreshed and invigorated in
mind, that he resolved not to expose himself to the goodwife, who was
his principal stay and support among his straggled and dissatisfied
flock, by a confession of the dreadful fright he had gotten, but to
weather out the storm with as lofty and saintly a deportment as he
could.

He had not well gone out when the lad of Kepplegill arrived, and
delivered to Katharine her father’s letter. She saw the propriety of the
injunction which it bore, and that an immediate application to their
laird, Drumelzier, who was then high in trust and favour with the party
in power, was the likeliest of all ways to procure her father’s relief,
neither durst she trust the mission to any but herself. But ah! there
was a concealed weight that pressed upon her spirit—a secret
circumstance that compelled her to stay at home, and which could not be
revealed to mortal ear. Her father’s fate was at present uncertain and
ticklish, but that secret once revealed, tortures, death, and ruin were
inevitable—the doom of the whole family was sealed. She knew not what
to do, for she had none to advise with. There was but one on earth to
whom this secret could be imparted; indeed there was but one in whose
power it was to execute the trust which the circumstances of the case
required, and that was old Nanny, who was crazed, fearless, and
altogether inscrutable. Another trial, however, of her religious
principles, and adherence to the established rules of church government
in the country, was absolutely necessary; and to that trial our young
and mysterious heroine went with all possible haste, as well as
precaution.

Whosoever readeth this must paint to themselves old Nanny, and they must
paint her aright, with her thin fantastic form and antiquated dress,
bustling up and down the house. Her fine stock of bannocks had been all
exhausted—the troopers and their horses had left nothing in her
master’s house that could either be eaten or conveniently carried away.
She had been early astir, as well as her sedate and thoughtful young
dame, had been busy all the morning, and the whole time her tongue never
at rest. She had been singing one while, speaking to herself another,
and every now and then intermixing bitter reflections on Clavers and his
troops.

“Wae be to them for a pack o’ greedy gallayniels—they haena the mence
of a miller’s yaud; for though she’ll stap her nose into every body’s
pock, yet when she’s fou she’ll carry naething wi’ her. Heichow! wae’s
me, that I sude hae lived to see the day! That ever I sude hae lived to
see the colehood take the laverock’s place; and the stanchel and the
merlin chatterin’ frae the cushat’s nest! Ah! wae’s me! will the sweet
voice o’ the turtle–doo be nae mair heard in our land! There was a time
when I sat on the bonny green brae an’ listened to it till the tears
dreepit frae my een, an’ a’ the hairs o’ my head stood on end!—The
hairs o’ my head?—Ay, that’s nae lie! They’re grey now, an’ will soon
be snaw–white if heart’s care can alter them; but they will never be sae
white as they anes war. I saw the siller–grey lock o’ age, an’ the manly
curls o’ youth wavin’ at my side that day!—But where are they now? A’
mouled! a’ mouled!—But the druckit blood winna let them rot! I’ll see
them rise fresh an’ bonny! I’ll look round to my right hand and ane will
sae, ‘Mother! my dear mother, are you here with us?’ I’ll turn to my
left hand, another will say, ‘Nanny! my dear and faithful wife, are you
too here with us?’—I’ll say, ‘Ay, John, I’m here; I was yours in life;
I have been yours in death; an’ I’ll be yours in life again.’—Dear
bairn, dear bairn, are you there,” continued she, observing Katharine
standing close behind her; “what was I saying, or where was I at? I
little wat outher what I was saying or doing.—Hout ay; I was gaun ower
some auld things, but they’re a’ like a dream, an’ when I get amang them
I’m hardly mysel. Dear bairn, ye maunna mind an auld crazy body’s
reveries.”

There was some need for this apology, if Nanny’s frame, air, and
attitude, are taken into account. She was standing with her back to the
light, mixing meal with water, whereof to make bread—her mutch, or
_night–hussing_, as she called it, was tied close down over her cheeks
and brow as usual; her grey locks hanging dishevelled from under it; and
as she uttered the last sentence, immediately before noticing her young
mistress, her thin mealy hands were stretched upwards, her head and
body bent back, and her voice like one in a paroxysm. Katharine quaked,
although well accustomed to scenes of no ordinary nature.

“Nanny,” said she, “there is something that preys upon your mind—some
great calamity that recurs to your memory, and goes near to unhinge your
tranquillity of mind, if not your reason. Will you inform me of it, good
Nanny, that I may talk and sympathize with you over it?”

“Dear bairn, nae loss ava—A’ profit! a’ profit i’the main! I haena
biggit a bield o’ the windlestrae, nor lippened my weight to a broken
reed! Na, na, dear bairn; nae loss ava.”

“But, Nanny, I have overheard you in your most secret hours, in your
prayers and self–examinations.”

At the mention of this Nanny turned about, and after a wild searching
stare in her young mistress’s face, while every nerve of her frame
seemed to shrink from the recollection of the disclosures she feared
she had made, she answered as follows, in a deep and tremulous tone:—

“That was atween God and me—There was neither language nor sound there
for the ear o’ flesh!—It was unfair!—It was unfair!—Ye are mistress
here, and ye keep the keys o’ the aumbry, the kitchen, the ha’, an’ the
hale house; but wi’ the secret keys o’ the heart and conscience ye hae
naething to do!—the keys o’ the sma’est portal that leads to heaven or
hell are nane o’ yours; therefore, what ye hae done was unfair. If I
chose, sinful and miserable as I am, to converse with my God about the
dead as if they war living, an’ of the living as if they war dead,
what’s that to you? Or if I likit to take counsel of that which
exists only in my own mind, is the rackle hand o’ steelrife power
to make a handle o’ that to grind the very hearts of the just and the
good, or turn the poor wasted frame o’ eild and resignation on the
wheel?—Lack–a–day, my dear bairn, I’m lost again! Ye canna an’ ye
maunna forgie me now. Walth’s dear, an’ life’s dearer—but sin’ it maun
be sae, twal o’clock sanna find me aneath your roof—there shall naebody
suffer for harbouring poor auld Nanny—she has seen better days, an’ she
hopes to see better anes again; but it’s lang sin’ the warld’s weel an’
the warld’s wae came baith to her alike. I maun e’en bid ye fareweel, my
bonny bairn, but I maun tell ye ere I gae that ye’re i’the _braid way_.
Ye hae some good things about ye, and O, it is a pity that a dear sweet
soul should be lost for want o’ light to direct! How can a dear bairn
find the right way wi’ its een tied up? But I maun haud my tongue an’
leave ye—I wad fain greet, but I hae lost the gate o’t, for the
fountain–head has been lang run dry—Weel, weel—it’s a’ ower!—nae mair
about it—How’s this the auld sang gaes?

    When the well runs dry then the rain is nigh,
      The heavens o’ earth maun borrow,
    An’ the streams that stray thro’ the wastes the day,
      May sail aboon the morrow.

    Then dinna mourn, my bonny bird,
      I downa bide to hear ye;
    The storm may blaw, and the rain may fa’,
      But nouther sal come near ye.

    O dinna weep for the day that’s gane,
      Nor on the present ponder,
    For thou shalt sing on the laverock’s wing,
      An’ far away beyond her.”

This Nanny sung to an air so soothing, and at the same time so
melancholy, it was impossible to listen to her unaffected, especially as
she herself was peculiarly so—a beam of wild delight glanced in her
eye, but it was like the joy of grief, (if one may be allowed the
expression,) if not actually the joy of madness. Nothing could be more
interesting than her character was now to the bewildered Katharine—it
arose to her eyes, and grew on her mind like a vision. She had been led
previously to regard her as having been crazed from her birth, and her
songs and chaunts to be mere ravings of fancy, strung in rhymes to suit
favourite airs, or old scraps of ballads void of meaning, that she had
learned in her youth. But there was a wild elegance at times in her
manner of thinking and expression—a dash of sublimity that was
inconsistent with such an idea. “Is it possible,” (thus reasoned the
maiden with herself,) “that this demeanour can be the effect of great
worldly trouble and loss?—Perhaps she is bereft of all those who were
near and dear to her in life—is left alone as it were in this world,
and has lost a relish for all its concerns, while her whole hope, heart,
and mind, is fixed on a home above, to which all her thoughts, dreams,
and even her ravings insensibly turn, and to which the very songs and
chaunts of her youthful days are modelled anew. If such is really her
case, how I could sympathize with her in all her feelings!”

“Nanny,” said she, “how wofully you misapprehend me; I came to exchange
burdens of heart and conscience with you—to confide in you, and love
you: Why will not you do the same with me, and tell me what loss it is
that you seem to bewail night and day, and what affecting theme it is
that thus puts you beside yourself?—If I judge not far amiss, the
knowledge of this is of greater import to my peace than aught in the
world beside, and will lead to a secret from me that deeply concerns us
both.”

Nanny’s suspicions were aroused, not laid, by this speech; she eyed her
young mistress steadfastly for a while, smiled, and shook her head.

“Sae young, sae bonny, and yet sae cunning!” said she. “Judas coudna
hae sic a face, but he had nouther a fairer tongue nor a fauser
heart!—A secret frae you, dear bairn! what secret can come frae you,
but some bit waefu’ love story, enough to mak the pinks an’ the ewe
gowans blush to the very lip? My heart’s wae for ye, ae way an’ a’ ways;
but its a part of your curse—woman sinned an’ woman maun suffer—her
hale life is but a succession o’ shame, degradation, and suffering, frae
her cradle till her grave.”

Katharine was dumb for a space, for reasoning with Nanny was out of the
question.

“You may one day rue this misprision of my motives, Nanny,” rejoined
she; “in the mean time, I am obliged to leave home, on an express that
concerns my father’s life and fortune; be careful of my mother until my
return, and of every thing about the house, for the charge of all must
devolve for a space on you.”

“That I will, dear bairn—the thing that Nanny has ta’en in hand sanna
be neglected, if her twa hands can do it, and her auld crazed head
comprehend it.”

“But, first, tell me, and tell me seriously, Nanny, are you subject to
any apprehension or terror on account of spirits?”

“Nae mair feared for them than I am for you, an’ no half sae muckle, wi’
your leave.—Spirits, quoth I!

    Little misters it to me
    Whar they gang, or whar they ride;
    Round the hillock, on the lea,
    Round the auld borral tree,
    Or bourock by the burn side;
    Deep within the bogle–howe,
    Wi’ his haffats in a lowe,
    Wons the waefu’ wirricowe.

“Ah! noble Cleland! it is like his wayward freaks an’ whimsies! Did ye
never hear it, you that speaks about spirits as they war your door
neighbours? It’s a clever thing; his sister sung it; I think, it rins
this gate—hum! but then the dilogue comes in, and it is sae kamshachle
I canna word it, though I canna say it’s misleared either.”

“Dear Nanny, that is far from my question. You say you are nothing
afraid of spirits?”

“An’ why should I? If they be good spirits, they will do me nae ill;
and if they be evil spirits, they hae nae power here. Thinkna ye that He
that takes care o’ me throughout the day, is as able to do it by night?
Na, na, dear bairn, I hae contendit wi’ the warst o’ a’ spirits face to
face, hand to hand, and breast to breast; ay, an’ for a’ his power, an’
a’ his might, I dang him; and packed him off baffled and shamed!—Little
reason hae I to be feared for ony o’ his black emissaries.”

“Should one appear to you bodily, would you be nothing distracted or
frightened?”

“In my own strength I could not stand it, but yet I would stand it.”

“That gives me joy—Then, Nanny, list to me: You will assuredly see one
in my absence; and you must take good heed to my directions, and act
precisely as I bid you.”

Nanny gave up her work, and listened in suspense. “Then it is a’ true
that the fock says!” said she, with a long–drawn sigh. “His presence be
about us!”

“How sensibly you spoke just now! Where is your faith fled already? I
tell you there will one appear to you every night in my absence,
precisely on the first crowing of the cock, about an hour after
midnight, and you must give him every thing that he asks, else it may
fare the worse with you, and all about the house.”

Nanny’s limbs were unable to support her weight—they trembled under
her. She sat down on a form, leaned her brow upon both hands, and
recited the 63d Psalm from beginning to end in a fervent tone.

“I wasna prepared for this,” said she. “I fear, though my faith may
stand it, my wits will not. Dear, dear bairn, is there nae way to get
aff frae sic a trial?”

“There is only one, which is fraught with danger of another sort; but
were I sure that I could trust you with it, all might be well, and you
would rest free from any intercourse with that unearthly visitant, of
whom it seems you are so much in terror.”

“For my own sake ye may trust me there: Ony thing but a bogle face to
face at midnight, an’ me a’ my lane. It is right wonderfu’, though I ken
I’ll soon be in a warld o’ spirits, an’ that I maun mingle an’ mool wi’
them for ages, how the nature within me revolts at a’ communion wi’ them
here. Dear bairn, gie me your other plan, an’ trust me for my own sake.”

“It is this—but if you adopt it, for your life an’ soul let no one in
this place know of it but yourself:—It is to admit one or two of the
fugitive whigs,—these people that skulk and pray about the mountains,
privily into the house every night, until my return. If you will give me
any test of your secrecy and truth, I will find ways and means of
bringing them to you, which will effectually bar all intrusion of bogle
or Brownie on your quiet; or should any such dare to appear, they will
deal with it themselves.”

“An’ _can_ the presence o’ ane o’ _them_ do this?” said Nanny, starting
up and speaking in a loud eldrich voice. “Then Heaven and hell
acknowledges it, an’ the earth maun soon do the same! I knew it!—I knew
it!—I knew it!—ha, ha, ha, I knew it!—Ah! John, thou art safe!—Ay!
an’ mae than thee; an’ there will be mae yet! It is but a day! an’ dark
an’ dismal though it be, the change will be the sweeter! Blessed,
blessed be the day! None can say of thee that thou died like a fool, for
thy hands were not bound, nor thy feet put into fetters.” Then turning
close round to Katharine, with an expression of countenance quite
indescribable, she added in a quick maddened manner,—“Eh? Thou seekest
a test of me, dost thou? Can blood do it?—Can martyrdom do it?—Can
bonds, wounds, tortures, and mockery do it?—Can death itself do it? All
these have I suffered for that cause _in this same body_; mark that; for
there is but one half of my bone and my flesh here. But words are
nothing to the misbelieving—mere air mouthed into a sound. Look at this
for a test of _my_ sincerity and truth.” So saying, she gave her hand a
wild brandish in the air, darted it at her throat, and snapping the tie
of her cap that she had always worn over her face, she snatched it off,
and turning her cheek round to her young mistress, added, “Look there
for your test, and if that is not enough, I will give you more!”

Katharine was struck dumb with astonishment and horror. She saw that
her ears were cut out close to the skull, and a C. R. indented on
her cheek with a hot iron, as deep as the jaw–bone. She burst out a
crying—clasped the old enthusiast in her arms—kissed the wound and
steeped it with her tears, and without one further remark, led her away
to the Old Room, that they might converse without interruption.

The sequel of this disclosure turned not out as desired; but this we
must leave by the way, until we overtake it in the regular course of the
narrative.



CHAPTER XII.


As soon as her father’s letter was put into her hands, Katharine sent
off one of her brothers to Muchrah, to warn old John and his son to come
instantly to Chapelhope. They both arrived while she and Nanny were
consulting in the Old Room. She told them of her father’s letter, of the
jeopardy he was in, and of her intended application to Drummelzier
without loss of time. “One of you,” said she, “must accompany me; and I
sent for you both, to learn which could, with least inconvenience, be
wanted from your flocks.”

“As for me,” said John, “it’s out o’ the question to _think_ about me
winning away. The ewes wad gang wi’ the bit hog–fence o’ the Quave Brae,
stoup and roup. What wi’ ghaists, brownies, dead men, an’ ae mischief
an’ other, it is maistly gane already; an’ what’s to come o’ the poor
bits o’ plottin baggits a’ winter, is mair nor I can tell. They may pike
the woo aff ane another for aught that I see.”

Katharine was grieved to hear this remonstrance, for she was desirous of
having old John as a guide and protector, who well knew the way, and was
besides singular for strength and courage, if kept among beings of this
world. She represented to him that the hog–fence of the Quave–Brae,
could not possibly be of equal importance with his master’s life, nor
yet with the loss of his whole stock, both of sheep and cattle, which
might be confiscated, if prompt measures were not adopted. Nothing,
however, could persuade John, that ought could be of equal importance to
him with that which he had the charge of, and on which his heart and
attention were so much set both by day and night. He said he had lost
his lugs, and been brunt wi’ the king’s birn, for the hog–fence of the
Quave–Brae; and when he coudna get away to the prison at Edinburgh for
fear o’t, but suffered sae muckle in place o’ that, how could he win
away a’ the gate to Dunse Castle?

Jasper liked not the journey more than he; for being convinced of
Katharine’s power over spirits, he was very jealous of her taking undue
advantages of him, but he was obliged to submit. He refused a horse,
saying “it would only taigle him, but if she suffered him to gang on his
feet, if he was hindmost at Dunse, he should gie her leave to cut the
lugs out o’ his head too, and then he wad hae the thief’s mark on him
like his father.”

Away they went; she riding on a stout shaggy poney, and Jasper running
before her barefoot, but with his _hose and shoon_ bound over his
shoulder. He took the straight line for Dunse, over hill and dale, as a
shepherd always does, who hates the _wimples_, as he calls them, of a
turnpike. He took such a line as an eagle would take, or a flock of
wild geese journeying from the one side of the country to the other,
never once reflecting on the inconvenience of riding on such a road. Of
course, it was impossible his young mistress could keep up with
him—indeed she had often enough to do in keeping sight of him. They met
with some curious adventures by the way, particularly one near
Thirlestane castle on Leader, with some stragglers of a troop of
soldiers. But these things we must hurry over as extraneous matter,
having nothing more to do with them than as connected with the thread of
our tale. They slept that night at a farm–house in Lammermoor, which
belonged to Drummelzier, and next day by noon arrived at Dunse Castle.

Drummelzier, being one of the Committee of Public Safety, was absent
from home, to which he did not return for several days, to the great
perplexity of Katharine, who was in the utmost distress about her
father, as well as her affairs at home. She was obliged, however, to
wait with patience, as no one knew in what part of the country he was.
The housekeeper, who was an Englishwoman, was kind to her, and bade her
not be afraid, for that their master had much more power with the
government than Claverhouse, the one being a moving spring, and the
other only a tool.

Drummelzier was a bold and determined royalist—was, indeed, in high
trust with the Privy–council, and had it in his power to have harassed
the country as much, and more, than the greater part of those who did
so; but, fortunately for that south–east division of Scotland, he was a
gentleman of high honour, benevolence, and suavity of manners, and
detested any act of injustice or oppression. He by these means
contributed materially to the keeping of a large division of Scotland
(though as whiggishly inclined as any part of it, Ayrshire perhaps
excepted,) in perfect peace. The very first dash that Clavers made among
the Covenanters, while he was as yet only a captain of a company, was
into this division of the country over which Drummelzier was appointed
to keep an eye, and it was in consequence of his intrepid and decided
behaviour there, that the Duke of York interested himself in his behalf,
and procured him the command of a troop of horse. At a place called
Bewly, on the confines of Roxburghshire, he surprised a large
conventicle about eleven o’clock on a Sabbath morning. Having but a
small band, as soon as he appeared a crowd of the hearers gathered round
the preacher to defend him, or to further his escape. Clavers burst in
upon them like a torrent; killed and wounded upwards of an hundred; took
the preacher prisoner, and all such of the hearers as were the most
respectable in appearance. He would have detained many more had his
force been sufficient for his designs, for that very day, about five
o’clock in the afternoon, he surprised another numerous conventicle, at
a place called Helmburn–Linn, in Selkirkshire, where he acted over the
same scene that he had done in the morning. The people, it is true, did
not get time to rally round their pastor as at the former place, for the
first intelligence they had of his approach was from a volley of
musketry among them from the top of the linn, which took too sure
effect.

The congregation scattered in a moment; and as there were strong
fastnesses near at hand, none were taken prisoners, save some old men,
and a number of ladies; unfortunately all these were ladies of
distinction: the preacher likewise was taken, who suffered afterwards.
The soldiers related of this man, that when they came upon the crowd,
and fired among them, he was in the middle of his afternoon prayer, and
all the people standing uncovered around him; and that for all the
shots, and the people flying and falling dead about him, he never so
much as paused, nor took down his hands, nor even opened his eyes, but
concluded a sentence in the same fervent tone, after they had dragged
him from the tent.

At one or other of these unfortunate conventicles, a part of all the
chief families of the Pringles, such as Torwoodlee, Whitebank,
Fairnilie, and others, were taken prisoners; as well as some of the
Scotts of Harden, and the Douglasses of Cavers and Boonjeddart; rich
prizes for Clavers, who bore them all in triumph prisoners to Edinburgh.

Drummelzier put his whole interest to the stretch to get these leading
and respectable families freed from such a disagreeable dilemma, and
succeeded in getting the greater part of them set at liberty, on giving
securities. From that time forth, there existed a secret jealousy
between him and Clavers; but as their jurisdiction lay on different
sides of the country, they had no further interference with one another.

When Katharine informed him, that his farmer, whom he so much esteemed,
was taken away a prisoner, and by whom, he bit his lip, shook his head,
and seemed highly incensed. He then questioned her about all the
charges against him, and the evidence; requesting her, at the same time,
to tell him the truth, in all its bearings, to the most minute scruple;
and when he had heard all, he said, that his lordship had other motives
for this capture besides these. He lost no time in setting about the
most coercive measures he could think of, to procure his liberty. He
sent an express to the Privy–council, and wrote to sundry other
gentlemen, whom Katharine knew nothing of; but the destination of Walter
being utterly unknown to either of them, the laird was at a loss how to
proceed.

He gave her, moreover, a bond of security, signed with his name, and
without a direction, to a great amount, for her father’s appearance at
any court, to answer such charges as were brought against him; and with
this she was to haste to the place where her father was a prisoner, and
present it to the sheriff of the county, or chief magistrate of the
burgh of such place, unless it was at Edinburgh, and in that case she
was to take no farther care or concern about him.

She hasted home with her wild guide, where she arrived the fourth or
fifth day after her departure; and found, to her astonishment, the
Chapelhope deserted by man, woman, and boy! Not a living creature
remained about the steading, but her father’s dog and some poultry! The
doors were locked, and the key away; and, hungry and fatigued as she
was, she could find no means of admittance. At length, on looking about,
she perceived that the cows were not about the house, nor any where in
the corn, and concluding that some one must be herding them, she went up
the side of the lake to their wonted walk, and found her two brothers
attending the cattle.

They told her that the _town_ (so they always denominate a farm–steading
in that district,) had been so grievously haunted in her absence, both
by Brownie and a ghost, that they were all obliged to leave it; that
their mother was gone all the way to Gilmanscleuch to her brother, to
remain there until she saw what became of her husband; Mass John was
taken away by the fairies; and old Nanny was at Riskinhope, where they
were also residing and sleeping at night; that the keys of the house
were to be had there, but nothing would induce Nanny to come back again
to Chapelhope, or at least to remain another night under its roof.

One mischief came thus upon poor Katharine after another; and she was
utterly unable to account for this piece of intelligence, having been
satisfied when she went away, that she had put every thing in train to
secure peace and order about the house, until her return. She rode to
Riskinhope for the key, but not one would accompany her home, poor Nanny
being lying moaning upon a bed. Jasper sat on the side of the hill, at a
convenient distance from the house, until her return; but then took her
horse from her, and put it away to the rest, refusing to enter the
door. Thus was she left in her father’s house all alone. Nanny came
over, and assisted her in milking the kine evening and morning; and she
remained the rest of the day, and every night, by herself, neither did
she press any one much to bear her company. She had no one to send in
search of her father, and deliver Drummelzier’s bond, at least none that
any one knew of, yet it was sent, and that speedily, although to little
purpose; for though Walter was sent to Dumfries Jail, he remained there
but two nights; a party of prisoners, of ten men and two women, being
ordered for Edinburgh, under a guard of soldiers, he was mixed
indiscriminately with the rest, and sent there along with them.

He always said, that though he was disposed to think well of Clavers
before he saw him, yet he never was so blithe in his life as when he got
from under his jurisdiction; for there was an appearance of ferocity and
wantonness of cruelty in all his proceedings, during the time that he
rode in his train a prisoner, that made the heart of any man, not
brutified by inurement to such scenes, revolt at the principles that
induced, as well as the government that warranted them. He saw him and
his troopers gather the whole vale of Annandale, as a shepherd gathers
his sheep in droves, pricking the inhabitants with their swords to urge
their speed. When he got thus all the people of a parish, or division of
a parish, driven together, he surrounded them with his soldiers, made
them kneel by dozens, and take the oath of abjuration, as well as one
acknowledging James Duke of York their rightful lord and sovereign; and
lastly, made them renounce their right and part in Heaven, if ever they
repented them of that oath. The first man of such a group, who refused
or objected to compliance with this dreadful measure, he took him
forthwith behind the ranks and shot him, which summary way of proceeding
generally induced all the people to comply. Moreover, the way in which
he threatened and maltreated children, and mocked and insulted women,
not to mention more brutal usage of them, proved him at once to be
destitute of the behaviour and feelings becoming a man, far less those
of a gentleman. He seemed to regard all the commonalty in the south and
west of Scotland as things to be mocked and insulted at pleasure, as
beings created only for the sport of him and his soldiers, while their
mental and bodily agonies were his delight. The narrator of this tale
confesses that he has taken this account of his raid through the vales
of Esk and Annan solely from tradition, as well as the attack made on
the two conventicles, where the Pringles, &c. were taken prisoners; but
these traditions are descended from such a source, and by such a line,
as amounts with him to veracity.

Far different were Walter’s feelings on parting with the commander of
his guard, Serjeant Daniel Roy Macpherson, a noble block from the
genuine quarry of nature—rude as it was taken thence, without the mark
of hammer or chisel. When he heard that his prisoner was to be taken
from under his charge, he made up to him when out of the eye of his
commander, and treated him with a parting speech; which, on account of
its singularity, is here preserved, though, doubtless, woefully garbled
by being handed from one southland generation to another.

“Now he’ll pe tahaking you away from mhe pefore as it were yesterdhay;
and he’ll pe putting you into some vhile dark hole with all te low tamn
pwigs that come from te hills of Gallochee and Drummochloonrich, which
is a shame and a disgrhace to shut up a shentleman who is chief of a
clan among such poor crhazy maniachs, who will pe filling your ears full
of their rejoicings in spirit; and of Haiven! and Haiven! just as if
they were all going to Haiven! Cot t‑‑n, do they suppose that Haiven is
to pe filled full of such poor insignaificant crheatures as they? or
that Cot is not a shentleman, that he would pe falling into such
cohmpany? But I’ll pe giving you advice as a friend and prhother; when
you come pefore the couhnsel, or any of their commissioners, do not you
pe talking of Haiven, and Haiven, and of conscience and covenants. And
do not you pe pragging and poasting of one to pe your chief, or to pe of
a clan that has not a friend at court; but tell them your own clan, and
your claims to be its chief; and if you do not know her true descent,
you had better claim Macpherson; she pe as ould and as honourable a clan
as any of them all, and more.”

Walter said, he trusted still to the proofs of his own loyalty, and the
want of evidence to the contrary.

“Pooh! pooh! Cot tamn!” said Macpherson; “I tell you the evidence you
want is this, if any great man say you ought to live, you will live; if
not, you will die. Did not I was telling you that the soholdiers that
were found dead in the correi, on the lands that belong to yourself, was
evidence enough and more; I would not pe giving _a curse_ for _your_
evidence after that, for the one is much petter than te other. And py
Cot, it is very well thought!” continued he, smiling grimly, “if you
will pe preaking out into a rage, and pe cursing and tamning them all,
you will get free in one moment.”

Walter said, that would be an easy ransom, and though it was an error he
was too apt to fall into when angry, he could see no effect it could
have in this case, but to irritate his prosecutors more and more against
him.

“You see no effect! Cot t‑‑n, if you ever can see any effect peyond the
top that is on your nose! and you will not pe advised by a man of
experience, who would do more for you than he would pe commending of;
and if you trust to what you can see, you will pe dancing a beautiful
Highland shig in the air to a saulm tune, and that will have a very good
effect. I tell you, when you come again to be questioned, I know my Lord
Dundee is to be there to pe adducing his proof; take you great and proud
offence at some of their questions and their proofs; and you may pe
making offer to fight them all one by one, or two by two, in the king’s
name, and send them all to hell in one pody; you cannot pe tamning them
too much sore. By the soul of Rory More Macpherson! I would almost give
up this claymore to be by and see that effect. Now you are not to pe
minding because I am laughing like a fool, for I’m perfectly serious; if
matters should pe standing hard with you, think of the advice of an ould
friend, who respects you as the chief of the clan MacLeadle, supposing
it to pe as low, and as much fallen down as it may.—Farewell! she pe
giving you her hearty Cot’s blessing.”

Thus parted he with Daniel Roy Macpherson, and, as he judged, an
unfortunate change it was for him. The wretch who now took the command
of their guard had all the ignorance and rudeness of the former, without
any counterbalance of high feeling and honour like him. His name was
Patie Ingles, a temporary officer, the same who cut off the head of the
amiable Mr White with an axe, at Kilmarnock, carried it to New–mills,
and gave it to his party to play a game with at foot–ball, which they
did. Ingles was drunk during the greater part of the journey, and his
whole delight was in hurting, mortifying, and mimicking his prisoners.
They were all bound together in pairs, and driven on in that manner like
coupled dogs. This was effected by a very simple process. Their hands
were fastened behind, the right and left arm of each pair being linked
within one another. Walter was tied to a little spare Galloway weaver, a
man wholly prone to controversy—he wanted to argue every point—on
which account he was committed. Yet, when among the Cameronians, he took
their principles as severely to task as he did those of the other party
when examined by them. He lived but to contradict. Often did he try
Walter with different points of opinion regarding the Christian Church.
Walter knew so little about them that the weaver was astonished. He
tried him with the apologetical declaration. Walter had never heard of
it. He could make nothing of his gigantic associate, and at length began
a sly enquiry on what account he was committed; but even on that he
received no satisfactory information.

Ingles came staggering up with them. “Weel, Master Skinflint, what say
you to it the day? This is a pleasant journey, is it not? Eh?—I say,
Master, what do they call you! Peal–an’–eat, answer me in this—you
see—I say—Is it not delightful? Eh?”

“Certainly, sir,” said the weaver, who wished to be quit of him; “very
delightful to those who feel it so.”

“_Feel_ it so!—D‑‑n you, sirrah, what do you mean by that? Do you know
who you are speaking to? Eh?—Answer me in this—What do you mean by
_Feel it so_? Eh?”

“I meant nothing,” returned the weaver, somewhat snappishly, “but that
kind of respect which I always pay to gentry like you.”

“Gentry like me!—D‑‑n you, sir, if you speak such a—Eh?—Gentry like
me!—I’ll spit you like a cock pheasant—Eh? Have you any of them in
Galloway? Answer me in this, will you? Eh?”

“I’ll answer any reasonable thing, sir,” said the poor weaver.

“Hout! never head the creature, man,” said Walter; “it’s a poor drunken
senseless beast of a thing.”

Ingles fixed his reeling unsteady eyes upon him, filled with drunken
rage—walked on, spitting and looking across the way for a considerable
space—“What the devil of a whig camel is this?” said he, crossing over
to Walter’s side. “Drunken senseless beast of a thing! Holm, did you
hear that?—Macwhinny, did you?—Eh? I’ll scorn to shoot the cusser,
though I could do it—Eh? But I’ll kick him like a dog—Eh?—Take that,
and that, will you? Eh?” And so saying, he kicked our proud–hearted and
independant Goodman of Chapelhope with his plebeian foot, staggering
backward each time he struck.

Walter’s spirit could not brook this; and disregardful of all
consequences, he wheeled about with his face toward him, dragging the
weaver round with a jerk, as a mastiff sometimes does a spaniel that is
coupled to him; and, as Ingles threw up his foot to kick him on the
belly, he followed up his heel with his foot, giving him such a fling
upwards as made him whirl round in the air like a reel. He fell on his
back, and lay motionless; on which, several of the party of soldiers
levelled their muskets at Walter. “Ay, shoot,” said he, setting up his
boardly breast to them—“Shoot at me if you dare, the best o’ ye.”

The soldiers cocked their pieces.

“Your Colonel himsel durstna wrang a hair o’ my head, though fain he
wad hae done sae, without first gieing me ower to his betters—Let me
see if a scullion amang ye a’ dare do mair than he.”

The soldiers turned their eyes, waiting for the word of command; and the
weaver kept as far away from Walter as the nature of his bonds would let
him. The command of the party now devolved on a Serjeant Douglas; who,
perhaps nothing sorry for what had happened, stepped in between the
soldiers and prisoner, and swore a great oath, that “what the prisoner
said was the truth; and that all that it was their duty to do was, to
take the prisoners safe to Edinburgh, as at first ordered; and there
give their evidence of this transaction, which would send the lousy whig
to hell at once, provided there was any chance of his otherwise
escaping.”

They lifted Ingles, and held him up into the air to get breath, loosing
meantime his cravat and clothes; on which he fell to vomit severely,
owing to the fall he had got, and the great quantity of spirits he had
drunk. They waited on him for about two hours; but as he still continued
unable either to speak or walk, they took him into a house called
Granton, and proceeded on their destination.

This Douglas, though apparently a superior person to the former
commander of the party, was still more intolerant and cruel than he.
There was no indignity or inconvenience that he could fasten on his
prisoners which he did not exercise to the utmost. They lodged that
night at a place called Tweedshaws; and Walter used always to relate an
occurrence that took place the next morning, that strongly marked the
character of this petty officer, as well as the licensed cruelty of the
times.

Some time previous to this, there had been a fellowship meeting, at a
place called Tallo–Lins, of the wanderers that lurked about Chapelhope
and the adjacent mountains. About eighty had assembled, merely to spend
the night in prayer, reading the Scriptures, &c. The curate of
Tweedsmuir, a poor dissolute wretch, sent a flaming account of this in
writing to the privy council, magnifying that simple affair to a great
and dangerous meeting of armed men. The council took the alarm, raised
the hue and cry, and offered a reward for the apprehending of any one
who had been at the meeting of Tallo–Lins. The curate, learning that a
party of the king’s troops was lodged that night in his parish and
neighbourhood, came to Tweedshaws at a late hour, and requested to speak
with the captain of the party. He then informed Douglas of the meeting,
shewed him the council’s letter and proclamation, and finally told him
that there was a man in a cottage hard by whom he strongly suspected to
have formed one at the meeting alluded to in the proclamation. There
being no conveniency for lodging so many people at Tweedshaws, Douglas
and the curate drank together all the night, as did the soldiers in
another party. A number of friends to the prisoners had given them money
when they left Dumfries for Edinburgh, to supply as well as they might
the privations to which they would be subjected; but here the military
took the greater part of it from them to supply their intemperance.
About the break of day, they went and surrounded a shepherd’s cottage
belonging to the farm of Corehead, having been led thither by the
curate, where they found the shepherd an old man, his daughter, and one
Edward M’Cane, son to a merchant in Lanarkshire, who was courting this
shepherdess, a beautiful young maiden. The curate having got
intelligence that a stranger was at that house, immediately suspected
him to be one of the wanderers, and on this surmise the information was
given. The curate acknowledged the shepherd and his daughter as
parishioners, but of M’Cane, he said, he knew nothing, and had no doubt
that he was one of the rebellious whigs. They fell to examine the youth,
but they were all affected with the liquor they had drunk over night,
and made a mere farce of it, paying no regard to his answers, or, if
they did, it was merely to misconstrue or mock them. He denied having
been at the meeting at Tallo–Linns, and all acquaintance with the
individuals whom they named as having been there present. Finding that
they could make nothing of him whereon to ground a charge, Douglas made
them search him for arms; for being somewhat drunk, he took it highly
amiss that he should have been brought out of his way for nothing.
M’Cane judged himself safe on that score, for he knew that he had
neither knife, razor, bodkin, nor edged instrument of any kind about
him; but as ill luck would have it, he chanced to have an old gun–flint
in his waistcoat pocket. Douglas instantly pronounced this to be
sufficient, and ordered him to be shot. M’Cane was speechless for some
time with astonishment, and at length told his errand, and the footing
on which he stood with the young girl before them, offering at the same
time to bring proofs from his own parish of his loyalty and conformity.
He even condescended to kneel to the ruffian, to clasp his knees, and
beg and beseech of him to be allowed time for a regular proof; but
nothing would move him. He said, the courtship was a very clever excuse,
but would not do with him, and forthwith ordered him to be shot. He
would not even allow him to sing a psalm with his two friends, but
cursed and swore that the devil a psalm he should sing there. He said,
“It would not be singing a few verses of a psalm in a wretched and
miserable style that would keep him out of hell; and if he went to
heaven, he might then lilt as much at psalm–singing as he had a mind.”
When the girl, his betrothed sweet–heart, saw the muskets levelled at
her lover, she broke through the file, shrieking most piteously, threw
herself on him, clasped his neck and kissed him, crying, like one
distracted, “O Edward, take me wi’ ye—take me wi’ ye; a’ the warld
sanna part us.”

“Ah! Mary,” said he, “last night we looked forward to long and happy
years—how joyful were our hopes! but they are all blasted at once. Be
comforted, my dearest, dearest heart!—God bless you!—Farewell
forever.”

The soldiers then dragged her backward, mocking her with indelicate
remarks, and while she was yet scarcely two paces removed, and still
stretching out her hands towards him, six balls were lodged in his heart
in a moment, and he fell dead at her feet. Deformed and bloody as he
was, she pressed the corpse to her bosom, moaning and sobbing in such a
way as if every throb would have been her last, and in that condition
the soldiers marched merrily off and left them. For this doughty and
noble deed, for which Serjeant Douglas deserved to have been hanged and
quartered, he shortly after got a cornetcy in Sir Thomas Livingston’s
troop of horse.

Two of the prisoners made their escape that morning, owing to the
drunkenness of their guards, on which account the remainder being
blamed, were more haughtily and cruelly treated than ever. It is
necessary to mention all these, as they were afterwards canvassed at
Walter’s trial, the account of which formed one of his winter evening
tales as long as he lived. Indeed, all such diffuse and miscellaneous
matter as is contained in this chapter, is a great incumbrance in the
right onward progress of a tale; but we have done with it, and shall now
haste to the end of our narrative in a direct uninterrupted line.



CHAPTER XII.


The sudden departure of Katharine from home, after the extraordinary
adventure of the curate Clerk in the Old Room, at the crowing of the
cock, was a great relief to him, as it freed him from the embarrassment
of her company, and gave him an opportunity of telling his own story to
the goodwife without interruption, of the success he had in freeing her
daughter from the power and fellowship of evil spirits. That story was
fitted admirably to suit her weak and superstitious mind; it accorded
with any thing nearer than the truth, and perhaps this finished
hypocrite never appeared so great a character in the eyes of Maron
Linton as he did that day. He spoke of going away to Henderland in the
evening, but she entreated him so earnestly to stay and protect her from
the power of the spirits that haunted the place, that he deemed it
proper to acquiesce, for without the countenance of the family of
Chapelhope he was nothing—he could not have lived in his puny cure. She
depended on him, she said, to rid the town of these audacious (or, as
she called them, _misleared_) beings altogether, for without his
interference the family would be ruined. Their servants had all left
them—the work remained unwrought, and every thing was going to
confusion—she had given Brownie his accustomed wages again and again,
and still he refused to leave the house; and without the holy man’s
assistance in expelling him and his train, their prospects in life were
hopeless.

The curate promised to use his highest interest with Heaven, and assured
her that no further evil should come nigh unto her, at least while he
remained under her roof; “for were it not,” said he, “for the
conjunction which they are in with one of the family, they should have
been expelled long ere now. That unnatural bond, I hope, by a course of
secret conferences, to be able to break asunder, but be not thou afraid,
for no evil shall come nigh thy dwelling.” He talked with the goodwife
in the style that pleased her; flattered her high and pure notions of
religion, as well as her piety and benevolence; said evening prayers in
the family with zeal and devotion; but how was he startled when informed
that he was to sleep again in the Old Room! He indeed knew not that it
was haunted more than any other part of the house, or that it was the
favourite nightly resort of the Brownie of Bodsbeck, but the apparition
that he had seen, and the unaccountable rescue that he had witnessed the
night before, preyed on his mind, and he hinted to the goodwife, that he
had expected to be preferred to her daughter’s room and bed that night,
as she was absent; but Maron, too, was selfish; for who is without that
great ruling motive? She expected that Brownie would appear; that Mass
John would speak to it; and thenceforward to be freed from its unwelcome
intrusions. To the Old Room he was shown at a late hour, where the lamp,
the Bible, and the _sand–glass_ were placed on the little table, at the
bed’s head, as usual.

It was past eleven when the curate went to sleep. Old Nanny, who was
dressed more neatly than usual, sat still at the kitchen fire, expecting
every minute the two covenant–men, whom her young mistress had promised
to send to her privily, as her companions and protectors through the
dark and silent watches of the night until her return. Still nothing of
them appeared; but, confident that they would appear, she stirred the
embers of the fire, and continued to keep watch with patient anxiety.
When it drew towards midnight, as she judged, she heard a noise without,
as of some people entering, or trying to enter, by the outer door of
the Old Room. Concluding that it was her expected companions, and
alarmed at the wrong direction they had taken, she ran out, and round
the west end of the house, to warn them of their mistake, and bring them
in by the kitchen door. As she proceeded, she heard two or three loud
and half–stifled howls from the interior of the Old Room. The door was
shut, but, perceiving by the seam in the window–shutters that the light
within was still burning, she ran to the window, which directly faced
the curate’s bed; and there being a small aperture broken in one of the
panes, she edged back the shutter, so as to see and hear the most part
of what was going on within. She saw four or five figures standing at
the bed, resembling human figures in some small degree—their backs
towards her; but she saw a half–face of one that held the lamp in its
hand, and it was of the hue of a smoked wall. In the midst of them stood
the deformed little Brownie, that has often been mentioned and
described in the foregoing part of this tale. In his right hand he
brandished a weapon, resembling a dirk or carving–knife. The other hand
he stretched out, half–raised over the curate’s face, as if to command
attention. “Peace!” said he, “thou child of the bottomless pit, and
minister of unrighteousness; another such sound from these polluted lips
of thine, and I plunge this weapon into thy heart. We would shed thy
blood without any reluctance—nay, know thou that we would rejoice to do
it, as thereby we would render our master acceptable service. Not for
that intent or purpose are we now come; yet thy abominations shall not
altogether pass unpunished. Thou knowest thy own heart—its hypocrisy,
and licentiousness—Thou knowest, that last night, at this same hour,
thou didst attempt, by brutal force, to pollute the purest and most
angelic of the human race—we rescued her from thy hellish clutch, for
we are her servants, and attend upon her steps. Thou knowest, that still
thou art cherishing the hope of succeeding in thy cursed scheme. Thou
art a stain to thy profession, and a blot upon the cheek of nature,
enough to make thy race and thy nation stink in the nose of their
Creator!—To what thou deservest, thy doom is a lenient one—but it is
fixed and irrevocable!”

There was something in that mis–shapen creature’s voice that chilled
Nanny’s very soul while it spoke these words, especially its
pronunciation of some of them; it sounded like something she had heard
before, perhaps in a dream, but it was horrible, and not to be brooked.
The rest now laid violent hold of Mass John, and she heard him mumbling
in a supplicating voice, but knew not what he said. As they stooped
forward, the lamp shone on the floor, and she saw the appearance of a
coffin standing behind them. Nanny was astonished, but not yet overcome;
for, cruel were the scenes that she had beheld, and many the trials she
had undergone!—but at that instant the deformed and grizly being
turned round, as if looking for something that it wanted—the lamp shone
full on its face, the lineaments of which when Nanny beheld, her eyes at
once were darkened, and she saw no more that night. How she spent the
remainder of it, or by what means she got to her bed in the kitchen, she
never knew; but next morning when the goodwife and her sons arose, poor
old Nanny was lying in the kitchen bed delirious, and talking of
dreadful and incomprehensible things. All that could be gathered from
her frenzy was, that some terrible catastrophe had happened in the Old
Room, and that Clerk, the curate, was implicated in it. The goodwife,
judging that her favourite had been at war with the spirits, and that
Heaven had been of course triumphant, hasted to the Old Room to bless
and pay the honour due to such a divine character; she called his name
as she entered, but no one made answer; she hasted to the bed, but
behold there was no one there! The goodwife’s sole spiritual guide had
vanished away.

The curate Clerk was never more seen nor heard of in these bounds; but
it may not be improper here to relate a circumstance that happened some
time thereafter, as it comes no more within the range of this story.

In the month of October, and the memorable year 1688, it is well known
that Clavers hasted southward, with all the troops under his command, to
assist King James against the Prince of Orange and the protestant party
of England, or to sell himself to the latter, any of the ways that he
found most convenient. In the course of this march, as he was resting
his troops at a place called Ninemile–brae, near the Border, a poor
emaciated and forlorn–looking wretch came to him, and desired to speak a
word with him. Mr Adam Copland and he were sitting together when this
happened; Clavers asked his name and his business, for none of the two
recognised him—It was Clerk, the curate (that had been) of Chapelhope
and Kirkhope! Clavers said, as there were none present save a friend, he
might say out his business. This he declined, and took Clavers a short
way aside. Copland watched their motions, but could not hear what Clerk
said. When he began to tell his story Clavers burst into a violent fit
of laughter, but soon restrained himself, and Copland beheld him
knitting his brows, and biting his lip, as he seldom failed to do when
angry. When they parted, he heard him saying distinctly, “It is
impossible that I can avenge your wrongs at this time, for I have
matters of great import before me; but the day may come ere long when it
will be in my power, and d‑‑n me if I do not do it!”

The spirits of the wild having been victorious, and the reverend curate,
the goodwife’s only stay, overcome and carried off bodily, she was
impatient, and on the rack every minute that she staid longer about the
house. She caused one of her sons take a horse, and conduct her to
Gilmanscleuch that night, to her brother Thomas’s farm, determined no
more to see Chapelhope till her husband’s return; and if that should
never take place, to bid it adieu for ever.

Nanny went to the led farm of Riskinhope, that being the nearest house
to Chapelhope, and just over against it, in order to take what care she
was able of the things about the house during the day. There also the
two boys remained, and herded throughout the day in a very indifferent
manner; and, in short, every thing about the farm was going fast to
confusion when Katharine returned from her mission to the Laird of
Drummelzier. Thus it was that she found her father’s house deserted, its
doors locked up, and its hearth cold.

Her anxiety to converse privately with Nanny was great; but at her first
visit, when she went for the key, this was impossible without being
overheard. She soon, however, found an opportunity; for that night she
enticed her into the byre at Chapelhope, in the gloaming, after the kine
had left the lone, where a conversation took place between them in
effect as follows:

“Alas, Nanny! how has all this happened? Did not the two Covenanters,
for whom I sent, come to bear you company?”

“Dear bairn, if they did come I saw nae them. If they came, they were
ower late, for the spirits were there afore them; an’ I hae seen sic a
sight! Dear, dear bairn, dinna gar me gang owre it again—I hae seen a
sight that’s enough to turn the heart o’ flesh to an iceshogle, an’ to
freeze up the very springs o’ life!—Dinna gar me gang ower it again,
an’ rake up the ashes o’ the honoured dead—But what need I say sae? The
dead are up already! Lord in Heaven be my shield and safeguard!”

“Nanny, you affright me; but, be assured, your terrors have originated
in some mistake—your sight has deceived you, and all shall yet be
explained to your satisfaction.”

“Say nae sae, dear bairn; my sight hasna deceived me, yet I have been
deceived. The world has deceived me—hell has deceived me—and heaven
has winked at the deed. Alak, an’ wae’s me, that it should sae hae been
predestined afore the world began! The day was, an’ no sae lang sin’
syne, when I could hae prayed wi’ confidence, an’ sung wi’ joy; but now
my mind is overturned, and I hae nouther stay on earth, nor hope in
heaven! The veil of the Temple may be rent below, and the ark of the
testimony thrown open above, but _their_ forms will not be seen within
the one, nor their names found written in the other! We have been
counted as sheep for the slaughter; we have been killed all the day
long; yet hath the Lord forgotten to be gracious, and is his mercy clean
gone for ever!”

“Peace, peace, for Heaven’s sake!—You are verging on blasphemy, and
know not what you say.”

“Do the reprobate know what they say, or can they forbear? How
then can I? I, who am in the bond of iniquity, and the jaws of death
eternal?—Where can I fly? When the righteous are not saved, where shall
the ungodly and the sinner appear?—Ay, dear bairn, weel may ye stare
and raise up your hands that gate; but when ye hear my tale, ye winna
wonder that my poor wits are uprooted. Suppose sic a case your
ain—suppose you had been the bosom companion o’ ane for twenty
years—had joined wi’ him in devotion, e’ening and morning, for a’ that
time, and had never heard a sigh but for sin, nor a complaint but of the
iniquities of the land—If ye had witnessed him follow two comely sons,
your own flesh and blood, to the scaffold, and bless his God who put it
in their hearts to stand and suffer for his cause, and for the crown of
martyrdom he had bestowed on them, and bury the mangled bodies of other
two with tears, but not with repining—If, after a’ this, he had been
hunted as a partridge on the mountains, and for the same dear cause, the
simplicity of the truth as it is in Jesus, had laid down his life—If
you knew that his grey head was hung upon the city wall for a spectacle
to gaze at, and his trunk buried in the wild by strangers—Say you knew
all this, and had all these dear ties in your remembrance, and yet,
after long years of hope soon to join their blest society above, to see
again that loved and revered form stand before your eyes on earth at
midnight, shrivelled, pale, and deformed, and mixed with malevolent
spirits on dire and revengeful intent, where wad your hope—where wad
your confidence—or where wad your wits hae been flown?” Here she cried
bitterly; and seizing the astonished Katharine’s hand with both hers,
and pressing it to her brow, she continued her impassioned and frantic
strain.—“Pity me, O dear bairn, pity me! For man hasna pitied me, an’
God hasna pitied me! I’m gaun down a floody water, down, down; an’ I wad
fain grip at something, if it were but a swoomin strae, as a last hope,
or I sink a’ thegither.”

“These are the words of delirium,” said Katharine, “and I will not set
them down as spoke by you. Pray the Almighty that they may never be
written in his book of remembrance against you; for the veriest
downfallen fiend can do no more than distrust the mercy of God in a
Redeemer. I tell you, woman, that whatever you may fancy you have seen
or heard in the darkness of night, when imagination forms fantasies of
its own, of all those who have stood for our civil and religious
liberties, who, for the sake of a good conscience, have yielded up all,
and sealed their testimony with their blood, not one hair of _their_
heads shall fall to the ground, for their names are written in the book
of life, and they shall shine as stars in the kingdom of their
Father. You have yourself suffered much, and have rejoiced in your
sufferings—So far you did well—Do not then mar so fair an eternal
harvest—so blest a prospect of a happy and everlasting community, by
the sin of despair, that can never be forgiven. Can you, for a moment,
while in possession of your right senses, doubt of the tender mercies of
your Maker and Preserver? Can you for a moment believe that he has hid
his face from the tears and the blood that have been shed for his cause
in Scotland? As well may you doubt that the earth bears or the sun warms
you, or that he never made a revelation of his will to man.”

All the while that Katharine spoke thus, Nanny’s eyes were fixed on her,
as if drinking every word she uttered into a soul that thirsted for it.
A wild and unstable light beamed on her countenance, but it was still
only like a sun–beam breaking through the storm, which is ready to be
swallowed up by the rolling darkness within. Her head shook as with a
slight paralytic affection, and she again clasped the hand which she had
never quitted.

“Are ye an angel o’ light,” said she, in a soft tremulous voice, “that
ye gar my heart prinkle sae wi’ a joy that it never thought again to
taste? It isna then a strae nor a stibble that I hae grippit at for my
last hope, but the tap of a good tow–widdy saugh; an’ a young sapling
though it be, it is steevely rootit in a good soil, an’ will maybe help
the poor drowning wretch to the shore!—An’ _hae_ I thought sae muckle
ill o’ you? Could I deem that mild heavenly face, that’s but the
reflection o’ the soul within, the image o’ sin and o’ Satan, an’ a veil
o’ deceit thrawn ower a mind prone to wickedness? Forgie me, dear, dear
saint, forgie me! It surely canna be condemned spirits that ye are
connectit wi? Ah, ye’re dumb there!—ye darna answer me to that! Na, na!
the spirits o’ the just made perfect wad never leave their abodes o’
felicity to gabble amang derksome fiends at the dead hour o’ the night,
in sic a world o’ sin and sorrow as this. But I saw _him_, an’ heard him
speak, as sure as I see your face an’ hear the tones o’ my ain voice;
an’, if I lookit nae wrang, there were mae risen frae the dead than ane.
It is an awfu’ dispensation to think o’! But there was a spirit o’
retaliation in him that often made me quake, though never sae as now. O
wad ye but tell me what kind o’ spirits ye are in conjunction wi’?”

“None but the blest and the happy—None but they who have come out of
great tribulation, and washed their robes white in the blood of the
Lamb—None that would harbour such a thought, or utter such a doubt, as
you have done to–night, for the empire of the universe—More I may not
tell you at present; but stay you here with me, and I will cherish you,
and introduce you to these spirits, and you shall be happier with them
than ever you have been.”

“Will I sae?—Say nae mair!—I wad pit hand to my ain life the night,
an’ risk the warst or I again met wi’ them face to face in the same
guise as I saw them at midnight last week. Ye’re a wonderfu’ creature!
But ye’re ayont my depth; therefore I’ll love ye, an’ fear ye, an’ keep
my distance.”

Thus they parted: Katharine into her long vacant house, and Nanny over
to Riskinhope. The farmer of Riskinhope (David Bryden of Eldin–hope),
was ruined by the sequestration of his stock by Clavers, but the
shepherds and other servants still lingered about the house for better
or for worse. There was not a sheep on that large farm, save about five
scores of good ewes, that Davie Tait, the herd of Whithope, had turned
slyly over into the hags of the Yokeburn–head, that day the drivers took
away the stock. When Clavers made his last raid up by Chapelhope, all
the family of Riskinhope fled to the hills, and betook them to cover,
every one by himself; and there, with beating hearts, peeped through the
heath and the rash–bush, to watch the motions of that bloody persecutor.
Perilous was their case that day, for had any of them been found in that
situation, it would have been enough; but Davie well knew it was good
for him to keep out of the way, for Mr Renwick, and Mr Shields, as well
as other wanderers, had been sheltered in his house many a night, and
the latter wrote his _Hind let Loose_ in a small house at the side of
Winterhopeburn. Yet Davie was not a Cameronian, properly speaking, nor a
very religious man neither; but the religious enthusiasm of his guests
had broke him a little into their manner, and way of thinking. He had
learned to make family exercise, not however to very great purpose, for
the only thing very remarkable in it was the strong nasal Cameronian
whine of his prayer, and its pastoral allusions; but he was grown fond
of exhibiting in that line, having learned the Martyr’s tune, and the
second part of the Dundee, which formed the whole range of his psalmody!
Yet Davie liked a joke as well as ever he did, and perhaps as well as
any part of divine worship. When one remarked to him that his family
music was loud enough, but very discordant,—“Ay,” quoth Davie, “but
it’s a lang gate atween here an’ Heaven; a’ music’s good i’ the
distance; I hae strong faith in that. I hae some hope i’ Dan’s bass too;
it has _great effect_. I was wantin him to tak some salts an’ sinny leaf
to help it a wee.”

That night after Nanny came over, Davie had prayed as usual, and among
other things, had not forgot the Brownie of Bodsbeck, that “he might be
skelpit wi’ the taws o’ divine wrath, an’ sent back to hell wi’ the
sperks on his hips; and that the angel of presence might keep watch over
their couches that night, to scare the howlaty face o’ him away, an’
learn him to keep his ain side o’ the water.”

After prayers the family were crowded round the fading ingle, and
cracking of the Brownie and of Davie’s prayer. Davie had opened his
waistcoat, and thrown off his hose to warm his feet, and, flattered
with their remarks on his abilities, began to be somewhat scurrilous on
Brownie. “I think I hae cowed him the night,” said he; “he’ll fash nane
o’ us—he may stay wi’ his Keatie Laidlaw yonder, an’ rin at her biddin.
He has a sonsy weel–faur’d lass to bide wi’—he’s better aff than some
o’ his neighbours, Maysey;” and, saying so, he cast a look to his wife
that spoke unutterable things; but finding that his joke did not take,
after so serious a prayer, he turned again on Brownie, and, as his own
wife said, “didna leave him the likeness of a dog.” He said he had eaten
sax bowes o’ good meal to the goodman, an’ a’ that he had done for’t,
that ony body kend o’, was mending up an auld fail–dike round the corn
ae night. In short, he said he was an unprofitable guest—a dirty
droich, an’ a menseless glutton—an’ it was weak an’ silly in ony true
Christian to be eiry for him. He had not said out the last words, when
they heard a whispering at the door, and shortly after these words
distinctly uttered:

    “There’s neither blood nor rown–tree pin,
    At open doors the dogs go in.”

The size of every eye’s orbit was doubled in a moment, as it turned
towards the door. The light of the fire was shining bright along the
short entry between the beds, and they saw the appearance of a man,
clothed in black, come slowly and deliberately in, walk across the
entry, and go into the apartment in the other end of the house. The
family were all above one another in beyond the fire in an instant, and
struggling who to be undermost, and next the wall. Nanny, who was
sitting on the form beyond the fire, pondering on other matters, leaning
her brow on both hands, and all unconscious of what had entered, was
overborne in the crush, and laid flat undermost of all.

“Dear, dear bairns, what’s asteer? Hout fy! Why, troth, ye’ll crush the
poor auld body as braid as a blood–kercake.”

“Ah! the Brownie!—the Brownie!—the Brownie o’ Bodsbeck!” was whispered
in horror from every tongue.

Davie Tait luckily recollecting that there was a door at hand, that led
to a little milk–house in the other end of the house, and still another
division farther from Brownie, led the way to it on all four, at full
gallop, and took shelter in the farthest corner of that. All the rest
were soon above him, but Davie bore the oppressive weight with great
fortitude for some time, and without a murmur. Nanny was left last; she
kept hold of the Bible that she had in her lap when she fell, and had
likewise the precaution to light the lamp before she followed her
affrighted associates. Nothing could be more appalling than her own
entry after them—never was a figure more calculated to inspire terror,
than Nanny coming carrying a feeble glimmering lamp, that only served to
make darkness visible, while her pale raised–like features were bent
over it, eager to discover her rueful compeers. The lamp was
half–covered with her hand to keep it from being blown out; and her
face, where only a line of light here and there was visible, was
altogether horrible. Having discovered the situation, and the plight of
the family, she bolted the door behind her, and advanced slowly up to
them. “Dear bairns, what did ye see that has putten ye a’ this gate?”

“Lord sauf us!” cried Davie, from below, “we hae forespoke the
Brownie—tak that elbow out o’ my guts a wee bit. They say, if ye speak
o’ the deil, he’ll appear. ’Tis an unsonsy and dangerous thing to—Wha’s
aught that knee? slack it a little. God guide us, sirs, there’s the
weight of a mill–stane on aboon the links o’ my neck. If the Lord hae
forsaken us, an’ winna heed our prayers, we may gie up a’ for tint
thegither!—Nanny, hae ye boltit the door.”

“Ay hae I, firm an’ fast.”

“Than muve up a wee, sirs, or faith I’m gane—Hech–howe! the weight o’
sin an’ mortality that’s amang ye.”

Davie’s courage, that had begun to mount on hearing that the door was
bolted, soon gave way again, when he raised his head, and saw the utter
dismay that was painted on each countenance. “Hout, Maysey woman, dinna
just mak sic faces—ye are eneuch to fright fock, foreby aught else,”
said he to his wife.

“O Davie, think what a wheen poor helpless creatures we are!—Does
Brownie ever kill ony body?”

“I wish it be nae a waur thing than Brownie,” said Dan.

“Waur than Brownie? Mercy on us!—Waur than Brownie!—What was it like?”
was whispered round.

“Ye mind poor Kirko, the bit Dinscore laird, that skulkit hereabouts sae
lang, an’ sleepit several nights ben in that end?—Didna ye a’ think it
was unco like him?”

“The very man!—the very man!—his make, his gang, his claes, an’ every
thing,” was echoed by all.

“An’ ye ken,” continued Dan, “that he was shot on Dumfries sands this
simmer. It is his ghaist come to haunt the place whar he baid, an’
prayed sae aften.”

“Ower true! Ower true! it’s awsome to think o’,” was the general remark.

“Let us go to prayers,” said Nanny: “it isna a time to creep into nooks
on aboon other, an’ gie way to despair. There is but Ane that _can_
guard or protect us, let us apply there.”

“Something has been done that way already,” said Davie Tait; “we canna
come to handygrips wi’ him, an’ force him to stand senter at our door a’
night.”

Davie’s matter was exhausted on the subject, and he did not much relish
going over the same words again, which, he acknowledged, were _rather
kenspeckle_; nor yet to venture on composing new ones out of his own
head: this made him disposed to waive Nanny’s proposal.

“Ay,” answered she, “but we mauna haud just wi’ saying gie us this, an’
gie us that; and than, because we dinna just get it aff loof, drap the
plea an’ despair. Na, na, dear bairns, that’s nae part o’ the christian
warfare! we maun plead wi’ humility, and plead again, an’ never was
there mair cause for rousing to exertion than now. The times are
momentous, and some great change is drawing near, for the dead are
astir—I have seen them mysel’. Yes, the severed members that were
scattered, and buried apart, are come thegither again—joined, an’ gaun
aboon the grund, mouthing the air o’ Heaven. I saw it mysel—Can it be
that the resurrection is begun? It is a far away thought for the thing
itsel to be as near; but it’s a glorious ane, an’ there’s proof o’t. But
then the place an’ the time are doubtfu’—had it been sun proof I wad
hae likit it better. We little wot what to say or think under sic
visitations. Let us apply to the only source of light and direction.
David, be you a mouth to us.”

“A mouth?” said Davie; but recollecting himself, added—“Hum, I
understand you; but I hae mouthed mair already than has come to ony
good. I like fock to pray that hae some chance to be heard; some fock
may scraugh themsels hersh, and be nae the better.”

“Oh fie, David! speak wi’ some reverence,” said his wife Maysey.

“I mintit at naething else,” said he, “but I hae an unreverent kind o’
tongue that nought ever serous–like fa’s frae, let my frame o’ mind be
as it will; an’ troth I haena command o’ language for a job like this. I
trow the prelates hae the best way after a’, for they get prayers ready
made to their hands, an’ disna need to affront their Maker wi’
blunders.”

“How can ye speak sae the night, David? or how can sic a thought hover
round your heart as to flee out at random that gate? If ye will _read_
prayers, there’s a book, read them out o’ that; if the words o’ God
winna suit the cases o’ his ain creatures, how can ye trow the words o’
another man can do it? But pray wi’ the heart, an’ pray in humility, and
fearna being accepted.”

“That’s true; but yet ane maks but a poor figure wi’ the heart by
itsel.”

“Wow, Davie, man,” quoth Maysey, his wife, “an’ ye mak but a poor figure
indeed, when we’re a’ in sic a plight! Ye hear the woman speaks gude
truth; an’ ye ken yoursel ye fenced us against the Brownie afore, but no
against Kirky’s ghaist; tak the beuk like a man, an’ pit the fence o’
scripture faith round us for that too.”

Stupid as Maysey was, she knew the way to her husband’s heart. Davie
could not resist such an appeal—he took the Bible; sung the 143d psalm,
from beginning to end, at Nanny’s request; and likewise, by her
direction, read the 20th of Revelations; then kneeling down on his bare
knees, legs, and feet, as he fled from the kitchen, on the damp miry
floor of the milk–house, he essayed a strong energetic prayer as a fence
against the invading ghost. But as Davie acknowledged, he had an
irreverend expression naturally, that no effort could overcome, (and by
the bye, there is more in this than mankind are in general aware of,)
and the more he aimed at sublimity, the more ludicrous he grew, even to
common ears. There is scarcely a boy in the country who cannot recite
scraps of Davie Tait’s prayer; but were I to set all that is preserved
of it down here, it might be construed as a mockery of that holy
ordinance, than which nothing is so far from my heart or intention; but,
convinced as I am that a rude exhibition in such a divine solemnity is
of all things the most indecent and unbecoming, I think such should be
held up to ridicule, as a warning to all Christians never to ask
ignorance or absurdity to perform this sacred duty in public. The
sublime part of it therefore is given, which was meant as a fence
against the spirit that had set up his rest so near. To such as are not
acquainted with the pastoral terms, the meaning in some parts may be
equivocal; to those who are, the train of thinking will be obvious.—It
is part of a genuine prayer.

    “But the last time we gathered oursels before thee, we left out a
    wing o’ the hirsel by mistake, an’ thou hast paid us hame i’ our
    ain coin. Thou wart sae gude than as come to the sheddin thysel,
    an’ clap our heads, an’ whisper i’ our lugs, ‘dinna be
    disheartened, my puir bits o’ waefu’ things, for though ye be the
    shotts o’ my hale fauld, I’ll take care o’ ye, an’ herd ye, an’
    gie ye a’ that ye hae askit o’ me the night.’ It was kind, an’
    thou hast done it; but we forgot a principal part, an’ maun tell
    thee now, that we have had another visitor sin’ ye war here, an’
    ane wha’s back we wad rather see than his face. Thou kens better
    thysel than we can tell thee what place he has made his escape
    frae; but we sair dread it is frae the boddomless pit, or he wadna
    hae ta’en possession but leave. Ye ken, that gang tried to keep
    vilent leasehaud o’ your ain fields, an’ your ain ha’, till ye gae
    them a killicoup. If he be ane o’ them, O come thysel to our help,
    an’ bring in thy hand a bolt o’ divine vengeance, het i’ the
    furnace o’ thy wrath as reed as a nailstring, an’ bizz him an’
    scouder him till ye dinna leave him the likeness of a paper izel,
    until he be glad to creep into the worm–holes o’ the earth, never
    to see sun or sterns mair. But, if it be some puir dumfoundered
    soul that has been bumbased and stoundit at the view o’ the lang
    Hopes an’ the Downfa’s o’ Eternity, comed daundering away frae
    about the laiggen girds o’ Heaven to the waefu’ gang that he left
    behind, like a lost sheep that strays frae the rich pastures o’
    the south, an’ comes bleating back a’ the gate to its cauld native
    hills, to the very gair where it was lambed and first followed
    its minny, ane canna help haeing a fellow–feeling wi’ the puir
    soul after a’, but yet he’ll find himsel here like a cow in an
    unco loan. Therefore, O furnish him this night wi’ the wings o’
    the wild gainner or the eagle, that he may swoof away back to a
    better hame than this, for we want nane o’ his company. An’ do
    thou give to the puir stray thing a weel–hained heff and a beildy
    lair, that he may nae mair come straggling amang a stock that’s
    sae unlike himsel, that they’re frightit at the very look o’ him.

    “Thou hast promised in thy Word to be our shepherd, our guider
    an’ director; an’ thy word’s as gude as some men’s aith, an’ we’ll
    haud thee at it. Therefore take thy plaid about thee, thy staff in
    thy hand, an’ thy dog at thy fit, an’ gather us a’ in frae the
    cauld windy knowes o’ self–conceit—the plashy bogs an’ mires o’
    sensuality, an’ the damp flows o’ worldly–mindedness, an’ wyse us
    a’ into the true bught o’ life, made o’ the flakes o’ forgiveness
    and the door o’ loving–kindness; an’ never do thou suffer us to be
    heftit e’ening or morning, but gie lashin’ meals o’ the milk o’
    praise, the ream o’ thankfu’ness, an’ the butter o’ good–works.
    An’ do thou, in thy good time an’ way, smear us ower the hale bouk
    wi’ the tar o’ adversity, weel mixed up wi’ the meinging of
    repentance, that we may be kiver’d ower wi’ gude bouzy shake–rough
    fleeces o’ faith, a’ run out on the hips, an’ as brown as a tod.
    An’ do thou, moreover, fauld us ower–night, an’ every night, in
    within the true sheep–fauld o’ thy covenant, weel buggen wi’ the
    stanes o’ salvation, an’ caped wi’ the divots o’ grace. An’ then
    wi’ sic a shepherd, an’ sic a sheep–fauld, what hae wi’ to be
    feared for? Na, na! we’ll fear naething but sin!—We’ll never mair
    scare at the poolly–woolly o’ the whaup, nor swirl at the gelloch
    o’ the ern; for if the arm of our Shepherd be about us for good,
    a’ the imps, an’ a’ the powers o’ darkness, canna wrang a hair o’
    our tails.”

All the family arose from their knees with altered looks. Thus fenced, a
new energy glowed in every breast. Poor Maysey, proud of her husband’s
bold and sublime intercession, and trusting in the divine fence now
raised around them, rose with the tear in her eye, seized the lamp, and
led the way, followed by all the rest, to retake the apartment of
Kirky’s ghost by open assault. Nanny, whose faith wont to be superior to
all these things, lagged behind, dreading to see the sight that she had
seen on the Saturday night before; and the bold intercessor himself kept
her company, on pretence of a sleeping leg; but, in truth, his faith in
his own intercession and fence did not mount very high. All the
apartment was searched—every chest, corner, and hole that could be
thought of—every thing was quiet, and not so much as a mouse
stirring!—not a bed–cover folded down, nor the smallest remembered
article missing! All the family saw Kirky’s ghost enter in his own
likeness, and heard him speak in his wonted tongue, except old Nanny. It
was a great and wonderful victory gained. They were again in full
possession of their own house, a right which they never seemed before to
have duly appreciated. They felt grateful and happy; and it was hinted
by Maysey, Dan, and uncle Nicholas, that Davie Tait would turn out a
burning and a shining light in these dark and dismal times, and would
supersede Messrs Renwick, Shields, and all the curates in the country.
He had laid a visible ghost, that might be the devil for aught they knew
to the contrary; and it was argued on all hands, that “Davie was nae
sma’ drink.”

The whole of the simple group felt happy and grateful; and they agreed
to sit another hour or two before they went to sleep, and each one read
a chapter from the Bible, and recite a psalm or hymn. They did so, until
it came to Nanny’s turn.

[Music: A Cameronian’s Midnight Hymn.

    O thou who dwell’st in the heavens high,
    Above yon Stars and within yon Sky,
    Where the dazzling fields never needed light,
    Of the Sun by day nor the Moon by night,
    Where the dazzling fields never needed light,
    Of the Sun by day nor the Moon by night.
]

She laid her hands across each other on her breast, turned in the balls
of her half–closed eyes so that nothing was seen but the white, and,
with her face raised upwards, and a slow rocking motion, she sung the
following hymn, to a strain the most solemn that ever was heard. A scrap
of this ancient melody is still preserved, and here subjoined, for
without its effect the words are nothing.

    O thou, who dwell’st in the heavens high,
    Above yon stars, and within yon sky,
    Where the dazzling fields never needed light
    Of the sun by day, nor the moon by night!

    Though shining millions around thee stand,
    For the sake of one that’s at thy right hand,
    O think of them that have cost him dear,
    Still chained in doubt and in darkness here!

    Our night is dreary, and dim our day;
    And if thou turn’st thy face away,
    We are sinful, feeble, and helpless dust,
    And have none to look to, and none to trust.

    The powers of darkness are all abroad,
    They own no Saviour, and fear no God;
    And we are trembling in dumb dismay,
    O turn not thus thy face away!

    Our morning dawn is with clouds o’erspread,
    And our evening fall is a bloody red;
    And the groans are heard on the mountain swarth;
    There is blood in heaven, and blood on earth.

    A life of scorn for us thou did’st lead,
    And in the grave laid thy blessed head;
    Then think of those who undauntedly
    Have laid down life and all for thee.

    Thou wilt not turn them forth in wrath,
    To walk this world of sin and death,
    In shadowy dim deformity?
    O God it may not—cannot be!

    Thy aid, O mighty One, we crave!
    Not shortened is thy arm to save.
    Afar from thee we now sojourn
    Return to us, O God, return!

This air, having a great resemblance to the tone and manner in which the
old Cameronians said, or rather sung their prayers, and just no more
music in it, as the singer will perceive, than what renders the
recitation more slow and solemn, Nanny’s hymn affected the family group
in no ordinary degree; it made the hairs of their head creep, and
thrilled their simple hearts, easily impressed by divine things, while
their looks strongly expressed their feelings. None of them would read
or recite any thing farther, but entreated Nanny to say it over again,
affirming, with one voice that “it was an _extrodnar_ thing.”

“Ah! dear, dear bairns! I dinna ken about it,” said she; “he was a good
cannie lad that made it, but he mixed wi’ the scoffers, and turned to
hae his doubts and his failings like mony ane, (Lord forgie us a’ for
our share in them;) he seems even to have doubted o’ the Omnipresence
when he penned that, which was far far wrang. I’ll rather say ye ane on
that subject that he had made when in a better way o’ thinking. It is
said that the Englishes sing it in their chapels.”

She then attempted one in a bolder and more regular strain, but wanting
the simplicity of the former, it failed in having the same effect. As
it, however, closed the transactions of that momentous night at
Riskinhope, we shall with it close this long chapter.

    Dweller in heaven and ruler below!
    Fain would I know thee, yet tremble to know!
    How can a mortal deem, how may it be,
    That being can not be, but present with thee?
    Is it true that thou saw’st me ere I saw the morn?
    Is it true that thou knew’st me before I was born?
    That nature must live in the light of thine eye?
    This knowledge for me is too great and too high!

    That fly I to noon–day, or fly I to night,
    To shroud me in darkness, or bathe me in light,
    The light and the darkness to thee are the same,
    And still in thy presence of wonder I am?
    Should I with the dove to the desert repair;
    Or dwell with the eagle in clough of the air;
    In the desart afar, on the mountain’s wild brink,
    From the eye of Omnipotence still must I shrink?

    Or mount I on wings of the morning away
    To caves of the ocean unseen by the day,
    And hide in these uttermost parts of the sea,
    Even there to be living and moving in thee?
    Nay, scale I the cloud in the heavens to dwell;
    Or make I my bed in the shadows of hell;
    Can science expound, or humanity frame,
    That still thou art present, and all are the same?

    Yes, present for ever! Almighty—alone
    Great Spirit of nature, unbounded, unknown!
    What mind can embody thy presence divine?
    I know not my own being! how can I thine?
    Then humbly and low in the dust let me bend,
    And adore what on earth I can ne’er comprehend;
    The mountains may melt, and the elements flee,
    Yet an universe still be rejoicing in thee!


END OF VOLUME FIRST.

    EDINBURGH:
    Printed by James Ballantyne & Co.


       *       *       *       *       *


Transcriber’s Notes

There is one page of music in the book; the html version of this
file has links to a midi file ([Listen]); the musical notation ([PDF]);
and and a MusicXML file ([XML]), which can be viewed in most browsers,
text editors, and music notation applications.

The book has no chapter VII and two chapters XII.

A duplicate heading before chapter one (“THE BROWNIE OF BODSBECK”) has
been removed.


The following are inconsistently used in the text:

Quave Brae and Quave-Brae

meantime and mean time

day-light and daylight

eye-brow and eyebrow

moon-light and moonlight

way-laid and waylaid

M’Leadle and MacLeadle

Tallo-Lins and Tallo-Linns

cleuch-brae and Cleuch-brae

Clark and Clerk

Clavers and Claverhouse


Obvious punctuation and spelling errors have been corrected as follows:

p. 30 “Several witnessess” changed to “Several witnesses”

p. 43 “‘Now, billies, says I, ye” changed to “‘Now, billies,’ says
I, ‘ye”

p. 43 “gar ye speak.” changed to “gar ye speak.’”

p. 44 “shabbles o’ swords!”” changed to “shabbles o’ swords!’”

p. 44 “light o’the truth” changed to “light o’ the truth”

p. 56 (note) “Christ in Scotland_. It is dated” changed to “Christ in
Scotland_.” It is dated”

p. 131 “proffers proved alike in vain” changed to “proffers proved
alike in vain.”

p. 145 “the everlasting Covenant,” changed to “the everlasting
Covenant,’”

p. 160 “night-time, beats a,’” changed to “night-time, beats a’,”

p. 161 “cried Maron,”--“Dear” changed to “cried Maron,--“Dear”

p. 211 “power to make a handle o” changed to “power to make a
handle o’”

p. 217 “appresion” changed to “apprehension”

p. 243 “head the creature, man,’” changed to “head the creature, man,””

p. 275 “to be eiry for him.”” changed to “to be eiry for him.”


Some possible errors have been left unchanged:

p. 189 “had for sometime been hopping down”

p. 196 “further precedure soon”





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