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

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


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

´╗┐Title: The Scottish Chiefs
Author: Porter, Jane, 1776-1850
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Scottish Chiefs" ***

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



The Scottish Chiefs
by Miss Jane Porter



Chapter I.

Scotland.


Bright was the summer of 1296.  The war which had desolated Scotland
was then at an end.  Ambition seemed satiated; and the vanquished,
after having passed under the yoke of their enemy, concluded they might
wear their chains in peace.  Such were the hopes of those Scottish
noblemen who, early in the preceding spring, had signed the bond of
submission to a ruthless conqueror, purchasing life at the price of all
that makes life estimable-liberty and honor.

Prior to this act of vassalage, Edward I., King of England, had entered
Scotland at the head of an immense army.  He seized Berwick by
stratagem; laid the country in ashes; and, on the field of Dunbar,
forced the Scottish king and his nobles to acknowledge him their liege
lord.

But while the courts of Edward, or of his representatives, were crowded
by the humbled Scots, the spirit of one brave man remained unsubdued.
Disgusted alike at the facility with which the sovereign of a warlike
nation could resign his people and his crown into the hands of a
treacherous invader, and at the pusillanimity of the nobles who had
ratified the sacrifice, William Wallace retired to the glen of
Ellerslie.  Withdrawn from the world, he hoped to avoid the sight of
oppressions he could not redress, and the endurance of injuries beyond
his power to avenge.

Thus checked at the opening of life in the career of glory that was his
passion-secluded in the bloom of manhood from the social haunts of
men--he repressed the eager aspirations of his mind, and strove to
acquire that resignation to inevitable evils which alone could
reconcile him to forego the promises of his youth, and enable him to
view with patience a humiliation of Scotland, which blighted her honor,
menaced her existence, and consigned her sons to degradation or
obscurity.  The latter was the choice of Wallace.  Too noble to bend
his spirit to the usurper, too honest to affect submission, he resigned
himself to the only way left of maintaining the independence of a true
Scot; and giving up the world at once, all the ambitions of youth
became extinguished in his breast, since nothing was preserved in his
country to sanctify their fires.  Scotland seemed proud of her chains.
Not to share in such debasement, appeared all that was now in his
power; and within the shades of Ellerslie he found a retreat and a
home, whose sweets beguiling him of every care, made him sometimes
forget the wrongs of his country in the tranquil enjoyments of wedded
love.

During the happy mouths of the preceding autumn, while Scotland was yet
free, and the path of honorable distinction still open before her young
nobility, Wallace married Marion Braidfoot, the beautiful heiress of
Lammington.  Nearly of the same age, and brought up from childhood
together, reciprocal affection had grown with their growth; and
sympathy of tastes and virtues, and mutual tenderness, made them so
entirely one, that when at the age of twenty-two the enraptured lover
was allowed to pledge that faith publicly at the altar, which he had so
often vowed in secret to his Marion, he clasped her to his heart, and
softly whispered: "Dearer than life! part of my being! blessed is this
union, that mingles thy soul with mine, now, and forever!"

Edward's invasion of Scotland broke in upon their innocent joys.
Wallace threw aside the wedding garment for the cuirass and the sword.
But he was not permitted long to use either--Scotland submitted to her
enemies; and he had no alternative but to bow to her oppressors, or to
become an exile from man, amid the deep glens of his country.

The tower of Ellerslie was henceforth the lonely abode of himself and
his bride.  The neighboring nobles avoided him, because the principles
he declared were a tacit reproach on their proceedings; and in the
course of a short time, as he forbore to seek them, they even forgot
that he was in existence.  Indeed, all occasions of mixing with society
he now rejected.  The hunting-spear with which he had delighted to
follow the flying roebuck from glade to glade, the arrows with which he
used to bring down the heavy ptarmigan or the towering eagle, all were
laid aside.  Scottish liberty was no more; and Wallace would have
blushed to have shown himself to the free-born deer of his native
hills, in communion of sports with the spoilers of his country.  Had he
pursued his once favorite exercises, he must have mingled with the
English, now garrisoned in every town, and who passed their hours of
leisure in the chase.

Being resigned to bury his youth--since its strength could no longer be
serviceable to his country-books, his harp, and the sweet converse of
his tender Marion, became the occupations of his days.  Ellerslie was
his hermitage; and there, closed from the world, with an angel his
companion, he might have forgotten Edward was lord in Scotland, had not
that which was without his little paradise made a way to its gates, and
showed him the slavery of the nobles and the wretchedness of the
people.  In these cases, his generous hand gave succor where it could
not bring redress.  Those whom the lawless plunderer had driven from
their houses or stripped of their covering, found shelter, clothing,
and food at the house of Sir William Wallace.

Ellerslie was the refuge of the friendless, and the comfort of the
unhappy.  Wherever Lady Wallace moved--whether looking out from her
window on the accidental passenger, or taking her morning or moonlight
walks through the glen, leaning on the arm of her husband--she had the
rapture of hearing his steps greeted and followed by the blessings of
the poor destitute, and the prayers of them who were ready to perish.
It was then that this happy woman would raise her husband's hands to
her lips, and in silent adoration, thank God for blessing her with a
being made so truly in his own image.

Several months of this blissful and uninterrupted solitude had elapsed,
when Lady Wallace saw a chieftain at her gate.  He inquired for its
master--requested a private conference--and retired with him into a
remote room.  They remained together for an hour.  Wallace then came
forth, and ordering his horse, with four followers, to be in readiness,
said he meant to accompany his guest to Douglas Castle.  When he
embraced his wife at parting, he told her that as Douglas was only a
few miles distant, he should be at home again before the moon rose.

She passed the tedious hours of his absence with tranquillity, till the
appointed signal of his return appeared from behind the summits of the
opposite mountains.  So bright were its beams, that Marion did not need
any other light to show her the stealing sands of her hour-glass, as
they numbered the prolonged hours of her husband's stay.  She dismissed
her servants to their rest; all, excepting Halbert, the gray-haired
harper of Wallace; and he, like herself, was too unaccustomed to the
absence of his master to find sleep visit his eyes while Ellerslie was
bereft of its joy and its guard.

As the night advanced, Lady Wallace sat in the window of her
bed-chamber, which looked toward the west.  She watched the winding
pathway that led from Lanark down the opposite heights, eager to catch
a glimpse of the waving plumes of her husband when he should emerge
from behind the hill, and pass under the thicket which overhung the
road.  How often, as a cloud obscured for an instant the moon's light,
and threw a transitory shade across the path, did her heart bound with
the thought that her watching was at an end!  It was he whom she had
seen start from the abrupt rock!  They were the folds of his tartan
that darkened the white cliff!  But the moon again rolled through her
train of clouds and threw her light around.  Where then was her
Wallace?  Alas! it was only a shadow she had seen! the hill was still
lonely, and he whom she sought was yet far away!  Overcome with
watching, expectation, and disappointment, unable to say whence arose
her fears, she sat down again to look; but her eyes were blinded with
tears, and in a voice interrupted by sighs she exclaimed, "Not yet, not
yet!  Ah, my Wallace, what evil hath betided thee?"

Trembling with a nameless terror, she knew not what to dread.  She
believed that all hostile recounters had ceased, when Scotland no
longer contended with Edward.  The nobles, without remonstrance, had
surrendered their castles into the hands of the usurper; and the
peasantry, following the example of their lords, had allowed their
homes to be ravaged without lifting an arm in their defense.
Opposition being over, nothing could then threaten her husband from the
enemy; and was not the person who had taken him from Ellerslie a friend?

Before Wallace's departure he had spoken to Marion alone; he told her
that the stranger was Sir John Monteith, the youngest son of the brave
Walter Lord Monteith,** who had been treacherously put to death by the
English in the early part of the foregoing year.  This young man was
bequeathed by his dying father to the particular charge of his friend
William Lord Douglas, at that time governor of Berwick.  After the fall
of that place and the captivity of its defender, Sir Jon Monteith had
retired to Douglas Castle, in the vicinity of Lanark, and was now the
sole master of that princely residence: James Douglas, the only son of
its veteran lord, being still at Paris, whither he had been dispatched,
before the defeat at Dunbar, to negotiate a league between the French
monarch and the then King of Scots.

**Walter Stewart, the father of Sir John Monteith, assumed the name and
earldom of Monteith in right of his wife, the daughter and heiress of
the preceding earl.  When his wife died he married an Englishwoman of
rank, who, finding him ardently attached to the liberties of his
country, cut him off by poison, and was rewarded by the enemies of
Scotland for this murder with the hand of a British nobleman.-(1809.)

Informed of the privacy in which Wallace wished to live, Monteith had
never ventured to disturb it until this day; but knowing the steady
honor of his old school-companion, he came to entreat him, by the
respect he entertained for the brave Douglas, and by his love for his
country, that he would not refuse to accompany him to the brave exile's
castle.

"I have a secret to disclose to you," said he, "which cannot be
divulged on any other spot."

Unwilling to deny so small a favor, Wallace, as has been said before,
consented; and accordingly was conducted by Monteith toward Douglas.

While descending the heights which led to the castle, Monteith kept a
profound silence; and when crossing the drawbridge toward it, he put
his finger to his lips, in token to the servants for equal caution.
This was explained as they entered the gate and looked around.  It was
guarded by English soldiers.  Wallace would have drawn back; but
Monteith laid his hand on his arm, and whispered, "For your country!"
At these words, a spell to the ear of Wallace, he proceeded; and his
attendants followed into the courtyard.

The sun was just setting as Monteith led his friend into the absent
earl's room.  Its glowing reflection on the distant hills reminded
Wallace of the stretch he had to retread to reach his home before
midnight; and thinking of his anxious Marion, he awaited with
impatience the development of the object of his journey.

Monteith closed the door, looked fearfully around for some time; then,
trembling at every step, approached Wallace.  When drawn quite near, in
a low voice he said, "You must swear upon the cross that you will keep
inviolate the secret I am going to reveal."

Wallace put aside the hilt of the sword which Monteith presented to
receive his oath.  "No," said he, with a smile; "in these times I will
not bind my conscience on subjects I do not know.  If you dare trust
the word of a Scotsman and a friend, speak out; and if the matter be
honest, my honor is your pledge."

"You will not swear?"

"No."

"Then I must not trust you."

"Then our business is at an end," returned Wallace, rising, "and I may
return home."

"Stop!" cried Monteith.  "Forgive me, my old companion, that I have
dared to hesitate.  These are, indeed, times of such treason to honor,
that I do not wonder you should be careful how you swear; but the
nature of the confidence reposed in me will.  I hope, convince you that
I ought not to share it rashly.  Of any one but you, whose truth stands
unsullied, amidst the faithlessness of the best, I would exact oaths on
oaths; but your words is given, and on that I rely.  Await me here."

Monteith unlocked a door which had been concealed by the tapestry, and
after a short absence re-entered with a small iron box.  He set it on
the table near his friend, then went to the great door, which he had
before so carefully closed, tried that the bolts were secure, and
returned, with a still more pallid countenance, toward the table.
Wallace, surprised at so much actions, awaited with wonder the promised
explanation.  Monteith sat down with his hand on the box, and fixing
his eyes on it, began:

"I am going to mention a name, which you may hear with patience, since
its power is no more.  The successful rival of Bruce, and the enemy of
your family, is now a prisoner in the Tower of London."

"Baliol?"

"Yes," answered Monteith; "and his present sufferings will, perhaps,
avenge to you his vindictive resentment of the injury he received from
Sir Ronald Crawford."

"My grandfather never injured him, nor any man!" interrupted Wallace:
"Sir Ronald Crawford was as incapable of injustice as of flattering the
minions of his country's enemy. But Baliol is fallen, and I forgive
him."

"Did you witness his degradation," returned Monteith, "you would even
pity him."

"I always pity the wicked," continued Wallace; "and as you seem
ignorant of the cause of his enmity against Sir Ronald and myself, in
justice to the character of that most venerable of men, I will explain
it. I first saw Baliol four years ago, when I accompanied my
grandfather to witness the arbitration of the King of Scotland between
the two contending claimants for the Scottish crown.  Sir Ronald came
on the part of Bruce.  I was deemed too young to have a voice in the
council; but I was old enough to understand what was passing there, and
to perceive, that it was the price for which he sold his country.
However, as Scotland acknowledged him sovereign, and as Bruce
submitted, my grandfather silently acquiesced.  But Baliol did not
forget former opposition.  His behavior to Sir Ronald and myself at the
beginning of this year, when, according to the privilege of our birth,
we appeared in the field against the public enemy, fully demonstrated
what was the injury Baliol complains of, and how unjustly he drove us
from the standard of Scotland.  'None,' said he, 'shall serve under me,
who presumed to declare themselves the friends of Bruce.'  Poor weak
man.  The purchased vassal of England; yet so vain of his ideal throne,
he hated all who had opposed his elevation, even while his own
treachery sapped its foundation!  Edward having made use of him, all
these sacrifices of honor and of conscience are insufficient to retain
his favor; and Baliol is removed from his kingdom to an English prison!
Can I feel anything so honoring as indignation against a wretch so
abject?  No!  I do indeed pity him.  And now that I have cleared my
grandfather's name of such calumny, I am ready to hear you further."

Monteith, after remarking on the well-known honor of Sir Ronald
Crawford, resumed.

"During the massacre at the capture of Berwick, Lord Douglas, wounded,
and nearly insensible, was taken by a trusty band of Scots out of the
citadel and town.  I followed him to Dunbar, and witnessed with him
that dreadful day's conflict, which completed the triumph of the
English.  When the few nobles who survived the battle dispersed,
Douglas took the road to Forfar, hoping to meet King Baliol there, and
to concert with him new plans of resistance.  When we arrived, we found
his majesty in close conversation with the Earl of Athol, who had
persuaded him the disaster at Dunbar was decisive, and that if he
wished to save his life, he must immediately go to the King of England,
then at Montrose, and surrender himself to his mercy.**

**This treacherous Scot, who persuaded Baliol to his ruin, was John
Cummin of Strathbogie, Earl of Athol in right of his wife, the heiress
of that earldom.-(1809.)

"Douglas tried to alter Baliol's resolution, but without effect. The
king could not return any reasonable answers to the arguments which
were offered to induce him to remain, but continued to repeat, with
groans and tears.  'It is my fate.'  Athol sat knitting his black brows
during this conversation; and at last throwing out some sullen remarks
to Lord Douglas on exhorting the king to defy his liege lord, he
abruptly left the room.

"As soon as he was gone, Baliol rose from his seat with a very anxious
countenance, and taking my patron into an adjoining room, they
continued there a few minutes, and then reentered.  Doublas brought
with him this iron box.  'Monteith,' said he, 'I confide this to your
care.'  Putting the box under my arm and concealing it with my
cloak--'Carry it,' continued he, 'directly to my castle in Lanarkshire.
I will rejoin you there, in four-and-twenty hours after your arrival.
Meanwhile, by your affection for me and fidelity to your king, breathe
not a word of what has passed.'

"'Look on that, and be faithful!' said Baliol, putting this ruby ring
on my finger.  I withdrew, with the haste his look dictated; and as I
crossed the outward hall, was met by Athol.  He eyed me sternly, and
inquired whither I was going.  I replied, 'To Douglas, to prepare for
the coming of its lord.'  The hall was full of armed men in Athol's
colors.  Not one of the remnant who had followed my patron from the
bloody field of Dunbar was visible.  Athol looked round on his
myrmidons: 'Here,' cried he, 'see that you speed this fellow on his
journey.  We shall provide lodgings for his master.'  I foresaw danger
to Lord Douglas, but I durst not attempt to warn him of it; and, to
secure my charge, which a return to the room might have hazarded, I
hastened into the courtyard, and being permitted to mount my horse, set
off at full speed.

"On arriving at this place, I remembered the secret closet, and
carefully deposited the box within it.  A week passed, without any
tidings of Lord Douglas.  At last a pilgrim appeared at the gate, and
requested to see me alone; fearing nothing from a man in so sacred a
habit, I admitted him.  Presenting me with a packet which had been
intrusted to him by Lord Douglas, he told me my patron had been
forcibly carried on board a vessel at Montrose, to be conveyed with the
unhappy Baliol to the Tower of London.  Douglas, on this outrage, sent
to the monastery at Aberbrothick, and under the pretense of making a
religious confession before he sailed, begged a visit from the
sub-prior.  'I am that prior,' continued the pilgrim; 'and having been
born on the Douglas lands, he well knew the claim he had to my
fidelity.  He gave me this packet, and conjured me to lose no time in
conveying it to you.  The task was difficult; and, as in these
calamitous seasons we hardly know whom to trust, I determined to
execute it myself.'

"I inquired whether Lord Douglas had actually sailed. 'Yes,' replied
the father; 'I stood on the beach till the ship disappeared.'"

A half-stifled groan burst from the indignant breast of Wallace.  It
interrupted Monteith for an instant, but without noticing it he
proceeded:

"Not only the brave Douglas was then wrested from his country, with our
king, but also that holy pillar of Jacob** which prophets have declared
to be the palladium of Scotland!"

**The tradition respecting this stone is as follows: Hiber, or Iber,
the Phoenician, who came from the Holy Land to inhabit the coast of
Spain, brought this sacred relic along with him.  From Spain he
transplanted it with the colony he sent to people the south of Ireland;
and from Ireland it was brought into Scotland by the great Fergus, the
son of Ferchard.  He placed it in Argyleshire; but MacAlpine removed it
to Scone, and fixed it in the royal chair in which all the succeeding
kings of Scotland were inaugurated.  Edward I. of England caused it to
be carried to Westminster Abbey, where it now stands.  The tradition
is, that empire abides where it stays.-(1809.)

"What!" inquired Wallace, with a yet darker frown, "has Baliol robbed
Scotland of that trophy of one of her best kings? Is the sacred gift of
Fergus to be made the spoil of a coward?"

"Baliol is not the robber," rejoined Monteith; "the halloed pillar was
taken from Scone by the command of the King of England, and, with the
sackings of Iona, was carried on board the same vessel with the
betrayed Douglas.  The archives of the kingdom have also been torn from
their sanctuary, and were thrown by Edward's own hands into the fire."

"Tyrant!" murmured Wallace, "thou mayest fill the cup too full."

"His depredations," continued Monteith, "the good monk told me, have
been wide as destructive.  He has not left a parchment, either of
public records or of private annals, in any of the monasteries or
castles round Montrose; all have been searched and plundered.  And
besides, the faithless Earl of March and Lord Sculis are such
parricides of their country, as to have performed the like robberies,
in his name, from the eastern shores of the Highlands to the furthiest
of the Western Isles."

"Do the traitors think," cried Wallace, "that by robbing Scotland of
her annals and of that stone they really deprive her of her palladium?
Scotland's history is in the memories of her sons; her palladium is in
their hearts; and Edward may one day find that she remembers the
victory of Largs,** and needs not talismans to give her freedom."

**This battle was fought by Alexander III, on the 1st of August, 1263,
against Acho, King of Norway.  That monarch invaded Scotland with a
large army, and drew up his forces before Largs, a town in Ayrshire.
He met with a great defeat, and, covered with disgrace, retired to his
own country.  Wallace's father signalized himself on that field.-(1809.)

"Alas! not in our time!" answered Monteith.  "The spear is at our
breasts, and we must submit.  You see this castle is full of Edward's
soldiers.  Every house is a garrison for England--but more of this by
and by; I have yet to tell you the contents of the packet which the
monk brought.  It contained two others.  One directed to Sir James
Douglas, at Paris, and the other to me. I read as follows:

"'Athol has persuaded Baliol to his ruin, and betrayed me into the
hands of Edward.  I shall see Scotland no more.  Send the inclosed to
my son at Paris; it will inform him what is the last wish of William
Douglas for his country.  The iron box I confided to you, guard as your
life, until you can deposit it with my son.  But should he remain
abroad, and you ever be in extremity, commit the box in strict charge
to the worthiest Scot you know; and tell him that it will be at the
peril of his soul, who dares to open it, till Scotland be again free!
When that hour comes, then let the man by whose valor God restores her
rights, receive the box as his own; for by him only it is to be opened.
Douglas.'"

Monteith finished reading the letter, and remained silent.  Wallace,
who had listened to it with increasing indignation against the enemies
of Scotland, spoke first: "Tell me in what I can assist you: or how
serve these last wishes of the imprisoned Douglas."

Monteith replied by reading over again this sentence-"'Should my son
remain abroad, and you ever be in extremity, commit the box in strict
charge to the worthiest Scot you know.'  I am in that extremity now.
Edward determined on desolation, when he placed English governors
throughout our towns; and the rapacious Heselrigge, his representative
in Lanark, not backward to execute the despot's will, has just issued
an order, for the houses of all the absent chiefs to be searched for
records and secret correspondence.  Two or three, in the neighborhood
have already gone through this ordeal; but the even has proved that it
was not papers they sought, but plunder, and an excuse for dismantling
the castles, or occupying them with English officers.

"The soldiers you saw were sent, by daybreak this morning, to guard
this castle until Heselrigge could in person be present at the
examination.  This ceremony is to take place to-morrow; and as Lord
Douglas is considered a traitor to Edward, I am told the place will be
sacked to its walls.  In such an extremity, to you, noble Wallace, as
to the worthiest Scot I know, I apply to take charge of this box.
Within the remote cliffs of Ellerslie it must be safe; and when James
Douglas arrives from Paris, to him you will resign it.  Meanwhile, as I
cannot resist the plunderers, after delivering the keys of the state
apartments to Heselrigge to-morrow, I shall submit to necessity, and
beg his permission to retire to my lodge on Ben Venu."

Wallace made no difficulty in granting Monteith's request; and, there
being two iron rings on each side of his charge, the young chief took
off his leathern belt, and putting it through them, swung the box
easily under his left arm, while covering it with his plaid.

Monteith's eyes now brightened--the paleness left his cheek--and with a
firmer step, as if suddenly relieved of a heavy load, he called a
servant to prepare Sir William Wallace's attendants.

While Wallace shook him by the hand, Monteith, in a low and solemn
voice, exhorted him to caution respecting the box.  "Remember," added
he, "the penalty that hangs over him who looks into it."

"Be not afraid," answered Wallace; "even the outside shall never be
seen by other eyes than my own, unless the same circumstance which now
induces you, mortal extremity, should force me to confide it to safer
hands."

"Beware of that!" exclaimed Monteith; "for who is there that would
adhere to the prohibition as I have done--as you will do? and besides,
as I have no doubt it contains holy relics, who knows what new
calamities a sacrilegious look might bring upon our already devoted
country?"

"Relics or no relics," replied Wallace, "it would be an equal sin
against good faith to invade what is forbidden: but from the weight I
am rather inclined to suspect it contains gold; probably a treasure,
with which the sordid Baliol thinks to compensate the hero who may free
his country from all the miseries a traitor king and a treacherous
usurper have brought upon it."

"A treasure!" repeated Monteith; "I never thought of that;-it is indeed
heavy!-and, as we are responsible for the contents of the box, I wish
we were certain of what it contains; let us consider that!"

"It is no consideration of ours," returned Wallace.  "With what is in
the box we have no concern; all we have to do is, to preserve the
contents unviolated by even our own eyes; and to that, as you have now
transferred the charge to me, I pledge myself--farewell."

"But why this haste?" rejoined Monteith, "indeed, I wish I had
thought--stay only a little."

"I thank you," returned Wallace, proceeding to the courtyard; "but it
is now dark, and I promised to be at home before the moon rises.  If
you wish me to serve you further, I shall be happy to see you at
Ellerslie to-morrow.  My Marion will have pleasure in entertaining, for
days or weeks, the friend of her husband."

While Wallace spoke, he advanced to his horse, to which he was lighted
by the servants of the castle.  A few English soldiers lingered about
in idle curiosity.  As he put his foot in the stirrup, he held the
sword in his hand, which he had unbuckled from his side to leave space
for his charge.  Monteith, whose dread of detection was ever awake,
whispered: "Your loosened weapon may excite suspicion!" Fear incurred
what it sought to avoid.  He hastily pulled aside Wallace's plaid to
throw it over the glittering hilt of the sword, and thus exposed the
iron box.  The light of the torches striking upon the polished rivets,
displayed it to all lookers on, but no remark was made.  Wallace, not
observing what was done, again shook hands with Monteith, and calling
his servants about him, galloped away.  A murmur was heard, as if of
some intention to follow him; but deeming it prudent to leave the open
and direct road, because of the English marauders who swarmed there, he
was presently lost amid the thick shades of Clydesdale.



Chapter II.

Lanark.


The darkness was almost impenetrable.  Musing on what had passed with
Monteith, and on the likelihood of any hero appearing, who, by freeing
his country, could ever claim the privilege of investigating the
mystery which was now his care.  Wallace rode on till, crossing the
bridge of Lanark, he saw the rising moon silver the tops of the distant
hills; and then his meditations embraced a gentler subject.  This was
the time he had promised Marion he should be returned, and he had yet
five long miles to go, before he could reach the glen of Ellerslie; he
thought of her being alone--of watching, with an anxious heart, the
minutes of his delay.  Scotland and its wrongs he now forgot, in the
idea of her whose happiness was dearer to him than life.  He could not
achieve the deliverance of the one, but it was his bliss to preserve
the peace of the other; and putting spurs to his horse, under the now
bright beams of the moon he hastened through the town.

Abruptly turning an angle leading to the Mouse River, a cry of murder
arrested his ear.  He checked his horse and listened.  The clashing of
arms told him the sound had issued from an alley to the left.  He
alighted in an instant, and drawing his sword, threw away the scabbard
(prophetic omen!), then, leaving his horse with one of his servants
hastened, with the other three, to the spot whence the noise proceeded.

On arriving he discovered two men in tartans, with their backs to the
opposite wall, furiously assaulted by a throng of Edward's soldiers.
At this sight, the Scots who accompanied Wallace were so enraged that,
blowing their bugles to encourage the assailed, they joined hand to
hand with their gallant leader, and attacking the banditti, each man
cut his opponent to the ground.

Such unexpected assistance reanimated the drooping strength of one of
the two, with whom the cry had issued.  He sprung from the wall with
the vigor of a tiger, but at the moment received a wound in his back,
which would have thrown him at the feet of his enemies, had not Wallace
caught him in his left arm, and with his right, cleared the way, while
he cried to his men who were fighting near him-"To the Glen!"  As he
spoke, he threw the now insensible stranger into their arms.  The other
man, whose voice had first attracted Wallace, at the instant sunk,
covered with blood, on the pavement.

Two of the servants, obeying their master, carried their senseless
burden toward the horses; but the third, being hemmed in by the furious
soldiers, could not move.  Wallace made a passage to his rescue, and
effected it; but one base wretch, while the now wounded Scot was
retreating, made a stroke which would have severed his head from his
body, had not the trusty claymore of Wallace struck down the pending
weapon of the coward, and received his rushing body upon its point.  He
fell with bitter imprecations, calling aloud for vengeance.

A dreadful cry was now raised by the whole band of assassins:
"Murder!-treason!-Arthur Heselrigge is slain!"  The uproar became
general.  The windows of the adjoining houses were thrown open; people
armed and unarmed issued from their doors and pressed forward to
inquire the cause of the alarm.  Wallace was nearly overpowered; a
hundred swords flashed in the torchlight; but at the moment he expected
they would be sheathed in his heart, the earth gave way under his feet,
and he sunk into utter darkness.

He fell upon a quantity of gathered broom; and concluding that the
weight of the thronging multitude had burst his way through the arch of
a cellar, he sprung to his feet; and though he heard the curses of
several wretches, who had fallen with him and fared worse, he made but
one step to a half-opened door, pointed out to him by a gleam from an
inner passage.  The men uttered a shout as they saw him darken the
light which glimmered through it; but they were incapable of pursuit;
and Wallace, aware of his danger, darting across the adjoining
apartment, burst open a window, and leaped out to the foot of the
Lanark hills.

The oaths of the soldiers, enraged at his escape, echoed in his ears,
till distance sunk them into hoarse murmurs.  He pursued his way over
the craigs; through the valley, and across the river, to the cliffs
which embattle the garden of Ellerslie.  Springing on the projecting
point of the nearest, he leaped into a thicket of honeysuckles.  This
was the favorite bower of his Marion!  The soft perfume, as it saluted
his senses, seemed to breathe peace and safety; and as he emerged from
its fragrant embrace, he walked with a calmer step toward the house.
He approached a door which led into the garden.  It was open.  He
beheld his beloved leaning over a couch, on which was laid the person
he had rescued.  Halbert was dressing his wounds.

Wallace paused for a moment, to contemplate his lovely wife in this
more lovely act of charity.  Her beautiful hands held a cup to the lips
of the stranger; while her long hair, escaped from its band, fell in
jetty ringlets, and mingled with his silver locks.

"Marion!" exclaimed the overflowing soul of her husband.  She looked up
at the well-known sound, and with a cry of joy, rushing forward, threw
herself into his arms; her tears flowed, she sobbed--she clung to his
breast.  It was the first time Wallace had been from her; she had
feared it would have been the last.  The hour--the conflict--the bleeding
stranger!  But now he was returned--he was safe!

"Art thou indeed here!" exclaimed she.  Blood fell from his forehead
upon her face and bosom: "O, my Wallace!" cried she, in agony.

"Fear not, my love! all is well, since our wounded countryman is safe."

"But you, bleed!" returned she.  No tears now impeded her voice.
Terror had checked their joyful currents; and she felt as if she
expected his life-blood to issue from the wound on which she gazed.

"I hope my preserver is not hurt?" inquired the stranger.

"Oh, no!" replied Wallace, putting back the hair from his forehead; "a
mere trifle!"  That the action had discovered the gash to be wider than
he thought, he saw in the countenance of his wife!  She turned deadly
pale.  "Marion," said he, "to convince you how causeless your fears
are, you shall cure me yourself; and with no other surgery than your
girdle!"

When Lady Wallace heard his gay tone, and saw the unforced smiles on
his lips, she took courage; and, remembering the deep wounds on the
stranger, whom she had just assisted to dress, without any alarm for
his life, she began to hope that she need not now fear for the object
dearest to her in existence.  Rising from her husband's arms, with a
languid smile she unbound the linen fillet from her waist; and Halbert
having poured some balsam into the wound, she prepared to apply the
bandage; but when she lifted her husband's hair from his temple--that
hair which had so often been the object of her admiration, as it hung
in shining masses over his arching brows!-when the clotted blood met
her fingers, a mist seemed to pass over her sight; she paused for a
moment; but rallying her strength, as the cheerful sound of his voice
conversing with his guest assured her fear was needless, she tied the
fillet; and, stealing a soft kiss on his cheek when she had finished,
she seated herself, yet trembling, by his side.

"Gallant Wallace!" continued the stranger-agitation had prevented her
hearing what had preceded this-"it is Donald Earl of Mar, who owes his
life to you."

"Then blessed be my arm," exclaimed Wallace, "that has preserved a life
so precious to my country!"

"May it indeed be blessed!" cried Lord Mar; "for this night it has made
the Southrons feel there is yet one man in Scotland who does not fear
to resist oppression, and to punish treachery."

"What treachery?" inquired Lady Wallace, her alarmed spirit still
hovering about her soul's far dearer part; "is any meant to my husband?"

"None to Sir William Wallace, more than to any other brave Scot,"
replied the earl: "but we all see the oppression of our country; we all
know the treachery by which it was subjugated; and this night, in my
own person, I have felt the effects of both.  The English at Lanark
dispatched a body of men to Bothwell Castle (where my family now are),
on a plea, that as its lord is yet absent, they presume he is adverse
to Edward, and therefore they must search his dwelling for documents to
settle the point.  Considering myself the representative of my
brother-in-law, Lord Bothwell, and suspecting that this might be only a
private marauding party, I refused to admit the soldiers; and saw them
depart, swearing to return next day with a stronger force, and storm
the castle.  To be ascertained of their commission, and to appeal
against such unprovoked tyranny, should it be true, I followed the
detachment to Lanark.

"I saw Heselrigge the governor.  He avowed the transaction; but awed by
the power which he thinks I possess in the country, he consented to
spare Bothwell while I and my family remain in it.  It being nearly
dark, I took my leave, and was proceeding toward my servants in the
courtyard when a young man accosted me.  I recognized him to be the
officer who had commanded the party I had driven from the castle.
Heselrigge having told me that he was his nephew, I made no hesitation
to go back with him, when he informed me that his uncle had forgotten
something of importance, and begged me to return.  I followed his
steps; but instead of conducting me to the room in which I had
conversed with Heselrigge, he led me along a dark passage into a small
apartment, where telling me his uncle would attend me, he suddenly
retreated out of the door, and before I could recollect myself I heard
him bolt it after him.

"I now saw myself a prisoner; and alarmed at what might be intended to
my defenseless family, I made every essay to force the door, but it was
in vain.  Driven to despair, I remained in a state of mind not to be
described, when the bolt was withdrawn, and two men entered, with
manacles in their hands.  They attempted to seize me, telling me I was
the prisoner of King Edward.  I did not listen further, but wounding
one with my dagger, felled the other to the ground; and darting past
him, made my way through what passages I cannot tell, till I found
myself in a street leading from behind the governor's house.  I ran
against some one as I rushed from the portal; it was my servant Neil.
I hastily told him to draw his sword and follow me.  We then hurried
forward; he telling me he had stepped out to observe the night, while
the rest of my men were awaiting me in the house, wondering at my delay.

"Rejoiced at my escape, and fearing the worst of consequences from the
treachery of Heselrigge, I was hastening onward, determined to pursue
my way on foot to the protection of my family, when, at the turning of
an angle which leads to the Bothwell road, we were suddenly surrounded
by armed men.  The moon shone full on their faces, and I discovered
they were Southrons, and that young Heselrigge was at their head.

"He aimed a blow at my head with his battle-ax, and in a voice of
triumph exclaimed to his soldiers, 'The plunder of Bothwell, my lads!
Down with its lord! All but the lady Helen shall be yours!"

"In a moment every sword was directed toward me.  They wounded me in
several places; but the thought of my daughter gave supernatural vigor
to my arm, and I defended myself till the cries of my servant brought
you, my brave deliverer, to my rescue.  But, while I am safe, perhaps
my treacherous pursuer has marched toward Bothwell, too sure to commit
the horrid violence he meditates; there are none to guard my child but
a few domestics, the unpracticed sword of my stripling nephew, and the
feeble arms of my wife."

"Be easy on that head," interrupted Wallace: "I believe the infamous
leader of the banditti fell by my hand, for the soldiers made an outcry
that Arthur Heselrigge was killed; and then pressing on me to take
revenge, their weight broke a passage into a vault, through which I
escaped-"

"Save, save yourself, my master!" cried a man rushing in from the
garden. "You are pursued-"

While he spoke he felt insensible at Wallace's feet.  It was
Dugald whom he had rescued from the blow of Heselrigge, and who, from
the state of his wound had been thus long in reaching Ellerslie.

Wallace had hardly time to give him to the care of Halbert, when the
voice of war assailed his ears.  The tumult of men demanding admittance
and the terrible sound of spears rattling against the shields of their
owners, told the astonished group within that the house was beset by
armed foes.

"Blood for blood!" cried a horrid voice, which penetrated the almost
palsied senses of Lady Marion.  "Vengence on Wallace, for the murder of
Heselrigge!"

"Fly, fly!" cried she, looking wildly at her husband.

"Whither?" answered he, supporting her in his arms.  "Would this be a
moment to leave you, and our wounded guest?  I must meet them."

"Not now!" cried Lord Mar.  "Hear you not how numerous they are?  Mark
that shout! they thirst for blood.  If you have love, pity, for your
wife, delay not a moment.  Again-"

The uproar redoubled, and the room was instantly filled with shrieking
women in their night-clothes, the attendants of Lady Wallace.  She
almost expiring, on her husband's breast.

"O my lord!" cried the terrified creatures, wringing their hands, "what
will become of us!  The Southrons are at the gates, and we shall be
lost forever!"

"Fear not," replied Wallace; "retire to your chambers.  I am the person
they seek: none else will meet with injury."

Appeased by this assurance, the women retreated to their apartments;
and Wallace, turning to the earl, who continued to enforce the
necessity of his flight, repeated, that he would not consent to leave
his wife in such a tumult.

"Leave me," cried she, in an inarticulate voice, "or see me die."

As she spoke, there was a violent crash, and a tremendous burst of
imprecations.  Three of Wallace's men ran panting into the room.  Two
of the assailants had climbed to the hall window; and had just been
thrown back upon the cliffs, where one was killed.  "Conceal yourself,"
said the Scots to Wallace; "for in a few minutes more your men will not
be able to maintain the gates."

"Yes, my dear lord," cried Halbert, "there is a dry well at the end of
the garden; at the bottom of that you will be safe."

"By your love for me, Wallace--by all you owe to the tender affections
of your grandfather, hearken to him!" cried Lady Marion, falling at his
feet, and clasping his knees.  "I kneel for my life in kneeling for
yours!  Pity the gray hairs of Sir Ronald, whom your untimely death
would bring to the grave!  Pity your unborn child!  Fly, Wallace, fly
if you would have me live!"  She was pale and breathless.

"Angel of my life," exclaimed Wallace, straining her to his heart, "I
obey thee.  But if the hand of one of the desperate robbers dares to
touch thy hallowed person-"

"Think not so, my lord," interrupted Halbert; "it is you they seek.
Not finding you, they will be too eager in pursuit to molest your lady."

"I shall be safe," whispered Marion; "only fly--while you are here,
their shouts kill me."

"But thou shalt go with me," returned he; "the well will contain us
all.  But first let our faithful Halbert and these honest fellows lower
Lord Mar into the place of refuge.  He being the cause of the affray,
if discovered, would be immediately sacrificed."

Lord Mar acquiesced; and while the contention was so loud without, as
to threaten the tearing down of the walls, the earl was carried into
the garden.  He was followed by Sir William Wallace, to whose arm his
wife yet fondly clung.  At every cry of the enemy, at every shock they
gave to his yet impregnable gates, she breathed the shorter, and was
clasped by the lord of her heart still more closely to his bosom.

At the well-side they found the earl bound with rope that was to lower
him to the bottom.  By great care it was safely done; and the cord
being brought up again, before it was tied round Wallace (for his
agonized wife insisted he should descend next), he recollected that the
iron box at his side might hurt the wounded nobleman by striking him in
his descent; and, unbuckling it, he said it contained matters of great
value, and ordered it to be lowered first.

Lord Mar, beneath, was releasing it from the rope, when a shout of
triumph pierced their ears.  A party of the English, having come round
the heights, had leaped the wall of the garden, and were within a few
yards of the well.  For Wallace to descend now was impossible.  "That
tree!" whispered Marion, pointing to an oak-tree near which they stood.
As she spoke, she slid from his arms, and along with the venerable
Halbert, who had seized her hand, disappeared amid the adjoining
thicket.  The two servants fled also.

Wallace, finding himself alone, the next instant, like one of his
native eagles, was looking down from the towering top of the wood upon
his enemies.  They passed beneath him, denouncing vengeance upon the
assassin of Arthur Heselrigge!  One, who by the brightness of his armor
seemed to be their leader, stopped under the tree, and complained he
had so sprained his ankle in leaping the wall, he must wait a few
minutes to recover himself.  Several soldiers drew toward him; but he
ordered them to pursue their duty, search the house, and bring Wallace,
dead or alive, before him.

They obeyed; but others, who had gained admittance to the tower through
the now forced gates, soon ran to him with information that the
murderer could nowhere be found.

"But here is a gay ladie," cried one; "perhaps she can tell of his
hiding-place." And at moment Marion, with Halbert, appeared amongst a
band of men.  The lighted torches which the soldiers held, shone full
on her face.  Though pale as monumental marble, the exquisite beauty of
her features, and the calm dignity which commanded from her eyes, awed
the officer into respect and admiration.

"Soldiers, stand back!" cried he, advancing to Lady Wallace.  "Fear
not, madam."  As the words passed his lips, a flight of arrows flew
into the bosom of the tree.  A piercing shriek from Marion was her only
answer.  "Hah! my lady's falcon!" cried Halbert alarmed, doubly, for
the fate of his master.  A sudden agitation of the branches having
excited an indefinite suspicion in a body of archers who stood near,
with one impulse they had discharged their arrows to the spot.
Halbert's ready excuse, both for the disturbance in the tree and his
lady's shriek, was prompted and warranted true by the appearance of a
large bird, which the rushing of the arrows had frighted from her nest;
she rose suddenly from amongst the branches, and soared away, far to
the east, with loud screams.

All being again still, Marion hoped that her husband had escaped any
serious injury from the arrows; and turning with recovered composure to
the officer, heard him, with a glow of comfort, reprimand his men for
daring to draw their bows without his orders.  Then addressing her, "I
beg your pardon, madam," said he, "both for the alarm these hot-headed
men have occasioned you, and for the violence they have committed in
forcing one of your sex and beauty before me.  Had I expected to have
found a lady here, I should have issued orders to have prevented this
outrage; but I am sent hither in quest of Sir William Wallace, who, by
a mortal attack made on the person of the Governor of Lanark's nephew,
has forfeited his life.  The scabbard of his sword, found beside the
murdered Heselrigge, is an undeniable proof of his guilt.  Direct us to
find him, and not only your release, but the favor of the English
monarch will await your allegiance."

"I am Sir William Wallace's wife," returned the gentle Marion, in a
firm tone; "and by what authority you seek him thus, and presume to
call him guilty, I cannot understand."

"By the authority of the laws, madam, which he has violated."

"What laws?" rejoined she; "Sir William Wallace acknowledges none but
those of God and his country.  Neither of these has he transgressed."

The officer replied, "This night he assassinated Arthur Heselrigge in
the streets of Lanark; and that condemns him, by the last declaration
of King Edward: Whatever Scot maltreats any one of the English
soldiers, or civil officers garrisoned in the towns of Scotland, shall
thereby forfeit his life, as the penalty of his crime."

"A tyrant's law, sir, to which no freeborn Scot will submit!  But even
were it allowed by my countrymen, in this case it can have no hold on
my husband.  That he is a Scot, he glories: and not that he maltreated
any Englishman in the streets of Lanark, do I glory; but because, when
he saw two defenseless men borne down by a band of armed soldiers, he
exposed his unshielded breast in their defense; one of the two died,
covered with wounds.  That the governor's nephew also fell, was a just
retribution for his heading so unequal a contest, and no crime in Sir
William Wallace; for he slew him to preserve a feeble old man, who had
a hundred English swords leveled at his life."

The officer paused for a moment, and then, ordering his soldiers to
fall further back, when they were at a sufficient distance, he offered
to take Lady Wallace's hand.  She withstood his motion with a reserved
air, and said, "Speak, sir, what you would say, or allow me to retire."

"I mean not to offend you, noble lady," continued he; "had I a wife
lovely as yourself, and I in like circumstances, I hope in the like
manner would defend my life and honor.  I knew not the particulars of
the affair in which Arthur Heselrigge fell, till I heard it from your
lips.  I can easily credit them, for I know his unmanly character.
Wallace is a Scot, and acted in Scotland as Gilbert Hambledon would
have done in England, were it possible for any vile foreigner to there
put his foot upon the neck of a countryman of mine. Wherever you have
concealed your husband, let it be a distant asylum.  At present no
tract within the jurisdiction of Lanark will be left unsearched by the
governor's indefatigable revenge."

Lady Wallace, overcome with gratitude at this generous speech of the
English officer, uttered some inarticulate words, expressive more in
sound than clearness, of her grateful feelings.  Hambledon continued,
"I will use my influence with Heselrigge, to prevent the interior of
your house from being disturbed again; but it being in the course of
military operations, I cannot free you from the disagreeable ceremony
of a guard being placed to-morrow morning round the domains.  This I
know will be done to intercept Sir William Wallace should he attempt to
return."

"Oh! That he were indeed far distant!" thought the anxious Marion.

The officer then added, "However, you shall be relieved of my
detachment directly."  And as he spoke, he waved his sword to them who
had seized the harper.  They advanced, still holding their prisoner.
He ordered them to commit the man to him, and to sound.  The trumpeter
obeyed; and in a few seconds the whole detachment were assembled before
their commander.

"Soldiers!" cried he, "Sir William Wallace has escaped our hands.
Mount your horses, that we may return to Lanark, and search the other
side of the town.  Lead forth, and I will follow."

The troops obeyed, and falling back through the open gates, left Sir
Gilbert Hambledon alone with Lady Wallace and the wondering Halbert.
The brave young man took the now no longer withdrawn hand of the
grateful Marion, who had stood trembling while so many of her husband's
mortal enemies were assembled under the place of his concealment.

"Noble Englishman," said she, as the last body of soldiers passed from
her sight, "I cannot enough thank you for this generous conduct; but
should you or yours be ever in the like extremity with my beloved
Wallace (and in these tyrannous times, what brave spirit can answer for
its continued safety?) may the ear which has heard you this night, at
that hour repay my gratitude!"

"Sweet lady," answered Hambledon, "I thank you for your prayer.  God is
indeed the benefactor of a true soldier; and though I serve my king,
and obey my commanders, yet it is only to the Lord of battles that I
look for a sure reward.  And whether he pay me here with victories and
honors, or take my soul through a rent in my breast, to receive my
laurel in paradise, it is all one to Gilbert Hambledon.  But the night
is cold: I must see you safe within your own doors, and then, lady,
farewell!"

Lady Wallace yielded to the impulse of his hand, and with redoubled
haste, as she heard another rustling in the tree above her head.
Hambledon did not notice it; but desiring Halbert to follow, in a few
minutes disappeared with the agitated Marion into the house.

Wallace, whose spirit could ill brook the sight of his domains filled
with hostile troops, and the wife of his bosom brought a prisoner
before their commander, would instantly have braved all dangers, and
have leaped down amongst them; but at the instant he placed his foot on
a lower bough to make a spring, the courteous address of Hambledon to
his wife had made him hesitate.  He listened to the replies of his
Marion with exultation; and when the Englishman ordered his men to
withdraw, and delivered himself so generously respecting the safety of
the man he came to seize, Wallace could hardly prevent a brave
confidence in such virtue from compelling him to come from his
concealment, and thank his noble enemy on the spot.  But in
consideration that such disclosure would put the military duty and the
generous nature of the officer at variance, he desisted, with such an
agitation of spirits that the boughs had again shaken under him, and
reawakened the alarm of his trembling wife.

"Omnipotent virtue!" exclaimed Wallace to himself; "if it were possible
that thy generous spirit could animate the breast of an invading
conqueror, how soon would the vanquished cease to forget their former
freedom, and learn to love their vassalage!  This man's nobleness, how
soon has it quenched the flame of vengeance with which, when I ascended
this tree, I prayed for the extirpation of every follower of Edward!"

"Sir William! my master!" cried a well-known voice, in a suppressed
tone, as if still fearful of being overheard.  It was Halbert's.
"Speak, my dear lord; are you safe?"

"In heart and body!" returned Wallace, sliding from the tree, and
leaping on the ground.  "One only of the arrows touched me; and that
merely striking my bugle, fell back amongst the leaves.  I must now
hasten to the dearest, the noblest of women!"

Halbert begged him to stay till they should hear the retreat from the
English trumpets.  "Till their troops are out of sight," added he, "I
cannot believe you safe."

"Hark!" cried Wallace, "the horses are now descending the craig.  That
must satisfy you, honest Halbert."  With these words he flew across the
grass, and entering the house, met the returning Marion, who had just
bade farewell to Hambledon.  She rushed into his arms, and with the
excess of a disturbed and uncertain joy, fainted on his neck.  Her
gentle spirit had been too powerfully excited by the preceding scenes.
Unaccustomed to tumult of any king, and nursed in the bosom of fondness
till now, no blast had blown on her tender form, no harshness had ever
ruffled the blissful serenity of her mind.  What then was the shock of
this evening's violence!  Her husband pursued as a murderer; herself
exposed to the midnight air, and dragged by the hands of merciless
soldiers to betray the man she loved!  All these scenes were new to
her; and though a kind of preternatural strength had supported her
over, when she fell once more into her husband's extended arms, she
seemed there to have found again her shelter, and the pillow whereon
her harassed soul might repose.

"My life! My best treasure! Preserver of thy Wallace! Look on him!"
exclaimed he; "bless him with a smile from those dear eyes."

His voice, his caresses, soon restored her to sensibility and
recollection.  She wept on his breast, and with love's own eloquence,
thanked Heaven that he had escaped the search and the arrows of his
enemies.

"But my dear lady," interrupted Halbert, "remember my master must not
stay here.  You know the English commander said he must fly far away.
Nay, spies may even now be lurking to betray him."

"You are right," cried she.  "My Wallace, you must depart.  Should the
guard arrive soon, your flight may be prevented.  You must go now--but,
oh! whither?"

"Not far distant, my love.  In going from thee, I leave behind all that
makes my life precious to me; how then can I go far away?  No! there
are recesses among the Cartlane Craigs, I discovered while hunting, and
which I believe have been visited by no mortal foot but my own.  There
I will be, my Marion, before sunrise; and before it sets, thither you
must send Halbert, to tell me how you fare.  Three notes from thine own
sweet strains of Thusa ha measg na reultan mor,** blown by his pipe,
shall be a sign to me that he is there; and I will come forth to hear
tidings of thee."

**Thusa ha measg na reultan mor, etc., are the beginning words of an
old Gaelic ditty, the English of which runs thus: "Thou who art amid
the stars, move to thy bed with music," etc.-(1809.)

"Ah, my Wallace, let me go with thee!"

"What, dearest!" returned he, "to live amidst rocks and streams! to
expose thy tender self, and thine unborn infant, to all the accidents
of such a lodging!"

"But are not you going to so rough, so dangerous a lodging?" asked she.
"O! would not rocks and streams be Heaven's paradise to me, when
blessed by the presence of my husband?  Ah! let me go!"

"Impossible, my lady," cried Halbert, afraid that the melting heart of
his master would consent: "you are safe here; and your flight would awaken
suspicion in the English, that he had not gone far.  Your ease and
safety are dearer to him than his own life; and most likely by his care
to preserve them, he would be traced, and so fall a ready sacrifice to
the enemy."

"It is true, my Marion; I could not preserve you in the places to which
I go."

"But the hardships you will endure!" cried she; "to sleep on the cold
stones, with no covering but the sky, or the dripping vault of some
dreary cave!  I have not courage to abandon you alone to such cruel
rigors."

"Cease, my beloved!" interrupted he, "cease these groundless alarms.
Neither rocks nor storms have any threats to me.  It is only tender
woman's cares that make man's body delicate.  Before I was thine, my
Marion, I have lain whole nights upon the mountain's brow, counting the
wintery stars, as I impatiently awaited the hunter's horn that was to
recall me to the chase in Glenfinlass.  Alike to Wallace is the couch
of down or the bed of heather; so, best-beloved of my heart, grieve not
at hardships which were once my sport, and will now be my safety."

"Then farewell!  May good angels guard thee!"  Her voice failed; she
put his hand to her lips.

"Courage, my Marion," said he; "remember that Wallace lives but in
thee.  Revive, be happy for my sake; and God, who putteth down the
oppressor, will restore me to thine arms."  She spoke not, but rising
from his breast, clasped her hands together, and looked up with an
expression of fervent prayer; then smiling through a shower of tears,
she waved her hand to him to depart, and instantly disappeared into her
own chamber.

Wallace gazed at the closed door, with his soul in his eyes.  To leave
his Marion thus, to quit her who was the best part of his being, who
seemed the very spring of the life now throbbing in his heart, was a
contention with his fond, fond love, almost too powerful for his
resolution.  Here indeed his brave spirit gave way; and he would have
followed her, and perhaps have determined to await his face at her
side, had not Halbert, reading his mind in his countenance, taken him
by the arm, and drawn him toward the portal.

Wallace soon recovered his better reason, and obeying the friendly
impulse of his servant, accompanied him through the garden, to the
quarter which pointed toward the heights that led to the remotest
recesses of the Clyde.  In their way they approached the well where
Lord Mar lay.  Finding that the earl had not been inquired for, Wallace
deemed his stay to be without peril; and intending to inform him of the
necessity which still impelled his own flight, he called to him, but no
voice answered.  He looked down, and seeing him extended on the bottom
without motion, "I fear," said he, "the earl is dead.  As soon as I am
gone, and you can collect the dispersed servants, send one into the
well to bring him forth; and if he be indeed no more, deposit his body
in my oratory, till you can receive his widow's commands respecting his
remains.  The iron box now in the well is of inestimable value; take it
to Lady Wallace and tell her she must guard it, as she has done my
life; but not to look into it, at the peril of what is yet dearer to
her--my honor."

Halbert promised to adhere to his master's orders; and Wallace, girding
on his sword, and taking his hunting-spear (with which the care of his
venerable domestic had provided him), he pressed the faithful hand that
presented it, and again enjoining him to be watchful of the
tranquillity of his lady, and to send him tidings of her in the
evening, to the cave near the Corie Lynn, he climbed the wall, and was
out of sight in an instant.



Chapter III.

Ellerslie.


Halbert returned to the house; and entering the room softly, into which
Marion had withdrawn, beheld her on her knees before a crucifix; she
was praying for the safety of her husband.

"May he, O gracious Lord!" cried she, "soon return to his home.  But if
I am to see him here no more, oh, may it please thee to grant me to
meet him within thy arms in heaven!"

"Hear her, blessed Son of Mary!" ejaculated the old man.  She looked
round, and rising from her knees, demanded of him, in a kind but
anxious voice, whether he had left her lord in security.

"In the way to it, my lady!" answered Halbert.  He repeated all that
Wallace had said at parting, and then tried to prevail on her to go to
rest.  "Sleep cannot visit my eyes this night, my faithful creature,"
replied she; "my spirit will follow Wallace in his mountain flight.  Go
you to your chamber.  After you have had repose, that will be time
enough to revisit the remains of the poor earl, and to bring them with
the box to the house.  I will take a religious charge of both, for the
sake of the dear intruster."

Halbert persuaded his aldy to lie down on the bed, that her limbs at
least might rest after the fatigue of so harassing a night; and she,
little suspecting that he meant to do otherwise than to sleep also,
kindly wished him repose and retired.

Her maids, during the late terror, had dispersed, and were nowhere to
be found; and the men, too, after their stout resistance at the gates,
had all disappeared; some fled others were sent away prisoners to
Lanark, while the good Hambledon was conversing with their lady.
Halbert, therefore, resigned himself to await with patience the rising
of the sun, when he hoped some of the scared domestics would return; if
not, he determined to go to the cotters who lived in the depths of the
glen, and bring some of them to supply the place of the fugitives; and
a few, with stouter hearts, to guard his lady.

Thus musing, he sat on a stone bench in the hall, watching anxiously
the appearance of that orb, whose setting beams he hoped would light
him back with tidings of William Wallace to comfort the lonely heart of
his Marion.  All seemed at peace.  Nothing was hear but the sighing of
the trees as they waved before the western window, which opened toward
the Lanark hills.  The morning was yet gray, and the fresh air blowing
in rather chilly, Halbert rose to close the wooden shutter; at that
moment, his eyes were arrested by a party of armed men in quick march
down the opposite declivity.  In a few minutes more their heavy steps
sounded in his ears, and he saw the platform before the house filled
with English.  Alarmed at the sight, he was retreating across the
apartment, toward his lady's room, when the great hall door was burst
open by a band of soldiers, who rushed forward and seized him.

"Tell me, dotard!" cried their leader, a man of low stature, with gray
locks, but a fierce countenance, "where is the murderer?  Where is Sir
William Wallace?  Speak, or the torture shall force you."

Halbert shuddered, but it was for his defenseless lady, not for
himself.  "My master," said he, "is far from this."

"Where?"

"I know not."

"Thou shalt be made to know, thou hoary-headed villian!" cried the same
violent interrogator.  "Where is the assassin's wife?  I will confront
ye.  Seek her out."

At that word the soldiers parted right and left, and in a moment
afterward three of them appeared, with shouts, bringing in the
trembling Marion.

"Alas! my lady!" cried Halbert, struggling to approach her, as with
terrified apprehension she looked around her; but they held her fast,
and he saw her led up to the merciless wretch who had given the orders
to have her summoned.

"Woman!" cried he, "I am the Governor of Lanark.  You now stand before
the representative of the great King Edward, and on your allegiance to
him, and on the peril of your life, I command you to answer me three
questions.  Where is Sir William Wallace, the murderer of my nephew?
Who is that old Scot, for whom my nephew was slain?  He and his whole
family shall meet my vengeance!  And tell me where is that box of
treasure which your husband stole from Douglas Castle?  Answer me these
questions on your life."

Lady Wallace remained silent.

"Speak, woman," demanded the governor.  "If fear cannot move you, know
that I can reward as well as avenge.  I will endow you richly, if you
declare the truth.  If you persist to refuse, you die."

"Then I die," replied she, scarcely opening her half-closed eyes, as
she leaned, fainting and motionless, against the soldier who held her.

"What?" cried the governor, stifling his rage, in hopes to gain by
persuasion on a spirit he found threats could not intimidate; "can so
gentle a lady reject the favor of England, large grants in this
country, and perhaps a fine English knight for a husband, when you
might have all for the trifling service of giving up a traitor to his
liege lord, and confessing where his robberies lie concealed?  Speak,
fair dame; give me this information, and the lands of the wounded
chieftain whom Wallace brought here, with the hand of the handsome Sir
Gilbert Hambledon, shall be your reward.  Rich, and a beauty in
Edward's court!  Lady, can you now refuse to purchase all, by declaring
the hiding place of the traitor Wallace?"

"It is easier to die!"

"Fool!" cried Heselrigge, driven from his assumed temper by her steady
denial.  "What? is it easier for these dainty limbs to be hacked to
pieces by my soldiers' axes?  Is it easier for that fair bosom to be
trodden underfoot by my horse's hoofs, and for that beauteous head of
thine to decorate my lance?  Is all this easier than to tell me where
to find a murderer and his gold?"

Lady Wallace shuddered; she stretched her hands to heaven.

"Speak once for all!" cried the enraged governor, drawing his sword; "I
am no waxen-hearted Hambledon, to be cajoled by your beauty.  Declare
where Wallace is concealed, or dread my vengeance."

The horrid steel gleamed across the eyes of the unhappy Marion; unable
to sustain herself, she sunk to the ground.

"Kneel not to me for mercy!" cried the fierce wretch; "I grant none,
unless you confess your husband's hiding-place."

A momentary strength darted from the heart of Lady Wallace to her
voice, "I kneel to Heaven alone, and may it ever preserve my Wallace
from the fangs of Edward and his tyrants!"

"Blasphemous wretch!" cried the infuriated Heselrigge; and in that
moment he plunged his sword into her defenseless breast.  Halbert, who
had all this time been held back by the soldiers, could not believe
that the fierce governor would perpetrate the horrid deed he
threatened; but seeing it done, with a giant's strength and a terrible
cry he burst from the hands that held him, and had thrown himself on
the bleeding Marion, before her murderer could strike his second blow.
However, it fell, and pierced through the neck of the faithful servant
before it reached her heart.  She opened her dying eyes, and seeing who
it was that would have shielded her life, just articulated, "Halbert!
my Wallace--to God--" and with that last unfinished sentence her pure
soul took its flight to regions of eternal piece.

The good old man's heart almost burst when he felt that before--heaving
bosom now motionless; and groaning with grief, and fainting with loss
of blood, he lay senseless on her body.

A terrible stillness was now in the hall.  Not a man spoke; all stood
looking on each other, with a stern horror marking each pale
countenance.  Heselrigge, dropping his blood-stained sword on the
ground, perceived by the behavior of his men that he had gone too far,
and fearful of arousing the indignation of awakened humanity, to some
act against himself, he addressed the soldiers in an unusual accent of
condescension: "My friends," said he, "we will now return to Lanark;
to-morrow you may come back, for I reward your services of this night
with the plunder of Ellerslie."

"May a curse light on him who carries a stick from its grounds!"
exclaimed a veteran, from the further end of the hall.  "Amen!"
murmured all the soldiers, with one consent; and falling back, they
disappeared, one by one, out of the great door, leaving Heselrigge
alone with the soldier, who stood leaning on his sword, looking on the
murdered lady.

"Grimsby, why stand you there?" demanded Heselrigge: "follow me."

"Never," returned the soldier.

"What!" exclaimed the governor, momentarily forgetting his panic, "dare
you speak thus to your commander?  March on before me this instant, or
expect to be treated as a rebel."

"I march at your command no more," replied the veteran, eying him
resolutely: "the moment you perpetrated this bloody deed, you became
unworthy the name of man; and I should disgrace my own manhood, were I
ever again to obey the word of such a monster!"

"Villian!" cried the enraged Heselrigge, "you shall die for this!"

"That may be," answered Grimsby, "by the hands of some tyrant like
yourself; but no brave man, not the royal Edward, would do otherwise
than acquit his soldier for refusing obedience to the murderer of an
innocent woman.  It was not so he treated the wives and daughters of
the slaughtered Saracens when I followed his banners over the fields of
Palestine!"

"Thou canting miscreant!" cried Heselrigge, springing on him suddenly,
and aiming his dagger at his breast.  But the soldier arrested the
weapon, and at the same instant closing upon the assassin, with a turn
of his foot threw him to the ground.  Heselrigge, as he lay prostrate,
seeing his dagger in his adversary's hand, with the most dastardly
promises implored for life.

"Monster!" cried the soldier, "I wold not pollute my honest hands with
such unnatural blood.  Neither, though thy hand has been lifted against
my life, would I willingly take thine.  It is not rebellion against my
commander that actuates me, but hatred of the vilest of murderers.  I
go far from you, or your power; but if you forswear your voluntary
oath, and attempt to seek me out for vengeance, remember it is a
soldier of the cross you pursue, and a dire retribution shall be
demanded by Heaven, at a moment you cannot avoid, and with a horror
commensurate with your crimes."

There was a solemnity and determination in the voice and manner of the
soldier that paralyzed the intimidated soul of the governor; he
trembled violently, and repeating the oath of leaving Grimsby
unmolested, at last obtained his permission to return to Lanark.  The
men, in obedience to the conscience-stricken orders of their commander,
had mounted their horses and were now far out of sight.  Heselrigge's
charger was still in the courtyard; he was hurrying toward it, but the
soldier, with a prudent suspicion, called out, "Stop, sir! you must
walk to Lanark.  The cruel are generally false; I cannot trust your
word, should you have the power to break it.  Leave this horse
here: to-morrow you may send for it, I shall then be far away."

Heselrigge saw that remonstrance would be unavailing; and shaking with
impotent rage, he turned into the path which, after five weary miles,
would lead him once more to his citadel.

For the moment the soldier's manly spirit had dared to deliver its
abhorrence of Lady Wallace's murder, he was aware that his life would
no longer be safe within reach of the machinations of Heselrigge; and
determined, alike by detestation of him and regard for his own
preservation, resolved to take shelter in the mountains, till he could
have an opportunity of going beyond sea to join his king's troops in
the Guienne wars.

Full of these thoughts he returned into the hall.  As he approached the
bleeding form on the floor, he perceived it to move; hoping that
perhaps the unhappy lady might not be dead, he drew near; but, alas! as
he bent to examine, he touched her hand and found it quite cold.  The
blood which had streamed from the now exhausted heart, lay congealed
upon her arms and bosom.  Grimsby shuddered.  Again he saw her move;
but it was not with her own life; the recovering senses of her faithful
servant, as his arms clung around the body, had disturbed the remains
of her who would wake no more.

On seeing that existence yet struggled in one of these blameless
victims, Grimsby did his utmost to revive the old man.  He raised him
from the ground, and poured some strong liquor he had in a flask into a
mouth.  Halbert breathed freer; and his kind surgeon, with the
venerable harper's own plaid, bound up the wound in his neck.  Halbert
opened his eyes.  When he fixed them on the rough features and English
helmet of the soldier, he closed them again with a deep groan.

"My honest Scot," said Grimsby, "trust in me.  I am a man like
yourself; and though a Southron, am no enemy to age and helplessness."

The harper took courage at these words; he again looked at the soldier;
but suddenly recollecting what had passed, he turned his eyes toward
the body of his mistress, on which the beams of the now rising sun were
shining.  He started up, and staggering toward her, would have fallen,
had not Grimsby supported him.  "O what a sight is this!" cried he,
wringing his hands.  "My lady! my lovely lady! see how low she lies who
was once the delight of all eyes, the comforter of all hearts."  The
old man's sobs suffocated him.  The veteran turned away his face, a
tear dropped upon his hand.  "Accursed Heselrigge," ejaculated he, "thy
fate must come!"

"If there be a man's heart in all Scotland, it is not far distant!"
cried Halbert.  "My master lives, and will avenge this murder.  You
weep, soldier; and you will not betray what has now escaped me."

"I have fought in Palestine," returned he, "and a soldier of the cross
betrays none who trust him.  Saint Mary preserve your master and
conduct you safely to him.  We must both hasten hence.  Heselrigge will
surely send in pursuit of me.  He is too vile to forgive the truth I
have spoken to him; and should I fall into his power, death is the best
I could expect at his hands.  Let me assist you to put this poor lady's
remains into some decent place; and then, my honest Scot, we must
separate."

Halbert, at these words, threw himself upon the bosom of his mistress,
and wept with loud lamentations over her.  In vain he attempted to
raise her in his feeble arms.  "I have carried thee scores of times in
thy blooming infancy," cried he; "and now must I bear thee to thy
grave?  I had hoped that my eyes would have been closed by this dear
hand."  As he spoke, he pressed her cold hand to his lips with such
convulsive sobs that the soldier, fearing he would expire in the agony
of his sorrow, took him almost motionless from the dead body, and
exhorted him to suppress such self-destroying grief for the sake of his
master.  Halbert gradually revived; and listening to him, cast a
wistful look on the lifeless Marion.

"There sleeps the pride and hope of Ellerslie, the mother with her
child!  O my master, my widowed master," cried he, "what will comfort
thee!"

Fearing the ill consequence of further delay, the soldier again
interrupted his lamentations with arguments for flight; and Halbert
recollecting the oratory in which Wallace had ordered the body of Lord
Mar to be deposited, named it for that of his dear lady.  Grimsby,
immediately wrapping the beauteous corpse in the white garments which
hung about it, raised it in his arms, and was conducted by Halbert to a
little chapel in the heart of a neighboring cliff.

The still weeping old man removed the altar; and Grimsby, laying the
shrouded Marion upon its rocky platform, covered her with the pall,
which he drew from the holy table, and laid the crucifix upon her
bosom.  Halbert, when his beloved mistress was thus hidden from his
sight, threw himself on his knees beside her, and in the vehement
language of grief offered up a prayer for her departed soul.

"Hear me, righteous Judge of heaven and earth!" cried he; "as thou
didst avenge the blood of innocence shed in Bethlehem, so let the gray
hairs of Heselrigge be brought down in blood to the grave for the
murder of this innocent lady!" Halbert kissed the cross, and rising
from his knees, went weeping out of the chapel, followed by the soldier.

Having closed the door, and carefully locked it, absorbed in meditation
on what would be the agonized transports of his master, when he should
tell him these grievous tidings, Halbert proceeded in silence, till he
and his companion in passing the well were startled by a groan.

"Here is some one in extremity!" cried the soldier.

"Is it possible he lives!" exclaimed Halbert, bending down to the edge
of the well with the same inquiry.

"Yes," feebly answered the earl, "I still exist, but am very faint.  If
all be safe above, I pray remove me into the upward air!"  Halbert
replied that it was indeed necessary he should ascend immediately; and
lowering the rope, told him to tie the iron box to it and then himself.
This done, with some difficulty, and the assistance of the wondering
soldier (who now expected to see the husband of the unfortunate Lady
Wallace emerge to the knowledge of his loss), he at last effected the
earl's release.  For a few seconds the fainting nobleman supported
himself on his countryman's shoulder, while the fresh morning breeze
gradually revived his exhausted frame.  The soldier looked at his gray
locks and furrowed brow, and marveled how such proofs of age could
belong to the man whose resistless valor had discomfited the fierce
determination of Arthus Heselrigge and his myrmidons.  However, his
doubts of the veteran before him being other than the brave Wallace,
were soon satisfied by the earl himself, who asked for a draught of the
water which trickled down the opposite hill; and while Halbert went to
bring it, Lord Mar raised his eyes to inquire for Sir William and Lady
Marion.  He started when he saw English armor on the man he would have
accosted, and rising suddenly from the stone on which he sat, demanded,
in a stern voice, "Who art thou?"

"An Englishman," answered the soldier; "one who does not, like the
monster Heselrigge, disgrace the name.  I would assist you, noble
Wallace, to fly this spot.  After that, I shall seek refuge abroad; and
there, on the fields of Guienne, demonstrate my fidelity to my king."

Mar looked at him steadily.  "You mistake; I am not Sir William
Wallace."

At that moment Halbert came up with the water.  The earl drank it,
though now, from the impulse surprise had given to his blood, he did
not require its efficacy; and turning to the venerable bearer, he asked
of him whether his master were safe.

"I trust he is," replied the old man; "but you, my lord, must hasten
hence.  A foul murder has been committed here, since you left it."

"But where is Lady Wallace?" asked the earl; "if there be such danger
we must not leave her to meet it."

"She will never meet danger more!" cried the old man, clasping his
hand; "she is in the bosom of the Virgin; and no second assassin's
steel can reach her there."

"What!" exclaimed the earl, hardly articulate with horror; "is Lady
Wallace murdered?" Halbert answered only by his tears.

"Yes," said the soldier; "and detestation of so unmanly an outrage
provoked me to desert his standard.  But no time must now be lost in
unavailing lamentation.  Heselrigge will return; and if we also would
not be sacrificed to his rage, we must hence immediately."

The earl, struck dumb at this recital, gave the soldier time to recount
the particulars.  When he had finished, Lord Mar saw the necessity for
instant flight, and ordered horses to be brought from the stables.
Though he had fainted in the well, the present shock gave such tension
to his nerves, that he found, in spite of his wound, he could now ride
without difficulty.

Halbert went as commanded, and returned with two horses.  Having
amongst rocks and glens to go, he did not bring one for himself; and
begging the good soldier might attend the earl to Bothwell, he added,
"He will guard you and this box, which Sir William Wallace holds as his
life.  What it contains I know not: and none, he says, may dare to
search into.  But you will take care of it for his sake, till more
peaceful times allow him to reclaim his own!"

"Fatal box!" cried the soldier, regarding it with an abhorrent eye,
"that was the leading cause which brought Heselrigge to Ellerslie."

"How?" inquired the earl.  Grimsby then briefly related, that
immediately after the return to Lanark of the detachment sent to
Ellerslie, under the English garrison in Douglas, and told the governor
that Sir William Wallace had that evening taken a quantity of treasure
from the castle.  His report was, that the English soldiers who stood
near the Scottish knight when he mounted at the castle gate, saw a long
iron coffer under his arm, but not suspecting its having belonged to
Douglas, they thought not of it, till they overheard Sir John Monteith,
as he passed through one of the galleries, muttering something about
gold and a box.  To intercept the robber amongst his native glens, the
soldiers deemed impracticable, and therefore their captain came
immediately to lay the information before the Governor of Lanark.  As
the scabbard found in the affray with young Arthur had betrayed the
victor to have been Sir William Wallace, this intimation of his having
been also the instrument of wrestling from the grasp of Heselrigge
perhaps the most valuable spoil in Douglas exasperated him to the most
vindictive excess.  Inflamed with the double furies of revenge and
avarice, he ordered out a new troop, and placing himself at its head,
took the way to Ellerslie.  One of the servants, whom some of
Hambledon's men had seized for the sake of information, on being
threatened with the torture, confessed to Heselrigge, that not only Sir
William Wallace was in the house when it was attacked, but that the
person whom he had rescued in the streets of Lanark, and who proved to
be a wealthy nobleman, was there also.  This whetted the eagerness of
the governor to reach Ellerslie; and expecting to get a rich booty,
without the most distant idea of the horrors he was going to
perpetrate, a large detachment of men followed him.

"To extort money from you, my lord," continued the soldier, "and to
obtain that fatal coffer, were his main objects; but disappointed in
his darling passion of avarice, he forgot he was a man, and the blood
of innocence glutted his barbarous vengeance."

"Hateful gold!" cried Lord Mar, spurning the box with his foot; "it
cannot be for itself the noble Wallace so greatly prizes it; it must be
a trust."

"I believe it is," returned Halbert, "for he enjoined my lady to
preserve it for the sake of his honor.  Take care of it, then, my lord,
for the same sacred reason."

The Englishman made no objection to accompany the earl; and by a
suggestion of his own, Halbert brought him a Scottish bonnet and cloak
from the house.  While he put them on, the earl observed that the
harper held a drawn and blood-stained sword in his hand, on which he
steadfastly gazed.  "Whence came that forried weapon?" cried Lord Mar.

"It is my lady's blood," replied Halbert, still looking on it.  "I
found it where she lay, in the hall, and I will carry it to my master.
Was not every drop of her blood dear to him? and here are many."  As
the old man spoke he bent his head on the sword, and groaned heavily.

"England shall hear more of this!" cried Mar, as he threw himself
across the horse.  "Give me that fatal box; I will buckle it to my
saddle-bow.  Inadequate will be my utmost care of it, to repay the vast
sorrow its preservation and mine have brought upon the head of my
deliverer."

The Englishman in silence mounted his horse, and Halbert opened a
back-gate that led to the hills which lay between Ellerslie and
Bothwell Castle.  Lord Mar took a golden-trophied bugle from his
breast: "Give this to your master, and tell him that by whatever hands
he sends it, the sight of it shall always command the services of
Donald Mar.  I go to Bothwell, in expectation that he will join me
there.  In making it his home he will render me happy, for my
friendship is now bound to him by bonds which only death can sever."

Halbert took the horn, and promising faithfully to repeat the earl's
message, prayed God to bless him and the honest soldier.  A rocky
promontory soon excluded them from his sight, and in a few minutes more
even the sound of their horses' hoofs was lost on the soft herbage of
the winding dell.

"Now I am alone in this once happy spot.  Not a voice, not a sound.
Oh, Wallace!" cried he, throwing up his venerable arms, "thy house is
left unto thee desolate, and I am to be the fatal messenger."  With the
last words he struck into a deep ravine which led to the remotest
solitudes of the glen, and pursued his way in dreadful silence.  No
human face of Scot or English cheered or scared him as he passed along.
The tumult had so alarmed the poor cottagers, that with one accord
they fled to their kindred on the hills, amid those fastnesses of
nature, to await tidings from the valley, of when all should be still,
and they might return in peace.  Halbert looked to the right and to the
left; no smoke, curling its gray mist from behind the intersecting
rocks, reminded him of the gladsome morning hour, or invited him to
take a moment's rest from his grievous journey.  All was lonely and
comfortless; and sighing bitterly over the wide devastation, he
concealed the fatal sword and the horn under his cloak, and with a
staff which he broke from a withered tree, took his way down the
winding craigs.  Many a pointed flint pierced his aged feet, while
exploring the almost trackless paths, which by their direction he hoped
would lead him at length to the deep caves of Corie Lynn.



Chapter IV.

Corie Lynn.


After having traversed many a weary rood of, to him, before untrodden
ground, the venerable minstrel of the house of Wallace, exhausted by
fatigue, sat down on the declivity of a steep craig.  The burning beams
of the midday sun now beat upon the rocks, but the overshadowing
foliage afforded him shelter, and a few berries from the brambles,
which knit themselves over the path he had yet to explore, with a
draught of water from a friendly burn, offered themselves to revive his
enfeebled limbs.  Insufficient as they appeared, he took them, blessing
Heaven for sending even these, and strengthened by half an hour's rest,
again he grasped his staff to pursue his way.

After breaking a passage, through the entangled shrubs that grew across
the only possible footing in this solitary wilderness, he went along
the side of the expanding stream, which at every turning of the rocks
increased in depth and violence.  The rills from above, and other
mountain brooks, pouring from abrupt falls down the craigs, covered him
with spray, and intercepted his passage.  Finding it impracticable to
proceed through the rushing torrent of a cataract, whose distant
roarings might have intimidated even a younger adventurer, he turned
from its tumbling waters which burst upon his sight, and crept on his
hands and knees up the opposite acclivity, catching by the fern and
other weeds to stay him from falling back into the flood below.
Prodigious craggy heights towered above his head as he ascended; while
the rolling clouds which canopied their summits seemed descending to
wrap him in their "fleecy skirts;" or the projecting rocks bending over
the waters of the glen, left him only a narrow shelf in the cliff,
along which he crept till it brought him to the mouth of a cavern.

He must either enter it or return the way he came, or attempt the
descent of overhanging precipices, which nothing could surmount but the
pinions of their native birds.  Above him was the mountain.  Retread
his footsteps until he had seen his beloved master, he was resolved not
to do--to perish in these glens would be more tolerable to him; for
while he moved forward, hope, even in the arms of death, would cheer
him with the whisper that he was in the path of duty.  He therefore
entered the cavity, and passing on, soon perceived an aperture, through
which emerging on the other side, he found himself again on the margin
of the river.  Having attained a wider bed, it left him a still
narrower causeway to perform the remainder of his journey.

Huge masses of rock, canopied with a thick umbrage of firs, beech, and
weeping-birch, closed over the glen and almost excluded the light of
day.  But more anxious, as he calculated by the increased rapidity of
the stream he must now be approaching the great fall near his master's
concealment, Halbert redoubled his speed.  But an unlooked-for obstacle
baffled his progress.  A growing gloom he had not observed in the sky
excluded valley, having entirely overspread the heavens, at this moment
suddenly discharged itself, amidst peals of thunder, in heavy floods of
rain upon his head.

Fearful of being overwhelmed by the streams, which now on all sides
crossed his path, he kept upon the edge of the river, to be as far as
possible from the influence of their violence.  And thus he proceeded,
slowly and with trepidation, through numerous defiles, and under the
plunge of many a mountain-torrent, till the augmented storm of a world
of waters, dashing from side to side, and boiling up with the noise and
fury of the contending elements above, told him he was indeed not far
from the fall of Corie Lynn.

The spray was spread in so thick a mist over the glen, he knew not how
to advance.  A step further might be on the firm earth, but more
probably illusive, and dash him into the roaring Lynn, where he would
be ingulfed at once in its furious whirlpool.  He paused and looked
around.  The rain had ceased, but the thunder still rolled at a
distance and echoed tremendously from the surrounding rocks.  Halbert
shook his gray locks, streaming with wet, and looked toward the sun,
now gliding with its last rays the vast sheets of falling water.

"This is thine hour, my master!" exclaimed the old man; "and surely I
am too near the Lynn to be far from thee!"

With these words he raised the pipe that hung at his breast, and blew
three strains of the appointed air.  In former days it used to call
from her bower that "fair star of evening," the beauteous Marion, now
departed for ever into her native heaven.  The notes trembled as his
agitated breath breathed them into the instrument; but feeble as they
were, and though the roar of the cataract might have prevented their
reaching a less attentive era than that of Wallace, yet he sprung from
the innermost recess under the fall, and dashing through its rushing
waters, the next instant was at the side of Halbert.

"Faithful creature!" cried he, catching him in his arms, which all the
joy of that moment which ends the anxious wish to learn tidings of what
is dearest in the world, "how fares my Marion?"

"I am weary," cried the heart-stricken old man; "take me within your
sanctuary, and I will tell you all."

Wallace perceived that his time-worn servant was indeed exhausted; and
knowing the toils and hazards of the perilous track he must have passed
over in his way to his fearful solitude, also remembering how, as he
sat in his shelter, he had himself dreaded the effects of the storm
upon so aged a traveler, he no longer wondered at the dispirited tone
of his greeting, and readily accounted for the pale countenance and
tremulous step which at first had excited his alarm.

Giving the old man his hand, he led him with caution to the brink of
the Lynn; and then, folding him in his arms, dashed with him through
the tumbling water into the cavern he had chosen for his asylum.
Halbert sunk against the rocky side, and putting forth his hand to
catch some of the water as it fell, drew a few drops to his parched
lips, and swallowed them.  After this light refreshment, he breathed a
little and turned his eyes upon his anxious master.

"Are you sufficiently recovered, Halbert, to tell me how you left my
dearest Marion."

Halbert dreaded to see the animated light which now cheered him from
the eyes of his master, overclouded with the Cimmerian horrors his
story must unfold; he evaded a direct reply; "I saw your guest in
safety; I saw him and the iron box on their way to Bothwell?"

"What!" inquired Wallace, "were we mistaken? was not the earl dead when
we looked into the well?" Halbert replied in the negative, and was
proceeding with a circumstantial account of his recovery and his
departure when Wallace interrupted him.

"But what of my wife, Halbert? why tell me of others before of her?
She whose safety and remembrance are now my sole comfort!"

"Oh, my dear lord!" cried Halbert, throwing himself on his knees in a
paroxysm of mental agony, "she remembers you where best her prayers can
be heard.  She kneels for her beloved Wallace, before the throne of
God!"

"Halbert!" cried Sir William, in a low and fearful voice, "what would
you say?  My Marion--speak! tell me in one word, she lives!"

"In heaven!"

At this confirmation of a sudden terror, imbibed from the ambiguous
words of Halbert, and which his fond heart would not allow him to
acknowledge to himself.  Wallace covered his face with his hands and
fell with a deep groan against the side of the cavern.  The horrid idea
of premature maternal pains, occasioned by anguish for him; of her
consequent death, involving perhaps that of her infant, struck him to
the soul; a mist seemed passing over his eyes; life was receding; and
gladly did he believe he felt his spirit on the eve of joining hers.

In having declared that the idol of his master's heart no longer
existed for him in this world, Halbert thought he had revealed the
worst, and he went on.  "Her latest breath was sent in prayer for you.
'My Wallace' were the last words her angel spirit uttered as it issued
from her bleeding wounds."

The cry that burst from the heart of Wallace, as he started on his feet
at this horrible disclosure, seemed to pierce through all the recessed
of the glen; and with an instantaneous and dismal return was re-echoed
from rock to rock.  Halbert threw his arms round his master's knees.
The frantic blaze of his eyes struck him with affright.  "Hear me, my
lord; for the sake of your wife, now an angel hovering near you, hear
what I have to say."

Wallace looked around with a wild countenance.  "My Marion near me!
Blessed spirit!  Oh, my murdered wife! my unborn babe!  Who made those
wounds?" cried he, catching Halbert's arm with a tremendous though
unconscious grasp; "tell me who had the heart to aim a blow at that
angel's life?"

"The Governor of Lanark," replied Halbert.

"How? for what?" demanded Wallace, with the terrific glare of madness
shooting from his eyes.  "My wife! my wife! what had she done?"

"He came at the head of a band of ruffians, and seizing my lady,
commanded her on the peril of her life, to declare where you and the
Earl of Mar and the box of treasure were concealed.  My lady persisted
in refusing him information, and in a deadly rage he plunged his sword
into her breast."  Wallace clinched his hands over his face, and
Halbert went on.  "Before he aimed a second blow, I had broken from the
men who held me, and thrown myself on her bosom; but all could not save
her; the villain's sword had penetrated her heart!"

"Great God!" exclaimed Wallace, "dost thou hear this murder?" His hands
were stretched toward heaven; then falling on his knees, with his eyes
fixed.  "Give me power, Almighty Judge!" cried he, "to assert thy
justice!  Let me avenge this angel's blood, and then take me to thy
mercy!"

"My gracious master," cried Halbert, seeing him rise with a stern
composure, "here is the fatal sword; the blood on it is sacred, and I
brought it to you."

Wallace took it in his hand.  He gazed at it, touched it, and kissed it
frantically.  The blade was scarcely yet dry, and the ensanguined hue
came off upon the pressure.  "Marion! Marion!" cried he, "is it thine?
Does not thy blood stain my lip?"  He paused for a moment, leaning his
burning forehead against the fatal blade; then looking up with a
terrific smile.  "Beloved of my soul! never shall this sword leave my
hand till it has drunk the life-blood of thy murderer."

"What is it you intend, my lord?" cried Halbert, viewing with increased
alarm the resolute ferocity which now, blazing from every part of his
countenance, seemed to dilate his figure with more than mortal daring.
"What can you do?  Your single arm-"

"I am not single-God is with me.  I am his avenger.  Now tremble,
tyranny!  I come to hurl thee down!" At the word he sprung from the
cavern's mouth, and had already reached the topmost cliff when the
piteous cries of Halbert penetrated his ear; they recalled him to
recollection, and returning to his servant, he tried to soothe his
fear, and spoke in a composed though determined tone.  "I will lead you
from this solitude to the mountains, where the shepherds of Ellerslie
are tending their flocks.  With them you will find a refuge, till you
have strength to reach Bothwell Castle.  Lord Mar will protect you for
my sake."

Halbert now remembered the bugle, and putting it into the master's
hand, with its accompanying message, asked for some testimony in
return, that the earl might know that he had delivered it safely.
"Even a lock of your precious hair, my beloved master, will be
sufficient."

"Thou shalt have it, severed from my head by this accurse steel,"
answered Wallace, taking off his bonnet, and letting his amber locks
fall in tresses on his shoulders.  Halbert burst into a fresh flood of
tears, for he remembered how often it had been the delight of Marion to
comb these bright tresses and to twist them round he ivory fingers.
Wallace looked up as the old man's sobs became audible, and read his
thoughts:  "It will never be again, Halbert," cried he, and with a firm
grasp of the sword he cut off a large handful of his hair.

"Marion, thy blood hath marked it!" exclaimed he; "and every hair on my
head shall be dyed of the same hue, before this sword is sheathed upon
thy murderers.  Here, Halbert," continued he, knotting it together,
"take this to the Earl of Mar; it is all, most likely, he will ever see
again of William Wallace.  Should I fall, tell him to look on that, and
in my wrongs read the future miseries of Scotland, and remember that
God armoreth the patriot's hand.  Let him set on that conviction and
Scotland may yet be free."

Halbert placed the lock in his bosom, but again repeated his
entreaties, that his master would accompany him to Bothwell Castle.  He
urged the consolation he would meet from the good earl's friendship.

"If he indeed regard me," returned Wallace, "for my sake let him
cherish you.  My consolations must come from a higher hand; I go where
it directs.  If I live, you shall see me again; but twilight
approaches--we must away.  The sun must not rise again upon Heselrigge."
Halbert now followed the rapid steps of Wallace, who, assisting the
feeble limbs of his faithful servant, drew him up the precipitous side
of the Lynn,** and then leaping from rock to rock, awaited with
impatience the slower advances of the poor old harper, as he crept
round a circuit of overhanging cliffs, to join him on the summit of the
craigs.

**The cavern which sheltered Sir William Wallace, near Corie Lynn, is
yet revered by the people.

Together they struck into the most inaccessible defiles of the
mountains, and proceeded, till on discerning smoke whitening with its
ascending curls the black sides of the impending rocks, Wallace saw
himself near the objects of his search.  He sprung on a high cliff
projecting over this mountain-valley, and blowing his bugle with a few
notes of the well-known pibroch of Lanarkshire, was answered by the
reverberations of a thousand echoes.

At the loved sounds which had not dared to visit their ears since the
Scottish standard was lowered to Edward, the hills seemed teeming with
life.  Men rushed from their fastnesses, and women with their babes
eagerly followed to see whence sprung a summons so dear to every
Scottish heart.  Wallace stood on the cliff, like the newly-aroused
genius of his country; his long plaid floated afar, and his glittering
hair streaming on the blast, seemed to mingle with the golden fires
which shot from the heavens.  Wallace raised his eyes--a clash as of the
tumult of contending armies filled the sky, and flames, and flashing
steel, and the horrid red of battle, streamed from the clouds upon the
hills.**

**The late Duke of Gordon exhibited a similar scene to Prince Leopold,
when his royal highness visited Gordon Castle, his "hills reeming with
life."-(1830.)

"Scotsmen!" cried Wallace, waving the fatal sword, which blazed in the
glare of these northern lights like a flaming brand, "behold how the
heavens cry aloud to you!  I come, in the midst of their fires, to call
you to vengeance.  I come in the name of all ye hold dear, of the wives
of you bosoms, and the children in their arms, to tell you the poniard
of England is unsheathed-innocence and age and infancy fall before it.
With this sword, last night, did Heselrigge, the English tyrant of
Lanark, break into my house, and murder my wife!"

The shriek of horror that burst from every mouth, interrupted Wallace.
"Vengeance! vengeance!" was the cry of the men, while tumultuous
lamentations for the "sweet Lady of Ellerslie," filled the air from the
women.

Wallace sprung from the cliff into the midst of his brave countrymen.
"Follow me, then, to strike the mortal blow!"

"Lead on!" cried a vigorous old man. "I drew this stout claymore last in
the battle of Largs.** Life and Alexander was then the word of victory:
now, ye accursed Southrons, ye shall meet the slogan* [* Slogan, (so the
war-word was termed.-(1809.)] of Death and Lady Marion."

**In the battle of Largs, Sir Malcolm Wallace, the father of Wallace,
fell gloriously fighting against the Danes.-(1830.)

"Death and Lady Marion!" was echoed with shouts from mouth to mouth.
Every sword was drawn; and those hardy peasants who owned none, seizing
the instruments of pasturage, armed themselves with wolf-spears,
pickaxes, forks, and scythes.

Sixty resolute men now ranged themselves around their chief.  Wallace,
whose widowed heart turned icy cold at the dreadful slogan of his
Marion's name, more fiercely grasped his sword, and murmured to
himself.  "From this day may Scotland date her liberty, or Wallace
return no more!  My faithful friends," cried he, turning to his men,
and placing his plumed bonnet on his head, "let the spirits of your
fathers inspire you souls; ye go to assert that freedom for which they
died.  Before the moon sets, the tyrant of Lanark must fall in blood."

"Death and Lady Marion!" was the pealing answer that echoed from the
hills.

Wallace again sprung on the cliffs.  His brave peasants followed him;
and taking their rapid march by a near cut through a hitherto
unexplored defile of the Cartlane Craigs, leaping chasms, and climbing
perpendicular rocks, they suffered no obstacles to impede their steps,
while thus rushing onward like lions to their prey.



Chapter V.

Lanark Castle.


The women, and the men who age withheld from so desperate an
enterprise, now thronged around Halbert, to ask a circumstantial
account of the disaster which had filled all with so much horror.

Many tears followed his recital; not one of his auditors was an
indifferent listener; all had individually or in persons dear to them,
partaken of the tender Marion's benevolence.  Their sick beds had been
comforted by her charity; her voice had often administered consolation
to their sorrows; her hand had smoothed their pillows, and placed the
crucifix before their dying eyes.  Some had recovered to bless her, and
some had departed to record her virtues in heaven.

"Ah! is she gone?" cried a young woman, raising her face, covered with
tears, from the bosom of her infant; "is the loveliest lady that ever
the sun shone upon, cold in the grave?  Alas, for me! she it was that
gave me the roof under which my baby was born; she it was who, when the
Southron soldiers slew my father, and drove us from our home in
Ayrshire, gave to my old mother, and my then wounded husband, our
cottage by the burnside.  Ah! well can I spare him now to avenge her
murder."

The night being far advanced, Halbert retired, at the invitation of
this young woman, to repose on the heather-bed of her husband who was
now absent with Wallace.  The rest of the peasantry withdrew to their
coverts, while she and some other women, whose anxieties would not
allow them to sleep, sat at the cavern's mouth watching the slowly
moving hours.

The objects of their fond and fervent prayers, Wallace and his little
army, were rapidly pursuing their march.  It was midnight--all was
silent as they hurried through the glen, as they ascended with flying
footsteps the steep acclivities that led to the cliffs which overhung
the vale of Ellerslie.  Wallace must pass along their brow.  Beneath
was the tomb of his sacrificed Marion!  He rushed forward to snatch one
look, even of the roof which shrouded her beloved remains.

But in the moment before he mounted the intervening height, a soldier
in English armor crossed the path, and was seized by his men.  One of
them would have cut him down, but Wallace turned away the weapon.
"Hold, Scot!" cried he, "you are not a Southron, to strike the
defenseless.  The man has no sword."

The reflection on their enemy which this plea of mercy contained
reconciled the impetuous Scots to the clemency of their leader.  The
rescued man, joyfully recognizing the voice of Wallace, exclaimed, "It
is my lord!  It is Sir William Wallace that has saved my life a second
time!"

"Who are you?" asked Wallace; "that helmet can cover no friend of mine."

"I am your servant Dugald," returned the man; "he whom your brave arm
saved from the battle-ax of Arthur Heselrigge."

"I cannot ask you how you came by that armor; but if you be yet a Scot
throw it off and follow me."

"Not to Ellerslie, my lord," cried he; "it has been plundered and
burned to the ground by the Governor of Lanark."

"Then," exclaimed Wallace, striking his breast, "are the remains of my
beloved Marion forever ravished from my eyes?  Insatiate monster!"

"He is Scotland's curse," cried the veteran of Largs.  "Forward, my
lord, in mercy to your country's groans!"

Wallace had now mounted the craig which overlooked Ellerslie.  His once
happy home had disappeared, and all beneath lay a heap of smoking
ashes.  He hastened from the sight, and directing the point of his
sword with a forceful action toward Lanark, re-echoed with supernatural
strength, "Forward!"

With the rapidity of lightning his little host flew over the hills,
reached the cliffs which divided them from the town, and leaped down
before the outward trench of the castle of Lanark.  In a moment Wallace
sprung so feeble a barrier; and with a shout of death, in which the
tremendous slogan of his men now joined, he rushed upon the guard that
held the northern gate.

Here slept the governor.  These opponents being slain by the first
sweep of the Scottish swords, Wallace hastened onward, winged with
twofold retribution.  The noise of battle was behind him; for the
shouts of his men had aroused the garrison and drawn its soldiers,
half-naked, to the spot.  He reached the door of the governor.  The
sentinel who stood there flew before the terrible warrior that
presented himself.  All the mighty vengeance of Wallace blazed in his
face and seemed to surround his figure with a terrible splendor.  With
one stroke of his foot he drove the door from its hinges, and rushed
into the room.

What a sight for the now awakened and guilty Heselrigge!  It was the
husband of the defenseless woman he had murdered come in the power of
justice, with uplifted arm and vengeance in his eyes?  With a terrific
scream of despair, and an outcry for the mercy he dared not expect, he
fell back into the bed and sought an unavailing shield beneath its
folds.

"Marion! Marion!" cried Wallace, as he threw himself toward the bed and
buried the sword, yet red with her blood, through the coverlid, deep
into the heart of her murderer.  A fiend-like yell from the slain
Heselrigge told him his work was done; and drawing out the sword he
took the streaming blade in his hand.  "Vengeance is satisfied," cried
he; "thus, O God! do I henceforth divide self from my heart!" As he
spoke he snapped the sword in twain, and throwing away the pieces, put
back with his hand the impending weapons of his brave companions, who
having cleared the passage of their assailants, had hurried forward to
assist in ridding their country of so detestable a tyrant.

"Tis done," cried he.  As he spoke he drew down the coverlid and
discovered the body of the governor weltering in blood.  The ghastly
countenance, on which the agonies of hell seemed imprinted, glared
horrible even in death.

Wallace turned away; but the men exulting in the sight, with a shout of
triumph exclaimed, "So fall the enemies of Sir William Wallace!"

"Rather to fall the enemies of Scotland!" cried he; "from this hour
Wallace has neither love nor resentment but for her.  Heaven has heard
me devote myself to work our country's freedom or to die.  Who will
follow me in so just a cause?"

"All!-with Wallace forever!"

The new clamor which this resolution excited, intimidated a fresh band
of soldiers, who were hastening across the courtyard to seek the enemy
in the governor's apartments.  But on the noise they hastily retreated,
and no exertions of their officers could prevail on them to advance
again, or even to appear in sight, when the resolute Scots with Wallace
at their head soon afterward issued from the great gate!  The English
commanders seeing the panic of their men, and which they were less able
to surmount on account of the way to the gate being strewn with their
slain comrades, fell back into the shadow of the towers, where by the
light of the moon, like men paralyzed, they viewed the departure of
their enemies over the trenches.



Chapter VI.

Cartlane Craigs.


The sun was rising from the eastern hills when the victorious group
re-entered the mountain-glen where their families lay.  The cheerful
sounds of their bugles aroused the sleepers from their caves; and many
were the gratulations and embraces which welcomed the warriors to
affection and repose.

Wallace, while he threw himself along a bed of purple heath, gathered
for him by many a busy female hand, listened with a calmed mind to the
fond inquiries of Halbert, who, awakened by the first blast of the
horn, had started from his shelter and hastened to hail the safe return
of his master.  While his faithful followers retired each to the bosom
of his rejoicing family, the fugitive chief of Ellerslie remained alone
with the old man, and recounted to him the success of his enterprise,
and the double injuries he had avenged.  "The assassin," continued he,
"has paid with his life for his inexpiable crime.  He is slain, and
with him several of Edward's garrison.  My vengeance may be appeased;
but what, O Halbert, can bring redress to my widowed heart?  All is
lost to me; I have now nothing to do with this world, but as I may be
the instrument of good to others!  The Scottish sword has now been
redrawn against our foes; and, with the blessing of Heaven, I swear it
shall not be sheathed till Scotland be rid of the tyranny which has
slain my happiness!  This night my gallant Scots have sworn to
accomplish my vow, and death or liberty must be the future fate of
Wallace and his friends."

At these words, tears ran down the cheeks of the venerable harper.
"Alas! my too brave master," exclaimed he, "what is it you would do?
Why rush upon certain destruction?  For the sake of her memory whom you
deplore; in pity to the worthy Earl of Mar, who will arraign himself as
the cause of all these calamities, and of your death, should you fall,
retract this desperate vow!"

"No, my good Halbert," returned Wallace.  "I am neither desperate nor
inefficient; and you, faithful creature, shall have no cause to mourn
this night's resolution.  GO to Lord Mar, and tell him what are my
resolves.  I have nothing now that binds me to life but my country; and
henceforth she shall be to me as mistress, wife and child.  Would you
deprive me of this tie, Halbert?  Would you, by persuading me to resign
my interest in her, devote me to a hermit's seclusion amongst these
rocks? for I will never again appear in the tracks of men if it be not
as the defender of her rights."

"But where, my master, shall we find you, should the earl choose to
join you with his followers?"

"In this wilderness, whence I shall not remove rashly.  My purpose is
to save my countrymen, not to sacrifice them in needless dangers."

Halbert, oppressed with sorrow at the images his foreboding heart drew
of the direful scenes in which his beloved master had pledged himself
to become the leader, bowed his head with submission, and, leaving
Wallace to his rest, retired to the mouth of the cavern to weep alone.

It was noon before the chief awoke from the death-like sleep into which
kind nature had plunged his long-harassed senses.  He opened his eyes
languidly, and when the sight of his rocky apartment forced on him the
recollection of all his miseries, he uttered a deep groan.  That sad
sound, so different from the jocund voice with which Wallace used to
issue from his rest, struck on the heart of Halbert; he drew near his
master to receive his last commands for Bothwell.  "On my knees," added
he, "will I implore the earl to send you succor."

"He needs not prayers for that," returned Wallace; "but depart, dear,
worthy Halbert; it will comfort me to know you are in safety; and
whithersoever you go, you carry my thanks and blessings with you."

Old age opens the fountains of tears; Halbert's flowed profusely, and
bathed his master's hand.  Could Wallace have wept, it would have been
then; but that gentle emollient of grief was denied to him, and, with a
voice of assumed cheerfulness, he renewed his efforts to encourage his
desponding servant.  Half persuaded that a Superior Being did indeed
call his beloved master to some extraordinary exertions for Scotland,
Halbert bade him an anxious farewell, and then withdrew to commit him
to the fidelity of the companions of his destiny.

A few of them led the old man on his way, as far as the western
declivity of the hills, and then, bidding him good speed, he took the
remainder of his journey alone.

After traversing many a weary mile, between Cartlane Craigs and
Bothwell Castle, he reached the valley in which that fortress stands,
and calling to the warder at his gates, that he came from Sir William
Wallace, was immediately admitted, and conducted into the castle.

Halbert was led by a servant into a spacious chamber, where the earl
lay on a couch.  A lady, richly habited, and in the bloom of life, sat
at his head.  Another, much younger, and of resplendent beauty, knelt
at his feet, with a salver of medicinal cordials in her hand.  The Lady
Marion's loveliness had been that of a soft moonlight evening; but the
face which now turned upon Halbert as he entered, was "full of light,
and splendor, and joy;" and the old man's eyes, even though dimmed in
tears, were dazzled.  A young man stood near her. On the entrance of
Halbert, whom the earl instantly recognized, he raised himself on his
arm, and welcomed him.  The young lady rose, and the young man stepped
eagerly forward.

The earl inquired anxiously for Sir William Wallace, and asked if he
might expect him soon at Bothwell.

"He cannot yet come, my lord," replied Halbert; "hard is the task he
has laid upon his valiant head; but he is avenged!  He has slain the
Governor of Lanark."  A faint exclamation broke from the lips of the
young lady.

"How?" demanded the earl.

Halbert now gave a particular account of the anguish of Wallace, when
he was told of the sanguinary events which had taken place at
Ellerslie.  As the honest harper described, in his own ardent language,
the devoted zeal with which the shepherds on the heights took up arms
to avenge the wrong done to their chief, the countenance of the young
lady, and of the youth, glowed through tears; they looked on each
other; and Halbert proceeded:

"When my dear master and his valiant troop were pursuing their way to
Lanark, he was met by Dugald, the wounded man who had rushed into the
room to apprise us of the advance of the English forces.  During the
confusion of that horrible night, and in the midst of the contention,
in spite of his feebleness he crept away, and concealed himself from
the soldiers amongst the bushes of the glen.  When all was over, he
came from his hiding-place; and finding the English soldier's helmet
and cloak, poor Dugald, still fearful of falling in with any straggling
party of Heselrigge's, disguised himself in those Southron clothes.
Exhausted with hunger, he was venturing toward the house in search of
food, when the sight of armed men in the hall made him hastily retreat
into his former place of refuge.  His alarm was soon increased by a
redoubled noise from the house; oaths and horrid bursts of merriment
seemed to have turned that once abode of honor and of loveliness into
the clamorous haunts of ribaldry and rapine.  In the midst of the
uproar, he was surprised by seeing flames issue from the windows.
Soldiers poured from the doors with shouts of triumph; some carried off
the booty, and others watched by the fire till the interior of the
building was consumed and the rest sunk a heap of smoking ruins.

"The work completed, these horrid ministers of devastation left the
vale to its own solitude.  Dugald, after waiting a long time to
ascertain they were quite gone, crawled from the bushes, and, ascending
the cliffs, he was speeding to the mountains, when, encountering our
armed shepherds, they mistook him for an English soldier, and seized
him.  The chief of ruined Ellerslie recognized his servant; and, with
redoubled indignation, his followers heard the history of the moldering
ashes before them."

"Brave, persecuted Wallace!" exclaimed the earl; "how dearly was my
life purchased!  But proceed, Halbert; tell me that he returned safe
from Lanark."

Halbert now recounted the dreadful scenes which took place in that
town; and that when the governor fell, Wallace made a vow never to
mingle with the world again till Scotland should be free.

"Alas!" cried the earl, "what miracle is to effect that?  Surely he
will not bury those noble qualities, that prime of manhood, within the
gloom of a cloister!"

"No, my lord; he has retired to the fastnesses of Cartlane Craigs."

"Why," resumed Mar, "why did he not rather fly to me?  This castle is
strong; and while one stone of it remains upon another, not all the
hosts of England should take him hence."

"It was not your friendship he doubted," returned the old man, "love
for his country compels him to reject all comfort in which she does not
share.  His last words to me were these: 'I have nothing now to do but
to assert the liberties of Scotland, and to rid her of her enemies.  Go
to Lord Mar; take this lock of my hair, stained with the blood of my
wife.  It is all, most likely, he will ever again see of William
Wallace.  Should I fall, tell him to look on that, and in my wrongs
read the future miseries of Scotland; and remember, that God armeth the
patriot!"

Tears dropped so fast from the young lady's eyes, she was obliged to
walk to a window, to restrain a more violent burst of grief.

"O! my uncle," cried the youth, "surely the freedom of Scotland is
possible.  I feel in my soul, that the words of the brave Wallace are
prophetic."

The earl held the lock of hair in his hands; he regarded it, lost in
meditation.

"'God armeth the patriot!'"  He paused again, his before pallid cheek
taking a thousand animated hues; then raising the sacred present to his
lips, "Yes," cried he, "thy vow shall be performed; and while Donald
Mar has an arm to wield a sword, or a man to follow to the field, thou
shalt command both him and them!"

"But not as you are, my lord!" cried the elder lady; "your wounds are
yet unhealed; your fever is still raging!  Would it not be madness to
expose your safety at such a crisis?"

"I shall not take arms myself," answered he, "till I can bear them to
effect; meanwhile all of my clan, and of my friends, that I can raise
to guard the life of my deliverer and to promote the cause, must be
summoned.  This lock shall be my pennon; and what Scotsman will look on
that, and shrink from his colors!  Here, Helen, my child," cried he,
addressing the young lady, "before to-morrow's dawn, have this hair
wrought into my banner.  It will be a patriot's standard; and let his
own irresistible words be the motto--God armeth me."

Helen advanced with awestruck trepidation.  Having been told by the
earl of the generous valor of Wallace, and of the cruel death of his
lady, she had conceived a gratitude and a pity deeper than language
could express, for the man who had lost so much by succoring one so
dear to hear.  She took the lock, waving in yellow light upon her
hands, and, trembling with emotion, was leaving the room, when she
heard her cousin throw himself on his knees.

"I beseech you, my honored uncle," cried he, "if you have love for me,
or value for my future fame, allow me to be the bearer of your banner
to Sir William Wallace."

Helen stopped at the threshold to hear the reply.

"You could not, my dear nephew," returned the earl, "have asked me any
favor I could grant with so much joy.  To-morrow I will collect the
peasantry of Bothwell, and with those, and my own followers, you shall
join Wallace the same night."

Ignorant of the horrors of war, and only alive to the glory of the
present cause, Helen sympathized in the ardor of her cousin, and with a
thrill of sad delight hurried to her apartment, to commence her task.

Far different were the sentiments of the countess, her stepmother.  As
soon as Lord Mar had let this declaration escape his lips, alarmed at
the effect so much agitation might have on his enfeebled constitution,
and fearful of the perilous cause he ventured thus openly to espouse,
she desired his nephew to take the now comforted Halbert (who was
pouring forth his gratitude to the earl, for the promptitude of his
orders), and see that he was attended with hospitality.

When the room was left to the earl and herself, she ventured to
remonstrate with him upon the facility with which he had become a party
in so treasonable a matter.  "Consider, my lord," continued she, "that
Scotland is now entirely in the power of the English monarch.  His
garrisons occupy our towns, his creatures hold every place of trust in
the kingdom!"

"And is such a list of oppressions, my dear lady, to be an argument for
longer bearing them?  Had I, and other Scottish nobles, dared to resist
this overwhelming power after the battle of our liberties, kept our own
unsheathed within the bulwarks of our mountains, Scotland might now be
free; I should not have been insulted by our English tyrants in the
streets of Lanark; and, to save my life, William Wallace would not now
be mourning his murdered wife, and without a home to shelter him!"

Lady Mar paused at this observation, but resumed, "That may be true.
But the die is cast; Scotland is lost forever; and by your attempting
to assist your friend in this rash essay to recover it, you will only
lose yourself also, without preserving him.  The project is wild and
needless.  What would you have?  Now that the contention between the
two kings is past; now that Baliol has surrendered his crown to Edward,
is not Scotland at peace?"

"A bloody peace, Joanna," answered the earl; "witness these wounds.  A
usurper's peace is more destructive than his open hostilities; plunder
and assassination are its concomitants.  I have now seen and felt
enough of Edward's jurisdiction.  It is time I should awake, and, like
Wallace, determine to die for Scotland, or avenge her."

Lady Mar wept.  "Cruel Donald! is this the reward of all my love and
duty?  You tear yourself from me, you consign your estates to
sequestration, you rob your children of their name; nay, by your
infectious example, you stimulate our brother Bothwell's son to head
the band that is to join this madman, Wallace!"

"Hold, Joanna!" cried the earl; "what is it I hear?  You call the hero
who, in saving your husband's life, reduced himself to these cruel
extremities, a madman!  Was he made because he prevented the Countess
of Mar from being a widow?  Was he made because he prevented her
children from being fatherless?"

The countess, overcome by this cutting reproach, threw herself upon her
husband's neck.  "Alas! my lord," cried she, "all is madness to me that
would plunge you into danger.  Think of your own safety; of my innocent
twins now in their cradle, should you fall.  Think of our brother's
feeling when you send his only son to join one he, perhaps, would call
a rebel!"

"If Earl Bothwell considered himself a vassal of Edward's he would not
now be with Lord Loch-awe.  From the moment that gallant Highlander
retired to Argyleshire, the King of England regarded his adherents with
suspicion.  Bothwell's present visit to Loch-awe, you see, is
sufficient to sanction the plunder of this castle by the peaceful
government you approve.  You saw the opening of those proceedings!  And
had they come to their dreadful issue, where, my dear Joanna, would now
be your home, your husband, your children?  It was the arm of the brave
chief of Ellerslie which saved them from destruction."

Lady Mar shuddered.  "I admit the truth of what you say. But oh! is it
not hard to put my all to the hazard; to see the bloody field on one
side of my beloved Donald, and the mortal scaffold on the other?"

"Hush!" cried the earl, "it is justice that beckons me, and victory
will receive me to her arms.  Let, oh Power above!" exclaimed he, in
the fervor of enthusiasm, "let the victorious field for Scotland be
Donald Mar's grave, rather than doom him to live a witness of her
miseries!"

"I cannot stay to hear you!" answered the countess; "I must invoke the
Virgin to give me courage to be a patriot's wife; at present, your
words are daggers to me."

In uttering this she hastily withdrew, and left the earl to muse on the
past--to concert plans for the portentous future.



Chapter VII.

Bothwell Castle.


Meanwhile the Lady Helen had retired to her own apartments.  Lord Mar's
banner being brought to her from the armory, she sat down to weave into
its silken texture the amber locks of the Scottish chief.  Admiring
their softness and beauty, while her needle flew, she pictured to
herself the fine countenance they had once adorned.

The duller extremities of the hair, which a sadder liquid than that
which now dropped from her eyes and rendered stiff and difficult to
entwine with the warp of the silk, seemed to adhere to her fingers.
Helen almost shrunk from the touch.  "Unhappy lady!" she sighed to
herself; "what a pang must have rent her heart, when the stroke of so
cruel a death tore her from such a husband! and how must he have loved
her, when for her sake he thus forswears all future joys but those
which camps and victories may yield!  Ah! what would I give to be my
cousin Murray, to bear this pennon at his side!  What would I give to
reconcile so admirable a being to happiness again--to weep his griefs,
or smile him into comfort!  To be that man's friend, would be a higher
honor than to be Edward's queen."

Her heart was thus discoursing with itself when a page opened the door
for her cousin, who begged admittance.  She had just fastened the
flowing charge into its azure field, and while embroidering the motto,
gladly assented.

"You know not, my good old man," said the gallant Murray to Halbert, as
he conducted him across the galleries, "what a noble mind is contained
in that lovely young creature.  I was brought up with her, and to the
sweet contagion of her taste do I owe that love of true glory which
carries me to the side of Sir William Wallace.  The virtuous only can
awaken any interest in her heart; and in these degenerate days long
might have been its sleep had not the history which my uncle recounted
of your brave master aroused her attention, and filled her with an
admiration equal to my own.  I know she rejoices in my present
destination.  And to prevent her hearing from your own lips all you
have now told me of the mild as well as heroic virtues of my intended
commander--all you have said of the heroism of his wife--would be
depriving her of a mournful pleasure, only to be appreciated by a heart
such as hers."

The gray-haired bard of Ellerslie, who had ever received the dearest
reward of his songs in the smiles of its mistress, did not require
persuasion to appear before the gentle lady of Mar, or to recite in her
ears the story of the departed loveliness, fairer than poet ever
feigned.

Helen rose as he and her cousin appeared.  Murray approved the
execution of her work; and Halbert, with a full heart, took the pennon
in his hand.  "Ah! little did my dear lady think," exclaimed he, "that
one of these loved locks would ever be suspended on a staff to lead men
to battle!  What changes have a few days made!  She, the gentlest of
women, laid in a bloody grave; and he, the most benevolent of human
beings, wielding an exterminating sword!

"You speak of her grave, venerable man," inquired Helen; "had you,
then, an opportunity of performing the rites of sepulture to her
remains?"

"No, madam," replied he; "after the worthy English soldier now in this
castle, assisted me to place her precious body in my lord's oratory, I
had no opportunity of returning to give her a more holy grave."

"Alas!" cried Helen; "then her sacred relics have been consumed in the
burning house!"

"I hope not," rejoined Halbert; "the chapel I speak of is at some
distance from the main building.  It was excavated in the rock by Sir
Ronald Crawford, who gave the name of Ellerslie to this estate, in
compliment to Sir William's place of birth in Renfrewshire, and
bestowed it on the bridal pair.  Since then, the Ellerslie of
Clydesdale has been as dear to my master as that of the Carth; and well
it might be, for it was not only the home of all his wedded joys, but
under its roof his mother, the Lady Margaret Crawford, drew her first
breath.  Ah! woe is me! that happy house is now, like herself, reduced
to cold, cold ashes!  She married Sir Malcolm Wallace, and he is gone
too!  Both the parents of my honored master died in the bloom of their
lives; and a grievous task will it be to whoever is to tell the good
Sir Ronald that the last sweet flower of Ellerslie is now cut down!
that the noblest branch of his own stem is torn from the soil to which
he had transplanted it, and cast far away into the waste wilderness!"**


**The Ellerslie in Renfrewshire here referred to, and which was the
birthplace of William Wallace, and the hereditary property of his
father, Sir Malcolm Wallace, was situated in the abbey parish of
Paisley, three miles west of the won of Paisley, and nine from Glasgow.
A large old oak, still called Wallace's Oak, stands close to the road
from Paisley to Leith, and within a short distance from it once stood
the manor of Ellerslie.  The venerable name is now corrupted into
Elderslie, and the estate has become the property of Archibald Spiers,
Esq., M. P. for Renfrewshire.  For this topographical account, I am
indebted to a Renfrewshire gentleman.-(1809.)

The tears of the venerable harper bore testimony to his inward resolve,
that this messenger should not be himself.  Lady Helen, who had fallen
into a reverie during the latter part of his speech, now spoke, and
with something of eagerness.

"Then we shall hope," rejoined she, "that the oratory has not only
escaped the flames, but perhaps the access of the English soldiers?
Would it not comfort your lord to have that sweet victim entombed
according to the rites of the church?"

"Surely my lady; but how can that be done?  He thinks her remains were
lost in the conflagration of Ellerslie; and for fear of precipitating
him into the new dangers which might have menaced him had he sought to
bring away her body, I did not disprove his mistake."

"But her body shall be brought away," rejoined Lady Helen; "it shall
have holy burial."

"To effect this, command my services," exclaimed Murray.

Helen thanked him for an assistance which would render the completion
of her design easy.  The English soldier as guide, and a troop from
Bothwell, must accompany him.

"Alas! my young lord," interposed Halbert, "suppose you should meet
some of the English still loitering there?"

"And what of that, my honest Halbert? would not I and my trusty band
make them clear the way?  Is it not to give comfort to the deliverer of
my uncle, that I seek the glen? and shall anything in mortal shape make
Andrew Murray turn his back?   No, Halbert!  I was not born on St.
Andrew's day for naught; and by his bright cross I swear either to lay
Lady Wallace in the tomb of my ancestors, or leave my bones to bleach
on the grave of hers."

Helen loved the resolution of her cousin; and believing that the now
ravaged Ellerslie had no attractions to hold marauders amongst its
ruins, she dismissed Lord Andrew to make his preparations, and turned
herself to prefer her suit accordingly to her father.

Ere Halbert withdrew, he respectfully put her hand to his lips.
"Good-night," continued she, "ere you see me again, I trust the earthly
part of the angel now in paradise will be safe within these towers."
He poured a thousand blessings on her head, and almost thought that he
saw in her beautiful form one of heaven's inhabitants sent to bear away
his dear mistress to her divine abode.

On entering her father's apartment, Lady Helen found him alone.  She
repeated to him the substance of her conversation with Wallace's
faithful servant; "and my wish is," continued she, "to have the
murdered lady's remains entombed in the cemetery of this castle."

The earl approved her request, with expressions of satisfaction at the
filial affection which so lively a gratitude to his preserver evinced.

"May I, then, my dear father," returned she, "have your permission to
pay our debt of gratitude to Sir William Wallace to the utmost of our
power?"

"You are at liberty, my noble child, to do as you please.  My vassals,
my coffers, are all at your command."

Helen kissed his hand.  "May I have what I please from the Bothwell
armory?"

"Command even there," said the earl; "your uncle Bothwell is too true a
Scot to grudge a sword in so pious a cause."

Helen threw her arms about her father's neck, thanking him tenderly,
and with a beating heart retired to prosecute her plans.  Murray, who
met her in the anteroom, informed her that fifty men, the sturdiest in
the glen, awaited her orders; while she, telling her cousin of the
earl's approval, took the sacred banner in her hand, and followed him
to the gallery in the hall.

The moment she appeared, a shout of joy bade her welcome.  Murray waved
his hands in token of silence; while she, smiling with the benignity
that spoke her angel errand, spoke with agitation:

"My brave friends!" said she, "I thank you for the ardor with which, by
this night's enterprise, you assist me to pay, in part, the everlasting
tribute due to the man who preserved to me the blessing of a father.

"With that spirit, then," returned she, "I address ye with greater
confidence.  Who amongst you will shrink from following this standard
to the field for Scotland's honor?  Who will refuse to make himself the
especial guardian of the life of Sir William Wallace? and who, in the
moment of peril, will not stand by him to the last?

"None are her," cried a young man, advancing before his fellows, "who
would not gladly die in his defense."

"We swear it," burst from every lip at once.

She bowed her head, and said, "Return from Ellerslie to-morrow, with
the bier of its sainted mistress, I will then bestow upon every man in
this band a war-bonnet plumed with my colors; and this banner shall
then lead you to the side of Sir William Wallace.  In the shock of
battle look at its golden ensign, and remember that God not only armeth
the patriot's hand, but shieldeth his heart.  In this faith, be ye the
bucklers which Heaven sends to guard the life of Wallace; and, so
honored, exult in your station, and expect the future gratitude of
Scotland."

"Wallace and Lady Helen! to death or liberty!" was the animated
response to this exhortation; and smiling and crossing her hands over
her bosom, in token of thanks of them and to Heaven, she retired in the
midst of their acclamations.  Murray, ready armed for his expedition,
met her at the door.  Restored to his usual vivacity by the
spirit-moving emotions which the present scene awakened in his heart,
he forgot the horror which had aroused his zeal, in the glory of some
anticipated victory; and giving her a gay salutation, led her back to
her apartments, where the English soldier awaited her commands.  Lady
Helen, with a gentle grace, commended his noble resentment of
Heselrigge's violence.

"Lands in Mar shall be yours," added she, "or a post of honor in the
little army the earl is now going to raise.  Speak but the word, and
you shall find, worthy Englishman, that neither a Scotsman, nor his
daughter, know what it is to be ungrateful."

The blood mounted into the soldier's cheek.  "I thank you, sweetest
lady, for this generous offer; but, as I am an Englishman, I dare not
accept it.  My arms are due to my own country; and whether I am tied to
it by lands or possessions, or have naught but my English blood and my
oath to my king to bind me, still I should be equally unwarranted in
breaking these bonds.  I left Heselrigge because he dishonored my
country; and for me to forswear her, would be to make myself infamous.
Hence, all I ask is, that after I have this night obeyed your gracious
commands, in leading your men to Ellerslie, the Earl of Mar will allow
me instantly to depart for the nearest port."

Lady Helen replied that she revered his sentiments too sincerely to
insult them by any persuasions to the contrary; and taking a diamond
clasp from her bosom, she put it into his hand; "Wear it in remembrance
of your virtue, and of Helen Mar's gratitude."

The man kissed it respectfully, and bowing, swore to preserve so
distinguishing a gift to the latest hour of his existence.

Helen retired to her chamber to finish her task; and Murray, bidding
her good-night, repaired to the earl's apartments, to take his final
orders before he and his troop set out for the ruins of Ellerslie.



Chapter VIII.

Bothwell Chapel.


Night having passed over the sleepless heads of the inhabitants of
Bothwell Castle, as soon as the sun arose, the Earl of Mar was carried
from his chamber, and laid on a couch in the state apartment.  His lady
had not yet left the room of his daughter, by whose side she had lain
the whole night in hopes of infecting her with the fears which
possessed himself.

Helen replied that she could see no reason for such direful
apprehension, if her father, instead of joining Wallace in person,
would, when he had sent him succors, retire with his family into the
Highlands, and there await the issue of the contest.  "It is too late
to retreat, dear madam," continued she; "the first blow against the
public enemy was struck in defense of Lord Mar; and would you have my
father act so base a part, as to abandon his preserver to the wrath
such generous assistance has provoked?"

"Alas, my child!" answered the countess, "what great service will he
have done to me or to your father, if he deliver him from one danger,
only to plunge him into another?  Edward's power in this country is too
great to be resisted now.  Have not most of our barons sworn fealty to
him? and are not the potent families of the Cummin, the Soulis, and the
March, all in his interest?  You may perhaps say, that most of these
are my relations, and that I may turn them which way I will; but if I
have no influence with a husband, it would be madness to expect it over
more distant kindred.  How, then, with such a host against him, can
your infatuated father venture, without despair, to support the man who
breaks the peace with England?"

"Who can despair, honored lady," returned Helen, "in so just a cause?
Let us rather believe with our good King David, that 'Honor must hope
always; for no real evil can befall the virtuous, either in this world
or in the next!'  Were I a man, the justice that leads on the brave
Wallace would nerve my arm with the strength of a host.  Besides, look
at our country; God's gift of freedom is stamped upon it.  Our
mountains are his seal.  Plains are the proper territories of tyranny;
there the armies of a usurper may extend themselves with ease; leaving
no corner unoccupied in which patriotism might shelter or treason hide.
But mountains, glens, morasses, lakes, set bounds to conquest; and
amidst these stands the impregnable seat of liberty.  To such a
fortress, to the deep defiles of Loch Katrine, or to the
cloud-curtained heights of Corryarraick, I would have my father retire.
In safety he may there watch the footsteps of our mountain-goddess,
till, led by her immortal champion, she plants her standard again upon
the hills of Scotland."

The complexion of the animated Helen shone with a radiant glow.  Her
heart panted with a foretaste of the delight she would feel when all
her generous wishes should be fulfilled; and pressing the now completed
banner to her breast, with an enthusiasm she believed prophetic, her
lips moved, though her voice did not utter the inexpressible rapture of
her heart.

Lady Mar looked at her.  "It is well, romantic girl, that you are of my
own powerless sex; had it been otherwise, your rash-headed disobedience
might have made me rue the day I became your father's wife."

"Sex," returned Helen, mildly, "could not have altered my sense of
duty.  Whether man or woman, I would obey you in all things consistent
with my duty to a higher power; but when that commands, then by the
ordinance of Heaven, we must 'leave father and mother, and cleave unto
it.'"

"And what, O foolish Helen, do you call a higher duty than that of a
child to a parent, or a husband to his wife?"

"Duty of any kind," respectfully answered the young daughter of Mar,
"cannot be transgressed with innocence.  Nor would it be any
relinquishing of duty to you, should my father leave you to take up
arms in the assertion of his country's rights.  Her rights are your
safety; and therefore, in defending them, a husband or a son best shows
his sense of domestic, as well as of public duty."

"Who taught you this sophistry, Helen?  Not your heart, for it would
start at the idea of your father's blood."

Helen turned pale.  "Perhaps, madam, had not the preservation of my
father's blood occasioned such malignity from the English, that nothing
but an armed force can deliver his preserver, I, too, might be content
to see Scotland in slavery.  But now, to wish my father to shrink
behind the excuse of far-strained family duties, and to abandon Sir
William Wallace to the blood hounds who hunt his life, would be to
devote his name of Mar to infamy, and deservedly bring a curse upon his
offspring."

"Then it is to preserve Sir William Wallace you are thus anxious.  Your
spirit of freedom is now disallowed, and all this mighty gathering is
for him.  My husband, his vassals, your cousin, and, in short, the
sequestration of the estates of Mar and Bothwell, are all to be put to
the hazard on account of a frantic outlaw, to whom, since the loss of
his wife, I should suppose, death would be preferable to any gratitude
we can pay him."

Lady Helen, at this ungrateful language, inwardly thanked Heaven that
she inherited no part of the blood which animated so unfeeling a heart.
"That he is an outlaw, Lady Mar, springs from us.  That death is the
preferable comforter of his sorrows, also, he owes to us; for was it
not for my father's sake that his wife fell, and that he himself was
driven into the wilds?  I do not, then, blush for making his
preservation my first prayer; and that he may achieve the freedom of
Scotland, is my second."

"We shall see whose prayers will be answered first," resumed Lady Mar,
rising coldly from her seat.  "My saints are perhaps nearer than yours,
and before the close of this day you will have reason to repent such
extravagant opinions.  I do not understand them."

"Till now, you never disapproved them."

"I allowed them in your infancy," replied the countess, "because I
thought they went no further than a minstrel's song; but since they are
become so dangerous, I rue the hour in which I complied with the
entreaties of Sir Richard Maitland, and permitted you and your sister
to remain at Thirlestane, to imbibe these romantic ideas from the
wizard of Ercildown.**  Had not Sir Richard been your own mother's
father, I would not have been so easily prevailed on; and thus am I
rewarded for my indulgence."

**Few personages are so renowned in tradition as Thomas of Ercildown,
usually called the Rhymer.  He was a poet and a sage, and believed by
his contemporaries to be a prophet.  He was born at Ercildown, a
village on the Leeder (or Lauder), where the ruins of his paternal
castle, called Learmont Tower, still remain.-(1809.)

"I hope, honored madam," said Helen, still wishing to soften the
displeasure of her step-mother, "I hope you will never be ill-rewarded
for that indulgence, either by my grandfather, my sister, or myself.
Isabella, in the quiet of Thirlestane, has no chance of giving you the
offense that I do; and I am forced to offend you, because I cannot
disobey my conscience."  A tear stood in the eye of Lady Helen.
"Cannot you, dear Lady Mar," continued she, forcing a smile, "pardon
the daughter of your early friend, my mother, who loved you as a
sister?  Cannot you forgive her Helen for revering justice even more
than your favor?"

More influenced by the sweet humility of her daughter-in-law than by
the ingenuous eloquence with which she maintained her sentiments, or
with the appeal to the memory of the first Lady Mar, the countess
relaxed the frigid air she had assumed, and kissing her, with many
renewed injunctions to bless the hand that might put a final stop to so
ruinous an enthusiasm in her family, she quitted the room.

As soon as Helen was alone, she forgot the narrow-minded arguments of
the countess; and calling to recollection the generous permission with
which her father had endowed her the night before, she wrapped herself
in her mantle, and, attended by her page, proceeded to the armory.  The
armorer was already there, having just given out arms for three hundred
men, who, by the earl's orders were to assemble by noon on Bothwell
Moor.

Helen told the man she came for the best suit of armor in his
custody-"one of the most excellent proof."

He drew from an oaken chest a coat of black mail, studded with gold.
Helen admired its strength and beauty.  "It is the richest in all
Scotland," answered he; "and was worn by our great Canmore in all his
victories."

"Then it is worthy its destination.  Bring it, with its helmet and
sword, to my apartment."

The armorer took it up; and, accompanied by the page carrying the
lighter parts, followed her into the western tower.

When Helen was again alone, it being yet very early in the morning, she
employed herself in pluming the casque, and forming the scarf she meant
should adorn her present.  Thus time flew, till the sand-glass told her
it was the eighth hour.  But ere she had finished her task, she was
roused from the profound stillness in which that part of the castle
lay, by the doleful lament of the troop returning from Ellerslie.

She dropped the half-formed scarf from her hand; and listened, without
daring to draw her breath, to the deep-toned lamentations.  She thought
that she had never before heard the dirge of her country so piercing,
so thrillingly awful.  Her head fell on the armor and scarf.  "Sweet
lady," sighed she to herself, "who is it that dares thus invade thy
duties?  But my gratitude--gratitude to the once-loved lord, will not
offend thy pure spirit!"  Again the mournful wailings rose on the air;
and with a convulsion of feelings she could not restrain, she threw
herself on her knees, and leaning her head on the newly-adorned helmet,
wept profusely.

Murray entered the room unobserved.  "Helen! my dear cousin!" cried he.
She started, and rising, apologized for her tears by owning the truth.
He now told her, that the body of the deceased lady was deposited in
the chapel of the castle; and that the priests from the adjacent priory
only awaited her presence to consign it, with the church's rites, to
its tomb.

Helen retired for a few minutes to recover herself; and then
re-entering, covered with a black veil, was led by her cousin to the
awful scene.

The bier lay before the altar.  The prior of St. Fillan, in his holy
vestments, stood at its head; a band of monks were ranged on each side.
The maids of Lady Helen, in mourning garments, met their mistress at
the portal.  They had wrapped the beautiful corpse in the shroud
prepared for it; and now having laid it, strewed with flowers, upon the
bier, they advanced to their trembling lady, expecting her to approve
their services.  Helen drew near--she bowed to the priests.  One of the
women put her hand on the pall, to uncover the once lovely face of the
murdered Marion.  Lady Helen hastily resisted the woman's motion, by
laying her hand also upon the pall.  The chill of death struck through
the velvet to her touch.  She turned pale; and waving her hand to the
prior to begin, the bier was lowered by the priests into the tomb
beneath.  As it descended, Helen sunk upon her knees, and the anthem
for departed souls was raised.  The pealing notes, as they rose and
swelled, seemed to bear up the spirit of the sainted Marion to its
native heaven; and the tears which now flowed from the eyes of Helen,
as they mingled with her pious aspirations, seemed the balm of paradise
descending upon her soul.

When all was over, the venerable Halbert, who had concealed his
overwhelming sorrow behind a pillar, threw himself on the cold stone
which now closed the last chamber of his mistress.  With faint cries,
he gave way to the woe that shook his aged bosom, and called on death
to lay him low with her.  The women of Lady Helen again chanted forth
their melancholy wailings for the dead; and unable longer to bear the
scene, she grasped the arm of her cousin, and with difficulty walked
from the chapel.



Chapter IX.

Bothwell Dungeons.


Having rewarded his trusty followers with their promised war-bonnets
from the hand of Helen, and dispatched them onward to the foot of
Cartiane Craigs, to await his arrival with the larger levy.  Murray
proceeded to the apartment of Lord Mar, to inform him how far he had
executed his commands, and to learn his future orders.  HE found the
veteran earl surrounded by arms and armed men; fifty brave Scots, who
were to lead the three hundred on Bothwell Moor, were receiving their
spears and swords, and other weapons, from the hands of their lord.

"Bear these stoutly my gallant countrymen," cried he, "and remember,
that although the dragon** of England has burned up your harvests, and
laid our homes in ashes, there is yet a lion in Scotland to wither his
power, and glut you with his spoil!"

**The standard of Edward I, was a golden dragon--a very ancient British
standard, but derived from pagan times.-(1809.)

The interest of the scene, and the clatter of the arms he was
dispensing, prevented anybody present hearing any sound of what was
taking place beyond the room.  But the earl had hardly uttered these
words, when the double-doors of the apartment were abruptly opened, and
all eyes were blasted by the sudden sight of Lord Soulis,** and a man
in splendid English armor, with a train of Southron soldiers, following
the recreant Scot.

**William Lord Soulis was a powerful chief in the south of Scotland.
He founded pretensions to the Scottish crown, on his descent from an
illegitimate daughter of Alexander II.  Soulis was a traitor to his
country, and so notoriously wicked, that tradition endows him with the
power of infernal necromancy.  His castle of Hermitage, in Teviotdale,
is still shown as the resort of malignant demons.-(1809.)

The earl started from his couch.  "Lord Soulis! what is the occasion of
this unapprised visit?"

"The ensign of the liege lord of Scotland is my warrant!" replied he;
"you are my prisoner; and in the name of King Edward of England, I take
possession of this castle."

"Never!" cried the earl, "while there is a man's arm within it."

"Man and woman," returned Lord Soulis, "must surrender to Edward.
Three thousand English have seized three hundred of our insurgents on
Bothwell Moor.  The castle is surrounded, and resistance impossible.
Throw down your arms!" cried he, turning to the clansmen, who thronged
round their chief; "or be hanged for rebellion against your lawful
sovereign!"

"Our lawful sovereign!" returned a young man who stood near him, "must
be the enemy of Edward; and to none else will we yield our arms!"

"Traitor!" cried the English commander, while with a sudden and
dreadful stroke of his battle-ax he laid the body of the generous Scot
a headless corpse at his feet.  A direful cry proceeded from his
enraged comrades.  Every sword was drawn; and before the bewildered and
soul-struck earl could utter a word, the Furies blew their most
horrible blast through the chamber; and the half-frantic Mar beheld his
brave Scots at one moment victorious, and in the next the floor strewed
with their dead bodies.  A new succession of blood-hounds had rushed in
at every door; and before the exterminating sword was allowed to rest,
the whole of his faithful troops lay around him, wounded and dying.
Several had fallen across his body, having warded with their lives the
strokes they believed leveled at his.  In vain his voice had called
upon his men to surrender--in vain he had implored the iron-hearted
Soulis, and his coadjutor Aymer de Valence, to stop the havoc of death.

All now lay in blood; and the heat of the room, thronged by the
victors, became so intolerable that De Valence, for his own sake,
ordered the earl to be removed into another apartment.

Meanwhile, unconscious of these events, Helen had lain down on her bed,
to seek a few minutes' repose; and having watched the whole of the
preceding night, was sunk into a profound sleep.

Murray, who was present at the abrupt entrance of the enemy, no sooner
heard them declare that the castle was surrounded by a comparatively
large army, than he foresaw all would be lost.  On the instant, and
before the dreadful signal of carnage was given in the fall of the
young Scot, he slid behind the canopy of his uncle's couch; and lifting
the arras by a back door which led to some private rooms, hastily made
way to the chamber of his cousin.  As he hurried along, he heard a
fearful shout.  He paused for a moment, but thinking it best, whatever
might have happened, to secure the safety of Helen, he flew onward, and
entered her room.  She lay upon the bed in a deep sleep.  "Awake,
Helen!" he cried; "for your life, awake!"

She opened her eyes; but, without allowing her time to speak, he
hastily added; "The castle is full of armed men, led hither by the
English commander, Aymer de Valence, and the execrable Soulis.  Unless
you fly through the vaulted passage, you will be their prisoner."

Helen gazed at him in terror.  "Where is my father?  Leave him I
cannot."

"Fly, in pity to your father!  Oh, do not hesitate!  What will be his
anguish, should you fall into the hands of the furious man whose love
you have rejected; when it will no longer be in the power of a parent
to preserve your person from the outrages of his eager and avengeful
passion!  If you had seen Soulis' threatening eyes--" He was
interrupted by a clamor in the opposite gallery, and the shrieks of
women.  Helen grasped his arm.  "Alas, my poor damsels!  I will go with
you, whither you will, to be far from him."

As Murray threw his arm about her waist, to impel her failing steps,
his eyes fell on the banner and the suit of armor.

"All else must be left," exclaimed he, seizing the banner; and hurrying
Helen forward, he hastened with her down the stairs which led from the
western watch-tower to the vaults beneath the castle.  On entering the
first cellar, to which a dim light was admitted through a small grating
near the top, he looked round for the archway that contained the avenue
of their release.  Having descried it, and raised one of the large
flags which paved the floor, he assisted his affrighted cousin down a
short flight of steps, into the secret passage.  "This," whispered he,
"will carry us in a direct line to the cell of the prior of St. Fillan."

"But what will become of my father, and Lady Mar?  This flight, while
they are in danger! oh! I fear to complete it!"

"Rather fear the libertine Soulis," returned Murray, "he can only make
them prisoners; and even that injury shall be of short duration.  I
will soon join the brave Wallace; and then, my sweet cousin, liberty,
and a happy meeting!"

"Alas! his venerable harper," cried she, suddenly remembering Halbert;
"should he be discovered to have belonged to Wallace, he, too, will be
massacred by these merciless men."

Murray stopped.  "Have you courage to remain in this darkness alone?
If so, I will seek him, and he shall accompany us."

Helen had courage for anything but the dangers Murray might encounter
by returning into the castle; but the generous youth had entered too
fully into her apprehensions concerning the old man to be withheld.
"Should I be delayed in coming back," said he, recollecting the
possibility of himself being attacked and slain, "go forward to the end
of this passage; it will lead you to a flight of stairs; ascend them;
and by drawing the bolt of a door, you will find yourself at once in
the prior's cell."

"Talk not of delay," replied Helen; "return quickly, and I will await
you at the entrance of the passage."  So saying, she swiftly retraced
with him her steps to the bottom of the stone stairs by which they had
descended.  He raised the flag, sprung out of the aperture, and closing
it down, left her in solitude and darkness.

Murray passed through the first cellar, and was proceeding to the
second (among the catacombs of which lay the concealed entrance to the
private stairs), when he saw the great gates of the cellar open, and a
large party of English soldiers enter.  They were conducted by the
butler of the castle, who seemed to perform his office unwillingly,
while they crowded in, thirsty and riotous.

Aware how unequal his single arm would be to contend with such numbers,
Murray, at the first glance of these plunderers, retreated behind a
heap of casks in a remote corner.  While the trembling butler was
loading a dozen of the men with flasks for the refreshment of their
masters above, the rest were helping themselves from the adjacent
catacombs.  Some left the cellars with their booty, and others remained
to drink it on the spot.  Glad to escape the insults of the soldiers
who lay wallowing in the wine, Bothwell's old servant quitted the
cellar with the last company which bore flagons to their comrades above.

Murray listened anxiously, in hopes of hearing from his garrulous
neighbors some intimation of the fate of his uncle and aunt.  He
hearkened in vain, for nothing was uttered by these intoxicated
banditti, but loud boastings of the number each had slain in the earl's
apartment; execrations against the Scots for their obstinate
resistance; and a thousand sanguinary wishes, that the nation had but
one neck, to strike off at a blow.

How often, during this conversation, was Murray tempted to rush out
amongst them, and seize a desperate revenge!  But the thought of his
poor cousin, now awaiting his return, and perhaps already suffering
dreadful alarms from such extraordinary uproar, restrained him; and
unable to move from his hiding-place without precipitating himself into
instant death, he remained nearly an hour in the most painful anxiety,
watching the dropping to sleep of this horrid crew, one by one.

When all seemed hushed--not a voice, even in a whisper, startling his
ear--he ventured forth with a stealing step toward the slumbering group.
Like his brave ancestor, Gaul, the son of Morni, "he disdained to stab
a sleeping foe!"  He must pass them to reach the private stairs.  He
paused and listened.  Silence still reigned; not even a hand moved, so
deeply were they sunk in the fumes of wine.  He took courage, and flew
with the lightness of air to the secret door.  As he laid his hand on
it, it opened from without, and two persons appeared.  By the few rays
which gleamed from the expiring torches of the sleepers, he could see
that the first wore English armor.  Murray made a spring, and caught
the man by the throat; when some one seizing his arm, exclaimed, "Stop,
my Lord Murray! it is the faithful Grimsby."  Murray let go his hold,
glad to find that both his English friend and the venerable object of
his solicitude were thus providentially brought to meet him; but
fearing that the violence of his action, and Halbert's exclamation,
might have alarmed the sleeping soldiers (who, drunk as they were, were
too numerous to be resisted), he laid his finger on the tip of Grimsby,
and motioned to the astonished pair to follow him.

As they advanced, they perceived one of the soldiers move as if
disturbed.  Murray held his sword over the sleeping wretch, ready to
plunge it into his heart should he attempt to rise; but he became still
again; and the fugitive having approached the flag, Murray drew it up,
and eager to haven his double charge, he thrust them together down the
stairs.  At that moment, a shriek from Helen (who had discovered, by a
gleam of light which burst into the vault, a man descending in English
armor), echoed through the cellars.  Two of the soldiers jumped upon
their feet, and rushed upon Murray.  He had let the flag drop behind
him; but still remaining by it, in case of an opportunity to escape, he
received the strokes of their weapons upon his target, and returned
them with equal rapidity.  One assailant lay gasping at his feet.  But
the clashing of arms, and the cries of the survivor had already
awakened the whole crew.  With horrid menaces, they threw themselves
toward the young Scot, and would certainly have cut him to pieces, had
he not snatched the only remaining torch out of the hand of the
staggering soldier, and extinguished it under his foot.  Bewildered
where to find their prey, with threats and imprecations, they groped in
darkness, slashing the air with their swords, and not unfrequently
wounding each other in the vain search.

Murray was now far from their pursuit.  He had no sooner put out the
light, than he pulled up the flag, and leaping down, drew it after him,
and found himself in safety.  Desperate as was the contest, it had been
short; for he yet heard the footsteps of the panic-struck Helen, flying
along the passage.  The Englishman and Halbert, on the first falling of
the flag, not knowing its spring, had unsuccessfully tried to re-raise
it, that they might assist Murray in the tumult above.  On his
appearing again so unexpectedly, they declared their joy; but the young
lord, impatient to calm the apprehensions of his cousin, returned no
other answer than "Follow me!" while he darted forward.  Terror had
given her wings, and even prevented her hearing the low sounds of
Murray's voice, which he durst not raise to a higher pitch, for fear of
being overheard by the enemy.  Thus, while she lost all presence of
mind, he did not come up with her till she fell breathless against he
stairs at the extremity of the vault.



Chapter X.

St. Fillan's.


As soon as Murray found her within his arms, he clasped her insensible
form to his breast, and carrying her up the steps, drew the bolt of the
door.  It opened to his pressure, and discovered a large monastic cell,
into which the daylight shone through one long narrow window.  A straw
pallet, an altar, and a marble basin, were the furniture.  The cell was
solitary the owner being then at mass in the chapel of the monastery.
Murray laid down his death-like burden on the monk's bed.  He then
ventured (believing, as it was to restore so pure a being to life, it
could not be sacrilege) to throw some of the holy water upon his
cousin's face; and by means of a little chalice, which stood upon the
altar, he poured some into her mouth.  At last opening her eyes, she
recognized the figure of her young kinsman leaning over her.  The
almost paralyzed Halbert stood at her feet.  "Blessed Virgin! am I yet
safe, and with my dear Andrew!  Oh! I feared you were slain!" cried
she, bursting into tears.

"Thank God, we are both safe," answered he; "comfort yourself, my
beloved cousin! you are now on holy ground; this is the cell of the
prior of St. Fillan.  None but the hand of an infidel dare wrest you
from this sanctuary."

"But my father, and Lady Mar?"  And again her tears flowed.

"The countess, my gracious lady," answered Halbert, "since you could
not be found in the castle, is allowed to accompany your father to
Dumbarton Castle, there to be treated with every respect, until De
Valence receives further orders from King Edward."

"But for Wallace!" cried she, "ah, where are now the succors that were
to be sent to him!  And without succors, how can he, or you, dearest
Andrew, rescue my father from this tyranny!"

"Do not despair," replied Murray; "look but at the banner you held
fast, even while insensible; your own hands have engraven my answer--God
armeth the patriot!  Convinced of that, can you still fear for you
father?  I will join Wallace to-morrow.  Your own fifty warriors await
me at the bottom of Cartlane Craigs; and if any treachery should be
meditated against my uncle, that moment we will make the towers of
Dumbarton shake to their foundation."

Helen's reply was a deep sigh: she though it might be Heaven's will
that her father, like the good Lord Douglas, should fall a victim to
royal revenge; and so sad were her forebodings, that she hardly dared
to hope what the sanguine disposition of her cousin promised.  Grimsby
now came forward; and unloosing an iron box from under his arm, put it
into the hands of Lord Murray.

"This fatal treasure," said he, "was committed to my care by the earl,
your uncle, to deliver to the prior of St. Fillan's."

"What does it contain?" demanded Murray; "I never saw it before."

"I know not its contents," returned the soldier; "it belongs to Sir
William Wallace."

"Indeed!" ejaculated Helen.  "If it be treasure, why was it not rather
sent to him!"

"But how, honest soldier," asked Murray, "did you escape with it, and
Halbert, too!  I am at a loss to conjecture, but by miracle."

He replied, that as soon as the English, and their Scottish partisans
under Lord Soulis, had surprised the castle, he saw that his only
chance of safety was to throw off the bonnet and plaid, and mix amongst
the numerous soldiers who had taken possession of the gates.  His
armor, and his language, showed he was their countryman; and they
easily believed that he had joined the plunderers as a volunteer from
the army, which at a greater distance beleaguered the castle.  The
story of his desertion from the Lanark garrison had not yet reached
those of Glasgow and Dumbarton; and one or two men, who had known him
in former expeditions, readily reported that he had been drafted into
the present one.  Their recognition warranted his truth; and he had no
difficulty, after the carnage in the state apartment, to make his way
to the bed-chamber where Lord Aymer de Valence had ordered Lord Mar to
be carried.   He found the earl alone, and lost in grief.  He knew not
but that his nephew, and even his daughter and wife, had fallen beneath
the impetuous swords of the enemy.  Astonished at seeing the soldier
walking at large, he expressed his surprise with some suspicions.  But
Grimsby told him the strategem he had used, and assured him Lord Andrew
had not been seen since the onset.  This information inspired the earl
with a hope that his nephew might have escaped: and when the soldier
also said, that he had seen the countess led by Lord Soulis across the
hall toward the Lady Helen's apartments, while he overheard him
promising them every respect, the earl seemed comforted.  "But how,"
inquired he of Grimsby, "has this hard fate befallen us?  Have you
learned how De Valence knew that I meant to take up arms for my
country?"

When the soldier was relating this part of the conference, Murray
interrupted him with the same demand.

"On that head I cannot fully satisfy you," replied he; "I could only
gather from the soldiers that a sealed packet had been delivered to Lor
Aymer de Valence late last night at Dumbarton Castle.  Soulis was then
there; and he immediately set off to Glasgow, for the followers he had
left in that town.  Early this morning he joined De Valence and his
legions on Bothwell Moor.  The consequences there you know.  But they
do not end at Bothwell.  The gallant Wallace-"

At that name, so mentioned, the heart of Helen grew cold.

"What of him?" exclaimed Murray.

"No personal harm yet happened to Sir William Wallace," replied
Grimsby; "but at the same moment in which De Valence gave orders for
his troops to march on Bothwell, he sent others to intercept that
persecuted knight's escape from the Cartlane Craigs."

"That accursed sealed packet," cried Murray, "has been the traitor!
Some villian in Bothwell Castle must have written it.  Whence else
could have come the double information?  And if so," added he, with
tremendous emphasis, "may the blast of slavery ever pursue him and his
posterity!"

Helen shuddered, as the amen to this frightful malediction was echoed
by the voices of Halbert and the soldier.  The latter continued:

"When I informed Lord Mar of these measures against Wallace, he
expressed a hope that your first detachment to his assistance might,
with yourself, perhaps, at its head, elude their vigilance, and join
his friend.  This discourse reminded him of the iron box.  'It is in
that closet,' said his lordship, pointing to an opposite door; you will
find it beneath the little altar, before which I pay my daily duties to
the allwise Dispenser of the fates of men; else where would be my
confidence now?  Take it thence, and buckle it to your side."

"I obeyed, and he then proceeded: 'There are two passages in this house
which lead to the sanctuary.  The one nearest to us is the safest for
you.  A staircase from the closet you have just left will lead you
directly into the chapel.  When there hasten to the image of the
Virgin, and slip aside the marble tablet on the back of the pedestal:
it will admit you to a flight of steps; descend them, and at the bottom
you will find a door, that will convey you into a range of cellars.
Lift up the largest flag-stone in the second, and you will be conducted
through a dark vault to an iron door; draw the bolt, and remain in the
cell it will open to you till the owner enters.  He is the prior of St.
Fillan's and a Murray.  Give him this golden cross, which he well
knows, as a mark you come from me; and say it is my request that he
assist you to gain the sea-shore.  As for the iron box, tell him to
preserve it as he would his life; and never to give it up, but to
myself, my children, or to Sir William Wallace, it's rightful master.'"

"Alas!" cried Halbert, "that he had never been its owner! that he had
never brought it to Ellerslie, to draw down misery on his head!
Ill-omened trust! whatever it contains, its presence carried blood and
sorrow in its train.  Wherever it has been deposited war and murder
have followed: I trust my dear master will never see it more!"

"He may indeed never see it more!" murmured Helen, in a low voice.
"Where are now my proud anticipations of freedom to Scotland?  Alas,
Andrew," said she, taking his hand, and weeping over it.  "I have been
too presumptuous; my father is a prisoner, and Sir William Wallace is
lost!"

"Cease, my dear Helen," cried he, "cease to distress yourself! These
are merely the vicissitudes of the great contention we are engaged in.
We must expect occasional disappointments, or look for miracles every
day.  Such disasters are sent as lessons to teach us precaution,
proptitude and patience--these are the soldier's graces, my sweet
cousin, and depend on it, I will pay them due obedience."

"But why," asked Helen, taking comfort from the unsubdued spirits of
her cousin, "why, my good soldier, did not my dear father take
advantage of this sanctuary?"

"I urged the earl to accompany me," returned Grimsby; "but he said such
a proceeding would leave his wife and babes in unprotected captivity.
'No,' added he, 'I will await my fate; for the God of those who trust
in him knows that I do not fear!'

"Having received such peremptory orders from the earl, I took my leave;
and entering the chapel by the way he directed, was agreeably surprised
to find the worthy Halbert, whom, never having seen since the funeral
obsequies, I supposed had fallen during the carnage in the
state-chamber.  He was still kneeling by the tomb of his buried
mistress.  I did not take long to warn him of his danger, and desired
him to follow me.  We descended together beneath the holy statue, and
were just emerging into the cellars when you, sir, met us at the
entrance.

"It was while we were yet in the chapel that I heard De Valence and
Soulis at high words in the courtyard.  The former, in a loud voice,
gave orders that, as Lady Helen Mar could nowhere be found, the earl
and countess, with their two infant children, should not be separated,
but be conveyed as his prisoners to Dumbarton Castle."

"That is a comfort," cried Helen; "my father will then be consoled by
the presence of his wife."

"But very different would have been the case, madam, had you appeared,"
rejoined the soldier.  "One of Lord de Valence's men told me, that Lord
Soulis intended to have taken you and the countess to Dunglass Castle,
near Glasgow, while the sick earl was to have been carried alone to
Dumbarton, and detained in solitary confinement.  Lord Soulis was in so
dreadful a rage, when you could not be found, that he accused the
English commander of having leagued with Lady Mar to deceived him.  In
the midst of this contention we descended into the vaults."

Helen shuddered at the thought of how near she was to falling into the
hands of so fierce a spirit.  In his character, he united every quality
which could render power formidable; combining prodigious bodily
strength with cruelty, dissimulation, and treachery.  He was feared by
the common people as a sorcerer; and avoided by the virtuous of his own
rank, as an enemy to all public law, and the violator of every private
tie.  Helen Mar had twice refused his hand: first, during the contest
for the kingdom, when his pretended claim to the crown was disallowed.
She was then a mere child, hardly more than fourteen; but she rejected
him with abhorrence.  Though stung to the quick at being denied the
objects both of his love and ambition at the same moment, he did not
hesitate at another period to renew his offer to her.  At the fall of
Dunbar, when he again founded his uprise on the ruins of his country,
as soon as he had repeated his oaths of fidelity to Edward, he hastened
to Thirlestane, to throw himself a second time at the feet of Lady
Helen.  Her ripened judgment confirmed her youthful dislike of his
ruffian qualities, and again he was rejected.

"By the powers of hell," exclaimed he, when the project of surprising
Bothwell was imparted to him, "if I once get that proud minion into my
grasp, she shall be mine as I will, and learn to beg for even a look
from the man who has humbled her!"

Helen knew not half the afflictions with which his resentful heart had
meditated to subdue and torture her; and therefore, though she shrunk
at the sound of a name so generally infamous, yet, not aware of all the
evils she had escaped, she replied with languor, though with gratitude,
to the almost rapturous congratulations of her cousin on her timely
flight.

At this period the door of the cell opened, and the prior entered from
the cloisters--he started on seeing his room filled with strangers.
Murray took off his helmet, and approached him.  On recognizing the son
of his patron, the prior inquired his commands; and expressed some
surprise that such a company, and above all, a lady, could have passed
the convent-gate without his previous notice.

Murray pointed to the recess behind the altar; and then explained to
the good priest the necessity which had compelled them to thus seek the
protection of St. Fillan.  "Lady Helen," continued he, "must share your
care until Heaven empowers the Earl of Mar to reclaim his daughter, and
adequately reward this holy church."

The soldier then presented the cross, with the iron box; repeating the
message that confided them also to his keeping.

The prior listened to these recitals with sorrowful attention.  He had
not heard the noise of armed men advancing to the castle; but knowing
that the earl was making warlike preparations, he had no suspicion that
these were other than the Bothwell soldiers.  He took the box, and
laying it on the altar, pressed the cross to his lips.  "The Earl of
Mar shall find that fidelity here which his faith in the church merits.
That mysterious chest, to which you tell me so terrible a denunciation
is annexed, shall be preserved sacred as the relics of St. Fillan."

Halbert groaned heavily at these words, but he did not speak.  The
father looked at him attentively, and then proceeded: "But for you,
virtuous Southron, I will give you a pilgrim's habit.  Travel in that
privileged garb to Montrose; and there a brother of the church, the
prior of Aberbrothick, will, by a letter from me, convey you in a
vessel to Normandy; thence you may safely find your way to Guienne."

The soldier bowed his head; and the priest, turning to Lady Helen, told
her that a cell should be appointed for her, and some pious woman
brought from the adjoining hamlet to pay her due attendance.

"As for this venerable man," continued he, "his silver hairs already
proclaim him near his heavenly country!  He had best put on the cowl of
the holy brotherhood, and, in the arms of religion, repose securely,
till he passes through the sleep of death to wake in everlasting life!"

Tears started into the eyes of Halbert.  "I thank you, reverend father;
I have indeed drawn near the end of my pilgrimage--too old to serve my
dear master in fields of blood and hardship, I will at least devote my
last hours to uniting my prayers with his, and all good souls, for the
repose of his sainted lady.  I accept your invitation thankfully; and,
considering it a call from Heaven to give me rest, I welcome the day
that marks the poor harper of Ellerslie with the sacred tonsure."

The sound of approaching trumpets, and, soon after, the clattering of
horses and the clang of armor, made an instantaneous silence in the
cell.  Helen looked fearfully at her cousin, and grasped his hand;
Murray clasped his sword with a firmer hold.  "I will protect you with
my life."  He spoke in a low tone, but he soldier heard him: "There is
no cause of alarm," rejoined he; "Lord de Valence is only marching by
on his way to Dumbarton."

"Alas, my poor father!" cried Helen, covering her face with her hands.

The venerable prior, pitying her affliction, knelt down by her.  "My
daughter, be comforted," said he; "they dare not commit any violence on
the earl.  King Edward too well understands his own interest to allow
even a long imprisonment to so popular a nobleman."  This assurance,
assisted by the consolations of a firm trust in God, caused her to
raise her head with a meek smile.  He continued to speak of the
impregnable hopes of the Christian who founds his confidence on
Omnipotence; and while his words spread a serenity through her soul,
that seemed the ministration of a descended saint, she closed her hands
over her breast, and silently invoked the protection of the Almighty
Jehovah for her suffering parent.

The prior, seeing her composed, recommended leaving her to rest.  And
Helen, comforted by holy meditations, allowing her cousin to depart, he
led Murray and his companions into the convent library.



Chapter XI.

The Chapter House.


The march of De Valence from the castle having proved that no suspicion
of any of its late inhabitants being still in the neighborhood remained
with its usurpers, Grimsby thought he might depart in safety; and next
morning he begged permission of the prior to commence his journey.  "I
am anxious to quit a land," said he, "where my countrymen are
committing violences which make me blush at the name of Englishman."

Murray put a purse of gold into the soldier's hand, while the prior
covered his armor with a pilgrim's gown.  Grimsby, with a respectful
bow, returned the gift;  "I cannot take money from you, my lord.  But
bestow on me the sword at your side, and that I will preserve forever."

Murray took it off, and gave it to the soldier.  "Let us exchange, my
brave friend!" said he; "give me yours, and it shall be a memorial to
me of having found virtue in an Englishman."

Grimsby unlocked his rude weapon in a moment, and as he put the iron
hilt into the young Scot's hand, a tear stood in his eye: "When you
raise this sword against my countrymen, think on Grimsby, a faithful,
though humble soldier of the cross, and spare the blood of all who ask
for mercy."

Murray looked a gracious assent, for the tear of mercy was infectious.
Without speaking, he gave the good soldier's hand a parting grasp; and
with regret that superior claims called so brave a man from his side,
he saw him leave the monastery.

The mourner banquets on memory; making that which seems the poison of
life, its ailment.  During the hours of regret we recall the images of
departed joys; and in weeping over each tender remembrance, tears so
softly shed embalm the wounds of grief.  To be denied the privilege of
pouring forth our love and our lamentations over the grave of one who
in life was our happiness, is to shut up the soul of the survivor in a
solitary tomb, where the bereaved heart pines in secret till it breaks
with the fullness of uncommunicated sorrow; but listen to the mourner,
give his feelings way, and, like the river rolling from the hills into
the valley, they will flow with a gradually gentler stream, till they
become lost in time's wide ocean.

So Murray judged when the poor old harper, finding himself alone with
him, again gave loose to his often-recapitulated griefs.  He wept like
an infant; and recounting the afflictions of his master, while
bewailing the disasters at Bothwell, implored Murray to go without
delay to support the now almost friendless Wallace.  Murray was
consoling him with the assurance that he would set off for the
mountains that very evening, when the prior returned to conduct Halbert
to a cell appointed for his novitiate.  The good priest had placed one
of his most pious fathers there, to administer both temporal and
spiritual cordials to the aged sufferer.

The sorrowing domestic of Wallace being thus disposed of, the prior and
Murray remained together, consulting on the safest means of passing to
the Cartlane hills.  A lay brother whom the prior had sent in pursuit
of Helen's fifty warriors, to apprise them of the English being in the
craigs, at this juncture entered the library.  He informed the father
that, secure in his religious garb, he had penetrated many of the
Cartlane defiles, but could neither see nor hear anything of the party.
Every glen or height was occupied by the English: and from a woman, of
whom he begged a draught of milk, he had learned how closely the
mountains were invested.  The English commander, in his zeal to prevent
provisions being conveyed to Wallace and his famishing garrison, had
stopped a procession of monks bearing a dead body to the sepulchral
cave of St. Columba.  He would not allow them to ascend the heights
until he had examined whether the bier really bore a corpse, or was a
vehicle to carry food to the beleaguered Scots.

In the midst of this information, the prior and his friends were
startled by a shout, and soon after a tumult of voices, in which might
be distinguished the cry of "A gallows for the traitor!"

"Our brave Englishman has fallen into their hands," cried Murray,
hastening toward the door.

"What would you do?" interrupted the prior, holding him.  "Your single
arm could not save the soldier.  The cross has more power; I will seek
these violent men.  Meanwhile stay here, as you value the lives of all
in the convent."

Murray had now recollected himself, and acquiesced.  The prior took the
crucifix from the altar, and ordering the porter to throw open the
great doors (near which the incessant shouting seemed to proceed), he
appeared before a turbulent band of soldiers, who were dragging a man
along, fast bound with their leathern belts.  Blood trickling from his
face fell on the hands of the ruthless wretches, who, with horrid
yells, were threatening him with instant death.

The prior, raising the cross, rushed in among them, and, in the name of
the blessed Son who died on that tree, bade them stand!  The soldiers
trembled before the holy majesty of his figure, and at his awful
adjuration.  The prior looked on the prisoner, but he did not see the
dark locks of the Englishman; it was the yellow hair of Scotland that
mingled with the blood on his forehead.

"Whither do you hurry that wounded man?"

"To his death," answered a surly fellow.

"What is his offense?"

"He is a traitor."

"How has he proved it?"

"He is a Scot, and he belongs to the disloyal Lord of Mar.  This bugle,
with its crowned falcon, proves it," added the Southron, holding up the
very bugle which the earl had sent by Halbert to Wallace, and which was
ornamented with the crest of Mar wrought in gold.

"That this has been Lord Mar's," replied the prior, "there is no doubt;
but may not this man have found it?  Or may it not have been given to
him by the earl, before that chief incurred the displeasure of King
Edward?  Which of you would think it just to be made to die because
your friend was condemned to the scaffold?  Unless you substantiate
your charge against this man, by a better proof than this bugle, his
death would be a murder, which the Lord of life will requite in the
perdition of your souls."  As the father spoke, he again elevated the
cross: the men turned pale.

"I am a minister of Christ," continued he, "and must be the friend of
justice.  Release, therefore, that wounded man to me.  Before the altar
of the Searcher of all hearts he shall confess himself; and if I find
that he is guilty unto death, I promise you by the holy St. Fillan, to
release him to your commanding officer, and so let justice take its
course.  But if he proves innocent, I am the soldier of Christ, and no
monarch on earth shall wrest his children from the protection of the
church."

While he spoke, the men who held the prisoner let go their hold, and
the prior stretching out his hand, gave him to a party of monks to
conduct into the convent.  Then, to convince the soldiers that it was
the man's life he sought to save, and not the spoil, he returned the
golden bugle, and bade him depart in peace.

Awed by the father's address, and satisfied with the money and arms of
which they had rifled the stranger, the marauders retreated;
determining, indeed, to say nothing of the matter to the officer in the
castle, lest he should demand the horn; and, elated with the present
booty, they marched off to pursue their plundering excursion.  Bursting
into yeomen's houses and peasants' huts, stripping all of their
substance who did or did not swear fealty to Edward; thus robbing the
latter, and exacting contributions from the former; while vain prayers
for mercy and unanswered cries for redress echoed dolefully through the
vale of Bothwell, they sped gayly on, as if murder were pastime and
rapine honor.

The prior, on returning into the convent, ordered the gates to be
bolted.  When he entered the chapter-house, finding the monks had
already bound up the wounds of the stranger, he made a sign for the
brethren to withdraw: and then, approaching the young man, "My son,"
said he, in a mild tone, "you heard my declaration to the men from whom
I took you!  Answer me the truth and you shall find that virtue or
repentance have alike a refuge in the arms of the church.  As I am its
servant, no man need fear to confide in me.  Speak with candor!  How
came you by that bugle?"

The stranger looked steadfastly on his questioner; "A minister of the
all righteous God cannot mean to deceive.  You have saved my life, and
I should be less than man could I doubt the evidence of that deed.  I
received that bugle from a brave Scot who dwells amongst the eastern
mountains; and who gave it to me to assure the Earl of Mar that I came
from him."

The prior apprehended that it was of Wallace he spoke.  "You come to
request a military aid from the Earl of Mar!" rejoined the father,
willing to sound him, before he committed Murray, by calling him to the
conference.

The stranger replied: "If, reverend sir, you are in the confidence of
the good earl, pronounce but the Christian name of the man who charged
me with the bugle, and allow me, then, for his sake, to ask you what
has indeed happened to the earl! that I was seized by foes, when I
expected to meet with friends only!  Reply to this, and I shall speak
freely; but at present, though I would confide all of myself to your
sacred character, yet the confidence of others is not mine to bestow."

The prior, being convinced by this caution, that he was indeed speaking
with some messenger from Wallace, made no hesitation to answer.  "Your
master is a knight, and a braver never drew breath since the time of
his royal namesake, William the Lion!"

The man rose hastily from his seat, and falling on his knees before the
prior, put his garment to his lips: "Father, I now know that I am with
a friend of my persecuted master!  But if, indeed, the situation of
Lord Mar precludes assistance from him, all hope is lost!  The noble
Wallace is penned within the hills, without any hopes of escape.
Suffer me, then, thou venerable saint! to rejoin him immediately, that
I may at least die with my friend!"

"Hope for a better destiny," returned the prior; "I am a servant, and
not to be worshiped; turn to that altar, and kneel to Him who can alone
send the succor you need!"

The good man, thinking it was now time to call the young lord of
Bothwell, by a side-door from the chapter-house entered the library,
where Murray was anxiously awaiting his return.  On his entrance, the
impatient youth eagerly exclaimed, "Have you rescued him?"

"Grimsby, I hope, is far and safely on his journey," answered the good
priest; "but the man those murderers were dragging to death, is in the
chapter-house.  Follow me, and he will give you news of Wallace."

Murray gladly obeyed.

At sight of a Scottish knight in armor, the messenger of Wallace
thought his prayers were answered, and that he saw before him the
leader of the host which was to march to the preservation of his brave
commander.  Murray told him who he was; and learned from him in return,
that Wallace now considered himself in a state of siege; that the
women, children, and old men with him, had nothing to feed on but wild
strawberries and birds' eggs, which they found in the hollows of the
rocks.  "To relieve them from such hard quarters, girded by a barrier
of English soldiers," continued the narrator, "is his first wish: but
that cannot be effected by our small number.  However, he would make
the attempt by a strategem, could we be at all supported by succors
from the Earl of Mar!"

"My uncle's means," replied Murray, "are for a time cut off: but mine
shall be exerted to the utmost.  Did you not meet, somewhere, a company
of Scots to the number of fifty?  I sent them off yesterday to seek
your noble chief."

"No," rejoined the young man; "I fear they have been taken by the
enemy; for in my way to Sir William Wallace, not knowing the English
were so close to his sanctuary, I was nearly seized myself.  I had not
the good fortune to be with him, when he struck the first blow for
Scotland in the citadel of Lanark; but as soon as I heard the tale of
his wrongs, and that he had retired in arms toward the Cartlane Craigs,
I determined to follow his fate.  We had been companions in our boyish
days, and friends after.  He saved my life once, in swimming; and now
that a formidable nation menaces his, I seek to repay the debt.  For
this purpose, a few nights ago I left my guardian's house by stealth,
and sought my way to my friend.  I found the banks of the Mouse
occupied by the English; but exploring the most intricate passes, at
last gained the bottom of the precipice on the top of which Wallace is
encamped; and as I lay among the bushes, watching an opportunity to
ascend, I perceived two English soldiers near me.  They were in
discourse, and I overheard them say, that besides Heselrigge himself,
nearly two hundred of his garrison had fallen by the hand of Wallace's
men in the contention at the castle; that the tidings were sent to Sir
Richard Arnulf, the Deputy-governor of Ayr; and he had dispatched a
thousand men to surround the Cartland Craigs, spies having given notice
that they were Sir William's strongholds, and the orders were, that he
must be taken dead or alive; while all his adherents, men and women,
should receive no quarter.

"Such was the information I brought to my gallant friend, when in the
dead of night I mounted the rock, and calling to the Scottish sentinel
in Gaelic, gave him my name, and was allowed to enter the sacred spot.
Wallace welcomed his faithful Ker,** and soon unfolded his distress and
his hopes.  He told me of the famine that threatened his little
garrison; of the constant watching, day and night, necessary to prevent
a surprise.  But in his extremity, he observed that one defile was
thinly guarded by the enemy; probably because, as it lay at the bottom
of a perpendicular angle of the rock, they thought it unattainable by
the Scots.  To this point, however, my dauntless friend turns his eyes.
He would attempt it, could he procure a sufficient number of fresh men
to cover the retreat of his exhausted few.  For this purpose, as I had
so lately explored the most hidden paths of the craigs, I volunteered
to visit the Lord Mar, and to conduct, in safety, any succors he might
send to our persecuted leader."

**The stem of this brave name, in subsequent times, became two great
branches, the Roxburghe and the Lothian.

"This," continued Ker, "was the errand on which I came to the earl.
Think then my horror, when in my journey I found redoubled legions
hemming in the hills; and on advancing toward Bothwell Castle, was
seized with that nobleman, who, they said, was condemned to lose his
head!"

"Not so bad as that, my brave Ker," cried Murray, a glow of indignation
flushing his cheek; "many a bull's head** shall frown in this land, on
the Southron tables, before my uncle's neck gluts their axes!  No true
Scottish blood, I trust, will ever stain their scaffolds; for while we
have arms to wield a sword, he must be a fool that grounds them on any
other terms than freedom or death.  We have cast our lives on the die;
and Wallace's camp or the narrow house must be our prize!"

**A bull's head, presented at a feast, was a sign that some one of the
company was immediately to be put to death.-(1809.)

"Noble youth!" exclaimed the prior, "may the innocence which gives
animation to your courage, continue its moving soul!  They only are
invincible who are as ready to die as to live; and no one can be firm
in that principle, whose exemplary life is not a happy preparation for
the awful change."

Murray bowed modestly to this pious encomium, and turning to Ker,
informed him, that since he must abandon all hope of hearing any more
of the fifty brave men his cousin Helen had sent to the craigs, he
bethought him of applying to his uncle, Sir John Murray, who dwelt hard
by, on his estate at Drumshargard.  "It is small," said he, "and cannot
afford many men; but still he may spare sufficient to effect the escape
of our commander; and that for the present will be a host!"

To accomplish his design without delay--for promptitude is the earnest
of success--and to avoid a surprise from the English lieutenant at
Bothwell (who, hearing of the reencounter before the castle, might
choose to demand his men's prisoner).  Murray determined to take Ker
with him; and, disguised as peasants, as soon as darkness should shroud
their movements, proceed to Drumshargard.



Chapter XII.

Drumshargard.


While these transactions occupied the morning, Lady Helen (who the
night before had been removed into the quiet cell appointed for her)
slept long and sweetly.  Her exhausted frame found renovation; and she
awoke with a heavenly calm at her heart.  A cheering vision had visited
her sleeping thoughts; and a trance of happy feelings absorbed her
senses, while her hardly disengaged spirit still hovered over its
fading images.

She had seen in her dream a young knight enter her cell, bearing her
father in his arms.  He laid the earl down before her; but as she
stooped to embrace him, the knight took her by the hand, leading her to
the window of the apartment (which seemed extended to an immense size),
he smiled, and said, "Look out and see how I have performed my vow!"
She obeyed, and saw crowds of rejoicing people, who at sight of the
young warrior raised such a shout, that Helen awoke.  She started--she
looked around--she was still in the narrow cell, and lone; but the
rapture of beholding her father yet fluttered in her breast, and the
touch of the warrior's hand seemed still warm upon hers.  "Angels of
rest," cried she, "I thank ye for this blessed vision!"

The prior of St. Fillan might have read his own just sentiment in the
heart of Lady Helen.  While the gentlest of human beings, she was an
evidence that an ardent and pious mind contains the true principles of
heroism.  Hope, in such a mind, treads down impossibilities; and,
regardless of impediments or dangers, rushes forward to seize the
prize.  In the midst of hosts, it feels a conqueror's power; or, when
its strength fails, sees, by the eye of faith, legions of angels
watching to support the natural weakness.  Lady Helen knew that the
cause was just which had put the sword into the hand of Wallace; that
it was virtue which had prompted her father to second him; and where
justice is there are the wings of the Most High stretched out as a
shield!

This dream seemed prophetic.  "Yes," cried she, "though thousands of
Edward's soldiers surrounded my father and his friend, I should not
despair.  Thy life, O noble Wallace, was not give to be extinguished in
an hour!  Thy morn has hardly risen, the perfect day must come that is
to develop thy greatness--that is to prove thee (and oh! gracious God,
grant my prayer!) the glory of Scotland!"

Owing to the fervor of her apostrophe, she did not observe the door of
the cell open, till the prior stood before her.  After expressing his
pleasure at the renovation in her countenance, he informed her of the
departure of the English soldier, and of the alarm which he and Murray
had sustained for his safety, by the adventure which had thrown a
stranger from the craigs into their protection.  At the mention of that
now momentous spot, she blushed; the golden-haired warrior of her dream
seemed ready to rise before her; and with a beating heart she prepared
to hear some true but miraculous account of her father's rescue.

Unconscious of what was passing in her young and eager mind, the prior
calmly proceeded to relate all that Ker had told of the dangerous
extremity to which Wallace was reduced; and then closed his
intelligence, by mentioning the attempt which meditated to save him.
The heightened color gradually faded from the face of Helen, and low
sighs were her only responses to the observations the good priest made
on the difficulty of the enterprise.  But when his pity for the brave
man engaged in the cause, betrayed him into expressing his fears that
the patriotic zeal of Wallace would only make him and them a sacrifice,
Helen looked up; there was inspiration on her lips and in her eyes.
"Father," said she, "hast thou not taught me that God shieldeth the
patriot as well as armeth him!"

"True!" returned he, with an answering smile; "steadily believe this,
and where will be the sighs you have just been breathing!"

"Nature will shrink," replied she; "but the Christian's hope checks her
ere she falls.  Pardon me then, holy father, that I sometimes weep; but
they are often tears of trust and consolation."

"Daughter of heaven," replied the good prior, "you might teach devotion
to age, and cause youth to be enamored of the graces of religion!  Be
ever thus, and you may look with indifference on the wreck of worlds."

Helen having meekly replied to this burst from the heart of the holy
man, begged to see her cousin before he set off on his expedition.  The
prior withdrew, and within an hour after, Murray entered the apartment.
Their conversation was long, and their parting full of an interest
that dissolved them both into tears.  "When I see you again, my brave
cousin, tell me that my father is free, and his preserver safe.  Your
own life, dear Andrew," added she, as he pressed his cheek to hers,
"must always be precious to me."

Murray hastily withdrew, and Helen was again alone.

The young chieftain and Ker covered their armor with shepherd's plaids;
and having received a thousand blessings from the prior and Halbert,
proceeded under shelter of the night, through the obscurest paths of
the wood which divided Bothwell from Drumshargard.

Sir John Murray was gone to rest when his nephew arrived, but Lord
Andrew's voice being well known by the porter, he was admitted into the
house; and leaving his companion in the dining-hall, went to the
apartment of his uncle.  The old knight was soon aroused, and welcomed
his nephew with open arms; for he had feared, from the accounts brought
by the fugitive tenants of Bothwell, that he also had been carried away
prisoner.

Murray now unfolded his errand--first to obtain a band of Sir John's
trustiest people to assist in rescuing the preserver of the earl's life
from immediate destruction; and secondly, if a commission for Lord
Mar's release did not arrive from King Edward, to aid him to free his
uncle and the countess from Dumbarton Castle.

Sir John listened with growing anxiety to his nephew's details.  When
he heard of Lady Helen's continuing in the convent, he highly approved
it.  "That is well," said he; "so bring her to any private protection
would only spread calamity.  She might be traced, and her protector put
in danger; none but the church, with safety to itself, can grant asylum
to the daughter of a state prisoner."

"Then I doubly rejoice she is there," replied Murray, "and there she
will remain, till your generous assistance empowers me to rescue her
father."

"Lord Mar has been very rash, nephew," returned Drumshargard.  "What
occasion was there for him to volunteer sending men to support Sir
William Wallace? and how durst he bring ruin on Bothwell Castle, by
collecting unauthorized by my brother, its vassals for so dangerous an
experiment?"

Murray started at these unexpected observations.  He knew his uncle was
timid, but he had never suspected him of meanness; however, in
consideration of the respect he owed to him as his father's brother, he
smothered his disgust, and gave him a mild answer.  But the old man
could not approve of a nobleman of his rank running himself, his
fortune, and his friends into peril, to pay any debt of gratitude; and,
as to patriotic sentiments being a stimulus, he treated the idea with
contempt.  "Trust me, Andrew," said he, "nobody profits by these
notions but thieves and desperate fellows ready to become thieves!"

"I do not understand you, sir!"

"Not understand me?" replied the knight, rather impatiently.  "Who
suffers in these contests for liberty, as you choose to call them, but
such men as Lord Mar and your father?  Betrayed by artful declamation,
they rush into conspiracies against the existing government, are
detected, ruined, and perhaps finally lose their lives!  Who gains by
rebellion, but a few penniless wretches, that embrace these vaunted
principles from the urgency of their necessities?   They acquire
plunder, under the mask of extraordinary disinterestedness; and
hazarding nothing of themselves but their worthless lives, they would
make tools of the first men in the realm; and throw the whole country
into flames, that they may catch a few brands from the fire!"

Young Murray felt his anger rise with this speech.  "You do not speak
to my point, sir!  I do not come here to dispute the general evil of
revolt, but to ask your assistance to snatch two of the bravest men in
Scotland from the fangs of the tyrant who has made you a slave!"

"Nephew!" cried the knight, starting from his couch; and darting a
fierce look at him, "if any man but one of my own blood had uttered
that word, this hour should have been his last."

"Every man, sir," continued Murray, "who acts upon your principles,
must know himself to be a slave;-and to resent being called so, is to
affront his conscience.  A name is nothing, the fact ought to knock
upon your heart, and there arouse the indignation of a Scot and a
Murray.  See you not the villages of your country burning around you?
the castles of your chieftains razed to the ground?   Did not the
plains of Dunbar reek with the blood of your kinsmen; and even now, do
you not see them led away in chains to the strongholds of the tyrant?
Are not your stoutest vassals pressed from your service, and sent into
foreign wars?  And yet you exclaim, 'I see no injury--I spurn at the
name of slave!'"

Murray rose from his seat as he ended, and walking the room in
agitation, did not perceive the confusion of his uncle, who, at once
overcome with conviction and fear, again ventured to speak:  "It is too
sure you speak truth, Andrew; but what am I, or any other private
individual, that we should make ourselves a forlorn hope for the whole
nation?  Will Baliol, who was the first to bow to the usurper, will he
thank us for losing our heads in resentment of his indignity?  Bruce
himself, the rightful heir of the crown, leaves us to our fates, and
has become a courtier in England!  For whom, then, should I adventure
my gray hairs, and the quiet of my home, to seek an uncertain liberty,
and to meet an almost certain death?"

"For Scotland, uncle," replied he; "just laws are her right.  You are
her son; and if you do not make one in the grand attempt to rescue her
from the bloodhounds which tear her vitals, the guilt of parricide will
be on your soul!  Think not, sir, to preserve your home, or even your
gray hairs, by hugging the chains by which you are bound.  You are a
Scot, and that is sufficient to arm the enemy against your property and
life.  Remember the fate of Lord Monteith!  At the very time he was
beset by the parasites of Edward, and persuaded by their flatteries to
be altogether as an Englishman, in that very hour, when he had taken a
niece of Cressingham's to his arms, by her hands the vengeance of
Edward reached him-he fell!"

Murray saw that his uncle was struck, and that he trembled.

"But I am too insignificant, Andrew!"

"You are the brother of Lord Bothwell!" answered Murray, with all the
dignity of his father rising in his countenance.  "His large
possessions made him a traitor in the eyes of the tyrant's
representatives.  Cressingham, as treasurer for the crew, has already
sent his lieutenant to lord it in our paternal castle; and do not
deceive yourself in believing that some one of his officers will not
require the fertile fields of Drumshargard as a reward for his
services!  No!-cheat not yourself with the idea that the brother of
Lord Bothwell will be too insignificant to share in the honor of
bearing a part in the confiscations of his country!  Trust me, my
uncle, the forbearance of tyrants is not that of mercy, but of
convenience.  When they need your wealth, or your lands, your
submission is forgotten, and a prison, or the ax, ready to give them
quiet possession."

Sir John Murray, though a timid and narrow-sighted man, now fully
comprehended his nephew's reasoning; and his fears taking a different
turn, he hastily declared his determination to set off immediately for
the Highlands.  "In the morning, by daybreak," said he, "I will
commence my journey, and join my brother at Loch-awe; for I cannot
believe myself safe a moment, while so near the garrisons of the enemy."

Murray approved this plan; and after obtaining his hard-wrung leave to
take thirty men from his vassals, he returned to Ker, to inform him of
the success of his mission.  It was not necessary, neither would it
have been agreeable to his pride, to relate the arguments which had
been required to obtain this small assistance; and in the course of an
hour he brought together the appointed number of the bravest men on the
estate.  When equipped he led them into the hall, to receive the last
command from their feudal lord.

On seeing them armed, with every man his drawn dirk in his hand, Sir
John turned pale.  Murray, with the unfolded banner of Mar in his
grasp, and Ker by his side, stood at their head.

"Young men," said the old knight, striving to speak in a firm tone, "in
this expedition you are to consider yourselves the followers of my
nephew; he is brave and honourable, therefore I commit you to his
command.  But as you go on his earnest petition, I am not answerable to
any man for the enterprises to which he may lead you."

"Be they all on my own head!" cried Murray, blushing at his uncle's
pusillanimity, and drawing out his sword with an impatience that made
the old knight start.  "We now have your permission to depart, sir?"

Sir John gave a ready assent; he was anxious to get so hot-headed a
youth out of his house, and to collect his gold and servants, that he
might commence his own flight by break of day.

It was still dark as midnight when Murray and his little company passed
the heights above Drumshargard, and took their rapid though silent
march toward the cliffs, which would conduct them to the more dangerous
passes of the Cartlane Craigs.



Chapter XIII.

Banks of the Clyde.


Two days passed drearily away to Helen.  She could not expect tidings
from her cousin in so short a time.  No more happy dreams cheered her
lonely hours; and anxiety to learn what might be the condition of the
earl and countess so possessed her that visions of affright now
disturbed both her waking and sleeping senses.  Fancy showed them in
irons and in a dungeon, and sometimes she started in horror, thinking
that perhaps at that moment the assassin's steel was raised against the
life of her father.

On the morning of the third day, when she was chiding herself for such
rebellious despondence, her female attendant entered to say, that a
friar was come to conduct her where she would see messengers from Lady
mar.  Helen lingered not a moment, but giving her hand to the good
father, was led by him into the library, where the prior was standing
between two men in military habits.  One wore English armor, with his
visor closed; the other, a knight, was in tartans.  The Scot presented
her with a signet, set in gold.  Helen looked on it, and immediately
recognized the same that her stepmother always used.

The Scottish knight was preparing to address her, when the prior
interrupted him, and taking Lady Helen's hand, made her seat herself.
"Compose yourself for a few minutes," said he; "this transitory life
hourly brings forward events to teach us to be calm, and to resign our
wishes and our wills to the Lord of all things."

Helen looked fearfully in his face.  "Some evil tidings are to be told
me."  The blood left her lips; it seemed leaving her heart also.  The
prior, full of compassion, hesitated to speak.  The Scot abruptly
answered her:

"Be not alarmed, lady, your parents have fallen into humane hands. I am
sent, under the command of this noble Southron knight, to conduct you
to them."

"Then my father lives!  They are safe!" cried she, in a transport of
joy, and bursting into tears.

"He yet lives," returned the officer; "but his wounds opening afresh,
and the fatigues of his journey, have so exhausted him that Lord Aymer
de Valence has granted the prayers of the countess, and we come to take
you to receive his last blessing."

A cry of anguish burst from the heart of Lady Helen, and falling into
the arms of the prior, she found refuge from woe in a merciful
insensibility.  The pitying exertions of the venerable father at last
recalled her to recollection and to sorrow.  She rose from the bench on
which he had laid her, and begged permission to retire for a few
minutes; tears choked her further utterance, and, being led out by the
friar, she once more reentered her cell.

Lady Helen passed the moments she had requested in those duties which
alone can give comfort to the afflicted, when all that is visible bids
us despair; and rising from her knees, with that holy fortitude which
none but the devout can know, she took her mantle and veil, and
throwing them over her, sent her attendant to the prior, to say she was
ready to set out on her journey, and wished to receive his parting
benediction.  The venerable father, followed by Halbert, obeyed her
summons.  On seeing the poor old harper, Helen's heart lost some of its
newly-acquired composure.  She held out her hand to him; he pressed it
to his lips.  "Farewell, sweetest lady!  May the prayers of the dear
saint, to whose remains your pious care gave a holy grave, draw down
upon your own head consolation and peace!"  The old man sobbed; and the
tears of Lady Helen, as he bent upon her hand, dropped upon his silver
hair.  "May Heaven hear you, good Halbert!  And cease not, venerable
man, to pray for me; for I go into the hour of trial."

"All that dwell in this house, my daughter," rejoined the prior, "shall
put up orisons for your comfort, and for the soul of the departing
earl."  Observing that her grief augmented at these words, he proceeded
in a yet more soothing voice: "Regret not that he goes before you, for
what is death but entrance into life?  It is the narrow gate, which
shuts us from this dark world, to usher us into another, of everlasting
light and happiness.  Weep not, then, dear child of the church, that
your earthly parents precede you to the Heavenly Father; rather say,
with the Virgin Saint Bride, 'How long, O Lord, am I to be banished thy
presence?   How long endure the prison of my body, before I am admitted
to the freedom of Paradise, to the bliss of thy saints above?'"

Helen raised her eyes, yet shining in tears, and with a divine smile
pressing the crucifix to her breast, "You do indeed arm me, my father!
This is my strength!"

"And one that will never fail thee!" exclaimed he.  She dropped upon
one knee before him.  He crossed his hands over her head--he looked up
to heaven--his bosom heaved--his lips moved--then pausing a moment--"Go,"
said he, "and may the angels which guard innocence minister to your
sorrows, and lead you into peace!"

Helen bowed, and breathing inwardly a devout response, rose and
followed the prior out of the cell.  At the end of the cloister she
again bade farewell to Halbert.  Before the great gates stood the
knights with their attendants.  She once more kissed the crucifix held
by the prior, and giving her hand to the Scot, was placed by him on a
horse richly caparisoned.  He sprung on another himself, while the
English officer, who was already mounted, drawing up to her, she pulled
down her veil, and all bowing to the holy brotherhood at the porch,
rode off at a gentle pace.

A long stretch of wood, which spread before the monastery, and screened
the back of Bothwell Castle from being discernible on that side of the
Clyde, lay before them.  Through this green labyrinth they pursued
their way, till they crossed the river.

"Time wears!" exclaimed the Scot to his companion; "we must push on."
The English knight nodded, and set his spurs into his steed.  The whole
troop now fell into a rapid trot.  The banks of the Avon opened into a
hundred beautiful seclusions, which, intersecting the deep sides of the
river with umbrageous shades and green hillocks, seemed to shut it from
the world.  Helen in vain looked for the distant towers of Dumbarton
Castle marking the horizon; no horizon appeared, but ranges of rocks
and wooded precipices.

A sweet breeze played through the valley and revived her harassed
frame.  She put aside her veil to enjoy its freshness, and saw that the
knights turned their horses' heads into one of the obscurest mountain
defiles.  She started at its depth, and at the gloom which involved its
extremity.  "It is our nearest path," said the Scot.  Helen made no
reply, but turning her steed also, followed him, there being room for
only one at a time to ride along the narrow margin of the river that
flowed at its base.  The Englishman, whose voice she had not yet heard,
and his attendants, followed likewise in file; and with difficulty the
horses could make their way through the thicket which interlaced the
pathway, so confined, indeed, that it rather seemed a cleft made by an
earthquake in the mountain than a road for the use of man.

When they had been employed for an hour in breaking their way through
this trackless glen, they came to a wider space, where other and
broader ravines opened before them.  The Scot, taking a pass to the
right, raised his bugle, and blew so sudden a blast that the horse on
which Lady Helen sat took fright, and began to plunge and rear, to the
evident hazard of throwing her into the stream.  Some of the dismounted
men, seeing her danger, seized the horse by the bridle; while the
English knight extricating her from the saddle, carried her through
some clustering bushes into a cave, and laid her at the feet of an
armed man.

Terrified at this extraordinary action, she started up with a piercing
shriek, but was at that moment enveloped in the arms of the stranger,
while a loud shout of exhultation resounded from the Scot who stood at
the entrance.  It was echoed from without.  There was horror in every
sound.  "Blessed Virgin, protect me!" she cried, striving to break from
the fierce grasp that held her.  "Where am I?" looking wildly at the
two men who had brought her: "Why am I not taken to my father?"

She received no answer, and both the Scot and the Englishman left the
place.  The stranger still held her locked in a gripe that seemed of
iron.  In vain she struggled, in vain she shrieked, in vain she called
on earth and Heaven, for assistance; she was held, and still he kept
silence.  Exhausted with terror and fruitless attempt for release, she
put her hands together, and in a calmer tone exclaimed: "If you have
honor or humanity in your heart, release me!  I am an unprotected
woman, praying for your mercy; withhold it not, for the sake of Heaven
and your own soul."

"Kneel to me then, thou siren!" cried the warrior, with fierceness.  As
he spoke he threw the tender knees of Lady Helen upon the rocky floor.
His voice echoed terribly in her ears, but obeying him, "Free me,"
cried she, "for the sake of my dying father!"

"Never, till I have had my revenge!"

At this dreadful denunciation she shuddered to the soul, but yet she
spoke: "Surely I am mistaken for some one else!  Oh, how can I have
offended any man to incur so cruel an outrage?"

The warrior burst into a satanic laugh, and, throwing up his visor,
"Behold me, Helen!" cried he, grasping her clasped hands with a
horrible force, "My hour is come!"

At the sight of the dreadful face of Soulis she comprehended all her
danger, and with supernatural strength, wresting her hands from his
hold, she burst through the bushes out of the cave.  Her betrayers
stood at the entrance, and catching her in their arms, brought her back
to their lord.  But it was an insensible form they now laid before him;
overcome with horror her senses had fled.  Short was this suspension
from misery; water was thrown on her face, and she awoke to
recollection, lying on the bosom of her enemy.  Again she struggled,
again her cries echoed from side to side of the cavern.  "Peace!" cried
the monster; "you cannot escape; you are now mine forever!  Twice you
refused to be my wife; you dared to despise my love and my power; now
you shall feel my hatred and my revenge!"

"Kill me!" cried the distracted Helen; "kill me and I will bless you!"

"That would be a poor vengeance," cried he; "you must be humbled, proud
minion, you must learn to fawn on me for a smile; to woo, as my slave,
for one of those caresses you spurned to receive as my wife."  As he
spoke, he strained her to his breast, with the contending expressions
of passion and revenge glaring in his eyes.  Helen shrieked at the
pollution of his lips; and as he more fiercely held her, her hand
struck against the hilt of his dagger.  In a moment she drew it, and
armed with the strength of outraged innocence, unwitting whether it
gave death or not, only hoping it would release her, she struck it into
his side.  All was the action of an instant while, as instantaneously,
he caught her wrist, and exclaiming, "Damnable traitress!" dashed her
from him, stunned and motionless to the ground.

The weapon had not penetrated far.  But the sight of his blood, drawn
by the hand of a woman, incensed the raging Soulis.  He called aloud on
Macgregor.  The two men, who yet stood without the cave, re-entered.
They started when they saw a dagger in his hand, and Helen, lying
apparently lifeless, with blood sprinkled on her garments.

Macgregor, who had personated the Scottish knight, in a tremulous voice
asked why he had killed the lady?

Soulis frowned: "Here!" cried he, throwing open his vest: "this wound,
that beautiful fiend you so piteously look upon, aimed at my life!"

"My lord," said the other man, who had heard her shrieks, "I expected
different treatment for the Earl of Mar's daughter."

"Base Scot!" returned Soulis, "when you brought a woman into these
wilds to me, you had no right to expect that I should use her otherwise
than as I pleased, and you, as the servile minister of my pleasures."

"This language, Lord Soulis!" rejoined the man, much agitated; "but you
mistook me--I meant not to reproach."

"'Tis well you did not;" and turning from him with contempt, he
listened to Macgregor, who, stooping toward the inanimate Helen,
observed that her pulse beat.  "Fool!" returned Soulis, "did you think
I would so rashly throw away what I have been at such pains to gain?
Call your wife; she knows how to teach these minions submission to my
will."

The man obeyed; and while his companion, by the command of Soulis,
bound a fillet round the bleeding forehead of Helen, cut by the flints,
the chief brought two chains, and fastening them to her wrists and
ankles, exclaimed, with brutal triumph, while he locked them on:
"There, my haughty damsel, flatter not thyself that the arms of Soulis
shall be thine only fetters."

Macgregor's wife entered, and promised to obey all her lord's
injunctions.  When she was left alone with the breathless body of
Helen, water, and a few cordial drops, which she poured into the
unhappy lady's mouth, soon recalled her wretched senses.  On opening
her eyes, the sight of one of her own sex inspired her with some hope;
but attempting to stretch out her hands in supplication, she was
horror-struck at finding them fastened, and at the clink of the chains
which bound her.  "Why am I thus?" demanded she of the woman; but
suddenly recollecting having attempted to pierce Soulis with his own
dagger, and now supposing she had slain him, she added, "Is Lord Soulis
killed?"

"No," replied the woman; "my husband says he is but slightly hurt; and
surely your fair face belies your heart, if you could intend the death
of so brave and loving a lord!"

"You then belong to him?" cried the wretched Helen, wringing her hands.
"What will be my unhappy fate!  Virgin of heaven, take me to thyself!"

"Heaven forbid!" cried the woman, "that you should pray against being
the favorite lady of our noble chief!  Many are the scores around
Hermitage Castle who would come hither on their hands and knees to
arrive at that happiness."

"Happiness!" cried Lady Helen, in anguish of spirit; "it can visit me
no more till I am restored to my father, till I am released from the
power of Soulis.  Give me liberty," continued she, wildly grasping the
arm of the woman.  "Assist me to escape, and half the wealth of the
Earl of Mar shall be your reward."

"Alas!" returned the woman, "my lord would burn me on the spot, and
murder my husband, did he think I even listened to such a project.  No,
lady; you never will see your father more; for none who enter my lord's
Hermitage ever wish to come out again."

"The Hermitage!" cried Helen, in augmented horror.  "Oh, Father of
mercy! never let me live to enter those accursed walls!"

"They are frightful enough, to be sure," returned the woman; "but you,
gentle lady, will be princess there; and in all things commanding the
kingly heart of its lord, have rather cause to bless than to curse the
castle of Soulis."

"Himself, and all that bear his name, are accused to me," returned
Helen; "his love is my abomination, his hatred my dread.  Pity me, kind
creature; and if you have a daughter whose honor is dear to your
prayers, think you see her in me, and have compassion on me.  My life
is in your hands; for I swear before the throne of Almighty Purity,
that Soulis shall see me die rather than dishonored!"

"Poor young soul!" cried the woman, looking at her frantic gestures
with commiseration; "I would pity you if I durst; but I repeat, my
life, and my husband's, and my children, who are now near Hermitage,
would all be sacrificed to the rage of Lord Soulis.  You must be
content to submit to his will."  Helen closed her hands over her face
in mute despair, and the woman went on: "And as for the matter of your
making such lamentations about your father, if he be as little your
friend as your mother is you have not much cause to grieve on that
score."

Helen started.  "My mother! what of her? Speak! tell me! It is indeed
her signet that betrayed me into these horrors.  She cannot have
consented!  Oh, no! some villians--speak! tell me what you would say of
Lady Mar?"

Regardless of the terrible emotion which now shook the frame of her
auditor, the woman coolly replied, she had heard from her husband, who
was the confidential servant of Lord Soulis, that it was to Lady mar he
owed the knowledge of Helen being at Bothwell.  The countess had
written a letter to her cousin, Lord Buchan, who being a sworn friend
of England, she intimated with Lord de Valence at Dumbarton.  In this
epistle she intimated her wish that Lord Buchan would devise a plan to
surprise Bothwell Castle the ensuing day, to prevent the departure of
its armed vassals, then preparing to march to the support of the outlaw
Sir William Wallace, who, with his band of robbers, was lurking about
the caverns of the Cartlane Craigs.

When this letter arrived, Lord Soulis was at dinner with the other
lords; and Buchan, laying it before De Valence, they all consulted what
was best to be done.  Lady Mar begged her cousin not to appear in the
affair himself, that she might escape the suspicions of her lord; who,
she strongly declared, was not arming his vassals from any disloyal
disposition toward the king of England, but solely at the instigations
of Wallace, to whom he romantically considered himself bound by the
ties of gratitude.  As she gave this information, she hoped that no
attainder would fall upon her husband.  And to keep the transaction as
close as possible, she proposed that the Lord Soulis, who she
understood was then at Dumbarton, should take the command of two or
three thousand troops, and marching to Bothwell next morning, seize the
few hundred armed Scots who were there ready to proceed to the
mountains.  She ended by saying that her daughter-in-law was in the
castle, which she hoped would be an inducement to Soulis to insure the
Earl of Mar's safety for the sake of her hand as his reward.

The greatest part of Lady Mar's injunctions could not be attended to,
as Lord de Valence, as well as Soulis, was made privy to the secret.
The English nobleman declared that he should not do his duty to his
king if he did not head the force that went to quell so dangerous a
conspiracy; and Soulis, eager to go at any rate, joyfully accepted the
honor of being his companion.  Lord Buchan was easily persuaded to the
seizure of the earl's person, as De Valence flattered him that the king
would endow him with the Mar estates, which must now be confiscated.
Helen groaned at the latter part of the narrative, but the woman,
without noticing it, proceeded to relate how, when the party had
executed their design at Bothwell Castle, she was to have been taken by
Soulis to his castle near Glasgow; but on that wily Scot not finding
her, he conceived the suspicion that Lord de Valence had prevailed on
the countess to give her up to him.  He observed, that the woman who
could be induced to betray her daughter to one man, would easily be
bribed to repeat the crime to another, and under this impression, he
accused the English nobleman of treachery.  De Valence denied it
vehemently so quarrel ensued, and Soulis departed with a few of his
followers, giving out that he was retiring in high indignation to
Dunglass.  But the fact was, he lurked about in Bothwell wood; and from
its recesses saw Cressingham's lieutenant march by to take possession
of the castle in the king's name.

A deserter from this troop fell in with Lord Soulis' company, and
flying to him for protection, a long private conversation took place
between them.  At this period, one of the spies who had been left by
that chief in quest of news, returned with a female tenant of St.
Fillan's, whom he had seduced from her home.  She told Lord Soulis all
he wanted to know; informing him that a beautiful young lady, who could
be no other than Lady Helen Mar, was concealed in that convent.

On this information he conversed a long time with the stranger from
Cressingham's detachment.  And determining on carrying off Helen
immediately to Hermitage, that the distance of Teviotdale might render
a rescue less probable, he laid the plan accordingly.  "In
consequence," continued the woman, "my husband and the stranger, the
one habited as a Scottish and the other as an English knight (for my
lord being ever on some wild prank, has always a chest of strange
dresses with him), set out for St. Fillan's, taking with them the
signet which your mother had sent with her letter to the earl her
cousin.  They hoped such a pledge of their truth would insure them
credit.  You know the tale they invented; and its success proves my
lord to be no bad contriver."



Chapter XIV.

The Pentland Hills.


Helen listened with astonishment and grief to this too probable story
of her step-mother's ill-judged tenderness or cruel treachery; and
remembering the threats which had escaped that lady in their last
conversation, she saw no reason to doubt what so clearly explained the
before inexplicable seizure of her father, the betraying of Wallace,
and her own present calamity.

"You do not answer me," rejoined the woman; "but if you think I don't
say true, Lord Soulis himself will assure you of the fact."

"Alas, no!" returned Helen, profoundly sighing, "I believe it too well.
I see the depth of the misery into which I am plunged.  And yet,"
cried she, recollecting the imposition the men had put upon her:-"yet,
I shall not be wholly so, if my father lives, and was not in the
extremity they told me of!"

"If that thought gives you comfort, retain it," returned the woman;
"the whole story of the earl's illness was an invention to bring you at
so short notice from the protection of the prior."

"I thank thee, gracious Providence, for this comfort!" exclaimed Helen;
"it inspires me with redoubled trust in thee."

Margery shook her head.  "Ah, poor victim (thought she), how vain is
thy devotion!"  But she had not time to say so, for her husband and the
deserter from Cressingham re-entered the cave.  Helen, afraid that it
was Soulis, started up.  The stranger proceeded to lift her in his
arms; she struggled, and in the evidence of her action, struck his
beaver; it opened, and discovered a pale and stern countenance, with a
large scar across his jaw; this mark of contest, and the gloomy scowl
of his eyes, made Helen rush toward the woman for protection.  The man
hastily closed his helmet, and, speaking through the clasped steel, for
the first time she heard his voice; it sounded, hollow and decisive; he
bade her prepare to accompany Lord Soulis in a journey to the south.

Helen looked at her shackled arms, and despairing of effecting her
escape by any effort of her own, she thought that gaining time might be
some advantage; and allowing the man to take her hand, while Macgregor
supported her on the other side, they led her out of the cave.  She
observed the latter smiled significantly at his wife.  "Oh!" cried she,
"to what am I betrayed?  Unhand me!  Leave me!"  Almost fainting with
dread, she leaned against the arm of the stranger.

Thunder now peaked over her head, and lightning shot across the
mountains.  She looked up: "Merciful Heaven!" cried she, in a voice of
deep horror; "send down thy bolt on me!"  At that moment Soulis,
mounted on his steed, approached, and ordered her to be put into the
litter.  Incapable of contending with the numbers which surrounded her,
she allowed them to execute their master's commands.  Macgregor's wife
was set on a pillion behind him; and Soulis giving the word, they all
marched on at a rapid pace.  In a few hours, having cleared the shady
valleys of the Clyde, they entered the long and barren tracts of the
Leadhill Moors.

A dismal hue overspread the country; the thunder yet roared in distant
peals, and the lightning came down in such vast sheets that the
carriers were often obliged to set down their burden, and cover their
eyes to regain their sight.  A shrill wind pierced the slight covering
of the litter, and blowing it aside, discovered the mist; or the
gleaming of some wandering water, as it glided away over the cheerless
waste.

"All is desolation, like myself!" thought Helen; but neither the cold
wind, nor the rain, now drifting into her vehicle, occasioned her any
sensation.  It is only when the mind is at ease, that the body is
delicate; all within her was too expectant of mental horrors to notice
the casual inconveniences of season or situation.  The cavalcade with
difficulty mounted the steps of a mountainous hill, where the storm
raged so turbulently that the men who carried the litter stopped, and
told their lord it would be impossible to proceed in the approaching
darkness; they conjured him to look at the perpendicular rocks,
rendered indistinct by the gathering mist; to observe the overwhelming
gusts of the tempest; and then judge whether they dare venture with the
litter on so dangerous a pathway, made slippery by descending rain!

To halt in such a spot seemed to Soulis as unsafe as to proceed.  "We
shall not be better off," answered he, "should we attempt to return:
precipices lie on either side: and to stand still would be equally
perilous: the torrents from the heights increase so rapidly, there is
every chance of our being swept away, should we remain exposed to the
stream."

Helen looked at these sublime cascades with a calm welcome, as they
poured from the hills, and flung their spray upon the roof of her
vehicle.  She hailed her release in the death they menaced; and far
from being intimidated at the prospect, cast a resigned, and even
wistful glance, into the swelling lake beneath, under whose waves she
expected soon to sleep.

On the remonstrance of their master, the men resumed their pace; and
after a hard contention with the storm, they gained the summit of the
west side of the mountain, and were descending its eastern brow, when
the shades of night closed in upon them.  Looking down into the black
chaos, on the brink of which they must pass along, they once more
protested they could not advance a foot, until the dawn should give
them some security.

At this declaration, which Soulis saw could not now be disputed, he
ordered the troop to halt under the shelter of a projecting rock.  Its
huge arch overhung the ledge that formed the road, while the deep gulf
at his feet, by the roaring of its waters, proclaimed itself the
receptacle of those cataracts which rush tremendous from the
ever-streaming Pentland hills.

Soulis dismounted.  The men set down the litter, and removed to a
distance as he approached.  He opened one of the curtains, and throwing
himself beside the exhausted, but watchful Helen, clasped his arms
roughly about her, and exclaimed, "Sweet minion, I must pillow on your
bosom till the morn awakes!"  His brutal lips were again riveted to her
cheek.  Ten thousand strengths seemed then to heave him from her heart;
and struggling with a power that amazed even herself, she threw him
from her; and holding him off with her shackled arms, her shrieks again
pierced the heavens.

"Scream thy soul away, poor foul!" exclaimed Soulis, seizing her
fiercely in his arms; "for thou art now so surely mine, that Heaven
itself cannot deprive me!"

At that moment her couch was shaken by a sudden shock, and in the next
she was covered with the blood of Soulis.  A stroke from an unseen arm
had reached him, and starting on his feet, a fearful battle of swords
took place over the prostrate Helen.

One of the men, out of the numbers who hastened to the assistance of
their master, fell dead on her body; while the chief himself, sorely
wounded, and breathing revenge and blasphemy, was forced off by the
survivors.  "Where do you carry me, villians?" cried he.  "Separate me
not from the vengeance I will yet hurl on that demon who has robbed me
of my victim, or ye shall die a death more horrible than hell can
inflict!"  He raved; but more unheeded than the tempest.  Terrified
that the spirits of darkness were indeed their pursuers, in spite of
his reiterated threats, the men carried him to a distant hollow in the
rock, and laid him down, now insensible from loss of blood.  One or two
of the most desperate returned to see what was become of Lady Helen;
well aware that if they could regain her, their master would be
satisfied; but, on the reverse, should she be lost, the whole troop
knew their fate would be some merciless punishment.

Macgregor, and the deserter of Cressingham, were the first who reached
the spot where the lady had been left; with horror they found the
litter, but not herself.  She was gone.  But whether carried off by the
mysterious arm which had felled their lord, or she had thrown herself
into the foaming gulf beneath, they could not determine.  They decided,
however, the latter should be their report to Soulis; knowing that he
would rather believe the object of his passions had perished, than that
she had escaped his toils.

Almost stupefied with consternation, they returned to repeat this tale
to their furious lord; who, on having his wounds staunched, had
recovered from his swoon.  On hearing that the beautiful creature he
had so lately believed his own beyond the power of fate; that his
property, as he called her, the devoted slave of his will, the mistress
of his destiny, was lost to him forever! swallowed up in the whelming
wave! he became frantic.  There was desperation in every word.  He
raved; tore up the earth like a wild beast; and, foaming at the mouth,
dashed the wife of Macgregor from him, as she approached with a fresh
balsam for his wounds.  "Off, scum of a damned sex!" cried he.  "Where
is she, whom I intrusted to thy care?"

"My lord," answered the affrighted woman, "you know best.  You
terrified the poor young creature.  You forced yourself into a litter,
and can you wonder-"

"That I should force you to perdition! execrable witch," cried he,
"that knew no better how to prepare a slave to receive her lord!"  As
he spoke, he struck her again; but it was with his gauntlet hand, and
the eyes of the unfortunate woman opened no more.  The blow fell on her
temple, and a motionless corpse lay before him.

"My wife!" cried the poor Macgregor, putting his trembling arms about
her neck: "Oh, my lord, how have I deserved this?  You have slain her!"

"Suppose I have!" returned the chief with a cold scorn; "she was old
and ugly; and could you recover Helen, you should cull Hermitage, for a
substitute for this prating bedlam."

Macgregor made no reply, but feeling in his heart that he "who sows the
wind, must reap the whirlwind;" that such were the rewards from
villainy, to its vile instruments; he could not but say to himself, "I
have deserved it of my God, but not of thee!" and sobbing over the
remains of his equally criminal wife, by the assistance of his comrades
he removed her from the now hated presence of his lord.



Chapter XV.

The Hut.


Meanwhile the Lady Helen, hardly rational from the horror and hope that
agitated her, extricated herself from the dead body; and in her
eagerness to escape, would certainly have fallen over the precipice,
had not the same gallant arm which had covered her persecutor with
wounds, caught her as she sprung from the litter.  "Fear not, lady,"
exclaimed a gentle voice; "you are under the protection of a Scottish
knight."

There was a kindness in the sound, that seemed to proclaim the speaker
to be of her own kindred; she felt as if suddenly rescued by a brother;
and dropping her head on his bosom, a shower of grateful tears relieved
her heart, and prevented her fainting.  Aware that no time was to be
lost, that the enemy might soon be on him again, he clasped her in his
arms, and with the activity of a mountain deer, crossed two rushing
streams; leaping from rock to rock, even under the foam of their flood;
and then treading with a light and steady step, an alpine bridge of one
single tree, which arched the cataract below, he reached the opposite
side, where, spreading his plaid upon the rock, he laid the trembling
Helen upon it.  Then softly breathing his bugle, in a moment he was
surrounded by a number of men, whose rough gratulations might have
reawakened the alarm of Helen, had she not still heard his voice.
There was graciousness and balm-distilling sweetness in every tone; and
she listened in calm expectation.

He directed the men to take their axes, and cut away, on their side of
the fall, the tree which arched it.  It was probable the villian he had
just assailed, or his followers, might pursue him; and he thought it
prudent to demolish the bridge.

The men obeyed, and the warrior returned to his fair charge.  It was
raining fast; and fearful of further exposing her to the inclemencies
of the night, he proposed leading her to shelter.  "There is a hermit's
cell on the northern side of this mountain.  I will conduct you thither
in the morning as to the securest asylum; but meanwhile we must seek a
nearer refuge."

"Anywhere, sir, with honor my guide," answered Helen, timidly.

"You are safe with me, lady," returned he, "as in the arms of the
Virgin.  I am a man who can now have no joy in womankind, but when as a
brother I protect them.  Whoever you are, confide in me, and you shall
not be betrayed."

Helen confidently gave him her hand, and strove to rise; but at the
first attempt, the shackles piercing her ankles, she sunk again on the
ground.  The cold iron on her wrists touched the hand of her preserver.
He now recollected his surprise on hearing the clank of chains, when
carrying her over the bridge.  "Who," inquired he, "could have done this
unmanly deed?"

"The wretch from whom you rescued me--to prevent my escape from a
captivity worse than death."

While she spoke, he wrenched open the manacles from her wrists and
ankles, and threw them over the precipice.  As she heard them dash into
the torrent, an unutterable gratitude filled her heart; and again
giving her hand to him to lead her forward, she said with earnestness,
"O sir, if you have a wife or sister--should they ever fall into the
like peril with mine; for in these terrific times, who is secure? may
Heaven reward your bravery, by sending them such a preserver!"

The stranger sighed deeply: "Sweet lady," returned he, "I have no
sister, no wife.  But my kindred is nevertheless very numerous, and I
thank thee for thy prayer."  The hero sighed profoundly again, and led
her silently down the windings of the declivity.  Having proceeded with
caution, they descended into a little wooded dell, and soon approached
the half-standing remains of what had once been a shepherd's hut.

"This," said the knight, as they entered, "was the habitation of a good
old man, who fed his flock on these mountains; but a band of Southron
soldiers forced his only daughter from him, and, plundering his little
abode, drove him out upon the waste.  He perished the same night, by
grief, and the inclemencies of the weather.  His son, a brave youth,
was left for dead by his sister's ravishers; but I found him in this
dreary solitude, and he told me the too general story of his wounds and
his despair.  Indeed, lady, when I heard your shrieks from the opposite
side of the chasm, I thought they might proceed from this poor boy's
sister, and I flew to restore them to each other."

Helen shuddered, as he related a tale so near resembling her own; and
trembling with weakness, and horror of what might have been her fate
had she not been rescued by this gallant stranger, she sunk exhausted
upon a turf seat.  The chief still held her hand.  It was very cold,
and he called to his men to seek fuel to make a fire.  While his
messengers were exploring the crannies of the rocks for dried leaves
and sticks, Helen, totally overcome, leaned almost motionless against
the wall of the hut.  Finding, by her shortened breath, that she was
fainting, the knight took her in his arms, and supporting her on his
breast, chafed her hands and her forehead.  His efforts were in vain;
she seemed to have ceased to breathe; hardly a pulse moved her heart.
Alarmed at such signs of death, he spoke to one of his men who remained
in the hut.

The man answered his master's inquiry by putting a flash into his hand.
The knight poured some of its contents into her mouth.  Her streaming
locks wetted his cheek.  "Poor lady!" said he, "she will perish in
these forlorn regions, where neither warmth nor nourishment can be
found."

To his glad welcome, several of his men soon after entered with a
quantity of withered boughs, which they had found in the fissures of
the rock at some distance.  With these a fire was speedily kindled; and
its blaze diffusing comfort through the chamber, he had the
satisfaction of hearing a sigh from the breast of his charge.  Her head
still leaned on his bosom when she opened her eyes.  The light shone
full on her face.

"Lady," said he, "I bless God you are revived."  Her delicacy shrunk at
the situation in which she found herself; and raising herself, though
feebly, she thanked him, and requested a little water.  It was given to
her.  She drank some, and would have met the fixed and compassionate
gaze of the knight, had not weakness cast such a film before her eyes
that she scarcely saw anything.  Being still languid, she leaned her
head on the turf seat.  Her face was pale as marble, and her long hair,
saturated with wet, by its darkness made her look of a more deadly hue.

"Death! how lovely canst thou be!" sighed the knight to himself--he even
groaned.  Helen started, and looked around her with alarm.  "Fear not,"
said he, "I only dreaded your pale looks; but you revive, and will yet
bless all that are dear to you.  Suffer me, sweet lady, to drain the
dangerous wet from these tresses?"  He took hold of them as he spoke.
She saw the water running from her hair over his hands, and allowing
his kind request, he continued wiping her glossy locks with his scarf,
till, exhausted by fatigue, she gradually sunk into a profound sleep.

Dawn had penetrated the ruined walls of the hut before Lady Helen
awoke.  But when she did, she was refreshed; and opening her
eyes--hardly conscious where she was, or whether all that floated in her
memory were not the departing vapors of a frightful dream--she turned
her head and fixed them upon the figure of the knight, who was seated
near her.  His noble air; and the pensive expression of his fine
features, struck like a spell upon her gathering recollections; she at
once remembered all she had suffered, all that she owed to him.  She
moved.  Her preserver turned his eyes toward her; seeing she was awake,
he rose from the side of the dying embers he had sedulously kept alive
during her slumber, and expressed his hopes that she felt restored.
She returned him a grateful reply, in the affirmative; and he quitted
her, to rouse his men for their journey to the hermit's cell.

When he re-entered, he found Helen braiding up the fine hair which had
so lately been scattered by the elements.  She would have risen at his
approach, but he seated himself on a stone at her feet.  "We shall be
detained here a few minutes longer," said he; "I have ordered my men to
make a litter of crossed branches, to bear you on their shoulders.
Your delicate limbs would not be equal to the toil of descending these
heights, to the glen of stones.  The venerable man who inhabits there
will protect you until he can summon your family, or friends, to
receive his charge."

At these words, which Helen thought were meant to reprove her for not
having revealed herself, she blushed; but fearful of breathing a name
under the interdict of the English governors, and which had already
spread devastation over all with whom it had been connected; fearful of
involving her preserver's safety, by making him aware of the persecuted
creature he had rescued; she paused for a moment, and then, with the
color heightening on her cheeks, replied: "For your humanity, brave
sir, shown this night to a friendless woman, I must be ever grateful;
but not even to the hermit may I reveal my name.  It is fraught with
danger to every honest Scot who should know that he protects one who
bears it; and therefore, least of all, noble stranger, would I breathe
it to you."  She averted her face, to conceal the emotions she could
not subdue.

The knight looked at her intensely, and profoundly sighed.  Half her
unbraided locks lay upon her bosom, which now heaved with suppressed
feelings; and the fast-falling tears, gliding through her long
eyelashes dropped upon his hand; he sighed again, and tore his eyes
from her countenance.  "I ask not, madam, to know what you think proper
to conceal; but danger has no alarms for me, when, by incurring it, I
serve those who need a protector."

A sudden thought flashed across her mind; might it not be possible that
this tender guardian of her safety, this heroic profferer of service,
was the noble Wallace?  But the vain idea fled.  He was pent up amidst
the beleaguered defiles of Cartland Craigs, sworn to extricate the
helpless families of his followers, or to perish with them.  This
knight was accompanied by none but men; and his kind eyes shone in too
serene a luster to be the mirrors of the disturbed soul of the
suffering chief of Ellerslie.  "Ah! then," murmured she to herself,
"are there two men in Scotland who will speak thus?"  She looked up in
his face.  The plumes of his bonnet shaded his features; but she saw
they were paler than on his entrance, and a strange expression of
distraction agitated their before composed lines.  His eyes were bent
to the ground as he proceeded:

"I am the servant of my fellow-creatures--command me and my few
faithful followers; and if it be in the power of such small means to
succor you or yours, I am ready to answer for their obedience.  If the
villain from whom I had the happiness to release you be yet more deeply
implicated in your sorrows, tell me how they can be relieved, and I
will attempt it.  I shall make no new enemies by the deed, for the
Southrons and I are at eternal enmity."

Helen could not withdraw her eyes from his varying countenance, which,
from underneath his dark plumes, seemed like a portentous cloud, at
intervals to emit the rays of the cheering sun, or the lightning of
threatening thunder.  "Alas!" replied she, "ill should I repay such
nobleness were I to involve it in the calamities of my house.  No,
generous stranger, I must remain unknown.  Leave me with the hermit;
and from his cell I will send to some relation to take me thence."

"I urge you no more, gentle lady," replied the knight, rising; "were I
at the head of an army, instead of a handful of men, I might then have
a better argument for offering my services; but as it is, I feel my
weakness, and seek to know no further."

Helen trembled with unaccountable emotion.  "Were you at the head of an
army, I might then dare to reveal the full weight of my anxieties; but
Heaven has already been sufficiently gracious to me by your hands, in
redeeming me from my cruelest enemy; and for the rest, I put my trust
in the same overruling Providence."  At this moment a man entered and
told the knight the vehicle was finished, the morning fine, and his men
ready to march.  He turned toward Helen: "May I conduct you to the rude
carriage we have prepared?"

Helen gathered her mantle about her; and the knight, throwing his scarf
over her head--it had no other covering--she gave him her hand, and he
led her out on the hut to the side of the bier.  It was overlaid with
the men's plaids.  The knight placed her on it; and the carriers
raising it on their shoulders, her deliverer led the way, and they took
their course down the mountain.



Chapter XVI.

The Glen of Stones.


They proceeded in silence through the curvings of the dell till it
opened into a hazardous path along the top of a far-extending cliff,
which overhung and clasped in the western side of a deep loch.  As they
mounted the pending wall of this immense amphitheater, Helen watched
the sublime uprise of the king of light issuing from behind the
opposite citadel of rocks, and borne aloft on a throne of clouds that
swam in floating gold.  The herbage on the cliffs glittered with liquid
emeralds, as his beams kissed their summits; and the lake beneath
sparkled like a sea of molten diamonds.  All nature seemed to rejoice
at the presence of this magnificent emblem of the Most High.  Helen's
heart swelled with devotion, and its sacred voice breathed from her
lips.

"Such," thought she, "O sun, art thou!  The resplendent image of the
Giver of all Good.  Thy cheering beams, like his all-cheering Spirit,
pervade the soul, and drive thence the despondency of cold and
darkness.  But bright as thou art, how does the similitude fade before
godlike man, the true image of his Maker.  How far do his protecting
arms extend over the desolate!  How mighty is the power of his
benevolence to dispense succor, to administer consolation!"

As she thus mused her eyes fell on the noble mien of the knight, who,
with his spear in his hand, and wrapped in his dark mantle of mingled
greens, led the way, with a graceful but rapid step, along the shelving
declivity.  Turning suddenly to the left, he struck into a defile
between two prodigious craggy mountains, whose brown cheeks, trickling
with ten thousand mountains, whose brown cheeks, trickling with ten
thousand rills, seemed to weep over the deep gloom of the valley
beneath.  Scattered fragments of rock from the cliffs above covered
with their huge and almost impassable masses the surface of the ground.
Not an herb was to be seen; all was black, barren, and terrific.  On
entering this horrid pass, Helen would have shuddered, had she not
placed implicit confidence in her conductor.

As they advanced, the vale gradually narrowed, and at last shut them
within an immense chasm, which seemed to have been cleft at its
towering summit, to admit a few beams of light to the desert below.  A
dark river flowed along, amid which the bases of the mountains showed
their union by the mingling of many a rugged cliff, projecting upward
in a variety of strange and hideous forms.  The men who carried Helen,
with some difficulty found a safe footing.  However, after frequent
rests, and unremitted caution, they at last extricated themselves from
the most intricate path, and more lightly followed their chief into a
less gloomy part of this chaos of nature.  The knight stopped, and
approaching the bier, told Helen they had arrived at the end of their
journey.

"In the heart of that cliff," said he, "is the hermit's cell; a
desolate shelter, but a safe one.  Old age and poverty hold no
temptations to the enemies of Scotland."

As he spoke the venerable man, who had heard voices beneath, appeared
on the rock; and while his tall and majestic figure, clad in gray,
moved forward, and his silver beard flowed from his saintly countenance
upon the air, he seemed the bard of Morven, issuing from his cave of
shells to bid a hero's welcome to the young and warlike Oscar.

"Bless thee, my son," cried he, as he descended; "what good or evil
accident hath returned thee so soon to these solitudes?"

The knight briefly related the circumstances of Helen's rescue, and
that he had brought her to share his asylum.

The hermit took her by the hand, and graciously promised her every
service in his power.  He then preceded the knight, whose firmer arm
supported her up the rock, to the outer apartment of the cell.

A sacred awe struck her as she entered this place, dedicated wholly to
God.  She bowed, and crossed herself.  The hermit, observing her
devotion, blessed her, and bade her welcome to the abode of peace.

"Here, daughter," said he, "has one son of persecuted Scotland found a
refuge.  There is naught alluring in these wilds to attract the
spoiler.  The green herb is all the food they afford, and the limpid
water their best beverage."

"Ah!" returned Helen, with grateful animation, "would to Heaven that
all who love the freedom of Scotland were now within this glen!  The
herb and the stream would be luxuries when tasted in liberty and hope.
My father, his friend-" she stopped, recollecting that she had almost
betrayed the secrecy she meant to maintain, and looking down, remained
in confused silence.  The knight gazed at her, and much wished to
penetrate what she concealed, but delicacy forbade him to urge her
again.  He spoke not; but the hermit, ignorant of her reluctance to
reveal her family, resumed:

"I do not wonder, gentle lady, that you speak in terms which tell me
even your tender sex feels the tyranny of Edward.  Who in Scotland is
exempt?  The whole country groans beneath his oppressions, and the
cruelty of his agents makes its rivulets run with blood.  Six months
ago I was Abbot of Scone.  Because I refused to betray my trust, and
resign the archives of the kingdom lodged there, Edward, the
rebel--anointed of the Lord! the profaner of the sanctuary! sent his
emissaries to sack the convent, to tear the holy pillow of Jacob from
its shrine, and to wrest from my grasp the records I refused to
deliver.  All was done as the usurper commanded.  Most of my brethren
were slain.  Myself and the remainder were turned out upon the waste.
We retired to the Monastery of Cambuskenneth; but there oppression
found us.  Cressingham, having seized on other religious houses,
determined to swell his hoards with the plunder of that also.  In the
dead of night the attack was made.  My brethren fled; I knew not
whither to go; but, determined to fly far from the tracts of our
ravagers, I took my course over the hills, and finding the valley of
stones fit for my purpose, for two months have lived alone in this
wilderness."

"Unhappy Scotland!" ejaculated Helen.  Her eyes had followed the chief,
who, during this narrative, leaned thoughtfully against the entrance of
the cave.  His eyes were cast upward with an expression that made her
heart utter the exclamation which had escaped her.

The knight turned and approached her.  "You hear from the lips of my
venerable friend," said he, "a direful story; happy then am I, gentle
lady, that you and he have found a refuge, though a rough one.  I must
now tear myself from this tranquillity to seek scenes more befitting a
younger son of the country he deplores."

Helen felt unable to answer.  But the abbot spoke; "And am I not to see
you again?"

"That is as Heaven wills," replied he; "but as it is unlikely on this
side the grave, my best pledge of friendship is this lady.  To you she
may reveal what she had withheld from me; but in either case, she is
secure in your goodness."

"Rely on my faith, my son; and may the Almighty's shield hang on your
steps!"

The knight turned to Helen.  "Farewell, sweet lady!" said he.  She
trembled at the words, and, hardly conscious of what she did, held out
her hand to him.  He took it, and drew it toward his lips, but checking
himself, he only pressed it, while in a mournful voice he added, "in
your prayer, sometimes remember the most desolate of men!"

A mist seemed to pass over the eyes of Lady Helen.  She felt as if on
the point of losing something most precious to her.  "My prayers for my
own preserver, and for my father's," cried she, in an agitated voice,
"shall ever be mingled.  And, if ever it be safe to remember me--should
Heaven indeed arm the patriot's hand--then my father may be proud to
know and to thank the brave deliverer of his child."

The knight paused, and looked with animation upon her.  "Then your
father is in arms, and against the tyrant!  Tell me where, and you see
before you a man who is ready to join him, and to lay down his life in
the just cause!"

At this vehement declaration, Lady Helen's full heart overflowed, and
she burst into tears.  He drew toward her, and in a moderated voice
continued: "My men, though few, are brave.  They are devoted to their
country, and are willing for her sake to follow me to victory or to
death.  As I am a knight, I am sworn to defend the cause of right; and
where shall I so justly find it, as on the side of bleeding, wasted
Scotland?  How shall I so well pursue my career as in the defense of
her injured sons?  Speak, gentle lady! trust me with your noble
father's name, and he shall not have cause to blame the confidence you
repose in a true though wandering Scot!"

"My father," replied Helen, weeping afresh, "is not where your generous
services can reach him.  Two brave chiefs, one a kinsman of my own, and
the other his friend, are now colleagued to free him.  If they fail, my
whole house falls in blood! and to add another victim to the destiny
which in that case will overwhelm me--the thought is beyond my
strength."  Faint with agitation, and the horrible images which
reawakened her direst fears, she stopped; and then added in a
suppressed voice, "Farewell!"

"Not till you hear me further," replied he.  "I repeat I have now a
scanty number of followers; but I leave these mountains to gather more.
Tell me, then, where I may join these chiefs you speak of.  Give me a
pledge that I come from you; and whoever may be your father, as he is a
true Scot, I will compass his release, or perish in the attempt."

"Alas! generous stranger," cried she, "to what would you persuade me?
You know not the peril that you seek!"

"Nothing is perilous to me," replied he, with an heroic smile, "that is
to serve my country.  I have no interest, no joy but in her.  Give me,
then, the only happiness of which I am now capable, and send me to
serve her, by freeing one of her defenders!"

Helen hesitated.  The tumult of her mind dried her tears.  She looked
up, with all these inward agitations painted on her cheeks.  His
beaming eyes were full of patriotic ardor; and his fine countenance,
composed into a heavenly calmness by the sublime sentiments which
occupied his soul, made him appear to her not a as man, but as an angel
from the armed host of heaven.

"Fear not, lady," said the hermit, "that you would plunge your
deliverer into any extraordinary danger by involving him in what you
might call rebellion against the usurper.  He is already a proscribed
man."

"Proscribed!" repeated she; "wretched indeed is my country when her
noblest spirits are denied the right to live!-when every step they take
to regain what has been torn from them, only involves them in deeper
ruin!"

"No country is wretched, sweet lady," returned the knight, "till, by a
dastardly acquiescence, it consents to its own slavery.  Bonds, and
death, are the utmost of our enemy's malice; the one is beyond his
power to inflict, when a man is determined to die or to live free; and
for the other, which of us will think that ruin, which leads to the
blessed freedom of paradise?"

Helen looked on the chief as she used to look on her cousin, when
expressions of virtuous enthusiasm burst from his lips; but now it was
rather with the gaze of admiring awe than the exhultation of one
youthful mind sympathizing with another.  "You would teach confidence
to Despair herself," returned she; "again I hope; for God does not
create in vain!  You shall know every danger with which that knowledge
is surrounded.  He is hemmed in by enemies.  Alas, how closely are they
connected with him!  Not the English only, but the most powerful of his
countrymen are leagues against him.  They sold my father to captivity,
and, perhaps, to death; and I, wretched I, was the price.  To free him,
the noblest of Scottish knights is now engaged; but such hosts impede
him, that hope hardly dares hover over his tremendous path."

"Then," cried the stranger, "let my arm be second to his in the great
achievement.  My heart yearns to meet a brother in arms who feels for
Scotland what I do; and with such a coadjutor, I dare promise your
father liberty, and that the power of England shall be shaken."

Helen's heart beat violently at these words.  "I would not defer the
union of two such minds.  Go, then, to the Cartlane Craigs.  But, alas!
how can I direct you?" cried she.  "The passes are beset with English;
and I know not whether at this moment the brave Wallace survives, to be
again the deliverer of my father!"

Helen paused.  The recollection of all that Wallace had suffered for
the sake of her father, and of the mortal extremity in which Ker had
left him, rose like a dreadful train of apparitions before her.  A pale
horror overspread her countenance; and lost in these remembrances, she
did not remark the start, and rushing color of the knight, as she
pronounced the name of Wallace.

"If Wallace ever had the happiness of serving any who belonged to you,"
returned the knight, "he has at least one source of pleasure in that
remembrance.  Tell me what he can further do.  Only say, where is that
father whom you say he once preserved, and I will hasten to yield my
feeble aid to repeat the service!"

"Alas!" replied Helen, "I cannot but repeat my fears that the bravest
of men no longer exists.  Two days before I was betrayed into the hands
of the traitor from whom you rescued me, a messenger from Cartlane
Craigs informed my cousin that the gallant Wallace was surrounded; and
if my father did not send forces to relieve him, he must inevitably
perish.  No forces could my father send; he was then made a prisoner by
the English; his retainers shared the same fate, and none but my cousin
escaped, to accompany the honest Scotch back to his master.  My cousin
set forth with a few followers to join him--a few against thousands."

"They are in arms for their country, lady," returned the knight; "and a
thousand invisible angels guard them; fear not for them!  But for your
father; name to me the place of his confinement, and as I have not the
besiegers of Cartlane Craigs to encounter.  I engage, with God's help,
and the arms of my men (who never yet shrunk from sword or spear), to
set the brave earl free!"

"How!" exclaimed Helen, remembering that she had not yet mentioned her
father's rank, and gazing at him with astonishment; "do you know his
name--is the misfortune of my father already so far spread?"

"Rather say his virtue, lady," answered the knight; "no man who watches
over the destiny of our devoted country can be ignorant of her friends,
or of the sufferers who bear injury for her sake.  I know that the Earl
of Mar has made himself a generous sacrifice, but I am yet to learn the
circumstances from you.  Speak without reserve, that I may seek the
accomplishment of my vow, and restore to Scotland its best friend!"

"Thou brother in heart to the generous Wallace!" exclaimed Lady Helen,
"my voice is too feeble to thank thee."  The hermit, who had listened
in silent interest, now, fearing the consequence of so much emotion,
presented her with a cup of water and a little fruit, to refresh
herself, before she satisfied the inquiries of the knight.  She put the
cup to her lips, to gratify the benevolence of her host, but her
anxious spirit was too much occupied in the concerns dearest to her
heart, to feel any wants of the body; and turning to the knight, she
briefly related what had been the design of her father with regard to
Sir William Wallace; how he had been seized at Bothwell, and sent with
his family a prisoner to Dumbarton Castle.

"Proceed then thither," continued she.  "If Heaven have yet spared the
lives of Wallace and my cousin, Andrew Murray, you will meet them
before its walls.  Meanwhile I shall seek the protection of my father's
sister, and in her castle near the Forth abide in safety.  But, noble
stranger, one bond I must lay upon you; should you come up with my
cousin, do not discover that you have met with me.  He is precipitate
in resentment; and his hatred is so hot against Soulis, my betrayer,
that should he know the outrage I have sustained he would, I fear, run
himself and the general cause into danger by seeking an immediate
revenge."

The stranger readily passed his word to Helen that he would never
mention her name to any of her family until she herself should give him
leave.  "But when your father is restored to his rights," continued he,
"in his presence I hope to claim my acquaintance with his admirable
daughter."

Helen blushed at this compliment--it was not more than any man in his
situation might have said, but it confused her; and hardly knowing what
were her thoughts, she answered-"His personal freedom may be effected,
and God grant such a regard to your prowess!  But his other rights,
what can recover them?  His estates sequestrated, his vassals in bonds,
all power of the Earl of Mar will be annihilated; and from some obscure
refuge like this, must he utter his thanks to his daughter's preserver."

"Not so, lady," replied he; "the sword is now raised in Scotland, that
cannot be laid down till it be broken or has conquered.  All have
suffered by Edward; the powerful banished into other countries, that
their wealth might reward foreign mercenaries; the poor driven into the
waste, that the meanest Southron might share the spoil!  Where all have
suffered, all must be ready to avenge; and when a whole people take up
arms to regain their rights, what force can prevent restitution?  God
is with them!"

"So I felt," returned Helen, "while I have not yet seen the horrors of
the contest.  While my father commanded in Bothwell Castle, and was
sending out auxiliaries to the patriot chief, I too felt nothing but
the inspiration which led them on, and saw nothing but the victory
which must crown so just a cause.  But now, when all whom my father
commanded are slain or carried away by the enemy, when he is himself a
prisoner, and awaiting the sentence of the tyrant he opposed, when the
gallant Wallace, instead of being able to hasten to his rescue, is
besieged by a numberless host, hope almost dies within me, and I fear
that whoever may be fated to free Scotland, my beloved father, and
those belonging to him are first to be made a sacrifice."

She turned pale as she spoke, and the stranger resumed.  "No, lady, if
there be that virtue in Scotland which can alone deserve freedom, it
will be achieved.  I am an inconsiderable man, but relying on the God
of Justice, I promise you your father's liberty; and let his freedom be
a pledge to you for that of your country.  I now go to rouse a few
brave spirits to arms.  Remember the battle is not to the strong, nor
victory with a multitude of hosts!  The banner** of St. Andrew was once
held from the heavens, over a little band of Scots, while they
discomfited a thousand enemies--the same arm leads me on; and, if need
be, I despair not to see it again, like the flaming pillar before the
Israelites, consuming the enemies of liberty, even in the fullness of
their might."

**At a time when Achaius King of Scotts, and Hungus King of Picts, were
fiercely driven by Athelstan King of Northumberland into East Lothian,
full of terrors of what the next morning might bring forth, Hungus fell
into a sleep, and beheld a vision, which, tradition tells, was verified
the ensuing day by the appearance of the cross of St. Andrew held out
to him from the heavens, and waving him to victory.  Under this banner
he conquered the Northumberland forces, and slaying their leader, the
scene of the battle has henceforth been called Atheistanford.-(1809.)

While he yet spoke, the hermit re-entered from the inner cell,
supporting a youth on his arm.  At sight of the knight, who held out
his hand to him, he dropped on his knees and burst into tears.  "Do you
then leave me?" cried he; "am I not to serve my preserver?"

Helen rose in strange surprise; there was something in the feelings of
the boy that was infectious; and while her own heart beat violently,
she looked first on his emaciated figure, and then at the noble contour
of the knight, "where every god had seemed to set his seal."  His
beaming eyes appeared the very fountains of consolation; his cheek was
bright with generous emotions; and turning from the supplant boy to
Helen.  "Rise," said he to the youth, "and behold in this lady the
object of the service to which I appoint you.  You will soon, I hope,
be sufficiently recovered to attend upon her wishes as you would upon
mine.  Be her servant and her guard; and when we meet again, as she
will then be under the protection of her father, if you do not prefer
so gentle a service before the rougher one of war, I will resume you to
myself."

The youth, who had obeyed the knight and risen, bowed respectfully; and
Helen, uttering some incoherent words of thanks, to hide her agitation
turned away.  The hermit exclaimed, "Again, my son, I beseech Heaven to
bless thee!"

"And may its guardian care shield all here!" replied the knight.  Helen
looked up to bid him a last farewell--but he was gone.  The hermit had
left the cell with him, and the youth also had disappeared into the
inner cave.  Being left alone, she threw herself down before the altar,
and giving way to a burst of tears, inwardly implored protection for
that brave knight's life; and by his means to grant safety to Wallace,
and freedom to her father!

As she prayed, her emotion subsided and a holy confidence elevating her
mind, she remained in an ecstasy of hope, till a solemn voice from
behind her called her from this happy trance.

"Blessed are they which put their trust in God!"

She calmly rose, and perceived the hermit; who, on entering, had
observed her devout position, and the spontaneous benediction broke
from his lips.  "Daughter," said he, leading her to a seat, "this hero
will prevail; for the Power before whose altar you have just knelt, has
declared, 'My might is with them who obey my laws, and put their trust
in me!'  You speak highly of the young and valiant Sir William Wallace,
but I cannot conceive that he can be better formed for great and heroic
deeds than this chief.  Suppose them, then, to be equal, when they have
met, with two such leaders, what may not a few determined Scots
perform?"

Helen sympathized with the cheering prognostications of the hermit; and
wishing to learn the name of this rival of a character she had regarded
as unparalleled, she asked, with a blush, by what title she must call
the knight who had undertaken so hazardous an enterprise for her.



Chapter XVII.

The Hermit's Cell.


"I know not," returned the hermit; "I never saw your gallant deliverer
before yesterday morning.  Broken from my matins by a sudden noise, I
beheld a deer rush down the precipice, and fall headlong.  As he lay
struggling amongst the stones at the entrance of my cave, I had just
observed an arrow in his side, when a shout issued from the rocks
above, and looking up, I beheld a young chieftain, with a bow in his
hand, leaping from cliff to cliff, till springing from a high
projection on the right, he alighted at once at the head of the wounded
deer.

"I emerged from the recess that concealed me, and addressed him with
the benediction of the morning.  His plaided followers immediately
appeared, and with a stroke of their ready weapons slew the animal.
The chief left them to dress it for their own refreshment; and on my
invitation, entered the cell to share a hermit's fare.

"I told him who I was, and what had driven me to this seclusion.  In
return, he informed me of a design he had conceived, to stimulate the
surrounding chiefs to some exertions for their country; but as he never
mentioned his name, I concluded he wished it to remain unrevealed, and
therefore I forbore to inquire it.  I imparted to him my doubts of the
possibility of any single individual being able to arouse the
slumbering courage of thoughts.  The arguments he means to use are few
and conclusive.  They are these: The perfidy of King Edward, who,
deemed a prince of high honor, had been chosen umpire in the cause of
Bruce and Baliol.  He accepted the task, in the character of a friend
to Scotland; but no sooner was he advanced into the heart of our
kingdom, and at the head of the large army he had treacherously
introduced as a mere appendage of state, than he declared the act of
judgement was his right as liege lord of the realm!  This falsehood,
which our records disproved at the outset, was not his only baseness;
he bought the conscience of Baliol, and adjudged to him the throne.
The recreant prince acknowledged him his master; and in that degrading
ceremony of homage, he was followed by almost all the lowland Scottish
lords.  But this vile yielding did not purchase them peace: Edward
demanded oppressive services from the king, and the castles of the
nobility to be resigned to English governors.  These requisitions being
remonstrated against by a few of our boldest chiefs (amongst whom, your
illustrious father, gentle lady, stood the most conspicuous), the
tyrant repeated them with additional demands, and prepared to resent
the appeal on the whole nation.

"Three months have hardly elapsed since the fatal battle of Dunbar,
where, indignant at the accumulated outrages committed on their passive
monarch, our irritated nobles at last rose, but too late, to assert
their rights.  Alas! one defeat drove them to despair.  Baliol was
taken, and themselves obliged to again swear fealty to their enemy.
Then came the seizure of the treasures of our monasteries, the burning
of the national records, the sequestration of our property, the
banishment of our chiefs, the violation of our women, and the slavery
or murder of the poor people yoked to the land.  'The storm of
desolation, thus raging over our country; how,' cried the young warrior
to me, 'can any of her sons shrink from the glory of again attempting
her restoration?'  He then informed me that Earl de Warenne (whom
Edward had left lord warden of Scotland), was taken ill, and retired to
London, leaving Aymer de Valence to be his deputy.  To this new tyrant,
De Warenne has lately sent a host of mercenaries, to hold the south of
Scotland in subjection; and to reinforce Cressingham and Ormsby, two
noted plunderers, who command northward, from Stirling to the shores of
Sutherland.

"With these representations of the conduct of our oppressors, the brave
knight demonstrated the facility with which invaders, drunk with power,
and gorged with rapine, could be vanquished by a resolute and hardy
people.  The absence of Edward, who is now abroad, increases the
probability of success.  The knight's design is to infuse his own
spirit into the bosoms of the chiefs in this part of the kingdom.  By
their assistance, to seize the fortresses in the Lowlands, and so form
a chain of repulsion against the admission of fresh troops from
England.  Then, while other chiefs (to whom he means to apply) rise in
the Highlands, the Southron garrisons there, being unsupported by
supplies, must become an easy prey, and would yield men of consequence,
to be exchanged for our countrymen, now prisoners in England.  For the
present, he wishes to be furnished with troops merely enough to take
some castle, of power sufficient to give confidence to his friends.  On
his becoming master of such a place, it should be the signal for all to
declare themselves; and, rising at once, overwhelm Edward's garrisons
in every part of Scotland.

"This is the knight's plan; and for your sake, as well as for the
cause.  I hope the first fortress he gains may be that of Dumbarton.
It has been always considered the key of the country."

"May Heaven grant it, holy father," returned Helen, "and whoever this
knight may be, I pray the blessed St. Andrew to guide his arms!"

"If I may venture to guess who he is," replied the hermit, "I would say
that noble brow was formed to some day wear a crown."

"What!" cried Helen, starting, "you think this knight is the royal
Bruce?"

"I am at a loss what to think," replied the hermit; "he has a most
princely air; and there is such an overflowing of soul toward his
country, when he speaks of it, that--Such love can spring from no other
than the royal heart, created to foster and to bless it."

"But is he not too young?" inquired Helen.  "I have heard my father say
that Bruce, Lord of Annandale, the opponent of Baliol for the crown,
was much his senior; and that his son, the Earl of Carrick, must be now
fifty years of age.  This knight, if I am any judge of looks, cannot be
twenty-five."

"True," answered the hermit; "and yet he may be a Bruce.  For it is
neither of the two you have mentioned that I mean; but the grandson of
the one, and the son of the other.  You may see by this silver beard,
lady, that the winter of my life is far spent.  The elder Bruce,
Robert, Lord of Annandale, was my contemporary; we were boys together,
and educated at the same college in Icolmkill.  He was brave, and
passed his manhood in visiting different courts; at last, marrying a
lady of the princely house of Clare, he took her to France, and
confided his only son to be brought up under the renowned St. Louis.
This young Robert took the cross while quite a youth; and carrying the
banner of the holy King of France to the plains of Palestine, covered
himself with glory.  In storming a Saracen fortress, he rescued the
person of Prince Edward of England.  The horrible tyrant, who now
tramples on all laws, human and divine, was then in the bloom of youth,
defending the cause of Christianity!  Think on that, sweet lady, and
marvel at the changing power of ambition!

"From that hour a strict friendship subsisted between the two young
crusaders; and when Edward mounted the throne of England, it being then
the ally of Scotland, the old Earl of Annandale, to please his brave
son, took up his residence at the English court.  When the male issue
of our King David failed in the untimely death of Alexander III., then
came the contention between Bruce and Baliol for the vacant crown.  Our
most venerable chiefs, the guardians of our laws, and the witnesses of
the parliamentary settlement made on the house of Bruce during the
reign of the late king, all declared for Lord Annandale.  He was not
only the male heir in propinquity of blood, but his experienced years
and known virtues excited all true Scots to place him on the throne.

"Meanwhile Edward, forgetting friendship to his friend, and fidelity to
a faithful ally, was undermining the interest of Bruce, and the peace
of the kingdom.  Inferior rivals to our favorite to our favorite prince
were soon discountenanced; but by covert ways, with bribes and
promises, the King of England raised such a opposition on the side of
Baliol, as threatened a civil war.  Secure in his right, and averse to
plunging his country in blood, Bruce easily fell in with a proposal
insidiously hinted to him by one of Edward's creatures--'to require that
monarch to be umpire between him and Baliol.'  Then it was that Edward,
after soliciting the requisition as an honor to be conferred on him,
declared it was his right as supreme lord of Scotland.  The Earl of
Annandale refused to acknowledge this assumption.  Baliol bowed to it;
and for such obedience, the unrighteous judge gave him the crown.
Bruce absolutely refused to acknowledge the justice of this decision;
and so to avoid the power of the king who had betrayed his rights, and
the jealousy of the other who had usurped them, he immediately left the
scene of action, going over seas, to join his son, who had been cajoled
away to Paris.  But, alas! he died on the road of a broken heart.

"When his son Robert (who was Earl of Carrick in right of his wife)
returned to Britain, he, like his father, disdained to acknowledge
Baliol as king.  But being more incensed at his successful rival, than
at the treachery of his false friend Edward, he believed his glossing
speeches; and--by what infatuation I cannot tell--established his
residence at the monarch's court.  This forgetfulness of his royal
blood, and of the independence of Scotland, has nearly obliterated him
from every Scottish heart; for, when we look at Bruce the courtier, we
cease to remember Bruce the descendant of St. David-Bruce the valiant
knight of the Cross, who bled for true liberty before the walls of
Jerusalem.

"His eldest son may be now about the age of the young knight who has
just left us; and when I look on his royal port, and listen to the
patriotic fervors of his royal soul, I cannot but think that the spirit
of his noble grandsire has revived in his breast, and that, leaving his
indolent father to the vassal luxuries of Edward's palace, he is come
hither in secret, to arouse Scotland, and to assert his claim."

"It is very likely," rejoined Helen, deeply sighing; "and may Heaven
reward his virtue with the crown of his ancestors."

"To that end," replied the Hermit, "shall my hands be lifted up in
prayer day and night.  May I, O gracious Power!" cried he, looking
upward, and pressing the cross to his breast, "live but to see that
hero victorious, and Scotland free, and then 'let thy servant depart in
peace, since mine eyes will have seen her salvation!'"

"Her salvation, father?" said Helen, timidly.  "Is not that too sacred
a word to apply to anything, however dear, that relates to earth?"

She blushed as she spoke; and fearful of having too daringly objected,
looked down as she awaited his answer.  The hermit observed her
attentively; and, with a benign smile, replied, "Earth and heaven are
the work of the Creator.  He careth alike for angel and for man; and
therefore nothing that he has made is too mean to be the object of his
salvation.  The word is comprehensive; in one sense it may signify our
redemption from sin and death by the coming of the Lord of Life into
this world; and in another, it intimates the different means b which
Providence decrees the ultimate happiness of men.  Happiness can only
be found in virtue; virtue cannot exit without liberty; and the seat of
liberty is good laws!  Hence when Scotland is again made free, the
bonds of the tyrant who corrupts her principles with temptations, or
compels her to iniquity by threats, are broken.  Again the honest
peasant may cultivate his lands in security, the liberal hand feed the
hungry, and industry spread smiling plenty through all ranks; every man
to whom his Maker hath given talents, let them be one or five, may
apply them to their use; and, by eating the bread of peaceful labor,
rear families to virtuous action and the worship of God.  The nobles,
meanwhile, looking alone to the legislation of Heaven and to the laws
of Scotland, which alike demand justice and mercy from all, will live
the fathers of their country, teaching her brave sons that the only
homage which does not debase a man, is that which he pays to virtue and
to God.

"This it is to be free; this it is to be virtuous; this it is to be
happy; this it is to live the life of righteousness, and to die in the
hope of immortal glory.  Say then, dear daughter, if, in praying for
the liberty of Scotland, I said too much in calling it her salvation?"

"Forgive me, father," cried Helen, overcome with shame at having
questioned him.

"Forgive you what?" returned he.  "I love the holy zeal which is
jealous of allowing objects, dear even to your wishes, to encroach on
the sanctuary of heaven.  Be ever thus, meek child of the church, and
no human idol will be able to usurp that part of your virgin heart
which belongs to God."

Helen blushed.

"My heart, reverend father," returned she, "has but one wish--the
liberty of Scotland; and, with that, the safety of my father and his
brave deliverers."

"Sir William Wallace I never have seen," rejoined the hermit; "but,
when he was quite a youth, I heard of his graceful victories in the
mimic war of the jousts at Berwick, when Edward first marched into this
country under the mask of friendship.  From what you have said, I do
not doubt his being a worthy supporter of Bruce.  However, dear
daughter, as it is only a suspicion of mine that this knight is that
young prince, for his safety, and for the sake of the cause, we must
not let that name escape our lips; no, not even to your relations when
you rejoin them, nor to the youth whom his humanity put under my
protection.  Till he reveals his own secret, for us to divulge it would
be folly and dishonor."

Helen bowed acquiescence; and the hermit proceeded to inform her who
the youth was whom the stranger had left to be her page.

In addition to what the knight had himself told her of Walter Hay, the
unfortunate shepherd boy of the ruined hut, her venerable host narrated
that the young warrior having quitted the holy cell after his first
appearance there, soon returned with the wounded youth, whom he had
found.  He committed him to the care of the hermit, promising to
revisit him on his way from the south, and take the recovered Walter
under his own protection.  "He then left us," continued the old man,
"but soon reappeared with you; showing, in the strongest language, that
he who, in spite of every danger, succors the sons and daughters of
violated Scotland, is proclaimed by the Spirit of Heaven to be her
future deliverer and king."

As he ended speaking, he rose; and taking Helen by the hand, led her
into an inner excavation of the rock, where a bed of dried leaves lay
on the ground.  "Here, gentle lady," said he, "I leave you to repose.
In the evening I expect a lay brother from St. Oran's Monastery, and he
will be your messenger to the friends you may wish to rejoin.  At
present, may gentlest seraphs guard your slumbers!"

Helen, fatigued in spirit and in body, thanked the good hermit for his
care; and bowing to his blessing, he left her to repose.



Chapter XVIII.

Cartlane Craigs, and Glenfinlass.


Guided by Ker, Murray led his followers over the Lanark Hills, by the
most untrodden paths; and hence avoided even the sight of a Southron
soldier.

Cheered by so favourable a commencement of their expedition, they even
felt no dismay when, in the gloom of the evening, Ker descried a body
of armed men at a distance, sitting round a fire at the foot of a
beetling rock which guards the western entrance to the Cartlane Craigs.
Murray ordered his men to proceed under covert of the bushes; and then
making the signal (concerted in case of such dilemma), they stuck their
iron crows into the interstices of the cliff, and catching at the
branches which grew out of its precipitous side, with much exertion,
but in perfect silence, at last gained the summit.  That effected, they
pursued their way with the same caution, till after a long march, and
without encountering a human being, they reached the base of the huge
rock which Wallace had made his fortress.

Ker, who expected to find it surrounded by the English army, was amazed
at the death-like solitude.  "The place is deserted," cried he.  "My
brave friend, compelled by the extremity of his little garrison, has
been obliged to surrender."

"We will ascend and see," was Murray's answer.

Ker led round the rock to the most accessible point; and, mounting by
the projecting stones, with some difficulty gained the top.  Silence
pervaded every part; and the rugged cavities at the summit, which had
formed the temporary quarters of his comrades, were lonely.  On
entering the recess where Wallace used to seek a few minutes' slumber,
the moon, which shone full into the cave, discovered something bright
lying in a distant corner.  Ker hastily approached it, recollecting
what means of escape, he would leave some weapon as a sign; a dagger,
if necessity drove him to the south point, where he must fight his way
through the valley; an arrow, if he could effect it without
observation, by the north, as he should then seek an asylum for his
exhausted followers in the wilds of Glenfinlass.

It was the iron head of an arrow which the moon had silvered; and Ker,
catching it up, with a gladdened countenance exclaimed, "He is safe!
this calls us to Glenfinlass."  He then explained to Murray what had
been the arrangement of Wallace respecting this sign, and without
hesitation the young lord decided to follow him up that track.

Turning toward the northern part of the cliff, they came to spot
beneath which had been the strongest guard of the enemy, but now, like
the rest, it was entirely abandoned.  A narrow winding path led from
this rocky platform to a fall of water, rearing and rushing by the
mouth of a large cavern.  After they had descended the main craig, they
clambered over the top of this cave, and, entering upon another sweep
of rugged hills, commenced a rapid march.

Traversing the lower part of Stirlingshire, they crossed Graham's
Dike;** and pursuing their course westward, left Stirling Castle far to
the right.  They ascended the Ochil Hills, and proceeding along the
wooded heights which overhang the banks of Teith, forded that river,
and entered at once into the broad valley which opened to them a
distant view of Ben Lomond and Ben Ledi.

**The great wall of Severus, which runs between Abercorn and
Kirkpatrick, being attacked by the Scotts at the time the Romans
abandoned Britain, a huge breach was made in it by Graham (or Greame),
the uncle of the young king of Scots.  By this achievement he conquered
the whole of the country as far as the Cheviots, and the wall of
Severus has since been called Graham's Dike-(1809.)

"There," exclaimed Ker, extending his hand toward the cloud-capped
Ledi, "beneath the shadow of that mountain, we shall find the light of
Scotland, our dear master in arms!"

At this intimation, the wearied Murrays--like seamen long harassed on a
tempestuous ocean at sight of a port--uttered a shout of joy; and
hastening forward with renovated strength, met a foaming river in their
path.  Despising all obstacles, they rushed in, and, buffeting the
waves, soon found a firm footing on the opposite shore.  The sun shone
cheerily above their heads, illuminating the umbrageous sides of the
mountains with a dewy splendor, while Ben Ledi, the standard of their
hope, seemed to wave them on, as the white clouds streamed from its
summit, or, rolling down its dark sides, floated in strange visionary
shapes over the lakes beneath.

When the little troop halted on the shore of Loch Venachoir, the mists
which had lingered on the brow of Ledi slowly descended into the
valley; and covering the mouth of the pass that led from the loch,
seemed to shut them at once between the mountain and that world of
waters.  Ker, who had never been in these tracks before, wondered at
their sublimity, and became alarmed lest they should lose their way
amid such infinite windings.  But Murray, who remembered having once
explored them with his father, led promptly forward by a steep, rough
road in the side of the mountain.  As they clung by the slippery rocks
which overhung the lake, its mists dissolved into a heavy shower, and,
by degrees clearing away, discovered the shining heads of Ben Lomond
and Ben Chochan.

The party soon entered a precipitous labyrinth of craigs; and, passing
onward, gradually descended amid pouring torrents, and gaping chasms
overlaced with branching trees, till the augmented roar of waters
intimated to Murray, they drew near the great fall of Glenfinlass.  The
river, though rushing on its course with the noise of thunder, was
scarcely discerned through the thick forest which groaned over its
waves.  Here towered a host of stately pines; and there the lofty
beeches, birches, and mountain-oak, bending over the flood, interwove
their giant arms; forming an arch so impenetrable, that while the sun
brightened the tops of the mountains, all beneath lay in deepest
midnight.

The awful entrance to this sublime valley struck the whole party with a
feeling that made them pause.  It seemed as it to these sacred
solitudes, hidden in the very bosom of Scotland, no hostile foot dared
intrude.  Murray looked at Ker.  "We go, my friend, to arouse the
genius of our country!  Here are the native fastnesses of Scotland; and
from this pass the spirit will issue that is to bid her enslaved sons
and daughters be free."

They entered, and with beating hearts pursued their way along the
western border of Loch Lubnaig, till the royal heights of
Craignacoheilg showed their summits, covered with heath and many an
ivied turret.  The forest, stretching far over the valley, lost its
high trees in the shadows of the surrounding mountains, and told them
they were now in the center of Glenfinlass.

Ker put his bugle to his lips, and sounded the pibroch of Ellerslie.  A
thousand echoes returned the notes; and after a pause, which allowed
their last response to die away, the air was answered by a horn from
the heights of Cragnacoheilg.  An armed man then appeared on the rock,
leaning forward.  Ker drew near, and taking off his bonnet, called
aloud: "Stephen!  it is William Ker who speaks.  I come with the Lord
Andrew Murray of Bothwell, to the support of our commander, Sir William
Wallace."

At these words, Stephen placed his bugle to his mouth, and in a few
minutes the rock was covered with the members of its little garrison.
Women and children appeared, shouting with joy; and the men, descending
the side near the glen, hastened to bid their comrade welcome.  One
advanced toward Murray, whom he instantly recognized to be Sir Roger
Kirkpatrick of Torthorald.  The chiefs saluted each other; and Lord
Andrew pointed to his men: "I have brought," said he, "these few brave
fellows to the aid of Sir William Wallace.  They should have been more,
but for new events of Southron outrage.  Yet I am impatient to lead
them to the presence of my uncle's preserver."

Kirkpatrick's answer disappointed the eager spirit of the young
warrior: "I am sorry, brave Murray, that you have no better knight to
receive you than myself.  I and the gallant chief have not yet met; but
I am in arms for him; and the hour of retribution for all our injuries,
I trust, is at hand."

"But where is Sir William Wallace?" demanded Murray.

"Gone toward the Forth, to rouse that part of sleeping Scotland.  If
all he meet have my spirit, they will not require a second call.  Now
is the time to aim the blow; I shall ever give thanks to the accident
which brought me the welcome news, that an arm is raised to strike it
home."

As he spoke, he led Murray to the rampart-like cliffs which crown the
summit of Craignacoheilg.  In the midst stood a tower, which had once
been a favorite hunting-lodge of the great King Fergus.  There
Kirkpatrick joyfully greeted his guest a second time: "This," said he,
"is the far-famed lodge of the three kings: here did our lion, Fergus,
attended by his royal allies, Durstus the Pict, and Dionethus the
Briton, spread his board during their huntings in Glenfinlass!  And
here eight hundred years ago, did the same heroic prince form the plans
which saved his kingdom from a foreign yoke!  On the same spot we will
lay ours; and in their completion, rescue Scotland from a tyranny more
intolerable than that which menaced him.  Yes, Murray; there is not a
stone in this building that does not call aloud to us to draw the
sword, and hold it unsheathed till our country be free."

"And by the ghost of that same Fergus, I swear," exclaimed Murray,
"that my honest claymore shall never shroud its head while an invader
be left alive in Scotland."

Kirkpatrick caught him in his arms.  "Brave son of the noble Bothwell,
thou art after mine own heart!  The blow which the dastard Cressingham
durst aim at a Scottish chief, still smarts upon my cheek; and rivers
of his countrymen's blood shall wash out the stain.  After I had been
persuaded by his serpent eloquence to swear fealty to Edward on the
defeat at Dunbar, I vainly thought that Scotland had only changed a
weak and unfortunate prince for a wise and victorious king; but when in
the courts of Stirling, I heard Cressingham propose to the barons north
of the dike, that they should give their strongest castles into English
hands; when I opposed the measure with all the indignation of a Scot
who saw himself betrayed, he first tried to overturn my arguments, and
finding that impossible, while I repeated them with redoubled force--he
struck me!-Powers of earth and heaven, what was then the tempest of my
soul!-I drew my sword--I would have laid him dead at my feet, had not my
obsequious countrymen held my arm, and dragged me from the apartment.

"Covered with dishonor by a blow I could not avenge.  I fled to my
brother-in-law, Sir John Scott, of Loch Doine.  With him I buried my
injury from the world; but it lived in my heart--it haunted me day and
night, calling for revenge.

"In such an hour, how did I receive the tidings, that Sir William
Wallace was in arms against the tyrant!  It was the voice of
retribution, calling me to peace of mind!  Even my bedridden kinsman
partook my emotions; and with his zealous concurrence, I led a band of
his hardiest clansmen, to reinforce the brave men of Lanark on this
rock.

"Two days I have now been here, awaiting in anxious impatience the
arrival of Wallace.  Yes! we will mingle our injured souls together!
He has made one offering; I must make another!  We shall set forth to
Stirling; and there, in the very heart of his den, I will sacrifice the
tiger Cressingham, to the vengeance of our wrongs."

"But what, my brave friend," asked Murray, "are the forces you deem
sufficient for so great an enterprise?  How many fighting men may be
counted of Wallace's own company, besides your own?"

"We have here about a hundred," replied Kirkpatrick, "including yours."

"How inadequate to storm so formidable a place as Stirling Castle!"
returned Murray.  "Having, indeed, passed the Rubicon, we must go
forward, but resolution, not rashness, should be the principle of our
actions.  And my opinion is, that a few minor advantages obtained, our
countrymen would flock to our standard, the enemy would be intimidated,
and we should carry thousands, instead of hundreds, before the walls of
Stirling.  To attempt it now would invite defeat, and bring upon us the
ruin of our entire project."

"You are right, young man," cried Kirkpatrick; "my gray head, rendered
impetuous by insult, did not pause on the blind temerity of my scheme.
I would rather for years watch the opportunity of taking a signal
revenge than not accomplish it at last.  Oh! I would rather waste all
my life in these solitary wilds and know that at the close of it I
should see the blood of Cressingham on these hands than live a prince
and die unrevenged!"

Stephen and Ker now entered; the latter paid his respects to Sir Roger,
and the former informed Murray that having disposed his present
followers with those who had arrived before, he was come to lead their
lord to some refreshment in the banqueting room of the tower.  "What?"
cried Murray, full of glad amazement; "is it possible that my cousin's
faithful band has reached its destination?  None other belonging to
Bothwell Castle had any chance of escaping its jailer's hands."

Kirkpatrick interrupted Stephen's reply by saying that while their
guests were at the board he would watch the arrival of certain
expresses from two brave Drummonds, each of whom was to send him a
hundred men: "So, my good Lord Andrew," cried he, striking him on the
shoulder, "shall the snow-launch gather that is to fall on Edward to
his destruction."

Murray heartily shared his zeal, and bidding him a short adieu,
followed Stephen and Ker into the hall.  A haunch of venison of
Glenfinlass smoked on the board, and goblets of wine from the bounteous
cellars of Sir John Scott brightened the hopes which glowed in every
heart.

While the young chieftains were recruiting their exhausted strength,
Stephen sat at the table to satisfy the anxiety of Murray to know how
the detachment from Bothwell had come to Craignacoheilg, and by what
fortunate occurrence, or signal act of bravery, Wallace could have
escaped with his whole train from the foe surrounding Cartlane Craigs.

"Heaven smiled on us!" replied Stephen.  "The very evening of the day
on which Ker left us there was a carousal in the English camp.  We
heard the sound of the song and of riot, and of many an insult cast
upon our besieged selves.  But about an hour after sunset the noise
sunk by degrees--a no insufficient hint that the revelers, overcome by
excess, had fallen asleep.  At this very time, owing to the heat of the
day, so great a vapor had been exhaled from the lake beneath that the
whole of the northern side of the fortress cliff was covered with a
mist so exceedingly thick we could not discern each other at a foot's
distance.  'Now is the moment!' said our gallant leader; 'the enemy are
stupefied with wine, the rock is clothed in a veil!-it is the shield of
God that is held before us! under its shelter let us pass from their
hands!"

"He called us together, and making the proper dispositions, commanded
the children and women, on their lives, to keep silence.  He then led
us to the top of the northern cliff; it overhung an obscure cave which
he knew opened at its extremity.  By the assistance of a rope, held
above by several men, our resolute chief (twisting it round one arm to
steady him, and with the other catching by the projecting stones of the
precipice) made his way down the rock, and was the first who descended.
He stood at the bottom, enveloped in the cloud which shrouded the
mountain, till all the men of the first division had cleared the
height; he then marshaled them with their pikes toward the foe, in case
of an alarm.  But all remained quiet on that spot, although the sounds
of voices, both in song and laughter, intimated that the utmost
precaution was still necessary, as a wakeful and yet reveling part of
the enemy were not far distant.

"Wallace reascended the rock half way; and receiving the children,
which their trembling mothers lowered into this arms, he handed them to
the old men, who carried them safely through the bushes which obscured
the cave's mouth.  The rest of our little garrison soon followed; then
our sentinels, receiving the signal that all were safe, drew silently
from their guard, and closed our march through the cavern.

"This effected, we blocked up its egressing mouth, that, should our
escape be discovered, the enemy might not find the direct road we had
taken.

"We pursued our course without stop or stay till we reached the
hospitable valleys of Stirlingshire.  There some king shepherds gave
the woman and children temporary shelter; and Wallace, seeing that if
anything were to be done for Scotland, he must swell the host, put the
part under my guidance, giving me orders that when they were rested I
should march them to Glenfinlass, here to await his return.  Selecting
ten men, with that small band he turned toward the Forth, hoping to
meet some valiant friends in that part of the country read to embrace
her cause.

"He had hardly been an hour departed when Dugald observed a procession
of monks descending the opposite mountain.  They drew near and halted
in the glen.  A crowd of women from the neighboring hills had followed
the train, and were now gathering around a bier which the monks set
down.  I know not by what happy fortune I came close to the leader of
the procession, but he saw something in my old rough features that
declared me an honest Scot.  'Friend,' whispered he, 'for charity
conduct us to some safe place where we may withdraw this bier from the
sacrilegious eye of curiosity.'

"I made no hesitation, but desired the train to follow me into a byre
belonging to the good shepherd who was my host.  On this motion the
common people went away, and the monks entered the place.

"When the travelers threw up their hoods, which as mourners they had
worn over their faces, I could not help exclaiming, 'Alas, for the
glory of Scotland, that this goodly group of stout young men rather
wear the cowl than the helmet!'  'How!' asked their principal (who did
not appear to have seen thirty years), 'do we not pray for the glory of
Scotland?  Such is our weapon.'  'True,' replied I, 'but while Moses
prayed Joshua fought.  God gives the means of glory that they should be
used.'  'But for what, old veteran,' said the monk, with a penetrating
look, 'should we exchange our cowl for the helmet? knowest thou
anything of the Joshua who would lead us to the field?'  There was
something in the young priest's eyes that seemed to contradict his
pacific words; they flashed as impetuous fire.  My reply was short:
'Are you a Scot?'  'I am, in soul and in arms.'  'Then knowest thou not
the chief of Ellerslie?'  As I spoke, for I stood close to the bier, I
perceived the pall shake.  The monk answered my last question with an
exclamation--'You mean Sir William Wallace!'

"'Yes!' I replied.  The bier shook more violently at these words, and,
with my hair bristling from my head, I saw the pall hastily thrown off,
and a beautiful youth, in a shroud, started from it, crying aloud,
'Then is our pilgrimage at an end!  Lead us to him!'

"The monk perceived my terror, and hastily exclaimed.  'Fear not! he is
alive, and seeks Sir William Wallace.  His pretended death was a
stratagem to insure our passage through the English army; for we are
soldiers like yourself.'  As he spoke, he opened his gray habit, and
showed me the mailed tartans beneath."

"What, then!" interrupted Murray, "these monks were my faithful
clansmen?"

"The same," replied Stephen; "I assured them that they might now resume
their own character; for all who inhabited the valley we were then in
were true, though poor and aged Scots.  The young had long been drafted
by Edward's agents, to fight his battles abroad.

"'Ah!' interrupted the shrouded youth, 'are we a people that can die
for the honor of this usurper, and are we ignorant how to do it for our
country?   Lead us, soldier of Wallace,' cried he, stepping resolutely
on the ground, 'lead us to your brave master; and tell him that a few
determined men are come to shed their blood for him and Scotland.'

"This astonishing youth (for he did not appear to be more than fifteen)
stood before me in his robes of death, like the spirit of some
bright-haired son of Fingal.  I looked on him with admiration; and
explaining our situation, told him whither Wallace was gone, and of our
destination to await him in the forest of Glenfinlass.

"While your brave clansmen were refreshing themselves, we learned from
Kenneth, their conductor, that the troop left Bothwell under
expectation of your soon following them.  They had well under
expectation of our soon following them.  They had not proceeded far
before their scouts perceived the outposts of the English, which
surrounded Cartlane Craigs; and to avoid this danger, they took a
circuitous path, in hopes of finding some at the western side of the
craigs.  Kenneth knew the abbot; and entering it under covert of the
night, obtained permission for his men to rest there.  The youth, now
their companion, was a student in the church.  He had been sent thither
by his mother, a pious lady, in the hope that, as he is of a very
gentle nature, he would attach himself to the sacred tonsure.  But
courage often springs with most strength in the softest frames.

"The moment this youth discovered our errand he tried every persuasion
to prevail on the abbot to permit him to accompany us.  But his
entreaties were vain, till wrought up to vehement anger he threatened
that if he were prevented joining Sir William Wallace, he would take
the earliest opportunity to escape, and commit himself to the peril of
the English pikes.

"Seeing him determined the abbot granted his wish; 'and then it was,'
said Kenneth, 'that the youth seemed inspired.  It was no longer an
enthusiastic boy we saw before us, but an angel, gifted with wisdom to
direct and enterprise to lead us.  It was he proposed disguising
ourselves as a funeral procession; and while he painted his blooming
countenance of a death-like paleness and stretched himself on this
bier, the abbot sent to the English army to request permission for a
party of monks to cross the craigs to the cave of St. Colomba, in
Stirlingshire, whither they carried a dead brother to be entombed.  Our
young leader hoped we might thus find an opportunity to apprise Wallace
we were friends, and ready to swell the ranks of his little armament.

"'On our entrance into the passes of the craigs,' continued Kenneth,
'the English captain there mentioned the fate of Bothwell, and the
captivity of Lord Mar; and with very little courtesy to sons of the
church, ordered the bier to be opened, to see whether it did really
contain a corpse, or provisions for our besieged countrymen.  We had
certainly expected this investigation; else we might as well have
wrapped the trunk of a tree in the shroud we carried as a human being.
We knew that the superstitious hatred of the Southrons would not allow
them to touch a Scottish corpse, and therefore we feared no detection
from the eye's examination alone.  This ceremony once over, we expected
to have passed on without further notice; and in that case the youth
would have left his pall, and performed the remainder of his journey in
a similar disguise with the rest; but the strict watch of an English
guard confined him wholly to the bier.  In hopes of at last evading
this vigilance, on pretense of a vow of the deceased that his bearers
should perform a pilgrimage throughout the craigs, we traversed them in
every direction; and, I make no doubt, would have finally wearied out
our guard, and gained our point, had not the circumstance transpired of
Wallace's escape.

"'How he had effected it, his enemies could not guess.  Not a man of
the besiegers was missing from his post; and not an avenue appeared by
which they could trace his flight: but gone he was, and with him his
whole train.  On this disappointment the Southron captains retired to
Glasgow, to their commander-in-chief, to give as good an account as
they could of so disgraceful a termination of their siege.  Dismayed at
this intelligence, our peculiar guard hurried us into Stirlingshire,
and left us at the other side of the mountain.  But even then we were
not free to release our charge, for, attracted by our procession, the
country people followed us into the valley.  Yet had we not met with
you, it was our design to throw off our disguises in the first place,
and, divided into small bands, have severally sought Sir William
Wallace."

"But where," demanded Murray, who had listened with delighted
astonishment to this recital, "where is this admirable youth?  Why, if
Kenneth have learned I am arrived, does he not bring him to receive my
thanks and friendship?"

"It is my fault," returned Stephen, "that Kenneth will not approach you
till your repast is over.  I left him to see your followers properly
refreshed.  And for the youth, he seems timid of appearing before you.
Even his name I cannot make known to you till he reveals it himself:
none know him here by any other name than that of Edwin.  He has,
however, granted to-morrow morning for the interview."

"I must submit to his determination," replied Murray; "but I am at a
loss to guess why so brave a creature should hesitate to meet me.  I
can only suppose he dislikes the idea of resigning the troop he has so
well conducted; and if so, I shall think it my duty to yield its
command to him."

"Indeed he richly deserves it," returned Stephen; "for the very soul of
Wallace seemed transfused into his breast, as he cheered us through our
long march from the valley to Glenfinlass; he played with the children,
heartened up the women; and when the men were weary, and lagged by the
way, he sat down on the nearest stones, and sung to us legends of our
ancestors, till every nerve was braced with warlike emulation, and
starting up, we proceeded onward with resolution and even gayety.

"When we arrived at Craignacoheilg, as the women were in great want, I
suddenly recollected that I had an old friend in the neighborhood.
When a boy, I had been the playfellow of Sir John Scott of Loch Doine;
and though I understood him to be now an invalid, I went to him.  When
I told my tale, his brother-in-law, Sir Roger Kirkpatrick, took fire at
my relation, and declared his determination to accompany me to
Craignacoheilg; and when he joined our band on the summit of this rock,
he took the children in his arms, and while he held their hands in his,
vehemently addressed their mothers, 'Let not these hands be baptized,**
till they had been washed in the blood of our foe.  Mercy belongs not
to the enemy, now doomed to fall beneath their father's swords!'"

**It was a custom with Scottish chiefs when any feud existed between
their families, to leave the right hand of their children untouched by
the holy water in baptism, as a sign that no law, even of Heaven,
should prevent them taking revenge.

"It is, indeed a deadly contest," rejoined Murray; "for evil has been
the example of that foe.  How many innocent bosoms have their steel
pierced!  How many helpless babes have their merciless hands dashed
against the stones!  Oh, ruthless war! even a soldier trembles to
contemplate thy horrors."

"Only till he can avenge them!" cried a stern voice, entering the
apartment.  It was Kirkpatrick's, and he proceeded: "When vengeance is
in our grasp, tell me, brave Murray, who will then tremble?  Dost thou
not feel retribution in thine own hands?  Dost thou not see the
tyrant's blood at thy feet?" As he spoke, he looked down, with a horrid
exultation in his eyes; and, bursting into a more horrible laugh,
struck his hand several times on his heart: "It glads me!  I shall see
it--and this arm shall assist to pull him down."

"His power in Scotland may fall," returned Murray; "but Edward will be
too careful of his life to come within reach of our steel."

"That may be," rejoined Kirkpatrick; "but my dagger shall yet drink the
blood of his agents.  Cressingham shall feel my foot upon his neck!
Cressingham shall see that hand torn from its wrist, which durst to
violate the unsullied cheek of a true Scotsman.  Murray, I cannot live
unrevenged."

As he spoke, he quitted the apartment, and with a countenance of such
tremendous fate, that the young warrior doubted it was human; it spoke
not the noble resolves of patriotism, but the portentous malignity with
which the great adversary of mankind determines the ruin of nations; it
seemed to wither the grass on which he moved; and Murray almost thought
that the clouds darkened as the gloomy knight issued from the porch
into the open air.

Kenneth Mackenzie joyfully entered the hall.  Murray received him with
a warm embrace; and, soon after, Stephen Ireland led the wearied
chieftain to a bed of freshly-gathered heath, prepared for him in an
upper chamber.



Chapter XIX.

Craignacoheilg.


Sleep, the gentle sister of that awful power which shrouds man in its
cold bosom, and bears him in still repose to the blissful wakefulness
of eternal life--she, sweet restorer! wraps him in her balmy embraces,
and extracting from his wearied limbs the effects of every toil, safely
relinquishes the refreshed slumberer at morn to the new-born vigor that
is her gift; to the gladsome breezes which call us forth to labor and
enjoyment.

Such was the rest of the youthful Murray, till the shrill notes of a
hundred bugles piercing his ear made him start.  He listened; they
sounded again.  The morning had fully broke.  He sprung from his couch,
hurried on his armor, and snatching up his lance and target, issued
from the tower.  Several women were flying past the gate.  On seeing
him, they exclaimed, "The Lord Wallace is arrived--his bugles have
sounded--our husbands are returned!"

Murray followed their eager footsteps, and reached the edge of the rock
just as the brave group were ascending.  A stranger was also there,
who, from his extreme youth and elegance, he judged must be the young
protector of his clansmen; but he forbore to address him until they
should be presented to each other by Wallace himself.

It was indeed the same.  On hearing the first blast of the horn, the
youthful chieftain had hastened from his bed of heath, and buckling on
his brigandine, rushed to the rock; but at the sight of the noble
figure which first gained the summit, the young hero fell back.  An
indescribable awe checked his steps, and he stood at a distance, while
Kirkpatrick welcomed the chief, and introduced Lord Andrew Murray.
Wallace received the latter with a glad smile; and taking him warmly by
the hand, "Gallant Murray," said he, "with such assistance, I hope to
reinstate your brave uncle in Bothwell Castle, and soon to cut a
passage to even a mightier rescue!  We must carry off Scotland from the
tyrant's arms; or," added he, in a graver tone, "we shall only rivet
her chains the closer."

"I am but a poor auxiliary," returned Murray; "my troop is a scanty
one, for it is my own gathering.  It is not my father's nor my uncle's
strength, that I bring along with me.  But there is one here,"
continued he, "who has preserved a party of men, sent by my cousin Lady
Helen Mar, almost double my numbers."

At this reference to the youthful warrior, Sir Roger Kirkpatrick
discerned him at a distance, and hastened toward him, while Murray
briefly related to Wallace the extraordinary conduct of this unknown.
On being told that the chief waited to receive him, the youth hastened
forward with a trepidation he had never felt before; but it was a
trepidation that did not subtract from his own worth.  It was the
timidity of a noble heart, which believed it approached one of the most
perfect among mortals; and while its anxious pulse beat to emulate such
merit, a generous consciousness of measureless inferiority embarassed
him with a confusion so amiable, that Wallace, who perceived his
extreme youth and emotion, opened his arms and embraced him.  "Brave
youth," cried he, "I trust that the power which blesses our cause will
enable me to return you with many a well-earned glory, to the bosom of
your family!"

Edwin was encouraged by the frank address of a hero whom he expected to
have found reserved, and wrapped in the deep glooms of the fate which
had roused him to be a thunderbolt of heaven; but when he saw a benign,
though pale countenance, hail him with smiles, he made a strong effort
to shake off the awe with which the name, and the dignity of figure and
mein of Wallace had oppressed him; and with a mantling blush he
replied: "My family are worthy of your esteem; my father is brave; but
my mother, fearing for me, her favorite son, prevailed on him to put me
into a monastery.  Dreading the power of the English, even there she
allowed none but the abbot to know who I was.  And as he chose to hide
my name--and I have burst from my concealment without her knowledge--till
I do something worthy of that name, and deserving her pardon, permit
me, noble Wallace, to follow your footsteps by the simple appellation
of Edwin."

"Noble boy," returned the chief, "your wish shall be respected.  We
urge you no further to reveal what such innate bravery must shortly
proclaim in the most honorable manner."

The whole of the troop having ascended, while their wives, children,
and friends were rejoicing in their embraces, Wallace asked some
questions relative to Bothwell, and Murray briefly related the
disasters which had happened there.

"My father," added he, "is still with the Lord of Loch-awe; and thither
I sent to request him to dispatch to the Cartlane Craigs all the
followers he took with him into Argyleshire.  But as things are, would
it not be well to send a second messenger, to say that you have sought
refuge in Glenfinlass?"

"Before he could arrive," returned Wallace, "I hope we shall be where
Lord Bothwell's reinforcements may reach us by water.  Our present
object must be the Earl of Mar.  He is the first Scottish earl who has
hazarded his estates and life for Scotland; and as her best friend, his
liberation must be our first enterprise.  In my circuit through two or
three eastern counties, a promising increase has been made to our
little army.  The Frasers of Oliver Castle have given me two hundred
men; and the brave Sir Alexander Scrymgeour, whom I met in West
Lothian, has not only brought fifty stout Scots to my command, but, as
hereditary standard-bearer of the kingdom, has come himself to carry
the royal banner of Scotland to glory or oblivion."

"To glory!" cried Murray, waving his sword; "O! not while a Scot
survives, shall that blood-red lion** again lick the dust!"

**A lion gules, in a field or, is the arms of Scotland.-(1809.)

"No," cried Kirkpatrick, his eyes flashing fire; "rather may every Scot
and every Southron fall in the struggle, and fill one grave!  Let me,"
cried he, sternly grasping the hilt of his sword, and looking upward,
"let me, oh, Saviour of mankind, live but to see the Forth and the
Clyde, so often reddened with our blood, dye the eastern and the
western oceans with the vital flood of these our foes; and when none is
spared, then let me die in peace."

The eyes of Wallace glanced on the young Edwin, who stood gazing on
Kirkpatrick, and turning on the knight with a powerful look of
apprehension-"Check that prayer," cried he; "remember my brave
companion, what the Saviour of mankind was; and then think, whether he,
who offered life to all the world, will listen to so damning an
invocation.  If we would be blessed in the contest, we must be
merciful."

"To whom?" exclaimed Kirkpatrick; "to the robbers who tear from us our
lands; to the ruffians who wrest from us our honors?  But you are
patient; you never received a blow!"

"Yes," cried Wallace, turning paler; "a heavy one--on my heart."

"True," returned Kirkpatrick, "your wife fell dead under the steel of a
Southron governor; and you slew him for it!  You were revenged; your
feelings were appeased."

"Not the death of fifty thousand governors," replied Wallace, "could
appease my feelings.  Revenge were insufficient to satisfy the
yearnings of my soul."  For a moment he covered his agitated features
with his hand, and then proceeded: "I slew Heselrigge because he was a
monster, under whom the earth groaned.  My sorrow, deep as it was--was
but one of many, which his rapacity, and his nephew's licentiousness,
the whole nation without reserve!  When the sword of war is drawn, all
who resist must conquer or fall; but there are some noble English who
abhor the tyranny they are obliged to exercise over us, and when they
declare such remorse, shall they not find mercy at our hands?  Surely,
if not for humanity's, for policy's sake we ought to give quarter; for
the exterminating sword, if not always victorious, incurs the ruin it
threatens, even hope, that by or righteous cause and our clemency, we
shall not only gather our own people to our legions but turn the hearts
of the poor Welsh and the misled Irish, whom the usurper has forced
into his armies, and so confront him with troops of his own levying.
Many of the English were too just to share in the subjugation of the
country they had sworn to befriend.  And their less honorable
countrymen, when they see Scotsmen no longer consenting to their own
degradation, may take shame to themselves for assisting to betray a
confiding people."

"That may be," returned Kirkpatrick; "but surely you would not rank
Aymer de Valence, who lords it over Dumbarton, and Cressingham, who
acts the tyrant in Stirling--you would not rank them amongst these
conscientious English?"

"No," replied Wallace; "the haughty oppression of the one and the
wanton cruelty of the other, have given Scotland too many wounds for me
to hold a shield before them; meet them, and I leave them to your
sword."

"And by heavens!" cried Kirkpatrick, gnashing his teeth with the fury
of a tiger, "they shall know its point!"

Wallace then informed his friends he purposed marching next morning by
daybreak toward Dumbarton Castle.  "When we make the attack," said he,
"it must be in the night; for I propose seizing it by storm."

Murray and Kirkpatrick joyfully acquiesced.  Edwin smiled an enraptured
assent, and Wallace, with many a gracious look and speech, disengaged
himself from the clinging embraces of the weaker part of the garrison,
who, seeing in him the spring of their husband's might and the guard of
their own safety, clung to him as to a presiding deity.

"You, my dear countrywomen," said he, "shall find a home for your aged
parents, your children, and yourselves, with the venerable Sir John
Scott of Loch Doine.  You are to be conducted thither this evening, and
there await in comfort the happy return of your husbands, whom
Providence now leads forth to be the champions of your country."

Filled with enthusiasm, the women uttered a shout of triumph, and,
embracing their husbands, declared they were ready to resign them
wholly to Heaven and Sir William Wallace.

Wallace left them with these tender relatives, from whom they were so
soon to part, and retired with his chieftains to arrange the plan of
his proposed attack.  Delighted with the glory which seemed to wave to
him from the pinnacles of Dumbarton Rock, Edwin listened in profound
silence to all that was said, and then hastened to his quarters to
prepare his armor for the ensuing morning.



Chapter XX.

The Cliffs of Loch Lubnaig.


In the cool of the evening, while the young chieftain was thus
employed, Kenneth entered to tell him that Sir William Wallace had
called out his little army, to see its strength and numbers.  Edwin's
soul had become not more enamoured of the panoply of war than the
gracious smiles of his admired leader, and at this intelligence he
threw his plans over his brigandine, and placing a swan-plumed bonnet
on his brows, hastened forth to meet his general.

The heights of Craignacoheilg echoed with thronging footsteps, and a
glittering light seemed issuing from her woods, as the rays of the
descending sun glanced on the arms of her assembling warriors.

The thirty followers of Murray appeared just as the two hundred Frasers
entered from an opening in the rocks.  Blood mounted into his face as
he compared his inferior numbers and recollected the obligation they
were to repay, and the greater one he was now going to incur.  However
he threw the standard worked by Helen on his shoulder, and turning to
Wallace, "Behold," cried he, pointing to his men, "the poor man's mite!
It is great, for it is my all!"

"Great, indeed, brave Murray!" returned Wallace, "for it brings me a
host in yourself."

"I will not disgrace my standard!" said he, lowering the banner-staff
to Wallace.  He started when he saw the flowing lock, which he could
not help recognizing.  "This is my betrothed," continued Murray in a
blither tone; "I have sworn to take her for better for worse, and I
pledge you my truth nothing but death shall part us!"

Wallace grasped his hand.  "And I pledge you mine, that the head whence
it drew shall be laid low before I suffer so generous a defender to be
separated, dead or alive, from this standard."  His eyes glanced at the
empress; "Thou art right," continued he; "God doth goest with the
confidence of success, to embrace victory as a bride!"

"No, I am only the bridegroom's man!" replied Murray, gayly moving off;
"I shall be content with a kiss or two from the handmaids, and leave
the lady for my general."

"Happy, happy youth!" said Wallace to himself, as his eyes pursued the
agile footsteps of the young chieftain; "no conquering affection has
yet thrown open thy heart; no deadly injury hath lacerated it with
wounds incurable.  Patriotism is a virgin passion in thy breast, and
innocence and joy wait upon her!"

"We just muster five hundred men!" observed Ker to Wallace; "but they
are all stout in heart as in condition, and ready, even to-night, if
you will it, to commence their march."

"No," replied Wallace; "we must not overstrain the generous spirit.
Let them rest to-night, and to-morrow's dawn shall light us through the
forest."

Ker, who acted as henchman to Wallace, now returned to the ranks to
give the word, and they marched forward.

Sir Alexander Scrymgeour, with his golden standard charged with the
lion of Scotland, led the van.  Wallace raised his bonnet from his
head, as it drew near.  Scrymgeour lowered the staff;  Wallace threw up
his outstretched hand at this action, but the knight not understanding
him, he stepped forward.  "Sir Alexander Scrymgeour," cried he, "that
standard must now bow to me.  It represents the royalty of Scotland,
before which we fight for our liberties.  If virtue yet dwell in the
house of the valiant St. David, some of his offspring will hear of this
day, and lead it forward to conquest and to a crown.  Till such an
hour, let not that standard bend to any man."

Wallace fell back as he spoke, and Scrymgeour, bowing his head in sign
of acquiescence marched on.

Sir Roger Kirkpatrick, at the head of his well-appointed Highlanders
next advanced.  His blood-red banner streamed to the air, and as it
bent to Wallace he saw that the indignant knight had adopted the device
of the hardy King Archaius,** but with a fiercer motto-"Touch, and I
pierce!"

**Archaius, King of Scotland, took for his device the thistle and the
Rewe, and for his motto, "For my defense."

"That man," thought Wallace, as he passed along, "carried a relentless
sword in his very eye!"

The men of Loch Doine, a strong, tall and well-armed body, marched on,
and gave place to the advancing corps of Bothwell.  The eye of Wallace
felt as if turning from gloom and horror to the cheerful light of day,
when it fell on the bright and indigenuous face of Murray.  Kenneth
with his troop followed; and the youthful Edwin, like Cupid in arms,
closed the procession.

Being drawn up in line, their chief, fully satisfied, advanced toward
them, and expressing his sentiments of the patriotism which brought
them into the field, informed them of his intended march.  He then
turned to Stephen Ireland: "The sun has now set," said he, "and before
dark you must conduct the families of my worthy Lanarkment to the
protection of Sir John Scott.  It is time that age, infancy, and female
weakness should cease their wanderings with us; to-night we bid them
adieu, to meet them again, by the leading of the Lord of Hosts, in
freedom and prosperity!"

As Wallace ceased, and was retiring from the ground, several old men,
and young women with their babes in their arms, rushed from behind the
ranks, and throwing themselves at his feet, caught hold of his hands
and garments.  "We go," said the venerable fathers, "to pray for your
welfare; and sure we are, a crown will bless our country's benefactor,
here or in heaven!"

"In heaven," replied Wallace, shaking the plumes of his bonnet over his
eyes, to hide the moisture which suffused them; "I can have no right to
any other crown."

"Yes," cried a hoary-headed shepherd, "you free your country from
tyrants, and the people's hearts will proclaim their deliverer their
sovereign!"

"May your rightful monarch, worthy patriarch," said Wallace, "whether a
Bruce of a Baliol, meet with equal zeal from Scotland at large; and
tyranny must then fall before courage and loyalty!"

The women wept as they clung to his hand and the daughter of Ireland,
holding up her child in her arms, presented it to him.  "Look on my
son!" cried she, with energy; "the first word he speaks shall be
Wallace; the second liberty.  And every drop of milk he draws from my
bosom, shall be turned into blood to nerve a conquering arm, or to flow
for his country!"

At this speech all the women held up their children toward him.
"Here," cried they, "we devote them to Heaven, and to our country!
Adopt them, noble Wallace, to be thy followers in arms, when, perhaps,
their fathers are laid low!"

Unable to speak, Wallace pressed their little faces separately to his
lips, then returning them to their mothers, laid his hand on his heart,
and answered in an agitated voice.  "They are mine!-my weal shall be
theirs--my woe my own."  As he spoke he hurried from the weeping group,
and emerging amid the cliffs, hid himself from their tears and their
blessing.

He threw himself on a shelving rock, whose fern-covered bosom projected
over the winding waters of Loch Lubnaig, and having stilled his own
anguished recollections, he turned his full eyes on the lake beneath;
and while he contemplated its serene surface, he sighed, and thought
how tranquil was nature, till the rebellious passions of man, wearying
of innocent joys, disturbed all by restlessness and invasion on the
peace and happiness of others.

The mists of evening hung on the gigantic tops of Ben Ledi and Ben
Vorlich; then sailing forward, by degrees obscured the whole of the
mountains, leaving nothing for the eye to dwell on but the long silent
expanse of the waters below.

"So," said he, "did I once believe myself forever shut in from the
world, by an obscurity that promised me happiness as well as seclusion!
But the hours of Ellerslie are gone!  No tender wife will now twine
her faithful arms around my neck.  Alas, the angel that sunk my
country's wrongs to a dreamy forgetfulness in her arms, she was to be
immolated that I might awake!  My wife, my unborn babe, they must both
bleed for Scotland!-and the sacrifice shall not be yielded in vain.
No, blessed God," cried he, stretching his clasped hands toward my
countrymen to liberty and happiness!  "Let me counsel with thy wisdom;
let me conquer with thine arm! and when all is finished, give me, O
gracious Father! a quiet grave, beside my wife and child."

Tears, the first he had shed since the hour in which he last pressed
his Marion to his heart, now flowed copiously from his eyes.  The
women, the children, had aroused all his recollections but in so
softened a train, that they melted his heart till he wept.  "It is thy
just tribute, Marion," said he; "it was blood you shed for me, and
shall I check these poor drops?  Look on me, sweet saint, best-beloved
of my soul; O! hover near me in the day of battle, and thousands of
thine and Scotland's enemies shall fall before thy husband's arm!"

The plaintive voice of the Highland pipe at this moment broke upon his
ear.  It was the farewell of the patriarch Lindsay, as he and his
departing company descended the winding paths of Craignacoheilg.
Wallace started on his feet.  The separation had then taken place
between his trusty followers and their families; and guessing the
feelings of those brave men from what was passing in his own breast, he
dried away the traces of his tears, and once more resuming the
warrior's cheerful look, sought that part of the rock where the
Lanarkmen were quartered.

As he drew near he saw some standing on the cliff and others leaning
over, to catch another glance of the departing group ere it was lost
amid the shades of Glenfinlass.

"Are they quite gone?" asked Dugald.

"Quite," answered a young man, who seemed to have got the most
advantageous situation for a view.

"Then," cried he, "may St. Andrew keep them until we meet again!"

"May a greater than St. Andrew hear thy prayer!" ejaculated Wallace.
At the sound of this response from their chief they all turned round.
"My brave companions," said he, "I come to repay this hour's pangs by
telling you that, in the attack of Dumbarton, you shall have the honor
of first mounting the walls.  I shall be at your head, to sign each
brave soldier with a patriot's seal of honor."

"To follow you, my lord," said Dugald, "is our duty."

"I grant it," replied the chief; "and as I am the leader in that duty,
it is mine to dispense to every man his reward; to prove to all men
that virtue alone is true nobility."

"Ah, dearest sir!" exclaimed Edwin, who had been assisting the women to
carry their infants down the steep, and on reascending heard the latter
part of this conversation; "deprive me not of the aim of my life!
These warriors have had you long--have distinguished themselves in your
eyes.  Deprive me not, then, of the advantages of being near you; it
will make me doubly brave.  Oh, my dear commander, let me only carry to
the grave the consciousness that, next to yourself, I was the first to
mount the rock of Dumbarton, and you will make me noble indeed!"

Wallace looked at him with a smile of such graciousness, that the youth
threw himself into his arms.  "You will grant my boon?"

"I will, noble boy," said he; "act up to your sentiments, and you shall
be my brother."

"Call me by that name," cried Edwin, "and I will dare anything."

"Then be the first to follow me on the rock," said he, "and I will lead
you to an honor, the highest in my gift; you shall unloose the chains
of the Earl of Mar!  And ye," continued he, "commemorate the duty of
such sons.  Being the first to strike the blow for her freedom, ye
shall be the first she will distinguish.  I now speak as her minister;
and, as a badge to times immemorial, I bid you wear the Scottish lion
on your shields."

A shout of proud joy issued from every heart; and Wallace, seeing that
honor had dried the tears of regret, left them to repose.  He sent
Edwin to his rest; and himself, avoiding the other chieftains, retired
to his own chamber in the tower.



Chapter XXI.

Loch Lomond.


Profound as was the rest of Wallace, yet the first clarion of the lark
awakened him.  The rosy dawn shone in at the window, and a fresh breeze
wooed him with its inspiring breath to rise and meet it.  But the
impulse was in his own mind; he needed nothing outward to call him to
action.  Rising immediately, he put on his glittering hauberk; and
issuing from the tower, raised his bugle to his lips, and blew so
rousing a blast, that in an instant the whole rock was covered with
soldiers.

Wallace placed his helmet on his head, and advanced toward them, just
as Edwin had joined him, and Sir Roger Kirkpatrick appeared from the
tower.  "Blessed be this morn!" cried the old knight.  "My sword
springs from its scabbard to meet it; and ere its good steel be
sheathed again," continued he, shaking it sternly, "what deaths may dye
its point!"

Wallace shuddered at the ferocity with which his colleague contemplated
this feature of war from which every humane soldier would seek to turn
his thoughts, that he might encounter it with the steadiness of a man,
and not the irresolution of a woman.  To hail the field of blood with
the fierceness of a hatred eager for the slaughter of its victim--to
know any joy in combat but that each contest might render another less
necessary--did not enter into the imagination of Wallace until he had
heard and seen the infuriate Kirkpatrick.  He talked of the coming
battle with horrid rapture, and told the young Edwin he should that day
see Loch Lomond red with English blood.

Offended at such savageness, but without answering him, Wallace drew
toward Murray, and calling to Edwin, ordered him to march at his side.
The youth seemed glad of the summons, and Wallace was pleased to
observe it, as he thought that a longer stay with one who so grossly
overcharged the feelings of honest patriotism, might breed disgust in
his innocent mind against a cause which had so furious and therefore
unjust a defender.

"Justice and mercy ever dwell together," said he to Edwin, who now drew
near him; "for universal love is the parent of justice, as well as of
mercy.  But implacable Revenge! whence did she spring, but from the
head of Satan himself?"

Though their cause appeared the same, never were two spirits more
discordant than those of Wallace and Kirkpatrick.  But Kirkpatrick did
not so soon discover the dissimilarity; as it is easier for purity to
descry its opposite, than for foulness to apprehend that anything can
be purer than itself.

The forces being marshaled according to the preconcerted order, the
three commanders, with Wallace at their head, led forward.

They passed through the forest of Glenfinlass; and morning and evening
still found them threading its unsuspected solitudes in unmolested
security; night, too, watched their onward march.

The sun had just risen as the little band of patriots, the hope of
freedom, emerged upon the eastern bank of Loch Lomond.  The bases of
the mountains were yet covered with the dispersing mist of the morning,
and hardly distinguishable from the blue waters of the lake, which
lashed the shore.  The newly-awakened sheep bleated from the hills, and
the umbrageous herbage, dropping dew, seemed glittering with a thousand
fairy gems.

"Where is the man who would not fight for such a country?" exclaimed
Murray, as he stepped over a bridge of interwoven trees, which crossed
one of the mountain streams.  "This land was not made for slaves.  Look
at these bulwarks of nature!  Every mountain-head which forms this
chain of hills is an impregnable rampart against invasion.  If Baliol
had possessed but half a heart, Edward might have returned even worse
than Caesar--without a cockle to decorate his helmet."

"Baliol has found the oblivion he incurred," returned Wallace; "his
son, perhaps, may better deserve the scepter of such a country.  Let us
cut the way, and he who merits the crown will soon appear to claim it."

"Then it will not be Edward Baliol!" rejoined Scrymgeour.  "During the
inconsistent reign of his father, I once carried a despatch to him from
Scotland.  He was then banqueting in all the luxuries of the English
court; and such a voluptuary I never beheld!  I left the scene of
folly, only praying that so effeminate a prince might never disgrace
the throne of our manly race of kings."

"If such be the tuition of our lords in the court of Edward--and wise is
the policy for his own views!" observed Ker, "what can we expect from
even the Bruce?  They were ever a nobler race than the Baliol; but bad
education and luxury will debase the most princely minds."

"I saw neither of the Bruce when I visited London," replied Scrymgeour;
"the Earl of Carrick was at his house in Cleveland, and Robert Bruce,
his eldest son, with the English army in Guienne.  But they bore a
manly character, particularly young Robert, to whom the troubadours of
Aquitaine have given the flattering appellation of Prince of Chivalry."

"It would be more to his honor," interrupted Murray, "if he compelled
the English to acknowledge him as Prince of Scotland.  With so much
bravery, how can he allow such a civetcat as Edward Baliol to bear away
the title, which is his by the double right of blood and virtue?"

"Perhaps," said Wallace, "the young lion only sleeps!  The time may
come, when both he and his father will rise from their lethargy, and
throw themselves at once into the arms of Scotland.  To stimulate the
dormant patriotism of these two princes, by showing them a subject
leading their people to liberty, is one great end of the victories I
seek.  None other than a brave king can bind the various interests of
this distracted country into one; and therefore, for fair Freedom's
sake, my heart turns toward the Bruces with most anxious hopes."

"For my part," cried Murray, "I have always thought the lady we will
not woo we have no right to pretend to.  If the Bruces will not be at
the pains to snatch Scotland from drowning, I see no reason for making
them a present of what will cost us many a wet jacket before we tug her
from the waves.  He that wins the day ought to wear the laurel; and so,
once for all, I proclaim him King of good old Albin,** who will have
the glory of driving her oppressors beyond her dikes."

**Albin was the ancient name of Scotland.

Wallace did not hear this last sentiment of Murray's, as it was spoken
in a lowered voice in the ear of Kirkpatrick.  "I perfectly agree with
you," was the knight's reply; "and in the true Roman style, may the
death of every Southron now in Scotland, and as many more as fate
chooses to yield us, be the preliminary games of his coronation!"

Wallace, who heard this, turned to Kirkpatrick with a mild rebuke in
his eye.  "Balaam blessed, when he meant to curse!" said he; "but some
curse, when they mean to bless.  Such prayers are blasphemy.  For, can
we expect a blessing on our arms, when all our invocations are for
vengeance rather than victory?"

"Blood for blood is only justice!" returned Murray; "and how can you,
noble Wallace, as a Scot, and as a man, imply any mercy to the villains
who stab us to the heart?"

"I plead not for them," replied Wallace, "but for the poor wretches who
follow their leaders, by force, to the field of Scotland; I would not
inflict on them the cruelties we now resent.  It is not to aggrieve,
but to redress, that we carry arms.  If we make not this distinction,
we turn courage into a crime; and plant disgrace, instead of honor,
upon the warrior's brow."

"I do not understand commiserating the wolves who have so long made
havoc in our country," cried Kirkpatrick; "methinks such maidenly mercy
is rather or of place."

Wallace turned to him with a smile: "I will answer you, my valiant
friend, by adopting your own figure.  It is that these Southron wolves
may not confound us with themselves, that I wish to show in our conduct
rather the generous ardor of the faithful guardian of the fold, than
the rapacious fierceness which equals them with the beasts of the
desert.  As we are men and Scots, let the burden of our prayers be, the
preservation of our country, not the slaughter of our enemies!  The one
is an ambition, with which angels may sympathize; the other, a horrible
desire, which speaks the nature of fiends."

"In some cases this may be," replied Sir Roger, a little reconciled to
the argument, "but not in mine.  My injury yet burns upon my cheek; and
as nothing but the life blood of Cressingham can quench it, I will
listen no more to your doctrine till I am avenged.  That done, I shall
not forget your lesson."

"Generous Kirkpatrick!" exclaimed Wallace, "nothing that is really
cruel can dwell with such manly candor.  Say what you will, I can trust
your heart after this moment."

They had crossed the River Ennerie, and were issuing from between its
narrow ridge of hills, when Wallace, pointing to a stupendous rock
which rose in solitary magnificence in the midst of a vast plain,
exclaimed, "There is Dumbarton Castle!-that citadel holds the fetters
of Scotland; and if we break them there, every minor link will easily
give way."

The men uttered a shout of anticipated triumph at this sight; and
proceeding, soon came in view of the fortifications which helmeted the
rock.  As they approached, they discovered that it had two summits,
being in a manner cleft in twain; the one side rising in a pyramidal
form; while the other, of a more table-shape, sustained the ponderous
buildings of the fortress.

It was dusk when the little army arrived in the rear of a close thicket
to a considerable length over the plain.  On this spot Wallace rested
his men; and while they placed themselves under its covert till the
appointed time of attack, he perceived through an opening in the wood,
the gleaming of soldiers' arms on the ramparts, and fires beginning to
light on a lonely watchtower, which crowned the pinnacle of the highest
rock.

"Poor fools!" exclaimed Murray; "like the rest of their brethren of
clay, they look abroad for evils, and prepare not for those which are
even at their doors!"

"That beacon-fire," cried Scrymgeour, "shall light us to their
chambers; and for once we thank them for their providence."

"That beacon-fire," whispered Edwin to Wallace, "shall light me to
honor!  To-night, by your agreement, I shall call you brother, or lie
dead on the summit of those walls!"

"Edwin," said Wallace, "act as you say; and deserve not only to be
called my brother, but to be the first banneret of freedom in arms!"

He then turned toward the lines; and, giving his orders to each
division, directed them to seek repose on the surrounding heather, till
the now glowing moon should have sunk her telltale light in the waves.



Chapter XXII.

Dumbarton Rock.


All obeyed the voice of their commander, and retired to rest.  But the
eyes of Edwin could not close; his eager spirit was already on the
walls of Dumbarton.  His rapid mind anticipated the ascent of his
general and his troop.  But an imagination no less just than ardent
suggested the difficulties attending so small a force assailing so
formidable a garrison, without some immediate knowledge of its relative
situations.  A sudden thought struck him.  He would mount that rock
alone; he would seek to ascertain the place of Lord Mar's confinement;
that not one life in Wallace's faithful band might be lost in a vague
search.

"Ah! my general," exclaimed he, "Edwin shall be the first to spring
those ramparts; he shall tread that dangerous path alone; and when he
has thus proved himself no unworthy of thy confidence, he will return
to lead thee and thy soldiers to a sure victory, and himself to honor
by thy side!"

This fervant apostrophe, breathed to the night alone, was no sooner
uttered, than he stole from the thicket into which he had cast himself
to respose.  He looked toward the embattled cliff; its summit stood
bright in the moonlight, but deep shadows lay beneath.  "God be my
speed!" cried he, and wrapping himself in his plaid, so mixed its dark
hues with the weeds and herbage at the base of the rock, that he made
its circuit without having attracted observation.

The south side seemed the easiest of ascent and by that he began his
daring attempt.  Having gained the height, he clambered behind a
buttress, the shadow of which cast the wall into such black obscurity,
that he crept safely through one of its crenelles, and dropping gently
inward, alighted on his feet.  Still keeping the shadowed side of the
battlements, he proceeded cautiously along, and so still was his motion
that he passed undiscovered, even by the sentinels who guarded this
quarter of the fortress.

He soon arrived at the open square before the citadel; it was yet
occupied by groups of Southron officers, gayly walking to and fro under
the light of the moon.  In hopes of gaining some useful information
from their discourse, he concealed himself behind a chest of arrows;
and as they passed backward and forward, distinctly heard them jesting
each other about divers fair dames of the country around.  The
conversation terminated in a debate, whether or no the indifference
which their governor De Valence manifested to the majestic beauties of
the Countess of Mar were real or assumed.  A thousand free remarks were
made on the subject, and Edwin gathered sufficient from the discourse,
to understand that the earl and countess were treated severely, and
confined in a large, square tower in the cleft of the rock.

Having learned all that he could expect from these officers, he
speeded, under the friendly shadow, toward the other side of the
citadel, and arrived just as the guard approached to relieve the
sentinels of the northern postern.  He laid himself close to the
ground, and happily overheard the word of the night, as it was given to
the new watch.  This providential circumstances saved his life.

Finding no mode of egress from this place but by the postern at which
the sentinel was stationed, or by attempting a passage through a small
adjoining tower, the door of which stood open, he considered a moment,
and then deciding for the tower, stole unobserved into it.  Fortunately
no person was there; but Edwin found it full of spare arms, with two or
three vacant couches in different corners, where he supposed the
officers on guard occassionally reposed; several watch-cloaks lay on
the floor.  He readily apprehended the use he might make of this
circumstance, and throwing one of them over his shoulders climbed to a
large embrasure in the wall, and, forcing himself through it, dropped
to a declivity on the other side, which shelved down to the cliff,
wherein he saw the square tower.

He had scarcely alighted on firm ground, when a sentinel, followed by
two others presented pikes, approached him, and demanded the word.
"Montjoy!" was his reply.  "Why leap the embrasure?" said one.  "Why
not enter by the postern?" demanded another.  The conversation of the
officers had given him a hint, on which he had formed his answer.
"Love, my brave comrades," replied he, "seldom chooses even ways.  I go
on a message from a young ensign in the keep, to one of the Scottish
damsels in yonder tower.  Delay me, and his vengeance will fall upon us
all."  "Good luck to you, my lad!" was their answer, and, with a
lightened step, he hastened toward the tower.

Not deeming it safe to seek an interview with any of the earl's family,
he crept along the base of the structure, and across the works, till he
reached the high wall that blocks up egress from the north.  He found
this formidable curtain constructed of fragments of rock, and for the
convenience of the guard, a sloping platform from within led to the top
of the wall.  On the other side it was perpendicular.  A solitary
sentinel stood there; and how to pass him was Edwin's next device.  To
attack him would be desparate; being one of a chain of guards around
the interior of the fortress, his voice need only to be raised in the
least to call a regiment to his assistance, and Edwin might be seized
on the instant.

Aware of his danger, but not dismayed, the adventurous youth bethought
him of his former excuse; and remembering a flask of spirits which
Ireland had put into his pouch on leaving Glenfinlass, he affected to
be intoxicated, and staggering up to the man, accosted him in the
character of a servant of the garrison.

The sentinel did not doubt the appearance of the boy, and Edwin,
holding out the flask, said that a pretty girl in the great tower had
not only given him a long draught of the same good liquor but had
filled his bottle, that he might not lack amusement, while her
companion; one of Lady Mar's maids-in-waiting, was tying up a true
lover's knot to send to his master in the garrison.  The man believed
Edwin's tale, and the more readily as he thrust the flask into his
hand, and bade him drink.  "Do not spare it," cried he; "the night is
chilly, and I shall get more where that came from."

The unsuspecting Southron returned him a merry reply, and putting the
flask to his head, soon drained its contents.  They had the effect
Edwin desired.  The soldier became flustered, and impatient of his
duty.  Edwin perceived it, and yawning, complained of drowsiness.  "I
would go to the top of that wall, and sleep sweetly in the moonbeams,"
said he, "if any goodnatured fellow would meanwhile wait for my pretty
Scot!"

The half-inebriated Southron liked no better sport, and regardless of
duty, he promised to draw nearer the tower, and bring from the fair
messenger the expected token.

Having thus far gained his point, with an apparently staggering, but
really agile step, Edwin ascended the wall.  A leap from this dizzy
height was his only way to rejoin Wallace.  To retread his steps
through the fortress in safety would hardly be possible, and, besides,
such a mode of retreat would leave him uninformed on the second object
of his enterprise-to know the most vulnerable side of the fortress.  He
threw himself along the summit of the wall as if to sleep.  He looked
down and saw nothing but the blackness of space, for here the broad
expanse of shadow rendered rocks and building of the same hue and
level.  But hope buoyed him in her arms, and turning his eyes toward
the sentinel, he observed him to have arrived within a few paces of the
square tower.  This was Edwin's moment: grasping the projecting stone
of the embattlement, and commending himself to Heaven, he threw himself
from its summit, and fell a fearful depth to the cliffs beneath.

Meanwhile Wallace, having seen his brave followers depart to their
respose, reclined himself along a pile of moss grown stones, which in
the days of the renowned Fingal, had covered the body of some valiant
Morven chieftain.  He fixed his wakeful eyes on the castle, now
illumined in every part by the fullness of the moon's luster, and
considered which point would be most assailable by the scaling-ladders
he had prepared.  Every side seemed a precipice; the Leven, surrounding
it on the north and the west; the Clyde, broad as a sea, on the south.
The only place that seemed at all accessible was the side next the dike
behind which he lay.  Here the ascent to the castellated part of the
rock, because most perpendicular, was the least guarded with outworks,
and by this he determined to make the attempt as soon as the setting
moon should involve the garrison in darkness.

While he yet mused on what might be the momentous consequences of the
succeeding midnight hours, he thought he heard a swift though cautious
footstep.  He raised himself, and laying his hands on his sword, saw a
figure advancing toward him.

"Who goes there?" demanded Wallace.

"A faithful Scot," was the reply.

Wallace recognized the voice of Edwin.

"What has disturbed you?  Why do you not take rest with the others?"

"That we may have it the surer to-morrow!" replied the youth.  "I am
just returned from the summit of yonder rock."

"How!" interrupted Wallace; "have you scaled it alone, and are returned
in safety?"

Wallace caught him in his arms.  "Intrepid, glorious boy! tell me for
what purpose did you thus hazard your precious life?"

"I wished to learn its most pregnable part," replied Edwin, his young
heart beating with triumph at these encomiums from his commander; "and
particularly where the good earl is confined, that we might make our
attack directly to the point."

"And have you been successful?" demanded Wallace.

"I have," was his answer.  "Lord Mar and his lady are kept in a square
tower which stands in the cleft between the two summits of the rock.
It is not only surrounded by embattled walls, which flank the ponderous
buttresses of this huge dungeon, but the space on which it stands is
bulwarked at each end by a stone curtain of fifteen feet high, guarded
by turrets full of armed men.

"And yet by that side you suppose we must ascend?" said Wallace.

"Certainly; for if you attempt it on the west, we should have to scale
the watch-tower cliff, and the ascent could only be gained in file.  An
auxiliary detachment, to attack in flank, might succeed there; but the
passage being so narrow, would be too tedious for the whole party to
arrive in time. Should we take the south, we must cut through the whole
garrison before we could reach the earl.  And on this side, the morass
lies too near the foot of the rock to admit an approach without the
greatest danger.  But on the north, where I descended, by wading
through part of the Leven, and climbing from cliff to cliff, I have
every hope you may succeed."

Edwin recounted the particulars of his progress through the fortress;
and by the minuteness of his topographical descriptions, enforced his
arguments for the north to be the point assailed.  Closing his
narrative, he explained to the anxious inquiry of Wallace how he had
escaped accident in a leap of so many feet.  The wall was covered with
ivy; he caught by its branches in his descent, and at last happily fell
amongst a thick bed of furze.  After this, he clambered down the steep,
and fording the Leven (there only knee deep), now appeared before his
general, elate in heart, and bright in valor.

"The intrepidity of this action," returned Wallace, glowing with
admiration at so noble a daring in so young a creature, "merits that
every confidence should be placed in the result of your observations.
Your safe return is a pledge of our design being approved.  And when we
go in the strength of Heaven, who can doubt the issue?  This night,
when the Lord of battles puts that fortress into our hands, before the
whole of our little army you shall receive that knighthood you have so
richly deserved.  Such, my truly dear brother, my noble Edwin, shall be
the reward of your virtue and your toil."

Wallace would now have sent him to respose himself; but animated by the
success of his adventure, and exulting in the honor which was so soon
to stamp a sign of this exploit upon him forever, he told his leader
that he felt no want of sleep, and would rather take on him the office
of arousing the other captains to their stations, the moon, their
preconcerted signal, being then approaching its rest.



Chapter XXIII.

The Fortress.


Kirkpatrick, Murray, and Scrymgeour hastened to their commander; and in
a few minutes all were under arms.  Wallace briefly explained his
altered plan of assault, and marshaling his men accordingly, led them
in silence through the water, and along the beach, which lay between
the rock and the Leven.  Arriving at the base just as the moon set,
they began to ascend.  To do this in the dark redoubled the difficulty;
but as Wallace had the place of every accessible stone accurately
described to him by Edwin, he went confidently forward, followed by his
Lanarkmen.

He and they, being the first to mount, fixed and held the tops of the
scaling-ladders, while Kirkpatrick and Scrymgeour, with their men,
gradually ascended, and gained the bottom of the wall.  Here, planting
themselves in the crannies of the rock, under the impenetrable darkness
of the night (for the moon had not only set, but the stars were
obscured by clouds), they awaited the signal for the final ascent.

Meanwhile, Edwin led Lord Andrew with his followers, and the Fraser
men, round by the western side to mount the watchtower rock, and seize
the few soldiers who kept the beacon.  As a signal of having succeeded,
they were to smother the flame on the top of the tower, and thence
descend toward the garrison to meet Wallace before the prison of the
Earl of Mar.

While the men of Lanark, with their eyes fixed on the burning beacon,
in deadly stillness watched the appointed signal for the attack,
Wallace, by the aid of his dagger, which he struck into the firm soil
that occupied the cracks in the rock, drew himself up almost parallel
with the top of the great wall, which clasped the bases of the two
hills.  He listened; not a voice was to be heard in the garrison of all
the legions he had so lately seen glittering on its battlements.  It
was an awful pause.

Now was the moment when Scotland was to make her first essay for
freedom!  Should it fail, ten thousand bolts of iron would be added to
her chains!  Should it succeed, liberty and happiness were the almost
certain consequences.

He looked up, and fixing his eyes on the beacon-flame, thought he saw
the figures of men pass before it--the next moment all was darkness.  He
sprung on the walls, and feeling by the touch of hands about his feet
that his brave followers had already mounted their ladders, he grasped
his sword firmly, and leaped down on the ground within.  In that moment
he struck against the sentinel, who was just passing, and by the
violence of the shock struck him to the earth; but the man, as he fell,
catching Wallace round the waist, dragged him after him, and with a
vociferous cry, shouted "Treason!"

Several sentinels ran with leveled pikes to the spot, the adjacent
turrets emptied themselves of their armed inhabitants, and all
assaulted Wallace, just as he had extricated himself from the grasp of
the prostrate soldier.

"Who are you?" demanded they.

"Your enemy;" and the speaker fell at his feet with one stroke of his
sword.

"Alarm!-treason!" resounded from the rest as they aimed their random
strokes at the conquering chief.  But he was now assisted by the
vigorous army of Ker, and of several Lanarkmen, who, having cleared the
wall, were dealing about blows in the darkness, which filled the air
with groans, and strewed the ground with the dying and the dead.

One or two Southrons, whose courage was not equal to their caution,
fled to arouse the garrison, and just as the whole of Wallace's men
leaped the wall and rallied to his support, the inner ballium gate
burst open, and a legion of foes, bearing torches, issued to the
contest.  With horrible threatenings, they came on, and by a rapid
movement surrounded Wallace and his little company.  But his soul
brightened in danger, and his men warmed with the same spirit, stood
firm with fixed pikes, receiving without injury the assault.  Their
weapons being longer than their enemy's, the Southrons, not aware of
the circumstance, rushed upon their points, incurring the death they
meant to give.  Seeing their consequent disorder, Wallace ordered the
pikes to be dropped, and his men to charge sword in hand.  Terrible was
now the havoc, for the desperate Scots, grapling each to his foe with a
fatal hold, let not go till the piercing shriek, or the agonized groan,
convinced him that death had seized its victim.  Wallace fought in
front, making a dreadful passage through the falling ranks, while the
tremendous sweep of his sword, flashing in the intermitting light,
warned the survivors where the avenging blade would next descend.  A
horrid vacuity was made in the lately thronged spot; it seemed not the
slaughter of a mortal arm, but as if the destroying angel himself were
there, and with one blast of his desolating brand, had laid all in
ruin.  The platform was cleared, and the fallen torches, some
half-extinguished, and other flaming on the ground by the sides of the
dead, showed, in their uncertain gleams, a few terrified wretches
seeking safely in flight.  The same lurid rays, casting a transitory
light on the iron gratings of the great tower, informed Wallace that
the heat of conflict had drawn him to the prison of the earl.

"We are now near the end of this night's work!" cried he.  "Let us
press forward to give freedom to the Earl of Mar!"

"Liberty and Lord Mar!" cried Kirkpatrick, rushing onward.  He was
immediately followed by his own men, but not quickly enough for his
daring.  The guard in the tower, hearing the outcry, issued from the
flanking gates, and, surrounding him, took him prisoner.

"If there be might in your arms," roared he, with the voice of a lion,
"men of Loch Dione, rescue your leader!"

They hurried forward, with yells of defiance; but the strength of the
garrison, awakened by the flying wretches from the defeat, turned out
all its power, and, with De Valence at their head, poured on
Kirkpatrick's men, and would have overpowered them had not Wallace and
his sixty heroes, with desperate determination, cut a passage to them
through the closing ranks.

Pikes struck against corslets, swords rang on helmets, and the
ponderous battle-ax, falling with the weight of fate, cleft the
uplifted target in twain.  Blood spouted on every side, and the
dripping hands of Kirkpatrick, as Wallace tore him from the enemy,
proclaimed that he had bathed his vengeance in the stream.  On being
released, he shook his ensanguined arms, and burst into a horrid laugh.
"The work speeds!  Now through the heart of the governor!"

Even while he spoke Wallace lost him again from his side; and again, by
the shouts of the Southrons, who cried, "No quarter for the rebel!" he
learned he must be retaken.  That merciless cry was the death-bell of
their own doom.  It directed Wallace to the spot, and throwing himself
and his brethren of Lanark into the midst of the band which held the
prisoner, Kirkpatrick was again rescued.  But thousands seemed now
surrounding the chief himself.  To do this generous deed, he had
advanced further than he ought, and himself and his brave followers
must have been slain had he not recoiled, and covering their rear with
the great tower, all who had the hardihood to approach fell under the
weight of the Scottish claymore.

Scrymgeour, at the head of the Loch Dione men, in vain attempted to
reach this contending party; and fearful of losing the royal standard,
he was turning to make a valiant retreat, when Murray and Edwin (having
disengaged their followers from the precipices of the beacon rock)
rushed into the fray, striking their shields, and uttering the
inspiring slogan of "Wallace and freedom!"  It was re-echoed by every
Scot; those that were flying returned; they who sustained the conflict
hailed the cry with braces sinews; and the terrible thunder of the
word, pealing from rank to rank, struck a terror into De Valence's men,
which made them pause.  The extinction of the beacon made them still
more aghast.

On that short moment turned the crisis of their fate.  Wallace cut his
way forward through the dismayed Southrons, who, bearing the reiterated
shouts of the fresh reinforcements, knew not whether its strength might
not be thousands instead of hundreds, and, panic-stricken, they became
an easy prey to their enemies.  Surrounded, mixed with their
assailants, they knew not friends from foes, and each individual being
bent on flight, they indiscriminately cut to right and left, wounding
as many of their own men as of the Scots, and finally, after
slaughtering half their companions, some few escaped through the small
posterns of the garrison, leaving the inner ballia entirely in
possession of the foe.

The whole of the field being cleared, Wallace ordered the tower to be
forced.  A strong guard was still within, and, as the assailants drew
near, every means was used to render their assaults abortive.  As the
Scots pressed to the main entrance, stones and heavy metals were thrown
upon their heads; but, not in the least intimidated, they stood beneath
the iron shower, till Wallace ordered them to drive a large felled
tree, which lay on the ground, against the hinges of the door.  It
burst open, and the whole party rushed into the hall.

A short, sanguinary, but decisive conflict took place.  The hauberk and
plaid of Wallace were dyed from head to foot; his own brave blood, and
the ferocious stream from his enemies, mingled in one horrid hue upon
his garments.

"Wallace!  Wallace!" cried the stentorian lungs of Kirkpatrick.  In a
moment Wallace was at his side, and found him wrestling with two men.
The light of a single lamp, suspended from the rafters, fell direct
upon the combatants.  A dagger was pointed at the life of the old
knight, but Wallace laid the holder of it dead across the body of his
intended victim, and catching the other assailant by the throat, threw
him prostrate to the ground.

"Spare me, for the honor of knighthood!" cried the conquered.

"For my honor you shall die!" cried Kirkpatrick.  His sword was already
at the heart of the Englishman.  Wallace beat it back.  "Kirkpatrick,
he is my prisoner, and I give him life."

"You know not what you do," cried the old knight, struggling with
Wallace to release his sword-arm.  "This is De Valence!"

"Quarter!" reiterated the panting and hard-pressed earl.  "Noble
Wallace, my life!  For I am wounded."

"Sooner take my own!" cried the determined Kirkpatrick, fixing his foot
on the neck of the prostrate man, and trying to wrench his hand from
the grasp of his commander.

"Shame!" cried Wallace; "you must strike through me to kill any wounded
man I hear cry for quarter!  Release the earl, for your own honor."

"Our safety lies in his destruction!" cried Kirkpatrick, and, enraged
at opposition, he thrust his commander (little expecting such an
action) from off the body of the earl.  De Valence seized his
advantage, and catching Kirkpatrick by the limb that pressed on him,
overthrew him; and by a sudden spring, turning quickly on Wallace,
struck his dagger into his side.  All this was done in an instant.
Wallace did not fall, but staggering, with the weapon sticking in the
wound, he was so surprised by the baseness of the deed, he could not
give the alarm till its perpetrator had disappeared.

The flying earl took his course through a narrow passage between the
works, and proceeding swiftly toward the south, issued safely at one of
the outer ballium gates--that part of the castle being now solitary, all
the men having been drawn from the walls to the contest within--and
thence he made his escape in a fisher's boat across the Clyde.

Meanwhile Wallace, having recovered himself, just as the Scots brought
in lighted torches from the lower apartments of the tower, saw Sir
Roger Kirkpatrick leaning sternly on his blood-dripping sword, and the
young Edwin coming forward in garments too nearly the hue of his own.
Andrew Murray stood already by his side.  Wallace's hand was upon the
hilt of the dagger which the ungrateful De Valence had left in his
breast.  "You are wounded! you are slain!" cried Murray in a voice of
consternation.  Edwin stood motionless with horror.

"That dagger!" exclaimed Scrymgeour.

"Has done nothing," replied Wallace, "but let a little more blood."  As
he spoke he drew it out, and thrusting the corner of his scarf into his
bosom, staunched the wound.

"So is your mercy rewarded!" exclaimed Kirkpatrick.

"So am I true to a soldier's duty," returned Wallace, "though De
Valence is a traitor to his!"

"You treated him as a man," replied Kirkpatrick, "but now you find him
a treacherous fiend!"

"Your eagerness, my brave friend," returned Wallace, "has lost him as a
prisoner.  If not for humanity or honor, for policy's sake, we ought to
have spared his life, and detained him as an hostage for our countrymen
in England."

Kirkpatrick remembered how his violence had released the earl, and he
looked down abashed.  Wallace, perceiving it, continued, "But let us
not abuse our time discoursing on a coward.  He is gone, the fortress
is ours, and our first measure must be to guard if from surprise."

As he spoke, his eyes fell upon Edwin, who, having recovered from the
shock of Murray's exclamation, had brought forward the surgeon of their
little band.  A few minutes bound up the wounds of their chief, even
while beckoning the anxious boy towards him.  "Brave youth," cried he,
"you, at the imminent risk of your own life, explored these heights,
that you might render our ascent more sure; you who have fought like a
young lion in this unequal contest! here, in the face of all your
valiant comrades, receive that knighthood which rather derives luster
from your virtues than gives additional consequence to your name."

With a bounding heart Edwin bent his knee, and Wallace giving him the
hallowed accolade,** the young knight rose from his position with all
the roses of his springing fame glowing in his countenance.  Scrymgeour
presented him the knightly girdle, which he unbraced from his own
loins, and while the happy boy received the sword to which it was
attached, he exclaimed, with animation, "While I follow the example
before my eyes, I shall never draw this in an unjust cause, nor ever
sheath it in a just one."

**Accolade, the three strokes of the sword given in knighting.

"Go, then," returned Wallace, smiling his approval of this sentiment,
"while work is to be done I will keep my knight to the toil; go, and
with twenty men of Lanark, guard the wall by which we ascended."

Edwin disappeared, and Wallace, having dispatched detachments to occupy
other parts of the garrison, took a torch in his hand and, turning to
Murray, proposed seeking the Earl of Mar.  Lord Andrew was soon at the
iron door which led from the hall to the principal stairs.

"We must have our friendly battering-ram here," cried he; "a close
prisoner do they indeed keep my uncle when even the inner doors are
bolted on him."

The men dragged the tree forward, and striking it against the iron, it
burst open with the noise of thunder.  Shrieks from within followed the
sound.  The women of Lady Mar, not knowing what to suppose during the
uproar of the conflict, now hearing the door forced, expected nothing
less than that some new enemies were advancing; and, giving themselves
up to despair, they flew into the room where the countess sat in equal
though less clamorous terror.

At the shouts of the Scots, when they began the attack, the earl had
started from his couch.  "That is not peace!" said he; "there is some
surprise!"

"Alas, from whom?" returned Lady Mar; "who would venture to attack a
fortress like this, garrisoned with thousands?"

The cry was repeated.

"It is the slogan of Sir William Wallace!" cried he; "I shall be free!
O, for a sword!  Hear, hear!"

As the shouts redoubled, and, mingled with the various clangors of
battle, drew nearer the tower, the impatience of the earl could not be
restrained.  Hope and eagerness seemed to have dried up his wounds and
new-strung every nerve, while unarmed as he was, he rushed from the
apartment, and hurried down the stairs which led to the iron door.  He
found it so firmly fastened by bars and padlocks, he could not move it.
Again he ascended to his terrified wife, who, conscious how little
obligation Wallace owed to her, perhaps dreaded even more to see her
husband's hopes realized than to find herself yet more rigidly the
prisoner of the haughty De Valence.

"Joanna!" cried he, "the arm of God is with us.  My prayers are heard.
Scotland will yet be free.  Hear those groans--those shouts.  Victory!
victory!"

As he thus echoed the cry of triumph uttered by the Scots when bursting
open the outer gate of the tower, the foundations of the building
shook, and Lady Mar, almost insensible with terror, received the
exhausted body of her husband into her arms; he fainted from the
transport his weakened frame was unable to hear.  Soon after this the
stair-door was forced, and the panic-struck women ran shrieking into
the room to their mistress.

The countess could not speak, but sat pale and motionless, supporting
his head on her bosom.  Guided by the noise, Lord Andrew flew into the
room, and rushing toward his uncle, fell at his feet.  "Liberty!
Liberty!" was all he could say.  His words pierced the ear of the earl
like a voice from heaven, and looking up, without a word, he threw his
arms round the neck of his nephew.

Tears relieved the contending feelings of the countess; and the women,
recognizing the young Lord of Bothwell, retired into a distant corner,
well assured they had now no cause for fear.

The earl rested but a moment on the panting breast of his nephew; when,
gazing round, to seek the mighty leader of the band, he saw Wallace
enter, with the step of security and triumph in his eyes.

"Ever my deliverer!" cried the venerable Mar, stretching forth his
arms.  The next instant he held Wallace to his breast; and remembering
all that he had lost for his sake since they parted, a soldier's heart
melted, and he burst into tears.  "Wallace, my preserver; thou victim
for Scotland, and for me--or rather, thou chosen of Heaven; who, by the
sacrifice of all thou didst hold dear on earth, art made a blessing to
thy country!-receive my thanks, and my heart."

Wallace felt all in his soul which the earl meant to imply; but
recovered the calmed tone of his mind before he was released from the
embrace of his friend; and when he raised him self, and replied to the
acknowledgments of the countess, it was with a serene, though glowing
countenance.

She, when she had glanced from the eager entrance and action of her
nephew to the advancing hero, looked as Venus did when she beheld the
god of war rise from a field of blood.  She started at the appearance
of Wallace; but it was not his garments dropping gore, nor the
blood-stained falchion in his hand, that caused the new sensation; it
was the figure breathing youth and manhood; it was the face, where
every noble passion of the heart had stamped themselves on his perfect
features; it was his air, where majesty and sweet entrancing grace
mingled in manly union.  They were all these that struck at once upon
the sight of Lady Mar and made her exclaim within herself, "This is a
wonder of man!  This is the hero that is to humble Edward!-to
bless--whom?" was her thought.  "Oh, no woman!  Let him be a creature
enshrined and holy, for no female heart to dare to love!"

This passed through the mind of the countess in less time than it has
been repeated, and when she saw him clasped in her husband's arms, she
exclaimed to herself, "Helen, thou wert right; thy gratitude was
prophetic of a matchless object, while I, wretch that I was, even
whispered the wish to my traitorous heart, while I gave information
against my husband, that this man, the cause of all, might be secured
or slain!"

Just as the last idea struck her, Wallace rose from the embrace of his
venerable friend and met the riveted eye of the countess.  She
stammered forth a few expressions of obligation; he attributed her
confusion to the surprise of the moment, and, replying to her
respectfully, turned again to the earl.

The joy of the venerable chief was unbounded, when he found that a
handful of Scots had put two thousand Southrons to flight, and gained
entire possession of the castle.  Wallace, having satisfied the anxious
questions of his noble auditor, gladly perceived the morning light.  He
rose from his seat.  "I shall take a temporary leave of you, my lord,"
said he to the earl; "I must now visit my brave comrades at their
posts, and see the colors of Scotland planted on the citadel."



Chapter XXIV.

The Great Tower.


When Wallace withdrew, Lady Mar, who had detained Murray, whispered to
him, while a blush stained her cheek, that she should like to be
present at the planting of the standard.  Lord Mar declared his
willingness to accompany her to the spot, and added, "I can be
supported thither by the arm of Andrew."  Murray hesitated.  "It will
be impossible for my aunt to go; the hall below, and the ground before
the tower, are covered with slain."

"Let them be cleared away!" cried she; "for I cannot consent to be
deprived of a spectacle so honorable to my country."

Murray regarded the pitiless indifference with which she gave this
order with amazement.  "To do that, madam," said he, "is beyond my
power; the whole ceremony of the colors would be completed long before
I could clear the earth of half its bleeding load.  I will seek a
passage for you by some other way."

Before the earl could make a remark, Murray had disappeared; and after
exploring the lower part of the tower in unavailing search for a way,
he met Sir Roger Kirkpatrick issuing from a small door, which, being in
shadow, he had hitherto overlooked.  It led through the ballium, to the
platform before the citadel.  Lord Andrew returned to his uncle and
aunt, and informing them of this discovery, gave his arm to Lord Mar,
while Kirkpatrick led forward the agitated countess.  At this moment
the sun rose behind the purple summit of Ben Lomond.

When they approached the citadel, Wallace and Sir Alexander Scrymgeour
had just gained its summit.  The standard of Edward was yet flying.
Wallace looked at it for a moment; then laying his hand on the staff,
"Down, thou red dragon," cried he, "and learn to bow before the Giver
of all victory!"  Even while speaking, he rent it from the roof; and
casting it over the battlements, planted the lion of Scotland in its
stead.

As its vast evolvements floated on the air, the cry of triumph, the
loud clarion of honest triumph, burst from every heart, horn, and
trumpet below.  It was a shout that pierced the skies, and entered the
soul of Wallace with a bliss which seemed a promise of immortality.

"O God!" cried he, still grasping the staff, and looking up to heaven;
"we got not this in possession through our own might, but thy right
hand and the light of thy countenance overthrew the enemy!  Thine the
conquest, thine the glory!"

"Thus we consecrate the day to thee, Power of Heaven!" rejoined
Scrymgeour.  "And let this standard be thine own; and whithersoever we
bear it, may we ever find it as the ark of our God!"

Wallace, feeling as if no eye looked on them but that of Heaven,
dropped on his knee; and rising again, took Sir Alexander by the hand;
"My brave friend," said he, "we have here planted the tree of freedom
in Scotland.  Should I die in its defense, swear to bury me under its
branches; swear that no enslaved grounds shall cover my remains."

"I swear," cried Scrymgeour, laying his crossed hands upon the arm of
Wallace; "I swear with a double vow; by the blood of my brave
ancestors, whose valor gave me the name I bear; by the cross of St.
Andrew; and by your valiant self, never to sheath my sword, while I
have life in my body, until Scotland be entirely free!"

The colors fixed, Wallace and his brave colleague descended the tower;
and perceiving the earl and countess, who sat on a stone bench at the
end of the platform, approached them.  The countess rose as the chiefs
drew near.  Lord Mar took his friend by the hand, with a gratulation in
his eyes that was unutterable; his lady spoke, hardly conscious of what
she said; and Wallace, after a few minutes' discourse, proposed to the
earl to retire with Lady Mar into the citadel, where she would be more
suitably lodged than in their late prison.  Lord Mar was obeying this
movement, when suddenly stopping, he exclaimed, "but where is that
wondrous boy--your pilot over these perilous rocks? let me give him a
soldier's thanks?"

Happy at so grateful a demand, Wallace beckoned Edwin, who, just
relieved from his guard, was standing at some distance.  "Here," said
he, "is my knight of fifteen! for last night he proved himself more
worthy of his spurs than many a man who has received them from a king."

"He shall wear those of a king," rejoined the Lord Mar, unbuckling from
his feet a pair of golden spurs; "these were fastened on my heels by
our great king, Alexander, at the battle of Largs.  I had intended them
for my only son; but the first knight in the cause of rescued Scotland
is the son of my heart and soul!"

As he spoke, he would have pressed the young hero to his breast; but
Edwin, trembling with emotion, slid down upon his knees, and clasping
the earl's hand, said, in a hardly audible voice, "Receive and pardon
the truant son of your sister Ruthven!"

"What!" exclaimed the veteran, "is it Edwin Ruthven that has brought me
this weight of honor?  Come to my arms, thou dearest child of my
dearest Janet?"

The uncle and nephew were folded in each other's embrace.  Lady Mar
wept, and Wallace, unable to bear the remembrance which such a scene
pressed upon his heart, turned away toward the battlements.  Edwin
murmured a short explanation in the ear of his uncle; and then rising
from his arms, with his beautiful face glittering like an April day in
tears, allowed his gay cousin Murray to buckle the royal spurs on his
feet.  The rite over, he kissed Lord Andrew's hand in token of
acknowledgment; and called on Sir William Wallace to bless the new
honors conferred on his knight.

Wallace turned toward Edwin, with a smile which partook more of heaven
than of earth.  "Have we not performed our mutual promises?" said he;
"I brought you to the spot where you were to reveal your name, and you
have declared it to me by the voice of glory!  Come, then, my brother,
let us leave your uncle awhile to seek his repose."

As he spoke, he bowed to the countess; and Edwin joyfully receiving his
arm, they walked together toward the eastern postern.  Agitated with
the delightful surprise of thus meeting his favorite sister's son (whom
he had never seen since his infancy), and exhausted by the variety of
his late emotions, the earl speedily acquiesced in a proposal for rest,
and leaning on Lord Andrew, proceeded to the citadel.

The countess had other attractions: lingering at the side of the rough
knight of Torthorald, she looked back, and when she saw the object of
her gaze disappear through the gates, she sighed, and turning to her
conductor, walked by him in silence till they joined her husband in the
hall of the keep.  Murray led the way into the apartments lately
occupied by De Valence.  They were furnished with all the luxury of a
Southron nobleman.  Lady Mar cast her eyes around the splendid chamber,
and seated herself on one of its tapestried couches.  The earl, not
marking whether it were silk or rushes, placed himself beside her.
Murray drew a stool toward them, while Kirkpatrick, tired of his
gallant duty, abruptly took his leave.

"My dear Andrew," said the earl, "in the midst of this proud rejoicing
there is yet a canker at my heart.  Tell me, that when my beloved Helen
disappeared in the tumult at Bothwell, she was under your protection?"

"She was," replied Murray; "and I thank the holy St. Fillan, she is now
in the sanctuary of his church."

Murray then recounted to his relieved uncle every event, from the
moment of his withdrawing behind the arras, to that of his confiding
the English soldier with the iron box to the care of the prior.  Lord
Mar sighed heavily when he spoke of that mysterious casket.  "Whatever
it contained," said he, "it has drawn after it much evil and much good.
The domestic peace of Wallace was ruined by it; and the spirit which
now restores Scotland to herself was raised by his wrongs."

"But tell me," added he, "do you think my daughter safe, so near a
garrison of the enemy?"

"Surely, my lord," cried the countess, too well remembering the
enthusiasm with which Helen had regarded even the unknown Wallace:
"surely you would not bring that tender child into a scene like this!
Rather send a messenger to convey her secretly to Thirlestan; at that
distance she will be safe, and under the powerful protection of her
grandfather."

The earl acquiesced in her opinion; and saying he would consult with
Wallace about the securest mode of travel for his daughter, again
turned to Lord Andrew, to learn further of their late proceedings.  But
the countess, still uneasy, once more interrupted him.

"Alas! my lord, what would you do?  His generous zeal will offer to go
in person for your daughter.  We know not what dangers he might then
incur; and surely the champion of Scotland is not to be thrown into
peril for any domestic concern!  If you really feel the weight of the
evils into which you have plunged Sir William Wallace, do not increase
it, by even hinting to him the present subject of your anxiety."

"My aunt is an oracle!" resumed Murray.  "Allow me to be the happy
knight that is to bear the surrender of Dumbarton to my sweet cousin.
Prevail on Wallace to remain in this garrison till I return; and then
full tilt for the walls of old Sterling, and the downfall of Hughie
Cressingham!"

Both the countess and the earl were pleased with this arrangement.  The
latter, by the persuasions of his nephew, retired into an inner chamber
to repose; and the former desired Lord Andrew to inform Wallace that
she should expect to be honored with his presence at noon, to partake
of such fare as the garrison afforded.

On Murray's coming from the citadel, he learned that Wallace was gone
toward the great tower.  He followed him thither; and on issuing from
the postern which led to that part of the rock, saw the chief standing,
with his helmet off, in the midst of the slain.

"This is a sorry sight!" said he to Murray, as he approached; "but it
shall not long lie thus exposed.  I have just ordered that these sad
wrecks of human strife may be lowered into the Clyde; its rushing
stream will soon carry them to a quiet grave beneath yon peaceful sea."
His own dead, amounting to no more than fifteen, were to be buried at
the foot of the rock, a prisoner in the castle having described steps
in the cliff by which the solemnity could easily be performed.

"But why, my dear commander," cried Lord Andrew, "why do you take any
thought about our enemies?  Leave them where they are, and the eagles
of our mountains will soon find them graves."

"For shame, Murray!" was the reply of Wallace; "they are dead, and our
enemies no more.  They are men like ourselves, and shall we deny them a
place in that earth whence we all sprung?  We war not with human
nature; are we not rather the asserters of her rights?"

"I know," replied Lord Andrew, blushing, "that I am often the asserter
of my own folly; and I do not know how you will forgive my
inconsiderate impertinence."

"Because it was inconsiderate," replied Wallace.  "Inhumanity is too
stern a guest to live in such a breast as yours."

"If I ever give her quarters," replied Murray, "I should most wofully
disgrace the companion she must meet there.  Next to the honor of fair
Scotland, my cousin Helen is the goddess of my idolatry; and she would
forswear my love and kindred, could she believe me capable of feeling
otherwise than in unison with Sir William Wallace."

Wallace looked toward him with a benign pleasure in his countenance.
"Your fair cousin does me honor."

"Ah! my noble friend," cried Murray, lowering his gay tone to one of
softer expression; "if you knew all the goodness, all the nobleness
that dwells in her gentle heart, you would indeed esteem her--you would
love her as I do."

The blood fled from the cheek of Wallace.  "Not as you do, Murray; I
can no more love a woman as you love her.  Such scenes as these," cried
he, turning to the mangled bodies which the men were now carrying away
to the precipice of the Clyde, "have divorced woman's love from my
heart.  I am all my country's, or I am nothing."

"Nothing!" reiterated Murray, laying his hand upon that of Wallace, as
it rested upon the hilt of the sword on which he leaned.  "Is the
friend of mankind, the champion of Scotland, the beloved of a thousand
valuable hearts, nothing?  Nay, art thou not the agent of Heaven, to be
the scourge of a tyrant?  Art thou not the deliverer of thy country?"

Wallace turned his bright eye upon Murray with an expression of mingled
feelings.  "May I be all this, my friend, and Wallace must yet be
happy!  But speak not to me of love and woman; tell me not of those
endearing qualities I have prized too tenderly, and which are now
buried to me forever beneath the ashes of Ellerslie."

"Not under the ashes of Ellerslie," cried Murray, "sleep the remains of
your lovely wife."  Wallace's penetrating eye turned quick upon him.
Murray continued: "My cousin's pitying soul stretched itself toward
them; by her directions they were brought from your oratory in the
rock, and deposited, with all holy rites, in the cemetery at Bothwell."

The glow that now animated the before chilled heart of Wallace,
overspread his face.  His eyes spoke volumes of gratitude, his lips
moved, but his feelings were too big for utterance, and, fervently
pressing the hand of Murray, to conceal emotions ready to shake his
manhood, he turned away, and walked toward the cliff.

When all the slain were lowered to their last beds, a young priest, who
came in the company of Scrymgeour, gave the funeral benediction both to
the departed in the waves, and those whom the shore had received.  The
rites over, Murray again drew near to Wallace and delivered his aunt's
message.  "I shall obey her commands," returned he; "but first we must
visit our wounded prisoners in the tower."

Above three hundred of them had been discovered amongst the dead.

Murray gladly obeyed the impulse of his leader's arm; and, followed by
the chieftains returned from the late solemn duty, they entered the
tower.  Ireland welcomed Wallace with the intelligence that he hoped he
had succored friends instead of foes, for that most of the prisoners
were poor Welsh peasants, whom Edward had torn from their mountains to
serve in his legions; and a few Irish, who in the heat of blood, and
eagerness for adventure, had enlisted in his ranks.  "I have shown to
them," continued Ireland, "what fools they are to injure themselves in
us.  I told the Welsh they were clinching their own chains by assisting
to extend the dominion of their conqueror; and I have convinced the
Irish they were forging fetters for themselves by lending their help to
enslave their brother nation, the free-born Scots.  They only require
your presence, my lord, to forswear their former leaders, and to enlist
under Scottish banners."

"Thou art an able orator, my good Stephen," returned Wallace; "and
whatever promises thou hast made to honest men in the name of Scotland,
we are ready to ratify them.  Is it not so?" added he, turning to
Kirkpatrick and Scrymgeour.

"All as you will," replied they in one voice.  "Yes," added
Kirkpatrick; "you were the first to rise for Scotland, and who but you
has a right to command for her?"

Ireland threw open the door which led into the hall, and there, on the
ground, on pallets of straw, lay most of the wounded Southrons.  Some
of their dimmed eyes had discerned their preserver, when he discovered
them expiring on the rock; and on sight of him now, they uttered such a
piercing cry of gratitude, that, surprised, he stood for a moment.  In
that moment, five or six of the poor wounded wretches crawled to his
feet.  "Our friend! our preserver!" burst from their lips, as they
kissed the edge of his plaid.

"Not to me, not to me!" exclaimed Wallace.  "I am a soldier like
yourselves.  I have only acted a soldier's part; but I am a soldier of
freedom, you of a tyrant, who seeks to enslave the world.  This makes
the difference between us; this lays you at my feet, when I would more
willingly receive you into my arms as brothers in one generous cause."

"We are yours," was the answering exclamation of those who knelt, and
of those who raised their feebler voices from their beds of straw.  A
few only remained silent.  With many kind expressions of acceptance,
Wallace disengaged himself from those who clung around him, and then
moved toward the sick, who seemed too ill to speak.  While repeating
the same consolatory language to them, he particularly observed an old
man who was lying between two young ones, and still kept a profound
silence.  His rough features were marked with many a scar, but there
was a meek resignation in her face that powerfully struck Wallace.
When the chief drew near, the veteran raised himself on his arm, and
bowed his head with a respectful air.  Wallace stopped.  "You are an
Englishman?"

"I am, sir, and have no services to offer you.  These two young men on
each side of me are my sons.  There brother I lost last night in the
conflict.  To-day, by your mercy, not only my life is preserved, but my
two remaining children also.  Yet I am an Englishman, and I cannot be
grateful at the expense of my allegiance."

"Nor would I require it of you," returned Wallace; "these brave Welsh
and Irish were brought hither by the invader who subjugates their
countries; they owe him no duty.  But you are a free subject of
England; he that is a tyrant over others can only be a king to you; he
must be the guardian of your laws, the defender of your liberties, or
his scepter falls.  Having sworn to follow a sovereign so plighted, I
am not severe enough to condemn you, because, misled by that phantom
which he calls glory, you have suffered him to betray you into unjust
conquests."

"Once I have been so misled," returned the old man; "but I never will
again.  Fifty years I have fought under the British standard, in
Normandy and in Palestine; and now in my old age, with four sons, I
followed the armies of my sovereign into Scotland.  My eldest I lost on
the plains of Dunbar.  My second fell last night; and my two youngest
are now by my side.  You have saved them and me.  What can I do?  Not,
as your noble self says, forswear my country; but this I swear, and in
the oath do you, my sons, join (as he spoke they laid their crossed
hands upon his, in token of assent), never to lift an arm against Sir
William Wallace or the cause of injured Scotland!"

"To this we also subjoin!" cried several other men, who comprised the
whole of the English prisoners.

"Noble people!" cried Wallace, "why have you not a king worthy of you?"

"And yet," observed Kirkpatrick, in a surly tone, "Heselrigge was one
of these people!"

Wallace turned upon him with a look of so tremendous a meaning, that,
awed by an expression too mighty for him to comprehend, he fell back a
few paces, muttering curses, but on whom could not be heard.

"That man would arouse the tiger in our lion-hearted chief!" whispered
Scrymgeour to Murray.

"Ay," returned Lord Andrew; "but the royal spirit keeps the beast in
awe--see how coweringly that bold spirit now bows before it!"

Wallace marked the impression his glance had made, but where he had
struck, being unqilling to pierce also, he dispelled the thunder from
his countenance, and once more looking on Sir Roger with a frank
serenity.  "Come," said he, "my good knight; you must not be more
tenacious for William Wallace than he is for himself!  While he
possesses such a zealous friend as Kirkpatrick of Torthorald, he need
not now fear the arms of a thousand Heselrigges."

"No, nor of Edwards either," cried Kirkpatrick, once more looking
boldly up, and shaking his broad claymore: "My thistle has a point to
sting all to death who would pass between this arm and my leader's
breast."

"May heaven long preserve the valiant Wallace!" was the prayer of every
feeble voice, as he left the hall to visit his own wounded, in an upper
chamber.  The interview was short and satisfactory.  "Ah! sir," cried
one of them, "I cannot tell how it is, but when I see you, I feel as if
I beheld the very soul of my country, or its guardian angel, standing
before me--a something I cannot describe, but it fills me with courage
and comfort!"

"You see an honest Scot standing before you, my good Duncan," replied
Wallace; "and that is no mean personage; for it is one who knows no use
of his life but as it fulfills his duty to his country!"

"Oh that the sound of that voice could penetrate to every ear in
Scotland!" rejoined the soldier; "it would be more than the call of the
trumpet to bring them to the field!"

"And from the summit of this rock many have already heard it; and more
shall be so aroused!" cried Murray, returning from the door, to which
one of his men had beckoned him; "here is a man come to announce that
Malcolm, Earl of Lennox, passing by the foot of this rock, saw the
Scottish standard flying from its citadel; and, as overjoyed as amazed
at the sight, he sends to request the confidence of being admitted."

"Let me bring him hither!" interrupted Kirkpatrick; "he is brave as the
day, and will be a noble auxiliary."

"Every true Scot must be welcome to these walls," returned Wallace.

Kirkpatrick hastened from the tower to the northern side of the rock,
at the foot of which stood the earl and his train.  With all the pride
of a freeman and a victor, Sir Roger descended the height.  Lennox
advanced to meet him.  "What is it I see?  Sir Roger Kirkpatrick master
of this citadel, and our king's colors flying from its towers?  Where
is the Earl de Valence?  Where the English garrison?"

"The English garrison," replied Kirkpatrick, "are now twelve hundred
men beneath the waters of the Clyde.  De Valence is fled; and this
fortress, manned with a few hardy Scots, shall sink into yon waves ere
it again bear the English dragon on its walls."

"And you, noble knight," cried Lennox, "have achieved all this?  You
are the dawn to a blessed day for Scotland!"

"No," replied Kirkpatrick; "I am but a follower of the man who has
struck the blow.  Sir William Wallace of Ellerslie is our chief; and
with the power of his virtues he subdues not only friends, but enemies,
to his command."

He then exultingly narrated the happy events of the last four and
twenty hours.  The earl listened with wonder and joy.  "What!" cried
he, "so noble a plan for Scotland, and I ignorant of it?-I, that have
not waked day or night, for many a month, without thinking or dreaming
of some enterprise to free my country--and behold it is achieved in a
moment!  I see the stroke, as a bolt from Heaven; and I pray Heaven it
may light the sacrifice throughout the nation!  Lead me, worthy knight,
lead me to your chief, for he shall be mine too: he shall command
Malcolm Lennox and all his clan."

Kirkpatrick gladly turned to obey him; and they mounted the ascent
together.  Within the barbican gate stood Wallace, with Scrymgeour and
Murray.  The earl knew Scrymgeour well, having often seen him in the
field as hereditary standard-bearer of the kingdom; of the persons of
the others he was ignorant.

"There is Wallace!" exclaimed Kirkpatrick.

"Not one of those very young men?" interrogated the earl.

"Even so," was the answer of the knight; "but his is the youth of the
brave son of Ammon; gray beards are glad to bow before his golden
locks, for beneath them is wisdom."

As he spoke they entered the barbican; and Wallace (whom the
penetrating eye of Lennox had already singled out for the chief)
advanced to meet his guest.

"Earl," said he, "you are welcome to Dumbarton Castle."

"Bravest of my countrymen!" returned Lennox, clasping him in his arms,
"receive a soldier's embrace, receive the gratitude of a loyal heart!
accept my service, my arms, my men: my all I devote to Scotland and the
great cause."

Wallace for a moment did not answer; but warmly straining the earl to
his breast, said, as he released him, "Such support will give sinews to
our power.  A few months, and with the blessing of that arm which has
already mowed down the ranks which opposed us, we shall see Scotland at
liberty."

"And may Heaven, brave Wallace!" exclaimed Lennox, "grant us thine arm
to wield its scythe!  But how have you accomplished this?  How have
your few overthrown this English host?"

"He strikes home, when right points his sword," replied Wallace; "the
injuries of Scotland were my guide, and justice my companion.  We
feared nothing, for God was with us; we feared nothing, and in his
might we conquered."

"And shall yet conquer!" cried Lennox, kindling with the enthusiasm
that blazed from the eyes of Wallace.  "I feel the strength of our
cause; and from this hour, I devote myself to assert it, or to die."

"Not to die! my noble lord," said Murray; "we have yet many an eve to
dance over the buried fetters of Scotland.  And as a beginning of our
jollities, I must remind our leader that my aunt's board awaits him."

Lord Lennox understood from this address it was the brave Murray who
spoke to him; for he had heard sufficient from Sir Roger Kirkpatrick to
explain how the Countess of Mar and her patriot husband came within
those walls.

The countess, having arrayed herself with all her powers to receive her
deliverer, awaited the hour of his arrival with an emotion at her
heart, which made it bound against her bosom, when she saw the object
of her splendid toil advancing along the courtyard.  All others were
lost to her impatient eyes; and hastily rising from the window as the
chiefs entered the porch, she crossed the room to meet them at the door.

The Earl of Lennox stood amazed at sight of so much beauty and splendor
in such a scene.  Lady mar had hardly attained her thirty-fifth year;
but from the graces of her person, and the address with which she set
forth all her charms, the enchanted gazer found it impossible to
suppose her more than three or four and twenty.  Thus happily formed by
nature, and habited in a suit of velvet, overlaid with Cyprus-work of
gold, blazing with jewels, about her head, and her feet clad in
silver-fretted sandals, Lennox thought she looked more like some
triumphant queen, than a wife who had so lately shared captivity with
an outlawed husband.**  Murray started at such unexpected magnificence
in his aunt.  But Wallace scarcely observed it was anything unusual,
and bowing to her, presented the Earl of Lennox.  She smiled; and
saying a few words of welcome to the earl, gave her hand to Wallace to
lead her back into the chamber.

**This is the style for state dress worn by noble ladies in the
thirteenth century.

Lord Mar had risen from his seat; and leaning on his sword (for his
warlike arm refused any other staff), stood up on their entrance.  At
sight of Lord Lennox, he uttered an exclamation of glad surprise.
Lennox embraced him.  "I, too, am come to enlist under the banners of
this young Leonidas."

"God armeth the patriot," was all the reply that Mar made, while the
big tears rolled over his cheek, and he shook him by the hand.

"I have four hundred stout Lennox men," continued the earl, "who by
to-morrow's eve shall be ready to follow our leader to the very
borders."

"Not so soon," interrupted the countess; "our deliverer needs repose."

"I thank your benevolence, Lady Mar," returned Wallace; "but the issue
of last night, and the sight of Lord Lennox this day, with the promise
of so great a support, are such aliments that--we must go forward."

"Ay, to be sure," joined Kirkpatrick; "Dumbarton was not taken during
our sleep; and if we stay loitering here, the devil that holds Stirling
Castle may follow the scent of De Valence; and so I lose my prey!"

"What?" cried the countess, "and is my lord to be left again to his
enemies?  Sir William Wallace, I should have thought-"

"Everything, madam," rejoined he; "that is demonstrative of my devotion
to your venerable lord!  But with a brave garrison, I hope you will
consider him safe here, until a wider range of security be won, to
enable you to retire to Braemar."

As the apostrophe to Wallace, in the latter part of the countess'
speech, had been addressed to himself in rather a low voice, his reply
was made in a similar tone, so that Lord Mar did not hear any part of
the answer, except the concluding words.  But then he exclaimed, "Nay,
my ever-fearful Joanna, art thou making objections to keeping garrison
here?"

"I confess," replied Wallace, "that an armed citadel is not the most
pleasant abode for a lady; but at present, excepting perhaps the
church, it is the safest; and I would not advise your lady to remove
hence, until the plain be made as free as this mountain."

The sewer now announced the board in the hall; and the countess leading
the way, reluctantly gave her hand to the Earl of Lennox.  Lord Mar
leaned on the arm of Wallace, who was followed by Edwin and the other
chieftains.



Chapter XXV.

The Citadel.


During the repast, the countess often fixed her unrestrained gaze on
the manly yet youthful countenance of the heroic Wallace.  His plumed
helmet was now laid aside; and the heavy corselet unbuckled from his
breast, disclosing the symmetry of his fine form, left its graceful
movements to be displayed with advantage by the flexible folds of his
simple tartan vest.  Was it the formidable Wallace she looked on,
bathed in the blood of Heselrigge, and breathing vengeance against the
adherents of the tyrant Edward!  It was, then, the enemy of her kinsmen
of the house of Cummin!  It was the man for whom her husband had
embraced so many dangers!  It was the man whom she had denounced to one
of those kinsmen, and whom she had betrayed to the hazard of an
ignominious death!  But where now was the fierce rebel--the ruiner of
her peace--the outlaw whom she had wished in his grave?

The last idea was distraction.  She could have fallen at his feet, and
bathing them with her tears, have implored his pity and forgiveness.
Even as the wish sprung in her mind, she asked herself-"Did he know
all, could he pardon such a weight of injuries?"  She cast her eyes
with a wild expression upon his face.  The mildness of heaven was
there; and the peace, too, she might have thought, had not his eye
carried a chastened sadness in its look, which told that something dire
and sorrowful was buried deep within.  It was a look that dissolved the
soul which gazed on it.  The countess felt her heart throb violently.
At that moment Wallace addressed a few words to her but she knew not
what they were; her soul was in tumults, and a mist passed over her
sight, which, for a moment, seemed to wrap all her senses in a trance.

The unconscious object of these emotions bowed to her inarticulate
reply, supposing that the mingling voices of others had made him hear
hers indistinctly.

Lady Mar found her situation so strange, and her agitation so
inexplicable, that feeling it impossible to remain longer without
giving way to a burst of tears, she rose from her seat, and forcing a
smile with her courtesy to the company, left the room.

On gaining the upper apartment, she threw herself upon the nearest
couch, and striking her breast, exclaimed: "What is this within me?
How does my soul seem to pour itself out to this man!  Oh! how does it
extend itself, as if it would absorb his, even at my eyes!  Only twelve
hours--hardly twelve hours, have I seen this William Wallace, and yet my
very being is now lost in his!"

While thus speaking, she covered her face with her handkerchief, but no
tears now started to be wiped away.  The fire in her veins dried the
source, and with burning blushes she rose from her seat.  "Fatal, fatal
hour!  Why didst thou come here, too infatuating Wallace, to rob me of
my peace?  Oh! why did I ever look on that face?-or rather, blessed
saints!" cried she, clasping her hands in wild passion, "why did I ever
shackle this hand?-why did I ever render such a sacrifice necessary?
Wallace is now free; had I been free?  But wretch, wretch, wretch; I
could tear out this betrayed heart!  I could trample on that of the
infatuated husband that made me such a slave!"  She gasped for breath,
and again seating herself, reclined her beating temples against the
couch.

She was now silent; but thoughts not less intense, not less fraught
with self-reproach and anguish, occupied her mind.  Should this god of
her idolatry ever discover that it was her information which had sent
Earl de Valence's men to surround him in the mountains; should he ever
learn that at Bothwell she had betrayed the cause on which he had set
his life, she felt that moment would be her last.  For, now, to sate
her eyes with gazing on him, to hear the sound of his voice, to receive
his smiles, seemed to her a joy she could only surrender with her
existence.  What then was the prospect of so soon losing him, even to
crown himself with honor, but to her a living death?

TO defer his departure was all her study--all her hope; and fearful that
his restless valor might urge him to accompany Murray in his intended
convoy of Helen to the Tweed, she determined to persuade her nephew to
set off without the knowledge of his general.  She did not allow that
it was the youthful beauty, and more lovely mind of her
daughter-in-law, which she feared; even to herself she cloaked her
alarm under the plausible excuse of care for the chieftain's safety.
Composed by this mental arrangement, her disturbed features became
smooth, and with even a sedate air she received her lord and his brave
friends, when they soon after entered the chamber.

But the object of her wishes did not appear.  Wallace had taken Lord
Lennox to view the dispositions of the fortress.  Ill satisfied as she
was with his prolonged absence, she did not fail to turn it to
advantage; and while her lord and his friends were examining a draft of
Scotland (which Wallace had sketched after she left the
banqueting-room), she took Lord Andrew aside, to converse with him on
the subject now nearest to her heart.

"It certainly belongs to me alone, her kinsman and friend, to protect
Helen to the Tweed, if there she must go," returned Murray; "but, my
good lady, I cannot comprehend why I am to lead my fair cousin such a
pilgrimage.  She is not afraid of heroes! you are safe in Dumbarton,
and why not bring her here also?"

"Not for worlds!" exclaimed the countess, thrown off her guard.  Murray
looked at her with surprise.  It recalled her to self-possession, and
she resumed: "So lovely a creature in this castle would be a dangerous
magnet.  You must have known that it was the hope of obtaining her
which attracted the Lord Soulis and Earl de Valence to Bothwell.  The
whole castle rung with the quarrel of these two lords upon her account,
when you so fortunately effected her escape.  Should it be known that
she is here, the same fierce desire of obtaining her would give double
incitement to De Valence to recover the place; and the consequences,
who can answer for?"

By this argument Murray was persuaded to relinquish the idea of
conveying Helen to Dumbarton; but remembering what Wallace had said
respecting the safety of a religious sanctuary, he advised that she
should be left at St. Fillan's till the cause of Scotland might be more
firmly established.  "Send a messenger to inform her of the rescue of
Dumbarton, and of your and my uncle's health," continued he, "and that
will be sufficient to make her happy."

That she was not to be thrown in Wallace's way satisfied Lady Mar; and
indifferent whether Helen's seclusion were under the Elidon tree or the
Holyrood, she approved Murray's decision.  Relieved from apprehension,
her face became again dressed in smiles, and, with a bounding step, she
rose to welcome the re-entrance of Wallace with the Earl of Lennox.

Absorbed in one thought, every charm she possessed was directed to the
same point.  She played finely on the lute and sung with all the grace
of her country.  What gentle heart was not to be affected by music?
She determined it should be once of the spells by which she meant to
attract Wallace.  She took up one of the lutes (which with other
musical instruments decorated the apartments of the luxurious De
Valence), and touching it with exquisite delicacy, breathed the most
pathetic air her memory could dictate.

   "If on the heath she moved, her breast was whiter than the down of Cana;
    If on the sea-beat shore, than the foam of the rolling ocean.
    Her eyes were two stars of light.  Her face was Heaven's bow in showers;
    Her dark hair flowed around it, like the streaming clouds,
    Thou wert the dweller of souls, white-handed Strinadona!"

Wallace rose from his chair, which had been placed near her.  She had
deigned that these tender words of the bard of Morven should suggest to
her hearer the observation of her own resembling beauties.  But he saw
in them only the lovely dweller of his own soul; and walking toward a
window, stood there with his eyes fixed on the descending sun.  "So
hath set all my joys.  So is life to me, a world without a sun-cold,
cold, and charmless!"

The countess vainly believed that some sensibility advantageous to her
new passion had caused the agitation with which she saw him depart from
her side; and, intoxicated with the idea, she ran through many a
melodious descant, till toughing on the first strains of Thusa ha measg
na reultan mor, she saw Wallace start from his contemplative position,
and with a pale countenance leave the room.  There was something in
this abruptness which excited the alarm of the Earl of Lennox, who had
also been listening to the songs; he rose instantly, and overtaking the
chief at the threshold, inquired what was the matter?  "Nothing,"
answered Wallace, forcing a smile, in which the agony of his mind was
too truly imprinted; "but music displeased me."  With this reply he
disappeared.  The excuse seemed strange but it was true; for she whose
notes were to him sweeter than the thrush--whose angel strains used to
greet his morning and evening hours--was silent in the grave!  He should
no more see her white hand upon the lute; he should no more behold that
bosom, brighter than foam upon the wave, to him?  A soulless sound, or
a direful knell, to recall the remembrance of all he had lost.

Such were his thoughts when the words of Thusa ha measg rung from Lady
Mar's voice.  Those were the strains which Halbert used to breathe from
his heart to call Marion to her nightly slumbers--those were the strains
with which that faithful servant had announced that she slept to wake
no more!

What wonder, then, that Wallace fled from the apartment, and buried
himself, and his aroused grief, amid the distant solitudes of the
beacon-hill!

While looking over the shoulder of his uncle, on the station which
Stirling held amid the Ochil hills, Edwin had at intervals cast a
side-long glance upon the changing complexion of his commander; and no
sooner did he see him hurry from the room, than fearful of some
disaster having befallen the garrison (which Wallace did not choose
immediately to mention), he also stole out of the apartment.

After seeking the object of his anxiety for a long time, without avail,
he was returning on his steps, when, attracted by the splendor of the
moon silvering the beacon-hill, he ascended, to once at least tread
that acclivity in light which he had so miraculously passed in
darkness.  Scarce a zephyr fanned the sleeping air.  He moved on with a
flying step, till a deep sigh arrested him.  He stopped and listened:
it was repeated again and again.  He gently drew near, and saw a human
figure reclining on the ground.  The head of the apparent mourner was
unbonneted, and the brightness of the moon shone on his polished
forehead.  Edwin thought the sound of those sighs was the same he had
often heard from the object of his search.  He walked forward.  Again
the figure sighed; but with a depth so full of piercing woe, that Edwin
hesitated.

A cloud had passed over the moon; but, sailing off again, displayed to
the anxious boy that he had indeed drawn very near his friend.  "Who
goes there?" exclaimed Wallace, starting on his feet.

"Your Edwin," returned the youth.  "I feared something wrong had
happened, when I saw you look so sad, and leave the room abruptly."

Wallace pressed his hand in silence.  "Then some evil has befallen
you?" inquired Edwin, in an agitated voice; "you do not speak!"

Wallace seated himself on a stone, and leaned his head upon the hilt of
his sword.  "No new evil has befallen me, Edwin; but there is such a
thing as remembrance, that stabs deeper than the dagger's point."

"What remembrance can wound you, my general?  The Abbott of St. Colomba
has often told me that memory is a balm to every ill with the good; and
have not you been good to all?  The benefactor, the preserver of
thousands!  Surely, if man can be happy, it must be Sir William
Wallace!"

"And so I am, my Edwin, when I contemplate the end.  But, in the
interval, with all thy sweet philosophy, is it not written here 'that
man was made to mourn?'"  He put his hand on his heart; and then, after
a short pause, resumed: "Doubly I mourn, doubly am I bereaved, for, had
it not been for an enemy, more fell than he who beguiled Adam of
Paradise, I might have been a father; I might have lived to have
gloried in a son like thee; I might have seen my wedded angel clasp
such a blessing to her bosom; but now, both are cold in clay!  These
are the recollections which sometimes draw tears down thy leader's
cheeks.  And do not believe, brother of my soul," said he, pressing the
now weeping Edwin to his breast, "that they disgrace his manhood.  The
Son of God wept over the tomb of his friend; and shall I deny a few
tears, dropped in stealth, over the grave of my wife and child?"

Edwin sobbed aloud.  "No son could love you dearer than I do.  Ah, let
my duty, my affection, teach you to forget you have lost a child.  I
will replace all to you but your Marion; and her, the pitying Son of
Mary will restore to you in the kingdom of heaven."

Wallace looked steadfastly at the young preacher.  "'Out of the mouths
of babes we shall hear wisdom!'  Thine, dear Edwin, I will lay to
heart.  Thou shalt comfort me when my hermit-soul shuts out all the
world besides."

"Then I am indeed your brother!" cried the happy youth; "admit me but
to your heart, and no fraternal, no filial tie, shall be more strongly
linked than mine."

"What tender affections I can spare from those resplendent regions,"
answered Wallace, pointing to the skies, "are thine.  The fervors of my
once ardent soul are Scotland's, or I die.  But thou art too young, my
brother," added he, interrupting himself, "to understand all his
feelings, all the seeming contradictions, of my contending heart."

"Not so," answered Edwin, with a modest blush; "what was Lady Marion's,
you now devote to Scotland.  The blaze of those affections which were
hers, would consume your being, did you not pour it forth on your
country.  Were you not a patriot, grief would prey upon your life."

"You have read me, Edwin," replied Wallace; "and that you may never
love to idolatry, learn this also.  Though Scotland lay in ruins, I was
happy; I felt no captivity while in Marion's arms; even oppression was
forgotten when she made the sufferer's tears cease to flow.  She
absorbed my thoughts, my wishes, my life!-and she was wrested from me,
that I might feel myself a slave, that the iron might enter into my
soul, with which I was to pull down tyranny, and free my country.  Mark
the sacrifice, young man," cried Wallace, starting on his feet; "it now
even smokes, and the flames are here inextinguishable."  He struck his
hand upon his breast.  "Never love as I have loved, and you will be a
patriot, without needing to taste my bitter cup!"

Edwin trembled; his tears were checked.  "I can love no one better than
I do you, my general! and is there any crime in that?"

Wallace in a moment recovered from the transient wildness which had
possessed him.  "None, my Edwin," replied he; "the affections are never
criminal but when by their excess they blind us to other duties.  The
offense of mine is judged, and I bow to the penalty.  When that is
paid, then may my ashes sleep in rescued Scotland!  Then may the God of
victory and of mercy grant that the seraph spirits of my wife and
infant may meet my pardoned soul in paradise."  Edwin wept afresh.
"Cease, dear boy!" said he; "these presages are very comforting; they
whisper that the path of glory leads thy brother to his home."  As he
spoke he took the arm of the silent Edwin (whose sensibility locked up
the powers of speech), and putting it through his, they descended the
hill together.

On the open ground before the great tower they were met by Murray.  "I
come to seek you," cried he.  "We have had woe on woe in the citadel
since you left it."

"Nothing very calamitous," returned Wallace, "if we may guess by the
merry aspect of the messenger."

"Only a little whirlwind of my aunt's, in which we have had airs and
showers enough to wet us through and blow us dry again."

The conduct of the lady had been even more extravagant than her nephew
chose to describe.  After the knight's departure, when the chiefs
entered into conversation respecting his future plans, and Lennox
mentioned that when his men should arrive (for whom he had that evening
dispatched Ker), it was Wallace's intention to march immediately for
Stirling, whither, it could hardly be doubted, Aymer de Valence had
fled, "I shall be left here," continued the earl, "to assist you, Lord
Mar, in the severer duties attendant on being governor of this place."

No sooner did these words reach the ears of the countess than, struck
with despair, she hastened toward her husband, and earnestly exclaimed,
"You will not suffer this!"

"No," returned the earl, mistaking her meaning; "not being able to
perform the duties attendant on the responsibilities station with which
Wallace would honor me, I shall relinquish it altogether to Lord
Lennox, and be amply satisfied in finding myself under his protection."

"Ah, where is protection without Sir William Wallace?" cried she.  "If
he go, our enemies will return.  Who then will repel them from these
walls?  Who will defend your wife and only son from falling again into
the hands of our doubly incensed foes?"

Mar observed Lord Lennox color at this imputation on his bravery, and
shocked at the affront which his unreflecting wife seemed to give so
gallant a chief, he hastily replied, "Though this wounded arm cannot
boast, yet the Earl of Lennox is an able representative of our
commander."

"I will die, madam," interrupted Lennox, "before anything hostile
approaches you or your children."

She attended slightly to this pledge, and again addressed her lord with
fresh arguments for the detention of Wallace.  Sir Roger Kirkpatrick,
impatient under all this foolery, as he justly deemed it, abruptly
said, "Be assured, fair lady, Israel's Samson was not brought into the
world his duty better than allow himself to be tied to any nursery
girdle in Christendom."

The brave old earl was offended with this roughness, but ere he could
so express himself, the object darted her own severe retort on
Kirkpatrick, and then, turning to her husband, with an hysterical sob,
exclaimed, "It is well seen what will be my fate when Wallace is gone!
Would he have stood by and beheld me thus insulted?"

Distressed with shame at her conduct, and anxious to remove her fears,
Lord Mar softly whispered her, and threw his arm about her waist.  She
thrust him from her.  "You care not what may become of me, and my heart
disdains your blandishments."

Lennox rose in silence, and walked to the other end of the chamber.
Sir Roger Kirkpatrick followed him, muttering, pretty audibly, his
thanks to St. Andrew that he had never been yoked with a wife.
Scrymgeour and Murray tried to allay the storm in her bosom by
circumstantially detailing how the fortress must be equally safe under
the care of Lennox as of Wallace.  But they discoursed in vain; she was
obstinate, and at last left the room in a passion of tears.

On the return of Wallace, Lord Lennox advanced to meet him.  "What
shall we do?" said he.  "Without you have the witchcraft of Hercules,
and can be in two places at once, I fear we must either leave the rest
of Scotland to fight for itself, or never restore peace to this castle!"

Wallace smiled, but before he could answer, Lady Mar, having heard his
voice ascending the stairs, suddenly entered the room.  She held her
infant in her arms.  Her air was composed, but her eyes yet shone in
tears.  At this sight Lord Lennox, sufficiently disgusted with the
lady, taking Murray by the arm, withdrew with him from the apartment.

She approached Wallace: "You are come, my deliverer, to speak comfort
to the mother of this poor babe.  My cruel lord here, and the Earl of
Lennox, say you mean to abandon us in this castle?"

"It cannot be abandoned," returned the chief, "while they are in it.
But if so warlike a scene alarms you, would not a religious sanctuary-"

"Not for worlds!" cried she, interrupting him; "what altar is held
sacred by the enemies of our country!  O! wonder not, then," added she,
putting her face to that of her child, "that I should wish this
innocent babe never to be from under the wing of such a protector."

"But that is impossible, Joanna," rejoined the earl; "Sir William
Wallace has duties to perform superior to that of keeping watch over
any private family.  His presence is wanted in the field, and we should
be traitors to the cause did we detain him."

"Unfeeling Mar," cried she, bursting into tears, "thus to echo the
words of the barbarian Kirkpatrick; thus to condemn us to die!  You
will see another tragedy: your own wife and child seized by the
returning Southrons, and laid bleeding at your feet!"

Wallace walked from her much agitated.

"Rather inhuman, Joanna," whispered Lord Mar to her in an angry voice,
"to make such a reference to the presence of our protector!  I cannot
stay to listen to a pertinacity as insulting to the rest of our brave
leaders as it is oppressive to Sir William Wallace.  Edwin, you will
come for me when your aunt consents to be guided by right reason."
While yet speaking he entered the passage that led to his own apartment.

Lady Mar sat a few minutes silent.  She was not to be warned from her
determination by the displeasure of a husband whom she now regarded
with the impatience of a bondwoman toward her taskmaster; and only
solicitous to compass the detention of Sir William Wallace, she
resolved, if he would not remain at the castle, to persuade him to
conduct her himself to her husband's territories in the Isle of Bute.
She could contrive to make the journey occupy more than one day, and
for holding him longer she would trust to chance and her own
inventions.  With these resolutions she looked up.  Edwin was speaking
to Wallace.  "What does he tell you?" said she; "that my lord has left
me in displeasure?  Alas! he comprehends not a mother's anxiety for her
sole remaining child.  One of my sweet twins, my dear daughter, died on
my being brought a prisoner to this horrid fortress, and to lose this
also would be more than I could bear.  Look at this babe," cried she,
holding it up to him; "let it plead to you for its life!  Guard it,
noble Wallace, whatever may become of me!"

The appeal of a mother made instant way to Sir William's heart; even
her weaknesses, did they point to anxiety respecting her offspring,
were sacred with him.  "What would you have me do, madam?  If you fear
to remain here, tell me where you think you would be safer, and I will
be your conductor?"

She paused to repress the triumph with which this proposal filled her,
and then, with downcast eyes, replied: "In the seagirt Bute stands
Rothsay, a rude, but strong castle of my lord's.  It possesses nothing
to attract the notice of the enemy, and there I might remain in perfect
safety.  Lord Mar may keep his station here until a general victory
sends you, noble Wallace, to restore my child to its father."

Wallace bowed his assent to her proposal; and Edwin, remembering the
earl's injunction, inquired if he might inform him of what was decided.
When he left the room, Lady mar rose, and suddenly putting her son
into the arms of Wallace, rose, and said: "Let his sweet caresses thank
you."  Wallace trembled as he pressed its little mouth to his; and,
mistranslating this emotion, she dropped her face upon the infant's,
and in affecting to kiss it, rested her head upon the bosom of the
chief.  There was something in this action more than maternal; it
surprised and disconcerted Wallace.  "Madam," said he, drawing back,
and relinquishing the child.  "I do not require any thanks for serving
the wife and son of Lord Mar."

At that moment the earl entered.  Lady mar flattered herself that the
repelling action of Wallace, and his cold answer, had arisen from the
expectation of this entrance; yet blushing with something like
disappointment, she hastily uttered a few agitated words, to inform her
husband that Bute was to be her future sanctuary.

Lord Mar approved it, and declared his determination to accompany her.
"In my state, I can be of little use here," said he; "my family will
require protection, even in that seclusion; and therefore, leaving Lord
Lennox sole governor of Dumbarton, I shall unquestionably attend them
to Rothsay myself."

This arrangement would break in upon the lonely conversations she had
meditated to have with Wallace and therefore the countess objected to
the proposal.  But none of her arguments being admitted by her lord,
and as Wallace did not support them by a word, she was obliged to make
a merit of necessity, and consent to her husband being their companion.



Chapter XXVI.

Renfrewshire.


Toward evening the next day, Ker not only returned with the Earl of
Lennox's men, but brought with them Sir Eustace Maxwell of Carlaveroch.
That brave knight happened to be in the neighborhood the very same
night in which De Valence fled before the arms of Wallace across the
Clyde; and he no sooner saw the Scottish colors on the walls of
Dumbarton, than, finding out who was their planter, his soul took fire;
and stung with a generous ambition of equaling in glory his equal in
years, he determined to assist, while he emulated the victor.

To this end, he traversed the adjoining country, striving to enlighten
the understandings of the stupidly satisfied and to excite the
discontented, to revolt.  With most he failed.  Some took upon them to
lecture him on "fishing in troubled waters;" and warned him, if he
would keep his head on his shoulders, to wear his yoke in peace.
Others thought the project too arduous for men of small means; they
wished well to the arms of Sir William Wallace; and, should he continue
successful, would watch the moment to aid him with all their little
power.  Those who had much property, feared to risk its loss by
embracing a doubtful struggle.  Some were too great cowards to fight
for the rights they would gladly regain by the exertions of others.
And others, again, who had families, shrunk from taking part in a cause
which, should it fail, would not only put their lives in danger, but
expose their offspring to the revenge of a resentful enemy.  This was
the best apology of any that had been offered; natural affection was
the pleader; and though blinded to its true interest, such weakness had
an amiable source, and so was pardoned.  But the other pleas were so
basely selfish, so undeserving of anything but scorn, that Sir Eustace
Maxwell could not forbear expressing it.  "When Sir William Wallace is
entering full sail, you will send your hirelings to tow him in! but if
a plank could save him now, you would not throw it to him!  I
understand you, sirs, and shall trouble your patriotism no more."

In short, none but about a hundred poor fellows whom outrages had
rendered desperate, and a few brave spirits who would put all to the
hazard for so good a cause, could be prevailed on to hold themselves in
readiness to obey Sir Eustace, when he should see the moment to conduct
them to Sir William Wallace.  He was trying his eloquence among the
clan at Lennox, when Ker arriving, stamped his persuasions with truth;
and above five hundred men arranged themselves under their lord's
standard.  Maxwell gladly explained himself to Wallace's lieutenant;
and summoning his little reserve, they marched with flying pennons
through the town of Dumbarton.  At sight of so much larger a power than
they expected would venture to appear in arms, and sanctioned by the
example of the Earl of Lennox (whose name held a great influence in
those parts), several, who before had held back, from doubting their
own judgment, now came forward; and nearly eight hundred well-appointed
men marched into the fortress.

So large a reinforcement was gratefully received by Wallace; and he
welcomed Maxwell with a cordiality which inspired that young knight
with an affection equal to his zeal.

A council being held respecting the disposal of the new troops, it was
decided that the Lennox men must remain with their earl in garrison;
while those brought by Maxwell, and under his command, should follow
Wallace in the prosecution of his conquests along with his own especial
people.

These preliminaries being arranged, the remainder of the day was
dedicated to more mature deliberations--to the unfolding of the plan of
warfare which Wallace had conceived.  As he first sketched the general
outline of his design, and then proceeded to the particulars of each
military movement, he displayed such comprehensiveness of mind; such
depths of penetration; clearness of apprehension; facility in
expedients; promptitude in perceiving, and fixing on the most favorable
points of attack; explaining their bearings upon the power of the
enemy; and where the possession of such a castle would compel the
neighboring ones to surrender; and where occupying the hills with bands
of resolute Scots, would be a more efficient bulwark than a thousand
towers--that Maxwell gazed on him with admiration, and Lennox with
wonder.

Mar had seen the power of his arms; Murray had already drunk the
experience of a veteran from his genius; hence they were not surprised
on hearing that which filled strangers with amazement.

Lennox gazed on his leader's youthful countenance, doubting whether he
really were listening to military plans, great as general ever formed;
or were visited, in vision, by some heroic shade, who offered to his
sleeping fancy designs far vaster than his waking faculties could have
conceived.  He had thought that the young Wallace might have won
Dumbarton by a bold stroke, and that when his invincible courage should
be steered by stroke, and that when his invincible courage should be
steered by graver heads, every success might be expected from his arms;
and saw that when turned to any cause of policy, "the Gordian knot of
it he did unloose, familiar as his garter," he marveled, and said
within himself, "Surely this man is born to be a sovereign!"

Maxwell, though equally astonished, was not so rapt.  "You have made
arms the study of your life?" inquired he.

"It was the study of my earliest days," returned Wallace.  "But when
Scotland lost her freedom, as the sword was not drawn in her defense, I
looked not where it lay.  I then studied the arts of peace; that is
over; and now the passion of my soul revives.  When the mind is bent on
one object only, all becomes clear that leads to it; zeal, in such
cases, is almost genius."

Soon after these observations, it was admitted that Wallace might
attend Lord mar and his family on the morrow to the Isle of Bute.

When the dawn broke, he arose from his heather bed in the great tower;
and having called forth twenty of the Bothwell men to escort their
lord, he told Ireland he should expect to have a cheering account of
the wounded on his return.

"But to assure the poor fellows," rejoined the honest soldier, "that
something of yourself still keeps watch over them.  I pray you leave me
the sturdy sword with which you won Dumbarton.  It shall be hung up in
their sight,** and a good soldier's wound will heal by looking on it."

**This tower, within the fortress of Dumbarton, is still called
Wallace's tower; and a sword is shown there as the one that belonged to
Wallace.

Wallace smiled.  "Were it our holy King David's we might expect such a
miracle.  But you are welcome to it; and here let it remain till I take
it hence.  Meanwhile, lend me yours, Stephen, for a truer never fought
for Scotland."

A glow of conscious valor flushed the cheek of the veteran.  "There, my
dear lord," said he, presenting it; "it will not dishonor your hand,
for it cut down many a proud Norwegian on the field of Largs."

Wallace took the sword, and turned to meet Murray with Edwin in the
portal.  When they reached the citadel, Lennox and all the officers in
the garrison were assembled to bid their chief a short adieu.  Wallace
spoke to each separately, and then approaching the countess, led her
down the rock to the horses which were to convey them tot he Frith of
Clyde.  Lord Mar, between Murray and Edwin, followed; and the servants
and guard completed the suit.

Being well mounted, they pleasantly pursued their way, avoiding all
inhabited places, and resting in the deepest recesses of the hills.
Lord Mar proposed traveling all night; but at the close of the evening
his countess complained of fatigue, declaring she could not advance
further than the eastern bank of the River Cart.  No shelter appeared
in sight, excepting a thick and extensive wood of hazels; but the air
being mild, and the lady declaring her inability of moving on, Lord Mar
at last became reconciled to his wife and son passing the night with no
other canopy than the trees.  Wallace ordered cloaks to be spread on
the ground for the countess and her women; and seeing them laid to
rest, planted his men to keep guard around the circle.

The moon had sunk in the west before the whole of his little camp were
asleep; but when all seemed composed, he wandered forth by the dim
light of the stars to view the surrounding country--a country he had so
often traversed in his boyish days.  A little onward, in green
Renfrewshire, lay the lands of his father; but that Ellerslie of his
ancestors, like his own Ellerslie of Clydesdale, his country's enemies
had leveled with the ground.  He turned in anguish of heart toward the
south, for there less racking remembrances hovered over the distant
hills.

Leaning on the shattered stump of an old tree, he fixed his eyes on the
far-stretching plain, which alone seemed to divide him from the
venerable Sir Ronald Crawford and his youthful haunts at Ayr.  Full of
thoughts of her who used to share those happy scenes, he heard a sigh
behind him.  He turned round, and beheld a female figure disappear
among the trees. He stood motionless; again it met his view; it seemed
to approach.  A strange emotion stirred within him.  When he last
passed these borders, he was bringing his bride from Ayr!  What then
was this ethereal visitant?  The silver light of the stars was not
brighter than its airy robes, which floated in the wind.  His heart
paused--it beat violently--still the figure advanced.  Lost in the
wilderness of his imagination, he exclaimed, "Marion!" and darted
forward, as if to rush into her embrace.  But it fled, and again
vanished.  He dropped upon the ground in speechless disappointment.

"'Tis false!" cried he, recovering from his first expectation; "'tis a
phantom of my own creating.  The pure spirit of Marion would never fly
from me; I loved her too well.  She would not thus redouble my grief.
But I shall go to thee, wife of my soul!" cried he; "and that is
comfort.  Balm, indeed, is the Christian's hope!"

Such were his words, such were his thoughts, till the coldness of the
hour and the exhaustion of nature putting a friendly seal upon his
senses, he sunk upon the bank, and fell into a profound sleep.

When he awoke the lark was caroling above his head; and to his surprise
he found a plaid was laid over him.  He threw it off, and beheld Edwin
seated at his feet.  "This has been your doing, my kind brother," said
he, "but how came you to discover me?"

"I missed you when the dawn broke, and at last found you here, sleeping
under the dew."

"And has none else been astir?" inquired Wallace, thinking of the
figure he had seen.

"None that I know of.  All were fast asleep when I left the party."

Wallace began to fancy that he had been laboring under the impressions
of some powerful dream, and saying no more, he returned to the wood.
Finding everybody ready, he took his station; and setting forth, all
proceeded cheerfully, though slowly, through the delightful valleys of
Barochan.  By sunset they arrived at the point of embarkation.  The
journey ought to have been performed in half the time; but the countess
petitioned for long rests, a compliance with which the younger part of
the cavalcade conceded with reluctance.



Chapter XXVII.

The Frith of Clyde.


At Gourock, Murray engage two small vessels; one for the earl and
countess, with Wallace as their escort; the other for himself and
Edwin, to follow with a few of the men.

It was a fine evening, and they embarked with everything in their
favor.  The boatmen calculated on reaching Bute in a few hours; but ere
they had been half an hour at sea, the wind, veering about, obliged
them to woo its breezes by a traversing motion, which, though it
lengthened their voyage, increased its pleasantness by carrying them
often within near views of the ever-varying shores.  Sailing under a
side-wind, they beheld the huge irregular rocks of Dunoon, overhanging
the ocean; while from their projecting brows hung every shrub which can
live in that saline atmosphere.

"There," whispered Lady mar, gently inclining toward Wallace, "might
the beautiful mermaid of Corie Vrekin keep her court!  Observe how
magnificently those arching cliffs overhang the hollows, and how richly
they are studded with shells and sea-flowers!"

No flower of the field or of the ocean that came within the ken of
Wallace, wasted its sweetness unadmired.  He assented to the remarks of
Lady Mar, who continued to expatiate on the beauties of the shores
which they passed; and thus the hours flew pleasantly away, till,
turning the southern point of the Cowal Mountains, the scene suddenly
changed.  The wind, which had gradually been rising, blew a violent
gale from that part of the coast; and the sea, being pent between the
rocks which skirt the continent and the northern side of Bute, became
so boisterous, that the boatmen began to think they should be driven
upon the rocks of the island, instead of reaching its bay.  Wallace
tore down the sails, and laying his nervous arms to the oar, assisted
to keep the vessel off the breakers, against which the waves were
driving her.  The sky collected into a gloom; and while the teeming
clouds seemed descending even to rest upon the cracking masts, the
swelling of the ocean threatened to heave her up into their very bosoms.

Lady Mar looked with affright at the gathering tempest, and with
difficulty was persuaded to retire under the shelter of a little
awning.  The earl forgot his debility in the general terror; and tried
to reassure the boatmen.  But a tremendous sweep of the gale, driving
the vessel far across the head of Bute, shot her past the mouth of Loch
Fyne, toward the perilous rocks of Arran.  "Here our destruction is
certain!" cried the master of the bark, at the same time confessing his
ignorance of the navigation on this side of the island.  Lord Mar,
seizing the helm from the stupefied master, called to Wallace, "While
you keep the men to their duty," cried he, "I will steer."

The earl being perfectly acquainted with the coast, Wallace gladly saw
the helm in his hand.  But he had scarcely stepped forward himself to
give some necessary directions, when a heavy sea, breaking over the
deck, carried two of the poor mariners overboard.  Wallace instantly
threw out a couple of ropes.  Then, amidst a spray so blinding that the
vessel appeared in a cloud, and while buffeted on each side by the
raging of waves, which seemed contending to tear her to pieces, she lay
to for a few minutes, to rescue the men from the yawning gulf; one
caught a rope and was saved, but the other was seen no more.

Again the bark was set loose to the current.  Wallace, now with two
rowers only, applied his whole strength to their aid.  The master and
the third man were employed in the unceasing toil of laying out the
accumulating water.

While the anxious chief tugged at the oar, and watched the thousand
embattled cliffs which threatened destruction, his eye looked for the
vessel that contained his friends.  But the liquid mountains which
rolled around him prevented all view; and, with hardly a hope of seeing
them again, he pursued his attempt to preserve the lives of those
committed to his care.

All this while Lady Mar lay in a state of stupefaction.  Having fainted
at the first alarm of danger, she had fallen from swoon to swoon, and
now remained almost insensible upon the bosoms of her maids.  In a
moment the vessel struck with a great shock, and the next instant it
seemed to move with a velocity incredible.  "The whirpool! the
whirlpool!" resounded from every lip.  But again the rapid motion was
suddenly checked, and the women, fancying they had struck on the Vrekin
Rock, shrieked aloud.  The cry, and the terrified words which
accompanied it, aroused Lady Mar.  She started from her trance, and,
while the confusion redoubled, rushed toward the dreadful scene.

The mountainous waves and lowering clouds, borne forward by the blast,
anticipated the dreariness of night.  The last rays of the setting sun
had long passed away, and the deep shadows of the driving heavens cast
the whole into a  gloom, even more terrific than absolute darkness;
while the high and beetling rocks, towering aloft in precipitous walls,
mocked the hopes of the sea-beaten mariner, should he even buffet the
waters to reach their base; and the jagged shingles, deeply shelving
beneath the waves, or projecting their pointed summits upward, showed
the crew where the rugged death would meet them.

A little onward, a thousand massy fragments, rent by former tempests
from their parent cliffs, lay at the foundations of the immense
acclivities which faced the cause of their present alarm--a whirlpool
almost as terrific as that of Scarba.  The moment the powerful blast
drove the vessel within the influence of the outward edge of the first
circle of the vortex.  Wallace leaped from the deck on the rocks, and,
with the same rope in his hand with which he had saved the life of the
seaman, he called to the two men to follow him, who yet held similar
ropes, fastened like his own to the prow of the vessel; and being
obeyed, they strove by towing it along, to stem the suction of the
current.

It was at this instant that Lady Mar rushed forward upon deck.

"In for your life, Joanna!" exclaimed the earl.  She answered him not,
but looked wildly around her.  Nowhere could she see Wallace.

"Have I drowned him?" cried she, in a voice of frenzy, and striking the
women from her, who would have held her back.  "Let me clasp him, even
in the deep waters!"

Happily, the earl lost the last sentence in the roaring of the storm.

"Wallace, Wallace!" cried she, wringing her hands, and still struggling
with her women.  At that moment a huge wave, sinking before her,
discovered the object of her fears, straining along the surface of a
rock, and followed by the men in the same laborious task, tugging
forward the ropes to which the bark was attached.  She gazed at them
with wonder and affright, for, notwithstanding the beating of the
elements (which seeming to find their breasts of iron and their feet
armed with some preternatural adhesion to the cliff), they continued to
bear resolutely onward.  Fortunately, they did not now labor against
the wind.  Sometimes they pressed forward on the level edge of the
rock; then a yawning chasm forced them to leap from cliff to cliff, or
to spring on some more elevated projection.  Thus, contending with the
vortex and the storm, they at last arrived at the doubling of
Cuthonrock,** the point that was to clear them of this minor Corie
Vrekin.  But at that crisis the rope which Wallace held broke, and,
with the shock, he fell backward into the sea.  The foremost man
uttered a dreadful cry; but ere it could be echoed by his fellows,
Wallace had risen above the waves, and, beating their whelming waters
with his invincible arm, soon gained the vessel and jumped upon the
deck.  The point was doubled, but the next moment the vessel struck,
and in a manner that left no hope of getting her off.  All must take to
the water or perish, for the second shock would scatter her piecemeal.

**Cuthon means the mournful sound of waves.

Again Lady Mar appeared.  At sight of Wallace she forgot everything but
him; and perhaps would have thrown herself into his arms, had not the
anxious earl caught her in his own.

"Are we to die?" cried she to Wallace, in a voice of horror.

"I trust that God has decreed otherwise," was his reply.  "Compose
yourself; all may yet be well."

Lord Mar, from his yet unhealed wounds, could not swim; Wallace
therefore tore up the benches of the rowers, and binding them into the
form of a small raft, made it the vehicle for the earl and countess,
with her two maids and the child.  While the men were towing it, and
buffeting with it through the breakers, he too threw himself into the
sea to swim by its side, and be in readiness in case of accident.

Having gained the shore, or rather the broken rocks, that lie at the
foot of the stupendous craigs which surround the Isle of Arran, Wallace
and his sturdy assistants conveyed the countess and her terrified women
up their acclivities.  Fortunately for the shipwrecked voyagers, though
the wind raged, its violence was of some advantage, for it nearly
cleared the heavens of clouds, and allowed the moon to send forth her
guiding light.  By her lamp one of the men discovered the mouth of a
cavern, where Wallace gladly sheltered his dripping charges.

The child, whom he had guarded in his own arms during the difficult
ascent, he now laid on the bosom of its mother.  Lady mar kissed the
hand that relinquished it, and gave way to a flood of grateful tears.

The earl, as he sunk almost powerless against the side of the cave, yet
had strength enough to press Wallace to his heart.  "Ever preserver of
me and mine!" cried he, "how must I bless thee!-My wife, my child-"

"Have been saved to you, my friend," interrupted Wallace, "by the
presiding care of Him who walked the waves!  Without His especial arm
we must all have perished in this awful night; therefore let our
thanksgivings be directed to Him alone."

"So be it!" returned the earl, and dropping on his knees, he breathed
forth so pathetic and sublime a prayer of thanks, that the countess
trembled, and bent her head upon the bosom of her child.  She could not
utter the solemn Amen, that was repeated by every voice in the cave.
Her unhappy infatuation saw no higher power in this great preservation
than the hand of the man she adored.  She felt that guilt was cherished
in her heart; and she could not lift her eyes to join with those who,
with the boldness of innocence, called on Heaven to attest the sanctity
of their vows.

Sleep soon sealed every weary eye, excepting those of Wallace.  A
racking anxiety respecting the fate of the other vessel, in which were
the brave men of Bothwell, and his two dear friends, filled his mind
with dreadful forebodings that they had not outlived the storm.
Sometimes, when wearied nature for a few minutes sunk into slumber, he
would start, grief-struck, from the body of Edwin floating on the briny
flood, and as he awoke, a cold despondence would tell him that his
dream was, perhaps, too true.  "Oh!  I love thee, Edwin!" exclaimed he
to himself; "and if my devoted heart was to be separated from all but a
patriot's love!-why did I think of loving thee?-must thou, too, die,
that Scotland may have no rival, that Wallace may feel himself quite
alone!"

Thus he sat musing, and listening, with many a sigh, to the yelling
gusts of wind, and louder roaring of the water.  At last the former
gradually subsided, and the latter, obeying the retreating ride, rolled
away in hoarse murmurs.

Morning began to dawn, and spreading upon the mountains of the opposite
shore, shed a soft light over their misty sides.  All was tranquil and
full of beauty.  That element, which so lately in its rage had
threatened to ingulf them all, now flowed by the rocks at the foot of
the cave in gentle undulations; and where the spiral cliffs gave a
little resistance, the rays of the rising sun, striking on the bursting
waves, turned their vapory showers into dropping gems.

While his companions were still wrapped in sleep, Wallace stole away to
seek some knowledge respecting the part of the Isle of Arran on which
they were cast.  Close by the mouth of the cave he discovered a cleft
in the rock, into which he turned, and finding the upward footing
sufficiently secure, clambered to the summit.  Looking around, he found
himself at the skirt of a chain of high hills, which seemed to stretch
from side to side over the island, while their tops, in alpine
succession, rose in a thousand grotesque and pinnacled forms.  The
ptarmigan and capercailzie were screaming from those upper regions; and
the nimble roes, with their fawns, bounding through the green defiles
below.  No trace of human habitation appeared; but from the size and
known population of the island, he knew he could not be far from
inhabitants; and thinking it best to send the boatmen in search of
them, he retraced his steps.  The morning vapors were fast rolling
their snowy wreaths down the opposite mountains, whose heads, shining
in resplendent purple, seemed to view themselves in the bright
reflections of the now smooth sea.  Nature, like a proud conqueror,
appeared to have put on a triumphal garb, in exultation of the
devastation she had committed the night before.  Wallace shuddered, as
the parallel occurred to his mind, and turned from the scene.

On re-entering the cave he dispatched the seamen, and disposed himself
to watch by the sides of his still sleeping friends.  An hour hardly
had elapsed before the men returned, bringing with them a large boat
and its proprietor.  But, alas! no tidings of Murray and Edwin, whom he
had hoped might have been driven somewhere on the island.  In bringing
the boat round to the creek under the rock, the men discovered that the
sea had driven their wreck between two projecting rocks, where it now
lay wedged.  Though ruined as a vessel, sufficient held together to
warrant their exertions to save the property.  Accordingly they entered
it, and drew thence most of the valuables which belonged to Lord Mar.

While this was doing, Wallace reascended to the cave, and finding the
earl awake, told him a boat was ready for their re-embarkation.  "But
where, my friend, are my nephews?" inquired he; "Alas! has this fatal
expedition robbed me of them?"

Wallace tried to inspire him with a hope he scarcely dare credit
himself, that they had been saved on some more distant shore.  The
voices of the chiefs awakened the women, but the countess still slept.
Aware that she would resist trusting herself to the waves again, Lord
Mar desired that she might be moved on board without disturbing her.
This was readily done, the men having only to take up the extremities
of the plaid on to the boat.  The earl received her head on his bosom.
All were then on board, the rowers struck their oars, and once more the
little party found themselves launched upon the sea.

While they were yet midway between the isles, with a bright sun playing
its sparkling beams upon the gently rippling waves, the countess,
heaving a deep sigh, slowly opened her eyes.  All around glared with
the light of day; she felt the motion of the boat, and raising her
head, saw that she was again embarked on the treacherous element on
which she had lately experienced so many terrors.  She grew deadly
pale, and grasped her husband's hand.  "My dear Joanna," cried he, "be
not alarmed, we are all safe."

"And Sir William Wallace has left us?" demanded she.

"No, madam," answered a voice from the steerage, "not till this party
is safe at Bute do I quit it."

She looked round with a grateful smile; "Ever generous!  How could I
for a moment doubt our preserver?"

Wallace bowed, but remained silent; and they passed calmly along till
the vessel came in sight of a birling,** which, bounding over the
waves, was presently so near the earl's, that the figures in each could
be distinctly seen.  In it the chiefs, to their rapturous surprise,
beheld Murray and Edwin.  The latter, with a cry of joy, leaped into
the sea; the next instant he was over the boat's side, and clasped in
the arms of Wallace.  Real transport, true happiness, now dilated the
heart of the before desponding chief.  He pressed the dear boy again
and again to his bosom, and kissed his white forehead with all the
rapture of the fondest brother.  "Thank God! thank God!" was all that
Edwin could say; while, at every effort to tear himself from Wallace,
to congratulate his uncle on his safety, his heart overflowing toward
his friend, opened afresh, and he clung the closer to his breast; till
at last, exhausted with happiness, the little hero of Dumbarton gave
way to the sensibility of his tender age, and the chief felt his bosom
wet with the joy--drawn tears of his youthful banneret.

While this was passing, the birling had drawn close to the boat; and
Murray, shaking hands with his uncle and aunt, exclaimed to Wallace,
"That urchin is such a monopolizer, I see you have not a greeting for
any one else."  On this Edwin raised his face, and turned to the
affectionate welcomes of Lord Mar.  Wallace stretched out his hand to
the ever-gay Lord Andrew; and, inviting him into the boat, soon
learned, that on the portentous beginning of the storm, Murray's
company made direct to the nearest creek in Bute, being better seamen
than Wallace's helmsman who, until danger stopped him, had foolishly
continued to aim for Rothsay.  By this prudence, without having been in
much peril, or sustained any fatigue, Murray's party had landed safely.
The night came on dark and tremendous; but not doubting that the
earl's rowers had carried him into a similar haven, the young chief and
his companion kept themselves very easy in a fisher's hut till morning.
At an early hour, they then put themselves at the head of the Bothwell
men; and, expecting they should come up with Wallace and his party at
Rothsay, walked over to the castle.  Their consternation was
unutterable when they found that Lord Mar was not there, threw
themselves into a birling, to seek their friends upon the seas; and
when they did espy them, the joy of Edwin was so great, that not even
the unfathomable gulf could stop him from flying to the embrace of his
friend.

**Birling is a small boat generally used by fishers.

While mutual felicitations passed, the boats, now nearly side by side,
reached the shore; and the seamen, jumping on the rocks, moored their
vessels under the projecting towers of Rothsay.  The old steward
hastened to receive a master who had not blessed his aged eyes for many
a year; a master who had the infant in his arms that was to be the
future representative of the house of Mar, he wept aloud.  The earl
spoke to him affectionately, and then walked on with Edwin, whom he
called to support him up the bank.  Murray led the countess out of the
boat; while the Bothwell men so thronged about Wallace, congratulating
themselves on his safety, that she saw there was no hope of his arm
being then offered to her.

Having entered the castle, the steward led them into a room, in which
he had spread a plentiful repast.  Here Murray (having recounted the
adventures of his voyage) called for a history of what had befallen his
friends.  The earl gladly took up the tale, and, with many a glance of
gratitude to Wallace, narrated the perilous events of their shipwreck,
and providential preservation on the Isle of Arran.

Happiness now seemed to, have shed her heavenly influence over every
bosom.  All hearts owned the grateful effects of the late rescue.  The
rapturous joy of Edwin burst into a thousand sallies of ardent and
luxurious imagination.  The high spirits of Murray turned every
transient subject into a "mirth-moving jest".  The veteran earl seemed
restored to health and to youth; and Wallace felt the sun of
consolation expanding in his bosom.  He had met a heart, though a young
one, on which his soul might repose; that dear selected brother of his
affection was saved from the whelming waves; and all his superstitious
dreams of a mysterious doom vanished before this manifestation of
heavenly goodness.  His friend, too, the gallant Murray, was spared.
How many subjects had he for unmurmuring gratitude!  And with an
unclouded brow and a happy spirit, he yielded to the impulse of the
scene.  He smiled; and, with an endearing graciousness, listened to
every fond speaker; while his own ingenuous replies bespoke the
treasures of love which sorrow, in her cruelest aspect, had locked
within his heart.

The complacency with which he regarded every one--the pouring out of his
beneficent spirit, which seemed to embrace all, like his dearest
kindred--turned every eye and heart toward him, as to the source of
every bliss; as to a being who seemed made to love, and be beloved by
every one.  Lady mar looked at him, listened to him, with her rapt soul
seated in her eyes.  In his presence all was transport.

But when he withdrew for the night, what was then the state of her
feelings!  The overflowing of heart he felt for all, she appropriated
solely for herself.  The sweetness of his voice, the unutterable
expression of his countenance, while, as he spoke, he veiled his eyes
under their long brown lashes, had raised such vague hopes in her
bosom, that--he being gone--she hastened her adieus to the rest, eager to
retire to bed, and there uninterruptedly muse on the happiness of
having at last touched the heart of a man for whom she would resign the
world.



Chapter XXVIII.

Isle of Bute.


The morning would have brought annihilation to the countess'
new-fledged hopes, had not Murray been the first to meet her as she
came from her chamber.

While walking on the cliffs at some distance from the castle to observe
the weather, he met Wallace and Edwin.  They had already been across
the valley to the haven, and ordered a boat round, to convey them back
to Gourock.  "Postpone your flight, for pity's sake!" cried Murray, "if
you would not, by discourtesy, destroy what your gallantry has
preserved!"  He then told them that Lady Mar was preparing a feast in
the glen, behind the castle; "and if you do not stay to partake it,"
added he, "we may expect all the witches in the isle will be bribed to
sink us before we reach the shore."

After this the general meeting of the morning was not less cordial than
the separation of the night before; and when Lady Mar withdrew to give
orders for her rural banquet, that time was seized by the earl for the
arrangement of matters of more consequence.  In a private conversation
with Murray the preceding evening he had learned that, just before the
party left Dumbarton, a letter had been sent to Helen at St. Filan's,
informing her of the taking of the castle, and of the safety of her
friends.  This having satisfied the earl he did not advert to her at
all in his present discourse with Wallace, but rather avoided
encumbering his occupied mind with anything but the one great theme.

While the earl and his friends were marshaling armies, taking towns,
and storming castles, the countess, intent on other conquests, was
meaning to beguile and destroy that manly spirit by soft delights,
which a continuance in war's rugged scenes, she thought, was too likely
to render invulnerable.

When her lord and his guests were summoned to the feast, she met them
at the mouth of the glen.  Having tried the effect of splendor, she now
left all to the power of her natural charms, and appeared simply clad
in her favorite green.**  Moraig, the pretty grandchild of the steward,
walked beside her, like the fairy queen of the scene, so gayly was she
decorated in all the flowers of spring.  "Here is the lady of my elfin
revels, holding her little king in her arms!"  As the countess spoke,
Moraig held up the infant to Lady Mar, dressed like herself, in a
tissue gathered from the field.  The sweet babe laughed and crowed, and
made a spring to leap into Wallace's arms.  The chief took him, and
with an affectionate smile, pressed his little cheek to his.

Though he had felt the repugnance of a delicate mind, and the shuddering
of a man who held his person consecrated to the memory of the only woman
he had ever loved; though he had felt these sentiments mingle into an
abhorrence of the countess, when she allowed her head to drop on his
breast in the citadel; and though, while he remained at Dumbarton,
(without absolutely charging her to himself with anything designedly
immodest), he had certainly avoided her; yet since the wreck, the danger
she had escaped, the general joy of all meeting again, had wiped away
even the remembrance of his former cause of dislike; and he now sat by
her as by a sister, fondling her child, although at every sweet caress
it reminded him of what might have been his--of hopes lost to him
forever.

The repast over, the piper of the adjacent cottages appeared; and,
placing himself on a projecting rock, at the carol of his merry
instrument the young peasants of both sexes jocundly came forward and
began to dance.  At this sight Edwin seized the little hand of Moraig,
while Lord Andrew called a pretty lass from amongst the rustics, and
joined the group.  The happy earl, with many a hearty laugh, enjoyed
the jollity of his people; and while the steward stood at his lord's
back describing whose sons and daughters passed before him in the reel,
Mar remembered their parents--their fathers, once his companions in the
chase or on the wave; and their mothers, the pretty maidens he used to
pursue over the hills in the merry time of shealing.

Lady Mar watched the countenance of Wallace as he looked upon the
joyous group; it was placid, and a soft complacency illumined his eye.
How different was the expression in hers, had he marked it!  All within
her was in tumult, and the characters were but too legibly imprinted on
her face.  But he did not look on her; for the child, whom the perfume
of the flowers overpowered, began to cry.  He rose, and having resigned
it to the nurse, turned into a narrow vista of trees, where he walked
slowly on, unconscious whither he went.

Lady Mar, with an eager, though almost aimless haste, followed him with
a light step till she saw him turn out of the vista, and then she lost
sight of him.  To walk with him undisturbed in so deep a seclusion; to
improve the impression which she was sure she had made upon his heart;
to teach him which she was sure she had made upon his heart; to teach
him to forget his Marion, in the hope of one day possessing her--all
these thoughts ran in this vain woman's head; and, inwardly rejoicing
that the shattered health of her husband promised her a ready freedom
to become the wife of the man to whom she would gladly belong, in honor
or in dishonor, she hastened forward as if the accomplishment of her
wishes depended on this meeting.  Peeping through the trees, she saw
him standing with folded arms, looking intently into the bosom of a
large lake; but the place was so thickly surrounded with willows, she
could only perceive him at intervals, when the wind tossed aside the
branches.

Having stood for some time, he walked on.  Several times she essayed to
emerge, and join him; but a sudden awe of him, a conviction of that
saintly purity which would shrink from the guilty vows she was
meditating to pour into his ear, a recollection of the ejaculation with
which he had accosted her before hovering figure, when she haunted his
footsteps on the banks of the Cart; these thoughts made her pause.  He
might again mistake her for the same dear object.  This image it was
not her interest to recall.  And to approach near him, to unveil her
heat to him, and to be repulsed--there was madness in the idea, and she
retreated.

She had no sooner returned to the scene of festivity than she repented
of having allowed what she deemed an idle alarm of overstrained
delicacy to drive her from the lake.  She would have hastened back, had
not two or three aged female peasants almost instantly engaged her, in
spite of her struggles for extrication, to listen to long stories
respecting her lord's youth.  She remained thus an unwilling auditor,
and by the side of the dancers for nearly an hour, before Wallace
reappeared.  But then she sprung toward him as if a spell were broken.

"Where, truant, have you been?"

"In a beautiful solitude," returned he, "amongst a luxuriant grove of
willows."

"Ah!" cried she, "it is called Glenshealeach, and a sad scene was acted
there!  About ten years ago, a lady of this island drowned herself in
the lake they hang over, because the man she loved despised her."

"Unhappy woman!" observed Wallace.

"Then you would have pitied her?" rejoined Lady Mar.

"He cannot be a man that would not pity a woman under such
circumstances."

"Then you would not have consigned her to such a fate?"

Wallace was startled by the peculiar tone in which this simple question
was asked.  It recalled the action in the citadel, and, unconsciously
turning a penetrating look on her, his eyes met hers.  He need not have
heard further to have learned more.  She hastily looked down, and
colored; and he, wishing to misunderstand a language so disgraceful to
herself, so dishonoring to her husband, gave some trifling answer; then
making a slight observation about the earl, he advanced to him.  Lord
Mar was become tired with so gala a scene, and, taking the arm of
Wallace, they returned together into the house.

Edwin soon followed with Murray, gladly arriving in time enough to see
their little pinnacle draw up under the castle and throw out her
moorings.  The countess, too, descried its streamers, and hastening
into the room where she knew the chiefs were yet assembled, though the
wearied earl had retired to repose, inquired the reason of that boat
having drawn so near the castle.

"That it may take us from it, fair aunt," replied Murray.

The countess fixed her eyes with an unequivocal expression upon
Wallace.  "My gratitude is ever due to your kindness, noble lady," said
he, still wishing to be blind to what he could not perceive, "and that
we may ever deserve it, we must keep the enemy from your doors."

"Yes," added Murray, "and to keep a more insidious foe from our own!
Edwin and I feel it rather dangerous to bask too long in these sunny
bowers."

"But surely your chief is not afraid," said she, casting a soft glance
at Wallace.

"Yet, nevertheless, I must fly," returned he, bowing to her.

"That you positively shall not," added she, with a fluttering joy at
her heart, thinking she was about to succeed; "you stir not this night,
else I shall brand you all as a band of cowards."

"Call us by every name in the poltroon's calendar," cried Murray,
seeing by the countenance of Wallace that his resolution was not to be
moved; "yet I must gallop off from your black-eyed Judith, as if chased
by the ghost of Holofernes himself."

"So, dear aunt," rejoined Edwin, smiling, "if you do not mean to play
Circe to our Ulysses, give us leave to go!"

Lady Mar started, confused she knew not how, as he innocently uttered
these words.  The animated boy snatched a kiss from her hand, when he
ceased speaking, and darted after Murray, who had disappeared, to give
some speeding directions respecting the boat.

Left thus alone with the object of her every wish, in the moment when
she thought she was going to lose him, perhaps, forever, she forgot all
prudence, all reserve; and laying her hand on her arm, as with a
respectful bow he was also moving away, she arrested his steps.  She
held him fast, but her agitation prevented her speaking; she trembled
violently, and weeping, dropped her head upon his shoulder.  He was
motionless.  Her tears redoubled.  He felt the embarrassment of his
situation; and at last extricating his tongue, which surprise and shame
for her had chained, in a gentle voice he inquired the cause of her
uneasiness.  "If for the safety of your nephews-"

"No, no," cried she, interrupting him, "read my fate in that of the
lady of Glenshealeach!"

Again he was silent; astonished, fearful of too promptly understanding
so disgraceful a truth, he found no words in which to answer her, and
her emotions became so uncontrolled, that he expected she would swoon
in his arms.

"Cruel, cruel Wallace!" at last cried she, clinging to him, for he had
once or twice attempted to disengage himself, and reseat her on the
bench; "your heart is steeled, or it would understand mine.  It would
at least pity the wretchedness it has created.  But I am despised, and
I can yet find the watery grave from which you rescued me."

To dissemble longer would have been folly.  Wallace, now resolutely
seating her, though with gentleness, addressed her:  "Your husband,
Lady Mar, is my friend; had I even a heart to give a woman, not one
sigh should arise in it to his dishonor.  But I am lost to all warmer
affections than that of friendship.  I may regard man as my brother,
woman as my sister; but never more can I look on female form with love."

Lady Mar's tears now flowed in a more tempered current.

"But were it otherwise," cried she, "only tell me, that had I not been
bound with chains, which my kinsmen forced upon me--had I not been made
the property of a man who, however estimable, was of too paternal years
for me to love; ah! tell me, if these tears should now flow in vain?"

Wallace seemed to hesitate what to answer.

Wrought up to agony, she threw herself on his breast, exclaiming,
"Answer! but drive me not to despair.  I never loved man before--and now
to be scorned!  Oh, kill me, too, dear Wallace, but tell me not that
you never could have loved me."

Wallace was alarmed at her vehemence.  "Lady Mar," returned he, "I am
incapable of saying anything to you that is inimical to your duty to
the best of men.  I will even forget this distressing conversation, and
continue through life to revere, equal with himself, the wife of my
friend."

"And I am to be stabbed with this?" she replied, in a voice of
indignant anguish.

"You are to be healed with it, Lady Mar," returned he, "for it is not a
man like the rest of his sex that now addresses you, but a being whose
heart is petrified to marble.  I could feel no throb of yours; I should
be insensible to all your charms, were I even vile enough to see no
evil in trampling upon your husband's rights.  Yes, were virtue lost to
me, still memory would speak, still would she urge, that the chaste and
last kiss, imprinted by my wife on these lips, should live there in
unblemished sanctity, till I again meet her angel embraces in the world
to come!"

The countess, awed by his solemnity, but not put from her suit,
exclaimed: "What she was, I would be to thee--thy consoler, thine
adorer.  Time may set me free.  Oh! till then, only give me leave to
love thee, and I shall be happy!"

"You dishonor yourself, lady," returned he, "by these petitions, and
for what?  You plunge your soul in guilty wishes--you sacrifice your
peace, and your self-esteem, to a phantom; for I repeat, I am dead to
woman; and the voice of love sounds like the funeral knell of her who
will never breathe it to me again."  He arose as he spoke, and the
countess, pierced to the heart, and almost despairing of now retaining
any part in its esteem, was devising what next to say, when Murray came
into the room.

Wallace instantly observed that his countenance was troubled.  "What
has happened?" inquired he.

"A messenger from the mainland, with bad news from Ayr."

"Of private or public import?" asked Wallace.

"Of both.  There has been a horrid massacre, in which the heads of many
noble families have fallen."  As he spoke, the paleness of his
countenance revealed to his friend that part of the information he had
found himself unable to communicate.

"I comprehend my loss," cried Wallace; "Sir Ronald Crawford is
sacrificed!  Bring the messenger in."

Murray withdrew; and Wallace, seating himself, remained with a fixed
and stern countenance, gazing on the ground.  Lady Mar durst not
breathe for fear of disturbing the horrid stillness which seemed to
lock up his grief and indignation.

Lord Andrew re-entered with a stranger, Wallace rose to meet him, and
seeing Lady mar-"Countess," said he, "these bloody recitals are not for
your ears;" and waving her to withdraw, she left the room.

"This gallant stranger," said Murray, "is Sir John Graham.  He has just
left that new theater of Southron perfidy."

"I have hastened hither," cried the knight, "to call your victorious
arm to take a signal vengeance on the murderers of your grandfather.
He, and eighteen other Scottish chiefs, have been treacherously put to
death in the Barns of Ayr."

Graham then gave a brief narration of the direful circumstance.  He and
his father, Lord Dundaff, having crossed the south coast of Scotland on
their way homeward, stopped to rest at Ayr.  They arrived there the
very day that Lord Aymer de Valence had entered it, a fugitive from
Dumbarton Castle.  Much as that earl wished to keep the success of
Wallace a secret from the inhabitants of Ayr, he found it impossible.
Two or three fugitive soldiers whispered the hard fighting they had
endured; and in half an hour after the arrival of the English earl,
every one knew that the recovery of Scotland was begun.  Elated with
this intelligence, the Scots went, under night, from house to house,
congratulating each other on so miraculous an interference in their
favor; and many stole to Sir Ronald Crawford, to felicitate the
venerable knight on his glorious grandson.

The good old man listened with meek joy to their animated eulogiums on
Wallace; and when Lord Dundaff, in offering his congratulations with
the rest, said, "But while all Scotland lay in vassalage, where did he
imbibe this spirit, to tread down tyrants?"  The venerable patriarch
replied, "He was always a noble boy.  In infancy, he became the
defender of every child he saw oppressed by boys of greater power; he
was even the champion of the brute creation, and no poor animal was
ever attempted to be tortured near him.  The old looked on him for
comfort, the young for protection.  From infancy to manhood, he has
been a benefactor; and though the cruelty of our enemies have widowed
his youthful years--though he should go childless to the grave, the
brightness of his virtues will now spread more glories around the name
of Wallace than a thousand posterities."  Other ears than those of
Dandaff heard this honest exultation.

The next morning this venerable old man, and other chiefs of similar
consequence, were summoned by Sir Richard Arnuf, the governor, to his
palace, there to deliver in a schedule of their estates; "that quiet
possession," the governor said, "might be granted to them, under the
great seal of Lord Aymer de Valence, the deputy-warden of Scotland."

The gray-headed knight, not being so active as his compeers of more
juvenile years, happened to be the last who went to this tiger's den.
Wrapped in his plaid, his silver hair covered with a blue bonnet, and
leaning on his staff, he was walking along attended by two domestics,
when Sir John Graham met him at the gate of the palace.  He smiled on
him as he passed, and whispered-"It will not be long before my Wallace
makes even the forms of vassalage unnecessary; and then these failing
limbs may sit undisturbed at home, under the fig-tree and vine of his
planting!"

"God grant it!" returned Graham; and he saw Sir Ronald admitted within
the interior gate.  The servants were ordered to remain without.  Sir
John walked there some time, expecting the reappearance of the knight,
whom he intended to assist in leading home; but after an hour, finding
no signs of egress from the palace, and thinking his father might be
wondering at his delay, he turned his steps toward his own lodgings.
While passing along he met several Southron detachments hurrying across
the streets.  In the midst of some of these companies he saw one or two
Scottish men of rank, strangers to him, but who, by certain
indications, seemed to be prisoners.  He did not go far before he met a
chieftain in these painful circumstances whom he knew; but as he was
hastening toward him, the noble Scot raised his manacled hand and
turned away his head.  This was a warning to the young knight, who
darted into an obscure alley which led to the gardens of his father's
lodgings, and was hurrying forward when he met one of his own servants
running in quest of him.

Panting with haste, he informed his master that a party of armed men
had come, under De Valence's warrant, to seize Lord Dundaff and bear
him to prison; to lie there with others who were charged with having
taken part in a conspiracy with the grandfather of the insurgent
Wallace.

The officer of the band who took Lord Dundaff told him, in the most
insulting language, that "Sir Ronald, his ringleader, with eighteen
nobles, his accomplices, had already suffered the punishment of their
crime, and were lying headless trunks in the judgment hall."

"Haste, therefore," repeated the man; "my lord bids you haste to Sir
William Wallace, and require his hand to avenge his kinsman's blood,
and to free his countrymen from prison!  These are your father's
commands; he directed me to seek you and give them to you."

Alarmed for the life of his father, Graham hesitated how to act on the
moment.  To leave him seemed to abandon him to the death the others had
received; and yet, only by obeying him could he have any hopes of
averting his threatened fate.  Once seeing the path he ought to pursue,
he struck immediately into it; and giving his signet to the servant, to
assure Lord Dundaff of his obedience, he mounted a horse, which had
been brought to the town end for that purpose, and setting off full
speed, allowed nothing to stay him, till he reached Dumbarton Castle.
There, hearing that Wallace had gone to Bute, he threw himself into a
boat, and plying every oar, reached that island in a shorter space of
time than the voyage had ever before been completed.

Being now conducted into the presence of the chief, he narrated his
dismal tale with a simplicity and pathos which would have instantly
drawn the retributive sword of Wallace, had he had no kinsman to
avenge, no friend to release from the Southron dungeons.  But as the
case stood, his bleeding grandfather lay before his eyes; and the ax
hung over the heads of the most virtuous nobles of his country.

He heard the chieftain to an end, without speaking or altering the
stern attention of his countenance.  But at the close, with an
augmented suffusion of blood in his face, and his brows denouncing some
tremendous fate, he rose.  "Sir John Graham," said he, "I attend you."

"Whither?" demanded Murray.

"To Ayr," answered Wallace; "this moment I will set out for Dumbarton,
to bring away the sinews of my strength.  God will be our speed! and
then this arm shall show how I loved that good old man."

"Your men," interrupted Graham, "are already awaiting you on the
opposite shore.  I presumed to command for you.  For on entering
Dumbarton, and finding you were absent, after having briefly recounted
my errand to Lord Lennox, I dared to interpret your mind, and to order
Sir Alexander Scrymgeour, and Sir Roger Kirkpatrick, with all your own
force, to follow me to the coast of Renfrew."

"Thank you, my friend!" cried Wallace, grasping his hand; "may I ever
have such interpreters!  I cannot stay to bid your uncle farewell,"
said he, to Lord Andrew; "remain, to tell him to bless me with his
prayers; and then, dear Murray, follow me to Ayr."

Ignorant of what the stranger had imparted, at the sight of the chiefs
approaching from the castle gate, Edward hastened with the news, that
all was ready for embarkation.  He was hurrying out his information,
when the altered countenance of his general checked him.  He looked at
the stranger; his features were agitated and severe.  He turned toward
his cousin, all there was grave and distressed.  Again he glanced at
Wallace; no word was spoken, but every look threatened, and Edwin saw
him leap into the boat, followed by the stranger.  The astonished boy,
though unnoticed, would not be left behind, and stepping in also, sat
down beside his chief.

"I shall follow you in a hour," exclaimed Murray.  The seamen pushed
off; then giving loose to their swelling sail, in less than ten
minutes, the light vessel was wafted out of the little harbor, and
turning a point, those in the castle saw it no more.



Chapter XXIX.

The Barns of Ayr.


While the little bark bounded over the waves toward the main land, the
poor pilgrims of earth who were its freightage, with heavy hearts bent
toward each other, intent on the further information they were to
receive.

"Here is a list of the murdered chiefs, and of those who are in the
dungeons, expecting the like treatment," continued Graham, holding out
a parchment; "it was given to me by my faithful servant."  Wallace took
it, but seeing his grandfather's name at the top, he could look no
further; closing the scroll, "Gallant Graham," said he, "I want no
stimulus to urge me to the extirpation I meditate.  If the sword of
Heaven be with us, not one perpetrator of this horrid massacre shall be
alive to-morrow to repeat the deed."

"What massacre?" Edwin ventured to inquire.  Wallace put the parchment
into his hand.  "A list of the Scottish chiefs murdered on the 18th of
June, 1297, in the Judgment Hall of the English Barons at Ayr," his
cheek, paled by the suspense of his mind, now reddened with the hue of
indignation; but when the venerated name of his general's grandfather
met his sight, his horror struck eye sought the face of Wallace; it was
dark as before, and he was now in earnest discourse with Graham.

Forbearing to interrupt him, Edwin continued to read over the
blood-registered names.  In turning the page, his eye glanced to the
opposite side; and he saw at the head of "A list of prisoners in the
dungeons of Ayr," the name of "Lord Dundaff" and immediately after it,
that of "Lord Ruthven!"  He uttered a piercing cry; and extending his
arms to Wallace, who turned round at so unusual a sound, the
terror-struck boy exclaimed, "My father is in their hands!  Oh!  If you
are indeed my brother, fly to Ayr, and save him!"

Wallace took up the open list which Edwin had dropped; he saw the name
of Lord Ruthven amongst the prisoners; and folding his arms round this
affectionate son, "Compose yourself," said he, "it is to Ayr I am
going; and if the God of Justice be our speed, your father and Lord
Dundaff shall not see another day in prison."

Edwin threw himself on the neck of his friend; "My benefactor!" was all
he could utter.  Wallace pressed him silently to his bosom.

"Who is this youth?" inquired Graham; "to which of the noble companions
of my captive father is he son?"

"To William Ruthven," answered Wallace; "the valiant lord of the Carse
of Gowry.  And it is a noble scion from that glorious root.  He it was
that enabled me to win Dumbarton.  Look up, my brother!" cried Wallace,
trying to regain so tender a mind from the paralyzing terrors which had
seized it; "Look up, and hear me recount the first fruits of your
maiden arms, to our gallant friend."

Covered with blushes, arising from anxious emotion, as well as from a
happy consciousness of having wont he praises of his general, Edwin
rose from his breast, and bowing to Sir John, still leaned his head
upon the shoulder of Wallace.  That amiable being, who, when seeking to
wipe the tear of affliction from the cheek of others, minded not the
drops of blood which were distilling in secret from his own heart,
began the recital of his first acquaintance with his young Sir Edwin.
He enumerated every particular; his bringing the detachment from
Bothwell, through the enemy-encircled mountains, to Glenfinlass; his
scaling the walls of Dumbarton to make the way smooth for the Scots to
ascend; and his after prowess in that well-defended fortress.  As
Wallace proceeded, the wonder of Graham was raised to a pitch, only to
be equaled by his admiration; and taking the hand of Edwin, "Receive
me, brave youth," said he, "as your second brother; Sir William Wallace
is your first; but, this night, we shall fight side by side for our
fathers; and let that be our bond of kindred."

Edwin pressed the young chief's cheek with his innocent lips; "Let us,
together, free them;" cried he' "and then we shall be born twins in
happiness."

"So be it," cried Graham; "and Sir William Wallace be the sponser of
that hour!"

Wallace smiled on them; and turning his head toward the shore, when the
vessel doubled a certain point, he saw the beach covered with armed
men.  To be sure they were his own, he drew his sword, and waved it in
the air.  At that moment a hundred falchions flashed in the sunbeams,
and the shouts of "Wallace!" came loudly on the breeze.

Graham and Edwin started on their feet; the seamen piled their oars;
the boat dashed into the breakers--and Wallace, leaping on shore, was
received with acclamations by his eager soldiers.

He no sooner landed, than he commenced his march.  Murray joined him on
the banks of the Irwin; and as Ayr was no very great distance from that
river, at two hours before midnight the little army entered Laglane
Wood; where they halted, while Wallace, with his chieftains proceeded
to reconnoiter the town.  The wind swept in gusts through the trees,
and seemed by its dismal yellings, to utter warnings of the dreadful
retributions he was about to inflict.  He had already declared his plan
of destruction; and Graham, as a first measure, went to the spot he had
fixed on with Macdougal, his servant, as a place of rendezvous.  He
returned with the man; who informed Wallace, that in honor of the
sequestrated lands of the murdered chiefs having been that day
partitioned by De Valance amongst certain Southron lords, a grand feast
was going on in the governor's palace.  Under the very roof where they
had shed the blood of the trusting Scots, they were now keeping this
carousal!

"Now, then, is our time to strike!" cried Wallace; and ordering
detachments of his men to take possession of the avenues to the town,
he set forth with others, to reach the front of the castle gates, by a
less frequented path than the main street.  The darkness being so great
that no object could be distinctly seen, they had not gone far, before
Macdougal, who had undertaken to be their guide, discovered by the
projection of a hill on the right, that he had lost the road.

"Our swords will find one!" exclaimed Kirkpatrick.

Unwilling to miss any advantage, in a situation where so much was at
stake, Wallace gladly hailed a twinkling light, which gleamed from what
he supposed the window of a distant cottage.  Kirkpatrick, with
Macdougal, offered to go forward, and explore what it might be.  In a
few minutes they arrived at a thatched building; from which, to their
surprise, issued the wailing strains of the coronach.  Kirkpatrick
paused. Its melancholy notes were sung by female voices.  Hence, there
being no danger in applying to such harmless inhabitants, to learn the
way to the citadel, he proceeded to the door; when, intending to knock,
the weight of his mailed arm burst open its slender latch, and
discovered two poor women, in an inner apartment, wringing their hands
over a shrouded corpse.  While the chief entered his friends came up.
Murray and Graham, struck with sounds never breathed over the vulgar
dead, lingered at the porch wondering what noble Scot could be the
subject of lamentation in so lowly an abode.  The stopping of these two
chieftains impeded the steps of Wallace, who was pressing forward,
without eye or ear for anything but the object of his search.
Kirkpatrick at that moment appeared on the threshold, and without a
word, putting forth his hand, seized the arm of his commander, and
pulled him into the cottage.  Before Wallace could ask the reason of
this, he saw a woman run forward with a light in her hand; the beams of
which falling on the face of the knight of Ellerslie, with a shriek of
joy she rushed toward him, and threw herself upon his neck.

He instantly recognized Elspa, his nurse; the faithful attendant on his
grandfather's declining years! the happy matron who had decked the
bridal bed of his Marion! and with an anguish of recollections that
almost unmanned him, he returned her affectionate embrace.

"Here he lies!" cried the old woman, drawing him toward the rushy bier;
and before he had time to demand, "Who?" she pulled down the shroud and
disclosed the body of Sir Ronald Crawford.  Wallace gazed on it, with a
look of such dreadful import that Edwin, whose anxious eyes then sought
his countenance, trembled with a nameless horror.  "Oh," thought he,
"to what is this noble soul reserved!  Is he alone doomed to extirpate
the enemies of Scotland, that every ill falls direct upon his head!"

"Sorry, sorry bier, for the good Lord Ronald!" cried the old woman; "a
poor wake to mourn the loss of him who was the benefactor of all the
country round!  But had I not brought him here, the salt sea must have
been his grave."  Here sobs prevented her utterance; but after a short
pause, with many vehement lamentations over the virtues of the dead,
and imprecations on his murderers, she related that as soon as the
woful tidings were brought to Monktown kirk (and brought too by the
Southron, who was to take it in possession!) she and the clan's-folk
who would not swear fidelity to the new lord, were driven from the
house.  She hastened to the bloody theater of massacre; and there
beheld the bodies of the murdered chiefs drawn on sledges to the
seashore.  Elspa knew that of her master, by the scar on his breast,
which he had received in the battle of Largs.  When she saw corpse
after corpse thrown, with a careless hand, into the waves, and the man
approached who was to cast the honored chief of Monktown, to the same
unhallowed burial, she threw herself frantically on the body, and so
moved the man's compassion, that, taking advantage of the time when his
comrades were out of sight, he permitted her to wrap the dead Sir
Ronald in her plaid, and so carry him away between her sister and
herself.  But ere she had raised her sacred burden, the man directed
her to seek the venerable head from amongst the others, which lay
mingled in a sack; drawing it forth, she placed it beside the body, and
then hastily retired with both, to the hovel where Wallace had found
her.  It was a shepherd's hut, from which the desolation of the times
having long ago driven away its former inhabitant, she had hoped that
in so lonely an obscurity, she might have performed without notice, a
chieftain's rites, to the remains of the murdered lord of the very
lands on which she wept him.  These over, she meant he should be
interred in secret by the fathers of a neighboring church, which he had
once richly endowed.  With these intentions, she and her sister were
chanting over him the sad dirge of their country, when Sir Roger
Kirkpatrick burst open the door.  "Ah!" cried she, as she closed the
dismal narrative; "though two lonely women were all they had left of
the lately thronged household of Sir Ronald Crawford, to raise the last
lament over his revered body, yet in that and midnight hour, our
earthly voices were not alone; the wakeful spirits of his daughters,
hovered in the air, and joined the deep coronach!"

Wallace sighed heavily as he looked on the animated face of the aged
mourner.  Attachment to the venerable dead seemed to have inspired her
with thoughts beyond her station; but the heart is an able teacher, and
he saw that true affection speaks but one language.

As her ardent eyes withdrew from their heavenward gaze, they fell upon
the shrouded face of her master.  A napkin concealed the wound of
decapitation.  "Chiefs," cried she, in a burst of recollection, "ye
have not seen all the cruelty of these murderers!"  At these words she
suddenly withdrew the linen, and lifting up the pale head, held it
wofully toward Wallace.  "Here," cried she, "once more kiss these lips!
They have often kissed yours, when you were a babe; and as insensible
to his love, as he is now to your sorrow."

Wallace received the head in his arms; the long silver beard, thick
with gouts of blood, hung over his hands.  He gazed on it, intently,
for some minutes.  An awful silence pervaded the room; every eye was
riveted upon him.

Looking round on his friends, with a countenance whose deadly hue gave
a sepulchral fire to the gloomy denunciation of his eyes; "Was it
necessary," said he, "to turn my heart to iron, that I was brought to
see this sight?"  All the tremendous purpose of his soul was read in
his face, while he laid the head back upon the bier.  His lips again
moved, but none heard what he said.  He rushed from the hut, and with
rapid strides, proceeded in profound silence toward the palace.

He well knew that no honest Scot could be under that roof.  The
building, though magnificent, was altogether a structure of wood; to
fire it, then, was his determination.  TO destroy all, at once, in the
theater of their cruelty; to make an execution, not engage in a warfare
of man to man, was his resolution; for they were not soldiers hew as
seeking, but assassins; and to pitch his brave Scots in the open field
against such unmanly wretches would be to dishonor his men, to give
criminals a chance for the lives they had forfeited.

All being quiet in the streets through which he passed, and having set
strong bodies of men at the mouth of every sallyport of the citadel, he
made a bold attack upon the guard at the barbican-gate; and, ere they
could give the alarm, all being slain, he and his chosen troop entered
the portal, and made direct to the palace.  The lights which blazed
through the windows of the banqueting hall showed him to the spot; and,
having detached Graham and Edwin to storm the keep, where their fathers
were confined, he took the half-intoxicated sentinels at the
palace-gates by surprise, and striking them into a sleep from which
they would wake no more, he fastened the doors upon the assassins.  His
men surrounded the building with hurdles filled with combustibles,
which they had prepared according to his directions; and, when all was
ready, Wallace, with the mighty spirit of retribution nerving every
limb, mounted to the roof, and tearing off the shingles, with a flaming
brand in his hand, showed himself to the affrighted revelers beneath;
and, as he threw it blazing among them, he cried aloud, "The blood of
the murdered calls for vengeance, and it comes."

At that instant the matches were put to the fagots which surrounded the
building; and the party within, springing from their seats, hastened
toward the doors.  All were fastened on them; and retreating into the
midst of the room, they fearfully looked toward the tremendous figure
above, which, like a supernatural being, seemed indeed come to rain
fire upon their guilty heads.  Some shook with superstitious dread;
others, driven to atheistical despair, with horrible execrations, again
strove to force a passage through the doors.  A second glance told De
Valence whose was the hand which had launched the thunderbolt at his
feet; and, turning to Sir Richard Arnuf, he cried, in a voice of
horror, "My arch-enemy is there!"

Thick smoke rising from within and without the building now obscured
his terrific form.  The shouts of the Scots as the fire covered its
walls, and the streaming flames licking the windows, and pouring into
every opening of the building, raised such a terror in the breasts of
the wretches within, that, with the most horrible cries, they again and
again flew to the doors to escape.  Not an avenue appeared; almost
suffocated with smoke, and scorched by the blazing rafters which fell
from the burning roof, they at last made a desperate attempt to break a
passage through the great portal.  Arnuf was at their head, and sunk to
abjectness by his despair, in a voice which terror rendered piercing,
he called aloud for mercy.  The words reached the ear of Sir Roger
Kirkpatrick, who stood neared to the door.  In a voice of thunder he
replied, "That ye gave, ye shall receive.  Where was mercy when our
fathers and our brothers fell beneath your murderous axes!"

Aymer de Valence came up at this moment with a wooden pillar, which he
and his strongest men in the company had torn from under the gallery
that surrounded the room, and with all their strength dashing it
against the great door, they at last drove it from its bolts.  But now
a wall of men opposed them.  Desperate at the sight, and with a burning
furnace in their rear, it was not the might of man that could prevent
their escape, and with the determination of despair, rushing forward,
the foremost rank of Scots fell.  But ere the exulting Southrons could
press out into the open space, Wallace himself had closed upon them,
and Arnuf, the merciless Arnuf, whose voice had pronounced the sentence
of death upon Sir Ronald Crawford, died beneath his hand.

Wallace was not aware that he had killed the Governor of Ayr till the
terror-struck exclamations of his enemies informed him that the
ruthless instigator of the massacre was slain.  This event was welcome
news to the Scots; and hoping that the next death would be that of De
Valence, they pressed on with redoubled energy.

Aroused by so extraordinary a noise, and alarmed by the flames of the
palace, the soldiers quartered near hastened half armed to the spot.
But their presence rather added to the confusion than gave assistance
to the besieged.  They were without leaders, and not daring to put
themselves to action, for fear of being afterward punished (in the case
of a mischance) for having presumed to move without their officers,
they stood dismayed and irresolute, while those very officers, who had
been all at the banquet, were falling in heaps under the swords of the
exterminating Scots.

Meanwhile, the men who guarded the prisoners in the keep, having their
commanders with them, made a stout resistance there; and one of the
officers, seeing a possible advantage, stole out, and, gathering a
company of the scattered garrison, suddenly taking Graham in flank,
made no inconsiderable havoc amongst that part of his division.  Edwin
blew the signal for assistance.  Wallace heard the blast; and seeing
the day was won at the palace, he left the finishing of the affair to
Kirkpatrick and Murray; and, drawing off a small party to reinforce
Graham, he took the Southron officer by surprise.  The enemy's ranks
fell around him like corn beneath the sickle; and, grasping a huge
battering ram which his men had found, he burst open the door of the
keep.  Graham and Edwin rushed in; and Wallace, sounding his own bugle
with the notes of victory, his reserves (whom he had placed at the ends
of the streets) entered in every direction, and received the flying
soldiers of De Valence upon their pikes.

Dreadful was now the carnage; for the Southrons, forgetting all
discipline, fought every man for his life; which the furious Scots
driving them into the far-spreading flames, what escaped the sword
would have perished in the fire, had not the relenting heart of Wallace
pleaded for bleeding humanity, and he ordered the trumpet to sound a
parley.  He was obeyed; and, standing on an adjacent mound, in an awful
voice he proclaimed that "whoever had not been accomplices in the
horrible massacre of the Scottish chiefs, if they would ground their
arms, and take an oath never to serve again against Scotland, their
lives should be spared."

Hundreds of swords fell to the ground; and their late holders, kneeling
at his feet, took the oath perscribed.  At the head of those who
surrendered appeared the captain who had commanded at the prison.  He
was the only officer of all the late garrison who survived, all else
had fallen in the conflict or perished in the flames; and when he saw
that not one of his late numerous companions existed to go through the
same humiliating ceremony, with an aghast countenance he said to
Wallace, as he presented his sword, "Then I must believe that, with
this weapon, I am surrendering to Sir William Wallace the possession of
this castle and the government of Ayr.  I see not one of my late
commanders--all must be slain; and for me to hold out longer would be to
sacrifice my men, not to redeem that which has been so completely
wrested from us.  But I serve severe exactors, and I hope that your
testimony, my conqueror, will assure my king that I fought as became
his standard."

Wallace gave him a gracious answer; and committing him to the generous
care of Murray, he turned to give orders to Ker respecting the
surrendered and the slain.  During these momentous events, Graham had
deemed it prudent that, exhausted by anxiety and privations, the noble
captives should not come forth to join in the battle; and not until the
sound of victory echoed through the arches of their dungeons, would he
suffer the eager Dundaff to see and thank his deliverer.  Meanwhile,
the young Edwin appeared before the eyes of his father, like the angel
who opened the prison gates to Peter.  After embracing him with all a
son's fondness, in which for the moment he lost the repressing idea,
that he might have offended by his truancy; after recounting, in a few
hasty sentences, the events which had brought him to be a companion of
Sir William Wallace; and to avenge the injuries of Scotland in Ayr, he
knocked off the chains of his amazed father.  Eager to perform the like
service to all who had suffered in like manner, and accompanied by the
happy Lord Ruthven (who gazed with delight on his son, treading so
early the path of glory), he hastened around to the other dungeons; and
gladly proclaimed to the astonished inmates, freedom and safety.
Having rid them of their shackles, he had just entered with his noble
company into the vaulted chamber, which contained the released Lord
Dundaff, when the peaceful clarion sounded.  At the joyful tidings,
Graham started on his feet:  "Now, my father, you shall see the bravest
of men!"



Chapter XXX.

The Barns of Ayr.


Morning was spreading in pale light over the heavens, and condensing
with its cold breath the lurid smoke which still ascended in volumes
from the burning ruins, when Wallace, turning round at the glad voice
of Edwin, beheld the released nobles.  This was the first time he had
ever seen the Lords Dundaff and Ruthven; but several of the others he
remembered having met at the fatal decision of the crown; and, while
welcoming to his friendship those to whom his valor had given freedom,
how great was his surprise to see, in the person of a prisoner suddenly
brought before him, Sir John Monteith; the young chieftain whom he had
parted with a few months ago at Douglas; and from whose fatal
invitation to that castle he might date the ruin of his dearest
happiness, and all the succeeding catastrophe!

"We found Sir John Monteith amongst the slain before the palace," said
Ker; "he, of the whole party, alone breathed; I knew him instantly.
How he came there I know not; but I have brought him hither to explain
it himself."  Ker withdrew, to finish the interment of the dead.

Monteith, still leaning on the arm of a soldier, grasped Wallace's
hand.  "My brave friend!" cried he, "to owe my liberty to you is a
twofold pleasure; for," added he, in a lowered voice, "I see before me
the man who is to verify the words of Baliol; and be not only the
guardian, but the possessor of the treasure he committed to our care!"

Wallace, who had never thought on the coffer, since he knew it was
under the protection of St. Fillan, shook his head.  "A far different
need do I seek, my friend!" said he; "to behold these happy
countenances of my liberated countrymen is greater reward to me than
would be the development of all the splendid mysteries which the head
of Baliol could devise."

"Ay!" cried Dundaff, who overheard this part of the conversation, "we
invited the usurpation of a tyrant by the docility with which we
submitted to his minion.  Had we rejected Baliol, we had never been
ridden by Edward.  But the rowel has gored the flanks of us all! and
who amongst us will not lay himself and fortune at the foot of him who
plucks away the tyrant's heel?"

"It all held our cause in the light that you do," returned Wallace,
"the blood which these Southrons have sown would rise up in ten
thousand legions to overwhelm the murderers!"

"But how," inquired he, turning to Monteith, "did you happen to be in
Ayr at this period? and how, above all, amongst the slaughtered
Southrons at the palace?"

Sir John Monteith readily replied: "My adverse fate accounts for all."
He then proceeded to inform Wallace, that on the very night in which
they parted at Douglas, Sir Arthur Heselrigge was told the story of the
box: and accordingly sent to have Monteith brought prisoner to Lanark.
He lay in the dungeons of its citadel at the very time Wallace entered
that town and destroyed the governor.  Though the Scots did not pursue
the advantage offered by the transient panic into which the retribution
threw their enemies, care was immediately taken by the English
lieutenant to prevent a repetition of the same disasters; and, in
consequence, every suspected person was seized, and those already in
confinement loaded with chains.  Monteith being known as a friend of
Wallace, was sent under a strong guard toward Stirling, there to stand
his trial before Cressingham and the English Justiciary, Ormsby.  "By a
lucky chance," said he, "I made my escape; but I was soon retaken by
another party, and conveyed to Ayr, where the Lieutenant-governor
Arnuf, discovering my talents for music, compelled me to sing at his
entertainments."

"For this purpose, he last night confined me in the banqueting-room at
the palace, and thus, when the flames surrounded that building, I found
myself exposed to die the death of a traitor, though then as much
oppressed as any other Scot.  Snatching up a sword, and striving to
join my brave countrymen, the Southrons impeded my passage, and I fell
under their arms."

Happy to have rescued his old acquaintance from further indignities,
Wallace committed him to Edwin to lead into the citadel.  Then taking
the colors of Edward from the ground (where the Southron officer had
laid them), he gave them to Sir Alexander Scrymgeour, with orders to
fill their former station on the citadel with the standard of Scotland.
This action he considered as the seal of each victory; as the beacon
which, seen from afar, would show the desolate Scots where to find a
protector, and from what ground to start when courage should prompt
them to assert their rights.

The standard was no sooner raised than the proud clarion of triumph was
blown from every warlike instrument in the garrison and the Southron
captain, placing himself at the head of his disarmed troops, under the
escort of Murray, marched out of the castle.  He announced his design
to proceed immediately to Newcastle, and thence embark with his men to
join their king at Flanders.  Not more than two hundred followed their
officer in this expedition, for not more were English; the rest, to
nearly double that number, being, like the garrison of Dumbarton, Irish
and Welsh, were glad to escape enforced servitude.  Some parted off in
divisions to return to their respective countries, while a few, whose
energetic spirits preferred a life of warfare in the cause of a country
struggling for freedom, before returning to submit to the oppressors of
their own, enlisted under the banners of Wallace.

Some other necessary regulations being then made, he dismissed his
gallant Scots, to find refreshment in the well-stored barracks of the
dispersed Southrons, and retired himself to join his friends in the
citadel.



Chapter XXXI.

Berwick and the Tweed.


In the course of an hour Murray returned from having seen the departing
Southrons beyond the barriers of the township.  But he did not come
alone; he was accompanied by Lord Auchinleck, the son of one of the
betrayed barons who had fallen in the palace of Ayr.  This young
chieftain, at the head of his vassals, hastened to support the man
whose dauntless hand had thus satisfied his revenge; and when he met
Murray at the north gate of the town, and recognized in his flying
banners a friend of Scotland, he was happy to make himself known to an
officer of Wallace, and to be conducted to that chief.

While Lord Andrew and his new colleague were making the range of the
suburbs, the glad progress of the victor Scots had turned the whole
aspect of that gloomy city.  Doors and windows, so recently closed in
deep mourning, for the sanguinary deeds done in the palace, now opened
teeming with smiling inhabitants.  The general joy penetrated to the
most remote recesses.  Mothers now threw their fond arms around the
necks of the children whom just before they had regarded with the
averted eyes of despair; in the one sex, they then beheld the victims
of, perhaps, the next requisition for blood; and in the other, the
hapless prey of passions, more felt than the horrid rage of the beast
of the field.  But now all was secure again.  These terrific tyrants
were driven hence; and the happy parent, embracing her offspring as if
restored from the grave, implored a thousand blessings on the head of
Wallace, the gifted agent of all this good.

Sons who in secret had lamented the treacherous death of their fathers,
and brothers of their brothers, now opened their gates, and joined the
valiant troops in the streets.  Widowed wives and fatherless daughters
almost forgot they had been bereaved of their natural protectors, when
they saw Scotland rescued from her enemies, and her armed sons, once
more walking in the broad day, masters of themselves and of their
country's liberties.

Thus, then, with every heart rejoicing, every house teeming with
numbers to swell the ranks of Wallace, did he, the day after he had
entered Ayr, see all arranged for its peaceful establishment.  But ere
he bade that town adieu, in which he had been educated, and where
almost every man, remembering its preserver's boyish years, thronged
round him with recollections of former days, one duty yet demanded his
stay: to pay funeral honors to the remains of his beloved grandfather.

Accordingly, the time was fixed; and with every solemnity due to his
virtues and his rank, Sir Ronald Crawford was buried in the chapel of
the citadel.  It was not a scene of mere ceremonious mourning.  As he
had been the father of the fatherless, he was followed to the grave by
many an orphan's tears; and as he had been the protector of the
distressed of every degree, a procession, long and full of lamentation,
conducted his shrouded corpse to its earthly rest.  The mourning
families of the chiefs who had fallen in the same bloody theater with
himself, closed the sad retinue; and while the holy rites committed his
body to the ground, the sacred mass was extended to those who had been
plunged into the weltering element.

While Wallace confided the aged Elspa and her sister to the care of Sir
Reginald Crawford, to whom he also resigned the lands of his
grandfather; "Cousin," said he, "you are a valiant and a humane man!  I
leave you to be the representative of your venerable uncle; to cherish
these poor women whom he loved; to be the protector of his people and
the defender of the town.  The citadel is under the command of the
Baron of Auchinleck; he, with his brave followers, being the first to
hail the burning of the accursed Barns of Ayr."

After this solemnity, and these dispositions, Wallace called a review
of his troops; and found that he could leave five hundred men at Ayr,
and march an army of at least two thousand out of it.

His present design was to take his course to Berwick; and, by seizing
every castle of strength in his way, form a chain of works across the
country, which would not only bulwark Scotland against any further
inroads from its enemies, but render the subjugation of the interior
Southron garrisons more certain and easy.

On the third morning after the conflagration of the palace, Wallace
quitted Ayr; and marching over its far-stretching hills, manned every
watch-tower on their summits.  For now, whithersoever he moved, he
found his victories had preceded him; and all, from hall to hovel,
turned out to greet and offer him their services.  Thus, heralded by
fame, the panic-struck Southron governors fled at the distant view of
his standards; the flames of Ayr seemed to menace them all, and castle
and fortalice, from Muirkirk to the walls of Berwick, opened their
gates before him.

Arrived under those blood-stained towers which had so often been the
objects of dispute between the powers of England and of Scotland, he
prepared for their immediate attack.  Berwick being a valuable fortress
to the enemy, not only as a key to the invaded kingdom, but a point
whence by their ships they commanded the whole of the eastern coast of
Scotland, Wallace expected that a desperate stand would be made here to
stop the progress of his arms.  But being aware that the most
expeditious mode of warfare was the best adapted to promote his cause,
he first took the town by assault; and then, having driven the garrison
into the citadel, assailed it by a vigorous seige.

After ten days hard duty before the walls, Wallace devised a plan to
obtain possession of the English ships which commanded the harbor.  He
found among his own troops many men who had been used to a seafaring
life; these he disguised as fugitive Southrons from the late defeats,
and sent in boats to the enemy's vessels which lay in the roads.  The
feint took; and by these means getting possession of those nearest the
town, he manned them with his own people; and going out with them
himself, in three days made himself master of every ship on the coast.

By this maneuver the situation of the beseiged was rendered so
hopeless, that no mode of escape was left but by desperate sallies.
They made them, but without other effect than weakening their strength
and increasing their miseries.  Wallace was for them to do in their
situation, he needed no better spy over their actions than his own
judgment.

Foiled in every attempt, as their opponent, guessing their intentions,
was prepared at every point to meet their different essays, and losing
men at every rencounter, their governor stood without resource.
Without provisions, without aid of any kind for his wounded men, and
hourly annoyed by the victorious Scots, who continued day and night to
throw showers of arrows, and other missile weapons, from the towers and
springalls with which they had overtopped the walls, the unhappy Earl
of Gloucester seemed ready to rush on death, to avoid the disgrace of
surrendering the fortress.  Every soul in the garrison was reduced to
similar despair.  Wallace even found means to dam up the spring which
had supplied the citadel with water.  The common men, famished with
hunger, smarting with wounds, and now perishing with inextinguishable
thirst, threw themselves at the feet of their officers, imploring them
to represent to their royal governor that if he held out longer, he
must defend the place alone, for they could not exist another day under
their present sufferings.

The earl indeed repented the rashness with which he had thrown himself
unprovisioned into the citadel.  He now saw that expectation was no
apology for want of precaution.  When his first division had been
overpowered in the assault on the town, his evil genius then suggested
that it was best to take the second unbroken into the citadel, and
there await the arrival of a reinforcement by sea.  But he thence
beheld the ships which had defended the harbor seized by Wallace before
his eyes.  Hope was then crushed, and nothing but death or dishonor
seemed to be his alternatives.  Cut to the soul at the consequences of
his want of judgment, he determined to retrieve his fame by washing out
that error with his blood.  To fall under the ruins of Berwick Castle
was his resolution.  Such was the state of his mind when his officers
appeared with the petition from his men.  In proportion as they felt
the extremities into which they were driven, the offense he had
committed glared with tenfold enormity in his eyes; and, in a wild
despair, he told them "they might do as they would, but for his part,
the moment they opened the gates to the enemy, that moment should be
the last of his life.  He, that was the son-in-law of King Edward,
would never yield his sword to a Scottish rebel."

Terrified at these threats on himself, the soldiers, who loved their
general, declared themselves willing to die with him; and, as a last
effort, proposed making a mine under the principal tower of the Scots;
and by setting fire to it, at least destroy the means by which they
feared their enemies might storm the citadel.

As Wallace gave his orders from this commanding station, he observed
the besieged passing in numbers behind a mound, in the direction of the
tower where he stood: he concluded what was their design; and ordering
a countermine to be made, what he anticipated happened; and Murray, at
the head of his miners, encountered those of the castle at the very
moment they would have set fire to the combustibles laid to consume the
tower.  The instant struggle was violent, but short; for the impetuous
Scots drove their amazed and enfeebled adversaries through the
aperture, back into the citadel.  At this crisis, Wallace, with a band
of resolute men, sprung from the tower upon the wall; and it being
almost deserted by its late guards (who had quitted their post to
assist in repelling the foe below), he leaped into the midst of the
conflict and the battle became general.  It was decisive; for beholding
the undaunted resolution with which the weakened and dying were
supporting the cause their governor was determined to defend to the
last, Wallace found his admiration and his pity alike excited; and even
while his followers seemed to have each his foe's life in his hands,
when one instant more would make him the undisputed master of the
castle (for not a Southron would then breathe to dispute it), he
resolved to stop the carnage.  At the moment when a gallant officer,
who, having assaulted him with the vehemence of despair, now lay
disarmed under him; at that moment when the discomfited knight
exclaimed, "In mercy strike, and redeem the honor of Ralph de
Monthermer!"**  Wallace raised his bugle and sounded the note of peace.
Every sword was arrested, and the universal clangor of battle was
hushed in expecting silence.

**Ralph de Monthermer, a noble knight who married Jane of Acre, the
daughter of King Edward I.  He was created Earl of Gloucester on his
marriage with that princess.-(1809.)

"Rise, brave earl," cried Wallace, to the governor; "I revere virtue
too sincerely to take an unworthy advantage of my fortune.  The valor
of this garrison commands my respect; and, as a proof of my sincerity,
I grant to it what I have never yet done to any: that yourself and
these dauntless men march out with the honors of war, and without any
bonds on your future conduct toward us.  We leave it to your own hearts
to decide whether you will ever be again made instruments to enchain a
free and brave people."

While he was speaking, De Monthermer leaned gloomily on the sword he
had returned to him, with his eyes fixed on his men.  They answered his
glance with looks that said they understood him: and passing a few
words in whispers to each other, one at last spoke aloud: "Decide for
us, earl.  We are as ready to die as to live; so that in neither we may
be divided from you."

At this generous declaration the proud despair of De Monthermer gave
way to nobler feelings; and while a big tear stood in each eye, he
turned to Wallace, and stretching out his hand to him.  "Noble Scot,"
said he, "your unexampled generosity, and the invincible fidelity of
these heroic men, have compelled me to accept the life I had resolved
to lose under these walls, rather than resign them.  But virtue is
resistless, and to it do I surrender that pride of soul which made
existence insufferable under the consciousness of having erred.  When I
became the husband of King Edward's daughter, I believed myself pledged
to victories or to death.  But there is a conquest, and I feel it,
greater than over hosts in the field; and here taught to make it, the
husband of the princess of England, the proud Earl of Gloucester,
consents to live to be a monument of Scottish nobleness, and of the
inflexible fidelity of English soldiers."

"You live, illustrious and virtuous Englishmen," returned Wallace, "to
redeem that honor of which too many rapacious sons of England have
robbed their country.  Go forth, therefore, as my conqueror, for you
have on this spot extinguished that burning antipathy with which the
outraged heart of William Wallace had vowed to extirpate every Southron
from off this ravaged land.  Honor, brave earl, makes all men brethren;
and, as a brother, I open these gates for you, to repass into your
country.  When there, if you ever remember William Wallace, let it be
as a man who fights, not for conquest or renown, but to restore
Scotland to her rights, and then resign his sword to peace."

"I shall remember you, Sir William Wallace!" returned De Monthermer;
"and, as a pledge of it, you shall never see me again in this country
till I come an embassador of that peace for which you fight.  But
meanwhile, in the moment of hot contention for the rights which you
believe wrested from you, do you remember that they have not been so
much the spoil of my royal father's ambition as the traffic of your own
venal nobles.  Had I not believed that Scotland was unworthy of
freedom, I should never have appeared upon her borders; but now that I
see that she has brave hearts within her, who not only resist
oppression, but know how to wield power, I detest the zeal with which I
volunteered to rivet her chains.  And I repeat, that never again shall
my hostile foot impress this land."

These sentiments were answered in the same spirit by his soldiers; and
the Scots, following the example of their leader, treated them with
every kindness.  After dispensing amongst them provisions, and
appointing means to convey the wounded in comfort, Wallace bade a
cordial farewell to the Earl of Gloucester, and his men conducted their
reconciled enemies over the Tweed.  There they parted.  The English
bent their course toward London, and the Scots returned to their
victorious general.



Chapter XXXII.

Stirling.


The happy effects of these rapid conquests were soon apparent.  The
fall of Berwick excited such a confidence in the minds of the
neighboring chieftains, that every hour brought fresh recruits to
Wallace.  Every mouth was full of the praises of the young conqueror;
every eye was eager to catch a glimpse of his person; and while the men
were emulous to share his glory, the women in their secret bowers put
up prayers for the preservation of one so handsome and so brave.

Amongst the many of every rank and age who hastened to pay their
respects to the deliverer of Berwick, was Sir Richard Maitland, of
Thirlestane, the Stawlart Knight of Lauderdale.**

**Sir Richard Maitland, of the castle of Thirlestane on the Leeder, is
noted in Scottish tradition for his bravery.  His valiant defense of
his castle against the English in his extreme old age, is still the
subject of enthusiasm amongst the people of Lauderdale.

Wallace was no sooner told of the approach of the venerable chief, than
he set forth to bid him welcome.  At sight of the champion of Scotland,
Sir Richard threw himself off his horse with a military grace that
might have become even youthful years; and hastening toward Wallace,
clasped him in his arms.

"Let me look on thee!" cried the old knight; "let me feast my eyes on
the true Scot, who again raises this hoary head, so long bent in shame
for its dishonored country!"  While he spoke, he viewed Wallace from
head to foot.  "I knew Sir Ronald Crawford, and thy valiant father,"
continued he, "O! had they lived to see this day!  But the base murder
of the one thou hast nobly avenged, and the honorable grave of the
other, on Loudon Hill,** thou wilt cover with a monument of thine own
glories.  Low are laid my own children, in this land of strife, but in
thee I see a son of Scotland that is to dry all our tears."

**Sir Malcolm Wallace, the father of Sir William Wallace, was killed in
the year 1295, on Loudon Hill, in a battle with the English.

He embraced Wallace again and again; and, as the veteran's overflowing
heart rendered him garrulous, he expatiated on the energy with which
the young victor had pursued his conquests, and paralleled them with
the brilliant actions he had seen in his youth.  While he thus
discoursed, Wallace drew him toward the castle, and there presented to
him the two nephews of the Earl of May.

He paid some warm compliments to Edwin on his early success in the
career of glory; and then turning to Murray: "Ay!" said he, "it is joy
to me to see the valiant house of Bothwell in the third generation.
Thy grandfather and myself were boys together at the coronation of
Alexander the Second; and that is eighty years ago.  Since then, what
have I not seen! the death of two noble Scottish kings! our blooming
princes ravished from us by untimely fates! the throne sold to a
coward, and at last seized by a foreign power!  Then, in my own person,
I have been the father of as brave and beauteous a family as ever
blessed a parent's eye; but they are all torn from me.  Two of my sons
sleep on the plains of Dunbar; my third, my dauntless William, since
that fatal day, has been kept a prisoner in England.  And my daughters,
the tender blossoms of my aged years--they grew around me, the fairest
lilies of the land: but they, too, are passed away.  The one, scorning
the mere charms of youth, and preferring a union with a soul that had
long conversed with superior regions, loved the sage of Ercildown.  But
my friend lost this rose of his bosom, and I the child of my heart, ere
she had been a year his wife.  Then was my last and only daughter
married to the Lord Mar; and in giving birth to my dear Isabella she,
too, died.  Ah, my good young knight, were it not for that sweet child,
the living image of her mother, who in the very spring of youth was
cropped and fell, I should be alone: my hoary head would descend to the
grave, unwept, unregretted!"

The joy of the old man having recalled such melancholy remembrances, he
wept upon the shoulder of Edwin, who had drawn so near, that the story,
was begun to Murray, was ended to him.  To give  the mourning father
time to recover himself, Wallace was moving away, when he was met by
Ker, bringing information that a youth had just arrived in breathless
haste from Stirling, with a sealed packet, which he would not deliver
into any hands but those of Sir William Wallace.  Wallace requested his
friends to show every attention to the Lord of Thirlestane, and then
withdrew to meet the messenger.

On his entering the ante-room, the youth sprung forward, but suddenly
checking himself, he stood as if irresolute whom to address.

"This is Sir William Wallace, young man," said Ker; "deliver your
embassy."

At these words the youth pulled a packet from his bosom, and putting it
into the chief's hand, retired in confusion.  Wallace gave orders to
Ker to take care of him, and then turned to inspect its contents.  He
wondered from whom it would come, aware of no Scot in Stirling who
would dare to write to him while that town was possessed by the enemy.
But not losing a moment in conjecture, he broke the seal.

How was he startled at the first words! and how was every energy of his
heart roused to redoubled action when he turned to the signature!  The
first words in the letter were these:


"A daughter, trembling for the life of her father, presumes to address
Sir William Wallace."  The signature was "Helen Mar."  He began the
letter again:


"A daughter, trembling for the life of her father, presumes to address
Sir William Wallace.  Alas! it will be a long letter! for it is to tell
of our countless distresses.  You have been his deliverer from the
sword, from chains, and from the waves.  Refuse not to save him again
to whom you have so often given life, and hasten, brave Wallace, to
preserve the Earl of Mar from the scaffold.

"A cruel deception brought him from the Isle of Bute, where you
imagined you had left him in security.  Lord Aymer de Valence, escaping
a second time from your sword, fled under rapacious robber of all our
castles, found in him an apt coadjutor.  They concerted how to avenge
your late successes; and Cressingham, eager to enrich himself, while he
flattered the resentments of his commander, suggested that you, Sir
William Wallace, our deliverer, and our enemy's scourge, would most
easily be made to feel through the bosoms of your friends.  These cruel
men have therefore determined, by a mock trial, to condemn my father to
death, and thus, while they distress you, put themselves in possession
of his lands, with the semblance of justice.

"The substance of this most unrighteous debate was communicated to me
by De Valence himself; thinking to excuse his part in the affair by
proving to me how insensible he is to the principles which move alike a
patriot and a man of honor.

"Having learned from some too well-informed spy that Lord Mar had
retired in peaceful obscurity to Bute, these arch-enemies to our
country sent a body of men disguised as Scots to Gourock.  There they
dispatched a messenger into the island to inform Lord Mar that Sir
William Wallace was on the banks of the Frith waiting to converse with
him.  My noble father, unsuspicious of treachery, hurried to the
summons.  Lady Mar accompanied him, and so both fell into the snare.

"They were brought prisoners to Stirling, where another affliction
awaited him;-he was to see his daughter and his sister in captivity.

"After I had been betrayed from St. Fillian's monastery by the
falsehoods of one Scottish knight, and were rescued from his power by
the gallantry of another, I sought the protection of my aunt, Lady
Ruthven, who then dwelt at Alloa, on the banks of the Forth.  Her
husband had been invited to Ayr by some treacherous requisition of the
governor, Arnuf; and with many other lords was thrown into prison.
Report says, bravest of men, that you have given freedom to my betrayed
uncle.

"The moment Lord Ruthven's person was secured, his estates were seized,
and my aunt and myself being found at Alloa, we were carried prisoners
to this city.  Alas! we had then no valiant arm to preserve us from our
enemies!  Lady Ruthven's first born son was slain in the fatal day of
Dunbar, and in terror of the like fate, she placed her eldest surviving
boy in a convent.

"Some days after our arrival, my dear father was brought to Stirling.
Though a captive in the town, I was not then confined to any closer
durance than the walls.  While he was yet passing through the streets,
rumor told my aunt that the Scottish lord then leading to prison was
her beloved brother.  She flew to me in agony to tell me the dreadful
tidings.  I heard no more, saw no more, till, having rushed into the
streets, and bursting through every obstacle of crowd and soldiers, I
found myself clasped in my father's arms--in his shackled arms!  What a
moment was that!  Where was Sir William Wallace in that hour?  Where
the brave unknown knight, who had sworn to me to seek my father, and
defend him with his life?  Both were absent, and he was in chains.

"My grief and distraction baffled the attempts of the guards to part
us, and what became of me I know not until I found myself lying on a
couch, attended by many women, and supported by my aunt.  When I had
recovered to lamentation and to tears, my aunt told me I was in the
apartments of the deputy warden.  He, with Cressingham, having gone out
to meet the man they had so basely drawn into their toils, De Valence
himself saw the struggles of paternal affection contending against the
men who would have torn a senseless daughter from his arms, and yet,
merciless man! he separated us, and sent me, with my aunt, a prisoner
to his house.

"The next day a packet was put into my aunt's hands, containing a few
precious lines from my father to me, also a letter from the countess to
Lady Ruthven, full of your goodness to her and to my father, and
narrating the cruel manner in which they had been ravished from the
asylum in which you had placed them.  She then said that could she find
means of apprising you of the danger to which she and her husband are
now involved, she would be sure of a second rescue.  Whether she has
blessedly found these means I know not, for all communication between
us, since the delivery of that letter, has been rendered impracticable.
The messenger that brought the packet was a good Southron, who had
been won by Lady Mar's entreaties.  But on his quitting our apartments,
he was seized by a servant of De Valence, and on the same day put
publicly to death, to intimidate all others from the like compassion to
the sufferings of unhappy Scotland.  Oh! Sir William Wallace, will not
your sword reach these men of blood?

"Earl de Valence compelled my aunt to yield the packet to him.  We had
already read it, therefore did not regret it on that head, but feared
the information it might give relative to you.  In consequence of this
circumstance, I was made a closer prisoner.  But captivity could have
no terrors for me, did it not divide me from my father.  And, grief on
grief! what words have I to write it? they have CONDEMNED HIM TO DIE!
That fatal letter of my step-mother's was brought out against him, and
as your adherent, Sir William Wallace, they have sentenced him to lose
his head!

"I have knelt to Earl de Valence; I have implored my father's life at
his hands, but to no purpose.  He tells me that Cressingham, at his
side, and Ormsby, by letters from Scone, declare it necessary that an
execution of consequence should be made to appall the discontented
Scots; and that as no lord is more esteemed in Scotland than the Earl
of Mar, he must be the sacrifice.

"Hasten, then, my father's preserver and friend! hasten to save him!
Oh, fly, for the sake of the country he loves; for the sake of the
hapless beings dependent on his protection!  I shall be on my knees
till I hear your trumpet before the walls; for in you and Heaven now
rest all the hopes of Helen Mar."


A cold dew stood on the limbs of Wallace as he closed the letter.  It
might be too late!  The sentence was passed on the earl, and his
executioners were prompt as cruel: the ax might already have fallen.

He called to Ker, for the messenger to be brought in.  He entered.
Wallace inquired how long he had been from Stirling.  "Only thirty-four
hours," replied the youth, adding that he had traveled night and day
for fear the news of the risings in Annandale, and the taking of
Berwick, should precipitate the earl's death.

"I accompany you this instant," cried Wallace!  "Ker, see that the
troops get under arms."  As he spoke he turned into the room where he
had left the Knight of Thirlestane.

"Sir Richard Maitland," said he, willing to avoid exciting his alarm,
"there is more work for us at Stirling.  Lord Aymer de Valence has
again escaped the death we thought had overtaken him, and is now in
that citadel.  I have just received a summons thither, which I must
obey."  At these words, Sir Roger Kirkpatrick gave a shout and rushed
from the apartment.  Wallace looked after him for a moment, and then
continued: "Follow us with your prayers, Sir Richard; and I shall not
despair of sending blessed tidings to the banks of the Lauder."

"What has happened?" inquired Murray, who saw that something more than
the escape of De Valence had been imparted to his general.

"We must spare this good old man," returned he, "and have him conducted
to his home before I declare it publicly; but the Earl of Mar is again
a prisoner, and in Stirling."

Murray, who instantly comprehended his uncle's danger speeded the
departure of Sir Richard; and as Wallace held his stirrup, the chief
laid his hand on his head, and blessed him.  "The seer of Ercildown is
too ill to bring his benediction himself, but I breathe it over this
heroic brow!"  Wallace bowed his head in silence; and the bridle being
in the hand of Lord Andrew, he led the horse out of the eastern gate of
the town, where, taking leave of the veteran knight, he soon rejoined
his commander, whom he found in the midst of his chieftains.

He had informed them of the Earl of Mar's danger, and the policy as
well as justice of rescuing so powerful and patriotic a nobleman from
the threatened execution.  Lord Ruthven needed no arguments to
precipitate him to the assistance of his brother and his wife; and the
anxieties of the affectionate Edwin were all awake when he knew that
his mother was a prisoner.  Lord Andrew smiled proudly when he returned
his cousin's letter to Wallace.  "We shall have the rogue on the nail
yet," cried he; "my uncle's brave head is not ordained to fall by the
stroke of such a coward!"

"So I believe," replied Wallace; and then turning to Lord Dundaff-"My
lord," said he, "I leave you governor of Berwick."

The veteran warrior grasped Wallace's hand.  "To be your representative
in this fortress, is the proudest station this warworn frame hath ever
filled.  My son must be my representative with you in the field."  He
waved Sir John Graham toward him; the young knight advanced, and Lord
Dundaff, placing his son's hands upon his target, continued, "Swear,
that as this defends the body, you will ever strive to cover Scotland
from her enemies; and that from this hour you will be the faithful
friend and follower of Sir William Wallace."

"I swear," returned Graham, kissing the shield.  Wallace pressed his
hand.  "I have brothers around me, rather than what the world calls
friends!  And with such valor, such fidelity to aid me, can I be
otherwise than a victor?  Heaven's anointed sword is with such
fellowship!"

Edwin, who stood near this rite of generous enthusiasm, softly
whispered to Wallace, as he turned toward his troops, "But amongst all
these brothers, cease not to remember Edwin--the youngest and the least.
Ah, my beloved general, what Jonathan was to David, I would be to
thee!"

Wallace looked on him with penetrating tenderness; his heart was
suddenly wrung by a recollection, which the words of Edwin had
recalled.  "But thy love, Edwin, passes not the love of woman!"  "But
it equals it," replied he; "what has been done for thee I would do;
only love me as David did Jonathan, and I shall be the happiest of the
happy."  "Be happy then, dear boy!" answered Wallace; "for all that
ever beat in human breast, for friend or brother, lives in my heart for
thee."

At that moment Sir John Graham rejoined them; and some other captains
coming up.  Wallace made the proper military dispositions, and every
man took his station at the head of his division.

Until the men had marched far beyond the chance of rumors reaching
Thirlestane, they were not informed of the Earl of Mar's danger.  They
conceived their present errand was the recapture of De Valence.  "But
at a proper moment," said Wallace, "they shall know the whole truth;
for," added he, "as it is a law of equity, that what concerns all,
should be approved by all, and that common dangers should be repelled
by united efforts, the people who follow our standards, not as
hirelings, but with willing spirits, ought to know our reasons for
requiring their services."

"They who follow you," said Graham, "have too much confidence in their
leader, to require any reasons for his movements."

"It is to place that confidence on a sure foundation, my brave
friends," returned Wallace, "that I explain what there is no just
reason to conceal.  Should policy ever compel me to strike a blow
without previously telling my agents wherefore, I should then draw upon
their faith, and expect that confidence in my honor and arms which I
now place on their discretion and fidelity."

Exordiums were not requisite to nerve every limb, and to strengthen
every heart in the toilsome journey.  Mountains were climbed, vast
plains traversed, rivers forded, and precipices crossed, without one
man in the ranks lingering on its steps, or dropping his head upon his
pike, to catch a moment's slumber.  Those who had fought with Wallace,
longed to redouble their fame under his command; and they who had
recently embraced his standard, panted with a virtuous ambition to
rival those first-born in arms.

Sir Roger Kirkpatrick had been the first to fly to arms, on the march
to Stirling being mentioned; and when Wallace stood forward to declare
that rest should be dispensed with till Stirling fell, full of a fierce
joy, the ardent knight darted over every obstacle to reach his aim.  He
flew to the van of his troops, and hailing them forward: "Come on!"
cried he, "and in the blood of Cressingham let us forever sink King
Edward's Scottish crown."

The shouts of the men, who seemed to drink in the spirit that blazed
from Kirkpatrick's eyes, made the echoes of Lammermuir ring with a
long-estranged noise.  It was the voice of liberty.  Leaping every
bound, the eager van led the way; and, with prodigious perseverance,
dragging their war-machines in the rear, the rest pressed on, till they
reached the Carron side.  At the moment the foaming steed of Wallace,
smoking with the labors of a long and rapid march, was plunging into
the stream to take the form, Ker snatched the bridle of the horse: "My
lord," cried he, "a man on full speed from Douglas Castle has brought
this packet."

In his march to Ayr, Wallace had left Sir Eustace Maxwell governor of
that castle, and Monteith as his lieutenant.

Wallace opened the packet and read as follows:


"The patriots in Annandale have been beaten by Lord de Warenne.  Sir
John Monteith (who volunteered to head them) is taken prisoner, with
twelve hundred men.

"Earl de Warenne comes to resume his arrogant title of Lord Warden of
Scotland, and thereby to relieve his deputy, Aymer de Valence, who is
recalled to take possession of the lordship of Pembroke.  In pursuance
of his usurping commission, the earl is now marching rapidly toward the
Lothians, in the hope of intercepting you in your progress.

"Thanks to the constant information you send us of your movements, for
being able to surprise you of this danger!  I should have attempted to
have checked the Southron, by annoying his flanks, had not his numbers
rendered such an enterprise on my part hopeless.  But his aim being to
come up with you, if you meet him in the van, we shall have him in the
rear; and, so surrounded, he must be cut to pieces.  Surely the tree
you planted in Dumbarton, is not now to be blasted!

"Ever your general's and Scotland's true servant,

"Eustace Maxwell."


"What answer?" inquired Ker.

Wallace hastily engraved with his dagger's point upon his gauntlet,
"Reviresco!** Our sun is above!" and desiring it to be given to the
messenger to carry to Sir Eustace Maxwell, he refixed himself in his
saddle, and spurred over the Carron.

**Reviresco! means "I bud again!"  This encouraging word is now the
reuto of the Maxwell arms.

The moon was near her meridian as the wearied troops halted on the deep
shadows of the Carse of Stirling.  All around them was desolation; the
sword and the fire had been there, not in open declared warfare, but
under the darkness of midnight, and impelled by rapacity and
wantonness; hence from the base of the rock, even to the foot of the
Clackmannan Hills, all lay a smoking wilderness.

An hour's rest was sufficient to restore every exhausted power to the
limbs of the determined followers of Wallace; and, as the morning
dawned, the sentinels on the ramparts of the town were not only
surprised to see a host below, but that (by the most indefatigable
labor, and a silence like death) had not merely passed the ditch, but
having gained the counterscarp, had fixed their movable towers, and
were at that instant overlooking the highest bastions.  The mangonels
and petraries, and other implements for battering walls, and the
ballista, with every efficient means of throwing missive weapons, were
ready to discharge their artillery upon the heads of the beseiged.

At a sight so unexpected, which seemed to have arisen out of the earth
like an exhalation (with such muteness and expedition had the Scottish
operations been carried on), the Southrons, struck with dread, fled a
moment from the walls; but immediately recovering their presence of
mind, they returned, and discharged a cloud of arrows upon their
assailants.  A messenger, meanwhile, was sent into the citadel to
apprise De Valence and the Governor Cressingham of the assault.  The
interior gates now sent forth thousands to the walls; but in proportion
to the numbers which approached, the greater was the harvest of death
prepared for the terrible arm of Wallace, whose tremendous war wolves
throwing prodigious stones, and lighter springalls, casting forth
brazen darts, swept away file after file of the reinforcements.  It
grieved the noble heart of the Scottish commander to see so many
valiant men urged to inevitable destruction; but still they advanced,
and that his own might be preserved they must fall.  To shorten the
bloody contest, his direful weapons were worked with redoubled energy;
and so mortal a shower fell that the heavens seemed to rain iron.  The
crushed and stricken enemy, shrinking under the mighty tempest, forsook
their ground.

The ramparts deserted, Wallace sprung from his tower upon the walls.
At that moment De Valence opened one of the gates; and, at the head of
a formidable body, charged the nearest Scots.  A good soldier is never
taken unawares, and Murray and Graham were prepared to receive him.
Furiously driving him to a retrograde motion, they forced him back into
the town.  But there all was confusion.  Wallace, with his resolute
followers, had already put Cressingham and his legions to flight; and,
closely pursued by Kirkpatrick, they threw themselves into the castle.
Meanwhile, the victorious Wallace surrounded the amazed De Valence,
who, caught in double toils, called to his men to fight for their king,
and neither give nor take quarter.

The brave fellows too strictly obeyed; and while they fell on all
sides, he supported them with a courage which horror of Wallace's
vengeance for his grandfather's death, and the attempt on his own life
in the hall at Dumbarton, rendered desperate.  At last he encountered
the conquering chief, arm to arm.  Great was the dismay of De Valence
at this meeting; but as death was now all he saw before him, he
resolved, if he must die, that the soul of his enemy should attend him
to the other world.

He fought, not with the steady valor of a warrior determined to
vanquish or die; but with the fury of despair, with the violence of a
hyena, thirsting for the blood of his opponent.  Drunk with rage, he
made a desperate plunge at the heart of Wallace--a plunge, armed with
execrations, and all his strength; but his sword missed its aim, and
entered the side of a youth, who at that moment had thrown himself
before his general.  Wallace saw where the deadly blow fell; and
instantly closing on the earl--with a vengeance in his eyes, which
reminded his now determined victim of the horrid vision he had seen in
the burning Barns of Ayr--with one grasp of his arm, the incensed chief
hurled him to the ground; and setting his foot upon his breast, would
have buried his dagger there, had not De Valence dropped his uplifted
sword, and with horror in every feature, raised his clasped hands in
speechless supplication.

Wallace suspended the blow; and De Valence exclaimed: "My life! this
once again, gallant Wallace! by your hopes of heaven, grant me mercy!"

Wallace looked on the trembling recreant with a glare, which, had he
possessed the soul of a man, would have made him grasp at death, rather
than deserve a second.  "And hast thou escaped me again?" cried
Wallace.  Then turning his indignant eyes from the abject earl to his
bleeding friend-"I yield him his life, Edwin, and you, perhaps, are
slain?"

"Forget not our own bright principle to avenge me," said Edwin, as
brightly smiling; "he has only wounded me.  But you are safe, and I
hardly feel a smart."

Wallace replaced his dagger in his girdle.  "Rise, Lord de Valence; it
is my honor, not my will, that grants your life.  You threw away your
arms!  I cannot strike even a murderer who bares his breast.  I give
you that mercy you denied to nineteen unoffending, defenseless old men,
whose hoary heads your ruthless ax brought with blood to the ground.
Let memory be the sword I have withheld!"

While he spoke, De Valence had risen, and stood, conscience-stricken,
before the majestic mien of Wallace.  There was something in this
denunciation that sounded like the irreversible decree of a divinity;
and the condemned wretch quaked beneath the threat, while he panted for
revenge.

The whole of the survivors in De Valence's train having surrendered
themselves when their leader fell, in a few minutes Wallace was
surrounded by his chieftains, bringing in the colors, and the swords of
their prisoners.

"Sir Alexander Ramsay," said he, to a brave and courteous knight, who
with his kinsman, William Blair, had joined him in the Lothians; "I
confide Earl de Valence, to your care.  See that he is strongly
guarded; and has every respect according to the honor of him to whom I
commit this charge."

The town was now in possession of the Scots; and Wallace, having sent
off the rest of his prisoners to safe quarters, reiterated his
persuasions to Edwin, to have the ground, and submit his wounds to the
surgeon.  "No, no," replied he; "the same hand that gave me this,
inflicted a worse on my general at Dumbarton: he kept the field then;
and shall I retire now, and disgrace my example?  No, my brother; you
would not have me so disprove my kindred!"

"Do as you will," answered Wallace, with a grateful smile; "so that you
preserve a life that must never again be risked to save mine.  While it
is necessary for me to live, my Almighty Captain will shield me; but
when his word goes forth, that I shall be recalled, it will not be in
the power of friendship, nor of hosts, to turn the steel from my
breast.  Therefore, dearest Edwin, thrown not yourself away, in
defending what is in the hands of Heaven--to be lent, or to be withdrawn
at will."

Edwin bowed his modest head; and having suffered a balsam to be poured
into his wound, braced his brigandine over his breast; and was again at
the side of his friend, just as he had joined Kirkpatrick before the
citadel.  The gates were firmly closed, and the dismayed Cressingham
was panting behind its walls, as Wallace commanded the parley to be
sounded.  Afraid of trusting himself within arrow-shot of an enemy who
he believed conquered by witchcraft, the terrified governor sent his
lieutenant up on the walls to answer the summons.

The herald of the Scots demanded the immediate surrender of the place.
Cressingham was at that instant informed by a messenger, who had
arrived too late the preceding night to be allowed to disturb his
slumbers, that De Warenne was approaching with an immense army.
Inflated with new confidence, he mounted the wall himself, and in
haughty language, returned for answer, "That he would fall under the
towers of the citadel before he would surrender to a Scottish rebel.
And as an example of the fate which such a delinquent merits,"
continued he, "I will change the milder sentence passed on Lord Mar,
and immediately hang him, and all his family, on these ramparts, in
sight of your insurgent army."

"Then," cried the herald, "thus says Sir William Wallace--if even one
hair on the heads of the Earl of Mar and his family falls with violence
to the ground, every Southron soul who has this day surrendered to the
Scottish arms shall lose his head by the ax."

"We are used to the blood of traitors," cried Cressingham, "and mind
not its scent.  But the army of Earl de Warenne is at hand; and it is
at the peril of all your necks, for the rebel, your master, to put his
threat in execution.  Withdraw, or you shall see the dead bodies of
Donald Mar and his family fringing these battlements; for no terms do
we keep with man, woman, or child, who is linked with treason!"

At these words, an arrow, winged from a hand behind Cressingham, flew
directly to the unvisored face of Wallace, but it struck too high, and
ringing against his helmet fell to the ground.

"Treachery!" resounded from every Scottish lip; while indignant at so
villainous a rupture of the parley, every bow was drawn to the head;
and a flight of arrows, armed with retribution, flew toward the
battlements.  All hands were now at work, to bring the towers to the
wall; and mounting on them, while the archers by their rapid showers
drove the men from the ramparts, soldiers below, with pickaxes, dug
into the wall to make a breach.

Cressingham began to fear that his boasted auxiliaries might arrive too
late; but, determining to gain time at least, he shot flights of darts,
and large stones, from a thousand engines; also discharged burning
combustibles over the ramparts, in hopes of setting fire to the enemy's
attacking machines.

But all his promptitude proved of no effect.  The walls were giving way
in parts, and Wallace was mounting by scaling-ladders, and clasping the
parapets with bridges from his towers.  Driven to extremity,
Cressingham resolved to try the attachment of the Scots for Lord Mar;
and even at the moment when their chief had seized the barbican and
outer ballium, this sanguinary politician ordered the imprisoned earl
to be brought out upon the wall of the inner ballia.  A rope was round
his neck, which was instantly run through a groove, that projected from
the nearest tower.

At this sight, horror froze the ardent blood of Wallace.  But the
intrepid earl, descrying his friend on the ladder which might soon
carry him to the summit of the battlement, exclaimed, "Forward!  Let
not my span of life stand between my country and this glorious day for
Scotland's freedom!"

"Execute the sentence!" cried the infuriate Cressingham.

At these words, Murray and Edwin precipitated themselves upon the
ramparts, and mowed down all before them, in a direction toward their
uncle.  The lieutenant who held the cord, aware of the impolicy of the
cruel mandate, hesitated to fulfill it; and now, fearing a rescue from
the impetuous Scots, hurried his victim off the works, back to his
prison.  Meanwhile, Cressingham perceiving that all would be lost
should he suffer the enemy to gain this wall also, sent such numbers
upon the brave Scots who had followed the cousins, that, overcoming
some, and repelling others, they threw Murray, with a sudden shock,
over the ramparts.  Edwin was surrounded; and his successful
adversaries were bearing him off, struggling and bleeding, when
Wallace, springing like a lioness on hunters carrying away her young,
rushed in singly amongst them.  He seized Edwin; and while his falchion
flashed terrible threatenings in their eyes, with a backward step he
fought his passage to one of the wooden towers he had fastened to the
wall.

Cressingham, being wounded in the head, commanded a parley to be
sounded.

"We have already taken Lord de Valence and his host prisoners,"
returned Wallace; "and we grant you no cessation of hostilities till
you deliver up the Earl of Mar and his family, and surrender the castle
into our hands."

"Think not, proud boaster!" cried the herald of Cressingham, "that we
ask a parley to conciliate.  It was to tell you that if you do not draw
off directly, not only the Earl of Mar and his family, but every
Scottish prisoner within these walls, shall perish in your sight."

While he yet spoke, the Southrons uttered a great shout, and the Scots
looking up, beheld several high poles erected on the roof of the keep,
and the Earl of Mar, as before, was led forward.  But he seemed no
longer the bold and tranquil patriot.  He was surrounded by shrieking
female forms, clinging to his knees; and his trembling hands were
lifted to heaven, as if imploring its pity.

"Stop!" cried Wallace, in a voice whose thundering mandate rung from
tower to tower.  "The instant he dies, Lord Aymer de Valence shall
perish!"

He had only to make the sign, and in a few minutes that nobleman
appeared between Ramsay and Kirkpatrick.  "Earl," exclaimed Wallace,
"though I granted your life in the field with reluctance, yet here I am
ashamed to put it in danger.  But your own people compel me.  Look at
that spectacle.  A venerable father, in the midst of his family; he and
they doomed to an ignominious and instant death, unless I betray my
country and abandon these walls.  Were I weak enough to purchase their
lives at such an expense, they could not survive that disgrace.  But
that they shall not die, while I have the power to preserve them, is my
resolve and my duty!  Life, then, for life; yours for this family!"

Wallace, directing his voice toward the keep:

"The moment," cried he, "in which that vile cord presses too closely on
the neck of the Earl of Mar, or any of his blood, the ax shall sever
the head of Lord de Valence from his body!"

De Valence was now seen on the top of one of the besieging towers.  He
was pale as death.  He trembled, but not with dismay only; ten thousand
varying emotions tore his breast.  To be thus set up as a monument of
his own defeat, to be threatened with execution by an enemy he had
contemned, to be exposed to such indignities by the unthinking ferocity
of his colleague, filled him with such contending passions of revenge
against friends and foes, that he forgot the present fear of death in
turbulent wishes to deprive of life all by whom he suffered.

Cressingham became alarmed on seeing the retaliating menace of Wallace
brought so directly before his view; and, dreading the vengeance of De
Valence's powerful family, he ordered a herald to say that if Wallace
would draw off his troops to the outer ballium, and the English chief
along with them, the Lord Mar and his family should be taken from their
perilous situation, and he would consider on terms of surrender.

Aware that Cressingham only wanted to gain time until De Warenne should
arrive, Wallace determined to foil him with his own weapons, and make
the gaining of the castle the consequence of vanquishing the earl.  He
told the now perplexed governor that he should consider Lord de Valence
as the hostage of safety for Lord Mar and his family, and therefore he
consented to withdraw his men from the inner ballium till the setting
of the sun, at which hour he should expect a herald with the surrender
of the fortress.

Thinking that he had caught the Scottish chief in a snare, and that the
lord warden's army would be upon him long before the expiration of the
armistice, Cressingham congratulated himself upon this maneuver; and
resolving that the moment Earl de Warenne should appear, Lord Mar
should be secretly destroyed in the dungeons, he ordered them to their
security again.

Wallace fully comprehended what were his enemy's views, and what ought
to be his own measures, as soon as he saw the unhappy group disappear
from the battlements of the keep.  He then recalled his men from the
inner ballium wall, and stationing several detachments along the
ramparts, and in the towers of the outer wall, committed De Valence to
the stronghold of the barbican, under the especial charge of Lord
Ruthven, who was, indeed, eager to hold the means in his own hand that
were to check the threatened danger of relatives so dear to him as were
the prisoners in the castle.



Chapter XXXIII.

Cambus-Kenneth.


Having secured the advantages he had gained in the town and on the
works of the castle, by manning all the strong places, Wallace set
forward with his chosen troops to intercept De Warenne.

He took his position on a commanding ground about half a mile from
Stirling, near to the Abbey of Cambus-Kenneth.  The Forth lay before
him, crossed by a wooden bridge, over which the enemy must pass to
reach him, the river not being fordable in that part.

He ordered the timbers which supported the bridge to be sawed at the
bottom, but not displaced in the least, that they might stand perfectly
firm for as long as he should deem it necessary.  To these timbers were
fastened strong cords, all of which he intrusted to the sturdiest of
his Lanark men, who were to lie concealed amongst the flags.  These
preparations being made, he drew up his troops in order of battle.
Kirkpatrick and Murray commanded the flanks.  In the center stood
Wallace himself, with Ramsay on one side of him, and Edwin, with
Scrymgeour on the other, awaiting with steady expectation the approach
of the enemy, who, by this time, could not be far distant.

Cressingham was not less well-informed of the advance of De Warenne;
and burning with revenge against Wallace, and earnest to redeem the
favor of De Valence by some act in his behalf, he first gave secret
orders to his lieutenant, then set forth alone to seek an avenue of
escape, never divulged to any but to the commanders of the fortress.
He soon discovered it; and by the light of a torch, making his way
through a passage bored in the rock, emerged at its western base,
screened from sight by the surrounding bushes.  He had disguised
himself in a shepherd's bonnet and plaid, in case of being observed by
the enemy; but fortune, favored him, and unseen he crept along through
the thickets, till he descried the advance of De Warenne's army on the
skirts of Tor Wood.

Having missed Wallace in West Lothian, De Warenne divided his army into
three divisions, to enter Stirlingshire by different routes; and so he
hoped, certainly, to intercept him in one of them.  The Earl of
Montgomery led the first, of twenty thousand men; the Barons Hilton and
Blenkinsopp, the second, of ten thousand; and De Warenne himself the
third, of thirty thousand.

It was the first of these divisions that Cressingham encountered in Tor
Wood; and revealing himself to Montgomery, he recounted how rapidly
Wallace had gained the town, and in what jeopardy the citadel would be,
if he were not instantly attacked.  The earl advised waiting for a
junction with Hilton or the lord warden, "which," said he, "must happen
in the course of a few hours."

"In the course of a few hours," returned Cressingham, "you will have no
Stirling Castle to defend.  The enemy will seize it at sunset, in
pursuance of the very agreement by which I warded him off, to give us
time to annihilate him before that hour.  Therefore no hesitation, if
we would not see him lock the gates of the north of Scotland upon us,
even when we have the power to hurl him to perdition."

By arguments such as these the young earl was induced to give up his
judgment; and, accompanied by Cressingham, whose courage revived amid
such a host, he proceeded to the southern bank of the Forth.

The bands of Wallace were drawn up on the opposite shore, hardly five
thousand strong, but so disposed the enemy could not calculate their
numbers, though the narrowness of their front suggested to Cressingham
that they could not be numerous; and he recollected that many must have
been left to occupy the outworks of the town and the citadel.  "It will
be easy to surround the rebel," cried he; "and that we may effect our
enterprise before the arrival of the warden robs us of the honor, let
us about it directly, and cross the bridge."

Montgomery proposed a herald being sent to inform Wallace that, besides
the long line of troops he saw, De Warenne was advancing with double
hosts, and if he would now surrender, a pardon should be granted to him
and his, in the king's name, for all their late rebellions.
Cressingham was vehement against this measure, but Montgomery being
resolute, the messenger was dispatched.

In a few minutes he returned, and repeated to the Southron commanders
the words of Wallace: "Go," said he, "tell your masters we came not
here to treat for a pardon of what we shall never allow to be an
offense; we came to assert our rights--to set Scotland free.  Till that
is effected, all negotiation is vain.  Let them advance; they will find
us prepared."

"Then onward!" cried Montgomery; and, spurring his steed, he led the
way to the bridge; his eager soldiers followed, and the whole of his
center ranks passed over.  The flanks advanced, and the bridge, from
end to end, was filled with archers, cavalry, men-at-arms, and
war-carriages.  Cressingham, in the midst, was hallooing in proud
triumph to those who occupied the rear of the straining beams, when the
blast of a trumpet sounded from the till now silent and immovable
Scottish phalanx.  It was re-echoed by shouts from behind the passing
enemy, and in that moment the supporting piers of the bridge** were
pulled away, and the whole of its mailed throng was precipitated into
the stream.

**This historical fact relating to the bridge is yet exultantly
repeated on the spot, and the number of the Southrons who fell beneath
the arms of so small a band of Scots, is not less the theme of
triumph.-(1809.)

The cries of the maimed and the drowning were joined by the terrific
slogan of two bands of Scots.  The one with Wallace toward the head of
the river, while the other, under the command of Sir John Graham,
rushed from its ambuscade on the opposite bank upon the rear of the
dismayed troops; and both divisions sweeping all before them, drove
those who fought on land into the river, and those who had just escaped
the flood, to meet its waves again, a bleeding host.

In the midst of this conflict, which rather seemed a carnage than a
battle, Kirkpatrick, having heard the proud shouts of Cressingham on
the bridge, now sought him amidst its shattered timbers.  With the
ferocity of a tiger hunting its prey, he ran from man to man, and as
the struggling wretches emerged from the water, he plucked them from
the surge; but even while his glaring eye-balls and uplifted ax
threatened destruction, he only looked on them; and with imprecations
of disapointment, rushed forward on his chase.  Almost in despair that
the waves had cheated his revenge, he was hurrying on in another
direction, when he perceived a body moving through a hollow on his
right.  He turned, and saw the object of his search crawling amongst
the mud and sedges.

"Ha!" cried Kirkpatrick, with a triumphant yell, "art thou yet mine?
Damned, damned villain!" cried he, springing upon his breast: "Behold
the man you dishonored!-behold the hot cheek your dastard hand defiled!
Thy blood shall obliterate the stain; and then Kirkpatrick may again
front the proudest in Scotland!"

"For mercy!" cried the horror-struck Cressingham, struggling with
preternatural strength to extricate himself.

"Hell would be my portion did I grant any to thee," cried Kirkpatrick;
and with one stroke of the ax he severed the head from its body.  "I am
a man again!" shouted he, as he held its bleeding veins in his hand,
and placed it on the point of his sword.  "Thou ruthless priest of
Moloch and of Mammon, thou shalt have thine own blood to drink, while I
show my general how proudly I am avenged!"  As he spoke, he dashed
amongst the victorious ranks, and reached Wallace at the very moment he
was freeing himself from his fallen horse, which a random arrow had
shot under him.  Murray, at the same instant, was bringing up the
wounded Montgomery, who came to surrender his sword, and to beg quarter
for his men.  The earl turned deadly pale; for the first object that
struck his sight was the fierce knight of Torthorald, walking under the
stream of blood which continued to flow from the ghastly head of
Cressingham, as he held it exultingly in the air.

"If that be your chief," cried Montgomery, "I have mistaken him much--I
cannot yield my sword to him."

Murray understood him: "If cruelty be an evil spirit," returned he, "it
has fled every breast in this army to shelter with Sir Roger
Kirkpatrick; and its name is Legion!  That is my chief!" added he,
pointing to Wallace, with an evident consciousness of deriving honor
from his command.  The chief rose from the ground dyed in the same
ensanguined hue which had excited the abhorrence of Montgomery, though
it had been drawn from his own veins, and those of his horse.  All,
indeed, of blood about him seemed to be on his garment; none was in his
eyes, none in his heart but what warmed it to mercy and to benevolence
for all mankind.  His eyes momentarily fell on the approaching figure
of Kirkpatrick, who, waving the head in the air, blew from his bugle
the triumphal notes of the Pryse, and then cried to his chief: "I have
slain the wolf of Scotland!  My brave clansmen are now casing my target
with his skin,** which, when I strike its bossy sides, will cry aloud.
So, perishes thy dishonor!  So perish all the enemies of Scotland!"

**It is recorded that the memory of Cressingham was so odious to the
Scots, they did indeed flay his dead body, and made saddles and girths
and other things of his skin.-(1809.)

"And with the extinction of that breath, Kirkpatrick," cried Wallace,
looking serenely from the head to him, "let your fell revenge perish
also.  For your own honor commit no indignities on the body you have
slain."

"'Tis for you to conquer like a god!" cried Kirkpatrick; "I have felt
as a man, and like a man I revenge.  This head shall destroy in death;
it shall vanquish its friends for me; for I will wear it like a Gorgon
on my sword, to turn to stone every Southron who looks on it."  While
speaking, he disappeared amongst the thickening ranks; and as the
victorious Scots hailed him in passing, Montgomery, thinking of his
perishing men, suffered Murray to lead him to the scene of his humility.

The ever-comprehensive eye of Wallace perceived him as he advanced; and
guessing by his armor and dignified demeanor who he was, with a noble
grace he raised his helmed bonnet from his head when the earl
approached him.  Montgomery looked on him; he felt his soul, even more
than his arms, subdued; but still there was something about a soldier's
heart that shrunk from yielding his power of resistance.  The blood
mounted into his before pale cheeks; he held out his sword in silence
to the victor; for he could not bring his tongue to pronounce the word
"surrender."

Wallace understood the sign, and holding up his hand to a herald, the
trumpet of peace was raised.  It sounded--and where, the moment before,
were the horrid clashing of arms, the yell of savage conquest, and
direful cries for mercy, all was hushed as death.  Not that death which
had passed, but that which is approaching.--None spoke, not a sound was
heard, but the low groans of the dying, who lay, overwhelmed and
perishing, beneath the bodies of the slain, and the feet of the living.

The voice of Wallace rose from this awful pause.  Its sound was ever
the harbinger of glory, or of "good will to men."  "Soldiers!" cried
he, "God has given victory--let us show our gratitude by moderation and
mercy.  Gather the wounded into quarters and bury the dead."

Wallace then turned to the extended sword of the earl; he put it gently
back with his hand: "Ever wear what you honor," said he; "but, gallant
Montgomery, when you draw it next, let it be in a better cause.  Learn,
brave earl, to discriminate between a warrior's glory and his shame;
between the defender of his country, and the unprovoked ravager of
other lands."

Montgomery blushed scarlet at these words; but it was not with
resentment.  He looked down for a moment: "Ah!" thought he, "perhaps I
ought never to have drawn it here!"  Then raising his eyes to Wallace,
he said: "Were you not the enemy of my king, who, though a conqueror,
sanctions none of the cruelties that have been committed in his name, I
would give you my hand, before the remnant of his brave troops, whose
lives you grant.  But you have my heart: a heart that knows no
difference between friend or foe, when the bonds of virtue would unite
what only civil dissensions hold separate."

"Had your king possessed the virtues you believe he does," replied
Wallace, "my sword might have now been a pruning-hook.  But that is
past!  We are in arms for injuries received, and to drive out a tyrant.
For believe me, noble Montgomery, that monarch has little pretensions
to virtue, who suffers the oppressors of his people, or of his
conquests, to go unpunished.  To connive at cruelty, is to practice it.
And has Edward ever frowned on one of those despots, who, in his name,
have for these two years past laid Scotland in blood and ashes?"

The appeal was too strong for Montgomery to answer; he felt its truth,
and bowed, with an expression in his face that told more than, as a
subject of England, he dared declare.

The late respectful silence was turned into the clamorous activity of
eager obedience.  The prisoners were conducted to the rear of Stirling;
while the major part of the Scots (leaving a detachment to unburden the
earth of its bleeding load), returned in front to the gates, just as De
Warenne's division appeared on the horizon, like a moving cloud gilded
by the now setting sun.  At this sight Wallace sent Edwin into the town
with Lord Montgomery, and marshaling his line, prepared to bear down
upon the approaching earl.

But the lord warden had received information which fought better for
the Scots than a host of swords.  When advanced a very little onward on
the Carse of Stirling, one of his scouts brought intelligence that
having approached the south side of the Forth, he had seen that river
floating with dead bodies; and soon after met Southron horns blowing
the notes of victory.  From what he learned from the fugitives, he also
informed his lord, "that not only the town and citadel of Stirling were
in the possession of Sir William Wallace, but the two detachments under
Montgomery and Hilton had both been discomfited, and their leaders
slain or taken."

At this intelligence, Earl de Warenne stood aghast; and while he was
still doubting that such disgrace to King Edward's arms could be
possible, two or three fugitives came up, and witnessed to its truth.
One had seen Kirkpatrick, with the bloody head of the Governor of
Stirling on his sword.  Another had been near Cressingham in the wood,
when he told Montgomery of the capture of De Valence; and concluding
that he meant the leader of the third division, he corroborated the
scout's information of the two defeats, adding (for terror magnified
the objects of fear), that the Scots army was incalculable; but was so
disposed by Sir William Wallace, as to appear inconsiderable, that he
might ensnare his enemies, by filling them with hopes of an easy
conquest.

These accounts persuaded De Warenne to make a retreat; and intimidated
by the exaggerated representations of those who had fled, his men, with
no little precipitation, turned to obey.

Wallace perceived the retrograde motion of his enemy's lines; and while
a stream of arrows from his archers poured upon them like hail, he bore
down upon the rear-guard with his cavalry and men-at-arms, and sent
Graham round by the wood, to surprise the flanks.

All was executed with promptitude; and the tremendous slogan sounding
from side to side, the terrified Southrons, before in confusion, now
threw away their arms, to lighten themselves for escape.  Sensible that
it was not the number of the dead, but the terror of the living, which
gives the finishing stroke to conquest, De Warenne saw the effects of
this panic, in the total disregard of his orders; and dreadful would
have been the carnage of his troops had he not sounded a parley.

The bugle of Wallace instantly answered it.  De Warenne sent forward
his herald.  He offered to lay down his arms, provided he might be
exempted from relinquishing the royal standard, and that he and his men
might be permitted to return without delay to England.

Wallace accepted the first article; granted the second; but with regard
to the third, it must be on condition that he, the Lord de Warenne, and
the officers taken in his army, or in other engagements lately fought
in Scotland, should be immediately exchanged for the like number of
noble Scots Wallace should name, who were prisoners in England; and
that the common men of the army, now about to surrender their arms,
should take an oath never to serve again against Scotland.

These preliminaries being agreed to (their very boldness arguing the
conscious advantage which seemed to compel the assent), the lord warden
advanced at the head of his thirty thousand troops; and first laying
down his sword, which Wallace immediately returned to him, the officers
and soldiers marched by with their heads uncovered, throwing down their
weapons as they approached their conqueror.  Wallace extended his line
while the procession moved, for he had too much policy to show his
enemies that thirty thousand men had yielded, almost without a blow, to
scarce five thousand.  The oath was afterward administered to each
regiment by heralds, sent for that purpose into the strath of Monteith,
whither Wallace had directed the captured legions to assemble and
refresh themselves, previous to their departure next morning for
England.  The privates thus disposed of, to release himself from the
commanders also, Wallace told De Warenne that duty called him away, but
every respect would be paid to them by the Scottish officers.

He then gave directions to Sir Alexander Ramsay to escort De Warenne
and the rest of the noble prisoners to Stirling.  Wallace himself
turned with his veteran band to give a conqueror's greeting to the
Baron of Hilton, and so ended the famous battles of Cambus-Kenneth and
the Carse of Stirling.



Chapter XXXIV.

Stirling Castle.


The prisoners who had been taken with Montgomery were lodged behind the
town, and the wounded carried into the Abbey of Cambus-Kenneth; but
when Edwin came to move that earl himself, he found him too faint with
loss of blood to sit a horse to Snawdoun.  He therefore ordered a
litter; and so conveyed his brave prisoner to that palace of the kings
of Scotland in Stirling.

The priests in Wallace's army not only exercised the Levitical but the
good Samaritan's functions, and they soon obeyed the young knight's
summons to dress the wounds of Montgomery.

Messengers, meanwhile, arrived from Wallace, acquainting his chieftains
in Stirling with the surrender of De Warenne's army.  Hence no surprise
was created in the breast of the wounded earl when he saw his commander
enter the palace as the prisoner of the illustrious Scot.

Montgomery held out his hand to the lord warden in silence, and with a
flushed cheek.

"Blush not, my noble friend!" cried De Warenne; "these wounds speak
more eloquently than a thousand tongues, the gallantry with which you
maintained the sword that fate compelled you to surrender.  But I,
without a scratch, how can I meet the unconquered Edward?  And yet it
was not for myself I feared: my brave and confiding soldiers were in
all my thoughts; for I saw it was not to meet an army I led them, but
against a whirlwind, a storm of war, with which no strength that I
commanded could contend."

While the English generals thus conversed,  Edwin's impatient heart
yearned to be again at the side of Wallace; and gladly resigning the
charge of his noble prisoner to Sir Alexander Ramsay, as soon as he
observed a cessation in the conversation of the two earls, he drew near
Montgomery to take his leave.

"Farewell, till we meet again!" said the young earl, pressing his hand;
"you have been a young brother rather than an enemy, to me."

"Because," returned Edwin, "I follow the example of my general, who
would willingly be the friend of all mankind."

Warenne looked at him with surprise: "And who are you, who, in that
stripling form, utters gallant sentiments which might grace the
maturest years?"

With a sweet dignity, Edwin replied, "I am Edwin Ruthven, the adopted
brother of Sir William Wallace."

"And the son of him," asked De Warenne, "who, with Sir William Wallace,
was the first to mount Dumbarton walls?"

At these words the cheeks of Edwin were suffused with a more animated
bloom.  At the moment when his courage was distinguished on the heights
of Dumbarton, by the vowed friendship of Wallace, he had found himself
beloved by the bravest and most amiable of beings; and in his light he
felt both warmth and brightness; but this question of De Warenne,
conveyed to him that he had found fame himself; that he was there
publicly acknowledged to be an object not unworthy of being called the
brother of Sir William Wallace!-and, casting down his eyes, beaming
with exultation, from the fixed gaze of De Warenne, he answered, "I am
that happy Ruthven, who had the honor to mount Dumbarton Rock by the
side of my general; and from his hand there received the stroke of
knighthood."

De Warenne rose, much agitated: "If such be the boys of Scotland need
we wonder, when the spirit of resistance is roused in the nation, that
our strength should wither before its men?"

"At least," said Montgomery, whose admiration of what passed seemed to
reanimate his languid faculties, "it deprives defeat of its sting, when
we are conscious we yielded to power that was irresistible.  But, my
lord," added he, "if the courage of this youth amazes you, what will
you say ought to be the fate of this country? what to be the crown of
Sir William Wallace's career, when you know the chain of brave hearts
by which he is surrounded?  Even tender woman loses the weakness of her
sex when she belongs to him."  Earl de Warenne, surprised at the energy
with which he spoke, looked at him with an expression that told him so.
"Yes," continued he, "I witnessed the heroism of Lady Wallace, when
she defended the character of her husband in the midst of an armed
host, and preserved the secret of his retreat inviolate.  I saw that
loveliest of women, whom the dastard Heselrigge slew."

"Disgrace to knighthood!" cried Edwin, with indignant vehemence; "if
you were a spectator of that bloody deed, retire from this house; go to
Cambus-Kenneth--anywhere; but leave this city before the injured
Wallace arrives; blast not his eyes with a second sight of one who
could have beheld his wife murdered."

Every eye was now fixed on the commanding figure of the young Edwin,
who stood with the determination of being obeyed breathing in every
look.  De Warenne then at once saw the possibility of so gentle a
creature being transformed into the soul of enterprise, into the
fearless and effective soldier.

Lord Montgomery held out his hand to Edwin.  "By this right arm, I
swear, noble youth, that had I been on the spot when Heselrigge, lifted
his sword against the breast of Lady Wallace, I would have sheathed my
sword in his.  It was before then that I saw that matchless woman; and
offended with my want of severity in the scrutiny I had made at
Ellerslie for its chief.  Heselrigge sent me back to Ayr.  Arnuf
quarreled with me there, on the same subject; and I immediately retired
in disgust to England."

"Then how? you ought to be Sir Gilbert Hambledon?" replied Edwin; "but
whoever you are, as you were kind to the Lady Marion, I cannot but
regret my late hasty charge; and for which I beseech your pardon."

Montgomery took his hand, and pressed it.  "Generous Ruthven, your
warmth is too honorable to need forgiveness.  I am that Sir Gilbert
Hambledon; and had I remained so, I should not now be in Scotland.  But
in my first interview with the Prince of Wales, after my accession to
the Earldom of Montgomery, his highness told me, it had been rumored
from Scotland that I was disloyal in my heart to my king.  'And to
prove the falsehood of such calumniators,' continued the prince, 'I
appoint you second in command there to the Earl de Warenne.'  To have
refused to fight against Sir William Wallace, would have been to have
accused myself of treason.  And while I respected the husband of the
murdered Lady Marion, I yet condemned him as an insurgent; and with the
same spirit you follow him in the field, I obeyed the commands of my
sovereign."

"Lord Montgomery," returned Edwin, "I am rejoiced to see one who proves
to me what my general, wronged as he has been, yet always
inculcates--that all the Southrons are not base and cruel!  When he
knows who is indeed his prisoner, what recollections will it awaken!
But till you and he again meet, I shall not intimate to him the
melancholy satisfaction he is to enjoy, for, with the remembrances it
will arouse, your presence must bring the antidote."

The brave youth then telling Ramsay in what parts of the palace the
rest of the lords were to be lodged, with recovered composure descended
to the courtyard, to take horse for Tor Wood.  He was galloping along,
under the bright light of the moon, when he heard a squadron on full
speed approaching, and presently Murray appeared at its head.  "Hurrah,
Edwin!" cried he; "well met!  We are come to demand the instant
surrender of the citadel.  Hilton's division has surrendered!"

The two barons had indeed come up about half an hour after Earl de
Warenne's division was discomfited.  Sir William Wallace had sent
forward to the advancing enemy two heralds, bearing the colors De
Valence and Montgomery, with the captive banner of De Warenne, and
requiring the present division to lay down its army also.  The sight of
these standards was sufficient to assure Hilton there was no deceit in
the embassy.  The nature of his position precluded retreat; and not
seeing any reason for ten thousand men disputing the day with a power
to whom fifty thousand had just surrendered, he and his compeer, with
the reluctance of veterans, embraced the terms of surrender.

The instant Hilton put his argent banner** into the victor's hand,
Wallace knew that the castle must now be his; he had discomfited all
who could have maintained it against him.  Impatient to apprise Lord
Mar and his family of their safety, he dispatched Murray with a
considerable escort to demand its surrender.

**The arms of Hilton are, argent, two bars azure.  The charge on those
of Blenkinsopp are three wheat-sheaves; crest, a lion rampant, grasping
a rose.  The ruins of the patrimonial castles of these two ancient
barons are still to be seen in the north of England.  The author's
revered mother was a descendant from the latter venerable name, united
with that of the brave and erudite race of Adamson, of further north.

Murray gladly obeyed, and now, accompanied by Edwin, with the standards
of Cressingham and De Warenne trailing in the dust, he arrived before
the castle, and summoned the lieutenant to the walls.  But that
officer, well aware of what was going to happen, feared to appear.
From the battlements of the keep he had seen the dreadful conflict on
the banks of the Forth--he had seen the thousands of De Warenne pass
before the conqueror.  To punish his treachery, in not only having
suffered Cressingham to steal out under the armistice, but upholding
also the breaking of his word to surrender at sunset, the terrified
officer believed that Wallace was now come to put the whole garrison to
the sword.

At the first sight of Murray's approaching squadron, the lieutenant
hurried to Lord Mar, to offer him immediate liberty if he would go
forth to Wallace and treat with him to spare the lives of the garrison.
Closed up in a solitary dungeon, the earl knew naught of what was
occurring without; and when the Southron entered, he expected it was to
lead him again to the death which had been twice averted.  But the pale
and trembling lieutenant had no sooner spoken the first word than Mar
discerned it was a suppliant, not an executioner, he saw before him,
and he was even promising that clemency from Wallace, which he knew
dwelt in his heart, when Murray's trumpet sounded.

The lieutenant started, horror-struck.  "It is now too late!  We have
not made the first overture, and there sounds the death-bell of this
garrison!  I saved your life, earl!" cried he, imploringly, to Lord
Mar; "when the enraged Cressingham commanded me to pull the cord which
would have launched you into eternity.  I disobeyed him!  For my sake,
then, preserve this garrison, and accompany me to the ramparts."

The chains were immediately knocked off the limbs of Lord Mar, and the
lieutenant presenting him with a sword, they appeared together on the
battlements.  As the declining moon shone on their backs, Murray did
not discern that it was his uncle who mounted the walls; but calling to
him in a voice which declared there was no appeal, pointed to the
humbled colors of Edward, and demanded the instant surrender of the
citadel.

"Let it be, then with the pledge of Sir William Wallace's mercy?" cried
the venerable earl.

"With every pledge, Lord Mar," returned Murray, now joyfully
recognizing his uncle, "which you think safe to give."

"Then the keys of the citadel are yours," cried the lieutenant; "I only
ask the lives of my garrison."

This was granted, and immediately preparations were made for the
admission of the Scots.  As the enraptured Edwin heard the heavy chains
of the portcullis drawn up, and the massy bolts of the huge doors
grating in their guards, he thought of his mother's liberty, of his
father's joy, in pressing her again in his arms; and hastening to the
tower where Lord Ruthven held watch over the now sleeping De Valance,
he told him all that had happened.  "Go, my father," added he; "enter
with Murray, and be the first to open the prison doors of my mother."

Lord Ruthven embraced his son.  "My dear Edwin! this sacrifice to my
feelings is worthy of you.  But I have a duty to perform, superior even
to the tenderest private ones.  I am planted hereby my commander; and
shall I quit my station, for any gratification, till he gives me leave?
No, my son!  Be you my representative to your mother; and while my
example teaches you, above all earthly considerations, to obey your
honor, those tender embraces will show her what I sacrifice to duty."

Edwin no longer urged his father, and leaving his apartment, flew to
the gate of the inner ballium.  It was open; and Murray already stood
on the platform before the keep, receiving the keys to the garrison.

"Blessed sight!" cried the earl, to his nephew.  "When I put the banner
of Mar into your unpracticed hand, little could I expect that, in the
course of four months, I should see my brave Andrew receive the keys of
proud Stirling from its commander!"

Murray smiled, while his plumed head bowed gratefully to his uncle, and
turning to the lieutenant, "Now," said he, "lead me to the Ladies Mar
and Ruthven that I may assure them they are free."

The gates of the keep were now unclosed, and the lieutenant conducted
his victors along a gloomy passage, to a low door, studded with knobs
of iron.  As he drew the bolt, he whispered to Lord Mar, "These
severities are the hard policy of Governor Cressingham."

He pushed the door slowly open, and discovered a small, miserable
cell--its walls, of rugged stone, having no other covering than the
incrustations which time, and many a dripping winter, had strewn over
their vaulted service.  On the ground, on a pallet of straw, lay a
female figure in a profound sleep.  But the light which the lieutenant
held, streaming full upon the uncurtained slumberer, she started, and,
with a shriek of terror at the sight of so many armed men, discovered
the pallid features of the Countess of Mar.  With an anguish which
hardly the freedom he was going to bestow could ameliorate, the earl
rushed forward, and, throwing himself beside her, caught her in his
arms.

"Are we, then, to die?" cried she, in a voice of horror.  "Has Wallace
abandoned us?  Are we to perish?  Heartless-heartless man!"

Overcome by his emotions, the earl could only strain her to his breast
in speechless agitation.  Edwin saw a picture of his mother's
sufferings, in the present distraction of the countess; and he felt his
powers of utterance locked up; but Lord Andrew, whose ever-light heart
was gay the moment he was no longer unhappy, jocosely answered, "My
fair aunt, there are many hearts to die by your eyes before that day!
and, meanwhile, I come from Sir William Wallace--to set you free!"

The name of Wallace, and the intimation that he had sent to set her
free, drove every former thought of death and misery from her mind;
again the ambrosial gales of love seemed to breathe around her--she saw
not her prison walls; she felt herself again in his presence; and in a
blissful trance, rather endured than participated in the warm
congratulations of her husband on their mutual safety.

Edwin and Murray turned to follow the lieutenant, who, preceding them,
stopped at the end of the gallery.  "Here," said he, "is Lady Ruthven's
habitation; and--alas! not better than the countess'."  While he spoke,
he threw open the door, and discovered its sad inmate also asleep.  But
when the glad voice of her son pierced her ear--when his fond embraces
clung to her bosom, her surprise and emotions were almost
insupportable.  Hardly crediting her senses, that he whom she had
believed was safe in the cloisters of St. Colomba, could be within the
dangerous walls of Stirling; that it was his mailed breast that pressed
against her bosom; that it was his voice she heard exclaiming, "Mother,
we come to give you freedom!" all appeared to her like a dream of
madness.

She listened, she felt him, she found her cheek wet with his rapturous
tears.  "Am I in my right mind?" cried she, looking at him with a
fearful, yet overjoyed countenance; "am I not mad?  Oh! tell me," cried
she, turning to Murray, and the lieutenant, "is this my son that I see,
or has terror turned my brain?"

"It is indeed your son, your Edwin, my very self," returned he, alarmed
at the expression of her voice and countenance.  Murray gently
advanced, and kneeling down by her, respectfully took her hand.  "He
speaks truth, my dear madam.  It is your son Edwin.  He left his
convent, to be a volunteer with Sir William Wallace.  He has covered
himself with honor on the walls of Dumbarton; and here also a sharer in
his leader's victories, he is come to set you free."

At this explanation, which, being given in the sober language of
reason, Lady Ruthven believed, she gave way to the full happiness of
her soul, and falling on the neck of her son, embraced him with a flood
of tears: "And thy father, Edwin, where is he?  Did not the noble
Wallace rescue him from Ayr?"

"He did, and he is here."  Edwin then repeated to his mother the
affectionate message of his father, and the particulars of his release.
Perceiving how happily they were engaged, Murray, now with a flutter
in his own bosom, rose from his knees, and requested the lieutenant to
conduct him to Lady Helen Mar.

His guide led the way by a winding staircase into a stone gallery,
where letting Lord Andrew into a spacious apartment, divided in the
midst by a vast screen of carved cedar-wood, he pointed to a curtained
entrance.  "In that chamber," said he, "lodges the Lady Helen."

"Ah, my poor cousin," exclaimed Murray; "though she seems not to have
tasted the hardships of her parents, she has shared their misery, I do
not doubt."  While he spoke, the lieutenant bowed in silence, and
Murray entered alone.  The chamber was magnificent, and illumined by a
lamp which hung from the ceiling.  He cautiously approached the bed,
fearing too hastily to disturb her, and gently pulling aside the
curtains, beheld vacancy.  An exclamation of alarm had almost escaped
him, when observing a half-open door at the other side of the
apartment, he drew toward it, and there beheld his cousin, with her
back to him, kneeling before a crucifix.  She spoke not, but the fervor
of her action manifested how earnestly she prayed.  He moved behind
her, but she heard him not; her whole soul was absorbed in the success
of her petition; and at last raising her clasped hands in a paroxysm of
emotion, she exclaimed,-"If that trumpet sounded the victory of the
Scots, then, Power of Goodness! receive thy servant's thanks.  But if
De Warenne have conquered, where De Valence has failed; if all whom I
love be lost to me here, take me then to thyself, and let my freed
spirit fly to their embraces in heaven!"

"Ay, and on earth too, thou blessed angel!" cried Murray, throwing
himself toward her.  She started from her knees, and with such a cry as
the widow of Sarepta uttered when she embraced her son from the dead,
Helen threw herself on the bosom of her cousin, and closed her eyes in
a blissful swoon--for even while every outward sense seemed fled, the
impression of joy played about her heart; and the animated throbbings
of Murray's breast, while he pressed her in his arms, at last aroused
her to recollection.  Her glistening and uplifted eyes told all the
happiness, all the gratitude of her soul.

"My father?  All are safe?" demanded she.

"All, my best beloved!" answered Murray, forgetting in his powerful
emotions of his heart, that what he felt, and what he uttered, were
beyond even a cousin's limits: "My uncle, the countess, Lord and Lady
Ruthven--all are safe."

"And Sir William Wallace?" cried she; "you do not mention him.  I hope
no ill-"

"He is conqueror here!" interrupted Murray.  "He has subdued every
obstacle between Berwick and Stirling; and he has sent me hither to set
you and the rest of the dear prisoners free."

Helen's heart throbbed with a new tumult as he spoke.  She longed to
ask whether the unknown knight from whom she had parted in the hermit's
cell, had ever joined Sir William Wallace.  She yearned to know that he
yet lived.  At the thought of the probability of his having fallen in
some of these desperate conflicts, her soul seemed to gasp for
existence; and dropping her head on her cousin's shoulder, "Tell me,
Andrew," said she, and there she paused, with an emotion for which she
could not account to herself.

"Of what would my sweet cousin inquire?" asked Murray, partaking her
agitation.

"Nothing particular," said she, covered with blushes; "but did you
fight alone in these battles?  Did no other knight but Sir William
Wallace?"

"Many, dearest Helen," returned Murray, enraptured at a solicitude
which he appropriated to himself.  "Many knights joined our arms.  All
fought in a manner worthy of their leader, and thanks to Heaven, none
have fallen."

"Thanks, indeed," cried Helen; and with a hope she dared hardly whisper
to herself, of seeing the unknown knight in the gallant train of the
conqueror, she falteringly said, "Now, Andrew, lead me to my father."

Murray would perhaps have required a second bidding, had not Lord Mar,
impatient to see his daughter, appeared with the countess at the door
of the apartment.  Hastening toward them, she fell on the bosom of her
father; and while she bathed his face and hands with her glad tears,
he, too, wept, and mingled blessings with his caresses.  No coldness
here met his paternal heart: no distracting confusions tore her from
his arms; no averted looks, by turns, alarmed and chilled the bosom of
tenderness.  All was innocence and duty in Helen's breast; and every
ingenuous action showed its affection and its joy.  The estranged heart
of Lady Mar had closed against him; and though he suspected not its
wanderings, he felt the unutterable difference between the warm
transports of his daughter and the frigid gratulations forced from the
lips of his wife.

Lady Mar gazed with a weird frown on the lovely form of Helen, as she
wound her exquisitely turned arms round the earl in filial tenderness.
Her bosom, heaving in the snowy whiteness of virgin purity; her face,
radiant with the softest blooms of youth; all seemed to frame an object
which malignant fiends had conjured up to blast her stepdame's hope.
"Wallace will behold these charms!" cried her distracted spirit to
herself, "and then, where am I?"

While her thoughts thus followed each other, she unconsciously darted
looks on Helen, which, if an evil eye had any bewitching power, would
have withered all her beauties.  At one of these portentous moments,
the glad eyes of Helen met her glance.  She started with horror.  It
made her remember how she had been betrayed, and all that she had
suffered from Soulis.  But she could not forget that she had also been
rescued; and with that blessed recollection, the image of her preserver
rose before her.  At this gentle idea, her alarmed countenance took a
softer expression; and, tenderly sighing, she turned to her father's
question of "How she came to be with Lady Ruthven, when he had been
taught by Lord Andrew to believe her safe at St. Fillan's?"

"Yes," cried Murray, throwing herself on a seat beside her, "I found in
your letter to Sir William Wallace, that you had been betrayed from
your asylum by some traitor Scot; and but for the fullness of my joy at
our present meeting, I should have inquired the name of the villian!"

Lady Mar felt a deadly sickness at her heart, on hearing that Sir
William Wallace was already so far acquainted with her daughter as to
have received a letter from her; and in amazed despair, she prepared to
listen to what she expected would bring a death-stroke to her hopes.
They had met--but how?--where?  They wrote to each other.  Then, far
indeed had proceeded that communication of hearts, which was now the
aim of her life--and she was undone!  Helen glanced at the face of Lady
mar, and observing its changes, regarded them as corroborations of her
having been the betrayer.  "If conscience disturbs you thus," thought
Helen, "let it rend your heart, and perhaps remorse may follow!"

As the tide of success seemed so full for the patriot Scots, Helen no
longer feared that her cousin would rashly seek a precarious vengeance
on the traitor Soulis, when he might probably soon have an opportunity
of making it certain at the head of an army.  She therefore commenced
her narrative from the time of Murray's leaving her at the priory, and
continued it to the hour in which she had met her father, a prisoner in
the streets of Stirling.  As she proceeded, the indignation of the earl
and of Murray against Soulis became vehement.  The nephew was full of
immediate personal revenge.  But the father, with arguments similar to
those which had suggested themselves to his daughter, calmed the
lover's rage, for Murray now felt that fire as well as a kinsman's; and
reseated himself with repressed, though burning resentment, to listen
to the remainder of her relation.

The quaking conscience of Lady mar did indeed vary her cheeks with a
thousand dyes, when, as Helen repeated part of her conversation with
Macgregor's wife, Murray abruptly said, "Surely that woman could name
the traitor who betrayed us into the hands of our enemies!  Did she not
hint it?"

Helen cast down her eyes, that even a glance might not overwhelm with
insupportable shame the already trembling countess.  Lady Mar saw that
she was acquainted with her guilt, and expecting no more mercy than she
knew she would show to Helen in the like circumstances, she hastily
rose from her chair, internally vowing vengeance against her triumphant
daughter and hatred of all mankind.  But Helen thought she might have
so erred, from a wife's alarm for the safety of the husband she
professed to doat on; and this dutiful daughter determined never to
accuse her.

While all the furies raged in the breast of the guilty woman, Helen
simply answered, "Lord Soulis would be weak as he is vile, to trust a
secret of that kind with a servant;" then hurried on to the relation of
subsequent events.  The countess breathed again; and almost deceiving
herself with the idea that Helen was indeed ignorant of her treachery,
listened with emotions of another kind, when she heard of the rescue of
her daughter-in-law.  She saw Wallace in that brave act!  But as Helen,
undesignedly to herself, passed over the parts in their conversation
which had most interested her, and never named the graces of his
person, Lady mar thought, that to have viewed Wallace with so little
notice would have been impossible; and therefore was glad of such a
double conviction, that he and her daughter had never met, which seemed
verified when Helen said that the unknown chief had promised to join
his arms with those of Wallace.

Murray had observed Helen while she spoke, with an impression at his
heart that made it pause.  Something in this interview had whispered to
him what he had never dreamed before--that she was dearer to him than
fifty thousand cousins.  And while the blood flushed and retreated in
the complexion of Helen, and her downcast eyes refused to show what was
passing there, while she hastily ran over the circumstances of her
acquaintance with the stranger knight, Murray's own emotions declared
the secret of hers; and with a lip as pale as her own, he said, "But
where is this brave man?  He cannot have yet joined us, for surely he
would have told Wallace or myself that he came from you?"

"I warned him not to do so," replied she, "for fear that your
indignation against my enemies, my dear cousin, might have precipitated
you into dangers to be incurred for our country only."

"Then, if he had joined us," replied Murray, rising from his seat, "you
will probably soon known who he is.  To-morrow morning Sir William
Wallace will enter the citadel, attended by his principal knights; and
in that gallant company you must doubtless discover the man who had
laid such obligations on us all by your preservation."

Murray's feelings told him that glad should he be, if the utterance of
that obligation would repay it!

Helen herself knew not how to account for the agitation which shook her
whenever she adverted to her unknown preserver.  At the time of the
hermit's friend (the good lay brother), having brought her to Alloa,
when she explained to Lady Ruthven the cause of her strange arrival,
she had then told her story with composure, till she mentioned her
deliverer; but in that moment, for the first time she felt a confusion
which disordered the animation with which she described his patriotism
and his bravery.  But it was natural, she thought, that gratitude for a
recent benefit should make her heart beat high.  It was something like
the enthusiasm she had felt for Wallace on the rescue of her father,
and she was satisfied.  But a few days of quiet at Alloa had recovered
her health from the shock it had received in the recent scenes, and she
proposed to her aunt to send some trusty messenger to inform the
imprisoned earl at Dumbarton of her happy refuge; and Lady Ruthven in
return had urged the probability that the messenger would be
intercepted, and so her asylum be discovered, saying, "Let it alone,
till this knight of yours, by performing his word, calls you to declare
his honorable deeds.  Till then, Lord Mar, ignorant of your danger,
needs no assurance of your safety."

This casual reference to the knight had then made the tranquilized
heart of Helen renew its throbbings, and turning from her aunt with an
acquiescing reply, she retired to her own apartment to quell the
unusual and painful blushes she felt burning on her cheeks.  Why she
should feel thus she could not account, "unless," said she to herself,
"I fear that my suspicion may be guessed at; and should my words or
looks betray the royal Bruce to any harm, that moment of undesigned
ingratitude would be the last of my life."

This explanation seemed ample to herself.  And henceforth avoiding all
mention of her preserver in her conversations with Lady Ruthven, she
had confined the subject to her own breast; and thinking that she
thought of him more by her intention to speak of him less, she wondered
not that whenever she was alone his image immediately rose in her mind,
his voice seemed to sound in her ears, and even as the summer air
wafted its soft fragrance over her cheek, she would turn as if she felt
that breath which had so gently brushed her to repose.  She would then
start and sigh, and repeat his words to herself, but all was serene in
her bosom.  For it seemed as if the contemplation of so much loveliness
of soul in so noble a form, soothed instead of agitated her heart.
"What a king will he be?" thought she; "with what transport would the
virtuous Wallace set the Scottish crown on so noble a brow."

Such were her meditations and feelings, when she was brought a prisoner
to Stirling.  And when she heard of the victories of Wallace, she could
not but think that the brave arm of her knight was there, and that he,
with the renowned champion of Scotland, would fly, on the receipt of
her letter, to Stirling, there to repeat the valiant deeds of
Dumbarton.  The first blast of the Scottish trumpet under the walls
found her, as she had said, upon her knees, and kept her there, for
hardly with any intermission, with fast and prayer did she kneel before
the altar of Heaven--till the voice of Andrew Murray at midnight called
her to freedom and to happiness.

Wallace, and perhaps her nameless hero with him, had again conquered!
His idea dwelt in her heart and faltered on her tongue; and yet, in
reciting the narrative of her late sufferings to her father, when she
came to the mentioning of the stranger's conduct to her--with an
apprehensive embarrassment she felt her growing emotions as she drew
near the subject; and, hurrying over the event, she could only excuse
herself for such new perturbations by supposing that the former treason
of Lady Mar now excited her alarm, with fear she should fix it on a new
object.  Turning cold at an idea so pregnant with horror, she hastily
passed from the agitating theme to speak of De Valence and the respect
with which he had treated her during her imprisonment.  His courtesy
had professed to deny nothing to her wishes except her personal liberty
and any conference with her parents or aunt.  Her father's life, he
declared it was altogether out of his power to grant.  He might suspend
the sentence, but he could not abrogate it.

"Yes," cried the earl, "though false and inflexible, I must not accuse
him of having been so barbarous in his tyranny as Cressingham.  For it
was not until De Valence was taken prisoner that Joanna and I were
divided.  Till then we were lodged in decent apartments, but on that
event Cressingham tore us from each other, and threw us into different
dungeons.  My sister Janet I never saw since the hour we were separated
in the street of Stirling until the awful moment in which we met on the
roof of this castle--the moment when I expected to behold her and my
wife die before my eyes!"

Helen now learned, for the first time, the base cruelties which had
been exercised on her father and his family since the capture of De
Valence.  She had been exempted from sharing them by the fears of
Cressingham, who, knowing that the English earl had particular views
with regard to her, durst not risk offending him by outraging one whom
he had declared himself determined to protect.

During part of this conversation, Murray withdrew to bring Lady Ruthven
and her son to share the general joy of full domestic reunion.  The
happy Edwin and his mother having embraced these dear relatives with
yet more tender affections yearning in their bosoms, accompanied Murray
to the door of the barbican, which contained Lord Ruthven.  They
entered on the wings of conjugal and filial love; but the for once
pensive Lord Andrew, with a slow and musing step, returned into the
castle to see that all was safely disposed for the remainder of the
night.



Chapter XXXV.

Stirling Citadel.


At noon next day Murray received a message from Wallace, desiring him
to acquaint the Earl of Mar that he was coming to the citadel to offer
the palace of Snawdoun to the ladies of Mar, and to request the earl to
take charge of the illustrous prisoners he was bringing to the castle.

Each member of the family hastened to prepare for an interview which
excited different expectations in each different breast.  Lady Mar,
well satisfied that Helen and Wallace had never met, and clinging to
the vague words of Murray, that he had sent to give her liberty, called
forth every art of the tiringroom to embellish her still fine person.
Lady Ruthven, with the respectable eagerness of a chaste matron, in
prospect of seeing the man who had so often been the preserver of her
brother, and who had so lately delivered her husband from a loathsome
dungeon, was the first who joined the earl in the great gallery.  Lady
Mar soon after entered like Juno, in all her plumage of majesty and
beauty.

But the trumpet of Wallace had sounded in the gates before the
trembling Helen could leave her apartment.  It was the herald of his
approach, and she sunk breathless into a seat.  She was now going to
see for the first time the man for whose woes she had so often wept;
the man who had incurred them all for objects dear to her.  He whom she
had mourned as one stricken in sorrows, and feared for, as an outlaw
doomed to suffering and to death, was now to appear before her, not in
the garb of woe, which excuses the sympathy its wearer excites, but
arrayed as a conqueror, as the champion of Scotland, giving laws to her
oppressors, and entering in triumph, over fields of their slain!

Awful as this picture was to the timidity of her gentle nature, it
alone did not occasion that inexpressible sensation which seemed to
check the pulses of her heart.  Was she, or was she not, to recognize
in his train the young and noble Bruce?  Was she to be assured that he
still existed?  Or, by seeking him everywhere in vain, ascertain that
he, who could not break his word, had perished, lonely and unknown?

While these ideas thronged into her mind, the platform below was
filling with the triumphant Scots; and, her door suddenly opening,
Edwin entered in delighted haste.  "Come, cousin!" cried he, "Sir
William Wallace has almost finished his business in the great hall.  He
has made my uncle governor of this place, and has committed nearly a
thousand prisoners of rank to his care.  If you be not expeditious, you
will allow him to enter the gallery before you."

Hardly observing her face, from the happy emotions which dazzled his
own eyes, he seized her hand, and hurried her to the gallery.

Only her aunt and step-mother were yet there.  Lady Ruthven sat
composedly, on a tapestried bench, awaiting the arrival of the company.
But Lady Mar was near the door, listening impatiently to the voices
beneath.  At sight of Helen, she drew back; but she smiled exultingly
when she saw that all the splendour of beauty she had so lately beheld
and dreaded was flown.  Her unadorned garments gave no particular
attraction to the simple lines of her form; the effulgence of her
complexion was gone; her cheek was pale, and the tremulous motion of
her step deprived her of the elastic grace which was usually the charm
of her nymph-like figure.

Triumph now sat in the eyes of the countess; and, with an air of
authority, she waved Helen to take a seat beside Lady Ruthven.  But
Helen, fearful of what might be her emotion when the train should
enter, had just placed herself behind her aunt, when the steps of many
a mailed foot sounded upon the oaken floor of the outward gallery.  The
next moment the great doors of the huge screen opened, and a crowd of
knights in armor flashed upon her eyes.  A strange dimness overspread
her faculties, and nothing appeared to her but an indistinct throng
approaching.  She would have given worlds to have been removed from the
spot, but was unable to stir; and on recovering her senses, she beheld
Lady Mar (who, exclaiming, "Ever my preserver!" had hastened forward),
now leaning on the bosom of one of the chiefs: his head was bent as if
answering her in a low voice.  By the golden locks, which hung down
upon the jeweled tresses of the countess, and obscured his face, she
judged it must indeed be the deliverer of her father, the knight of her
dream.  But where was he, who had delivered herself from a worse fate
than death?  Where was the dweller of her daily thoughts, the bright
apparition of her unslumbering pillow?

Helen's sight, now clearing to as keen a vision as before it had been
dulled and indistinct, with a timid and anxious gaze glanced from face
to face of the chieftains around; but all were strange.  Then
withdrawing her eyes with a sad conviction that their search was indeed
in vain; in the very moment of that despair, they were arrested by a
glimpse of the features of Wallace.  He had raised his head; he shook
back his clustering hair, and her secret was revealed.  In that
god-like countenance she recognized the object of her devoted wishes!
and with a gasp of overwhelming surprise, she must have fallen from her
seat, had not Lady Ruthven, hearing a sound like the sigh of death,
turned round, and caught her in her arms.  The cry of her aunt drew
every eye to the spot.  Wallace immediately relinquished the countess
to her husband, and moved toward the beautiful and senseless form that
lay on the bosom of Lady Ruthven.  The earl and his agitated wife
followed.

"What ails my Helen?" asked the affectionate father.

"I know not," replied his sister; "she sat behind me, and I knew
nothing of her disorder till she fell as you see."

Murray instantly supposed that she had discovered the unknown knight;
and looking from countenance to countenance, amongst the train, to try
if he could discern the envied cause of such emotions, he read in no
face an answering feeling with that of Helen's; and turning away from
his unavailing scrutiny, on hearing her draw a deep sigh, his eyes
fixed themselves on her, as if they would have read her soul.  Wallace,
who, in the pale form before him, saw, not only the woman whom he had
preserved with a brother's care, but the compassionate saint, who had
given a hallowed grave to the remains of an angel, pure as herself, now
hung over her with anxiety so eloquent in every feature that the
countess would willingly at that moment have stabbed her in every vein.

Lady Ruthven had sprinkled her niece with water; and as she began to
revive, Wallace motioned to his chieftains to withdraw; her eyes opened
slowly; but recollection returning with every reawakened sense, she
dimly perceived a press of people around her, and fearful of again
encountering that face, which declared the Bruce of her secret
meditations and the Wallace of her declared veneration were one, she
buried her blushes in the bosom of her father.  In that short point of
time, images of past, present, and to come, rushed before her; and
without confessing to herself why she thought it necessary to make the
vow, her soul seemed to swear on the sacred altar of a parent's heart,
never more to think on either idea.  Separate, it was sweet to muse on
her own deliverer; it was delightful to dwell on the virtues of her
father's preserver.  But when she saw both characters blended in one,
her feelings seemed sacrilege; and she wished even to bury her
gratitude, where no eye but Heaven's could see its depth and fervor.

Trembling at what might be the consequences of this scene, Lady mar
determined to hint to Wallace that Helen loved some unknown knight; and
bending to her daughter, said in a low voice, yet loud enough for him
to hear, "Retire, my child; you will be better in your own room,
whether pleasure or disappointment about the person you wished to
discover in Sir William's train have occasioned these emotions."

Helen recovered herself at this indelicate remark; and raising her head
with that modest dignity which only belongs to the purest mind, gently
but firmly said, "I obey you, madam; and he whom I have seen will be
too generous, not to pardon the effects of so unexpected a weight of
gratitude."  As she spoke, her turning eye met the fixed gaze of
Wallace.  His countenance became agitated, and dropping on his knee
beside her; "Gracious lady;" cried he, "mine is the right of gratitude;
but it is dear land precious to me; a debt that my life will not be
able to repay.  I was ignorant of all your goodness, when we parted in
the hermit's cave.  But the spirit of an angel like yourself, Lady
Helen, will whisper to you all her widowed husband's thanks."  He
pressed her hand fervently between his, and rising, left the room.

Helen looked on with an immovable eye, in which the heroic vow of her
soul spoke in every beam; but as he arose, even then she felt its
frailty, for her spirit seemed leaving her; and as he disappeared from
the door, her world seemed shut from her eyes.  Not to think of him was
impossible; how to think of him was in her own power.  Her heart felt
as if suddenly made a desert.  But heroism was there.  She had looked
upon the Heaven-dedicated Wallace; on the widowed mourner of Marion;
the saint and the hero; the being of another world! and as such she
would regard him, till in the realms of purity she might acknowledge
the brother of her soul!

A sacred inspiration seemed to illuminate her features, and to brace
with the vigor of immortality those limbs which before had sunk under
her.  She forgot she was still of earth, while a holy love, like that
of the dove in Paradise, sat brooding on her heart.

Lady Mar gazed on her without understanding the ethereal meaning of
those looks.  Judging from her own impassioned feelings, she could only
resolve the resplendent beauty which shone from the now animated face
and form of Helen into the rapture of finding herself beloved.  Had she
not heard Wallace declare himself to be the unknown knight who had
rescued Helen?  She had heard him devote his life to her, and was not
his heart included in that dedication?  She had then heard that love
vowed to another, which she would have sacrificed her soul to win!

Murray too was confounded; but his reflections were far different from
those of Lady Mar.  He saw his newly self-discerned passion smothered
in its first breath.  At the moment in which he found that he loved his
cousin above all of women's mold, an unappealable voice in his bosom
made him crush every fond desire.  That heart which, with the chaste
transports of a sister, had throbbed so entrancingly against his, was
then another's! was become the captive of Wallace's virtues; of the
only man who, his judgment would have said, deserves Helen Mar!  But
when he clasped her glowing beauties in his arms only the night before,
his enraptured soul then believed that the tender smile he saw on her
lips was meant as the sweet earnest of the happier moment, when he
might hold her there forever!  That dream was now past.  "Well! be it
so!" said he to himself, "if this too daring passion must be clipped on
the wing, I have at least the consolation that it soared like the bird
of Jove!  But, loveliest of created beings," thought he, looking on
Helen with an expression which, had she met it, would have told her all
that was passing in his soul, "if I am not to be thy love, I will be
thy friend--and live for thee and Wallace!"

Believing that she had read her sentence in what she thought the
triumphant glances of a happy passion, Lady Mar turned from her
daughter-in-law with such a hatred kindling in her heart, she durst not
trust her eyes to the inspection of the bystanders; but her tongue
could not be restrained beyond the moment in which the object of her
jealousy left the room.  As the door closed upon Helen, who retired
leaning on the arms of her aunt and Edwin, the countess turned to her
lord; his eyes were looking with doting fondness toward the point where
she withdrew.  This sight augmented the angry tumults in the breast of
his wife; and with a bitter smile she said, "So, my lord, you find the
icy bosom of your Helen can be thawed!"

"How do you mean, Joanna?" returned the earl, doubting her words and
looks; "you surely cannot blame our daughter for being sensible of
gratitude."

"I blame all young women," replied she, "who give themselves airs of
unnatural coldness; and then, when the proof comes, behave in a manner
so extraordinary, so indelicately, I must say."

"My Lady Mar!" ejaculated the earl, with an amazed look, "what am I to
think of you from this?  How has my daughter behaved indelicately?  She
did not lay her head on Sir William Wallace's bosom and weep there till
he replaced her on her natural pillow, mine.  Have a care, madam, that
I do not see more in this spleen than would be honorable to you for me
to discover."

Fearing nothing so much as that her husband should really suspect the
passion which possessed her, and so remove her from the side of
Wallace, she presently recalled her former duplicity, and with a
surprised and uncomprehending air replied, "I do not understand what
you mean, Donald."  Then turning to Lord Ruthven, who stood uneasily
viewing this scene, "How," cried she, "can my lord discover spleen in
my maternal anxiety respecting the daughter of the husband I love and
honor above all the earth?  But men do not properly estimate female
reserve.  Any woman would say with me, that to faint at the sight of
Sir William Wallace was declaring an emotion not to be revealed before
so large a company! a something from which men might not draw the most
agreeable inferences."

"It only declared surprise, madam," cried Murray, "the surprise of a
modest and ingenuous mind that did not expect to recognize its mountain
friend in the person of the protector of Scotland."

Lady mar put up her lip, and turning to the still silent Lord Ruthven,
again addressed him.  "Stepmothers, my lord," said she, "have hard
duties to perform; and when we think we fulfill them best, our
suspicious husband comes with a magician's wand, and turns all our good
to evil."

"Array your good in a less equivocal garb, my dear Joanna," answered
the Earl of Mar, rather ashamed of the hasty words which indeed the
suspicion of a moment had drawn from his lips; "judge my child by her
usual conduct, not by an accidental appearance of inconsistency, and I
shall ever be grateful for your solicitude.  But in this instance,
though she might betray the weakness of an enfeebled constitution, it
was certainly not the frailty of a love-sick heart."

"Judge me by your own rule, dear Donald," cried his wife, blandishly
kissing his forehead, "and you will not again wither the mother of your
boy with such a look as I just now received!"

Glad to see this reconciliation, Lord Ruthven made a sign to Murray,
and they withdrew together.

Meanwhile, the honest earl surrendering his whole heart to the wiles of
his wife, poured into her not inattentive ear all his wishes for Helen:
all the hopes to which her late meeting with Wallace, and their present
recognition, had given birth.  "I had rather have that man my son,"
said he, "than see my beloved daughter placed on an imperial throne."

"I do not doubt it," thought Lady Mar; "for there are many emperors,
but only one William Wallace!"  However, her sentiments she confined to
herself: neither assenting nor dissenting, but answering so as to
secure the confidence by which she hoped to traverse his designs.

According to the inconsistency of the wild passion that possessed her,
one moment she saw nothing but despair before her, and in the next it
seemed impossible that Wallace should in heart be proof against her
tenderness and charms.  She remembered Murray's words: that he was sent
to set her free, and that recollection reawakened every hope.  Sir
William had placed Lord Mar in a post as dangerous as honorable.
Should the Southrons return in any force into Scotland, Stirling must
be one of the first places they would attack.  The earl was brave, but
his wounds had robbed him of much of his martial vigor.  Might she not
then be indeed set free?  And might not Wallace, on such an event, mean
to repay her for all those sighs he now sought to repress from ideas of
a virtue which she could admire, but had not the courage to imitate?

These wicked meditations passed even at the side of her husband, and,
with a view to further every wish of her intoxicated imagination, she
determined to spare no exertion to secure the support of her own
family, which, when agreeing in one point, was the most powerful of any
in the kingdom.  Her father, the Earl of Strathearn, was now a
misanthrope recluse in the Orkneys; she therefore did not calculate on
his assistance, but she resolved on requesting Wallace to put the names
of her cousins, Athol and Badenoch, into the exchange of prisoners, for
by their means she expected to accomplish all she hoped.  On Mar's
probable speedy death she so long thought that she regarded it as a
certainty, and so pressed forward to the fulfillment of her love and
ambition with as much eagerness as if he were already in his grave.

She recollected that Wallace had not this time thrown her from his
bosom, when in the transports of her joy she cast herself upon it; he
only gently whispered, "Beware, lady, there are those present who may
think my services too richly paid."  With these words he had
relinquished her to her husband.  But in them she saw nothing inimical
to her wishes; it was a caution, not a reproof, and had not his warmer
address to Helen conjured up all the fiends of jealousy, she would have
been perfectly satisfied with these grounds of hope-slippery though
they were, like the sands of the sea.

Eager, therefore, to break away from Lord Mar's projects relating to
his daughter, at the first decent opportunity she said: "We will
consider more of this, Donald.  I now resign you to the duties of your
office, and shall pay mine to her, whose interest is our own."

Lord Mar pressed her hand to his lips, and they parted.

Prior to Wallace's visit to the citadel, which was to be at an early
hour the same morning, a list of the noble prisoners was put into his
hand.  Edwin pointed to the name of Lord Montgomery.

"That," said he, "is the name of the person you already esteem; but how
will you regard him when I tell you who he was?"

Wallace turned on him an inquiring look.

"You have often spoken to me of Sir Gilbert Hambledon-"

"And this be he!" interrupted Wallace.

Edwin recounted the manner of the earl discovering himself, and how he
came to bear that title.  Wallace listened in silence and when his
young friend ended, sighed heavily, "I will thank him," was all he
said; and rising, he proceeded to the chamber of Montgomery.  Even at
that early hour it was filled with his officers come to inquire after
their late commander's health.  Wallace advanced to the couch, and the
Southrons drew back.  The expression of his countenance told the earl
that he now knew him.

"Noblest of Englishmen!" cried Wallace, in a low voice, "I come to
express a gratitude to you, as lasting as the memory of the action
which gave it birth.  Your generous conduct to all that was dearest to
me on earth was that night in the garden of Ellerslie witnessed by
myself.  I was in the tree above your head, and nothing but a
conviction that I should embarrass the honor of my wife's protector
could at that moment have prevented my springing from my covert and
declaring my gratitude on the spot.

"Receive my thanks now, inadequate as they are to express what I feel.
But you offered me your heart on the field of Cambus-Kenneth; I will
take that as a generous intimation how I may best acknowledge my debt.
Receive then my never-dying friendship, the eternal gratitude of my
immortal spirit."

The answer of Montgomery could not but refer to the same subject, and
by presenting the tender form of his wife and her devoted love, almost
visibly again before her widowed husband, nearly forced open the
fountain of tears which he had buried deep in his heart; and rising
suddenly, for fear his emotions might betray themselves, he warmly
pressed the hand of his English friend, and left the room.

In the course of the same day the Southron nobles were transported into
the citadel, and the family of Mar removed from the fortress, to take
up their residence in the palace of Snawdoun.



Chapter XXXVI.

The Carse of Stirling.


The fame of these victories, the seizure of Stirling, the conquest of
above sixty thousand men, and the lord warden with his late deputy
taken prisoners, all spread through the country on the wings of the
wind.

Messengers were dispatched by Wallace, not only to the nobles who had
already declared for the cause by sending him their armed followers,
but to the clans who yet stood irresolute.  To the chiefs who had taken
the side of Edward, he sent no exhortation.  And when Lord Ruthven
advised him to do so, "No, my lord," said he, "we must not spread a
snare under our country, and as they had the power to befriend her,
they would not have colleagued with her enemies.  They remember her
happiness under the rule of our Alexanders; they see her sufferings
beneath the sway of a usurper; and if they can know these things, and
require arguments to bring them to their duty, should they then come to
it, it would not be to fulfill, but to betray.  Ours, my dear Lord
Ruthven, is a commission from Heaven.  The truth of our cause is God's
own signet, and is so clear, that it need only be seen to be
acknowledged.  All honest minds will come to us of themselves; and
those who are not so, had better be avoided, than shown the way by
which treachery may effect what open violence cannot accomplish."

This reasoning, drawn from the experience of nature, neither encumbered
by the subtleties of policy nor the sophistry of the schools, was
evident to every honest understanding, and decided the question.

Lady Mar, unknown to any one, again applied to her fatal pen; but with
other views than for the ruin of the cause, or the destruction of
Wallace.  It was to strengthen his hands with the power of all her
kinsmen; and finally, by the crown which they should place on his head,
exalt her to the dignity of a queen.  She wrote first to John Cummin,
Earl of Buchan, enforcing a thousand reasons why he should now leave a
sinking cause and join the rising fortunes of his country.

"You see," said she, "that the happy star of Edward is setting.  The
King of France not only maintains possession of that monarch's
territory at Guienne, but he holds him in check on the shores of
Flanders.  Baffled abroad, an insurrection awaits him at home; the
priesthood whom he has insulted, trample name with anathemas; the
nobles whom he has insulted, trample on his prerogative; and the
people, whose privileges he has invaded, call aloud for redress.  The
proud barons of England are ready to revolt; and the Lords Hereford and
Norfolk (those two earls whom, after madly threatening to hang,** he
sought to bribe to their allegiance by leaving them in the full powers
of Constable and Marshal of England), they are now conducting
themselves with such domineering consequence, that even the Prince of
Wales submits to their directions, and the throne of the absent tyrant
is shaken to its center.

**Edward intended to send out forces to Guienne, under the command of
Humphrey Earl of Hereford, the constable, and Roger Earl of Norfolk,
the Marshal of England, when these two powerful nobles refused to
execute his commands.  A violent altercation ensued; and the king, in
the height of his passion, exclaimed to the constable, "Sir Earl, by
G-, you shall either go or hang."  "By G-, Sir King," replied Hereford,
"I will neither go nor hang."  And he immediately departed with the
marshal and their respective trains.

"Sir William Wallace has rescued Scotland from his yoke.  The country
now calls for her ancient lords--those who made her kings, and supported
them.  Come, then, my cousin! espouse the cause of right; the cause
that is in power; the cause that may aggrandize the house of Cummin
with still higher dignities than any with which it has hitherto been
blazoned."

With these arguments, and with others more adapted to his Belial mind,
she tried to bring him to her purpose; to awaken what ambition he
possessed; and to entice his baser passions, by offering security in a
rescued country to the indulgence of senses to which he had already
sacrificed the best properties of man.  She dispatched her letter by a
messenger, whom she bribed to secrecy; and added in her postscript,
"that the answer she should hope to receive would be an offer of his
services to Sir William Wallace."

While the Countess of Mar was devising her plans (for the gaining of
Lord Buchan was only a preliminary measure), the dispatches of Wallace
had taken effect.  Their simple details, and the voice of fame, had
roused a general spirit throughout the land; and in the course of a
very short time after the different messengers had left Stirling, the
plain around the city was covered with a mixed multitude.  All Scotland
seemed pressing to throw itself at the feet of its preserver.  A large
body of men brought from Mar by Murray according to his uncle's orders,
were amongst the first encamped on the Carse; and that part of
Wallace's own particular band which he had left at Dumbarton, to
recover their wounds, now, under the command of Stephen Ireland,
rejoined their lord at Stirling.

Neil Campbell, the brave Lord of Loch-awe, and Lord Bothwell, the
father of Lord Andrew Murray, with a strong reinforcement, arrived from
Argyleshire.  The chiefs of Ross, Dundas, Gordon, Lockhart, Logan,
Elphinstone, Scott, Erskine, Lindsay, Cameron, and of almost every
noble family in Scotland, sent their sons at the heads of detachments
from their clans, to swell the ranks of Sir William Wallace.

When this patriotic host assembled on the Carse of Stirling, every
inmate of the city, who had not duty to confine him within the walls,
turned out to view the glorious sight.  Mounted within the walls,
turned out to view the glorious sight.  Mounted on a rising ground,
they saw each little army, and the emblazoned banners of all the
chivalry of Scotland floating afar over the lengthened ranks.

At this moment, the lines which guarded the outworks of Stirling opened
from right to left, and discovered Wallace advancing on a white
charger.  When the conqueror of Edward's hosts appeared--the deliverer
of Scotland--a mighty shout, from the thousands around, rent the skies,
and shook the earth on which they stood.

Wallace raised his helmet from his brow, as by an instinctive motion
every hand bent the sword or banner it contained.

"He comes in the strength of David!" cried the venerable bishop of
Dunkeld, who appeared at the head of his church's tenantry; "Scots,
behold the Lord's anointed!"

The exclamation, which burst like inspiration from the lips of the
bishop, struck to every heart.  "Long live our William the Lion! our
Scottish King!" was echoed with transport by every follower on the
ground; and while the reverberating heavens seemed to ratify the voice
of the people, the lords themselves (believing that he who won had the
best right to enjoy) joined in the glorious cry.  Galloping up from the
front of their ranks, they threw themselves from their steeds, and
before Wallace could recover from the surprise into which this
unexpected salutation had thrown him, Lord Bothwell and Lord Loch-awe,
followed by the rest, had bent their knees, and acknowledged him to be
their sovereign.  The Bishop of Dunkeld at the same moment drawing from
his breast a silver dove of sacred oil, poured it upon the unbonneted
head of Wallace.  "Thus, O King!" cried he, "do I consecrate on earth,
what has already received the unction of Heaven!"

Wallace, at this action, was awe-struck, and raising his eyes to that
Heaven, his soul in silence breathed its unutterable devotion.  Then
looking on the bishop: "Holy father," said he, "this unction may have
prepared my brows for a crown, but it is not of this world, and Divine
Mercy must bestow it.  Rise, lords!" and as he spoke, he flung himself
from his horse, and taking Lord Bothwell by the hand, as the eldest of
the band, "kneel not to me," cried he; "I am to you what Gideon was to
the Israelites--your fellow-soldier.  I cannot assume the scepter you
would bestow; for He who rules us all has yet preserved to you a lawful
monarch.  Bruce lives.  And were he extinct, the blood royal flows in
too many noble veins in Scotland for me to usurp its rights."

"The rights of the crown lie with the only man in Scotland who knows
how to defend them! else reason is blind, or the nation abandons its
own prerogative.  What we have this moment vowed, is not to be
forsworn.  Baliol has abdicated our throne; the Bruce deserted it; all
our nobles slept till you awoke; and shall we bow to men who may
follow, but will not lead?  No, bravest Wallace, from the moment you
drew the first sword for Scotland, you made yourself her lawful king."

Wallace turned to the veteran Lord of Loch-awe, who uttered this with a
blunt determination that meant to say, the election which had passed
should not be recalled.  "I made myself her champion, to fight for her
freedom, not my own aggrandizement.  Were I to accept the honor with
which this too grateful nation would repay my service, I should not
bring it that peace for which I contend.  Struggling for liberty, the
toils of my brave countrymen would be redoubled; for they would have to
maintain the tights of an unallied king against a host of enemies.  The
circumstances of a man from the private stations of life being elevated
to such a dignity would be felt as an insult by every royal house, and
foes and friends would arm against us.  On these grounds of policy
alone, even were my heart not loyal to the vows of my ancestors, I
should repel the mischief you would bring upon yourselves by making me
your king.  As it is, my conscience, as well as my judgment, compels me
reject it.  As your general, I may serve you gloriously; as your
monarch, in spite of myself, I should incur your ultimate destruction."

"From whom, noblest of Scots!" asked the Lord of Bothwell.

"From yourselves, my friends," answered Wallace, with a gentle smile.
"Could I take advantage of the generous enthusiasm of a grateful
nation; could I forget the duty I owe to the blood of our Alexanders,
and leap into the throne, there are many who would soon revolt against
their own election.  You cannot be ignorant, that there are natures who
would endure no rule, did it not come by the right of inheritance; a
right by dispute, lest they teach their inferiors the same refractory
lesson.  But to bend with voluntary subjection, to long obey a power
raised by themselves, would be a sacrifice abhorrent to their pride.
After having displayed their efficiency in making a king, they would
prove their independence by striving to pull him down the moment he
made them feel his specter.

"Such would be the fate of this election.  Jealousies and rebellions
would mark my reign; till even my closest adherents, seeing the
miseries of civil war, would fall from my side, and leave the country
again open to the inroads of her enemies.

"These, my friends and countrymen, would be my reasons for rejecting
the crown did my ambition point that way.  But as I have no joy in
titles, no pleasure in any power that does not spring hourly from the
heart, let my reign be in your bosoms; and with the appellation of your
fellow-soldier, your friend!  I will fight for you, I will conquer for
you--I will live or die!"

"This man," whispered Lord Buchan, who having arrived in the rear of
the troops on the appearance of Wallace, advanced within hearing of
what he said-"this man shows more cunning in repulsing a crown than
most are capable of exerting to obtain one."

"Ay, but let us see," returned the Earl of March, who accompanied him,
"whether it be not Caesar's coyness; he thrice refused the purple, and
yet he died Emperor of the Romans!"

"He that offers me a crown," returned Buchan, "shall never catch me
playing the coquette with its charms.  I warrant you, I would embrace
the lovely mischief in the first presentation."  A shout rent the air.
"What is that?" cried he, interrupting himself.

"He has followed your advice," answered March, with a satirical smile,
"it is the preliminary trumpet to long live King William the Great!"

Lord Buchan spurred forward to Scrymgeour, whom he knew, and inquired,
"where the new king was to be crowned?  We have not yet to thank him
for the possession of Scone!"

"True," cried Sir Alexander, comprehending the sarcasm; "but did Sir
William Wallace accept the prayers of Scotland, neither Scone nor any
other spot in the kingdom would refuse the place of his coronation."

"Not accept them!" replied Buchan; "then why the shout?  Do the
changelings rejoice in being refused?"

"When we cannot gain the altitude of our desires," returned the knight,
"it is yet subject for thankfulness when we reach a step toward it.
Sir William Wallace has consented to be considered as the protector of
the kingdom; to hold it for the rightful sovereign, under the name of
regent."

"Ay," cried March, "he has only taken a mistress instead of a wife;
and, trust me, when once he has got her into his arms, it will not be
all the gray beards in Scotland that can wrest her thence again.  I
marvel to see how men can be cajoled and call the visor virtue."

Scrymgeour had not waited for this reply of the insolent earl, and
Buchan answered him: "I care not," said he; "whoever keeps my castle
over my head, and my cellars full, is welcome to reign over John of
Buchan.  So onward, my gallant Cospatrick, to make our bow to royalty
in masquerade."

When these scorners approached, they found Wallace standing uncovered
in the midst of his happy nobles.  There was not a man present to whom
he had not given proofs of his divine commission; each individual was
snatched from a state of oppression and disgrace, and placed in
security and honor.  With overflowing gratitude, they all thronged
around him; and the young, the isolated Wallace, found a nation waiting
on his nod; the hearts of half a million of people offered to his hand
to turn and wind them as he pleased.  No crown sat on his brows; but
the bright halo of true glory beamed from his godlike countenance.  It
even checked the arrogant smiles with which the haughty March and the
voluptuous Buchan came forward to mock him with their homage.

As the near relations of Lady Mar, he received them with courtesy; but
one glance of his eye penetrated to the hollowness of both; and then,
remounting his steed, the stirrups of which were held by Edwin and Ker,
he touched the head of the former with his hand; "Follow me, my friend;
I now go to pay my duty to your mother.  For you, my lords," said he,
turning to the nobles around, "I shall hope to meet you at noon in the
citadel, where we must consult together on further prompt movements.
Nothing with us can be considered as won till all is gained."

The chieftains, with bows, acquiesced in his mandate, and fell back
toward their troops.  But the foremost ranks of those brave fellows,
having heard much of what had passed, were so inflamed with admiration
of their regent, that they rushed forward, and collecting in crowds
around his horse, and in his path, some pressed to kiss his hand, and
others his way, shouting and calling down blessings upon him, till he
stopped at the gate of Snawdoun.



Chapter XXXVII.

Snawdoun Palace.


Owing to the multiplicity of affairs which engaged Wallace's attention
after the capture of Stirling, the ladies of Mar had not seen him since
his first visit to the citadel.  The countess passed this time in
writing her dispatches to the numerous lords of her house, both in
Scotland and in England; and by her subtle arguments she completely
persuaded her husband of the cogency of putting the names of Lord Athol
and Lord Badenoch into the list of noble prisoners he should request.

When this was proposed to Wallace, he recollected the conduct of Athol
at Montrose; and, being alone with Lord Mar, he made some objections
against inviting him back into the country.  But the earl, who was
prepared by his wife to overcome every obstacle in the way of her
kinsman's return, answered, "That he believed, from the representations
he had received of the private opinions both of Badenoch and Athol,
that their treason was more against Baliol than the kingdom; and that
now that prince was irretrievably removed, he understood they would be
glad to take a part in its recovery."

"That may be the case with the Earl of Badenoch," replied Wallace, "but
something less friendly to Scotland must be in the breast of the man
who could betray Lord Douglas into the hands of his enemies."

"So I should have thought," replied the earl, "had not the earnestness
with which my wife pleads his cause convinced me she knows more of his
mind than she chooses to intrust me with, and therefore I suppose his
conduct to Douglas arose from personal pique."

Though these explanations did not at all raise the absent lords in his
esteem, yet to appear hostile to the return of Lady Mar's relations
would be a violence to her, which, in proportion as Wallace shrunk from
the guilty affection she was so eager to lavish upon him, he was averse
to committing; wishing, by showing her every proper consideration, to
lead her to apprehend the turpitude of her conduct; by convincing her
that his abhorrence of her advances had its origin in principle, rather
than from personal repugnance to herself; and so she might see the
foulness of her crime, and be recalled to virtue.  He was therefore not
displeased to have this opportunity of obliging her; and, as he hoped
that amongst so many warm friends a few cool ones could not do much
injury, he gave in the names of Badenoch and Athol, with those of Lord
Douglas, Sir  William Maitland (the only son of the venerable knight of
Thirlestane), Sir John Monteith, and many other brave Scots.

For these, the Earls de Warenne, De Valence, and Montgomery, the Barons
Hilton and Blenkinsopp, and others of note, were to exchanged.  Those
of lesser consequence, man for man, were to be returned for Scots of
the same degree.

In arranging preliminaries to effect the speedy return of the Scots
from England (who must be known to have arrived on the borders, before
the English would be permitted to cross them); in writing dispatches on
this subject, and on others of equal moment, had passed the time
between the surrender of Stirling and the hour when Wallace was called
to the plain, to receive the offered homage of his grateful country.

Impatient to behold again the object of her fond machinations, Lady Mar
hastened to the window of her apartment, when the shouts in the streets
informed her of the approach of Wallace.  The loud huzzas, accompanied
by the acclamations of "Our protector and prince!" seemed already to
bind her brows with her anticipated diadem, and for a moment, vanity
lost the image of love in the purple with which she enveloped it.

Her ambitious vision was disturbed by the crowd rushing forward; the
gates were thronged with people of every age and sex, and Wallace
himself appeared on his white charger, with his helmet off, bowing and
smiling upon the populace.  There was a mild effulgence in his eye; a
divine benevolence in his countenance, as his parted lips showed the
brightness of his smile, which seemed to speak of happiness within, of
joy to all around.  She hastily snatched a chaplet of flowers form her
head, and threw it from the window.  Wallace looked up; his brow and
his smile were then directed to her! but they were altered.  The moment
he met the congratulation of her eager eyes, he remembered what would
have been the soft welcome of his Marion's under the like circumstance!
But that tender eye was closed--that ear was shut, to whom he would
have wished these plaudits to have given rapture--and they were now as
nothing to him.  The countess saw not what was passing in his mind, but
kissing her hand to him, disappeared from the window when he entered
the palace.

Another eye beside Lady Mar's had witnessed the triumphant entry of
Wallace.  Triumphant in the true sense of the word; for he came a
victor over the hearts of men; he came, not attended by his captives
won in the war, but by the people he had blessed, by throngs calling
him preserver, father, friend, and prince!  By every title which can
inspire the soul of man with the happy consciousness of fulfilling his
embassy here below.

Helen was this witness.  She had passed the long interval, since she
had seen Wallace, in the state of one in a dream.  The glance had been
so transient, that every succeeding hour seemed to lessen the evidence
of her senses that she had really beheld him.  It appeared impossible
to her that the man whom her thoughts had hitherto dwelt on as the
widowed husband of Marion, as the hero whom sorrow had wholly dedicated
to patriotism and to Heaven, should ever awaken in her breast feelings
which would seem to break like a sacrilegious host upon the holy
consecration of his.  Once she had contemplated this idea with the
pensive impressions of one leaning over the grave of a hero; and she
could then turn as if emerging from the glooms of sepulchral monuments
to upper day, to the image of her unknown knight! she could then
blamelessly recollect the matchless graces of his figure! the noble
soul that breathed from his every word and action; the sweet, though
thoughtful, serenity that sat on his brow!  "There," whispered she to
herself, "are the lofty meditations of a royal mind, devising the
freedom of his people.  When that is effected, how will the perfect
sunshine break out from that face!  Ah! how blest must Scotland be
under his reign, when all will be light, virtue, and joy!"  Bliss
hovered like an angel over the image of this imaginary Bruce; while
sorrow, in mourning weeds, seemed ever dropping tears, when any
circumstance recalled that of the real Wallace.

Such was the state of Helen's thoughts, when in the moment beholding
the chief Ellerslie in the citadel she recognized, in his expected
melancholy form, the resplendent countenance of him whom she supposed
the prince of Scotland.  That two images so opposite should at once
unite; that in one bosom should be mingled all the virtues she had
believed peculiar to each, struck her with overwhelming amazement.  But
when she recovered from her short swoon, and found Wallace at her feet;
when she felt that all the devotion her heart had hitherto paid to the
simple idea of virtue alone would now be attracted to that glorious
mortal, in whom all human excellence appeared summed up, she trembled
under an emotion that seemed to rob her of herself, and place a new
principle of being within her.

All was so extraordinary, so unlooked for, so bewildering, that from
the moment in which she had retired in such a paroxysm of
highly-wrought feelings from her first interview in the gallery with
him, she became altogether like a person in a trance; and hardly
answering her aunt, when she then led her up the stairs, only
complained she was ill, and threw herself upon a couch.

At the very time that her heart told her in a language she could not
misunderstand, that she irrevocably loved this too glorious, too
amiable Wallace, it as powerfully denounced to her, that she had
devoted herself to one who must ever be to her as a being of air.  No
word of sympathy would ever whisper felicity to her heart; no--the flame
that was within her (which she found would be immortal as the vestal
fires which resemble its purity) must burn there unknown; hidden, but
not smothered.

"Were this a canonized saint," cried she, as she laid her throbbing
head upon her pillow, "how gladly should I feel these emotions!  For,
could I not fall down and worship him?  Could I not think it a world of
bliss, to live forever within the influence of his virtues; looking at
him, listening to him, rejoicing in his praises, happy in his
happiness!  Yes, though I were a peasant girl, and he not know that
Helen Mar even existed!  And I may live thus," said she; "and I may
steal some portion of the rare lot that was Lady Marion's-to die for
such a man!  Ah! could I be in Edwin's place and wait upon his smiles!
But that may not be; I am a woman, and formed to suffer in silence and
seclusion.  But even at a distance, brave Wallace, my spirit shall
watch over you in the form of this Edwin; I will teach him a double
care of the light of Scotland.  And my prayers, also, shall follow you;
so that when we meet in heaven, the Blessed Virgin shall say with what
hosts of angels her intercessions, through my vigils have surrounded
thee!"



Chapter XXXVIII.

The Bower, or Ladies' Apartment.


Thus did Lady Helen commune with her own strangely-affected heart;
sometimes doubting the evidence of her eyes; then, convinced of their
fidelity, striving to allay the tumults in her mind.  She seldom
appeared from her own rooms.  And such retirement was not questioned,
her father being altogether engaged at the citadel, the countess
absorbed in her own speculations, and Lady Ruthven alone interrupted
the solitude of her niece by frequent visits.  Little suspecting the
cause of Helen's prolonged indisposition, she generally selected
Wallace for the subject of conversation.  She descanted with enthusiasm
on the rare perfection of his character; told her all that Edwin had
related of his actions from the taking of Dumbarton to the present
moment; and then bade Helen remark the miracle of such wisdom, valor,
and goodness being found in one so young and handsome.

"So, my child," added she, "depend on it; before he was Lady Marion's
husband he must have heard sighs enough from the fairest in our land to
have turned the wits of half the male world.  There is something in his
very look, did you meet him on the heath without better barg than a
shepherd's plaid, sufficient to declare him the noblest of men; and,
methinks, would excuse the gentlest lady in the land for leaving hall
and bower to share his sheep-cote.  But, alas!" and then the playful
expression of her countenance altered, "he is now for none on earth!"

With these words she turned the subject to the confidential hours he
passed with the young adopted brother of his heart.  Every fond emotion
seemed then centered in his wife and child.  When Lady Ruthven repeated
his pathetic words to Edwin, she wept; she even sobbed, and paused to
recover; while the deep and silent tears which flowed from the heart to
the eyes of Lady Helen bathed the side of the couch on which she
leaned.  "Alas!" cried Lady Ruthven, "that a man, so formed to grace
every relation in life--so noble a creature in all respects--so fond of a
husband--so full of parental tenderness--that he should be deprived of
the wife on whom he doted; that he should be cut off from all hope of
posterity; that when he shall die, nothing will be left of William
Wallace--breaks my heart!"

"Ah, my aunt," cried Helen, raising her head with animation, "will he
not leave behind him the liberty of Scotland?  That is an offspring
worthy of his god-like soul."

"True, my dear Helen; but had you ever been a parent, you would know
that no achievements, however great, can heal the wound made in a
father's heart by the loss of a beloved child.  And though Sir William
Wallace never saw the infant, ready to bless his arms, yet it perished
in the bosom of its mother; and that circumstance must redouble his
affliction; horribly does it enhance the cruelty of the deed!"

"He has in all things been a direful sacrifice," returned Helen; "and
with God alone dwells the power to wipe the tears from his heart."

"They flow not from his eyes," answered her aunt; "but deep, deep is
the grief that, my Edwin says, is settled there."

While Lady Ruthven was uttering these words, shouts in the street made
her pause; and soon recognizing the name of Wallace sounding from the
lips of the rejoicing multitude, she turned to Helen: "Here comes our
deliverer!" cried she, taking her by the hand; "we have not seen him
since the first day of our liberty.  It will do you good, as it will
me, to look on his beneficent face!"

She obeyed the impulse of her aunt's arm, and reached the window just
as he passed into the courtyard.  Helen's soul seemed rushing from her
eyes.  "Ah! it is indeed he!" thought she; "no dream, no illusion, but
his very self."

He looked up; but not on her side of the building; it was to the window
of Lady Mar; and as he bowed, he smiled.  All the charms of that smile
struck upon the soul of Helen; and, hastily retreating, she sunk
breathless into a seat.

"O, no! that man cannot be born for the isolated state I have just
lamented.  He is not to be forever cut off from communicating that
happiness to which he would give so much enchantment!"  Lady Ruthven
ejaculated this with fervor, her matron cheeks flushing with a sudden
and more forcible admiration of the person and mien of Wallace.  "There
was something in that smile, Helen, which tells me all is not chilled
within.  And, indeed, how should it be otherwise?  That generous
interest in the happiness of all, which seems to flow in a tide of
universal love, cannot spring from a source incapable of dispensing the
softer screams of it again."

Helen, whose well-poised soul was not affected by the agitation of her
body (agitation she was determined to conquer), calmly answered: "Such
a hope little agrees with all you have been telling me of his
conversation with Edwin.  Sir William Wallace will never love woman
more; and even to name the idea seems an offense against the sacredness
of his sorrow."

"Blame me not, Helen," returned Lady Ruthven, "that I forgot
probability, in grasping at possibility which might give me such a
nephew as Sir William Wallace, and you a husband worthy of your merits!
I had always, in my own mind, fixed on the unknown knight for your
future lord; and now that I find that he and the deliverer of Scotland
are one, I am not to be looked grave at for wishing to reward him with
the most precious heart that ever beat in a female breast."

"No more of this, if you love me, my dear aunt!" returned Helen; "it
neither can nor ought to be.  I revere the memory of Lady Marion too
much not to be agitated by the subject; so, no more!"-she was agitated.
But at that instant Edwin throwing open the door, put an end to the
conversation.

He came to apprise his mother that Sir William Wallace was in the state
apartments, come purposely to pay his respects to her, not having even
been introduced to her when the sudden illness of her niece in the
castle had made them part so abruptly.

"I will not interrupt his introduction now," said Helen, with a faint
smile; "a few days' retirement will strengthen me, and then I shall see
our protector as I ought."

"I will stay with you," cried Edwin, "and I dare say Sir William
Wallace will have no objection to be speedily joined by my mother; for,
as I came along, I met my aunt Mar hastening through the gallery; and,
between ourselves, my sweet coz, I do not think my noble friend quite
likes a private conference with your fair stepmother."

Lady Ruthven had withdrawn before he made this observation.

"Why, Edwin?-surely she would not do anything ungracious to one to whom
she owes so great a weight of obligations?"  When Helen asked this, she
remembered the spleen Lady Mar once cherished against Wallace; and she
feared it might now be revived.

"Ungracious!  O, no! the reverse of that; but her gratitude is full of
absurdity.  I will not repeat the fooleries with which she sought to
detain him at Bute.  And that some new fancy respecting him is now
about to menace his patience.  I am convinced; for, on my way hither, I
met her hurrying along, and as she passed me she exclaimed, 'Is Lord
Buchan arrived?' I answered.  'Yes.'  'Ah, then he proclaimed him
king?' cried she; and into the great gallery she darted."

"You do not mean to say," demanded Helen, turning her eyes with an
expression which seemed confident of his answer, "that Sir William
Wallace has accepted the crown of Scotland?"

"Certainly not," replied Edwin; "but as certainly it has been offered
to him, and he has refused it."

"I could have sworn it!" returned Helen, rising from her chair; "all is
loyal, all is great and consistent there, Edwin!"

"He is, indeed, the perfect exemplar of all nobleness," rejoined the
youth; "and I believe I shall even love you better, my dear cousin,
because you seem to have so clear an apprehension of his real
character."  He then proceeded, with all the animation of the most
zealous affection, to narrate to Helen the particulars of the late
scene on the Carse of Stirling.  And while he deepened still more the
profound impression the virtues of Wallace had made on her heart, he
reopened its more tender sympathies by repeating, with even minuter
accuracy than he had done to his mother, details of those hours which
he passed with him in retirement.  He spoke of the beacon-hill; of
moonlight walks in the camp, when all but the sentinels and his general
and himself were sunk in sleep.

These were the seasons when the suppressed feelings of Wallace would by
fits break from his lips, and at last pour themselves out,
unrestrainedly, to the ear of sympathy.  As the young narrator
described all the endearing qualities of his friend, the cheerful
heroism with which he quelled every tender remembrance to do his duty
in the day-"for it is only in the night," said Edwin, "that my general
remembers Ellerslie"--Helen's tears again stole silently down her
cheeks.  Edwin perceived them, and throwing his arms gently around her.
"Weep not, my sweet cousin," said he; "for, with all his sorrow, I
never saw true happiness till I beheld it in the eyes and heard it in
the voice of Sir William Wallace.  He has talked to me of the joy he
should experience in giving liberty to Scotland, and establishing her
peace, till his enthusiastic soul, grasping hope, as if it were
possession, he has looked on me with a consciousness of enjoyment which
seemed to say that all bliss was summed up in a patriot's breast.

"And at other times, when, after a conversation on his beloved Marion,
a few natural regrets would pass his lips, and my tears tell how deep
was my sympathy, then he would turn to comfort me; then he would show
me the world beyond this--that world which is the aim of all his deeds,
the end of all his travails--and, lost in the rapturous idea of meeting
his Marion there, a foretaste of all would seem to seize his soul: and
were I then called upon to point out the most enviable felicity on
earth, I should say it is that of Sir William Wallace.  It is this
enthusiasm in all he believes and feels that makes him what he is.  It
is this eternal spirit of hope, infused into him by Heaven itself, that
makes him rise from sorrow, like the sun from a cloud, brighter, and
with more ardent beams.  It is this that bathes his lips in the smiles
of Paradise, that throws a divine luster over his eyes, and makes all
dream of love and happiness that look upon him."

Edwin paused.  "Is it not so, my cousin?"

Helen raised her thoughtful face.  "He is not a being of this earth,
Edwin.  We must learn to imitate him, as well as to-"  She hesitated,
then added, "As well as to revere him, I do before the altars of the
saints.  But not to worship," said she, interrupting herself; "that
would be a crime.  To look on him as a glorious example of patient
suffering--of invincible courage in the behalf of truth and mercy!  This
is the end of my reverence for him, and this sentiment, my dear Edwin,
you partake."

"It possesses me wholly," cried the energetic youth; "I have no
thought, no wish, nor ever move or speak, but with the intent to be
like him.  He calls me his brother! and I will be so in soul, though I
cannot in blood; and then, my dear Helen, you shall have two Sir
William Wallaces to love!"

"Sweetest, sweetest boy!" cried Helen, putting her quivering lips to
his forehead; "you will then always remember that Helen so dearly loves
Scotland as to be jealous, above all earthly things, for the lord
regent's safety.  Be his guardian angel.  Beware of treason in man and
woman, friend and kindred.  It lurks, my cousin, under the most
specious forms; and, as one, mark Lord Buchan; in short, have a care of
all whom any of the house of Cummin may introduce.  Watch over your
general's life in the private hour.  It is not the public field I fear
for him; his valiant arm will there be his own guard!  But, in the
unreserved day of confidence, envy will point its dagger; and then, be
as eyes to his too trusting soul--as a shield to his too confidently
exposed breast!"

As she spoke she strove to conceal her too eloquent face in the silken
ringlets of her hair.

"I will be all this," cried Edwin, who saw nothing in her tender
solicitude but the ingenuous affection which glowed in his own heart;
"and I will be your eyes, too, my cousin; for when I am absent with Sir
William Wallace I shall consider myself your representative, and so
will send you regular dispatches of all that happens to him."

Thanks would have been a poor means of imparting what she felt at this
assurance; and, rising from her seat, with some of Wallace's own
resigned and enthusiastic expression in her face, she pressed Edwin's
hand to her heart; then bowing her head to him, in token of gratitude,
withdrew into an inner apartment.



Chapter XXXIX.

Stirling Castle and Council Hall.


The countess' chivalric tribute from the window gave Wallace reason to
anticipate her company in his visit to Lady Ruthven; and on finding the
room vacant, he dispatched Edwin for his mother, that he might not be
distressed by the unchecked advances of a woman whom, as the wife of
Lord Mar, he was obliged to see, and whose weakness he pitied, as she
belonged to a sex for which, in consideration of the felicity once
bestowed on him by woman, he felt a peculiar tenderness.  Respect the
countess he could not; nor, indeed, could he feel any gratitude for a
preference which seemed to him to have no foundations in the only true
basis of love--the virtues of the object.  For, as she acted against
every moral law, against his declared sentiments, it was evident that
she placed little value on his esteem; and therefore he despised, while
he pitied, a human creature ungovernably yielding herself to the sway
of her passions.

In the midst of thoughts so little to her advantage, Lady Mar entered
the room.  Wallace turned to meet her; while she, hastening toward him,
and dropping on one knee, exclaimed, "Let me be the first woman in
Scotland to acknowledge its king!"

Wallace put forth both his hands to raise her; and smiling, replied,
"Lady Mar, you would do me an honor I can never claim."

"How?" cried she, starting up.  "What, then, was that cry I heard?  Did
they not call you 'prince,' and 'sovereign?'  Did not my Lord Buchan-"

Confused, disappointed, overpowered, she left the sentence unfinished,
sunk on a seat, and burst into tears.  At that moment she saw her
anticipated crown fall from her head, and having united the gaining of
Wallace with his acquisition of this dignity, all her hopes seemed
again the sport of winds.  She felt as if Wallace had eluded her power,
for it was by the ambition-serving acts of her kinsman that she had
meant to bind him to her love; and now all was rejected, and she wept
in despair.  He gazed at her with amazement.  What these emotions and
his elevation had to do with each other, he could not guess; but,
recollecting her manner of mentioning Lord Buchan's name, he answered,
"Lord Buchan I have just seen.  He and Lord March came upon the carse
at the time I went thither to meet my gallant countrymen; and these two
noblemen, though so lately the friends of Edward, united with the rest
in proclaiming me regent."

This word dried the tears of Lady Mar.  She saw the shadow of royalty
behind it; and summoning artifice, to conceal the joy of her heart, she
calmly said, "Do not too severely condemn this weakness; it is not that
of vain wishes for your aggrandizement.  You are the same to Joanna Mar
whether as a monarch or a private man, so long as you possess that
supremacy in all, excellence which first gained her esteem.  It is for
Scotland's sake alone that I wish you to be her king.  You have taught
me to forget all selfish desires--to respect myself," cried she; "and,
from this hour I conjure you to wipe from your memory all my folly--all
my love-"

With the last word her bosom heaved tumultuously, and she rose in
agitation.  Wallace now gazed on her with redoubled wonder.  She saw
it; and hearing a foot in the passage, turned, and grasping his hand,
said in a soft and hurried tone, "Forgive, that which is entwined with
my heart should cost me some pangs to wrest thence again.  Only respect
me and I am comforted."  Wallace in silence pressed her hand, and the
door opened.

Lady Ruthven entered.  The countess, whose present aim was to throw the
virtue of Wallace off its guard, and to take that by sap, which she
found resisted open attack, with a penitential air disappeared by
another passage.  Edwin's gentle mother was followed by the same youth
who had brought Helen's packet to Berwick.  It was Walter Hay, anxious
to be recognized by his benefactor, to whom his recovered health had
rendered his person strange.  Wallace received him with kindness, and
told him to bear his grateful respects to his lady for her care of her
charge.  Lord Ruthven with others soon entered; and at the appointed
hour they attended their chief to the citadel.

The council-hall was already filled with the lords who had brought
their clans to the Scottish standard.  On the entrance of Wallace they
rose; and Mar coming forward, followed by the heralds and other
officers of ceremony, saluted him with the due forms of regent, and led
him to the throne.  Wallace ascended; but it was only to take thence a
packet which had been deposited for him on its cushion, and coming down
again, he laid the parchment on the council-table.

"I can do all things best," said he, "when I am upon a level with my
friends."  He then broke the seal of the packet.  It was from the
Prince of Wales, agreeing to Wallace's proposed exchange of prisoners,
but denouncing him as the instigator of the rebellion, and threatening
him with a future judgment from his incensed king for the mischief he
had wrought in the realm of Scotland.  The letter was finished with a
demand that the town and citadel of Berwick should be surrendered to
England, as a gauge for the quiet of the borders till Edward should
return.

Kirkpatrick scoffed at the audacious menace of the young prince.  "He
should come amongst us, like a man," cried he; "and we would soon show
him who it is that works mischief in Scotland!  Ay, even on his back,
we would write the chastisement due to the offender."

"Be not angry with him, my friend," returned Wallace; "these threats
are words of course from the son of Edward.  Did he not fear both our
rights and our arms, he would not so readily accord with our
propositions.  You see every Scottish prisoner is to be on the borders
by a certain day; and to satisfy that impatient valor (which I, your
friend, would never check, but when it loses itself in a furor too
nearly resembling that of our enemies), I intend to make your prowess
once again the theme of their discourse.  You will retake your castles
in Annandale!"

"Give me but the means to recover those stout gates of our country,"
cried Kirkpatrick, "and I will warrant you to keep the keys in my hand
till doomsday."

Wallace resumed: "Three thousand men are at your command.  When the
prisoners pass each other on the Cheviots, the armistice will
terminate.  You may then fall back upon Annandale, and that night,
light your own fires in Torthorald!  Send the expelled garrison into
Northumberland, and show this haughty prince that we know how to
replenish his depopulated towns!"

"But first I will set my mark on them!" cried Kirkpatrick, with one of
those laughs which ever preluded some savage proposal.

"I can guess it would be no gentle one," returned Wallace.  "Why, brave
knight, will you ever sully the fair field of your fame with an
ensanguined tide?"

"It is the fashion of the times," replied Kirkpatrick, roughly, "You
only, my victorious general, who, perhaps, had most cause to go with
the stream, have chosen a path of your own.  But look around! see our
burns, which the Southrons made run with Scottish blood; our hillocks,
swollen with the cairns of our slain; the highways blocked up with the
graves of the murdered; our lands filled with maimed clansmen, who
purchased life of our ruthless tyrants, by the loss of eyes and limbs!
And, shall we talk of gentle methods, with the perpetrators of these
horrors?  Sir William Wallace, you would make women of us!"

"Shame, shame, Kirkpatrick!" resounded from every voice, "you insult
the regent!"

Kirkpatrick stood, proudly frowning, with his left hand on the hilt of
his sword.  Wallace, by a motion, hushed the tumult, and spoke: "No
true chief of Scotland can offer me greater respect, than frankly to
trust me with his sentiments."

"Though we disagree in some points," cried Kirkpatrick, "I am ready to
die for him at any time, for I believe a trustier Scot treads not the
earth; but I repeat, why, by this mincing mercy, seek to turn our
soldiers into women?"

"I seek to make them men," replied Wallace; "to be aware that they
fight with fellow-creatures, with whom they may one day be friends; and
not like the furious savages of old Scandinavia, drink the blood of
eternal enmity.  I would neither have my chieftains set examples of
cruelty, nor degrade themselves by imitating the barbarities of our
enemies.  That Scotland bleeds every pore is true; but let peace be our
aim, and we shall heal all her wounds."

"Then I am not to cut off the ears of the freebooters in Annandale?"
cried Kirkpatrick, with a good-humored smile.  "Have it as you will, my
general, only you must new christen me to wash the war-stain from my
hand.  The rite of my infancy was performed as became a soldier's son;
my fount was my father's helmet and the first pap I sucked lay on the
point of his sword."

"You have not shamed your nurse!" cried Murray.

"Nor will I," answered Kirkpatrick, "while the arm that slew
Cressingham remains unwithered."

While he spoke, Ker entered to ask permission to introduce a messenger
from Earl de Warenne.  Wallace gave consent.  It was Sir Hugh le de
Spencer, a near kinsman of the Earl of Hereford, the tumultory
constable of England.  He was the envoy who had brought the Prince of
Wales' dispatches to Stirling.  Wallace was standing when he entered,
and so were the chieftains, but at his appearance they sat down.
Wallace retained his position.

"I come," cried the Southron knight, "from the lord warden of Scotland,
who, like my prince, too greatly condescends to do otherwise than
command, where now he treats; I come to the leader of this rebellion,
William Wallace, to receive an answer to the terms granted by the
clemency of my master, the son of his liege lord, to this misled
kingdom."

"Sir Knight," replied Sir William Wallace, "when the Southron lords
delegate a messenger to me, who knows how to respect the representative
of the nation to which he is sent, and the agents of his own country, I
shall give them my reply.  You may withdraw."

The Southron stood, resolute to remain where he was; "Do you know,
proud Scot," cried he, "to whom you dare address this imperious
language?  I am the nephew of the lord high constable of England."

"It is a pity," cried Murray, looking coolly up from the table, "that
he is not here to take his kinsman into custody."

Le de Spencer fiercely half drew his sword; "Sir, this insult-"

"Must be put up with," cried Wallace, interrupting him, and motioning
Edwin to lay his hand on the sword; "you have insulted the nation to
which you were sent on a peaceful errand; and having thus invited the
resentment of every chief here present, you cannot justly complain
against their indignation.  But in consideration of your youth, and
probable ignorance of what becomes the character of an embassador, I
grant you the protection your behavior has forfeited.  Sir Alexander
Scrymgeour," said he, turning to him, "you will guard Sir Hugh le de
Spencer to the Earl de Warenne, and tell that nobleman I am ready to
answer any proper messenger."

The young Southron, frowning, followed Scrymgeour from the hall, and
Wallace, turning to Murray, "My friend," said he, "it is not well to
stimulate insolence by repartee.  This young man's speech, though an
insult to the nation, was directed to me, and by me only it ought to
have been answered, and that seriously.  The haughty spirit of this man
should have been quelled, not incensed; and, had you proceeded one word
further, you would have given him an apparently just cause of complaint
against you, and of that, my friend, I am most sensibly jealous.  It is
not policy nor virtue to be rigorous to the extent of justice."

"I know," returned Murray, blushing, "that my wits are too many for me;
ever throwing me, like Phaeton's horses, into the midst of some fiery
mischief.  But pardon me now, and I promise to rein them close, when
next I see this prancing knight."

"Bravo, my Lord Andrew!" cried Kirkpatrick, in an affected whisper, "I
am not always to be bird alone, under the whip of our regent; you have
had a few stripes, and now look a little of my feather!"

"Like as a swan to a vulture, good Roger," answered Murray.

Wallace attended not to this tilting of humor between the chieftains,
but engaged himself in close discourse with the elder nobles at the
higher end of the hall.  In half an hour Scrymgeour returned, and with
him Baron Hilton.  He brought an apology from De Warenne, for the
behavior of his embassador; and added his persuasions to the demands of
England, that the regent would surrender Berwick, not only as a pledge
for the Scots keeping the truce on the borders, but as a proof of his
confidence in Prince Edward.

Wallace answered, that he had no reason to show extraordinary
confidence in one who manifested, by such a requisition, that he had no
faith in Scotland; and therefore, neither as a proof of confidence, nor
as a gauge of her word, should Scotland, a victorious power, surrender
the eastern door of her kingdom in the vanquished.  Wallace declared
himself ready to dismiss the English prisoners to the frontiers, and to
maintain the armistice till they had reached the south side of the
Cheviots.  "But," added he, "my word must be my bond, for by the honor
of Scotland I will give no other."

"Then," answered Baron Hilton, with an honest flush passing over his
cheek, as if ashamed of what he had next to say, "I am constrained to
lay before you the last instructions of the Prince of Wales to Earl de
Warenne."

He took a royally sealed roll of vellum from his breast, and read aloud:


"Thus saith Edward, Prince of Wales, to Earl de Warenne, Lord Warden of
Scotland.  If that arch-rebel, William Wallace, who now assumeth to
himself the rule of all our royal father's hereditary dominions north
of the Cheviots, refuseth to give unto us the whole possession of the
town and citadel of Berwick-upon-Tweed, as a pledge of his faith, to
keep the armistice on the borders from sea to sea: we command you to
tell him, that we shall detain under the ward of our good lieutenant of
the Tower in London, the person of William the Lord Douglas, as a close
captive, until our prisoners, now in Scotland, arrive safely at
Newcastle-upon-Tyne.  This mark of supremacy over a rebellious people
we owe as a pledge of their homage to our royal father; and as a
tribute of our gratitude to him for having allowed us to treat at all
with so undutiful a part of his dominions.

"(Signed)

Edward, P.W."

"Baron," cried Wallace, "it would be beneath the dignity of Scotland,
to retaliate this act with the like conduct.  The exchange of prisoners
shall yet be made, and the armistice held sacred on the borders.  But,
as I hold the door of war open in the interior of the country, before
the Earl de Warenne leaves this citadel (and it shall be on the day
assigned), please the Almighty Lord of Justice, the Southron usurpers
of all our castles on the eastern shore shall be our hostages for the
safety of Lord Douglas."

"And this is my answer, noble Wallace?"

"It is; and you see no more of me till that which I have said is done."

Baron Hilton withdrew.  And Wallace, turning to his peers, rapidly made
dispositions for a sweeping march from frith to frith; and having sent
those who were to accompany him to prepare for departure next day at
dawn, he retired with the Lords Mar and Bothwell to arrange affairs
relative to the prisoners.



Chapter XL.

The Governor's Apartments.


The sun rose on Wallace and his brave legions as they traversed the
once romantic glades of Strathmore; but now the scene was changed.  The
villages were abandoned, and the land lay around in uncultivated
wastes.  Sheep, without a shepherd, fled wild from the approach of man;
and wolves issued, howling, from the cloisters of depopulated
monasteries.  The army approached Dumblane; but it was without
inhabitant; grass grew in the streets; and the birds which roosted in
the desert dwellings flew scared from the windows as the trumpet of
Wallace sounded through the town.  Loud echoes repeated the summons
from its hollow walls; but no other voice was heard, no human face
appeared; for the ravening hand of Cressingham had been there!  Wallace
sighed as he looked around him.  "Rather smile," cried Graham, "that
Heaven hath given you the power to say to the tyrants who have done
this, 'Here shall your proud waves be stayed!'"

They proceeded over many a hill and plain, and found that the same
withering touch of desolation had burned up and overwhelmed the
country.  Wallace saw that his troops were faint for want of food;
cheering them, he promised that Ormsby should provide them a feast in
Perth; and, with reawakened spirits, they took the River Tay at its
fords, and were soon before the walls of that well-armed city.  But it
was governed by a coward, and Ormsby fled to Dundee at the first sight
of the Scottish army.  His flight might have warranted the garrison to
surrender without a blow, but a braver man being his lieutenant, sharp
was the conflict before Wallace could compel that officer to abandon
the ramparts and to sue for the very terms he had at first rejected.

After the fall of Perth, the young regent made a rapid progress through
that part of the country; driving the southron garrisons out of Scone,
and all the embattled towns; expelling them from the castles of
Kincain, Elcho, Kinfauns, and Doune; and then proceeding to the marine
fortresses (those avenues by which the ships of England had poured its
legions on the eastern coast), he compelled Dundee, Cupar, Glamis,
Montrose, and Aberdeen, all to acknowledge the power of his arms.  He
seized most of the English ships in those ports, and manning them with
Scots, soon cleared the seas of the vessels which had escaped, taking
some, and putting others to flight; and one of the latter was the
fugitive Ormsby.

This enterprise achieved, Wallace, with a host of prisoners, turned his
steps toward the Forth; but ere he left the banks of the Tay and Dee,
he detached three thousand men under the command of Lord Ruthven,
giving him a commission to range the country from the Carse of Gowrie
to remotest Sutherland, and in all that tract reduce every town and
castle which had admitted a Southron garrison.  Wallace took leave of
Lord Ruthven at Huntingtower, and that worthy nobleman, when he
assumed, with the government of Perth, this extensive command, said, as
he grasped the regent's hand, "I say not, bravest of Scots, what is my
gratitude for thus making me an arm of my country, but deeds will show!"

He then bade a father's adieu to his son, counseling him to regard
Wallace as the light in his path; and, embracing him, they parted.

A rapid march, round by Fifeshire (through which victory followed their
steps), brought the conqueror and his troops again within sight of the
towers of Stirling.  It was on the eve of the day on which he had
promised Earl de Warenne should see the English prisoners depart for
the borders.  No doubt of his arriving at the appointed time was
entertained by the Scots or by the Southrons in the castle; the one
knew the sacredness of his word, and the other having felt his prowess,
would not so far disparage their own as to suppose that any could
withstand him by whom they were beaten.

De Warenne, as he stood on the battlements of the keep, beheld from
afar the long line of Scottish soldiers as they descended the Ochil
Hills.  When he pointed it out to De Valence, that nobleman (who, in
proportion as he wished to check the arms of Wallace, had flattered
himself that it might happen), against the evidence of his eyesight,
contradicted the observation of the veteran earl.

"Your sight deceives you," said he, "it is only the sunbeams playing on
the cliffs."

"Then those cliffs are moving ones," cried De Warenne, "which, I fear,
have ground our countrymen on the coast to powder!  We shall find
Wallace here by sunset, to show us how he has resented the affront our
ill-advised prince cast on his jealous honor."

"His honor," returned De Valence, "is like that of his countrymen's--an
enemy alike to his own interest and to that of others.  Had it allowed
him to accept the crown of Scotland, and so have fought Edward with the
concentrating arm of a king; or would he even now offer peace to our
sovereign, granting his prerogative as liege lord of the country, all
might go well; but as the honor you speak of prevents his using these
means of ending the contest, destruction must close his career."

"And what quarrel," demanded De Warenne, "can you, my Lord de Valence,
have against this nice honor of Sir William Wallace, since you allow it
secures the final success of our cause?"

"His honor and himself are hateful to me!" impatiently answered De
Valence; "he crosses me in my wishes, public and private; and for the
sake of my king and myself, I might almost be tempted-"  He turned pale
as he spoke, and met the penetrating glance of De Warenne.  He paused.

"Tempted to what?" asked De Warenne.

"To a Brutus mode of ridding the state of an enemy."

"That might be noble in a Roman citizen," returned De Warenne, "which
would be villainous in an English lord, treated as you have been by a
generous victor, not the usurper of any country's liberties, but rather
a Brutus in defense of his own.  Which man of us all, from the general
to the meanest follower in our camps, has he injured?"

Lord Aymer frowned.  "Did he not expose me, threaten me with an
ignominious death, on the walls of Stirling?"

"But was it before he saw the Earl of Mar, with his hapless family,
brought, with halters on their necks, to be suspended from this very
tower?  Ah! what a tale has the lovely countess told me of that direful
scene!  What he then did was to check the sanguinary Cressingham from
imbruiting his hands in the blood of female and infant innocence."

"I care not," cried De Valence, "what are or are not the offenses of
this domineering Wallace, but I hate him; and my respect for his
advocates cannot but correspond with that feeling."  As he spoke, that
he might not be further molested by the arguments of De Warenne, he
abruptly turned away, and left the battlements.

Pride would not allow the enraged earl to confess his private reasons
for this vehement enmity against the Scottish chief.  A conference
which he had held the preceding evening with Lord Mar, was the cause of
this augmented hatred; and, from that moment, the haughty Southron
vowed the destruction of Wallace, by open attack, or secret treachery.
Ambition, and the base counterfeit of love, those two master passions
in untempered minds, were the springs of this antipathy.  The instant
in which he knew that the young creature whom at a distance he
discerned clinging around the Earl of Mar's neck in the streets of
Stirling, was the same Lady Helen on whose account Lord Soulis had
poured on him such undeserved invectives in Bothwell Castle; curious to
have a nearer view of one whose transcendent beauty he had often heard
celebrated by others, he ordered her to be immediately conveyed to his
apartments in the citadel.

On their first interview he was more struck by her personal charms than
he had ever been with any woman's, although few were so noted for
gallantry in the English court as himself.  He could hardly understand
the nature of his feelings while discoursing with her.  To all others
of her sex he had declared his enamored wishes with as much ease as
vivacity, but when he looked on Helen the admiration her loveliness
inspired was checked by an indescribable awe.  No word of passion
escaped his lips; he sought to win her by a deportment consonant with
her own dignity of manner, and obeyed all her wishes, excepting when
they pointed to any communication with her parents.  He feared the wary
eyes of the Earl of Mar.  But nothing of this reverence of Helen was
grounded on any principle within the heart of De Valence.  His idea of
virtue was so erroneous that he believed, by the short assumption of
its semblance, he might so steal on the confidence of his victim as to
induce her to forget all the world--nay, heaven itself--in his sophistry
and blandishments.  To facilitate this end he at first designed to
precipitate the condemnation of the earl, that he might be rid of a
father's existence, holding, in dread of his censure, the perhaps
otherwise yielding heart of his lovely intended mistress.

The unprincipled and impure can have no idea what virtue or delicacy
are other than vestments of disguise or of ornament, to be thrown off
at will; and therefore, to reason with such minds is to talk to the
winds--to tell a man who is born blind to decide between two colors.  In
short, a libertine heart is the same in all ages of the world.  De
Valence, therefore, seeing the anguish of her fears for her father, and
hearing the fervor with which she implored for his life, adopted the
plan of granting the earl reprieves from day to day; and in spite of
the remonstrances of Cressingham, he intended (after having worked upon
the terrors of Helen), to grant to her her father's release, on
condition of her yielding herself to be his.  He had even meditated
that the accomplishment of this device should have taken place the very
night in which Wallace's first appearance before Stirling had called
its garrison to arms.

Impelled by vengeance against the man who had driven him from Dumbarton
and from Ayr, and irritated at being delayed in the moment when his
passion was to seize its object, De Valence thought to end all by a
coup de main--and rushing out of the gates, was taken prisoner.  Such
was the situation of things, when Wallace first became master of the
place.

Now when the whole of the English army were in the same captivity with
himself, when he saw the lately proscribed Lord Mar, Governor of
Stirling, and that the Scottish cause seemed triumphant on every side,
De Valence changed his former illicit views on Helen, and bethought him
of making her his wife.  Ambition, as well as love, impelled him to
this resolution; and he foresaw that the vast influence which his
marriage with the daughter of Mar must give him in the country, would
be a decisive argument with the King of England.

To this purpose, not doubting the Scottish's earl acceptance of such a
son-in-law, on the very day that Wallace marched toward the coast, De
Valence sent to request an hour's private audience of Lord Mar.  He
could not then grant it; but at noon, next day, they met in the
governor's apartments.

The Southron, without much preface, opened his wishes, and proffered
his hand for the Lady Helen.  "I'll make her the proudest lady in Great
Britain," continued he; "for she shall have a court in my Welsh
province, little inferior to that of Edward's queen."

"Pomp would have no sway with my daughter," replied the earl; "it is
the princely mind she values, not its pagentry.  Whomsoever she prefers
the tribute will be paid to the merit of the object, not to his rank;
and therefore, earl, should it be you, the greater will be your pledge
of happiness.  I shall repeat to her what you have said; and to-morrow
deliver her answer."

Not deeming it possible that it should be otherwise than favorable, De
Valence allowed his imagination to roam over every anticipated delight.
He exulted in the pride with which he would show this perfection of
northern beauty to the fair of England; how would the simple graces of
her seraphic form, which looked more like a being of air than of earth,
put to shame the labored beauties of the court?  And then it was not
only the artless charms of a wood-nymph he would present to the
wondering throng, but a being whose majesty of soul proclaimed her high
descent and peerless virtues.  How did he congratulate himself, in
contemplating this unsullied temple of virgin innocence, that he had
never, by even the vapor of one impassioned sigh, contaminated her pure
ear, or broken the magic spell, which seemed fated to crown him with
happiness unknown, with honor unexampled!  To be so blessed, so
distinguished, so envied, was to him a dream of triumph, that wafted
away all remembrance of his late defeat; and he believed, in taking
Helen from Scotland, he should bear away a richer prize than any he
could leave behind.

Full of these anticipations, he attended the Governor of Stirling the
next day, to hear his daughter's answer.  But unwilling to give the
earl that advantage over him which a knowledge of his views in the
matter might occasion, he affected a composure he did not feel; and
with a lofty air entered the room as if he were come rather to confer
than to beg a favor.  This deportment did not lessen the satisfaction
with which the brave Scot opened his mission.

"My lord, I have just seen my daughter.  She duly appreciates the honor
you would confer on her; she is grateful for all your courtesies whilst
she was your prisoner, but beyond that sentiment, her heart, attached
to her native land, cannot sympathize with your wishes."

De Valence started.  He did not expect anything in the shape of a
denial; but supposing that perhaps a little of his own art was tried by
the father to enhance the value of his daughter's yielding, he threw
himself into a chair, and affecting chagrin at a disappointment (which
he did not believe was seriously intended), exclaimed with vehemence,
"Surely, Lord Mar, this is not meant as a refusal?  I cannot receive it
as such, for I know Lady Helen's gentleness, I know the sweet
tenderness of her nature would plead for me, were she to see me at her
feet, and hear me pour forth the most ardent passion that ever burned
in a human breast.  Oh, my gracious lord, if it be her attachment to
Scotland which alone militates against me, I will promise that her time
shall be passed between the two countries.  Her marriage with me may
facilitate that peace with England which must be the wish of us all;
and perhaps the lord wardenship which De Warenne now holds may be
transferred to me.  I have reasons for expecting that it will be so;
and then she, as a queen in Scotland, and you as her father, may claim
every distinction from her fond husband, every indulgence for the
Scots, which your patriot heart can dictate.  This would be a certain
benefit to Scotland; while the ignis fatuus you are now following,
however brilliant may be its career during Edward's absence, must on
his return be extinguished in disaster and infamy."

The silence of the Earl of Mar, who, willing to hear all that was in
the mind of De Valence, had let him proceed uninterrupted, encouraged
the Southron lord to say more than he had at first intended to reveal;
but when he made a pause, and seemed to expect an answer, the earl
spoke:

"I am fully sensible of the honor you would bestow upon my daughter and
myself by your alliance; but, as I have said before, her heart is too
devoted to Scotland to marry any man whose birth does not make it his
duty to prefer the liberty of her native land, even before his love for
her.  That hope to see our country freed from a yoke unjustly laid upon
her--that hope which you, not considering our rights, or weighing the
power that lies in a just cause, denominate an ignis fatuus, is the
only passion I believe that lives in the gentle bosom of my Helen; and
therefore, noble earl, not even your offers can equal the measure of
her wishes."

At this speech De Valence bit his lip with real disappointment; and
starting from his chair now in unaffected disorder, "I am not to be
deceived, Lord Mar," cried he; "I am not to be cajoled by the pretended
patriotism of your daughter; I know the sex too well to be cheated with
these excuses.  The ignis fatuus that leads your daughter from my arms,
is not the freedom of Scotland, but the handsome rebel who conquers in
its name!  He is now fortune's minion, but he will fall, Lord Mar, and
then what will be the fate of his mad adherents?"

"Earl de Valence," replied the veteran, "sixty winters have checked the
tides of passion in my veins; but the indignation of my soul against
any insult offered to my daughter's delicacy, or to the name of the
lord regent of Scotland is not less powerful in my breast.  You are my
prisoner, and I pardon what I could so easily avenge.  I will even
answer you, and say that I do not know of any exclusive affection
subsisting between my daughter and Sir William Wallace; but this I am
assured of, that were it the case, she would be more ennobled in being
the wife of so true a patriot and so virtuous a man, than were she
advanced to the bosom of an emperor.  And for myself, were he to-morrow
hurled by a mysterious Providence from his present nobly-won elevation,
I should glory in my son were he such, and would think him as great on
a scaffold as on a throne."

"It is well that is your opinion," replied De Valence, stopping in his
wrathful strides, and turning on Mar with vengeful irony; "cherish
these heroics, for you will assuredly see him so exalted.  Then where
will be his triumphs over Edward's arms and Pembroke's heart?  Where
your daughter's patriot husband; you glorious son?  Start not, old man,
for by all the powers of hell I swear that some eyes which now look
proudly on the Southron host, shall close in blood!  I announce a fact!"

"If you do," replied Mar, shuddering at the demoniac fire that
lightened from the countenance of De Valence, "it must be by the agency
of devils; and their minister, vindictive earl, will meet the vengeance
of the Eternal arm."

"These dreams," cried De Valence, "cannot terrify me.  You are neither
a seer, nor I a fool, to be taken by such prophecies.  But were you
wise enough to embrace the advantage I offer, you might be a prophet of
good, greater than he of Ercildown, to your nation; for all that you
could promise, I would take care should be fulfilled.  But you cast
from you your peace and safety; my vengeance shall therefore take its
course.  I rely not on oracles of heaven or hell; but I have pronounced
the doom of my enemies; and though you now see me a prisoner, tremble,
haughty Scot, at the resentment which lies in this head and heart.
This arm perhaps needs not the armies of Edward to pierce you in your
boast!"

He left the room as he spoke; and Lord Mar, shaking his venerable head
as he disappeared, said to himself: "Impotent rage of passion and of
youth, I pity and forgive you."

It was not, therefore, so extraordinary that De Valence, when he saw
Wallace descending the Ochil hills with the flying banners of new
victories, should break into curses of his fortune, and swear inwardly
the most determined revenge.

Fuel was added to this fire at sunset, when the almost measureless
defiles of prisoners, marshaled before the ramparts of Stirling, and
taking the usual oath to Wallace, met his view.

"To-morrow we quit these dishonoring wall," cried he to himself: "but
ere I leave them, if there be power in gold, or strength in my arm, he
shall die!"



Chapter XLI.

The State Prison.


The regent's re-entrance into the citadel of Stirling, being on the
evening preceding the day he had promised should see the English lords
depart for their country, De Warenne, as a mark of respect to a man
whom he could not but regard with admiration, went to the barbican-gate
to bid him welcome.

Wallace appeared; and as the cavalcade of noble Southrons who had
lately commanded beyond the Tay, followed him, Murray glanced his eye
around, and said with a smile to De Warenne, "You see, sir earl, how we
Scots keep our word!" and then he added, "you leave Stirling to-morrow,
but these remain till Lord Douglas opens their prison-doors."

"I cannot but acquiesce in the justice of your commander's
determination," returned De Warenne, "and to comfort these gentlemen
under their captivity, I can only tell them that if anything can
reconcile them to the loss of liberty, it is being the prisoners of Sir
William Wallace."

After having transferred his captives to the charge of Lord Mar,
Wallace went alone to the chamber of Montgomery, to see whether the
state of his wounds would allow him to march on the morrow.  While he
was yet there, an invitation arrived from the Countess of Mar,
requesting his presence at an entertainment which, by her husband's
consent, she meant to give that night at Snawdoun, to the Southron
lords before their departure for England.

"I fear you dare not expend your strength on this party?" inquired
Wallace, turning to Montgomery.

"Certainly not," returned he; "but I shall see you amidst your noble
friends, at some future period.  When the peace your arms must win, is
established between the two nations, I shall then revisit Scotland; and
openly declare my friendship for Sir William Wallace."

"As these are your sentiments," replied Wallace, "I shall hope that you
will unite your influence with that of the brave Earl of Gloucester, to
persuade your king to stop this bloodshed; for it is no vain boast to
declare, that he may bury Scotland beneath her slaughtered sons, but
they never will again consent to acknowledge any right in an usurper."

"Sanguinary have been the instruments of my sovereign's rule in
Scotland," replied Montgomery; "but such cruelty is foreign to his
gallant heart; and without offending that high-souled patriotism, which
would make me revere its possessor, were he the lowliest man in your
legions, allow me, noblest of Scots, to plead one word in vindication
of him to whom my allegiance is pledged.  Had he come hither, conducted
by war alone, what would Edward have been worse than any other
conqueror?  But on the reverse, was not his right to the supremacy of
Scotland acknowledged by the princes who contended for the crown?  And
besides, did not all the great lords swear fealty to England, on the
day he nominated their king?"

"Had you not been under these impressions, brave Montgomery, I believe
I never should have seen you in arms against Scotland; but I will
remove them by a simple answer.  All the princes whom you speak of,
excepting Bruce of Annandale, did assent to the newly offered claim of
Edward on Scotland; but who, amongst them, had any probable chance for
the throne, but Bruce or Baliol?  Such ready acquiescence was meant to
create them one.  Bruce, conscious of his inherent rights, rejected the
iniquitous demand of Edward; Baliol accorded with it, and was made
king.  All our chiefs who were base enough to worship the rising sun,
and, I may say, condemn the God of truth, swore to the falsehood.
Others remained gloomily silent; and the bravest of them retired to the
Highlands, where they dwell amongst their mountains, till the cries of
Scotland called them again to fight her battles.

"Thus did Edward establish himself as the liege lord of this kingdom;
and whether the oppresion which followed were his or his agents'
immediate acts, it matters not, for he made them his own by his
after-conduct.  When remonstrances were sent to London, he neither
punished nor reprimanded the delinquents, but marched an armed force
into our country, to compel us to be trampled on.  It was not an
Alexander nor a Charlemagne, coming in his strength to subdue ancient
enemies, or to aggrandize his name, by vanquishing nations far remote,
with whom he could have no affinity!  Terrible as such ambition was, it
is innocence to what Edward has done.  He came, in the first instance,
to Scotland as a friend; the nation committed its dearest interests to
his virtue; they put their hands into his and he bound them in
shackles.  Was this honor?  Was this the right of conquest?  The cheek
of Alexander would have blushed deep as his Tyrian robe; and the face
of Charlemagne turned pale as the lilies, at the bare suspicion of
being capable of such a deed.

"No, Lord Montgomery, it is not our conqueror we are opposing; it is a
traitor, who, under the mask of friendship, has attempted to usurp our
rights, destroy our liberties, and make a desert of our once happy
country.  This is the true statement of the case, and though I wish not
to make a subject outrage his sovereign, yet truth demands of you to
say to Edward, that to withdraw his pretensions from this exhausted
country, is the restitution we may justly claim--is all that we wish.
Let him leave us in peace, and we shall no longer make war upon him.
But if he persist (which the ambassadors from the Prince of Wales
announce), even as Samson drew the temple upon himself, to destroy his
enemies, Scotland will discharge itself upon the valleys of England;
and there compel them to share the fate in which we may be doomed to
perish."

"I will think of this discourse," returned Montgomery, "when I am far
distant; and rely on it, noble Wallace that I will assert the privilege
of my birth, and counsel my king as becomes an honest man."

"Highly would he estimate such counsel," cried Wallace, "had he virtue
to feel that he who will be just to his sovereign's enemies must be of
an honor that will bind him with double fidelity to his king.  Such
proof give your sovereign; and, if he have one spark of that greatness
of mind which you say he possesses, though he may not adopt your
advice, he must respect the adviser."

As Wallace pressed the hand of his new friend, to leave him to repose,
a messenger entered from Lord Mar, to request the regent's presence in
his closet.  He found him with Lord de Warenne.  The latter presented
him with another dispatch from the Prince of Wales.  It was to say,
that news had reached him of Wallace's design to attack the castles
garrisoned by England, on the eastern coast.  Should this information
prove true, he (the prince) declared that, as a punishment for such
increasing audacity, he would put Lord Douglas into closer confinement;
and while the Southron fleets would inevitably baffle Wallace's
attempts, the moment the exchange of prisoners was completed on the
borders, an army from England should enter Scotland, and ravage it with
fire and sword.

When Wallace had heard this dispatch, he smile and said, "The deed is
done, my Lord de Warenne.  Both the castles and the fleets are taken;
and what punishment must we now expect from this terrible threatener?"

"Little from him, or his headlong counselors," replied De Warenne; "but
Thomas Earl of Lancaster, the king's nephew, is come from abroad with a
numerous army.  He is to conduct the Scottish prisoners to the borders,
and then to fall upon Scotland with all his strength, unless you
previously surrender, not only Berwick, but Stirling, and the whole of
the district between the Forth and the Tweed, into his hands."

"My Lord de Warenne," replied Wallace, "you can expect but one return
to these absurd demands.  I shall accompany you myself to the Scottish
borders, and there made my reply."

De Warenne, who did indeed look for this answer, replied, "I
anticipated that such would be your determination, and I have to regret
that the wild counsels which surround my prince, precipitate him into
conduct which must draw much blood on both sides, before his royal
father's presence can regain what he has lost."

"Ah, my lord," replied Wallace, "is it to be nothing but war?  Have you
now a stronghold of any force in all the Highlands?  Is not the greater
part of the Lowlands free?  And before this day month, not a rood of
land in Scotland is likely to hold a Southron soldier.  We conquer, but
it is for our own.  Why then this unreceding determination to invade
us?  Not a blade of grass would I disturb on the other side of the
Cheviot, if we might have peace.  Let Edward yield to that, and though
he has pierced us with many wounds, we will yet forgive him."

De Warenne shook his head; "I know my king too well to expect pacific
measures.  He may die with the sword in his hand; but he will never
grant an hour's repose to this country till it submits to his scepter."

"Then," replied Wallace, "the sword must be the portion of him and his!
Ruthless tyrant!  If the blood of Abel called for vengeance on his
murderer, what must be the vials of wrath which are reserved for thee?"

A flush overspread the face of De Warenne at this apostrophe; and
forcing a smile, "The strict notion of right," said he, "is very well
in declamation, but how would it crop the wings of conquerors, and
shorten the warrior's arm, did they measure by this rule!"

"How would it, indeed!" replied Wallace; "and that they should is most
devoutly to be wished.  All warfare that is not defensive is criminal;
and he who draws his sword to oppress, or merely to aggrandize, is a
murderer and a robber.  This is the plain truth, Lord de Warenne."

"I have never considered it in that light," returned the earl, "nor
shall I turn philosopher now.  I revere your principle, Sir William
Wallace; but it is too sublime to be mine.  Nay, nor would it be
politic for one who holds his possessions in England by the right of
conquest to question the virtue of the deed.  By the sword my ancestors
gained their estates; and with the sword I have no objection to extend
my territories."

Wallace now saw that De Warenne, though a man of honor, was not one of
virtue.  Though his amiable nature made him gracious in the midst of
hostility, and his good dispositions would not allow him to act
disgracefull in any concern, yet duty to God seemed a poet's flight to
him.  Educated in the forms of religion, without knowing its spirit, he
despised them; and believing the Deity too wise to be affected by mere
virtuous shows of any kind, his ignorance of the sublime benevolence,
which disdains not to provide food even for the "sparrow ere it falls,"
made him think the Creator of all too great to care about the actions
of men; hence, being without the true principles of good-virtue, as
virtue, was nonsense to Earl de Warenne.

Wallace did not answer his remark, and the conference soon closed.



Chapter XLII.

Chapel in Snawdoun.


Though burning with stifled passions, Earl de Valence accepted the
invitation of Lady Mar.  He hoped to see Helen, to gain her ear for a
few minutes; and, above all, to find some opportunity during the
entertainment of taking his meditated revenge on Wallace.  The dagger
seemed the surest way; for could he render the blow effectual, he
should not only destroy the rival of his wishes, but, by ridding his
monarch of a powerful foe, deserve every honor at the royal hands.
Love and ambition again swelled his breast; and with recovered spirits,
and a glow on his countenance, which reawakened hope had planted there,
he accompanied De Warenne to the palace.

The hall for the feast was arrayed with feudal grandeur.  The seats at
the table, spread for the knights of both countries, were covered with
highly-wrought stuffs; while the emblazoned banners and other armorial
trophies of the nobles being hung aloft according to the degree of the
owner, each knight saw his precedence, and where to take his place.
The most costly means, with the royally attired peacock served up in
silver and gold dishes, and wine of the rarest quality, sparkled on the
board.  During the repast, two choice minstrels were seated in the
gallery above, to sing the friendship of King Alfred of England with
Gregory the Great of Caledonia.  The squires and other military
attendants of the nobles present, were placed at tables in the lower
part of the hall, and served with courteous hospitality.

Resentful, alike at his captivity and thwarted passion, De Valence had
hitherto refused to show himself beyond the ramparts of the citadel; he
was therefore surprised, on entering the hall of Snawdoun with De
Warenne, to see such regal pomp; and at the command of the woman who
had so lately been his prisoner at Dumbarton, and whom (because she
resembled an English lady who had rejected him) he had treated with the
most rigorous contempt.   Forgetting these indignities, in the pride of
displaying her present consequence, Lady Mar came forward to receive
her illustrious guests.  Her dress corresponded with the magnificence
of the banquet, a robe of cloth of Baudkins enriched, while it
displayed, the beauties of her person; her wimple blazed with jewels,
and a superb carkanet emitted its various rays from her bosom.**

**Cloth of Baudkins was one of the richest stuffs worn in the
thirteenth century.  It is said to have been composed of silk
interwoven with gold.   The carkanet was a large broad necklace of
precious stones of all colors, set in various shapes, and fastened by
gold links into each other.

De Warenne followed her with his eyes as she moved from him.  With an
unconscious sigh, he whispered to De Valence, "What a land is this,
where all the women are fair, and the men all brave!"

"I wish that it, and all its men and women, were in perdition!"
returned De valence, in a fierce tone.  Lady Ruthven, entering with the
wives and daughters of the neighboring chieftains, checked the further
expression of his wrath, and his eyes sought amongst them, but in vain,
for Helen.

The chieftains of the Scottish army, with the Lords Buchan and March,
were assembled around the countess at the moment a shout from the
populace without announced the arrival of the regent.  His noble figure
was now disencumbered of armor; and with no more sumptuous garb than
the simple plaid of his country, he appeared effulgent in manly beauty
and the glory of his recent deeds.  De Valence frowned heavily as he
looked on him, and thanked his fortunate stars that Helen was absent
from sharing the admiration which seemed to animate every breast.  The
eyes of Lady Mar at once told the impassioned De Valence, too well read
in the like expressions, what were her sentiments toward the young
regent; and the blushes and eager civilities of the ladies around
displayed how much they were struck with the now fully discerned and
unequaled graces of his person.  Lady mar forgot all in him.  And,
indeed, so much did he seem the idol of every heart, that, from the two
venerable lords of Loch-awe and Bothwell to the youngest man in
company, all ears hung on his words, all eyes upon his countenance.

The entertainment was conducted with every regard to that chivalric
courtesy which a noble conqueror always pays to the vanquished.
Indeed, from the wit and pleasantry which passed from the opposite
sides of the tables, and in which the ever-gay Murray was the leader,
it rather appeared a convivial meeting of friends than an assemblage of
mortal foes.  During the banquet the bards sung legends of the Scottish
worthies who had brought honor to their nation in days of old; and as
the board was cleared, they struck at once into a full chorus.  Wallace
caught the sound of his own name, accompanied with epithets of
extravagant praise; he rose hastily from his chair, and with his hand
motioned them to cease.  They obeyed; but Lady mar remonstrating with
him, he smilingly said, it was an ill omen to sing a warrior's actions
till he were incapable of performing more; and therefore he begged she
would excuse him from hearkening to his.

"Then let us change their strains to a dance," replied the countess.

"A hall! a hall!" cried Murray, springing from his seat, delighted with
the proposal.

"I have no objection," answered Wallace; and putting the hand she
presented to him into that of Lord de Warenne, he added, "I am not of a
sufficiently gay temperament to grace the change; but this earl may not
have the same reason for declining so fair a challenge!"

Lady Mar colored with mortification, for she had thought that Wallace
would not venture to refuse before so many; but following the impulse
of De Warenne's arm, she proceeded to the other end of the hall, where,
by Murray's quick arrangement, the younger lords of both countries had
already singled out ladies, and were marshaled for the dance.

As the hours moved on, the spirits of Wallace subsided from their usual
cheering tone into a sadness which he thought might be noticed; and
wishing to escape observation (for he could not explain to those gay
ones why scenes like these ever made him sorrowful), and whispering to
Mar that he would go for an hour to visit Montgomery, he withdrew,
unnoticed by all but his watchful enemy.

De Valence, who hovered about his steps, had heard him inquire of Lady
Ruthven why Helen was not present!  He was within hearing of this
whisper also, and, with a Satanic joy, the dagger shook in his hand.
He knew that Wallace had many a solitary place to pass between Snawdoun
and the citadel; and the company being too pleasantly absorbed to mark
who entered or disappeared, he took an opportunity, and stole out after
him.

But for once the impetuous fury of hatred met a temporary
disappointment.  While De Valence was cowering like a thief under the
eaves of the houses, and prowling along the lonely paths to the
citadel; while he started at every noise, as if it came to apprehend
him for his meditated deed, or rushed forward at the sight of any
solitary passenger, whom his eager vengeance almost mistook for
Wallace--Wallace himself had taken a different track.

As he walked through the illuminated archways, which led from the hall,
he perceived a darkened passage.  Hoping by that avenue to quit the
palace, unobserved, he immediately struck into it; for he was aware,
that should he go the usual way, the crowd at the gate would recognize
him, and he could not escape their acclamations.  He followed the
passage for a considerable time, and at last was stopped by a door.  It
yielded to his hand, and he found himself at the entrance of a large
building.  He advanced, and passing a high screen of carved oak, by a
dim light, which gleamed from waxen tapers on the altar, he perceived
it to be the chapel.

"A happy transition," said he to himself, "from the jubilant scene I
have now left; from the grievous scenes I have lately shared!  Here,
gracious God," thought he, "may I, unseen by any other eye, pour out my
heart to thee.  And here, before thy footstool, will I declare
thanksgiving for thy mercies; and with my tears wash from my soul the
blood I have been compelled to shed!"

While advancing toward the altar, he was startled by a voice proceeding
from the quarter whither he was going, and with low and gently-breathed
fervor, uttering these words: "Defend him, Heavenly Father!  Defend him
day and night, from the devices of this wicked man; and, above all,
during these hours of revelry and confidence, guard his unshielded
breast from treachery and death."  The voice faltered, and added with
greater agitation, "Ah, unhappy me, that I should pluck peril on the
head of William Wallace!"  A figure, which had been hidden by the rails
of the altar, with these words rose, and stretching forth her clasped
hands, exclaimed, "But Thou, who knowest I had no blame in this, wilt
not afflict me by his danger!  Thou wilt deliver him, O God, out of the
hand of this cruel foe!"

Wallace was not more astonished at hearing that some one in whom he
trusted, was his secret enemy, than at seeing Lady Helen in that place
at that hour, and addressing Heaven for him.  There was something so
celestial in the maid, as she stood in her white robes, true emblems of
her own innocence, before the divine footstool, that, although her
prayers were delivered with a pathos which told they sprung from a
heart more than commonly interested in their object, yet every word and
look breathed so eloquently the virgin purity of her soul, the hallowed
purpose of her petitions, that Wallace, drawn by the sympathy with
which kindred virtues ever attract spirit to spirit, did not hesitate
to discover himself.  He stepped from the shadow which involved him.
The pale light of the tapers shone upon his advancing figure.  Helen's
eyes fell upon him as she turned round.  She was transfixed and silent.
He moved forward.  "Lady Helen," said he, in a respectful and even
tender voice.  At the sound, a fearful rushing of shame seemed to
overwhelm her faculties; for she knew not how long he might have been
in the church, and that he had not heard her beseech Heaven to make him
less the object of her thoughts.  She sunk on her knees beside the
altar, and covered her face with her hands.

The action, the confusion might have betrayed her secret to Wallace.
But he only thought of her pious invocations for his safety; he only
remembered that it was she who had given a holy grave to the only woman
he could ever love; and, full of gratitude, as a pilgrim would approach
a saint, he drew near to her.  "Holiest of earthly maids," said he,
kneeling down beside her, "in this lonely hour, in the sacred presence
of Almighty Purity, receive my soul's thanks for the prayers I have
this moment heard you breathe for me.  They are more precious to me,
Lady Helen, than the generous plaudits of my country; they are a
greater reward to me than would have been the crown with which Scotland
sought to endow me, for do they not give me what all the world
cannot--the protection of Heaven?"

"I would pray for it," softly answered Helen, but not venturing to look
up.

"The prayer of meek goodness, we know, 'availeth much.'  Continue,
then, to offer up that incense for me," added he, "and I shall march
forth to-morrow with redoubled strength; for I shall think, holy maid,
that I have yet a Marion to pray for me on earth as well as one in
heaven."

Lady Helen's heart beat at these words, but it was with no unhallowed
emotion.  She withdrew her hands from her face and, clasping them,
looked up.  "Marion will indeed echo all my prayers, and He who reads
my heart will, I trust, grant them.  They are for your life, Sir
William Wallace," added she, turning to him with agitation, "for it is
menaced."

"I will inquire by whom," answered he, "when I have first paid my duty
at this altar for guarding it so long.  And dare I, daughter of
goodness, to ask you to unite the voice of your daughter of goodness,
to ask you to unite the voice of your gentle spirit with the secret one
of mine?  I would beseech Heaven for pardon on my own transgressions; I
would ask of its mercy to establish the liberty of Scotland.  Pray with
me, Lady Helen, and the invocations our souls utter will meet the
promise of Him who said: 'Where two or three are joined together in
prayer, there am I in the midst of them.'"

Helen looked on him with a holy smile; and pressing the crucifix which
she held to her lips, bowed her head on it in mute assent.  Wallace
threw himself prostrate on the steps of the altar; and the fervor of
his sighs alone breathed to his companion the deep devotion of his
soul.  How the time passed he knew not, so was he absorbed in the
communion which his spirit held in heaven  with the most gracious of
beings.  But the bell of the palace striking the matin hour, reminded
him he was yet on earth; and looking up his eyes met those of Helen.
His devotional rosary hung on his arm; he kissed it.  "Wear this, holy
maid," said he, "in remembrance of this hour!"  She bowed her fair
neck, and he put the consecrated chain over it.  "Let it bear witness
to a friendship," added he, clasping her hands in his, "which will be
cemented by eternal ties in heaven."

Helen bent her face upon his hands; he felt the sacred tears of so pure
a compact upon them; and while he looked up, as if he thought the
spirit of his Marion hovered near, to bless a communion so remote from
all infringement of the sentiment he had dedicated forever to her,
Helen raised her head--and, with a terrible shriek, throwing her arms
around the body of Wallace, he, that moment, felt an assassin's steel
in his back, and she fell senseless on his breast.  He started on his
feet; a dagger fell from his wound to the ground, but the hand which
had struck the blow he could nowhere see.  To search further was then
impossible, for Helen lay on his bosom like dead.  Not doubting that
she had seen his assailant, and fainted from alarm, he was laying her
on the steps of the altar, that he might bring some water from the
basin of the chapel to recover her, when he saw that her arm was not
only stained with his blood, but streaming with her own.  The dagger
had gashed it in reaching him.

"Execrable villain!" cried he, turning cold at the sight, and instantly
comprehending that it was to defend him she had thrown her arms around
him, he exclaimed, in a voice of agony,  "Are two of the most matchless
women the earth ever saw to die for me!"  Trembling with alarm, and
with renewed grief--for the terrible scene of Ellerslie was now brought
in all its horrors before him--he tore off her veil to staunch the
blood; but the cut was too wide for his surgery; and, losing every
other consideration in fears for her life, he again took her in his
arms, and bore her out of the chapel.  He hastened through the dark
passage, and almost flying along the lighted galleries, entered the
hall.  The noisy fright of the servants, as he broke through their
ranks at the door, alarmed the revelers; and turning round, what was
their astonishment to behold the regent, pale and streaming with blood,
bearing in his arms a lady apparently lifeless, and covered with the
same dreadful hue!

Mar instantly recognized his daughter, and rushed toward her with a cry
of horror.  Wallace sunk, with his breathless load, upon the nearest
bench; and, while her head rested on his bosom, ordered surgery to be
brought.  Lady Mar gazed on the spectacle with a benumbed dismay.  None
present durst ask a question, till a priest drawing near, unwrapped the
arm of Helen, and discovered its deep wound.

"Who has done this?" cried her father, to Wallace, with all the anguish
of a parent in his countenance.

"I know not," replied he; "but I believe, some villain who aimed at my
life."

"Where is Lord de Valence?" exclaimed Mar, suddenly recollecting his
menaces against Wallace.

"I am here," replied he, in a composed voice; "would you have me seek
the assassin?"

"No, no," cried the earl, ashamed of his suspicion; "but here has been
some foul work--and my daughter is slain."

"Oh, not so!" cried Murray, who had hurried toward the dreadful group,
and knelt at her side.  "She will not die--so much excellence cannot
die."  A stifled groan from Wallace, accompanied by a look, told Murray
that he had known the death of similar excellence.  With this
unanswerable appeal, the young chieftain dropped his head on the other
hand of Helen; and, could any one have seen his face buried as it was
in her robes, they would have beheld tears of agony drawn from that
every-gay heart.

The wound was closed by the aid of another surgical priest, who had
followed the former into the hall, and Helen sighed convulsively.  At
this intimation of recovery, the priest made all, excepting those who
supported her, stand back.  But, as Lady Mar lingered near Wallace, she
saw the paleness of his countenance turn to a deadly hue, and his eyes
closing, he sunk back on the bench.  Her shrieks now resounded through
the hall, and, falling into hysterics, she was taken into the gallery;
while the more collected Lady Ruthven remained to attend the victims
before her.

At the instant Wallace fell, De Valence, losing all self-command,
caught hold of De Warenne's arm, and whispering, "I thought it was
sure--long live King Edward!" rushed out of the hall.  These words
revealed to De Warenne who was the assassin; and though struck to the
soul with the turpitude of the deed, he thought the honor of England
would not allow him to accuse the perpetrator, and he remained silent.

The inanimate form of Wallace was now drawn from under that of Helen;
and, in the act, discovered the tapestry-seat clotted with blood, and
the regent's back bathed in the same vital stream.  Having found his
wound, the priests laid him on the ground; and were administering their
balsams, when Helen opened her eyes.  Her mind was too strongly
possessed with the horror which had entered it before she became
insensible, to lose the consciousness of her fears; and immediately
looking around with an aghast countenance, her sight met the
outstretched body of Wallace.  "Oh! is it so?" cried she, throwing
herself into the bosom of her father.  He understood what she meant.
"He lives, my child! but he is wounded like yourself.  Have courage;
revive, for his sake and for mine!"

"Helen!  Helen! dear Helen!" cried Murray, clinging to her hand; "while
you live, what that loves you can die?"

While these acclamations surrounded her couch, Edwin, in speechless
apprehension, supported the insensible head of Wallace; and De Warenne,
inwardly execrating the perfidy of De Valence, knelt down to assist the
good friars in their office.

A few minutes longer, and the staunched blood refluxing to the
chieftain's heart, he too opened his eyes; and instantly turning on his
arm-"What has happened to me?  Where is Lady Helen?" demanded he.

At his voice, which aroused Helen, who, believing that he was indeed
dead, was relapsing into her former state; she could only press her
father's hand to her lips, as if he had given the life she so valued,
and bursting into a shower of relieving tears, breathed out her
rapturous thanks to God.  Her low murmurs reached the ears of Wallace.

The dimness having left his eyes, and the blood (the extreme loss of
which, from his great agitation, had alone caused him to swoon), being
stopped by an embalmed bandage, he seemed to feel no impediment from
his wound; and rising, hastened to the side of Helen.  Lord Mar softly
whispered his daughter-"Sir William Wallace is at your feet, my dearest
child; look on him, and tell him that you live."

"I am well, my father," returned she, in a faltering voice; "and may it
indeed please the Almighty to preserve him!"

"I, too, am alive and well," answered Wallace; "but thanks to God, and
to you, blessed lady, that I am so!  Had not that lovely arm received
the greater part of the dagger, it must have reached my heart."

An exclamation of horror at what might have been burst from the lips of
Edwin.  Helen could have re-echoed it, but she now held her feelings
under too severe a rein to allow them so to speak.

"Thanks to the Protector of the just," cried she, "for your
preservation!  Who raised my eyes to see the assassin!  His cloak was
held before his face, and I could not discern it; but I saw a dagger
aimed at the bank of Sir William Wallace!  How I caught it I cannot
tell, for I seemed to die on the instant."

Lady Mar having recovered, re-entered the hall just as Wallace had
knelt down beside Helen.  Maddened with the sight of the man on whom
her soul doted, in such a position before her rival, she advanced
hastily; and in a voice, which she vainly attempted to render composed
and gentle, sternly addressed her daughter-in-law: "Alarmed as I have
been by your apparent danger, I cannot but be uneasy at the attendant
circumstances; tell me, therefore, and satisfy this anxious company,
how it happened that you should be with the regent, when we supposed
you an invalid in your room, and were told he was gone to the citadel?"

A crimson blush overspread the cheeks of Helen at this question, for it
was delivered in a tone which insinuated that something more than
accident had occasioned their meeting, but as innocence dictated, she
answered, "I was in the chapel at prayers; Sir William Wallace entered
with the same design; and at the moment he desired me to mingle mine
with his, this assassin appeared and (she repeated) I saw his dagger
raised against our protector, and I saw no more."

There was not a heart present that did not give credence to this
account, but the polluted one of Lady Mar.  Jealousy almost laid it
bare.  She smiled incredulously, and turning to the company, "Our noble
friends will accept my apology, if in so delicate an investigation, I
should beg that my family alone may be present."

Wallace perceived the tendency of her words, and not doubting the
impression they might make on the minds of men ignorant of the virtues
of Lady Helen, he instantly rose.  "For once," cried he, "I must
counteract a lady's orders.  It is my wish, lords, that you will not
leave this place till I explain how I came to disturb the devotions of
Lady Helen.  Wearied with festivities, in which my alienated heart can
so little share, I thought to pass an hour with Lord Montgomery in the
citadel; and in seeking to avoid the crowded avenues of the palace, I
entered the chapel.  To my surprise, I found Lady Helen there, I heard
her pray for the happiness of Scotland, for the safety of her
defenders; and my mind being in a frame to join in such petitions, I
apologized for my unintentional intrusion, and begged permission to
mingle my devotions with hers.  Nay, impressed and privileged by the
sacredness of the place, I presumed still further, and before the altar
of purity poured forth my gratitude for the duties she had paid to the
remains of my murdered wife.  It was at this moment that the assassin
appeared.  I heard Lady Helen scream, I felt her fall on my breast, and
at that instant the dagger entered my back.

"This is the history of our meeting; and the assassin, whomsoever he
may be, and how long soever he was in the church, before he sought to
perpetrate the deed--were he to speak, and capable of uttering truth,
could declare no other."

"But where is he to be found?" intemperately and suspiciously demanded
Lady mar.

"If his testimony be necessary to validate mine," returned Wallace,
with dignity, "I believe the Lady Helen can point to his name."

"Name him, Helen; name him, my dear cousin," cried Murray, "that I may
have some link with thee.  O! let me avenge this deed!  Tell me his
name! and so yield to me all that thou canst now bestow on Andrew
Murray!"

There was something in the tone of Murray's voice that penetrated to
the heart of Helen.  "I cannot name him whom I suspect to any but Sir
William Wallace; and I would not do it to him," replied she, "were it
not to warn him against future danger.  I did not see the assassin's
face, therefore, how dare I set you to take vengeance on one who
perchance may be innocent?  I forgive him, my blood, since Heaven has
spared to Scotland its protector."

"If he be a Southron," cried Baron Hilton, coming forward, "name him,
gracious lady, and I will answer for it, that were he the son of a
king, he would meet death from our monarch for this unknightly outrage."

"I thank your zeal, brave chief," replied she; "but I would not abandon
to certain death even a wicked man.  May he repent!  I will name him to
Sir William Wallace alone; and when he knows his secret enemy, the
vigilance of his own honor, I trust, will be his guard.  Meanwhile, my
father, I would withdraw."  Then whispering to him, she was lifted in
his arms and Murray's and carried from the hall.

As she moved away her eyes met those of Wallace.  He arose; but she
waved her hand to him, with an expression in her countenance of an
adieu so firm, yet so tender, that feeling as if he were parting from a
beloved sister, who had just risked her life for him, and whom he might
never see again, he uttered not a word to any that were present, but
leaning on Edwin, left the hall by an opposite door.



Chapter XLIII.

The Carse of Stirling.


Daybreak gleamed over the sky before the wondering spectators of the
late extraordinary scene had dispersed to their quarters.

De Warenne was so well convinced by what had dropped from De Valence,
of his having been the assassin, that when they met at sunrise to take
horse for the borders, he made him no other salutation than an
exclamation of surprise, "not to find him under an arrest for the last
night's work!"

"The wily Scot knew better," replied De Valence, "than so to expose the
reputation of the lady.  He knew that she received the wound in his
arms, and he durst not seize me, for fear I should proclaim it."

"He cannot fear that," replied De Warenne, "for he has proclaimed it
himself.  He has told every particular of his meeting with Lady Helen
in the chapel, even her sheltering him with her arms; so there is
nothing for you to declare but your own infamy.  For infamous I must
call it, Lord Aymer; and nothing but the respect I owe my country,
prevents me pointing the eyes of the indignant Scots to you; nothing
but the stigma your exposure would bring upon the English name, could
make me conceal the dead."

De Valence laughed at this speech of De Warenne's.  "Why, my lord
warden," said he, "have you been taking lessons of this doughty Scot,
that you talk thus?  It was not with such sentiments you overthrew the
princes of Wales, and made the kings of Ireland fly before you!  You
would tell another story were your own interest in question; and I can
tell you that any vengeance is not satisfied, I will yet see the
brightness of those eyes on which the proud daughter of Mar hangs so
fondly, extinguished in death.  Maid, or wife, Helen shall be torn from
his arms, and if I cannot make her a virgin bride, she shall at least
be mine as his widow; for I swear not to be disappointed."

"Shame, De Valence!  I should blush to owe my courage to rivalry, or my
perseverance in the field to a licentious passion!  You know what you
have confessed to me were once your designs on Helen Mar."

"Every man according to his nature!" returned De Valence; and shrugging
his shoulders, he mounted his horse.

The cavalcade of Southrons now appeared.  They were met on the Carse by
the regent, who, not regarding the smart of a closing wound, advanced
at the head of ten thousand men to see his prisoners over the borders.
By Helen's desire, Lord Mar had informed Wallace what had been the
threats of De Valence, and that she suspected him to be the assassin.
But this suspicion was put beyond a doubt by the evidence of the
dagger, which Edwin had found in the chapel; its hilt was enameled with
the martlets of De Valence.

At sight of it a general indignation filled the Scottish chiefs, and
assembling round their regent, with one breath they demanded that the
false earl should be detained and punished as became the honor of
nations, for so execrable a breach of all laws, human and divine.
Wallace replied that he believed the attack to have been instigated by
a personal motive, and therefore, as he was the object, not the state
of Scotland, he should merely acquaint the earl that his villainy was
known, and let the shame of disgrace be his punishment.

"Ah," observed Lord Bothwell, "men who trample on conscience soon get
over shame."

"True," replied Wallace, "but I suit my actions to my mind, not to my
enemy's; and if he cannot feel dishonor, I will not so far disparage
myself as to think one so base worthy my resentment."

While he was quieting the reawakened indignation of his nobles, whose
blood began to boil afresh at sight of the assassin, the Southron
lords, conducted by Lord Mar, approached.  When that nobleman drew
near, Wallace's first inquiry was for Lady Helen.  The earl informed
him he had received intelligence of her having slept without fever, and
that she was not awake when the messenger came off with his good
tidings.  That all was likely to be well with her was comfort to
Wallace; and, with an unruffled brow, riding up to the squadron of
Southrons which was headed by De Warenne and De Valence, he immediately
approached the latter, and drawing out the dagger, held it toward him:
"The next time, sir earl," said he, "that you draw this dagger, let it
be with a more knightly aim than assassination!"

De Valence, surprised, took it in confusion, and without answer; but
his countenance told the state of his mind.  He was humbled by the man
he hated; and while a sense of the disgrace he had incurred tore his
proud soul, he had not dignity enough to acknowledge the generosity of
his enemy in again giving him a life which his treachery had so often
forfeited.  Having taken the dagger, he wreaked the exasperated
vengeance of his malice upon the senseless steel, and breaking it
asunder, threw the pieces into the air; while turning from Wallace with
an affected disdain, he exclaimed to the shivered weapon, "You shall
not betray me again!"

"Nor you betray our honors, Lord de Valence," exclaimed Earl de
Warenne; "and therefore, though the nobleness of the William Wallace
leaves you at large after this outrage on his person, we will assent
our innocence of connivance with the deed; and, as lord warden of this
realm, I order you under arrest till we pass the Scottish lines."

"'Tis well," cried Hilton, "that such is your determination, my lord,
else no honest man could have continued in the same company with one
who has so tarnished the English name."

"No!" cried his brother baron, venerable Blenkinsopp, reining up his
steed; "I would forfeit house and lands first."

De Valence, with an ironical smile, looked toward the squadron, which
approached to obey De Warenne, and haughtily answered, "Though it be
dishonor to march with me out of Scotland, the proudest of you all will
deem it an honor to be allowed to return with me hither.  I have an eye
on those who stand with cap in hand to rebellion.  And for you, Sir
William Wallace," added he, turning to him, who was also curbing his
impatient charger, "I hold no terms with a rebel; and deem all honor
that would rid my sovereign and the earth of such low-born arrogance."

Before Wallace could answer he saw De Valence struck from his horse by
the Lochaberax of Edwin.  Indignant at the insult offered to his
beloved commander, he had suddenly raised his arm, and aiming a blow
with all his strength, the earl was immediately stunned and
precipitated to the ground.

At sight of the fall of the Southron chief, the Scottish troops, aware
of there being some misunderstanding between their regent and the
English lords, uttered a shout.  Wallace, to prevent accidents, sent
instantly to the lines, to appease the tumult, and throwing himself off
his horse, hastened to the prostrate earl.  A fearful pause reigned
throughout the Southron ranks.  They did not know but that the enraged
Scots would now fall on them, and, in spite of their regent,
exterminate them on the spot.  The troops were running forward when
Wallace's messengers arrived and checked them, and himself, calling to
Edwin, stopped his further chastisement of the recovering earl.

"Edwin, you have done wrong," cried he; "give me that weapon which you
have sullied by raising it against a prisoner totally in our power."

With a vivid blush the noble boy resigned the weapon to his general;
yet, with an unappeased glance on the prostrate De Valence, he
exclaimed, "But have you not granted life twice to this prisoner? and
has he not, in return, raised his hand against his life and Lady Helen?
You pardon him again! and in the moment of your clemency, he insults
the Lord Regent of Scotland in the face of both nations!  I could not
hear this and live without making him feel that you have those about
you who will not forgive such crimes."

"Edwin," returned Wallace, "had not the lord regent power to punish?
And if he see right to hold his hand, those who strike for him invade
his dignity.  I should be unworthy the honor of protecting a brave
nation, did I stoop to tread on every reptile that stings me in my
path.  Leave Lord de Valence to the sentence his commander has
pronounced, and as an expiation for your having offended both military
and moral law this day, you must remain at Stirling till I return into
Scotland."

De Valence, hardly awake from the stupor which the blow of the
battle-ax had occasioned (for indignation had given to the young
warrior the strength of manhood), was raised from the ground; and soon
after coming to himself and being made sensible of what had happened,
he was taken, foaming with rage and mortification, into the center of
the Southron lines.

Alarmed at the confusion he saw at a distance, Lord Montgomery ordered
his litter round from the rear to the front, and hearing all that had
passed, joined with De Warenne in pleading for the abashed Edwin.

"His youth and zeal," cried Montgomery, "are sufficient to excuse the
intemperance of the deed."

"No!" interrupted Edwin; "I have offended and I will explate.  Only, my
honored lord," said he, approaching Wallace, while he checked the
emotion which would have flowed from his eyes, "when I am absent,
sometimes remember that it was Edwin's love which hurried him to this
disgrace."

"My dear Edwin," returned Wallace, "there are many impetuous spirits in
Scotland who need the lesson I now enforce upon you; and they will be
brought to maintain the law of honor when they see that their regent
spares not its slightest violation, even when committed by his best
beloved friend.  Farewell till we meet again!"

Edwin kissed Wallace's hand in silence--it was not wet with his
tears--and drawing his bonnet hastily over his eyes, he retired into the
rear of Lord Mar's party.  That nobleman soon after took leave of the
regent, who, placing himself at the head of his legions, the trumpets
blew the signal of march.  Edwin, at the sound which a few minutes
before he would have greeted with so much joy, felt his grief-swollen
heart give way; he sobbed aloud, and striking his heel on the side of
his horse, galloped to a distance, to bide from all eyes the violence
of his regrets.  The trampling of the departing troops rolled over the
ground like receding thunder.  Edwin at last stole a look toward the
plain; he beheld a vast cloud of dust, but no more the squadrons of his
friend.



Chapter XLIV.

The Cheviots.


As Wallace pursued his march along the once fertile and well-peopled
valleys of Clydesdale, their present appearance affected him like the
sight of a friend whom he had seen depart in all the graces of youth
and prosperity, but met again overcome with disease and wretchedness.

The pastures of Carstairs on the east of the river, which used at this
season to be whitened with sheep, and sending forth the lowings of
abundant cattle; and the vales, which had teemed with reapers rejoicing
in the harvest, were now laid waste and silent.  The plain presented
one wide flat of desolation.  Where once was the enameled meadow, a
dreary swamp extended its vapory surface; and the road which a happy
peasantry no longer trod, lay choked up with thistles and rank grass;
while birds and animals of chase would spring from its thickets, on the
lonely traveler, to tell him by their wild astonishment that he was
distant from even the haunts of men.  The remains of villages were
visible; but the blackness of ashes marked the walls of the ruined
dwellings.

Wallace felt that he was passing through the country in which his
Marion had been rifled of her life; and as he moved along, nature all
around seemed to have partaken of her death.  As he rode over the moors
which led toward the district of Crawford Lammington, those hills
amidst which the beloved of his soul first drew breath, he became
totally silent.  Time rolled back; he was no longer the Regent of
Scotland, but the fond lover of Marion Braidfoot.  His heart beat as it
was wont to do in turning his horse down the defile which led direct to
Lammington; but the scene was completely changed; the groves in which
he had so often wandered with her were gone; they had been cut down for
the very purpose of destroying that place, which had once been the
abode of beauty and innocence, and of all the tender charities.

One shattered tower alone remained of the house of Lammington.  The
scathing of fire embrowned its sides, and the uprooted garden marked
where the ravager had been.  While his army marched before him along
the heights of Crawford, Wallace slowly moved forward, musing on the
scene.  In turning the angle of a shattered wall, his horse started;
and the next moment he perceived an aged figure, with a beard white as
snow, and wrapped in a dark plaid, emerging from the ground.  At sight
of the apparition, Murray, who accompanied his friend, and had hitherto
kept silent, suddenly exclaimed, "I conjure you, honest Scot, ghost or
man, give us a subject for conversation! and, as a beginning, pray tell
me to whom this ruined tower belonged?"

The sight of two warriors in the Scottish garb encouraged the old man;
and stepping out on the ground, he drew near to Murray.  "Ruined,
indeed, sir," replied he; "and its story is very sad.  When the
Southrons, who hold Annandale, heard of the brave acts of Sir William
Wallace, they sent an army to destroy this castle and domains, which
are his, in right of the Lady Marion of Lammington.  Sweet creature!  I
hear they foully murdered her in Lanark."

Murray was smitten speechless at this information; for had he suspected
there was any private reason with Wallace for his silent lingering
about this desolate spot, he would rather have drawn him away than have
stopped to ask questions.

"And did you know Lady Marion, venerable old man?" inquired Wallace, in
a voice so descriptive of what was passing in his heart, that the old
man turned toward him; and struck with his noble mien, he pulled off
his bonnet, and bowing, answered, "Did I know her?  She was nursed on
these knees.  And my wife, who cherished her sweet infancy, is now
within yon brae.  It is our only home, for the Southrons burnt us out
of the castle, where our young lady left us, when she went to be
married to the brave young Wallace.  He was as handsome a youth as ever
the sun shone upon, and he loved my lady from a boy.  I never shall
forget the day when she stood on the top of that rock, and let a
garland he had made for her fall into the Clyde.  Without more ado,
never caring because it is the deepest here of any part of the river,
he jumps in after it, and I after him; and well I did, for when I
caught him by his bonny golden locks, he was insensible.  His head had
struck against a stone in the plunge, and a great cut was over his
forehead.  God bless him, a sorry scar it left! but many, I warrant,
have the Southrons now made on his comely countenance.  I have never
seen him since he grew a man."

Gregory, the honest steward of Lammington, was now recognized in this
old man's narration; but time and hardship had so altered his
appearance, that Wallace could not have otherwise recollected the ruddy
face and active figure of his well-remembered companion, in the shaking
limbs and pallid visage of the hoary speaker.  When he ended, the chief
threw himself from his horse.  He approached the old man; with one hand
he took off his helmet, and with the other putting back the same golden
locks, he said, "Was the scar you speak of anything like this?"  His
face was now close to the eye of Gregory, who in the action, the words,
and the mark, immediately recognizing the young playmate of his
happiest days, with an almost shriek of joy, threw himself on his neck
and wept; then looking up, with tears rolling over his cheeks, he
exclaimed, "O Power of Mercy, take me to thyself, since my eyes have
seen the deliverer of Scotland!"

"Not so, my venerable friend," returned Wallace; "you must make these
desolated regions bloom anew!  Decorate them, Gregory, as you would do
the tomb of your mistress.  I give them to you and yours.  Marion and I
have no posterity!  Let her foster-brother, if he still live--let him be
now the Laird of Lammington."

"He does live," replied the old man, "but the shadow of what he was.
In attempting, with a few resolute lads, to defend these domains, he
was severely wounded.  His companions were slain, and I found him on
the other side of my lady's garden left for dead.  We fled with him to
the woods, and there remained till all about here was laid in ashes.
Finding the cruel Southrons had made a general waste, yet fearful of
fresh incursions, we and others who had been driven from their homes,
dug us subterraneous dwellings, and ever since have lived like fairies
in the green hillside.  My son and his young wife and babes are now in
our cavern, but reduced by sickness and want, for famine is here.
Alas, the Southrons, in conquering Scotland, have not gained a kingdom,
but made a desert!"

"And there is a God who marks," returned Wallace; "I go to reap the
harvests of Northumberland.  What our enemies have ravished hence in
part they shall refund; a few days, and your granaries shall overflow.
Meanwhile, I leave you with my friend," said he, pointing to Murray,
"at the head of five hundred men.  To-morrow he may commence the
reduction of every English fortress that yet casts a shade on the
stream of our native Clyde; for when the sun next rises, the Southrons
will have passed the Scottish borders and then the truce expires."

Gregory fell at his feet, and begged that he be allowed to bring his
Nannie to see the husband of her once dear child.

"Not now," replied Wallace, "I could not bear the interview--she shall
see me when I return."

He then spoke apart to Murray, who cheerfully acquiesced in a
commission that promised him not only the glory of being a conqueror,
but the private satisfaction, he hoped, of driving the Southron
garrison out of his own paternal castle.  To send such news to his
noble father at Stirling, would indeed be a wreath of honor to his aged
and yet warlike brow.  It was then arranged between the young chief and
his commander that watchtowers should be thrown up on every conspicuous
eminence which skirted the Scottish borders; whence concerted signals
of victories, or other information, might be severally interchanged.
These preliminaries adjusted, the regent's bugle brought Ker and Sir
John Graham to his side.  The appointed number of men was left with
Murray; and Wallace, joining his other chieftains, bade his friend and
honest servant adieu.

He now awakened to a sense of the present scene, and speeded his
legions over his and dale, till they entered on the once luxuriant
banks of the Annan--this territory of some of the noblest in Scotland,
till Bruce, their chief, deserted them.  It lay in more terrific ruin
than even the tracts he had left.  There reigned the silence of the
tomb; there existed the expiring agonies of men left to perish.  Recent
marks of devastation smoked from the blood-stained earth; and in the
midst of a barren waste, a few houseless wretches rushed forward at the
sight of the regent, threw themselves before his horse, and begged a
morsel of food for their famishing selves and dying infants.  "Look,"
cried an almost frantic mother, holding toward him the living skeleton
of a child; "my husband was slain by the Southrons, who hold Lochmaben
Castle; my subsistence was carried away, and myself turned forth, to
give birth to this child on the rocks.  We have fed till this hour on
the wild berries; but I die, and my child expires before me!"  A second
group, with shrieks of despair, cried aloud, "Here are our young ones
exposed to equal miseries.  Give us bread, Regent of Scotland, or we
perish!"

Wallace turned to his troops: "Fast for a day, my brave friends," cried
he; "lay the provisions you have brought with you before these hapless
people.  To-morrow you shall feed largely on Southron tables."

He was instantly obeyed.  As his men marched on, they threw their
loaded wallets amongst the famishing groups; and, followed by their
blessings, descended with augmented speed the ravaged hills of
Annandale.  Dawn was brightening the dark head of Brunswark, as they
advanced toward the Scottish boundary.  At a distance, like a wreath of
white vapors, lay the English camp, along the southern bank of the Esk.
At this sight, Wallace ordered his bugles to sound.  They were
immediately answered by those of the opposite host.  The heralds of
both armies advanced, and the sun rising from behind the eastern hills,
shone full upon the legions of Scotland, winding down the romantic
precipices of Wauchope.

Two hours arranged every preliminary to the exchange of prisoners; and
when the clarion of the trumpet announced that each party was to pass
over the river to the side of its respective country, Wallace stood in
the midst of his chieftains to receive the last adieus of his
illustrious captives.  When De Warenne approached, the regent took off
his helmet; the Southron had already his in his hand.  "Farewell,
gallant Scot," said he, "if aught could imbitter this moment of
recovered freedom, it is that I leave a man I so revere, still
confident in a finally hopeless cause!"

"It would not be the less just were it indeed desparate," replied
Wallace; "but had not Heaven shown on which side it fought, I should
not now have the honor of thus bidding the brave De Warenne farewell."

The earl passed on, and the other lords, with grateful and respectful
looks, paid their obeisance.  The litter of Montgomery drew near--the
curtains were thrown open-Wallace stretched out his hand to him: "The
prayers of sainted innocence are thine!"

"Never more shall her angel spirit behold me here, as you now behold
me," returned Montgomery; "I must be a traitor to virtue, before I ever
again bear arms against Sir William Wallace!"

Wallace pressed his hand, and they parted.

The escort which guarded De Valence advanced; and the proud earl,
seeing where his enemy stood, took off his gauntlet, and throwing it
fiercely toward him, exclaimed, "Carry that to your minion Ruthven, and
tell him the hand that wore it will yet be tremendously revenged!"

As the Southron ranks filed off toward Carlisle, those of the returning
Scottish prisoners approached their deliverer.  Now it was that the
full clangor of joy burst from every breast and triumph-breathing
instrument in the Scottish legions; now it was that the echoes rung
with loud huzzas of "Long live the valiant Wallace, who brings our
nobles out of captivity!  Long live our matchless regent!"

As these shouts rent the air, the Lords Badenoch and Athol drew near.
The princely head of the former bent with proud acknowledgement to the
mild dignity of Wallace.  Badenoch's penetrating eye saw that it was
indeed the patriotic guardian of his country to whom he bowed, and not
the vain affector of regal power.  At his approach, Wallace alighted
form his horse, and received his offered hand and thanks with every
grace inherent in his noble nature.  "I am happy," returned he, "to have
been the instrument of recalling to my country one of the princes of
her royal blood."  "And while one drop of it exists in Scotland,"
replied Badenoch, "its possessors must acknowledge the bravest of our
defenders in Sir William Wallace."

Athol next advanced, but his gloomy countenance contradicted his words
when he attempted to utter a similar sense of obligation.  Sir John
Monteith was eloquent in his thanks.  And Sir William Maitland was not
less sincere in his gratitude, than Wallace was in joy, at having given
liberty to so near a relation of Helen Mar.  The rest of the captive
Scots, to the number of several hundred, were ready to kiss the feet of
the man who thus restored them to their honors, their country, and
their friends, and Wallace bowed his happy head under a shower of
blessings which poured on him from a thousand grateful hearts.

In pity to the wearied travelers, he ordered tents to be pitched; and
for the sake of their distant friends, he dispatched a detachment to
the top of Langholm Hill, to send forth a smoke in token to the
Clydesdale watch, of the armistice being ended.  He had hardly seen it
ascend the mountain, when Graham arrived from reconnoitering, and told
him that an English army of great strength was approaching by the foot
of the more southern hills, to take the reposing Scots by surprise.

"They shall find us ready to receive them," was the prompt reply of
Wallace; and his actions were ever the companions of his words.
Leaving the new-arrived Scots to rest on the banks of the Esk, he put
himself at the head of five thousand men; and dispatching a thousand
more, with Sir John Graham, to pass the Cheviots, and be in ambush to
attack the Southrons when he should give the signal, he marched swiftly
forward, and soon fell in with some advanced squadrons of the enemy,
amongst the recesses of those hills.  Little expecting such a
rencounter, they were marching in defiles upon the lower ridgy craigs,
to avoid the swamps which occupied the broader way.

At sight of the Scots, Lord Percy, the Southron commander, ordered a
party of his archers to discharge their arrows.  The artillery of war
being thus opened afresh, Wallace drew his bright sword, and waving it
before him, just as the sun set, called aloud to his followers.  His
inspiring voice echoed from hill to hill; and the higher detachments of
the Scots, pouring downward with the resistless impetuosity of their
own mountain streams, precipitated their enemies into the valley; while
Wallace, with his pikemen, charging the horses in those slippery paths,
drove the terrified animals into the morasses, where some sunk at once,
and others, plunging, threw their riders, to perish in the swamp.

Desperate at the confusion which now ensued, as his archers fell
headlong from the rocks, and his cavalry lay drowning before him, Lord
Percy called up his infantry; they appeared, but though ten thousand
strong, the determined Scots met their first ranks breast to breast;
and leveling them with their companions, rushed on the rest with the
force of a thunder-storm.  It was at this period, that the signal was
given from the horn of Wallace; and the division of Graham, meeting the
retreating Southrons as they attempted to form behind the hill,
completed their defeat.  The slaughter became dreadful, the victory
decisive.  Sir Ralph Lattimer, the second in command, was killed in the
first onset; and Lord Percy himself, after fighting as became his brave
house, fled, covered with wounds, toward Alnwick.



Chapter XLV.

Lochmaben Castle.


This being the seasons of harvest in the northern counties of England,
Wallace carried his reapers, not to lay their sickle to the field, but,
with their swords, to open themselves a way into the Southron granaries.

The careful victor, meanwhile, provided for the wants of his friends on
the other side of the Esk.  The plunder of Percy's camp was dispatched
to them; which being abundant in all kinds of provisions, was more than
sufficient to keep them in ample store till they could reach Stirling.
From that point, the released chiefs had promised their regent they
would disperse to their separate estates, collect recruits, and reduce
the distracted state of the country into some composed order.  Wallace
had disclosed his wish, and mode of effecting this renovation of public
happiness, before he left Stirling.  It contained a plan of military
organization, by which each youth, able to bear arms, should not only
be instructed in the dexterous use of the weapons of war, but in the
duties of subordination, and above all, have the nature of the rights
for which he was to contend explained to him.

"They only require to be thoroughly known, to be regarded as
inestimable," added he; "but while we raise around us the best bulwark
of any nation, a brave and well-disciplined people; while we teach them
to defend their liberties, let us see that they deserve them.  Let them
be men, contending for virtuous independence; not savages, fighting for
licentious unrestraint.  We must have our youth of both sexes, in towns
and villages, from the castle to the cot, taught the saving truths of
Christianity.  From that root will branch all that is needful to make
them useful members of the state-virtuous and happy.  And, while war is
in our hands, let us in all things prepare for peace, that the sword
may gently bend into the sickle, the dirk to the pruning-hook."

There was an expansive providence in all this, a concentrating plan of
public weal, which few of the nobles had ever even glanced at, as a
design conceivable for Scotland.  There were many of these warrior
chiefs who could not even understand it.

"Ah! my lords," replied he to their warlike objections, "deceive not
yourselves with the belief that by the mere force of arms, a nation can
render itself great and secure.  Industry, temperance, and discipline
amongst the people; with moderation and justice in the higher orders,
are the only aliments of independence.  They bring you riches and
power, which make it the interest of those who might have been your
enemies to court your friendship."

The graver council at Stirling had received his plan with enthusiasm.
And when, on the day of his parting with the released chiefs on the
banks of the Esk, with all the generous modesty of his nature, he
submitted his design to them, rather to obtain their approbation as
friends, than to enforce it with the authority of a regent; when they
saw him, thus coming down from the dictatorship to which his unrivaled
talents had raised him, to equal himself still with them, all were
struck with admiration, and Lord Badenoch could not but mentally
exclaim, "The royal qualities of this man can well afford this expense
of humility.  Bend as he will, he has only to speak, to show his
superiority over all, and to be sovereign again."

There was a power in the unostentatious virtues of Wallace, which,
declaring themselves rather in their effects than by display, subdued
the princely spirit of Badenoch; and, while the proud chief recollected
how he had contemned the pretensions of Bruce, and could not brook the
elevation of Baliol; how his soul was in arms when, after he had been
persuaded to acknowledge the supremacy of Edward, the throne was given
to one of his rivals; he wondered at himself to find that his very
heart bowed before the gentle and comprehensive wisdom of an untitled
regent.

Athol alone, of the group, seemed insensible to the benefits his
country was deriving from its resistless protector; but he expressed
his dissent from the general sentiment with no more visible sign than a
cold silence.

When the messenger from Wallace arrived on the banks of the Esk with so
large a booty, and the news of his complete victory over the gallant
Percy, the exultation of the Scottish nobles knew no bounds.

On Badenoch opening the regent's dispatches, he found they repeated his
wish for his brave coadjutors to proceed to the execution of the plan
they had sanctioned with their approbation; they were to march directly
for Stirling, and on their way dispense the superabundance of the
plunder amongst the perishing inhabitants of the land.  He then
informed the earl, that while the guard he had left him with would
escort the liberated Scots beyond the Forth, the remainder of the
troops should be thus disposed: Lord Andrew Murray was to remain chief
in command in Clydesdale; Sir Eustace Maxwell, to give up the wardship
of Douglas to Sir John Monteith; and then advance into Annandale, to
assist Sir Roger Kirkpatrick, who must now have begun the reduction of
the castles in the west of that province.  At the close of this
account, Wallace added, that himself, with his brave band, were going
to traverse the English counties to the Tees' mouth; and should Heaven
bless his arms, he would send the produce round by the Berwick fleet,
to replenish the exhausted stores of the Highlands.  "Next year,"
continued he, "I trust they will have ample harvests of their own."

And what Wallace said he hoped to do, he did.

The Southrons' country was panic-struck at the defeat of Percy, his
beaten army, flying in all directions before the conquering legions,
gave such dreadful and hyperbolical accounts of their might, and of the
giant prowess of their leader, that as soon as ever the Scottish spears
were seen rising the summit of any hill, or even gleaming along the
horizon, every village was deserted, every cot left without inhabitant;
and corn, and cattle, and every kind of property fell into the hands of
the Scots.

Lord Precy lay immovable with wounds in his castle at Alnwick;** and
his hopeless state, by intimidating his followers, contradicted the
orders he gave, to face the marauding enemy.  Several times they
attempted to obey, but as often showed their inability.  They collected
under arms; but the moment their foe appeared, they fled within the
castle walls, or buried themselves in deep obscurities amongst the
surrounding hills.  Not a sheaf in the fields of Northumberland did the
Scots leave, to knead into bread for its earl; not a head of cattle to
smoke upon his board.  The country was sacked from sea to sea.  But far
different was its appearance from that of the trampled valleys of
Scotland.  There, fire had burned up the soil; the hand of violence had
leveled the husbandman's cottage; had buried his implements in the
ruins; had sacrificed himself on its smoking ashes!  There, the
fatherless babe wept its unavailing wants, and at its side sat the
distracted widow, wringing her hands in speechless misery; for there
lay her murdered husband--here, her perishing child!

**This famous castle, of so many heroic generations, is still the
princely residence of the head of the house of Percy.

With such sights the heart of Wallace had been pierced, when he passed
through the lowland counties of his country; nay, as he scoured the
highland districts of the Grampians, even there had he met the foot of
barbarian man, and cruel desolation.  For thus it was that the Southron
garrisons had provisional themselves; by robbing the poor of their
bread; and, when they resisted, firing their dwellings, and punishing
the refractory with death.

But not so the generous enmity of Sir William Wallace.  His commission
was, not to destroy, but to save; and though he carried his victorious
army to feed on the Southron plains, and sent the harvests of England
to restore the wasted fields of Scotland, yet he did no more.  No fire
blasted his path; no innocent blood cried against him from the ground!
When the impetuous zeal of his soldiers, flushed with victory, and in
the heat of vengeance, would have laid several hamlets in ashes, he
seized the brand from the destroying party, and throwing it into an
adjoining brook: "Show yourselves worthy the advantages you have
gained," cried he, "by the moderation with which you use them.
Consider yourselves as the soldiers of the all powerful God, who alone
has conducted you to victory; for, with a few, has he not enabled us to
subdue a host?  Behave as becomes your high destiny; and debase not
yourselves by imitating the hirelings of ambition, who receive, as the
wages of their valor, the base privilege to ravage and to murder.

"I wish you to distinguish between a spirit of reprisal, in what I do,
and that of retaliation, which actuates your present violence.  What
our enemies had robbed us of, as far as they can restore, I take again.
Their bread shall feed our famishing country; their wool clothe its
nakedness.  But blood for blood, unless the murderer could be made to
bleed, is a doctrine abhorrent to God and to humanity.  What justice is
there in destroying the habitations and lives of a set of harmless
people, because the like cruelty has been committed by a lawless army
of their countrymen, upon our unoffending brethren?  Your hearts may
make the answer.  But if they are hardened against the pleadings of
humanity, let prudence show your interest in leaving those men alive,
and with their means unimpaired, who will produce other harvests, if
need be, to fill our scantier granaries.

"Thus I reason with you, and I hope many are convinced; but they who
are insensible to argument must fear authority, and I declare that
every man who inflicts injury on the houses, or on the persons of the
quietest peasantry of this land, shall be punished as a traitor to the
state."

According to the different dispositions of men, this reasoning
prevailed.  And from the end of September (the time when Wallace first
entered Northumberland), to the month of November, when (having scoured
the counties of England, even to the gates of York) he returned to
Scotland, not an offense was committed which could occasion his
merciful spirit regret.  It was on All Saints Day when he again
approached the Esk; and so great was his spoil that his return seemed
more like some vast caravan moving the merchandise of half the world,
than the march of an army which had so lately passed that river, a
famishing, though valourous host.

The outposts of Carlaveroch soon informed Maxwell the lord regent was
in sight.  At the joyful intelligence a double smoke streamed from
every watch-hill in Annandale; and Sir Eustace had hardly appeared on
the Solway bank, to meet his triumphant chief, when the eager speed of
the rough knight of Torthorald brought him there also.  Wallace, as his
proud charger plunged into the ford, and the heavy wagons groaned after
him, was welcomed to the shore by the shouts, not only of the soldiers
which had followed Maxwell and Kirkpatrick, but by the people who came
in crowds to hail their preserver.  The squalid hue of famine had left
every face, and each smiling countenance, beaming with health,
security, and gratitude, told Wallace more emphatically than a thousand
tongues, the wisdom of the means he had used to regenerate his country.

Maxwell had prepared the fortress of Lochmaben, once the residence of
Bruce, for the reception of the regent.  And thither Wallace was
conducted, in prouder triumph than ever followed the chariot-wheels of
Caesar.  Blessings were the clarions that preceeded him; and hosts of
people, whom he had saved when ready to perish, were voluntary actors
in his pageant.

When he arrived in sight of the two capacious lochs, which spread like
lucid wings on each side of the castle, he turned to Graham.  "What
pity," said he, "that the rightful owner of his truly regal dwelling
does not act as becomes his blood!  He might now be entering its gates
as king, and Scotland find rest under its lawful monarch."

"But he prefers being a parasite in the court of a tyrant," replied Sir
John; "and from such a school, Scotland would reject its king."

"But he has a son," replied Wallace; "a brave and generous son!  I am
told by Lord Montgomery, who knew him in Guienne, that a nobler spirit
does not exist.  On his brows, my dear Graham, we must hope one day to
see the crown."

"Then only as your heir, my lord regent," interrupted Maxwell; "for
while you live, I can answer for it that no Scot will acknowledge any
other ruler."

"I will first eat my own sword," cried Kirkpatrick.

At this moment the portcullis of the gate was raised, and Maxwell
falling back to make way for the regent, Wallace had not time to answer
a sentiment, now so familiar to him by hearing it from every grateful
heart, that he hardly remarked its tendency, a fact the more easily to
be believed, from the ambition of such reward never receiving
acceptance in his well-principled mind.

Ever pressing toward establishing the happiness of his country, he
hastened over the splendid repast that was prepared for him; and
dispensing with the ceremonials with which the zeal of Maxwell sought
to display his respect for the virtues and station of his commander, he
retired with Graham to write dispatches, and to apportion shares of the
spoil to the necessities of the provinces.  In these duties, his
wakeful eye was kept open the greatest part of the night.  They for
whom he labored slept securely!  That thought was rest to him.  But
they closed not their eyes without praying for the sweet repose of
their benefactor.  And he found it; not in sleep, but in that peace of
heart which the world cannot give.



Chapter XLVI.

Lammington.


Day succeeded day in the execution of these beneficial designs.  When
fulfilled, the royal halls of Lochmaben did not long detain him who
knew no satisfaction but when going about doing good.  While he was
thus employed, raising with the quickness of magic, by the hands of his
soldiers, the lately ruined hamlets into well-built villages--while the
gray smoke curled from a thousand russet cottages which now spotted the
sides of the snow-clad hills--while all the lowlands, whithersoever he
directed his steps, breathed of comfort and abundance--he felt like the
father of a large family, in the midst of a happy and vast home, where
every eye turned on him with reverence, every lip with gratitude.

He had hardly gone the circuit of these now cheerful valleys, when an
embassy from England, which had first touched at Lochmaben, overtook
him at the Tower of Lammington.  The ambassadors were Edmund, Earl of
Arundel (a nobleman who had married the only sister of De Warenne), and
Anthony Beck, Bishop of Durham.

At the moment their splendid cavalcade, escorted by a party from Sir
Eustace Maxwell, entered the gate of Lammington, Wallace was in the
hourly expectation of Edwin, and hearing the trampling of horses, he
hastened into the courtyard, attended by Gregory's grandchildren.  One
was in his arms, two others held by his plaid, and a third played with
the sword he had unbuckled from his side.  It was a clear frosty day,
and the keenness of the air brightened the complexion of Wallace, while
it deepened the roses of his infant companions.  The leader of the
Scottish escort immediately proclaimed to the embassadors that this was
the regent.  At the sight of so uncourtly a scene the haughty prelate
of Durham drew back.

"This man will not understand his own interest," said he, in a
disdainful whisper, to Lord Arundel.

"I am inclined to think his estimation of it will be beyond ours."  As
the earl made this reply, the officer of Maxwell informed Wallace of
the names and errand of the illustrious strangers.  At the mention of a
Southron, the elder children ran screaming into the house, leaving the
youngest, who continued on the breast of Wallace.

The bishop drew near.

"We come, Sir William Wallace," cried the prelate, in a tone whose
lordly pitch lowered when his surprised eye saw the princely dignity
which shone over the countenance of the man whose domestic appearance,
when descried at a distance, had excited his contempt; "we come from
the King of England, with a message for your private ear."

"And I hope, gallant chief," joined Lord Arundel, "what we have to
impart will give peace to both nations, and establish in honor the most
generous as well as the bravest of enemies."

Wallace bowed to the earl's compliment (he knew by his title that he
must be the brother of De Warenne), and, resigning the child into the
arms of Graham, with a graceful welcome he conducted the Southron lords
into the hall.

Lord Arundel, looking around, said, "Are we alone, Sir William?"

"Perfectly," he replied, "and I am ready to receive any proposals for
peace which the rights of Scotland will allow her to accept."

The earl drew from his bosom a gold casket, and laying it on a table
before him, addressed the regent:-"Sir William Wallace, I come to you,
not with the denunciation of an implacable liege lord, whom a rash
vassal has offended, but in the grace of the most generous of monarchs,
anxious to convert a brave insurgent into the loyal friend.  My lord
the king having heard by letters from my brother-in-law, the Earl de
Warenne, of the honorable manner with which you treated the English
whom the fate of battle threw into your power, his majesty, instead of
sending over from Flanders a mighty army to overwhelm this rebellious
kingdom, has deputed me, even as an embassador, to reason with the
rashness he is ready to pardon.  Also, with this diadem," continued the
earl, drawing a circlet of jewels from the casket, "which my brave
sovereign tore from the brows of a Saracen prince, on the ramparts of
Acre, he sends the assurance of his regard for the heroic virtues of
his enemy.  And to these jewels, he will add a more efficient crown, if
Sir William Wallace will awake from this trance of false enthusiasm,
and acknowledge, as he is in duty bound to do, the supremacy of England
over this country.  Speak but the word, noblest of Scots," added the
earl, "and the bishop of Durham has orders from the generous Edward
immediately to anoint you king of Scotland--that done, my royal master
will support you in your throne against every man who may dare in
dispute your authority."

At these words Wallace rose from his seat.  "My lord," said he, "since
I took up arms for injured Scotland, I have been used to look into the
hearts of men; I therefore estimate with every due respect the
compliment which this message of your king pays to my virtues.  Had he
thought that I deserved the confidence of Scotland, he would not have
insulted me with offering a price for my allegiance.  To be even a
crowned vassal of King Edward is far beneath my ambition.  Take back
the Saracen's diadem; it shall never dishonor the brows of him who has
sworn by the cross to maintain the independence of Scotland, or to lay
down his life in the struggle!"

"Weigh well, brave sir," resumed the earl, "the consequences of this
answer.  Edward will soon be in England; he will march hither himself;
not at the head of such armies as you have discomfited, but with
countless legions; and when he falls upon any country in indignation,
the places of its cities are known no more."

"Better for a brave people so to perish," replied Wallace, "than to
exist in dishonor."

"What dishonor, noble Scot, can accrue from acknowledging the supremacy
of your liege lord; or to what can the proudest ambition in Scotland
extend beyond that of possessing its throne?"

"I am not such a slave," cried Wallace, "as to prefer what men might
call aggrandizement before the higher destiny of preserving to my
country its birthright, independence.  To be the guardian of her laws,
and of the individual right of every man born on Scottish ground, is my
ambition.  Ill should I perform the one duty, were I to wrong the
posterity of Alexander by invading their throne; and horrible would be
my treason against the other, could I sell my confiding country for a
name and a bauble into the grasp of a usurper."

"Brand not with so unjust an epithet the munificent Edward!"
interrupted Lord Arundel; "let your own noble nature be a witness of
his.  Put from you all the prejudice which the ill conduct of his
officers have excited, and you must perceive that in accepting his
terms you will best repay your country's confidence by giving it peace."

"So great would be my damning sin in such an acceptance," cried
Wallace, "that I should be abhorred by God and man.  You talk of noble
minds, earl; look into your own, and will it not tell you that in the
moment a people bring themselves to put the command of their actions,
and with that, their consciences, into the hands of a usurper (and that
Edward is one in Scotland our annals and his tyrannies declare), they
sell their birthright and become unworthy the name of men?  In that
deed they abjure the gift with which God had intrusted them; and
justly, the angels of his host depart from them.  You know the sacred
axiom, Virtue is better than life!  By that we are commanded to
preserve the one at the expense of the other; and we are ready to obey.
Neither the threats nor the blandishments of Edward have power to
shake the resolves of those who draw the sword of the Lord and of
Gideon!"

"Rebellious man!" exclaimed Beck, who had listened impatiently; and
whose haughty spirit could ill brook such towering language being
directed to his sovereign; "since you dare quote Scripture to sanction
crime, hear my embassage.  To meet the possibility of this flagitious
obstinacy, I came armed with the thunder of the church, and the
indignation of a justly incensed monarch.  Accept his most gracious
offers, delivered to you by the Earl of Arundel.  Here is the cross, to
receive your oath of fealty," cried he, stretching it forth, as if he
thought his commands were irrestible; "but beware! keep it with a truer
faith than did the traitor Baliol, or expect the malediction of Heaven,
the exterminating vengeance of your liege lord!"

Wallace was not discomposed by this attack from the stormy prelate.
"My Lord of Durham," replied he with his usual tranquil air, "had your
sovereign sent me such proposals as became a just king, and were
possible for an honest Scot to admit, he should have found me ready to
have treated him with the respect due to his rank and honor; but when
he demands the sacrifice of my integrity; when he asks me to sign a
deed that would again spread this renovated land with devastation, were
I to consider the glozing language of his embassy as grace and
nobleness.  I should belie my own truth, which tramples alike on his
menaces and his pretended claims.  And I ask you, priest of Heaven! is
he a god greater than Jehovah, that I should fear him?"

"And durst thou presume, audacious rebel!" exclaimed Beck "that the
light of Israel deign, to shine on a barbarian nation in arms against a
hero of the cross?  Reprobate that thou art, answer to thine own
condemnation?  Does not the church declare the claims of Edward to be
just! and who dare gainsay her decrees?"

"The voice of Him you pretend to serve!  He is no respecter of persons;
he raises the poor from the dust; and by his arm the tyrant and his
host are plunged into the whelming waves!  Bishop, I know in whom I
trust.  Is the minister greater than his lord, that I should believe
the word of a synod against the declared will of God?  Neither anathema
nor armed thousands shall make me acknowledge the supremacy of Edward.
He may conquer the body, but the soul of a patriot he can never subdue."

"Then," cried Beck, suddenly rising, black with choler, and stretching
his crosier over the head of Wallace, "as the rod of Moses shed
plagues, miseries, and death over the land of Egypt, I invoke the like
judgments to fall on this rebellious land, on its blasphemous leader!
And thus I leave it my curse."

Wallace smiled as the terrific words fell from the lips of this demon
in sacred guise.  Lord Arundel observed him.  "You despise this
malediction, Sir William Wallace!  I thought more piety had dwelt with
so much military nobleness!"

"I should not regard the curses of a congregated world," replied
Wallace, "when my conscience as loudly proclaims that God is on my
side.  And is he not omniscient, that he should be swayed by the
prejudices of men?  Does he not read the heart?  Is he not master of
all causes?  And shall I shrink when I know that I hold his commission?
Shall I not regard those anathemas even as the artillery with which
the adversary would drive me from my post?  But did the clouds rain
fire, and the earth open beneath me, I would not stir; for I know who
planted me here; and as long as he wills me to stand, neither men nor
devils can move me hence."

"Thou art incorrigible!" cried Beck.

"I would say, firm," rejoined Arundel, overawed by the majesty of
virtue, "could I regard, as he does, the cause he has espoused.  But,
as it is, noble Wallace," continued he, "I must regret your
infatuation; and instead of the peace I thought to leave with you, hurl
war, never-ending, extirpating war, upon the head of this devoted
nation!"  As he spoke, he threw his lance** against the opposite wall,
in which it stuck and stood shivering; then taking up the casket, with
its splendid contents, he replaced it in his bosom.

**To throw a spear was an ancient mode of denouncing war.

Beck had turned away in wrath from the table, and advancing with a
magisterial step to the door, he threw it open; as if he thought, that
longer to breathe the same air with the person he had excommunicated,
would infect him with his own curses.  On opening the door, a group of
Scots, who waited in the antechamber, hastened forward.  At the sight
of the prelate they raised their bonnets, and hesitated to pass.  He
stood on the threshold, proudly neglectful of their respect.  In the
next minute, Wallace appeared with Lord Arundel.

"Brave knight," said the earl, "the adieus of a man, as sensible of
your private worth as he regrets the errors of your public opinion,
abide with you."

"Were Edward sensible to virtue, like his brave subjects," replied the
chief, "I should not fear that another drop of blood need be shed in
Scotland to convince him of his present injustice.  Farewell, noble
earl; the generous candor of yourself and of your brother-in-law will
ever live in the remembrance of William Wallace."

While he yet spoke, a youth broke from the group before them, and
rushing toward the regent, threw himself with a cry of joy at his feet.
"My Edwin, my brother!" exclaimed Wallace; and immediately raising
him, clasped him in his arms.  The throng of Scots who had accompanied
their young leader from Stirling, now crowded about the chief; some
kneeling and kissing his garments; others ejaculating, with uplifting
hands, their thanks at seeing their protector in safety, and with
redoubled glory.

"You forgive me, my master and friend?" cried Edwin, forgetting, in the
happy agitation of his mind, the presence of the English embassadors.

"It was only as a master I condemned you, my brother," returned
Wallace; "every proof of your affection must render you dearer to me;
and had it been exerted against an offender not so totally in my power,
you would not have met my reprimand.  But ever remember that the
persons of prisoners are inviolable, for they lie on the bosom of
mercy; and who that has honor would take them thence?"

Lord Arundel, who had lingered to observe this short but animated
scene, now ventured to interrupt it: "May I ask, noble Wallace," said
he, "if this interesting youth be the brave young Ruthven, who
distinguished himself at Dumbarton, and who, De Warenne told me,
incurred a severe though just sentence from you, in consequence of his
attack upon one whom, as a soldier, I blush to name?"

"It is the same," replied Wallace; "the valor and fidelity of such as
he are as sinews to my arms, and bring a more grateful empire to my
heart than all the crowns which may be in the power of Edward to
bestow."

"I have often seen the homage of the body," said the earl; "but here I
see that of the soul; and were I a king, I should envy Sir William
Wallace!"

"This speech is that of a courtier or a traitor!" suddenly exclaimed
Beck, turning with a threatening brow on Lord Arundel.  "Beware, earl!
for what has now been said must be repeated to the royal Edward; and he
will judge whether flattery to this proud rebel be consistent with your
allegiance."

"Every word that has been uttered in this conference** I will myself
deliver to King Edward," replied Lord Arundel; "he shall know the man
on whom he may be forced by justice to denounce the sentence of
rebellion; and when the pruissance of his royal arm lays this kingdom
at his feet, the virtues of Sir William Wallace may then find the
clemency he now contemns!"

Beck did not condescend to listen to the latter part of this
explanation; but proceeding to the court-yard, had mounted his horse
before his worthier colleague appeared from the hall.  Taking a
gracious leave of Sir John Graham, who attended him to the door, the
earl exclaimed, "What miracle is before me?  Not the mighty mover only
of this wide insurrection is in the bloom of manhood, but all his
general that I have seen appear in the very morning of youth!  And you
conquer our veterans; by long experience, and hairs grown gray in camps
and battles!"

"Then by our morning judge what our day may be," replied Graham; "and
show your monarch that as surely as the night of death will in some
hour close upon prince and peasant, this land shall never again be
overshadowed by his darkness."

"Listen not to their bold treasons!" cried Beck; and setting spurs to
his horse, in no very clerical style he galloped out of the gates.
Arundel made some courteous reply to Graham; then, bowing to the rest
of the Scottish officers who stood around, turned his steed, and
followed by his escort, pursued the steps of the bishop along the
snow-covered banks of the Clyde.



Chapter XLVII.

Lammington.


When Wallace was left alone with Edwin, the happy youth (after
expressing delight that Murray then held his headquarters in Bothwell
Castle) took from his bosom two packets; one from Lord Mar, the other
from the countess.  "My dear cousin," said he, "has sent you many
blessings; but I could not persuade her to register even one on paper
while my aunt wrote all this.  Almost ever since her own recovery,
Helen has confined herself to my uncle's sick chamber, now totally
deserted by the fair countess, who seems to have forgotten all duties
in the adulation of the audience-hall."

Wallace remarked on the indisposition of Mar, and the attention of his
daughter, with tenderness.  And Edwin, with the unrestrained vivacity
of happy friendship, proceeded sportively to describe the regal style
which the countess had affected, and the absurd group with which she
had welcomed the Earls Badenoch and Athol to their native country.
"Indeed," continued he, "I cannot guess what vain idea has taken
possession of her; but when I went to Snawdoun, to receive her commands
for you, I found her seated on a kind of throne, with ladies standing
in her presence, and our younger chieftains thronging the gallery, as
if she were the regent himself.  Helen entered for a moment, but,
amazed, started back, never before having witnessed the morning courts
of stepmother."

But Edwin did not relate to his friend all that had passed in the
succeeding conference between him and his gentle cousin.

Blushing for her father's wife, Helen would have retired immediately to
her own apartments, but Edwin drew her into one of Lady Mar's rooms,
and seating her beside him, began to speak of his anticipated meeting
with Wallace.  He held her hand in his.  "My dearest cousin," said he,
"will not this tender hand, which has suffered so much for our brave
friend, write him one word of kind remembrance?  Our queen here will
send him volumes."

"Then he would hardly have time to attend to one of mine," replied
Helen, with a smile.  "Besides, he requires no new assurance to
convince him that Helen Mar can never cease to remember her benefactor
with the most grateful thoughts."

"And is this all I am to say to him, Helen?"

"All, my Edwin."

"What! not one word of the life you have led since he quitted Stirling?
Shall I not tell him that, when this lovely arm no longer wore the
livery of its heroism in his behalf, instead of your appearing at the
gay assemblies of the countess, you remained immured within your
oratory?  Shall I not tell him that since the sickness of my uncle you
have sat days and nights by his couch-side, listening to the dispatches
from the borders--subscribing, with smiles and tears, to his praises of
our matchless regent?  Shall I not tell him of the sweet maid who lives
here the life of a nun for him?  Or, must I entertain him with the
pomps and vanities of my most unsaintly aunt?"

Helen had in vain attempted to stop him, while, with an arch glance at
her mantling blushes, he half whispered these insidious questions.
"Ah, my sweet cousin, there is something more at the bottom of that
beating heart than you will allow your faithful Edwin to peep into."

Helen's heart did beat violently, both before and after this remark;
but conscious, whatever might be there, of the determined purpose of
her soul, she turned on him a steady look.  "Edwin," said she, "there
is nothing in my heart that you may not see.  That it reveres Sir
William Wallace beyond all other men, I do not deny.  But class not my
deep veneration with a sentiment which may be jested on!  He has spoken
to me the language of friendship--you know what it is to be his
friend--and having tasted of heaven, I cannot stoop to earth.  What
pleasure can I find in pageants?-what interest in the admiration of
men?  Is not his esteem of a value that puts to naught the homages of
all else in the world?  Do me then justice, my Edwin! believe me, I am
no gloomy, no sighing, recluse.  I am happy with my thoughts, and
thrice happy at the side of my father's couch; for there I meet the
image of the most exemplary of human beings, and there I perform the
duties of a child to a parent deserving all my love and honor."

"Ah, Helen!  Helen!" cried Edwin; "dare I speak the wish of my heart!
But you and Sir William Wallace would frown on me, and I may not!"

"Then, never utter it!" exclaimed Helen, turning pale, and trembling
from head to foot; too well guessing, by the generous glow in his
countenance, what would have been that wish.

At this instant the door opened, and Lady Mar appeared.  Both rose at
her entrance.  She bowed her head coldly to Helen.  To Edwin she
graciously extended her hand.  "Why, my dear nephew, did you not come
into the audience-hall?"

Edwin answered, smiling, that as he "did not know the Governor of
Stirling's lady lived in the state of a queen, he hoped he should be
excused for mistaking lords and ladies in waiting for company; and for
that reason, having retired till he could bid her adieu in a less
public scene."

Lady mar, with much stateliness, replied, "Perhaps it is necessary to
remind you, Edwin, that I am more than Lord Mar's wife.  I am not only
heiress to the sovereignty of the northern isles, but, like Badenoch,
am of the blood of the Scottish kings."

To conceal an irrepressible laugh at this proud folly in a woman,
otherwise of shrewd understanding, Edwin turned toward the window; but
not before the countess had observed the ridicule which played on his
lips.  Vexed, but afraid to reprimand one who might so soon resent it,
by speaking of her disparagingly to Wallace, she unburdened the
swelling of her anger upon the unoffending Helen.  Not doubting that
she felt as Edwin did, and fancying that she saw the same expression in
her countenance.  "Lady Helen," cried she, "I request an explanation of
that look of derision which I now see on your face.  I wish to know
whether the intoxication of your vanity dare impel you to despise
claims which may one day be established to your confusion."

This attack surprised Helen, who, absorbed in other meditations, had
scarcely heard her mother's words to Edwin.  "I neither deride you,
Lady Mar, nor despise the claims of your kinsman, Badenoch.  But since
you have condescended to speak to me on the subject, I must, out of
respect to yourself, and duty to my father, frankly say, that the
assumption of honors not legally in your possession may excite ridicule
on him, and even trouble to our cause."

Provoked at the just reasoning of this reply and at being
misapprehended with regard to the object with whom she hoped to share
all the reflected splendors of a throne, Lady Mar answered, rather
inconsiderately, "Your father is an old man, and has outlived every
noble emulation.  He neither understands my actions, nor shall he
control them."  Struck dumb by this unexpected declaration, Helen
suffered her to proceed.  "And as to Lord Badenoch giving me the rank
to which my birth entitled me, that is a foolish dream--I look to a
greater hand."

"What!" inquired Edwin, with a playful bow, "does my highness aunt
expect my uncle to die, and that Bruce will come hither to lay the
crown of Scotland at her feet?"

"I expect nothing of Bruce, nor of your uncle," returned she, with a
haughty rearing of her head; "but I look for respect from the daughter
of Lord Mar, and from the friend of Sir William Wallace."

She rose from her chair, and presenting Edwin with a packet for
Wallace, told Helen she might retire to her own room.

"To my father's I will, madam," returned she.

Lady Mar colored at this reproof, and, turning to Edwin, more gently
said, "You know that the dignity of his situation must be maintained;
and while others attend his couch, I must his reputation."

"I have often heard that 'Fame is better than life!'" replied Edwin,
still smiling; "and I thank Lady mar for showing me how differently
people may translate the same lesson.  Adieu, dear Helen!" said he,
touching her mantling cheek with his lips.

"Farewell," returned she, "may good angels guard you!"

The substance of the latter part of this scene Edwin did relate to
Wallace.  He smiled at the vain follies of the countess, and broke the
seal of her letter.  It was in the same style with her conversation; at
one moment declaring herself his disinterested friend, in the next,
uttering wild professions of never-ending attachment.  She deplored the
sacrifice which had been made of her, when quite a child, to the doting
passion of Lord Mar; and complained of his want of sympathy with any of
her feelings.  Then picturing the happiness which must result from the
reciprocal love of congenial hearts, she ventured to show how truly
hers would unite with Wallace's.  The conclusion of this strange
epistle told him that the devoted gratitude of all her relations of the
house of Cummin was ready, at any moment, to relinquish their claims on
the crown, to place it on brows so worthy to wear it.

The words of this letter were so artfully and so persuasively penned,
that had not Edwin described the inebriated vanity of Lady Mar, Wallace
might have believed that she was ambitious only for him, and that could
she share his heart, his throne would be a secondary object.  To
establish this deception in his mind, she added, "I live here as at the
head of a court, and fools around me think I take pleasure in it; but
did they look into my actions, they would see that I serve while I seem
to reign.  I am working in the hearts of men for your advancement."

But whether this were her real motive or not, it was the same to
Wallace; he felt that she would always be, were she even free, not
merely the last object in his thoughts, but the first in his aversion.
Therefore, hastily running over her letter, he recurred to a second
perusal of Lord Mar's.  In this he found satisfactory details of the
success of his dispositions.  Lord Lochawe had possessed himself of the
western coast of Scotland, from the Mull of Kintyre, to the furthest
mountains of Glenmore.  There the victorious Lord Ruthven had met him,
having completed the recovery of the Highlands, by a range of conquests
from the Spey to the Murray frith and Inverness-shire.  Lord Bothwell,
also, as his colleague, had brought from the shore of Ross and the
hills of Caithness, every Southron banner which had disgraced their
embattled towers.

Graham was sent for by Wallace to hear these pleasant tidings.

"Ah!" cried Edwin, in triumph, "not a spot north of the Forth now
remains, that does not acknowledge the supremacy of the Scottish lion!"

"Nor south of it either," returned Graham; "from the Mull of Galloway
to my gallant father's government on the Tweed; from the Cheviots to
the Northern Ocean, all now is our own.  The door is locked against
England, and Scotland must prove unfaithful to herself before the
Southrons can again set feet on her borders."

The more private accounts were not less gratifying to Wallace; for he
found that his plans for disciplining and bringing the people into
order were everywhere adopted, and that in consequence, alarm and
penury had given way to peace and abundance.  To witness the success of
his comprehensive designs, and to settle a dispute between Lord Ruthven
and the Earl of Athol, relative to the government of Perth, Lord Mar
strongly urged him (since he had driven the enemy so many hundred miles
into their own country) to repair immediately to the scene of
controversy.  "Go," added the earl, "through the Lothians, and across
the Queens ferry, directly into Perthshire.  I would not have you come
to Stirling, lest it should be supposed that you are influenced in your
judgment either my myself or my wife.  But I think there cannot be a
question that Lord Ruthven's services to the great cause invest him
with a claim which his opponent does not possess.  Lord Athol has none
beyond that of superior rank; but being the near relation of my wife, I
believe she is anxious for his elevation.  Therefore come not near us,
if you would avoid female importunity, and spare me the pain of hearing
what I must condemn."

Wallace now recollected a passage in Lady Mar's letter which, though
not speaking out, insinuated how she expected he would decide.  She
said: "As your interest is mine, my noble friend, all that belongs to
me is yours.  My kindred are not withheld in the gift my devoted heart
bestows on you.  Use them as your own; make them bulwarks around your
power, the creatures of your will, the instruments of your benevolence,
the defenders of your rights."

Well pleased to avoid another rencounter with this lady's love and
ambition, Wallace sent off the substance of these dispatches to Murray;
and next morning, taking a tender leave of the venerable Gregory and
his family, with Edwin and Sir John Graham, he set off for the Frith of
Forth.



Chapter XLVIII.

Loch Awe.


It was on the eve of St. Nicholas that the boat which contained Wallace
drew near to the coast of Fife.  A little of the right towered the
tremendous precipice of Kinghorn.

"Behold, Edwin," said he, "the cause of all our woe!  From those
horrible cliffs fell the best of kings, the good Alexander.  My father
accompanied him in that fatal ride, and was one of the unhappy group
who had the evil hap to find his mangled body among the rocks below."

"I have heard," observed Graham, "that the sage of Ercildown prophesied
this dreadful calamity to Scotland."

"He did prognosticate," replied Wallace, "that on the eighteenth of
April, a storm should burst over this land which would lay the country
in ruins.  Fear seized the farmers; but his prophecy regarded a nobler
object than their harvests.  The day came, rose unclouded, and
continued perfectly serene.  Lord March, to whom the seer had presaged
the event, at noon reproached him with the unlikeliness of its
completion.  But even at the moment he was ridiculing the sage, a man
on a foaming steed arrived at the gate, with tidings that the king had
accidentally fallen from the precipice of Kinghorn, and was killed.
'This,' said the Lord of Ercildown, 'is the scathing wind and dreadful
tempest which shall long blow calamity and trouble on the realm of
Scotland!'  And surely his words have been verified, for still the
storm rages around our borders--and will not cease, I fear, till the
present dragon of England be laid as low as our noble lion was by that
mysterious blast."**

**Alexander III. was killed in this manner on the 18th of April, 1290,
just seven years before the consequent calamities of his country made
it necessary for Wallace to rise in its defense.

The like discourse held the friends till they landed at Roseyth Castle,
where they lodged for the night; and next morning recommencing their
journey at daybreak, they crossed the Lomonds under a wintery sun, and
entered Perth in the midst of a snow-storm.

The regent's arrival soon spread throughout the province, and the hall
of the castle was speedily crowded with chieftains, come to pay their
respects to their benefactor; while an army of grateful peasantry from
the hills filled the suburbs of the town, begging for one glance only
of their beloved lord.  To oblige them, Wallace mounted his horse, and
between the Lords Ruthven and Athol, with his bonnet off, rode from the
castle to the populace-covered plain, which lay to the west of the
city.  He gratified their affectionate eagerness by this condescension,
and received in return the sincere homage of a thousand grateful
hearts.  The snow-topped Grampians echoed with the proud acclamations
of "Our deliverer," "Our prince," "The champion of Scotland," "The
glorious William Wallace!" and the shores of the Tay resounded with
similar rejoicings at sight of him who made the Scottish seamen lords
of the Northern Ocean.

Ruthven beheld this eloquence of nature with sympathetic feelings.  His
just sense of the unequaled merits of the regent had long internally
acknowledged him as his sovereign; and he smiled with approbation at
every breathing amongst the people which intimated what would at last
be their general shout.  Wallace had proved himself not only a warrior
but a legislator.  In the midst of war he had planted the fruits of
peace, and now the olive and the vine waved abundant on every hill.

Different were the thoughts of the gloomy Athol as he rode by the side
of the regent.  Could he by a look have blasted those valiant arms--have
palsied that youthful head, whose judgment shamed the hoariest
temples--gladly would he have made Scotland the sacrifice so that he
might never again find himself in the triumphant train of one whom he
deemed a boy and an upstart!  Thus did he muse, and thus did envy open
a way into his soul for those demons to enter which were so soon to
possess it with the fellest designs.

The issue of Ruthven's claims did not lessen Lord Athol's hatred of the
regent.  Wallace simply stated the case to him, only changing the
situations of the opponents; he supposed Athol to be in the place of
Ruthven and then asked the frowning earl if Ruthven had demanded a
government which Athol had bravely won and nobly secured, whether he
should deem it just to be sentenced to relinquish it into the hands of
his rival?  By this question he was forced to decide against himself.
But while Wallace generously hoped that, by having made him his own
judge, he had found an expedient both to soften the pain of
disappointment and to lessen the humiliation of defeat, he had only
redoubled the hatred of Athol, who thought he had thus been cajoled out
of even the privilege of complaint.  He, however, affected to be
reconciled to the issue of the affair, and, taking a friendly leave of
the regent, retired to Blair; and there, amongst the numerous
fortresses which owned his power--amongst the stupendous strongholds of
nature, the cloud invested mountains and the labyrinthine winding of
his lochs and streams--he determined to pass his days and nights in
devising the sure fall of this proud usurper; for so the bitterness of
an envy he durst not yet breathe to any impelled him internally to
designate the unpretending Wallace.

Meanwhile, the unconscious object of this hatred, oppressed by the
overwhelming crowds constantly assembling at Perth to do him homage,
retired to Huntingtower--a castle of Lord Ruthven's, at some distance
from the town.  Secluded from the throng, he there arranged, with the
chiefs of several clans, matters of consequence to the internal repose
of the country; but receiving applications for similar regulations from
the counties further north, he decided on going thither himself.
Severe as the weather was at that season, he bade adieu to the warm
hospitalities of Huntingtower, and, accompanied by Graham and his young
friend Edwin, with a small but faithful train he commenced a journey
which he intended should comprehend the circuit of the Highlands.

With the chieftain of almost every castle in his progress he passed a
day, and according to the interest which the situation of the
surrounding peasantry created in his mind he lengthened his sojourn.
Everywhere he was welcomed with enthusiasm, and his glad eye beheld the
festivities of Christmas with a delight which recalled past emotions,
till they wrung his heart.

The last day of the old year he spent with Lord Loch-awe, in Kichurn
Castle; and after a bounteous feast, in which lord and vassal joined,
sat up the night to hail the coming in of the new season.  Wallace had
passed that hour, twelve months ago, alone with his Marion.  They sat
together in the window of the eastern tower of Ellerslie: and while he
listened to the cheerful lilts to which their servants were dancing,
the hand of his lovely bride was clasped in his.  Marion smiled and
talked of the happiness which should await them in the year to come.
"Ay, my beloved," answered he, "more than thy beauteous self will then
fill these happy arms!  Thy babe, my wife, will then hand at thy bosom,
to bless with a parent's joys thy grateful husband!"

That time was now come round, and where was Marion?-cold in the grave.
Where that smiling babe?-a murderer's steel had reached it ere it saw
the light.

Wallace groaned at these recollections; he struck his hand forcibly on
his bursting heart, and fled from the room.  The noise of the harps,
the laughing of the dancers, prevented his emotions from being
observed; and rushing far from the joyous tumult, till its sounds died
in the breeze, or were only brought to his ear by fitful gusts, he
speeded along the margin of the lake, as if he would have flown even
from himself.  But memory, racking memory, followed him.  Throwing
himself on a bank, over which the ice hung in pointed masses, he felt
not the roughness of the ground, for all within him was disturbed and
at war.

"Why," cried he, "O! why was I selected for this cruel sacrifice?  Why
was this heart, to whom the acclaim of multitudes could bring no
selfish joy--why was it to be bereft of all that ever made it beat with
transport?  Companion of my days, partner of my soul! my lost, lost
Marion!  And are thine eyes forever closed on me?  Shall I never more
clasp that hand which ever thrilled my frame with every sense of
rapture?  Gone, gone forever--and I am alone!"

Long and agonizing was the pause which succeeded to this fearful
tempest of feeling.  In that hour of grief, renewed in all its former
violence, he forgot country, friends and all on earth.  The
recollection of his fame was mockery to him; for where was she to whom
the sound of his praises would have given so much joy?

"Ah!" said he, "it was indeed happiness to be brightened in those eyes!
When the gratitude of our poor retainers met thine ear, how didst thou
lay thy soft cheek to mine, and shoot its gentle warmth into my heart!"
At that moment he turned his face on the gelid bank; starting with
wild horror, he exclaimed, "Is it now so cold?  My Marion, my murdered
wife!" and, rushing from the spot, he again hastened along the margin
of the loch.  But there he still heard the distant sound of the pipes
from the castle; he could not bear their gay notes; and, darting up the
hill which overhung Loch-awe's domain, he ascended, with swift and
reckless steps, the rocky sides of Ben Cruachan.  Full of distracting
thoughts, and impelled by a wild despair, he hurried from steep to
steep, and was rapidly descending the western side of the mountain,
regardless of the piercing sleet, when his course was suddenly checked
by coming with a violent shock against another human being, who,
running as hastily through the storm, had driven impetuously against
Wallace; but, being the weaker of the two, was struck to the ground.
The accident rallied the scattered senses of the chief.  He now felt
that he was out in the midst of a furious winter tempest, had wandered
he knew not whither, and probably had materially injured some poor
traveler by his intemperate motion.

He raised the fallen man, and asked whether he were hurt.  The
traveler, perceiving by the kind tone of the inquirer that no harm had
been intended, answered, "Not much, only a little lamed, and all the
recompense I ask for this unlucky upset is to give me a helping hand to
my father's cot--it is just by.  I have been out at a neighbor's to
dance in the new year with a bonny lass, who, however, may not thank
you for my broken shins!"

As the honest lad went on telling his tale, with a great many
particulars dear to his simple wishes, Wallace helped him along; and
carefully conducting him through the gathering snow, descended the
declivity which led to the shepherd's cottage.  When within a few yards
of it, Wallace heard the sound of singing, but it was not the gay
caroling of mirth; the solemn chant of more serious music mingled with
the roaring blast.

"I am not too late yet!" cried the communicative lad; "I should not
have run so fast had I not wanted to get home in time enough to make
one in the New-year's hymn."

They had now arrived at the little door, and the youth, without the
ceremony of knocking, opened the latch; as he did so, he turned and
said to his companion, "We have no occasion for bolts, since the brave
Lord Wallace has cleared the country of our Southron robbers."  He
pushed the door as he spoke, and displayed to the eyes of the chief a
venerable old man on his knees before a crucifix; around him knelt a
family of young people and an aged dame, all joining in the sacred
thanksgiving.  The youth, without a word, dropped on his knees near the
door, and making a sign to his companion to do the same, Wallace
obeyed; and as the anthems rose in succession on the ear, to which the
low breathings of the lightly touched harp echoed its heavenly strains,
he felt the tumult of his bosom gradually subside; and when the
venerable sire laid down the instrument and clasped his hands in
prayer, the natural pathos of his invocations, and the grateful
devotions with which the young people gave their response, all tended
to tranquilize his mind into a holy calm.

At the termination of the concluding prayer, how sweet were the
emotions of Wallace when he heard these words, uttered with augmented
fervor by the aged petitioner!

"While we thus thank thee, O gracious God! for the mercies bestowed
upon us, we humbly implore thee to hold in thine Almighty protection
him by whose arm thou has wrought the deliverance of Scotland.  Let our
preserver be saved from his sins by the blood of Christ!  Let our
benefactor be blessed in mind, body, and estate, and all prosper with
him that he takes in hand!  May the good he has dispensed to his
country be returned four-fold into his bosom; and may he live to see a
race of his own reaping the harvest of his virtues, and adding fresh
honors to the stalwart name of Wallace!"

Every mouth echoed a fervent amen to this prayer, and Wallace himself
inwardly breathed, "And have I not, even now, sinned, all-gracious God!
in the distraction of this night's remembrance?  I mourned--I would not
be comforted.  But in thy mercy thou hast led me hither to see the
happy fruits of my labors; and I am resigned and thankful!"

The sacred rites over, two girls ran to the other side of the room, and
between them brought forward a rough table covered with dishes and
bread; while the mother, taking off a large pot, emptied its smoking
contents into the different vessels.  Meanwhile the young man,
introducing the stranger to his father, related the accident of the
meeting, and the good old shepherd, bidding him a hearty welcome,
desired him to draw near the fire and partake of their New-year's
breakfast.

"We need the fire, I assure you," cried the lad, "for we are dripping."

Wallace now advanced from the shadowed part of the room, where he had
knelt, and drawing toward the light, certainly displayed to his host
the truth of his son's observation.  He had left the castle without his
bonnet, and hurrying on regardless of the whelming storm, his hair
became saturated with wet, and now streamed in water over his
shoulders.  The good old wife, seeing the stranger's situation was
worse than her son's snatched away the bottle out of which he was
swallowing a heavy cordial, and poured it over the exposed head of her
guest; then ordering one of her daughters to rub it dry, she took off
his plaid, and wringing it, hung it to the fire.

During these various operations--for the whole family seemed eager to
show their hospitality--the old man discovered, not so much by the
costliness of his garments as by the noble mien and gentle manners of
the stranger, that he was some chieftain from the castle.  "Your
honor," said he, "must pardon the uncourtliness of our ways; but we
give you the best we have: and the worthy Lord Loch-awe cannot do more."

Wallace gave smiling answers to all their remarks, and offers of
service.  He partook of their broth, praised the good wife's cakes, and
sat discoursing with the family with all the gayety and frankness of
one of themselves.  His unreserved manners opened every heart around
him, and with confidential freedom the venerable shepherd related his
domestic history, dwelling particularly on the projected marriages of
his children, which he said, "should now take place, since the good Sir
William Wallace had brought peace to the land."

Wallace gratified the worthy father, he appearing to take an interest
in all his narratives, and then allowing the happy spirits of the young
people to break in upon these graver discussions, he smiled with them,
or looked serious with the garrulous matron, who turned the discourse
to tales of other times.  He listened with complacency to every legend
of witch, fairy, and ghost; and his enlightened remarks sometimes
pointed out natural causes for the extraordinary appearances she
described; or, at better--attested and less equivocal accounts of
supernatural apparitions, he acknowledged that there are "more things
in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in philosophy."

Morning dawned before the tranquilized, nay, happy Wallace, happy in
the cheerful innocence of the scene, discovered that the night was
past.  As the gray light gleamed through the wooden shutters he arose.
"My friends, I must leave you," said he; "there are those not far off
who may be alarmed at my disappearance, for none knew when I walked
abroad, and unwittingly I have been charmed all these hours to remain,
enjoying the happiness of your circle, forgetful of the anxiety I have
perhaps occasioned in my own."

The old man declared his intention of seeing him over the hill.
Wallace declined giving him that trouble, saying that as it was
daylight, and the snow had ceased, he could easily retrace his steps to
the castle.

"No, no," returned the shepherd; "and besides," said he, "as I hear the
good lord regent is keeping the New Year with our noble earl, who knows
but I may get a glimpse of his noble countenance, and that will be a
sight to tell of till I die!"

"God's blessing on his sweet face!" cried the old woman; "but I would
give all the yarn in my muckle chest to catch one look of his lucky
eye!  I warrant you, witch nor fairy could never harm me more."

"Ah, father," cried the eldest of the girls, blushing, "if you go near
enough to him!  Do you know, Madgie Grant told me, if I could but get
even the least bit of Sir William Wallace's hair, and give it to Donal
Cameron to wear in a true lover's know on his breast, no Southron will
be able to do him harm as long as he lives!"

"And do you believe it would protect your lover, my pretty Jeannie?"
inquired Wallace, with a sweet smile.

"Surely," she replied; "for Madgie is a wise woman, and has the second
sight."

"Well, then," returned he, "you shall be gratified.  For, though I must
for once contradict the testimony of a wise woman, and tell you that
nothing can render a man absolutely safe but the protection of Heaven,
yet, if a hair from the head of Sir William Wallace would please you,
and a glance from his eye gratify your mother, both shall be
satisfied," and lifting up the old woman's shears, which lay on a
working-stool before him, he cut off a golden lock from the middle of
his head and put it into the hand of Jeannie.  At this action--which was
performed with such noble grace that not one of the family now doubted
who had been their guest--the good dame fell on her knees, and Jeannie,
with a cry of joy, putting the beautiful lock into her bosom, followed
the example, and in a woman all were clinging around him.  The old man
grasped his hand.  "Bravest of men!" cried he, "the Lord has indeed
blessed this house, since he has honored it with the presence of the
deliverer of Scotland!  My prayers, and the benedictions of all good
men, friend or foe, must ever follow your footsteps!"

Tears of pleasure started into the eyes of Wallace.  He raised the
family one by one from the ground, and putting his purse into the hand
of the dame, "There, my kind hostess," said he, "let that fill the
chests of your daughters on their bridal day; they must receive it as a
brother's portion to his sisters, for it is with fraternal affection
that William Wallace regards the sons and daughters of Scotland."

The happy sobs of the old woman stopped the expressions of her
gratitude, but her son, fearing his freedom of the night before might
have offended, stood abashed at a distance.  Wallace stretched out his
hand to him.  "My good Archibald," cried he, "do not hold back from one
who will always be your friend.  I shall send from the castle this day
sufficient to fill your bridal coffers also."

Archibald now petitioned to be allowed to follow him in his army.  "No,
my brave youth," replied the chief; "Lord Lochawe will lead you forth,
whenever there is occasion; and, meanwhile, your duty is to imitate the
domestic duties of your worthy father.  Make the neighboring valley
smile with the fruits of your industry; and raise a family to bless
you, as you now bless him."

Wallace, having wrapped himself in his plaid, now withdrew amidst the
benedictions of the whole group; and swiftly recrossing the mountain
heights, was soon on the western brow of Ben Cruachan.  In ten minutes
afterward he entered the hall of Kilchurn Castle.  A few servants only
were astir; the rest of the family were still asleep.  About an hour
after their friend's departure, the earl and Graham had missed him; but
supposing that, whithersoever he was gone, he would soon return, they
made no inquiries; and when the tempest began, on Edwin expressing his
anxiety to know where he was, one of the servants said he was gone to
his chamber.  This answer satisfied every one, and they continued to
enjoy the festal scene until the Countess of Loch-awe made the signal
for repose.

Next morning, when the family met at the breakfast-board, they were not
a little surprised to hear Wallace recount the adventure of the night;
and while Loch-awe promised every kindness to the shepherd, and a
messenger was dispatched with a purse to Archibald Edwin learned from
the earl's servant, that his reason for supposing the regent was gone
to his room arose from the sight of his bonnet in the outer hall.
Wallace was glad that such an evidence had prevented his friends being
alarmed; and retiring with Lord Loch-awe, with his usual equanimity of
mind resumed the graver errand of his tour.

The hospitable rites of the season being over, in the course of a few
days the earl accompanied his illustrious guest to make the circuit of
Argyleshire.  At Castle Urguhart they parted; and Wallace, proceeding
with his two friends, performed his legislative visits from sea to sea.
Having traversed with perfect satisfaction the whole of the northern
part of the kingdom, he returned to Huntingtower on the very morning
that a messenger had reached it from Murray.  That vigilant chieftain
informed the regent of King Edward's arrival from Flanders, and that he
was preparing a large army to march into Scotland.

"We must meet him," cried Wallace, "on his own shores; and so let the
horrors attending the seat of war full on the country whose king would
bring desolation to ours."



Chapter XLIX.

Stanmore.


The gathering word was dispatched from chief to chief, to call the
clans of the Highlands to meet their regent by a certain day in
Clydesdale.  Wallace himself set forward to summon the strength of the
Lowlands; but at Kinclavin Castle, on the coast of Fife, he was
surprised with another embassy from Edward--a herald, accompanied by
that Sir Hugh le de Spencer who had conducted himself so insolently on
his first embrassage.

On his entering the chamber where the regent sat with the chiefs who
had accompanied him from Perthsire, the two English men walked forward;
but before the herald could pay the customary respects, Le de Spencer
advanced to Wallace; and to the price of a little mind, elated at being
empowered to insult with impunity, he broke forth: "Sir William
Wallace, the contumely with which the embassadors of Prince Edward were
treated, is so resented by the King of England, that he invests his own
majesty in my person to tell you, that your treasons have filled up
their measure! that now, in the plenitude of his continental victories,
he descends upon Scotland, to annihilate this rebellious nation; and-"

"Stop, Sir Hugh le de Spencer," cried the herald, touching him with his
scepter; "whatever may be the denunciations with which our sovereign
has intrusted you, you must allow me to perform my duty before you
declare them.  And thus I utter the gracious message with which his
Majesty has honored my mouth."

He then addressed Wallace; and in the king's name, accusing him of
rebellion, and of unfair and cruel devastations made in Scotland and in
England, promised him pardon for all if he would immediately disband
his followers and acknowledge his offense.

Wallace motioned with his hand for his friends to keep silence (for he
perceived that two or three of the most violent were ready to break
forth in fierce defiance of King Edward), and being obeyed, he calmly
replied to the herald: "When we were desolate, your king came to us as
a comforter, and he put us in chains!  While he was absent, I invaded
his country as an open enemy.  I rifled your barns, but it was to feed
a people whom his robberies had left to perish!  I marched through your
lands, I made your soldiers fly before me; but what spot in all your
shores have I made black with the smoke of ruin?  I leave the people of
Northumberland to judge between me and your monarch.  And that he never
shall be mine or Scotland's, with God's blessing on the right, our
deeds shall further prove!"

"Vain and ruinous determination!" exclaimed Le de Spencer; "King Edward
comes against you, with an army that will reach from sea to sea.
Wherever the hoofs of his war-horse strike, there grass never grows
again.  The sword and the fire shall make a desert of this devoted
land; and your arrogant head, proud Scot, shall bleed upon the
scaffold!"

"He shall first see my fires, and meet my sword in his own fields,"
returned Wallace; "and if God continues my life, I will keep my Easter
in England, in despite of King Edward, and of all who bear armor in his
country!"

As he spoke he rose from his chair, and bowing his head to the herald,
the Scottish marshals conducted the embassadors from his presence.  Le
de Spencer twice attempted to speak, but the marshals would not allow
him.  They said that the business of the embassy was now over; and
should he presume further to insult their regent, the privilege of his
official character should not protect him from the wrath of the Scots.
Intimidated by the frowning brows and nervous arms of all around, he
held his peace, and the doors were shut on him.

Wallace foresaw the heavy tempest to Scotland threatened by these
repeated embassies.  He perceived that Edward, by sending overtures
which he knew could not be accepted--by making a show of pacific
intentions, meant to throw the blame of the continuation of hostilities
upon the Scots, and so overcome the reluctance of his more equitable
nobility, to further persecute a people whom he had made suffer so
unjustly.  The same insidious policy was likewise meant to change the
aspect of the Scottish cause in the eyes of Philip of France, who had
lately sent congratulations to the regent, on the victory of
Cambus-Kenneth; and by that means deprive him of a powerful ally and
zealous negotiator for an honorable peace.

To prevent this last injury, Wallace dispatched a quick-sailing vessel
with Sir Alexander Ramsay, to inform King Philip of the particulars of
Edward's proposals, and of the consequent continued warfare.

On the twenty-eighth of February, Sir William Wallace joined Lord
Andrew Murray, on Bothwell Moor, where he had the happiness of seeing
his brave friend again lord of the domains he had so lately lost in the
Scottish cause.  Wallace did not visit the castle.  At such a crisis,
he forbore to unnerve his mind, by awakening the griefs which lay
slumbering at the bottom of his heart.  Halbert came from his convent
once more to look upon the face of his beloved master.  The meeting
cost Wallace many agonizing pangs, but he smiled on his faithful
servant.  He pressed the venerable form in his manly arms, and promised
him news of his life and safety.  "May I die," cried the old man, "ere
I hear it is otherwise!  But youth is no warrant for life; the vigor of
those arms cannot always assure themselves of victory; and should you
fall, where would be our country?"

"With a better than I," returned the chief, "in the arms of God.  He
will fight for Scotland when Wallace is laid low."  Halbert wept.  But
the trumpet sounded for the field.  He blessed his lord, and they
parted forever.

A strong force from the Highlands joined the troops from Stirling; and
Wallace had the satisfaction of seeing before him thirty thousand
well-appointed men eager for the fight.  With all Scotland pressing on
his heart, his eye lingered for a moment on the distant towers of
Bothwell; but not delaying a moment, he placed himself at the head of
his legions, and set forth through a country now budding with all the
charms of the cultivation he had spread over it.  In the midst of a
fine glen of renovated corn fields, he was met by a courier from Sir
Roger Kirkpatrick, with information that the Northumbrians, being
apprised of King Edward's approach, were assembling in immense bodies;
and having crossed the debatable land in the night, had driven Sir
Eustace Maxwell, with great loss, into Carlaveroch; and though harassed
by Kirkpatrick himself, were ravaging the country as far as Dumfries.
The letter of the brave knight added, "These Southron thieves blow the
name of Edward before them, and with its sound have spell-bound the
courage of every soul I meet.  Come then, valiant Wallace, and conjure
it down again, else I shall not be surprised if the men of Annandale
bind me hand and foot, and deliver me up to Algernon Percy (the leader
of this inroad), to purchase mercy to their cowardice."

Wallace made no reply to this message, and proclaiming to his men that
the enemy were in Dumfriesshire, every foot was put to the speed; and
in a short time they arrived on the ridgy summits of the eastern
mountains of Clydesdale.  His troops halted for rest near the village
of Biggar; and it being night, he ascended to the top of the highest
craig, and lighted a fire, whose far-streaming light he hoped would
send the news of his approach to Annandale.  The air being calm and
clear, the signal rose in such a long pyramid of flame, that distant
shouts of rejoicing were heard breaking the deep silence of the hour.
A moment after a hundred answering beacons burned along the horizon.
Torthorald saw the propitious blaze; he showed it to his terrified
followers.  "Behold that hill of fire!" cried he, "and cease to
despair."  "Wallace comes!" was their response; "and we will do or
die!"**

**The mountain from which this beacon sent its rays has from that hour
been called Tinto or Tintoc (which signifies the Hill of Fire), and is
yet regarded by the country people with a devotion almost idolatrous.
Its height is about 2,260 feet from the sea.

Day broke upon Wallace as he crossed the heights of Drumlaurig, and
pouring his thousands over the almost deserted valleys of Annandale,
like a torrent he swept the invaders back upon their steps.  He took
young Percy prisoner, and leaving him shut up in Lochmaben, drove his
flying vassals far beyond the borders.

Annandale again free, he went into its various quarters, and summoning
the people (who now crept from their caves and woods, to shelter under
his shield), he reproved them for their cowardice; and showed them,
that unless every man possesses a courage equal to his general, he must
expect to fall under the yoke of the enemy.  "Faith in a leader is
good," said he; "but not such a faith as leaves him to act, without
yourselves rendering that assistance to your own preservation, which
Heaven itself commands.  When absent from you in person, I left my
spirit with you in the brave Knights of Carlaveroch and Torthorald, and
yet you fled.  Had I been here, and you done the same, the like must
have been the consequence.  What think you is in my arm, that I should
alone stem your enemies?  The expectation is extravagant and false.  I
am but the head of the battle, you are the aims; if you shrink, I fall,
and the cause is ruined.  You follow my call to the field, you fight
valiantly, and I win the day!  Respect then yourselves; and believe
that you are the sinews, the nerves, the strength of Sir William
Wallace!"

Some looked manfully up at this exhortation; but most hung their heads
in remembered shame, while he continued: "Dishonor not your fathers and
your trust in God by relying on any one human arm, or doubting that
from heaven.  Be confident that while the standard of true liberty is
before you, you fight under God's banner.  See how I in that faith
drove these conquering Northumbrians before me like frighted roes.  You
might, and must do the same, or the sword of Wallace is drawn in vain.
Partake my spirit, brethren of Annandale; fight as stoutly over my
grave as by my side, or before the year expires you will again be the
slaves of Edward."

Such language, while it covered the fugitives with confusion of face,
awoke emulation in all to efface with honorable deeds the memory of
their disgrace.  With augmented forces he therefore marched into
Cumberland; and having drawn up his array between a river and a high
ground, which he covered with archers, he stood prepared to meet the
approach of King Edward.

But Edward did not appear till late in the next day; and then the Scots
descried his legions advancing from the horizon to pitch their vanguard
on the plain of Stanmore.  Wallace knew that for the first time he was
now going to pit his soldiership against that of the greatest general
in Christendom.  But he did not shrink from measuring him arm to arm
and mind to mind, for the assurance of his cause was in both.

His present aim was to draw the English toward the Scottish lines,
where, at certain distances, he had dug deep pits; and having covered
them lightly with twigs and loose grass, left them as traps for the
Southron cavalry; for in cavalry, he was told by his spies, would
consist the chief strength of Edward's army.  The waste in which
Wallace had laid the adjoining counties, rendered the provisioning of
so large a host difficult; and besides, as it was composed of a mixed
multitude from every land on which the King of England had set his
invading foot, harmony could not be expected to continue amongst its
leaders.  Delay was therefore an advantage to the Scottish regent; and
observing that his enemy held back, as if he wished to draw him from
his position, he determined not to stir, although he might seem to be
struck with awe of so great an adversary.

To this end he offered him peace, hoping either to obtain what he asked
(which he did not deem probable), or, by filling Edward with an idea of
his fear, urge him to precipitate himself forward, to avoid the danger
of a prolonged sojourn in so barren a country, and to take Wallace, as
he might think, in his panic.  Instructing his heralds what to say, he
sent them on to Roycross, near which the tent of the King of England
was pitched.  Supposing that his enemy was now at his feet, and ready
to beg the terms he had before objected, Edward admitted the
embassadors, and bade them deliver their message.  Without further
parley the herald spoke.

"Thus saith Sir William Wallace.  Were it not that the kings and nobles
of the realm of Scotland have ever asked redress of injuries before
they sought revenge, you King of England, and invader of our country,
should not now behold orators in your camp, persuading concord, but an
army in battle array, advancing to the onset.  Our lord regent being of
the ancient opinion of his renowned predecessors, that the greatest
victories are never of such advantage to a conqueror as an honorable
and bloodless peace, sends to offer this peace to you at the price of
restitution.  The lives you have rifled from us you cannot restore, but
the noble Lord Douglas, whom you now unjustly detain a prisoner, we
demand; and that you retract those claims on our monarchy, which never
had existence till ambition begot them on the basest treachery.  Grant
these just requisitions, and we lay down our arms; but continue to deny
them, and our nations is ready to rise to a man, and with heart and
hand avenge the injuries we have sustained.  You have wasted our lands,
burned our towns, and imprisoned our nobility.  Without consideration
of age or condition, women, children, and feeble old men have
unresisting fallen by your sword.  And why was all this?  Did our
confidence in your honor offend you, that you put our chieftains in
durance, and deprived our yeomanry of their lives?  Did the
benedictions with which our prelates hailed you as the arbitrator
between our princes, raise your ire, that you burned their churches,
and slew them on the altars?  These, O king, were thy deeds, and for
these William Wallace is in arms.  But yield us the peace we
ask--withdraw from our quarters--relinquish your unjust pretensions, and
we shall once more consider Edward of England as the kinsman of
Alexander the Third, and his subjects the friends and allies of our
realm."

Not in the least moved by this address, Edward contemptuously answered,
"Intoxicated by a transitory success, your leader is vain enough to
suppose that he can discomfort the King of England, as he has done his
unworthy officers, by fierce and insolent words; but we are not so weak
as to be overthrown by a breath, nor so base as to bear argument from a
rebel.  I come to claim my own, to assert my supremacy over Scotland;
and it shall acknowledge its liege lord, or be left a desert, without a
living creature to say, 'This was a kingdom.'  Depart, this is my
answer to you; your leader shall receive his at the point of my lance."

Wallace, who did not expect a more favorable reply, ere his embassadors
returned had marshaled his lines for the onset.  Lord Bothwell, with
Murray, his valiant son, took the lead on the left wing; Sir Eustace
Maxwell and Kirkpatrick commanded on the right.  Graham (in whose quick
observation and promptitude to bring it to effect, Wallace placed the
first confidence) held the reserve behind the woods; and the regent
himself, with Edwin and his brave standard-bearer, occupied the center.
Having heard the report of his messengers, he repeated to his troops
the lines, he exhorted them to remember that on that day the eyes of
all Scotland would be upon them.  They were the first of their country
who had gone forth to meet the tyrant in a pitched battle; and in
proportion to the danger they confronted, would be their meed of glory.
"But it is not for renown merely that you are called upon to fight
this day," said he; "your rights, your homes are at stake.  You have no
hope of security for your lives but in an unswerving determination to
keep the field, and let the world see how much more might lies in the
arms of a few contending for their country and herediatry liberties,
than in hosts which seek for blood and spoil.  Slavery and freedom lie
before you!  Shrink but one backward step, and yourselves are in
bondage, your wives become the prey of violence.  Be firm--trust Him who
blesses the righteous cause, and victory will crown your arms!"

Though affecting to despise his young opponent, Edward was too good a
general really to condemn an enemy who had so often proved himself
worthy of respect; and therefore, by declaring his determination to put
all the Scottish chieftains to death, and to transfer their estates to
his conquering officers, he stimulated their avarice, as well as love
of fame, and with every passion in arms, they pushed to the combat.

Wallace stood unmoved.  Not a bow was drawn till the impetuous
squadrons, in full charge toward the flanks of the Scots, fell into the
pits; then it was that the Highland archers on the hill launched their
arrows; the plunging horses were instantly overwhelmed by others who
could not be checked in their career.  New showers of darts rained upon
them, and, sticking into their flesh, made them rear and roll upon
their riders; while others, who were wounded, but had escaped the pits,
flew back in rage of pain upon the advancing infantry.  A confusion
ensued, so perilous, that the king thought it necessary to precipitate
himself forward, and in person attack the main body of his adversary,
which yet stood inactive.  Giving the spur to his charger, he ordered
his troops to press on over the struggling heaps before them; and being
obeyed, with much difficulty and great loss, he passed the first range
of pits; but a second and wider awaited him; and there, seeing his men
sink into them by squadrons, he beheld the whole army of Wallace close
in upon them.  Terrific was now the havoc.  The very numbers of the
Southrons, and the mixed discipline of their army, proved its bane.  In
the tumult they hardly understood the orders which were given; and some
mistaking them, acted so contrary to the intended movements, that
Edward, galloping from one end of the field to the other, appeared like
a frantic man, regardless of every personal danger, so that he could
but fix others to front the same tempest of death with himself.  His
officers trembled at every step he took, for fear that some of the
secret pits should ingulf him.

However, the unshrinking courage of their monarch rallied a part of the
distracted army, which, with all the force of desperation, he drove
against the center of the Scots.  But at this juncture, the reserve
under Graham, having turned the royal position, charged him in the
rear; and the archers redoubling their discharge of artillery, the
Flanderkins, who were in the van of Edward, suddenly giving way with
cries of terror, the amazed king found himself obliged to retreat, or
run the risk of being taken.  He gave a signal--the first of the kind he
had ever sounded in his life-and drawing his English troops around him,
after much hard fighting, fell back in tolerable order beyond the
confines of his camp.

The Scots were eager to pursue him, but Wallace checked the motion.
"Let us not hunt the lion till he stand at bay!" cried he.  "He will
retire far enough from the Scottish borders, without our leaving this
vantage ground to drive him."

What Wallace said came to pass.  Soon no vestige of a Southron soldier,
but the dead which strewed the road, was to be seen from side to side
of the wide horizon.  The royal camp was immediately seized by the
triumphant Scots; and the tent of King Edward, with its costly
furniture, was sent to Stirling as a trophy of the victory.



Chapter L.

Stirling.


Many chieftains from the north had come to Stirling, to be near
intelligence from the borders.  They were aware that this meeting
between Wallace and Edward must be the crisis of their fate.  The few
who remained in the citadel, of those who had borne the brunt of the
opening of this glorious revolution for their country, were full of
sanguine expectations.  They had seen the prowess of their leader, they
had shared the glory of his destiny, and they feared not that Edward
would deprive him of one ray.  But they who, at their utmost wilds of
Highlands, had only heard his fame; though they had afterward seen him
amongst themselves, transforming the mountain-savage into a civilized
man and disciplined soldier; though they had felt the effects of his
military successes; yet they doubted how his fortunes might stand the
shock of Edward's happy star.  The lords whom he had released from the
Southron prisons were all of the same apprehensive opinion; for they
knew what numbers Edward could bring against the Scottish power, and
how hitherto unrivaled was his skill in the field.  "Now," thought Lord
Badenoch, "will this brave Scot find the difference between fighting
with the officers of a king and a king himself, contending for what he
determines shall be a part of his dominions!"  Full of this idea, and
resolving never to fall into the hands of Edward again (for the conduct
of Wallace had made the earl ashamed of his long submission to the
usurpation of rights to which he had a claim), he kept a vessel in
readiness at the mouth of the Forth, to take him, as soon as the news
of the regent's defeat should arrive, far from the sad consequences, to
a quiet asylum in France.

The meditations of Athol, Buchan, and March, were of a different
tendency.  It was their design, on the earliest intimation of such
intelligence, to set forth, and be the first to throw themselves at the
feet of Edward, and acknowledge him their sovereign.  Thus, with
various projects in their heads (which none but the three last breathed
to each other), were several hundred expecting chiefs assembled round
the Earl of Mar; when Edwin Ruthven, glowing with all the effulgence of
his general's glory, and his own, rushed into the hall; and throwing
the royal standard of England on the ground, exclaimed, "There lies the
supremacy of King Edward!"

Every man started to his feet.  "You do not mean," cried Athol, "that
King Edward has been beaten?"

"He has been beaten, and driven off the field!" returned Edwin.  "These
dispatches," added he, laying them on the table before his uncle, "will
relate every particular.  A hard battle our regent fought, for our
enemies were numberless; but a thousand good angels were his allies,
and Edward himself fled.  I saw the king, after he had thrice rallied
his troops and brought them to the charge, at last turn and fly.  It
was at that moment I wounded his standard-bearer, and seized this
dragon."

"Thou art worthy of thy general, brave Ruthven!" cried Badenoch to
Edwin.  "James," added he, addressing his eldest son, who had just
arrived from France, "what is left to us to show ourselves also of
Scottish blood?  Heaven has given him all!"

Lord Mar, who had stood in speechless gratitude, opened the dispatches;
and finding a circumstantial narrative of the battle, with accounts of
the previous embassies, he read them aloud.  Their contents excited a
variety of emotions.  When the nobles heard that Edward had offered
Wallace the crown; when they found that by vanquishing that powerful
monarch, he had subdued even the soul of the man who had hitherto held
them all in awe; though in the same breath, they read that their regent
had refused royalty; and was now, as a servant of the people, preparing
to strengthen their borders; yet the most extravagant suspicions awoke
in almost every breast.  The eagle flight of his glory, seemed to have
raised him so far above their heads, so beyond their power to restrain
or to elevate him, that an envy, dark as Erebus--a jealousy which at
once annihilated every grateful sentiment, every personal
regard--passed like electricity from heart to heart.  The eye, turning
from one to the other, explained what no lip dared utter.  A dead
silence reigned, while the demon of hatred was taking possession of
almost every beast; and none but the Lords Mar, Badenoch, and Loch-awe,
escaped the black contagion.

When the meeting broke up, Lord Mar placed himself at the head of the
officers of the garrison, and with a herald holding the banner of
Edward beneath the colors of Scotland, rode forth to proclaim to the
country the decisive victory of its regent.  Badenoch and Loch-awe left
the hall, to hasten with the tidings to Snawdoun.  The rest of the
chiefs dispersed.  But as if actuated by one spirit, they were seen
wandering about the outskirts of the town, where they soon drew
together in groups, and whispered among themselves these and similar
statements:  "He refused the crown offered to him in the field by the
people; he rejected it from Edward, because he would reign
uncontrolled.  He will now seize it as a conqueror, and we shall have
an upstart's foot upon our necks.  If we are to be slaves, let us have
a tyrant of our own choosing."

As the trumpets before Lord Mar blew the loud acclaim of triumph, Athol
said to Buchan, "Cousin, that is but the forerunner of what we shall
hear to announce the usurpation of this Wallace.  And shall we sit
tamely by, and have our birthright wrested from us by a man of
yesterday?  No; if the race of Alexander be not to occupy the throne,
let us not hesitate between the monarch of a mighty nation and a
low-born tyrant, between him who will at least gild our chains with
chivalric honors, and an upstart, whose domination must be as stern as
debasing!"

Murmurings such as these, passing from chief to chief, descended to the
minor chieftains, who held lands in fee of those more sovereign lords.
Petty interests extinguished gratitude for general benefits; and by
secret meetings, at the heads of which were Athol, Buchan, and March, a
conspiracy was formed to overset the power of Wallace.  They were to
invite Edward once more to take possession of the kingdom; and
meanwhile, to accomplish this with certainty, each chief was to assume
a pre-eminent zeal for the regent.  March was to persuade Wallace to
send him to Dunbar as governor of the Lothiaus, to hold the refractory
Soulis in check; and to divide the public cares of Lord Dundaff; who,
indeed, found Berwick a sufficient charge for his age and comparative
inactivity.  "Then," cried the false Cospatrick,** "when I am fixed at
Dunbar, Edward may come round from Newcastle to that port; and, by your
management, he must march unmolested to Stirling, and seize the usurper
on his throne."

**The name by which Patrick Dunbar, Earl of March, was familiarly
called.

Such suggestions met with full approval from these dark incendiaries;
and as their meetings were usually held at night, they walked forth in
the day with cheerful countenances, and joined the general rejoicing.

They feared to hint even a word of their intentions to Lord Badenoch;
for, on Buchan having expressed some discontent to him, at the homage
that was paid to a man so much their inferior, his answer was, "Had we
acted worthy of our birth, Sir William Wallace never could have had the
opportunity to rise upon our disgrace.  But as it is, we must submit,
or bow to treachery instead of virtue."  This reply determined them to
keep their proceedings secret from him, and also from Lady Mar; for
both Lord Buchan and Lord Athol had, at different times, listened to
the fond dreams of her love and ambition.  They had flattered her with
entering into her designs.  Athol gloomily affected acquiescence, that
he might render himself master of all that was in her mind, and,
perhaps, in that of her lover; for he did not doubt that Wallace was as
guilty as her wishes would have made him.  And Buchan, ever ready to
yield to the persuasions of woman, was not likely to refuse, when his
fair cousin promised to reward him with all the pleasures of the gayest
court in Europe.  For, indeed, both lords had conceived, from the
evident failing state of her veteran husband, in consequence of the
unhealing condition of one of his wounds, that it might not be long
before this visionary game would be thrown into her hands.

Thus were they situated, when the news of Wallace's decisive victory,
distancing all their means to raise him who was now at the pinnacle of
power, determined the dubious to become at once his mortal enemies.
Lord Badenoch had listened with a different temper to the first
breathings of Lady Mar on her favorite subject.  He told her, if the
nation chose to make their benefactor king, he should not oppose it;
because he thought that none of the blood royal deserved to wear the
crown which they had all consented to hold in fee of Edward; yet he
would never promote by intrigue an election which must rob his own
posterity of their inheritance.  But when she gave hints of her
becoming one day the wife of Wallace, he turned on her with a frown.
"Cousin," said he, "beware how you allow so guilty an idea to take
possession of your heart!  It is the parent of dishonor and death.  And
did I think that Sir William Wallace were capable of sharing your
wishes, I would be the first to abandon his standard.  But I believe
him too virtuous to look on a married woman with the eyes of passion;
and that he holds the houses of Mar and Cummin in too high a respect to
breathe an illicit sigh in the ear of my kinswoman."

Despairing of making the impression she desired on the mind of this
severe relative, Lady Mar spoke to him no more on the subject.  And
Lord Badenoch, ignorant that she had imparted her criminal project to
his brother and cousin, believed that his reproof had performed her
cure.  Thus flattering himself, he made no hesitations to be the first
who should go to Snawdoun, to communicate to her the brilliant
dispatches of the regent, and to declare the freedom of Scotland to be
now almost secured.  He and Lord Loch-awe set forth; but they had been
some time preceded by Edwin.

The moment the countess heard the name of her nephew announced, she
made a sign for her ladies to withdraw, and starting forward at his
entrance, "Speak!" cried she; "tell me, Edwin, is the regent still a
conqueror?"

"Where are my mother and Helen," replied he, "to share my tidings?"

"Then they are good!" exclaimed lady mar, with one of her bewitching
smiles.  "Ah! you sly one, like your chief, you know your power!"

"And like him I exercise it," replied he, gayly; "therefore, to keep
your ladyship no longer in suspense, here is a letter from the regent
himself."  He presented it as he spoke, and she, catching it from him,
turned round, and pressing it rapturously to her lips (it being the
first she had ever received from him), eagerly ran over its brief
contents.  While reperusing it--for she could not tear her eyes from
the beloved characters--Lady Ruthven and Helen entered the room.  The
former hastened forward, the latter trembled as she moved, for she did
not yet know the information which her cousin brought.  But the first
glance of his face told her all was safe, and as he broke from his
mother's embrace, to clasp Helen in his arms, she fell upon his neck,
and, with a shower of tears, whispered, "Wallace lives?  Is well?"

"As you would wish him," rewhispered he, "and with Edward at his feet."

"Thank God, thank God!"

While she spoke, Lady Ruthven exclaimed: "But how is our regent?
Speak, Edwin!  How is the delight of all hearts?"

"Still the Lord of Scotland," answered he; "the invincible dictator of
her enemies!  The puissant Edward has acknowledged the power of Sir
William Wallace, and after being beaten on the plain of Stanmore, is
now making the best of his way toward his own capital."

Lady Mar again and again pressed the cold letter of Wallace to her
burning bosom.  "The regent does not mention these matters in his
letter to me," said she, casting an exulting glance over the glowing
face of Helen.  But Helen did not notice it; she was listening to
Edwin, who, with joyous animation, related every particular that had
befallen Wallace from the time of his rejoining him to that very
moment.  The countess heard all with complacency, till he mentioned the
issue of the conference with Edward's first embassadors.  "Fool!"
exclaimed she to herself, "to throw away the golden opportunity, that
may never return!"  Not observing her disturbance, Edwin went on with
his narrative; every word of which spread the eloquent countenance of
Helen with admiration and joy.

Since her heroic heart had wrung from it all selfish wishes with regard
to Wallace, she allowed herself to openly rejoice in his success, and
to look up unabashed when the resplendent glories of his character were
brought before her.  None but Edwin made her feel her exclusion from
her soul's only home, by dwelling on his gentle virtues; by portraying
the exquisite tenderness of his nature, which seemed to enfold the
objects of his love in his heart of hearts.  When Helen thought on
these discourses she would sigh, but it was a sigh of resignation, and
she loved to meditate on the words which Edwin had carelessly
spoken--that "she made herself a nun for Wallace!"  "And so I will,"
said she to herself; "and that resolution stills every wild emotion.
All is innocence in heaven, Wallace!  You will there read my soul, and
love me as a sister."

In such a frame of mind did she listen to the relation of Edwin; did
her animated eye welcome the entrance of Badenoch and Loch-awe, and
their enthusiastic encomiums on the lord of her heart.  Then sounded
the trumpet; and the herald's voice in the streets proclaimed the
victory of the regent.  Lady mar rushed to the window, as if there she
would see himself.  Lady Ruthven followed, and as the acclamations of
the people echoed through the air, Helen pressed the precious cross of
Wallace to her bosom and hastily left the room to enjoy the rapture of
her thoughts in the blessed retirement of her own oratory.

In the course of a few days, after the promulgation of all this happy
intelligence, it was announced that the regent was on his return to
Stirling.  Lady Mar was not so inebriated with her vain hopes as to
forget that Helen might traverse the dearest of them, should she again
present herself to its object.  She therefore hastened to her when the
time of his expected arrival drew near; and putting on all the matron,
affected to give her the counsel of a mother.

As all the noble families around Stirling would assemble to hail the
victor's return, the countess said, she came to advise her, in
consideration of what had passed in the chapel before the regent's
departure, not to submit herself to the observation of so many eyes.
Not suspecting the occult devices which worked in her stepmother's
heart, Helen meekly acquiesced, with the reply, "I shall obey."  But
she inwardly thought, "I, who know the heroism of his soul, need not
pageants nor acclamations of the multitude to tell me what he is.  He
is already too bring for my senses to support, and with his image
pressing on my heart, it is mercy to let me shrink from his glorious
presence."

The "obey" was sufficient for Lady Mar; she had gained her point.  For
though she did not seriously think (what she had affected to believe)
that anything more had passed between Wallace and Helen than what they
had openly declared, yet she could not but discern the harmony of their
minds, and she feared that frequent intercourse might draw such
sympathy to something dearer.  She had understanding to perceive his
virtues, but they found no answering qualities in her breast.  The
matchless beauty of his person, the penetrating tenderness of his
manner, the splendor of his fame, the magnitude of his power, all
united to set her impassioned and ambitious soul in a blaze.  Each
opposing duty seemed only a vapor through which she could easily pass
to the goal of her desire.  Hence art of every kind appeared to her to
be no more than a means of acquiring the object most valuable to her in
life.  Education had not given her any principle by which she might
have checked the headlong impulse of her now aroused passions.  Brought
up as a worshiped object, in the little court of her parents, at
Kirkwall, in the Orkneys, her father the Earl of Strathern, in
Scotland, and her mother being a princess of Norway, whose dowry
brought him the sovereignty of those isles, their daughter never knew
any law but her own will, from her doting mother.  And on the fearful
loss of that mother, in a marine excursion of pleasure, by an accident
oversetting the boat she was in, the bereaved daughter fell into such a
despair, on her first pang of grief of any kind, that her similarly
distracted father (whose little dominions happened then to be menaced
by a descent of the Danes) sought a safe and cheering home for his only
child, at the interesting age of seventeen, by sending her over sea, to
the protecting care of his long-affianced friend, the Earl of Mar, and
to his lovely countess, then an only three years' wife with one infant
daughter.

Though fond of admiration, the young Joanna of Orkney had held herself
at too high a price, to bestow a thought on the crowd of rough sons of
the surge (chiefs of the surrounding isles, who owned her father as
lord), who daily adulated her charms with all the costliest trophies
from their ocean-spoils.  She trod past them, and by all the female
beauties in her isle, with the step of an undisputed right to receive,
and to despise.  But when she crossed to the mainland, and found
herself by the side of a woman almost as young as herself, and equally
beautiful, though of a different mold, soft and retreating, while hers
commanded and compelled; and that the husband of that woman, whose
tender adoration hovered over her with a perpetual eye; that he, though
of comparative veteran years, was handsomer than any man she had ever
seen, and fraught with every noble grace to delight the female heart;
she felt what she had never done before, that she had met a rival and
an object worthy to subdue.

What Joanna began in mere excited vanity, jealous pride, and ambition
of conquest, ended in a fatal attachment to the husband of  her
innocent and too confiding protectress.  And he, alas! betrayed, first
by her insidious wiles, and then by her overpowering and apparently
restrainless demonstrations of devoted love, was so far won "from the
propriety" of his noble heart, as to regard with a grateful admiration,
as well as a manly pity, the beautiful victim of a passion he had so
unwittingly raised.  In the midst of these scenes, too often acted for
his peace (though not for his honor and fidelity to his marriage vow),
his beloved Isabella, the wife of his bosom, and till then the joy of
his life, died in the pangs of a premature confinement, breathing her
last sigh in the birth of a daughter.  Scarcely was the countess
consigned to her bed of earth, and even in the hour after the last
duties were paid to her, whose closed tomb seemed to have left unto him
"his house desolate!" when the heart-desperate Joanna rushed into the
weeping husband's presence, fearful of being now restrainingly
reclaimed by her father, who had, only a short while before, intimated
his intention to relieve his friends of a guardianship they had so
partially fulfilled, and to send a vessel for his daughter, to bring
her back to Kirkwall, there to be united in marriage to the brave
native chieftain, whose singular prowess had preserved the island from
a Danish yoke.  Dreading this event, even while her siren tears mingled
with those of the widowed Mar, she wrought on him, by lavish
protestations of a devoted love for his two infant orphans (Helen, then
a child of hardly two years, and the poor babe whose existence had just
cost its mother her life)--also of a never-dying dedication of herself
to that mother's memory, and to the tenderest consolations of his own
mourning spirit, she wrought upon him to rescue her from her
now-threatened abhorrent fate, even to give her his vow--to wed her
himself!  In the weakness of an almost prostrated mind, under the load
of conflicting anguish which then lay upon him--for now feeling his own
culpable infirmity, in having suffered this dangerously flattering
preference of him to have ever showed itself to him, without his having
down his positive duty, by sending her home at once to her proper
protector--in a sudden self-immolating agony of self-blame, he assented
to her heart-wringing supplication, that as soon as propriety would
permit, she should become his wife.

The Earl of Strathern arrived himself within the week, to condole with
his friend, and to take back his daughter.  But the scene he met,
changed his ultimate purpose.  Joanna declared, that were she to be
carried away to marry any man save that friend, whose protection,
during the last six months, had been to her as that of all relatives in
one, she should expire on the threshold of Castle Braemer, for she
never would cross it alive!  And as the melancholy widower, but
grateful lover, verified his vow to her, by repeating it to her
father--within four months from that day, the Earl of Mar rejoined the
Lady Joanna at Kirkwall, and brought her away as his bride.  But to
avoid exciting any invidious remarks, by immediately appearing in
Scotland after such prompt nuptials, the new countess, wary in her
triumph, easily persuaded her husband to take her for awhile to France;
where, assuming a cold and majestic demeanor, which she thought
becoming her royal descent, she resided several years.  Thus changed,
she returned to Scotland.  She found the suspicion of any former
indiscretion faded from all minds, and passing her time in the stately
hospitalities of her lord's castles, conducted herself with a matronly
dignity, that made him the envy of all the married chieftains in his
neighborhood.  Soon after her arrival at Kildrumy on the River Dee, her
then most favorite residence, she took the Lady Helen, the supplanted
Isabella's first-born daughter, from her grandfather at Thirlestance,
where both children had been left on the departure of their father and
his bride for France.  Though hardly past the period of absolute
childhood, the Lord Soulis at this time offered the young heiress of
Mar his hand.  The countess had then no interest in wishing the union;
having not yet any children of her own, to make her jealous for their
father's love, she permitted her daughter-in-law to decide as she
pleased.  A second time he presented himself, and Lady Mar, still
indifferent, allowed Helen a second time to refuse him.  Years flew
over the heads of the ill-joined pair; but while they whitened the
raven locks of the earl, and withered his manly brow, the beauty of his
countess blew into fuller luxuriance.

Yet it was her mirror aloe that told her she was fairer than all the
ladies around, for none durst invade the serene decorum of her manners,
with so light a whisper.  Such was her state, when she first heard of
the rise of Sir William Wallace, and when she thought that her husband
might not only lose his life, but risk the forfeiture of his family
honors, by joining him, for her own sake and for her children's (having
recently become the mother of twins), she had then determined, if it
were necessary, to make the outlawed chief a sacrifice.  To this end,
she became willing to bribe Soulis' participation, by the hand of
Helen.  She knew that her daughter-in-law abhorred his character, but
love, indifference, or hatred, she now thought of little consequence in
a marriage which brought sufficient antidotes in rank and wealth.  She
had never felt what real love was, and her personal vanity being no
longer agitated by the raptures of a frantic rivalry, she now lived
tranquilly with Lord Mar.  What then was her astonishment, what the
wild distraction of her heart, when she first beheld Sir William
Wallace, and found in her breast for him, all which, in the moment of
the most unreflecting intoxication, she had ever felt for her lord,
with the addition of feelings and sentiments, the existence of which
she had never believed, but now knew in all their force!  Love for the
first time penetrated through every nerve of her body, and possessed
her whole mind.  Taught a theory of virtue by her husband, she was
startled at wishes which militated against his honor, but no principles
being grounded in her mind, they soon disappeared before the furious
charge of his passions, and after a short struggle she surrendered
herself to the lawless power of a guilty and ambitious love.  Wishes,
hopes, and designs, which two years before, she would have shuddered
at, as not only sinful but derogatory to female delicacy, she now
embraced with ardor, and naught seemed dreadful to her but
disappointment.  The prolonged life of Lord Mar cost her many tears,
for the master-passions of her nature, which she had laid asleep on her
marriage with the earl, broke out with redoubled violence at the sight
of Wallace.  His was the most perfect of manly forms--and she loved; he
was great--and her ambition blazed into an unextinguishable flame.
These two strong passions, meeting in a breast weakened by the
besetting sin of her youth, their rule was absolute, and neither
virtue, honor, nor humanity could stand before them.  Her husband was
abhorred, her infant son forgotten, and nothing but Wallace and a crown
could find a place in her thoughts.



CHAPTER LI.

Stirling and Snawdoun.


The few chieftains who had remained on their estates during the
suspense before the battle, from a belief that if the issue proved
unfavorable they should be safest amongst their native glens, now came
with numerous trains to greet the return of their victorious regent.
The ladies brought forth their most splendid apparel; and the houses of
Stirling were hung with tapestry to hail with due respect the
benefactor of the land.

At last the hour arrived when a messenger, whom Lord Mar had sent out
for the purpose, returned on full speed with information that the
regent was passing the Carron.  At these tidings the animated old earl
called out his retinue, mounted his coal-black steed, and ordered a
sumptuous charger to be caparisoned with housings wrought in gold by
the hands of Lady Mar and her ladies.  The horse was intended to meet
Wallace and to bring him into the city.  Edwin led it forward.  In the
rear of the Earls Mar and Badenoch came all the chieftains of the
country, in gallant array.  Their ladies, on splendid palfreys,
followed the superb car of the Countess of Mar; and, preceding the
multitudes of Stirling, left the town a desert.  Not a living being
seemed now within its walls except the Southron prisoners, who had
assembled on the top of the citadel to view the return of their
conqueror.

Helen remained in Snawdoun, believing that she was the only soul left
in that vast palace.  She sat musing on the extraordinary fate of
Wallace, a few months ago a despised outlaw, at this moment the idol of
the nation!  And then turned to herself--the wooed of many a gallant
heart, and now devoted to one, whom, like the sun, she must ever
contemplate with admiration, while he should pass on above her sphere,
unconscious of the devotion which filled her soul.

The distant murmur of the populace thronging out of the streets toward
the Carse, gradually subsided; and at last she was left in profound
silence.  "He must be near," thought she, "he whose smile is more
precious to me than the adulation of all the world besides, now smiles
upon every one!  All look upon him, all hear him, but I--and I--ah,
Wallace, did Marion love thee dearer?"  As her devoted heart demanded
this question, her tender and delicate soul shrunk within herself, and
deeply blushing, she hid her face in her hands.  A pause of a few
minutes--and a sound as if the skies were rent, tore the air; a noise,
like the distant roar of the sea, succeeded; and soon after, the shouts
of an approaching multitude shook the palace to its foundations.  Helen
started on her feet; the tumult of voices augmented; the sound of
coming squadrons thundered over the ground.  At this instant every bell
in the city began its peals, and the door of Helen's room suddenly
opened--Lady Ruthven hurried in.  "Helen," cried she, "I would not
disturb you before; but as you were to be absent, I would not make one
in Lady Mar's train; and I come to enjoy with you the return of our
beloved regent!"

Helen did not speak, but her eloquent countenance amply told her aunt
what were the emotions of her heart; and Lady Ruthven taking her hand,
attempted to draw her toward an oriel window which opened to a view of
the High Street; but Helen, shrinking from the movement, begged to be
excused.  "I hear enough," said she, "my dear aunt; sights like these
overcome me; let me remain where I am."

Lady Ruthven was going to remonstrate, when the loud huzzas of the
people and soldiers, accompanied by acclamations of "Long live
victorious Wallace, our prince and king!" struck Helen back into her
seat, and Lady Ruthven darting toward the window, cried aloud, "He
comes, Helen, he comes!  His bonnet off his noble brow.  Oh! how
princely does he look!--and now he bows.  Ah, they shower flowers upon
him from the houses on each side of the street; how sweetly he smiles
and bows to the ladies as they lean from their windows!  Come, Helen,
come, if you would see the perfection of majesty and modesty united in
one!"

Helen did not move; but Lady Ruthven stretching out her arm, in a
moment had drawn her within view of Wallace.  She saw him attended as a
conqueror and a king; but with the eyes of a benefactor and a brother
he looked on all around.  The very memory of war seemed to vanish
before his presence, for all there was love and gentleness.  Helen drew
a quick sigh, and closing her eyes, dropped against the arras.  She now
heard the buzz of many voices, the rolling peal of acclamations, but
she distinguished nothing; her senses were in tumults; and had not Lady
Ruthven seen her disorder, she would have fallen motionless to the
floor.  The good matron was not so forgetful of the feelings of a
virtuous youthful heart, not to have discovered something of what was
passing in that of her niece.  From the moment in which she had
suspected that Wallace had made a serious impression there, she dropped
all trifling with his name.  And now that she saw the distressing
effects of that impression, with revulsed feelings she took the
fainting Helen in her arms, and laying her on a couch, by the aid of
volatiles restored her to recollection.  Seeing she recovered, she made
no observation on this emotion, and Helen leaned her head and wept upon
the bosom of her aunt.  Lady Ruthven's tears silently mingled with
hers; but she said within herself, "Wallace cannot be always insensible
to so much excellence!"

As the acclaiming populace passed the palace on their way to the
citadel, whither they were escorting their regent, Helen remained quiet
in her leaning position; but when the noise died away into hoarse
murmurs, she raised her head, and glancing on the tear-bathed face of
her affectionate aunt, said, with a forced smile, "My more than mother,
fear me not!  I am grateful to Sir William Wallace; I venerate him as
the Southrons do their St. George, but I need not your tender pity."
As she spoke, her beautiful lip quivered, but her voice was steady.

"My sweetest Helen," replied Lady Ruthven, "how can I pity her for whom
I hope everything."

"Hope nothing for me," returned Helen, understanding by her looks what
her tongue had left unsaid, "but to see me a vestal here, and a saint
in heaven."

"What can my Helen mean?" replied Lady Ruthven; "who would talk of
being a vestal with such a heart in view as that of the Regent of
Scotland? and that it will be yours, does not his eloquent gratitude
declare?"

"No, my aunt," answered Helen, casting down her eyes; "gratitude is
eloquent where love would be silent.  I am not so sacrilegious as to
wish that Sir William Wallace should transfer that heart to me, which
the blood of Marion forever purchased.  No; should these people compel
him to be their king, I will retire to some monastery, and forever
devote myself to God and to prayers for my country."

The holy composure which spread over the countenance and figure of
Helen, as she uttered this, seemed to extend itself to the before eager
mind of Lady Ruthven; she pressed her tenderly in her arms, and kissing
her: "Gentlest of human beings!" cried she, "whatever be thy lot, it
must be happy."

"Whatever it be," answered Helen, "I know that there is an Almighty
reason for it; I shall understand it in the world to come, and I
cheerfully acquiesce in this."

"Oh! that the ears of Wallace could hear thee!" cried Lady Ruthven.

"They will, some time, my gracious aunt," answered she, with an angelic
smile.

"When? where, dearest?" asked Lady Ruthven, hoping that she began to
have fairer anticipations for herself.  Helen answered not; but
pointing to the sky, rose from her seat with an air as if she were
really going to ascend to those regions which seemed best fitted to
receive her pure spirit.  Lady Ruthven gazed on her in speechless
admiration; and without a word, or an impeding motion, felt Helen
softly kiss her hand, and with another seraphic smile, glide gently
from her into her closet, and close the door.

Far different were the emotions which agitated the bosoms of every
person present at the entry of Sir William Wallace.  All but himself
regarded it as the triumph of the King of Scotland.  And while some of
the nobles exulted in their future monarch, the major part felt the
demon of envy so possess their souls, that they who, before his
arrival, were ready to worship his name, now looked on the empire to
which he seemed borne on the hearts of the people, with a rancorous
jealousy, which from that moment vowed his humiliation, or the fall of
Scotland.  The very tongues which in general acclaim, called loudest,
"Long live our king!" belonged to those who, in the secret recesses of
their souls, swore to work his ruin, and to make these full-blown
honors the means of his destruction.  He had in vain tried to check
what his moderate desires deemed the extravagant gratitude of the
people; but finding his efforts only excited still louder
demonstrations of their love, and knowing himself immovable in his
resolution to remain a subject of the crown, he rode on composedly
toward the citadel.

Those ladies who had not retired from the cavalcade to hail their
regent a second time from their windows, preceded him in Lady Mar's
train to the hall, where she had caused a sumptuous feast to be spread
to greet his arrival.  Two seats were placed under a canopy of cloth of
gold, at the head of the board.  The countess stood there in all the
splendor of her ideal rank, and would have seated Wallace in the royal
chair on her right hand, but he drew back.

"I am only a guest in this citadel," returned he; "and it would ill
become me to take the place of the master of the banquet."

As he spoke, he looked on Lord Mar, who, understanding the language of
his eyes, which never said the thing he would not, without a word took
the kingly seat, and so disappointed the countess.  By this refusal she
still found herself as no more than the Governor of Stirling's wife,
when she had hoped a compliance with her cunning arrangement would have
hinted to all that she was to be the future queen of their acknowledged
sovereign.  They knew Wallace, saw his unshaken resolution in this
apparently slight action; but others who read his design in their own
ambition, translated it differently, and deemed it only an artful
rejection of the appendages of royalty, to excite the impatience of the
people to crown him in reality.

As the ladies took their seats at the board, Edwin, who stood by the
chair of his beloved lord, whispered:

"Our Helen is not here."

Lady Mar overheard the name of Helen, but she could not distinguish
Wallace's reply; and fearing that some second assignation of more happy
termination than that of the chapel might be designed, she determined
that if Edwin were to be the bearer of a secret correspondence between
the man she loved and the daughter she hated, to deprive them speedily
of so ready an assistant.



CHAPTER LII.

Banks of the Forth.


In the collected council of the following day, the Earl of March made
his treacherous request; and Wallace, trusting his vehement oaths of
fidelity (because he thought the versatile earl had now discovered his
true interest), granted him charge of the Lothians.  The Lords Athol
and Buchan were not backward in offering their services to the regent;
and the rest of the discontented nobles, following the base example,
with equal deceit bade him command their lives and fortunes.  While
asseverations of loyalty filled the walls of the council-hall, and the
lauding rejoicings of the people still sounded from without, all spoke
of security and confidence to Wallace; and never, perhaps, did he think
himself so absolute in the heart of Scotland as at the very moment when
three-fourths of its nobility were plotting his destruction.

Lord Loch-awe knew his own influence in the minds of the bravest
chieftains.  From the extent of his territories and his tried valor, he
might well have assumed the title of his great ancestor, and been
called King of Woody Morven, but he was content with a patriarch's sway
over so many valiant clans; and previous to the regent's appearance in
the council-hall he opened his intentions to the assembled lords.  Some
assented with real satisfaction; the rest readily acquiesced in what
they had laid so sure a plan to circumvent.

Wallace soon after entered.  Loch-awe rising, stood forth before him;
and, in a long and persuasive speech, once more declared the wishes of
the nation that he would strike the decisive blow on the pretensions of
Edward, by himself accepting the crown.  The Bishop of Dunkeld, with al
the eloquence of learning and the most animated devotion to the
interest of Scotland, seconded the petition.  Mar and Bothwell enforced
it.  The disaffected lords thought proper to throw in their
conjurations also; and every voice but that of Badenoch poured forth
fervent entreaties that he, their liberator, would grant the
supplication of the nation.

Wallace rose, and every tongue was mute.  "My gratitude to Scotland
increases with my life; but my answer must still be the same--I cannot
be its king."

At these words the venerable Loch-awe threw himself on his knees before
him.  "In my person," cried he, "see Scotland at your feet! still
bleeding with the effects of former struggles for empire, she would
throw off all claims but those of virtue, and receive as her anointed
sovereign, her father and deliverer!  She has no more arguments to
utter--these are her prayers, and thus I offer them."

"Kneel not to me, brave Loch-awe!" cried Wallace; "nor believe the
might of these victories lies so thoroughly on this arm that I dare
outrage its Maker.  Were I to comply with your wishes, I should disobey
him who has hitherto made me his happy agent; and how could I guard my
kingdom from his vengeance?  Your rightful king yet lives; he is an
alien from his country, but Heaven may return him to your prayers.
Meanwhile, as his representative, as your soldier and protector, I
shall be blessed in wearing out my life.  My ancestors were ever
faithful to the blood of Alexander, and in the same fidelity I will
die."

The firmness with which he spoke, and the determined expression of his
noble countenance, convinced Loch-awe that he was not to be shaken; and
rising from his knee, he bowed in silence.  March whispered to Buchan,
"Behold the hypocrite!  But we shall unmask him.  He thinks to blind us
to his towering ambition, by this affected moderation.  He will not be
called a king; because, with our own crown certain limitations are laid
on the prerogative; but he will be our regent, that he may be our
dictator, and every day demand gratitude for voluntary services, which,
performed as a king, could only be considered as his duty!"

When the council broke up, these sentiments were actively disseminated
among the disaffected throng; and each gloomy recess in the woods
murmured with seditious meetings.  But every lip in the country at
large breathed the name of Wallace, as they would have done a god's;
while the land that he had blessed, bloomed on every hill and valley
like a garden.

Stirling now exhibited a constant carnival; peace was in every heart,
and joy its companion.  As Wallace had commanded in the field, he
decided in the judgment-hall; and while all his behests were obeyed
with a promptitude which kept the machine of state constantly moving in
the most beautiful order, his bitterest enemies could not but secretly
acknowledge the perfection they were determined to destroy.

His munificent hand stretched itself far and near, that all who had
shared the sufferings of Scotland might drink largely of her
prosperity.  The good Abbot of Scone was invited from his hermitage;
and when he heard from the embassadors sent to him, that the brave
young warrior whom he had entertained was the resistless Wallace, he no
longer thought of the distant and supine Bruce, but centered every wish
for his country in the authority of her deliverer.  A few days brought
him to Stirling; and wishing to remain near the most constant residence
of his noble friend, he requested that, instead of being restored to
Scone, he might be installed in the vacant monastery of Cambus-Kenneth.
Wallace gladly acquiesced; and the venerable abbot being told that his
late charge, the Lady Helen, was in the palace, went to visit her; and
as he communicated his exultation and happiness, she rejoiced in the
benedictions which his grateful spirit invoked on the head of her
almost worshiped sovereign.  Her heart gave him his title; which she
believed the not-to-be-repressed affection of the people would at last
force him to accept.

The wives and families of the Lanark veterans were brought from Loch
Doine, and again planted in their native valleys; thus, naught in the
kingdom appeared different from its most prosperous days, but the
widowed heart of the dispenser of all this good.  And yet, so fully did
he engage himself in the creation of these benefits, that no time
seemed left to him for regrets; but they haunted him like persecuting
spirits, invisible to all but himself.

During the performance of these things, the Countess of Mar, though
apparently lost to all other pursuits than the peaceable enjoyment of
her reflected dignities, was absorbed in the one great object of her
passion.  Eager to be rid of so dangerous a spy and adversary as she
deemed Edwin to be, she was laboring day and night to effect by
clandestine schemes his banishment, when an unforeseen circumstance
carried him far away.  Lord Ruthven, while on an embassy to the
Hebrides, fell ill.  As his disorder was attended with extreme danger,
he sent for his wife; and Edwin, impelled by love for his father, and
anxiety to soothe the terrified suspense of his mother, readily left
the side of his friend, to accompany her to the isles.  Lady Mar had
now no scrutinizing eye to fear; her nephew Murray was still on duty in
Clydesdale; the earl, her husband, trusted her too implicitly even to
turn on her a suspicious look; and Helen, she contrived, should be as
little in her presence as possible.

Busy, then, as this lady was, the enemies of the regent were not less
active in the prosecution of their plans.  The Earl of March had
arrived at Dunbar; and having dispatched his treasonable proposals to
Edward, had received letters from that monarch by sea, accepting his
services, and promising every reward that could satisfy his ambition,
and the cupidity of those whom he could draw over to his cause.  The
wary king then told the earl, that if he would send his wife and family
to London, as hostages for his faith, he was ready to bring a mighty
army to Dunbar; and, by that gate, once more enter Scotland.  These
negotiations backward and forward from London to Dunbar, and from
Dunbar to the treacherous lords at Stirling, occupied much time; and
the more, as great precaution was necessary to escape the vigilant eyes
of Wallace, which seemed to be present in every part of the kingdom at
once.  So careful was he, in overlooking, by his well-chosen officers,
civil and military, every transaction, that the slightest dereliction
from the straight order of things was immediately seen and examined
into.  Many of these trusty magistrates having been placed in the
Lothians, before March took the government, he could not now remove
them without exciting suspicion; and therefore, as they remained, great
circumspection was used to elude their watchfulness.

From the time that Edward had again entered into terms with the
Scottish chiefs, Lord March sent regular tidings to Lord Soulis of the
progress of their negotiations.  He knew that nobleman would gladly
welcome the recall of the King of England; for ever since the
revolution in favor of Scotland, he had remained obstinately shut up
within his castle of Hermitage.  Chagrin at having lost Helen was not
the least of his mortifications; and the wounds he had received from
the invisible hand which had released her, having been given with all
the might of the valiant arm which directed the blow, were not even now
healed; his passions kept them still inflamed; and their smart made his
vengeance burn the fiercer against Wallace, who he now learned was the
mysterious agent of her rescue.

While treason secretly prepared to spring its mine beneath the feet of
the regent, he, unsuspicious that any could be discontented where all
were free and prosperous, thought of no enemy to the tranquil
fulfillment of his duties but the minor persecutions of Lady Mar.  No
day escaped without bringing him letters, either to invite him to
Snawdoun or to lead her to the citadel, where he resided.  In every one
of these epistles she declared that it was no longer the wildness of
passion which impelled her to seek his society, but the moderated
regard of a friend.  And though perfectly aware of all that was behind
these asseverations (for she had deceived him once into a belief of
this please, and had made him feel its falseness), he found himself
forced at times, out of the civility due to her sex, to comply with her
invitations.  Indeed, her conduct never gave him reason to hold her in
any higher respect, for whenever they happened to be left alone, she
made pretensions.  The frequency of these scenes at last made him never
go to Snawdoun unaccompanied (for she rarely allowed him to have even a
glimpse of Helen), and by this precaution he avoided much of her
solicitations.  But, strange to say, even at the time that this
conduct, by driving her to despair, might have excited her to some
desperate act, her wayward heart threw the blame of his coldness upon
her trammels with Lord Mar, and flattering herself that were he dead,
all would happen as she wished, she panted for that hour with an
impatience which often tempted her to precipitate the event.

Things were in this situation when Wallace, one night, received a hasty
summons from his pillow by a page of Lord Mar's, requesting him to
immediately repair to his chamber.  Concluding that something alarming
must have happened, he threw on his brigandine and plaid, and entered
the apartments of the governor.  Mar met him with a countenance, the
herald of a dreadful matter.

"What has happened?" inquired Wallace.

"Treason," answered Mar; "but from what point I cannot guess.  My
daughter has braved a dark and lonely walk from Snawdoun, to bring the
proofs."

While speaking he lead the chief into the room where Helen sat, like
some fairy specter of the night; her long hair, disordered by the winds
of a nocturnal storm, mingling with the gray folds of the mantle which
enveloped her.  Wallace hastened forward--she now no longer flitted
away, scared from his approach by the frowning glances of her
step-mother.  He had once attempted to express his grateful regrets for
what she had suffered in her lovely person for his sake, but the
countess had then interrupted him, and Helen disappeared.  Now he
beheld her in a presence, where he could declare all his gratitude
without subjecting its gentle object to one harsh word in consequence,
and almost forgetting his errand to the governor, and the tidings he
had just heard, he remembered only the manner in which she had shielded
his life with her arms, and he bent his knee respectfully before her as
she rose to his approach.  Blushing and silent, she extended her hand
to him to rise.  He pressed it warmly.  "Sweet excellence!" said he, "I
am happy in this opportunity, however gained, to again pour out my
acknowledgments to you; and though I have been denied that pleasure
until now, yet the memory of your generous interest in the friend of
your father, is one of the most cherished sentiments of my heart!"

"It is my happiness, as well as my duty, Sit William Wallace," replied
she, "to regard you and my country as one; and that, I hope, will
excuse the, perhaps, rash action of this night."  As she spoke, he rose
and looked at Lord Mar for explanation.

The earl held a roll of vellum toward him.  "This writing," said he,
"was found this evening by my daughter.  She was enjoying with my wife
and other ladies a moonlight walk on the shores of the Forth behind the
palace, when, having strayed at some distance from her friends, she saw
this packet lying in the path before her, as if it had just been
dropped.  It bore no direction; she therefore opened it, and part of
the contents soon told her she must conceal the whole, till she could
reveal them to me.  Not even to my wife did she intrust the dangerous
secret, nor would she run any risk by sending it by a messenger.  As
soon as the family were gone to rest, she wrapped herself in her plaid
and finding a passage through one of the low embrasures of Snawdoun,
with a fleet step made her way to the citadel and to me.  She gave me
the packet.  Read it, my friend, and judge if we do not owe ourselves
to Heaven for so critical a discovery!"

Wallace took the scroll, and read as follows:


"Our trusty fellows will bring you this, and deliver copies of the same
to the rest.  We shall be with you in four-and-twenty hours after it
arrives.  The army of our liege lord is now in the Lothians, passing
through them under the appellation of succors for the regent from the
Hebrides!  Keep all safe, and neither himself nor any of his adherents
shall have a head on their shoulders by this day week."


Neither superscription, name, nor date, was to this letter; but Wallace
immediately knew the handwriting to be that of Lord March.  "Then we
must have traitors, even within these walls," exclaimed Mar; "none but
the most powerful chiefs would the proud Cospatrick admit into his
conspiracies.  And what are we to do? for by to-morrow evening the army
this traitor has let into the heart of this country will be at our
gates!"

"No," cried Wallace.  "Thanks to God and this guardian angel!"
fervently clasping Helen's hand as he spoke, "we must not be
intimidated by treachery!  Let us be faithful to ourselves, my veteran
friend, and all will go well.  It matters not who the other traitors
are; they must soon discover themselves, and shall find us prepared to
counteract their machinations.  Sound your bugles, my lord, to summon
the heads of our council."

At this command, Helen arose, but replaced herself in her chair on
Wallace exclaiming, "Stay, Lady Helen, let the sight of such virgin
delicacy, braving the terrors of the night to warn betrayed Scotland,
nerve every heart with redoubled courage to breast this insidious foe!"
Helen did indeed feel her soul awake to all its ancient patriotic
enthusiasm; and thus, with a countenance pale, but resplendent with the
light of her thoughts, she sat the angel of her heroic inspiration.
Wallace often turned to look on her, while her eyes, unconscious of the
adoring admiration which spoke in their beams, followed his godlike
figure as it moved through the room with a step that declared the
undisturbed determination of his soul.

The Lords Bothwell, Loch-awe, and Badenoch were the first that obeyed
the call.  They started at sight of Helen, but Wallace in a few words
related the cause of her appearance, and the portentous letter was laid
before them.  All were acquainted with the handwriting of Lord March,
and all agreed in attributing to its real motive his late solicitude to
obtain the command of the Lothians.  "What!" cried Bothwell, "but to
open his castle gates to the enemy!"

"And to repel him before he reaches ours, my brave chiefs," replied
Wallace, "I have summoned you!  Edward will not make this attempt
without tremendous powers.  He knows what he risks; his men, his life,
and his honor.  We must therefore expect a resolution in him adequate
to such an enterprise.  Lose not then a moment; even to-night, this
instant, and go out and bring in your followers!  I will call up mine
from the banks of the Clyde, and be ready to meet him ere he crosses
the Carrou."

While he gave these orders, other nobles thronged in, and Helen, being
severally thanked by them all, became so agitated, that stretching out
her hand to Wallace, who was nearest to her, she softly whispered,
"Take me hence."  He read in her blushing face, the oppression her
modesty sustained in such a scene, and with her faltering steps she
leaned upon his arm as he conducted her to an interior chamber.
Overcome by her former fears and the emotions of the last hour, she
sunk into a chair and burst into tears.  Wallace stood near her, and as
he looked on her, he thought, "If aught on earth ever resembled the
beloved of my soul, it is Helen Mar!"  And all the tenderness which
memory gave to his almost adored wife, and all the grateful complacency
with which he regarded Helen, beamed at once from his eyes.  She raised
her head--she felt that look--it thrilled to her soul.  For a moment
every former thought seemed lost in the one perception, that he then
gazed on her as he had never looked on any woman since his Marion.  Was
she then beloved?

The impression was evanescent: "No, no!" said she to herself; and
waving her hand gently to him with her head bent down; "Leave me, Sir
William Wallace.  Forgive me--but I am exhausted; my frame is weaker
than my mind."  She spoke this at intervals, and Wallace respectfully
touching the hand she extended, pressed it to his breast.

"I obey you, dear Lady Helen, and when next we meet, it will, I hope,
be to dispel every fear in that gentle bosom."  She bowed her head
without looking up, and Wallace left the room.



CHAPTER LIII.

Falkirk.


Before the sun rose, every brave Scot within a few hours' march of
Stirling, was on the Carse; and Lord Andrew Murray and his veteran
Clydesdale men were already resting on their arms in view of the city
walls.  The messengers of Wallace had hastened with the speed of the
winds, east and west; and the noon of the day saw him at the head of
thirty thousand men determined to fight or to die for their country.

The surrounding landscape shone in the brightness of midsummer; for it
was the eve of St. Magdalen; and sky and earth bore witness to the
luxuriant month of July.  The heavens were clear, the waters of the
Forth danced in the sunbeams, and the flower-enameled green of the
extended plain stretched its beautiful borders to the deepening woods.
All nature smiled; all seemed in harmony and peace but the breast of
man.  He who was made lord of this paradise awoke to disturb its
repose, to disfigure its loveliness!  As the thronging legions poured
upon the plain, the sheep which had been feeding there, fled scared to
the hills; the plover and heath-fowl which nestled in the brakes, rose
affrighted from their infant broods, and flew in screaming multitudes
far over the receding valleys.  The peace of Scotland was again broken,
and its flocks and herds were to share its misery.

When the conspiring lords appeared on the Carse, and Mar communicated
to them the lately discovered treason, they so well affected surprise
at the contents of the scroll, that Wallace might not have suspected
their connection with it, had not Lord Athol declared it altogether a
forgery of some wanton persons, and then added with bitterness, "to
gather an army on such authority is ridiculous."  While he spoke,
Wallace regarded him with a look which pierced him to the center; and
the blood rushing into his guilty heart, for once in his life he
trembled before the eye of man.  "Whoever be the degenerate Scot, to
whom this writing is addressed," said Wallace, "his baseness cannot
betray us further.  The troops of Scotland are ready to meet the enemy;
and woe to the man who that day deserts his country!"  "Amen!" cried
Lord Mar.  "Amen!" sounded from every lip; for when the conscience
embraces treason against its earthly rulers, allegiance to its heavenly
King is abandoned with ease; and the words and oaths of the traitor are
equally unstable.

Badenoch's eye followed that of Wallace, and his suspicions fixed where
the regent's fell.  For the honor of his blood, he forbore to accuse
the earl; but for the same reason he determined to watch his
proceedings.  However, the hypocrisy of Athol baffled even the
penetration of his brother, and on his retiring from the ground to call
forth his men for the expedition, in an affected chafe he complained to
Badenoch of the stigma cast upon their house by the regent's implied
charge.

"But," said he, "he shall see the honor of the Cummin, emblazoned in
blood on the sands of the Forth!  His towering pride heeds not where it
strikes; and this comes of raising men of low estate to rule over
princes!"

"His birth is noble if not royal," replied Badenoch; "and before this,
the posterity of kings have not disdained to recover their rights by
the sword of a brave subject."

"True," answered Athol; "but is it customary for princes to allow that
subject to sit on their throne?  It is nonsense to talk of Wallace
having refused a coronation.  He laughs at the name; but see you not
that he openly affects supreme power; that he rules the nobles of the
land like a despot?  His word, his nod is sufficient!--Go here! go
there!--as if he were absolute, and there was no voice in Scotland but
his own!  Look at the brave Mack Callan--more, the lord of the west of
Scotland from sea to sea; he stands unbonneted before this mighty
Wallace with a more abject homage than ever he paid to the house of
Alexander!  Can you behold this, Lord Badenoch, and not find the royal
blood of your descent boil in your veins?  Does not every look of your
wife, the sister of a king, and your own right stamped upon your soul,
reproach you?  He is greater by your strength.  Humble him, my brother;
be faithful to Scotland, but humble its proud dictator!"

Lord Badenoch replied to this rough exhortation with the tranquillity
belonging to his nature--"I see not the least foundations for any of
your charges against Sir William Wallace.  He has delivered Scotland,
and the people are grateful.  The nation with one voice made him their
regent; and he fulfills the duties of his office--but with a modesty,
Lord Athol, which, I must affirm, I never saw equaled.  I dissent from
you in all that you have said--and I confess I did fear the blandishing
arguments of the faithless Cospatrick had persuaded you to embrace his
pernicious treason.  You deny it--that is well.  Prove your innocence
at this juncture in the field against Scotland's enemies; and John of
Badenoch will then see no impending cloud to darken the honor of the
name of Cummin!"

The brothers immediately separated; and Athol calling his cousin Buchan
arranged a new device to counteract the vigilance of the regent.  One
of their means was to baffle his measures by stimulating the less
treasonable but yet discontented chiefs to thwart him in every motion.
At the head of this last class was John Stewart, Earl of Bute.  During
the whole of the preceding year he had been in Norway, and the first
object he met on his return to Scotland was the triumphal entry of
Wallace into Stirling.  Aware of the consequence Stewart's name would
attach to any cause, Athol had gained his ear before he was introduced
to the regent; and then so poisoned his mind against Wallace that all
that was well in him he deemed ill, and ever spoke of his bravery with
coldness, and of his patriotism with disgust.  He believed him a
hypocrite, and as such despised and abhorred him.

While Athol marshaled his rebellious ranks, some to follow his broad
treason in the face of day, and others to lurk behind, and delude the
intrusted council left in Stirling; Wallace led forth his loyal chiefs
to take their stations at the heads of their different clans.  Sir
Alexander Scrymgeour, with the proudest expectations for Scotland,
unfurled his golden standard to the sun.  The Lords Loch-awe and
Bothwell, with others, rode on the right of the regent.  Lord Andrew
Murray, with the brave Sir John Graham, and a bevy of young knights,
kept the ground on his left.  Wallace looked around; Edwin was far
away, and he felt but half appointed when wanting his youthful
swordbearer.  That faithful friend did not even know of the threatened
hostility; for to have intimated to Lord Ruthven a danger he could not
assist to repel, would have inflamed his disorder by anxiety, and
perhaps hurried him to dissolution.

As the regent moved forward with these private affections checkering
his public cares, his heralds blew the trumpets of his approach, and a
hundred embattled clans appeared in the midst of the plain, awaiting
their valiant leaders.  Each chief advanced to the head of his line,
and stood to hear the charge of Wallace.

"Brave Scots!" cried he, "treachery has admitted the enemy whom
resolute patriotism had driven from our borders.  Be steady in your
fidelity to Scotland, and He who hath hitherto protected the just
cause, will nerve your arms to lay invasion and its base coadjutors
again in the dust."

The cheers of anticipated victory burst from the soldiers, mingled with
the clangor of their striking shields at the inspiring voice of their
leader.  Wallace waved his truncheon (round which the plan of his array
was wrapped) to the chiefs to fall back toward their legions; and while
some appeared to linger, Athol, armed cap-a-pie, and spurring his roan
into the area before the regent, demanded, in a haughty tone, "Which of
the chiefs now in the field is to lead the vanguard?"

"The Regent of Scotland," replied Wallace, for once asserting the
majesty of his station, "and you, Lord Athol, with the Lord Buchan, are
to defend your country under the command of the brave head of your
house, the princely Badenoch."

"I stir not from this spot," returned Athol, fiercely striking his
lance into its rest, "till I see the honor of my country established in
the eye of the world by a leader worthy of her rank being placed in her
vanguard."

"What he says," cried Buchan, "I second."  "And in the same spirit,
chieftain of Ellerslie," exclaimed Lord Bute, "do I offer to Scotland
myself and my people.  Another must lead the van, or I retire from her
standard."

"Speak on!" cried Wallace, more surprised than confounded by this
extraordinary attack.

"What these illustrious chiefs have uttered, is the voice of us all!"
was the general exclamation from a band of warriors who now thronged
around the incendiary nobles.

"Your reign is over, proud chieftain," rejoined Athol; "the Scottish
ranks are no longer to be cajoled by your affected moderation.  We see
the tyrant in your insidious smile, we feel him in the despotism of
your decrees.  To be thus ridden by a man of vulgar blood; to present
him as the head of our nation to the King of England, is beneath the
dignity of our country, is an insult to our nobles; and therefore, in
the power of her consequence, I speak, and again demand of you to yield
the vanguard to one more worthy of the station.  Before God and St.
Magdalen I swear," added he, holding up his sword to the heavens, "I
will not stir an inch this day toward the enemy unless a Cummin or a
Stewart lead our army."

"And is this your resolution also, Lord Bute?" said Wallace, looking on
Stewart.  "It is," was the reply; "a foe like Edward ought to be met as
becomes a great and independent kingdom.  We go in the array of an
unanimous nation to repel him; not as a band of insurgents, headed by a
general who, however brave, was yet drawn from the common ranks of the
people.  I therefore demand to follow a more illustrious leader to the
field."

"The eagles have long enough followed their owl in peacock's feathers,"
cried Buchan; "and being tired of the game, I, like the rest, soar
upward again!"

"Resign that baton!" cried Athol; "give peace to a more honorable
leader!" repeated he, supposed that he had intimidated Wallace; but
Wallace, raising the visor of his helmet, which he had closed on his
last commands to his generals, looked on Athol with all the majesty of
his truly royal soul in his eyes: "Earl," said he, "the voices of the
three estates of Scotland declared me their regent, and God ratified
the election by the victories with which he crowned me.  If in aught I
have betrayed my trust, led the powers which raised me be my accusers.
Four pitched battles have I fought and gained for this country.  Twice
I beat the representatives of King Edward on the plains of Scotland;
and a few months ago I made him fly before me over the fields of
Northumberland!  What then has befallen me, that my arm is to be too
short to meet this man?  Has the oil of the Lord, with which the saint
of Dunkeld anointed my brows, lost its virtue, that I should shrink
before any king in Christendom?  I neither tremble at the name of
Edward, nor will I so disgrace my own (which never man who bore it ever
degraded by swearing fealty to a foreign prince), as to abandon at such
a crisis the power with which Scotland has invested me.  Whoever
chooses to leave the cause of their country, let them go; and so
manifest themselves of noble blood!  I remain, and I lead the vanguard!
Scotsmen, to your duty."

As he spoke with a voice of unanswerable command, several chiefs fell
back into their ranks.  But some made a retrograde motion toward the
town.  Lord Bute hardly knew what to think, so was he startled by the
appeal of the accused regent, and the noble frankness with which he
maintained his rights.  He stood frowning as Wallace turned to him, and
said, "Do you, my lord, adhere to these violent men? or am I to
consider a chief who, though hostile to me, was generous in his ire,
still faithful to Scotland, in spite of his prejudice against her
leader?  Will you fight her battles?"

"I shall never desert them," replied Stewart; "'tis truth I seek;
therefore be it to you.  Wallace, this day according to your
conscience!"  Wallace bowed his head, and presented him the truncheon
around which his line of battle was wrapped.  On opening it he found
that he was appointed to command the third division; Badenoch and
Bothwell to the first and second; and Wallace himself to the vanguard.

When the scouts arrived, they informed the regent that the English army
had advanced near to the boundary of Linlithgow, and from the rapidity
of their march, must be on the Carron the same evening.  On this
intelligence, Wallace put his troops to their speed and before the sun
had declined far toward the west, he was within view of Falkirk.  But
just as he had crossed the Carron, and the Southron banners appeared in
sight, Lord Athol, at the head of his rebellious colleagues, rode up to
him.  Stewart kept his appointed station and Badenoch, doing the same,
ashamed of his brother's disorder, called after him to keep his line.
Regardless of all check, the obstinate chief galloped on, and extending
his bold accomplices across the path of the regent, demanded of him, on
the penalty of his life, "that moment to relinquish his pretensions to
the vanguard."

"I am not come here," replied Wallace indignantly, "to betray my
country!  I know you, Lord Athol: and your conduct and mine will this
day prove who is most worthy the confidence of Scotland."

"This day," cried Athol, "shall see you lay down the power you have
usurped."

"It shall see me maintain it, to your confusion," replied Wallace, "and
were you not surrounded by Scots of too tried a worth for me to suspect
their being influenced by your rebellious example, I would this moment
make you feel the arm of justice.  But the foe is in sight; do your
duty now, sir earl, and for the sake of the house to which you belong,
even this intemperate conduct shall be forgotten."

At this instant, Sir John Graham, hastening forward, exclaimed:

"The Southrons are bearing down upon us!"

Athol glanced at their distant host and turning on Wallace with a
sarcastic smile, "My actions," cried he, "shall indeed decide the day!"
and striking his spurs furiously into his horse, he rejoined Lord
Badenoch's legion.

Edward did indeed advance in a most terrible array.  Above a hundred
thousand men swelled his numerous ranks; and with these were united all
from the Lothians and Teviotdale, whom the influence of the faithless
March and the vindictive Soulis could bring into the field.  With this
augmented host, and a determination to conquer or to die, the Southrons
marched rapidly forward.

Wallace had drawn himself up on the ascent of the hill of Falkirk, and
advantageously planted his archers on a covering eminence flanked by
the legions of Badenoch.  Lord Athol, who knew the integrity of his
brother, and who cared not in so great a cause (for such his ambition
termed it) how he removed an adversary from Edward, and a censor from
himself, gave a ridding order to one of his emissaries.  Accordingly,
in the moment when the trumpet of Wallace sounded the charge, and the
arrows from the hill darkened the air, the virtuous Badenoch was
stabbed through the back to the very heart.  Athol had placed himself
near, to watch his purpose; but in the instant the deed was done, he
threw himself on the perpetrator, and wounding him in the same vital
part, exclaimed, holding up his dagger, "Behold the weapon that has
slain the assassin, hired by Sir William Wallace!  Thus it is, that his
ambition would rob Scotland of her native princes.  Let us fly from his
steel to the shield of a king and a hero."

The men had seen their leader fall; they doubted not the words of his
brother; and with a shout exclaiming, "Whither you lead we follow!" all
at once turned toward him.  "Seize the traitor's artillery!"  At this
command they mounted the hill and the archers, little expecting an
assault from their countrymen, were either instantly cut down, or
hurried away prisoners by Athol and Buchan; who now, at the head of the
whole division of the Cummins, galloped toward the Southrons; and with
loud cries of "Long live King Edward!" threw themselves en masse into
their arms.  The squadrons which followed Stewart not knowing but they
might be hurried into similar desertion, hesitated in the charge he had
commanded them to make; and, while thus undecisive, some obeyed in
broken ranks; and others lingered.  The enemy advanced briskly up,
surrounded the division, and on their first onset slew its leader.  His
faithful Brandanes,** seeing their beloved commander trampled to the
earth by an overwhelming foe, fell into confusion, and communicating
their dismay to their comrades, the whole division sunk under the shock
of the Southrons, as if touched by a spell.

**Brandanes was the distinguished appellation of the military followers
of the chiefs of Bute.

Meanwhile Bothwell and his legions were fiercely engaged with the Earl
of Lincoln amid the swamps of a deep morass; but being involved by
reciprocal impetuousity, equal peril engulfed them both.  The firm
battalion of the vanguard; alone remaining unbroken, stood before the
pressing and now victorious thousands of Edward without receding a
step.  The archers being lost by the treachery of the Cummins, all hope
lay on the strength of the spear and sword; and Wallace, standing
immovable as the rock of Stirling, saw rank after rank of his dauntless
infantry mowed down by the Southron arrows; while, fast as they fell,
their comrades closed over them, and still presented the same
impenetrable front of steady valor against the heavy charges of the
enemy's horse.  The King of England, indignant at this pause in his
conquering onset, accompanied by his natural brother, the valiant Frere
de Briagny, and a squadron of resolute knights, in fury threw
themselves toward the Scottish pikesmen.  Wallace descried the jeweled
crest of Edward amidst the cloud of battle there, and rushing forward,
hand to hand engaged the king.  Edward knew his adversary, not so much
by his snow white plume as by the prowess of his arm.  Twice did the
heavy claymore of Wallace strike fire from the steely helmet of the
monarch; but at the third stroke the glittering diadem fell in shivers
to the ground; and the royal blood of Edward followed the blow.  He
reeled; and another stroke would have settled the freedom of Scotland
forever, had not the strong arm of Frere de Briagny passed between
Wallace and the king.  The combat thickened; blow followed blow; blood
gushed at each fall of the sword; and the hacked armor showed in every
aperture a grisly wound.  A hundred weapons seemed directed against the
breast of the Regent of Scotland, when, raising his sword with a
determined stroke, it cleft the visor and vest of De Briagny, who fell
lifeless to the ground.  The cry that issued from the Southron troops
at this sight again nerved the vengeful Edward, and ordering the signal
for his reserve to advance, he renewed the attack; and assaulting
Wallace, with all the fury of his heart in his eyes and arms, he tore
the earth with the trampling of disappointed vengeance, when he found
the invincible phalanx still stood firm.

"I will reach him yet!" cried he; and turning to De Valence, he
commanded that the new artillery should be called into action.

On this order, a blast of trumpets in the Southron army blew; and the
answering war-wolves it had summoned sent forth showers of red-hot
stones into the midst of the Scottish battalions.  At the same moment
the English reserve, charging round the hill, attacked them in the
flank, and accomplished what the fiery torrent had begun.  The field
was heaped with dead; the brooks which flowed down the heights ran with
blood; but no confusion was there--no, not even in the mind of Wallace;
though, with amazement and horror, he beheld the saltire of Annandale,
the banner of Bruce, leading onward the last exterminating division!
Scot now contended with Scot, brother with brother.  Those valiant
spirits, who had left their country twenty years before to accompany
their chief to the Holy Land, now re-entered Scotland to wound her in
her vital part; to wrest from her her liberties; to make her mourn in
ashes, that she had been the mother of such matricides.  A horrid
mingling of tartans with tartans, in the direful grasp of reciprocal
death; a tremendous rushing of the flaming artillery, which swept the
Scottish ranks like blasting lightning, for a moment seemed to make the
reason of their leader stagger.  Arrows, winged with fire, flashed
through the air; and sticking in men and beasts, drove them against
each other in maddening pain.  Twice was the horse of Wallace shot
under him; and on every side were his closest friends wounded and
dispersed.  But his terrific horror at the scene passed away the moment
of its perception; and though the Southron and the Bruce pressed on him
in overwhelming numbers, his few remaining ranks obeyed his call; and
with a presence of mind and military skill that was exhaustless, he
maintained the fight till darkness parted the combatants.  When Edward
gave command for his troops to rest till morning, Wallace, with the
remnant of his faithful band slowly recrossed the Carron, that they
also might repose till dawn should renew the conflict.

Lonely was the sound of his bugle, as sitting on a fragment of the
druidical ruins of Dunipacis, he blew its melancholy blast to summon
his chiefs around him.  Its penetrating voice pierced the hills, but no
answering note came upon his ear.  A direful conviction seized upon his
heart.  But they might have fled far distant! he blushed as the thought
crossed him, and hopeless again, dropped the horn, which he had raised
to blow a second summons.  At this instant he saw a shadow darken the
moonlight ruins, and Scrymgeour, who had gladly heard his commander's
bugle, hastened forward.

"What has been the fate of this dismal day?" asked Wallace, looking
onward, as if he expected others to come up.  "Where are my
friends?--Where Graham, Badenoch and Bothwell?--Where all, brave
Scrymgeour, that I do not know see?"  He rose from his seat at sight of
an advancing group.  It approached near and laid the dead body of a
warrior down before him.  "Thus," cried one of the supporters, in
stifled sounds, "has my father proved his love for Scotland!"  It was
Murray who spoke; it was the Earl of Bothwell that lay a breathless
corpse at his feet!

"Grievous has been the havoc of Scot on Scot!" cried the intrepid
Graham, who had seconded the arm of Murray in the contest for his
father's body.  "Your steadiness, Sir William Wallace, would have
retrieved the day but for the murderer of his country; that Bruce, for
whom you refused to be our king, thus destroys her bravest sons.  Their
blood be on his head!" continued the young chief, extending his martial
arms toward heaven.  "Power of Justice, hear! and let his days be
troubled, and his death covered with dishonor!"

"My brave friend!" replied Wallace, "his deeds will avenge themselves,
he needs not further malediction.  Let us rather bless the remains of
him who is gone before us thus in glory to his heavenly rest!  Ah!
better is it thus to be laid in the bed of honor, than, by surviving,
witness the calamities which the double treason of this day will bring
upon our martyred country!  Murray, my friend!" cried he to Lord
Andrew, "we must not let the brave dead perish in vain!  Their monument
shall yet be Scotland's liberties.  Fear not that we are forsaken
because of these traitors; but remember our time is in the hand of the
God of justice and mercy!"

Tears were coursing each other in mute woe down the cheeks of the
affectionate son.  He could not for some time answer Wallace, but he
grasped his hand, and at last rapidly articulated, "Others may have
fallen, but not mortally like him.  Life may yet be preserved in some
of our brave companions.  Leave me, then, to mourn my dead alone! and
seek ye them."

Wallace saw that filial tenderness yearned for the moment when it might
unburden its grief unchecked by observation.  He arose, and making a
sign to his friends, withdrew toward his men.  Having sent a detachment
to guard the sacred inclosure of Dunipacis, he dispatched Graham on the
dangerous duty of gathering a reinforcement for the morning.  Then
sending Scrymgeour, with a resolute band, across the Carron, to bring
in the wounded (for Edward had encamped his army about a mile south of
the field of action), he took his lonely course along the northern bank
toward a shallow ford near which he supposed the squadrons of Lord
Loch-awe must have fought, and where he hoped to gain accounts of him
from some straggling survivor of his clan.  When he arrived at a point
where the river is narrowest, and winds its dark stream beneath
impending heights, he blew the Campbell pibroch; the notes reverberated
from rock to rock, but, unanswered, died away in distant echoes.  Still
he could not relinquish hope, and pursuing the path, emerged upon an
open glade.  The unobstructed rays of the moon illumined every object.
Across the river, at some distance from the bank, a division of the
Southron tents whitened the deep shadows of the bordering woods; and
before them, on the blood-stained plain, he thought he descried a
solitary warrior.  Wallace stopped.  The man approached the margin of
the stream, and looked toward the Scottish chief.  The visor of Wallace
being up, discovered his heroic countenance bright in the moonbeams;
and the majesty of his mien seemed to declare him to the Southron
knight to be no other than the Regent of Scotland.

"Who art thou?" cried the warrior, with a voice of command, that better
became his lips than it was adapted to the man whom he addressed.

"The enemy of England!" cried the chief.

"Thou art Wallace!" was the immediate reply; "none else dare answer the
Lord of Carrick and of Annandale with such haughty boldness."

"Every Scot in this land," returned Wallace, inflamed with an
indignation he did not attempt to repress, "would thus answer Bruce,
not only in reference to England, but to himself! to that Bruce, who,
not satisfied with having abandoned his people to their enemies, has
stolen a base fratricide to slay his brethren in their home!  To have
met them on the plain of Stanmore, would have been a deed his posterity
might have bewailed; but what horror, what shame will be theirs, when
they know that he came to ruin his own rights, to stab his people, in
the very bosom of his country!  I come from gazing on the murdered body
of the virtuous Earl of Bothwell!  The Lords Bute and Fyfe, and perhaps
Loch-awe, have fallen beneath the Southron sword, and your unnatural
arm; and yet do you demand what Scot would dare to tell you, that he
holds the Earl of Carrick and his coadjutors as his most mortal foes?"

"Ambitious man!  Dost thou flatter thyself with belief that I am to be
deceived by thy pompous declamation?  I know the motive of all this
pretended patriotism, I am well informed of the aim of all this vaunted
prowess; and I came, not to fight the battles of King Edward, but to
punish the proud usurper of the rights of Bruce.  I have gained my
point.  My brave followers slew the Lord of Bothwell; my brave
followers made the hitherto invincible Sir William Wallace retreat!  I
came in the power of my birthright; and, as your lawful king, I command
you, this hour, to lay your rebel sword at my feet.  Obey, proud
knight, or to-morrow puts you into Edward's hand, and, without appeal,
you die the death of a traitor."

"Unhappy prince," cried Wallace, now suspecting that Bruce had been
deceived; "is it over the necks of your most loyal subjects that you
would mount your throne?  How have you been mistaken!  How have you
strengthened the hands of your enemy, and weakened your own by this
day's action!  The cause is now probably lost forever; and from whom
are we to date its ruin but from him to whom the nation looked as to
its appointed deliverer?  From him, whose once honored name will now be
regarded with exaggeration?"

"Burden not my name, rash young man," replied Bruce, "with the charges
belonging to your own mad ambition.  Who disturbed the peace in which
Scotland reposed after the battle of Dunbar, but William Wallace?  Who
raised the country in arms, but William Wallace?  Who stole from me my
birthright, and fastened the people's love on himself, but William
Wallace?  Who affected to repel a crown that he might the more
certainly fix it on his head, but William Wallace?  And who dares now
taunt me with his errors and mishaps, but the same traitor to his
lawful sovereign?"

"Shall I answer thee, Lord of Carrick," replied Wallace, "with a
similar appeal?  Who, when the Southron tyrant preferred a false claim
to the supremacy of this realm, subscribed to the falsehood; and by
that action did all in his power to make a free people slaves?  Who,
when the brand of cruelty swept this kingdom from shore to shore, lay
indolent in the usurper's court, and heard of these oppressions without
a sigh?  Who, horror on horror! brought an army into his own
inheritance, to slay his brethren and to lay it desolate before his
mortal foe?  Thy heart will tell thee, Bruce, who is this man; and if
honor yet remain in that iron region, thou wilt not disbelieve the
asseverations of an honest Scot, who proclaims that it was to save them
whom thou didst abandon, that he appeared in the armies of Scotland.
It was to supply the place of thy desertion that he assumed the rule,
with which a grateful people, rescued from bondage, invested him."

"Bold chieftain!" exclaimed Bruce, "is it thus you continue to brave
your offended prince?  But in pity to your youth, in admiration of a
prowess which would have been godlike had it been exerted for your
sovereign, and not used as a bait to satisfy an ambition wild as it is
towering, I would expostulate with you; I would even deign to tell you
that, in granting the supremacy of Edward, the royal Bruce submits not
to the mere wish of a despot, but to the necessity of the times.  This
is not an area of so great loyalty that any sovereign may venture to
contend against such an imperial arm as Edward's.  And would you--a boy
in years, a novice in politics, and though brave, and till this day
successful--would you pretend to prolong a war with the dictator of
kingdoms?  Can rational discrimination be united with the valor you
possess and you not perceive the unequal contest between a weak state,
deprived of its head and agitated by intestine commotions, and a mighty
nation conducted by the ablest and most martial monarch of his age--a
man who is not only determined to maintain his pretensions to Scotland,
but is master of every resourse, either for protracting war or pushing
it with vigor?  If the love of your country be indeed your motive for
perseverance, your obstinacy tends only to lengthen her misery.  But
if--as I believe is the case--you carry your views to private
aggrandizement, reflect on their probable issue.  Should Edward, by a
miracle, withdraw his armies, and an intoxicated people elevate their
minion to the throne, the lords of Scotland would reject the bold
invasion and, with the noble vengeance of insulted greatness, hurl from
his height the proud usurper of their rights and mine."

"To usurp any man's rights, and least of all, my king's" replied
Wallace, "never came within the range of my thoughts.  Though lowly
born, Lord Carrick, I am not so base as to require assumption to give
me dignity.  I saw my country made a garrison of Edward's, I beheld its
people outraged in every relation that is dear to man.  Who heard their
cry?  Where was Bruce?  Where the nobles of Scotland, that none arose
to extinguish her burning villages, to shelter the mother and the
child, to rescue purity from violation, to defend the bleeding father
and his son?  The shrieks of despair resounded through the land and
none appeared!  The hand of violence fell on my own house! the wife of
my bosom was stabbed to the heart by a magistrate of the usurper!  I
then drew the sword!--I took pity on those who suffered as I had
suffered!  I espoused their cause, and never will I forsake it till
life forsakes me.  Therefore, that I became champion of Scotland, Lord
of Carrick, blame not my ambition, but rather the supineness of the
nobility, and chiefly yourself--you who, uniting personal merit to
dignity of descent, had deserted to occupy!  Had the Scots, from the
time of Baliol's abdication, possessed such a leader as yourself (for
what is the necessity of the times but the pusillanimity of those who
ought to contend with Edward?) by your valor and their union you must
have surmounted every difficulty under which we struggle, and have
closed the contest with success and honor.  If you now start from your
guilty delusion, it may not be too late to rescue Scotland from the
perils which surround her.  Listen then to my voice, prince of the
blood of Alexander! forswear the tyrant who has cajoled you to this
abandonment of your country, and resolve to be her deliverer.  The
bravest of the Scots are ready to acknowledge you their lord, to reign
as your forefathers did, untrammeled by any foreign yoke.  Exchange,
then a base vassalage, for freedom and a throne!  Awake to yourself,
noble Bruce, and behold what it is I propose!  Heaven itself cannot set
a more glorious prize before the eyes of virtue or ambition, than to
join in one object, the acquisition of royalty with the maintenance of
national independence!  Such is my last appeal to you.  For myself, as
I am well convinced that the real welfare of my country can never
subsist with the sacrifice of her liberties, I am determined, as far as
in me lies, to prolong, not her miseries, but her integrity, by
preserving her from the contamination of slavery.  But, should
mysterious fate decree her fall, may that power which knows the vice
and horrors which accompany a tyrant's reign, terminate the existence
of a people who can no longer preserve their lives but by receiving
laws from usurpation!"

The truth and gallantry of these sentiments struck the awakened mind of
Bruce with the force of conviction.  Another auditor was nigh, who also
lost not a syllable; "and the flame was conveyed from the breast of one
hero to that of the other."

Lord Carrick secretly repented of all that he had done; but being too
proud to acknowledge so much, he briefly answered: "Wallace, your words
have made an impression on me, that may one day still more brighten the
glory of your fame.  Be silent respecting this conference; be faithful
to the principles you have declared, and ere long you shall hear
royally of Bruce."  As he spoke, he turned away and was lost among the
trees.

Wallace stood for some minutes musing on what had passed, when, hearing
a footstep behind him, he turned round, and beheld approaching him a
young and graceful form, habited in a white hacqueton wrought in gold,
with golden spurs on his feet, and a helmet of the same costly metal on
his head, crested with white feathers.  Had the scene been in
Palestine, he might have mistaken him for the host's guardian angel in
arms.  But the moment the eyes of Wallace fell on him, the stranger
hastened forward, and threw himself on one knee before him, with so
noble a grace that the chief was lost in wonder what this beautiful
apparition could mean.  The youth, after an agitated pause, bowing his
head, exclaimed:

"Pardon this intrusion, bravest of men!  I come to offer you my heart,
my life!  To wash out, by your side, in the blood of the enemies of
Scotland, the stigma which now dishonors the name of Bruce!"

"And who are you, noble youth?" cried Wallace, raising him from the
ground.  "Surely my prayers are at last answered; and I hear these
sentiments from one of Alexander's race!"

"I am indeed of his blood," replied he; "and it must now be my study to
prove my descent by deeds worthy of my ancestor.  I am Robert Bruce,
the eldest son of the Earl of Carrick and Annandale.  Grieving over the
slaughter that his valor had made of his own people (although, till you
taught him otherwise, he believed they fought to maintain the
usurpation of an ambitious subject), he walked out in melancholy.  I
followed at a distance; and I heard, unseen, all that has passed
between you and him.  He has retired to his tent; and, unknown to him,
I hastened across the Carron, to avow my loyalty to virtue, to declare
my determination to live for Scotland, or to die for her; and to follow
the arms of Sir William Wallace, till he plants my father in the throne
of his ancestors."

"I take you at your word, brave prince!" replied the regent; "and this
night shall give you an opportunity to redeem to Scotland, what your
father's sword has this day wrested from her.  What I mean to do must
be effected in the course of a few hours.  That done, it will be
prudent for you to return to the Carrick camp; and there take the most
effectual means to persuade your father to throw himself at once into
the arms of Scotland.  The whole nation will then rally round their
king; and as his weapon of war, I shall rejoice to fulfill the
commission with which God has intrusted me!"  He then briefly unfolded
to the eagerly listening Bruce (whose aspiring spirit, inflamed by the
fervor of youth, and winged by natural courage, saw the glory alone of
the enterprise), an attack which he meant to make on the camp of
Edward, while his victorious troops slept in fancied security.

He had sent Sir John Graham to Stirling, to call out its garrison; Ker
he had dispatched on a similar errand; and expecting that by this time
some of the troops would be arrived on the southern extremity of the
carse, he threw his plaid over the prince's splendid garb to conceal
him from notice; then returning to the few who lay on the northern bank
of the river, he asked one of the young Gordons to lend him his armor,
saying he had use for it, and to seek another suit in the heap that had
been collected from the buried dead.  The brave Scot cheerfully
acquiesced; and, Wallace retiring amongst the trees with his royal
companion, Bruce soon covered his gay hacqueton with this rough mail;
and placing the Scottish bonnet on his head, put a large stone into the
golden helmet, and sunk it in the waters of the Carron.  Being thus
completely armed like one of the youthful clansmen in the ranks (and
such disguise was necessary), Wallace put the trusty claymore of his
country into its prince's hand; and clasping him with a hero's warmth
to his heart--

"Now it is," cried he, "that William Wallace lives anew since he has
seen this hour!"

On re-emerging from the wood, they met Sir John Graham, who had just
arrived with five hundred fugitives from Lord Bute's slaughtered
division, whom he had rallied on the carse.  He informed his friend
that the Earl of Mar was within half a mile of the Carron, with three
thousand more; and, that he would soon be joined by other
re-enforcements to a similar amount.  While Graham yet spoke, a
squadron of armed men approached from the Forth side.  Wallace,
advancing toward them, beheld the Bishop of Dunkeld, in his sacerdotal
robes, at their head, but with a corselet on his breast, and instead of
his crosier he carried a drawn sword.  "We come to you, champion of
Scotland," cried the prelate, "with the prayers and the arms of the
church.  The sword of the Levites of old smote the enemies of Israel;
and in the same faith, that the God of Justice will go before us this
night, we come to fight for Scotland's liberties."

His followers were the younger brethren of the monastery of
Cambus-Kenneth, and others from the neighboring convents, altogether
making a stout and well-appointed legion.

"With this handful," cried Wallace, "Heaven may find a David, who shall
yet strike yon Goliath on the forehead!"

Lord Mar and Lord Lennox now came up; and Wallace, marshaling his
train, found that he had nearly ten thousand men.  He gave to each
leader his plan of attack; and having placed Bruce with Graham in the
van, before he took his station at its head, he retired to the ruins
near Dunipacis, to visit the mourning solitude of Murray.  He found the
pious son sitting silent and motionless by the side of his dead parent.
Without rousing the violence of grief by any reference to the sight
before him, Wallace briefly communicated his project.  Lord Andrew
started to his feet.  "I will share all the peril with you!  I shall
again grapple with the foe that has thus bereaved me!  This dark
mantle," cried he, turning toward the breathless corpse, and throwing
his plaid over it, "will shroud thy hallowed remains till I return.  I
go where thou wouldst direct me.  Oh, my father!" exclaimed he, in a
burst of grief, "the trumpet shall sound, and thou wilt not hear!  But
I go to take vengeance for thy blood!"  So saying, he sprung from the
place, and accompanying Wallace to the plain, took his station in the
silent but swiftly moving army.



Chapter LIV.

Carron Banks.


The troops of King Edward lay overpowered with wine.  Elated with
victory, they had drunk largely, the royal pavilion setting them the
example; for though Edward was temperate, yet, to flatter his recovered
friends, the inordinate Buchan and Soulis, he had allowed a greater
excess that night than he was accustomed to sanction.  The banquet
over, every knight retired to his tent; every soldier to his pallet;
and a deep sleep lay upon every man.  The king himself, whose many
thoughts had long kept him waking, now fell into a slumber.

Guards had been placed around the camp more from military ceremony than
an idea of their necessity.  The strength of Wallace they believed
broken; and that they should have nothing to do next morning but to
chase him into Stirling, and take him there.  But the spirit of the
regent was not so easily subdued.  He ever thought it shameful to
despair while it was possible to make a stand.  And now, leading his
determined followers through the lower grounds of Cumbernaul, he
detached half his force under Mar, to take the Southron camp in the
rear, while he should attack the front, and pierce his way to the royal
pavilion.

With soundless caution, the battalion of Mar wound round the banks of
the Forth to reach the point of its destination; and Wallace,
proceeding with as noiseless a step, gained the hill which overlooked
his sleeping enemies.  His front ranks, shrouded by branches they had
torn from the trees in Tor Wood, now stood still.  Without this
precaution, had any eye looked from the Southron line they must have
been perceived; but now should a hundred gaze on them, their figures
were so blended with the adjoining thickets, they might easily be
mistaken for a part of them.  As the moon sunk in the horizon they
moved gently down the hill; and scarcely drawing breath, were within a
few paces of the first outpost, when one of the sentinels starting from
his reclining position, suddenly exclaimed, "What sound is that?"

"Only the wind amongst the trees," returned his comrade; "I see their
branches waving.  Let me sleep; for Wallace yet lives, and we may have
hot work to-morrow."  Wallace did live, and the man slept--to wake no
more; for the next instant a Scottish brand was through every Southron
heart on the outpost.  That done, Wallace threw away his bough, leaped
the narrow dike which lay in front of the camp; and with Bruce and
Graham at the head of a chosen band of brave men, cautiously proceeded
onward to reach the pavilion.  At the moment he should blow his bugle,
the divisions he had left with Lennox and Murray, and the Lord Mar,
were to press forward to the same point.

Still all lay in profound repose, and guided by the lamps which burned
around the royal quarters, the dauntless Scots reached the tent.
Wallace had already laid his hand upon the curtain that was its
entrance, when an armed man with a presented pike, demanded, "Who comes
here?" the regent's answer laid the interrogator's head at his feet;
but the voice had awakened the ever watchful king.  Perceiving his own
danger in the fall of the sentinel, he snatched his sword, and calling
aloud on his sleeping train, sprung from his couch.  He was immediately
surrounded by half a score of knights, who started on their feet before
Wallace could reach the spot.  Short, however, would have been their
protection; they fell before his arm and that of Graham, and left a
vacant place, for Edward had disappeared.  Foreseeing from the first
prowess of these midnight invaders, the fate of his guards, he had made
a timely escape, by cutting a passage for himself through the canvas of
his tent.  Wallace perceived that his prize had eluded his grasp, but
hoping to at least drive him from the field, he blew the appointed
signal to Mar and Lennox; caught one of the lamps from the monarch's
table and setting fire to the adjoining drapery, rushed from its
blazing volumes to meet his brave colleagues amongst the disordered
lines.  Graham and his followers with firebrands in their hands, threw
conflagration into all parts of the camp, and with the fearful
war-cries of their country, seemed to assail the terrified enemy from
every direction.  Men half-dressed and unarmed, rushed from their tents
upon the pikes of their enemies; hundreds fell without striking a blow,
and they who were stationed nearest the outposts, betook themselves to
flight, scattering themselves in scared throngs over the amazed plains
of Linlithgow.

The king in vain sought to rally his men--to remind them of their late
victory.  His English alone hearkened to his call; superstition had
laid her petrifying hand on all the rest.  The Irish saw a terrible
judgment in this scene; believing it had fallen upon them for having
taken arms against their sister people; the Welsh, as they descried the
warlike Bishop of Dunkeld issuing from the mists of the river, and
charging his foaming steed through their flying defiles, could not
persuade themselves that Merlin had not arisen to chastise their
obedience to the ravager of their country.  Every superstition, every
panic created by fear took possession of the half-intoxicated, stupid
wretches; and falling in bloody and unresisting heaps all around, it
was rather a slaughter than a battle.  Opposition seemed everywhere
abandoned, excepting on the spot still maintained by the King of
England and his brave countrymen.  The faithless Scots who had followed
the Cummins to the field also stood there and fought with desperation.
Wallace opposed the despair and valor of his adversaries with the
steadiness of his men; and Graham having seized some of the
war-engines, discharged a shower of blazing arrows upon the Southron
phalanx.

The camp was now on fire in every direction; and putting all to the
hazard of one decisive blow, Edward ordered his men to make at once to
the point, where, by the light of the flaming tents, he could perceive
the waving plumes of Wallace.  With his ponderous mace held terribly in
the air, the king himself bore down to the shock; and breaking through
the intervening combatants assaulted the chief.  The might of ten
thousand souls was then in the arm of the Regent of Scotland.  The
puissant Edward wondered at himself as he shrunk from before his
strokes; as he shuddered at the heroic fierceness of a countenance
which seemed more than mortal.  Was it indeed the Scottish chieftain?
or some armed delegate from heaven, descended to flight the battles of
the oppressed?  Edward trembled; his mace was struck from his hand; but
immediately a glittering falchon supplied its place, and with
recovering presence of mind he renewed the combat.

Meanwhile the young Bruce (who, in his humble armor, might have been
passed by as an enemy for meaner swords), checking the onward speed of
March, pierced him at once through the heart: "Die, thou disgrace to
the name of Scot," cried he, "and with thy blood expunge my stains!"
His sword now laid all opposition at his feet; and while the tempest of
death blew around, the groans of the dying, the shrieks of the wounded,
and the outcries of those who were perishing in the flames, drove the
king's ranks to distraction, and raised so great a fear in the minds of
the Cummin clan, that, breaking from the royal line with yells of
dismay, they fled in all directions after their already fugitive allies.

Edward saw the Earl of March fall, and finding himself wounded in many
places, with a backward step he received the blows of Wallace; but that
determined chief, following his advantage, made a stroke at the king
which threw him astounded into the arms of his followers.  At that
moment Lincoln raised his arm to strike his dagger into the back of
Wallace; but Graham arrested the blow, and sent the young lord's
motionless body to the earth.  The Southron ranks closed immediately
before their insensible monarch; and a contest more desperate than any
which had preceded it, took place.  Hosts seemed to fall on both sides;
at last the Southrons (having stood their ground till Edward was
carried from further danger) suddenly wheeled about and fled
precipitately toward the east.  Wallace pursued them on full charge;
driving them across the lowlands of Linlithgow, where he learned from
some prisoners he took, that the Earl of Carrick was in the Lothians;
having retreated hither on the first tidings that the Scots had
attacked the English camp.

"Now is your time," said Wallace to Bruce, "to rejoin your father.
Bring him to Scotland, where a free crown awaits him.  Your actions of
this night must be a pledge to your country of the virtues which will
support his throne!"

The young warrior, throwing off his rugged hauberk in a retired glen,
appeared again as a prince, and embracing the regent:

"A messenger from myself or from my father," said he, "shall meet you
at Stirling; meanwhile, farewell!--and give my thanks to the young
Gordon whose sword armed me for Scotland!"

Bruce mounted the horse Wallace had prepared, and spurring along the
banks of the Almond, was soon lost amidst its luxuriant shades.

Wallace still led the pursuit of Edward, and meeting those auxiliaries
from the adjoining counties, which his provident orders had prepared to
turn out on the first appearance of this martial chase; he poured his
troops through Ettrick Forest, and drove the flying host of England far
into Northumberland.  There checking his triumphant squadrons, he
recalled his stragglers, and returned with abated speed into his own
country.  Halting on the north bank of the Twee, he sent to their
quarters those hands which belonged to the border castles, and then
marched leisurely forward, that his brave soldiers, who had sustained
the weight of the battle, might recover their exhausted strength.

At Peebles he was agreeably surprised by the sight of Edwin.  Though
ignorant of the recommenced hostilities of Edward, Lord Ruthven became
so impatient to resume his duties, that as soon as he was able to move,
he had set off on his return to Perth.  On arriving at Huntingtower he
was told of the treachery of March, also of his fate, and that the
regent had beaten the enemy on the banks of the Carron, and was
pursuing him into his own dominions.  Ruthven was inadequate to the
exertion of following the successful troops, but Edwin, rejoicing at
this new victory, would not be detained, and crossing the Forth into
Mid-Lothian, had sped his eager way until the happy moment that brought
him again to the side of his first and dearest friend.

As they continued their route together, Edwin inquired the events of
the past time, and heard them related with wonder, horror, and
gratitude.  Grateful for the preservation of Wallace, grateful for the
rescue of his country from the menaced destruction, for some time he
could only clasp his friend's hand with strong emotion to his heart.
The death of his uncle Bothwell made that heart tremble within him at
the thought of how much severer might have been his deprivation; at
last, extricating his powers of speech from the spell of contradictory
feelings which enchained them, he said, "But if my uncle Mar and our
brave Graham were in the last conflict, where are they, that I do not
see them share your victory?"

"I hope," returned Wallace, "that we shall rejoin them in safety at
Stirling.  Our troops parted in the pursuit, and after having sent back
the Lowland chieftains, you see I have none with me now but my own
particular followers."

The regent's expectations that he should soon fall in with some of the
chasing squadrons, were the next morning gratified.  Crossing the
Bathgate Hills, he met the returning battalions of Lennox, with Lord
Mar's, and also Sir John Graham's.  Lord Lennox was thanked by Wallace
for his good services, and immediately dispatched to reoccupy his
station in Dumbarton.  But the captains of Mar and of Graham, could
give no other account of their leaders, than that they saw them last
fighting valiantly in the Southron camp, and had since supposed that
during the pursuit they must have joined the regent's squadron.  A cold
dew fell over the limbs of Wallace at these tidings; he looked on
Murray and on Edwin.  The expression of the former's face told him what
were his fears; but Edwin, ever sanguine, strove to encourage the hope
that all might yet be well: "They may not have yet returned from the
pursuit; or they may be gone on to Stirling."

But these comfortings were soon dispelled by the appearance of Lord
Ruthven, who (having been apprised of the regent's approach) came forth
to meet him.  The pleasure of seeing the earl so far recovered as to
have been able to leave Huntingtower, was checked by the first glance
of his face, on which was deeply characterized some tale of grief.
Edwin thought it was the recent disasters of Scotland he mourned; and
with a cheering voice he exclaimed, "Courage, my father! our regent
comes again a conqueror!  Edward has once more recrossed the plains of
Northumberland!"

"Thanks be to God for that!" replied Ruthven! "but what have not these
last conflicts cost the country!  Lord Mar is wounded unto death, and
lies in a chamber next to the yet unburied corpses of Lord Bute and the
dauntless Graham."  Wallace turned deadly pale; a mist passed over his
eyes, and staggering, he breathlessly supported himself on the arm of
Edwin.  Murray looked on him; but all was still in his heart: his own
beloved father had fallen; and in that stroke Fate seemed to have
emptied all her quiver.

"Lead me to their chambers!" cried Wallace; "show me where my friends
lie; let me hear the last prayer for Scotland from the lips of the
bravest of her veterans!"

Ruthven turned the head of his horse; and, as he rode along, he
informed the regent that Edwin had not left Huntingtower for the Forth
half an hour when an express arrived from Falkirk.  By it he learned
that, as soon as the inhabitants of Stirling saw the fire of the
Southron camp, they had hastened thither to enjoy the spectacle.  Some,
bolder than the rest, entered its deserted confines (for the retreating
squadrons were then flying over the plain); and amidst the slaughtered,
near the royal tent, one of these visitors thought he distinguished
groans.  Whether friend or foe, he stooped to render assistance to the
sufferer, and soon found it to be Lord Mar.  The earl begged to be
carried to some shelter that he might see his wife and daughter before
he died.  The people drew him out from under his horse and many a
mangled corpse; and, wrapping him in their plaids, conveyed him to
Falkirk, where they lodged him in the convent.

"A messenger was instantly dispatched to me," continued Ruthven; "and,
indifferent to all personal considerations, I set out immediately.  I
saw my dying brother-in-law.  At his request, that others might not
suffer what he had endured under the pressure of the slain, the field
had been sought for the wounded.  Many were conveyed into the
neighboring houses, while the dead were consigned to the earth.  Deep
have been dug the graves of mingled Scot and English on the banks of
the Carron!  Many of our fallen nobles, amongst whom was the princely
Badenoch, have been conveyed to the cemetery of their ancestors; others
are entombed in the church of Falkirk; but the bodies of Sir John
Graham and my brother Bothwell," said he, in a lower tone, "I have
retained till your return."

"You have done right," replied the till then, silent Wallace; and
spurring forward, he saw not the ground he trod, till, ascending the
hill of Falkirk, the venerable walls of its monastery presented
themselves to his view.  He threw himself off his horse and entered,
preceded by Lord Ruthven.

He stopped before the cell which contained the dying chief, and desired
the abbot to apprise the earl of his arrival.  The sound of that voice,
whose heart-consoling tones could be matched by none on earth,
penetrated to the ear of his almost insensible friend.  Mar started
from his pillow, and Wallace through the half-open door heard him say:
"Let him come in, Joanna!  All my mortal hopes now hang on him."

Wallace instantly stepped forward, and beheld the veteran stretched on
a couch, the image of that death to which he was so rapidly
approaching.  He hastened toward him; and the dying man, stretching
forth his arms exclaimed: "Come to me, Wallace, my son, the only hope
of Scotland, the only human trust of this anxious paternal heart!"

Wallace threw himself on his knees beside him, and taking his hand,
pressed it in speechless anguish to his lips; every present grief was
then weighing on his soul, and denied him the power of utterance.  Lady
Mar sat by the pillow of her husband, but she bore no marks of the
sorrow which convulsed the frame of Wallace.  She looked serious, but
her cheek wore its freshest bloom.  She spoke not, and the veteran
allowed the tears of enfeebled nature to fall on the bent head of his
friend.  "Mourn not for me," cried he, "nor think that these are
regretful drops.  I die as I have wished, in the field for Scotland.
Time must have soon laid my gray hair ignobly in the grave; and to
enter it thus covered with honorable wounds, in glory, has long been my
prayer.  But, dearest, most unwearied of friends, still the tears of
mortality will flow; for I leave my children fatherless in this
faithless world.  And my Helen!  Oh, Wallace, the angel who exposed her
precious self through the dangers of that midnight walk to save
Scotland, her father, and his friends, is--lost to us!  Joanna, tell the
rest," said he, gasping, "for I cannot."

Wallace turned to Lady Mar with an inquiring look of such wild horror
that she found her tongue cleave to the roof of her mouth, and her
complexion faded into the pallidness of his.

"Surely," exclaimed he, "there is not to be a wreck of all that is
estimable on earth.  The Lady Helen is not dead?"

"No," rejoined the earl; "but-"

He could proceed no further, and Lady Mar forced herself to speak.

"She has fallen into the hands of the enemy.  On my lord's being
brought to this place, he sent for myself and Lady Helen; but in
passing by Dunipacis, an armed squadron issued from behind the mound,
and putting our attendants to flight, carried her off.  I escaped
hither.  The reason for this attack was explained afterward by one of
the Southrons, who, having been wounded by our escort, was taken, and
brought to Falkirk.  He said that Lord Aymer de Valence, having been
sent by his beset monarch to call Lord Carrick to his assistance, found
the Bruce's camp deserted; but by accident learning that Lady Helen Mar
was to be brought to Falkirk, he stationed himself behind Dunipacis;
and springing out as soon as our cavalcade was in view, seized her.
She obtained, the rest were allowed to escape, but as the Lord de
Valence loves Helen, I cannot doubt he will have sufficient honor not
to insult the fame of her family, and so will make her his wife."

"God forbid!" ejaculated Mar, holding up his trembling hands; "God
forbid that my blood should ever mingle with that of any one of the
people who have wrought such woe to Scotland!  Swear to me, valiant
Wallace, by the virtues of her virgin heart, by your own immaculate
honor, that you will move heaven and earth to rescue my Helen from the
power of his Southron lord!"

"So help me Heaven!" answered Wallace, looking steadfastly upward.  A
groan burst from the lips of Lady Mar, and her head sunk on the side of
the couch.

"What?  Who is that?" exclaimed Mar, raising his head in alarm from his
pillow.

"Believe it your country, Donald!" replied she; "to what do you bind
its only defender?  Are you not throwing him into the very center of
his enemies, by making him swear to rescue Helen?  Think you that De
Valence will not foresee a pursuit, and take her into the heart of
England?  And thither must our regent follow him!  Release Sir William
Wallace from a vow that must destroy him!"

"Wallace," cried the now soul-struck earl, "what have I done?  Has a
father's anxiety asked amiss?  If so, pardon me!  But if my daughter
also must perish for Scotland, take her, O God, uncontaminated, and let
us meet in heaven!  Wallace, I dare not accept your vow."

"But I will fulfill it," cried he.  "Let thy paternal heart rest in
peace; and by Jesus' help, Lady Helen shall again be in her own
country, as free from Southron taint as she is from all mortal sin!  De
Valence dare not approach her heavenly innocence with violence; and her
Scottish heart will never consent to give him a lawful claim to her
precious self.  Edward's legions are far beyond the borders! but
wherever this earl may be, yet I will reach him.  For there is a
guiding hand above, and the demands of the morning at Falkirk are now
to be answered in the halls of Stirling."

Lord Ruthven, followed by Edwin and Murray, entered the room.  And the
two nephews were holding each a hand of their dying uncle in theirs,
when Lady Ruthven (who, exhausted with fatigue and anxiety, had retired
an hour before), reappeared at the door of the apartment.  She had been
informed of the arrival of the regent and her son, and now hastened to
give them a sorrowful welcome.

"Ah, my lord," cried she, as Wallace pressed her matron cheek to his;
"this is not as your triumphs are wont to be greeted!  You are still a
conqueror, and yet death, dreadful death, lies all around us!  And our
Helen, too--"

"Shall be restored to you, by the blessed aid of Heaven!" returned he,
"What is yet left for me to do, must be done; and then-" He paused, and
added, "The time is not far distant, then--"  He paused, and added "The
time is not far distant, Lady Ruthven, when we shall meet in the realms
to which so many of our bravest and dearest have just hastened."

With swimming eyes Edwin drew toward his master.  "My uncle would
sleep," said he; "he is exhausted, and will recall us when he wakes
from rest."  The eyes of the veteran were at that moment closed with
heavy slumber.  Lady Ruthven remained with the countess to watch by
him; and Wallace, gently withdrawing, was followed by Ruthven and the
two young men out of the apartment.

Lord Lochawe, with the Bishop of Dunkeld, and other chiefs, lay in
different chambers, pierced with many wounds; but none so grievous as
those of Lord Mar.  Wallace visited them all, and having gone through
the numerous places in the neighborhood, then made quarters for his
wounded men.  At the gloom of evening he returned to Falkirk.  He sent
Edwin forward to inquire after the repose of his uncle; but on himself
re-entering the monastery, he requested the abbot to conduct him to the
apartment in which the remains of Sir John Graham were deposited.  The
father obeyed; leading him along a dark passage, he opened a door, and
discovered the slain hero lying on a bier.  Two monks sat at its head,
with tapers in their hands.  Wallace waved them to withdraw; they set
down the lights and departed.  He was then alone.

For some time he stood with clasped hands, looking intently on the body
as it lay extended before him.  "Graham!  Graham!" cried he, at last,
in a voice of unutterable grief; "dost thou not rise at thy general's
voice?  Oh! is this to be the tidings I am to send to the brave father
who intrusted to me his son?  Lost in the prime of youth, in the
opening of thy renown, is it thus that all which is good is to be
martyrized by the enemies of Scotland?"  He sunk gradually on his knees
beside him.  "And shall I not look once more on that face," said he,
"which ever turned toward mine with looks of faith and love?"  The
shroud was drawn down by his hand.  He started on his feet at the
sight.  The changing touch of death had altered every feature--had
deepened the paleness of the bloodless corpse into an ashy hue.  "Where
is the countenance of my friend?" cried he.  "Where the spirit which
once moved in beauty and animating light over this face!  Gone; and all
I see before me is a mass of molded clay!  Graham!  Graham!" cried he,
looking upward, "thou art not here.  No more can I recognize my friend
in this deserted habitation of thy soul.  Thine own proper self, thine
immortal spirit, is ascended up above; and there my fond remembrance
shall ever seek thee!"  Again he knelt, but it was in devotion--a
devotion which drew the sting from death, and opened to his view the
victory of the Lord of Life over the King of Terrors.

Edward having learned from his father that Lord Mar still slept, and
being told by the abbot where the regent was, followed him to the
consecrated chamber.  On entering, he perceived him kneeling by the
body of his friend.  The youth drew near.  He loved the brave Graham,
and he almost adored Wallace; the scene, therefore, smote upon his
heart.  He dropped down by the side of the regent, and, throwing his
arms around his neck, in a convulsive voice exclaimed: "Our friend is
gone; but I yet live, and only in your smiles, my friend and brother!"

Wallace strained him to his breast.  He was silent for some minutes,
and then said: "To every dispensation of God I am resigned, my Edwin.
While I bow to this stroke, I acknowledge the blessing I still hold in
you and Murray.  But did we not feel these visitations from our Maker,
they would not be decreed to us.  To behold the dead is the penalty of
man for sin; for it is more pain to witness and to occasion death, than
for ourselves to die.  It is also a lesson which God teaches his sons;
and in the moment that he shows us death he convinces us of
immortality.  Look upon that face, Edwin!" continued he, turning his
eyes on the breathless clay.  His youthful auditor, awestruck, and his
tears checked by the solemnity of this address, looked as he directed
him.  "Doth not that inanimate mold of earth testify that nothing less
than an immortal spirit could have lighted up its marble substance with
the life and god-like actions we have seen it perform?"  Edwin
shuddered; and Wallace, letting the shroud fall over the face, added:
"Never more will I look at it, for it no longer wears the characters of
my friend--they are pictured on my soul; and himself, my Edwin, still
effulgent in beauty and glowing with imperishable life, looks down on
us from heaven!"  He rose as he spoke, and opening the door, the monks
re-entered, and placing themselves at the head of the bier, chanted the
vesper requiem.  When it was ended, Wallace kissed the crucifix they
laid on his friend's breast, and left the cell.



Chapter LV.

Church of Falkirk.


No eye closed that night in the monastery of Falkirk.  The Earl of Mar
awaked about the twelfth hour, and sent to call Lord Ruthven, Sir
William Wallace, and his nephews, to attend him.  As they approached,
the priests, who had just anointed his dying head with the sacred
unction, drew back.  The countess and Lady Ruthven supported his
pillow.  He smiled as he heard the advancing steps of those so dear to
him.  "I send for you," said he, "to give you the blessing of a true
Scot and a Christian!  May all who are here in thy blessed presence,
Redeemer of mankind!" cried he, looking up with a supernatural
brightness in his eye, "die as I do, rather than survive to see
Scotland enslaved!  But oh! may they rather long live under that
liberty, perpetuated, which Wallace has again given to his country;
peaceful will then be their last moments on earth, and full of joy
their entrance into heaven!"  His eyes closed as the concluding word
died upon his tongue.  Lady Ruthven looked intently on him; she bent
her face to his, but he breathed no more; and, with a feeble cry, she
fell back in a swoon.

The soul of the veteran earl was indeed fled.  The countess was taken,
shrieking, out of the apartment; but Wallace, Edwin, and Murray
remained, kneeling over the body, and when they concluded, the priests
throwing over it a cloud of incense, the mourners withdrew, and
separated to their chambers.

By daybreak, Wallace met Murray by appointment in the cloisters.  The
remains of his beloved father had been brought from Dunipacis to the
convent, and Murray now prepare to take them to Bothwell Castle, there
to be interred in the cemetery of his ancestors.  Wallace, who had
approved his design, entered with him into the solitary court-yard,
where the war-carriage stood which was to convey the deceased earl to
Clydesdale.  Four soldiers of his clan brought the corpse of their Lord
from a cell, and laid him on his martial bier.  His bed was the sweet
heather of Falkirk, spread by the hands of his son.  As Wallace laid
the venerable chief's sword and helmet on his bier, he covered the
whole with the flag he had torn from the standard of England in the
last victory.  "None other shroud is worthy of thy virtues!" cried he.
"Dying for Scotland, thus let the memorial of her glory be the witness
of thine!"

"Oh! my friend," answered Murray, looking on his chief with a smile,
which beamed the fairer shining through sorrow, "thy gracious spirit
can divest even death of its gloom.  My father yet lives in his fame!"

"And in a better existence, too!" gently replied Wallace; "else the
earth's fame were an empty shroud--it could not comfort."

The solemn procession, with Murray at its head, departed toward the
valleys of Clydesdale, and Wallace returned to his chamber.  Two hours
before noon he was summoned by the tolling of the chapel bell.  The
Earl of Bute and his dearer friend were to be laid in their last bed.
With a spirit that did not murmur, he saw the earth closed over both
graves; but at Graham's he lingered; and when the funeral stone shut
even the sod that covered him from his eyes, with his sword's point he
drew on the surface these memorable words:

    "Mente manuque potens, et Walli fidus Achates.
     Conditus hic Gramus, bello interfectus ab Anglis."**

**These lines may be translated thus:

            Here lies
    The powerful in mind and body, the friend of Wallace;
  Graham, faithful unto death! slain in battle by the English.

While he yet leaned on the stone, which gently gave way to the
registering pen of friendship, to be more deeply engraved afterward, a
monk approached him, attended by a shepherd boy.  At the sound of
steps, Wallace looked up.

"This young man," said the father, "brings dispatches to the lord
regent."

Wallace rose, and the youth presented his packet.  Withdrawing to a
little distance, he broke the seal, and read to this effect:

"My father and myself are in the Castle of Durham, and both under an
arrest.  We are to remain so till our arrival in London renders its
sovereign, in his own opinion, more secure: when there, you shall hear
from me again.  Meanwhile, be on your guard: the gold of Edward has
found its way into your councils.  Beware of them who, with patriotism
in their mouths, are purchased to betray you and their country into the
hands of the enemy!  Truest, noblest, best of Scots, farewell!--I must
not write more explicitly.

"P.S.--The messenger who takes this is a simple border shepherd: he
knows not whence comes the packet, hence he cannot bring an answer."

Wallace closed the letter; and putting gold into the shepherd's hand,
left the chapel.  In passing through the cloisters he met Ruthven, just
returned from Stirling, whither he had gone to inform the chiefs of the
council of the regent's arrival.  "When I summoned them to the
council-hall," continued Lord Ruthven, "and told them you had not only
defeated Edward on the Carron, but in so doing had gained a double
victory, over a foreign usurper and domestic traitors!-instead of the
usual open-hearted gratulations on such a communication, a low whisper
murmured through the hall; and the young Badenoch, unworthy of his
patriotic father, rising from his seat, gave utterance to so many
invectives against you, our country's soul, and arm!  I should deem it
treason even to repeat them.  Suffice it to say, that out of five
hundred chiefs and chieftains who were present, not one of those
parasites who used to fawn on you a week ago, and make the love of
honest men seem doubtful, now breathes one word for Sir William
Wallace.  But this ingratitude, vile as it is, I bore with patience
till Badenoch, growing in insolency, declared that late last night
dispatches had arrived from the King of France to the regent, and that
he (in right of his birth, assuming to himself that dignity) had put
their bearer, Sir Alexander Ramsay, under confinement, for having
persisted to dispute his authority to withhold them from you."

Wallace, who had listened in silence, drew a deep sigh as Ruthven
concluded; and, in that profound breath, exclaimed--"God must be our
fortress still; must save Scotland from this gangrene in her heart!
Ramsay shall be released; but I must first meet these violent men.  And
it must be alone, my lord," continued he; "you, and our coadjutors, may
wait my return at the city gates; but the sword of Edward, if need be,
shall defend me against his gold."  As he spoke, he laid his hand on
the jeweled weapon which hung at his side, and which he had wrested
from that monarch in the last conflict.

Aware that this treason, aimed at him, would strike his country, unless
timely warded off, he took his resolution; and requesting Ruthven not
to communicate to any one what had passed, he mounted his horse, and
struck into the road to Stirling.  He took the plume from his crest,
and closing his visor, enveloped himself in his plaid, that the people
might not know him as he went along.  But casting away his cloak, and
unclasping his helmet at the door of the keep, he entered the
council-hall, openly and abruptly.  By an instantaneous impulse of
respect, which even the base pay to virtue, almost every man arose at
his appearance.  He bowed to the assembly, and walked, with a composed
yet severe air, up to his station at the head of the room.  Young
Badenoch stood there; and as Wallace approached he fiercely grasped his
sword.  "Proud upstart!" cried he, "betrayer of my father! set a foot
further toward this chair, and the chastisement of every arm in this
council shall fall on you for your presumption!"

"It is not in the arms of thousands to put me from my right," replied
Wallace, calmly putting forth his hand and drawing the regent's chair
toward him.

"Will ye bear this?" cried Badenoch, stamping with his foot, and
plucking forth his sword; "is the man to exist who thus braves the
assembled lords of Scotland?"  While speaking, he made a desperate
lunge at the regent's breast; Wallace caught the blade in his hand, and
wrenching it from his intemperate adversary, broke it into shivers, and
cast the pieces at his feet; then, turning resolutely toward the
chiefs, who stood appalled, and looking on each other, he said, "I,
your duly elected regent, left you only a few days ago, to repel the
enemy whom the treason of Lord March would have introduced into these
very walls.  Many brave chiefs followed me to that field! and more,
whom I see now, loaded me as I passed with benedictions.  Portentous
was the day of Falkirk to Scotland.  Then did the mighty fall, and the
heads of counsel perish.  But treason was the parricide!  The late Lord
Badenoch stood his ground like a true Scot; but Athol and Buchan
deserted to Edward."  While speaking, he turned toward the furious son
of Badenoch, who, gnashing his teeth in impotent rage, stood listening
to the inflaming whispers of Macdougal of Lorn.  "Young chief," cried
he, "from their treachery date the fate of your brave father, and the
whole of our grievous loss of that day; but the wide destruction has
been avenged! more than chief for chief have perished in the Southron
ranks, and thousands of the lowlier sort now swell the banks of Carron.
Edward himself fell, wounded by my arm, and was born by his flying
squadrons over the wastes of Northumberland.  Thus have I returned to
you with my duties achieved in a manner worthy of your regent!  What,
then, means the arrest of my embassador? what this silence when the
representative of your power is insulted to your face?

"They mean," cried Badenoch, "that my words are the utterance of their
sentiments."  "They mean," cried Lorn, "that the prowess of the haughty
boaster, whom their intoxicated gratitude raised from the dust, shall
not avail him against the indignation of a nation over which he dares
to arrogate a right."

"Mean they what they will," returned Wallace, "they cannot dispossess
me of the rights with which assembled Scotland invested me on the
plains of Stirling.  And again I demand, by what authority do you and
they presume to imprison my officer, and withhold from me the papers
sent by the King of France to the Regent of Scotland?"

"By the authority that we will maintain," replied Badenoch; "by the
right of my royal blood, and by the sword of every brave Scot, who
spurns at the name of Wallace!"

"And as a proof that we speak not more than we act," cried Lorn, making
assign to the chiefs, "you are our prisoner!"

Many weapons were instantly unsheathed; and their bearers, hurrying to
the side of Badenoch and Lorn, attempted to lay hands on Wallace; but
he, drawing the sword of Edward, with a sweep of his valiant arm that
made the glittering blade seem a brand of fire, set his back against
the wall, and exclaimed:

"He that first makes a stroke at me shall find his death on this
Southron steel!  This sword I made the puissant arm of the usurper
yield to me; and this sword shall defend the Regent of Scotland against
his ungrateful countrymen!"

The chieftains who pressed on him recoiled at these words, but their
leaders, Badenoch and Lorn, waved them forward, with vehement
exhortations.

"Desist, young men!" continued he, "provoke me not beyond my bearing.
With a single blast of my bugle I could surround this building with a
band of warriors, who at sight of their chief being thus assaulted,
would lay this tumult in blood.  Let me pass, or abide the consequence!"

"Through my breast, then," exclaimed Badenoch; "for, with my consent,
you pass not here but on your bier.  What is in the arm of a single
man," cried he to the lords, "that ye cannot fall on him at once, and
cut him down?"

"I would not hurt a son of the virtuous Badenoch," returned Wallace;
"but his life be on your hands," said he, turning to the chiefs, "if
one of you point a sword to impede my passage."

"And wilt thou dare it, usurper of my powers and honors?" cried
Badenoch.  "Lorn, stand by your friend--all here who are true to the
Cummin and Macdougal, hem in the tyrant."

Many a traitor hand now drew forth its dagger, and the intemperate
Badenoch, drunk with choler and mad ambition, snatching a sword from
one of his accomplices, made another violent plunge at Wallace, but its
metal flew in splinters on the guard-stroke of the regent, and left
Badenoch at his mercy.  "Defend me, chieftains, or I am slain!" cried
he.  But Wallace did not let his hand follow its advantage; with the
dignity of conscious desert, he turned from the vanquished, and casting
the enraged Lorn from him, who had thrown himself in his way, he
exclaimed: "Scots, that arm will wither which dares to point its steel
on me."  The pressing crowd, struck in astonishment, parted before him
as they could have done in the path of a thunderbolt, and unimpeded, he
passed to the door.

That their regent had entered the keep was soon rumored through the
city; and when he appeared from the gate he was hailed by the
acclamations of the people.  He found his empire again in the hearts of
the lowly, they whom he had restored to their cottages, knelt to him in
the streets, and called for blessings on his name; while they--oh!
blasting touch of envy!-whom he had restored to castles, and elevated
from a state of vassalage to the power of princes, they raised against
him that very power to lay him in the dust.

Now it was, that when surrounded by the grateful citizens of Stirling
(whom it would have been as easy for him to have inflamed to the
massacre of Badenoch and his council, as to have lifted his bugle to
his lips), that he blew the summons for his captains.  Every man in the
keep flew to arms, expecting that Wallace was returning upon them with
the host he had threatened.  In a few minutes the Lord Ruthven, with
his brave followers, entered the inner ballium gate.  Wallace smiled
proudly as they drew near.  "My lords," said he, "you come to witness
the last act of my delegated power!  Sir Alexander Scrymgeour, enter
into that hall, which was once the seat of council, and tell the
violent men who fill it, that for the peace of Scotland, which I value
more than my life, I allow them to stand unpunished of their offense
against me.  But the outrage they have committed on the freedom of one
of her bravest sons I will not pardon, unless he be immediately set at
liberty; let them deliver to you Sir Alexander Ramsay, and then I
permit them to hear my final decision.  IF they refuse obedience, they
are all my prisoners, and, but for my pity on their blindness, should
perish by the laws."

Eager to open the prison door for his friend Ramsay, and little
suspecting to what he was calling the insurgents, Scrymgeour hastened
to obey.  Lorn and Badenoch gave him a very rough reception, uttering
such rebellious defiance of the regent that the brave standard-bearer
lost all patience, and denounced the immediate deaths of the whole
refractory assembly.  "The courtyard," cried he, "is armed with
thousands of the regent's followers, his foot is on your necks, obey,
or this will be a more grievous day for Scotland than even that of
Falkirk; for the Castle of Stirling will run with Scottish blood!"  At
this menace Badenoch became more enraged, and Scrymgeour, seeing no
chance of prevailing by argument, sent a messenger to privately tell
Wallace the result.  The regent immediately placed himself at the head
of twenty men, and, re-entering the keep, went directly to the warder,
whom he ordered, on his allegiance to the laws, to deliver Sir
Alexander Ramsay into his hands.  He was obeyed, and returned with his
recovered chieftain to the platform.  When Scrymgeour was apprised of
the knight's release, he turned to Badenoch, with whom he was still
contending in furious debate, and demanded:

"Will you or will you not attend me to the regent?  He of you all,"
added he, addressing the chieftains, "who in this simple duty disobeys,
shall receive from him the severer doom."

Badenoch and Lorn, affecting to deride this menace, replied, they would
not for an empire do the usurper the homage of a moment's voluntary
attention; but if any of their followers chose to view the mockery,
they were at liberty.  A very few, and those of the least turbulent
spirits went forth.  They began to fear having embarked in a desperate
cause; and, by their present acquiescence, were willing to deprecate
the wrath of Wallace, while thus assured of not exciting the resentment
of Badenoch.

When Wallace looked around him and saw the space before the keep filled
with armed men and citizens, he ascended an elevated piece of ground,
which rose a little to the left, and waving his hand in token that he
intended to speak, a profound silence took place of the buzz of
admiration, gratitude, and discontent.  He then addressed the people:

"Brother soldiers! friends! And--am I so to distinguish Scots?-enemies!"

At this word, a loud cry of "Perish all who are the enemies of our
glorious regent!" penetrated to the inmost chambers of the citadel.

Believing that the few of his partisans who had ventured out, were
falling under the vengeance of Wallace, Badenoch, with a brandished
weapon, and followed by the rest, sallied toward the door, but there he
stopped, for he saw his friends standing unmolested.

Wallace proceeded; and, with calm dignity, announced the hatred that
was now poured upon him by a large part of that nobility who had been
so eager to invest him with the high office he then held.

"Though they have broken their oaths," cried he, "I have fulfilled
mine!  They vowed to me all lawful obedience; I swore to free Scotland
or to die.  Every castle in this realm is restored to its ancient lord;
every fortress is filled with a native garrison; the sea is covered
with our ships, and the kingdom, one in itself, sits secure behind her
well-defended bulwarks.  Such have I, through the strength of the
Almighty arm, made Scotland!  Beloved by a grateful people, I could
wield half her power to the destruction of the rest; but I would not
pluck one stone out of the building I have raised.  To-day I deliver up
my commission, since its design is accomplished.  I resign the regency."

As he spoke, he took off his helmet, and stood uncovered before the
people.

"No, no!" seemed the voice from every lip; "we will acknowledge no
other power, we will obey no other leader!"

Wallace expressed his sense of their attachment, but repeating to them
that he had fulfilled the end of his office, by setting them free, he
explained that his retaining it was no longer necessary.  "Should I
remain your regent," continued he, "the country would be involved in
ruinous dissensions.  The majority of your nobles now find a vice in
the virtue they once extolled; and seeing its power, no longer needful,
seek to destroy my upholders with myself.  I therefore remove the cause
of contention.  I quit the regency; and I bequeath your liberty to the
care of your chiefs.  But should it be again in danger, remember, that
while life breathes in this heart, the spirit of William Wallace will
be with you still!"

With these words he descended the mound, and mounted his horse, amidst
the cries and tears of the populace.  They clung to his garments as he
rode along; and the women, with their children, throwing themselves on
their knees in his path, implored him not to leave them to the inroads
of a ravager; not to abandon them to the tyranny of their own lords;
who, unrestrained by a king, or a regent like himself, would soon
subvert his good laws, and reign despots over every district in the
country.  Wallace answered their entreaties with the language of
encouragement; adding, that he was not their prince, to lawfully
maintain a disputed power over the legitimate chiefs of the land.
"But," he said, "a rightful sovereign may yet be yielded to your
prayers; and to procure that blessing, daughters of Scotland, night and
day invoke the Giver of every good gift."

When Wallace and his weeping train separated, at the foot of Falkirk
Hill, he was met by his veterans of Lanark; who, having heard of what
had passed in the citadel, advanced to him with one voice, to declare
that they never would fight under any other commander.  "Wherever you
are, my faithful friends," returned he, "you shall still obey my word."
When he entered the monastery, the opposition that was made to his
resignation of the regency, by the Bishop of Dunkeld, Lord Loch-awe,
and others, was so vehement, so persuasive, that had not Wallace been
steadily principled not to involve his country in domestic war, he must
have yielded to the affectionate eloquence of their pleading.  But
showing to them the public danger attendant on his provoking the wild
ambition of the Cummins, and their multitudinous adherents, his
arguments, which the sober judgment of his friends saw conclusive, at
last ended the debate.  He then rose, saying, "I have yet to perform my
vow to our lamented Mar.  I shall seek his daughter; and then, my brave
companions, you shall hear of me, and, I trust, see me again!"



Chapter LVI.

The Monastery.


It being Lady Ruthven's wish that the remains of her brother should be
entombed with his ancestors, preparations were made for the mournful
cavalcade to set forth toward Braemar Castle.  The countess, hoping
that Wallace might be induced to accompany them, did not long object to
this proposal, which Lady Ruthven had enforced with tears.  Had any one
seen the tow, and been called upon to judge, by their deportment, of
the relationship in which each lady stood to the deceased, he must have
decided that the sister was the widow.  At the moment of her husband's
death, Lady Mar had felt a shock; she had long looked for this event,
as to the seal of her happiness; it was the sight of mortality that
appalled her.  The man she doted on, nay, even herself, must one day
lie as the object now before her--dead!-insensible to all earthly joys,
or pains! but awake, perhaps, fearfully awake, to the judgments of
another world!  This conviction caused her shrieks, when she saw Lord
Mar expire.  Every obstacle between her and Wallace she now believed
removed.  Her husband was dead; Helen was carried away by a man
devotedly enamored of her; and most probably was at that time his wife.
The specters of conscience passed from her eyes; she no longer thought
of death and judgment; and, under a pretense that her feelings could
not bear the sight of her husband's bier, she determined to seclude
herself in her own chamber, till the freshness of Wallace's grief for
his friend should have passed away.  But when she heard, from the
indignant Edwin, of the rebellious conduct of the young Lord Badenoch,
and that the regent had abdicated, her consternation superseded all
caution.  "I will soon humble that proud boy," exclaimed she; "and let
him know, that in opposing the elevation of Sir William Wallace, he
treads down his own interest.  You are beloved by the regent, Edwin!"
cried she, interrupting herself, and clasping his hand with
earnestness; "teach his enthusiastic heart the true interests of his
country!  I am the first woman of the house of Cummin; and is not that
family the most powerful** in the kingdom?  By the adherence of one
branch to Edward, the battle of Falkirk was lost; by the rebellion of
another, the regent of Scotland is obliged to relinquish that dignity?
It is in my power to move the whole race at my will; and if Wallace
would mingle his blood with theirs, would espouse me (an overture which
the love I bear my country impels me to make), every nerve would then
be strained to promote the elevation of their nearest kinswoman.
Wallace would reign in Scotland, and the whole land lie at peace."

**The family of Cummin was so powerful and numerous, that an incredible
number of chieftains of that name attended the first parliament which
Robert I. Held at Dunstaffnage Castle.  The relationship between the
heiress of Stratheaarn and that family was very near, her paternal
grandmother having been the daughter of a Lord Badenoch.--(1809.)

Edwin eyed her with astonishment while she spoke.  All her late conduct
to his cousin Helen, to his uncle, and to Wallace, was now explained;
and he saw in