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´╗┐Title: The Fair Maid of Perth; Or, St. Valentine's Day
Author: Scott, Walter, Sir, 1771-1832
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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THE FAIR MAID OF PERTH

or

ST. VALENTINE'S DAY


By Sir Walter Scott



INTRODUCTORY.

The ashes here of murder'd kings Beneath my footsteps sleep; And yonder
lies the scene of death, Where Mary learn'd to weep.

CAPTAIN MARJORIBANKS.


Every quarter of Edinburgh has its own peculiar boast, so that the city
together combines within its precincts, if you take the word of the
inhabitants on the subject, as much of historical interest as of natural
beauty. Our claims in behalf of the Canongate are not the slightest.
The Castle may excel us in extent of prospect and sublimity of site; the
Calton had always the superiority of its unrivalled panorama, and has of
late added that of its towers, and triumphal arches, and the pillars of
its Parthenon. The High Street, we acknowledge, had the distinguished
honour of being defended by fortifications, of which we can show no
vestiges. We will not descend to notice the claims of more upstart
districts, called Old New Town and New New Town, not to mention the
favourite Moray Place, which is the Newest New Town of all. We will not
match ourselves except with our equals, and with our equals in age only,
for in dignity we admit of one. We boast being the court end of the
town, possessing the Palace and the sepulchral remains of monarchs,
and that we have the power to excite, in a degree unknown to the less
honoured quarters of the city, the dark and solemn recollections of
ancient grandeur, which occupied the precincts of our venerable Abbey
from the time of St. David till her deserted halls were once more made
glad, and her long silent echoes awakened, by the visit of our present
gracious sovereign.

My long habitation in the neighbourhood, and the quiet respectability of
my habits, have given me a sort of intimacy with good Mrs. Policy, the
housekeeper in that most interesting part of the old building called
Queen Mary's Apartments. But a circumstance which lately happened
has conferred upon me greater privileges; so that, indeed, I might, I
believe, venture on the exploit of Chatelet, who was executed for
being found secreted at midnight in the very bedchamber of Scotland's
mistress.

It chanced that the good lady I have mentioned was, in the discharge of
her function, showing the apartments to a cockney from London--not one
of your quiet, dull, commonplace visitors, who gape, yawn, and
listen with an acquiescent "umph" to the information doled out by the
provincial cicerone. No such thing: this was the brisk, alert agent of a
great house in the city, who missed no opportunity of doing business,
as he termed it--that is, of putting off the goods of his employers,
and improving his own account of commission. He had fidgeted through the
suite of apartments, without finding the least opportunity to touch upon
that which he considered as the principal end of his existence. Even the
story of Rizzio's assassination presented no ideas to this emissary of
commerce, until the housekeeper appealed, in support of her narrative,
to the dusky stains of blood upon the floor.

"These are the stains," she said; "nothing will remove them from the
place: there they have been for two hundred and fifty years, and there
they will remain while the floor is left standing--neither water nor
anything else will ever remove them from that spot."

Now our cockney, amongst other articles, sold Scouring Drops, as they
are called, and a stain of two hundred and fifty years' standing was
interesting to him, not because it had been caused by the blood of a
queen's favourite, slain in her apartment, but because it offered
so admirable an opportunity to prove the efficacy of his unequalled
Detergent Elixir. Down on his knees went our friend, but neither in
horror nor devotion.

"Two hundred and fifty years, ma'am, and nothing take it away? Why, if
it had been five hundred, I have something in my pocket will fetch it
out in five minutes. D'ye see this elixir, ma'am? I will show you the
stain vanish in a moment."

Accordingly, wetting one end of his handkerchief with the all deterging
specific, he began to rub away on the planks, without heeding the
remonstrances of Mrs. Policy. She, good soul, stood at first in
astonishment, like the abbess of St. Bridget's, when a profane visitant
drank up the vial of brandy which had long passed muster among the
relics of the cloister for the tears of the blessed saint. The venerable
guardian of St. Bridget probably expected the interference of her
patroness--she of Holyrood might, perhaps, hope that David Ruzzio's
spectre would arise to prevent the profanation. But Mrs. Policy stood
not long in the silence of horror. She uplifted her voice, and screamed
as loudly as Queen Mary herself when the dreadful deed was in the act of
perpetration--

"Harrow, now out, and walawa!" she cried.

I happened to be taking my morning walk in the adjoining gallery,
pondering in my mind why the kings of Scotland, who hung around me,
should be each and every one painted with a nose like the knocker of
a door, when lo! the walls once more re-echoed with such shrieks as
formerly were as often heard in the Scottish palaces as were sounds of
revelry and music. Somewhat surprised at such an alarm in a place so
solitary, I hastened to the spot, and found the well meaning traveller
scrubbing the floor like a housemaid, while Mrs. Policy, dragging him
by the skirts of the coat, in vain endeavoured to divert him from his
sacrilegious purpose. It cost me some trouble to explain to the zealous
purifier of silk stockings, embroidered waistcoats, broadcloth, and deal
planks that there were such things in the world as stains which ought
to remain indelible, on account of the associations with which they are
connected. Our good friend viewed everything of the kind only as
the means of displaying the virtue of his vaunted commodity. He
comprehended, however, that he would not be permitted to proceed
to exemplify its powers on the present occasion, as two or three
inhabitants appeared, who, like me, threatened to maintain the
housekeeper's side of the question. He therefore took his leave,
muttering that he had always heard the Scots were a nasty people, but
had no idea they carried it so far as to choose to have the floors of
their palaces blood boltered, like Banquo's ghost, when to remove them
would have cost but a hundred drops of the Infallible Detergent Elixir,
prepared and sold by Messrs. Scrub and Rub, in five shilling and ten
shilling bottles, each bottle being marked with the initials of the
inventor, to counterfeit which would be to incur the pains of forgery.

Freed from the odious presence of this lover of cleanliness, my good
friend Mrs. Policy was profuse in her expressions of thanks; and yet her
gratitude, instead of exhausting itself in these declarations, according
to the way of the world, continues as lively at this moment as if she
had never thanked me at all. It is owing to her recollection of this
piece of good service that I have the permission of wandering, like the
ghost of some departed gentleman usher, through these deserted halls,
sometimes, as the old Irish ditty expresses it--

Thinking upon things that are long enough ago;--and sometimes wishing
I could, with the good luck of most editors of romantic narrative, light
upon some hidden crypt or massive antique cabinet, which should yield to
my researches an almost illegible manuscript, containing the authentic
particulars of some of the strange deeds of those wild days of the
unhappy Mary.

My dear Mrs. Baliol used to sympathise with me when I regretted that all
godsends of this nature had ceased to occur, and that an author might
chatter his teeth to pieces by the seaside without a wave ever wafting
to him a casket containing such a history as that of Automates; that
he might break his shins in stumbling through a hundred vaults without
finding anything but rats and mice; and become the tenant of a dozen
sets of shabby tenements without finding that they contained any
manuscript but the weekly bill for board and lodging. A dairymaid of
these degenerate days might as well wash and deck her dairy in hopes of
finding the fairy tester in her shoe.

"It is a sad and too true a tale, cousin," said Mrs. Baliol, "I am sure
we all have occasion to regret the want of these ready supplements to a
failing invention. But you, most of all, have right to complain that the
fairest have not favoured your researches--you, who have shown the world
that the age of chivalry still exists--you, the knight of Croftangry,
who braved the fury of the 'London 'prentice bold,' in behalf of the
fair Dame Policy, and the memorial of Rizzio's slaughter! Is it not a
pity, cousin, considering the feat of chivalry was otherwise so much
according to rule--is it not, I say, a great pity that the lady had not
been a little younger, and the legend a little older?"

"Why, as to the age at which a fair dame loses the benefit of chivalry,
and is no longer entitled to crave boon of brave knight, that I leave
to the statutes of the Order of Errantry; but for the blood of Rizzio
I take up the gauntlet, and maintain against all and sundry that I
hold the stains to be of no modern date, but to have been actually the
consequence and the record of that terrible assassination."

"As I cannot accept the challenge to the field, fair cousin, I am
contented to require proof."

"The unaltered tradition of the Palace, and the correspondence of the
existing state of things with that tradition."

"Explain, if you please."

"I will. The universal tradition bears that, when Rizzio was dragged
out of the chamber of the Queen, the heat and fury of the assassins, who
struggled which should deal him most wounds, despatched him at the door
of the anteroom. At the door of the apartment, therefore, the greater
quantity of the ill fated minion's blood was spilled, and there the
marks of it are still shown. It is reported further by historians, that
Mary continued her entreaties for his life, mingling her prayers with
screams and exclamations, until she knew that he was assuredly slain; on
which she wiped her eyes and said, 'I will now study revenge.'"

"All this is granted. But the blood--would it not wash out, or waste
out, think you, in so many years?"

"I am coming to that presently. The constant tradition of the Palace
says, that Mary discharged any measures to be taken to remove the marks
of slaughter, which she had resolved should remain as a memorial to
quicken and confirm her purposed vengeance. But it is added that,
satisfied with the knowledge that it existed, and not desirous to have
the ghastly evidence always under her eye, she caused a traverse, as it
is called (that is, a temporary screen of boards), to be drawn along the
under part of the anteroom, a few feet from the door, so as to separate
the place stained with the blood from the rest of the apartment, and
involve it in considerable obscurity. Now this temporary partition still
exists, and, by running across and interrupting the plan of the roof
and cornices, plainly intimates that it has been intended to serve some
temporary purpose, since it disfigures the proportions of the room,
interferes with the ornaments of the ceiling, and could only have been
put there for some such purpose as hiding an object too disagreeable
to be looked upon. As to the objection that the bloodstains would have
disappeared in course of time, I apprehend that, if measures to efface
them were not taken immediately after the affair happened--if the blood,
in other words, were allowed to sink into the wood, the stain would
become almost indelible. Now, not to mention that our Scottish palaces
were not particularly well washed in those days, and that there were no
Patent Drops to assist the labours of the mop, I think it very probable
that these dark relics might subsist for a long course of time, even
if Mary had not desired or directed that they should be preserved, but
screened by the traverse from public sight. I know several instances
of similar bloodstains remaining for a great many years, and I doubt
whether, after a certain time, anything can remove them save the
carpenter's plane. If any seneschal, by way of increasing the interest
of the apartments, had, by means of paint, or any other mode of
imitation, endeavoured to palm upon posterity supposititious stigmata, I
conceive that the impostor would have chosen the Queen's cabinet and the
bedroom for the scene of his trick, placing his bloody tracery where it
could be distinctly seen by visitors, instead of hiding it behind
the traverse in this manner. The existence of the said traverse, or
temporary partition, is also extremely difficult to be accounted for, if
the common and ordinary tradition be rejected. In short, all the rest of
this striking locality is so true to the historical fact, that I think
it may well bear out the additional circumstance of the blood on the
floor."

"I profess to you," answered Mrs. Baliol, "that I am very willing to be
converted to your faith. We talk of a credulous vulgar, without always
recollecting that there is a vulgar incredulity, which, in historical
matters as well as in those of religion, finds it easier to doubt than
to examine, and endeavours to assume the credit of an esprit fort,
by denying whatever happens to be a little beyond the very limited
comprehension of the sceptic. And so, that point being settled, and
you possessing, as we understand, the open sesamum into these secret
apartments, how, if we may ask, do you intend to avail yourself of your
privilege? Do you propose to pass the night in the royal bedchamber?"

"For what purpose, my dear lady? If to improve the rheumatism, this east
wind may serve the purpose."

"Improve the rheumatism! Heaven forbid! that would be worse than adding
colours to the violet. No, I mean to recommend a night on the couch of
the nose of Scotland, merely to improve the imagination. Who knows
what dreams might be produced by a night spent in a mansion of so many
memories! For aught I know, the iron door of the postern stair
might open at the dead hour of midnight, and, as at the time of the
conspiracy, forth might sally the phantom assassins, with stealthy step
and ghastly look, to renew the semblance of the deed. There comes the
fierce fanatic Ruthven, party hatred enabling him to bear the armour
which would otherwise weigh down a form extenuated by wasting disease.
See how his writhen features show under the hollow helmet, like those of
a corpse tenanted by a demon, whose vindictive purpose looks out at
the flashing eyes, while the visage has the stillness of death. Yonder
appears the tall form of the boy Darnley, as goodly in person as
vacillating in resolution; yonder he advances with hesitating step, and
yet more hesitating purpose, his childish fear having already overcome
his childish passion. He is in the plight of a mischievous lad who
has fired a mine, and who now, expecting the explosion in remorse and
terror, would give his life to quench the train which his own hand
lighted. Yonder--yonder--But I forget the rest of the worthy cutthroats.
Help me if you can."

"Summon up," said I, "the postulate, George Douglas, the most active of
the gang. Let him arise at your call--the claimant of wealth which he
does not possess, the partaker of the illustrious blood of Douglas, but
which in his veins is sullied with illegitimacy. Paint him the ruthless,
the daring, the ambitious--so nigh greatness, yet debarred from it; so
near to wealth, yet excluded from possessing it; a political Tantalus,
ready to do or dare anything to terminate his necessities and assert his
imperfect claims."

"Admirable, my dear Croftangry! But what is a postulate?"

"Pooh, my dear madam, you disturb the current of my ideas. The postulate
was, in Scottish phrase, the candidate for some benefice which he had
not yet attained. George Douglas, who stabbed Rizzio, was the postulate
for the temporal possessions of the rich abbey of Arbroath."

"I stand informed. Come, proceed; who comes next?" continued Mrs.
Baliol.

"Who comes next? Yon tall, thin made, savage looking man, with the
petronel in his hand, must be Andrew Ker of Faldonside, a brother's son,
I believe, of the celebrated Sir David Ker of Cessford; his look and
bearing those of a Border freebooter, his disposition so savage that,
during the fray in the cabinet, he presented his loaded piece at the
bosom of the young and beautiful Queen, that queen also being within a
few weeks of becoming a mother."

"Brave, beau cousin! Well, having raised your bevy of phantoms, I hope
you do not intend to send them back to their cold beds to warm them? You
will put them to some action, and since you do threaten the Canongate
with your desperate quill, you surely mean to novelise, or to dramatise,
if you will, this most singular of all tragedies?"

"Worse--that is less interesting--periods of history have been, indeed,
shown up, for furnishing amusement to the peaceable ages which, have
succeeded but, dear lady, the events are too well known in Mary's days
to be used as vehicles of romantic fiction. What can a better writer
than myself add to the elegant and forcible narrative of Robertson?
So adieu to my vision. I awake, like John Bunyan, 'and behold it is a
dream.' Well enough that I awake without a sciatica, which would have
probably rewarded my slumbers had I profaned Queen Mary's bed by using
it as a mechanical resource to awaken a torpid imagination."

"This will never do, cousin," answered Mrs. Baliol; "you must get over
all these scruples, if you would thrive in the character of a romantic
historian, which you have determined to embrace. What is the classic
Robertson to you? The light which he carried was that of a lamp to
illuminate the dark events of antiquity; yours is a magic lantern to
raise up wonders which never existed. No reader of sense wonders at your
historical inaccuracies, any more than he does to see Punch in the show
box seated on the same throne with King Solomon in his glory, or to
hear him hallooing out to the patriarch, amid the deluge, 'Mighty hazy
weather, Master Noah.'"

"Do not mistake me, my dear madam," said I; "I am quite conscious of
my own immunities as a tale teller. But even the mendacious Mr. Fag, in
Sheridan's Rivals, assures us that, though he never scruples to tell
a lie at his master's command, yet it hurts his conscience to be found
out. Now, this is the reason why I avoid in prudence all well known
paths of history, where every one can read the finger posts carefully
set up to advise them of the right turning; and the very boys and girls,
who learn the history of Britain by way of question and answer, hoot at
a poor author if he abandons the highway."

"Do not be discouraged, however, cousin Chrystal. There are plenty of
wildernesses in Scottish history, through which, unless I am greatly
misinformed, no certain paths have been laid down from actual survey,
but which are only described by imperfect tradition, which fills up
with wonders and with legends the periods in which no real events are
recognised to have taken place. Even thus, as Mat Prior says:

"Geographers on pathless downs Place elephants instead of towns."

"If such be your advice, my dear lady," said I, "the course of my story
shall take its rise upon this occasion at a remote period of history,
and in a province removed from my natural sphere of the Canongate."

It was under the influence of those feelings that I undertook the
following historical romance, which, often suspended and flung aside,
is now arrived at a size too important to be altogether thrown away,
although there may be little prudence in sending it to the press.

I have not placed in the mouth of the characters the Lowland Scotch
dialect now spoken, because unquestionably the Scottish of that day
resembled very closely the Anglo Saxon, with a sprinkling of French
or Norman to enrich it. Those who wish to investigate the subject may
consult the Chronicles of Winton and the History of Bruce by Archdeacon
Barbour. But supposing my own skill in the ancient Scottish were
sufficient to invest the dialogue with its peculiarities, a translation
must have been necessary for the benefit of the general reader. The
Scottish dialect may be therefore considered as laid aside, unless
where the use of peculiar words may add emphasis or vivacity to the
composition.



PREFACE.

In continuing the lucubrations of Chrystal Croftangry, it occurred
that, although the press had of late years teemed with works of various
descriptions concerning the Scottish Gad, no attempt had hitherto been
made to sketch their manners, as these might be supposed to have
existed at the period when the statute book, as well as the page of the
chronicler, begins to present constant evidence of the difficulties to
which the crown was exposed, while the haughty house of Douglas all but
overbalanced its authority on the Southern border, and the North was
at the same time torn in pieces by the yet untamed savageness of the
Highland races, and the daring loftiness to which some of the remoter
chieftains still carried their pretensions.

The well authenticated fact of two powerful clans having deputed each
thirty champions to fight out a quarrel of old standing, in presence of
King Robert III, his brother the Duke of Albany, and the whole court of
Scotland, at Perth, in the year of grace 1396, seemed to mark with
equal distinctness the rancour of these mountain feuds and the degraded
condition of the general government of the country; and it was fixed
upon accordingly as the point on which the main incidents of a romantic
narrative might be made to hinge. The characters of Robert III,
his ambitious brother, and his dissolute son seemed to offer some
opportunities of interesting contrast; and the tragic fate of the heir
of the throne, with its immediate consequences, might serve to complete
the picture of cruelty and lawlessness.

Two features of the story of this barrier battle on the Inch of
Perth--the flight of one of the appointed champions, and the reckless
heroism of a townsman, that voluntarily offered for a small piece
of coin to supply his place in the mortal encounter--suggested the
imaginary persons, on whom much of the novel is expended. The fugitive
Celt might have been easily dealt with, had a ludicrous style of
colouring been adopted; but it appeared to the Author that there would
be more of novelty, as well as of serious interest, if he could succeed
in gaining for him something of that sympathy which is incompatible with
the total absence of respect. Miss Baillie had drawn a coward by
nature capable of acting as a hero under the strong impulse of filial
affection. It seemed not impossible to conceive the case of one
constitutionally weak of nerve being supported by feelings of honour and
of jealousy up to a certain point, and then suddenly giving way, under
circumstances to which the bravest heart could hardly refuse compassion.

The controversy as to who really were the clans that figured in the
barbarous conflict of the Inch has been revived since the publication of
the Fair Maid of Perth, and treated in particular at great length by Mr.
Robert Mackay of Thurso, in his very curious History of the House and
Clan of Mackay. Without pretending to say that he has settled any part
of the question in the affirmative, this gentleman certainly seems to
have quite succeeded in proving that his own worthy sept had no part in
the transaction. The Mackays were in that age seated, as they have since
continued to be, in the extreme north of the island; and their chief at
the time was a personage of such importance, that his name and proper
designation could not have been omitted in the early narratives of the
occurrence. He on one occasion brought four thousand of his clan to the
aid of the royal banner against the Lord of the Isles. This historian is
of opinion that the Clan Quhele of Wyntoun were the Camerons, who appear
to have about that period been often designated as Macewans, and to
have gained much more recently the name of Cameron, i.e. Wrynose, from a
blemish in the physiognomy of some heroic chief of the line of Lochiel.
This view of the case is also adopted by Douglas in his Baronage, where
he frequently mentions the bitter feuds between Clan Chattan and Clan
Kay, and identifies the latter sept in reference to the events of 1396,
with the Camerons. It is perhaps impossible to clear up thoroughly this
controversy, little interesting in itself, at least to readers on
this side of Inverness. The names, as we have them in Wyntoun, are
"Clanwhewyl" and "Clachinya," the latter probably not correctly
transcribed. In the Scoti Chronicon they are "Clanquhele" and "Clankay.
Hector Boece writes Clanchattan" and "Clankay," in which he is followed
by Leslie while Buchanan disdains to disfigure his page with their
Gaelic designations at all, and merely describes them as two powerful
races in the wild and lawless region beyond the Grampians. Out of
this jumble what Sassenach can pretend dare lucem? The name Clanwheill
appears so late as 1594, in an Act of James VI. Is it not possible that
it may be, after all, a mere corruption of Clan Lochiel?

The reader may not be displeased to have Wyntoun's original rhymes [bk.
ix. chap. xvii.]:


     A thousand and thre hundyr yere,
     Nynty and sex to mak all clere--
     Of thre scor wyld Scottis men,
     Thretty agane thretty then,
     In felny bolnit of auld fed,
     [Boiled with the cruelty of an old feud]
     As thare forelderis ware slane to dede.
     Tha thre score ware clannys twa,
     Clahynnhe Qwhewyl and Clachinyha;
     Of thir twa kynnis ware tha men,
     Thretty agane thretty then;
     And thare thai had than chiftanys twa,
     Scha Ferqwharis' son wes ane of tha,
     The tother Cristy Johnesone.
     A selcouth thing be tha was done.
     At Sanct Johnestone besid the Freris,
     All thai entrit in barreris
     Wyth bow and ax, knyf and swerd,
     To deil amang thaim thare last werd.
     Thare thai laid on that time sa fast,
     Quha had the ware thare at the last
     I will noucht say; hot quha best had,
     He wes but dout bathe muth and mad.
     Fifty or ma ware slane that day,
     Sua few wyth lif than past away.

The prior of Lochleven makes no mention either of the evasion of one
of the Gaelic champions, or of the gallantry of the Perth artisan, in
offering to take a share in the conflict. Both incidents, however,
were introduced, no doubt from tradition, by the Continuator of Fordun
[Bower], whose narrative is in these words:


Anno Dom. millesimo trecentesimo nonagesimo sexto, magna pars borealis
Scotiae, trans Alpes, inquietata fuit per duos pestiferos Cateranos, et
eorum sequaces, viz. Scheabeg et suos consanguinarios, qui Clankay, et
Cristi Jonsonem ac suos, qui Clanqwhele dicebantur; qui nullo pacto
vel tractatu pacificari poterant, nullaque arte regis vel gubernatoris
poterant edomari, quoadusque nobilis et industriosus Dominus David de
Lindesay de Crawford, at Dominus Thomas comes Moraviae, diligentiam et
vires apposuerunt, ac inter partes sic tractaverunt, ut coram domino
rege certo die convenirent apud Perth, et alterutra pars eligeret de
progenie sua triginta personas adversus triginta de parte contraria,
cum gladiis tantum, et arcubus et sagittis, absque deploidibus, vel
armaturis aliis, praeter bipennes; et sic congredientes finem liti
ponerant, et terra pace potiretur. Utrique igitur parti summe placuit
contractus, et die lunae proximo ante festum Sancti Michaelis, apud
North insulam de Perth, coram rege et gubernatore et innumerabili
multitudine comparentes, conflictum acerrimum inierunt; ubi de sexaginta
interfecti sunt omnes, excepto uno ex parte Clankay et undecim exceptis
ex parte altera. Hoc etiam ibi accidit, quod omnes in procinctu belli
constituti, unus eorum locum diffugii considerans, inter omnes in
amnem elabitur, et aquam de Thaya natando transgreditur; a millenis
insequitur, sed nusquam apprehenditur. Stant igitur partes attonitae,
tanquam non ad conflictum progressuri, ob defectum evasi: noluit enim
pars integrum habens numerum sociorum consentire, ut unus de suis
demeretur; nec potuit pars altera quocumque pretio alterum ad supplendum
vicem fugientis inducere. Stupent igitur omnes haerentes, de damno
fugitivi conquerentes. Et cum totum illud opus cessare putaretur, ecce
in medio prorupit unus stipulosus vernaculus, statura modicus, sed
efferus, dicens: Ecce ego! quis me conducet intrare cum operariis istis
ad hunc ludum theatralem? Pro dimidia enim marca ludum experiar, ultra
hoc petens, ut si vivus de palaestra evasero, victum a quocumque vestrum
recipiam dum vixero: quia, sicut dicitur, "Majorem caritatem nemo habet,
quam ut animam suam ponat suis pro amicis." Quali mercede donabor, qui
animam meam pro inimicis reipublicae et regni pono? Quod petiit, a rege
et diversis magnatibus conceditur. Cum hoc arcus ejus extenditur, et
primo sagittam in partem contrariam transmittit, et unum interficit.
Confestim hinc inde sagittae volitant, bipennes librant, gladios
vibrant, alterutro certant, et veluti carnifices boves in macello, sic
inconsternate ad invicem se trucidant. Sed nec inter tantos repertus
est vel unus, qui, tanquam vecors ant timidus, sive post tergum alterius
declinans, seipsum a tanta caede praetendit excusare. Iste tamen tyro
superveniens finaliter illaesus exivit; et dehinc multo tempore Boreas
quievit, nec ibidem fuit, ut supra, cateranorum excursus.

The scene is heightened with many florid additions by Boece and Leslie,
and the contending savages in Buchanan utter speeches after the most
approved pattern of Livy.

The devotion of the young chief of Clan Quhele's foster father and
foster brethren in the novel is a trait of clannish fidelity, of which
Highland story furnishes many examples. In the battle of Inverkeithing,
between the Royalists and Oliver Cromwell's troops, a foster father and
seven brave sons are known to have thus sacrificed themselves for Sir
Hector Maclean of Duart; the old man, whenever one of his boys fell,
thrusting forward another to fill his place at the right hand of the
beloved chief, with the very words adopted in the novel, "Another for
Hector!"

Nay, the feeling could outlive generations. The late much lamented
General Stewart of Garth, in his account of the battle of Killiecrankie,
informs us that Lochiel was attended on the field by the son of his
foster brother.

"This faithful adherent followed him like his shadow, ready to assist
him with his sword, or cover him from the shot of the enemy. Suddenly
the chief missed his friend from his side, and, turning round to look
what had become of him, saw him lying on his back with his breast
pierced by an arrow. He had hardly breath, before he expired, to tell
Lochiel that, seeing an enemy, a Highlander in General Mackay's army,
aiming at him with a bow and arrow, he sprung behind him, and thus
sheltered him from instant death. This" observes the gallant David
Stewart, "is a species of duty not often practised, perhaps, by our aide
de camps of the present day."--Sketches of the Highlanders, vol. i. p.
65.

I have only to add, that the Second Series of Chronicles of the
Canongate, with the chapter introductory which precedes, appeared in
May, 1828, and had a favourable reception.

ABBOTSFORD, Aug. 15, 1831.



CHAPTER I.

     "Behold the Tiber," the vain Roman cried,
     Viewing the ample Tay from Baiglie's side;
     But where's the Scot that would the vaunt repay,
     And hail the puny Tiber for the Tay?

     Anonymous.


Among all the provinces in Scotland, if an intelligent stranger were
asked to describe the most varied and the most beautiful, it is probable
he would name the county of Perth. A native also of any other district
of Caledonia, though his partialities might lead him to prefer his
native county in the first instance, would certainly class that of Perth
in the second, and thus give its inhabitants a fair right to plead that,
prejudice apart, Perthshire forms the fairest portion of the Northern
kingdom. It is long since Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, with that excellent
taste which characterises her writings, expressed her opinion that the
most interesting district of every country, and that which exhibits the
varied beauties of natural scenery in greatest perfection, is that where
the mountains sink down upon the champaign, or more level land. The
most picturesque, if not the highest, hills are also to be found in the
county of Perth. The rivers find their way out of the mountainous region
by the wildest leaps, and through the most romantic passes connecting
the Highlands with the Lowlands. Above, the vegetation of a happier
climate and soil is mingled with the magnificent characteristics of
mountain scenery, and woods, groves, and thickets in profusion clothe
the base of the hills, ascend up the ravines, and mingle with the
precipices. It is in such favoured regions that the traveller finds what
the poet Gray, or some one else, has termed beauty lying in the lap of
terror.

From the same advantage of situation, this favoured province presents a
variety of the most pleasing character. Its lakes, woods, and mountains
may vie in beauty with any that the Highland tour exhibits; while
Perthshire contains, amidst this romantic scenery, and in some places in
connexion with it, many fertile and habitable tracts, which may vie
with the richness of merry England herself. The county has also been
the scene of many remarkable exploits and events, some of historical
importance, others interesting to the poet and romancer, though recorded
in popular tradition alone. It was in these vales that the Saxons of
the plain and the Gad of the mountains had many a desperate and bloody
encounter, in which it was frequently impossible to decide the palm of
victory between the mailed chivalry of the low country and the plaided
clans whom they opposed.

Perth, so eminent for the beauty of its situation, is a place of great
antiquity; and old tradition assigns to the town the importance of
a Roman foundation. That victorious nation, it is said, pretended to
recognise the Tiber in the much more magnificent and navigable Tay,
and to acknowledge the large level space, well known by the name of the
North Inch, as having a near resemblance to their Campus Martins. The
city was often the residence of our monarchs, who, although they had no
palace at Perth, found the Cistercian convent amply sufficient for the
reception of their court. It was here that James the First, one of the
wisest and best of the Scottish kings, fell a victim to the jealousy of
the vengeful aristocracy. Here also occurred the mysterious conspiracy
of Gowrie, the scene of which has only of late been effaced by the
destruction of the ancient palace in which the tragedy was acted. The
Antiquarian Society of Perth, with just zeal for the objects of their
pursuit, have published an accurate plan of this memorable mansion, with
some remarks upon its connexion with the narrative of the plot, which
display equal acuteness and candour.

One of the most beautiful points of view which Britain, or perhaps the
world, can afford is, or rather we may say was, the prospect from a
spot called the Wicks of Baiglie, being a species of niche at which the
traveller arrived, after a long stage from Kinross, through a waste and
uninteresting country, and from which, as forming a pass over the
summit of a ridgy eminence which he had gradually surmounted, he beheld,
stretching beneath him, the valley of the Tay, traversed by its ample
and lordly stream; the town of Perth, with its two large meadows, or
inches, its steeples, and its towers; the hills of Moncrieff and Kinnoul
faintly rising into picturesque rocks, partly clothed with woods; the
rich margin of the river, studded with elegant mansions; and the
distant view of the huge Grampian mountains, the northern screen of this
exquisite landscape. The alteration of the road, greatly, it must
be owned, to the improvement of general intercourse, avoids this
magnificent point of view, and the landscape is introduced more
gradually and partially to the eye, though the approach must be still
considered as extremely beautiful. There is still, we believe, a
footpath left open, by which the station at the Wicks of Baiglie may be
approached; and the traveller, by quitting his horse or equipage, and
walking a few hundred yards, may still compare the real landscape with
the sketch which we have attempted to give. But it is not in our power
to communicate, or in his to receive, the exquisite charm which surprise
gives to pleasure, when so splendid a view arises when least expected or
hoped for, and which Chrystal Croftangry experienced when he beheld, for
the first time, the matchless scene.

Childish wonder, indeed, was an ingredient in my delight, for I was not
above fifteen years old; and as this had been the first excursion which
I was permitted to make on a pony of my own, I also experienced the
glow of independence, mingled with that degree of anxiety which the most
conceited boy feels when he is first abandoned to his own undirected
counsels. I recollect pulling up the reins without meaning to do so,
and gazing on the scene before me as if I had been afraid it would shift
like those in a theatre before I could distinctly observe its different
parts, or convince myself that what I saw was real. Since that hour, and
the period is now more than fifty years past, the recollection of that
inimitable landscape has possessed the strongest influence over my
mind, and retained its place as a memorable thing, when much that was
influential on my own fortunes has fled from my recollection. It is
therefore unnatural that, whilst deliberating on what might be brought
forward for the amusement of the public, I should pitch upon some
narrative connected with the splendid scenery which made so much
impression on my youthful imagination, and which may perhaps have that
effect in setting off the imperfections of the composition which ladies
suppose a fine set of china to possess in heightening the flavour of
indifferent tea.

The period at which I propose to commence is, however, considerably
earlier of the remarkable historical transactions to which I have
already alluded, as the events which I am about to recount occurred
during the last years of the 14th century, when the Scottish sceptre was
swayed by the gentle but feeble hand of John, who, on being called to
the throne, assumed the title of Robert the Third.



CHAPTER II.

     A country lip may have the velvet touch;
     Though she's no lady, she may please as much.

     DRYDEN.


Perth, boasting, as we have already mentioned, so large a portion of the
beauties of inanimate nature, has at no time been without its own share
of those charms which are at once more interesting and more transient.
To be called the Fair Maid of Perth would at any period have been a
high distinction, and have inferred no mean superiority in beauty, where
there were many to claim that much envied attribute. But, in the feudal
times to which we now call the reader's attention, female beauty was a
quality of much higher importance than it has been since the ideas of
chivalry have been in a great measure extinguished. The love of the
ancient cavaliers was a licensed species of idolatry, which the love of
Heaven alone was theoretically supposed to approach in intensity, and
which in practice it seldom equalled. God and the ladies were familiarly
appealed to in the same breath; and devotion to the fair sex was as
peremptorily enjoined upon the aspirant to the honour of chivalry as
that which was due to Heaven. At such a period in society, the power of
beauty was almost unlimited. It could level the highest rank with that
which was immeasurably inferior.

It was but in the reign preceding that of Robert III. that beauty alone
had elevated a person of inferior rank and indifferent morals to share
the Scottish throne; and many women, less artful or less fortunate, had
risen to greatness from a state of concubinage, for which the manners
of the times made allowance and apology. Such views might have dazzled
a girl of higher birth than Catharine, or Katie, Glover, who was
universally acknowledged to be the most beautiful young woman of the
city or its vicinity, and whose renown, as the Fair Maid of Perth, had
drawn on her much notice from the young gallants of the royal court,
when it chanced to be residing in or near Perth, insomuch that more than
one nobleman of the highest rank, and most distinguished for deeds of
chivalry, were more attentive to exhibit feats of horsemanship as they
passed the door of old Simon Glover, in what was called Couvrefew, or
Curfew, Street, than to distinguish themselves in the tournaments, where
the noblest dames of Scotland were spectators of their address. But the
glover's daughter--for, as was common with the citizens and artisans of
that early period, her father, Simon, derived his surname from the trade
which he practised--showed no inclination to listen to any gallantry
which came from those of a station highly exalted above that which she
herself occupied, and, though probably in no degree insensible to her
personal charms, seemed desirous to confine her conquests to those who
were within her own sphere of life. Indeed, her beauty being of that
kind which we connect more with the mind than with the person, was,
notwithstanding her natural kindness and gentleness of disposition,
rather allied to reserve than to gaiety, even when in company with her
equals; and the earnestness with which she attended upon the exercises
of devotion induced many to think that Catharine Glover nourished the
private wish to retire from the world and bury herself in the recesses
of the cloister. But to such a sacrifice, should it be meditated, it
was not to be expected her father, reputed a wealthy man and having this
only child, would yield a willing consent.

In her resolution of avoiding the addresses of the gallant courtiers,
the reigning beauty of Perth was confirmed by the sentiments of her
parent.

"Let them go," he said--"let them go, Catharine, those gallants, with
their capering horses, their jingling spurs, their plumed bonnets, and
their trim mustachios: they are not of our class, nor will we aim at
pairing with them. Tomorrow is St. Valentine's Day, when every bird
chooses her mate; but you will not see the linnet pair with the sparrow
hawk, nor the Robin Redbreast with the kite. My father was an honest
burgher of Perth, and could use his needle as well as I can. Did there
come war to the gates of our fair burgh, down went needles, thread, and
shamoy leather, and out came the good head piece and target from the
dark nook, and the long lance from above the chimney. Show me a day that
either he or I was absent when the provost made his musters! Thus we
have led our lives, my girl, working to win our bread, and fighting to
defend it. I will have no son in law that thinks himself better than me;
and for these lords and knights, I trust thou wilt always remember thou
art too low to be their lawful love, and too high to be their unlawful
loon. And now lay by thy work, lass, for it is holytide eve, and it
becomes us to go to the evening service, and pray that Heaven may send
thee a good Valentine tomorrow."

So the Fair Maid of Perth laid aside the splendid hawking glove which
she was embroidering for the Lady Drummond, and putting on her holyday
kirtle, prepared to attend her father to the Blackfriars monastery,
which was adjacent to Couvrefew Street in which they lived. On their
passage, Simon Glover, an ancient and esteemed burgess of Perth,
somewhat stricken in years and increased in substance, received from
young and old the homage due to his velvet jerkin and his golden chain,
while the well known beauty of Catharine, though concealed beneath her
screen--which resembled the mantilla still worn in Flanders--called both
obeisances and doffings of the bonnet from young and old.

As the pair moved on arm in arm, they were followed by a tall handsome
young man, dressed in a yeoman's habit of the plainest kind, but which
showed to advantage his fine limbs, as the handsome countenance that
looked out from a quantity of curled tresses, surmounted by a small
scarlet bonnet, became that species of headdress. He had no other weapon
than a staff in his hand, it not being thought fit that persons of his
degree (for he was an apprentice to the old glover) should appear on
the street armed with sword or dagger, a privilege which the jackmen, or
military retainers of the nobility, esteemed exclusively their own. He
attended his master at holytide, partly in the character of a domestic,
or guardian, should there be cause for his interference; but it was
not difficult to discern, by the earnest attention which he paid to
Catharine Glover, that it was to her, rather than to her father, that he
desired to dedicate his good offices.

Generally speaking, there was no opportunity for his zeal displaying
itself; for a common feeling of respect induced passengers to give way
to the father and daughter.

But when the steel caps, barrets, and plumes of squires, archers, and
men at arms began to be seen among the throng, the wearers of these
warlike distinctions were more rude in their demeanour than the
quiet citizens. More than once, when from chance, or perhaps from an
assumption of superior importance, such an individual took the wall of
Simon in passing, the glover's youthful attendant bristled up with a
look of defiance, and the air of one who sought to distinguish his zeal
in his mistress's service by its ardour. As frequently did Conachar, for
such was the lad's name, receive a check from his master, who gave him
to understand that he did not wish his interference before he required
it.

"Foolish boy," he said, "hast thou not lived long enough in my shop to
know that a blow will breed a brawl; that a dirk will cut the skin as
fast as a needle pierces leather; that I love peace, though I never
feared war, and care not which side of the causeway my daughter and I
walk upon so we may keep our road in peace and quietness?"

Conachar excused himself as zealous for his master's honour, yet was
scarce able to pacify the old citizen.

"What have we to do with honour?" said Simon Glover. "If thou wouldst
remain in my service, thou must think of honesty, and leave honour to
the swaggering fools who wear steel at their heels and iron on their
shoulders. If you wish to wear and use such garniture, you are welcome,
but it shall not be in my house or in my company."

Conachar seemed rather to kindle at this rebuke than to submit to it.
But a sign from Catharine, if that slight raising of her little finger
was indeed a sign, had more effect than the angry reproof of his master;
and the youth laid aside the military air which seemed natural to him,
and relapsed into the humble follower of a quiet burgher.

Meantime the little party were overtaken by a tall young man wrapped in
a cloak, which obscured or muffled a part of his face--a practice often
used by the gallants of the time, when they did not wish to be known, or
were abroad in quest of adventures. He seemed, in short, one who might
say to the world around him: "I desire, for the present, not to be known
or addressed in my own character; but, as I am answerable to myself
alone for my actions, I wear my incognito but for form's sake, and care
little whether you see through it or not."

He came on the right side of Catharine, who had hold of her father's
arm, and slackened his pace as if joining their party.

"Good even to you, goodman."

"The same to your worship, and thanks. May I pray you to pass on? Our
pace is too slow for that of your lordship, our company too mean for
that of your father's son."

"My father's son can best judge of that, old man. I have business to
talk of with you and with my fair St. Catharine here, the loveliest and
most obdurate saint in the calendar."

"With deep reverence, my lord," said the old man, "I would remind you
that this is good St. Valentine's Eve, which is no time for business,
and that I can have your worshipful commands by a serving man as early
as it pleases you to send them."

"There is no time like the present," said the persevering youth, whose
rank seemed to be a kind which set him above ceremony. "I wish to know
whether the buff doublet be finished which I commissioned some time
since; and from you, pretty Catharine (here he sank his voice to a
whisper), I desire to be informed whether your fair fingers have been
employed upon it, agreeably to your promise? But I need not ask you,
for my poor heart has felt the pang of each puncture that pierced the
garment which was to cover it. Traitress, how wilt thou answer for thus
tormenting the heart that loves thee so dearly?"

"Let me entreat you, my lord," said Catharine, "to forego this wild
talk: it becomes not you to speak thus, or me to listen. We are of poor
rank but honest manners; and the presence of the father ought to protect
the child from such expressions, even from your lordship."

This she spoke so low, that neither her father nor Conachar could
understand what she said.

"Well, tyrant," answered the persevering gallant, "I will plague you no
longer now, providing you will let me see you from your window tomorrow,
when the sun first peeps over the eastern hills, and give me right to be
your Valentine for the year."

"Not so, my lord; my father but now told me that hawks, far less eagles,
pair not with the humble linnet. Seek some court lady, to whom your
favours will be honour; to me--your Highness must permit me to speak the
plain truth--they can be nothing but disgrace."

As they spoke thus, the party arrived at the gate of the church.

"Your lordship will, I trust, permit us here to take leave of you?" said
her father. "I am well aware how little you will alter your pleasure for
the pain and uneasiness you may give to such as us but, from the throng
of attendants at the gate, your lordship may see that there are others
in the church to whom even your gracious lordship must pay respect."

"Yes--respect; and who pays any respect to me?" said the haughty young
lord. "A miserable artisan and his daughter, too much honoured by
my slightest notice, have the insolence to tell me that my notice
dishonours them. Well, my princess of white doe skin and blue silk, I
will teach you to rue this."

As he murmured thus, the glover and his daughter entered the Dominican
church, and their attendant, Conachar, in attempting to follow them
closely, jostled, it may be not unwillingly, the young nobleman. The
gallant, starting from his unpleasing reverie, and perhaps considering
this as an intentional insult, seized on the young man by the breast,
struck him, and threw him from him. His irritated opponent recovered
himself with difficulty, and grasped towards his own side, as if seeking
a sword or dagger in the place where it was usually worn; but finding
none, he made a gesture of disappointed rage, and entered the church.
During the few seconds he remained, the young nobleman stood with his
arms folded on his breast, with a haughty smile, as if defying him to do
his worst. When Conachar had entered the church, his opponent, adjusting
his cloak yet closer about his face, made a private signal by holding
up one of his gloves. He was instantly joined by two men, who, disguised
like himself, had waited his motions at a little distance. They spoke
together earnestly, after which the young nobleman retired in one
direction, his friends or followers going off in another.

Simon Glover, before he entered the church, cast a look towards the
group, but had taken his place among the congregation before they
separated themselves. He knelt down with the air of a man who has
something burdensome on his mind; but when the service was ended,
he seemed free from anxiety, as one who had referred himself and his
troubles to the disposal of Heaven. The ceremony of High Mass was
performed with considerable solemnity, a number of noblemen and ladies
of rank being present. Preparations had indeed been made for the
reception of the good old King himself, but some of those infirmities to
which he was subject had prevented Robert III from attending the service
as was his wont. When the congregation were dismissed, the glover and
his beautiful daughter lingered for some time, for the purpose of making
their several shrifts in the confessionals, where the priests had taken
their places for discharging that part of their duty. Thus it happened
that the night had fallen dark, and the way was solitary, when they
returned along the now deserted streets to their own dwelling.

Most persons had betaken themselves to home and to bed. They who still
lingered in the street were night walkers or revellers, the idle and
swaggering retainers of the haughty nobles, who were much wont to insult
the peaceful passengers, relying on the impunity which their masters'
court favour was too apt to secure them.

It was, perhaps, in apprehension of mischief from some character of
this kind that Conachar, stepping up to the glover, said, "Master, walk
faster--we are dogg'd."

"Dogg'd, sayest thou? By whom and by how many?"

"By one man muffled in his cloak, who follows us like our shadow."

"Then will it never mend my pace along the Couvrefew Street for the best
one man that ever trode it."

"But he has arms," said Conachar.

"And so have we, and hands, and legs, and feet. Why, sure, Conachar, you
are not afraid of one man?"

"Afraid!" answered Conachar, indignant at the insinuation; "you shall
soon know if I am afraid."

"Now you are as far on the other side of the mark, thou foolish boy:
thy temper has no middle course; there is no occasion to make a brawl,
though we do not run. Walk thou before with Catharine, and I will take
thy place. We cannot be exposed to danger so near home as we are."

The glover fell behind accordingly, and certainly observed a person
keep so close to them as, the time and place considered, justified some
suspicion. When they crossed the street, he also crossed it, and when
they advanced or slackened their pace, the stranger's was in proportion
accelerated or diminished. The matter would have been of very little
consequence had Simon Glover been alone; but the beauty of his daughter
might render her the object of some profligate scheme, in a country
where the laws afforded such slight protection to those who had not the
means to defend themselves.

Conachar and his fair charge having arrived on the threshold of their
own apartment, which was opened to them by an old female servant, the
burgher's uneasiness was ended. Determined, however, to ascertain, if
possible, whether there had been any cause for it, he called out to the
man whose motions had occasioned the alarm, and who stood still, though
he seemed to keep out of reach of the light. "Come, step forward, my
friend, and do not play at bo peep; knowest thou not, that they who
walk like phantoms in the dark are apt to encounter the conjuration of a
quarterstaff? Step forward, I say, and show us thy shapes, man."

"Why, so I can, Master Glover," said one of the deepest voices that ever
answered question. "I can show my shapes well enough, only I wish they
could bear the light something better."

"Body of me," exclaimed Simon, "I should know that voice! And is it
thou, in thy bodily person, Harry Gow? Nay, beshrew me if thou passest
this door with dry lips. What, man, curfew has not rung yet, and if it
had, it were no reason why it should part father and son. Come in, man;
Dorothy shall get us something to eat, and we will jingle a can ere thou
leave us. Come in, I say; my daughter Kate will be right glad to see
thee."

By this time he had pulled the person, whom he welcomed so cordially,
into a sort of kitchen, which served also upon ordinary occasions the
office of parlour. Its ornaments were trenchers of pewter, mixed with a
silver cup or two, which, in the highest degree of cleanliness, occupied
a range of shelves like those of a beauffet, popularly called "the
bink." A good fire, with the assistance of a blazing lamp, spread light
and cheerfulness through the apartment, and a savoury smell of some
victuals which Dorothy was preparing did not at all offend the unrefined
noses of those whose appetite they were destined to satisfy.

Their unknown attendant now stood in full light among them, and though
his appearance was neither dignified nor handsome, his face and figure
were not only deserving of attention, but seemed in some manner to
command it. He was rather below the middle stature, but the breadth
of his shoulders, length and brawniness of his arms, and the muscular
appearance of the whole man, argued a most unusual share of strength,
and a frame kept in vigour by constant exercise. His legs were somewhat
bent, but not in a manner which could be said to approach to deformity,
on the contrary, which seemed to correspond to the strength of his
frame, though it injured in some degree its symmetry.

His dress was of buff hide; and he wore in a belt around his waist a
heavy broadsword, and a dirk or poniard, as if to defend his purse,
which (burgher fashion) was attached to the same cincture. The head was
well proportioned, round, close cropped, and curled thickly with black
hair. There was daring and resolution in the dark eye, but the other
features seemed to express a bashful timidity, mingled with good humor,
and obvious satisfaction at meeting with his old friends.

Abstracted from the bashful expression, which was that of the moment,
the forehead of Henry Gow, or Smith, for he was indifferently so called,
was high and noble, but the lower part of the face was less happily
formed. The mouth was large, and well furnished with a set of firm and
beautiful teeth, the appearance of which corresponded with the air of
personal health and muscular strength which the whole frame indicated.
A short thick beard, and mustachios which had lately been arranged with
some care, completed the picture. His age could not exceed eight and
twenty.

The family appeared all well pleased with the unexpected appearance of
an old friend. Simon Glover shook his hand again and again, Dorothy made
her compliments, and Catharine herself offered freely her hand, which
Henry held in his massive grasp, as if he designed to carry it to his
lips, but, after a moment's hesitation, desisted, from fear lest the
freedom might be ill taken. Not that there was any resistance on the
part of the little hand which lay passive in his grasp; but there was a
smile mingled with the blush on her cheek, which seemed to increase the
confusion of the gallant.

Her father, on his part, called out frankly, as he saw his friend's
hesitation: "Her lips, man--her lips! and that's a proffer I would not
make to every one who crosses my threshold. But, by good St. Valentine,
whose holyday will dawn tomorrow, I am so glad to see thee in the bonny
city of Perth again that it would be hard to tell the thing I could
refuse thee."

The smith, for, as has been said, such was the craft of this sturdy
artisan, was encouraged modestly to salute the Fair Maid, who yielded
the courtesy with a smile of affection that might have become a sister,
saying, at the same time: "Let me hope that I welcome back to Perth a
repentant and amended man."

He held her hand as if about to answer, then suddenly, as one who lost
courage at the moment, relinquished his grasp; and drawing back as
if afraid of what he had done, his dark countenance glowing with
bashfulness, mixed with delight, he sat down by the fire on the opposite
side from that which Catharine occupied.

"Come, Dorothy, speed thee with the food, old woman; and Conachar--where
is Conachar?"

"He is gone to bed, sir, with a headache," said Catharine, in a
hesitating voice.

"Go, call him, Dorothy," said the old glover; "I will not be used thus
by him: his Highland blood, forsooth, is too gentle to lay a trencher
or spread a napkin, and he expects to enter our ancient and honourable
craft without duly waiting and tending upon his master and teacher in
all matters of lawful obedience. Go, call him, I say; I will not be thus
neglected."

Dorothy was presently heard screaming upstairs, or more probably up a
ladder, to the cock loft, to which the recusant apprentice had made
an untimely retreat; a muttered answer was returned, and soon after
Conachar appeared in the eating apartment. There was a gloom of
deep sullenness on his haughty, though handsome, features, and as he
proceeded to spread the board, and arrange the trenchers, with salt,
spices, and other condiments--to discharge, in short, the duties of
a modern domestic, which the custom of the time imposed upon all
apprentices--he was obviously disgusted and indignant with the mean
office imposed upon him.

The Fair Maid of Perth looked with some anxiety at him, as if
apprehensive that his evident sullenness might increase her father's
displeasure; but it was not till her eyes had sought out his for a
second time that Conachar condescended to veil his dissatisfaction,
and throw a greater appearance of willingness and submission into the
services which he was performing.

And here we must acquaint our reader that, though the private
interchange of looks betwixt Catharine Glover and the young mountaineer
indicated some interest on the part of the former in the conduct of the
latter, it would have puzzled the strictest observer to discover whether
that feeling exceeded in degree what might have been felt by a young
person towards a friend and inmate of the same age, with whom she had
lived on habits of intimacy.

"Thou hast had a long journey, son Henry," said Glover, who had always
used that affectionate style of speech, though no ways akin to the young
artisan; "ay, and hast seen many a river besides Tay, and many a fair
bigging besides St. Johnston."

"But none that I like half so well, and none that are half so much worth
my liking," answered the smith. "I promise you, father, that, when
I crossed the Wicks of Baiglie, and saw the bonny city lie stretched
fairly before me like a fairy queen in romance, whom the knight finds
asleep among a wilderness of flowers, I felt even as a bird when it
folds its wearied wings to stoop down on its own nest."

"Aha! so thou canst play the maker [old Scottish for poet] yet?" said
the glover. "What, shall we have our ballets and our roundels again? our
lusty carols for Christmas, and our mirthful springs to trip it round
the maypole?"

"Such toys there may be forthcoming, father," said Henry Smith, "though
the blast of the bellows and the clatter of the anvil make but coarse
company to lays of minstrelsy; but I can afford them no better, since I
must mend my fortune, though I mar my verses."

"Right again--my own son just," answered the glover; "and I trust thou
hast made a saving voyage of it?"

"Nay, I made a thriving one, father: I sold the steel habergeon that you
wot of for four hundred marks to the English Warden of the East Marches,
Sir Magnus Redman. He scarce scrupled a penny after I gave him leave to
try a sword dint upon it. The beggardly Highland thief who bespoke it
boggled at half the sum, though it had cost me a year's labour."

"What dost thou start at, Conachar?" said Simon, addressing himself, by
way of parenthesis, to the mountain disciple; "wilt thou never learn to
mind thy own business, without listening to what is passing round
thee? What is it to thee that an Englishman thinks that cheap which a
Scottishman may hold dear?"

Conachar turned round to speak, but, after a moment's consideration,
looked down, and endeavoured to recover his composure, which had been
deranged by the contemptuous manner in which the smith had spoken of his
Highland customer.

Henry went on without paying any attention to him. "I sold at high
prices some swords and whingers when I was at Edinburgh. They expect war
there; and if it please God to send it, my merchandise will be worth its
price. St. Dunstan make us thankful, for he was of our craft. In short,
this fellow (laying his hand on his purse); who, thou knowest, father,
was somewhat lank and low in condition when I set out four months since,
is now as round and full as a six weeks' porker."

"And that other leathern sheathed, iron hilted fellow who hangs beside
him," said the glover, "has he been idle all this while? Come, jolly
smith, confess the truth--how many brawls hast thou had since crossing
the Tay?"

"Nay, now you do me wrong, father, to ask me such a question (glancing
a look at Catharine) in such a presence," answered the armourer: "I
make swords, indeed, but I leave it to other people to use them. No--no,
seldom have I a naked sword in my fist, save when I am turning them
on the anvil or grindstone; and they slandered me to your daughter
Catharine, that led her to suspect the quietest burgess in Perth of
being a brawler. I wish the best of them would dare say such a word at
the Hill of Kinnoul, and never a man on the green but he and I."

"Ay--ay," said the glover, laughing, "we should then have a fine sample
of your patient sufferance. Out upon you, Henry, that you will speak so
like a knave to one who knows thee so well! You look at Kate, too, as if
she did not know that a man in this country must make his hand keep his
head, unless he will sleep in slender security. Come--come, beshrew me
if thou hast not spoiled as many suits of armour as thou hast made."

"Why, he would be a bad armourer, father Simon, that could not with
his own blow make proof of his own workmanship. If I did not sometimes
cleave a helmet, or strike a point through a harness, I should not know
what strength of fabric to give them; and might jingle together such
pasteboard work as yonder Edinburgh smiths think not shame to put out of
their hands."

"Aha, now would I lay a gold crown thou hast had a quarrel with some
Edinburgh 'burn the wind' upon that very ground?"

["Burn the wind," an old cant term for blacksmith, appears in Burns:

Then burnewin came on like death, At every chaup, etc.]


"A quarrel! no, father," replied the Perth armourer, "but a measuring
of swords with such a one upon St. Leonard's Crags, for the honour of
my bonny city, I confess. Surely you do not think I would quarrel with a
brother craftsman?"

"Ah, to a surety, no. But how did your brother craftman come off?"

"Why, as one with a sheet of paper on his bosom might come off from the
stroke of a lance; or rather, indeed, he came not off at all, for, when
I left him, he was lying in the Hermit's Lodge daily expecting death,
for which Father Gervis said he was in heavenly preparation."

"Well, any more measuring of weapons?" said the glover.

"Why, truly, I fought an Englishman at Berwick besides, on the old
question of the supremacy, as they call it--I am sure you would not have
me slack at that debate?--and I had the luck to hurt him on the left
knee."

"Well done for St. Andrew! to it again. Whom next had you to deal with?"
said Simon, laughing at the exploits of his pacific friend.

"I fought a Scotchman in the Torwood," answered Henry Smith, "upon a
doubt which was the better swordsman, which, you are aware, could not be
known or decided without a trial. The poor fellow lost two fingers."

"Pretty well for the most peaceful lad in Perth, who never touches a
sword but in the way of his profession. Well, anything more to tell us?"

"Little; for the drubbing of a Highlandman is a thing not worth
mentioning."

"For what didst thou drub him, O man of peace?" inquired the glover.

"For nothing that I can remember," replied the smith, "except his
presenting himself on the south side of Stirling Bridge."

"Well, here is to thee, and thou art welcome to me after all these
exploits. Conachar, bestir thee. Let the cans clink, lad, and thou shalt
have a cup of the nut brown for thyself, my boy."

Conachar poured out the good liquor for his master and for Catharine
with due observance. But that done, he set the flagon on the table and
sat down.

"How now, sirrah! be these your manners? Fill to my guest, the
worshipful Master Henry Smith."

"Master Smith may fill for himself, if he wishes for liquor," answered
the youthful Celt. "The son of my father has demeaned himself enough
already for one evening."

"That's well crowed for a cockerel," said Henry; "but thou art so far
right, my lad, that the man deserves to die of thirst who will not drink
without a cupbearer."

But his entertainer took not the contumacy of the young apprentice with
so much patience. "Now, by my honest word, and by the best glove I ever
made," said Simon, "thou shalt help him with liquor from that cup and
flagon, if thee and I are to abide under one roof."

Conachar arose sullenly upon hearing this threat, and, approaching the
smith, who had just taken the tankard in his hand, and was raising it
to his head, he contrived to stumble against him and jostle him so
awkwardly, that the foaming ale gushed over his face, person, and dress.
Good natured as the smith, in spite of his warlike propensities, really
was in the utmost degree, his patience failed under such a provocation.
He seized the young man's throat, being the part which came readiest to
his grasp, as Conachar arose from the pretended stumble, and pressing
it severely as he cast the lad from him, exclaimed: "Had this been in
another place, young gallows bird, I had stowed the lugs out of thy
head, as I have done to some of thy clan before thee."

Conachar recovered his feet with the activity of a tiger, and exclaimed:
"Never shall you live to make that boast again!" drew a short, sharp
knife from his bosom, and, springing on Henry Smith, attempted to plunge
it into his body over the collarbone, which must have been a mortal
wound. But the object of this violence was so ready to defend himself
by striking up the assailant's hand, that the blow only glanced on the
bone, and scarce drew blood. To wrench the dagger from the boy's hand,
and to secure him with a grasp like that of his own iron vice, was, for
the powerful smith, the work of a single moment.

Conachar felt himself at once in the absolute power of the formidable
antagonist whom he had provoked; he became deadly pale, as he had been
the moment before glowing red, and stood mute with shame and fear,
until, relieving him from his powerful hold, the smith quietly said: "It
is well for thee that thou canst not make me angry; thou art but a boy,
and I, a grown man, ought not to have provoked thee. But let this be a
warning."

Conachar stood an instant as if about to reply, and then left the room,
ere Simon had collected himself enough to speak. Dorothy was running
hither and thither for salves and healing herbs. Catharine had swooned
at the sight of the trickling blood.

"Let me depart, father Simon," said Henry Smith, mournfully, "I might
have guessed I should have my old luck, and spread strife and bloodshed
where I would wish most to bring peace and happiness. Care not for me.
Look to poor Catharine; the fright of such an affray hath killed her,
and all through my fault."

"Thy fault, my son! It was the fault of yon Highland cateran, whom it
is my curse to be cumbered with; but he shall go back to his glens
tomorrow, or taste the tolbooth of the burgh. An assault upon the life
of his master's guest in his house! It breaks all bonds between us. But
let me see to thy wound."

"Catharine!" repeated the armourer--"look to Catharine."

"Dorothy will see to her," said Simon; "surprise and fear kill not;
skenes and dirks do. And she is not more the daughter of my blood than
thou, my dear Henry, art the son of my affections. Let me see the wound.
The skene occle is an ugly weapon in a Highland hand."

"I mind it no more than the scratch of a wildcat," said the armourer;
"and now that the colour is coming to Catharine's cheek again, you shall
see me a sound man in a moment."

He turned to a corner in which hung a small mirror, and hastily took
from his purse some dry lint to apply to the slight wound he had
received. As he unloosed the leathern jacket from his neck and
shoulders, the manly and muscular form which they displayed was not more
remarkable than the fairness of his skin, where it had not, as in
hands and face, been exposed to the effects of rough weather and of his
laborious trade. He hastily applied some lint to stop the bleeding; and
a little water having removed all other marks of the fray, he buttoned
his doublet anew, and turned again to the table, where Catharine, still
pale and trembling, was, however, recovered from her fainting fit.

"Would you but grant me your forgiveness for having offended you in the
very first hour of my return? The lad was foolish to provoke me, and yet
I was more foolish to be provoked by such as he. Your father blames me
not, Catharine, and cannot you forgive me?"

"I have no power to forgive," answered Catharine, "what I have no title
to resent. If my father chooses to have his house made the scene of
night brawls, I must witness them--I cannot help myself. Perhaps it was
wrong in me to faint and interrupt, it may be, the farther progress of a
fair fray. My apology is, that I cannot bear the sight of blood."

"And is this the manner," said her father, "in which you receive my
friend after his long absence? My friend, did I say? Nay, my son. He
escapes being murdered by a fellow whom I will tomorrow clear this house
of, and you treat him as if he had done wrong in dashing from him the
snake which was about to sting him!"

"It is not my part, father," returned the Maid of Perth, "to decide who
had the right or wrong in the present brawl, nor did I see what happened
distinctly enough to say which was assailant, or which defender. But
sure our friend, Master Henry, will not deny that he lives in a perfect
atmosphere of strife, blood, and quarrels. He hears of no swordsman but
he envies his reputation, and must needs put his valour to the proof. He
sees no brawl but he must strike into the midst of it. Has he friends,
he fights with them for love and honour; has he enemies, he fights with
them for hatred and revenge. And those men who are neither his friends
nor foes, he fights with them because they are on this or that side of
a river. His days are days of battle, and, doubtless, he acts them over
again in his dreams."

"Daughter," said Simon, "your tongue wags too freely. Quarrels and
fights are men's business, not women's, and it is not maidenly to think
or speak of them."

"But if they are so rudely enacted in our presence," said Catharine, "it
is a little hard to expect us to think or speak of anything else. I will
grant you, my father, that this valiant burgess of Perth is one of the
best hearted men that draws breath within its walls: that he would walk
a hundred yards out of the way rather than step upon a worm; that
he would be as loth, in wantonness, to kill a spider as if he were a
kinsman to King Robert, of happy memory; that in the last quarrel before
his departure he fought with four butchers, to prevent their killing a
poor mastiff that had misbehaved in the bull ring, and narrowly escaped
the fate of the cur that he was protecting. I will grant you also,
that the poor never pass the house of the wealthy armourer but they are
relieved with food and alms. But what avails all this, when his
sword makes as many starving orphans and mourning widows as his purse
relieves?"

"Nay, but, Catharine, hear me but a word before going on with a string
of reproaches against my friend, that sound something like sense, while
they are, in truth, inconsistent with all we hear and see around us.
What," continued the glover, "do our King and our court, our knights and
ladies, our abbots, monks, and priests themselves, so earnestly crowd to
see? Is it not to behold the display of chivalry, to witness the gallant
actions of brave knights in the tilt and tourney ground, to look upon
deeds of honour and glory achieved by arms and bloodshed? What is it
these proud knights do, that differs from what our good Henry Gow works
out in his sphere? Who ever heard of his abusing his skill and strength
to do evil or forward oppression, and who knows not how often it has
been employed as that of a champion in the good cause of the burgh? And
shouldst not thou, of all women, deem thyself honoured and glorious,
that so true a heart and so strong an arm has termed himself thy
bachelor? In what do the proudest dames take their loftiest pride, save
in the chivalry of their knight; and has the boldest in Scotland done
more gallant deeds than my brave son Henry, though but of low degree? Is
he not known to Highland and Lowland as the best armourer that ever made
sword, and the truest soldier that ever drew one?"

"My dearest father," answered Catharine, "your words contradict
themselves, if you will permit your child to say so. Let us thank God
and the good saints that we are in a peaceful rank of life, below the
notice of those whose high birth, and yet higher pride, lead them to
glory in their bloody works of cruelty, which haughty and lordly men
term deeds of chivalry. Your wisdom will allow that it would be absurd
in us to prank ourselves in their dainty plumes and splendid garments;
why, then, should we imitate their full blown vices? Why should we
assume their hard hearted pride and relentless cruelty, to which murder
is not only a sport, but a subject of vainglorious triumph? Let those
whose rank claims as its right such bloody homage take pride and
pleasure in it; we, who have no share in the sacrifice, may the better
pity the sufferings of the victim. Let us thank our lowliness, since it
secures us from temptation. But forgive me, father, if I have stepped
over the limits of my duty, in contradicting the views which you
entertain, with so many others, on these subjects."

"Nay, thou hast even too much talk for me, girl," said her father,
somewhat angrily. "I am but a poor workman, whose best knowledge is to
distinguish the left hand glove from the right. But if thou wouldst
have my forgiveness, say something of comfort to my poor Henry. There he
sits, confounded and dismayed with all the preachment thou hast heaped
together; and he, to whom a trumpet sound was like the invitation to a
feast, is struck down at the sound of a child's whistle."

The armourer, indeed, while he heard the lips that were dearest to him
paint his character in such unfavourable colours, had laid his head
down on the table, upon his folded arms, in an attitude of the deepest
dejection, or almost despair.

"I would to Heaven, my dearest father," answered Catharine, "that it
were in my power to speak comfort to Henry, without betraying the sacred
cause of the truths I have just told you. And I may--nay, I must have
such a commission," she continued with something that the earnestness
with which she spoke and the extreme beauty of her features caused for
the moment to resemble inspiration.

"The truth of Heaven," she said, in a solemn tone, "was never committed
to a tongue, however feeble, but it gave a right to that tongue to
announce mercy, while it declared judgment. Arise, Henry--rise up, noble
minded, good, and generous, though widely mistaken man. Thy faults are
those of this cruel and remorseless age, thy virtues all thine own."

While she thus spoke, she laid her hand upon the smith's arm, and
extricating it from under his head by a force which, however gentle, he
could not resist, she compelled him to raise towards her his manly face,
and the eyes into which her expostulations, mingled with other feelings,
had summoned tears.

"Weep not," she said, "or rather, weep on, but weep as those who have
hope. Abjure the sins of pride and anger, which most easily beset thee;
fling from thee the accursed weapons, to the fatal and murderous use of
which thou art so easily tempted."

"You speak to me in vain, Catharine," returned the armourer: "I may,
indeed, turn monk and retire from the world, but while I live in it I
must practise my trade; and while I form armour and weapons for others,
I cannot myself withstand the temptation of using them. You would not
reproach me as you do, if you knew how inseparably the means by which I
gain my bread are connected with that warlike spirit which you impute
to me as a fault, though it is the consequence of inevitable necessity.
While I strengthen the shield or corselet to withstand wounds, must I
not have constantly in remembrance the manner and strength with which
they may be dealt; and when I forge the sword, and temper it for war, is
it practicable for me to avoid the recollection of its use?"

"Then throw from you, my dear Henry," said the enthusiastic girl,
clasping with both her slender hands the nervous strength and weight
of one of the muscular armourer's, which they raised with difficulty,
permitted by its owner, yet scarcely receiving assistance from his
volition--"cast from you, I say, the art which is a snare to you. Abjure
the fabrication of weapons which can only be useful to abridge human
life, already too short for repentance, or to encourage with a
feeling of safety those whom fear might otherwise prevent from risking
themselves in peril. The art of forming arms, whether offensive or
defensive, is alike sinful in one to whose violent and ever vehement
disposition the very working upon them proves a sin and a snare. Resign
utterly the manufacture of weapons of every description, and deserve the
forgiveness of Heaven, by renouncing all that can lead to the sin which
most easily besets you."

"And what," murmured the armourer, "am I to do for my livelihood, when
I have given over the art of forging arms for which Henry of Perth is
known from the Tay to the Thames?"

"Your art itself," said Catharine, "has innocent and laudable resources.
If you renounce the forging of swords and bucklers, there remains to you
the task of forming the harmless spade, and the honourable as well as
useful ploughshare--of those implements which contribute to the support
of life, or to its comforts. Thou canst frame locks and bars to defend
the property of the weak against the stouthrief and oppression of the
strong. Men will still resort to thee, and repay thy honest industry--"

But here Catharine was interrupted. Her father had heard her declaim
against war and tournaments with a feeling that, though her doctrine
were new to him, they might not, nevertheless, be entirely erroneous.
He felt, indeed, a wish that his proposed son in law should not commit
himself voluntarily to the hazards which the daring character and great
personal strength of Henry the Smith had hitherto led him to incur
too readily; and so far he would rather have desired that Catharine's
arguments should have produced some effect upon the mind of her lover,
whom he knew to be as ductile when influenced by his affections as he
was fierce and intractable when assailed by hostile remonstrances or
threats. But her arguments interfered with his views, when he heard her
enlarge upon the necessity of his designed son in law resigning a trade
which brought in more ready income than any at that time practised in
Scotland, and more profit to Henry of Perth in particular than to any
armourer in the nation. He had some indistinct idea that it would not be
amiss to convert, if possible, Henry the Smith from his too frequent use
of arms, even though he felt some pride in being connected with one
who wielded with such superior excellence those weapons, which in that
warlike age it was the boast of all men to manage with spirit. But when
he heard his daughter recommend, as the readiest road to this pacific
state of mind, that her lover should renounce the gainful trade in which
he was held unrivalled, and which, from the constant private differences
and public wars of the time, was sure to afford him a large income, he
could withhold his wrath no longer. The daughter had scarce recommended
to her lover the fabrication of the implements of husbandry, than,
feeling the certainty of being right, of which in the earlier part of
their debate he had been somewhat doubtful, the father broke in with:

"Locks and bars, plough graith and harrow teeth! and why not grates and
fire prongs, and Culross girdles, and an ass to carry the merchandise
through the country, and thou for another ass to lead it by the halter?
Why, Catharine, girl, has sense altogether forsaken thee, or dost thou
think that in these hard and iron days men will give ready silver for
anything save that which can defend their own life, or enable them to
take that of their enemy? We want swords to protect ourselves every
moment now, thou silly wench, and not ploughs to dress the ground for
the grain we may never see rise. As for the matter of our daily bread,
those who are strong seize it, and live; those who are weak yield it,
and die of hunger. Happy is the man who, like my worthy son, has means
of obtaining his living otherwise than by the point of the sword which
he makes. Preach peace to him as much as thou wilt, I will never be he
will say thee nay; but as for bidding the first armourer in Scotland
forego the forging of swords, curtal axes, and harness, it is enough to
drive patience itself mad. Out from my sight! and next morning I prithee
remember that, shouldst thou have the luck to see Henry the Smith, which
is more than thy usage of him has deserved, you see a man who has not
his match in Scotland at the use of broadsword and battle axe, and who
can work for five hundred marks a year without breaking a holyday."

The daughter, on hearing her father speak thus peremptorily, made a low
obeisance, and, without further goodnight, withdrew to the chamber which
was her usual sleeping apartment.



CHAPTER III.

      Whence cometh Smith, be he knight, lord, or squire,
      But from the smith that forged in the fire?

      VERSTEGAN.


The armourer's heart swelled big with various and contending sensations,
so that it seemed as if it would burst the leathern doublet under which
it was shrouded. He arose, turned away his head, and extended his hand
towards the glover, while he averted his face, as if desirous that his
emotion should not be read upon his countenance.

"Nay, hang me if I bid you farewell, man," said Simon, striking the flat
of his hand against that which the armourer expanded towards him. "I
will shake no hands with you for an hour to come at least. Tarry but
a moment, man, and I will explain all this; and surely a few drops of
blood from a scratch, and a few silly words from a foolish wench's
lips, are not to part father and son when they have been so long without
meeting? Stay, then, man, if ever you would wish for a father's blessing
and St. Valentine's, whose blessed eve this chances to be."

The glover was soon heard loudly summoning Dorothy, and, after some
clanking of keys and trampling up and down stairs, Dorothy appeared
bearing three large rummer cups of green glass, which were then esteemed
a great and precious curiosity, and the glover followed with a huge
bottle, equal at least to three quarts of these degenerate days.

"Here is a cup of wine, Henry, older by half than I am myself; my
father had it in a gift from stout old Crabbe, the Flemish engineer,
who defended Perth so stoutly in the minority of David the Second. We
glovers could always do something in war, though our connexion with
it was less than yours who work in steel and iron. And my father had
pleased old Crabbe, some other day I will tell you how, and also how
long these bottles were concealed under ground, to save them from the
reiving Southron. So I will empty a cup to the soul's health of my
honoured father--May his sins be forgiven him! Dorothy, thou shalt drink
this pledge, and then be gone to thy cock loft. I know thine ears are
itching, girl, but I have that to say which no one must hear save Henry
Smith, the son of mine adoption."

Dorothy did not venture to remonstrate, but, taking off her glass, or
rather her goblet, with good courage, retired to her sleeping apartment,
according to her master's commands.

The two friends were left alone.

"It grieves me, friend Henry," said Simon, filling at the same time his
own glass and his guest's--"it grieves me from my soul that my daughter
retains this silly humor; but also methinks, thou mightst mend it. Why
wouldst thou come hither clattering with thy sword and dagger, when the
girl is so silly that she cannot bear the sight of these? Dost thou not
remember that thou hadst a sort of quarrel with her even before thy
last departure from Perth, because thou wouldst not go like other honest
quiet burghers, but must be ever armed, like one of the rascally jackmen
that wait on the nobility? Sure it is time enough for decent burgesses
to arm at the tolling of the common bell, which calls us out bodin in
effeir of war."

"Why, my good father, that was not my fault; but I had no sooner quitted
my nag than I run hither to tell you of my return, thinking, if it
were your will to permit me, that I would get your advice about being
Mistress Catharine's Valentine for the year; and then I heard from
Mrs. Dorothy that you were gone to hear mass at the Black Friars. So I
thought I would follow thither, partly to hear the same mass with you,
and partly--Our Lady and St. Valentine forgive me!--to look upon one who
thinks little enough of me. And, as you entered the church, methought
I saw two or three dangerous looking men holding counsel together, and
gazing at you and at her, and in especial Sir John Ramorny, whom I knew
well enough, for all his disguise, and the velvet patch over his eye,
and his cloak so like a serving man's; so methought, father Simon, that,
as you were old, and yonder slip of a Highlander something too young to
do battle, I would even walk quietly after you, not doubting, with the
tools I had about me, to bring any one to reason that might disturb you
in your way home. You know that yourself discovered me, and drew me into
the house, whether I would or no; otherwise, I promise you, I would not
have seen your daughter till I had donn'd the new jerkin which was made
at Berwick after the latest cut; nor would I have appeared before her
with these weapons, which she dislikes so much. Although, to say truth,
so many are at deadly feud with me for one unhappy chance or another,
that it is as needful for me as for any man in Scotland to go by night
with weapons about me."

"The silly wench never thinks of that," said Simon Glover: "she never
has sense to consider, that in our dear native land of Scotland every
man deems it his privilege and duty to avenge his own wrong. But, Harry,
my boy, thou art to blame for taking her talk so much to heart. I have
seen thee bold enough with other wenches, wherefore so still and tongue
tied with her?"

"Because she is something different from other maidens, father
Glover--because she is not only more beautiful, but wiser, higher,
holier, and seems to me as if she were made of better clay than we that
approach her. I can hold my head high enough with the rest of the lasses
round the maypole; but somehow, when I approach Catharine, I feel myself
an earthly, coarse, ferocious creature, scarce worthy to look on her,
much less to contradict the precepts which she expounds to me."

"You are an imprudent merchant, Harry Smith," replied Simon, "and rate
too high the goods you wish to purchase. Catharine is a good girl, and
my daughter; but if you make her a conceited ape by your bashfulness and
your flattery, neither you nor I will see our wishes accomplished."

"I often fear it, my good father," said the smith; "for I feel how
little I am deserving of Catharine."

"Feel a thread's end!" said the glover; "feel for me, friend Smith--for
Catharine and me. Think how the poor thing is beset from morning to
night, and by what sort of persons, even though windows be down and
doors shut. We were accosted today by one too powerful to be named--ay,
and he showed his displeasure openly, because I would not permit him
to gallant my daughter in the church itself, when the priest was saying
mass. There are others scarce less reasonable. I sometimes wish that
Catharine were some degrees less fair, that she might not catch that
dangerous sort of admiration, or somewhat less holy, that she might sit
down like an honest woman, contented with stout Henry Smith, who
could protect his wife against every sprig of chivalry in the court of
Scotland."

"And if I did not," said Henry, thrusting out a hand and arm which might
have belonged to a giant for bone and muscle, "I would I may never bring
hammer upon anvil again! Ay, an it were come but that length, my fair
Catharine should see that there is no harm in a man having the trick of
defence. But I believe she thinks the whole world is one great minster
church, and that all who live in it should behave as if they were at an
eternal mass."

"Nay, in truth," said the father, "she has strange influence over those
who approach her; the Highland lad, Conachar, with whom I have been
troubled for these two or three years, although you may see he has the
natural spirit of his people, obeys the least sign which Catharine makes
him, and, indeed, will hardly be ruled by any one else in the house. She
takes much pains with him to bring him from his rude Highland habits."

Here Harry Smith became uneasy in his chair, lifted the flagon, set it
down, and at length exclaimed: "The devil take the young Highland whelp
and his whole kindred! What has Catharine to do to instruct such a
fellow as he? He will be just like the wolf cub that I was fool enough
to train to the offices of a dog, and every one thought him reclaimed,
till, in an ill hour, I went to walk on the hill of Moncrieff, when he
broke loose on the laird's flock, and made a havoc that I might well
have rued, had the laird not wanted a harness at the time. And I marvel
that you, being a sensible man, father Glover, will keep this Highland
young fellow--a likely one, I promise you--so nigh to Catharine, as
if there were no other than your daughter to serve him for a
schoolmistress."

"Fie, my son--fie; now you are jealous," said Simon, "of a poor young
fellow who, to tell you the truth, resides here because he may not so
well live on the other side of the hill."

"Ay--ay, father Simon," retorted the smith, who had all the narrow
minded feelings of the burghers of his time, "an it were not for fear
of offence, I would say that you have even too much packing and peiling
with yonder loons out of burgh."

"I must get my deer hides, buckskins, kidskins, and so forth somewhere,
my good Harry, and Highlandmen give good bargains."

"They can afford them," replied Henry, drily, "for they sell nothing but
stolen gear."

"Well--well, be that as it may, it is not my business where they get
the bestial, so I get the hides. But as I was saying, there are certain
considerations why I am willing to oblige the father of this young man,
by keeping him here. And he is but half a Highlander neither, and wants
a thought of the dour spirit of a 'glune amie' after all, I have seldom
seen him so fierce as he showed himself but now."

"You could not, unless he had killed his man," replied the smith, in the
same dry tone.

"Nevertheless, if you wish it, Harry, I'll set all other respects aside,
and send the landlouper to seek other quarters tomorrow morning."

"Nay, father," said the smith, "you cannot suppose that Harry Gow cares
the value of a smithy dander for such a cub as yonder cat-a-mountain?
I care little, I promise you, though all his clan were coming down the
Shoegate with slogan crying and pipes playing: I would find fifty blades
and bucklers would send them back faster than they came. But, to speak
truth, though it is a fool's speech too, I care not to see the fellow so
much with Catharine. Remember, father Glover, your trade keeps your eyes
and hands close employed, and must have your heedful care, even if this
lazy lurdane wrought at it, which you know yourself he seldom does."

"And that is true," said Simon: "he cuts all his gloves out for the
right hand, and never could finish a pair in his life."

"No doubt, his notions of skin cutting are rather different," said
Henry. "But with your leave, father, I would only say that, work he or
be he idle, he has no bleared eyes, no hands seared with the hot iron,
and welked by the use of the fore hammer, no hair rusted in the smoke,
and singed in the furnace, like the hide of a badger, rather than what
is fit to be covered with a Christian bonnet. Now, let Catharine be
as good a wench as ever lived, and I will uphold her to be the best in
Perth, yet she must see and know that these things make a difference
betwixt man and man, and that the difference is not in my favour."

"Here is to thee, with all my heart, son Harry," said the old man,
filling a brimmer to his companion and another to himself; "I see that,
good smith as thou art, thou ken'st not the mettle that women are made
of. Thou must be bold, Henry; and bear thyself not as if thou wert going
to the gallows lee, but like a gay young fellow, who knows his own worth
and will not be slighted by the best grandchild Eve ever had. Catharine
is a woman like her mother, and thou thinkest foolishly to suppose they
are all set on what pleases the eye. Their ear must be pleased too, man:
they must know that he whom they favour is bold and buxom, and might
have the love of twenty, though he is suing for theirs. Believe an
old man, woman walk more by what others think than by what they think
themselves, and when she asks for the boldest man in Perth whom can
she hear named but Harry Burn-the-wind? The best armourer that ever
fashioned weapon on anvil? Why, Harry Smith again. The tightest dancer
at the maypole? Why, the lusty smith. The gayest troller of ballads?
Why, who but Harry Gow? The best wrestler, sword and buckler player, the
king of the weapon shawing, the breaker of mad horses, the tamer of
wild Highlandmen? Evermore it is thee--thee--no one but thee. And shall
Catharine prefer yonder slip of a Highland boy to thee? Pshaw! she
might as well make a steel gauntlet out of kid's leather. I tell thee,
Conachar is nothing to her, but so far as she would fain prevent the
devil having his due of him, as of other Highlandmen. God bless her,
poor thing, she would bring all mankind to better thoughts if she
could."

"In which she will fail to a certainty," said the smith, who, as the
reader may have noticed, had no goodwill to the Highland race. "I will
wager on Old Nick, of whom I should know something, he being indeed
a worker in the same element with myself, against Catharine on that
debate: the devil will have the tartan, that is sure enough."

"Ay, but Catharine," replied the glover, "hath a second thou knowest
little of: Father Clement has taken the young reiver in hand, and he
fears a hundred devils as little as I do a flock of geese."

"Father Clement!" said the smith. "You are always making some new saint
in this godly city of St. Johnston. Pray, who, for a devil's drubber,
may he be? One of your hermits that is trained for the work like
a wrestler for the ring, and brings himself to trim by fasting and
penance, is he not?"

"No, that is the marvel of it," said Simon: "Father Clement eats,
drinks, and lives much like other folks--all the rules of the church,
nevertheless, strictly observed."

"Oh, I comprehend!--a buxom priest that thinks more of good living than
of good life, tipples a can on Fastern's Eve, to enable him to face
Lent, has a pleasant in principio, and confesses all the prettiest women
about the town?"

"You are on the bow hand still, smith. I tell you, my daughter and I
could nose out either a fasting hypocrite or a full one. But Father
Clement is neither the one nor the other."

"But what is he then, in Heaven's name?"

"One who is either greatly better than half his brethren of St. Johnston
put together, or so much worse than the worst of them, that it is sin
and shame that he is suffered to abide in the country."

"Methinks it were easy to tell whether he be the one or the other," said
the smith.

"Content you, my friend," said Simon, "with knowing that, if you judge
Father Clement by what you see him do and hear him say, you will think
of him as the best and kindest man in the world, with a comfort for
every man's grief, a counsel for every man's difficulty, the rich man's
surest guide, and the poor man's best friend. But if you listen to what
the Dominicans say of him, he is--Benedicite!--(here the glover crossed
himself on brow and bosom)--a foul heretic, who ought by means of
earthly flames to be sent to those which burn eternally."

The smith also crossed himself, and exclaimed: "St. Mary! father Simon,
and do you, who are so good and prudent that you have been called the
Wise Glover of Perth, let your daughter attend the ministry of one
who--the saints preserve us!--may be in league with the foul fiend
himself! Why, was it not a priest who raised the devil in the Meal
Vennel, when Hodge Jackson's house was blown down in the great wind?
Did not the devil appear in the midst of the Tay, dressed in a priest's
scapular, gambolling like a pellack amongst the waves, the morning when
our stately bridge was swept away?"

"I cannot tell whether he did or no," said the glover; "I only know I
saw him not. As to Catharine, she cannot be said to use Father Clement's
ministry, seeing her confessor is old Father Francis the Dominican, from
whom she had her shrift today. But women will sometimes be wilful, and
sure enough she consults with Father Clement more than I could wish; and
yet when I have spoken with him myself, I have thought him so good and
holy a man that I could have trusted my own salvation with him. There
are bad reports of him among the Dominicans, that is certain. But what
have we laymen to do with such things, my son? Let us pay Mother Church
her dues, give our alms, confess and do our penances duly, and the
saints will bear us out."

"Ay, truly; and they will have consideration," said the smith, "for any
rash and unhappy blow that a man may deal in a fight, when his party was
on defence, and standing up to him; and that's the only creed a man can
live upon in Scotland, let your daughter think what she pleases. Marry,
a man must know his fence, or have a short lease of his life, in any
place where blows are going so rife. Five nobles to our altar have
cleared me for the best man I ever had misfortune with."

"Let us finish our flask, then," said the old glover; "for I reckon the
Dominican tower is tolling midnight. And hark thee, son Henry; be at the
lattice window on our east gable by the very peep of dawn, and make
me aware thou art come by whistling the smith's call gently. I will
contrive that Catharine shall look out at the window, and thus thou wilt
have all the privileges of being a gallant Valentine through the rest of
the year; which, if thou canst not use to thine own advantage, I shall
be led to think that, for all thou be'st covered with the lion's hide,
nature has left on thee the long ears of the ass."

"Amen, father," said the armourer, "a hearty goodnight to you; and God's
blessing on your roof tree, and those whom it covers. You shall hear the
smith's call sound by cock crowing; I warrant I put sir chanticleer to
shame."

So saying, he took his leave; and, though completely undaunted, moved
through the deserted streets like one upon his guard, to his own
dwelling, which was situated in the Mill Wynd, at the western end of
Perth.



CHAPTER IV.

     What's all this turmoil crammed into our parts?
     Faith, but the pit-a-pat of poor young hearts.

     DRYDEN.


The sturdy armourer was not, it may be believed, slack in keeping the
appointment assigned by his intended father in law. He went through the
process of his toilet with more than ordinary care, throwing, as far as
he could, those points which had a military air into the shade. He was
far too noted a person to venture to go entirely unarmed in a town where
he had indeed many friends, but also, from the character of many of his
former exploits, several deadly enemies, at whose hands, should they
take him at advantage, he knew he had little mercy to expect. He
therefore wore under his jerkin a "secret," or coat of chain mail, made
so light and flexible that it interfered as little with his movements
as a modern under waistcoat, yet of such proof as he might safely depend
upon, every ring of it having been wrought and joined by his own hands.
Above this he wore, like others of his age and degree, the Flemish
hose and doublet, which, in honour of the holy tide, were of the best
superfine English broadcloth, light blue in colour, slashed out with
black satin, and passamented (laced, that is) with embroidery of black
silk. His walking boots were of cordovan leather; his cloak of good
Scottish grey, which served to conceal a whinger, or couteau de chasse,
that hung at his belt, and was his only offensive weapon, for he carried
in his hand but a rod of holly. His black velvet bonnet was lined with
steel, quilted between the metal and his head, and thus constituted a
means of defence which might safely be trusted to.

Upon the whole, Henry had the appearance, to which he was well entitled,
of a burgher of wealth and consideration, assuming, in his dress, as
much consequence as he could display without stepping beyond his own
rank, and encroaching on that of the gentry. Neither did his frank and
manly deportment, though indicating a total indifference to danger, bear
the least resemblance to that of the bravoes or swashbucklers of the
day, amongst whom Henry was sometimes unjustly ranked by those who
imputed the frays in which he was so often engaged to a quarrelsome and
violent temper, resting upon a consciousness of his personal strength
and knowledge of his weapon. On the contrary, every feature bore
the easy and good-humoured expression of one who neither thought of
inflicting mischief nor dreaded it from others.

Having attired himself in his best, the honest armourer next placed
nearest to his heart (which throbbed at its touch) a little gift which
he had long provided for Catharine Glover, and which his quality of
Valentine would presently give him the title to present, and her to
receive, without regard to maidenly scruples. It was a small ruby
cut into the form of a heart, transfixed with a golden arrow, and was
inclosed in a small purse made of links of the finest work in steel, as
if it had been designed for a hauberk to a king. Round the verge of the
purse were these words:

Loves darts Cleave hearts Through mail shirts.

This device had cost the armourer some thought, and he was much
satisfied with his composition, because it seemed to imply that his
skill could defend all hearts saving his own.

He wrapped himself in his cloak, and hastened through the still silent
streets, determined to appear at the window appointed a little before
dawn.

With this purpose he passed up the High Street, and turned down the
opening where St. John's Church now stands, in order to proceed to
Curfew Street; when it occurred to him, from the appearance of the sky,
that he was at least an hour too early for his purpose, and that it
would be better not to appear at the place of rendezvous till nearer the
time assigned. Other gallants were not unlikely to be on the watch as
well as himself about the house of the Fair Maid of Perth; and he
knew his own foible so well as to be sensible of the great chance of a
scuffle arising betwixt them.

"I have the advantage," he thought, "by my father Simon's friendship;
and why should I stain my fingers with the blood of the poor creatures
that are not worthy my notice, since they are so much less fortunate
than myself? No--no, I will be wise for once, and keep at a distance
from all temptation to a broil. They shall have no more time to quarrel
with me than just what it may require for me to give the signal, and for
my father Simon to answer it. I wonder how the old man will contrive to
bring her to the window? I fear, if she knew his purpose, he would find
it difficult to carry it into execution."

While these lover-like thoughts were passing through his brain, the
armourer loitered in his pace, often turning his eyes eastward, and
eyeing the firmament, in which no slight shades of grey were beginning
to flicker, to announce the approach of dawn, however distant, which, to
the impatience of the stout armourer, seemed on that morning to abstain
longer than usual from occupying her eastern barbican. He was now
passing slowly under the wall of St. Anne's Chapel (not failing to cross
himself and say an ace, as he trode the consecrated ground), when a
voice, which seemed to come from behind one of the flying buttresses of
the chapel, said, "He lingers that has need to run."

"Who speaks?" said the armourer, looking around him, somewhat startled
at an address so unexpected, both in its tone and tenor.

"No matter who speaks," answered the same voice. "Do thou make great
speed, or thou wilt scarce make good speed. Bandy not words, but
begone."

"Saint or sinner, angel or devil," said Henry, crossing himself, "your
advice touches me but too dearly to be neglected. St. Valentine be my
speed!"

So saying, he instantly changed his loitering pace to one with which few
people could have kept up, and in an instant was in Couvrefew Street.
He had not made three steps towards Simon Glover's, which stood in the
midst of the narrow street, when two men started from under the houses
on different sides, and advanced, as it were by concert, to intercept
his passage. The imperfect light only permitted him to discern that they
wore the Highland mantle.

"Clear the way, cateran," said the armourer, in the deep stern voice
which corresponded with the breadth of his chest.

They did not answer, at least intelligibly; but he could see that they
drew their swords, with the purpose of withstanding him by violence.
Conjecturing some evil, but of what kind he could not anticipate, Henry
instantly determined to make his way through whatever odds, and defend
his mistress, or at least die at her feet. He cast his cloak over his
left arm as a buckler, and advanced rapidly and steadily to the two men.
The nearest made a thrust at him, but Henry Smith, parrying the blow
with his cloak, dashed his arm in the man's face, and tripping him at
the same time, gave him a severe fall on the causeway; while almost at
the same instant he struck a blow with his whinger at the fellow who was
upon his right hand, so severely applied, that he also lay prostrate
by his associate. Meanwhile, the armourer pushed forward in alarm,
for which the circumstance of the street being guarded or defended
by strangers who conducted themselves with such violence afforded
sufficient reason. He heard a suppressed whisper and a bustle under the
glover's windows--those very windows from which he had expected to be
hailed by Catharine as her Valentine. He kept to the opposite side of
the street, that he might reconnoitre their number and purpose. But
one of the party who were beneath the window, observing or hearing
him, crossed the street also, and taking him doubtless for one of the
sentinels, asked, in a whisper, "What noise was yonder, Kenneth? why
gave you not the signal?"

"Villain," said Henry, "you are discovered, and you shall die the
death."

As he spoke thus, he dealt the stranger a blow with his weapon, which
would probably have made his words good, had not the man, raising his
arm, received on his hand the blow meant for his head. The wound must
have been a severe one, for he staggered and fell with a deep groan.

Without noticing him farther, Henry Smith sprung forward upon a party of
men who seemed engaged in placing a ladder against the lattice window
in the gable. Henry did not stop ether to count their numbers or to
ascertain their purpose. But, crying the alarm word of the town, and
giving the signal at which the burghers were wont to collect, he rushed
on the night walkers, one of whom was in the act of ascending the
ladder. The smith seized it by the rounds, threw it down on the
pavement, and placing his foot on the body of the man who had been
mounting, prevented him from regaining his feet. His accomplices struck
fiercely at Henry, to extricate their companion. But his mail coat stood
him in good stead, and he repaid their blows with interest, shouting
aloud, "Help--help, for bonny St. Johnston! Bows and blades, brave
citizens! bows and blades! they break into our houses under cloud of
night."

These words, which resounded far through the streets, were accompanied
by as many fierce blows, dealt with good effect among those whom the
armourer assailed. In the mean time, the inhabitants of the district
began to awaken and appear on the street in their shirts, with
swords and targets, and some of them with torches. The assailants now
endeavoured to make their escape, which all of them effected excepting
the man who had been thrown down along with the ladder. Him the intrepid
armourer had caught by the throat in the scuffle, and held as fast as
the greyhound holds the hare. The other wounded men were borne off by
their comrades.

"Here are a sort of knaves breaking peace within burgh," said Henry
to the neighbours who began to assemble; "make after the rogues. They
cannot all get off, for I have maimed some of them: the blood will guide
you to them."

"Some Highland caterans," said the citizens; "up and chase, neighbours!"

"Ay, chase--chase! leave me to manage this fellow," continued the
armourer.

The assistants dispersed in different directions, their lights flashing
and their cries resounding through the whole adjacent district.

In the mean time the armourer's captive entreated for freedom, using
both promises and threats to obtain it. "As thou art a gentleman," he
said, "let me go, and what is past shall be forgiven."

"I am no gentleman," said Henry--"I am Hal of the Wynd, a burgess of
Perth; and I have done nothing to need forgiveness."

"Villain, then hast done thou knowest not what! But let me go, and I
will fill thy bonnet with gold pieces."

"I shall fill thy bonnet with a cloven head presently," said the
armourer, "unless thou stand still as a true prisoner."

"What is the matter, my son Harry?" said Simon, who now appeared at the
window. "I hear thy voice in another tone than I expected. What is all
this noise; and why are the neighbours gathering to the affray?"

"There have been a proper set of limmers about to scale your windows,
father Simon; but I am like to prove godfather to one of them, whom I
hold here, as fast as ever vice held iron."

"Hear me, Simon Glover," said the prisoner; "let me but speak one word
with you in private, and rescue me from the gripe of this iron fisted
and leaden pated clown, and I will show thee that no harm was designed
to thee or thine, and, moreover, tell thee what will much advantage
thee."

"I should know that voice," said Simon Glover, who now came to the door
with a dark lantern in his hand. "Son Smith, let this young man speak
with me. There is no danger in him, I promise you. Stay but an instant
where you are, and let no one enter the house, either to attack or
defend. I will be answerable that this galliard meant but some St.
Valentine's jest."

So saying, the old man pulled in the prisoner and shut the door,
leaving Henry a little surprised at the unexpected light in which his
father-in-law had viewed the affray.

"A jest!" he said; "it might have been a strange jest, if they had got
into the maiden's sleeping room! And they would have done so, had it not
been for the honest friendly voice from betwixt the buttresses, which,
if it were not that of the blessed saint--though what am I that the holy
person should speak to me?--could not sound in that place without her
permission and assent, and for which I will promise her a wax candle at
her shrine, as long as my whinger; and I would I had had my two handed
broadsword instead, both for the sake of St. Johnston and of the rogues,
for of a certain those whingers are pretty toys, but more fit for a
boy's hand than a man's. Oh, my old two handed Trojan, hadst thou been
in my hands, as thou hang'st presently at the tester of my bed, the legs
of those rogues had not carried their bodies so clean off the field. But
there come lighted torches and drawn swords. So ho--stand! Are you for
St. Johnston? If friends to the bonny burgh, you are well come."

"We have been but bootless hunters," said the townsmen. "We followed by
the tracks of the blood into the Dominican burial ground, and we started
two fellows from amongst the tombs, supporting betwixt them a third, who
had probably got some of your marks about him, Harry. They got to the
postern gate before we could overtake them, and rang the sanctuary
bell; the gate opened, and in went they. So they are safe in girth and
sanctuary, and we may go to our cold beds and warm us."

"Ay," said one of the party, "the good Dominicans have always some
devout brother of their convent sitting up to open the gate of the
sanctuary to any poor soul that is in trouble, and desires shelter in
the church."

"Yes, if the poor hunted soul can pay for it," said another "but, truly,
if he be poor in purse as well as in spirit, he may stand on the outside
till the hounds come up with him."

A third, who had been poring for a few minutes upon the ground by
advantage of his torch, now looked upwards and spoke. He was a
brisk, forward, rather corpulent little man, called Oliver Proudfute,
reasonably wealthy, and a leading man in his craft, which was that of
bonnet makers; he, therefore, spoke as one in authority.

"Canst tell us, jolly smith"--for they recognised each other by the
lights which were brought into the streets--"what manner of fellows they
were who raised up this fray within burgh?"

"The two that I first saw," answered the armourer, "seemed to me, as
well as I could observe them, to have Highland plaids about them."

"Like enough--like enough," answered another citizen, shaking his head.
"It's a shame the breaches in our walls are not repaired, and that these
landlouping Highland scoundrels are left at liberty to take honest men
and women out of their beds any night that is dark enough."

"But look here, neighbours," said Oliver Proudfute, showing a bloody
hand which he had picked up from the ground; "when did such a hand as
this tie a Highlandman's brogues? It is large, indeed, and bony, but
as fine as a lady's, with a ring that sparkles like a gleaming candle.
Simon Glover has made gloves for this hand before now, if I am not much
mistaken, for he works for all the courtiers."

The spectators here began to gaze on the bloody token with various
comments.

"If that is the case," said one, "Harry Smith had best show a clean pair
of heels for it, since the justiciar will scarce think the protecting a
burgess's house an excuse for cutting off a gentleman's hand. There be
hard laws against mutilation."

"Fie upon you, that you will say so, Michael Webster," answered the
bonnet maker; "are we not representatives and successors of the stout
old Romans, who built Perth as like to their own city as they could? And
have we not charters from all our noble kings and progenitors, as being
their loving liegemen? And would you have us now yield up our rights,
privileges, and immunities, our outfang and infang, our handhaband,
our back bearand, and our blood suits, and amerciaments, escheats,
and commodities, and suffer an honest burgess's house to be assaulted
without seeking for redress? No, brave citizens, craftsmen, and
burgesses, the Tay shall flow back to Dunkeld before we submit to such
injustice!"

"And how can we help it?" said a grave old man, who stood leaning on a
two handed sword. "What would you have us do?"

"Marry, Bailie Craigdallie, I wonder that you, of all men, ask the
question. I would have you pass like true men from this very place
to the King's Grace's presence, raise him from his royal rest, and
presenting to him the piteous case of our being called forth from our
beds at this season, with little better covering than these shirts, I
would show him this bloody token, and know from his Grace's own royal
lips whether it is just and honest that his loving lieges should be thus
treated by the knights and nobles of his deboshed court. And this I call
pushing our cause warmly."

"Warmly, sayst thou?" replied the old burgess; "why, so warmly, that we
shall all die of cold, man, before the porter turn a key to let us into
the royal presence. Come, friends, the night is bitter, we have kept
our watch and ward like men, and our jolly smith hath given a warning to
those that would wrong us, which shall be worth twenty proclamations of
the king. Tomorrow is a new day; we will consult on this matter on this
self same spot, and consider what measures should be taken for discovery
and pursuit of the villains. And therefore let us dismiss before the
heart's blood freeze in our veins."

"Bravo--bravo, neighbour Craigdallie! St. Johnston for ever!"

Oliver Proudfute would still have spoken; for he was one of those
pitiless orators who think that their eloquence can overcome all
inconveniences in time, place, and circumstances. But no one would
listen, and the citizens dispersed to their own houses by the light of
the dawn, which began now to streak the horizon.

They were scarce gone ere the door of the glover's house opened, and
seizing the smith by the hand, the old man pulled him in.

"Where is the prisoner?" demanded the armourer.

"He is gone--escaped--fled--what do I know of him?" said the glover. "He
got out at the back door, and so through the little garden. Think not of
him, but come and see the Valentine whose honour and life you have saved
this morning."

"Let me but sheathe my weapon," said the smith, "let me but wash my
hands."

"There is not an instant to lose, she is up and almost dressed. Come
on, man. She shall see thee with thy good weapon in thy hand, and with
villain's blood on thy fingers, that she may know what is the value of a
true man's service. She has stopped my mouth overlong with her pruderies
and her scruples. I will have her know what a brave man's love is worth,
and a bold burgess's to boot."



CHAPTER V.

     Up! lady fair, and braid thy hair,
     And rouse thee in the breezy air,
     Up! quit thy bower, late wears the hour,
     Long have the rooks caw'd round the tower.

     JOANNA BAILLIE.


Startled from her repose by the noise of the affray, the Fair Maid of
Perth had listened in breathless terror to the sounds of violence and
outcry which arose from the street. She had sunk on her knees to pray
for assistance, and when she distinguished the voices of neighbours and
friends collected for her protection, she remained in the same posture
to return thanks. She was still kneeling when her father almost thrust
her champion, Henry Smith, into her apartment; the bashful lover hanging
back at first, as if afraid to give offence, and, on observing her
posture, from respect to her devotion.

"Father," said the armourer, "she prays; I dare no more speak to her
than to a bishop when he says mass."

"Now, go thy ways, for a right valiant and courageous blockhead," said
her father--and then speaking to his daughter, he added, "Heaven is best
thanked, my daughter, by gratitude shown to our fellow creatures. Here
comes the instrument by whom God has rescued thee from death, or perhaps
from dishonour worse than death. Receive him, Catharine, as thy true
Valentine, and him whom I desire to see my affectionate son."

"Not thus--father," replied Catharine. "I can see--can speak to no one
now. I am not ungrateful--perhaps I am too thankful to the instrument of
our safety; but let me thank the guardian saint who sent me this timely
relief, and give me but a moment to don my kirtle."

"Nay, God-a-mercy, wench, it were hard to deny thee time to busk thy
body clothes, since the request is the only words like a woman that thou
hast uttered for these ten days. Truly, son Harry, I would my daughter
would put off being entirely a saint till the time comes for her being
canonised for St. Catherine the Second."

"Nay, jest not, father; for I will swear she has at least one sincere
adorer already, who hath devoted himself to her pleasure, so far as
sinful man may. Fare thee well, then, for the moment, fair maiden," he
concluded, raising his voice, "and Heaven send thee dreams as peaceful
as thy waking thoughts. I go to watch thy slumbers, and woe with him
that shall intrude on them!"

"Nay, good and brave Henry, whose warm heart is at such variance with
thy reckless hand, thrust thyself into no farther quarrels tonight;
but take the kindest thanks, and with these, try to assume the peaceful
thoughts which you assign to me. Tomorrow we will meet, that I may
assure you of my gratitude. Farewell."

"And farewell, lady and light of my heart!" said the armourer, and,
descending the stair which led to Catharine's apartment, was about to
sally forth into the street, when the glover caught him by the arm.

"I shall like the ruffle of tonight," said he, "better than I ever
thought to do the clashing of steel, if it brings my daughter to her
senses, Harry, and teaches her what thou art worth. By St. Macgrider!
I even love these roysterers, and am sorry for that poor lover who will
never wear left handed chevron again. Ay! he has lost that which he will
miss all the days of his life, especially when he goes to pull on his
gloves; ay, he will pay but half a fee to my craft in future. Nay, not
a step from this house tonight," he continued "Thou dost not leave us, I
promise thee, my son."

"I do not mean it. But I will, with your permission, watch in the
street. The attack may be renewed."

"And if it be," said Simon, "thou wilt have better access to drive them
back, having the vantage of the house. It is the way of fighting which
suits us burghers best--that of resisting from behind stone walls. Our
duty of watch and ward teaches us that trick; besides, enough are awake
and astir to ensure us peace and quiet till morning. So come in this
way."

So saying, he drew Henry, nothing loth, into the same apartment where
they had supped, and where the old woman, who was on foot, disturbed as
others had been by the nocturnal affray, soon roused up the fire.

"And now, my doughty son," said the glover, "what liquor wilt thou
pledge thy father in?"

Henry Smith had suffered himself to sink mechanically upon a seat of old
black oak, and now gazed on the fire, that flashed back a ruddy light
over his manly features. He muttered to himself half audibly: "Good
Henry--brave Henry. Ah! had she but said, dear Henry!"

"What liquors be these?" said the old glover, laughing. "My cellar holds
none such; but if sack, or Rhenish, or wine of Gascony can serve, why,
say the word and the flagon foams, that is all."

"The kindest thanks," said the armourer, still musing, "that's more
than she ever said to me before--the kindest thanks--what may not that
stretch to?"

"It shall stretch like kid's leather, man," said the glover, "if
thou wilt but be ruled, and say what thou wilt take for thy morning's
draught."

"Whatever thou wilt, father," answered the armourer, carelessly, and
relapsed into the analysis of Catharine's speech to him. "She spoke
of my warm heart; but she also spoke of my reckless hand. What earthly
thing can I do to get rid of this fighting fancy? Certainly I were best
strike my right hand off, and nail it to the door of a church, that it
may never do me discredit more."

"You have chopped off hands enough for one night," said his friend,
setting a flagon of wine on the table. "Why dost thou vex thyself, man?
She would love thee twice as well did she not see how thou doatest upon
her. But it becomes serious now. I am not to have the risk of my booth
being broken and my house plundered by the hell raking followers of the
nobles, because she is called the Fair Maid of Perth, an't please ye.
No, she shall know I am her father, and will have that obedience to
which law and gospel give me right. I will have her thy wife, Henry, my
heart of gold--thy wife, my man of mettle, and that before many weeks
are over. Come--come, here is to thy merry bridal, jolly smith."

The father quaffed a large cup, and filled it to his adopted son,
who raised it slowly to his head; then, ere it had reached his lips,
replaced it suddenly on the table and shook his head.

"Nay, if thou wilt not pledge me to such a health, I know no one who
will," said Simon. "What canst thou mean, thou foolish lad? Here has a
chance happened, which in a manner places her in thy power, since from
one end of the city to the other all would cry fie on her if she should
say thee nay. Here am I, her father, not only consenting to the cutting
out of the match, but willing to see you two as closely united
together as ever needle stitched buckskin. And with all this on thy
side--fortune, father, and all--thou lookest like a distracted lover
in a ballad, more like to pitch thyself into the Tay than to woo a lass
that may be had for the asking, if you can but choose the lucky minute."

"Ay, but that lucky minute, father? I question much if Catharine ever
has such a moment to glance on earth and its inhabitants as might lead
her to listen to a coarse ignorant borrel man like me. I cannot tell
how it is, father; elsewhere I can hold up my head like another man, but
with your saintly daughter I lose heart and courage, and I cannot help
thinking that it would be well nigh robbing a holy shrine if I could
succeed in surprising her affections. Her thoughts are too much fitted
for Heaven to be wasted on such a one as I am."

"E'en as you like, Henry," answered the glover. "My daughter is not
courting you any more than I am--a fair offer is no cause offend; only
if you think that I will give in to her foolish notions of a convent,
take it with you that I will never listen to them. I love and honour
the church," he said, crossing himself, "I pay her rights duly and
cheerfully--tithes and alms, wine and wax, I pay them as justly, I say,
as any man in Perth of my means doth--but I cannot afford the church my
only and single ewe lamb that I have in the world. Her mother was dear
to me on earth, and is now an angel in Heaven. Catharine is all I have
to remind me of her I have lost; and if she goes to the cloister, it
shall be when these old eyes are closed for ever, and not sooner. But
as for you, friend Gow, I pray you will act according to your own best
liking, I want to force no wife on you, I promise you."

"Nay, now you beat the iron twice over," said Henry. "It is thus we
always end, father, by your being testy with me for not doing that
thing in the world which would make me happiest, were I to have it in my
power. Why, father, I would the keenest dirk I ever forged were sticking
in my heart at this moment if there is one single particle in it that
is not more your daughter's property than my own. But what can I do? I
cannot think less of her, or more of myself, than we both deserve; and
what seems to you so easy and certain is to me as difficult as it would
be to work a steel hauberk out of bards of flax. But here is to you,
father," he added, in a more cheerful tone; "and here is to my fair
saint and Valentine, as I hope your Catharine will be mine for the
season. And let me not keep your old head longer from the pillow, but
make interest with your featherbed till daybreak; and then you must be
my guide to your daughter's chamber door, and my apology for entering
it, to bid her good morrow, for the brightest that the sun will awaken,
in the city or for miles round."

"No bad advice, my son," said the honest glover, "But you, what will you
do? Will you lie down beside me, or take a part of Conachar's bed?"

"Neither," answered Harry Gow; "I should but prevent your rest, and
for me this easy chair is worth a down bed, and I will sleep like a
sentinel, with my graith about me." As he spoke, he laid his hand on his
sword.

"Nay, Heaven send us no more need of weapons. Goodnight, or rather good
morrow, till day peep; and the first who wakes calls up the other."

Thus parted the two burghers. The glover retired to his bed, and, it
is to be supposed, to rest. The lover was not so fortunate. His bodily
frame easily bore the fatigue which he had encountered in the course of
the night, but his mind was of a different and more delicate mould. In
one point of view, he was but the stout burgher of his period, proud
alike of his art in making weapons and wielding them when made; his
professional jealousy, personal strength, and skill in the use of arms
brought him into many quarrels, which had made him generally feared,
and in some instances disliked. But with these qualities were united the
simple good nature of a child, and at the same time an imaginative and
enthusiastic temper, which seemed little to correspond with his labours
at the forge or his combats in the field. Perhaps a little of the hare
brained and ardent feeling which he had picked out of old ballads, or
from the metrical romances, which were his sole source of information
or knowledge, may have been the means of pricking him on to some of
his achievements, which had often a rude strain of chivalry in them; at
least, it was certain that his love to the fair Catharine had in it a
delicacy such as might have become the squire of low degree, who was
honoured, if song speaks truth, with the smiles of the King of Hungary's
daughter. His sentiments towards her were certainly as exalted as if
they had been fixed upon an actual angel, which made old Simon, and
others who watched his conduct, think that his passion was too high
and devotional to be successful with maiden of mortal mould. They were
mistaken, however. Catharine, coy and reserved as she was, had a heart
which could feel and understand the nature and depth of the armourer's
passion; and whether she was able to repay it or not, she had as much
secret pride in the attachment of the redoubted Henry Gow as a lady
of romance may be supposed to have in the company of a tame lion, who
follows to provide for and defend her. It was with sentiments of the
most sincere gratitude that she recollected, as she awoke at dawn, the
services of Henry during the course of the eventful night, and the first
thought which she dwelt upon was the means of making him understand her
feelings.

Arising hastily from bed, and half blushing at her own purpose--"I have
been cold to him, and perhaps unjust; I will not be ungrateful," she
said to herself, "though I cannot yield to his suit. I will not wait
till my father compels me to receive him as my Valentine for the year:
I will seek him out, and choose him myself. I have thought other girls
bold when they did something like this; but I shall thus best please my
father, and but discharge the rites due to good St. Valentine by showing
my gratitude to this brave man."

Hastily slipping on her dress, which, nevertheless, was left a good deal
more disordered than usual, she tripped downstairs and opened the door
of the chamber, in which, as she had guessed, her lover had passed the
hours after the fray. Catharine paused at the door, and became half
afraid of executing her purpose, which not only permitted but enjoined
the Valentines of the year to begin their connexion with a kiss of
affection. It was looked upon as a peculiarly propitious omen if the one
party could find the other asleep, and awaken him or her by performance
of this interesting ceremony.

Never was a fairer opportunity offered for commencing this mystic
tie than that which now presented itself to Catharine. After many and
various thoughts, sleep had at length overcome the stout armourer in the
chair in which he had deposited himself. His features, in repose, had
a more firm and manly cast than Catharine had thought, who, having
generally seen them fluctuating between shamefacedness and apprehension
of her displeasure, had been used to connect with them some idea of
imbecility.

"He looks very stern," she said; "if he should be angry? And then when
he awakes--we are alone--if I should call Dorothy--if I should wake my
father? But no! it is a thing of custom, and done in all maidenly and
sisterly love and honour. I will not suppose that Henry can misconstrue
it, and I will not let a childish bashfulness put my gratitude to
sleep."

So saying, she tripped along the floor of the apartment with a light,
though hesitating, step; and a cheek crimsoned at her own purpose; and
gliding to the chair of the sleeper, dropped a kiss upon his lips as
light as if a rose leaf had fallen on them. The slumbers must have been
slight which such a touch could dispel, and the dreams of the sleeper
must needs have been connected with the cause of the interruption,
since Henry, instantly starting up, caught the maiden in his arms, and
attempted to return in ecstasy the salute which had broken his repose.
But Catharine struggled in his embrace; and as her efforts implied
alarmed modesty rather than maidenly coyness, her bashful lover suffered
her to escape a grasp from which twenty times her strength could not
have extricated her.

"Nay, be not angry, good Henry," said Catharine, in the kindest tone, to
her surprised lover. "I have paid my vows to St. Valentine, to show how
I value the mate which he has sent me for the year. Let but my father
be present, and I will not dare to refuse thee the revenge you may claim
for a broken sleep."

"Let not that be a hinderance," said the old glover, rushing in ecstasy
into the room; "to her, smith--to her: strike while the iron is hot, and
teach her what it is not to let sleeping dogs lie still."

Thus encouraged, Henry, though perhaps with less alarming vivacity,
again seized the blushing maiden in his arms, who submitted with a
tolerable grace to receive repayment of her salute, a dozen times
repeated, and with an energy very different from that which had provoked
such severe retaliation. At length she again extricated herself from
her lover's arms, and, as if frightened and repenting what she had done,
threw herself into a seat, and covered her face with her hands.

"Cheer up, thou silly girl," said her father, "and be not ashamed that
thou hast made the two happiest men in Perth, since thy old father is
one of them. Never was kiss so well bestowed, and meet it is that it
should be suitably returned. Look up, my darling! look up, and let me
see thee give but one smile. By my honest word, the sun that now rises
over our fair city shows no sight that can give me greater pleasure.
What," he continued, in a jocose tone, "thou thoughtst thou hadst Jamie
Keddie's ring, and couldst walk invisible? but not so, my fairy of the
dawning. Just as I was about to rise, I heard thy chamber door open, and
watched thee downstairs, not to protect thee against this sleepy headed
Henry, but to see with my own delighted eyes my beloved girl do that
which her father most wished. Come, put down these foolish hands,
and though thou blushest a little, it will only the better grace St.
Valentine's morn, when blushes best become a maiden's cheek."

As Simon Glover spoke, he pulled away, with gentle violence, the hands
which hid his daughter's face. She blushed deeply indeed, but there was
more than maiden's shame in her face, and her eyes were fast filling
with tears.

"What! weeping, love?" continued her father; "nay--nay, this is more
than need. Henry, help me to comfort this little fool."

Catharine made an effort to collect herself and to smile, but the smile
was of a melancholy and serious cast.

"I only meant to say, father," said the Fair Maid of Perth, with
continued exertion, "that in choosing Henry Gow for my Valentine, and
rendering to him the rights and greeting of the morning, according to
wonted custom, I meant but to show my gratitude to him for his manly
and faithful service, and my obedience to you. But do not lead him to
think--and, oh, dearest father, do not yourself entertain an idea--that
I meant more than what the promise to be his faithful and affectionate
Valentine through the year requires of me."

"Ay--ay----ay--ay, we understand it all," said Simon, in the soothing
tone which nurses apply to children. "We understand what the meaning
is; enough for once--enough for once. Thou shalt not be frightened or
hurried. Loving, true, and faithful Valentines are ye, and the rest as
Heaven and opportunity shall permit. Come, prithee, have done: wring
not thy tiny hands, nor fear farther persecution now. Thou hast done
bravely, excellently. And now, away to Dorothy, and call up the old
sluggard; we must have a substantial breakfast, after a night of
confusion and a morning of joy, and thy hand will be needed to prepare
for us some of these delicate cakes which no one can make but thyself;
and well hast thou a right to the secret, seeing who taught it thee. Ah!
health to the soul of thy dearest mother," he added, with a sigh; "how
blythe would she have been to see this happy St. Valentine's morning!"

Catharine took the opportunity of escape which was thus given her, and
glided from the room. To Henry it seemed as if the sun had disappeared
from the heaven at midday, and left the world in sudden obscurity. Even
the high swelled hopes with which the late incident had filled him began
to quail, as he reflected upon her altered demeanour--the tears in her
eyes, the obvious fear which occupied her features, and the pains
she had taken to show, as plainly as delicacy would permit, that the
advances which she had made to him were limited to the character with
which the rites of the day had invested him. Her father looked on his
fallen countenance with something like surprise and displeasure.

"In the name of good St. John, what has befallen you, that makes you
look as grave as an owl, when a lad of your spirit, having really such
a fancy for this poor girl as you pretend, ought to be as lively as a
lark?"

"Alas, father!" replied the crestfallen lover, "there is that written
on her brow which says she loves me well enough to be my Valentine,
especially since you wish it, but not well enough to be my wife."

"Now, a plague on thee for a cold, downhearted goosecap," answered the
father. "I can read a woman's brow as well, and better, than thou, and
I can see no such matter on hers. What, the foul fiend, man! there thou
wast lying like a lord in thy elbow chair, as sound asleep as a judge,
when, hadst thou been a lover of any spirit, thou wouldst have been
watching the east for the first ray of the sun. But there thou layest,
snoring I warrant, thinking nought about her, or anything else; and the
poor girl rises at peep of day, lest any one else should pick up her
most precious and vigilant Valentine, and wakes thee with a grace
which--so help me, St. Macgrider!--would have put life in an anvil; and
thou awakest to hone, and pine, and moan, as if she had drawn a hot iron
across thy lips! I would to St. John she had sent old Dorothy on the
errand, and bound thee for thy Valentine service to that bundle of dry
bones, with never a tooth in her head. She were fittest Valentine in
Perth for so craven a wooer."

"As to craven, father," answered the smith, "there are twenty good
cocks, whose combs I have plucked, can tell thee if I am craven or
no. And Heaven knows that I would give my good land, held by burgess'
tenure, with smithy, bellows, tongs, anvil, and all, providing it would
make your view of the matter the true one. But it is not of her coyness
or her blushes that I speak; it is of the paleness which so soon
followed the red, and chased it from her cheeks; and it is of the
tears which succeeded. It was like the April showers stealing upon and
obscuring the fairest dawning that ever beamed over the Tay."

"Tutti taitti," replied the glover; "neither Rome nor Perth were built
in a day. Thou hast fished salmon a thousand times, and mightst have
taken a lesson. When the fish has taken the fly, to pull a hard strain
on the line would snap the tackle to pieces, were it made of wire. Ease
your hand, man, and let him rise; take leisure, and in half an hour thou
layest him on the bank. There is a beginning as fair as you could wish,
unless you expect the poor wench to come to thy bedside as she did to
thy chair; and that is not the fashion of modest maidens. But observe
me; after we have had our breakfast, I will take care thou hast an
opportunity to speak thy mind; only beware thou be neither too backward
nor press her too hard. Give her line enough, but do not slack too fast,
and my life for yours upon the issue."

"Do what I can, father," answered Henry, "you will always lay the blame
on me--either that I give too much head or that I strain the tackle.
I would give the best habergeon I ever wrought, that the difficulty in
truth rested with me, for there were then the better chance of its being
removed. I own, however, I am but an ass in the trick of bringing about
such discourse as is to the purpose for the occasion."

"Come into the booth with me, my son, and I will furnish thee with a
fitting theme. Thou knowest the maiden who ventures to kiss a sleeping
man wins of him a pair of gloves. Come to my booth; thou shalt have a
pair of delicate kid skin that will exactly suit her hand and arm. I
was thinking of her poor mother when I shaped them," added honest Simon,
with a sigh; "and except Catharine, I know not the woman in Scotland
whom they would fit, though I have measured most of the high beauties of
the court. Come with me, I say, and thou shalt be provided with a theme
to wag thy tongue upon, providing thou hast courage and caution to stand
by thee in thy wooing."



CHAPTER VI.

     Never to man shall Catharine give her hand.

     Taming of the Shrew.


The breakfast was served, and the thin soft cakes, made of flour and
honey according to the family receipt, were not only commended with all
the partiality of a father and a lover, but done liberal justice to in
the mode which is best proof of cake as well as pudding. They talked,
jested, and laughed. Catharine, too, had recovered her equanimity where
the dames and damsels of the period were apt to lose theirs--in the
kitchen, namely, and in the superintendence of household affairs, in
which she was an adept. I question much if the perusal of Seneca for as
long a period would have had equal effect in composing her mind.

Old Dorothy sat down at the board end, as was the homespun fashion
of the period; and so much were the two men amused with their own
conversation, and Catharine occupied either in attending to them or with
her own reflections, that the old woman was the first who observed the
absence of the boy Conachar.

"It is true," said the master glover; "go call him, the idle Highland
loon. He was not seen last night during the fray neither, at least I saw
him not. Did any of you observe him?"

The reply was negative; and Henry's observation followed:

"There are times when Highlanders can couch like their own deer--ay,
and run from danger too as fast. I have seen them do so myself, for the
matter of that."

"And there are times," replied Simon, "when King Arthur and his Round
Table could not make stand against them. I wish, Henry, you would speak
more reverently of the Highlanders. They are often in Perth, both alone
and in numbers, and you ought to keep peace with them so long as they
will keep peace with you."

An answer of defiance rose to Henry's lips, but he prudently suppressed
it. "Why, thou knowest, father," he said, smiling, "that we handicrafts
best love the folks we live by; now, my craft provides for valiant and
noble knights, gentle squires and pages, stout men at arms, and others
that wear the weapons which we make. It is natural I should like the
Ruthvens, the Lindsays, the Ogilvys, the Oliphants, and so many others
of our brave and noble neighbours, who are sheathed in steel of my
making, like so many paladins, better than those naked, snatching
mountaineers, who are ever doing us wrong, especially since no five of
each clan have a rusty shirt of mail as old as their brattach; and that
is but the work of the clumsy clan smith after all, who is no member of
our honourable mystery, but simply works at the anvil, where his father
wrought before him. I say, such people can have no favour in the eyes of
an honest craftsman."

"Well--well," answered Simon; "I prithee let the matter rest even now,
for here comes the loitering boy, and, though it is a holyday morn, I
want no more bloody puddings."

The youth entered accordingly. His face was pale, his eyes red, and
there was an air of discomposure about his whole person. He sat down at
the lower end of the table, opposite to Dorothy, and crossed himself, as
if preparing for his morning's meal. As he did not help himself to any
food, Catharine offered him a platter containing some of the cakes which
had met with such general approbation. At first he rejected her offered
kindness rather sullenly; but on her repeating the offer with a smile of
goodwill, he took a cake in his hand, broke it, and was about to eat a
morsel, when the effort to swallow seemed almost too much for him; and
though he succeeded, he did not repeat it.

"You have a bad appetite for St. Valentine's morning, Conachar," said
his good humoured master; "and yet I think you must have slept soundly
the night before, since I conclude you were not disturbed by the noise
of the scuffle. Why, I thought a lively glune amie would have been at
his master's side, dirk in hand, at the first sound of danger which
arose within a mile of us."

"I heard but an indistinct noise," said the youth, his face glowing
suddenly like a heated coal, "which I took for the shout of some merry
revellers; and you are wont to bid me never open door or window, or
alarm the house, on the score of such folly."

"Well--well," said Simon; "I thought a Highlander would have known
better the difference betwixt the clash of swords and the twanging on
harps, the wild war cry and the merry hunt's up. But let it pass, boy; I
am glad thou art losing thy quarrelsome fashions. Eat thy breakfast, any
way, as I have that to employ thee which requires haste."

"I have breakfasted already, and am in haste myself. I am for the hills.
Have you any message to my father?"

"None," replied the glover, in some surprise; "but art thou beside
thyself, boy? or what a vengeance takes thee from the city, like the
wing of the whirlwind?"

"My warning has been sudden," said Conachar, speaking with difficulty;
but whether arising from the hesitation incidental to the use of a
foreign language, or whether from some other cause, could not easily
be distinguished. "There is to be a meeting--a great hunting--" Here he
stopped.

"And when are you to return from this blessed hunting?" said the master;
"that is, if I may make so bold as to ask."

"I cannot exactly answer," replied the apprentice. "Perhaps never,
if such be my father's pleasure," continued Conachar, with assumed
indifference.

"I thought," said Simon Glover, rather seriously, "that all this was to
be laid aside, when at earnest intercession I took you under my roof. I
thought that when I undertook, being very loth to do so, to teach you
an honest trade, we were to hear no more of hunting, or hosting, or clan
gatherings, or any matters of the kind?"

"I was not consulted when I was sent hither," said the lad, haughtily.
"I cannot tell what the terms were."

"But I can tell you, sir Conachar," said the glover, angrily, "that
there is no fashion of honesty in binding yourself to an honest
craftsman, and spoiling more hides than your own is worth; and now, when
you are of age to be of some service, in taking up the disposal of
your time at your pleasure, as if it were your own property, not your
master's."

"Reckon with my father about that," answered Conachar; "he will pay you
gallantly--a French mutton for every hide I have spoiled, and a fat cow
or bullock for each day I have been absent."

"Close with him, friend Glover--close with him," said the armourer,
drily. "Thou wilt be paid gallantly at least, if not honestly. Methinks
I would like to know how many purses have been emptied to fill the
goat skin sporran that is to be so free to you of its gold, and whose
pastures the bullocks have been calved in that are to be sent down to
you from the Grampian passes."

"You remind me, friend," said the Highland youth, turning haughtily
towards the smith, "that I have also a reckoning to hold with you."

"Keep at arm's length, then," said Henry, extending his brawny arm: "I
will have no more close hugs--no more bodkin work, like last night. I
care little for a wasp's sting, yet I will not allow the insect to come
near me if I have warning."

Conachar smiled contemptuously. "I meant thee no harm," he said. "My
father's son did thee but too much honour to spill such churl's blood. I
will pay you for it by the drop, that it may be dried up, and no longer
soil my fingers."

"Peace, thou bragging ape!" said the smith: "the blood of a true man
cannot be valued in gold. The only expiation would be that thou shouldst
come a mile into the Low Country with two of the strongest galloglasses
of thy clan; and while I dealt with them, I would leave thee to the
correction of my apprentice, little Jankin."

Here Catharine interposed. "Peace," she said, "my trusty Valentine, whom
I have a right to command; and peace you, Conachar, who ought to obey me
as your master's daughter. It is ill done to awaken again on the morrow
the evil which has been laid to sleep at night."

"Farewell, then, master," said Conachar, after another look of scorn at
the smith, which he only answered with a laugh--"farewell! and I thank
you for your kindness, which has been more than I deserve. If I have at
times seemed less than thankful, it was the fault of circumstances, and
not of my will. Catharine--" He cast upon the maiden a look of strong
emotion, in which various feelings were blended. He hesitated, as if
to say something, and at length turned away with the single word
"farewell."

Five minutes afterwards, with Highland buskins on his feet and a small
bundle in his hand, he passed through the north gate of Perth, and
directed his course to the Highlands.

"There goes enough of beggary and of pride for a whole Highland clan,"
said Henry. "He talks as familiarly of gold pieces as I would of silver
pennies, and yet I will be sworn that the thumb of his mother's worsted
glove might hold the treasure of the whole clan."

"Like enough," said the glover, laughing at the idea; "his mother was a
large boned woman, especially in the fingers and wrist."

"And as for cattle," continued Henry, "I reckon his father and brothers
steal sheep by one at a time."

"The less we say of them the better," said the glover, becoming again
grave. "Brothers he hath none; his father is a powerful man--hath long
hands--reaches as far as he can, and hears farther than it is necessary
to talk of him."

"And yet he hath bound his only son apprentice to a glover in Perth?"
said Henry. "Why, I should have thought the gentle craft, as it is
called, of St. Crispin would have suited him best; and that, if the son
of some great Mac or O was to become an artisan, it could only be in the
craft where princes set him the example."

This remark, though ironical, seemed to awaken our friend Simon's sense
of professional dignity, which was a prevailing feeling that marked the
manners of the artisans of the time.

"You err, son Henry," he replied, with much gravity: "the glovers' are
the more honourable craft of the two, in regard they provide for the
accommodation of the hands, whereas the shoemakers and cordwainers do
but work for the feet."

"Both equally necessary members of the body corporate," said Henry,
whose father had been a cordwainer.

"It may be so, my son," said the glover; "but not both alike honourable.
Bethink you, that we employ the hands as pledges of friendship and good
faith, and the feet have no such privilege. Brave men fight with their
hands; cowards employ their feet in flight. A glove is borne aloft; a
shoe is trampled in the mire. A man greets a friend with his open
hand; he spurns a dog, or one whom he holds as mean as a dog, with his
advanced foot. A glove on the point of a spear is a sign and pledge of
faith all the wide world over, as a gauntlet flung down is a gage of
knightly battle; while I know no other emblem belonging to an old shoe,
except that some crones will fling them after a man by way of good luck,
in which practice I avow myself to entertain no confidence."

"Nay," said the smith, amused with his friend's eloquent pleading for
the dignity of the art he practised, "I am not the man, I promise you,
to disparage the glover's mystery. Bethink you, I am myself a maker of
gauntlets. But the dignity of your ancient craft removes not my wonder,
that the father of this Conachar suffered his son to learn a trade of
any kind from a Lowland craftsman, holding us, as they do, altogether
beneath their magnificent degree, and a race of contemptible drudges,
unworthy of any other fate than to be ill used and plundered, as often
as these bare breeched dunnie wassals see safety and convenience for
doing so."

"Ay," answered the glover, "but there were powerful reasons for--for--"
he withheld something which seemed upon his lips, and went on: "for
Conachar's father acting as he did. Well, I have played fair with him,
and I do not doubt but he will act honourably by me. But Conachar's
sudden leave taking has put me to some inconvenience. He had things
under his charge. I must look through the booth."

"Can I help you, father?" said Henry Gow, deceived by the earnestness of
his manner.

"You!--no," said Simon, with a dryness which made Henry so sensible of
the simplicity of his proposal, that he blushed to the eyes at his own
dulness of comprehension, in a matter where love ought to have induced
him to take his cue easily up.

"You, Catharine," said the glover, as he left the room, "entertain your
Valentine for five minutes, and see he departs not till my return. Come
hither with me, old Dorothy, and bestir thy limbs in my behalf."

He left the room, followed by the old woman; and Henry Smith remained
with Catharine, almost for the first time in his life, entirely alone.
There was embarrassment on the maiden's part, and awkwardness on that
of the lover, for about a minute; when Henry, calling up his courage,
pulled the gloves out of his pocket with which Simon had supplied him,
and asked her to permit one who had been so highly graced that morning
to pay the usual penalty for being asleep at the moment when he would
have given the slumbers of a whole twelvemonth to be awake for a single
minute.

"Nay, but," said Catharine, "the fulfilment of my homage to St.
Valentine infers no such penalty as you desire to pay, and I cannot
therefore think of accepting them."

"These gloves," said Henry, advancing his seat insidiously towards
Catharine as he spoke, "were wrought by the hands that are dearest to
you; and see--they are shaped for your own."

He extended them as he spoke, and taking her arm in his robust hand,
spread the gloves beside it to show how well they fitted.

"Look at that taper arm," he said, "look at these small fingers; think
who sewed these seams of silk and gold, and think whether the glove and
the arm which alone the glove can fit ought to remain separate, because
the poor glove has had the misfortune to be for a passing minute in the
keeping of a hand so swart and rough as mine."

"They are welcome as coming from my father," said Catharine; "and surely
not less so as coming from my friend (and there was an emphasis on the
word), as well as my Valentine and preserver."

"Let me aid to do them on," said the smith, bringing himself yet closer
to her side; "they may seem a little over tight at first, and you may
require some assistance."

"You are skilful in such service, good Henry Gow," said the maiden,
smiling, but at the same time drawing farther from her lover.

"In good faith, no," said Henry, shaking his head: "my experience has
been in donning steel gauntlets on mailed knights, more than in fitting
embroidered gloves upon maidens."

"I will trouble you then no further, and Dorothy shall aid me, though
there needs no assistance; my father's eye and fingers are faithful to
his craft: what work he puts through his hands is always true to the
measure."

"Let me be convinced of it," said the smith--"let me see that these
slender gloves actually match the hands they were made for."

"Some other time, good Henry," answered the maiden, "I will wear the
gloves in honour of St. Valentine, and the mate he has sent me for
the season. I would to Heaven I could pleasure my father as well in
weightier matters; at present the perfume of the leather harms the
headache I have had since morning."

"Headache, dearest maiden!" echoed her lover.

"If you call it heartache, you will not misname it," said Catharine,
with a sigh, and proceeded to speak in a very serious tone.

"Henry," she said, "I am going perhaps to be as bold as I gave you
reason to think me this morning; for I am about to speak the first upon
a subject on which, it may well be, I ought to wait till I had to answer
you. But I cannot, after what has happened this morning, suffer my
feelings towards you to remain unexplained, without the possibility of
my being greatly misconceived. Nay, do not answer till you have heard me
out. You are brave, Henry, beyond most men, honest and true as the steel
you work upon--"

"Stop--stop, Catharine, for mercy's sake! You never said so much that
was good concerning me, save to introduce some bitter censure, of which
your praises were the harbingers. I am honest, and so forth, you would
say, but a hot brained brawler, and common sworder or stabber."

"I should injure both myself and you in calling you such. No, Henry, to
no common stabber, had he worn a plume in his bonnet and gold spurs on
his heels, would Catharine Glover have offered the little grace she has
this day voluntarily done to you. If I have at times dwelt severely upon
the proneness of your spirit to anger, and of your hand to strife, it is
because I would have you, if I could so persuade you, hate in yourself
the sins of vanity and wrath by which you are most easily beset. I have
spoken on the topic more to alarm your own conscience than to express
my opinion. I know as well as my father that, in these forlorn and
desperate days, the whole customs of our nation, nay, of every Christian
nation, may be quoted in favour of bloody quarrels for trifling causes,
of the taking deadly and deep revenge for slight offences, and the
slaughter of each other for emulation of honour, or often in mere sport.
But I knew that for all these things we shall one day be called into
judgment; and fain would I convince thee, my brave and generous friend,
to listen oftener to the dictates of thy good heart, and take less pride
in the strength and dexterity of thy unsparing arm."

"I am--I am convinced, Catharine" exclaimed Henry: "thy words shall
henceforward be a law to me. I have done enough, far too much, indeed,
for proof of my bodily strength and courage; but it is only from you,
Catharine, that I can learn a better way of thinking. Remember, my
fair Valentine, that my ambition of distinction in arms, and my love
of strife, if it can be called such, do not fight even handed with my
reason and my milder dispositions, but have their patrons and sticklers
to egg them on. Is there a quarrel, and suppose that I, thinking on your
counsels, am something loth to engage in it, believe you I am left to
decide between peace or war at my own choosing? Not so, by St. Mary!
there are a hundred round me to stir me on. 'Why, how now, Smith, is thy
mainspring rusted?' says one. 'Jolly Henry is deaf on the quarrelling
ear this morning!' says another. 'Stand to it, for the honour of Perth,'
says my lord the Provost. 'Harry against them for a gold noble,' cries
your father, perhaps. Now, what can a poor fellow do, Catharine, when
all are hallooing him on in the devil's name, and not a soul putting in
a word on the other side?"

"Nay, I know the devil has factors enough to utter his wares," said
Catharine; "but it is our duty to despise such idle arguments, though
they may be pleaded even by those to whom we owe much love and honour."

"Then there are the minstrels, with their romaunts and ballads, which
place all a man's praise in receiving and repaying hard blows. It is sad
to tell, Catharine, how many of my sins that Blind Harry the Minstrel
hath to answer for. When I hit a downright blow, it is not--so save
me--to do any man injury, but only to strike as William Wallace struck."

The minstrel's namesake spoke this in such a tone of rueful seriousness,
that Catharine could scarce forbear smiling; but nevertheless she
assured him that the danger of his own and other men's lives ought not
for a moment to be weighed against such simple toys.

"Ay, but," replied Henry, emboldened by her smiles, "methinks now
the good cause of peace would thrive all the better for an advocate.
Suppose, for example, that, when I am pressed and urged to lay hand on
my weapon, I could have cause to recollect that there was a gentle and
guardian angel at home, whose image would seem to whisper, 'Henry, do no
violence; it is my hand which you crimson with blood. Henry, rush
upon no idle danger; it is my breast which you expose to injury;' such
thoughts would do more to restrain my mood than if every monk in Perth
should cry, 'Hold thy hand, on pain of bell, book, and candle.'"

"If such a warning as could be given by the voice of sisterly affection
can have weight in the debate," said Catharine, "do think that, in
striking, you empurple this hand, that in receiving wounds you harm this
heart."

The smith took courage at the sincerely affectionate tone in which these
words were delivered.

"And wherefore not stretch your regard a degree beyond these cold
limits? Why, since you are so kind and generous as to own some interest
in the poor ignorant sinner before you, should you not at once adopt
him as your scholar and your husband? Your father desires it, the town
expects it, glovers and smiths are preparing their rejoicings, and you,
only you, whose words are so fair and so kind, you will not give your
consent."

"Henry," said Catharine, in a low and tremulous voice, "believe me I
should hold it my duty to comply with my father's commands, were there
not obstacles invincible to the match which he proposes."

"Yet think--think but for a moment. I have little to say for myself in
comparison of you, who can both read and write. But then I wish to hear
reading, and could listen to your sweet voice for ever. You love music,
and I have been taught to play and sing as well as some minstrels. You
love to be charitable, I have enough to give, and enough to keep, as
large a daily alms as a deacon gives would never be missed by me. Your
father gets old for daily toil; he would live with us, as I should truly
hold him for my father also. I would be as chary of mixing in causeless
strife as of thrusting my hand into my own furnace; and if there came
on us unlawful violence, its wares would be brought to an ill chosen
market."

"May you experience all the domestic happiness which you can conceive,
Henry, but with some one more happy than I am!"

So spoke, or rather so sobbed, the Fair Maiden of Perth, who seemed
choking in the attempt to restrain her tears.

"You hate me, then?" said the lover, after a pause.

"Heaven is my witness, no."

"Or you love some other better?"

"It is cruel to ask what it cannot avail you to know. But you are
entirely mistaken."

"Yon wildcat, Conachar, perhaps?" said Henry. "I have marked his
looks--"

"You avail yourself of this painful situation to insult me, Henry,
though I have little deserved it. Conachar is nothing to me, more than
the trying to tame his wild spirit by instruction might lead me to
take some interest in a mind abandoned to prejudices and passions, and
therein, Henry, not unlike your own."

"It must then be some of these flaunting silkworm sirs about the
court," said the armourer, his natural heat of temper kindling from
disappointment and vexation--"some of those who think they carry it
off through the height of their plumed bonnets and the jingle of their
spurs. I would I knew which it was that, leaving his natural mates, the
painted and perfumed dames of the court, comes to take his prey among
the simple maidens of the burgher craft. I would I knew but his name and
surname!"

"Henry Smith," said Catharine, shaking off the weakness which seemed to
threaten to overpower her a moment before, "this is the language of an
ungrateful fool, or rather of a frantic madman. I have told you already,
there was no one who stood, at the beginning of this conference, more
high in my opinion than he who is now losing ground with every word he
utters in the tone of unjust suspicion and senseless anger. You had no
title to know even what I have told you, which, I pray you to observe,
implies no preference to you over others, though it disowns any
preference of another to you. It is enough you should be aware that
there is as insuperable an objection to what you desire as if an
enchanter had a spell over my destiny."

"Spells may be broken by true men," said, the smith. "I would it were
come to that. Thorbiorn, the Danish armourer, spoke of a spell he had
for making breastplates, by singing a certain song while the iron was
heating. I told him that his runic rhymes were no proof against the
weapons which fought at Loncarty--what farther came of it it is needless
to tell, but the corselet and the wearer, and the leech who salved his
wound, know if Henry Gow can break a spell or no."

Catharine looked at him as if about to return an answer little approving
of the exploit he had vaunted, which the downright smith had not
recollected was of a kind that exposed him to her frequent censure. But
ere she had given words to her thoughts, her father thrust his head in
at the door.

"Henry," he said, "I must interrupt your more pleasing affairs, and
request you to come into my working room in all speed, to consult about
certain matters deeply affecting the weal of the burgh."

Henry, making his obeisance to Catharine, left the apartment upon her
father's summons. Indeed, it was probably in favour of their future
friendly intercourse, that they were parted on this occasion at the
turn which the conversation seemed likely to take. For, as the wooer
had begun to hold the refusal of the damsel as somewhat capricious and
inexplicable after the degree of encouragement which, in his opinion,
she had afforded; Catharine, on the other hand, considered him rather
as an encroacher upon the grace which she had shown him than one whose
delicacy rendered him deserving of such favour. But there was living
in their bosoms towards each other a reciprocal kindness, which, on the
termination of the dispute, was sure to revive, inducing the maiden
to forget her offended delicacy, and the lover his slighted warmth of
passion.



CHAPTER VII.

     This quarrel may draw blood another day.

     Henry IV. Part I.


The conclave of citizens appointed to meet for investigating the affray
of the preceding evening had now assembled. The workroom of Simon Glover
was filled to crowding by personages of no little consequence, some of
whom wore black velvet cloaks, and gold chains around their necks.
They were, indeed, the fathers of the city; and there were bailies and
deacons in the honoured number. There was an ireful and offended air of
importance upon every brow as they conversed together, rather in whisper
than aloud or in detail. Busiest among the busy, the little important
assistant of the previous night, Oliver Proudfute by name, and bonnet
maker by profession, was bustling among the crowd, much after the
manner of the seagull, which flutters, screams, and sputters most at the
commencement of a gale of wind, though one can hardly conceive what the
bird has better to do than to fly to its nest and remain quiet till the
gale is over.

Be that as it may, Master Proudfute was in the midst of the crowd,
his fingers upon every one's button and his mouth in every man's ear,
embracing such as were near to his own stature, that he might more
closely and mysteriously utter his sentiments; and standing on tiptoe,
and supporting himself by the cloak collars of tall men, that he might
dole out to them also the same share of information. He felt himself one
of the heroes of the affair, being conscious of the dignity of superior
information on the subject as an eyewitness, and much disposed to push
his connexion with the scuffle a few points beyond the modesty of truth.
It cannot be said that his communications were in especial curious and
important, consisting chiefly of such assertions as these:

"It is all true, by St. John! I was there and saw it myself--was the
first to run to the fray; and if it had not been for me and another
stout fellow, who came in about the same time, they had broken into
Simon Glover's house, cut his throat, and carried his daughter off
to the mountains. It is too evil usage--not to be suffered, neighbour
Crookshank; not to be endured, neighbour Glass; not to be borne,
neighbours Balneaves, Rollock, and Chrysteson. It was a mercy that I
and that stout fellow came in, was it not, neighbour and worthy Bailie
Craigdallie?"

These speeches were dispersed by the busy bonnet maker into sundry ears.
Bailie Craigdallie, a portly guild brother, the same who had advised the
prorogation of their civic council to the present place and hour, a big,
burly, good looking man, shook the deacon from his cloak with pretty
much the grace with which a large horse shrugs off the importunate
fly that has beset him for ten minutes, and exclaimed, "Silence, good
citizens; here comes Simon Glover, in whom no man ever saw falsehood. We
will hear the outrage from his own mouth."

Simon being called upon to tell his tale, did so with obvious
embarrassment, which he imputed to a reluctance that the burgh should
be put in deadly feud with any one upon his account. It was, he dared to
say, a masking or revel on the part of the young gallants about court;
and the worst that might come of it would be, that he would put iron
stanchions on his daughter's window, in case of such another frolic.

"Why, then, if this was a mere masking or mummery," said Craigdallie,
"our townsman, Harry of the Wind, did far wrong to cut off a gentleman's
hand for such a harmless pleasantry, and the town may be brought to a
heavy fine for it, unless we secure the person of the mutilator."

"Our Lady forbid!" said the glover. "Did you know what I do, you would
be as much afraid of handling this matter as if it were glowing iron.
But, since you will needs put your fingers in the fire, truth must be
spoken. And come what will, I must say, that the matter might have ended
ill for me and mine, but for the opportune assistance of Henry Gow, the
armourer, well known to you all."

"And mine also was not awanting," said Oliver Proudfute, "though I do
not profess to be utterly so good a swordsman as our neighbour Henry
Gow. You saw me, neighbour Glover, at the beginning of the fray?"

"I saw you after the end of it, neighbour," answered the glover, drily.

"True--true; I had forgot you were in your house while the blows were
going, and could not survey who were dealing them."

"Peace, neighbour Proudfute--I prithee, peace," said Craigdallie, who
was obviously tired of the tuneless screeching of the worthy deacon.

"There is something mysterious here," said the bailie; "but I think I
spy the secret. Our friend Simon is, as you all know, a peaceful man,
and one that will rather sit down with wrong than put a friend, or say a
neighbourhood, in danger to seek his redress. Thou, Henry, who art never
wanting where the burgh needs a defender, tell us what thou knowest of
this matter."

Our smith told his story to the same purpose which we have already
related; and the meddling maker of bonnets added as before, "And thou
sawest me there, honest smith, didst thou not?"

"Not I, in good faith, neighbour," answered Henry; "but you are a little
man, you know, and I might overlook you."

This reply produced a laugh at Oliver's expense, who laughed for
company, but added doggedly, "I was one of the foremost to the rescue
for all that."

"Why, where wert thou, then, neighbour?" said the smith; "for I saw you
not, and I would have given the worth of the best suit of armour I ever
wrought to have seen as stout a fellow as thou at my elbow."

"I was no farther off, however, honest smith; and whilst thou wert
laying on blows as if on an anvil, I was parrying those that the rest of
the villains aimed at thee behind thy back; and that is the cause thou
sawest me not."

"I have heard of smiths of old time who had but one eye," said Henry; "I
have two, but they are both set in my forehead, and so I could not see
behind my back, neighbour."

"The truth is, however," persevered Master Oliver, "there I was, and I
will give Master Bailie my account of the matter; for the smith and I
were first up to the fray."

"Enough at present," said the bailie, waving to Master Proudfute an
injunction of silence. "The precognition of Simon Glover and Henry Gow
would bear out a matter less worthy of belief. And now, my masters,
your opinion what should be done. Here are all our burgher rights broken
through and insulted, and you may well fancy that it is by some man of
power, since no less dared have attempted such an outrage. My masters,
it is hard on flesh and blood to submit to this. The laws have framed us
of lower rank than the princes and nobles, yet it is against reason to
suppose that we will suffer our houses to be broken into, and the honour
of our women insulted, without some redress."

"It is not to be endured!" answered the citizens, unanimously.

Here Simon Glover interfered with a very anxious and ominous
countenance. "I hope still that all was not meant so ill as it seemed
to us, my worthy neighbours; and I for one would cheerfully forgive the
alarm and disturbance to my poor house, providing the Fair City were not
brought into jeopardy for me. I beseech you to consider who are to be
our judges that are to hear the case, and give or refuse redress. I
speak among neighbours and friends, and therefore I speak openly. The
King, God bless him! is so broken in mind and body, that he will but
turn us over to some great man amongst his counsellors who shall be in
favour for the time. Perchance he will refer us to his brother the Duke
of Albany, who will make our petition for righting of our wrongs the
pretence for squeezing money out of us."

"We will none of Albany for our judge!" answered the meeting with the
same unanimity as before.

"Or perhaps," added Simon, "he will bid the Duke of Rothsay take charge
of it; and the wild young prince will regard the outrage as something
for his gay companions to scoff at, and his minstrels to turn into
song."

"Away with Rothsay! he is too gay to be our judge," again exclaimed the
citizens.

Simon, emboldened by seeing he was reaching the point he aimed at, yet
pronouncing the dreaded name with a half whisper, next added, "Would you
like the Black Douglas better to deal with?"

There was no answer for a minute. They looked on each other with fallen
countenances and blanched lips.

But Henry Smith spoke out boldly, and in a decided voice, the sentiments
which all felt, but none else dared give words to: "The Black Douglas to
judge betwixt a burgher and a gentleman, nay, a nobleman, for all I know
or care! The black devil of hell sooner! You are mad, father Simon, so
much as to name so wild a proposal."

There was again a silence of fear and uncertainty, which was at length
broken by Bailie Craigdallie, who, looking very significantly to the
speaker, replied, "You are confident in a stout doublet, neighbour
Smith, or you would not talk so boldly."

"I am confident of a good heart under my doublet, such as it is,
bailie," answered the undaunted Henry; "and though I speak but little,
my mouth shall never be padlocked by any noble of them all."

"Wear a thick doublet, good Henry, or do not speak so loud," reiterated
the bailie in the same significant tone. "There are Border men in the
town who wear the bloody heart on their shoulder. But all this is no
rede. What shall we do?"

"Short rede, good rede," said the smith. "Let us to our provost, and
demand his countenance and assistance."

A murmur of applause went through the party, and Oliver Proudfute
exclaimed, "That is what I have been saying for this half hour, and not
one of ye would listen to me. 'Let us go to our provost,' said I. 'He is
a gentleman himself, and ought to come between the burgh and the nobles
in all matters."

"Hush, neighbours--hush; be wary what you say or do," said a thin meagre
figure of a man, whose diminutive person seemed still more reduced in
size, and more assimilated to a shadow, by his efforts to assume an
extreme degree of humility, and make himself, to suit his argument, look
meaner yet, and yet more insignificant, than nature had made him.

"Pardon me," said he; "I am but a poor pottingar. Nevertheless, I have
been bred in Paris, and learned my humanities and my cursus medendi as
well as some that call themselves learned leeches. Methinks I can tent
this wound, and treat it with emollients. Here is our friend Simon
Glover, who is, as you all know, a man of worship. Think you he would
not be the most willing of us all to pursue harsh courses here, since
his family honour is so nearly concerned? And since he blenches away
from the charge against these same revellers, consider if he may not
have some good reason more than he cares to utter for letting the matter
sleep. It is not for me to put my finger on the sore; but, alack! we all
know that young maidens are what I call fugitive essences. Suppose now,
an honest maiden--I mean in all innocence--leaves her window unlatched
on St. Valentine's morn, that some gallant cavalier may--in all honesty,
I mean--become her Valentine for the season, and suppose the gallant
be discovered, may she not scream out as if the visit were unexpected,
and--and--bray all this in a mortar, and then consider, will it be a
matter to place the town in feud for?"

The pottingar delivered his opinion in a most insinuating manner; but
he seemed to shrink into something less than his natural tenuity when he
saw the blood rise in the old cheek of Simon Glover, and inflame to the
temples the complexion of the redoubted smith.

The last, stepping forward, and turning a stern look on the alarmed
pottingar, broke out as follows: "Thou walking skeleton! thou asthmatic
gallipot! thou poisoner by profession! if I thought that the puff of
vile breath thou hast left could blight for the tenth part of a minute
the fair fame of Catharine Glover, I would pound thee, quacksalver!
in thine own mortar, and beat up thy wretched carrion with flower of
brimstone, the only real medicine in thy booth, to make a salve to rub
mangy hounds with!"

"Hold, son Henry--hold!" cried the glover, in a tone of authority,
"no man has title to speak of this matter but me. Worshipful Bailie
Craigdallie, since such is the construction that is put upon my
patience, I am willing to pursue this riot to the uttermost; and though
the issue may prove that we had better have been patient, you will
all see that my Catharine hath not by any lightness or folly of hers
afforded grounds for this great scandal."

The bailie also interposed. "Neighbour Henry," said he, "we came here to
consult, and not to quarrel. As one of the fathers of the Fair City, I
command thee to forego all evil will and maltalent you may have against
Master Pottingar Dwining."

"He is too poor a creature, bailie," said Henry Gow, "for me to harbour
feud with--I that could destroy him and his booth with one blow of my
forehammer."

"Peace, then, and hear me," said the official. "We all are as much
believers in the honour of the Fair Maiden of Perth as in that of our
Blessed Lady." Here he crossed himself devoutly. "But touching our
appeal to our provost, are you agreed, neighbours, to put matter like
this into our provost's hand, being against a powerful noble, as is to
be feared?"

"The provost being himself a nobleman," squeaked the pottingar, in some
measure released from his terror by the intervention of the bailie.
"God knows, I speak not to the disparagement of an honourable gentleman,
whose forebears have held the office he now holds for many years--"

"By free choice of the citizens of Perth," said the smith, interrupting
the speaker with the tones of his deep and decisive voice.

"Ay, surely," said the disconcerted orator, "by the voice of the
citizens. How else? I pray you, friend Smith, interrupt me not. I speak
to our worthy and eldest bailie, Craigdallie, according to my poor
mind. I say that, come amongst us how he will, still this Sir Patrick
Charteris is a nobleman, and hawks will not pick hawks' eyes out. He may
well bear us out in a feud with the Highlandmen, and do the part of our
provost and leader against them; but whether he that himself wears silk
will take our part against broidered cloak and cloth of gold, though
he may do so against tartan and Irish frieze, is something to be
questioned. Take a fool's advice. We have saved our Maiden, of whom
I never meant to speak harm, as truly I knew none. They have lost one
man's hand, at least, thanks to Harry Smith--"

"And to me," added the little important bonnet maker.

"And to Oliver Proudfute, as he tells us," continued the pottingar, who
contested no man's claim to glory provided he was not himself compelled
to tread the perilous paths which lead to it. "I say, neighbours, since
they have left a hand as a pledge they will never come in Couvrefew
Street again, why, in my simple mind, we were best to thank our stout
townsman, and the town having the honour and these rakehells the loss,
that we should hush the matter up and say no more about it."

These pacific counsels had their effect with some of the citizens,
who began to nod and look exceedingly wise upon the advocate of
acquiescence, with whom, notwithstanding the offence so lately given,
Simon Glover seemed also to agree in opinion. But not so Henry Smith,
who, seeing the consultation at a stand, took up the speech in his usual
downright manner.

"I am neither the oldest nor the richest among you, neighbours, and I am
not sorry for it. Years will come, if one lives to see them; and I can
win and spend my penny like another, by the blaze of the furnace and the
wind of the bellows. But no man ever saw me sit down with wrong done
in word or deed to our fair town, if man's tongue and man's hand could
right it. Neither will I sit down with this outrage, if I can help it.
I will go to the provost myself, if no one will go with me; he is a
knight, it is true, and a gentleman of free and true born blood, as we
all know, since Wallace's time, who settled his great grandsire amongst
us. But if he were the proudest nobleman in the land, he is the Provost
of Perth, and for his own honour must see the freedoms and immunities of
the burgh preserved--ay, and I know he will. I have made a steel doublet
for him, and have a good guess at the kind of heart that it was meant to
cover."

"Surely," said Bailie Craigdallie, "it would be to no purpose to stir
at court without Sir Patrick Charteris's countenance: the ready answer
would be, 'Go to your provost, you borrel loons.' So, neighbours and
townsmen, if you will stand by my side, I and our pottingar Dwining
will repair presently to Kinfauns, with Sim Glover, the jolly smith, and
gallant Oliver Proudfute, for witnesses to the onslaught, and speak with
Sir Patrick Charteris, in name of the fair town."

"Nay," said the peaceful man of medicine, "leave me behind, I pray you:
I lack audacity to speak before a belted knight."

"Never regard that, neighbour, you must go," said Bailie Craigdallie.
"The town hold me a hot headed carle for a man of threescore; Sim Glover
is the offended party; we all know that Harry Gow spoils more harness
with his sword than he makes with his hammer and our neighbour
Proudfute, who, take his own word, is at the beginning and end of every
fray in Perth, is of course a man of action. We must have at least one
advocate amongst us for peace and quietness; and thou, pottingar, must
be the man. Away with you, sirs, get your boots and your beasts--horse
and hattock, I say, and let us meet at the East Port; that is, if it is
your pleasure, neighbours, to trust us with the matter."

"There can be no better rede, and we will all avouch it," said the
citizens. "If the provost take our part, as the Fair Town hath a right
to expect, we may bell the cat with the best of them."

"It is well, then, neighbours," answered the bailie; "so said, so shall
be done. Meanwhile, I have called the whole town council together about
this hour, and I have little doubt," looking around the company, "that,
as so many of them who are in this place have resolved to consult with
our provost, the rest will be compliant to the same resolution. And,
therefore, neighbours, and good burghers of the Fair City of Perth,
horse and hattock, as I said before, and meet me at the East Port."

A general acclamation concluded the sitting of this species of privy
council, or Lords of the Articles; and they dispersed, the deputation to
prepare for the journey, and the rest to tell their impatient wives and
daughters of the measures they had taken to render their chambers safe
in future against the intrusion of gallants at unseasonable hours.

While nags are saddling, and the town council debating, or rather
putting in form what the leading members of their body had already
adopted, it may be necessary, for the information of some readers,
to state in distinct terms what is more circuitously intimated in the
course of the former discussion.

It was the custom at this period, when the strength of the feudal
aristocracy controlled the rights, and frequently insulted the
privileges, of the royal burghs of Scotland, that the latter, where it
was practicable, often chose their provost, or chief magistrate, not out
of the order of the merchants, shopkeepers, and citizens, who inhabited
the town itself, and filled up the roll of the ordinary magistracy, but
elected to that preeminent state some powerful nobleman, or baron, in
the neighbourhood of the burgh, who was expected to stand their friend
at court in such matters as concerned their common weal, and to lead
their civil militia to fight, whether in general battle or in private
feud, reinforcing them with his own feudal retainers. This protection
was not always gratuitous. The provosts sometimes availed themselves of
their situation to an unjustifiable degree, and obtained grants of lands
and tenements belonging to the common good, or public property of the
burgh, and thus made the citizens pay dear for the countenance which
they afforded. Others were satisfied to receive the powerful aid of the
townsmen in their own feudal quarrels, with such other marks of respect
and benevolence as the burgh over which they presided were willing to
gratify them with, in order to secure their active services in case of
necessity. The baron, who was the regular protector of a royal burgh,
accepted such freewill offerings without scruple, and repaid them by
defending the rights of the town by arguments in the council and by bold
deeds in the field.

The citizens of the town, or, as they loved better to call it, the
Fair City, of Perth, had for several generations found a protector
and provost of this kind in the knightly family of Charteris, Lords of
Kinfauns, in the neighbourhood of the burgh. It was scarce a century (in
the time of Robert III) since the first of this distinguished family
had settled in the strong castle which now belonged to them, with the
picturesque and fertile scenes adjoining to it. But the history of the
first settler, chivalrous and romantic in itself, was calculated to
facilitate the settlement of an alien in the land in which his lot was
cast. We relate it as it is given by an ancient and uniform tradition,
which carries in it great indications of truth, and is warrant enough,
perhaps, for it insertion in graver histories than the present.

During the brief career of the celebrated patriot Sir William Wallace,
and when his arms had for a time expelled the English invaders from his
native country, he is said to have undertaken a voyage to France, with
a small band of trusty friends, to try what his presence (for he was
respected through all countries for his prowess) might do to induce the
French monarch to send to Scotland a body of auxiliary forces, or other
assistance, to aid the Scots in regaining their independence.

The Scottish Champion was on board a small vessel, and steering for the
port of Dieppe, when a sail appeared in the distance, which the mariners
regarded, first with doubt and apprehension, and at last with confusion
and dismay. Wallace demanded to know what was the cause of their alarm.
The captain of the ship informed him that the tall vessel which was
bearing down, with the purpose of boarding that which he commanded, was
the ship of a celebrated rover, equally famed for his courage, strength
of body, and successful piracies. It was commanded by a gentleman named
Thomas de Longueville, a Frenchman by birth, but by practice one of
those pirates who called themselves friends to the sea and enemies to
all who sailed upon that element. He attacked and plundered vessels
of all nations, like one of the ancient Norse sea kings, as they were
termed, whose dominion was upon the mountain waves. The master added
that no vessel could escape the rover by flight, so speedy was the bark
he commanded; and that no crew, however hardy, could hope to resist him,
when, as was his usual mode of combat, he threw himself on board at the
head of his followers.

Wallace smiled sternly, while the master of the ship, with alarm in his
countenance and tears in his eyes, described to him the certainty of
their being captured by the Red Rover, a name given to De Longueville,
because he usually displayed the blood red flag, which he had now
hoisted.

"I will clear the narrow seas of this rover," said Wallace.

Then calling together some ten or twelve of his own followers, Boyd,
Kerlie, Seton, and others, to whom the dust of the most desperate battle
was like the breath of life, he commanded them to arm themselves,
and lie flat upon the deck, so as to be out of sight. He ordered the
mariners below, excepting such as were absolutely necessary to manage
the vessel; and he gave the master instructions, upon pain of death, so
to steer as that, while the vessel had an appearance of attempting to
fly, he should in fact permit the Red Rover to come up with them and do
his worst. Wallace himself then lay down on the deck, that nothing might
be seen which could intimate any purpose of resistance. In a quarter of
an hour De Longueville's vessel ran on board that of the Champion, and
the Red Rover, casting out grappling irons to make sure of his prize,
jumped on the deck in complete armour, followed by his men, who gave a
terrible shout, as if victory had been already secured. But the armed
Scots started up at once, and the rover found himself unexpectedly
engaged with men accustomed to consider victory as secure when they
were only opposed as one to two or three. Wallace himself rushed on the
pirate captain, and a dreadful strife began betwixt them with such fury
that the others suspended their own battle to look on, and seemed by
common consent to refer the issue of the strife to the fate of the
combat between the two chiefs. The pirate fought as well as man could
do; but Wallace's strength was beyond that of ordinary mortals. He
dashed the sword from the rover's hand, and placed him in such peril
that, to avoid being cut down, he was fain to close with the Scottish
Champion in hopes of overpowering him in the grapple. In this also he
was foiled. They fell on the deck, locked in each other's arms, but the
Frenchman fell undermost; and Wallace, fixing his grasp upon his gorget,
compressed it so closely, notwithstanding it was made of the finest
steel, that the blood gushed from his eyes, nose, and month, and he was
only able to ask for quarter by signs. His men threw down their weapons
and begged for mercy when they saw their leader thus severely handled.
The victor granted them all their lives, but took possession of their
vessel, and detained them prisoners.

When he came in sight of the French harbour, Wallace alarmed the place
by displaying the rover's colours, as if De Longueville was coming to
pillage the town. The bells were rung backward, horns were blown, and
the citizens were hurrying to arms, when the scene changed. The Scottish
Lion on his shield of gold was raised above the piratical flag, and
announced that the Champion of Scotland was approaching, like a falcon
with his prey in his clutch. He landed with his prisoner, and carried
him to the court of France, where, at Wallace's request, the robberies
which the pirate had committed were forgiven, and the king even
conferred the honour of knighthood on Sir Thomas de Longueville, and
offered to take him into his service. But the rover had contracted such
a friendship for his generous victor, that he insisted on uniting his
fortunes with those of Wallace, with whom he returned to Scotland, and
fought by his side in many a bloody battle, where the prowess of Sir
Thomas de Longueville was remarked as inferior to that of none, save of
his heroic conqueror. His fate also was more fortunate than that of his
patron. Being distinguished by the beauty as well as strength of his
person, he rendered himself so acceptable to a young lady, heiress of
the ancient family of Charteris, that she chose him for her husband,
bestowing on him with her hand the fair baronial Castle of Kinfauns, and
the domains annexed to it. Their descendants took the name of Charteris,
as connecting themselves with their maternal ancestors, the ancient
proprietors of the property, though the name of Thomas de Longueville
was equally honoured amongst them; and the large two handed sword with
which he mowed the ranks of war was, and is still, preserved among
the family muniments. Another account is, that the family name of De
Longueville himself was Charteris. The estate afterwards passed to a
family of Blairs, and is now the property of Lord Gray.

These barons of Kinfauns, from father to son, held, for several
generations, the office of Provost of Perth, the vicinity of the castle
and town rendering it a very convenient arrangement for mutual support.
The Sir Patrick of this history had more than once led out the men of
Perth to battles and skirmishes with the restless Highland depredators,
and with other enemies, foreign and domestic. True it is, he
used sometimes to be weary of the slight and frivolous complaints
unnecessarily brought before him, and in which he was requested to
interest himself. Hence he had sometimes incurred the charge of being
too proud as a nobleman, or too indolent as a man of wealth, and one who
was too much addicted to the pleasures of the field and the exercise of
feudal hospitality, to bestir himself upon all and every occasion
when the Fair Town would have desired his active interference. But,
notwithstanding that this occasioned some slight murmuring, the
citizens, upon any serious cause of alarm, were wont to rally around
their provost, and were warmly supported by him both in council and
action.



CHAPTER VIII.

     Within the bounds of Annandale
     The gentle Johnstones ride;
     They have been there a thousand years,
     A thousand more they'll bide.

     Old Ballad.


The character and quality of Sir Patrick Charteris, the Provost of
Perth, being such as we have sketched in the last chapter, let us now
return to the deputation which was in the act of rendezvousing at the
East Port, in order to wait upon that dignitary with their complaints at
Kinfauns.

And first appeared Simon Glover, on a pacing palfrey, which had
sometimes enjoyed the honour of bearing the fairer person as well as the
lighter weight of his beautiful daughter. His cloak was muffled round
the lower part of his face, as a sign to his friends not to interrupt
him by any questions while he passed through the streets, and partly,
perhaps, on account of the coldness of the weather. The deepest anxiety
was seated on his brow, as if the more he meditated on the matter he was
engaged in, the more difficult and perilous it appeared. He only greeted
by silent gestures his friends as they came to the rendezvous.

A strong black horse, of the old Galloway breed, of an under size, and
not exceeding fourteen hands, but high shouldered, strong limbed, well
coupled, and round barrelled, bore to the East Port the gallant smith. A
judge of the animal might see in his eye a spark of that vicious temper
which is frequently the accompaniment of the form that is most vigorous
and enduring; but the weight, the hand, and the seat of the rider,
added to the late regular exercise of a long journey, had subdued his
stubbornness for the present. He was accompanied by the honest bonnet
maker, who being, as the reader is aware, a little round man, and
what is vulgarly called duck legged, had planted himself like a red
pincushion (for he was wrapped in a scarlet cloak, over which he had
slung a hawking pouch), on the top of a great saddle, which he might be
said rather to be perched upon than to bestride. The saddle and the man
were girthed on the ridge bone of a great trampling Flemish mare, with
a nose turned up in the air like a camel, a huge fleece of hair at each
foot, and every hoof full as large in circumference as a frying pan. The
contrast between the beast and the rider was so extremely extraordinary,
that, whilst chance passengers contented themselves with wondering how
he got up, his friends were anticipating with sorrow the perils which
must attend his coming down again; for the high seated horseman's
feet did not by any means come beneath the laps of the saddle. He had
associated himself to the smith, whose motions he had watched for the
purpose of joining him; for it was Oliver Proudfute's opinion that men
of action showed to most advantage when beside each other; and he was
delighted when some wag of the lower class had gravity enough to cry
out, without laughing outright: "There goes the pride of Perth--there go
the slashing craftsmen, the jolly Smith of the Wynd and the bold bonnet
maker!"

It is true, the fellow who gave this all hail thrust his tongue in his
cheek to some scapegraces like himself; but as the bonnet maker did not
see this byplay, he generously threw him a silver penny to encourage
his respect for martialists. This munificence occasioned their being
followed by a crowd of boys, laughing and hallooing, until Henry Smith,
turning back, threatened to switch the foremost of them--a resolution
which they did not wait to see put in execution.

"Here are we the witnesses," said the little man on the large horse,
as they joined Simon Glover at the East Port; "but where are they that
should back us? Ah, brother Henry! authority is a load for an ass rather
than a spirited horse: it would but clog the motions of such young
fellows as you and me."

"I could well wish to see you bear ever so little of that same weight,
worthy Master Proudfute," replied Henry Gow, "were it but to keep you
firm in the saddle; for you bounce aloft as if you were dancing a jig on
your seat, without any help from your legs."

"Ay--ay; I raise myself in my stirrups to avoid the jolting. She is
cruelly hard set this mare of mine; but she has carried me in field
and forest, and through some passages that were something perilous,
so Jezabel and I part not. I call her Jezabel, after the Princess of
Castile."

"Isabel, I suppose you mean," answered the smith.

"Ay--Isabel, or Jezabel--all the same, you know. But here comes Bailie
Craigdallie at last, with that poor, creeping, cowardly creature the
pottingar. They have brought two town officers with their partizans, to
guard their fair persons, I suppose. If there is one thing I hate more
than another, it is such a sneaking varlet as that Dwining."

"Have a care he does not hear you say so," said the smith, "I tell thee,
bonnet maker, that there is more danger in yonder slight wasted anatomy
than in twenty stout fellows like yourself."

"Pshaw! Bully Smith, you are but jesting with me," said Oliver,
softening his voice, however, and looking towards the pottingar, as if
to discover in what limb or lineament of his wasted face and form lay
any appearance of the menaced danger; and his examination reassuring
him, he answered boldly: "Blades and bucklers, man, I would stand the
feud of a dozen such as Dwining. What could he do to any man with blood
in his veins?"

"He could give him a dose of physic," answered the smith drily.

They had no time for further colloquy, for Bailie Craigdallie called to
them to take the road to Kinfauns, and himself showed the example. As
they advanced at a leisurely pace, the discourse turned on the reception
which they were to expect from their provost, and the interest which
he was likely to take in the aggression which they complained of. The
glover seemed particularly desponding, and talked more than once in
a manner which implied a wish that they would yet consent to let the
matter rest. He did not speak out very plainly, however, fearful,
perhaps, of the malignant interpretation which might be derived from
any appearance of his flinching from the assertion of his daughter's
reputation. Dwining seemed to agree with him in opinion, but spoke more
cautiously than in the morning.

"After all," said the bailie, "when I think of all the propines and
good gifts which have passed from the good town to my Lord Provost's,
I cannot think he will be backward to show himself. More than one lusty
boat, laden with Bordeaux wine, has left the South Shore to discharge
its burden under the Castle of Kinfauns. I have some right to speak of
that, who was the merchant importer."

"And," said Dwining, with his squeaking voice, "I could speak of
delicate confections, curious comfits, loaves of wastel bread, and even
cakes of that rare and delicious condiment which men call sugar, that
have gone thither to help out a bridal banquet, or a kirstening feast,
or suchlike. But, alack, Bailie Craigdallie, wine is drunk, comfits are
eaten, and the gift is forgotten when the flavour is past away. Alas!
neighbour, the banquet of last Christmas is gone like the last year's
snow."

"But there have been gloves full of gold pieces," said the magistrate.

"I should know that who wrought them," said Simon, whose professional
recollections still mingled with whatever else might occupy his mind.
"One was a hawking glove for my lady. I made it something wide. Her
ladyship found no fault, in consideration of the intended lining."

"Well, go to," said Bailie Craigdallie, "the less I lie; and if these
are not to the fore, it is the provost's fault, and not the town's: they
could neither be eat nor drunk in the shape in which he got them."

"I could speak of a brave armour too," said the smith; "but, cogan na
schie! [Peace or war, I care not!] as John Highlandman says--I think the
knight of Kinfauns will do his devoir by the burgh in peace or war; and
it is needless to be reckoning the town's good deeds till we see him
thankless for them."

"So say I," cried our friend Proudfute, from the top of his mare. "We
roystering blades never bear so base a mind as to count for wine and
walnuts with a friend like Sir Patrick Charteris. Nay, trust me, a good
woodsman like Sir Patrick will prize the right of hunting and sporting
over the lands of the burgh as an high privilege, and one which, his
Majesty the King's Grace excepted, is neither granted to lord nor loon
save to our provost alone."

As the bonnet maker spoke, there was heard on the left hand the cry of,
"So so--waw waw--haw," being the shout of a falconer to his hawk.

"Methinks yonder is a fellow using the privilege you mention, who, from
his appearance, is neither king nor provost," said the smith.

"Ay, marry, I see him," said the bonnet maker, who imagined the occasion
presented a prime opportunity to win honour. "Thou and I, jolly smith,
will prick towards him and put him to the question."

"Have with you, then," cried the smith; and his companion spurred his
mare and went off, never doubting that Gow was at his heels.

But Craigdallie caught Henry's horse by the reins. "Stand fast by the
standard," he said; "let us see the luck of our light horseman. If he
procures himself a broken pate he will be quieter for the rest of the
day."

"From what I already see," said the smith, "he may easily come by such
a boon. Yonder fellow, who stops so impudently to look at us, as if he
were engaged in the most lawful sport in the world--I guess him, by his
trotting hobbler, his rusty head piece with the cock's feather, and long
two handed sword, to be the follower of some of the southland lords--men
who live so near the Southron, that the black jack is never off their
backs, and who are as free of their blows as they are light in their
fingers."

Whilst they were thus speculating on the issue of the rencounter the
valiant bonnet maker began to pull up Jezabel, in order that the smith,
who he still concluded was close behind, might overtake him, and either
advance first or at least abreast of himself. But when he saw him at a
hundred yards distance, standing composedly with the rest of the group,
the flesh of the champion, like that of the old Spanish general, began
to tremble, in anticipation of the dangers into which his own venturous
spirit was about to involve it. Yet the consciousness of being
countenanced by the neighbourhood of so many friends, the hopes that
the appearance of such odds must intimidate the single intruder, and the
shame of abandoning an enterprise in which he had volunteered, and
when so many persons must witness his disgrace, surmounted the strong
inclination which prompted him to wheel Jezabel to the right about, and
return to the friends whose protection he had quitted, as fast as her
legs could carry them. He accordingly continued his direction towards
the stranger, who increased his alarm considerably by putting his little
nag in motion, and riding to meet him at a brisk trot. On observing this
apparently offensive movement, our hero looked over his left shoulder
more than once, as if reconnoitring the ground for a retreat, and in the
mean while came to a decided halt. But the Philistine was upon him
ere the bonnet maker could decide whether to fight or fly, and a very
ominous looking Philistine he was. His figure was gaunt and lathy, his
visage marked by two or three ill favoured scars, and the whole man had
much the air of one accustomed to say, "Stand and deliver," to a true
man.

This individual began the discourse by exclaiming, in tones as sinister
as his looks, "The devil catch you for a cuckoo, why do you ride across
the moor to spoil my sport?"

"Worthy stranger," said our friend, in the tone of pacific remonstrance,
"I am Oliver Proudfute, a burgess of Perth, and a man of substance;
and yonder is the worshipful Adam Craigdallie, the oldest bailie of the
burgh, with the fighting Smith of the Wynd, and three or four armed
men more, who desire to know your name, and how you come to take your
pleasure over these lands belonging to the burgh of Perth; although,
natheless, I will answer for them, it is not their wish to quarrel with
a gentleman, or stranger for any accidental trespass; only it is
their use and wont not to grant such leave, unless it is duly asked;
and--and--therefore I desire to know your name, worthy sir."

The grim and loathly aspect with which the falconer had regarded
Oliver Proudfute during his harangue had greatly disconcerted him, and
altogether altered the character of the inquiry which, with Henry Gow to
back him, he would probably have thought most fitting for the occasion.

The stranger replied to it, modified as it was, with a most inauspicious
grin, which the scars of his visage made appear still more repulsive.
"You want to know my name? My name is the Devil's Dick of Hellgarth,
well known in Annandale for a gentle Johnstone. I follow the stout Laird
of Wamphray, who rides with his kinsman the redoubted Lord of Johnstone,
who is banded with the doughty Earl of Douglas; and the earl and the
lord, and the laird and I, the esquire, fly our hawks where we find our
game, and ask no man whose ground we ride over."

"I will do your message, sir," replied Oliver Proudfute, meekly enough;
for he began to be very desirous to get free of the embassy which he had
so rashly undertaken, and was in the act of turning his horse's head,
when the Annandale man added:

"And take you this to boot, to keep you in mind that you met the Devil's
Dick, and to teach you another time to beware how you spoil the sport of
any one who wears the flying spur on his shoulder."

With these words he applied two or three smart blows of his riding rod
upon the luckless bonnet maker's head and person. Some of them lighted
upon Jezabel, who, turning sharply round, laid her rider upon the moor,
and galloped back towards the party of citizens.

Proudfute, thus overthrown, began to cry for assistance in no very
manly voice, and almost in the same breath to whimper for mercy; for his
antagonist, dismounting almost as soon as he fell, offered a whinger,
or large wood knife, to his throat, while he rifled the pockets of the
unlucky citizen, and even examined his hawking bag, swearing two or
three grisly oaths, that he would have what it contained, since the
wearer had interrupted his sport. He pulled the belt rudely off,
terrifying the prostrate bonnet maker still more by the regardless
violence which he used, as, instead of taking the pains to unbuckle the
strap, he drew till the fastening gave way. But apparently it contained
nothing to his mind. He threw it carelessly from him, and at the
same time suffered the dismounted cavalier to rise, while he himself
remounted his hobbler, and looked towards the rest of Oliver's party,
who were now advancing.

When they had seen their delegate overthrown, there was some laughter;
so much had the vaunting humor of the bonnet maker prepared his friends
to rejoice when, as Henry Smith termed it, they saw the Oliver meet with
a Rowland. But when the bonnet maker's adversary was seen to bestride
him, and handle him in the manner described, the armourer could hold out
no longer.

"Please you, good Master Bailie, I cannot endure to see our townsman
beaten and rifled, and like to be murdered before us all. It reflects
upon the Fair Town, and if it is neighbour Proudfute's misfortune, it is
our shame. I must to his rescue."

"We will all go to his rescue," answered Bailie Craigdallie; "but let no
man strike without order from me. We have more feuds on our hands, it is
to be feared, than we have strength to bring to good end. And therefore
I charge you all, more especially you, Henry of the Wynd, in the name of
the Fair City, that you make no stroke but in self defence."

They all advanced, therefore, in a body; and the appearance of such a
number drove the plunderer from his booty. He stood at gaze, however, at
some distance, like the wolf, which, though it retreats before the dogs,
cannot be brought to absolute flight.

Henry, seeing this state of things, spurred his horse and advanced far
before the rest of the party, up towards the scene of Oliver Proudfute's
misfortune. His first task was to catch Jezabel by the flowing rein, and
his next to lead her to meet her discomfited master, who was crippling
towards him, his clothes much soiled with his fall, his eyes streaming
with tears, from pain as well as mortification, and altogether
exhibiting an aspect so unlike the spruce and dapper importance of
his ordinary appearance, that the honest smith felt compassion for
the little man, and some remorse at having left him exposed to such
disgrace. All men, I believe, enjoy an ill natured joke. The difference
is, that an ill natured person can drink out to the very dregs the
amusement which it affords, while the better moulded mind soon loses the
sense of the ridiculous in sympathy for the pain of the sufferer.

"Let me pitch you up to your saddle again, neighbour," said the smith,
dismounting at the same time, and assisting Oliver to scramble into his
war saddle, as a monkey might have done.

"May God forgive you, neighbour Smith, for not backing of me! I would
not have believed in it, though fifty credible witnesses had sworn it of
you."

Such were the first words, spoken in sorrow more than anger, by which
the dismayed Oliver vented his feelings.

"The bailie kept hold of my horse by the bridle; and besides," Henry
continued, with a smile, which even his compassion could not suppress,
"I thought you would have accused me of diminishing your honour, if I
brought you aid against a single man. But cheer up! the villain took
foul odds of you, your horse not being well at command."

"That is true--that is true," said Oliver, eagerly catching at the
apology.

"And yonder stands the faitour, rejoicing at the mischief he has done,
and triumphing in your overthrow, like the king in the romance, who
played upon the fiddle whilst a city was burning. Come thou with me, and
thou shalt see how we will handle him. Nay, fear not that I will desert
thee this time."

So saying, he caught Jezabel by the rein, and galloping alongside of
her, without giving Oliver time to express a negative, he rushed towards
the Devil's Dick, who had halted on the top of a rising ground at some
distance. The gentle Johnstone, however, either that he thought the
contest unequal, or that he had fought enough for the day, snapping his
fingers and throwing his hand out with an air of defiance, spurred his
horse into a neighbouring bog, through which he seemed to flutter like
a wild duck, swinging his lure round his head, and whistling to his hawk
all the while, though any other horse and rider must have been instantly
bogged up to the saddle girths.

"There goes a thoroughbred moss trooper," said the smith. "That fellow
will fight or flee as suits his humor, and there is no use to pursue
him, any more than to hunt a wild goose. He has got your purse, I doubt
me, for they seldom leave off till they are full handed."

"Ye--ye--yes," said Proudfute, in a melancholy tone, "he has got my
purse; but there is less matter since he hath left the hawking bag."

"Nay, the hawking bag had been an emblem of personal victory, to be
sure--a trophy, as the minstrels call it."

"There is more in it than that, friend," said Oliver, significantly.

"Why, that is well, neighbour: I love to hear you speak in your own
scholarly tone again. Cheer up, you have seen the villain's back, and
regained the trophies you had lost when taken at advantage."

"Ah, Henry Gow--Henry Gow--" said the bonnet maker, and stopped short
with a deep sigh, nearly amounting to a groan.

"What is the matter?" asked his friend--"what is it you vex yourself
about now?"

"I have some suspicion, my dearest friend, Henry Smith, that the villain
fled for fear of you, not of me."

"Do not think so," replied the armourer: "he saw two men and fled, and
who can tell whether he fled for one or the other? Besides, he knows
by experience your strength and activity: we all saw how you kicked and
struggled when you were on the ground."

"Did I?" said poor Proudfute. "I do not remember it, but I know it is my
best point: I am a strong dog in the loins. But did they all see it?"

"All as much as I," said the smith, smothering an inclination to
laughter.

"But thou wilt remind them of it?"

"Be assured I will," answered Henry, "and of thy desperate rally even
now. Mark what I say to Bailie Craigdallie, and make the best of it."

"It is not that I require any evidence in thy favour, for I am as brave
by nature as most men in Perth; but only--" Here the man of valour
paused.

"But only what?" inquired the stout armourer.

"But only I am afraid of being killed. To leave my pretty wife and my
young family, you know, would be a sad change, Smith. You will know this
when it is your own case, and will feel abated in courage."

"It is like that I may," said the armourer, musing.

"Then I am so accustomed to the use of arms, and so well breathed, that
few men can match me. It's all here," said the little man, expanding his
breast like a trussed fowl, and patting himself with his hands--"here is
room for all the wind machinery."

"I dare say you are long breathed--long winded; at least your speech
bewrays--"

"My speech! You are a wag--But I have got the stern post of a dromond
brought up the river from Dundee."

"The stern post of a Drummond!" exclaimed the armourer; "conscience,
man, it will put you in feud with the whole clan--not the least wrathful
in the country, as I take it."

"St. Andrew, man, you put me out! I mean a dromond--that is, a large
ship. I have fixed this post in my yard, and had it painted and carved
something like a soldan or Saracen, and with him I breathe myself, and
will wield my two handed sword against him, thrust or point, for an hour
together."

"That must make you familiar with the use of your weapon," said the
smith.

"Ay, marry does it; and sometimes I will place you a bonnet--an old one,
most likely--on my soldan's head, and cleave it with such a downright
blow that in troth, the infidel has but little of his skull remaining to
hit at."

"That is unlucky, for you will lose your practice," said Henry. "But how
say you, bonnet maker? I will put on my head piece and corselet one
day, and you shall hew at me, allowing me my broadsword to parry and pay
back? Eh, what say you?"

"By no manner of means, my dear friend. I should do you too much evil;
besides, to tell you the truth, I strike far more freely at a helmet or
bonnet when it is set on my wooden soldan; then I am sure to fetch it
down. But when there is a plume of feathers in it that nod, and two eyes
gleaming fiercely from under the shadow of the visor, and when the whole
is dancing about here and there, I acknowledge it puts out my hand of
fence."

"So, if men would but stand stock still like your soldan, you would play
the tyrant with them, Master Proudfute?"

"In time, and with practice, I conclude I might," answered Oliver. "But
here we come up with the rest of them. Bailie Craigdallie looks angry,
but it is not his kind of anger that frightens me."

You are to recollect, gentle reader, that as soon as the bailie and
those who attended him saw that the smith had come up to the forlorn
bonnet maker, and that the stranger had retreated, they gave themselves
no trouble about advancing further to his assistance, which they
regarded as quite ensured by the presence of the redoubted Henry Gow.
They had resumed their straight road to Kinfauns, desirous that nothing
should delay the execution of their mission. As some time had
elapsed ere the bonnet maker and the smith rejoined the party, Bailie
Craigdallie asked them, and Henry Smith in particular, what they meant
by dallying away precious time by riding uphill after the falconer.

"By the mass, it was not my fault, Master Bailie," replied the smith.
"If ye will couple up an ordinary Low Country greyhound with a Highland
wolf dog, you must not blame the first of them for taking the direction
in which it pleases the last to drag him on. It was so, and not
otherwise, with my neighbour Oliver Proudfute. He no sooner got up from
the ground, but he mounted his mare like a flash of lightning, and,
enraged at the unknightly advantage which yonder rascal had taken of
his stumbling horse, he flew after him like a dromedary. I could not but
follow, both to prevent a second stumble and secure our over bold friend
and champion from the chance of some ambush at the top of the hill. But
the villain, who is a follower of some Lord of the Marches, and wears a
winged spur for his cognizance, fled from our neighbour like fire from
flint."

The senior bailie of Perth listened with surprise to the legend which
it had pleased Gow to circulate; for, though not much caring for the
matter, he had always doubted the bonnet maker's romancing account
of his own exploits, which hereafter he must hold as in some degree
orthodox.

The shrewd old glover looked closer into the matter. "You will drive the
poor bonnet maker mad," he whispered to Henry, "and set him a-ringing
his clapper as if he were a town bell on a rejoicing day, when for order
and decency it were better he were silent."

"Oh, by Our Lady, father," replied the smith, "I love the poor little
braggadocio, and could not think of his sitting rueful and silent in
the provost's hall, while all the rest of them, and in especial that
venomous pottingar, were telling their mind."

"Thou art even too good natured a fellow, Henry," answered Simon. "But
mark the difference betwixt these two men. The harmless little bonnet
maker assumes the airs of a dragon, to disguise his natural cowardice;
while the pottingar wilfully desires to show himself timid, poor
spirited, and humble, to conceal the danger of his temper. The adder
is not the less deadly that he creeps under a stone. I tell thee, son
Henry, that, for all his sneaking looks and timorous talking, this
wretched anatomy loves mischief more than he fears danger. But here we
stand in front of the provost's castle; and a lordly place is Kinfauns,
and a credit to the city it is, to have the owner of such a gallant
castle for its chief magistrate."

"A goodly fortalice, indeed," said the smith, looking at the broad
winding Tay, as it swept under the bank on which the castle stood, like
its modern successor, and seemed the queen of the valley, although, on
the opposite side of the river, the strong walls of Elcho appeared to
dispute the pre-eminence. Elcho, however, was in that age a peaceful
nunnery, and the walls with which it was surrounded were the barriers of
secluded vestals, not the bulwarks of an armed garrison.

"'Tis a brave castle," said the armourer, again looking at the towers
of Kinfauns, "and the breastplate and target of the bonny course of the
Tay. It were worth lipping a good blade, before wrong were offered to
it."

The porter of Kinfauns, who knew from a distance the persons and
characters of the party, had already opened the courtyard gate for
their entrance, and sent notice to Sir Patrick Charteris that the eldest
bailie of Perth, with some other good citizens, were approaching the
castle. The good knight, who was getting ready for a hawking party,
heard the intimation with pretty much the same feelings that the modern
representative of a burgh hears of the menaced visitation of a party of
his worthy electors, at a time rather unseasonable for their reception.
That is, he internally devoted the intruders to Mahound and Termagaunt,
and outwardly gave orders to receive them with all decorum and civility;
commanded the sewers to bring hot venison steaks and cold baked meats
into the knightly hall with all despatch, and the butler to broach his
casks, and do his duty; for if the Fair City of Perth sometimes filled
his cellar, her citizens were always equally ready to assist at emptying
his flagons.

The good burghers were reverently marshalled into the hall, where the
knight, who was in a riding habit, and booted up to the middle of
his thighs, received them with a mixture of courtesy and patronising
condescension; wishing them all the while at the bottom of the Tay, on
account of the interruption their arrival gave to his proposed amusement
of the morning. He met them in the midst of the hall, with bare head and
bonnet in hand, and some such salutation as the following:

"Ha, my Master Eldest Bailie, and you, worthy Simon Glover, fathers of
the Fair City, and you, my learned pottingar, and you, stout smith, and
my slashing bonnet maker too, who cracks more skulls than he covers, how
come I to have the pleasure of seeing so many friends so early? I was
thinking to see my hawks fly, and your company will make the sport more
pleasant--(Aside, I trust in Our Lady they may break their necks!)--that
is, always, unless the city have any commands to lay on me. Butler
Gilbert, despatch, thou knave. But I hope you have no more grave errand
than to try if the malvoisie holds its flavour?"

The city delegates answered to their provost's civilities by
inclinations and congees, more or less characteristic, of which the
pottingar's bow was the lowest and the smith's the least ceremonious.
Probably he knew his own value as a fighting man upon occasion. To the
general compliment the elder bailie replied.

"Sir Patrick Charteris, and our noble Lord Provost," said Craigdallie,
gravely, "had our errand been to enjoy the hospitality with which we
have been often regaled here, our manners would have taught us to tarry
till your lordship had invited us, as on other occasions. And as to
hawking, we have had enough on't for one morning; since a wild fellow,
who was flying a falcon hard by on the moor, unhorsed and cudgelled our
worthy friend Oliver Bonnet Maker, or Proudfute, as some men call him,
merely because he questioned him, in your honour's name, and the town of
Perth's, who or what he was that took so much upon him."

"And what account gave he of himself?" said the provost. "By St. John! I
will teach him to forestall my sport!"

"So please your lordship," said the bonnet maker, "he did take me at
disadvantage. But I got on horseback again afterwards, and pricked after
him gallantly. He calls himself Richard the Devil."

"How, man! he that the rhymes and romances are made on?" said the
provost. "I thought that smaik's name had been Robert."

"I trow they be different, my lord. I only graced this fellow with the
full title, for indeed he called himself the Devil's Dick, and said he
was a Johnstone, and a follower of the lord of that name. But I put him
back into the bog, and recovered my hawking bag, which he had taken when
I was at disadvantage."

Sir Patrick paused for an instant. "We have heard," said he, "of the
Lord of Johnstone, and of his followers. Little is to be had by meddling
with them. Smith, tell me, did you endure this?"

"Ay, faith did I, Sir Patrick, having command from my betters not to
help."

"Well, if thou satst down with it," said the provost, "I see not why we
should rise up; especially as Master Oliver Proudfute, though taken at
advantage at first, has, as he has told us; recovered his reputation and
that of the burgh. But here comes the wine at length. Fill round to my
good friends and guests till the wine leap over the cup. Prosperity to
St. Johnston, and a merry welcome to you all, my honest friends! And
now sit you to eat a morsel, for the sun is high up, and it must be long
since you thrifty men have broken your fast."

"Before we eat, my Lord Provost," said the bailie, "let us tell you the
pressing cause of our coming, which as yet we have not touched upon."

"Nay, prithee, bailie," said the provost, "put it off till thou hast
eaten. Some complaint against the rascally jackmen and retainers of the
nobles, for playing at football on the streets of the burgh, or some
such goodly matter."

"No, my lord," said Craigdallie, stoutly and firmly. "It is the
jackmen's masters of whom we complain, for playing at football with the
honour of our families, and using as little ceremony with our daughters'
sleeping chambers as if they were in a bordel at Paris. A party of
reiving night walkers--courtiers and men of rank, as there is but too
much reason to believe--attempted to scale the windows of Simon Glover's
house last night; they stood in their defence with drawn weapons when
they were interrupted by Henry Smith, and fought till they were driven
off by the rising of the citizens."

"How!" said Sir Patrick, setting down the cup which he was about to
raise to his head. "Cock's body, make that manifest to me, and, by
the soul of Thomas of Longueville, I will see you righted with my best
power, were it to cost me life and land. Who attests this? Simon Glover,
you are held an honest and a cautious man--do you take the truth of this
charge upon your conscience?"

"My lord," said Simon, "understand I am no willing complainer in this
weighty matter. No damage has arisen, save to the breakers of the peace
themselves. I fear only great power could have encouraged such lawless
audacity; and I were unwilling to put feud between my native town and
some powerful nobleman on my account. But it has been said that, if I
hang back in prosecuting this complaint, it will be as much as admitting
that my daughter expected such a visit, which is a direct falsehood.
Therefore, my lord, I will tell your lordship what happened, so far as I
know, and leave further proceeding to your wisdom."

He then told, from point to point, all that he had seen of the attack.

Sir Patrick Charteris, listening with much attention, seemed
particularly struck with the escape of the man who had been made
prisoner.

"Strange," he said, "that you did not secure him when you had him. Did
you not look at him so as to know him again?"

"I had but the light of a lantern, my Lord Provost; and as to suffering
him to escape, I was alone," said the glover, "and old. But yet I might
have kept him, had I not heard my daughter shriek in the upper room;
and ere I had returned from her chamber the man had escaped through the
garden."

"Now, armourer, as a true man and a good soldier," said Sir Patrick,
"tell me what you know of this matter."

Henry Gow, in his own decided style, gave a brief but clear narrative of
the whole affair.

Honest Proudfute being next called upon, began his statement with an air
of more importance. "Touching this awful and astounding tumult within
the burgh, I cannot altogether, it is true, say with Henry Gow that I
saw the very beginning. But it will not be denied that I beheld a great
part of the latter end, and especially that I procured the evidence most
effectual to convict the knaves."

"And what is it, man?" said Sir Patrick Charteris. "Never lose time
fumbling and prating about it. What is it?"

"I have brought your lordship, in this pouch, what one of the rogues
left behind him," said the little man. "It is a trophy which, in good
faith and honest truth, I do confess I won not by the blade, but I
claim the credit of securing it with that presence of mind which few men
possess amidst flashing torches and clashing weapons. I secured it, my
lord, and here it is."

So saying, he produced, from the hawking pouch already mentioned, the
stiffened hand which had been found on the scene of the skirmish.

"Nay, bonnet maker," said the provost, "I'll warrant thee man enough to
secure a rogue's hand after it is cut from the body. What do you look so
busily for in your bag?"

"There should have been--there was--a ring, my lord, which was on the
knave's finger. I fear I have been forgetful, and left it at home, for
I took it off to show to my wife, as she cared not to look upon the dead
hand, as women love not such sights. But yet I thought I had put it on
the finger again. Nevertheless, it must, I bethink me, be at home. I
will ride back for it, and Henry Smith will trot along with me."

"We will all trot with thee," said Sir Patrick Charteris, "since I
am for Perth myself. Look you, honest burghers and good neighbours of
Perth; you may have thought me unapt to be moved by light complaints and
trivial breaches of your privileges, such as small trespasses on
your game, the barons' followers playing football in the street, and
suchlike. But, by the soul of Thomas of Longueville, you shall not find
Patrick Charteris slothful in a matter of this importance. This hand,"
he continued, holding up the severed joint, "belongs to one who hath
worked no drudgery. We will put it in a way to be known and claimed of
the owner, if his comrades of the revel have but one spark of honour in
them. Hark you, Gerard; get me some half score of good men instantly to
horse, and let them take jack and spear. Meanwhile, neighbours, if
feud arise out of this, as is most likely, we must come to each other's
support. If my poor house be attacked, how many men will you bring to my
support?"

The burghers looked at Henry Gow, to whom they instinctively turned when
such matters were discussed.

"I will answer," said he, "for fifty good fellows to be assembled ere
the common bell has rung ten minutes; for a thousand, in the space of an
hour."

"It is well," answered the gallant provost; "and in the case of need,
I will come to aid the Fair City with such men as I can make. And now,
good friends, let us to horse."



CHAPTER IX.

     If I know how to manage these affairs,
     Thus thrust disorderly upon my hands,
     Never believe me--

     Richard II.


It was early in the afternoon of St. Valentine's Day that the prior of
the Dominicans was engaged in discharge of his duties as confessor to
a penitent of no small importance. This was an elderly man, of a goodly
presence, a florid and healthful cheek, the under part of which was
shaded by a venerable white beard, which descended over his bosom. The
large and clear blue eyes, with the broad expanse of brow, expressed
dignity; but it was of a character which seemed more accustomed to
receive honours voluntarily paid than to enforce them when they were
refused. The good nature of the expression was so great as to approach
to defenceless simplicity or weakness of character, unfit, it might
be inferred, to repel intrusion or subdue resistance. Amongst the grey
locks of this personage was placed a small circlet or coronet of gold,
upon a blue fillet. His beads, which were large and conspicuous, were of
native gold, rudely enough wrought, but ornamented with Scottish pearls
of rare size and beauty. These were his only ornaments; and a long
crimson robe of silk, tied by a sash of the same colour, formed his
attire. His shrift being finished, he arose heavily from the embroidered
cushion upon which he kneeled during his confession, and, by the
assistance of a crutch headed staff of ebony, moved, lame and
ungracefully, and with apparent pain, to a chair of state, which,
surmounted by a canopy, was placed for his accommodation by the chimney
of the lofty and large apartment.

This was Robert, third of that name, and the second of the ill fated
family of Stuart who filled the throne of Scotland. He had many virtues,
and was not without talent; but it was his great misfortune that, like
others of his devoted line, his merits were not of a kind suited to the
part which he was called upon to perform in life. The king of so fierce
a people as the Scots then were ought to have been warlike, prompt, and
active, liberal in rewarding services, strict in punishing crimes, one
whose conduct should make him feared as well as beloved. The qualities
of Robert the Third were the reverse of all these. In youth he had
indeed seen battles; but, without incurring disgrace, he had never
manifested the chivalrous love of war and peril, or the eager desire to
distinguish himself by dangerous achievements, which that age expected
from all who were of noble birth and had claims to authority.

Besides, his military career was very short. Amidst the tumult of a
tournament, the young Earl of Carrick, such was then his title, received
a kick from the horse of Sir James Douglas of Dalkeith, in consequence
of which he was lame for the rest of his life, and absolutely disabled
from taking share either in warfare or in the military sports and
tournaments which were its image. As Robert had never testified much
predilection for violent exertion, he did not probably much regret
the incapacities which exempted him from these active scenes. But his
misfortune, or rather its consequences, lowered him in the eyes of
a fierce nobility and warlike people. He was obliged to repose the
principal charge of his affairs now in one member, now in another, of
his family, sometimes with the actual rank, and always with the power,
of lieutenant general of the kingdom. His paternal affection would have
induced him to use the assistance of his eldest son, a young man of
spirit and talent, whom in fondness he had created Duke of Rothsay, in
order to give him the present possession of a dignity next to that of
the throne. But the young prince's head was too giddy, and his hand
too feeble to wield with dignity the delegated sceptre. However fond of
power, pleasure was the Prince's favourite pursuit; and the court was
disturbed, and the country scandalised, by the number of fugitive amours
and extravagant revels practised by him who should have set an example
of order and regularity to the youth of the kingdom.

The license and impropriety of the Duke of Rothsay's conduct was the
more reprehensible in the public view, that he was a married person;
although some, over whom his youth, gaiety, grace, and good temper had
obtained influence, were of opinion that an excuse for his libertinism
might be found in the circumstances of the marriage itself. They
reminded each other that his nuptials were entirely conducted by his
uncle, the Duke of Albany, by whose counsels the infirm and timid King
was much governed at the time, and who had the character of managing the
temper of his brother and sovereign, so as might be most injurious to
the interests and prospects of the young heir. By Albany's machinations
the hand of the heir apparent was in a manner put up to sale, as it was
understood publicly that the nobleman in Scotland who should give the
largest dower to his daughter might aspire to raise her to the bed of
the Duke of Rothsay.

In the contest for preference which ensued, George Earl of Dunbar and
March, who possessed, by himself or his vassals, a great part of the
eastern frontier, was preferred to other competitors; and his daughter
was, with the mutual goodwill of the young couple, actually contracted
to the Duke of Rothsay.

But there remained a third party to be consulted, and that was no other
than the tremendous Archibald Earl of Douglas, terrible alike from the
extent of his lands, from the numerous offices and jurisdictions with
which he was invested, and from his personal qualities of wisdom and
valour, mingled with indomitable pride, and more than the feudal love
of vengeance. The Earl was also nearly related to the throne, having
married the eldest daughter of the reigning monarch.

After the espousals of the Duke of Rothsay with the Earl of March's
daughter, Douglas, as if he had postponed his share in the negotiation
to show that it could not be concluded with any one but himself, entered
the lists to break off the contract. He tendered a larger dower with his
daughter Marjory than the Earl of March had proffered; and, secured by
his own cupidity and fear of the Douglas, Albany exerted his influence
with the timid monarch till he was prevailed upon to break the contract
with the Earl of March, and wed his son to Marjory Douglas, a woman whom
Rothsay could not love. No apology was offered to the Earl of March,
excepting that the espousals betwixt the Prince and Elizabeth of Dunbar
had not been approved by the States of Parliament, and that till such
ratification the contract was liable to be broken off. The Earl deeply
resented the wrong done to himself and his daughter, and was generally
understood to study revenge, which his great influence on the English
frontier was likely to place within his power.

In the mean time, the Duke of Rothsay, incensed at the sacrifice of his
hand and his inclinations to this state intrigue, took his own mode
of venting his displeasure, by neglecting his wife, contemning his
formidable and dangerous father in law, and showing little respect
to the authority of the King himself, and none whatever to the
remonstrances of Albany, his uncle, whom he looked upon as his confirmed
enemy.

Amid these internal dissensions of his family, which extended themselves
through his councils and administration, introducing everywhere the
baneful effects of uncertainty and disunion, the feeble monarch had
for some time been supported by the counsels of his queen, Annabella, a
daughter of the noble house of Drummond, gifted with a depth of sagacity
and firmness of mind which exercised some restraint over the levities
of a son who respected her, and sustained on many occasions the wavering
resolution of her royal husband. But after her death the imbecile
sovereign resembled nothing so much as a vessel drifted from her
anchors, and tossed about amidst contending currents. Abstractedly
considered, Robert might be said to doat upon his son, to entertain
respect and awe for the character of his brother Albany, so much more
decisive than his own, to fear the Douglas with a terror which was
almost instinctive; and to suspect the constancy of the bold but fickle
Earl of March. But his feelings towards these various characters were
so mixed and complicated, that from time to time they showed entirely
different from what they really were; and according to the interest
which had been last exerted over his flexible mind, the King would
change from an indulgent to a strict and even cruel father, from a
confiding to a jealous brother, or from a benignant and bountiful to a
grasping and encroaching sovereign. Like the chameleon, his feeble mind
reflected the colour of that firmer character upon which at the time he
reposed for counsel and assistance. And when he disused the advice
of one of his family, and employed the counsel of another, it was no
unwonted thing to see a total change of measures, equally disrespectable
to the character of the King and dangerous to the safety of the state.

It followed as a matter of course that the clergy of the Catholic Church
acquired influence over a man whose intentions were so excellent, but
whose resolutions were so infirm. Robert was haunted, not only with a
due sense of the errors he had really committed, but with the tormenting
apprehensions of those peccadilloes which beset a superstitious
and timid mind. It is scarce necessary, therefore, to add, that the
churchmen of various descriptions had no small influence over this
easy tempered prince, though, indeed, theirs was, at that period, an
influence from which few or none escaped, however resolute and firm of
purpose in affairs of a temporal character. We now return from this long
digression, without which what we have to relate could not perhaps have
been well understood.

The King had moved with ungraceful difficulty to the cushioned chair
which, under a state or canopy, stood prepared for his accommodation,
and upon which he sank down with enjoyment, like an indolent man, who
had been for some time confined to a constrained position. When seated,
the gentle and venerable looks of the good old man showed benevolence.
The prior, who now remained standing opposite to the royal seat, with
an air of deep deference which cloaked the natural haughtiness of his
carriage, was a man betwixt forty and fifty years of age, but every one
of whose hairs still retained their natural dark colour. Acute features
and a penetrating look attested the talents by which the venerable
father had acquired his high station in the community over which he
presided; and, we may add, in the councils of the kingdom, in whose
service they were often exercised. The chief objects which his education
and habits taught him to keep in view were the extension of the dominion
and the wealth of the church, and the suppression of heresy, both of
which he endeavoured to accomplish by all the means which his situation
afforded him. But he honoured his religion by the sincerity of his own
belief, and by the morality which guided his conduct in all ordinary
situations. The faults of the Prior Anselm, though they led him into
grievous error, and even cruelty, were perhaps rather those of his age
and profession; his virtues were his own.

"These things done," said the King, "and the lands I have mentioned
secured by my gift to this monastery, you are of opinion, father, that
I stand as much in the good graces of our Holy Mother Church as to term
myself her dutiful son?"

"Surely, my liege," said the prior; "would to God that all her children
brought to the efficacious sacrament of confession as deep a sense of
their errors, and as much will to make amends for them. But I speak
these comforting words, my liege, not to Robert King of Scotland, but
only to my humble and devout penitent, Robert Stuart of Carrick."

"You surprise me, father," answered the King: "I have little check on my
conscience for aught that I have done in my kingly office, seeing that
I use therein less mine own opinion than the advice of the most wise
counsellors."

"Even therein lieth the danger, my liege," replied the prior. "The Holy
Father recognises in your Grace, in every thought, word, and action, an
obedient vassal of the Holy Church. But there are perverse counsellors,
who obey the instinct of their wicked hearts, while they abuse the good
nature and ductility of their monarch, and, under colour of serving his
temporal interests, take steps which are prejudicial to those that last
to eternity."

King Robert raised himself upright in his chair, and assumed an air of
authority, which, though it well became him, he did not usually display.

"Prior Anselm," he said, "if you have discovered anything in my conduct,
whether as a king or a private individual, which may call down such
censures as your words intimate, it is your duty to speak plainly, and I
command you to do so."

"My liege, you shall be obeyed," answered the prior, with an inclination
of the body. Then raising himself up, and assuming the dignity of his
rank in the church, he said, "Hear from me the words of our Holy Father
the Pope, the successor of St. Peter, to whom have descended the keys,
both to bind and to unloose. 'Wherefore, O Robert of Scotland, hast
thou not received into the see of St. Andrews Henry of Wardlaw, whom the
Pontiff hath recommended to fill that see? Why dost thou make profession
with thy lips of dutiful service to the Church, when thy actions
proclaim the depravity and disobedience of thy inward soul? Obedience is
better than sacrifice."

"Sir prior," said the monarch, bearing himself in a manner not
unbecoming his lofty rank, "we may well dispense with answering you upon
this subject, being a matter which concerns us and the estates of our
kingdom, but does not affect our private conscience."

"Alas," said the prior, "and whose conscience will it concern at the
last day? Which of your belted lords or wealthy burgesses will then step
between their king and the penalty which he has incurred by following of
their secular policy in matters ecclesiastical? Know, mighty king, that,
were all the chivalry of thy realm drawn up to shield thee from the red
levin bolt, they would be consumed like scorched parchment before the
blaze of a furnace."

"Good father prior," said the King, on whose timorous conscience this
kind of language seldom failed to make an impression, "you surely argue
over rigidly in this matter. It was during my last indisposition, while
the Earl of Douglas held, as lieutenant general, the regal authority in
Scotland, that the obstruction to the reception of the Primate unhappily
arose. Do not, therefore, tax me with what happened when I was unable to
conduct the affairs of the kingdom, and compelled to delegate my power
to another."

"To your subject, sire, you have said enough," replied the prior. "But,
if the impediment arose during the lieutenancy of the Earl of Douglas,
the legate of his Holiness will demand wherefore it has not been
instantly removed, when the King resumed in his royal hands the reins
of authority? The Black Douglas can do much--more perhaps than a subject
should have power to do in the kingdom of his sovereign; but he cannot
stand betwixt your Grace and your own conscience, or release you from
the duties to the Holy Church which your situation as a king imposes
upon you."

"Father," said Robert, somewhat impatiently, "you are over peremptory
in this matter, and ought at least to wait a reasonable season, until
we have time to consider of some remedy. Such disputes have happened
repeatedly in the reigns of our predecessors; and our royal and blessed
ancestor, St. David, did not resign his privileges as a monarch
without making a stand in their defence, even though he was involved in
arguments with the Holy Father himself."

"And therein was that great and good king neither holy nor saintly,"
said the prior "and therefore was he given to be a rout and a spoil to
his enemies, when he raised his sword against the banners of St. Peter,
and St. Paul, and St. John of Beverley, in the war, as it is still
called, of the Standard. Well was it for him that, like his namesake,
the son of Jesse, his sin was punished upon earth, and not entered
against him at the long and dire day of accounting."

"Well, good prior--well--enough of this for the present. The Holy See
shall, God willing, have no reason to complain of me. I take Our Lady
to witness, I would not for the crown I wear take the burden of wronging
our Mother Church. We have ever feared that the Earl of Douglas kept his
eyes too much fixed on the fame and the temporalities of this frail and
passing life to feel altogether as he ought the claims that refer to a
future world."

"It is but lately," said the prior, "that he hath taken up forcible
quarters in the monastery of Aberbrothock, with his retinue of a
thousand followers; and the abbot is compelled to furnish him with
all he needs for horse and man, which the Earl calls exercising the
hospitality which he hath a right to expect from the foundation to which
his ancestors were contributors. Certain, it were better to return
to the Douglas his lands than to submit to such exaction, which more
resembles the masterful license of Highland thiggers and sorners [sturdy
beggars], than the demeanour of a Christian baron."

"The Black Douglasses," said the King, with a sigh, "are a race which
will not be said nay. But, father prior, I am myself, it may be, an
intruder of this kind; for my sojourning hath been long among you, and
my retinue, though far fewer than the Douglas's, are nevertheless enough
to cumber you for their daily maintenance; and though our order is to
send out purveyors to lessen your charge as much as may be, yet if there
be inconvenience, it were fitting we should remove in time."

"Now, Our Lady forbid!" said the prior, who, if desirous of power, had
nothing meanly covetous in his temper, but was even magnificent in his
generous kindness; "certainly the Dominican convent can afford to her
sovereign the hospitality which the house offers to every wanderer of
whatever condition who will receive it at the hands of the poor servants
of our patron. No, my royal liege; come with ten times your present
train, they shall neither want a grain of oats, a pile of straw, a
morsel of bread, nor an ounce of food which our convent can supply them.
It is one thing to employ the revenues of the church, which are so much
larger than monks ought to need or wish for, in the suitable and dutiful
reception of your royal Majesty, and another to have it wrenched from
us by the hands of rude and violent men, whose love of rapine is only
limited by the extent of their power."

"It is well, good prior," said the King; "and now to turn our thoughts
for an instant from state affairs, can thy reverence inform us how the
good citizens of Perth have begun their Valentine's Day? Gallantly, and
merrily, and peacefully; I hope."

"For gallantly, my liege, I know little of such qualities. For
peacefully, there were three or four men, two cruelly wounded, came this
morning before daylight to ask the privilege of girth and sanctuary,
pursued by a hue and cry of citizens in their shirts, with clubs, bills,
Lochaber axes, and two handed swords, crying 'Kill and slay,' each
louder than another. Nay, they were not satisfied when our porter and
watch told them that those they pursued had taken refuge in the galilee
of the church, but continued for some minutes clamouring and striking
upon the postern door, demanding that the men who had offended should
be delivered up to them. I was afraid their rude noise might have broken
your Majesty's rest, and raised some surprise."

"My rest might have been broken," said the monarch; "but that sounds of
violence should have occasioned surprise--Alas! reverend father, there
is in Scotland only one place where the shriek of the victim and threats
of the oppressor are not heard, and that, father, is--the grave."

The prior stood in respectful silence, sympathising with the feelings of
a monarch whose tenderness of heart suited so ill with the condition and
manners of his people.

"And what became of the fugitives?" asked Robert, after a minute's
pause.

"Surely, sire," said the prior, "they were dismissed, as they desired
to be, before daylight; and after we had sent out to be assured that no
ambush of their enemies watched them in the vicinity, they went their
way in peace."

"You know nothing," inquired the King, "who the men were, or the cause
of their taking refuge with you?"

"The cause," said the prior, "was a riot with the townsmen; but how
arising is not known to us. The custom of our house is to afford
twenty-four hours of uninterrupted refuge in the sanctuary of St.
Dominic, without asking any question at the poor unfortunates who have
sought relief there. If they desire to remain for a longer space, the
cause of their resorting to sanctuary must be put upon the register of
the convent; and, praised be our holy saint, many persons escape the
weight of the law by this temporary protection, whom, did we know the
character of their crimes, we might have found ourselves obliged to
render up to their pursuers and persecutors."

As the prior spoke, a dim idea occurred to the monarch, that the
privilege of sanctuary thus peremptorily executed must prove a severe
interruption to the course of justice through his realm. But he repelled
the feeling, as if it had been a suggestion of Satan, and took care that
not a single word should escape to betray to the churchman that such a
profane thought had ever occupied his bosom; on the contrary, he hasted
to change the subject.

"The sun," he said, "moves slowly on the index. After the painful
information you have given me, I expected the Lords of my Council ere
now, to take order with the ravelled affairs of this unhappy riot. Evil
was the fortune which gave me rule over a people among whom it seems
to me I am in my own person the only man who desires rest and
tranquillity!"

"The church always desires peace and tranquillity," added the prior,
not suffering even so general a proposition to escape the poor king's
oppressed mind without insisting on a saving clause for the church's
honour.

"We meant nothing else," said Robert. "But, father prior, you will
allow that the church, in quelling strife, as is doubtless her purpose,
resembles the busy housewife, who puts in motion the dust which she
means to sweep away."

To this remark the prior would have made some reply, but the door of
the apartment was opened, and a gentleman usher announced the Duke of
Albany.



CHAPTER X.

     Gentle friend,
     Chide not her mirth, who was sad yesterday,
     And may be so tomorrow.

     JOANNA BAILLIE.


The Duke of Albany was, like his royal brother, named Robert. The
Christian name of the latter had been John until he was called to the
throne; when the superstition of the times observed that the name
had been connected with misfortune in the lives and reigns of John of
England, John of France, and John Baliol of Scotland. It was therefore
agreed that, to elude the bad omen, the new king should assume the name
of Robert, rendered dear to Scotland by the recollections of Robert
Bruce. We mention this to account for the existence of two brothers of
the same Christian name in one family, which was not certainly an usual
occurrence, more than at the present day.

Albany, also an aged man, was not supposed to be much more disposed for
warlike enterprise than the King himself. But if he had not courage, he
had wisdom to conceal and cloak over his want of that quality, which,
once suspected, would have ruined all the plans which his ambition had
formed. He had also pride enough to supply, in extremity, the want
of real valour, and command enough over his nerves to conceal their
agitation. In other respects, he was experienced in the ways of courts,
calm, cool, and crafty, fixing upon the points which he desired to
attain, while they were yet far removed, and never losing sight of them,
though the winding paths in which he trode might occasionally seem to
point to a different direction. In his person he resembled the King, for
he was noble and majestic both in stature and countenance. But he had
the advantage of his elder brother, in being unencumbered with any
infirmity, and in every respect lighter and more active. His dress was
rich and grave, as became his age and rank, and, like his royal brother,
he wore no arms of any kind, a case of small knives supplying at his
girdle the place usually occupied by a dagger in absence of a sword.

At the Duke's entrance the prior, after making an obeisance,
respectfully withdrew to a recess in the apartment, at some distance
from the royal seat, in order to leave the conversation of the brothers
uncontrolled by the presence of a third person. It is necessary to
mention, that the recess was formed by a window; placed in the inner
front of the monastic buildings, called the palace, from its being the
frequent residence of the Kings of Scotland, but which was, unless on
such occasions, the residence of the prior or abbot. The window
was placed over the principal entrance to the royal apartments, and
commanded a view of the internal quadrangle of the convent, formed on
the right hand by the length of the magnificent church, on the left by
a building containing the range of cellars, with the refectory, chapter
house, and other conventual apartments rising above them, for such
existed altogether independent of the space occupied by King Robert and
his attendants; while a fourth row of buildings, showing a noble
outward front to the rising sun, consisted of a large hospitium, for
the reception of strangers and pilgrims, and many subordinate offices,
warehouses, and places of accommodation, for the ample stores which
supplied the magnificent hospitality of the Dominican fathers. A lofty
vaulted entrance led through this eastern front into the quadrangle,
and was precisely opposite to the window at which Prior Anselm stood, so
that he could see underneath the dark arch, and observe the light which
gleamed beneath it from the eastern and open portal; but, owing to the
height to which he was raised, and the depth of the vaulted archway, his
eye could but indistinctly reach the opposite and extended portal. It is
necessary to notice these localities.

We return to the conversation between the princely relatives.

"My dear brother," said the King, raising the Duke of Albany, as
he stooped to kiss his hand--"my dear, dear brother, wherefore this
ceremonial? Are we not both sons of the same Stuart of Scotland and of
the same Elizabeth More?"

"I have not forgot that it is so," said Albany, arising; "but I must not
omit, in the familiarity of the brother, the respect that is due to the
king."

"Oh, true--most true, Robin," answered the King. "The throne is like a
lofty and barren rock, upon which flower or shrub can never take root.
All kindly feelings, all tender affections, are denied to a monarch.
A king must not fold a brother to his heart--he dare not give way to
fondness for a son."

"Such, in some respects, is the doom of greatness, sire," answered
Albany; "but Heaven, who removed to some distance from your Majesty's
sphere the members of your own family, has given you a whole people to
be your children."

"Alas! Robert," answered the monarch, "your heart is better framed for
the duties of a sovereign than mine. I see from the height at which fate
has placed me that multitude whom you call my children. I love them, I
wish them well; but they are many, and they are distant from me. Alas!
even the meanest of them has some beloved being whom he can clasp to
his heart, and upon whom he can lavish the fondness of a father. But all
that a king can give to a people is a smile, such as the sun bestows
on the snowy peaks of the Grampian mountains, as distant and as
ineffectual. Alas, Robin! our father used to caress us, and if he chid
us it was with a tone of kindness; yet he was a monarch as well as I,
and wherefore should not I be permitted, like him, to reclaim my poor
prodigal by affection as well as severity?"

"Had affection never been tried, my liege," replied Albany, in the tone
of one who delivers sentiments which he grieves to utter, "means of
gentleness ought assuredly to be first made use of. Your Grace is best
judge whether they have been long enough persevered in, and whether
those of discouragement and restraint may not prove a more effectual
corrective. It is exclusively in your royal power to take what measures
with the Duke of Rothsay you think will be most available to his
ultimate benefit, and that of the kingdom."

"This is unkind, brother," said the King: "you indicate the painful path
which you would have me pursue, yet you offer me not your support in
treading it."

"My support your Grace may ever command," replied Albany; "but would it
become me, of all men on earth, to prompt to your Grace severe measures
against your son and heir? Me, on whom, in case of failure--which Heaven
forefend!--of your Grace's family, this fatal crown might descend? Would
it not be thought and said by the fiery March and the haughty Douglas,
that Albany had sown dissension between his royal brother and the heir
to the Scottish throne, perhaps to clear the way for the succession of
his own family? No, my liege, I can sacrifice my life to your service,
but I must not place my honour in danger."

"You say true, Robin.--you say very true," replied the King, hastening
to put his own interpretation upon his brother's words. "We must not
suffer these powerful and dangerous lords to perceive that there is
aught like discord in the royal family. That must be avoided of all
things: and therefore we will still try indulgent measures, in hopes
of correcting the follies of Rothsay. I behold sparks of hope in
him, Robin, from time to time, that are well worth cherishing. He is
young--very young--a prince, and in the heyday of his blood. We will
have patience with him, like a good rider with a hot tempered horse. Let
him exhaust this idle humor, and no one will be better pleased with
him than yourself. You have censured me in your kindness for being too
gentle, too retired; Rothsay has no such defects."

"I will pawn my life he has not," replied Albany, drily.

"And he wants not reflection as well as spirit," continued the poor
king, pleading the cause of his son to his brother. "I have sent for him
to attend council today, and we shall see how he acquits himself of
his devoir. You yourself allow, Robin, that the Prince wants neither
shrewdness nor capacity for affairs, when he is in the humor to consider
them."

"Doubtless, he wants neither, my liege," replied Albany, "when he is in
the humor to consider them."

"I say so," answered the King; "and am heartily glad that you agree with
me, Robin, in giving this poor hapless young man another trial. He has
no mother now to plead his cause with an incensed father. That must be
remembered, Albany."

"I trust," said Albany, "the course which is most agreeable to your
Grace's feelings will also prove the wisest and the best."

The Duke well saw the simple stratagem by which the King was
endeavouring to escape from the conclusions of his reasoning, and
to adopt, under pretence of his sanction, a course of proceeding the
reverse of what it best suited him to recommend. But though he saw he
could not guide his brother to the line of conduct he desired, he would
not abandon the reins, but resolved to watch for a fitter opportunity of
obtaining the sinister advantages to which new quarrels betwixt the King
and Prince were soon, he thought, likely to give rise.

In the mean time, King Robert, afraid lest his brother should resume
the painful subject from which he had just escaped, called aloud to the
prior of the Dominicans, "I hear the trampling of horse. Your station
commands the courtyard, reverend father. Look from the window, and tell
us who alights. Rothsay, is it not?"

"The noble Earl of March, with his followers," said the prior.

"Is he strongly accompanied?" said the King. "Do his people enter the
inner gate?"

At the same moment, Albany whispered the King, "Fear nothing, the
Brandanes of your household are under arms."

The King nodded thanks, while the prior from the window answered the
question he had put. "The Earl is attended by two pages, two gentlemen,
and four grooms. One page follows him up the main staircase, bearing his
lordship's sword. The others halt in the court, and--Benedicite, how is
this? Here is a strolling glee woman, with her viol, preparing to sing
beneath the royal windows, and in the cloister of the Dominicans, as
she might in the yard of an hostelrie! I will have her presently thrust
forth."

"Not so, father," said the King. "Let me implore grace for the poor
wanderer. The joyous science, as they call it, which they profess,
mingles sadly with the distresses to which want and calamity condemn a
strolling race; and in that they resemble a king, to whom all men cry,
'All hail!' while he lacks the homage and obedient affection which
the poorest yeoman receives from his family. Let the wanderer remain
undisturbed, father; and let her sing if she will to the yeomen and
troopers in the court; it will keep them from quarrelling with each
other, belonging, as they do, to such unruly and hostile masters."

So spoke the well meaning and feeble minded prince, and the prior bowed
in acquiescence. As he spoke, the Earl of March entered the hall of
audience, dressed in the ordinary riding garb of the time, and wearing
his poniard. He had left in the anteroom the page of honour who carried
his sword. The Earl was a well built, handsome man, fair complexioned,
with a considerable profusion of light coloured hair, and bright
blue eyes, which gleamed like those of a falcon. He exhibited in his
countenance, otherwise pleasing, the marks of a hasty and irritable
temper, which his situation as a high and powerful feudal lord had given
him but too many opportunities of indulging.

"I am glad to see you, my Lord of March," said the King, with a
gracious inclination of his person. "You have been long absent from our
councils."

"My liege," answered March with a deep reverence to the King, and a
haughty and formal inclination to the Duke of Albany, "if I have been
absent from your Grace's councils, it is because my place has been
supplied by more acceptable, and, I doubt not, abler, counsellors. And
now I come but to say to your Highness, that the news from the English
frontier make it necessary that I should return without delay to my
own estates. Your Grace has your wise and politic brother, my Lord of
Albany, with whom to consult, and the mighty and warlike Earl of Douglas
to carry your counsels into effect. I am of no use save in my own
country; and thither, with your Highness's permission, I am purposed
instantly to return, to attend my charge, as Warden of the Eastern
Marches."

"You will not deal so unkindly with us, cousin," replied the gentle
monarch. "Here are evil tidings on the wind. These unhappy Highland
clans are again breaking into general commotion, and the tranquillity
even of our own court requires the wisest of our council to advise, and
the bravest of our barons to execute, what may be resolved upon. The
descendant of Thomas Randolph will not surely abandon the grandson of
Robert Bruce at such a period as this?"

"I leave with him the descendant of the far famed James of Douglas,"
answered March. "It is his lordship's boast that he never puts foot in
stirrup but a thousand horse mount with him as his daily lifeguard, and
I believe the monks of Aberbrothock will swear to the fact. Surely, with
all the Douglas's chivalry, they are fitter to restrain a disorderly
swarm of Highland kerne than I can be to withstand the archery of
England and power of Henry Hotspur? And then, here is his Grace of
Albany, so jealous in his care of your Highness's person, that he
calls your Brandanes to take arms when a dutiful subject like myself
approaches the court with a poor half score of horse, the retinue of
the meanest of the petty barons who own a tower and a thousand acres
of barren heath. When such precautions are taken where there is not the
slightest chance of peril--since I trust none was to be apprehended from
me--your royal person will surely be suitably guarded in real danger."

"My Lord of March," said the Duke of Albany, "the meanest of the barons
of whom you speak put their followers in arms even when they receive
their dearest and nearest friends within the iron gate of their castle;
and, if it please Our Lady, I will not care less for the King's person
than they do for their own. The Brandanes are the King's immediate
retainers and household servants, and an hundred of them is but a small
guard round his Grace, when yourself, my lord, as well as the Earl of
Douglas, often ride with ten times the number."

"My Lord Duke," replied March, "when the service of the King requires
it, I can ride with ten times as many horse as your Grace has named;
but I have never done so either traitorously to entrap the King nor
boastfully to overawe other nobles."

"Brother Robert," said the King, ever anxious to be a peacemaker, "you
do wrong even to intimate a suspicion of my Lord of March. And you,
cousin of March, misconstrue my brother's caution. But hark--to divert
this angry parley--I hear no unpleasing touch of minstrelsy. You know
the gay science, my Lord of March, and love it well. Step to yonder
window, beside the holy prior, at whom we make no question touching
secular pleasures, and you will tell us if the music and play be worth
listening to. The notes are of France, I think. My brother of Albany's
judgment is not worth a cockle shell in such matters, so you, cousin,
must report your opinion whether the poor glee maiden deserves
recompense. Our son and the Douglas will presently be here, and then,
when our council is assembled, we will treat of graver matters."

With something like a smile on his proud brow, March withdrew into the
recess of the window, and stood there in silence beside the prior, like
one who, while he obeyed the King's command, saw through and despised
the timid precaution which it implied, as an attempt to prevent the
dispute betwixt Albany and himself. The tune, which was played upon a
viol, was gay and sprightly in the commencement, with a touch of the
wildness of the troubadour music. But, as it proceeded, the faltering
tones of the instrument, and of the female voice which accompanied it,
became plaintive and interrupted, as if choked by the painful feelings
of the minstrel.

The offended earl, whatever might be his judgment in such matters on
which the King had complimented him, paid, it may be supposed, little
attention to the music of the female minstrel. His proud heart was
struggling between the allegiance he owed his sovereign, as well as
the love he still found lurking in his bosom for the person of his well
natured king, and a desire of vengeance arising out of his disappointed
ambition, and the disgrace done to him by the substitution of Marjory
Douglas to be bride of the heir apparent, instead of his betrothed
daughter. March had the vices and virtues of a hasty and uncertain
character, and even now, when he came to bid the King adieu, with the
purpose of renouncing his allegiance as soon as he reached his own
feudal territories, he felt unwilling, and almost unable, to resolve
upon a step so criminal and so full of peril. It was with such dangerous
cogitations that he was occupied during the beginning of the glee
maiden's lay; but objects which called his attention powerfully, as the
songstress proceeded, affected the current of his thoughts, and riveted
them on what was passing in the courtyard of the monastery. The song was
in the Provencal dialect, well understood as the language of poetry
in all the courts of Europe, and particularly in Scotland. It was more
simply turned, however, than was the general cast of the sirventes,
and rather resembled the lai of a Norman minstrel. It may be translated
thus:

     The Lay of Poor Louise.

     Ah, poor Louise!  The livelong day
     She roams from cot to castle gay;
     And still her voice and viol say,
     Ah, maids, beware the woodland way;
     Think on Louise.

     Ah, poor Louise!  The sun was high;
     It smirch'd her cheek, it dimm'd her eye.
     The woodland walk was cool and nigh,
     Where birds with chiming streamlets vie
     To cheer Louise.

     Ah, poor Louise!  The savage bear
     Made ne'er that lovely grove his lair;
     The wolves molest not paths so fair.
     But better far had such been there
     For poor Louise.

     Ah, poor Louise!  In woody wold
     She met a huntsman fair and bold;
     His baldrick was of silk and gold,
     And many a witching tale he told
     To poor Louise.

     Ah, poor Louise!  Small cause to pine
     Hadst thou for treasures of the mine;
     For peace of mind, that gift divine,
     And spotless innocence, were thine.
     Ah, poor Louise!

     Ah, poor Louise!  Thy treasure's reft.
     I know not if by force or theft,
     Or part by violence, part by gift;
     But misery is all that's left
     To poor Louise,

     Let poor Louise some succour have!
     She will not long your bounty crave,
     Or tire the gay with warning stave;
     For Heaven has grace, and earth a grave
     For poor Louise.

The song was no sooner finished than, anxious lest the dispute should be
revived betwixt his brother and the Earl of March, King Robert called to
the latter, "What think you of the minstrelsy, my lord? Methinks, as I
heard it even at this distance, it was a wild and pleasing lay."

"My judgment is not deep my lord; but the singer may dispense with
my approbation, since she seems to have received that of his Grace of
Rothsay, the best judge in Scotland."

"How!" said the King in alarm; "is my son below?"

"He is sitting on horseback by the glee maiden," said March, with a
malicious smile on his cheek, "apparently as much interested by her
conversation as her music."

"How is this, father prior?" said the King.

But the prior drew back from the lattice. "I have no will to see, my
lord, things which it would pain me to repeat."

"How is all this?" said the King, who coloured deeply, and seemed about
to rise from his chair; but changed his mind, as if unwilling, perhaps,
to look upon some unbecoming prank of the wild young prince, which he
might not have had heart to punish with necessary severity. The Earl
of March seemed to have a pleasure in informing him of that of which
doubtless he desired to remain ignorant.

"My liege," he cried, "this is better and better. The glee maiden has
not only engaged the ear of the Prince of Scotland, as well as of every
groom and trooper in the courtyard, but she has riveted the attention of
the Black Douglas, whom we have not known as a passionate admirer of
the gay science. But truly, I do not wonder at his astonishment, for the
Prince has honoured the fair professor of song and viol with a kiss of
approbation."

"How!" cried the King, "is David of Rothsay trifling with a glee maiden,
and his wife's father in presence? Go, my good father abbot, call the
Prince here instantly. Go, my dearest brother--" And when they had both
left the room, the King continued, "Go, good cousin of March; there will
be mischief, I am assured of it. I pray you go, cousin, and second my
lord prior's prayers with my commands."

"You forget, my liege," said March, with the voice of a deeply offended
person, "the father of Elizabeth of Dunbar were but an unfit intercessor
between the Douglas and his royal son in law."

"I crave your pardon, cousin," said the gentle old man. "I own you have
had some wrong; but my Rothsay will be murdered--I must go myself."

But, as he arose precipitately from his chair, the poor king missed a
footstep, stumbled, and fell heavily to the ground, in such a manner
that, his head striking the corner of the seat from which he had risen,
he became for a minute insensible. The sight of the accident at once
overcame March's resentment and melted his heart. He ran to the fallen
monarch, and replaced him in his seat, using, in the tenderest and most
respectful manner, such means as seemed most fit to recall animation.

Robert opened his eyes, and gazed around with uncertainty. "What has
happened?--are we alone?--who is with us?"

"Your dutiful subject, March," replied the Earl.

"Alone with the Earl of March!" repeated the King, his still disturbed
intellect receiving some alarm from the name of a powerful chief whom he
had reason to believe he had mortally offended.

"Yes, my gracious liege, with poor George of Dunbar, of whom many have
wished your Majesty to think ill, though he will be found truer to your
royal person at the last than they will."

"Indeed, cousin, you have had too much wrong; and believe me, we shall
strive to redress--"

"If your Grace thinks so, it may yet be righted," interrupted the Earl,
catching at the hopes which his ambition suggested: "the Prince and
Marjory Douglas are nearly related--the dispensation from Rome was
informally granted--their marriage cannot be lawful--the Pope, who will
do much for so godly a prince, can set aside this unchristian union, in
respect of the pre-contract. Bethink you well, my liege," continued
the Earl, kindling with a new train of ambitious thoughts, to which
the unexpected opportunity of pleading his cause personally had given
rise--"bethink you how you choose betwixt the Douglas and me. He is
powerful and mighty, I grant. But George of Dunbar wears the keys of
Scotland at his belt, and could bring an English army to the gates of
Edinburgh ere Douglas could leave the skirts of Carintable to oppose
them. Your royal son loves my poor deserted girl, and hates the haughty
Marjory of Douglas. Your Grace may judge the small account in which he
holds her by his toying with a common glee maiden even in the presence
of her father."

The King had hitherto listened to the Earl's argument with the
bewildered feelings of a timid horseman, borne away by an impetuous
steed, whose course he can neither arrest nor direct. But the last words
awakened in his recollection the sense of his son's immediate danger.

"Oh, ay, most true--my son--the Douglas! Oh, my dear cousin, prevent
blood, and all shall be as you will. Hark, there is a tumult--that was
the clash of arms!"

"By my coronet, by my knightly faith, it is true!" said the Earl,
looking from the window upon the inner square of the convent, now filled
with armed men and brandished weapons, and resounding with the clash
of armour. The deep vaulted entrance was crowded with warriors at its
farthest extremity, and blows seemed to be in the act of being exchanged
betwixt some who were endeavouring to shut the gate and others who
contended to press in.

"I will go instantly," said the Earl of March, "and soon quell this
sudden broil. Humbly I pray your Majesty to think on what I have had the
boldness to propose."

"I will--I will, fair cousin," said the King, scarce knowing to what he
pledged himself; "do but prevent tumult and bloodshed!"



CHAPTER XI

     Fair is the damsel, passing fair;
     Sunny at distance gleams her smile;
     Approach--the cloud of woful care
     Hangs trembling in her eye the while.

     Lucinda, a Ballad.


We must here trace a little more correctly the events which had been
indistinctly seen from the window of the royal apartments, and yet more
indistinctly reported by those who witnessed them. The glee maiden,
already mentioned, had planted herself where a rise of two large broad
steps, giving access to the main gateway of the royal apartments, gained
her an advantage of a foot and a half in height over those in the
court, of whom she hoped to form an audience. She wore the dress of her
calling, which was more gaudy than rich, and showed the person more than
did the garb of other females. She had laid aside an upper mantle, and
a small basket which contained her slender stock of necessaries; and a
little French spaniel dog sat beside them, as their protector. An azure
blue jacket, embroidered with silver, and sitting close to the person,
was open in front, and showed several waistcoats of different coloured
silks, calculated to set off the symmetry of the shoulders and bosom,
and remaining open at the throat. A small silver chain worn around her
neck involved itself amongst these brilliant coloured waistcoats, and
was again produced from them; to display a medal of the same metal,
which intimated, in the name of some court or guild of minstrels,
the degree she had taken in the gay or joyous science. A small scrip,
suspended over her shoulders by a blue silk riband; hung on her left
side.

Her sunny complexion, snow white teeth, brilliant black eyes, and raven
locks marked her country lying far in the south of France, and the arch
smile and dimpled chin bore the same character. Her luxuriant raven
locks, twisted around a small gold bodkin, were kept in their position
by a net of silk and gold. Short petticoats, deep laced with silver, to
correspond with the jacket, red stockings which were visible so high as
near the calf of the leg, and buskins of Spanish leather, completed her
adjustment, which, though far from new, had been saved as an untarnished
holiday suit, which much care had kept in good order. She seemed about
twenty-five years old; but perhaps fatigue and wandering had anticipated
the touch of time in obliterating the freshness of early youth.

We have said the glee maiden's manner was lively, and we may add that
her smile and repartee were ready. But her gaiety was assumed, as a
quality essentially necessary to her trade, of which it was one of the
miseries, that the professors were obliged frequently to cover an aching
heart with a compelled smile. This seemed to be the case with Louise,
who, whether she was actually the heroine of her own song, or whatever
other cause she might have for sadness, showed at times a strain of deep
melancholy thought, which interfered with and controlled the natural
flow of lively spirits which the practice of the joyous science
especially required. She lacked also, even in her gayest sallies, the
decided boldness and effrontery of her sisterhood, who were seldom at
a loss to retort a saucy jest, or turn the laugh against any who
interrupted or interfered with them.

It may be here remarked, that it was impossible that this class of
women, very numerous in that age, could bear a character generally
respectable. They were, however, protected by the manners of the time;
and such were the immunities they possessed by the rights of chivalry,
that nothing was more rare than to hear of such errant damsels
sustaining injury or wrong, and they passed and repassed safely, where
armed travellers would probably have encountered a bloody opposition.
But though licensed and protected in honour of their tuneful art, the
wandering minstrels, male or female, like similar ministers to the
public amusement, the itinerant musicians, for instance, and strolling
comedians of our own day, led a life too irregular and precarious to
be accounted a creditable part of society. Indeed, among the stricter
Catholics, the profession was considered as unlawful.

Such was the damsel who, with viol in hand, and stationed on the slight
elevation we have mentioned, stepped forward to the bystanders and
announced herself as a mistress of the gay science, duly qualified by a
brief from a Court of Love and Music held at Aix, in Provence, under the
countenance of the flower of chivalry, the gallant Count Aymer; who now
prayed that the cavaliers of merry Scotland, who were known over the
wide world for bravery and courtesy, would permit a poor stranger to try
whether she could afford them any amusement by her art. The love of song
was like the love of fight, a common passion of the age, which all
at least affected, whether they were actually possessed by it or no;
therefore the acquiescence in Louise's proposal was universal. At
the same time, an aged, dark browed monk who was among the bystanders
thought it necessary to remind the glee maiden that, since she was
tolerated within these precincts, which was an unusual grace, he trusted
nothing would be sung or said inconsistent with the holy character of
the place.

The glee maiden bent her head low, shook her sable locks, and crossed
herself reverentially, as if she disclaimed the possibility of such a
transgression, and then began the song of "Poor Louise." which we gave
at length in the last chapter.

Just as she commenced, she was stopped by a cry of "Room--room--place
for the Duke of Rothsay!"

"Nay, hurry no man on my score," said a gallant young cavalier, who
entered on a noble Arabian horse, which he managed with exquisite grace,
though by such slight handling of the reins, such imperceptible pressure
of the limbs and sway of the body, that to any eye save that of an
experienced horseman the animal seemed to be putting forth his paces for
his own amusement, and thus gracefully bearing forward a rider who was
too indolent to give himself any trouble about the matter.

The Prince's apparel, which was very rich, was put on with slovenly
carelessness. His form, though his stature was low, and his limbs
extremely slight, was elegant in the extreme; and his features no less
handsome. But there was on his brow a haggard paleness, which seemed
the effect of care or of dissipation, or of both these wasting causes
combined. His eyes were sunk and dim, as from late indulgence in revelry
on the preceding evening, while his cheek was inflamed with unnatural
red, as if either the effect of the Bacchanalian orgies had not passed
away from the constitution, or a morning draught had been resorted to,
in order to remove the effects of the night's debauchery.

Such was the Duke of Rothsay, and heir of the Scottish crown, a sight
at once of interest and compassion. All unbonneted and made way for him,
while he kept repeating carelessly, "No haste--no haste: I shall arrive
soon enough at the place I am bound for. How's this--a damsel of the
joyous science? Ay, by St. Giles! and a comely wench to boot. Stand
still, my merry men; never was minstrelsy marred for me. A good voice,
by the mass! Begin me that lay again, sweetheart."

Louise did not know the person who addressed her; but the general
respect paid by all around, and the easy and indifferent manner in which
it was received, showed her she was addressed by a man of the highest
quality. She recommenced her lay, and sung her best accordingly; while
the young duke seemed thoughtful and rather affected towards the close
of the ditty. But it was not his habit to cherish such melancholy
affections.

"This is a plaintive ditty, my nut brown maid," said he, chucking the
retreating glee maiden under the chin, and detaining her by the collar
of her dress, which was not difficult, as he sat on horseback so close
to the steps on which she stood. "But I warrant me you have livelier
notes at will, ma bella tenebrosa; ay, and canst sing in bower as well
as wold, and by night as well as day."

"I am no nightingale, my lord," said Louise, endeavouring to escape a
species of gallantry which ill suited the place and circumstances--a
discrepancy to which he who addressed it to her seemed contemptuously
indifferent.

"What hast thou there, darling?" he added, removing his hold from her
collar to the scrip which she carried.

Glad was Louise to escape his grasp, by slipping the knot of the riband,
and leaving the little bag in the Prince's hand, as, retiring back
beyond his reach, she answered, "Nuts, my lord, of the last season."

The Prince pulled out a handful of nuts accordingly. "Nuts, child! they
will break thine ivory teeth, hurt thy pretty voice," said Rothsay,
cracking one with his teeth, like a village schoolboy.

"They are not the walnuts of my own sunny clime, my lord," said Louise;
"but they hang low, and are within the reach of the poor."

"You shall have something to afford you better fare, poor wandering
ape," said the Duke, in a tone in which feeling predominated more than
in the affected and contemptuous gallantry of his first address to the
glee maiden.

At this moment, as he turned to ask an attendant for his purse, the
Prince encountered the stern and piercing look of a tall black man,
seated on a powerful iron grey horse, who had entered the court with
attendants while the Duke of Rothsay was engaged with Louise, and now
remained stupefied and almost turned to stone by his surprise and anger
at this unseemly spectacle. Even one who had never seen Archibald
Earl of Douglas, called the Grim, must have known him by his swart
complexion, his gigantic frame, his buff coat of bull's hide, and his
air of courage, firmness, and sagacity, mixed with indomitable pride.
The loss of an eye in battle, though not perceptible at first sight, as
the ball of the injured organ remained similar to the other, gave yet a
stern, immovable glare to the whole aspect.

The meeting of the royal son in law with his terrible stepfather
[father in law] was in circumstances which arrested the attention of all
present; and the bystanders waited the issue with silence and suppressed
breath, lest they should lose any part of what was to ensue.

When the Duke of Rothsay saw the expression which occupied the stern
features of Douglas, and remarked that the Earl did not make the
least motion towards respectful, or even civil, salutation, he seemed
determined to show him how little respect he was disposed to pay to his
displeased looks. He took his purse from his chamberlain.

"Here, pretty one," he said, "I give thee one gold piece for the song
thou hast sung me, another for the nuts I have stolen from thee, and a
third for the kiss thou art about to give me. For know, my pretty one,
that when fair lips, and thine for fault of better may be called so,
make sweet music for my pleasure, I am sworn to St. Valentine to press
them to mine."

"My song is recompensed nobly," said Louise, shrinking back; "my nuts
are sold to a good market; farther traffic, my lord, were neither
befitting you nor beseeming me."

"What! you coy it, my nymph of the highway?" said the Prince,
contemptuously. "Know damsel, that one asks you a grace who is unused to
denial."

"It is the Prince of Scotland--the Duke of Rothsay," said the courtiers
around, to the terrified Louise, pressing forward the trembling young
woman; "you must not thwart his humor."

"But I cannot reach your lordship," she said, timidly, "you sit so high
on horseback."

"If I must alight," said Rothsay, "there shall be the heavier penalty.
What does the wench tremble for? Place thy foot on the toe of my boot,
give me hold of thy hand. Gallantly done!" He kissed her as she stood
thus suspended in the air, perched upon his foot and supported by his
hand; saying, "There is thy kiss, and there is my purse to pay it; and
to grace thee farther, Rothsay will wear thy scrip for the day."

He suffered the frightened girl to spring to the ground, and turned his
looks from her to bend them contemptuously on the Earl of Douglas, as
if he had said, "All this I do in despite of you and of your daughter's
claims."

"By St. Bride of Douglas!" said the Earl, pressing towards the Prince,
"this is too much, unmannered boy, as void of sense as honour! You know
what considerations restrain the hand of Douglas, else had you never
dared--"

"Can you play at spang cockle, my lord?" said the Prince, placing a nut
on the second joint of his forefinger, and spinning it off by a smart
application of the thumb. The nut struck on Douglas's broad breast,
who burst out into a dreadful exclamation of wrath, inarticulate, but
resembling the growl of a lion in depth and sternness of expression.

"I cry your pardon, most mighty lord," said the Duke of Rothsay,
scornfully, while all around trembled; "I did not conceive my pellet
could have wounded you, seeing you wear a buff coat. Surely, I trust, it
did not hit your eye?"

The prior, despatched by the King, as we have seen in the last chapter,
had by this time made way through the crowd, and laying hold on
Douglas's rein, in a manner that made it impossible for him to advance,
reminded him that the Prince was the son of his sovereign; and the
husband of his daughter.

"Fear not, sir prior," said Douglas. "I despise the childish boy too
much to raise a finger against him. But I will return insult for insult.
Here, any of you who love the Douglas, spurn me this quean from the
monastery gates; and let her be so scourged that she may bitterly
remember to the last day of her life how she gave means to an
unrespective boy to affront the Douglas."

Four or five retainers instantly stepped forth to execute commands which
were seldom uttered in vain, and heavily would Louise have atoned for an
offence of which she was alike the innocent, unconscious, and unwilling
instrument, had not the Duke of Rothsay interfered.

"Spurn the poor glee woman!" he said, in high indignation; "scourge
her for obeying my commands! Spurn thine own oppressed vassals, rude
earl--scourge thine own faulty hounds; but beware how you touch so much
as a dog that Rothsay hath patted on the head, far less a female whose
lips he hath kissed!"

Before Douglas could give an answer, which would certainly have been
in defiance, there arose that great tumult at the outward gate of the
monastery, already noticed, and men both on horseback and on foot
began to rush headlong in, not actually fighting with each other, but
certainly in no peaceable manner.

One of the contending parties, seemingly, were partizans of Douglas,
known by the cognizance of the bloody heart; the other were composed of
citizens of the town of Perth. It appeared they had been skirmishing in
earnest when without the gates, but, out of respect to the sanctified
ground, they lowered their weapons when they entered, and confined their
strife to a war of words and mutual abuse.

The tumult had this good effect, that it forced asunder, by the weight
and press of numbers, the Prince and Douglas, at a moment when the
levity of the former and the pride of the latter were urging both to the
utmost extremity. But now peacemakers interfered on all sides. The prior
and the monks threw themselves among the multitude, and commanded
peace in the name of Heaven, and reverence to their sacred walls,
under penalty of excommunication; and their expostulations began to
be listened to. Albany, who was despatched by his royal brother at the
beginning of the fray, had not arrived till now on the scene of action.
He instantly applied himself to Douglas, and in his ear conjured him to
temper his passion.

"By St. Bride of Douglas, I will be avenged!" said the Earl. "No man
shall brook life after he has passed an affront on Douglas."

"Why, so you may be avenged in fitting time," said Albany; "but let it
not be said that, like a peevish woman, the Great Douglas could choose
neither time nor place for his vengeance. Bethink you, all that we have
laboured at is like to be upset by an accident. George of Dunbar hath
had the advantage of an audience with the old man; and though it lasted
but five minutes, I fear it may endanger the dissolution of your family
match, which we brought about with so much difficulty. The authority
from Rome has not yet been obtained."

"A toy!" answered Douglas, haughtily; "they dare not dissolve it."

"Not while Douglas is at large, and in possession of his power,"
answered Albany. "But, noble earl, come with me, and I will show you at
what disadvantage you stand."

Douglas dismounted, and followed his wily accomplice in silence. In a
lower hall they saw the ranks of the Brandanes drawn up, well armed in
caps of steel and shirts of mail. Their captain, making an obeisance to
Albany, seemed to desire to address him.

"What now, MacLouis?" said the Duke.

"We are informed the Duke of Rothsay has been insulted, and I can scarce
keep the Brandanes within door."

"Gallant MacLouis," said Albany, "and you, my trusty Brandanes, the Duke
of Rothsay, my princely nephew, is as well as a hopeful gentleman can
be. Some scuffle there has been, but all is appeased."

He continued to draw the Earl of Douglas forward. "You see, my lord," he
said in his ear, "that, if the word 'arrest' was to be once spoken,
it would be soon obeyed, and you are aware your attendants are few for
resistance."

Douglas seemed to acquiesce in the necessity of patience for the time.
"If my teeth," he said, "should bite through my lips, I will be silent
till it is the hour to speak out."

George of March, in the meanwhile, had a more easy task of pacifying
the Prince. "My Lord of Rothsay," he said, approaching him with grave
ceremony, "I need not tell you that you owe me something for reparation
of honour, though I blame not you personally for the breach of contract
which has destroyed the peace of my family. Let me conjure you, by
what observance your Highness may owe an injured man, to forego for the
present this scandalous dispute."

"My lord, I owe you much," replied Rothsay; "but this haughty and all
controlling lord has wounded mine honour."

"My lord, I can but add, your royal father is ill--hath swooned with
terror for your Highness's safety."

"Ill!" replied the Prince--"the kind, good old man swooned, said you, my
Lord of March? I am with him in an instant."

The Duke of Rothsay sprung from his saddle to the ground, and was
dashing into the palace like a greyhound, when a feeble grasp was
laid on his cloak, and the faint voice of a kneeling female exclaimed,
"Protection, my noble prince!--protection for a helpless stranger!"

"Hands off, stroller!" said the Earl of March, thrusting the suppliant
glee maiden aside.

But the gentler prince paused. "It is true," he said, "I have brought
the vengeance of an unforgiving devil upon this helpless creature. O
Heaven! what a life, is mine, so fatal to all who approach me! What to
do in the hurry? She must not go to my apartments. And all my men are
such born reprobates. Ha! thou at mine elbow, honest Harry Smith? What
dost thou here?"

"There has been something of a fight, my lord," answered our
acquaintance the smith, "between the townsmen and the Southland loons
who ride with the Douglas; and we have swinged them as far as the abbey
gate."

"I am glad of it--I am glad of it. And you beat the knaves fairly?"

"Fairly, does your Highness ask?" said Henry. "Why, ay! We were stronger
in numbers, to be sure; but no men ride better armed than those who
follow the Bloody Heart. And so in a sense we beat them fairly; for, as
your Highness knows, it is the smith who makes the man at arms, and men
with good weapons are a match for great odds."

While they thus talked, the Earl of March, who had spoken with some one
near the palace gate, returned in anxious haste. "My Lord Duke!--my Lord
Duke! your father is recovered, and if you haste not speedily, my Lord
of Albany and the Douglas will have possession of his royal ear."

"And if my royal father is recovered," said the thoughtless Prince, "and
is holding, or about to hold, counsel with my gracious uncle and the
Earl of Douglas, it befits neither your lordship nor me to intrude till
we are summoned. So there is time for me to speak of my little business
with mine honest armourer here."

"Does your Highness take it so?" said the Earl, whose sanguine hopes of
a change of favour at court had been too hastily excited, and were as
speedily checked. "Then so let it be for George of Dunbar."

He glided away with a gloomy and displeased aspect; and thus out of the
two most powerful noblemen in Scotland, at a time when the aristocracy
so closely controlled the throne, the reckless heir apparent had made
two enemies--the one by scornful defiance and the other by careless
neglect. He heeded not the Earl of March's departure, however, or rather
he felt relieved from his importunity.

The Prince went on in indolent conversation with our armourer, whose
skill in his art had made him personally known to many of the great
lords about the court.

"I had something to say to thee, Smith. Canst thou take up a fallen link
in my Milan hauberk?"

"As well, please your Highness, as my mother could take up a stitch in
the nets she wove. The Milaner shall not know my work from his own."

"Well, but that was not what I wished of thee just now," said the
Prince, recollecting himself: "this poor glee woman, good Smith,
she must be placed in safety. Thou art man enough to be any woman's
champion, and thou must conduct her to some place of safety."

Henry Smith was, as we have seen, sufficiently rash and daring when
weapons were in question. But he had also the pride of a decent burgher,
and was unwilling to place himself in what might be thought equivocal
circumstances by the sober part of his fellow citizens.

"May it please your Highness," he said, "I am but a poor craftsman. But,
though my arm and sword are at the King's service and your Highness's,
I am, with reverence, no squire of dames. Your Highness will find, among
your own retinue, knights and lords willing enough to play Sir Pandarus
of Troy; it is too knightly a part for poor Hal of the Wynd."

"Umph--hah!" said the Prince. "My purse, Edgar." (His attendant
whispered him.) "True--true, I gave it to the poor wench. I know enough
of your craft, sir smith, and of craftsmen in general, to be aware that
men lure not hawks with empty hands; but I suppose my word may pass for
the price of a good armour, and I will pay it thee, with thanks to boot,
for this slight service."

"Your Highness may know other craftsmen," said the smith; "but, with
reverence, you know not Henry Gow. He will obey you in making a weapon,
or in wielding one, but he knows nothing of this petticoat service."

"Hark thee, thou Perthshire mule," said the Prince, yet smiling, while
he spoke, at the sturdy punctilio of the honest burgher; "the wench is
as little to me as she is to thee. But in an idle moment, as you may
learn from those about thee, if thou sawest it not thyself, I did her a
passing grace, which is likely to cost the poor wretch her life. There
is no one here whom I can trust to protect her against the discipline of
belt and bowstring, with which the Border brutes who follow Douglas will
beat her to death, since such is his pleasure."

"If such be the case, my liege, she has a right to every honest man's
protection; and since she wears a petticoat--though I would it were
longer and of a less fanciful fashion--I will answer for her protection
as well as a single man may. But where am I to bestow her?"

"Good faith, I cannot tell," said the Prince. "Take her to Sir John
Ramorny's lodging. But, no--no--he is ill at ease, and besides, there
are reasons; take her to the devil if thou wilt, but place her in
safety, and oblige David of Rothsay."

"My noble Prince," said the smith, "I think, always with reverence, that
I would rather give a defenceless woman to the care of the devil than of
Sir John Ramorny. But though the devil be a worker in fire like myself,
yet I know not his haunts, and with aid of Holy Church hope to keep him
on terms of defiance. And, moreover, how I am to convey her out of this
crowd, or through the streets, in such a mumming habit may be well made
a question."

"For the leaving the convent," said the Prince, "this good monk"
(seizing upon the nearest by his cowl)--"Father Nicholas or Boniface--"

"Poor brother Cyprian, at your Highness's command," said the father.

"Ay--ay, brother Cyprian," continued the Prince--"yes. Brother Cyprian
shall let you out at some secret passage which he knows of, and I will
see him again to pay a prince's thanks for it."

The churchman bowed in acquiescence, and poor Louise, who, during this
debate, had looked from the one speaker to the other, hastily said, "I
will not scandalise this good man with my foolish garb: I have a mantle
for ordinary wear."

"Why, there, Smith, thou hast a friar's hood and a woman's mantle to
shroud thee under. I would all my frailties were as well shrouded.
Farewell, honest fellow; I will thank thee hereafter."

Then, as if afraid of farther objection on the smith's part, he hastened
into the palace.

Henry Gow remained stupefied at what had passed, and at finding himself
involved in a charge at once inferring much danger and an equal risk
of scandal, both which, joined to a principal share which he had taken,
with his usual forwardness, in the fray, might, he saw, do him no small
injury in the suit he pursued most anxiously. At the same time, to leave
a defenceless creature to the ill usage of the barbarous Galwegians and
licentious followers of the Douglas was a thought which his manly heart
could not brook for an instant.

He was roused from his reverie by the voice of the monk, who, sliding
out his words with the indifference which the holy fathers entertained,
or affected, towards all temporal matters, desired them to follow him.
The smith put himself in motion, with a sigh much resembling a groan,
and, without appearing exactly connected with the monk's motions, he
followed him into a cloister, and through a postern door, which, after
looking once behind him, the priest left ajar. Behind them followed
Louise, who had hastily assumed her small bundle, and, calling her
little four legged companion, had eagerly followed in the path which
opened an escape from what had shortly before seemed a great and
inevitable danger.



CHAPTER XII.

     Then up and spak the auld gudewife,
     And wow! but she was grim:
     "Had e'er your father done the like,
     It had been ill for him."

     Lucky Trumbull.


The party were now, by a secret passage, admitted within the church, the
outward doors of which, usually left open, had been closed against
every one in consequence of the recent tumult, when the rioters of both
parties had endeavoured to rush into it for other purposes than those of
devotion. They traversed the gloomy aisles, whose arched roof resounded
to the heavy tread of the armourer, but was silent under the sandalled
foot of the monk, and the light step of poor Louise, who trembled
excessively, as much from fear as cold. She saw that neither her
spiritual nor temporal conductor looked kindly upon her. The former was
an austere man, whose aspect seemed to hold the luckless wanderer in
some degree of horror, as well as contempt; while the latter, though, as
we have seen, one of the best natured men living, was at present grave
to the pitch of sternness, and not a little displeased with having the
part he was playing forced upon him, without, as he was constrained to
feel, a possibility of his declining it.

His dislike at his task extended itself to the innocent object of
his protection, and he internally said to himself, as he surveyed her
scornfully: "A proper queen of beggars to walk the streets of Perth
with, and I a decent burgher! This tawdry minion must have as ragged
a reputation as the rest of her sisterhood, and I am finely sped if
my chivalry in her behalf comes to Catharine's ears. I had better have
slain a man, were he the best in Perth; and, by hammer and nails, I
would have done it on provocation, rather than convoy this baggage
through the city."

Perhaps Louise suspected the cause of her conductor's anxiety, for she
said, timidly and with hesitation: "Worthy sir, were it not better I
should stop one instant in that chapel and don my mantle?"

"Umph, sweetheart, well proposed," said the armourer; but the monk
interfered, raising at the same time the finger of interdiction.

"The chapel of holy St. Madox is no tiring room for jugglers and
strollers to shift their trappings in. I will presently show thee a
vestiary more suited to thy condition."

The poor young woman hung down her humbled head, and turned from
the chapel door which she had approached with the deep sense of self
abasement. Her little spaniel seemed to gather from his mistress's looks
and manner that they were unauthorised intruders on the holy ground
which they trode, and hung his ears, and swept the pavement with his
tail, as he trotted slowly and close to Louise's heels.

The monk moved on without a pause. They descended a broad flight of
steps, and proceeded through a labyrinth of subterranean passages, dimly
lighted. As they passed a low arched door, the monk turned and said
to Louise, with the same stern voice as before: "There, daughter of
folly--there is a robing room, where many before you have deposited
their vestments."

Obeying the least signal with ready and timorous acquiescence, she
pushed the door open, but instantly recoiled with terror. It was a
charnel house, half filled with dry skulls and bones.

"I fear to change my dress there, and alone. But, if you, father,
command it, be it as you will."

"Why, thou child of vanity, the remains on which thou lookest are but
the earthly attire of those who, in their day, led or followed in the
pursuit of worldly pleasure. And such shalt thou be, for all thy mincing
and ambling, thy piping and thy harping--thou, and all such ministers of
frivolous and worldly pleasure, must become like these poor bones, whom
thy idle nicety fears and loathes to look upon."

"Say not with idle nicety, reverend father," answered the glee maiden,
"for, Heaven knows, I covet the repose of these poor bleached relics;
and if, by stretching my body upon them, I could, without sin, bring my
state to theirs, I would choose that charnel heap for my place of rest
beyond the fairest and softest couch in Scotland."

"Be patient, and come on," said the monk, in a milder tone, "the reaper
must not leave the harvest work till sunset gives the signal that the
day's toil is over."

They walked forward. Brother Cyprian, at the end of a long gallery,
opened the door of a small apartment, or perhaps a chapel, for it was
decorated with a crucifix, before which burned four lamps. All bent and
crossed themselves; and the priest said to the minstrel maiden, pointing
to the crucifix, "What says that emblem?"

"That HE invites the sinner as well as the righteous to approach."

"Ay, if the sinner put from him his sin," said the monk, whose tone of
voice was evidently milder. "Prepare thyself here for thy journey."

Louise remained an instant or two in the chapel, and presently
reappeared in a mantle of coarse grey cloth, in which she had closely
muffled herself, having put such of her more gaudy habiliments as she
had time to take off in the little basket which had before held her
ordinary attire.

The monk presently afterwards unlocked a door which led to the open air.
They found themselves in the garden which surrounded the monastery of
the Dominicans.

"The southern gate is on the latch, and through it you can pass
unnoticed," said the monk. "Bless thee, my son; and bless thee too,
unhappy child. Remembering where you put off your idle trinkets, may you
take care how you again resume them!"

"Alas, father!" said Louise, "if the poor foreigner could supply the
mere wants of life by any more creditable occupation, she has small wish
to profess her idle art. But--"

But the monk had vanished; nay, the very door though which she had just
passed appeared to have vanished also, so curiously was it concealed
beneath a flying buttress, and among the profuse ornaments of Gothic
architecture.

"Here is a woman let out by this private postern, sure enough," was
Henry's reflection. "Pray Heaven the good fathers never let any in! The
place seems convenient for such games at bo peep. But, Benedicite, what
is to be done next? I must get rid of this quean as fast as I can; and
I must see her safe. For let her be at heart what she may, she looks too
modest, now she is in decent dress, to deserve the usage which the wild
Scot of Galloway, or the devil's legion from the Liddel, are like to
afford her."

Louise stood as if she waited his pleasure which way to go. Her little
dog, relieved by the exchange of the dark, subterranean vault for the
open air, sprung in wild gambols through the walks, and jumped upon its
mistress, and even, though more timidly, circled close round the smith's
feet, to express its satisfaction to him also, and conciliate his
favour.

"Down, Charlot--down!" said the glee maiden. "You are glad to get
into the blessed sunshine; but where shall we rest at night, my poor
Charlot?"

"And now, mistress," said the smith, not churlishly, for it was not in
his nature, but bluntly, as one who is desirous to finish a disagreeable
employment, "which way lies your road?"

Louise looked on the ground and was silent. On being again urged to say
which way she desired to be conducted, she again looked down, and said
she could not tell.

"Come--come," said Henry, "I understand all that: I have been a
galliard--a reveller in my day, but it's best to be plain. As matters
are with me now, I am an altered man for these many, many months; and
so, my quean, you and I must part sooner than perhaps a light o' love
such as you expected to part with--a likely young fellow."

Louise wept silently, with her eyes still cast on the ground, as one
who felt an insult which she had not a right to complain of. At length,
perceiving that her conductor was grown impatient, she faltered out,
"Noble sir--"

"Sir is for a knight," said the impatient burgher, "and noble is for
a baron. I am Harry of the Wynd, an honest mechanic, and free of my
guild."

"Good craftsman, then," said the minstrel woman, "you judge me harshly,
but not without seeming cause. I would relieve you immediately of my
company, which, it may be, brings little credit to good men, did I but
know which way to go."

"To the next wake or fair, to be sure," said Henry, roughly, having no
doubt that this distress was affected for the purpose of palming
herself upon him, and perhaps dreading to throw himself into the way
of temptation; "and that is the feast of St. Madox, at Auchterarder. I
warrant thou wilt find the way thither well enough."

"Aftr--Auchter--" repeated the glee maiden, her Southern tongue in vain
attempting the Celtic accentuation. "I am told my poor plays will not be
understood if I go nearer to yon dreadful range of mountains."

"Will you abide, then, in Perth?"

"But where to lodge?" said the wanderer.

"Why, where lodged you last night?" replied the smith. "You know where
you came from, surely, though you seem doubtful where you are going?"

"I slept in the hospital of the convent. But I was only admitted upon
great importunity, and I was commanded not to return."

"Nay, they will never take you in with the ban of the Douglas upon you,
that is even too true. But the Prince mentioned Sir John Ramorny's; I
can take you to his lodgings through bye streets, though it is short of
an honest burgher's office, and my time presses."

"I will go anywhere; I know I am a scandal and incumbrance. There was a
time when it was otherwise. But this Ramorny, who is he?"

"A courtly knight, who lives a jolly bachelor's life, and is master of
the horse, and privado, as they say, to the young prince."

"What! to the wild, scornful young man who gave occasion to yonder
scandal? Oh, take me not thither, good friend. Is there no Christian
woman who would give a poor creature rest in her cowhouse or barn for
one night? I will be gone with early daybreak. I will repay her richly.
I have gold; and I will repay you, too, if you will take me where I may
be safe from that wild reveller, and from the followers of that dark
baron, in whose eye was death."

"Keep your gold for those who lack it, mistress," said Henry, "and
do not offer to honest hands the money that is won by violing, and
tabouring, and toe tripping, and perhaps worse pastimes. I tell you
plainly, mistress, I am not to be fooled. I am ready to take you to any
place of safety you can name, for my promise is as strong as an iron
shackle. But you cannot persuade me that you do not know what earth to
make for. You are not so young in your trade as not to know there are
hostelries in every town, much more in a city like Perth, where such as
you may be harboured for your money, if you cannot find some gulls, more
or fewer, to pay your lawing. If you have money, mistress, my care about
you need be the less; and truly I see little but pretence in all
that excessive grief, and fear of being left alone, in one of your
occupation."

Having thus, as he conceived, signified that he was not to be deceived
by the ordinary arts of a glee maiden, Henry walked a few paces
sturdily, endeavouring to think he was doing the wisest and most prudent
thing in the world. Yet he could not help looking back to see how Louise
bore his departure, and was shocked to observe that she had sunk upon a
bank, with her arms resting on her knees and her head on her arms, in a
situation expressive of the utmost desolation.

The smith tried to harden his heart. "It is all a sham," he said: "the
gouge knows her trade, I'll be sworn, by St. Ringan."

At the instant something pulled the skirts of his cloak; and looking
round, he saw the little spaniel, who immediately, as if to plead his
mistress's cause, got on his hind legs and began to dance, whimpering at
the same time, and looking back to Louise, as if to solicit compassion
for his forsaken owner.

"Poor thing," said the smith, "there may be a trick in this too, for
thou dost but as thou art taught. Yet, as I promised to protect this
poor creature, I must not leave her in a swoon, if it be one, were it
but for manhood's sake."

Returning, and approaching his troublesome charge, he was at once
assured, from the change of her complexion, either that she was actually
in the deepest distress, or had a power of dissimulation beyond the
comprehension of man--or woman either.

"Young woman," he said, with more of kindness than he had hitherto been
able even to assume, "I will tell you frankly how I am placed. This
is St. Valentine's Day, and by custom I was to spend it with my fair
Valentine. But blows and quarrels have occupied all the morning, save
one poor half hour. Now, you may well understand where my heart and my
thoughts are, and where, were it only in mere courtesy, my body ought to
be."

The glee maiden listened, and appeared to comprehend him.

"If you are a true lover, and have to wait upon a chaste Valentine, God
forbid that one like me should make a disturbance between you! Think
about me no more. I will ask of that great river to be my guide to where
it meets the ocean, where I think they said there was a seaport; I will
sail from thence to La Belle France, and will find myself once more in
a country in which the roughest peasant would not wrong the poorest
female."

"You cannot go to Dundee today," said the smith. "The Douglas people are
in motion on both sides of the river, for the alarm of the morning has
reached them ere now; and all this day, and the next, and the whole
night which is between, they will gather to their leader's standard,
like Highlandmen at the fiery cross. Do you see yonder five or six
men who are riding so wildly on the other side of the river? These are
Annandale men: I know them by the length of their lances, and by the way
they hold them. An Annandale man never slopes his spear backwards, but
always keeps the point upright, or pointed forward."

"And what of them?" said the glee maiden. "They are men at arms and
soldiers. They would respect me for my viol and my helplessness."

"I will say them no scandal," answered the smith. "If you were in their
own glens, they would use you hospitably, and you would have nothing to
fear; but they are now on an expedition. All is fish that comes to their
net. There are amongst them who would take your life for the value of
your gold earrings. Their whole soul is settled in their eyes to see
prey, and in their hands to grasp it. They have no ears either to hear
lays of music or listen to prayers for mercy. Besides, their leader's
order is gone forth concerning you, and it is of a kind sure to be
obeyed. Ay, great lords are sooner listened to if they say, 'Burn a
church,' than if they say, 'Build one.'"

"Then," said the glee woman, "I were best sit down and die."

"Do not say so," replied the smith. "If I could but get you a lodging
for the night, I would carry you the next morning to Our Lady's Stairs,
from whence the vessels go down the river for Dundee, and would put you
on board with some one bound that way, who should see you safely lodged
where you would have fair entertainment and kind usage."

"Good--excellent--generous man!" said the glee maiden, "do this, and
if the prayers and blessings of a poor unfortunate should ever reach
Heaven, they will rise thither in thy behalf. We will meet at yonder
postern door, at whatever time the boats take their departure."

"That is at six in the morning, when the day is but young."

"Away with you, then, to your Valentine; and if she loves you, oh,
deceive her not!"

"Alas, poor damsel! I fear it is deceit hath brought thee to this pass.
But I must not leave you thus unprovided. I must know where you are to
pass the night."

"Care not for that," replied Louise: "the heavens are clear--there are
bushes and boskets enough by the river side--Charlot and I can well make
a sleeping room of a green arbour for one night; and tomorrow will,
with your promised aid, see me out of reach of injury and wrong. Oh,
the night soon passes away when there is hope for tomorrow! Do you still
linger, with your Valentine waiting for you? Nay, I shall hold you but a
loitering lover, and you know what belongs to a minstrel's reproaches."

"I cannot leave you, damsel," answered the armourer, now completely
melted. "It were mere murder to suffer you to pass the night exposed to
the keenness of a Scottish blast in February. No--no, my word would be
ill kept in this manner; and if I should incur some risk of blame, it is
but just penance for thinking of thee, and using thee, more according to
my own prejudices, as I now well believe, than thy merits. Come with
me, damsel; thou shalt have a sure and honest lodging for the night,
whatsoever may be the consequence. It would be an evil compliment to my
Catharine, were I to leave a poor creature to be starved to death, that
I might enjoy her company an hour sooner."

So saying, and hardening himself against all anticipations of the ill
consequences or scandal which might arise from such a measure, the manly
hearted smith resolved to set evil report at defiance, and give the
wanderer a night's refuge in his own house. It must be added, that
he did this with extreme reluctance, and in a sort of enthusiasm of
benevolence.

Ere our stout son of Vulcan had fixed his worship on the Fair Maid of
Perth, a certain natural wildness of disposition had placed him under
the influence of Venus, as well as that of Mars; and it was only the
effect of a sincere attachment which had withdrawn him entirely from
such licentious pleasures. He was therefore justly jealous of his
newly acquired reputation for constancy, which his conduct to this
poor wanderer must expose to suspicion; a little doubtful, perhaps, of
exposing himself too venturously to temptation; and moreover in despair
to lose so much of St. Valentine's Day, which custom not only permitted,
but enjoined him to pass beside his mate for the season. The journey to
Kinfauns, and the various transactions which followed, had consumed the
day, and it was now nearly evensong time.

As if to make up by a speedy pace for the time he was compelled to waste
upon a subject so foreign to that which he had most at heart, he strode
on through the Dominicans' gardens, entered the town, and casting his
cloak around the lower part of his face, and pulling down his bonnet to
conceal the upper, he continued the same celerity of movement through
bye streets and lanes, hoping to reach his own house in the Wynd without
being observed. But when he had continued his rate of walking for ten
minutes, he began to be sensible it might be too rapid for the young
woman to keep up with him. He accordingly looked behind him with a
degree of angry impatience, which soon turned into compunction, when
he saw that she was almost utterly exhausted by the speed which she had
exerted.

"Now, marry, hang me up for a brute," said Henry to himself. "Was my
own haste ever so great, could it give that poor creature wings? And she
loaded with baggage too! I am an ill nurtured beast, that is certain,
wherever women are in question; and always sure to do wrong when I have
the best will to act right.

"Hark thee, damsel; let me carry these things for thee. We shall make
better speed that I do so."

Poor Louise would have objected, but her breath was too much exhausted
to express herself; and she permitted her good natured guardian to take
her little basket, which, when the dog beheld, he came straight before
Henry, stood up, and shook his fore paws, whining gently, as if he too
wanted to be carried.

"Nay, then, I must needs lend thee a lift too," said the smith, who saw
the creature was tired:

"Fie, Charlot!" said Louise; "thou knowest I will carry thee myself."

She endeavoured to take up the little spaniel, but it escaped from her;
and going to the other side of the smith, renewed its supplication that
he would take it up.

"Charlot's right," said the smith: "he knows best who is ablest to bear
him. This lets me know, my pretty one, that you have not been always the
bearer of your own mail: Charlot can tell tales."

So deadly a hue came across the poor glee maiden's countenance as Henry
spoke, that he was obliged to support her, lest she should have dropped
to the ground. She recovered again, however, in an instant or two, and
with a feeble voice requested her guide would go on.

"Nay--nay," said Henry, as they began to move, "keep hold of my cloak,
or my arm, if it helps you forward better. A fair sight we are; and had
I but a rebeck or a guitar at my back, and a jackanapes on my shoulder,
we should seem as joyous a brace of strollers as ever touched string at
a castle gate.

"Snails!" he ejaculated internally, "were any neighbour to meet me with
this little harlotry's basket at my back, her dog under my arm, and
herself hanging on my cloak, what could they think but that I had turned
mumper in good earnest? I would not for the best harness I ever laid
hammer on, that any of our long tongued neighbours met me in this guise;
it were a jest would last from St. Valentine's Day to next Candlemas."

Stirred by these thoughts, the smith, although at the risk of making
much longer a route which he wished to traverse as swiftly as possible,
took the most indirect and private course which he could find, in order
to avoid the main streets, still crowded with people, owing to the late
scene of tumult and agitation. But unhappily his policy availed him
nothing; for, in turning into an alley, he met a man with his cloak
muffled around his face, from a desire like his own to pass unobserved,
though the slight insignificant figure, the spindle shanks, which showed
themselves beneath the mantle, and the small dull eye that blinked over
its upper folds, announced the pottingar as distinctly as if he had
carried his sign in front of his bonnet. His unexpected and most
unwelcome presence overwhelmed the smith with confusion. Ready evasion
was not the property of his bold, blunt temper; and knowing this man
to be a curious observer, a malignant tale bearer, and by no means well
disposed to himself in particular, no better hope occurred to him than
that the worshipful apothecary would give him some pretext to silence
his testimony and secure his discretion by twisting his neck round.

But, far from doing or saying anything which could warrant such
extremities, the pottingar, seeing himself so close upon his stalwart
townsman that recognition was inevitable, seemed determined it should
be as slight as possible; and without appearing to notice anything
particular in the company or circumstances in which they met, he barely
slid out these words as he passed him, without even a glance towards his
companion after the first instant of their meeting: "A merry holiday to
you once more, stout smith. What! thou art bringing thy cousin, pretty
Mistress Joan Letham, with her mail, from the waterside--fresh from
Dundee, I warrant? I heard she was expected at the old cordwainer's."

As he spoke thus, he looked neither right nor left, and exchanging
a "Save you!" with a salute of the same kind which the smith rather
muttered than uttered distinctly, he glided forward on his way like a
shadow.

"The foul fiend catch me, if I can swallow that pill," said Henry Smith,
"how well soever it may be gilded. The knave has a shrewd eye for a
kirtle, and knows a wild duck from a tame as well as e'er a man in
Perth. He were the last in the Fair City to take sour plums for pears,
or my roundabout cousin Joan for this piece of fantastic vanity. I fancy
his bearing was as much as to say, 'I will not see what you might wish
me blind to'; and he is right to do so, as he might easily purchase
himself a broken pate by meddling with my matters, and so he will be
silent for his own sake. But whom have we next? By St. Dunstan, the
chattering, bragging, cowardly knave, Oliver Proudfute!"

It was, indeed, the bold bonnet maker whom they next encountered, who,
with his cap on one side, and trolling the ditty of--

     "Thou art over long at the pot, Tom, Tom,"
--gave plain intimation that he had made no dry meal.

"Ha! my jolly smith," he said, "have I caught thee in the manner? What,
can the true steel bend? Can Vulcan, as the minstrel says, pay Venus
back in her own coin? Faith, thou wilt be a gay Valentine before the
year's out, that begins with the holiday so jollily."

"Hark ye, Oliver," said the displeased smith, "shut your eyes and pass
on, crony. And hark ye again, stir not your tongue about what concerns
you not, as you value having an entire tooth in your head."

"I betray counsel? I bear tales, and that against my brother martialist?
I would not tell it even to my timber soldan! Why, I can be a wild
galliard in a corner as well as thou, man. And now I think on't, I
will go with thee somewhere, and we will have a rouse together, and thy
Dalilah shall give us a song. Ha! said I not well?"

"Excellently," said Henry, longing the whole time to knock his brother
martialist down, but wisely taking a more peaceful way to rid himself of
the incumbrance of his presence--"excellently well! I may want thy help,
too, for here are five or six of the Douglasses before us: they will not
fail to try to take the wench from a poor burgher like myself, so I will
be glad of the assistance of a tearer such as thou art."

"I thank ye--I thank ye," answered the bonnet maker; "but were I not
better run and cause ring the common bell, and get my great sword?"

"Ay, ay, run home as fast as you can, and say nothing of what you have
seen."

"Who, I? Nay, fear me not. Pah! I scorn a tale bearer."

"Away with you, then. I hear the clash of armour."

This put life and mettle into the heels of the bonnet maker, who,
turning his back on the supposed danger, set off at a pace which the
smith never doubted would speedily bring him to his own house.

"Here is another chattering jay to deal with," thought the smith; "but
I have a hank over him too. The minstrels have a fabliau of a daw
with borrowed feathers--why, this Oliver is The very bird, and, by St.
Dunstan, if he lets his chattering tongue run on at my expense, I will
so pluck him as never hawk plumed a partridge. And this he knows."

As these reflections thronged on his mind, he had nearly reached the end
of his journey, and, with the glee maiden still hanging on his cloak,
exhausted, partly with fear, partly with fatigue, he at length arrived
at the middle of the wynd, which was honoured with his own habitation,
and from which, in the uncertainty that then attended the application
of surnames, he derived one of his own appellatives. Here, on ordinary
days, his furnace was seen to blaze, and four half stripped knaves
stunned the neighbourhood with the clang of hammer and stithy. But St.
Valentine's holiday was an excuse for these men of steel having shut the
shop, and for the present being absent on their own errands of devotion
or pleasure. The house which adjoined to the smithy called Henry its
owner; and though it was small, and situated in a narrow street, yet, as
there was a large garden with fruit trees behind it, it constituted
upon the whole a pleasant dwelling. The smith, instead of knocking or
calling, which would have drawn neighbours to doors and windows,
drew out a pass key of his own fabrication, then a great and envied
curiosity, and opening the door of his house, introduced his companion
into his habitation.

The apartment which received Henry and the glee maiden was the kitchen,
which served amongst those of the smith's station for the family sitting
room, although one or two individuals, like Simon Glover, had an eating
room apart from that in which their victuals were prepared. In the
corner of this apartment, which was arranged with an unusual attention
to cleanliness, sat an old woman, whose neatness of attire, and the
precision with which her scarlet plaid was drawn over her head, so as
to descend to her shoulders on each side, might have indicated a higher
rank than that of Luckie Shoolbred, the smith's housekeeper. Yet such
and no other was her designation; and not having attended mass in the
morning, she was quietly reposing herself by the side of the fire, her
beads, half told, hanging over her left arm; her prayers, half said,
loitering upon her tongue; her eyes, half closed, resigning themselves
to slumber, while she expected the return of her foster son, without
being able to guess at what hour it was likely to happen. She started
up at the sound of his entrance, and bent her eye upon his companion, at
first with a look of the utmost surprise, which gradually was exchanged
for one expressive of great displeasure.

"Now the saints bless mine eyesight, Henry Smith!" she exclaimed, very
devoutly.

"Amen, with all my heart. Get some food ready presently, good nurse, for
I fear me this traveller hath dined but lightly."

"And again I pray that Our Lady would preserve my eyesight from the
wicked delusions of Satan!"

"So be it, I tell you, good woman. But what is the use of all this
pattering and prayering? Do you not hear me? or will you not do as I bid
you?"

"It must be himself, then, whatever is of it! But, oh! it is more like
the foul fiend in his likeness, to have such a baggage hanging upon his
cloak. Oh, Harry Smith, men called you a wild lad for less things; but
who would ever have thought that Harry would have brought a light leman
under the roof that sheltered his worthy mother, and where his own nurse
has dwelt for thirty years?"

"Hold your peace, old woman, and be reasonable," said the smith. "This
glee woman is no leman of mine, nor of any other person that I know of;
but she is going off for Dundee tomorrow by the boats, and we must give
her quarters till then."

"Quarters!" said the old woman. "You may give quarters to such cattle if
you like it yourself, Harry Wynd; but the same house shall not quarter
that trumpery quean and me, and of that you may assure yourself."

"Your mother is angry with me," said Louise, misconstruing the connexion
of the parties. "I will not remain to give her any offence. If there is
a stable or a cowhouse, an empty stall will be bed enough for Charlot
and me."

"Ay--ay, I am thinking it is the quarters you are best used to," said
Dame Shoolbred.

"Harkye, Nurse Shoolbred," said the smith. "You know I love you for your
own sake and for my mother's; but by St. Dunstan, who was a saint of my
own craft, I will have the command of my own house; and if you leave me
without any better reason but your own nonsensical suspicions, you must
think how you will have the door open to you when you return; for you
shall have no help of mine, I promise you."

"Aweel, my bairn, and that will never make me risk the honest name I
have kept for sixty years. It was never your mother's custom, and it
shall never be mine, to take up with ranters, and jugglers, and singing
women; and I am not so far to seek for a dwelling, that the same roof
should cover me and a tramping princess like that."

With this the refractory gouvernante began in great hurry to adjust her
tartan mantle for going abroad, by pulling it so forwards as to conceal
the white linen cap, the edges of which bordered her shrivelled but
still fresh and healthful countenance. This done, she seized upon a
staff, the trusty companion of her journeys, and was fairly trudging
towards the door, when the smith stepped between her and the passage.

"Wait at least, old woman, till we have cleared scores. I owe you for
fee and bountith."

"An' that's e'en a dream of your own fool's head. What fee or bountith
am I to take from the son of your mother, that fed, clad, and bielded me
as if I had been a sister?"

"And well you repay it, nurse, leaving her only child at his utmost
need."

This seemed to strike the obstinate old woman with compunction. She
stopped and looked at her master and the minstrel alternately; then
shook her head, and seemed about to resume her motion towards the door.

"I only receive this poor wanderer under my roof," urged the smith, "to
save her from the prison and the scourge."

"And why should you save her?" said the inexorable Dame Shoolbred. "I
dare say she has deserved them both as well as ever thief deserved a
hempen collar."

"For aught I know she may or she may not. But she cannot deserve to be
scourged to death, or imprisoned till she is starved to death; and that
is the lot of them that the Black Douglas bears mal-talent against."

"And you are going to thraw the Black Douglas for the cake of a glee
woman? This will be the worst of your feuds yet. Oh, Henry Gow, there is
as much iron in your head as in your anvil!"

"I have sometimes thought this myself; Mistress Shoolbred; but if I do
get a cut or two on this new argument, I wonder who is to cure them, if
you run away from me like a scared wild goose? Ay, and, moreover, who is
to receive my bonny bride, that I hope to bring up the wynd one of these
days?"

"Ah, Harry--Harry," said the old woman, shaking her head, "this is not
the way to prepare an honest man's house for a young bride: you
should be guided by modesty and discretion, and not by chambering and
wantonness."

"I tell you again, this poor creature is nothing to me. I wish her only
to be safely taken care of; and I think the boldest Borderman in Perth
will respect the bar of my door as much as the gate of Carlisle Castle.
I am going down to Sim Glover's; I may stay there all night, for the
Highland cub is run back to the hills, like a wolf whelp as he is, and
so there is a bed to spare, and father Simon will make me welcome to
the use of it. You will remain with this poor creature, feed her, and
protect her during the night, and I will call on her before day; and
thou mayst go with her to the boat thyself an thou wilt, and so thou
wilt set the last eyes on her at the same time I shall."

"There is some reason in that," said Dame Shoolbred; "though why you
should put your reputation in risk for a creature that would find a
lodging for a silver twopence and less matter is a mystery to me."

"Trust me with that, old woman, and be kind to the girl."

"Kinder than she deserves, I warrant you; and truly, though I little
like the company of such cattle, yet I think I am less like to take harm
from her than you--unless she be a witch, indeed, which may well come
to be the case, as the devil is very powerful with all this wayfaring
clanjamfray."

"No more a witch than I am a warlock," said the honest smith: "a poor,
broken hearted thing, that, if she hath done evil, has dreed a sore
weird for it. Be kind to her. And you, my musical damsel, I will call
on you tomorrow morning, and carry you to the waterside. This old woman
will treat you kindly if you say nothing to her but what becomes honest
ears."

The poor minstrel had listened to this dialogue without understanding
more than its general tendency; for, though she spoke English well, she
had acquired the language in England itself; and the Northern dialect
was then, as now, of a broader and harsher character. She saw, however,
that she was to remain with the old lady, and meekly folding her arms
on her bosom, bent her head with humility. She next looked towards the
smith with a strong expression of thankfulness, then, raising her eyes
to heaven, took his passive hand, and seemed about to kiss the sinewy
fingers in token of deep and affectionate gratitude.

But Dame Shoolbred did not give license to the stranger's mode of
expressing her feelings. She thrust in between them, and pushing poor
Louise aside, said, "No--no, I'll have none of that work. Go into the
chimney nook, mistress, and when Harry Smith's gone, if you must have
hands to kiss, you shall kiss mine as long as you like. And you, Harry,
away down to Sim Glover's, for if pretty Mistress Catharine hears of the
company you have brought home, she may chance to like them as little
as I do. What's the matter now? is the man demented? are you going out
without your buckler, and the whole town in misrule?"

"You are right, dame," said the armourer; and, throwing the buckler over
his broad shoulders, he departed from his house without abiding farther
question.



CHAPTER XIII.

     How in the noon of night that pibroch thrills,
     Savage and shrill! But with the breath which fills
     Their mountain pipe, so fill the mountaineers
     With the fierce native daring which instils
     The stirring memory of a thousand years.

     BYRON.


We must now leave the lower parties in our historical drama, to attend
to the incidents which took place among those of a higher rank and
greater importance.

We pass from the hut of an armourer to the council room of a monarch,
and resume our story just when, the tumult beneath being settled, the
angry chieftains were summoned to the royal presence. They entered,
displeased with and lowering upon each other, each so exclusively filled
with his own fancied injuries as to be equally unwilling and unable
to attend to reason or argument. Albany alone, calm and crafty, seemed
prepared to use their dissatisfaction for his own purposes, and turn
each incident as it should occur to the furtherance of his own indirect
ends.

The King's irresolution, although it amounted even to timidity, did not
prevent his assuming the exterior bearing becoming his situation. It
was only when hard pressed, as in the preceding scene, that he lost his
apparent composure. In general, he might be driven from his purpose, but
seldom from his dignity of manner. He received Albany, Douglas, March,
and the prior, those ill assorted members of his motley council, with a
mixture of courtesy and loftiness, which reminded each haughty peer that
he stood in the presence of his sovereign, and compelled him to do the
beseeming reverence.

Having received their salutations, the King motioned them to be seated;
and they were obeying his commands when Rothsay entered. He walked
gracefully up to his father, and, kneeling at his footstool, requested
his blessing. Robert, with an aspect in which fondness and sorrow were
ill disguised, made an attempt to assume a look of reproof, as he laid
his hand on the youth's head and said, with a sigh, "God bless thee, my
thoughtless boy, and make thee a wiser man in thy future years!"

"Amen, my dearest father!" said Rothsay, in a tone of feeling such as
his happier moments often evinced. He then kissed the royal hand, with
the reverence of a son and a subject; and, instead of taking a place at
the council board, remained standing behind the King's chair, in such a
position that he might, when he chose, whisper into his father's ear.

The King next made a sign to the prior of St. Dominic to take his place
at the table, on which there were writing materials, which, of all the
subjects present, Albany excepted, the churchman was alone able to use.
The King then opened the purpose of their meeting by saying, with much
dignity:

"Our business, my lords, respected these unhappy dissensions in the
Highlands, which, we learn by our latest messengers, are about to
occasion the waste and destruction of the country, even within a few
miles of this our own court. But, near as this trouble is, our ill fate,
and the instigations of wicked men, have raised up one yet nearer, by
throwing strife and contention among the citizens of Perth and those
attendants who follow your lordships and others our knights and nobles.
I must first, therefore, apply to yourselves, my lords, to know why our
court is disturbed by such unseemly contendings, and by what means they
ought to be repressed? Brother of Albany, do you tell us first your
sentiments on this matter."

"Sir, our royal sovereign and brother," said the Duke, "being in
attendance on your Grace's person when the fray began, I am not
acquainted with its origin."

"And for me," said the Prince, "I heard no worse war cry than a minstrel
wench's ballad, and saw no more dangerous bolts flying than hazel nuts."

"And I," said the Earl of March, "could only perceive that the stout
citizens of Perth had in chase some knaves who had assumed the Bloody
Heart on their shoulders. They ran too fast to be actually the men of
the Earl of Douglas."

Douglas understood the sneer, but only replied to it by one of those
withering looks with which he was accustomed to intimate his mortal
resentment. He spoke, however, with haughty composure.

"My liege," he said, "must of course know it is Douglas who must
answer to this heavy charge, for when was there strife or bloodshed
in Scotland, but there were foul tongues to asperse a Douglas or
a Douglas's man as having given cause to them? We have here goodly
witnesses. I speak not of my Lord of Albany, who has only said that he
was, as well becomes him, by your Grace's side. And I say nothing of my
Lord of Rothsay, who, as befits his rank, years, and understanding, was
cracking nuts with a strolling musician. He smiles. Here he may say his
pleasure; I shall not forget a tie which he seems to have forgotten. But
here is my Lord of March, who saw my followers flying before the clowns
of Perth. I can tell that earl that the followers of the Bloody Heart
advance or retreat when their chieftain commands and the good of
Scotland requires."

"And I can answer--" exclaimed the equally proud Earl of March, his
blood rushing into his face, when the King interrupted him.

"Peace! angry lords," said the King, "and remember in whose presence you
stand. And you, my Lord of Douglas, tell us, if you can, the cause of
this mutiny, and why your followers, whose general good services we are
most willing to acknowledge, were thus active in private brawl."

"I obey, my lord," said Douglas, slightly stooping a head that seldom
bent. "I was passing from my lodgings in the Carthusian convent, through
the High Street of Perth, with a few of my ordinary retinue, when I
beheld some of the baser sort of citizens crowding around the Cross,
against which there was nailed this placard, and that which accompanies
it."

He took from a pocket in the bosom of his buff coat a human hand and a
piece of parchment. The King was shocked and agitated.

"Read," he said, "good father prior, and let that ghastly spectacle be
removed."

The prior read a placard to the following purpose:

"Inasmuch as the house of a citizen of Perth was assaulted last night,
being St. Valentine's Eve, by a sort of disorderly night walkers,
belonging to some company of the strangers now resident in the Fair
City; and whereas this hand was struck from one of the lawless limmers
in the fray that ensued, the provost and magistrates have directed that
it should be nailed to the Cross, in scorn and contempt of those by whom
such brawl was occasioned. And if any one of knightly degree shall say
that this our act is wrongfully done, I, Patrick Charteris of Kinfauns,
knight, will justify this cartel in knightly weapons, within the
barrace; or, if any one of meaner birth shall deny what is here said, he
shall be met with by a citizen of the Fair City of Perth, according to
his degree. And so God and St. John protect the Fair City!"

"You will not wonder, my lord," resumed Douglas, "that, when my almoner
had read to me the contents of so insolent a scroll, I caused one of
my squires to pluck down a trophy so disgraceful to the chivalry and
nobility of Scotland. Where upon, it seems some of these saucy burghers
took license to hoot and insult the hindmost of my train, who wheeled
their horses on them, and would soon have settled the feud, but for
my positive command that they should follow me in as much peace as the
rascally vulgar would permit. And thus they arrived here in the guise
of flying men, when, with my command to repel force by force, they might
have set fire to the four corners of this wretched borough, and stifled
the insolent churls, like malicious fox cubs in a burning brake of
furze."

There was a silence when Douglas had done speaking, until the Duke of
Rothsay answered, addressing his father:

"Since the Earl of Douglas possesses the power of burning the town where
your Grace holds your court, so soon as the provost and he differ about
a night riot, or the terms of a cartel, I am sure we ought all to be
thankful that he has not the will to do so."

"The Duke of Rothsay," said Douglas, who seemed resolved to maintain
command of his temper, "may have reason to thank Heaven in a more
serious tone than he now uses that the Douglas is as true as he is
powerful. This is a time when the subjects in all countries rise against
the law: we have heard of the insurgents of the Jacquerie in France; and
of Jack Straw, and Hob Miller, and Parson Ball, among the Southron;
and we may be sure there is fuel enough to catch such a flame, were it
spreading to our frontiers. When I see peasants challenging noblemen,
and nailing the hands of the gentry to their city cross, I will not say
I fear mutiny--for that would be false--but I foresee, and will stand
well prepared for, it."

"And why does my Lord Douglas say," answered the Earl of March, "that
this cartel has been done by churls? I see Sir Patrick Charteris's name
there, and he, I ween, is of no churl's blood. The Douglas himself,
since he takes the matter so warmly, might lift Sir Patrick's gauntlet
without soiling of his honour."

"My Lord of March," replied Douglas, "should speak but of what he
understands. I do no injustice to the descendant of the Red Rover,
when I say he is too slight to be weighed with the Douglas. The heir of
Thomas Randolph might have a better claim to his answer."

"And, by my honour, it shall not miss for want of my asking the grace,"
said the Earl of March, pulling his glove off.

"Stay, my lord," said the King. "Do us not so gross an injury as to
bring your feud to mortal defiance here; but rather offer your ungloved
hand in kindness to the noble earl, and embrace in token of your mutual
fealty to the crown of Scotland."

"Not so, my liege," answered March; "your Majesty may command me to
return my gauntlet, for that and all the armour it belongs to are
at your command, while I continue to hold my earldom of the crown of
Scotland; but when I clasp Douglas, it must be with a mailed hand.
Farewell, my liege. My counsels here avail not, nay, are so unfavourably
received, that perhaps farther stay were unwholesome for my safety. May
God keep your Highness from open enemies and treacherous friends! I am
for my castle of Dunbar, from whence I think you will soon hear news.
Farewell to you, my Lords of Albany and Douglas; you are playing a high
game, look you play it fairly. Farewell, poor thoughtless prince, who
art sporting like a fawn within spring of a tiger! Farewell, all--George
of Dunbar sees the evil he cannot remedy. Adieu, all."

The King would have spoken, but the accents died on his tongue, as he
received from Albany a look cautioning him to forbear. The Earl of March
left the apartment, receiving the mute salutations of the members of the
council whom he had severally addressed, excepting from Douglas alone,
who returned to his farewell speech a glance of contemptuous defiance.

"The recreant goes to betray us to the Southron," he said; "his pride
rests on his possessing that sea worn hold which can admit the English
into Lothian [the castle of Dunbar]. Nay, look not alarmed, my liege, I
will hold good what I say. Nevertheless, it is yet time. Speak but the
word, my liege--say but 'Arrest him,' and March shall not yet cross the
Earn on his traitorous journey."

"Nay, gallant earl," said Albany, who wished rather that the two
powerful lords should counterbalance each other than that one should
obtain a decisive superiority, "that were too hasty counsel. The Earl of
March came hither on the King's warrant of safe conduct, and it may
not consist with my royal brother's honour to break it. Yet, if your
lordship can bring any detailed proof--"

Here they were interrupted by a flourish of trumpets.

"His Grace of Albany is unwontedly scrupulous today," said Douglas;
"but it skills not wasting words--the time is past--these are March's
trumpets, and I warrant me he rides at flight speed so soon as he passes
the South Port. We shall hear of him in time; and if it be as I
have conjectured, he shall be met with though all England backed his
treachery."

"Nay, let us hope better of the noble earl," said the King, no way
displeased that the quarrel betwixt March and Douglas had seemed to
obliterate the traces of the disagreement betwixt Rothsay and his father
in law; "he hath a fiery, but not a sullen, temper. In some things he
has been--I will not say wronged, but disappointed--and something is to
be allowed to the resentment of high blood armed with great power. But
thank Heaven, all of us who remain are of one sentiment, and, I may say,
of one house; so that, at least, our councils cannot now be thwarted
with disunion. Father prior, I pray you take your writing materials,
for you must as usual be our clerk of council. And now to business,
my lords; and our first object of consideration must be this Highland
cumber."

"Between the Clan Chattan and the Clan Quhele," said the prior, "which,
as our last advices from our brethren at Dunkeld inform us, is ready
to break out into a more formidable warfare than has yet taken place
between these sons of Belial, who speak of nothing else than of utterly
destroying one another. Their forces are assembling on each side, and
not a man claiming in the tenth degree of kindred but must repair to the
brattach of his tribe, or stand to the punishment of fire and sword.
The fiery cross hath flitted about like a meteor in every direction, and
awakened strange and unknown tribes beyond the distant Moray Firth--may
Heaven and St. Dominic be our protection! But if your lordships cannot
find remedy for evil, it will spread broad and wide, and the patrimony
of the church must in every direction be exposed to the fury of these
Amalekites, with whom there is as little devotion to Heaven as there is
pity or love to their neighbour--may Our Lady be our guard! We hear some
of them are yet utter heathens, and worship Mahound and Termagaunt."

"My lords and kinsmen," said Robert, "ye have heard the urgency of this
case, and may desire to know my sentiments before you deliver what your
own wisdom shall suggest. And, in sooth, no better remedy occurs to me
than to send two commissioners, with full power from us to settle such
debates as be among them, and at the same time to charge them, as they
shall be answerable to the law, to lay down their arms, and forbear all
practices of violence against each other."

"I approve of your Grace's proposal," said Rothsay; "and I trust the
good prior will not refuse the venerable station of envoy upon
this peacemaking errand. And his reverend brother, the abbot of the
Carthusian convent, must contend for an honour which will certainly
add two most eminent recruits to the large army of martyrs, since the
Highlanders little regard the distinction betwixt clerk and layman in
the ambassadors whom you send to them."

"My royal Lord of Rothsay," said the prior, "if I am destined to the
blessed crown of martyrdom, I shall be doubtless directed to the path
by which I am to attain it. Meantime, if you speak in jest, may Heaven
pardon you, and give you light to perceive that it were better buckle
on your arms to guard the possessions of the church, so perilously
endangered, than to employ your wit in taunting her ministers and
servants."

"I taunt no one, father prior," said the youth, yawning; "Nor have
I much objection to taking arms, excepting that they are a somewhat
cumbrous garb, and in February a furred mantle is more suiting to the
weather than a steel corselet. And it irks me the more to put on cold
harness in this nipping weather, that, would but the church send a
detachment of their saints--and they have some Highland ones well known
in this district, and doubtless used to the climate--they might fight
their own battles, like merry St. George of England. But I know not how
it is, we hear of their miracles when they are propitiated, and of their
vengeance if any one trespasses on their patrimonies, and these are
urged as reasons for extending their lands by large largesses; and yet,
if there come down but a band of twenty Highlanders, bell, book, and
candle make no speed, and the belted baron must be fain to maintain the
church in possession of the lands which he has given to her, as much as
if he himself still enjoyed the fruits of them."

"Son David," said the King, "you give an undue license to your tongue."

"Nay, Sir, I am mute," replied the Prince. "I had no purpose to disturb
your Highness, or displease the father prior, who, with so many miracles
at his disposal, will not face, as it seems, a handful of Highland
caterans."

"We know," said the prior, with suppressed indignation, "from what
source these vile doctrines are derived, which we hear with horror from
the tongue that now utters them. When princes converse with heretics,
their minds and manners are alike corrupted. They show themselves in the
streets as the companions of maskers and harlots, and in the council as
the scorners of the church and of holy things."

"Peace, good father!" said the King. "Rothsay shall make amends for
what he has idly spoken. Alas! let us take counsel in friendly fashion,
rather than resemble a mutinous crew of mariners in a sinking vessel,
when each is more intent on quarrelling with his neighbours than in
assisting the exertions of the forlorn master for the safety of the
ship. My Lord of Douglas, your house has been seldom to lack when the
crown of Scotland desired either wise counsel or manly achievement; I
trust you will help us in this strait."

"I can only wonder that the strait should exist, my lord," answered
the haughty Douglas. "When I was entrusted with the lieutenancy of
the kingdom, there were some of these wild clans came down from the
Grampians. I troubled not the council about the matter, but made the
sheriff, Lord Ruthven, get to horse with the forces of the Carse--the
Hays, the Lindsays, the Ogilvies, and other gentlemen. By St. Bride!
When it was steel coat to frieze mantle, the thieves knew what lances
were good for, and whether swords had edges or no. There were some
three hundred of their best bonnets, besides that of their chief, Donald
Cormac, left on the moor of Thorn and in Rochinroy Wood; and as many
were gibbeted at Houghmanstares, which has still the name from the
hangman work that was done there. This is the way men deal with thieves
in my country; and if gentler methods will succeed better with these
Earish knaves, do not blame Douglas for speaking his mind. You smile,
my Lord of Rothsay. May I ask how I have a second time become your jest,
before I have replied to the first which you passed on me?"

"Nay, be not wrathful, my good Lord of Douglas," answered the Prince; "I
did but smile to think how your princely retinue would dwindle if every
thief were dealt with as the poor Highlanders at Houghmanstares."

The King again interfered, to prevent the Earl from giving an angry
reply.

"Your lordship," said he to Douglas, "advises wisely that we should
trust to arms when these men come out against our subjects on the fair
and level plan; but the difficulty is to put a stop to their disorders
while they continue to lurk within their mountains. I need not tell
you that the Clan Chattan and the Clan Quhele are great confederacies,
consisting each of various tribes, who are banded together, each to
support their own separate league, and who of late have had dissensions
which have drawn blood wherever they have met, whether individually or
in bands. The whole country is torn to pieces by their restless feuds."

"I cannot see the evil of this," said the Douglas: "the ruffians will
destroy each other, and the deer of the Highlands will increase as
the men diminish. We shall gain as hunters the exercise we lose as
warriors."

"Rather say that the wolves will increase as the men diminish," replied
the King.

"I am content," said Douglas: "better wild wolves than wild caterans.
Let there be strong forces maintained along the Earish frontier, to
separate the quiet from the disturbed country. Confine the fire of civil
war within the Highlands; let it spend its uncontrolled fury, and it
will be soon burnt out for want of fuel. The survivors will be humbled,
and will be more obedient to a whisper of your Grace's pleasure
than their fathers, or the knaves that now exist, have, been to your
strictest commands."

"This is wise but ungodly counsel," said the prior, shaking his head; "I
cannot take it upon my conscience to recommend it. It is wisdom, but it
is the wisdom of Achitophel, crafty at once and cruel."

"My heart tells me so," said the King, laying his hand on his
breast--"my heart tells me that it will be asked of me at the awful day,
'Robert Stuart, where are the subjects I have given thee?' It tells me
that I must account for them all, Saxon and Gael, Lowland, Highland, and
Border man; that I will not be required to answer for those alone who
have wealth and knowledge, but for those also who were robbers because
they were poor, and rebels because they were ignorant."

"Your Highness speaks like a Christian king," said the prior; "but you
bear the sword as well as the sceptre, and this present evil is of a
kind which the sword must cure."

"Hark ye, my lords," said the Prince, looking up as if a gay thought
had suddenly struck him. "Suppose we teach these savage mountaineers
a strain of chivalry? It were no hard matter to bring these two great
commanders, the captain of the Clan Chattan and the chief of the no less
doughty race of the Clan Quhele, to defy each other to mortal combat.
They might fight here in Perth--we would lend them horse and armour;
thus their feud would be stanched by the death of one, or probably both,
of the villains, for I think both would break their necks in the first
charge; my father's godly desire of saving blood would be attained; and
we should have the pleasure of seeing such a combat between two savage
knights, for the first time in their lives wearing breeches and mounted
on horses, as has not been heard of since the days of King Arthur."

"Shame upon you, David!" said the King. "Do you make the distress of
your native country, and the perplexity of our councils, a subject for
buffoonery?"

"If you will pardon me, royal brother," said Albany, "I think that,
though my princely nephew hath started this thought in a jocular manner,
there may be something wrought out of it, which might greatly remedy
this pressing evil."

"Good brother," replied the King, "it is unkind to expose Rothsay's
folly by pressing further his ill timed jest. We know the Highland clans
have not our customs of chivalry, nor the habit or mode of doing battle
which these require."

"True, your Grace," answered Albany; "yet I speak not in scorn, but in
serious earnest. True, the mountaineers have not our forms and mode of
doing battle in the lists, but they have those which are as effectual
to the destruction of human life, and so that the mortal game is played,
and the stake won and lost, what signifies it whether these Gael fight
with sword and lance, as becomes belted knights, or with sandbags, like
the crestless churls of England, or butcher each other with knives and
skenes, in their own barbarous fashion? Their habits, like our own,
refer all disputed rights and claims to the decision of battle. They
are as vain, too, as they are fierce; and the idea that these two clans
would be admitted to combat in presence of your Grace and of your
court will readily induce them to refer their difference to the fate of
battle, even were such rough arbitrement less familiar to their customs,
and that in any such numbers as shall be thought most convenient. We
must take care that they approach not the court, save in such a fashion
and number that they shall not be able to surprise us; and that point
being provided against, the more that shall be admitted to combat upon
either side, the greater will be the slaughter among their bravest and
most stirring men, and the more the chance of the Highlands being quiet
for some time to come."

"This were a bloody policy, brother," said the King; "and again I say,
that I cannot bring my conscience to countenance the slaughter of these
rude men, that are so little better than so many benighted heathens."

"And are their lives more precious," asked Albany, "than those of nobles
and gentlemen who by your Grace's license are so frequently admitted to
fight in barrace, either for the satisfying of disputes at law or simply
to acquire honour?"

The King, thus hard pressed, had little to say against a custom so
engrafted upon the laws of the realm and the usages of chivalry as the
trial by combat; and he only replied: "God knows, I have never granted
such license as you urge me with unless with the greatest repugnance;
and that I never saw men have strife together to the effusion of blood,
but I could have wished to appease it with the shedding of my own."

"But, my gracious lord," said the prior, "it seems that, if we follow
not some such policy as this of my Lord of Albany, we must have recourse
to that of the Douglas; and, at the risk of the dubious event of battle,
and with the certainty of losing many excellent subjects, do, by means
of the Lowland swords, that which these wild mountaineers will otherwise
perform with their own hand. What says my Lord of Douglas to the policy
of his Grace of Albany?"

"Douglas," said the haughty lord, "never counselled that to be done by
policy which might be attained by open force. He remains by his opinion,
and is willing to march at the head of his own followers, with those
of the barons of Perth shire and the Carse, and either bring these
Highlanders to reason or subjection, or leave the body of a Douglas
among their savage wildernesses."

"It is nobly spoken, my Lord of Douglas," said Albany; "and well might
the King rely upon thy undaunted heart and the courage of thy resolute
followers. But see you not how soon you may be called elsewhere, where
your presence and services are altogether indispensable to Scotland and
her monarch? Marked you not the gloomy tone in which the fiery March
limited his allegiance and faith to our sovereign here present to that
space for which he was to remain King Robert's vassal? And did not you
yourself suspect that he was plotting a transference of his allegiance
to England? Other chiefs, of subordinate power and inferior fame, may do
battle with the Highlanders; but if Dunbar admit the Percies and their
Englishmen into our frontiers, who will drive them back if the Douglas
be elsewhere?"

"My sword," answered Douglas, "is equally at the service of his Majesty
on the frontier or in the deepest recesses of the Highlands. I have seen
the backs of the proud Percy and George of Dunbar ere now, and I may
see them again. And, if it is the King's pleasure I should take measures
against this probable conjunction of stranger and traitor, I admit that,
rather than trust to an inferior or feebler hand the important task of
settling the Highlands, I would be disposed to give my opinion in favour
of the policy of my Lord of Albany, and suffer those savages to carve
each other's limbs, without giving barons and knights the trouble of
hunting them down."

"My Lord of Douglas," said the Prince, who seemed determined to omit no
opportunity to gall his haughty father in law, "does not choose to leave
to us Lowlanders even the poor crumbs of honour which might be gathered
at the expense of the Highland kerne, while he, with his Border
chivalry, reaps the full harvest of victory over the English. But Percy
hath seen men's backs as well as Douglas; and I have known as great
wonders as that he who goes forth to seek such wool should come back
shorn."

"A phrase," said Douglas, "well becoming a prince who speaks of honour
with a wandering harlot's scrip in his bonnet, by way of favor."

"Excuse it, my lord," said Rothsay: "men who have matched unfittingly
become careless in the choice of those whom they love par amours. The
chained dog must snatch at the nearest bone."

"Rothsay, my unhappy son!" exclaimed the King, "art thou mad? or
wouldst thou draw down on thee the full storm of a king and father's
displeasure?"

"I am dumb," returned the Prince, "at your Grace's command."

"Well, then, my Lord of Albany," said the King, "since such is your
advice, and since Scottish blood must flow, how, I pray you, are we to
prevail on these fierce men to refer their quarrel to such a combat as
you propose?"

"That, my liege," said Albany, "must be the result of more mature
deliberation. But the task will not be difficult. Gold will be needful
to bribe some of the bards and principal counsellors and spokesmen. The
chiefs, moreover, of both these leagues must be made to understand that,
unless they agree to this amicable settlement--"

"Amicable, brother!" said the King, with emphasis.

"Ay, amicable, my liege," replied his brother, "since it is better the
country were placed in peace, at the expense of losing a score or two of
Highland kernes, than remain at war till as many thousands are destroyed
by sword, fire, famine, and all the extremities of mountain battle.
To return to the purpose: I think that the first party to whom the
accommodation is proposed will snatch at it eagerly; that the other will
be ashamed to reject an offer to rest the cause on the swords of their
bravest men; that the national vanity, and factious hate to each other,
will prevent them from seeing our purpose in adopting such a rule of
decision; and that they will be more eager to cut each other to pieces
than we can be to halloo them on. And now, as our counsels are finished,
so far as I can aid, I will withdraw."

"Stay yet a moment," said the prior, "for I also have a grief to
disclose, of a nature so black and horrible, that your Grace's pious
heart will hardly credit its existence, and I state it mournfully,
because, as certain as that I am an unworthy servant of St. Dominic, it
is the cause of the displeasure of Heaven against this poor country, by
which our victories are turned into defeat, our gladness into mourning,
our councils distracted with disunion, and our country devoured by civil
war."

"Speak, reverend prior," said the King; "assuredly, if the cause of
such evils be in me or in my house, I will take instant care to their
removal."

He uttered these words with a faltering voice, and eagerly waited for
the prior's reply, in the dread, no doubt, that it might implicate
Rothsay in some new charge of folly or vice. His apprehensions perhaps
deceived him, when he thought he saw the churchman's eye rest for a
moment on the Prince, before he said, in a solemn tone, "Heresy, my
noble and gracious liege--heresy is among us. She snatches soul after
soul from the congregation, as wolves steal lambs from the sheep fold."

"There are enough of shepherds to watch the fold," answered the Duke of
Rothsay. "Here are four convents of regular monks alone around this poor
hamlet of Perth, and all the secular clergy besides. Methinks a town so
well garrisoned should be fit to keep out an enemy."

"One traitor in a garrison, my lord," answered the prior, "can do much
to destroy the security of a city which is guarded by legions; and if
that one traitor is, either from levity, or love of novelty, or whatever
other motive, protected and fostered by those who should be most eager
to expel him from the fortress, his opportunities of working mischief
will be incalculably increased."

"Your words seem to aim at some one in this presence, father prior,"
said the Douglas; "if at me, they do me foul wrong. I am well aware that
the abbot of Aberbrothock hath made some ill advised complaints, that
I suffered not his beeves to become too many for his pastures, or his
stock of grain to burst the girnels of the monastery, while my followers
lacked beef and their horses corn. But bethink you, the pastures and
cornfields which produced that plenty were bestowed by my ancestors
on the house of Aberbrothock, surely not with the purpose that their
descendant should starve in the midst of it; and neither will he, by St.
Bride! But for heresy and false doctrine," he added, striking his large
hand heavily on the council table, "who is it that dare tax the Douglas?
I would not have poor men burned for silly thoughts; but my hand and
sword are ever ready to maintain the Christian faith."

"My lord, I doubt it not," said the prior; "so hath it ever been with
your most noble house. For the abbot's complaints, they may pass to a
second day. But what we now desire is a commission to some noble lord of
state, joined to others of Holy Church, to support by strength of hand,
if necessary, the inquiries which the reverend official of the bounds,
and other grave prelates, my unworthy self being one, are about to make
into the cause of the new doctrines, which are now deluding the simple,
and depraving the pure and precious faith, approved by the Holy Father
and his reverend predecessors."

"Let the Earl of Douglas have a royal commission to this effect," said
Albany; "and let there be no exception whatever from his jurisdiction,
saving the royal person. For my own part, although conscious that I have
neither in act nor thought received or encouraged a doctrine which Holy
Church hath not sanctioned, yet I should blush to claim an immunity
under the blood royal of Scotland, lest I should seem to be seeking
refuge against a crime so horrible."

"I will have nought to do with it," said Douglas: "to march against
the English, and the Southron traitor March, is task enough for me.
Moreover, I am a true Scotsman, and will not give way to aught that may
put the Church of Scotland's head farther into the Roman yoke, or make
the baron's coronet stoop to the mitre and cowl. Do you, therefore, most
noble Duke of Albany, place your own name in the commission; and I pray
your Grace so to mitigate the zeal of the men of Holy Church who may
be associated with you, that there be no over zealous dealings; for the
smell of a fagot on the Tay would bring back the Douglas from the walls
of York."

The Duke hastened to give the Earl assurance that the commission should
be exercised with lenity and moderation.

"Without a question," said King Robert, "the commission must be ample;
and did it consist with the dignity of our crown, we would not ourselves
decline its jurisdiction. But we trust that, while the thunders of
the church are directed against the vile authors of these detestable
heresies, there shall be measures of mildness and compassion taken with
the unfortunate victims of their delusions."

"Such is ever the course of Holy Church, my lord," said the prior of St.
Dominic's.

"Why, then, let the commission be expedited with due care, in name of
our brother Albany, and such others as shall be deemed convenient," said
the King. "And now once again let us break up our council; and, Rothsay,
come thou with me, and lend me thine arm; I have matter for thy private
ear."

"Ho, la!" here exclaimed the Prince, in the tone in which he would have
addressed a managed horse.

"What means this rudeness, boy?" said the King; "wilt thou never learn
reason and courtesy?"

"Let me not be thought to offend, my liege," said the Prince; "but we
are parting without learning what is to be done in the passing strange
adventure of the dead hand, which the Douglas hath so gallantly taken
up. We shall sit but uncomfortably here at Perth, if we are at variance
with the citizens."

"Leave that to me," said Albany. "With some little grant of lands and
money, and plenty of fair words, the burghers may be satisfied for this
time; but it were well that the barons and their followers, who are in
attendance on the court, were warned to respect the peace within burgh."

"Surely, we would have it so," said the King; "let strict orders be
given accordingly."

"It is doing the churls but too much grace," said the Douglas; "but be
it at your Highness's pleasure. I take leave to retire."

"Not before you taste a flagon of Gascon wine, my lord?" said the King.

"Pardon," replied the Earl, "I am not athirst, and I drink not for
fashion, but either for need or for friendship." So saying, he departed.

The King, as if relieved by his absence, turned to Albany, and said:
"And now, my lord, we should chide this truant Rothsay of ours; yet he
hath served us so well at council, that we must receive his merits as
some atonement for his follies."

"I am happy to hear it," answered Albany, with a countenance of pity and
incredulity, as if he knew nothing of the supposed services.

"Nay, brother, you are dull," said the King, "for I will not think you
envious. Did you not note that Rothsay was the first to suggest the mode
of settling the Highlands, which your experience brought indeed into
better shape, and which was generally approved of; and even now we had
broken up, leaving a main matter unconsidered, but that he put us in
mind of the affray with the citizens?"

"I nothing doubt, my liege," said the Duke of Albany, with the
acquiescence which he saw was expected, "that my royal nephew will soon
emulate his father's wisdom."

"Or," said the Duke of Rothsay, "I may find it easier to borrow
from another member of my family that happy and comfortable cloak of
hypocrisy which covers all vices, and then it signifies little whether
they exist or not."

"My lord prior," said the Duke, addressing the Dominican, "we will for a
moment pray your reverence's absence. The King and I have that to say to
the Prince which must have no further audience, not even yours."

The Dominican bowed and withdrew.

When the two royal brothers and the Prince were left together, the King
seemed in the highest degree embarrassed and distressed, Albany sullen
and thoughtful, while Rothsay himself endeavoured to cover some anxiety
under his usual appearance of levity. There was a silence of a minute.
At length Albany spoke.

"Royal brother," he said, "my princely nephew entertains with so much
suspicion any admonition coming from my mouth, that I must pray your
Grace yourself to take the trouble of telling him what it is most
fitting he should know."

"It must be some unpleasing communication indeed, which my Lord of
Albany cannot wrap up in honied words," said the Prince.

"Peace with thine effrontery, boy," answered the King, passionately.
"You asked but now of the quarrel with the citizens. Who caused that
quarrel, David? What men were those who scaled the window of a peaceful
citizen and liege man, alarmed the night with torch and outcry, and
subjected our subjects to danger and affright?"

"More fear than danger, I fancy," answered the Prince; "but how can I of
all men tell who made this nocturnal disturbance?"

"There was a follower of thine own there," continued the King--"a man of
Belial, whom I will have brought to condign punishment."

"I have no follower, to my knowledge, capable of deserving your
Highness's displeasure," answered the Prince.

"I will have no evasions, boy. Where wert thou on St. Valentine's Eve?"

"It is to be hoped that I was serving the good saint, as a man of mould
might," answered the young man, carelessly.

"Will my royal nephew tell us how his master of the horse was employed
upon that holy eve?" said the Duke of Albany.

"Speak, David; I command thee to speak," said the King.

"Ramorny was employed in my service, I think that answer may satisfy my
uncle."

"But it will not satisfy me," said the angry father. "God knows, I never
coveted man's blood, but that Ramorny's head I will have, if law can
give it. He has been the encourager and partaker of all thy numerous
vices and follies. I will take care he shall be so no more. Call
MacLouis, with a guard."

"Do not injure an innocent man," interposed the Prince, desirous at
every sacrifice to preserve his favourite from the menaced danger: "I
pledge my word that Ramorny was employed in business of mine, therefore
could not be engaged in this brawl."

"False equivocator that thou art!" said the King, presenting to the
Prince a ring, "behold the signet of Ramorny, lost in the infamous
affray! It fell into the hands of a follower of the Douglas, and was
given by the Earl to my brother. Speak not for Ramorny, for he dies; and
go thou from my presence, and repent the flagitious counsels which could
make thee stand before me with a falsehood in thy mouth. Oh, shame,
David--shame! as a son thou hast lied to thy father, as a knight to the
head of thy order."

The Prince stood mute, conscience struck, and self convicted. He then
gave way to the honourable feelings which at bottom he really possessed,
and threw himself at his father's feet.

"The false knight," he said, "deserves degradation, the disloyal subject
death; but, oh! let the son crave from the father pardon for the servant
who did not lead him into guilt, but who reluctantly plunged himself
into it at his command. Let me bear the weight of my own folly, but
spare those who have been my tools rather than my accomplices. Remember,
Ramorny was preferred to my service by my sainted mother."

"Name her not, David, I charge thee," said the King; "she is happy that
she never saw the child of her love stand before her doubly dishonoured
by guilt and by falsehood."

"I am indeed unworthy to name her," said the Prince; "and yet, my dear
father, in her name I must petition for Ramorny's life."

"If I might offer my counsel," said the Duke of Albany, who saw that
a reconciliation would soon take place betwixt the father and son, "I
would advise that Ramorny be dismissed from the Prince's household and
society, with such further penalty as his imprudence may seem to merit.
The public will be contented with his disgrace, and the matter will be
easily accommodated or stifled, so that his Highness do not attempt to
screen his servant."

"Wilt thou, for my sake, David," said the King, with a faltering voice
and the tear in his eye, "dismiss this dangerous man?--for my sake, who
could not refuse thee the heart out of my bosom?"

"It shall be done, my father--done instantly," the Prince replied; and
seizing the pen, he wrote a hasty dismissal of Ramorny from his service,
and put it into Albany's hands. "I would I could fulfil all your wishes
as easily, my royal father," he added, again throwing himself at the
King's feet, who raised him up and fondly folded him in his arms.

Albany scowled, but was silent; and it was not till after the space of a
minute or two that he said: "This matter being so happily accommodated,
let me ask if your Majesty is pleased to attend the evensong service in
the chapel?"

"Surely," said the King. "Have I not thanks to pay to God, who has
restored union to my family? You will go with us, brother?"

"So please your Grace to give me leave of absence--no," said the Duke.
"I must concert with the Douglas and others the manner in which we may
bring these Highland vultures to our lure."

Albany retired to think over his ambitious projects, while the
father and son attended divine service, to thank God for their happy
reconciliation.



CHAPTER XIV.

     Will you go to the Hielands, Lizzy Lyndesay,
     Will you go the Hielands wi' me?
     Will you go to the Hielands, Lizzy Lyndesay,
     My bride and my darling to be?

     Old Ballad.


A former chapter opened in the royal confessional; we are now to
introduce our readers to a situation somewhat similar, though the
scene and persons were very different. Instead of a Gothic and darkened
apartment in a monastery, one of the most beautiful prospects in
Scotland lay extended beneath the hill of Kinnoul, and at the foot of
a rock which commanded the view in every direction sat the Fair Maid of
Perth, listening in an attitude of devout attention to the instructions
of a Carthusian monk, in his white gown and scapular, who concluded his
discourse with prayer, in which his proselyte devoutly joined.

When they had finished their devotions, the priest sat for some time
with his eyes fixed on the glorious prospect, of which even the early
and chilly season could not conceal the beauties, and it was some time
ere he addressed his attentive companion.

"When I behold," he said at length, "this rich and varied land, with its
castles, churches, convents, stately palaces, and fertile fields, these
extensive woods, and that noble river, I know not, my daughter, whether
most to admire the bounty of God or the ingratitude of man. He hath
given us the beauty and fertility of the earth, and we have made the
scene of his bounty a charnel house and a battlefield. He hath given
us power over the elements, and skill to erect houses for comfort and
defence, and we have converted them into dens for robbers and ruffians."

"Yet, surely, my father, there is room for comfort," replied Catharine,
"even in the very prospect we look upon. Yonder four goodly convents,
with their churches, and their towers, which tell the citizens with
brazen voice that they should think on their religious duties; their
inhabitants, who have separated themselves from the world, its pursuits
and its pleasures, to dedicate themselves to the service of Heaven--all
bear witness that, if Scotland be a bloody and a sinful land, she is
yet alive and sensible to the claims which religion demands of the human
race."

"Verily, daughter," answered the priest, "what you say seems truth; and
yet, nearly viewed, too much of the comfort you describe will be found
delusive. It is true, there was a period in the Christian world when
good men, maintaining themselves by the work of their hands, assembled
together, not that they might live easily or sleep softly, but that
they might strengthen each other in the Christian faith, and qualify
themselves to be teachers of the Word to the people. Doubtless there are
still such to be found in the holy edifices on which we now look. But it
is to be feared that the love of many has waxed cold. Our churchmen have
become wealthy, as well by the gifts of pious persons as by the bribes
which wicked men have given in their ignorance, imagining that they can
purchase that pardon by endowments to the church which Heaven has only
offered to sincere penitents. And thus, as the church waxeth rich, her
doctrines have unhappily become dim and obscure, as a light is less
seen if placed in a lamp of chased gold than beheld through a screen
of glass. God knows, if I see these things and mark them, it is from no
wish of singularity or desire to make myself a teacher in Israel; but
because the fire burns in my bosom, and will not permit me to be
silent. I obey the rules of my order, and withdraw not myself from
its austerities. Be they essential to our salvation, or be they mere
formalities, adopted to supply the want of real penitence and sincere
devotion, I have promised, nay, vowed, to observe them; and they shall
be respected by me the more, that otherwise I might be charged with
regarding my bodily ease, when Heaven is my witness how lightly I value
what I may be called on to act or suffer, if the purity of the church
could be restored, or the discipline of the priesthood replaced in its
primitive simplicity."

"But, my father," said Catharine, "even for these opinions men term
you a Lollard and a Wickliffite, and say it is your desire to destroy
churches and cloisters, and restore the religion of heathenesse."

"Even so, my daughter, am I driven to seek refuge in hills and rocks,
and must be presently contented to take my flight amongst the rude
Highlanders, who are thus far in a more gracious state than those
I leave behind me, that theirs are crimes of ignorance, not of
presumption. I will not omit to take such means of safety and escape
from their cruelty as Heaven may open to me; for, while such appear, I
shall account it a sign that I have still a service to accomplish. But
when it is my Master's pleasure, He knows how willingly Clement Blair
will lay down a vilified life upon earth, in humble hope of a blessed
exchange hereafter. But wherefore dost thou look northward so anxiously,
my child? Thy young eyes are quicker than mine--dost thou see any one
coming?"

"I look, father, for the Highland youth, Conachar, who will be thy
guide to the hills, where his father can afford thee a safe, if a rude,
retreat. This he has often promised, when we spoke of you and of your
lessons. I fear he is now in company where he will soon forget them."

"The youth hath sparkles of grace in him," said Father Clement;
"although those of his race are usually too much devoted to their own
fierce and savage customs to endure with patience either the restraints
of religion or those of the social law. Thou hast never told me,
daughter, how, contrary to all the usages either of the burgh or of the
mountains, this youth came to reside in thy father's house?"

"All I know touching that matter," said Catharine, "is, that his father
is a man of consequence among those hill men, and that he desired as a
favour of my father, who hath had dealings with them in the way of his
merchandise, to keep this youth for a certain time, and that it is only
two days since they parted, as Conachar was to return home to his own
mountains."

"And why has my daughter," demanded the priest, "maintained such a
correspondence with this Highland youth, that she should know how to
send for him when she desired to use his services in my behalf? Surely,
this is much influence for a maiden to possess over such a wild colt as
this youthful mountaineer."

Catharine blushed, and answered with hesitation: "If I have had any
influence with Conachar, Heaven be my witness, I have only exerted it to
enforce upon his fiery temper compliance with the rules of civil life.
It is true, I have long expected that you, my father, would be obliged
to take to flight, and I therefore had agreed with him that he should
meet me at this place as soon as he should receive a message from
me with a token, which I yesterday despatched. The messenger was a
lightfooted boy of his own clan, whom he used sometimes to send on
errands into the Highlands."

"And am I then to understand, daughter, that this youth, so fair to the
eye, was nothing more dear to you than as you desired to enlighten his
mind and reform his manners?"

"It is so, my father, and no otherwise," answered Catharine; "and
perhaps I did not do well to hold intimacy with him, even for his
instruction and improvement. But my discourse never led farther."

"Then have I been mistaken, my daughter; for I thought I had seen in
thee of late some change of purpose, and some wishful regards looking
back to this world, of which you were at one time resolved to take
leave."

Catharine hung down her head and blushed more deeply than ever as she
said: "Yourself, father, were used to remonstrate against my taking the
veil."

"Nor do I now approve of it, my child," said the priest. "Marriage is an
honourable state, appointed by Heaven as the regular means of continuing
the race of man; and I read not in the Scriptures what human inventions
have since affirmed concerning the superior excellence of a state of
celibacy. But I am jealous of thee, my child, as a father is of his only
daughter, lest thou shouldst throw thyself away upon some one unworthy
of thee. Thy parent, I know, less nice in thy behalf than I am,
countenances the addresses of that fierce and riotous reveller whom they
call Henry of the Wynd. He is rich it may be; but a haunter of idle and
debauched company--a common prizefighter, who has shed human blood like
water. Can such a one be a fit mate for Catharine Glover? And yet report
says they are soon to be united."

The Fair Maid of Perth's complexion changed from red to pale, and from
pale to red, as she hastily replied: "I think not of him; though it is
true some courtesies have passed betwixt us of late, both as he is my
father's friend and as being according to the custom of the time, my
Valentine."

"Your Valentine, my child!" said Father Clement. "And can your modesty
and prudence have trifled so much with the delicacy of your sex as to
place yourself in such a relation to such a man as this artificer? Think
you that this Valentine, a godly saint and Christian bishop, as he is
said to have been, ever countenanced a silly and unseemly custom, more
likely to have originated in the heathen worship of Flora or Venus,
when mortals gave the names of deities to their passions; and studied to
excite instead of restraining them?"

"Father," said Catharine, in a tone of more displeasure than she had
ever before assumed to the Carthusian, "I know not upon what ground you
tax me thus severely for complying with a general practice, authorised
by universal custom and sanctioned by my father's authority. I cannot
feel it kind that you put such misconstruction upon me."

"Forgive me, daughter," answered the priest, mildly, "if I have given
you offence. But this Henry Gow, or Smith, is a forward, licentious
man, to whom you cannot allow any uncommon degree of intimacy
and encouragement, without exposing yourself to worse
misconstruction--unless, indeed, it be your purpose to wed him, and that
very shortly."

"Say no more of it, my father," said Catharine. "You give me more pain
than you would desire to do; and I may be provoked to answer otherwise
than as becomes me. Perhaps I have already had cause enough to make
me repent my compliance with an idle custom. At any rate, believe that
Henry Smith is nothing to me, and that even the idle intercourse arising
from St. Valentine's Day is utterly broken off."

"I am rejoiced to hear it, my daughter," replied the Carthusian, "and
must now prove you on another subject, which renders me most anxious on
your behalf. You cannot your self be ignorant of it, although I could
wish it were not necessary to speak of a thing so dangerous, even,
before these surrounding rocks, cliffs, and stones. But it must be said.
Catharine, you have a lover in the highest rank of Scotland's sons of
honour?"

"I know it, father," answered Catharine, composedly. "I would it were
not so."

"So would I also," said the priest, "did I see in my daughter only the
child of folly, which most young women are at her age, especially if
possessed of the fatal gift of beauty. But as thy charms, to speak the
language of an idle world, have attached to thee a lover of such high
rank, so I know that thy virtue and wisdom will maintain the influence
over the Prince's mind which thy beauty hath acquired."

"Father," replied Catharine, "the Prince is a licentious gallant, whose
notice of me tends only to my disgrace and ruin. Can you, who seemed
but now afraid that I acted imprudently in entering into an ordinary
exchange of courtesies with one of my own rank, speak with patience of
the sort of correspondence which the heir of Scotland dares to fix
upon me? Know that it is but two nights since he, with a party of his
debauched followers, would have carried me by force from my father's
house, had I not been rescued by that same rash spirited Henry Smith,
who, if he be too hasty in venturing on danger on slight occasion, is
always ready to venture his life in behalf of innocence or in resistance
of oppression. It is well my part to do him that justice."

"I should know something of that matter," said the monk, "since it was
my voice that sent him to your assistance. I had seen the party as I
passed your door, and was hastening to the civil power in order to raise
assistance, when I perceived a man's figure coming slowly towards me.
Apprehensive it might be one of the ambuscade, I stepped behind the
buttresses of the chapel of St. John, and seeing from a nearer view
that it was Henry Smith, I guessed which way he was bound, and raised my
voice, in an exhortation which made him double his speed."

"I am beholden to you, father," said Catharine; "but all this, and the
Duke of Rothsay's own language to me, only show that the Prince is a
profligate young man, who will scruple no extremities which may promise
to gratify an idle passion, at whatever expense to its object. His
emissary, Ramorny, has even had the insolence to tell me that my father
shall suffer for it if I dare to prefer being the wife of an honest man
to becoming the loose paramour of a married prince. So I see no other
remedy than to take the veil, or run the risk of my own ruin and my poor
father's. Were there no other reason, the terror of these threats,
from a man so notoriously capable of keeping his word, ought as much to
prevent my becoming the bride of any worthy man as it should prohibit me
from unlatching his door to admit murderers. Oh, good father, what a lot
is mine! and how fatal am I likely to prove to my affectionate parent,
and to any one with whom I might ally my unhappy fortunes!"

"Be yet of good cheer, my daughter," said the monk; "there is comfort
for thee even in this extremity of apparent distress. Ramorny is a
villain, and abuses the ear of his patron. The Prince is unhappily a
dissipated and idle youth; but, unless my grey hairs have been strangely
imposed on, his character is beginning to alter. He hath been awakened
to Ramorny's baseness, and deeply regrets having followed his evil
advice. I believe, nay, I am well convinced, that his passion for you
has assumed a nobler and purer character, and that the lessons he has
heard from me on the corruptions of the church and of the times will, if
enforced from your lips, sink deeply into his heart, and perhaps produce
fruits for the world to wonder as well as rejoice at. Old prophecies
have said that Rome shall fall by the speech of a woman."

"These are dreams, father," said Catharine--"the visions of one whose
thoughts are too much on better things to admit his thinking justly
upon the ordinary affairs of Perth. When we have looked long at the sun,
everything else can only be seen indistinctly."

"Thou art over hasty, my daughter," said Clement, "and thou shalt be
convinced of it. The prospects which I am to open to thee were unfit to
be exposed to one of a less firm sense of virtue, or a more ambitious
temper. Perhaps it is not fit that, even to you, I should display them;
but my confidence is strong in thy wisdom and thy principles. Know,
then, that there is much chance that the Church of Rome will dissolve
the union which she has herself formed, and release the Duke of Rothsay
from his marriage with Marjory Douglas."

Here he paused.

"And if the church hath power and will to do this," replied the maiden,
"what influence can the divorce of the Duke from his wife produce on the
fortunes of Catharine Glover?"

She looked at the priest anxiously as she spoke, and he had some
apparent difficulty in framing his reply, for he looked on the ground
while he answered her.

"What did beauty do for Catharine Logie? Unless our fathers have told us
falsely, it raised her to share the throne of David Bruce."

"Did she live happy or die regretted, good father?" asked Catharine, in
the same calm and steady tone.

"She formed her alliance from temporal, and perhaps criminal, ambition,"
replied Father Clement; "and she found her reward in vanity and vexation
of spirit. But had she wedded with the purpose that the believing wife
should convert the unbelieving, or confirm the doubting, husband, what
then had been her reward? Love and honour upon earth, and an inheritance
in Heaven with Queen Margaret and those heroines who have been the
nursing mothers of the church."

Hitherto Catharine had sat upon a stone beside the priest's feet, and
looked up to him as she spoke or listened; but now, as if animated
by calm, yet settled, feelings of disapprobation, she rose up, and,
extending her hand towards the monk as she spoke, addressed him with
a countenance and voice which might have become a cherub, pitying,
and even as much as possible sparing, the feelings of the mortal whose
errors he is commissioned to rebuke.

"And is it even so?" she said, "and can so much of the wishes, hopes,
and prejudices of this vile world affect him who may be called tomorrow
to lay down his life for opposing the corruptions of a wicked age and
backsliding priesthood? Can it be the severely virtuous Father Clement
who advises his child to aim at, or even to think of, the possession of
a throne and a bed which cannot become vacant but by an act of crying
injustice to the present possessor? Can it be the wise reformer of
the church who wishes to rest a scheme, in itself so unjust, upon
a foundation so precarious? Since when is it, good father, that the
principal libertine has altered his morals so much, to be likely to
court in honourable fashion the daughter of a Perth artisan? Two days
must have wrought this change; for only that space has passed since he
was breaking into my father's house at midnight, with worse mischief in
his mind than that of a common robber. And think you that, if Rothsay's
heart could dictate so mean a match, he could achieve such a purpose
without endangering both his succession and his life, assailed by the
Douglas and March at the same time, for what they must receive as an act
of injury and insult to both their houses? Oh! Father Clement, where
was your principle, where your prudence, when they suffered you to
be bewildered by so strange a dream, and placed the meanest of your
disciples in the right thus to reproach you?"

The old man's eyes filled with tears, as Catharine, visibly and
painfully affected by what she had said, became at length silent.

"By the mouths of babes and sucklings," he said, "hath He rebuked those
who would seem wise in their generation. I thank Heaven, that hath
taught me better thoughts than my own vanity suggested, through the
medium of so kind a monitress. Yes, Catharine, I must not hereafter
wonder or exclaim when I see those whom I have hitherto judged too
harshly struggling for temporal power, and holding all the while the
language of religious zeal. I thank thee, daughter, for thy salutary
admonition, and I thank Heaven that sent it by thy lips, rather than
those of a stern reprover."

Catharine had raised her head to reply, and bid the old man, whose
humiliation gave her pain, be comforted, when her eyes were arrested
by an object close at hand. Among the crags and cliffs which surrounded
this place of seclusion, there were two which stood in such close
contiguity, that they seemed to have been portions of the same rock,
which, rendered by lightning or by an earthquake, now exhibited a chasm
of about four feet in breadth, betwixt the masses of stone. Into this
chasm an oak tree had thrust itself, in one of the fantastic frolics
which vegetation often exhibits in such situations. The tree, stunted
and ill fed, had sent its roots along the face of the rock in all
directions to seek for supplies, and they lay like military lines of
communication, contorted, twisted, and knotted like the immense snakes
of the Indian archipelago. As Catharine's look fell upon the curious
complication of knotty branches and twisted roots, she was suddenly
sensible that two large eyes were visible among them, fixed and glaring
at her, like those of a wild animal in ambush. She started, and, without
speaking, pointed out the object to her companion, and looking herself
with more strict attention, could at length trace out the bushy red
hair and shaggy beard, which had hitherto been concealed by the drooping
branches and twisted roots of the tree.

When he saw himself discovered, the Highlander, for such he proved,
stepped forth from his lurking place, and, stalking forward, displayed
a colossal person, clothed in a purple, red, and green checked plaid,
under which he wore a jacket of bull's hide. His bow and arrows were at
his back, his head was bare, and a large quantity of tangled locks, like
the glibbs of the Irish, served to cover the head, and supplied all the
purposes of a bonnet. His belt bore a sword and dagger, and he had in
his hand a Danish pole axe, more recently called a Lochaber axe. Through
the same rude portal advanced, one by one, four men more, of similar
size, and dressed and armed in the same manner.

Catharine was too much accustomed to the appearance of the inhabitants
of the mountains so near to Perth to permit herself to be alarmed, as
another Lowland maiden might have been on the same occasion. She saw
with tolerable composure these gigantic forms arrange themselves in a
semicircle around and in front of the monk and herself, all bending upon
them in silence their large fixed eyes, expressing, as far as she could
judge, a wild admiration of her beauty. She inclined her head to them,
and uttered imperfectly the usual words of a Highland salutation. The
elder and leader of the party returned the greeting, and then again
remained silent and motionless. The monk told his beads; and even
Catharine began to have strange fears for her personal safety, and
anxiety to know whether they were to consider themselves at personal
freedom. She resolved to make the experiment, and moved forward as if
to descend the hill; but when she attempted to pass the line of
Highlanders, they extended their poleaxes betwixt each other, so as
effectually to occupy each opening through which she could have passed.

Somewhat disconcerted, yet not dismayed, for she could not conceive that
any evil was intended, she sat down upon one of the scattered fragments
of rock, and bade the monk, standing by her side, be of good courage.

"If I fear," said Father Clement, "it is not for myself; for whether I
be brained with the axes of these wild men, like an ox when, worn out
by labour, he is condemned to the slaughter, or whether I am bound with
their bowstrings, and delivered over to those who will take my life with
more cruel ceremony, it can but little concern me, if they suffer thee,
dearest daughter, to escape uninjured."

"We have neither of us," replied the Maiden of Perth, "any cause for
apprehending evil; and here comes Conachar to assure us of it."

Yet, as she spoke, she almost doubted her own eyes; so altered were
the manner and attire of the handsome, stately, and almost splendidly
dressed youth who, springing like a roebuck from a cliff of considerable
height, lighted just in front of her. His dress was of the same tartan
worn by those who had first made their appearance, but closed at the
throat and elbows with a necklace and armlets of gold. The hauberk which
he wore over his person was of steel, but so clearly burnished that it
shone like silver. His arms were profusely ornamented, and his bonnet,
besides the eagle's feather marking the quality of chief, was adorned
with a chain of gold, wrapt several times around it, and secured by a
large clasp, glistening with pearls. His brooch, by which the tartan
mantle, or plaid, as it is now called, was secured on the shoulder, was
also of gold, large and curiously carved. He bore no weapon in his hand,
excepting a small sapling stick with a hooked head. His whole appearance
and gait, which used formerly to denote a sullen feeling of conscious
degradation, was now bold, forward, and haughty; and he stood before
Catharine with smiling confidence, as if fully conscious of his improved
appearance, and waiting till she should recognise him.

"Conachar," said Catharine, desirous to break this state of suspense,
"are these your father's men?"

"No, fair Catharine," answered the young man. "Conachar is no more,
unless in regard to the wrongs he has sustained, and the vengeance
which they demand. I am Ian Eachin MacIan, son to the chief of the Clan
Quhele. I have moulted my feathers, as you see, when I changed my name.
And for these men, they are not my father's followers, but mine. You
see only one half of them collected: they form a band consisting of my
foster father and eight sons, who are my bodyguard, and the children of
my belt, who breathe but to do my will. But Conachar," he added, in a
softer tone of voice, "lives again so soon as Catharine desires to see
him; and while he is the young chief of the Clan Quhele to all others,
he is to her as humble and obedient as when he was Simon Glover's
apprentice. See, here is the stick I had from you when we nutted
together in the sunny braes of Lednoch, when autumn was young in the
year that is gone. I would not exchange it, Catharine, for the truncheon
of my tribe."

While Eachin thus spoke, Catharine began to doubt in her own mind
whether she had acted prudently in requesting the assistance of a bold
young man, elated, doubtless, by his sudden elevation from a state of
servitude to one which she was aware gave him extensive authority over a
very lawless body of adherents.

"You do not fear me, fair Catharine?" said the young chief, taking her
hand. "I suffered my people to appear before you for a few minutes,
that I might see how you could endure their presence; and methinks you
regarded them as if you were born to be a chieftain's wife."

"I have no reason to fear wrong from Highlanders," said Catharine,
firmly; "especially as I thought Conachar was with them. Conachar has
drunk of our cup and eaten of our bread; and my father has often had
traffic with Highlanders, and never was there wrong or quarrel betwixt
him and them."

"No?" replied Hector, for such is the Saxon equivalent for Eachin,
"what! never when he took the part of the Gow Chrom (the bandy legged
smith) against Eachin MacIan? Say nothing to excuse it, and believe it
will be your own fault if I ever again allude to it. But you had some
command to lay upon me; speak, and you shall be obeyed."

Catharine hastened to reply; for there was something in the young
chief's manner and language which made her desire to shorten the
interview.

"Eachin," she said, "since Conachar is no longer your name, you ought
to be sensible that in claiming, as I honestly might, a service from my
equal, I little thought that I was addressing a person of such superior
power and consequence. You, as well as I, have been obliged to the
religious instruction of this good man. He is now in great danger:
wicked men have accused him with false charges, and he is desirous to
remain in safety and concealment till the storm shall pass away."

"Ha! the good clerk Clement! Ay, the worthy clerk did much for me, and
more than my rugged temper was capable to profit by. I will be glad to
see any one in the town of Perth persecute one who hath taken hold of
MacIan's mantle!"

"It may not be safe to trust too much to that," said Catharine. "I
nothing doubt the power of your tribe; but when the Black Douglas takes
up a feud, he is not to be scared by the shaking of a Highland plaid."

The Highlander disguised his displeasure at this speech with a forced
laugh.

"The sparrow," he said, "that is next the eye seems larger than the
eagle that is perched on Bengoile. You fear the Douglasses most, because
they sit next to you. But be it as you will. You will not believe how
wide our hills, and vales, and forests extend beyond the dusky barrier
of yonder mountains, and you think all the world lies on the banks of
the Tay. But this good clerk shall see hills that could hide him were
all the Douglasses on his quest--ay, and he shall see men enough also
to make them glad to get once more southward of the Grampians. And
wherefore should you not go with the good man? I will send a party to
bring him in safety from Perth, and we will set up the old trade beyond
Loch Tay--only no more cutting out of gloves for me. I will find your
father in hides, but I will not cut them, save when they are on the
creatures' backs."

"My father will come one day and see your housekeeping, Conachar--I
mean, Hector. But times must be quieter, for there is feud between the
townspeople and the followers of the noblemen, and there is speech of
war about to break out in the Highlands."

"Yes, by Our Lady, Catharine! and were it not for that same Highland
war, you should nor thus put off your Highland visit, my pretty
mistress. But the race of the hills are no longer to be divided into two
nations. They will fight like men for the supremacy, and he who gets it
will deal with the King of Scotland as an equal, not as a superior. Pray
that the victory may fall to MacIan, my pious St. Catharine, for thou
shalt pray for one who loves thee dearly."

"I will pray for the right," said Catharine; "or rather, I will pray
that there be peace on all sides. Farewell, kind and excellent Father
Clement. Believe I shall never forget thy lessons; remember me in thy
prayers. But how wilt thou be able to sustain a journey so toilsome?"

"They shall carry him if need be," said Hector, "if we go far without
finding a horse for him. But you, Catharine--it is far from hence to
Perth. Let me attend you thither as I was wont."

"If you were as you were wont, I would not refuse your escort. But gold
brooches and bracelets are perilous company, when the Liddesdale and
Annandale lancers are riding as throng upon the highway as the leaves
at Hallowmass; and there is no safe meeting betwixt Highland tartans and
steel jackets."

She hazarded this remark, as she somewhat suspected that, in casting his
slough, young Eachin had not entirely surmounted the habits which he had
acquired in his humbler state, and that, though he might use bold words,
he would not be rash enough to brave the odds of numbers, to which a
descent into the vicinity of the city would be likely to expose him. It
appeared that she judged correctly; for, after a farewell, in which she
compounded for the immunity of her lips by permitting him to kiss her
hand, she returned towards Perth, and could obtain at times, when
she looked back, an occasional glance of the Highlanders, as, winding
through the most concealed and impracticable paths, they bent their way
towards the North.

She felt in part relieved from her immediate anxiety, as the distance
increased betwixt her and these men, whose actions were only directed by
the will of their chief, and whose chief was a giddy and impetuous boy.
She apprehended no insult on her return to Perth from the soldiery of
any party whom she might meet; for the rules of chivalry were in those
days a surer protection to a maiden of decent appearance than an escort
of armed men, whose cognizance might not be acknowledged as friendly
by any other party whom they might chance to encounter. But more remote
dangers pressed on her apprehension. The pursuit of the licentious
Prince was rendered formidable by threats which his unprincipled
counsellor, Ramorny, had not shunned to utter against her father, if she
persevered in her coyness. These menaces, in such an age, and from such
a character, were deep grounds for alarm; nor could she consider the
pretensions to her favour which Conachar had scarce repressed during his
state of servitude, and seemed now to avow boldly, as less fraught with
evil, since there had been repeated incursions of the Highlanders into
the very town of Perth, and citizens had, on more occasions than one,
been made prisoners and carried off from their own houses, or had fallen
by the claymore in the very streets of their city. She feared, too, her
father's importunity on behalf of the smith, of whose conduct on St.
Valentine's Day unworthy reports had reached her; and whose suit, had
he stood clear in her good opinion, she dared not listen to, while
Ramorny's threats of revenge upon her father rung on her ear. She
thought on these various dangers with the deepest apprehension, and an
earnest desire to escape from them and herself, by taking refuge in the
cloister; but saw no possibility of obtaining her father's consent to
the only course from which she expected peace and protection.

In the course of these reflections, we cannot discover that she very
distinctly regretted that her perils attended her because she was the
Fair Maid of Perth. This was one point which marked that she was not
yet altogether an angel; and perhaps it was another that, in despite of
Henry Smith's real or supposed delinquencies, a sigh escaped from her
bosom when she thought upon St. Valentine's dawn.



CHAPTER XV.

     Oh, for a draught of power to steep
     The soul of agony in sleep!

     Bertha.


We have shown the secrets of the confessional; those of the sick
chamber are not hidden from us. The darkened apartment, where salves and
medicines showed that the leech had been busy in his craft, a tall thin
form lay on a bed, arrayed in a nightgown belted around him, with
pain on his brow, and a thousand stormy passions agitating his bosom.
Everything in the apartment indicated a man of opulence and of expense.
Henbane Dwining, the apothecary, who seemed to have the care of the
patient, stole with a crafty and catlike step from one corner of the
room to another, busying himself with mixing medicines and preparing
dressings. The sick man groaned once or twice, on which the leech,
advancing to his bedside, asked whether these sounds were a token of the
pain of his body or of the distress of his mind.

"Of both, thou poisoning varlet," said Sir John Ramorny, "and of being
encumbered with thy accursed company."

"If that is all, I can relieve your knighthood of one of these ills
by presently removing myself elsewhere. Thanks to the feuds of this
boisterous time, had I twenty hands, instead of these two poor servants
of my art (displaying his skinny palms), there is enough of employment
for them--well requited employment, too, where thanks and crowns contend
which shall best pay my services; while you, Sir John, wreak upon your
chirurgeon the anger you ought only to bear against the author of your
wound."

"Villain, it is beneath me to reply to thee," said the patient; "but
every word of thy malignant tongue is a dirk, inflicting wounds which
set all the medicines of Arabia at defiance."

"Sir John, I understand you not; but if you give way to these
tempestuous fits of rage, it is impossible but fever and inflammation
must be the result."

"Why then dost thou speak in a sense to chafe my blood? Why dost thou
name the supposition of thy worthless self having more hands than
nature gave thee, while I, a knight and gentleman, am mutilated like a
cripple?"

"Sir John," replied the chirurgeon, "I am no divine, nor a mainly
obstinate believer in some things which divines tell us. Yet I may
remind you that you have been kindly dealt with; for if the blow which
has done you this injury had lighted on your neck, as it was aimed, it
would have swept your head from your shoulders, instead of amputating a
less considerable member."

"I wish it had, Dwining--I wish it had lighted as it was addressed. I
should not then have seen a policy which had spun a web so fine as mine
burst through by the brute force of a drunken churl. I should not have
been reserved to see horses which I must not mount, lists which I must
no longer enter, splendours which I cannot hope to share, or battles
which I must not take part in. I should not, with a man's passions for
power and for strife, be set to keep place among the women, despised by
them, too, as a miserable, impotent cripple, unable to aim at obtaining
the favour of the sex."

"Supposing all this to be so, I will yet pray of your knighthood to
remark," replied Dwining, still busying himself with arranging the
dressings of the wounds, "that your eyes, which you must have lost
with your head, may, being spared to you, present as rich a prospect of
pleasure as either ambition, or victory in the list or in the field, or
the love of woman itself, could have proposed to you."

"My sense is too dull to catch thy meaning, leech," replied Ramorny.
"What is this precious spectacle reserved to me in such a shipwreck?"

"The dearest that mankind knows," replied Dwining; and then, in the
accent of a lover who utters the name of his beloved mistress, and
expresses his passion for her in the very tone of his voice, he added
the word "REVENGE!"

The patient had raised himself on his couch to listen with some anxiety
for the solution of the physician's enigma. He laid himself down again
as he heard it explained, and after a short pause asked, "In what
Christian college learned you this morality, good Master Dwining?"

"In no Christian college," answered his physician; "for, though it is
privately received in most, it is openly and manfully adopted in none.
But I have studied among the sages of Granada, where the fiery souled
Moor lifts high his deadly dagger as it drops with his enemy's blood,
and avows the doctrine which the pallid Christian practises, though
coward-like he dare not name it."

"Thou art then a more high souled villain than I deemed thee," said
Ramorny.

"Let that pass," answered Dwining. "The waters that are the stillest are
also the deepest; and the foe is most to be dreaded who never threatens
till he strikes. You knights and men at arms go straight to your purpose
with sword in hand. We who are clerks win our access with a noiseless
step and an indirect approach, but attain our object not less surely."

"And I," said the knight, "who have trod to my revenge with a mailed
foot, which made all echo around it, must now use such a slipper as
thine--ha?"

"He who lacks strength," said the wily mediciner, "must attain his
purpose by skill."

"And tell me sincerely, mediciner, wherefore thou wouldst read me these
devil's lessons? Why wouldst thou thrust me faster or farther on to my
vengeance than I may seem to thee ready to go of my own accord? I am old
in the ways of the world, man; and I know that such as thou do not drop
words in vain, or thrust themselves upon the dangerous confidence of men
like me save with the prospect of advancing some purpose of their own.
What interest hast thou in the road, whether peaceful or bloody, which I
may pursue on these occurrents?"

"In plain dealing, sir knight, though it is what I seldom use," answered
the leech, "my road to revenge is the same with yours."

"With mine, man?" said Ramorny, with a tone of scornful surprise. "I
thought it had been high beyond thy reach. Thou aim at the same revenge
with Ramorny?"

"Ay, truly," replied Dwining, "for the smithy churl under whose blow you
have suffered has often done me despite and injury. He has thwarted
me in counsel and despised me in action. His brutal and unhesitating
bluntness is a living reproach to the subtlety of my natural
disposition. I fear him, and I hate him."

"And you hope to hind an active coadjutor in me?" said Ramorny, in the
same supercilious tone as before. "But know, the artisan fellow is too
low in degree to be to me either the object of hatred or of fear. Yet he
shall not escape. We hate not the reptile that has stung us, though we
might shake it off the wound, and tread upon it. I know the ruffian of
old as a stout man at arms, and a pretender, as I have heard, to the
favour of the scornful puppet whose beauties, forsooth, spurred us to
our wise and hopeful attempt. Fiends that direct this nether world,
by what malice have ye decided that the hand which has couched a lance
against the bosom of a prince should be struck off like a sapling by
the blow of a churl, and during the turmoil of a midnight riot? Well,
mediciner, thus far our courses hold together, and I bid thee well
believe that I will crush for thee this reptile mechanic. But do not
thou think to escape me when that part of my revenge is done which will
be most easily and speedily accomplished."

"Not, it may be, altogether so easily accomplished," said the
apothecary; "for if your knighthood will credit me, there will be
found small ease or security in dealing with him. He is the strongest,
boldest, and most skilful swordsman in Perth and all the country around
it."

"Fear nothing; he shall be met with had he the strength of Sampson. But
then, mark me! Hope not thou to escape my vengeance, unless thou become
my passive agent in the scene which is to follow. Mark me, I say
once more. I have studied at no Moorish college, and lack some of
thy unbounded appetite for revenge, but yet I will have my share of
vengeance. Listen to me, mediciner, while I shall thus far unfold
myself; but beware of treachery, for, powerful as thy fiend is, thou
hast taken lessons from a meaner devil than mine. Hearken--the master
whom I have served through vice and virtue, with too much zeal for my
own character, perhaps, but with unshaken fidelity to him--the very man,
to soothe whose frantic folly I have incurred this irreparable loss, is,
at the prayer of his doating father, about to sacrifice me, by turning
me out of his favour, and leaving me at the mercy of the hypocritical
relative with whom he seeks a precarious reconciliation at my expense.
If he perseveres in this most ungrateful purpose, thy fiercest Moors,
were their complexion swarthy as the smoke of hell, shall blush to see
their revenge outdone. But I will give him one more chance for honour
and safety before my wrath shall descend on him in unrelenting and
unmitigated fury. There, then, thus far thou hast my confidence. Close
hands on our bargain. Close hands, did I say? Where is the hand that
should be the pledge and representative of Ramorny's plighted word?
Is it nailed on the public pillory, or flung as offal to the houseless
dogs, who are even now snarling over it? Lay thy finger on the mutilated
stump, then, and swear to be a faithful actor in my revenge, as I shall
be in yours. How now, sir leech look you pale--you, who say to death,
stand back or advance, can you tremble to think of him or to hear him
named? I have not mentioned your fee, for one who loves revenge for
itself requires no deeper bribe; yet, if broad lands and large sums of
gold can increase thy zeal in a brave cause, believe me, these shall not
be lacking."

"They tell for something in my humble wishes," said Dwining: "the poor
man in this bustling world is thrust down like a dwarf in a crowd, and
so trodden under foot; the rich and powerful rise like giants above the
press, and are at ease, while all is turmoil around them."

"Then shalt thou arise above the press, mediciner, as high as gold
can raise thee. This purse is weighty, yet it is but an earnest of thy
guerdon."

"And this Smith, my noble benefactor," said the leech, as he pouched the
gratuity--"this Henry of the Wynd, or what ever is his name--would not
the news that he hath paid the penalty of his action assuage the pain of
thy knighthood's wound better than the balm of Mecca with which I have
salved it?"

"He is beneath the thoughts of Ramorny; and I have no more resentment
against him than I have ill will at the senseless weapon which he
swayed. But it is just thy hate should be vented upon him. Where is he
chiefly to be met with?"

"That also I have considered," said Dwining. "To make the attempt by day
in his own house were too open and dangerous, for he hath five servants
who work with him at the stithy, four of them strong knaves, and all
loving to their master. By night were scarce less desperate, for he hath
his doors strongly secured with bolt of oak and bar of iron, and ere the
fastenings of his house could be forced, the neighbourhood would rise to
his rescue, especially as they are still alarmed by the practice on St.
Valentine's Even."

"Oh, ay, true, mediciner," said Ramorny, "for deceit is thy nature even
with me: thou knewest my hand and signet, as thou said'st, when that
hand was found cast out on the street, like the disgusting refuse of
a shambles--why, having such knowledge, went'st thou with these
jolterheaded citizens to consult that Patrick Charteris, whose spurs
should be hacked off from his heels for the communion which he holds
with paltry burghers, and whom thou brought'st here with the fools to do
dishonour to the lifeless hand, which, had it held its wonted place, he
was not worthy to have touched in peace or faced in war?"

"My noble patron, as soon as I had reason to know you had been the
sufferer, I urged them with all my powers of persuasion to desist from
prosecuting the feud; but the swaggering smith, and one or two other hot
heads, cried out for vengeance. Your knighthood must know this fellow
calls himself bachelor to the Fair Maiden of Perth, and stands upon his
honour to follow up her father's quarrel; but I have forestalled his
market in that quarter, and that is something in earnest of revenge."

"How mean you by that, sir leech?" said the patient.

"Your knighthood shall conceive," said the mediciner, "that this smith
doth not live within compass, but is an outlier and a galliard. I met
him myself on St. Valentine's Day, shortly after the affray between the
townsfolk and the followers of Douglas. Yes, I met him sneaking through
the lanes and bye passages with a common minstrel wench, with her messan
and her viol on his one arm and her buxom self hanging upon the other.
What thinks your honour? Is not this a trim squire, to cross a prince's
love with the fairest girl in Perth, strike off the hand of a knight and
baron, and become gentleman usher to a strolling glee woman, all in the
course of the same four and twenty hours?"

"Marry, I think the better of him that he has so much of a gentleman's
humour, clown though he be," said Ramorny. "I would he had been a
precisian instead of a galliard, and I should have had better heart to
aid thy revenge. And such revenge!--revenge on a smith--in the quarrel
of a pitiful manufacturer of rotten cheverons! Pah! And yet it shall
be taken in full. Thou hast commenced it, I warrant me, by thine own
manoeuvres."

"In a small degree only," said the apothecary. "I took care that two or
three of the most notorious gossips in Curfew street, who liked not to
hear Catharine called the Fair Maid of Perth, should be possessed
of this story of her faithful Valentine. They opened on the scent so
keenly, that, rather than doubt had fallen on the tale, they would have
vouched for it as if their own eyes had seen it. The lover came to
her father's within an hour after, and your worship may think what a
reception he had from the angry glover, for the damsel herself would not
be looked upon. And thus your honour sees I had a foretaste of revenge.
But I trust to receive the full draught from the hands of your lordship,
with whom I am in a brotherly league, which--"

"Brotherly!" said the knight, contemptuously. "But be it so, the priests
say we are all of one common earth. I cannot tell, there seems to me
some difference; but the better mould shall keep faith with the baser,
and thou shalt have thy revenge. Call thou my page hither."

A young man made his appearance from the anteroom upon the physician's
summons.

"Eviot," said the knight, "does Bonthron wait? and is he sober?"

"He is as sober as sleep can make him after a deep drink," answered the
page.

"Then fetch him hither, and do thou shut the door."

A heavy step presently approached the apartment, and a man entered,
whose deficiency of height seemed made up in breadth of shoulders and
strength of arm.

"There is a man thou must deal upon, Bonthron," said the knight. The man
smoothed his rugged features and grinned a smile of satisfaction.

"That mediciner will show thee the party. Take such advantage of time,
place, and circumstance as will ensure the result; and mind you come not
by the worst, for the man is the fighting Smith of the Wynd."

"It Will be a tough job," growled the assassin; "for if I miss my blow,
I may esteem myself but a dead man. All Perth rings with the smith's
skill and strength."

"Take two assistants with thee," said the knight.

"Not I," said Bonthron. "If you double anything, let it be the reward."

"Account it doubled," said his master; "but see thy work be thoroughly
executed."

"Trust me for that, sir knight: seldom have I failed."

"Use this sage man's directions," said the wounded knight, pointing to
the physician. "And hark thee, await his coming forth, and drink not
till the business be done."

"I will not," answered the dark satellite; "my own life depends on my
blow being steady and sure. I know whom I have to deal with."

"Vanish, then, till he summons you, and have axe and dagger in
readiness."

Bonthron nodded and withdrew.

"Will your knighthood venture to entrust such an act to a single hand?"
said the mediciner, when the assassin had left the room. "May I pray you
to remember that yonder party did, two nights since, baffle six armed
men?"

"Question me not, sir mediciner: a man like Bonthron, who knows time and
place, is worth a score of confused revellers. Call Eviot; thou shalt
first exert thy powers of healing, and do not doubt that thou shalt,
in the farther work, be aided by one who will match thee in the art of
sudden and unexpected destruction."

The page Eviot again appeared at the mediciner's summons, and at his
master's sign assisted the chirurgeon in removing the dressings from
Sir John Ramorny's wounded arm. Dwining viewed the naked stump with
a species of professional satisfaction, enhanced, no doubt, by the
malignant pleasure which his evil disposition took in the pain and
distress of his fellow creatures. The knight just turned his eye on the
ghastly spectacle, and uttered, under the pressure of bodily pain or
mental agony, a groan which he would fain have repressed.

"You groan, sir," said the leech, in his soft, insinuating tone of
voice, but with a sneer of enjoyment, mixed with scorn, curling upon
his lip, which his habitual dissimulation could not altogether
disguise--"you groan; but be comforted. This Henry Smith knows his
business: his sword is as true to its aim as his hammer to the anvil.
Had a common swordsman struck this fatal blow, he had harmed the bone
and damaged the muscles, so that even my art might not have been able
to repair them. But Henry Smith's cut is clean, and as sure as that with
which my own scalpel could have made the amputation. In a few days you
will be able, with care and attention to the ordinances of medicine, to
stir abroad."

"But my hand--the loss of my hand--"

"It may be kept secret for a time," said the mediciner. "I have
possessed two or three tattling fools, in deep confidence, that the hand
which was found was that of your knighthood's groom, Black Quentin, and
your knighthood knows that he has parted for Fife, in such sort as to
make it generally believed."

"I know well enough," said Ramorny, "that the rumour may stifle the
truth for a short time. But what avails this brief delay?"

"It may be concealed till your knighthood retires for a time from the
court, and then, when new accidents have darkened the recollection
of the present stir, it may be imputed to a wound received from the
shivering of a spear, or from a crossbow bolt. Your slave will find a
suitable device, and stand for the truth of it."

"The thought maddens me," said Ramorny, with another groan of mental and
bodily agony; "yet I see no better remedy."

"There is none other," said the leech, to whose evil nature his patron's
distress was delicious nourishment. "In the mean while, it is believed
you are confined by the consequences of some bruises, aiding the sense
of displeasure at the Prince's having consented to dismiss you from his
household at the remonstrance of Albany, which is publicly known."

"Villain, thou rack'st me!" exclaimed the patient.

"Upon the whole, therefore," said Dwining, "your knighthood has escaped
well, and, saving the lack of your hand, a mischance beyond remedy,
you ought rather to rejoice than complain; for no barber chirurgeon in
France or England could have more ably performed the operation than this
churl with one downright blow."

"I understand my obligation fully," said Ramorny, struggling with his
anger, and affecting composure; "and if Bonthron pays him not with a
blow equally downright, and rendering the aid of the leech unnecessary,
say that John of Ramorny cannot requite an obligation."

"That is spoke like yourself, noble knight!" answered the mediciner.
"And let me further say, that the operator's skill must have been
vain, and the hemorrhage must have drained your life veins, but for the
bandages, the cautery, and the styptics applied by the good monks, and
the poor services of your humble vassal, Henbane Dwining."

"Peace," exclaimed the patient, "with thy ill omened voice and worse
omened name! Methinks, as thou mentionest the tortures I have undergone,
my tingling nerves stretch and contract themselves as if they still
actuated the fingers that once could clutch a dagger."

"That," explained the leech, "may it please your knighthood, is a
phenomenon well known to our profession. There have been those among
the ancient sages who have thought that there still remained a sympathy
between the severed nerves and those belonging to the amputated
limb; and that the several fingers are seen to quiver and strain, as
corresponding with the impulse which proceeds from their sympathy with
the energies of the living system. Could we recover the hand from the
Cross, or from the custody of the Black Douglas, I would be pleased to
observe this wonderful operation of occult sympathies. But, I fear me,
one might as safely go to wrest the joint from the talons of an hungry
eagle."

"And thou mayst as safely break thy malignant jests on a wounded lion as
on John of Ramorny," said the knight, raising himself in uncontrollable
indignation. "Caitiff, proceed to thy duty; and remember, that if my
hand can no longer clasp a dagger, I can command an hundred."

"The sight of one drawn and brandished in anger were sufficient," said
Dwining, "to consume the vital powers of your chirurgeon. But who then,"
he added in a tone partly insinuating, partly jeering--"who would then
relieve the fiery and scorching pain which my patron now suffers, and
which renders him exasperated even with his poor servant for quoting the
rules of healing, so contemptible, doubtless, compared with the power of
inflicting wounds?"

Then, as daring no longer to trifle with the mood of his dangerous
patient, the leech addressed himself seriously to salving the wound,
and applied a fragrant balm, the odour of which was diffused through the
apartment, while it communicated a refreshing coolness, instead of the
burning heat--a change so gratifying to the fevered patient, that, as
he had before groaned with agony, he could not now help sighing for
pleasure, as he sank back on his couch to enjoy the ease which the
dressing bestowed.

"Your knightly lordship now knows who is your friend," said Dwining;
"had you yielded to a rash impulse, and said, 'Slay me this worthless
quacksalver,' where, within the four seas of Britain, would you have
found the man to have ministered to you as much comfort?"

"Forget my threats, good leech," said Ramorny, "and beware how you tempt
me. Such as I brook not jests upon our agony. See thou keep thy scoffs,
to pass upon misers [that is, miserable persons, as used in Spenser and
other writers of his time, though the sense is now restricted to those
who are covetous] in the hospital."

Dwining ventured to say no more, but poured some drops from a phial
which he took from his pocket into a small cup of wine allayed with
water.

"This draught," said the man of art, "is medicated to produce a sleep
which must not be interrupted."

"For how long will it last?" asked the knight.

"The period of its operation is uncertain--perhaps till morning."

"Perhaps for ever," said the patient. "Sir mediciner, taste me that
liquor presently, else it passes not my lips."

The leech obeyed him, with a scornful smile. "I would drink the whole
with readiness; but the juice of this Indian gum will bring sleep on the
healthy man as well as upon the patient, and the business of the leech
requires me to be a watcher."

"I crave your pardon, sir leech," said Ramorny, looking downwards, as if
ashamed to have manifested suspicion.

"There is no room for pardon where offence must not be taken," answered
the mediciner. "An insect must thank a giant that he does not tread on
him. Yet, noble knight, insects have their power of harming as well as
physicians. What would it have cost me, save a moment's trouble, so to
have drugged that balm, as should have made your arm rot to the shoulder
joint, and your life blood curdle in your veins to a corrupted jelly?
What is there that prevented me to use means yet more subtle, and to
taint your room with essences, before which the light of life twinkles
more and more dimly, till it expires, like a torch amidst the foul
vapours of some subterranean dungeon? You little estimate my power, if
you know not that these and yet deeper modes of destruction stand
at command of my art. But a physician slays not the patient by whose
generosity he lives, and far less will he the breath of whose nostrils
is the hope of revenge destroy the vowed ally who is to favour his
pursuit of it. Yet one word; should a necessity occur for rousing
yourself--for who in Scotland can promise himself eight hours'
uninterrupted repose?--then smell at the strong essence contained in
this pouncet box. And now, farewell, sir knight; and if you cannot think
of me as a man of nice conscience, acknowledge me at least as one of
reason and of judgment."

So saying, the mediciner left the room, his usual mean and shuffling
gait elevating itself into something more noble, as conscious of a
victory over his imperious patient.

Sir John Ramorny remained sunk in unpleasing reflections until he began
to experience the incipient effects of his soporific draught. He then
roused himself for an instant, and summoned his page.

"Eviot! what ho! Eviot! I have done ill to unbosom myself so far to this
poisonous quacksalver. Eviot!"

The page entered.

"Is the mediciner gone forth?"

"Yes, so please your knighthood."

"Alone or accompanied?"

"Bonthron spoke apart with him, and followed him almost immediately--by
your lordship's command, as I understood him."

"Lackaday, yes! he goes to seek some medicaments; he will return anon.
If he be intoxicated, see he comes not near my chamber, and permit him
not to enter into converse with any one. He raves when drink has touched
his brain. He was a rare fellow before a Southron bill laid his brain
pan bare; but since that time he talks gibberish whenever the cup has
crossed his lips. Said the leech aught to you, Eviot?"

"Nothing, save to reiterate his commands that your honour be not
disturbed."

"Which thou must surely obey," said the knight. "I feel the summons to
rest, of which I have been deprived since this unhappy wound. At least,
if I have slept it has been but for a snatch. Aid me to take off my
gown, Eviot."

"May God and the saints send you good rest, my lord," said the page,
retiring after he had rendered his wounded master the assistance
required.

As Eviot left the room, the knight, whose brain was becoming more and
more confused, muttered over the page's departing salutation.

"God--saints--I have slept sound under such a benison. But now, methinks
if I awake not to the accomplishment of my proud hopes of power and
revenge, the best wish for me is, that the slumbers which now fall
around my head were the forerunners of that sleep which shall return
my borrowed powers to their original nonexistence--I can argue it no
farther."

Thus speaking, he fell into a profound sleep.



CHAPTER XVI.

     On Fastern's E'en when we war fou.

     Scots Song.


The night which sunk down on the sickbed of Ramorny was not doomed to be
a quiet one. Two hours had passed since curfew bell, then rung at seven
o'clock at night, and in those primitive times all were retired to rest,
excepting such whom devotion, or duty, or debauchery made watchers; and
the evening being that of Shrovetide, or, as it was called in Scotland,
Fastern's E'en, the vigils of gaiety were by far the most frequented of
the three.

The common people had, throughout the day, toiled and struggled at
football; the nobles and gentry had fought cocks, and hearkened to the
wanton music of the minstrel; while the citizens had gorged themselves
upon pancakes fried in lard, and brose, or brewis--the fat broth, that
is, in which salted beef had been boiled, poured upon highly toasted
oatmeal, a dish which even now is not ungrateful to simple, old
fashioned Scottish palates. These were all exercises and festive dishes
proper to the holiday. It was no less a solemnity of the evening that
the devout Catholic should drink as much good ale and wine as he had
means to procure; and, if young and able, that he should dance at the
ring, or figure among the morrice dancers, who, in the city of Perth,
as elsewhere, wore a peculiarly fantastic garb, and distinguished
themselves by their address and activity. All this gaiety took place
under the prudential consideration that the long term of Lent, now
approaching, with its fasts and deprivations, rendered it wise for
mortals to cram as much idle and sensual indulgence as they could into
the brief space which intervened before its commencement.

The usual revels had taken place, and in most parts of the city were
succeeded by the usual pause. A particular degree of care had been
taken by the nobility to prevent any renewal of discord betwixt their
followers and the citizens of the town, so that the revels had proceeded
with fewer casualties than usual, embracing only three deaths and
certain fractured limbs, which, occurring to individuals of little
note, were not accounted worth inquiring into. The carnival was closing
quietly in general, but in some places the sport was still kept up.

One company of revellers, who had been particularly noticed and
applauded, seemed unwilling to conclude their frolic. The entry, as it
was called, consisted of thirteen persons, habited in the same manner,
having doublets of chamois leather sitting close to their bodies,
curiously slashed and laced. They wore green caps with silver tassels,
red ribands, and white shoes, had bells hung at their knees and around
their ankles, and naked swords in their hands. This gallant party,
having exhibited a sword dance before the King, with much clashing of
weapons and fantastic interchange of postures, went on gallantly to
repeat their exhibition before the door of Simon Glover, where, having
made a fresh exhibition of their agility, they caused wine to be served
round to their own company and the bystanders, and with a loud shout
drank to the health of the Fair Maid of Perth. This summoned old Simon
to the door of his habitation, to acknowledge the courtesy of his
countrymen, and in his turn to send the wine around in honour of the
Merry Morrice Dancers of Perth.

"We thank thee, father Simon," said a voice, which strove to drown in an
artificial squeak the pert, conceited tone of Oliver Proudfute. "But a
sight of thy lovely daughter had been more sweet to us young bloods than
a whole vintage of Malvoisie."

"I thank thee, neighbours, for your goodwill," replied the glover. "My
daughter is ill at ease, and may not come forth into the cold night air;
but if this gay gallant, whose voice methinks I should know, will go
into my poor house, she will charge him with thanks for the rest of
you."

"Bring them to us at the hostelrie of the Griffin," cried the rest of
the ballet to their favoured companion; "for there will we ring in Lent,
and have another rouse to the health of the lovely Catharine."

"Have with you in half an hour," said Oliver, "and see who will quaff
the largest flagon, or sing the loudest glee. Nay, I will be merry in
what remains of Fastern's Even, should Lent find me with my mouth closed
for ever."

"Farewell, then," cried his mates in the morrice--"fare well, slashing
bonnet maker, till we meet again."

The morrice dancers accordingly set out upon their further progress,
dancing and carolling as they went along to the sound of four musicians,
who led the joyous band, while Simon Glover drew their coryphaeus into
his house, and placed him in a chair by his parlour fire.

"But where is your daughter?" said Oliver. "She is the bait for us brave
blades."

"Why, truly, she keeps her apartment, neighbour Oliver; and, to speak
plainly, she keeps her bed."

"Why, then will I upstairs to see her in her sorrow; you have marred my
ramble, Gaffer Glover, and you owe me amends--a roving blade like me; I
will not lose both the lass and the glass. Keeps her bed, does she?

     "My dog and I we have a trick
     To visit maids when they are sick;
     When they are sick and like to die,
     Oh, thither do come my dog and I.

     "And when I die, as needs must hap,
     Then bury me under the good ale tap;
     With folded arms there let me lie
     Cheek for jowl, my dog and I."

"Canst thou not be serious for a moment, neighbour Proudfute?" said the
glover; "I want a word of conversation with you."

"Serious!" answered his visitor; "why, I have been serious all this
day: I can hardly open my mouth, but something comes out about death, a
burial, or suchlike--the most serious subjects that I wot of."

"St. John, man!" said the glover, "art then fey?"

"No, not a whit: it is not my own death which these gloomy fancies
foretell. I have a strong horoscope, and shall live for fifty years to
come. But it is the case of the poor fellow--the Douglas man, whom I
struck down at the fray of St. Valentine's: he died last night; it is
that which weighs on my conscience, and awakens sad fancies. Ah, father
Simon, we martialists, that have spilt blood in our choler, have dark
thoughts at times; I sometimes wish that my knife had cut nothing but
worsted thrums."

"And I wish," said Simon, "that mine had cut nothing but buck's leather,
for it has sometimes cut my own fingers. But thou mayst spare thy
remorse for this bout: there was but one man dangerously hurt at the
affray, and it was he from whom Henry Smith hewed the hand, and he is
well recovered. His name is Black Quentin, one of Sir John Ramorny's
followers. He has been sent privately back to his own country of Fife."

"What, Black Quentin? Why, that is the very man that Henry and I, as
we ever keep close together, struck at in the same moment, only my blow
fell somewhat earlier. I fear further feud will come of it, and so does
the provost. And is he recovered? Why, then, I will be jovial, and since
thou wilt not let me see how Kate becomes her night gear, I will back to
the Griffin to my morrice dancers."

"Nay, stay but one instant. Thou art a comrade of Henry Wynd, and hast
done him the service to own one or two deeds and this last among others.
I would thou couldst clear him of other charges with which fame hath
loaded him."

"Nay, I will swear by the hilt of my sword they are as false as hell,
father Simon. What--blades and targets! shall not men of the sword stick
together?"

"Nay, neighbour bonnet maker, be patient; thou mayst do the smith a kind
turn, an thou takest this matter the right way. I have chosen thee to
consult with anent this matter--not that I hold thee the wisest head in
Perth, for should I say so I should lie."

"Ay--ay," answered the self satisfied bonnet maker; "I know where you
think my fault lies: you cool heads think we hot heads are fools--I have
heard men call Henry Wynd such a score of times."

"Fool enough and cool enough may rhyme together passing well," said the
glover; "but thou art good natured, and I think lovest this crony of
thine. It stands awkwardly with us and him just now," continued Simon.
"Thou knowest there hath been some talk of marriage between my daughter
Catharine and Henry Gow?"

"I have heard some such song since St. Valentine's Morn. Ah! he that
shall win the Fair Maid of Perth must be a happy man; and yet marriage
spoils many a pretty fellow. I myself somewhat regret--"

"Prithee, truce with thy regrets for the present, man," interrupted the
glover, somewhat peevishly. "You must know, Oliver, that some of these
talking women, who I think make all the business of the world their
own, have accused Henry of keeping light company with glee women and
suchlike. Catharine took it to heart; and I held my child insulted, that
he had not waited upon her like a Valentine, but had thrown himself into
unseemly society on the very day when, by ancient custom, he might have
had an opportunity to press his interest with my daughter. Therefore,
when he came hither late on the evening of St. Valentine's, I, like a
hasty old fool, bid him go home to the company he had left, and denied
him admittance. I have not seen him since, and I begin to think that
I may have been too rash in the matter. She is my only child, and the
grave should have her sooner than a debauchee, But I have hitherto
thought I knew Henry Gow as if he were my son. I cannot think he would
use us thus, and it may be there are means of explaining what is laid
to his charge. I was led to ask Dwining, who is said to have saluted the
smith while he was walking with this choice mate. If I am to believe his
words, this wench was the smith's cousin, Joan Letham. But thou knowest
that the potter carrier ever speaks one language with his visage and
another with his tongue. Now, thou, Oliver, hast too little wit--I mean,
too much honesty--to belie the truth, and as Dwining hinted that thou
also hadst seen her--"

"I see her, Simon Glover! Will Dwining say that I saw her?"

"No, not precisely that; but he says you told him you had met the smith
thus accompanied."

"He lies, and I will pound him into a gallipot!" said Oliver Proudfute.

"How! Did you never tell him, then, of such a meeting?"

"What an if I did?" said the bonnet maker. "Did not he swear that he
would never repeat again to living mortal what I communicated to him?
and therefore, in telling the occurrent to you, he hath made himself a
liar."

"Thou didst not meet the smith, then," said Simon, "with such a loose
baggage as fame reports?"

"Lackaday, not I; perhaps I did, perhaps I did not. Think, father
Simon--I have been a four years married man, and can you expect me to
remember the turn of a glee woman's ankle, the trip of her toe, the lace
upon her petticoat, and such toys? No, I leave that to unmarried wags,
like my gossip Henry."

"The upshot is, then," said the glover, much vexed, "you did meet him on
St. Valentine's Day walking the public streets--"

"Not so, neighbour; I met him in the most distant and dark lane in
Perth, steering full for his own house, with bag and baggage, which, as
a gallant fellow, he carried in his arms, the puppy dog on one and the
jilt herself--and to my thought she was a pretty one--hanging upon the
other."

"Now, by good St. John," said the glover, "this infamy would make a
Christian man renounce his faith, and worship Mahound in very anger! But
he has seen the last of my daughter. I would rather she went to the wild
Highlands with a barelegged cateran than wed with one who could, at such
a season, so broadly forget honour and decency. Out upon him!"

"Tush--tush! father Simon," said the liberal minded bonnet maker, "you
consider not the nature of young blood. Their company was not long,
for--to speak truth, I did keep a little watch on him--I met him before
sunrise, conducting his errant damsel to the Lady's Stairs, that the
wench might embark on the Tay from Perth; and I know for certainty, for
I made inquiry, that she sailed in a gabbart for Dundee. So you see it
was but a slight escape of youth."

"And he came here," said Simon, bitterly, "beseeching for admittance to
my daughter, while he had his harlot awaiting him at home! I had rather
he had slain a score of men! It skills not talking, least of all to
thee, Oliver Proudfute, who, if thou art not such a one as himself,
would fain be thought so. But--"

"Nay, think not of it so seriously," said Oliver, who began to reflect
on the mischief his tattling was likely to occasion to his friend, and
on the consequences of Henry Gow's displeasure, when he should learn
the disclosure which he had made rather in vanity of heart than in evil
intention.

"Consider," he continued, "that there are follies belonging to youth.
Occasion provokes men to such frolics, and confession wipes them off. I
care not if I tell thee that, though my wife be as goodly a woman as the
city has, yet I myself--"

"Peace, silly braggart," said the glover in high wrath; "thy loves and
thy battles are alike apocryphal. If thou must needs lie, which I think
is thy nature, canst thou invent no falsehood that may at least do thee
some credit? Do I not see through thee, as I could see the light through
the horn of a base lantern? Do I not know, thou filthy weaver of rotten
worsted, that thou durst no more cross the threshold of thy own door, if
thy wife heard of thy making such a boast, than thou darest cross naked
weapons with a boy of twelve years old, who has drawn a sword for the
first time of his life? By St. John, it were paying you for your tale
bearing trouble to send thy Maudie word of thy gay brags."

The bonnet maker, at this threat, started as if a crossbow bolt had
whizzed past his head when least expected. And it was with a trembling
voice that he replied: "Nay, good father Glover, thou takest too much
credit for thy grey hairs. Consider, good neighbour, thou art too old
for a young martialist to wrangle with. And in the matter of my Maudie,
I can trust thee, for I know no one who would be less willing than thou
to break the peace of families."

"Trust thy coxcomb no longer with me," said the incensed glover; "but
take thyself, and the thing thou call'st a head, out of my reach, lest I
borrow back five minutes of my youth and break thy pate!"

"You have had a merry Fastern's Even, neighbour," said the bonnet maker,
"and I wish you a quiet sleep; we shall meet better friends tomorrow."

"Out of my doors tonight!" said the glover. "I am ashamed so idle a
tongue as thine should have power to move me thus."

"Idiot--beast--loose tongued coxcomb," he exclaimed, throwing himself
into a chair, as the bonnet maker disappeared; "that a fellow made up
of lies should not have had the grace to frame one when it might have
covered the shame of a friend! And I--what am I, that I should, in my
secret mind, wish that such a gross insult to me and my child had
been glossed over? Yet such was my opinion of Henry, that I would have
willingly believed the grossest figment the swaggering ass could have
invented. Well, it skills not thinking of it. Our honest name must be
maintained, though everything else should go to ruin."

While the glover thus moralised on the unwelcome confirmation of the
tale he wished to think untrue, the expelled morrice dancer had leisure,
in the composing air of a cool and dark February night, to meditate on
the consequences of the glover's unrestrained anger.

"But it is nothing," he bethought himself, "to the wrath of Henry Wynd,
who hath killed a man for much less than placing displeasure betwixt him
and Catharine, as well as her fiery old father. Certainly I were better
have denied everything. But the humour of seeming a knowing gallant, as
in truth I am, fairly overcame me. Were I best go to finish the revel
at the Griffin? But then Maudie will rampauge on my return--ay, and this
being holiday even, I may claim a privilege. I have it: I will not to
the Griffin--I will to the smith's, who must be at home, since no one
hath seen him this day amid the revel. I will endeavour to make peace
with him, and offer my intercession with the glover. Harry is a simple,
downright fellow, and though I think he is my better in a broil, yet
in discourse I can turn him my own way. The streets are now quiet, the
night, too, is dark, and I may step aside if I meet any rioters. I will
to the smith's, and, securing him for my friend, I care little for old
Simon. St. Ringan bear me well through this night, and I will clip my
tongue out ere it shall run my head into such peril again! Yonder old
fellow, when his blood was up, looked more like a carver of buff jerkins
than a clipper of kid gloves."

With these reflections, the puissant Oliver walked swiftly, yet with as
little noise as possible, towards the wynd in which the smith, as our
readers are aware, had his habitation. But his evil fortune had not
ceased to pursue him. As he turned into the High, or principal, Street,
he heard a burst of music very near him, followed by a loud shout.

"My merry mates, the morrice dancers," thought he; "I would know old
Jeremy's rebeck among an hundred. I will venture across the street ere
they pass on; if I am espied, I shall have the renown of some private
quest, which may do me honour as a roving blade."

With these longings for distinction among the gay and gallant, combated,
however, internally, by more prudential considerations, the bonnet maker
made an attempt to cross the street. But the revellers, whoever they
might be, were accompanied by torches, the flash of which fell upon
Oliver, whose light coloured habit made him the more distinctly visible.
The general shout of "A prize--a prize" overcame the noise of the
minstrel, and before the bonnet maker could determine whether it were
better to stand or fly, two active young men, clad in fantastic masking
habits, resembling wild men, and holding great clubs, seized upon him,
saying, in a tragical tone: "Yield thee, man of bells and bombast--yield
thee, rescue or no rescue, or truly thou art but a dead morrice dancer."

"To whom shall I yield me?" said the bonnet maker, with a faltering
voice; for, though he saw he had to do with a party of mummers who were
afoot for pleasure, yet he observed at the same time that they were far
above his class, and he lost the audacity necessary to support his part
in a game where the inferior was likely to come by the worst.

"Dost thou parley, slave?" answered one of the maskers; "and must I
show thee that thou art a captive, by giving thee incontinently the
bastinado?"

"By no means, puissant man of Ind," said the bonnet maker; "lo, I am
conformable to your pleasure."

"Come, then," said those who had arrested him--"come and do homage
to the Emperor of Mimes, King of Caperers, and Grand Duke of the Dark
Hours, and explain by what right thou art so presumptuous as to prance
and jingle, and wear out shoe leather, within his dominions without
paying him tribute. Know'st thou not thou hast incurred the pains of
high treason?"

"That were hard, methinks," said poor Oliver, "since I knew not that his
Grace exercised the government this evening. But I am willing to redeem
the forfeit, if the purse of a poor bonnet maker may, by the mulct of a
gallon of wine, or some such matter."

"Bring him before the emperor," was the universal cry; and the morrice
dancer was placed before a slight, but easy and handsome, figure of a
young man, splendidly attired, having a cincture and tiara of peacock's
feathers, then brought from the East as a marvellous rarity; a short
jacket and under dress of leopard's skin fitted closely the rest of his
person, which was attired in flesh coloured silk, so as to resemble the
ordinary idea of an Indian prince. He wore sandals, fastened on with
ribands of scarlet silk, and held in his hand a sort of fan, such as
ladies then used, composed of the same feathers, assembled into a plume
or tuft.

"What mister wight have we here," said the Indian chief, "who dares to
tie the bells of a morrice on the ankles of a dull ass? Hark ye, friend,
your dress should make you a subject of ours, since our empire extends
over all Merryland, including mimes and minstrels of every description.
What, tongue tied? He lacks wine; minister to him our nutshell full of
sack."

A huge calabash full of sack was offered to the lips of the supplicant,
while this prince of revellers exhorted him:

"Crack me this nut, and do it handsomely, and without wry faces."

But, however Oliver might have relished a moderate sip of the same good
wine, he was terrified at the quantity he was required to deal with. He
drank a draught, and then entreated for mercy.

"So please your princedom, I have yet far to go, and if I were to
swallow your Grace's bounty, for which accept my dutiful thanks, I
should not be able to stride over the next kennel."

"Art thou in case to bear thyself like a galliard? Now, cut me a
caper--ha! one--two--three--admirable. Again--give him the spur (here a
satellite of the Indian gave Oliver a slight touch with his sword). Nay,
that is best of all: he sprang like a cat in a gutter. Tender him the
nut once more; nay, no compulsion, he has paid forfeit, and deserves not
only free dismissal but reward. Kneel down--kneel, and arise Sir Knight
of the Calabash! What is thy name? And one of you lend me a rapier."

"Oliver, may it please your honour--I mean your principality."

"Oliver, man. Nay, then thou art one of the 'douze peers' already, and
fate has forestalled our intended promotion. Yet rise up, sweet Sir
Oliver Thatchpate, Knight of the honourable order of the Pumpkin--rise
up, in the name of nonsense, and begone about thine own concerns, and
the devil go with thee!"

So saying, the prince of the revels bestowed a smart blow with the flat
of the weapon across the bonnet maker's shoulders, who sprung to his
feet with more alacrity of motion than he had hitherto displayed, and,
accelerated by the laugh and halloo which arose behind him, arrived at
the smith's house before he stopped, with the same speed with which a
hunted fox makes for his den.

It was not till the affrighted bonnet maker had struck a blow on the
door that he recollected he ought to have bethought himself beforehand
in what manner he was to present himself before Henry, and obtain his
forgiveness for his rash communications to Simon Glover. No one answered
to his first knock, and, perhaps, as these reflections arose in the
momentary pause of recollection which circumstances permitted, the
perplexed bonnet maker might have flinched from his purpose, and made
his retreat to his own premises, without venturing upon the interview
which he had purposed. But a distant strain of minstrelsy revived his
apprehensions of falling once more into the hands of the gay maskers
from whom he had escaped, and he renewed his summons on the door of the
smith's dwelling with a hurried, though faltering, hand. He was then
appalled by the deep, yet not unmusical, voice of Henry Gow, who
answered from within: "Who calls at this hour, and what is it that you
want?"

"It is I--Oliver Proudfute," replied the bonnet maker; "I have a merry
jest to tell you, gossip Henry."

"Carry thy foolery to some other market. I am in no jesting humour,"
said Henry. "Go hence; I will see no one tonight."

"But, gossip--good gossip," answered the martialist with out, "I am
beset with villains, and beg the shelter of your roof!"

"Fool that thou art!" replied Henry; "no dunghill cock, the most
recreant that has fought this Fastern's Eve, would ruffle his feathers
at such a craven as thou!"

At this moment another strain of minstrelsy, and, as the bonnet maker
conceited, one which approached much nearer, goaded his apprehensions
to the uttermost; and in a voice the tones of which expressed the
undisguised extremity of instant fear he exclaimed:

"For the sake of our old gossipred, and for the love of Our Blessed
Lady, admit me, Henry, if you would not have me found a bloody corpse at
thy door, slain by the bloody minded Douglasses!"

"That would be a shame to me," thought the good natured smith, "and
sooth to say, his peril may be real. There are roving hawks that will
strike at a sparrow as soon as a heron."

With these reflections, half muttered, half spoken, Henry undid his well
fastened door, proposing to reconnoitre the reality of the danger before
he permitted his unwelcome guest to enter the house. But as he looked
abroad to ascertain how matters stood, Oliver bolted in like a scared
deer into a thicket, and harboured himself by the smith's kitchen fire
before Henry could look up and down the lane, and satisfy himself there
were no enemies in pursuit of the apprehensive fugitive. He secured his
door, therefore, and returned into the kitchen, displeased that he had
suffered his gloomy solitude to be intruded upon by sympathising with
apprehensions which he thought he might have known were so easily
excited as those of his timid townsman.

"How now!" he said, coldly enough, when he saw the bonnet maker calmly
seated by his hearth. "What foolish revel is this, Master Oliver? I see
no one near to harm you."

"Give me a drink, kind gossip," said Oliver: "I am choked with the haste
I have made to come hither."

"I have sworn," said Henry, "that this shall be no revel night in this
house: I am in my workday clothes, as you see, and keep fast, as I have
reason, instead of holiday. You have had wassail enough for the holiday
evening, for you speak thick already. If you wish more ale or wine you
must go elsewhere."

"I have had overmuch wassail already," said poor Oliver, "and have been
well nigh drowned in it. That accursed calabash! A draught of water,
kind gossip--you will not surely let me ask for that in vain? or, if it
is your will, a cup of cold small ale."

"Nay, if that be all," said Henry, "it shall not be lacking. But it must
have been much which brought thee to the pass of asking for either."

So saying, he filled a quart flagon from a barrel that stood nigh, and
presented it to his guest. Oliver eagerly accepted it, raised it to
his head with a trembling hand, imbibed the contents with lips which
quivered with emotion, and, though the potation was as thin as he had
requested, so much was he exhausted with the combined fears of alarm and
of former revelry, that, when he placed the flagon on the oak table, he
uttered a deep sigh of satisfaction, and remained silent.

"Well, now you have had your draught, gossip," said the smith, "what is
it you want? Where are those that threatened you? I could see no one."

"No--but there were twenty chased me into the wynd," said Oliver. "But
when they saw us together, you know they lost the courage that brought
all of them upon one of us."

"Nay, do not trifle, friend Oliver," replied his host; "my mood lies not
that way."

"I jest not, by St. John of Perth. I have been stayed and foully
outraged (gliding his hand sensitively over the place affected) by mad
David of Rothsay, roaring Ramorny, and the rest of them. They made me
drink a firkin of Malvoisie."

"Thou speakest folly, man. Ramorny is sick nigh to death, as the potter
carrier everywhere reports: they and he cannot surely rise at midnight
to do such frolics."

"I cannot tell," replied Oliver; "but I saw the party by torchlight,
and I can make bodily oath to the bonnets I made for them since last
Innocents'. They are of a quaint device, and I should know my own
stitch."

"Well, thou mayst have had wrong," answered Henry. "If thou art in real
danger, I will cause them get a bed for thee here. But you must fill it
presently, for I am not in the humour of talking."

"Nay, I would thank thee for my quarters for a night, only my Maudie
will be angry--that is, not angry, for that I care not for--but the
truth is, she is overanxious on a revel night like this, knowing my
humour is like thine for a word and a blow."

"Why, then, go home," said the smith, "and show her that her treasure is
in safety, Master Oliver; the streets are quiet, and, to speak a blunt
word, I would be alone."

"Nay, but I have things to speak with thee about of moment," replied
Oliver, who, afraid to stay, seemed yet unwilling to go. "There has been
a stir in our city council about the affair of St. Valentine's Even. The
provost told me not four hours since, that the Douglas and he had agreed
that the feud should be decided by a yeoman on either party and that our
acquaintance, the Devil's Dick, was to wave his gentry, and take up the
cause for Douglas and the nobles, and that you or I should fight for the
Fair City. Now, though I am the elder burgess, yet I am willing, for the
love and kindness we have always borne to each other, to give thee the
precedence, and content myself with the humbler office of stickler."

Henry Smith, though angry, could scarce forbear a smile.

"If it is that which breaks thy quiet, and keeps thee out of thy bed at
midnight, I will make the matter easy. Thou shalt not lose the advantage
offered thee. I have fought a score of duels--far, far too many.
Thou hast, I think, only encountered with thy wooden soldan: it were
unjust--unfair--unkind--in me to abuse thy friendly offer. So go home,
good fellow, and let not the fear of losing honour disturb thy slumbers.
Rest assured that thou shalt answer the challenge, as good right thou
hast, having had injury from this rough rider."

"Gramercy, and thank thee kindly," said Oliver much embarrassed by his
friend's unexpected deference; "thou art the good friend I have always
thought thee. But I have as much friendship for Henry Smith as he for
Oliver Proudfute. I swear by St. John, I will not fight in this
quarrel to thy prejudice; so, having said so, I am beyond the reach of
temptation, since thou wouldst not have me mansworn, though it were to
fight twenty duels."

"Hark thee," said the smith, "acknowledge thou art afraid, Oliver: tell
the honest truth, at once, otherwise I leave thee to make the best of
thy quarrel."

"Nay, good gossip," replied the bonnet maker, "thou knowest I am never
afraid. But, in sooth, this is a desperate ruffian; and as I have a
wife--poor Maudie, thou knowest--and a small family, and thou--"

"And I," interrupted Henry, hastily, "have none, and never shall have."

"Why, truly, such being the case, I would rather thou fought'st this
combat than I."

"Now, by our halidome, gossip," answered the smith, "thou art easily
gored! Know, thou silly fellow, that Sir Patrick Charteris, who is ever
a merry man, hath but jested with thee. Dost thou think he would venture
the honour of the city on thy head, or that I would yield thee the
precedence in which such a matter was to be disputed? Lackaday, go home,
let Maudie tie a warm nightcap on thy head, get thee a warm breakfast
and a cup of distilled waters, and thou wilt be in ease tomorrow to
fight thy wooden dromond, or soldan, as thou call'st him, the only thing
thou wilt ever lay downright blow upon."

"Ay, say'st thou so, comrade?" answered Oliver, much relieved, yet
deeming it necessary to seem in part offended. "I care not for thy
dogged humour; it is well for thee thou canst not wake my patience to
the point of falling foul. Enough--we are gossips, and this house is
thine. Why should the two best blades in Perth clash with each other?
What! I know thy rugged humour, and can forgive it. But is the feud
really soldered up?"

"As completely as ever hammer fixed rivet," said the smith. "The town
hath given the Johnstone a purse of gold, for not ridding them of a
troublesome fellow called Oliver Proudfute, when he had him at his
mercy; and this purse of gold buys for the provost the Sleepless Isle,
which the King grants him, for the King pays all in the long run. And
thus Sir Patrick gets the comely inch which is opposite to his dwelling,
and all honour is saved on both sides, for what is given to the provost
is given, you understand, to the town. Besides all this, the Douglas
hath left Perth to march against the Southron, who, men say, are called
into the marches by the false Earl of March. So the Fair City is quit of
him and his cumber."

"But, in St. John's name, how came all that about," said Oliver, "and no
one spoken to about it?"

"Why, look thee, friend Oliver, this I take to have been the case. The
fellow whom I cropped of a hand is now said to have been a servant of
Sir John Ramorny's, who hath fled to his motherland of Fife, to which
Sir John himself is also to be banished, with full consent of every
honest man. Now, anything which brings in Sir John Ramorny touches
a much greater man--I think Simon Glover told as much to Sir Patrick
Charteris. If it be as I guess, I have reason to thank Heaven and all
the saints I stabbed him not upon the ladder when I made him prisoner."

"And I too thank Heaven and all the saints, most devoutly," said Oliver.
"I was behind thee, thou knowest, and--"

"No more of that, if thou be'st wise. There are laws against striking
princes," said the smith: "best not handle the horseshoe till it cools.
All is hushed up now."

"If this be so," said Oliver, partly disconcerted, but still more
relieved, by the intelligence he received from his better informed
friend, "I have reason to complain of Sir Patrick Charteris for jesting
with the honour of an honest burgess, being, as he is, provost of our
town."

"Do, Oliver; challenge him to the field, and he will bid his yeoman
loose his dogs on thee. But come, night wears apace, will you be
shogging?"

"Nay, I had one word more to say to thee, good gossip. But first,
another cup of your cold ale."

"Pest on thee for a fool! Thou makest me wish thee where told liquors
are a scarce commodity. There, swill the barrelful an thou wilt."

Oliver took the second flagon, but drank, or rather seemed to drink,
very slowly, in order to gain time for considering how he should
introduce his second subject of conversation, which seemed rather
delicate for the smith's present state of irritability. At length,
nothing better occurred to him than to plunge into the subject at once,
with, "I have seen Simon Glover today, gossip."

"Well," said the smith, in a low, deep, and stern tone of voice, "and if
thou hast, what is that to me?"

"Nothing--nothing," answered the appalled bonnet maker. "Only I thought
you might like to know that he questioned me close if I had seen thee
on St. Valentine's Day, after the uproar at the Dominicans', and in what
company thou wert."

"And I warrant thou told'st him thou met'st me with a glee woman in the
mirk loaning yonder?"

"Thou know'st, Henry, I have no gift at lying; but I made it all up with
him."

"As how, I pray you?" said the smith.

"Marry, thus: 'Father Simon,' said I, 'you are an old man, and know not
the quality of us, in whose veins youth is like quicksilver. You think,
now, he cares about this girl,' said I, 'and, perhaps, that he has her
somewhere here in Perth in a corner? No such matter; I know,' said I,
'and I will make oath to it, that she left his house early next morning
for Dundee.' Ha! have I helped thee at need?"

"Truly, I think thou hast, and if anything could add to my grief and
vexation at this moment, it is that, when I am so deep in the mire,
an ass like thee should place his clumsy hoof on my head, to sink me
entirely. Come, away with thee, and mayst thou have such luck as thy
meddling humour deserves; and then I think, thou wilt be found with a
broken neck in the next gutter. Come, get you out, or I will put you to
the door with head and shoulders forward."

"Ha--ha!" exclaimed Oliver, laughing with some constraint, "thou art
such a groom! But in sadness, gossip Henry, wilt thou not take a turn
with me to my own house, in the Meal Vennel?"

"Curse thee, no," answered the smith.

"I will bestow the wine on thee if thou wilt go," said Oliver.

"I will bestow the cudgel on thee if thou stay'st," said Henry.

"Nay, then, I will don thy buff coat and cap of steel, and walk with thy
swashing step, and whistling thy pibroch of 'Broken Bones at Loncarty';
and if they take me for thee, there dare not four of them come near me."

"Take all or anything thou wilt, in the fiend's name! only be gone."

"Well--well, Hal, we shall meet when thou art in better humour," said
Oliver, who had put on the dress.

"Go; and may I never see thy coxcombly face again."

Oliver at last relieved his host by swaggering off, imitating as well as
he could the sturdy step and outward gesture of his redoubted companion,
and whistling a pibroch composed on the rout of the Danes at Loncarty,
which he had picked up from its being a favourite of the smith's, whom
he made a point of imitating as far as he could. But as the innocent,
though conceited, fellow stepped out from the entrance of the wynd,
where it communicated with the High Street, he received a blow from
behind, against which his headpiece was no defence, and he fell dead
upon the spot, an attempt to mutter the name of Henry, to whom he always
looked for protection, quivering upon his dying tongue.



CHAPTER XVII.

     Nay, I will fit you for a young prince.

     Falstaff.


We return to the revellers, who had, half an hour before, witnessed,
with such boisterous applause, Oliver's feat of agility, being the
last which the poor bonnet maker was ever to exhibit, and at the hasty
retreat which had followed it, animated by their wild shout. After they
had laughed their fill, they passed on their mirthful path in frolic and
jubilee, stopping and frightening some of the people whom they met, but,
it must be owned, without doing them any serious injury, either in their
persons or feelings. At length, tired with his rambles, their chief gave
a signal to his merry men to close around him.

"We, my brave hearts and wise counsellors, are," he said, "the real king
over all in Scotland that is worth commanding. We sway the hours when
the wine cup circulates, and when beauty becomes kind, when frolic is
awake, and gravity snoring upon his pallet. We leave to our vice regent,
King Robert, the weary task of controlling ambitious nobles, gratifying
greedy clergymen, subduing wild Highlanders, and composing deadly feuds.
And since our empire is one of joy and pleasure, meet it is that we
should haste with all our forces to the rescue of such as own our sway,
when they chance, by evil fortune, to become the prisoners of care and
hypochondriac malady. I speak in relation chiefly to Sir John, whom the
vulgar call Ramorny. We have not seen him since the onslaught of Curfew
Street, and though we know he was somedeal hurt in that matter, we
cannot see why he should not do homage in leal and duteous sort. Here,
you, our Calabash King at arms, did you legally summon Sir John to his
part of this evening's revels?"

"I did, my lord."

"And did you acquaint him that we have for this night suspended his
sentence of banishment, that, since higher powers have settled that
part, we might at least take a mirthful leave of an old friend?"

"I so delivered it, my lord," answered the mimic herald.

"And sent he not a word in writing, he that piques himself upon being so
great a clerk?"

"He was in bed, my lord, and I might not see him. So far as I hear, he
hath lived very retired, harmed with some bodily bruises, malcontent
with your Highness's displeasure, and doubting insult in the streets, he
having had a narrow escape from the burgesses, when the churls pursued
him and his two servants into the Dominican convent. The servants, too,
have been removed to Fife, lest they should tell tales."

"Why, it was wisely done," said the Prince, who, we need not inform the
intelligent reader, had a better title to be so called than arose from
the humours of the evening--"it was prudently done to keep light tongued
companions out of the way. But St. John's absenting himself from our
solemn revels, so long before decreed, is flat mutiny and disclamation
of allegiance. Or, if the knight be really the prisoner of illness and
melancholy, we must ourself grace him with a visit, seeing there can be
no better cure for those maladies than our own presence, and a gentle
kiss of the calabash. Forward, ushers, minstrels, guard, and attendants!
Bear on high the great emblem of our dignity. Up with the calabash, I
say, and let the merry men who carry these firkins, which are to supply
the wine cup with their life blood, be chosen with regard to their state
of steadiness. Their burden is weighty and precious, and if the fault
is not in our eyes, they seem to us to reel and stagger more than were
desirable. Now, move on, sirs, and let our minstrels blow their blythest
and boldest."

On they went with tipsy mirth and jollity, the numerous torches flashing
their red light against the small windows of the narrow streets, from
whence nightcapped householders, and sometimes their wives to boot,
peeped out by stealth to see what wild wassail disturbed the peaceful
streets at that unwonted hour. At length the jolly train halted before
the door of Sir John Ramorny's house, which a small court divided from
the street.

Here they knocked, thundered, and halloo'd, with many denunciations of
vengeance against the recusants who refused to open the gates. The least
punishment threatened was imprisonment in an empty hogshead, within the
massamore [principal dungeon] of the Prince of Pastimes' feudal palace,
videlicet, the ale cellar. But Eviot, Ramorny's page, heard and knew
well the character of the intruders who knocked so boldly, and thought
it better, considering his master's condition, to make no answer at
all, in hopes that the revel would pass on, than to attempt to deprecate
their proceedings, which he knew would be to no purpose. His master's
bedroom looking into a little garden, his page hoped he might not be
disturbed by the noise; and he was confident in the strength of the
outward gate, upon which he resolved they should beat till they tired
themselves, or till the tone of their drunken humour should change. The
revellers accordingly seemed likely to exhaust themselves in the noise
they made by shouting and beating the door, when their mock prince
(alas! too really such) upbraided them as lazy and dull followers of the
god of wine and of mirth.

"Bring forward," he said, "our key, yonder it lies, and apply it to this
rebellious gate."

The key he pointed at was a large beam of wood, left on one side of the
street, with the usual neglect of order characteristic of a Scottish
borough of the period.

The shouting men of Ind instantly raised it in their arms, and,
supporting it by their united strength, ran against the door with such
force, that hasp, hinge, and staple jingled, and gave fair promise of
yielding. Eviot did not choose to wait the extremity of this battery: he
came forth into the court, and after some momentary questions for form's
sake, caused the porter to undo the gate, as if he had for the first
time recognised the midnight visitors.

"False slave of an unfaithful master," said the Prince, "where is our
disloyal subject, Sir John Ramorny, who has proved recreant to our
summons?"

"My lord," said Eviot, bowing at once to the real and to the assumed
dignity of the leader, "my master is just now very much indisposed: he
has taken an opiate--and--your Highness must excuse me if I do my duty
to him in saying, he cannot be spoken with without danger of his life."

"Tush! tell me not of danger, Master Teviot--Cheviot--Eviot--what is it
they call thee? But show me thy master's chamber, or rather undo me the
door of his lodging, and I will make a good guess at it myself. Bear
high the calabash, my brave followers, and see that you spill not a drop
of the liquor, which Dan Bacchus has sent for the cure of all diseases
of the body and cares of the mind. Advance it, I say, and let us see the
holy rind which incloses such precious liquor."

The Prince made his way into the house accordingly, and, acquainted
with its interior, ran upstairs, followed by Eviot, in vain imploring
silence, and, with the rest of the rabble rout, burst into the room of
the wounded master of the lodging.

He who has experienced the sensation of being compelled to sleep in
spite of racking bodily pains by the administration of a strong opiate,
and of having been again startled by noise and violence out of the
unnatural state of insensibility in which he had been plunged by the
potency of the medicine, may be able to imagine the confused and alarmed
state of Sir John Ramorny's mind, and the agony of his body, which
acted and reacted upon each other. If we add to these feelings the
consciousness of a criminal command, sent forth and in the act of being
executed, it may give us some idea of an awakening to which, in the mind
of the party, eternal sleep would be a far preferable doom. The groan
which he uttered as the first symptom of returning sensation had
something in it so terrific, that even the revellers were awed into
momentary silence; and as, from the half recumbent posture in which
he had gone to sleep, he looked around the room, filled with fantastic
shapes, rendered still more so by his disturbed intellects, he muttered
to himself:

"It is thus, then, after all, and the legend is true! These are fiends,
and I am condemned for ever! The fire is not external, but I feel it--I
feel it at my heart--burning as if the seven times heated furnace were
doing its work within!"

While he cast ghastly looks around him, and struggled to recover some
share of recollection, Eviot approached the Prince, and, falling on his
knees, implored him to allow the apartment to be cleared.

"It may," he said, "cost my master his life."

"Never fear, Cheviot," replied the Duke of Rothsay; "were he at the
gates of death, here is what should make the fiends relinquish their
prey. Advance the calabash, my masters."

"It is death for him to taste it in his present state," said Eviot: "if
he drinks wine he dies."

"Some one must drink it for him--he shall be cured vicariously; and
may our great Dan Bacchus deign to Sir John Ramorny the comfort, the
elevation of heart, the lubrication of lungs, and lightness of fancy,
which are his choicest gifts, while the faithful follower, who quaffs
in his stead, shall have the qualms, the sickness, the racking of the
nerves, the dimness of the eyes, and the throbbing of the brain, with
which our great master qualifies gifts which would else make us too like
the gods. What say you, Eviot? will you be the faithful follower that
will quaff in your lord's behalf, and as his representative? Do this,
and we will hold ourselves contented to depart, for, methinks, our
subject doth look something ghastly."

"I would do anything in my slight power," said Eviot, "to save my master
from a draught which may be his death, and your Grace from the sense
that you had occasioned it. But here is one who will perform the feat of
goodwill, and thank your Highness to boot."

"Whom have we here?" said the Prince, "a butcher, and I think fresh from
his office. Do butchers ply their craft on Fastern's Eve? Foh, how he
smells of blood!"

This was spoken of Bonthron, who, partly surprised at the tumult in the
house, where he had expected to find all dark and silent, and partly
stupid through the wine which the wretch had drunk in great quantities,
stood in the threshold of the door, staring at the scene before him,
with his buff coat splashed with blood, and a bloody axe in his hand,
exhibiting a ghastly and disgusting spectacle to the revellers, who
felt, though they could not tell why, fear as well as dislike at his
presence.

As they approached the calabash to this ungainly and truculent looking
savage, and as he extended a hand soiled as it seemed with blood, to
grasp it, the Prince called out:

"Downstairs with him! let not the wretch drink in our presence; find him
some other vessel than our holy calabash, the emblem of our revels: a
swine's trough were best, if it could be come by. Away with him! let him
be drenched to purpose, in atonement for his master's sobriety. Leave me
alone with Sir John Ramorny and his page; by my honour, I like not yon
ruffian's looks."

The attendants of the Prince left the apartment, and Eviot alone
remained.

"I fear," said the Prince, approaching the bed in different form from
that which he had hitherto used--"I fear, my dear Sir John, that this
visit has been unwelcome; but it is your own fault. Although you know
our old wont, and were your self participant of our schemes for the
evening, you have not come near us since St. Valentine's; it is now
Fastern's Even, and the desertion is flat disobedience and treason to
our kingdom of mirth and the statutes of the calabash."

Ramorny raised his head, and fixed a wavering eye upon the Prince; then
signed to Eviot to give him something to drink. A large cup of ptisan
was presented by the page, which the sick man swallowed with eager and
trembling haste. He then repeatedly used the stimulating essence left
for the purpose by the leech, and seemed to collect his scattered
senses.

"Let me feel your pulse, dear Ramorny," said the Prince; "I know
something of that craft. How! Do your offer me the left hand, Sir John?
that is neither according to the rules of medicine nor of courtesy."

"The right has already done its last act in your Highness's service,"
muttered the patient in a low and broken tone.

"How mean you by that?" said the Prince. "I am aware thy follower, Black
Quentin, lost a hand; but he can steal with the other as much as will
bring him to the gallows, so his fate cannot be much altered."

"It is not that fellow who has had the loss in your Grace's service: it
is I, John of Ramorny."

"You!" said the Prince; "you jest with me, or the opiate still masters
your reason."

"If the juice of all the poppies in Egypt were blended in one draught,"
said Ramorny, "it would lose influence over me when I look upon this."
He drew his right arm from beneath the cover of the bedclothes, and
extending it towards the Prince, wrapped as it was in dressings, "Were
these undone and removed," he said, "your Highness would see that a
bloody stump is all that remains of a hand ever ready to unsheath the
sword at your Grace's slightest bidding."

Rothsay started back in horror. "This," he said, "must be avenged!"

"It is avenged in small part," said Ramorny--"that is, I thought I saw
Bonthron but now; or was it that the dream of hell that first arose in
my mind when I awakened summoned up an image so congenial? Eviot, call
the miscreant--that is, if he is fit to appear."

Eviot retired, and presently returned with Bonthron, whom he had rescued
from the penance, to him no unpleasing infliction, of a second calabash
of wine, the brute having gorged the first without much apparent
alteration in his demeanour.

"Eviot," said the Prince, "let not that beast come nigh me. My soul
recoils from him in fear and disgust: there is something in his looks
alien from my nature, and which I shudder at as at a loathsome snake,
from which my instinct revolts."

"First hear him speak, my lord," answered Ramorny; "unless a wineskin
were to talk, nothing could use fewer words. Hast thou dealt with him,
Bonthron?"

The savage raised the axe which he still held in his hand, and brought
it down again edgeways.

"Good. How knew you your man? the night, I am told, is dark."

"By sight and sound, garb, gait, and whistle."

"Enough, vanish! and, Eviot, let him have gold and wine to his brutish
contentment. Vanish! and go thou with him."

"And whose death is achieved?" said the Prince, released from the
feelings of disgust and horror under which he suffered while the
assassin was in presence. "I trust this is but a jest! Else must I call
it a rash and savage deed. Who has had the hard lot to be butchered by
that bloody and brutal slave?"

"One little better than himself," said the patient, "a wretched artisan,
to whom, however, fate gave the power of reducing Ramorny to a mutilated
cripple--a curse go with his base spirit! His miserable life is but
to my revenge what a drop of water would be to a furnace. I must speak
briefly, for my ideas again wander: it is only the necessity of the
moment which keeps them together; as a thong combines a handful of
arrows. You are in danger, my lord--I speak it with certainty: you have
braved Douglas, and offended your uncle, displeased your father, though
that were a trifle, were it not for the rest."

"I am sorry I have displeased my father," said the Prince, entirely
diverted from so insignificant a thing as the slaughter of an artisan by
the more important subject touched upon, "if indeed it be so. But if
I live, the strength of the Douglas shall be broken, and the craft of
Albany shall little avail him!"

"Ay--if--if. My lord," said Ramorny, "with such opposites as you have,
you must not rest upon if or but; you must resolve at once to slay or be
slain."

"How mean you, Ramorny? Your fever makes you rave" answered the Duke of
Rothsay.

"No, my lord," said Ramorny, "were my frenzy at the highest, the
thoughts that pass through my mind at this moment would qualify it. It
may be that regret for my own loss has made me desperate, that anxious
thoughts for your Highness's safety have made me nourish bold designs;
but I have all the judgment with which Heaven has gifted me, when I tell
you that, if ever you would brook the Scottish crown, nay, more, if ever
you would see another St. Valentine's Day, you must--"

"What is it that I must do, Ramorny?" said the Prince, with an air of
dignity; "nothing unworthy of myself, I hope?"

"Nothing, certainly, unworthy or misbecoming a prince of Scotland, if
the bloodstained annals of our country tell the tale truly; but that
which may well shock the nerves of a prince of mimes and merry makers."

"Thou art severe, Sir John Ramorny," said the Duke of Rothsay, with an
air of displeasure; "but thou hast dearly bought a right to censure us
by what thou hast lost in our cause."

"My Lord of Rothsay," said the knight, "the chirurgeon who dressed this
mutilated stump told me that the more I felt the pain his knife and
brand inflicted, the better was my chance of recovery. I shall not,
therefore, hesitate to hurt your feelings, while by doing so I may be
able to bring you to a sense of what is necessary for your safety. Your
Grace has been the pupil of mirthful folly too long; you must now assume
manly policy, or be crushed like a butterfly on the bosom of the flower
you are sporting on."

"I think I know your cast of morals, Sir John: you are weary of merry
folly--the churchmen call it vice--and long for a little serious crime.
A murder, now, or a massacre, would enhance the flavour of debauch, as
the taste of the olive gives zest to wine. But my worst acts are but
merry malice: I have no relish for the bloody trade, and abhor to see or
hear of its being acted even on the meanest caitiff. Should I ever fill
the throne, I suppose, like my father before me, I must drop my own
name, and be dubbed Robert, in honour of the Bruce; well, an if it be
so, every Scots lad shall have his flag on in one hand and the other
around his lass's neck, and manhood shall be tried by kisses and
bumpers, not by dirks and dourlachs; and they shall write on my grave,
'Here lies Robert, fourth of his name. He won not battles like Robert
the First. He rose not from a count to a king like Robert the Second.
He founded not churches like Robert the Third, but was contented to live
and die king of good fellows!' Of all my two centuries of ancestors, I
would only emulate the fame of--

"Old King Coul, Who had a brown bowl."

"My gracious lord," said Ramorny, "let me remind you that your joyous
revels involve serious evils. If I had lost this hand in fighting to
attain for your Grace some important advantage over your too powerful
enemies, the loss would never have grieved me. But to be reduced from
helmet and steel coat to biggin and gown in a night brawl--"

"Why, there again now, Sir John," interrupted the reckless Prince. "How
canst thou be so unworthy as to be for ever flinging thy bloody hand in
my face, as the ghost of Gaskhall threw his head at Sir William Wallace?
Bethink thee, thou art more unreasonable than Fawdyon himself; for wight
Wallace had swept his head off in somewhat a hasty humour, whereas I
would gladly stick thy hand on again, were that possible. And, hark
thee, since that cannot be, I will get thee such a substitute as the
steel hand of the old knight of Carslogie, with which he greeted his
friends, caressed his wife, braved his antagonists, and did all that
might be done by a hand of flesh and blood, in offence or defence.
Depend on it, John Ramorny, we have much that is superfluous about us.
Man can see with one eye, hear with one ear, touch with one hand, smell
with one nostril; and why we should have two of each, unless to supply
an accidental loss or injury, I for one am at a loss to conceive."

Sir John Ramorny turned from the Prince with a low groan.

"Nay, Sir John;" said the Duke, "I am quite serious. You know the truth
touching the legend of Steel Hand of Carslogie better than I, since he
was your own neighbour. In his time that curious engine could only be
made in Rome; but I will wager an hundred marks with you that, let the
Perth armourer have the use of it for a pattern, Henry of the Wynd
will execute as complete an imitation as all the smiths in Rome could
accomplish, with all the cardinals to bid a blessing on the work."

"I could venture to accept your wager, my lord," answered Ramorny,
bitterly, "but there is no time for foolery. You have dismissed me from
your service, at command of your uncle?"

"At command of my father," answered the Prince.

"Upon whom your uncle's commands are imperative," replied Ramorny. "I
am a disgraced man, thrown aside, as I may now fling away my right hand
glove, as a thing useless. Yet my head might help you, though my hand
be gone. Is your Grace disposed to listen to me for one word of serious
import, for I am much exhausted, and feel my force sinking under me?"

"Speak your pleasure," said the Prince; "thy loss binds me to hear
thee, thy bloody stump is a sceptre to control me. Speak, then, but be
merciful in thy strength of privilege."

"I will be brief for mine own sake as well as thine; indeed, I have but
little to say. Douglas places himself immediately at the head of his
vassals. He will assemble, in the name of King Robert, thirty thousand
Borderers, whom he will shortly after lead into the interior, to demand
that the Duke of Rothsay receive, or rather restore, his daughter to
the rank and privileges of his Duchess. King Robert will yield to any
conditions which may secure peace. What will the Duke do?"

"The Duke of Rothsay loves peace," said the Prince, haughtily; "but he
never feared war. Ere he takes back yonder proud peat to his table
and his bed, at the command of her father, Douglas must be King of
Scotland."

"Be it so; but even this is the less pressing peril, especially as it
threatens open violence, for the Douglas works not in secret."

"What is there which presses, and keeps us awake at this late hour? I am
a weary man, thou a wounded one, and the very tapers are blinking, as if
tired of our conference."

"Tell me, then, who is it that rules this kingdom of Scotland?" said
Ramorny.

"Robert, third of the name," said the Prince, raising his bonnet as he
spoke; "and long may he sway the sceptre!"

"True, and amen," answered Ramorny; "but who sways King Robert, and
dictates almost every measure which the good King pursues?"

"My Lord of Albany, you would say," replied the Prince. "Yes, it is true
my father is guided almost entirely by the counsels of his brother; nor
can we blame him in our consciences, Sir John Ramorny, for little help
hath he had from his son."

"Let us help him now, my lord," said Ramorny. "I am possessor of a
dreadful secret: Albany hath been trafficking with me, to join him
in taking your Grace's life! He offers full pardon for the past, high
favour for the future."

"How, man--my life? I trust, though, thou dost only mean my kingdom? It
were impious! He is my father's brother--they sat on the knees of the
same father--lay in the bosom of the same mother. Out on thee, man, what
follies they make thy sickbed believe!"

"Believe, indeed!" said Ramorny. "It is new to me to be termed
credulous. But the man through whom Albany communicated his temptations
is one whom all will believe so soon as he hints at mischief--even the
medicaments which are prepared by his hands have a relish of poison."

"Tush! such a slave would slander a saint," replied the Prince. "Thou
art duped for once, Ramorny, shrewd as thou art. My uncle of Albany
is ambitious, and would secure for himself and for his house a larger
portion of power and wealth than he ought in reason to desire. But to
suppose he would dethrone or slay his brother's son--Fie, Ramorny! put
me not to quote the old saw, that evil doers are evil dreaders. It is
your suspicion, not your knowledge, which speaks."

"Your Grace is fatally deluded. I will put it to an issue. The Duke of
Albany is generally hated for his greed and covetousness. Your Highness
is, it may be, more beloved than--"

Ramorny stopped, the Prince calmly filled up the blank: "More beloved
than I am honoured. It is so I would have it, Ramorny."

"At least," said Ramorny, "you are more beloved than you are feared,
and that is no safe condition for a prince. But give me your honour and
knightly word that you will not resent what good service I shall do in
your behalf, and lend me your signet to engage friends in your name,
and the Duke of Albany shall not assume authority in this court till the
wasted hand which once terminated this stump shall be again united to
the body, and acting in obedience to the dictates of my mind."

"You would not venture to dip your hands in royal blood?" said the
Prince sternly.

"Fie, my lord, at no rate. Blood need not be shed; life may, nay, will,
be extinguished of itself. For want of trimming it with fresh oil, or
screening it from a breath of wind, the quivering light will die in the
socket. To suffer a man to die is not to kill him."

"True--I had forgot that policy. Well, then, suppose my uncle Albany
does not continue to live--I think that must be the phrase--who then
rules the court of Scotland?"

"Robert the Third, with consent, advice, and authority of the most
mighty David, Duke of Rothsay, Lieutenant of the Kingdom, and alter ego;
in whose favour, indeed, the good King, wearied with the fatigues and
troubles of sovereignty, will, I guess, be well disposed to abdicate. So
long live our brave young monarch, King David the Third!

"Ille manu fortis Anglis ludebit in hortis."

"And our father and predecessor," said Rothsay, "will he continue to
live to pray for us, as our beadsman, by whose favour he holds the
privilege of laying his grey hairs in the grave as soon, and no earlier,
than the course of nature permits, or must he also encounter some of
those negligences in consequence of which men cease to continue to live,
and can change the limits of a prison, or of a convent resembling one,
for the dark and tranquil cell, where the priests say that the wicked
cease from troubling and the weary are at rest?"

"You speak in jest, my lord," replied Ramorny: "to harm the good old
King were equally unnatural and impolitic."

"Why shrink from that, man, when thy whole scheme," answered the Prince,
in stern displeasure, "is one lesson of unnatural guilt, mixed with
short sighted ambition? If the King of Scotland can scarcely make
head against his nobles, even now when he can hold up before them an
unsullied and honourable banner, who would follow a prince that is
blackened with the death of an uncle and the imprisonment of a father?
Why, man, thy policy were enough to revolt a heathen divan, to say
nought of the council of a Christian nation. Thou wert my tutor,
Ramorny, and perhaps I might justly upbraid thy lessons and example for
some of the follies which men chide in me. Perhaps, if it had not been
for thee, I had not been standing at midnight in this fool's guise
(looking at his dress), to hear an ambitious profligate propose to me
the murder of an uncle, the dethronement of the best of fathers. Since
it is my fault as well as thine that has sunk me so deep in the gulf of
infamy, it were unjust that thou alone shouldst die for it. But dare not
to renew this theme to me, on peril of thy life! I will proclaim thee to
my father--to Albany--to Scotland--throughout its length and breadth.
As many market crosses as are in the land shall have morsels of
the traitor's carcass, who dare counsel such horrors to the heir of
Scotland. Well hope I, indeed, that the fever of thy wound, and the
intoxicating influence of the cordials which act on thy infirm brain,
have this night operated on thee, rather than any fixed purpose."

"In sooth, my lord," said Ramorny, "if I have said any thing which could
so greatly exasperate your Highness, it must have been by excess of
zeal, mingled with imbecility of understanding. Surely I, of all men, am
least likely to propose ambitious projects with a prospect of advantage
to myself! Alas! my only future views must be to exchange lance and
saddle for the breviary and the confessional. The convent of Lindores
must receive the maimed and impoverished knight of Ramorny, who will
there have ample leisure to meditate upon the text, 'Put not thy faith
in princes.'"

"It is a goodly purpose," said the Prince, "and we will not be lacking
to promote it. Our separation, I thought, would have been but for a
time. It must now be perpetual. Certainly, after such talk as we have
held, it were meet that we should live asunder. But the convent of
Lindores, or what ever other house receives thee, shall be richly
endowed and highly favoured by us. And now, Sir John of Ramorny,
sleep--sleep--and forget this evil omened conversation, in which the
fever of disease and of wine has rather, I trust, held colloquy than
your own proper thoughts. Light to the door, Eviot."

A call from Eviot summoned the attendants of the Prince, who had been
sleeping on the staircase and hall, exhausted by the revels of the
evening.

"Is there none amongst you sober?" said the Duke of Rothsay, disgusted
by the appearance of his attendants.

"Not a man--not a man," answered the followers, with a drunken shout,
"we are none of us traitors to the Emperor of Merry makers!"

"And are all of you turned into brutes, then?" said the Prince.

"In obedience and imitation of your Grace," answered one fellow; "or, if
we are a little behind your Highness, one pull at the pitcher will--"

"Peace, beast!" said the Duke of Rothsay. "Are there none of you sober,
I say?"

"Yes, my noble liege," was the answer; "here is one false brother,
Watkins the Englishman."

"Come hither then, Watkins, and aid me with a torch; give me a cloak,
too, and another bonnet, and take away this trumpery," throwing down
his coronet of feathers. "I would I could throw off all my follies
as easily. English Wat, attend me alone, and the rest of you end your
revelry, and doff your mumming habits. The holytide is expended, and the
fast has begun."

"Our monarch has abdicated sooner than usual this night," said one
of the revel rout; but as the Prince gave no encouragement, such as
happened for the time to want the virtue of sobriety endeavoured to
assume it as well as they could, and the whole of the late rioters began
to adopt the appearance of a set of decent persons, who, having been
surprised into intoxication, endeavoured to disguise their condition by
assuming a double portion of formality of behaviour. In the interim the
Prince, having made a hasty reform in his dress, was lighted to the door
by the only sober man of the company, but, in his progress thither, had
well nigh stumbled over the sleeping bulk of the brute Bonthron.

"How now! is that vile beast in our way once more?" he said in anger and
disgust. "Here, some of you, toss this caitiff into the horse trough;
that for once in his life he may be washed clean."

While the train executed his commands, availing themselves of a fountain
which was in the outer court, and while Bonthron underwent a discipline
which he was incapable of resisting, otherwise than by some inarticulate
groans and snorts, like, those of a dying boar, the Prince proceeded on
his way to his apartments, in a mansion called the Constable's lodgings,
from the house being the property of the Earls of Errol. On the way, to
divert his thoughts from the more unpleasing matters, the Prince asked
his companion how he came to be sober, when the rest of the party had
been so much overcome with liquor.

"So please your honour's Grace," replied English Wat, "I confess it was
very familiar in me to be sober when it was your Grace's pleasure that
your train should be mad drunk; but in respect they were all Scottishmen
but myself, I thought it argued no policy in getting drunken in their
company, seeing that they only endure me even when we are all sober, and
if the wine were uppermost, I might tell them a piece of my mind, and be
paid with as many stabs as there are skenes in the good company."

"So it is your purpose never to join any of the revels of our
household?"

"Under favour, yes; unless it be your Grace's pleasure that the residue
of your train should remain one day sober, to admit Will Watkins to get
drunk without terror of his life."

"Such occasion may arrive. Where dost thou serve, Watkins?"

"In the stable, so please you."

"Let our chamberlain bring thee into the household, as a yeoman of the
night watch. I like thy favour, and it is something to have one sober
fellow in the house, although he is only such through the fear of death.
Attend, therefore, near our person; and thou shalt find sobriety a
thriving virtue."

Meantime a load of care and fear added to the distress of Sir John
Ramorny's sick chamber. His reflections, disordered as they were by the
opiate, fell into great confusion when the Prince, in whose presence he
had suppressed its effect by strong resistance, had left the apartment.
His consciousness, which he had possessed perfectly during the
interview, began to be very much disturbed. He felt a general sense
that he had incurred a great danger, that he had rendered the Prince his
enemy, and that he had betrayed to him a secret which might affect his
own life. In this state of mind and body, it was not strange that he
should either dream, or else that his diseased organs should become
subject to that species of phantasmagoria which is excited by the use
of opium. He thought that the shade of Queen Annabella stood by his
bedside, and demanded the youth whom she had placed under his charge,
simple, virtuous, gay, and innocent.

"Thou hast rendered him reckless, dissolute, and vicious," said the
shade of pallid Majesty. "Yet I thank thee, John of Ramorny, ungrateful
to me, false to thy word, and treacherous to my hopes. Thy hate shall
counteract the evil which thy friendship has done to him. And well do
I hope that, now thou art no longer his counsellor, a bitter penance on
earth may purchase my ill fated child pardon and acceptance in a better
world."

Ramorny stretched out his arms after his benefactress, and endeavoured
to express contrition and excuse; but the countenance of the apparition
became darker and sterner, till it was no longer that of the late Queen,
but presented the gloomy and haughty aspect of the Black Douglas; then
the timid and sorrowful face of King Robert, who seemed to mourn over
the approaching dissolution of his royal house; and then a group of
fantastic features, partly hideous, partly ludicrous, which moped, and
chattered, and twisted themselves into unnatural and extravagant
forms, as if ridiculing his endeavour to obtain an exact idea of their
lineaments.



CHAPTER XVIII.

     A purple land, where law secures not life.

     BYRON.


The morning of Ash Wednesday arose pale and bleak, as usual at this
season in Scotland, where the worst and most inclement weather often
occurs in the early spring months. It was a severe day of frost, and the
citizens had to sleep away the consequences of the preceding holiday's
debauchery. The sun had therefore risen for an hour above the horizon
before there was any general appearance of life among the inhabitants
of Perth, so that it was some time after daybreak when a citizen, going
early to mass, saw the body of the luckless Oliver Proudfute lying on
its face across the kennel in the manner in which he had fallen under
the blow; as our readers will easily imagine, of Anthony Bonthron, the
"boy of the belt"--that is the executioner of the pleasure--of John of
Ramorny.

This early citizen was Allan Griffin, so termed because he was master
of the Griffin Inn; and the alarm which he raised soon brought together
first straggling neighbours, and by and by a concourse of citizens. At
first from the circumstance of the well known buff coat and the crimson
feather in the head piece, the noise arose that it was the stout smith
that lay there slain. This false rumour continued for some time, for the
host of the Griffin, who himself had been a magistrate, would not permit
the body to be touched or stirred till Bailie Craigdallie arrived, so
that the face was not seen..

"This concerns the Fair City, my friends," he said, "and if it is the
stout Smith of the Wynd who lies here, the man lives not in Perth who
will not risk land and life to avenge him. Look you, the villains have
struck him down behind his back, for there is not a man within ten
Scotch miles of Perth, gentle or simple, Highland or Lowland, that
would have met him face to face with such evil purpose. Oh, brave men of
Perth! the flower of your manhood has been cut down, and that by a base
and treacherous hand."

A wild cry of fury arose from the people, who were fast assembling.

"We will take him on our shoulders," said a strong butcher, "we will
carry him to the King's presence at the Dominican convent"

"Ay--ay," answered a blacksmith, "neither bolt nor bar shall keep us
from the King, neither monk nor mass shall break our purpose. A better
armourer never laid hammer on anvil!"

"To the Dominicans--to the Dominicans!" shouted the assembled people.

"Bethink you, burghers," said another citizen, "our king is a good king
and loves us like his children. It is the Douglas and the Duke of Albany
that will not let good King Robert hear the distresses of his people."

"Are we to be slain in our own streets for the King's softness of
heart?" said the butcher. "The Bruce did otherwise. If the King will not
keep us, we will keep ourselves. Ring the bells backward, every bell of
them that is made of metal. Cry, and spare not, St. Johnston's hunt is
up!"

"Ay," cried another citizen, "and let us to the holds of Albany and the
Douglas, and burn them to the ground. Let the fires tell far and near
that Perth knew how to avenge her stout Henry Gow. He has fought a score
of times for the Fair City's right; let us show we can once to avenge
his wrong. Hally ho! brave citizens, St. Johnston's hunt is up!"

This cry, the well known rallying word amongst the inhabitants of Perth,
and seldom heard but on occasions of general uproar, was echoed from
voice to voice; and one or two neighbouring steeples, of which the
enraged citizens possessed themselves, either by consent of the priests
or in spite of their opposition, began to ring out the ominous alarm
notes, in which, as the ordinary succession of the chimes was reversed,
the bells were said to be rung backward.

Still, as the crowd thickened, and the roar waxed more universal and
louder, Allan Griffin, a burly man with a deep voice, and well respected
among high and low, kept his station as he bestrode the corpse, and
called loudly to the multitude to keep back and wait the arrival of the
magistrates.

"We must proceed by order in this matter, my masters, we must have our
magistrates at our head. They are duly chosen and elected in our town
hall, good men and true every one; we will not be called rioters, or
idle perturbators of the king's peace. Stand you still, and make room,
for yonder comes Bailie Craigdallie, ay, and honest Simon Glover, to
whom the Fair City is so much bounden. Alas--alas! my kind townsmen, his
beautiful daughter was a bride yesternight; this morning the Fair Maid
of Perth is a widow before she has been a wife."

This new theme of sympathy increased the rage and sorrow of the crowd
the more, as many women now mingled with them, who echoed back the alarm
cry to the men.

"Ay--ay, St. Johnston's hunt is up! For the Fair Maid of Perth and
the brave Henry Gow! Up--up, every one of you, spare not for your skin
cutting! To the stables!--to the stables! When the horse is gone the man
at arms is useless--cut off the grooms and yeomen; lame, maim, and stab
the horses; kill the base squires and pages. Let these proud knights
meet us on their feet if they dare!"

"They dare not--they dare not," answered the men; "their strength is
their horses and armour; and yet the haughty and ungrateful villains
have slain a man whose skill as an armourer was never matched in Milan
or Venice. To arms!--to arms, brave burghers! St. Johnston's hunt is
up!"

Amid this clamour, the magistrates and superior class of inhabitants
with difficulty obtained room to examine the body, having with them the
town clerk to take an official protocol, or, as it is still called, a
precognition, of the condition in which it was found. To these delays
the multitude submitted, with a patience and order which strongly marked
the national character of a people whose resentment has always been
the more deeply dangerous, that they will, without relaxing their
determination of vengeance, submit with patience to all delays which are
necessary to ensure its attainment. The multitude, therefore, received
their magistrates with a loud cry, in which the thirst of revenge was
announced, together with the deferential welcome to the patrons by whose
direction they expected to obtain it in right and legal fashion.

While these accents of welcome still rung above the crowd, who now
filled the whole adjacent streets, receiving and circulating a thousand
varying reports, the fathers of the city caused the body to be raised
and more closely examined; when it was instantly perceived, and the
truth publicly announced, that not the armourer of the Wynd, so highly
and, according to the esteemed qualities of the time, so justly popular
among his fellow citizens, but a man of far less general estimation,
though not without his own value in society, lay murdered before
them--the brisk bonnet maker, Oliver Proudfute. The resentment of the
people had so much turned upon the general opinion that their frank
and brave champion, Henry Gow, was the slaughtered person, that the
contradiction of the report served to cool the general fury, although,
if poor Oliver had been recognised at first, there is little doubt that
the cry of vengeance would have been as unanimous, though not probably
so furious, as in the case of Henry Wynd. The first circulation of the
unexpected intelligence even excited a smile among the crowd, so near
are the confines of the ludicrous to those of the terrible.

"The murderers have without doubt taken him for Henry Smith,"
said Griffin, "which must have been a great comfort to him in the
circumstances."

But the arrival of other persons on the scene soon restored its deeply
tragic character.



CHAPTER XIX.

     Who's that that rings the bell? Diablos, ho!
     The town will rise.

     Othello, Act II. Scene III.


The wild rumours which flew through the town, speedily followed by the
tolling of the alarm bells spread general consternation. The nobles
and knights, with their followers, gathered in different places of
rendezvous, where a defence could best be maintained; and the alarm
reached the royal residence where the young prince was one of the first
to appear, to assist, if necessary, in the defence of the old king. The
scene of the preceding night ran in his recollection; and, remembering
the bloodstained figure of Bonthron, he conceived, though indistinctly,
that the ruffian's action had been connected with this uproar. The
subsequent and more interesting discourse with Sir John Ramorny had,
however, been of such an impressive nature as to obliterate all
traces of what he had vaguely heard of the bloody act of the assassin,
excepting a confused recollection that some one or other had been slain.
It was chiefly on his father's account that he had assumed arms with his
household train, who, clad in bright armour, and bearing lances in
their hands, made now a figure very different from that of the preceding
night, when they appeared as intoxicated Bacchanalians. The kind old
monarch received this mark of filial attachment with tears of gratitude,
and proudly presented his son to his brother Albany, who entered shortly
afterwards. He took them each by the hand.

"Now are we three Stuarts," he said, "as inseparable as the holy
trefoil; and, as they say the wearer of that sacred herb mocks at
magical delusion, so we, while we are true to each other, may set malice
and enmity at defiance."

The brother and son kissed the kind hand which pressed theirs, while
Robert III expressed his confidence in their affection. The kiss of the
youth was, for the time, sincere; that of the brother was the salute of
the apostate Judas.

In the mean time the bell of St. John's church alarmed, amongst others,
the inhabitants of Curfew Street. In the house of Simon Glover, old
Dorothy Glover, as she was called (for she also took name from the trade
she practised, under her master's auspices), was the first to catch the
sound. Though somewhat deaf upon ordinary occasions, her ear for bad
news was as sharp as a kite's scent for carrion; for Dorothy, otherwise
an industrious, faithful, and even affectionate creature, had that
strong appetite for collecting and retailing sinister intelligence which
is often to be marked in the lower classes. Little accustomed to be
listened to, they love the attention which a tragic tale ensures to the
bearer, and enjoy, perhaps, the temporary equality to which misfortune
reduces those who are ordinarily accounted their superiors. Dorothy had
no sooner possessed herself of a slight packet of the rumours which were
flying abroad than she bounced into her master's bedroom, who had taken
the privilege of age and the holytide to sleep longer than usual.

"There he lies, honest man," said Dorothy, half in a screeching and half
in a wailing tone of sympathy--"there he lies; his best friend slain,
and he knowing as little about it as the babe new born, that kens not
life from death."

"How now!" said the glover, starting up out of his bed. "What is the
matter, old woman? Is my daughter well?"

"Old woman!" said Dorothy, who, having her fish hooked, chose to let him
play a little. "I am not so old," said she, flouncing out of the room,
"as to bide in the place till a man rises from his naked bed--"

And presently she was heard at a distance in the parlour beneath,
melodiously singing to the scrubbing of her own broom.

"Dorothy--screech owl--devil--say but my daughter is well!"

"I am well, my father," answered the Fair Maid of Perth, speaking from
her bedroom, "perfectly well, but what, for Our Lady's sake, is the
matter? The bells ring backward, and there is shrieking and crying in
the streets."

"I will presently know the cause. Here, Conachar, come speedily and
tie my points. I forgot--the Highland loon is far beyond Fortingall.
Patience, daughter, I will presently bring you news."

"Ye need not hurry yourself for that, Simon Glover," quoth the obdurate
old woman; "the best and the worst of it may be tauld before you could
hobble over your door stane. I ken the haill story abroad; 'for,'
thought I, 'our goodman is so wilful that he'll be for banging out to
the tuilzie, be the cause what it like; and sae I maun e'en stir my
shanks, and learn the cause of all this, or he will hae his auld nose in
the midst of it, and maybe get it nipt off before he knows what for.'"

"And what is the news, then, old woman?" said the impatient glover,
still busying himself with the hundred points or latchets which were the
means of attaching the doublet to the hose.

Dorothy suffered him to proceed in his task till she conjectured it must
be nearly accomplished; and foresaw that; if she told not the secret
herself, her master would be abroad to seek in person for the cause of
the disturbance. She, therefore, halloo'd out: "Aweel--aweel, ye canna
say it is me fault, if you hear ill news before you have been at
the morning mass. I would have kept it from ye till ye had heard the
priest's word; but since you must hear it, you have e'en lost the truest
friend that ever gave hand to another, and Perth maun mourn for the
bravest burgher that ever took a blade in hand!"

"Harry Smith! Harry Smith!" exclaimed the father and the daughter at
once.

"Oh, ay, there ye hae it at last," said Dorothy; "and whose fault was it
but your ain? ye made such a piece of work about his companying with a
glee woman, as if he had companied with a Jewess!"

Dorothy would have gone on long enough, but her master exclaimed to
his daughter, who was still in her own apartment: "It is nonsense,
Catharine--all the dotage of an old fool. No such thing has happened.
I will bring you the true tidings in a moment," and snatching up his
staff, the old man hurried out past Dorothy and into the street, where
the throng of people were rushing towards the High Street.

Dorothy, in the mean time, kept muttering to herself: "Thy father is a
wise man, take his ain word for it. He will come next by some scathe
in the hobbleshow, and then it will be, 'Dorothy, get the lint,' and
'Dorothy, spread the plaster;' but now it is nothing but nonsense, and
a lie, and impossibility, that can come out of Dorothy's mouth.
Impossible! Does auld Simon think that Harry Smith's head was as hard as
his stithy, and a haill clan of Highlandmen dinging at him?"

Here she was interrupted by a figure like an angel, who came wandering
by her with wild eye, cheek deadly pale, hair dishevelled, and an
apparent want of consciousness, which terrified the old woman out of her
discontented humour.

"Our Lady bless my bairn!" said she. "What look you sae wild for?"

"Did you not say some one was dead?" said Catharine, with a frightful
uncertainty of utterance, as if her organs of speech and hearing served
her but imperfectly.

"Dead, hinny! Ay--ay, dead eneugh; ye'll no hae him to gloom at ony
mair."

"Dead!" repeated Catharine, still with the same uncertainty of voice and
manner. "Dead--slain--and by Highlanders?"

"I'se warrant by Highlanders, the lawless loons. Wha is it else that
kills maist of the folks about, unless now and than when the burghers
take a tirrivie, and kill ane another, or whiles that the knights and
nobles shed blood? But I'se uphauld it's been the Highlandmen this bout.
The man was no in Perth, laird or loon, durst have faced Henry Smith
man to man. There's been sair odds against him; ye'll see that when it's
looked into."

"Highlanders!" repeated Catharine, as if haunted by some idea which
troubled her senses. "Highlanders! Oh, Conachar--Conachar!"

"Indeed, and I dare say you have lighted on the very man, Catharine.
They quarrelled, as you saw, on the St. Valentine's Even, and had a
warstle. A Highlandman has a long memory for the like of that. Gie him
a cuff at Martinmas, and his cheek will be tingling at Whitsunday. But
what could have brought down the lang legged loons to do their bloody
wark within burgh?"

"Woe's me, it was I," said Catharine--"it was I brought the Highlanders
down--I that sent for Conachar--ay, they have lain in wait--but it was I
that brought them within reach of their prey. But I will see with my own
eyes--and then--something we will do. Say to my father I will be back
anon."

"Are ye distraught, lassie?" shouted Dorothy, as Catharine made past her
towards the street door. "You would not gang into the street with the
hair hanging down your haffets in that guise, and you kenn'd for the
Fair Maid of Perth? Mass, but she's out in the street, come o't what
like, and the auld Glover will be as mad as if I could withhold her,
will she nill she, flyte she fling she. This is a brave morning for an
Ash Wednesday! What's to be done? If I were to seek my master among the
multitude, I were like to be crushed beneath their feet, and little moan
made for the old woman. And am I to run after Catharine, who ere this is
out of sight, and far lighter of foot than I am? so I will just down the
gate to Nicol Barber's, and tell him a' about it."

While the trusty Dorothy was putting her prudent resolve into execution,
Catharine ran through the streets of Perth in a manner which at another
moment would have brought on her the attention of every one who saw her
hurrying on with a reckless impetuosity wildly and widely different from
the ordinary decency and composure of her step and manner, and without
the plaid, scarf, or mantle which "women of good," of fair character
and decent rank, universally carried around them, when they went abroad.
But, distracted as the people were, every one inquiring or telling
the cause of the tumult, and most recounting it different ways,
the negligence of her dress and discomposure of her manner made no
impression on any one; and she was suffered to press forward on the path
she had chosen without attracting more notice than the other females
who, stirred by anxious curiosity or fear, had come out to inquire the
cause of an alarm so general--it might be to seek for friends for whose
safety they were interested.

As Catharine passed along, she felt all the wild influence of the
agitating scene, and it was with difficulty she forbore from repeating
the cries of lamentation and alarm which were echoed around her. In the
mean time, she rushed rapidly on, embarrassed like one in a dream, with
a strange sense of dreadful calamity, the precise nature of which she
was unable to define, but which implied the terrible consciousness that
the man who loved her so fondly, whose good qualities she so highly
esteemed, and whom she now felt to be dearer than perhaps she would
before have acknowledged to her own bosom, was murdered, and most
probably by her means. The connexion betwixt Henry's supposed death and
the descent of Conachar and his followers, though adopted by her in a
moment of extreme and engrossing emotion, was sufficiently probable
to have been received for truth, even if her understanding had been
at leisure to examine its credibility. Without knowing what she sought
except the general desire to know the worst of the dreadful report, she
hurried forward to the very spot which of all others her feelings of the
preceding day would have induced her to avoid.

Who would, upon the evening of Shrovetide, have persuaded the proud, the
timid, the shy, the rigidly decorous Catharine Glover that before mass
on Ash Wednesday she should rush through the streets of Perth, making
her way amidst tumult and confusion, with her hair unbound and her dress
disarranged, to seek the house of that same lover who, she had reason to
believe, had so grossly and indelicately neglected and affronted her as
to pursue a low and licentious amour? Yet so it was; and her eagerness
taking, as if by instinct, the road which was most free, she avoided the
High Street, where the pressure was greatest, and reached the wynd by
the narrow lanes on the northern skirt of the town, through which Henry
Smith had formerly escorted Louise. But even these comparatively lonely
passages were now astir with passengers, so general was the alarm.
Catharine Glover made her way through them, however, while such as
observed her looked on each other and shook their heads in sympathy with
her distress. At length, without any distinct idea of her own purpose,
she stood before her lover's door and knocked for admittance.

The silence which succeeded the echoing of her hasty summons increased
the alarm which had induced her to take this desperate measure.

"Open--open, Henry!" she cried. "Open, if you yet live! Open, if you
would not find Catharine Glover dead upon your threshold!"

As she cried thus frantically to ears which she was taught to believe
were stopped by death, the lover she invoked opened the door in person,
just in time to prevent her sinking on the ground. The extremity of his
ecstatic joy upon an occasion so unexpected was qualified only by the
wonder which forbade him to believe it real, and by his alarm at the
closed eyes, half opened and blanched lips, total absence of complexion,
and apparently total cessation of breathing.

Henry had remained at home, in spite of the general alarm, which had
reached his ears for a considerable time, fully determined to put
himself in the way of no brawls that he could avoid; and it was only in
compliance with a summons from the magistrates, which, as a burgher, he
was bound to obey, that, taking his sword and a spare buckler from the
wall, he was about to go forth, for the first time unwillingly, to pay
his service, as his tenure bound him.

"It is hard," he said, "to be put forward in all the town feuds, when
the fighting work is so detestable to Catharine. I am sure there are
enough of wenches in Perth that say to their gallants, 'Go out, do your
devoir bravely, and win your lady's grace'; and yet they send not for
their lovers, but for me, who cannot do the duties of a man to protect
a minstrel woman, or of a burgess who fights for the honour of his
town, but this peevish Catharine uses me as if I were a brawler and
bordeller!"

Such were the thoughts which occupied his mind, when, as he opened his
door to issue forth, the person dearest to his thoughts, but whom he
certainly least expected to see, was present to his eyes, and dropped
into his arms.

His mixture of surprise, joy, and anxiety did not deprive him of the
presence of mind which the occasion demanded. To place Catharine
Glover in safety, and recall her to herself was to be thought of
before rendering obedience to the summons of the magistrates, however
pressingly that had been delivered. He carried his lovely burden, as
light as a feather, yet more precious than the same quantity of purest
gold, into a small bedchamber which had been his mother's. It was the
most fit for an invalid, as it looked into the garden, and was separated
from the noise of the tumult.

"Here, Nurse--Nurse Shoolbred--come quick--come for death and life--here
is one wants thy help!"

Up trotted the old dame. "If it should but prove any one that will keep
thee out of the scuffle," for she also had been aroused by the noise;
but what was her astonishment when, placed in love and reverence on
the bed of her late mistress, and supported by the athletic arms of her
foster son, she saw the apparently lifeless form of the Fair Maid of
Perth.

"Catharine Glover!" she said; "and, Holy Mother, a dying woman, as it
would seem!"

"Not so, old woman," said her foster son: "the dear heart throbs--the
sweet breath comes and returns! Come thou, that may aid her more meetly
than I--bring water--essences--whatever thy old skill can devise. Heaven
did not place her in my arms to die, but to live for herself and me!"

With an activity which her age little promised, Nurse Shoolbred
collected the means of restoring animation; for, like many women of the
period, she understood what was to be done in such cases, nay, possessed
a knowledge of treating wounds of an ordinary description, which the
warlike propensities of her foster son kept in pretty constant exercise.

"Come now," she said, "son Henry, unfold your arms from about my
patient, though she is worth the pressing, and set thy hands at freedom
to help me with what I want. Nay, I will not insist on your quitting
her hand, if you will beat the palm gently, as the fingers unclose their
clenched grasp."

"I beat her slight, beautiful hand!" said Henry; "you were as well bid
me beat a glass cup with a forehammer as tap her fair palm with my horn
hard fingers. But the fingers do unfold, and we will find a better way
than beating"; and he applied his lips to the pretty hand, whose motion
indicated returning sensation. One or two deep sighs succeeded, and
the Fair Maid of Perth opened her eyes, fixed them on her lover, as
he kneeled by the bedside, and again sunk back on the pillow. As she
withdrew not her hand from her lover's hold or from his grasp, we must
in charity believe that the return to consciousness was not so complete
as to make her aware that he abused the advantage, by pressing it
alternately to his lips and his bosom. At the same time we are compelled
to own that the blood was colouring in her cheek, and that her breathing
was deep and regular, for a minute or two during this relapse.

The noise at the door began now to grow much louder, and Henry was
called for by all his various names of Smith. Gow, and Hal of the Wynd,
as heathens used to summon their deities by different epithets. At last,
like Portuguese Catholics when exhausted with entreating their saints,
the crowd without had recourse to vituperative exclamations.

"Out upon you, Henry! You are a disgraced man, man sworn to your burgher
oath, and a traitor to the Fair City, unless you come instantly forth!"

It would seem that nurse Shoolbred's applications were now so far
successful that Catharine's senses were in some measure restored; for,
turning her face more towards that of her lover than her former posture
permitted, she let her right hand fall on his shoulder, leaving her left
still in his possession, and seeming slightly to detain him, while she
whispered: "Do not go, Henry--stay with me; they will kill thee, these
men of blood."

It would seem that this gentle invocation, the result of finding the
lover alive whom she expected to have only recognised as a corpse,
though it was spoken so low as scarcely to be intelligible, had more
effect to keep Henry Wynd in his present posture than the repeated
summons of many voices from without had to bring him downstairs.

"Mass, townsmen," cried one hardy citizen to his companions, "the saucy
smith but jests with us! Let us into the house, and bring him out by the
lug and the horn."

"Take care what you are doing," said a more cautious assailant. "The man
that presses on Henry Gow's retirement may go into his house with sound
bones, but will return with ready made work for the surgeon. But here
comes one has good right to do our errand to him, and make the recreant
hear reason on both sides of his head."

The person of whom this was spoken was no other than Simon Glover
himself. He had arrived at the fatal spot where the unlucky bonnet
maker's body was lying, just in time to discover, to his great relief,
that when it was turned with the face upwards by Bailie Craigdallie's
orders, the features of the poor braggart Proudfute were recognised,
when the crowd expected to behold those of their favorite champion,
Henry Smith. A laugh, or something approaching to one, went among those
who remembered how hard Oliver had struggled to obtain the character
of a fighting man, however foreign to his nature and disposition, and
remarked now that he had met with a mode of death much better suited
to his pretensions than to his temper. But this tendency to ill timed
mirth, which savoured of the rudeness of the times, was at once hushed
by the voice, and cries, and exclamations of a woman who struggled
through the crowd, screaming at the same time, "Oh, my husband--my
husband!"

Room was made for the sorrower, who was followed by two or three female
friends. Maudie Proudfute had been hitherto only noticed as a good
looking, black haired woman, believed to be "dink" and disdainful to
those whom she thought meaner or poorer than herself, and lady and
empress over her late husband, whom she quickly caused to lower his
crest when she chanced to hear him crowing out of season. But now,
under the influence of powerful passion, she assumed a far more imposing
character.

"Do you laugh," she said, "you unworthy burghers of Perth, because one
of your own citizens has poured his blood into the kennel? or do you
laugh because the deadly lot has lighted on my husband? How has he
deserved this? Did he not maintain an honest house by his own industry,
and keep a creditable board, where the sick had welcome and the poor had
relief? Did he not lend to those who wanted, stand by his neighbours as
a friend, keep counsel and do justice like a magistrate?"

"It is true--it is true," answered the assembly; "his blood is our blood
as much as if it were Henry Gow's."

"You speak truth, neighbours," said Bailie Craigdallie; "and this feud
cannot be patched up as the former was: citizen's blood must not flow
unavenged down our kennels, as if it were ditch water, or we shall soon
see the broad Tay crimsoned with it. But this blow was never meant for
the poor man on whom it has unhappily fallen. Every one knew what Oliver
Proudfute was, how wide he would speak, and how little he would do. He
has Henry Smith's buff coat, target, and head piece. All the town know
them as well as I do: there is no doubt on't. He had the trick, as you
know, of trying to imitate the smith in most things. Some one, blind
with rage, or perhaps through liquor, has stricken the innocent bonnet
maker, whom no man either hated or feared, or indeed cared either much
or little about, instead of the stout smith, who has twenty feuds upon
his hands."

"What then, is to be done, bailie?" cried the multitude.

"That, my friends, your magistrates will determine for you, as we shall
instantly meet together when Sir Patrick Charteris cometh here, which
must be anon. Meanwhile, let the chirurgeon Dwining examine that poor
piece of clay, that he may tell us how he came by his fatal death; and
then let the corpse be decently swathed in a clean shroud, as becomes
an honest citizen, and placed before the high altar in the church of
St. John, the patron of the Fair City. Cease all clamour and noise, and
every defensible man of you, as you would wish well to the Fair Town,
keep his weapons in readiness, and be prepared to assemble on the High
Street at the tolling of the common bell from the townhouse, and we will
either revenge the death of our fellow citizen, or else we shall take
such fortune as Heaven will send us. Meanwhile avoid all quarrelling
With the knights and their followers till we know the innocent from the
guilty. But wherefore tarries this knave Smith? He is ready enough
in tumults when his presence is not wanted, and lags he now when his
presence may serve the Fair City? What ails him, doth any one know? Hath
he been upon the frolic last Fastern's Even?"

"Rather he is sick or sullen, Master Bailie," said one of the city's
mairs, or sergeants; "for though he is within door, as his knaves
report, yet he will neither answer to us nor admit us."

"So please your worship, Master Bailie," said Simon Glover, "I will go
myself to fetch Henry Smith. I have some little difference to make up
with him. And blessed be Our Lady, who hath so ordered it that I find
him alive, as a quarter of an hour since I could never have expected!"

"Bring the stout smith to the council house," said the bailie, as a
mounted yeoman pressed through the crowd and whispered in his ear, "Here
is a good fellow who says the Knight of Kinfauns is entering the port."

Such was the occasion of Simon Glover presenting himself at the house of
Henry Gow at the period already noticed.

Unrestrained by the considerations of doubt and hesitation which
influenced others, he repaired to the parlour; and having overheard the
bustling of Dame Shoolbred, he took the privilege of intimacy to ascend
to the bedroom, and, with the slight apology of "I crave your pardon,
good neighbour," he opened the door and entered the apartment, where a
singular and unexpected sight awaited him. At the sound of his voice,
May Catharine experienced a revival much speedier than Dame Shoolbred's
restoratives had been able to produce, and the paleness of her
complexion changed into a deep glow of the most lovely red. She pushed
her lover from her with both her hands, which, until this minute, her
want of consciousness, or her affection, awakened by the events of the
morning, had well nigh abandoned to his caresses. Henry Smith, bashful
as we know him, stumbled as he rose up; and none of the party were
without a share of confusion, excepting Dame Shoolbred, who was glad
to make some pretext to turn her back to the others, in order that she
might enjoy a laugh at their expense, which she felt herself utterly
unable to restrain, and in which the glover, whose surprise, though
great, was of short duration, and of a joyful character, sincerely
joined.

"Now, by good St. John," he said, "I thought I had seen a sight this
morning that would cure me of laughter, at least till Lent was over;
but this would make me curl my cheek if I were dying. Why, here stands
honest Henry Smith, who was lamented as dead, and toll'd out for from
every steeple in town, alive, merry, and, as it seems from his ruddy
complexion, as like to live as any man in Perth. And here is my precious
daughter, that yesterday would speak of nothing but the wickedness of
the wights that haunt profane sports and protect glee maidens. Ay,
she who set St. Valentine and St. Cupid both at defiance--here she is,
turned a glee maiden herself, for what I can see! Truly, I am glad to
see that you, my good Dame Shoolbred, who give way to no disorder, have
been of this loving party."

"You do me wrong, my dearest father," said Catharine, as if about to
weep. "I came here with far different expectations than you suppose. I
only came because--because--"

"Because you expected to find a dead lover," said her father, "and you
have found a living one, who can receive the tokens of your regard, and
return them. Now, were it not a sin, I could find in my heart to thank
Heaven that thou hast been surprised at last into owning thyself a
woman. Simon Glover is not worthy to have an absolute saint for his
daughter. Nay, look not so piteously, nor expect condolence from me!
Only I will try not to look merry, if you will be pleased to stop your
tears, or confess them to be tears of joy."

"If I were to die for such a confession," said poor Catharine, "I could
not tell what to call them. Only believe, dear father, and let Henry
believe, that I would never have come hither; unless--unless--"

"Unless you had thought that Henry could not come to you," said her
father. "And now, shake hands in peace and concord, and agree as
Valentines should. Yesterday was Shrovetide, Henry; We will hold that
thou hast confessed thy follies, hast obtained absolution, and art
relieved of all the guilt thou stoodest charged with."

"Nay touching that, father Simon," said the smith, "now that you are
cool enough to hear me, I can swear on the Gospels, and I can call my
nurse, Dame Shoolbred, to witness--"

"Nay--nay," said the glover, "but wherefore rake up differences which
should all be forgotten?"

"Hark ye, Simon!--Simon Glover!" This was now echoed from beneath.

"True, son Smith," said the glover, seriously, "we have other work in
hand. You and I must to the council instantly. Catharine shall remain
here with Dame Shoolbred, who will take charge of her till we return;
and then, as the town is in misrule, we two, Harry, will carry her home,
and they will be bold men that cross us."

"Nay, my dear father," said Catharine, with a smile, "now you are taking
Oliver Proudfute's office. That doughty burgher is Henry's brother at
arms."

Her father's countenance grew dark.

"You have spoke a stinging word, daughter; but you know not what has
happened. Kiss him, Catharine, in token of forgiveness."

"Not so," said Catharine; "I have done him too much grace already. When
he has seen the errant damsel safe home, it will be time enough to claim
his reward."

"Meantime," said Henry, "I will claim, as your host, what you will not
allow me on other terms."

He folded the fair maiden in his arms, and was permitted to take the
salute which she had refused to bestow.

As they descended the stair together, the old man laid his hand on the
smith's shoulder, and said: "Henry, my dearest wishes are fulfilled;
but it is the pleasure of the saints that it should be in an hour of
difficulty and terror."

"True," said the smith; "but thou knowest, father, if our riots be
frequent at Perth, at least they seldom last long."

Then, opening a door which led from the house into the smithy, "here,
comrades," he cried, "Anton, Cuthbert, Dingwell, and Ringen! Let none of
you stir from the place till I return. Be as true as the weapons I have
taught you to forge: a French crown and a Scotch merrymaking for you, if
you obey my command. I leave a mighty treasure in your charge. Watch
the doors well, let little Jannekin scout up and down the wynd, and have
your arms ready if any one approaches the house. Open the doors to no
man till father Glover or I return: it concerns my life and happiness."

The strong, swarthy giants to whom he spoke answered: "Death to him who
attempts it!"

"My Catharine is now as safe," said he to her father, "as if twenty men
garrisoned a royal castle in her cause. We shall pass most quietly to
the council house by walking through the garden."

He led the way through a little orchard accordingly, where the birds,
which had been sheltered and fed during the winter by the good natured
artisan, early in the season as it was, were saluting the precarious
smiles of a February sun with a few faint and interrupted attempts at
melody.

"Hear these minstrels, father," said the smith; "I laughed at them this
morning in the bitterness of my heart, because the little wretches sung,
with so much of winter before them. But now, methinks, I could bear a
blythe chorus, for I have my Valentine as they have theirs; and whatever
ill may lie before me for tomorrow, I am today the happiest man in
Perth, city or county, burgh or landward."

"Yet I must allay your joy," said the old glover, "though, Heaven knows,
I share it. Poor Oliver Proudfute, the inoffensive fool that you and I
knew so well, has been found this morning dead in the streets."

"Only dead drunk, I trust?" said the smith; "nay, a candle and a dose of
matrimonial advice will bring him to life again."

"No, Henry--no. He is slain--slain with a battle axe or some such
weapon."

"Impossible!" replied the smith; "he was light footed enough, and would
not for all Perth have trusted to his hands, when he could extricate
himself by his heels."

"No choice was allowed him. The blow was dealt in the very back of his
head; he who struck must have been a shorter man than himself, and used
a horseman's battle axe, or some such weapon, for a Lochaber axe must
have struck the upper part of his head. But there he lies dead, brained,
I may say, by a most frightful wound."

"This is inconceivable," said Henry Wynd. "He was in my house at
midnight, in a morricer's habit; seemed to have been drinking, though
not to excess. He told me a tale of having been beset by revellers,
and being in danger; but, alas! you know the man--I deemed it was a
swaggering fit, as he sometimes took when he was in liquor; and, may the
Merciful Virgin forgive me! I let him go without company, in which I did
him inhuman wrong. Holy St. John be my witness! I would have gone with
any helpless creature; and far more with him, with whom I have so often
sat at the same board and drunken of the same cup. Who, of the race
of man, could have thought of harming a creature so simple and so
unoffending, excepting by his idle vaunts?"

"Henry, he wore thy head piece, thy buff coat; thy target. How came he
by these?"

"Why, he demanded the use of them for the night, and I was ill at ease,
and well pleased to be rid of his company, having kept no holiday, and
being determined to keep none, in respect of our misunderstanding."

"It is the opinion of Bailie Craigdallie and all our sagest counsellors
that the blow was intended for yourself, and that it becomes you to
prosecute the due vengeance of our fellow citizen, who received the
death which was meant for you."

The smith was for some time silent. They had now left the garden, and
were walking in a lonely lane, by which they meant to approach the
council house of the burgh without being exposed to observation or idle
inquiry.

"You are silent, my son, yet we two have much to speak of," said Simon
Glover. "Bethink thee that this widowed woman, Maudlin, if she should
see cause to bring a charge against any one for the wrong done to her
and her orphan children, must support it by a champion, according to
law and custom; for, be the murderer who he may, we know enough of these
followers of the nobles to be assured that the party suspected will
appeal to the combat, in derision, perhaps, of we whom they will call
the cowardly burghers. While we are men with blood in our veins, this
must not be, Henry Wynd."

"I see where you would draw me, father," answered Henry, dejectedly,
"and St. John knows I have heard a summons to battle as willingly as war
horse ever heard the trumpet. But bethink you, father, how I have lost
Catharine's favour repeatedly, and have been driven well nigh to despair
of ever regaining it, for being, if I may say so, even too ready a man
of my hands. And here are all our quarrels made up, and the hopes that
seemed this morning removed beyond earthly prospect have become
nearer and brighter than ever; and must I with the dear one's kiss of
forgiveness on my lips, engage in a new scene of violence, which you are
well aware will give her the deepest offence?"

"It is hard for me to advise you, Henry," said Simon; "but this I must
ask you: Have you, or have you not, reason to think that this poor
unfortunate Oliver has been mistaken for you?"

"I fear it too much," said Henry. "He was thought something like me, and
the poor fool had studied to ape my gestures and manner of walking,
nay the very airs which I have the trick of whistling, that he might
increase a resemblance which has cost him dear. I have ill willers
enough, both in burgh and landward, to owe me a shrewd turn; and he, I
think, could have none such."

"Well, Henry, I cannot say but my daughter will be offended. She has
been much with Father Clement, and has received notions about peace and
forgiveness which methinks suit ill with a country where the laws cannot
protect us, unless we have spirit to protect ourselves. If you determine
for the combat, I will do my best to persuade her to look on the matter
as the other good womanhood in the burgh will do; and if you resolve to
let the matter rest--the man who has lost his life for yours remaining
unavenged, the widow and the orphans without any reparation for the loss
of a husband and father--I will then do you the justice to think that I,
at least, ought not to think the worse of you for your patience, since
it was adopted for love of my child. But, Henry, we must in that case
remove ourselves from bonny St. Johnston, for here we will be but a
disgraced family."

Henry groaned deeply, and was silent for an instant, then replied: "I
would rather be dead than dishonoured, though I should never see her
again! Had it been yester evening, I would have met the best blade among
these men at arms as blythely as ever I danced at a maypole. But today,
when she had first as good as said, 'Henry Smith, I love thee!' Father
Glover; it is very hard. Yet it is all my own fault. This poor unhappy
Oliver! I ought to have allowed him the shelter of my roof, when he
prayed me in his agony of fear; or; had I gone with him, I should then
have prevented or shared his fate. But I taunted him, ridiculed him,
loaded him with maledictions, though the saints know they were uttered
in idle peevishness of impatience. I drove him out from my doors, whom I
knew so helpless, to take the fate which was perhaps intended for me.
I must avenge him, or be dishonoured for ever. See, father, I have been
called a man hard as the steel I work in. Does burnished steel ever drop
tears like these? Shame on me that I should shed them!"

"It is no shame, my dearest son," said Simon; "thou art as kind as
brave, and I have always known it. There is yet a chance for us. No one
may be discovered to whom suspicion attaches, and where none such is
found, the combat cannot take place. It is a hard thing to wish that the
innocent blood may not be avenged. But if the perpetrator of this foul
murder be hidden for the present, thou wilt be saved from the task
of seeking that vengeance which Heaven doubtless will take at its own
proper time."

As they spoke thus, they arrived at the point of the High Street where
the council house was situated. As they reached the door, and made
their way through the multitude who thronged the street, they found the
avenues guarded by a select party of armed burghers, and about fifty
spears belonging to the Knight of Kinfauns, who, with his allies
the Grays, Blairs, Moncrieffs, and others, had brought to Perth a
considerable body of horse, of which these were a part. So soon as the
glover and smith presented themselves, they were admitted to the chamber
in which the magistrates were assembled.



CHAPTER XX.

     A woman wails for justice at the gate,
     A widow'd woman, wan and desolate.

     Bertha.


The council room of Perth presented a singular spectacle. In a gloomy
apartment, ill and inconveniently lighted by two windows of different
form and of unequal size, were assembled, around a large oaken table,
a group of men, of whom those who occupied the higher seats were
merchants, that is, guild brethren, or shopkeepers, arrayed in decent
dresses becoming their station, but most of them bearing, like, the
Regent York, "signs of war around their aged necks"--gorgets, namely,
and baldricks, which sustained their weapons. The lower places around
the table were occupied by mechanics and artisans, the presidents, or
deacons, as they were termed, of the working classes, in their ordinary
clothes, somewhat better arranged than usual. These, too, wore pieces
of armour of various descriptions. Some had the blackjack, or doublets
covered with small plates of iron of a lozenge shape, which, secured
through the upper angle, hung in rows above each [other], and which,
swaying with the motion of the wearer's person, formed a secure defence
to the body. Others had buff coats, which, as already mentioned, could
resist the blow of a sword, and even a lance's point, unless propelled
with great force. At the bottom of the table, surrounded as it was
with this varied assembly, sat Sir Louis Lundin; no military man, but
a priest and parson of St. John's, arrayed in his canonical dress, and
having his pen and ink before him. He was town clerk of the burgh,
and, like all the priests of the period (who were called from that
circumstance the Pope's knights), received the honourable title of
Dominus, contracted into Dom, or Dan, or translated into Sir, the title
of reverence due to the secular chivalry.

On an elevated seat at the head of the council board was placed Sir
Patrick Charteris, in complete armour brightly burnished--a singular
contrast to the motley mixture of warlike and peaceful attire exhibited
by the burghers, who were only called to arms occasionally. The bearing
of the provost, while it completely admitted the intimate connexion
which mutual interests had created betwixt himself, the burgh, and the
magistracy, was at the same time calculated to assert the superiority
which, in virtue of gentle blood and chivalrous rank, the opinions of
the age assigned to him over the members of the assembly in which he
presided. Two squires stood behind him, one of them holding the knight's
pennon, and another his shield, bearing his armorial distinctions, being
a hand holding a dagger, or short sword, with the proud motto, "This is
my charter." A handsome page displayed the long sword of his master, and
another bore his lance; all which chivalrous emblems and appurtenances
were the more scrupulously exhibited, that the dignitary to whom they
belonged was engaged in discharging the office of a burgh magistrate.
In his own person the Knight of Kinfauns appeared to affect something
of state and stiffness which did not naturally pertain to his frank and
jovial character.

"So you are come at length, Henry Smith and Simon Glover," said the
provost. "Know that you have kept us waiting for your attendance. Should
it so chance again while we occupy this place, we will lay such a
fine on you as you will have small pleasure in paying. Enough--make
no excuses. They are not asked now, and another time they will not
be admitted. Know, sirs, that our reverend clerk hath taken down in
writing, and at full length, what I will tell you in brief, that you may
see what is to be required of you, Henry Smith, in particular. Our
late fellow citizen, Oliver Proudfute, hath been found dead in the High
Street, close by the entrance into the wynd. It seemeth he was slain by
a heavy blow with a short axe, dealt from behind and at unawares;
and the act by which he fell can only be termed a deed of foul and
forethought murder. So much for the crime. The criminal can only be
indicated by circumstances. It is recorded in the protocol of the
Reverend Sir Louis Lundin, that divers well reported witnesses saw our
deceased citizen, Oliver Proudfute, till a late period accompanying the
entry of the morrice dancers, of whom he was one, as far as the house of
Simon Glover, in Curfew Street, where they again played their pageant.
It is also manifested that at this place he separated from the rest
of the band, after some discourse with Simon Glover, and made an
appointment to meet with the others of his company at the sign of the
Griffin, there to conclude the holiday. Now, Simon, I demand of you
whether this be truly stated, so far as you know? and further, what was
the purport of the defunct Oliver Proudfute's discourse with you?"

"My Lord Provost and very worshipful Sir Patrick," answered Simon
Glover, "you and this honourable council shall know that, touching
certain reports which had been made of the conduct of Henry Smith, some
quarrel had arisen between myself and another of my family and the said
Smith here present. Now, this our poor fellow citizen, Oliver Proudfute,
having been active in spreading these reports, as indeed his element lay
in such gossipred, some words passed betwixt him and me on the subject;
and, as I think, he left me with the purpose of visiting Henry Smith,
for he broke off from the morrice dancers, promising, as it seems, to
meet them, as your honour has said, at the sign of the Griffin, in order
to conclude the evening. But what he actually did, I know not, as I
never again saw him in life."

"It is enough," said Sir Patrick, "and agrees with all that we have
heard. Now, worthy sirs, we next find our poor fellow citizen environed
by a set of revellers and maskers who had assembled in the High Street,
by whom he was shamefully ill treated, being compelled to kneel down
in the street, and there to quaff huge quantities of liquor against
his inclination, until at length he escaped from them by flight.
This violence was accomplished with drawn swords, loud shouts, and
imprecations, so as to attract the attention of several persons, who,
alarmed by the tumult, looked out from their windows, as well as of one
or two passengers, who, keeping aloof from the light of the torches,
lest they also had been maltreated, beheld the usage which our fellow
citizen received in the High Street of the burgh. And although these
revellers were disguised, and used vizards, yet their disguises were
well known, being a set of quaint masking habits prepared some weeks
ago by command of Sir John Ramorny, Master of the Horse to his Royal
Highness the Duke of Rothsay, Prince Royal of Scotland."

A low groan went through the assembly.

"Yes, so it is, brave burghers," continued Sir Patrick; "our inquiries
have led us into conclusions both melancholy and terrible. But as no one
can regret the point at which they seem likely to arrive more than I do,
so no man living can dread its consequences less. It is even so, various
artisans employed upon the articles have described the dresses prepared
for Sir John Ramorny's mask as being exactly similar to those of the
men by whom Oliver Proudfute was observed to be maltreated. And one
mechanic, being Wingfield the feather dresser, who saw the revellers
when they had our fellow citizen within their hands, remarked that they
wore the cinctures and coronals of painted feathers which he himself had
made by the order of the Prince's master of horse.

"After the moment of his escape from these revellers, we lose all trace
of Oliver' but we can prove that the maskers went to Sir John Ramorny's,
where they were admitted, after some show of delay. It is rumoured that
thou, Henry Smith, sawest our unhappy fellow citizen after he had been
in the hands of these revellers. What is the truth of the matter?"

"He came to my house in the wynd," said Henry, "about half an hour
before midnight; and I admitted him, something unwillingly, as he had
been keeping carnival while I remained at home; and 'There is ill talk,'
says the proverb, 'betwixt a full man and a fasting.'"

"And in which plight seemed he when thou didst admit him?" said the
provost.

"He seemed," answered the smith, "out of breath, and talked repeatedly
of having been endangered by revellers. I paid but small regard, for he
was ever a timorous, chicken spirited, though well meaning, man, and
I held that he was speaking more from fancy than reality. But I shall
always account it for foul offence in myself that I did not give him my
company, which he requested; and if I live, I will found masses for his
soul, in expiation of my guilt."

"Did he describe those from whom he received the injury?" said the
provost.

"Revellers in masking habits," replied Henry.

"And did he intimate his fear of having to do with them on his return?"
again demanded Sir Patrick.

"He alluded particularly to his being waylaid, which I treated as
visionary, having been able to see no one in the lane."

"Had he then no help from thee of any kind whatsoever?" said the
provost.

"Yes, worshipful," replied the smith; "he exchanged his morrice dress
for my head piece, buff coat, and target, which I hear were found upon
his body; and I have at home his morrice cap and bells, with the jerkin
and other things pertaining. He was to return my garb of fence, and get
back his own masking suit this day, had the saints so permitted."

"You saw him not then afterwards?"

"Never, my lord."

"One word more," said the provost. "Have you any reason to think that
the blow which slew Oliver Proudfute was meant for another man?"

"I have," answered the smith; "but it is doubtful, and may be dangerous
to add such a conjecture, which is besides only a supposition."

"Speak it out, on your burgher faith and oath. For whom, think you, was
the blow meant?"

"If I must speak," replied Henry, "I believe Oliver Proudfute received
the fate which was designed for myself; the rather that, in his folly,
Oliver spoke of trying to assume my manner of walking, as well as my
dress."

"Have you feud with any one, that you form such an idea?" said Sir
Patrick Charteris.

"To my shame and sin be it spoken, I have feud with Highland and
Lowland, English and Scot, Perth and Angus. I do not believe poor
Oliver had feud with a new hatched chicken. Alas! he was the more fully
prepared for a sudden call!"

"Hark ye, smith," said the provost, "answer me distinctly: Is there
cause of feud between the household of Sir John Ramorny and yourself?"

"To a certainty, my lord, there is. It is now generally said that Black
Quentin, who went over Tay to Fife some days since, was the owner of the
hand which was found in Couvrefew Street upon the eve of St. Valentine.
It was I who struck off that hand with a blow of my broadsword. As this
Black Quentin was a chamberlain of Sir John, and much trusted, it is
like there must be feud between me and his master's dependants."

"It bears a likely front, smith," said Sir Patrick Charteris. "And now,
good brothers and wise magistrates, there are two suppositions, each of
which leads to the same conclusion. The maskers who seized our fellow
citizen, and misused him in a manner of which his body retains some
slight marks, may have met with their former prisoner as he returned
homewards, and finished their ill usage by taking his life. He himself
expressed to Henry Gow fears that this would be the case. If this be
really true, one or more of Sir John Ramorny's attendants must have
been the assassins. But I think it more likely that one or two of the
revellers may have remained on the field, or returned to it, having
changed perhaps their disguise, and that to those men (for Oliver
Proudfute, in his own personal appearance, would only have been a
subject of sport) his apparition in the dress, and assuming, as he
proposed to do, the manner, of Henry Smith, was matter of deep hatred;
and that, seeing him alone, they had taken, as they thought, a certain
and safe mode to rid themselves of an enemy so dangerous as all men know
Henry Wynd is accounted by those that are his unfriends. The same train
of reasoning, again, rests the guilt with the household of Sir John
Ramorny. How think you, sirs? Are we not free to charge the crime upon
them?"

The magistrates whispered together for several minutes, and then replied
by the voice of Bailie Craigdallie: "Noble knight, and our worthy
provost, we agree entirely in what your wisdom has spoken concerning
this dark and bloody matter; nor do we doubt your sagacity in tracing to
the fellowship and the company of John Ramorny of that ilk the villainy
which hath been done to our deceased fellow citizen, whether in his own
character and capacity or as mistaking him for our brave townsman, Henry
of the Wynd. But Sir John, in his own behalf, and as the Prince's master
of the horse, maintains an extensive household; and as, of course, the
charge will be rebutted by a denial, we would ask how we shall proceed
in that case. It is true, could we find law for firing the lodging, and
putting all within it to the sword; the old proverb of 'Short rede,
good rede,' might here apply; for a fouler household of defiers of God,
destroyers of men, and debauchers of women are nowhere sheltered than
are in Ramorny's band. But I doubt that this summary mode of execution
would scarce be borne out by the laws; and no tittle of evidence which
I have heard will tend to fix the crime on any single individual or
individuals."

Before the provost could reply, the town clerk arose, and, stroking
his venerable beard, craved permission to speak, which was instantly
granted.

"Brethren," he said, "as well in our fathers' time as ours; hath God, on
being rightly appealed to, condescended to make manifest the crimes of
the guilty and the innocence of those who may have been rashly accused.
Let us demand from our sovereign lord, King Robert, who, when the wicked
do not interfere to pervert his good intentions, is as just and clement
a prince as our annals can show in their long line, in the name of the
Fair City, and of all the commons in Scotland, that he give us, after
the fashion of our ancestors, the means of appealing to Heaven for light
upon this dark murder, we will demand the proof by 'bier right,' often
granted in the days of our sovereign's ancestors, approved of by bulls
and decretals, and administered by the great Emperor Charlemagne in
France, by King Arthur in Britain, and by Gregory the Great, and the
mighty Achaius, in this our land of Scotland."

"I have heard of the bier right, Sir Louis," quoth the provost, "and I
know we have it in our charters of the Fair City; but I am something
ill learned in the ancient laws, and would pray you to inform us more
distinctly of its nature."

"We will demand of the King," said Sir Louis Lundin, "my advice being
taken, that the body of our murdered fellow citizen be transported into
the High Church of St. John, and suitable masses said for the benefit
of his soul and for the discovery of his foul murder. Meantime, we shall
obtain an order that Sir John Ramorny give up a list of such of his
household as were in Perth in the course of the night between Fastern's
Even and this Ash Wednesday, and become bound to present them on a
certain day and hour, to be early named, in the High Church of St. John,
there one by one to pass before the bier of our murdered fellow citizen,
and in the form prescribed to call upon God and His saints to bear
witness that he is innocent of the acting, art or part, of the murder.
And credit me, as has been indeed proved by numerous instances, that, if
the murderer shall endeavour to shroud himself by making such an appeal,
the antipathy which subsists between the dead body and the hand which
dealt the fatal blow that divorced it from the soul will awaken some
imperfect life, under the influence of which the veins of the dead man
will pour forth at the fatal wounds the blood which has been so long
stagnant in the veins. Or, to speak more certainly, it is the pleasure
of Heaven, by some hidden agency which we cannot comprehend, to leave
open this mode of discovering the wickedness of him who has defaced the
image of his Creator."

"I have heard this law talked of," said Sir Patrick, "and it was
enforced in the Bruce's time. This surely is no unfit period to seek, by
such a mystic mode of inquiry, the truth to which no ordinary means can
give us access, seeing that a general accusation of Sir John's household
would full surely be met by a general denial. Yet I must crave farther
of Sir Louis, our reverend town clerk, how we shall prevent the guilty
person from escaping in the interim?"

"The burghers will maintain a strict watch upon the wall, drawbridges
shall be raised and portcullises lowered, from sunset to sunrise, and
strong patrols maintained through the night. This guard the burghers
will willingly maintain, to secure against the escape of the murderer of
their townsman."

The rest of the counsellors acquiesced, by word, sign, and look, in this
proposal.

"Again," said the provost, "what if any one of the suspected household
refuse to submit to the ordeal of bier right?"

"He may appeal to that of combat," said the reverend city scribe, "with
an opponent of equal rank; because the accused person must have his
choice, in the appeal to the judgment of God, by what ordeal he will
be tried. But if he refuses both, he must be held as guilty, and so
punished."

The sages of the council unanimously agreed with the opinion of their
provost and town clerk, and resolved, in all formality, to petition
the King, as a matter of right, that the murder of their fellow citizen
should be inquired into according to this ancient form, which was held
to manifest the truth, and received as matter of evidence in case of
murder so late as towards the end of the 17th century. But before the
meeting dissolved, Bailie Craigdallie thought it meet to inquire who
was to be the champion of Maudie, or Magdalen, Proudfute and her two
children.

"There need be little inquiry about that," said Sir Patrick Charteris;
"we are men, and wear swords, which should be broken over the head
of any one amongst us who will not draw it in behalf of the widow and
orphans of our murdered fellow citizen, and in brave revenge of his
death. If Sir John Ramorny shall personally resent the inquiry, Patrick
Charteris of Kinfauns will do battle with him to the outrance, whilst
horse and man may stand, or spear and blade hold together. But in case
the challenger be of yeomanly degree, well wot I that Magdalen Proudfute
may choose her own champion among the bravest burghers of Perth, and
shame and dishonour were it to the Fair City for ever could she light
upon one who were traitor and coward enough to say her nay! Bring her
hither, that she may make her election."

Henry Smith heard this with a melancholy anticipation that the poor
woman's choice would light upon him, and that his recent reconciliation
with his mistress would be again dissolved, by his being engaged in a
fresh quarrel, from which there lay no honourable means of escape, and
which, in any other circumstances, he would have welcomed as a glorious
opportunity of distinguishing himself, both in sight of the court and
of the city. He was aware that, under the tuition of Father Clement,
Catharine viewed the ordeal of battle rather as an insult to religion
than an appeal to the Deity, and did not consider it as reasonable that
superior strength of arm or skill of weapon should be resorted to as the
proof of moral guilt or innocence. He had, therefore, much to fear from
her peculiar opinions in this particular, refined as they were beyond
those of the age she lived in.

While he thus suffered under these contending feelings, Magdalen,
the widow of the slaughtered man, entered the court, wrapt in a deep
mourning veil, and followed and supported by five or six women of good
(that is, of respectability) dressed in the same melancholy attire. One
of her attendants held an infant in her arms, the last pledge of poor
Oliver's nuptial affections. Another led a little tottering creature of
two years, or thereabouts, which looked with wonder and fear, sometimes
on the black dress in which they had muffled him, and sometimes on the
scene around him.

The assembly rose to receive the melancholy group, and saluted them with
an expression of the deepest sympathy, which Magdalen, though the mate
of poor Oliver, returned with an air of dignity, which she borrowed,
perhaps, from the extremity of her distress. Sir Patrick Charteris then
stepped forward, and with the courtesy of a knight to a female, and of a
protector to an oppressed and injured widow, took the poor woman's hand,
and explained to her briefly by what course the city had resolved to
follow out the vengeance due for her husband's slaughter.

Having, with a softness and gentleness which did not belong to his
general manner, ascertained that the unfortunate woman perfectly
understood what was meant, he said aloud to the assembly: "Good citizens
of Perth, and freeborn men of guild and craft, attend to what is
about to pass, for it concerns your rights and privileges. Here stands
Magdalen Proudfute, desirous to follow forth the revenge due for the
death of her husband, foully murdered, as she sayeth, by Sir John
Ramorny, Knight, of that Ilk, and which she offers to prove, by the
evidence of bier right, or by the body of a man. Therefore, I, Patrick
Charteris, being a belted knight and freeborn gentleman, offer myself to
do battle in her just quarrel, whilst man and horse may endure, if any
one of my degree shall lift my glove. How say you, Magdalen Proudfute,
will you accept me for your champion?"

The widow answered with difficulty: "I can desire none nobler."

Sir Patrick then took her right hand in his, and, kissing her forehead,
for such was the ceremony, said solemnly: "So may God and St. John
prosper me at my need, as I will do my devoir as your champion,
knightly, truly, and manfully. Go now, Magdalen, and choose at your will
among the burgesses of the Fair City, present or absent, any one upon
whom you desire to rest your challenge, if he against whom you bring
plaint shall prove to be beneath my degree."

All eyes were turned to Henry Smith, whom the general voice had already
pointed out as in every respect the fittest to act as champion on the
occasion. But the widow waited not for the general prompting of their
looks. As soon as Sir Patrick had spoken, she crossed the floor to the
place where, near the bottom of the table, the armourer stood among the
men of his degree, and took him by the hand.

"Henry Gow, or Smith," she said, "good burgher and draftsman, my--my--"

"Husband," she would have said, but the word would not come forth: she
was obliged to change the expression.

"He who is gone, loved and prized you over all men; therefore meet it is
that thou shouldst follow out the quarrel of his widow and orphans."

If there had been a possibility, which in that age there was not, of
Henry's rejecting or escaping from a trust for which all men seemed to
destine him, every wish and idea of retreat was cut off when the widow
began to address him; and a command from Heaven could hardly have made a
stronger impression than did the appeal of the unfortunate Magdalen. Her
allusion to his intimacy with the deceased moved him to the soul. During
Oliver's life, doubtless, there had been a strain of absurdity in his
excessive predilection for Henry, which, considering how very different
they were in character, had in it something ludicrous. But all this
was now forgotten, and Henry, giving way to his natural ardour, only
remembered that Oliver had been his friend and intimate--a man who had
loved and honoured him as much as he was capable of entertaining such
sentiments for any one, and, above all, that there was much reason to
suspect that the deceased had fallen victim to a blow meant for Henry
himself.

It was, therefore, with an alacrity which, the minute before, he could
scarce have commanded, and which seemed to express a stern pleasure,
that, having pressed his lips to the cold brow of the unhappy Magdalen,
the armourer replied:

"I, Henry the Smith, dwelling in the Wynd of Perth, good man and true,
and freely born, accept the office of champion to this widow Magdalen
and these orphans, and will do battle in their quarrel to the death,
with any man whomsoever of my own degree, and that so long as I shall
draw breath. So help me at my need God and good St. John!"

There arose from the audience a half suppressed cry, expressing the
interest which the persons present took in the prosecution of the
quarrel, and their confidence in the issue.

Sir Patrick Charteris then took measures for repairing to the King's
presence, and demanding leave to proceed with inquiry into the murder
of Oliver Proudfute, according to the custom of bier right, and, if
necessary, by combat.

He performed this duty after the town council had dissolved, in a
private interview between himself and the King, who heard of this new
trouble with much vexation, and appointed next morning, after mass,
for Sir Patrick and the parties interested to attend his pleasure in
council. In the mean time, a royal pursuivant was despatched to the
Constable's lodgings, to call over the roll of Sir John Ramorny's
attendants, and charge him, with his whole retinue, under high
penalties, to abide within Perth until the King's pleasure should be
farther known.



CHAPTER XXI.

     In God's name, see the lists and all things fit;
     There let them end it--God defend the right!

     Henry IV. Part II.


In the same council room of the conventual palace of the Dominicans,
King Robert was seated with his brother Albany, whose affected austerity
of virtue, and real art and dissimulation, maintained so high an
influence over the feeble minded monarch. It was indeed natural that one
who seldom saw things according to their real forms and outlines should
view them according to the light in which they were presented to him by
a bold, astucious man, possessing the claim of such near relationship.

Ever anxious on account of his misguided and unfortunate son, the King
was now endeavouring to make Albany coincide in opinion with him in
exculpating Rothsay from any part in the death of the bonnet maker, the
precognition concerning which had been left by Sir Patrick Charteris for
his Majesty's consideration.

"This is an unhappy matter, brother Robin," he said--"a most unhappy
occurrence, and goes nigh to put strife and quarrel betwixt the nobility
and the commons here, as they have been at war together in so many
distant lands. I see but one cause of comfort in the matter, and that
is, that Sir John Ramorny having received his dismissal from the Duke of
Rothsay's family, it cannot be said that he or any of his people who may
have done this bloody deed--if it has truly been done by them--have been
encouraged or hounded out upon such an errand by my poor boy. I am sure,
brother, you and I can bear witness how readily, upon my entreaties, he
agreed to dismiss Ramorny from his service, on account of that brawl in
Curfew Street."

"I remember his doing so," said Albany; "and well do I hope that the
connexion betwixt the Prince and Ramorny has not been renewed since he
seemed to comply with your Grace's wishes."

"Seemed to comply! The connexion renewed!" said the King. "What mean you
by these expressions, brother? Surely, when David promised to me that,
if that unhappy matter of Curfew Street were but smothered up and
concealed, he would part with Ramorny, as he was a counsellor thought
capable of involving him in similar fooleries, and would acquiesce
in our inflicting on him either exile or such punishment as it should
please us to impose--surely you cannot doubt that he was sincere in his
professions, and would keep his word? Remember you not that, when you
advised that a heavy fine should be levied upon his estate in Fife in
lieu of banishment, the Prince himself seemed to say that exile would be
better for Ramorny, and even for himself?"

"I remember it well, my royal brother. Nor, truly, could I have
suspected Ramorny of having so much influence over the Prince, after
having been accessory to placing him in a situation so perilous, had
it not been for my royal kinsman's own confession, alluded to by your
Grace, that, if suffered to remain at court, he might still continue to
influence his conduct. I then regretted I had advised a fine in place
of exile. But that time is passed, and now new mischief has occurred,
fraught with much peril to your Majesty, as well as to your royal heir,
and to the whole kingdom."

"What mean you, Robin?" said the weak minded King. "By the tomb of our
parents! by the soul of Bruce, our immortal ancestor! I entreat thee, my
dearest brother, to take compassion on me. Tell me what evil threatens
my son, or my kingdom?"

The features of the King, trembling with anxiety, and his eyes brimful
of tears, were bent upon his brother, who seemed to assume time for
consideration ere he replied.

"My lord, the danger lies here. Your Grace believed that the Prince had
no accession to this second aggression upon the citizens of Perth--the
slaughter of this bonnet making fellow, about whose death they clamour,
as a set of gulls about their comrade, when one of the noisy brood is
struck down by a boor's shaft."

"Their lives," said the King, "are dear to themselves and their friends,
Robin."

"Truly, ay, my liege; and they make them dear to us too, ere we can
settle with the knaves for the least blood wit. But, as I said, your
Majesty thinks the Prince had no share in this last slaughter; I will
not attempt to shake your belief in that delicate point, but will
endeavour to believe along with you. What you think is rule for me,
Robert of Albany will never think otherwise than Robert of broad
Scotland."

"Thank you, thank you," said the King, taking his brother's hand. "I
knew I might rely that your affection would do justice to poor heedless
Rothsay, who exposes himself to so much misconstruction that he scarcely
deserves the sentiments you feel for him."

Albany had such an immovable constancy of purpose, that he was able to
return the fraternal pressure of the King's hand, while tearing up by
the very roots the hopes of the indulgent, fond old man.

"But, alas!" the Duke continued, with a sigh, "this burly, intractable
Knight of Kinfauns, and his brawling herd of burghers, will not view the
matter as we do. They have the boldness to say that this dead fellow had
been misused by Rothsay and his fellows, who were in the street in mask
and revel, stopping men and women, compelling them to dance, or to drink
huge quantities of wine, with other follies needless to recount; and
they say that the whole party repaired in Sir John Ramorny's, and broke
their way into the house in order to conclude their revel there, thus
affording good reason to judge that the dismissal of Sir John from the
Prince's service was but a feigned stratagem to deceive the public. And
hence they urge that, if ill were done that night by Sir John Ramorny
or his followers, much it is to be thought that the Duke of Rothsay must
have at least been privy to, if he did not authorise, it."

"Albany, this is dreadful!" said the King. "Would they make a murderer
of my boy? would they pretend my David would soil his hands in Scottish
blood without having either provocation or purpose? No--no, they will
not invent calumnies so broad as these, for they are flagrant and
incredible."

"Pardon, my liege," answered the Duke of Albany; "they say the cause
of quarrel which occasioned the riot in Curfew Street, and, its
consequences, were more proper to the Prince than to Sir John, since
none suspects, far less believes, that that hopeful enterprise was
conducted for the gratification of the knight of Ramorny."

"Thou drivest me mad, Robin!" said the King.

"I am dumb," answered his brother; "I did but speak my poor mind
according to your royal order."

"Thou meanest well, I know," said the King; "but, instead of tearing me
to pieces with the display of inevitable calamities, were it not kinder,
Robin, to point me out some mode to escape from them?"

"True, my liege; but as the only road of extrication is rough and
difficult, it is necessary your Grace should be first possessed with
the absolute necessity of using it, ere you hear it even described. The
chirurgeon must first convince his patient of the incurable condition of
a shattered member, ere he venture to name amputation, though it be the
only remedy."

The King at these words was roused to a degree of alarm and indignation
greater than his brother had deemed he could be awakened to.

"Shattered and mortified member, my Lord of Albany! amputation the only
remedy! These are unintelligible words, my lord. If thou appliest them
to our son Rothsay, thou must make them good to the letter, else mayst
thou have bitter cause to rue the consequence."

"You construe me too literally, my royal liege," said Albany. "I spoke
not of the Prince in such unbeseeming terms, for I call Heaven to
witness that he is dearer to me as the son of a well beloved brother
than had he been son of my own. But I spoke in regard to separating him
from the follies and vanities of life, which holy men say are like to
mortified members, and ought, like them, to be cut off and thrown from
us, as things which interrupt our progress in better things."

"I understand--thou wouldst have this Ramorny, who hath been thought the
instrument of my son's follies, exiled from court," said the relieved
monarch, "until these unhappy scandals are forgotten, and our subjects
are disposed to look upon our son with different and more confiding
eyes."

"That were good counsel, my liege; but mine went a little--a very
little--farther. I would have the Prince himself removed for some brief
period from court."

"How, Albany! part with my child, my firstborn, the light of my eyes,
and--wilful as he is--the darling of my heart! Oh, Robin! I cannot, and
I will not."

"Nay, I did but suggest, my lord; I am sensible of the wound such a
proceeding must inflict on a parent's heart, for am I not myself a
father?" And he hung his head, as if in hopeless despondency.

"I could not survive it, Albany. When I think that even our own
influence over him, which, sometimes forgotten in our absence, is ever
effectual whilst he is with us, is by your plan to be entirely removed,
what perils might he not rush upon? I could not sleep in his absence--I
should hear his death groan in every breeze; and you, Albany, though you
conceal it better, would be nearly as anxious."

Thus spoke the facile monarch, willing to conciliate his brother and
cheat himself, by taking it for granted that an affection, of which
there were no traces, subsisted betwixt the uncle and nephew.

"Your paternal apprehensions are too easily alarmed, my lord," said
Albany. "I do not propose to leave the disposal of the Prince's motions
to his own wild pleasure. I understand that the Prince is to be placed
for a short time under some becoming restraint--that he should
be subjected to the charge of some grave counsellor, who must be
responsible both for his conduct and his safety, as a tutor for his
pupil."

"How! a tutor, and at Rothsay's age!" exclaimed the' King; "he is two
years beyond the space to which our laws limit the term of nonage."

"The wiser Romans," said Albany, "extended it for four years after the
period we assign; and, in common sense, the right of control ought to
last till it be no longer necessary, and so the time ought to vary with
the disposition. Here is young Lindsay, the Earl of Crawford, who they
say gives patronage to Ramorny on this appeal. He is a lad of fifteen,
with the deep passions and fixed purpose of a man of thirty; while my
royal nephew, with much more amiable and noble qualities both of head
and heart, sometimes shows, at twenty-three years of age, the wanton
humours of a boy, towards whom restraint may be kindness. And do not
be discouraged that it is so, my liege, or angry with your brother for
telling the truth; since the best fruits are those that are slowest in
ripening, and the best horses such as give most trouble to the grooms
who train them for the field or lists."

The Duke stopped, and, after suffering King Robert to indulge for two
or three minutes in a reverie which he did not attempt to interrupt, he
added, in a more lively tone: "But, cheer up, my noble liege; perhaps
the feud may be made up without farther fighting or difficulty. The
widow is poor, for her husband, though he was much employed, had idle
and costly habits. The matter may be therefore redeemed for money, and
the amount of an assythment may be recovered out of Ramorny's estate."

"Nay, that we will ourselves discharge," said King Robert, eagerly
catching at the hope of a pacific termination of this unpleasing debate.
"Ramorny's prospects will be destroyed by his being sent from court
and deprived of his charge in Rothsay's household, and it would be
ungenerous to load a falling man. But here comes our secretary, the
prior, to tell us the hour of council approaches. Good morrow, my worthy
father."

"Benedicite, my royal liege," answered the abbot.

"Now, good father," continued the King, "without waiting for Rothsay,
whose accession to our counsels we will ourselves guarantee, proceed we
to the business of our kingdom. What advices have you from the Douglas?"

"He has arrived at his castle of Tantallon, my liege, and has sent a
post to say, that, though the Earl of March remains in sullen seclusion
in his fortress of Dunbar, his friends and followers are gathering and
forming an encampment near Coldingham, Where it is supposed they intend
to await the arrival of a large force of English, which Hotspur and Sir
Ralph Percy are assembling on the English frontier."

"That is cold news," said the King; "and may God forgive George of
Dunbar!"

The Prince entered as he spoke, and he continued: "Ha! thou art here at
length, Rothsay; I saw thee not at mass."

"I was an idler this morning," said the Prince, "having spent a restless
and feverish night."

"Ah, foolish boy!" answered the King; "hadst thou not been over restless
on Fastern's Eve, thou hadst not been feverish on the night of Ash
Wednesday."

"Let me not interrupt your praying, my liege," said the Prince,
lightly. "Your Grace Was invoking Heaven in behalf of some one--an enemy
doubtless, for these have the frequent advantage of your orisons."

"Sit down and be at peace, foolish youth!" said his father, his eye
resting at the same time on the handsome face and graceful figure of
his favourite son. Rothsay drew a cushion near to his father's feet, and
threw himself carelessly down upon it, while the King resumed.

"I was regretting that the Earl of March, having separated warm from
my hand with full assurance that he should receive compensation for
everything which he could complain of as injurious, should have been
capable of caballing with Northumberland against his own country. Is it
possible he could doubt our intentions to make good our word?"

"I will answer for him--no," said the Prince. "March never doubted your
Highness's word. Marry, he may well have made question whether your
learned counsellors would leave your Majesty the power of keeping it."

Robert the Third had adopted to a great extent the timid policy of not
seeming to hear expressions which, being heard, required, even in his
own eyes, some display of displeasure. He passed on, therefore, in his
discourse, without observing his son's speech, but in private Rothsay's
rashness augmented the displeasure which his father began to entertain
against him.

"It is well the Douglas is on the marches," said the King. "His
breast, like those of his ancestors, has ever been the best bulwark of
Scotland."

"Then woe betide us if he should turn his back to the enemy," said the
incorrigible Rothsay.

"Dare you impeach the courage of Douglas?" replied the King, extremely
chafed.

"No man dare question the Earl's courage," said Rothsay, "it is as
certain as his pride; but his luck may be something doubted."

"By St. Andrew, David," exclaimed his father, "thou art like a screech
owl, every word thou sayest betokens strife and calamity."

"I am silent, father," answered the youth.

"And what news of our Highland disturbances?" continued the King,
addressing the prior.

"I trust they have assumed a favourable aspect," answered the clergyman.
"The fire which threatened the whole country is likely to be drenched
out by the blood of some forty or fifty kerne; for the two great
confederacies have agreed, by solemn indenture of arms, to decided their
quarrel with such weapons as your Highness may name, and in your royal
presence, in such place as shall be appointed, on the 30th of March next
to come, being Palm Sunday; the number of combatants being limited to
thirty on each side; and the fight to be maintained to extremity, since
they affectionately make humble suit and petition to your Majesty that
you will parentally condescend to waive for the day your royal privilege
of interrupting the combat, by flinging down of truncheon or crying of
'Ho!' until the battle shall be utterly fought to an end."

"The wild savages!" exclaimed the King, "would they limit our best and
dearest royal privilege, that of putting a stop to strife, and crying
truce to battle? Will they remove the only motive which could bring me
to the butcherly spectacle of their combat? Would they fight like men,
or like their own mountain wolves?"

"My lord," said Albany, "the Earl of Crawford and I had presumed,
without consulting you, to ratify that preliminary, for the adoption of
which we saw much and pressing reason."

"How! the Earl of Crawford!" said the King. "Methinks he is a young
counsellor on such grave occurrents."

"He is," replied Albany, "notwithstanding his early years, of such
esteem among his Highland neighbours, that I could have done little with
them but for his aid and influence."

"Hear this, young Rothsay!" said the King reproachfully to his heir.

"I pity Crawford, sire," replied the Prince. "He has too early lost a
father whose counsels would have better become such a season as this."

The King turned next towards Albany with a look of triumph, at the
filial affection which his son displayed in his reply.

Albany proceeded without emotion. "It is not the life of these
Highlandmen, but their death, which is to be profitable to this
commonwealth of Scotland; and truly it seemed to the Earl of Crawford
and myself most desirable that the combat should be a strife of
extermination."

"Marry," said the Prince, "if such be the juvenile policy of Lindsay, he
will be a merciful ruler some ten or twelve years hence! Out upon a boy
that is hard of heart before he has hair upon his lip! Better he had
contented himself with fighting cocks on Fastern's Even than laying
schemes for massacring men on Palm Sunday, as if he were backing a Welsh
main, where all must fight to death."

"Rothsay is right, Albany," said the King: "it were unlike a Christian
monarch to give way in this point. I cannot consent to see men battle
until they are all hewn down like cattle in the shambles. It would
sicken me to look at it, and the warder would drop from my hand for mere
lack of strength to hold it."

"It would drop unheeded," said Albany. "Let me entreat your Grace to
recollect, that you only give up a royal privilege which, exercised,
would win you no respect, since it would receive no obedience. Were your
Majesty to throw down your warder when the war is high, and these men's
blood is hot, it would meet no more regard than if a sparrow should drop
among a herd of battling wolves the straw which he was carrying to his
nest. Nothing will separate them but the exhaustion of slaughter; and
better they sustain it at the hands of each other than from the swords
of such troops as might attempt to separate them at your Majesty's
commands. An attempt to keep the peace by violence would be construed
into an ambush laid for them; both parties would unite to resist it, the
slaughter would be the same, and the hoped for results of future peace
would be utterly disappointed."

"There is even too much truth in what you say, brother Robin," replied
the flexible King. "To little purpose is it to command what I cannot
enforce; and, although I have the unhappiness to do so each day of
my life, it were needless to give such a very public example of royal
impotency before the crowds who may assemble to behold this spectacle.
Let these savage men, therefore, work their bloody will to the uttermost
upon each other: I will not attempt to forbid what I cannot prevent them
from executing. Heaven help this wretched country! I will to my oratory
and pray for her, since to aid her by hand and head is alike denied to
me. Father prior, I pray the support of your arm."

"Nay, but, brother," said Albany, "forgive me if I remind you that we
must hear the matter between the citizens of Perth and Ramorny, about
the death of a townsman--"

"True--true," said the monarch, reseating himself; "more violence--more
battle. Oh, Scotland! Scotland! if the best blood of thy bravest
children could enrich thy barren soil, what land on earth would excel
thee in fertility! When is it that a white hair is seen on the beard of
a Scottishman, unless he be some wretch like thy sovereign, protected
from murder by impotence, to witness the scenes of slaughter to which he
cannot put a period? Let them come in, delay them not. They are in haste
to kill, and, grudge each other each fresh breath of their Creator's
blessed air. The demon of strife and slaughter hath possessed the whole
land!"

As the mild prince threw himself back on his seat with an air of
impatience and anger not very usual with him, the door at the lower end
of the room was unclosed, and, advancing from the gallery into which
it led (where in perspective was seen a guard of the Bute men, or
Brandanes, under arms), came, in mournful procession, the widow of poor
Oliver, led by Sir Patrick Charteris, with as much respect as if she had
been a lady of the first rank. Behind them came two women of good, the
wives of magistrates of the city, both in mourning garments, one bearing
the infant and the other leading the elder child. The smith followed in
his best attire, and wearing over his buff coat a scarf of crape. Bailie
Craigdallie and a brother magistrate closed the melancholy procession,
exhibiting similar marks of mourning.

The good King's transitory passion was gone the instant he looked at
the pallid countenance of the sorrowing widow, and beheld the
unconsciousness of the innocent orphans who had sustained so great a
loss, and when Sir Patrick Charteris had assisted Magdalen Proudfute to
kneel down and, still holding her hand, kneeled himself on one knee,
it was with a sympathetic tone that King Robert asked her name and
business. She made no answer, but muttered something, looking towards
her conductor.

"Speak for the poor woman, Sir Patrick Charteris," said the King, "and
tell us the cause of her seeking our presence."

"So please you, my liege," answered Sir Patrick, rising up, "this woman,
and these unhappy orphans, make plaint to your Highness upon Sir John
Ramorny of Ramorny, Knight, that by him, or by some of his household,
her umquhile husband, Oliver Proudfute, freeman and burgess of Perth,
was slain upon the streets of the city on the eve of Shrove Tuesday or
morning of Ash Wednesday."

"Woman," replied the King, with much kindness, "thou art gentle by sex,
and shouldst be pitiful even by thy affliction; for our own calamity
ought to make us--nay, I think it doth make us--merciful to others. Thy
husband hath only trodden the path appointed to us all."

"In his case," said the widow, "my liege must remember it has been a
brief and a bloody one."

"I agree he hath had foul measure. But since I have been unable to
protect him, as I confess was my royal duty, I am willing, in atonement,
to support thee and these orphans, as well or better than you lived in
the days of your husband; only do thou pass from this charge, and be
not the occasion of spilling more life. Remember, I put before you the
choice betwixt practising mercy and pursuing vengeance, and that betwixt
plenty and penury."

"It is true, my liege, we are poor," answered the widow, with unshaken
firmness "but I and my children will feed with the beasts of the field
ere we live on the price of my husband's blood. I demand the combat by
my champion, as you are belted knight and crowned king."

"I knew it would be so!" said the King, aside to Albany. "In Scotland
the first words stammered by an infant and the last uttered by a dying
greybeard are 'combat--blood--revenge.' It skills not arguing farther.
Admit the defendants."

Sir John Ramorny entered the apartment. He was dressed in a long furred
robe, such as men of quality wore when they were unarmed. Concealed by
the folds of drapery, his wounded arm was supported by a scarf or
sling of crimson silk, and with the left arm he leaned on a youth,
who, scarcely beyond the years of boyhood, bore on his brow the deep
impression of early thought and premature passion. This was that
celebrated Lindsay, Earl of Crawford, who, in his after days, was known
by the epithet of the Tiger Earl, and who ruled the great and rich
valley of Strathmore with the absolute power and unrelenting cruelty of
a feudal tyrant. Two or three gentlemen, friends of the Earl, or of his
own, countenanced Sir John Ramorny by their presence on this occasion.
The charge was again stated, and met by a broad denial on the part
of the accused; and in reply, the challengers offered to prove their
assertion by an appeal to the ordeal of bier right.

"I am not bound," answered Sir John Ramorny, "to submit to this ordeal,
since I can prove, by the evidence of my late royal master, that I was
in my own lodgings, lying on my bed, ill at ease, while this provost and
these bailies pretend I was committing a crime to which I had neither
will nor temptation. I can therefore be no just object of suspicion."

"I can aver," said the Prince, "that I saw and conversed with Sir John
Ramorny about some matters concerning my own household on the very night
when this murder was a-doing. I therefore know that he was ill at ease,
and could not in person commit the deed in question. But I know nothing
of the employment of his attendants, and will not take it upon me to say
that some one of them may not have been guilty of the crime now charged
on them."

Sir John Ramorny had, during the beginning of this speech, looked
round with an air of defiance, which was somewhat disconcerted by the
concluding sentence of Rothsay's speech.

"I thank your Highness," he said, with a smile, "for your cautious and
limited testimony in my behalf. He was wise who wrote, 'Put not your
faith in princes.'"

"If you have no other evidence of your innocence, Sir John Ramorny,"
said the King, "we may not, in respect to your followers, refuse to
the injured widow and orphans, the complainers, the grant of a proof by
ordeal of bier right, unless any of them should prefer that of combat.
For yourself, you are, by the Prince's evidence, freed from the
attaint."

"My liege," answered Sir John, "I can take warrant upon myself for the
innocence of my household and followers."

"Why, so a monk or a woman might speak," said Sir Patrick Charteris. "In
knightly language, wilt thou, Sir John de Ramorny, do battle with me in
the behalf of thy followers?"

"The provost of Perth had not obtained time to name the word combat,"
said Ramorny, "ere I would have accepted it. But I am not at present fit
to hold a lance."

"I am glad of it, under your favour, Sir John. There will be the less
bloodshed," said the King. "You must therefore produce your followers
according to your steward's household book, in the great church of
St. John, that, in presence of all whom it may concern, they may purge
themselves of this accusation. See that every man of them do appear at
the time of high mass, otherwise your honour may be sorely tainted."

"They shall attend to a man," said Sir John Ramorny.

Then bowing low to the King, he directed himself to the young Duke of
Rothsay, and, making a deep obeisance, spoke so as to be heard by him
alone. "You have used me generously, my lord! One word of your lips
could have ended this controversy, and you have refused to speak it."

"On my life," whispered the Prince, "I spake as far as the extreme verge
of truth and conscience would permit. I think thou couldst not expect
I should frame lies for thee; and after all, John, in my broken
recollections of that night, I do bethink me of a butcherly looking
mute, with a curtal axe, much like such a one as may have done yonder
night job. Ha! have I touched you, sir knight?"

Ramorny made no answer, but turned as precipitately as if some one had
pressed suddenly on his wounded arm, and regained his lodgings with
the Earl of Crawford; to whom, though disposed for anything rather than
revelry, he was obliged to offer a splendid collation, to acknowledge
in some degree his sense of the countenance which the young noble had
afforded him.



CHAPTER XXII.

     In pottingry he wrocht great pyne;
     He murdreit mony in medecyne.

     DUNBAR.


When, after an entertainment the prolonging of which was like torture to
the wounded knight, the Earl of Crawford at length took horse, to go
to his distant quarters in the Castle of Dupplin, where he resided as
a guest, the Knight of Ramorny retired into his sleeping apartment,
agonized by pains of body and anxiety of mind. Here he found Henbane
Dwining, on whom it was his hard fate to depend for consolation in both
respects. The physician, with his affectation of extreme humility, hoped
he saw his exalted patient merry and happy.

"Merry as a mad dog," said Ramorny, "and happy as the wretch whom the
cur hath bitten, and who begins to feel the approach of the ravening
madness! That ruthless boy, Crawford, saw my agony, and spared not a
single carouse. I must do him justice, forsooth! If I had done justice
to him and to the world, I had thrown him out of window and cut short
a career which, if he grew up as he has begun, will prove a source of
misery to all Scotland, but especially to Tayside. Take heed as thou
undoest the ligatures, chirurgeon, the touch of a fly's wing on that raw
glowing stump were like a dagger to me."

"Fear not, my noble patron," said the leech, with a chuckling laugh
of enjoyment, which he vainly endeavoured to disguise under a tone of
affected sensibility. "We will apply some fresh balsam, and--he, he,
he!--relieve your knightly honour of the irritation which you sustain so
firmly."

"Firmly, man!" said Ramorny, grinning with pain; "I sustain it as I
would the scorching flames of purgatory. The bone seems made of red hot
iron; thy greasy ointment will hiss as it drops upon the wound. And yet
it is December's ice, compared to the fever fit of my mind!"

"We will first use our emollients upon the body, my noble patron," said
Dwining; "and then, with your knighthood's permission; your servant will
try his art on the troubled mind; though I fain hope even the mental
pain also may in some degree depend on the irritation of the wound, and
that, abated as I trust the corporeal pangs will soon be, perhaps the
stormy feelings of the mind may subside of themselves."

"Henbane Dwining," said the patient, as he felt the pain of his wound
assuaged, "thou art a precious and invaluable leech, but some things
are beyond thy power. Thou canst stupify my bodily cause of this raging
agony, but thou canst not teach me to bear the score of the boy whom I
have brought up--whom I loved, Dwining--for I did love him--dearly love
him! The worst of my ill deeds have been to flatter his vices; and he
grudged me a word of his mouth, when a word would have allayed this
cumber! He smiled, too--I saw him smile--when yon paltry provost,
the companion and patron of wretched burghers, defied me, whom this
heartless prince knew to be unable to bear arms. Ere I forget or forgive
it, thou thyself shalt preach up the pardoning of injuries! And then
the care for tomorrow! Think'st thou, Henbane Dwining, that, in very
reality, the Wounds of the slaughtered corpse will gape and shed tears
of fresh blood at the murderer's approach?"

"I cannot tell, my lord, save by report," said Dwining, "which avouches
the fact."

"The brute Bonthron," said Ramorny, "is startled at the apprehension of
such a thing, and speaking of being rather willing to stand the combat.
What think'st thou? He is a fellow of steel."

"It is the armourer's trade to deal with steel," replied Dwining.

"Were Bonthron to fall, it would little grieve me," said Ramorny;
"though I should miss an useful hand."

"I well believe your lordship will not sorrow as for that you lost in
Curfew Street. Excuse my pleasantry, he, he! But what are the useful
properties of this fellow Bonthron?"

"Those of a bulldog," answered the knight, "he worries without barking."

"You have no fear of his confessing?" said the physician.

"Who can tell what the dread of approaching death may do?" replied the
patient. "He has already shown a timorousness entirely alien from his
ordinary sullenness of nature; he, that would scarce wash his hands
after he had slain a man, is now afraid to see a dead body bleed."

"Well," said the leech, "I must do something for him if I can, since it
was to further my revenge that he struck yonder downright blow, though
by ill luck it lighted not where it was intended."

"And whose fault was that, timid villain," said Ramorny, "save thine
own, who marked a rascal deer for a buck of the first head?"

"Benedicite, noble sir," replied the mediciner; "would you have me, who
know little save of chamber practice, be as skilful of woodcraft as
your noble self, or tell hart from hind, doe from roe, in a glade at
midnight? I misdoubted me little when I saw the figure run past us to
the smith's habitation in the wynd, habited like a morrice dancer; and
yet my mind partly misgave me whether it was our man, for methought he
seemed less of stature. But when he came out again, after so much time
as to change his dress, and swaggered onward with buff coat and steel
cap, whistling after the armourer's wonted fashion, I do own I was
mistaken super totam materiem, and loosed your knighthood's bulldog upon
him, who did his devoir most duly, though he pulled down the wrong deer.
Therefore, unless the accursed smith kill our poor friend stone dead on
the spot, I am determined, if art may do it, that the ban dog Bonthron
shall not miscarry."

"It will put thine art to the test, man of medicine," said Ramorny; "for
know that, having the worst of the combat, if our champion be not killed
stone dead in the lists, he will be drawn forth of them by the heels,
and without further ceremony knitted up to the gallows, as convicted of
the murder; and when he hath swung there like a loose tassel for an
hour or so, I think thou wilt hardly take it in hand to cure his broken
neck."

"I am of a different opinion, may it please your knighthood," answered
Dwining, gently. "I will carry him off from the very foot of the gallows
into the land of faery, like King Arthur, or Sir Huon of Bordeaux, or
Ugero the Dane; or I will, if I please, suffer him to dangle on the
gibbet for a certain number of minutes, or hours, and then whisk him
away from the sight of all, with as much ease as the wind wafts away the
withered leaf."

"This is idle boasting, sir leech," replied Ramorny. "The whole mob of
Perth will attend him to the gallows, each more eager than another to
see the retainer of a nobleman die, for the slaughter of a cuckoldly
citizen. There will be a thousand of them round the gibbet's foot."

"And were there ten thousand," said Dwining, "shall I, who am a high
clerk, and have studied in Spain, and Araby itself, not be able to
deceive the eyes of this hoggish herd of citizens, when the pettiest
juggler that ever dealt in legerdemain can gull even the sharp
observation of your most intelligent knighthood? I tell you, I will put
the change on them as if I were in possession of Keddie's ring."

"If thou speakest truth," answered the knight, "and I think thou darest
not palter with me on such a theme, thou must have the aid of Satan, and
I will have nought to do with him. I disown and defy him."

Dwining indulged in his internal chuckling laugh when he heard his
patron testify his defiance of the foul fiend, and saw him second it by
crossing himself. He composed himself, however, upon observing Ramorny's
aspect become very stern, and said, with tolerable gravity, though a
little interrupted by the effort necessary to suppress his mirthful
mood:

"Confederacy, most devout sir--confederacy is the soul of jugglery.
But--he, he, he!--I have not the honour to be--he, he!--an ally of the
gentleman of whom you speak--in whose existence I am--he, he!--no
very profound believer, though your knightship, doubtless, hath better
opportunities of acquaintance."

"Proceed, rascal, and without that sneer, which thou mayst otherwise
dearly pay for."

"I will, most undaunted," replied Dwining. "Know that I have my
confederate too, else my skill were little worth."

"And who may that be, pray you?"

"Stephen Smotherwell, if it like your honour, lockman of this Fair City.
I marvel your knighthood knows him not."

"And I marvel thy knaveship knows him not on professional acquaintance,"
replied Ramorny; "but I see thy nose is unslit, thy ears yet uncropped,
and if thy shoulders are scarred or branded, thou art wise for using a
high collared jerkin."

"He, he! your honour is pleasant," said the mediciner. "It is not by
personal circumstances that I have acquired the intimacy of Stephen
Smotherwell, but on account of a certain traffic betwixt us, in which
an't please you, I exchange certain sums of silver for the bodies,
heads, and limbs of those who die by aid of friend Stephen."

"Wretch!" exclaimed the knight with horror, "is it to compose charms and
forward works of witchcraft that you trade for these miserable relics of
mortality?"

"He, he, he! No, an it please your knighthood," answered the mediciner,
much amused with the ignorance of his patron; "but we, who are knights
of the scalpel, are accustomed to practise careful carving of the limbs
of defunct persons, which we call dissection, whereby we discover, by
examination of a dead member, how to deal with one belonging to a living
man, which hath become diseased through injury or otherwise. Ah! if your
honour saw my poor laboratory, I could show you heads and hands, feet
and lungs, which have been long supposed to be rotting in the mould.
The skull of Wallace, stolen from London Bridge; the head of Sir
Simon Fraser [the famous ancestor of the Lovats, slain at Halidon Hill
(executed in London in 1306)], that never feared man; the lovely skull
of the fair Katie Logie [(should be Margaret Logie), the beautiful
mistress of David II]. Oh, had I but had the fortune to have preserved
the chivalrous hand of mine honoured patron!"

Out upon thee, slave! Thinkest thou to disgust me with thy catalogue of
horrors? Tell me at once where thy discourse drives. How can thy traffic
with the hangdog executioner be of avail to serve me, or to help my
servant Bonthron?"

"Nay, I do not recommend it to your knighthood, save in an extremity,"
replied Dwining. "But we will suppose the battle fought and our cock
beaten. Now we must first possess him with the certainty that, if unable
to gain the day, we will at least save him from the hangman, provided he
confess nothing which can prejudice your knighthood's honour."

"Ha! ay, a thought strikes me," said Ramorny. "We can do more than this,
we can place a word in Bonthron's mouth that will be troublesome enough
to him whom I am bound to curse for being the cause of my misfortune.
Let us to the ban dog's kennel, and explain to him what is to be done
in every view of the question. If we can persuade him to stand the bier
ordeal, it may be a mere bugbear, and in that case we are safe. If he
take the combat, he is fierce as a baited bear, and may, perchance,
master his opponent; then we are more than safe, we are avenged. If
Bonthron himself is vanquished, we will put thy device in exercise; and
if thou canst manage it cleanly; we may dictate his confession, take the
advantage of it, as I will show thee on further conference, and make a
giant stride towards satisfaction for my wrongs. Still there remains
one hazard. Suppose our mastiff mortally wounded in the lists, who shall
prevent his growling out some species of confession different from what
we would recommend?"

"Marry, that can his mediciner," said Dwining. "Let me wait on him, and
have the opportunity to lay but a finger on his wound, and trust me he
shall betray no confidence."

"Why, there's a willing fiend, that needs neither pushing nor
prompting!" said Ramorny.

"As I trust I shall need neither in your knighthood's service."

"We will go indoctrinate our agent," continued the knight. "We shall
find him pliant; for, hound as he is, he knows those who feed from those
who browbeat him; and he holds a late royal master of mine in deep hate
for some injurious treatment and base terms which he received at his
hand. I must also farther concert with thee the particulars of
thy practice, for saving the ban dog from the hands of the herd of
citizens."

We leave this worthy pair of friends to their secret practices, of which
we shall afterwards see the results. They were, although of different
qualities, as well matched for device and execution of criminal projects
as the greyhound is to destroy the game which the slowhound raises, or
the slowhound to track the prey which the gazehound discovers by the
eye. Pride and selfishness were the characteristics of both; but, from
the difference of rank, education, and talents, they had assumed the
most different appearance in the two individuals.

Nothing could less resemble the high blown ambition of the favourite
courtier, the successful gallant, and the bold warrior than the
submissive, unassuming mediciner, who seemed even to court and delight
in insult; whilst, in his secret soul, he felt himself possessed of a
superiority of knowledge, a power both of science and of mind, which
placed the rude nobles of the day infinitely beneath him. So conscious
was Henbane Dwining of this elevation, that, like a keeper of wild
beasts, he sometimes adventured, for his own amusement, to rouse the
stormy passions of such men as Ramorny, trusting, with his humble
manner, to elude the turmoil he had excited, as an Indian boy will
launch his light canoe, secure from its very fragility, upon a broken
surf, in which the boat of an argosy would be assuredly dashed to
pieces. That the feudal baron should despise the humble practitioner
in medicine was a matter of course; but Ramorny felt not the less the
influence which Dwining exercised over him, and was in the encounter
of their wits often mastered by him, as the most eccentric efforts of
a fiery horse are overcome by a boy of twelve years old, if he has been
bred to the arts of the manege. But the contempt of Dwining for Ramorny
was far less qualified. He regarded the knight, in comparison with
himself, as scarcely rising above the brute creation; capable, indeed,
of working destruction, as the bull with his horns or the wolf with his
fangs, but mastered by mean prejudices, and a slave to priest craft, in
which phrase Dwining included religion of every kind. On the whole, he
considered Ramorny as one whom nature had assigned to him as a serf, to
mine for the gold which he worshipped, and the avaricious love of
which was his greatest failing, though by no means his worst vice. He
vindicated this sordid tendency in his own eyes by persuading himself
that it had its source in the love of power.

"Henbane Dwining," he said, as he gazed in delight upon the hoards which
he had secretly amassed, and which he visited from time to time, "is no
silly miser that doats on those pieces for their golden lustre: it is
the power with which they endow the possessor which makes him thus adore
them. What is there that these put not within your command? Do you love
beauty, and are mean, deformed, infirm, and old? Here is a lure the
fairest hawk of them all will stoop to. Are you feeble, weak, subject
to the oppression of the powerful? Here is that will arm in your defence
those more mighty than the petty tyrant whom you fear. Are you splendid
in your wishes, and desire the outward show of opulence? This dark chest
contains many a wide range of hill and dale, many a fair forest full
of game, the allegiance of a thousand vassals. Wish you for favour in
courts, temporal or spiritual? The smiles of kings, the pardon of popes
and priests for old crimes, and the indulgence which encourages priest
ridden fools to venture on new ones--all these holy incentives to vice
may be purchased for gold. Revenge itself, which the gods are said to
reserve to themselves, doubtless because they envy humanity so sweet a
morsel--revenge itself is to be bought by it. But it is also to be won
by superior skill, and that is the nobler mode of reaching it. I will
spare, then, my treasure for other uses, and accomplish my revenge
gratis; or rather I will add the luxury of augmented wealth to the
triumph of requited wrongs."

Thus thought Dwining, as, returned from his visit to Sir John Ramorny,
he added the gold he had received for his various services to the mass
of his treasure; and, having gloated over the whole for a minute or two,
turned the key on his concealed treasure house, and walked forth on his
visits to his patients, yielding the wall to every man whom he met and
bowing and doffing his bonnet to the poorest burgher that owned a petty
booth, nay, to the artificers who gained their precarious bread by the
labour of their welked hands.

"Caitiffs," was the thought of his heart while he did such
obeisance--"base, sodden witted mechanics! did you know what this
key could disclose, what foul weather from heaven would prevent your
unbonneting? what putrid kennel in your wretched hamlet would be
disgusting enough to make you scruple to fall down and worship the owner
of such wealth? But I will make you feel my power, though it suits my
honour to hide the source of it. I will be an incubus to your city,
since you have rejected me as a magistrate. Like the night mare, I will
hag ride ye, yet remain invisible myself. This miserable Ramorny, too,
he who, in losing his hand, has, like a poor artisan, lost the only
valuable part of his frame, he heaps insulting language on me, as if
anything which he can say had power to chafe a constant mind like mine!
Yet, while he calls me rogue, villain, and slave, he acts as wisely as
if he should amuse himself by pulling hairs out of my head while my hand
had hold of his heart strings. Every insult I can pay back instantly
by a pang of bodily pain or mental agony, and--he, he!--I run no long
accounts with his knighthood, that must be allowed."

While the mediciner was thus indulging his diabolical musing, and
passing, in his creeping manner, along the street, the cry of females
was heard behind him.

"Ay, there he is, Our Lady be praised!--there is the most helpful man in
Perth," said one voice.

"They may speak of knights and kings for redressing wrongs, as they
call it; but give me worthy Master Dwining the potter carrier, cummers,"
replied another.

At the same moment, the leech was surrounded and taken hold of by the
speakers, good women of the Fair City.

"How now, what's the matter?" said Dwining, "whose cow has calved?"

"There is no calving in the case," said one of the women, "but a poor
fatherless wean dying; so come awa' wi' you, for our trust is constant
in you, as Bruce said to Donald of the Isles."

"Opiferque per orbem dicor," said Henbane Dwining. "What is the child
dying of?"

"The croup--the croup," screamed one of the gossips; "the innocent is
rouping like a corbie."

"Cynanche trachealis--that disease makes brief work. Show me the house
instantly," continued the mediciner, who was in the habit of exercising
his profession liberally, not withstanding his natural avarice, and
humanely, in spite of his natural malignity. As we can suspect him of no
better principle, his motive most probably may have been vanity and the
love of his art.

He would nevertheless have declined giving his attendance in the present
case had he known whither the kind gossips were conducting him, in time
sufficient to frame an apology. But, ere he guessed where he was going,
the leech was hurried into the house of the late Oliver Proudfute, from
which he heard the chant of the women as they swathed and dressed the
corpse of the umquhile bonnet maker for the ceremony of next morning, of
which chant the following verses may be received as a modern imitation:

     Viewless essence, thin and bare,
     Well nigh melted into air,
     Still with fondness hovering near
     The earthly form thou once didst wear,

     Pause upon thy pinion's flight;
     Be thy course to left or right,
     Be thou doom'd to soar or sink,
     Pause upon the awful brink.

     To avenge the deed expelling
     Thee untimely from thy dwelling,
     Mystic force thou shalt retain
     O'er the blood and o'er the brain.

     When the form thou shalt espy
     That darken'd on thy closing eye,
     When the footstep thou shalt hear
     That thrill'd upon thy dying ear,

     Then strange sympathies shall wake,
     The flesh shall thrill, the nerves shall quake,
     The wounds renew their clotter'd flood,
     And every drop cry blood for blood!

Hardened as he was, the physician felt reluctance to pass the threshold
of the man to whose death he had been so directly, though, so far as the
individual was concerned, mistakingly, accessory.

"Let me pass on, women," he said, "my art can only help the living--the
dead are past our power."

"Nay, but your patient is upstairs--the youngest orphan"--Dwining was
compelled to go into the house. But he was surprised when, the instant
he stepped over the threshold, the gossips, who were busied with the
dead body, stinted suddenly in their song, while one said to the others:

"In God's name, who entered? That was a large gout of blood."

"Not so," said another voice, "it is a drop of the liquid balm."

"Nay, cummer, it was blood. Again I say, who entered the house even
now?"

One looked out from the apartment into the little entrance, where
Dwining, under pretence of not distinctly seeing the trap ladder by
which he was to ascend into the upper part of this house of lamentation,
was delaying his progress purposely, disconcerted with what had reached
him of the conversation.

"Nay, it is only worthy Master Henbane Dwining," answered one of the
sibyls.

"Only Master Dwining," replied the one who had first spoken, in a tone
of acquiescence--"our best helper in need! Then it must have been balm
sure enough."

"Nay," said the other, "it may have been blood nevertheless; for
the leech, look you, when the body was found, was commanded by the
magistrates to probe the wound with his instruments, and how could the
poor dead corpse know that that was done with good purpose?"

"Ay, truly, cummer; and as poor Oliver often mistook friends for enemies
while he was in life, his judgment cannot be thought to have mended
now."

Dwining heard no more, being now forced upstairs into a species of
garret, where Magdalen sat on her widowed bed, clasping to her bosom
her infant, which, already black in the face and uttering the gasping,
crowing sound which gives the popular name to the complaint, seemed on
the point of rendering up its brief existence. A Dominican monk sat near
the bed, holding the other child in his arms, and seeming from time to
time to speak a word or two of spiritual consolation, or intermingle
some observation on the child's disorder.

The mediciner cast upon the good father a single glance, filled
With that ineffable disdain which men of science entertain against
interlopers. His own aid was instant and efficacious: he snatched the
child from the despairing mother, stripped its throat, and opened
a vein, which, as it bled freely, relieved the little patient
instantaneously. In a brief space every dangerous symptom disappeared,
and Dwining, having bound up the vein, replaced the infant in the arms
of the half distracted mother.

The poor woman's distress for her husband's loss, which had been
suspended during the extremity of the child's danger, now returned on
Magdalen with the force of an augmented torrent, which has borne down
the dam dike that for a while interrupted its waves.

"Oh, learned sir," she said, "you see a poor woman of her that you once
knew a richer. But the hands that restored this bairn to my arms must
not leave this house empty. Generous, kind Master Dwining, accept of
his beads; they are made of ebony and silver. He aye liked to have his
things as handsome as any gentleman, and liker he was in all his ways to
a gentleman than any one of his standing, and even so came of it."

With these words, in a mute passion of grief she pressed to her breast
and to her lips the chaplet of her deceased husband, and proceeded to
thrust it into Dwining's hands.

"Take it," she said, "for the love of one who loved you well. Ah, he
used ever to say, if ever man could be brought back from the brink of
the grave, it must be by Master Dwining's guidance. And his ain bairn
is brought back this blessed day, and he is lying there stark and stiff,
and kens naething of its health and sickness! Oh, woe is me, and walawa!
But take the beads, and think on his puir soul, as you put them through
your fingers, he will be freed from purgatory the sooner that good
people pray to assoilzie him."

"Take back your beads, cummer; I know no legerdemain, can do no
conjuring tricks," said the mediciner, who, more moved than perhaps his
rugged nature had anticipated, endeavoured to avoid receiving the ill
omened gift. But his last words gave offence to the churchman, whose
presence he had not recollected when he uttered them.

"How now, sir leech!" said the Dominican, "do you call prayers for the
dead juggling tricks? I know that Chaucer, the English maker, says of
you mediciners, that your study is but little on the Bible. Our mother,
the church, hath nodded of late, but her eyes are now opened to discern
friends from foes; and be well assured--"

"Nay, reverend father," said Dwining, "you take me at too great
advantage. I said I could do no miracles, and was about to add that,
as the church certainly could work such conclusions, those rich beads
should be deposited in your hands, to be applied as they may best
benefit the soul of the deceased."

He dropped the beads into the Dominican's hand, and escaped from the
house of mourning.

"This was a strangely timed visit," he said to himself, when he got safe
out of doors. "I hold such things cheap as any can; yet, though it is
but a silly fancy, I am glad I saved the squalling child's life. But
I must to my friend Smotherwell, whom I have no doubt to bring to my
purpose in the matter of Bonthron; and thus on this occasion I shall
save two lives, and have destroyed only one."



CHAPTER XXIII.

     Lo! where he lies embalmed in gore,
     His wound to Heaven cries:
     The floodgates of his blood implore
     For vengeance from the skies.

     Uranus and Psyche.


The High Church of St. John in Perth, being that of the patron saint
of the burgh, had been selected by the magistrates as that in which
the community was likely to have most fair play for the display of the
ordeal. The churches and convents of the Dominicans, Carthusians, and
others of the regular clergy had been highly endowed by the King and
nobles, and therefore it was the universal cry of the city council
that "their ain good auld St. John," of whose good graces they thought
themselves sure, ought to be fully confided in, and preferred to the new
patrons, for whom the Dominicans, Carthusians, Carmelites, and others
had founded newer seats around the Fair City. The disputes between the
regular and secular clergy added to the jealousy which dictated this
choice of the spot in which Heaven was to display a species of miracle,
upon a direct appeal to the divine decision in a case of doubtful guilt;
and the town clerk was as anxious that the church of St. John should be
preferred as if there had been a faction in the body of saints for and
against the interests of the beautiful town of Perth.

Many, therefore, were the petty intrigues entered into and disconcerted
for the purpose of fixing on the church. But the magistrates,
considering it as a matter touching in a close degree the honour of
the city, determined, with judicious confidence in the justice and
impartiality of their patron, to confide the issue to the influence of
St. John.

It was, therefore, after high mass had been performed with the greatest
solemnity of which circumstances rendered the ceremony capable, and
after the most repeated and fervent prayers had been offered to Heaven
by the crowded assembly, that preparations were made for appealing
to the direct judgment of Heaven on the mysterious murder of the
unfortunate bonnet maker.

The scene presented that effect of imposing solemnity which the rites
of the Catholic Church are so well qualified to produce. The eastern
window, richly and variously painted, streamed down a torrent of
chequered light upon the high altar. On the bier placed before it were
stretched the mortal remains of the murdered man, his arms folded on his
breast, and his palms joined together, with the fingers pointed upwards,
as if the senseless clay was itself appealing to Heaven for vengeance
against those who had violently divorced the immortal spirit from its
mangled tenement.

Close to the bier was placed the throne which supported Robert of
Scotland and his brother Albany. The Prince sat upon a lower stool,
beside his father--an arrangement which occasioned some observation, as,
Albany's seat being little distinguished from that of the King, the heir
apparent, though of full age, seemed to be degraded beneath his uncle in
the sight of the assembled people of Perth. The bier was so placed as to
leave the view of the body it sustained open to the greater part of the
multitude assembled in the church.

At the head of the bier stood the Knight of Kinfauns, the challenger,
and at the foot the young Earl of Crawford, as representing the
defendant. The evidence of the Duke of Rothsay in expurgation, as it
was termed, of Sir John Ramorny, had exempted him from the necessity of
attendance as a party subjected to the ordeal; and his illness served as
a reason for his remaining at home. His household, including those who,
though immediately in waiting upon Sir John, were accounted the Prince's
domestics, and had not yet received their dismissal, amounted to eight
or ten persons, most of them esteemed men of profligate habits, and who
might therefore be deemed capable, in the riot of a festival evening,
of committing the slaughter of the bonnet maker. They were drawn up in a
row on the left side of the church, and wore a species of white cassock,
resembling the dress of a penitentiary. All eyes being bent on them,
several of this band seemed so much disconcerted as to excite among the
spectators strong prepossessions of their guilt. The real murderer had
a countenance incapable of betraying him--a sullen, dark look, which
neither the feast nor wine cup could enliven, and which the peril of
discovery and death could not render dejected.

We have already noticed the posture of the dead body. The face was bare,
as were the breast and arms. The rest of the corpse was shrouded in a
winding sheet of the finest linen, so that, if blood should flow from
any place which was covered, it could not fail to be instantly manifest.

High mass having been performed, followed by a solemn invocation to the
Deity, that He would be pleased to protect the innocent, and make known
the guilty, Eviot, Sir John Ramorny's page, was summoned to undergo the
ordeal. He advanced with an ill assured step. Perhaps he thought his
internal consciousness that Bonthron must have been the assassin might
be sufficient to implicate him in the murder, though he was not directly
accessory to it. He paused before the bier; and his voice faltered,
as he swore by all that was created in seven days and seven nights, by
heaven, by hell, by his part of paradise, and by the God and author
of all, that he was free and sackless of the bloody deed done upon the
corpse before which he stood, and on whose breast he made the sign of
the cross, in evidence of the appeal. No consequences ensued. The body
remained stiff as before, the curdled wounds gave no sign of blood.

The citizens looked on each other with faces of blank disappointment.
They had persuaded themselves of Eviot's guilt, and their suspicions had
been confirmed by his irresolute manner. Their surprise at his escape
was therefore extreme. The other followers of Ramorny took heart, and
advanced to take the oath with a boldness which increased as one by
one they performed the ordeal, and were declared, by the voice of
the judges, free and innocent of every suspicion attaching to them on
account of the death of Oliver Proudfute.

But there was one individual who did not partake that increasing
confidence. The name of "Bonthron--Bonthron!" sounded three times
through the aisles of the church; but he who owned it acknowledged the
call no otherwise than by a sort of shuffling motion with his feet, as
if he had been suddenly affected with a fit of the palsy.

"Speak, dog," whispered Eviot, "or prepare for a dog's death!"

But the murderer's brain was so much disturbed by the sight before him,
that the judges, beholding his deportment, doubted whether to ordain him
to be dragged before the bier or to pronounce judgment in default; and
it was not until he was asked for the last time whether he would submit
to the ordeal, that he answered, with his usual brevity:

"I will not; what do I know what juggling tricks may be practised to
take a poor man's life? I offer the combat to any man who says I harmed
that dead body."

And, according to usual form, he threw his glove upon the floor of the
church.

Henry Smith stepped forward, amidst the murmured applauses of his fellow
citizens, which even the august presence could not entirely suppress;
and, lifting the ruffian's glove, which he placed in his bonnet, laid
down his own in the usual form, as a gage of battle. But Bonthron raised
it not.

"He is no match for me," growled the savage, "nor fit to lift my glove.
I follow the Prince of Scotland, in attending on his master of horse.
This fellow is a wretched mechanic."

Here the Prince interrupted him. "Thou follow me, caitiff! I discharge
thee from my service on the spot. Take him in hand, Smith, and beat
him as thou didst never thump anvil! The villain is both guilty and
recreant. It sickens me even to look at him; and if my royal father will
be ruled by me, he will give the parties two handsome Scottish axes, and
we will see which of them turns out the best fellow before the day is
half an hour older."

This was readily assented to by the Earl of Crawford and Sir Patrick
Charteris, the godfathers of the parties, who, as the combatants were
men of inferior rank, agreed that they should fight in steel caps, buff
jackets, and with axes, and that as soon as they could be prepared for
the combat.

The lists were appointed in the Skinners' Yards--a neighbouring space of
ground, occupied by the corporation from which it had the name, and
who quickly cleared a space of about thirty feet by twenty-five for
the combatants. Thither thronged the nobles, priests, and commons--all
excepting the old King, who, detesting such scenes of blood, retired
to his residence, and devolved the charge of the field upon the Earl
of Errol, Lord High Constable, to whose office it more particularly
belonged. The Duke of Albany watched the whole proceeding with a close
and wary eye. His nephew gave the scene the heedless degree of notice
which corresponded with his character.

When the combatants appeared in the lists, nothing could be more
striking than the contrast betwixt the manly, cheerful countenance of
the smith, whose sparkling bright eye seemed already beaming with the
victory he hoped for, and the sullen, downcast aspect of the brutal
Bonthron, who looked as if he were some obscene bird, driven into
sunshine out of the shelter of its darksome haunts. They made oath
severally, each to the truth of his quarrel--a ceremony which Henry
Gow performed with serene and manly confidence, Bonthron with a dogged
resolution, which induced the Duke of Rothsay to say to the High
Constable: "Didst thou ever, my dear Errol, behold such a mixture of
malignity, cruelty, and I think fear, as in that fellow's countenance?"

"He is not comely," said the Earl, "but a powerful knave as I have
seen."

"I'll gage a hogshead of wine with you, my good lord, that he loses the
day. Henry the armourer is as strong as he, and much more active; and
then look at his bold bearing! There is something in that other fellow
that is loathsome to look upon. Let them yoke presently, my dear
Constable, for I am sick of beholding him."

The High Constable then addressed the widow, who, in her deep weeds, and
having her children still beside her, occupied a chair within the lists:
"Woman, do you willingly accept of this man, Henry the Smith, to do
battle as your champion in this cause?"

"I do--I do, most willingly," answered Magdalen Proudfute; "and may the
blessing of God and St. John give him strength and fortune, since he
strikes for the orphan and fatherless!"

"Then I pronounce this a fenced field of battle," said the Constable
aloud. "Let no one dare, upon peril of his life, to interrupt this
combat by word, speech, or look. Sound trumpets, and fight, combatants!"

The trumpets flourished, and the combatants, advancing from the opposite
ends of the lists, with a steady and even pace, looked at each other
attentively, well skilled in judging from the motion of the eye the
direction in which a blow was meditated. They halted opposite to, and
within reach of, each other, and in turn made more than one feint
to strike, in order to ascertain the activity and vigilance of the
opponent. At length, whether weary of these manoeuvres, or fearing lest
in a contest so conducted his unwieldy strength would be foiled by the
activity of the smith, Bonthron heaved up his axe for a downright blow,
adding the whole strength of his sturdy arms to the weight of the weapon
in its descent. The smith, however, avoided the stroke by stepping
aside; for it was too forcible to be controlled by any guard which he
could have interposed. Ere Bonthron recovered guard, Henry struck him
a sidelong blow on the steel headpiece, which prostrated him on the
ground.

"Confess, or die," said the victor, placing his foot on the body of
the vanquished, and holding to his throat the point of the axe, which
terminated in a spike or poniard.

"I will confess," said the villain, glaring wildly upwards on the sky.
"Let me rise."

"Not till you have yielded," said Harry Smith.

"I do yield," again murmured Bonthron, and Henry proclaimed aloud that
his antagonist was defeated.

The Dukes of Rothsay and Albany, the High Constable, and the Dominican
prior now entered the lists, and, addressing Bonthron, demanded if he
acknowledged himself vanquished.

"I do," answered the miscreant.

"And guilty of the murder of Oliver Proudfute?"

"I am; but I mistook him for another."

"And whom didst thou intend to slay?" said the prior. "Confess, my son,
and merit thy pardon in another world for with this thou hast little
more to do."

"I took the slain man," answered the discomfited combatant, "for him
whose hand has struck me down, whose foot now presses me."

"Blessed be the saints!" said the prior; "now all those who doubt the
virtue of the holy ordeal may have their eyes opened to their error. Lo,
he is trapped in the snare which he laid for the guiltless."

"I scarce ever saw the man," said the smith. "I never did wrong to him
or his. Ask him, an it please your reverence, why he should have thought
of slaying me treacherously."

"It is a fitting question," answered the prior. "Give glory where it is
due, my son, even though it is manifested by thy shame. For what reason
wouldst thou have waylaid this armourer, who says he never wronged
thee?"

"He had wronged him whom I served," answered Bonthron, "and I meditated
the deed by his command."

"By whose command?" asked the prior.

Bonthron was silent for an instant, then growled out: "He is too mighty
for me to name."

"Hearken, my son," said the churchman; "tarry but a brief hour, and the
mighty and the mean of this earth shall to thee alike be empty sounds.
The sledge is even now preparing to drag thee to the place of execution.
Therefore, son, once more I charge thee to consult thy soul's weal by
glorifying Heaven, and speaking the truth. Was it thy master, Sir John
Ramorny, that stirred thee to so foul a deed?"

"No," answered the prostrate villain, "it was a greater than he." And at
the same time he pointed with his finger to the Prince.

"Wretch!" said the astonished Duke of Rothsay; "do you dare to hint that
I was your instigator?"

"You yourself, my lord," answered the unblushing ruffian.

"Die in thy falsehood, accursed slave!" said the Prince; and, drawing
his sword, he would have pierced his calumniator, had not the Lord High
Constable interposed with word and action.

"Your Grace must forgive my discharging mine office: this caitiff must
be delivered into the hands of the executioner. He is unfit to be dealt
with by any other, much less by your Highness."

"What! noble earl," said Albany aloud, and with much real or affected
emotion, "would you let the dog pass alive from hence, to poison the
people's ears with false accusations against the Prince of Scotland? I
say, cut him to mammocks upon the spot!"

"Your Highness will pardon me," said the Earl of Errol; "I must protect
him till his doom is executed."

"Then let him be gagged instantly," said Albany. "And you, my royal
nephew, why stand you there fixed in astonishment? Call your resolution
up--speak to the prisoner--swear--protest by all that is sacred that you
knew not of this felon deed. See how the people look on each other and
whisper apart! My life on't that this lie spreads faster than any Gospel
truth. Speak to them, royal kinsman, no matter what you say, so you be
constant in denial."

"What, sir," said Rothsay, starting from his pause of surprise and
mortification, and turning haughtily towards his uncle; "would you have
me gage my royal word against that of an abject recreant? Let those who
can believe the son of their sovereign, the descendant of Bruce, capable
of laying ambush for the life of a poor mechanic, enjoy the pleasure of
thinking the villain's tale true."

"That will not I for one," said the smith, bluntly. "I never did aught
but what was in honour towards his royal Grace the Duke of Rothsay, and
never received unkindness from him in word, look, or deed; and I cannot
think he would have given aim to such base practice."

"Was it in honour that you threw his Highness from the ladder in Curfew
Street upon Fastern's [St. Valentine's] Even?" said Bonthron; "or think
you the favour was received kindly or unkindly?"

This was so boldly said, and seemed so plausible, that it shook the
smith's opinion of the Prince's innocence.

"Alas, my lord," said he, looking sorrowfully towards Rothsay, "could
your Highness seek an innocent fellow's life for doing his duty by a
helpless maiden? I would rather have died in these lists than live to
hear it said of the Bruce's heir!"

"Thou art a good fellow, Smith," said the Prince; "but I cannot expect
thee to judge more wisely than others. Away with that convict to the
gallows, and gibbet him alive an you will, that he may speak falsehood
and spread scandal on us to the last prolonged moment of his existence!"

So saying, the Prince turned away from the lists, disdaining to notice
the gloomy looks cast towards him, as the crowd made slow and reluctant
way for him to pass, and expressing neither surprise nor displeasure at
a deep, hollow murmur, or groan, which accompanied his retreat. Only a
few of his own immediate followers attended him from the field, though
various persons of distinction had come there in his train. Even the
lower class of citizens ceased to follow the unhappy Prince, whose
former indifferent reputation had exposed him to so many charges of
impropriety and levity, and around whom there seemed now darkening
suspicions of the most atrocious nature.

He took his slow and thoughtful way to the church of the Dominicans; but
the ill news, which flies proverbially fast, had reached his father's
place of retirement before he himself appeared. On entering the palace
and inquiring for the King, the Duke of Rothsay was surprised to be
informed that he was in deep consultation with the Duke of Albany, who,
mounting on horseback as the Prince left the lists, had reached the
convent before him. He was about to use the privilege of his rank and
birth to enter the royal apartment, when MacLouis, the commander of
the guard of Brandanes, gave him to understand, in the most respectful
terms, that he had special instructions which forbade his admittance.

"Go at least, MacLouis, and let them know that I wait their pleasure,"
said the Prince. "If my uncle desires to have the credit of shutting the
father's apartment against the son, it will gratify him to know that I
am attending in the outer hall like a lackey."

"May it please you," said MacLouis, with hesitation, "if your Highness
would consent to retire just now, and to wait awhile in patience, I will
send to acquaint you when the Duke of Albany goes; and I doubt not that
his Majesty will then admit your Grace to his presence. At present, your
Highness must forgive me, it is impossible you can have access."

"I understand you, MacLouis; but go, nevertheless, and obey my
commands."

The officer went accordingly, and returned with a message that the King
was indisposed, and on the point of retiring to his private chamber;
but that the Duke of Albany would presently wait upon the Prince of
Scotland.

It was, however, a full half hour ere the Duke of Albany appeared--a
period of time which Rothsay spent partly in moody silence, and
partly in idle talk with MacLouis and the Brandanes, as the levity or
irritability of his temper obtained the ascendant.

At length the Duke came, and with him the lord High Constable, whose
countenance expressed much sorrow and embarrassment.

"Fair kinsman," said the Duke of Albany, "I grieve to say that it is
my royal brother's opinion that it will be best, for the honour of the
royal family, that your Royal Highness do restrict yourself for a time
to the seclusion of the High Constable's lodgings, and accept of the
noble Earl here present for your principal, if not sole, companion until
the scandals which have been this day spread abroad shall be refuted or
forgotten."

"How is this, my lord of Errol?" said the Prince in astonishment. "Is
your house to be my jail, and is your lordship to be my jailer?"

"The saints forbid, my lord," said the Earl of Errol "but it is my
unhappy duty to obey the commands of your father, by considering your
Royal Highness for some time as being under my ward."

"The Prince--the heir of Scotland, under the ward of the High Constable!
What reason can be given for this? is the blighting speech of
a convicted recreant of strength sufficient to tarnish my royal
escutcheon?"

"While such accusations are not refuted and denied, my kinsman," said
the Duke of Albany, "they will contaminate that of a monarch."

"Denied, my lord!" exclaimed the Prince; "by whom are they asserted,
save by a wretch too infamous, even by his own confession, to be
credited for a moment, though a beggar's character, not a prince's, were
impeached? Fetch him hither, let the rack be shown to him; you will soon
hear him retract the calumny which he dared to assert!"

"The gibbet has done its work too surely to leave Bonthron sensible
to the rack," said the Duke of Albany. "He has been executed an hour
since."

"And why such haste, my lord?" said the Prince; "know you it looks as if
there were practice in it to bring a stain on my name?"

"The custom is universal, the defeated combatant in the ordeal of battle
is instantly transferred from the lists to the gallows. And yet, fair
kinsman," continued the Duke of Albany, "if you had boldly and strongly
denied the imputation, I would have judged right to keep the wretch
alive for further investigation; but as your Highness was silent, I
deemed it best to stifle the scandal in the breath of him that uttered
it."

"St. Mary, my lord, but this is too insulting! Do you, my uncle and
kinsman, suppose me guilty of prompting such an useless and unworthy
action as that which the slave confessed?"

"It is not for me to bandy question with your Highness, otherwise I
would ask whether you also mean to deny the scarce less unworthy, though
less bloody, attack upon the house in Couvrefew Street? Be not angry
with me, kinsman; but, indeed, your sequestering yourself for some brief
space from the court, were it only during the King's residence in this
city, where so much offence has been given, is imperiously demanded."

Rothsay paused when he heard this exhortation, and, looking at the Duke
in a very marked manner, replied:

"Uncle, you are a good huntsman. You have pitched your toils with much
skill, but you would have been foiled, not withstanding, had not the
stag rushed among the nets of free will. God speed you, and may you have
the profit by this matter which your measures deserve. Say to my father,
I obey his arrest. My Lord High Constable, I wait only your pleasure to
attend you to your lodgings. Since I am to lie in ward, I could not have
desired a kinder or more courteous warden."

The interview between the uncle and nephew being thus concluded, the
Prince retired with the Earl of Errol to his apartments; the citizens
whom they met in the streets passing to the further side when they
observed the Duke of Rothsay, to escape the necessity of saluting
one whom they had been taught to consider as a ferocious as well as
unprincipled libertine. The Constable's lodgings received the owner and
his princely guest, both glad to leave the streets, yet neither feeling
easy in the situation which they occupied with regard to each other
within doors.

We must return to the lists after the combat had ceased, and when the
nobles had withdrawn. The crowds were now separated into two distinct
bodies. That which made the smallest in number was at the same time the
most distinguished for respectability, consisting of the better class
of inhabitants of Perth, who were congratulating the successful champion
and each other upon the triumphant conclusion to which they had brought
their feud with the courtiers. The magistrates were so much elated on
the occasion, that they entreated Sir Patrick Charteris's acceptance of
a collation in the town hall. To this Henry, the hero of the day, was of
course invited, or he was rather commanded to attend. He listened to
the summons with great embarrassment, for it may be readily believed
his heart was with Catharine Glover. But the advice of his father Simon
decided him. That veteran citizen had a natural and becoming deference
for the magistracy of the Fair City; he entertained a high estimation
of all honours which flowed from such a source, and thought that his
intended son in law would do wrong not to receive them with gratitude.

"Thou must not think to absent thyself from such a solemn occasion, son
Henry," was his advice. "Sir Patrick Charteris is to be there himself,
and I think it will be a rare occasion for thee to gain his goodwill. It
is like he may order of thee a new suit of harness; and I myself heard
worthy Bailie Craigdallie say there was a talk of furbishing up the
city's armoury. Thou must not neglect the good trade, now that thou
takest on thee an expensive family."

"Tush, father Glover," answered the embarrassed victor, "I lack no
custom; and thou knowest there is Catharine, who may wonder at my
absence, and have her ear abused once more by tales of glee maidens and
I wot not what."

"Fear not for that," said the glover, "but go, like an obedient burgess,
where thy betters desire to have thee. I do not deny that it will cost
thee some trouble to make thy peace with Catharine about this duel; for
she thinks herself wiser in such matters than king and council, kirk
and canons, provost and bailies. But I will take up the quarrel with
her myself, and will so work for thee, that, though she may receive
thee tomorrow with somewhat of a chiding, it shall melt into tears and
smiles, like an April morning, that begins with a mild shower. Away with
thee, then, my son, and be constant to the time, tomorrow morning after
mass."

The smith, though reluctantly, was obliged to defer to the reasoning of
his proposed father in law, and, once determined to accept the honour
destined for him by the fathers of the city, he extricated himself from
the crowd, and hastened home to put on his best apparel; in which he
presently afterwards repaired to the council house, where the ponderous
oak table seemed to bend under the massy dishes of choice Tay salmon
and delicious sea fish from Dundee, being the dainties which the fasting
season permitted, whilst neither wine, ale, nor metheglin were wanting
to wash them down. The waits, or minstrels of the burgh, played during
the repast, and in the intervals of the music one of them recited With
great emphasis a long poetical account of the battle of Blackearnside,
fought by Sir William Wallace and his redoubted captain and friend,
Thomas of Longueville, against the English general Seward--a theme
perfectly familiar to all the guests, who, nevertheless, more tolerant
than their descendants, listened as if it had all the zest of novelty.
It was complimentary to the ancestor of the Knight of Kinfauns,
doubtless, and to other Perthshire families, in passages which the
audience applauded vociferously, whilst they pledged each other in
mighty draughts to the memory of the heroes who had fought by the side
of the Champion of Scotland. The health of Henry Wynd was quaffed
with repeated shouts, and the provost announced publicly, that the
magistrates were consulting how they might best invest him with some
distinguished privilege or honorary reward, to show how highly his
fellow citizens valued his courageous exertions.

"Nay, take it not thus, an it like your worships," said the smith, with
his usual blunt manner, "lest men say that valour must be rare in Perth
when they reward a man for fighting for the right of a forlorn widow.
I am sure there are many scores of stout burghers in the town who would
have done this day's dargue as well or better than I. For, in good
sooth, I ought to have cracked yonder fellow's head piece like an
earthen pipkin--ay, and would have done it, too, if it had not been
one which I myself tempered for Sir John Ramorny. But, an the Fair
City think my service of any worth, I will conceive it far more than
acquitted by any aid which you may afford from the common good to the
support of the widow Magdalen and her poor orphans."

"That may well be done," said Sir Patrick Charteris, "and yet leave the
Fair City rich enough to pay her debts to Henry Wynd, of which every man
of us is a better judge than him self, who is blinded with an unavailing
nicety, which men call modesty. And if the burgh be too poor for this,
the provost will bear his share. The Rover's golden angels have not all
taken flight yet."

The beakers were now circulated, under the name of a cup of comfort to
the widow, and anon flowed around once more to the happy memory of the
murdered Oliver, now so bravely avenged. In short, it was a feast so
jovial that all agreed nothing was wanting to render it perfect but the
presence of the bonnet maker himself, whose calamity had occasioned the
meeting, and who had usually furnished the standing jest at such festive
assemblies. Had his attendance been possible, it was drily observed by
Bailie Craigdallie, he would certainly have claimed the success of the
day, and vouched himself the avenger of his own murder.

At the sound of the vesper bell the company broke up, some of the graver
sort going to evening prayers, where, with half shut eyes and shining
countenances, they made a most orthodox and edifying portion of a Lenten
congregation; others to their own homes, to tell over the occurrences of
the fight and feast, for the information of the family circle; and some,
doubtless, to the licensed freedoms of some tavern, the door of which
Lent did not keep so close shut as the forms of the church required.
Henry returned to the wynd, warm with the good wine and the applause of
his fellow citizens, and fell asleep to dream of perfect happiness and
Catharine Glover.

We have said that, when the combat was decided, the spectators were
divided into two bodies. Of these, when the more respectable portion
attended the victor in joyous procession, much the greater number, or
what might be termed the rabble, waited upon the subdued and sentenced
Bonthron, who was travelling in a different direction, and for a very
opposite purpose. Whatever may be thought of the comparative attractions
of the house of mourning and of feasting under other circumstances,
there can be little doubt which will draw most visitors, when the
question is, whether we would witness miseries which we are not to
share, or festivities of which we are not to partake. Accordingly, the
tumbril in which the criminal was conveyed to execution was attended by
far the greater proportion of the inhabitants of Perth.

A friar was seated in the same car with the murderer, to whom he did
not hesitate to repeat, under the seal of confession, the same false
asseveration which he had made upon the place of combat, which charged
the Duke of Rothsay with being director of the ambuscade by which
the unfortunate bonnet maker had suffered. The same falsehood he
disseminated among the crowd, averring, with unblushing effrontery, to
those who were nighest to the car, that he owed his death to his having
been willing to execute the Duke of Rothsay's pleasure. For a time
he repeated these words, sullenly and doggedly, in the manner of one
reciting a task, or a liar who endeavours by reiteration to obtain
a credit for his words which he is internally sensible they do not
deserve. But when he lifted up his eyes, and beheld in the distance the
black outline of a gallows, at least forty feet high, with its ladder
and its fatal cord, rising against the horizon, he became suddenly
silent, and the friar could observe that he trembled very much.

"Be comforted, my son," said the good priest, "you have confessed
the truth, and received absolution. Your penitence will be accepted
according to your sincerity; and though you have been a man of bloody
hands and cruel heart, yet, by the church's prayers, you shall be in due
time assoilzied from the penal fires of purgatory."

These assurances were calculated rather to augment than to diminish
the terrors of the culprit, who was agitated by doubts whether the
mode suggested for his preservation from death would to a certainty be
effectual, and some suspicion whether there was really any purpose of
employing them in his favour, for he knew his master well enough to be
aware of the indifference with which he would sacrifice one who might on
some future occasion be a dangerous evidence against him.

His doom, however, was sealed, and there was no escaping from it. They
slowly approached the fatal tree, which was erected on a bank by the
river's side, about half a mile from the walls of the city--a site
chosen that the body of the wretch, which was to remain food for the
carrion crows, might be seen from a distance in every direction.
Here the priest delivered Bonthron to the executioner, by whom he was
assisted up the ladder, and to all appearance despatched according to
the usual forms of the law. He seemed to struggle for life for a
minute, but soon after hung still and inanimate. The executioner, after
remaining upon duty for more than half an hour, as if to permit the
last spark of life to be extinguished, announced to the admirers of such
spectacles that the irons for the permanent suspension of the carcass
not having been got ready, the concluding ceremony of disembowelling the
dead body and attaching it finally to the gibbet would be deferred till
the next morning at sunrise.

Notwithstanding the early hour which he had named, Master Smotherwell
had a reasonable attendance of rabble at the place of execution, to
see the final proceedings of justice with its victim. But great was the
astonishment and resentment of these amateurs to find that the dead body
had been removed from the gibbet. They were not, however, long at a loss
to guess the cause of its disappearance. Bonthron had been the follower
of a baron whose estates lay in Fife, and was himself a native of that
province. What was more natural than that some of the Fife men, whose
boats were frequently plying on the river, should have clandestinely
removed the body of their countryman from the place of public shame? The
crowd vented their rage against Smotherwell for not completing his
job on the preceding evening; and had not he and his assistant betaken
themselves to a boat, and escaped across the Tay, they would have run
some risk of being pelted to death. The event, however, was too much in
the spirit of the times to be much wondered at. Its real cause we shall
explain in the following chapter.



CHAPTER XXIV.

     Let gallows gape for dogs, let men go free.

     Henry V.


The incidents of a narrative of this kind must be adapted to each other,
as the wards of a key must tally accurately with those of the lock to
which it belongs. The reader, however gentle, will not hold himself
obliged to rest satisfied with the mere fact that such and such
occurrences took place, which is, generally speaking, all that in
ordinary life he can know of what is passing around him; but he is
desirous, while reading for amusement, of knowing the interior movements
occasioning the course of events. This is a legitimate and reasonable
curiosity; for every man hath a right to open and examine the mechanism
of his own watch, put together for his proper use, although he is not
permitted to pry into the interior of the timepiece which, for general
information, is displayed on the town steeple.

It would be, therefore, uncourteous to leave my readers under any doubt
concerning the agency which removed the assassin Bonthron from the
gallows--an event which some of the Perth citizens ascribed to the foul
fiend himself, while others were content to lay it upon the natural
dislike of Bonthron's countrymen of Fife to see him hanging on the river
side, as a spectacle dishonourable to their province.

About midnight succeeding the day when the execution had taken place,
and while the inhabitants of Perth were deeply buried in slumber, three
men muffled in their cloaks, and bearing a dark lantern, descended the
alleys of a garden which led from the house occupied by Sir John Ramorny
to the banks of the Tay, where a small boat lay moored to a landing
place, or little projecting pier. The wind howled in a low and
melancholy manner through the leafless shrubs and bushes; and a pale
moon "waded," as it is termed in Scotland, amongst drifting clouds,
which seemed to threaten rain. The three individuals entered the boat
with great precaution to escape observation. One of them was a tall,
powerful man; another short and bent downwards; the third middle sized,
and apparently younger than his companions, well made, and active. Thus
much the imperfect light could discover. They seated themselves in the
boat and unmoored it from the pier.

"We must let her drift with the current till we pass the bridge, where
the burghers still keep guard; and you know the proverb, 'A Perth
arrow hath a perfect flight,'" said the most youthful of the party, who
assumed the office of helmsman, and pushed the boat off from the pier;
whilst the others took the oars, which were muffled, and rowed with all
precaution till they attained the middle of the river; they then ceased
their efforts, lay upon their oars, and trusted to the steersman for
keeping her in mid channel.

In this manner they passed unnoticed or disregarded beneath the stately
Gothic arches of the old bridge, erected by the magnificent patronage
of Robert Bruce in 1329, and carried away by an inundation in 1621.
Although they heard the voices of a civic watch, which, since these
disturbances commenced, had been nightly maintained in that important
pass, no challenge was given; and when they were so far down the stream
as to be out of hearing of these guardians of the night, they began to
row, but still with precaution, and to converse, though in a low tone.

"You have found a new trade, comrade, since I left you," said one of the
rowers to the other. "I left you engaged in tending a sick knight, and I
find you employed in purloining a dead body from the gallows."

"A living body, so please your squirehood, Master Buncle, or else my
craft hath failed of its purpose."

"So I am told, Master Pottercarrier; but, saving your clerkship, unless
you tell me your trick, I will take leave to doubt of its success."

"A simple toy, Master Buncle, not likely to please a genius so acute as
that of your valiancie. Marry, thus it is. This suspension of the human
body, which the vulgar call hanging, operates death by apoplexia--that
is, the blood being unable to return to the heart by the compression
of the veins, it rushes to the brain, and the man dies. Also, and as an
additional cause of dissolution, the lungs no longer receive the needful
supply of the vital air, owing to the ligature of the cord around the
thorax; and hence the patient perishes."

"I understand that well enough. But how is such a revulsion of blood to
the brain to be prevented, sir mediciner?" said the third person, who
was no other than Ramorny's page, Eviot.

"Marry, then," replied Dwining, "hang me the patient up in such fashion
that the carotid arteries shall not be compressed, and the blood will
not determine to the brain, and apoplexia will not take place; and
again, if there be no ligature around the thorax, the lungs will be
supplied with air, whether the man be hanging in the middle heaven or
standing on the firm earth."

"All this I conceive," said Eviot; "but how these precautions can be
reconciled with the execution of the sentence of hanging is what my dull
brain cannot comprehend."

"Ah! good youth, thy valiancie hath spoiled a fair wit. Hadst thou
studied with me, thou shouldst have learned things more difficult than
this. But here is my trick. I get me certain bandages, made of the same
substance with your young valiancie's horse girths, having especial care
that they are of a kind which will not shrink on being strained, since
that would spoil my experiment. One loop of this substance is drawn
under each foot, and returns up either side of the leg to a cincture,
with which it is united; these cinctures are connected by divers straps
down the breast and back, in order to divide the weight. And there are
sundry other conveniences for easing the patient, but the chief is this:
the straps, or ligatures, are attached to a broad steel collar, curving
outwards, and having a hook or two, for the better security of the
halter, which the friendly executioner passes around that part of the
machine, instead of applying it to the bare throat of the patient.
Thus, when thrown off from the ladder, the sufferer will find himself
suspended, not by his neck, if it please you, but by the steel circle,
which supports the loops in which his feet are placed, and on which his
weight really rests, diminished a little by similar supports under each
arm. Thus, neither vein nor windpipe being compressed, the man will
breathe as free, and his blood, saving from fright and novelty of
situation, will flow as temperately as your valiancie's when you stand
up in your stirrups to view a field of battle."

"By my faith, a quaint and rare device!" quoth Buncle.

"Is it not?" pursued the leech, "and well worth being known to such
mounting spirits as your valiancies, since there is no knowing to what
height Sir John Ramorny's pupils may arrive; and if these be such that
it is necessary to descend from them by a rope, you may find my mode of
management more convenient than the common practice. Marry, but you must
be provided with a high collared doublet, to conceal the ring of steel,
and, above all, such a bonus socius as Smother well to adjust the
noose."

"Base poison vender," said Eviot, "men of our calling die on the field
of battle."

"I will save the lesson, however," replied Buncle, "in case of some
pinching occasion. But what a night the bloody hangdog Bonthron must
have had of it, dancing a pavise in mid air to the music of his own
shackles, as the night wind swings him that way and this!"

"It were an alms deed to leave him there," said Eviot; "for his descent
from the gibbet will but encourage him to new murders. He knows but two
elements--drunkenness and bloodshed."

"Perhaps Sir John Ramorny might have been of your opinion," said
Dwining; "but it would first have been necessary to cut out the rogue's
tongue, lest he had told strange tales from his airy height. And there
are other reasons that it concerns not your valiancies to know. In
truth, I myself have been generous in serving him, for the fellow is
built as strong as Edinburgh Castle, and his anatomy would have matched
any that is in the chirurgical hall of Padua. But tell me, Master
Buncle, what news bring you from the doughty Douglas?"

"They may tell that know," said Buncle. "I am the dull ass that bears
the message, and kens nought of its purport. The safer for myself,
perhaps. I carried letters from the Duke of Albany and from Sir John
Ramorny to the Douglas, and he looked black as a northern tempest when
he opened them. I brought them answers from the Earl, at which they
smiled like the sun when the harvest storm is closing over him. Go to
your ephemerides, leech, and conjure the meaning out of that."

"Methinks I can do so without much cost of wit," said the chirurgeon;
"but yonder I see in the pale moonlight our dead alive. Should he have
screamed out to any chance passenger, it were a curious interruption
to a night journey to be hailed from the top of such a gallows as that.
Hark, methinks I do hear his groans amid the whistling of the wind and
the creaking of the chains. So--fair and softly; make fast the boat
with the grappling, and get out the casket with my matters, we would be
better for a little fire, but the light might bring observation on
us. Come on, my men of valour, march warily, for we are bound for the
gallows foot. Follow with the lantern; I trust the ladder has been left.

     "Sing, three merry men, and three merry men,
     And three merry men are we,
     Thou on the land, and I on the sand,
     And Jack on the gallows tree."

As they advanced to the gibbet, they could plainly hear groans, though
uttered in a low tone. Dwining ventured to give a low cough once or
twice, by way of signal; but receiving no answer, "We had best make
haste," said he to his companions, "for our friend must be in extremis,
as he gives no answer to the signal which announces the arrival of help.
Come, let us to the gear. I will go up the ladder first and cut the
rope. Do you two follow, one after another, and take fast hold of the
body, so that he fall not when the halter is unloosed. Keep sure gripe,
for which the bandages will afford you convenience. Bethink you that,
though he plays an owl's part tonight, he hath no wings, and to fall out
of a halter may be as dangerous as to fall into one."

While he spoke thus with sneer and gibe, he ascended the ladder, and
having ascertained that the men at arms who followed him had the body in
their hold, he cut the rope, and then gave his aid to support the almost
lifeless form of the criminal.

By a skilful exertion of strength and address, the body of Bonthron was
placed safely on the ground; and the faint yet certain existence of life
having been ascertained, it was thence transported to the river side,
where, shrouded by the bank, the party might be best concealed from
observation, while the leech employed himself in the necessary means of
recalling animation, with which he had taken care to provide himself.

For this purpose he first freed the recovered person from his shackles,
which the executioner had left unlocked on purpose, and at the same time
disengaged the complicated envelopes and bandages by which he had been
suspended. It was some time ere Dwining's efforts succeeded; for, in
despite of the skill with which his machine had been constructed, the
straps designed to support the body had stretched so considerably as to
occasion the sense of suffocation becoming extremely overpowering. But
the address of the surgeon triumphed over all obstacles; and, after
sneezing and stretching himself, with one or two brief convulsions,
Bonthron gave decided proofs of reanimation, by arresting the hand
of the operator as it was in the act of dropping strong waters on his
breast and throat, and, directing the bottle which contained them to his
lips, he took, almost perforce, a considerable gulp of the contents.

"It is spiritual essence double distilled," said the astonished
operator, "and would blister the throat and burn the stomach of any
other man. But this extraordinary beast is so unlike all other human
creatures, that I should not wonder if it brought him to the complete
possession of his faculties."

Bonthron seemed to confirm this: he started with a strong convulsion,
sat up, stared around, and indicated some consciousness of existence.

"Wine--wine," were the first words which he articulated.

The leech gave him a draught of medicated wine, mixed with water. He
rejected it, under the dishonourable epithet of "kennel washings," and
again uttered the words, "Wine--wine."

"Nay, take it to thee, i' the devil's name," said the leech, "since none
but he can judge of thy constitution."

A draught, long and deep enough to have discomposed the intellects of
any other person, was found effectual in recalling those of Bonthron to
a more perfect state; though he betrayed no recollection of where he was
or what had befallen him, and in his brief and sullen manner asked why
he was brought to the river side at this time of night.

"Another frolic of the wild Prince, for drenching me as he did before.
Nails and blood, but I would--"

"Hold thy peace," interrupted Eviot, "and be thankful, I pray you, if
you have any thankfulness in you, that thy body is not crow's meat and
thy soul in a place where water is too scarce to duck thee."

"I begin to bethink me," said the ruffian; and raising the flask to his
mouth, which he saluted with a long and hearty kiss, he set the empty
bottle on the earth, dropped his head on his bosom, and seemed to muse
for the purpose of arranging his confused recollections.

"We can abide the issue of his meditations no longer," said Dwining; "he
will be better after he has slept. Up, sir! you have been riding the air
these some hours; try if the water be not an easier mode of conveyance.
Your valours must lend me a hand. I can no more lift this mass than I
could raise in my arms a slaughtered bull."

"Stand upright on thine own feet, Bonthron, now we have placed thee upon
them," said Eviot.

"I cannot," answered the patient. "Every drop of blood tingles in my
veins as if it had pinpoints, and my knees refuse to bear their burden.
What can be the meaning of all this? This is some practice of thine,
thou dog leech!"

"Ay--ay, so it is, honest Bonthron," said Dwining--"a practice thou
shalt thank me for when thou comest to learn it. In the mean while,
stretch down in the stern of that boat, and let me wrap this cloak about
thee."

Assisted into the boat accordingly, Bonthron was deposited there as
conveniently as things admitted of. He answered their attentions with
one or two snorts resembling the grunt of a boar who has got some food
particularly agreeable to him.

"And now, Buncle," said the chirurgeon, "your valiant squireship
knows your charge. You are to carry this lively cargo by the river to
Newburgh, where you are to dispose of him as you wot of; meantime,
here are his shackles and bandages, the marks of his confinement and
liberation. Bind them up together, and fling them into the deepest pool
you pass over; for, found in your possession, they might tell tales
against us all. This low, light breath of wind from the west will permit
you to use a sail as soon as the light comes in and you are tired of
rowing. Your other valiancie, Master Page Eviot, must be content to
return to Perth with me afoot, for here severs our fair company. Take
with thee the lantern, Buncle, for thou wilt require it more than we,
and see thou send me back my flasket."

As the pedestrians returned to Perth, Eviot expressed his belief that
Bonthron's understanding would never recover the shock which terror had
inflicted upon it, and which appeared to him to have disturbed all the
faculties of his mind, and in particular his memory.

"It is not so, an it please your pagehood," said the leech. "Bonthron's
intellect, such as it is, hath a solid character: it Will but vacillate
to and fro like a pendulum which hath been put in motion, and then will
rest in its proper point of gravity. Our memory is, of all our powers of
mind, that which is peculiarly liable to be suspended. Deep intoxication
or sound sleep alike destroy it, and yet it returns when the drunkard
becomes sober or the sleeper is awakened. Terror sometimes produces the
same effect. I knew at Paris a criminal condemned to die by the halter,
who suffered the sentence accordingly, showing no particular degree of
timidity upon the scaffold, and behaving and expressing himself as men
in the same condition are wont to do. Accident did for him what a little
ingenious practice hath done for our amiable friend from whom we but
now parted. He was cut down and given to his friends before life was
extinct, and I had the good fortune to restore him. But, though he
recovered in other particulars, he remembered but little of his trial
and sentence. Of his confession on the morning of his execution--he!
he! he! (in his usual chuckling manner)--he remembered him not a word.
Neither of leaving the prison, nor of his passage to the Greve, where
he suffered, nor of the devout speeches with which he--he! he!
he!--edified--he! he! he!--so many good Christians, nor of ascending the
fatal tree, nor of taking the fatal leap, had my revenant the slightest
recollection.' But here we reach the point where we must separate;
for it were unfit, should we meet any of the watch, that we be found
together, and it were also prudent that we enter the city by different
gates. My profession forms an excuse for my going and coming at all
times. Your valiant pagehood will make such explanation as may seem
sufficing."

"I shall make my will a sufficient excuse if I am interrogated," said
the haughty young man. "Yet I will avoid interruption, if possible. The
moon is quite obscured, and the road as black as a wolf's mouth."

"Tut," said the physicianer, "let not your valour care for that: we
shall tread darker paths ere it be long."

Without inquiring into the meaning of these evil boding sentences, and
indeed hardly listening to them in the pride and recklessness of his
nature, the page of Ramorny parted from his ingenious and dangerous
companion, and each took his own way.



CHAPTER XXV.

     The course of true love never did run smooth.

     SHAKSPEARE.


The ominous anxiety of our armourer had not played him false. When the
good glover parted with his intended son in law, after the judicial
combat had been decided, he found what he indeed had expected, that his
fair daughter was in no favourable disposition towards her lover. But
although he perceived that Catharine was cold, restrained, collected,
had cast away the appearance of mortal passion, and listened with a
reserve, implying contempt, to the most splendid description he could
give her of the combat in the Skinners' Yards, he was determined not
to take the least notice of her altered manner, but to speak of her
marriage with his son Henry as a thing which must of course take place.
At length, when she began, as on a former occasion, to intimate that her
attachment to the armourer did not exceed the bounds of friendship, that
she was resolved never to marry, that the pretended judicial combat
was a mockery of the divine will, and of human laws, the glover not
unnaturally grew angry.

"I cannot read thy thoughts, wench; nor can I pretend to guess under
what wicked delusion it is that you kiss a declared lover, suffer him
to kiss you, run to his house when a report is spread of his death, and
fling yourself into his arms when you find him alone [alive]. All
this shows very well in a girl prepared to obey her parents in a match
sanctioned by her father; but such tokens of intimacy, bestowed on one
whom a young woman cannot esteem, and is determined not to marry, are
uncomely and unmaidenly. You have already been more bounteous of your
favours to Henry Smith than your mother, whom God assoilzie, ever was to
me before I married her. I tell thee, Catharine, this trifling with the
love of an honest man is what I neither can, will, nor ought to endure.
I have given my consent to the match, and I insist it shall take place
without delay, and that you receive Henry Wynd tomorrow, as a man whose
bride you are to be with all despatch."

"A power more potent than yours, father, will say no," replied
Catharine.

"I will risk it; my power is a lawful one, that of a father over a
child, and an erring child," answered her father. "God and man allow of
my influence."

"Then, may Heaven help us," said Catharine; "for, if you are obstinate
in your purpose, we are all lost."

"We can expect no help from Heaven," said the glover, "when we act
with indiscretion. I am clerk enough myself to know that; and that your
causeless resistance to my will is sinful, every priest will inform
you. Ay, and more than that, you have spoken degradingly of the blessed
appeal to God in the combat of ordeal. Take heed! for the Holy Church
is awakened to watch her sheepfold, and to extirpate heresy by fire and
steel; so much I warn thee of."

Catharine uttered a suppressed exclamation; and, with difficulty
compelling herself to assume an appearance of composure, promised her
father that, if he would spare her any farther discussion of the subject
till tomorrow morning, she would then meet him, determined to make a
full discovery of her sentiments.

With this promise Simon Glover was obliged to remain contented, though
extremely anxious for the postponed explanation. It could not be levity
or fickleness of character which induced his daughter to act with so
much apparent inconsistency towards the man of his choice, and whom she
had so lately unequivocally owned to be also the man of her own. What
external force there could exist, of a kind powerful enough to change
the resolutions she had so decidedly expressed within twenty-four hours,
was a matter of complete mystery.

"But I will be as obstinate as she can be," thought the glover, "and she
shall either marry Henry Smith without farther delay or old Simon Glover
will know an excellent reason to the contrary."

The subject was not renewed during the evening; but early on the next
morning, just at sun rising, Catharine knelt before the bed in which her
parent still slumbered. Her heart sobbed as if it would burst, and her
tears fell thick upon her father's face. The good old man awoke, looked
up, crossed his child's forehead, and kissed her affectionately.

"I understand thee, Kate," he said; "thou art come to confession, and, I
trust, art desirous to escape a heavy penance by being sincere."

Catharine was silent for an instant.

"I need not ask, my father, if you remember the Carthusian monk,
Clement, and his preachings and lessons; at which indeed you assisted so
often, that you cannot be ignorant men called you one of his converts,
and with greater justice termed me so likewise?"

"I am aware of both," said the old man, raising himself on his elbow;
"but I defy foul fame to show that I ever owned him in any heretical
proposition, though I loved to hear him talk of the corruptions of the
church, the misgovernment of the nobles, and the wild ignorance of
the poor, proving, as it seemed to me, that the sole virtue of our
commonweal, its strength and its estimation, lay among the burgher
craft of the better class, which I received as comfortable doctrine, and
creditable to the town. And if he preached other than right doctrine,
wherefore did his superiors in the Carthusian convent permit it? If the
shepherds turn a wolf in sheep's clothing into the flock, they should
not blame the sheep for being worried."

"They endured his preaching, nay, they encouraged it," said Catharine,
"while the vices of the laity, the contentions of the nobles, and
the oppression of the poor were the subject of his censure, and they
rejoiced in the crowds who, attracted to the Carthusian church,
forsook those of the other convents. But the hypocrites--for such they
are--joined with the other fraternities in accusing their preacher
Clement, when, passing from censuring the crimes of the state, he
began to display the pride, ignorance, and luxury of the churchmen
themselves--their thirst of power, their usurpation over men's
consciences, and their desire to augment their worldly wealth."

"For God's sake, Catharine," said her father, "speak within doors: your
voice rises in tone and your speech in bitterness, your eyes sparkle.
It is owing to this zeal in what concerns you no more than others
that malicious persons fix upon you the odious and dangerous name of a
heretic."

"You know I speak no more than what is truth," said Catharine, "and
which you yourself have avouched often."

"By needle and buckskin, no!" answered the glover, hastily. "Wouldst
thou have me avouch what might cost me life and limb, land and goods?
For a full commission hath been granted for taking and trying heretics,
upon whom is laid the cause of all late tumults and miscarriages;
wherefore, few words are best, wench. I am ever of mind with the old
maker:

"Since word is thrall and thought is free, Keep well thy tongue, I
counsel thee."

"The counsel comes too late, father," answered Catharine, sinking down
on a chair by her father's bedside. "The words have been spoken and
heard; and it is indited against Simon Glover, burgess in Perth, that he
hath spoken irreverent discourses of the doctrines of Holy Church."

"As I live by knife and needle," interrupted Simon, "it is a lie! I
never was so silly as to speak of what I understood not."

"And hath slandered the anointed of the church, both regular and
secular," continued Catharine.

"Nay, I will never deny the truth," said the glover: "an idle word I may
have spoken at the ale bench, or over a pottle pot of wine, or in right
sure company; but else, my tongue is not one to run my head into peril."

"So you think, my dearest father; but your slightest language has been
espied, your best meaning phrases have been perverted, and you are in
dittay as a gross railer against church and churchmen, and for holding
discourse against them with loose and profligate persons, such as the
deceased Oliver Proudfute, the smith Henry of the Wynd, and others, set
forth as commending the doctrines of Father Clement, whom they charge
with seven rank heresies, and seek for with staff and spear, to try him
to the death. But that," said Catharine, kneeling, and looking upwards
with the aspect of one of those beauteous saints whom the Catholics have
given to the fine arts--"that they shall never do. He hath escaped from
the net of the fowler; and, I thank Heaven, it was by my means."

"Thy means, girl--art thou mad?" said the amazed glover.

"I will not deny what I glory in," answered Catharine: "it was by my
means that Conachar was led to come hither with a party of men and carry
off the old man, who is now far beyond the Highland line."

"Thou my rash--my unlucky child!" said the glover, "hast dared to aid
the escape of one accused of heresy, and to invite Highlanders in arms
to interfere with the administration of justice within burgh? Alas!
thou hast offended both against the laws of the church and those of the
realm. What--what would become of us, were this known?"

"It is known, my dear father," said the maiden, firmly--"known even to
those who will be the most willing avengers of the deed."

"This must be some idle notion, Catharine, or some trick of those
cogging priests and nuns; it accords not with thy late cheerful
willingness to wed Henry Smith."

"Alas! dearest father, remember the dismal surprise occasioned by his
reported death, and the joyful amazement at finding him alive; and deem
it not wonder if I permitted myself, under your protection, to say more
than my reflection justified. But then I knew not the worst, and thought
the danger exaggerated. Alas I was yesterday fearfully undeceived, when
the abbess herself came hither, and with her the Dominican. They showed
me the commission, under the broad seal of Scotland, for inquiring into
and punishing heresy; they showed me your name and my own in a list of
suspected persons; and it was with tears--real tears, that the abbess
conjured me to avert a dreadful fate by a speedy retreat into the
cloister, and that the monk pledged his word that you should not be
molested if I complied."

"The foul fiend take them both for weeping crocodiles!" said the glover.

"Alas!" replied Catharine, "complaint or anger will little help us; but
you see I have had real cause for this present alarm."

"Alarm! call it utter ruin. Alas! my reckless child, where was your
prudence when you ran headlong into such a snare?"

"Hear me, father," said Catharine; "there is still one mode of safety
held out: it is one which I have often proposed, and for which I have in
vain supplicated your permission."

"I understand you--the convent," said her father. "But, Catharine, what
abbess or prioress would dare--"

"That I will explain to you, father, and it will also show the
circumstances which have made me seem unsteady of resolution to a
degree which has brought censure upon me from yourself and others. Our
confessor, old Father Francis, whom I chose from the Dominican convent
at your command--"

"Ay, truly," interrupted the glover; "and I so counselled and commanded
thee, in order to take off the report that thy conscience was altogether
under the direction of Father Clement."

"Well, this Father Francis has at different times urged and provoked me
to converse on such matters as he judged I was likely to learn something
of from the Carthusian preacher. Heaven forgive me my blindness! I fell
into the snare, spoke freely, and, as he argued gently, as one who would
fain be convinced, I even spoke warmly in defence of what I believed
devoutly. The confessor assumed not his real aspect and betrayed not his
secret purpose until he had learned all that I had to tell him. It was
then that he threatened me with temporal punishment and with eternal
condemnation. Had his threats reached me alone, I could have stood firm;
for their cruelty on earth I could have endured, and their power beyond
this life I have no belief in."

"For Heaven's sake!" said the glover, who was well nigh beside himself
at perceiving at every new word the increasing extremity of his
daughter's danger, "beware of blaspheming the Holy Church, whose arms
are as prompt to strike as her ears are sharp to hear."

"To me," said the Maid of Perth, again looking up, "the terrors of the
threatened denunciations would have been of little avail; but when they
spoke of involving thee, my father, in the charge against me, I own
I trembled, and desired to compromise. The Abbess Martha, of Elcho
nunnery, being my mother's kinswoman, I told her my distresses, and
obtained her promise that she would receive me, if, renouncing worldly
love and thoughts of wedlock, I would take the veil in her sisterhood.
She had conversation on the topic, I doubt not, with the Dominican
Francis, and both joined in singing the same song.

"'Remain in the world,' said they, 'and thy father and thou shall be
brought to trial as heretics; assume the veil, and the errors of both
shall be forgiven and cancelled.' They spoke not even of recantation
of errors of doctrine: all should be peace if I would but enter the
convent."

"I doubt not--I doubt not," said Simon: "the old glover is thought rich,
and his wealth would follow his daughter to the convent of Elcho, unless
what the Dominicans might claim as their own share. So this was thy call
to the veil, these thy objections to Henry Wynd?"

"Indeed, father, the course was urged on all hands, nor did my own
mind recoil from it. Sir John Ramorny threatened me with the powerful
vengeance of the young Prince, if I continued to repel his wicked suit;
and as for poor Henry, it is but of late that I have discovered, to
my own surprise--that--that I love his virtues more than I dislike his
faults. Alas! the discovery has only been made to render my quitting the
world more difficult than when I thought I had thee only to regret."

She rested her head on her hand and wept bitterly.

"All this is folly," said the glover. "Never was there an extremity so
pinching, but what a wise man might find counsel if he was daring enough
to act upon it. This has never been the land or the people over whom
priests could rule in the name of Rome, without their usurpation being
controlled. If they are to punish each honest burgher who says the
monks love gold, and that the lives of some of them cry shame upon the
doctrines they teach, why, truly, Stephen Smotherwell will not lack
employment; and if all foolish maidens are to be secluded from the world
because they follow the erring doctrines of a popular preaching friar,
they must enlarge the nunneries and receive their inmates on slighter
composition. Our privileges have been often defended against the Pope
himself by our good monarchs of yore, and when he pretended to interfere
with the temporal government of the kingdom, there wanted not a Scottish
Parliament who told him his duty in a letter that should have been
written in letters of gold. I have seen the epistle myself, and though
I could not read it, the very sight of the seals of the right reverend
prelates and noble and true barons which hung at it made my heart leap
for joy. Thou shouldst not have kept this secret, my child--but it is no
time to tax thee with thy fault. Go down, get me some food. I will mount
instantly, and go to our Lord Provost and have his advice, and, as I
trust, his protection and that of other true hearted Scottish nobles,
who will not see a true man trodden down for an idle word."

"Alas! my father," said Catharine, "it was even this impetuosity which I
dreaded. I knew if I made my plaint to you there would soon be fire and
feud, as if religion, though sent to us by the Father of peace, were fit
only to be the mother of discord; and hence I could now--even now--give
up the world, and retire with my sorrow among the sisters of Elcho,
would you but let me be the sacrifice. Only, father--comfort poor Henry
when we are parted for ever; and do not--do not let him think of me too
harshly. Say Catharine will never vex him more by her remonstrances, but
that she will never forget him in her prayers."

"The girl hath a tongue that would make a Saracen weep," said her
father, his own eyes sympathising with those of his daughter. "But I
will not yield way to this combination between the nun and the priest to
rob me of my only child. Away with you, girl, and let me don my clothes;
and prepare yourself to obey me in what I may have to recommend for your
safety. Get a few clothes together, and what valuables thou hast; also,
take the keys of my iron box, which poor Henry Smith gave me, and divide
what gold you find into two portions; put the one into a purse for
thyself, and the other into the quilted girdle which I made on purpose
to wear on journeys. Thus both shall be provided, in case fate should
sunder us; in which event, God send the whirlwind may take the withered
leaf and spare the green one! Let them make ready my horse instantly,
and the white jennet that I bought for thee but a day since, hoping to
see thee ride to St. John's Kirk with maids and matrons, as blythe a
bride as ever crossed the holy threshold. But it skills not talking.
Away, and remember that the saints help those who are willing to help
themselves. Not a word in answer; begone, I say--no wilfullness now. The
pilot in calm weather will let a sea boy trifle with the rudder; but, by
my soul, when winds howl and waves arise, he stands by the helm himself.
Away--no reply."

Catharine left the room to execute, as well as she might, the commands
of her father, who, gentle in disposition and devotedly attached to his
child, suffered her often, as it seemed, to guide and rule both herself
and him; yet who, as she knew, was wont to claim filial obedience and
exercise parental authority with sufficient strictness when the occasion
seemed to require an enforcement of domestic discipline.

While the fair Catharine was engaged in executing her father's behests,
and the good old glover was hastily attiring himself, as one who was
about to take a journey, a horse's tramp was heard in the narrow street.
The horseman was wrapped in his riding cloak, having the cape of it
drawn up, as if to hide the under part of his face, while his bonnet was
pulled over his brows, and a broad plume obscured his upper features.
He sprung from the saddle, and Dorothy had scarce time to reply to
his inquiries that the glover was in his bedroom, ere the stranger had
ascended the stair and entered the sleeping apartment. Simon, astonished
and alarmed, and disposed to see in this early visitant an apparitor or
sumner come to attach him and his daughter, was much relieved when, as
the stranger doffed the bonnet and threw the skirt of the mantle from
his face, he recognised the knightly provost of the Fair City, a visit
from whom at any time was a favour of no ordinary degree, but, being
made at such an hour, had something marvellous, and, connected with the
circumstances of the times, even alarming.

"Sir Patrick Charteris!" said the glover. "This high honour done to your
poor beadsman--"

"Hush!" said the knight, "there is no time for idle civilities. I came
hither because a man is, in trying occasions, his own safest page, and
I can remain no longer than to bid thee fly, good glover, since warrants
are to be granted this day in council for the arrest of thy daughter and
thee, under charge of heresy; and delay will cost you both your liberty
for certain, and perhaps your lives."

"I have heard something of such a matter," said the glover, "and was
this instant setting forth to Kinfauns to plead my innocence of this
scandalous charge, to ask your lordship's counsel, and to implore your
protection."

"Thy innocence, friend Simon, will avail thee but little before
prejudiced judges; my advice is, in one word, to fly, and wait for
happier times. As for my protection, we must tarry till the tide turns
ere it will in any sort avail thee. But if thou canst lie concealed for
a few days or weeks, I have little doubt that the churchmen, who, by
siding with the Duke of Albany in court intrigue, and by alleging
the decay of the purity of Catholic doctrine as the sole cause of the
present national misfortunes, have, at least for the present hour, an
irresistible authority over the King, will receive a check. In the mean
while, however, know that King Robert hath not only given way to this
general warrant for inquisition after heresy, but hath confirmed the
Pope's nomination of Henry Wardlaw to be Archbishop of St. Andrews and
Primate of Scotland; thus yielding to Rome those freedoms and immunities
of the Scottish Church which his ancestors, from the time of Malcolm
Canmore, have so boldly defended. His brave fathers would have rather
subscribed a covenant with the devil than yielded in such a matter to
the pretensions of Rome."

"Alas, and what remedy?"

"None, old man, save in some sudden court change," said Sir Patrick.
"The King is but like a mirror, which, having no light itself, reflects
back with equal readiness any which is placed near to it for the
time. Now, although the Douglas is banded with Albany, yet the Earl is
unfavourable to the high claims of those domineering priests, having
quarrelled with them about the exactions which his retinue hath raised
on the Abbot of Arbroath. He will come back again with a high hand, for
report says the Earl of March hath fled before him. When he returns
we shall have a changed world, for his presence will control Albany;
especially as many nobles, and I myself, as I tell you in confidence,
are resolved to league with him to defend the general right. Thy exile,
therefore, will end with his return to our court. Thou hast but to seek
thee some temporary hiding place."

"For that, my lord," said the glover, "I can be at no loss, since I
have just title to the protection of the high Highland chief, Gilchrist
MacIan, chief of the Clan Quhele."

"Nay, if thou canst take hold of his mantle thou needs no help of any
one else: neither Lowland churchman nor layman finds a free course of
justice beyond the Highland frontier."

"But then my child, noble sir--my Catharine?" said the glover.

"Let her go with thee, man. The graddan cake will keep her white teeth
in order, the goat's whey will make the blood spring to her cheek again,
which these alarms have banished and even the Fair Maiden of Perth may
sleep soft enough on a bed of Highland breckan."

"It is not from such idle respects, my lord, that I hesitate," said the
glover. "Catharine is the daughter of a plain burgher, and knows not
nicety of food or lodging. But the son of MacIan hath been for many
years a guest in my house, and I am obliged to say that I have observed
him looking at my daughter, who is as good as a betrothed bride, in a
manner that, though I cared not for it in this lodging in Curfew Street,
would give me some fear of consequences in a Highland glen, where I have
no friend and Conachar many."

The knightly provost replied by a long whistle. "Whew! whew! Nay, in
that case, I advise thee to send her to the nunnery at Elcho, where the
abbess, if I forget not, is some relation of yours. Indeed, she said so
herself, adding, that she loved her kinswoman well, together with all
that belongs to thee, Simon."

"Truly, my lord, I do believe that the abbess hath so much regard for
me, that she would willingly receive the trust of my daughter, and
my whole goods and gear, into her sisterhood. Marry, her affection is
something of a tenacious character, and would be loth to unloose its
hold, either upon the wench or her tocher."

"Whew--whew!" again whistled the Knight of Kinfauns; "by the Thane's
Cross, man, but this is an ill favoured pirn to wind: Yet it shall never
be said the fairest maid in the Fair City was cooped up in a convent,
like a kain hen in a cavey, and she about to be married to the bold
burgess Henry Wynd. That tale shall not be told while I wear belt and
spurs, and am called Provost of Perth."

"But what remede, my lord?" asked the glover.

"We must all take our share of the risk. Come, get you and your daughter
presently to horse. You shall ride with me, and we'll see who dare
gloom at you. The summons is not yet served on thee, and if they send
an apparitor to Kinfauns without a warrant under the King's own hand,
I make mine avow, by the Red Rover's soul! that he shall eat his
writ, both wax and wether skin. To horse--to horse! and," addressing
Catharine, as she entered at the moment, "you too, my pretty maid--

"To horse, and fear not for your quarters; They thrive in law that trust
in Charters."

In a minute or two the father and daughter were on horseback, both
keeping an arrow's flight before the provost, by his direction, that
they might not seem to be of the same company. They passed the eastern
gate in some haste, and rode forward roundly until they were out of
sight. Sir Patrick followed leisurely; but, when he was lost to the view
of the warders, he spurred his mettled horse, and soon came up with the
glover and Catharine, when a conversation ensued which throws light upon
some previous passages of this history.



CHAPTER XXVI.

     Hail, land of bowmen! seed of those who scorn'd
     To stoop the neck to wide imperial Rome--
     Oh, dearest half of Albion sea walled!

     Albania (1737).


"I have been devising a mode," said the well meaning provost, "by which
I may make you both secure for a week or two from the malice of your
enemies, when I have little doubt I may see a changed world at court.
But that I may the better judge what is to be done, tell me frankly,
Simon, the nature of your connexion with Gilchrist MacIan, which leads
you to repose such implicit confidence in him. You are a close observer
of the rules of the city, and are aware of the severe penalties which
they denounce against such burghers as have covine and alliance with the
Highland clans."

"True, my lord; but it is also known to you that our craft, working in
skins of cattle, stags, and every other description of hides, have a
privilege, and are allowed to transact with those Highlanders, as with
the men who can most readily supply us with the means of conducting our
trade, to the great profit of the burgh. Thus it hath chanced with me to
have great dealings with these men; and I can take it on my salvation,
that you nowhere find more just and honourable traffickers, or by whom a
man may more easily make an honest penny. I have made in my day several
distant journeys into the far Highlands, upon the faith of their chiefs;
nor did I ever meet with a people more true to their word, when you
can once prevail upon them to plight it in your behalf. And as for the
Highland chief, Gilchrist MacIan, saving that he is hasty in homicide
and fire raising towards those with whom he hath deadly feud, I have
nowhere seen a man who walketh a more just and upright path."

"It is more than ever I heard before," said Sir Patrick Charteris. "Yet
I have known something of the Highland runagates too."

"They show another favour, and a very different one, to their friends
than to their enemies, as your lordship shall understand," said the
glover. "However, be that as it may, it chanced me to serve Gilchrist
MacIan in a high matter. It is now about eighteen years since, that it
chanced, the Clan Quhele and Clan Chattan being at feud, as indeed they
are seldom at peace, the former sustained such a defeat as well nigh
extirpated the family of their chief MacIan. Seven of his sons were
slain in battle and after it, himself put to flight, and his castle
taken and given to the flames. His wife, then near the time of giving
birth to an infant, fled into the forest, attended by one faithful
servant and his daughter. Here, in sorrow and care enough, she gave
birth to a boy; and as the misery of the mother's condition rendered her
little able to suckle the infant, he was nursed with the milk of a doe,
which the forester who attended her contrived to take alive in a snare.
It was not many months afterwards that, in a second encounter of these
fierce clans, MacIan defeated his enemies in his turn, and regained
possession of the district which he had lost. It was with unexpected
rapture that he found his wife and child were in existence, having never
expected to see more of them than the bleached bones, from which the
wolves and wildcats had eaten the flesh.

"But a strong and prevailing prejudice, such as is often entertained
by these wild people, prevented their chief from enjoying the full
happiness arising from having thus regained his only son in safety. An
ancient prophecy was current among them, that the power of the tribe
should fall by means of a boy born under a bush of holly and suckled
by a white doe. The circumstance, unfortunately for the chief, tallied
exactly with the birth of the only child which remained to him, and it
was demanded of him by the elders of the clan, that the boy should be
either put to death or at least removed from the dominions of the tribe
and brought up in obscurity. Gilchrist MacIan was obliged to consent and
having made choice of the latter proposal, the child, under the name of
Conachar, was brought up in my family, with the purpose, as was at first
intended, of concealing from him all knowledge who or what he was, or of
his pretensions to authority over a numerous and warlike people. But,
as years rolled on, the elders of the tribe, who had exerted so much
authority, were removed by death, or rendered incapable of interfering
in the public affairs by age; while, on the other hand, the influence of
Gilchrist MacIan was increased by his successful struggles against
the Clan Chattan, in which he restored the equality betwixt the two
contending confederacies, which had existed before the calamitous defeat
of which I told your honour. Feeling himself thus firmly seated, he
naturally became desirous to bring home his only son to his bosom and
family; and for that purpose caused me to send the young Conachar, as
he was called, more than once to the Highlands. He was a youth expressly
made, by his form and gallantry of bearing, to gain a father's heart.
At length, I suppose the lad either guessed the secret of his birth
or something of it was communicated to him; and the disgust which the
paughty Hieland varlet had always shown for my honest trade became more
manifest; so that I dared not so much as lay my staff over his costard,
for fear of receiving a stab with a dirk, as an answer in Gaelic to
a Saxon remark. It was then that I wished to be well rid of him, the
rather that he showed so much devotion to Catharine, who, forsooth, set
herself up to wash the Ethiopian, and teach a wild Hielandmnan mercy and
morals. She knows herself how it ended."

"Nay, my father," said Catharine, "it was surely but a point of charity
to snatch the brand from the burning."

"But a small point of wisdom," said her father, "to risk the burning of
your own fingers for such an end. What says my lord to the matter?"

"My lord would not offend the Fair Maid of Perth," said Sir Patrick;
"and he knows well the purity and truth of her mind. And yet I must
needs say that, had this nursling of the doe been shrivelled, haggard,
cross made, and red haired, like some Highlanders I have known, I
question if the Fair Maiden of Perth would have bestowed so much zeal
upon his conversion; and if Catharine had been as aged, wrinkled, and
bent by years as the old woman that opened the door for me this morning,
I would wager my gold spurs against a pair of Highland brogues that this
wild roebuck would never have listened to a second lecture. You laugh,
glover, and Catharine blushes a blush of anger. Let it pass, it is the
way of the world."

"The way in which the men of the world esteem their neighbours, my
lord," answered Catharine, with some spirit.

"Nay, fair saint, forgive a jest," said the knight; "and thou, Simon,
tell us how this tale ended--with Conachar's escape to the Highlands, I
suppose?"

"With his return thither," said the glover. "There was, for some two
or three years, a fellow about Perth, a sort of messenger, who came
and went under divers pretences, but was, in fact, the means of
communication between Gilchrist MacIan and his son, young Conachar, or,
as he is now called, Hector. From this gillie I learned, in general,
that the banishment of the dault an neigh dheil, or foster child of
the white doe, was again brought under consideration of the tribe. His
foster father, Torquil of the Oak, the old forester, appeared with
eight sons, the finest men of the clan, and demanded that the doom of
banishment should be revoked. He spoke with the greater authority, as
he was himself taishatar, or a seer, and supposed to have communication
with the invisible world. He affirmed that he had performed a magical
ceremony, termed tine egan, by which he evoked a fiend, from whom he
extorted a confession that Conachar, now called Eachin, or Hector,
MacIan, was the only man in the approaching combat between the two
hostile clans who should come off without blood or blemish. Hence
Torquil of the Oak argued that the presence of the fated person was
necessary to ensure the victory. 'So much I am possessed of this,' said
the forester, 'that, unless Eachin fight in his place in the ranks of
the Clan Quhele, neither I, his foster father, nor any of my eight sons
will lift a weapon in the quarrel.'

"This speech was received with much alarm; for the defection of
nine men, the stoutest of their tribe, would be a serious blow, more
especially if the combat, as begins to be rumoured, should be decided by
a small number from each side. The ancient superstition concerning
the foster son of the white doe was counterbalanced by a new and later
prejudice, and the father took the opportunity of presenting to the
clan his long hidden son, whose youthful, but handsome and animated,
countenance, haughty carriage, and active limbs excited the admiration
of the clansmen, who joyfully received him as the heir and descendant of
their chief, notwithstanding the ominous presage attending his birth and
nurture.

"From this tale, my lord," continued Simon Glover, "your lordship may
easily conceive why I myself should be secure of a good reception among
the Clan Quhele; and you may also have reason to judge that it would be
very rash in me to carry Catharine thither. And this, noble lord, is the
heaviest of my troubles."

"We shall lighten the load, then," said Sir Patrick; "and, good glover,
I will take risk for thee and this damsel. My alliance with the Douglas
gives me some interest with Marjory, Duchess of Rothsay, his daughter,
the neglected wife of our wilful Prince. Rely on it, good glover, that
in her retinue thy daughter will be as secure as in a fenced castle. The
Duchess keeps house now at Falkland, a castle which the Duke of Albany,
to whom it belongs, has lent to her for her accommodation. I cannot
promise you pleasure, Fair Maiden; for the Duchess Marjory of Rothsay
is unfortunate, and therefore splenetic, haughty, and overbearing;
conscious of the want of attractive qualities, therefore jealous of
those women who possess them. But she is firm in faith and noble in
spirit, and would fling Pope or prelate into the ditch of her castle who
should come to arrest any one under her protection. You will therefore
have absolute safety, though you may lack comfort."

"I have no title to more," said Catharine; "and deeply do I feel the
kindness that is willing to secure me such honourable protection. If she
be haughty, I will remember she is a Douglas, and hath right, as being
such, to entertain as much pride as may become a mortal; if she be
fretful, I will recollect that she is unfortunate, and if she be
unreasonably captious, I will not forget that she is my protectress.
Heed no longer for me, my lord, when you have placed me under the noble
lady's charge. But my poor father, to be exposed amongst these wild and
dangerous people!"

"Think not of that, Catharine," said the glover: "I am as familiar with
brogues and bracken as if I had worn them myself. I have only to fear
that the decisive battle may be fought before I can leave this country;
and if the clan Quhele lose the combat, I may suffer by the ruin of my
protectors."

"We must have that cared for," said Sir Patrick: "rely on my looking out
for your safety. But which party will carry the day, think you?"

"Frankly, my Lord Provost, I believe the Clan Chattan will have the
worse: these nine children of the forest form a third nearly of the band
surrounding the chief of Clan Quhele, and are redoubted champions."

"And your apprentice, will he stand to it, thinkest thou?"

"He is hot as fire, Sir Patrick," answered the glover; "but he is also
unstable as water. Nevertheless, if he is spared, he seems likely to be
one day a brave man."

"But, as now, he has some of the white doe's milk still lurking about
his liver, ha, Simon?"

"He has little experience, my lord," said the glover, "and I need not
tell an honoured warrior like yourself that danger must be familiar to
us ere we can dally with it like a mistress."

This conversation brought them speedily to the Castle of Kinfauns,
where, after a short refreshment, it was necessary that the father and
the daughter should part, in order to seek their respective places of
refuge. It was then first, as she saw that her father's anxiety on her
account had drowned all recollections of his friend, that Catharine
dropped, as if in a dream, the name of "Henry Gow."

"True--most true," continued her father; "we must possess him of our
purposes."

"Leave that to me," said Sir Patrick. "I will not trust to a messenger,
nor will I send a letter, because, if I could write one, I think he
could not read it. He will suffer anxiety in the mean while, but I will
ride to Perth tomorrow by times and acquaint him with your designs."

The time of separation now approached. It was a bitter moment, but
the manly character of the old burgher, and the devout resignation of
Catharine to the will of Providence made it lighter than might have been
expected. The good knight hurried the departure of the burgess, but
in the kindest manner; and even went so far as to offer him some gold
pieces in loan, which might, where specie was so scarce, be considered
as the ne plus ultra of regard. The glover, however, assured him he
was amply provided, and departed on his journey in a northwesterly
direction. The hospitable protection of Sir Patrick Charteris was no
less manifested towards his fair guest. She was placed under the charge
of a duenna who managed the good knight's household, and was compelled
to remain several days in Kinfauns, owing to the obstacles and delays
interposed by a Tay boatman, named Kitt Henshaw, to whose charge she was
to be committed, and whom the provost highly trusted.

Thus were severed the child and parent in a moment of great danger and
difficulty, much augmented by circumstances of which they were then
ignorant, and which seemed greatly to diminish any chance of safety that
remained for them.



CHAPTER XXVII.

     "This Austin humbly did."  "Did he?" quoth he.
     "Austin may do the same again for me."

     Pope's Prologue to Canterbury Tales from Chaucer.


The course of our story will be best pursued by attending that of Simon
Glover. It is not our purpose to indicate the exact local boundaries of
the two contending clans, especially since they are not clearly pointed
out by the historians who have transmitted accounts of this memorable
feud. It is sufficient to say, that the territory of the Clan Chattan
extended far and wide, comprehending Caithness and Sutherland, and
having for their paramount chief the powerful earl of the latter shire,
thence called Mohr ar Chat. In this general sense, the Keiths, the
Sinclairs, the Guns, and other families and clans of great power, were
included in the confederacy. These, however, were not engaged in the
present quarrel, which was limited to that part of the Clan Chattan
occupying the extensive mountainous districts of Perthshire and
Inverness shire, which form a large portion of what is called the
northeastern Highlands. It is well known that two large septs,
unquestionably known to belong to the Clan Chattan, the MacPhersons and
the MacIntoshes, dispute to this day which of their chieftains was at
the head of this Badenoch branch of the great confederacy, and both have
of later times assumed the title of Captain of Clan Chattan. Non nostrum
est. But, at all events, Badenoch must have been the centre of the
confederacy, so far as involved in the feud of which we treat.

Of the rival league of Clan Quhele we have a still less distinct
account, for reasons which will appear in the sequel. Some authors have
identified them with the numerous and powerful sept of MacKay. If this
is done on good authority, which is to be doubted, the MacKays must have
shifted their settlements greatly since the reign of Robert III, since
they are now to be found (as a clan) in the extreme northern parts of
Scotland, in the counties of Ross and Sutherland. We cannot, therefore,
be so clear as we would wish in the geography of the story. Suffice
it that, directing his course in a northwesterly direction, the glover
travelled for a day's journey in the direction of the Breadalbane
country, from which he hoped to reach the castle where Gilchrist MacIan,
the captain of the Clan Quhele, and the father of his pupil Conachar,
usually held his residence, with a barbarous pomp of attendance and
ceremonial suited to his lofty pretensions.

We need not stop to describe the toil and terrors of such a journey,
where the path was to be traced among wastes and mountains, now
ascending precipitous ravines, now plunging into inextricable bogs,
and often intersected with large brooks, and even rivers. But all these
perils Simon Glover had before encountered in quest of honest gain; and
it was not to be supposed that he shunned or feared them where liberty,
and life itself, were at stake.

The danger from the warlike and uncivilised inhabitants of these wilds
would have appeared to another at least as formidable as the perils of
the journey. But Simon's knowledge of the manners and language of the
people assured him on this point also. An appeal to the hospitality of
the wildest Gael was never unsuccessful; and the kerne, that in other
circumstances would have taken a man's life for the silver button of
his cloak, would deprive himself of a meal to relieve the traveller who
implored hospitality at the door of his bothy. The art of travelling in
the Highlands was to appear as confident and defenceless as possible;
and accordingly the glover carried no arms whatever, journeyed without
the least appearance of precaution, and took good care to exhibit
nothing which might excite cupidity. Another rule which he deemed it
prudent to observe was to avoid communication with any of the passengers
whom he might chance to meet, except in the interchange of the common
civilities of salutation, which the Highlanders rarely omit. Few
opportunities occurred of exchanging even such passing greetings. The
country, always lonely, seemed now entirely forsaken; and, even in the
little straths or valleys which he had occasion to pass or traverse,
the hamlets were deserted, and the inhabitants had betaken themselves to
woods and caves. This was easily accounted for, considering the imminent
dangers of a feud which all expected would become one of the most
general signals for plunder and ravage that had ever distracted that
unhappy country.

Simon began to be alarmed at this state of desolation. He had made a
halt since he left Kinfauns, to allow his nag some rest; and now he
began to be anxious how he was to pass the night. He had reckoned
upon spending it at the cottage of an old acquaintance, called Niel
Booshalloch (or the cow herd), because he had charge of numerous herds
of cattle belonging to the captain of Clan Quhele, for which purpose he
had a settlement on the banks of the Tay, not far from the spot where
it leaves the lake of the same name. From this his old host and friend,
with whom he had transacted many bargains for hides and furs, the old
glover hoped to learn the present state of the country, the prospect of
peace or war, and the best measures to be taken for his own safety. It
will be remembered that the news of the indentures of battle entered
into for diminishing the extent of the feud had only been communicated
to King Robert the day before the glover left Perth, and did not become
public till some time afterwards.

"If Niel Booshalloch hath left his dwelling like the rest of them, I
shall be finely holped up," thought Simon, "since I want not only the
advantage of his good advice, but also his interest with Gilchrist
MacIan; and, moreover, a night's quarters and a supper."

Thus reflecting, he reached the top of a swelling green hill, and saw
the splendid vision of Loch Tay lying beneath him--an immense plate of
polished silver, its dark heathy mountains and leafless thickets of oak
serving as an arabesque frame to a magnificent mirror.

Indifferent to natural beauty at any time, Simon Glover was now
particularly so; and the only part of the splendid landscape on which he
turned his eye was an angle or loop of meadow land where the river Tay,
rushing in full swoln dignity from its parent lake, and wheeling around
a beautiful valley of about a mile in breadth, begins his broad course
to the southeastward, like a conqueror and a legislator, to subdue
and to enrich remote districts. Upon the sequestered spot, which is so
beautifully situated between lake, mountain, and river, arose afterwards
the feudal castle of the Ballough [Balloch is Gaelic for the discharge
of a lake into a river], which in our time has been succeeded by the
splendid palace of the Earls of Breadalbane.

But the Campbells, though they had already attained very great power
in Argyleshire, had not yet extended themselves so far eastward as Loch
Tay, the banks of which were, either by right or by mere occupancy,
possessed for, the present by the Clan Quhele, whose choicest herds were
fattened on the Balloch margin of the lake. In this valley, therefore,
between the river and the lake, amid extensive forests of oak wood,
hazel, rowan tree, and larches, arose the humble cottage of Niel
Booshalloch, a village Eumaeus, whose hospitable chimneys were seen to
smoke plentifully, to the great encouragement of Simon Glover, who might
otherwise have been obliged to spend the night in the open air, to his
no small discomfort.

He reached the door of the cottage, whistled, shouted, and made his
approach known. There was a baying of hounds and collies, and presently
the master of the hut came forth. There was much care on his brow, and
he seemed surprised at the sight of Simon Glover, though the herdsman
covered both as well as he might; for nothing in that region could be
reckoned more uncivil than for the landlord to suffer anything to escape
him in look or gesture which might induce the visitor to think that
his arrival was an unpleasing, or even an unexpected, incident. The
traveller's horse was conducted to a stable, which was almost too low
to receive him, and the glover himself was led into the mansion of the
Booshalloch, where, according to the custom of the country, bread
and cheese was placed before the wayfarer, while more solid food was
preparing. Simon, who understood all their habits, took no notice of the
obvious marks of sadness on the brow of his entertainer and on those of
the family, until he had eaten somewhat for form's sake, after which he
asked the general question, "Was there any news in the country?"

"Bad news as ever were told," said the herdsman: "our father is no
more."

"How!" said Simon, greatly alarmed, "is the captain of the Clan Quhele
dead?"

"The captain of the Clan Quhele never dies," answered the Booshalloch;
"but Gilchrist MacIan died twenty hours since, and his son, Eachin
MacIan, is now captain."

"What, Eachin--that is Conachar--my apprentice?"

"As little of that subject as you list, brother Simon," said the
herdsman. "It is to be remembered, friend, that your craft, which doth
very well for a living in the douce city of Perth, is something too
mechanical to be much esteemed at the foot of Ben Lawers and on the
banks of Loch Tay. We have not a Gaelic word by which we can even name a
maker of gloves."

"It would be strange if you had, friend Niel," said Simon, drily,
"having so few gloves to wear. I think there be none in the whole Clan
Quhele, save those which I myself gave to Gilchrist MacIan, whom God
assoilzie, who esteemed them a choice propine. Most deeply do I regret
his death, for I was coming to him on express business."

"You had better turn the nag's head southward with morning light," said
the herdsman. "The funeral is instantly to take place, and it must be
with short ceremony; for there is a battle to be fought by the Clan
Quhele and the Clan Chattan, thirty champions on a side, as soon as Palm
Sunday next, and we have brief time either to lament the dead or honour
the living."

"Yet are my affairs so pressing, that I must needs see the young chief,
were it but for a quarter of an hour," said the glover.

"Hark thee, friend," replied his host, "I think thy business must be
either to gather money or to make traffic. Now, if the chief owe thee
anything for upbringing or otherwise, ask him not to pay it when all the
treasures of the tribe are called in for making gallant preparation of
arms and equipment for their combatants, that we may meet these proud
hill cats in a fashion to show ourselves their superiors. But if thou
comest to practise commerce with us, thy time is still worse chosen.
Thou knowest that thou art already envied of many of our tribe, for
having had the fosterage of the young chief, which is a thing usually
given to the best of the clan."'

"But, St. Mary, man!" exclaimed the glover, "men should remember the
office was not conferred on me as a favour which I courted, but that
it was accepted by me on importunity and entreaty, to my no small
prejudice. This Conachar, or Hector, of yours, or whatever you call him,
has destroyed me doe skins to the amount of many pounds Scots."

"There again, now," said the Booshalloch, "you have spoken word to cost
your life--any allusion to skins or hides, or especially to deer and
does--may incur no less a forfeit. The chief is young, and jealous of
his rank; none knows the reason better than thou, friend Glover. He
will naturally wish that everything concerning the opposition to
his succession, and having reference to his exile, should be totally
forgotten; and he will not hold him in affection who shall recall the
recollection of his people, or force back his own, upon what they must
both remember with pain. Think how, at such a moment, they will look
on the old glover of Perth, to whom the chief was so long apprentice!
Come--come, old friend, you have erred in this. You are in over great
haste to worship the rising sun, while his beams are yet level with the
horizon. Come thou when he has climbed higher in the heavens, and thou
shalt have thy share of the warmth of his noonday height."

"Niel Booshalloch," said the glover, "we have been old friends, as thou
say'st; and as I think thee a true one, I will speak to thee freely,
though what I say might be perilous if spoken to others of thy clan.
Thou think'st I come hither to make my own profit of thy young chief,
and it is natural thou shouldst think so. But I would not, at my years,
quit my own chimney corner in Curfew Street to bask me in the beams of
the brightest sun that ever shone upon Highland heather. The very truth
is, I come hither in extremity: my foes have the advantage of me, and
have laid things to my charge whereof I am incapable, even in thought.
Nevertheless, doom is like to go forth against me, and there is no
remedy but that I must up and fly, or remain and perish. I come to your
young chief, as one who had refuge with me in his distress--who ate of
my bread and drank of my cup. I ask of him refuge, which, as I trust, I
shall need but a short time."

"That makes a different case," replied the herdsman. "So different,
that, if you came at midnight to the gate of MacIan, having the King
of Scotland's head in your hand, and a thousand men in pursuit for the
avenging of his blood, I could not think it for his honour to refuse you
protection. And for your innocence or guilt, it concerns not the case;
or rather, he ought the more to shelter you if guilty, seeing your
necessity and his risk are both in that case the greater. I must
straightway to him, that no hasty tongue tell him of your arriving
hither without saying the cause."

"A pity of your trouble," said the glover; "but where lies the chief?"

"He is quartered about ten miles hence, busied with the affairs of the
funeral, and with preparations for the combat--the dead to the grave and
the living to battle."

"It is a long way, and will take you all night to go and come," said the
glover; "and I am very sure that Conachar when he knows it is I who--"

"Forget Conachar," said the herdsman, placing his finger on his lips.
"And as for the ten miles, they are but a Highland leap, when one bears
a message between his friend and his chief."

So saying, and committing the traveller to the charge of his eldest son
and his daughter, the active herdsman left his house two hours before
midnight, to which he returned long before sunrise. He did not disturb
his wearied guest, but when the old man had arisen in the morning he
acquainted him that the funeral of the late chieftain was to take place
the same day, and that, although Eachin MacIan could not invite a Saxon
to the funeral, he would be glad to receive him at the entertainment
which was to follow.

"His will must be obeyed," said the glover, half smiling at the change
of relation between himself and his late apprentice. "The man is
the master now, and I trust he will remember that, when matters were
otherwise between us, I did not use my authority ungraciously."

"Troutsho, friend!" exclaimed the Booshalloch, "the less of that you say
the better. You will find yourself a right welcome guest to Eachin, and
the deil a man dares stir you within his bounds. But fare you well, for
I must go, as beseems me, to the burial of the best chief the clan ever
had, and the wisest captain that ever cocked the sweet gale (bog myrtle)
in his bonnet. Farewell to you for a while, and if you will go to the
top of the Tom an Lonach behind the house, you will see a gallant sight,
and hear such a coronach as will reach the top of Ben Lawers. A boat
will wait for you, three hours hence, at a wee bit creek about half a
mile westward from the head of the Tay."

With these words he took his departure, followed by his three sons, to
man the boat in which he was to join the rest of the mourners, and two
daughters, whose voices were wanted to join in the lament, which was
chanted, or rather screamed, on such occasions of general affliction.

Simon Glover, finding himself alone, resorted to the stable to look
after his nag, which, he found, had been well served with graddan, or
bread made of scorched barley. Of this kindness he was fully sensible,
knowing that, probably, the family had little of this delicacy left to
themselves until the next harvest should bring them a scanty supply. In
animal food they were well provided, and the lake found them abundance
of fish for their lenten diet, which they did not observe very strictly;
but bread was a delicacy very scanty in the Highlands. The bogs afforded
a soft species of hay, none of the best to be sure; but Scottish horses,
like their riders, were then accustomed to hard fare.

Gauntlet, for this was the name of the palfrey, had his stall crammed
full of dried fern for litter, and was otherwise as well provided for as
Highland hospitality could contrive.

Simon Glover being thus left to his own painful reflections, nothing
better remained, after having seen after the comforts of the dumb
companion of his journey, than to follow the herdsman's advice; and
ascending towards the top of an eminence called Tom an Lonach, or the
Knoll of Yew Trees, after a walk of half an hour he reached the summit,
and could look down on the broad expanse of the lake, of which the
height commanded a noble view. A few aged and scattered yew trees
of great size still vindicated for the beautiful green hill the name
attached to it. But a far greater number had fallen a sacrifice to
the general demand for bow staves in that warlike age, the bow being a
weapon much used by the mountaineers, though those which they employed,
as well as their arrows, were, in shape and form, and especially in
efficacy, far inferior to the archery of merry England. The dark and
shattered individual yews which remained were like the veterans of a
broken host, occupying in disorder some post of advantage, with the
stern purpose of resisting to the last. Behind this eminence, but
detached from it, arose a higher hill, partly covered with copsewood,
partly opening into glades of pasture, where the cattle strayed,
finding, at this season of the year, a scanty sustenance among the
spring heads and marshy places, where the fresh grass began first to
arise.

The opposite or northern shore of the lake presented a far more Alpine
prospect than that upon which the glover was stationed. Woods and
thickets ran up the sides of the mountains, and disappeared among the
sinuosities formed by the winding ravines which separated them from each
other; but far above these specimens of a tolerable natural soil arose
the swart and bare mountains themselves, in the dark grey desolation
proper to the season.

Some were peaked, some broad crested, some rocky and precipitous, others
of a tamer outline; and the clan of Titans seemed to be commanded by
their appropriate chieftains--the frowning mountain of Ben Lawers, and
the still more lofty eminence of Ben Mohr, arising high above the rest,
whose peaks retain a dazzling helmet of snow far into the summer season,
and sometimes during the whole year. Yet the borders of this wild and
silvan region, where the mountains descended upon the lake, intimated,
even at that early period, many traces of human habitation. Hamlets were
seen, especially on the northern margin of the lake, half hid among the
little glens that poured their tributary streams into Loch Tay, which,
like many earthly things, made a fair show at a distance, but, when more
closely approached, were disgustful and repulsive, from their squalid
want of the conveniences which attend even Indian wigwams. They were
inhabited by a race who neither cultivated the earth nor cared for
the enjoyments which industry procures. The women, although otherwise
treated with affection, and even delicacy of respect, discharged all the
absolutely necessary domestic labour. The men, excepting some reluctant
use of an ill formed plough, or more frequently a spade, grudgingly gone
through, as a task infinitely beneath them, took no other employment
than the charge of the herds of black cattle, in which their wealth
consisted. At all other times they hunted, fished, or marauded, during
the brief intervals of peace, by way of pastime; plundering with bolder
license, and fighting with embittered animosity, in time of war, which,
public or private, upon a broader or more restricted scale, formed the
proper business of their lives, and the only one which they esteemed
worthy of them.

The magnificent bosom of the lake itself was a scene to gaze on with
delight. Its noble breadth, with its termination in a full and beautiful
run, was rendered yet more picturesque by one of those islets which are
often happily situated in the Scottish lakes. The ruins upon that isle,
now almost shapeless, being overgrown with wood rose, at the time we
speak of, into the towers and pinnacles of a priory, where slumbered
the remains of Sibylla, daughter of Henry I of England, and consort
of Alexander the First of Scotland. This holy place had been deemed of
dignity sufficient to be the deposit of the remains of the captain of
the Clan Quhele, at least till times when the removal of the danger, now
so imminently pressing, should permit of his body being conveyed to a
distinguished convent in the north, where he was destined ultimately to
repose with all his ancestry.

A number of boats pushed off from various points of the near and more
distant shore, many displaying sable banners, and others having their
several pipers in the bow, who from time to time poured forth a few
notes of a shrill, plaintive, and wailing character, and intimated to
the glover that the ceremony was about to take place. These sounds of
lamentation were but the tuning as it were of the instruments, compared
with the general wail which was speedily to be raised.

A distant sound was heard from far up the lake, even as it seemed from
the remote and distant glens out of which the Dochart and the Lochy pour
their streams into Loch Tay. It was in a wild, inaccessible spot, where
the Campbells at a subsequent period founded their strong fortress of
Finlayrigg, that the redoubted commander of the Clan Quhele drew his
last breath; and, to give due pomp to his funeral, his corpse was now to
be brought down the loch to the island assigned for his temporary place
of rest. The funeral fleet, led by the chieftain's barge, from which a
huge black banner was displayed, had made more than two thirds of its
voyage ere it was visible from the eminence on which Simon Glover stood
to overlook the ceremony. The instant the distant wail of the coronach
was heard proceeding from the attendants on the funeral barge, all the
subordinate sounds of lamentation were hushed at once, as the raven
ceases to croak and the hawk to whistle whenever the scream of the eagle
is heard. The boats, which had floated hither and thither upon the lake,
like a flock of waterfowl dispersing themselves on its surface, now drew
together with an appearance of order, that the funeral flotilla might
pass onward, and that they themselves might fall into their proper
places. In the mean while the piercing din of the war pipes became
louder and louder, and the cry from the numberless boats which followed
that from which the black banner of the chief was displayed rose in
wild unison up to the Tom an Lonach, from which the glover viewed the
spectacle. The galley which headed the procession bore on its poop a
species of scaffold, upon which, arrayed in white linen, and with the
face bare, was displayed the corpse of the deceased chieftain. His son
and the nearest relatives filled the vessel, while a great number of
boats, of every description that could be assembled, either on Loch
Tay itself or brought by land carriage from Loch Earn and otherwise,
followed in the rear, some of them of very frail materials. There were
even curraghs, composed of ox hides stretched over hoops of willow,
in the manner of the ancient British, and some committed themselves
to rafts formed for the occasion, from the readiest materials that
occurred, and united in such a precarious manner as to render it
probable that, before the accomplishment of the voyage, some of the
clansmen of the deceased might be sent to attend their chieftain in the
world of spirits.

When the principal flotilla came in sight of the smaller group of boats
collected towards the foot of the lake, and bearing off from the little
island, they hailed each other with a shout so loud and general, and
terminating in a cadence so wildly prolonged, that not only the deer
started from their glens for miles around, and sought the distant
recesses of the mountains, but even the domestic cattle, accustomed to
the voice of man, felt the full panic which the human shout strikes into
the wilder tribes, and like them fled from their pasture into morasses
and dingles.

Summoned forth from their convent by those sounds, the monks who
inhabited the little islet began to issue from their lowly portal, with
cross and banner, and as much of ecclesiastical state as they had the
means of displaying; their bells at the same time, of which the edifice
possessed three, pealing the death toll over the long lake, which came
to the ears of the now silent multitude, mingled with the solemn chant
of the Catholic Church, raised by the monks in their procession. Various
ceremonies were gone through, while the kindred of the deceased carried
the body ashore, and, placing it on a bank long consecrated to the
purpose, made the deasil around the departed. When the corpse was
uplifted to be borne into the church, another united yell burst from the
assembled multitude, in which the deep shout of warriors and the shrill
wail of females joined their notes with the tremulous voice of age and
the babbling cry of childhood. The coronach was again, and for the last
time, shrieked as the body was carried into the interior of the
church, where only the nearest relatives of the deceased and the most
distinguished of the leaders of the clan were permitted to enter. The
last yell of woe was so terribly loud, and answered by so many hundred
echoes, that the glover instinctively raised his hands to his ears, to
shut out, or deaden at least, a sound so piercing. He kept this attitude
while the hawks, owls, and other birds, scared by the wild scream, had
begun to settle in their retreats, when, as he withdrew his hands, a
voice close by him said:

"Think you this, Simon Glover, the hymn of penitence and praise with
which it becomes poor forlorn man, cast out from his tenement of clay,
to be wafted into the presence of his maker?"

The glover turned, and in the old man with a long white beard who stood
close beside him had no difficulty, from the clear mild eye and the
benevolent cast of features, to recognise the Carthusian monk Father
Clement, no longer wearing his monastic habiliments, but wrapped in a
frieze mantle and having a Highland cap on his head.

It may be recollected that the glover regarded this man with a combined
feeling of respect and dislike--respect, which his judgment could not
deny to the monk's person and character, and dislike, which arose from
Father Clement's peculiar doctrines being the cause of his daughter's
exile and his own distress. It was not, therefore, with sentiments of
unmixed satisfaction that he returned the greetings of the father, and
replied to the reiterated question, what he thought of the funeral rites
which were discharged in so wild a manner: "I know not, my good father;
but these men do their duty to their deceased chief according to the
fashion of their ancestors: they mean to express their regret for their
friend's loss and their prayers to Heaven in his behalf; and that which
is done of goodwill must, to my thinking, be accepted favourably. Had
it been otherwise, methinks they had ere now been enlightened to do
better."

"Thou art deceived," answered the monk. "God has sent His light amongst
us all, though in various proportions; but man wilfully shuts his eyes
and prefers darkness. This benighted people mingle with the ritual of
the Roman Church the old heathen ceremonies of their own fathers, and
thus unite with the abominations of a church corrupted by wealth and
power the cruel and bloody ritual of savage paynims."

"Father," said Simon, abruptly, "methinks your presence were more
useful in yonder chapel, aiding your brethren in the discharge of their
clerical duties, than in troubling and unsettling the belief of an
humble though ignorant Christian like myself."

"And wherefore say, good brother, that I would unfix thy principles of
belief?" answered Clement. "So Heaven deal with me, as, were my life
blood necessary to cement the mind of any man to the holy religion he
professeth, it should be freely poured out for the purpose."

"Your speech is fair, father, I grant you," said the glover; "but if I
am to judge the doctrine by the fruits, Heaven has punished me by the
hand of the church for having hearkened thereto. Ere I heard you, my
confessor was little moved though I might have owned to have told
a merry tale upon the ale bench, even if a friar or a nun were the
subject. If at a time I had called Father Hubert a better hunter of
hares than of souls, I confessed me to the Vicar Vinesauf, who laughed
and made me pay a reckoning for penance; or if I had said that the Vicar
Vinesauf was more constant to his cup than to his breviary, I confessed
me to Father Hubert, and a new hawking glove made all well again; and
thus I, my conscience, and Mother Church lived together on terms of
peace, friendship, and mutual forbearance. But since I have listened to
you, Father Clement, this goodly union is broke to pieces, and nothing
is thundered in my ear but purgatory in the next world and fire and
fagot in this. Therefore, avoid you, Father Clement, or speak to those
who can understand your doctrine. I have no heart to be a martyr: I have
never in my whole life had courage enough so much as to snuff a candle
with my fingers; and, to speak the truth, I am minded to go back to
Perth, sue out my pardon in the spiritual court, carry my fagot to the
gallows foot in token of recantation, and purchase myself once more the
name of a good Catholic, were it at the price of all the worldly wealth
that remains to me."

"You are angry, my dearest brother," said Clement, "and repent you on
the pinch of a little worldly danger and a little worldly loss for the
good thoughts which you once entertained."

"You speak at ease, Father Clement, since I think you have long forsworn
the wealth and goods of the world, and are prepared to yield up your
life when it is demanded in exchange for the doctrine you preach and
believe. You are as ready to put on your pitched shirt and brimstone
head gear as a naked man is to go to his bed, and it would seem you have
not much more reluctance to the ceremony. But I still wear that which
clings to me. My wealth is still my own, and I thank Heaven it is a
decent pittance whereon to live; my life, too, is that of a hale old man
of sixty, who is in no haste to bring it to a close; and if I were
poor as Job and on the edge of the grave, must I not still cling to my
daughter, whom your doctrines have already cost so dear?"

"Thy daughter, friend Simon," said the Carmelite [Carthusian], "may be
truly called an angel upon earth."

"Ay, and by listening to your doctrines, father, she is now like to be
called on to be an angel in heaven, and to be transported thither in a
chariot of fire."

"Nay, my good brother," said Clement, "desist, I pray you, to speak of
what you little understand. Since it is wasting time to show thee the
light that thou chafest against, yet listen to that which I have to say
touching thy daughter, whose temporal felicity, though I weigh it not
even for an instant in the scale against that which is spiritual, is,
nevertheless, in its order, as dear to Clement Blair as to her own
father."

The tears stood in the old man's eyes as he spoke, and Simon Glover was
in some degree mollified as he again addressed him.

"One would think thee, Father Clement, the kindest and most amiable of
men; how comes it, then, that thy steps are haunted by general ill
will wherever thou chancest to turn them? I could lay my life thou hast
contrived already to offend yonder half score of poor friars in their
water girdled cage, and that you have been prohibited from attendance on
the funeral?"

"Even so, my son," said the Carthusian, "and I doubt whether their
malice will suffer me to remain in this country. I did but speak a few
sentences about the superstition and folly of frequenting St. Fillan's
church, to detect theft by means of his bell, of bathing mad patients in
his pool, to cure their infirmity of mind; and lo! the persecutors have
cast me forth of their communion, as they will speedily cast me out of
this life."

"Lo you there now," said the glover, "see what it is for a man that
cannot take a warning! Well, Father Clement, men will not cast me forth
unless it were as a companion of yours. I pray you, therefore, tell me
what you have to say of my daughter, and let us be less neighbours than
we have been."

"This, then, brother Simon, I have to acquaint you with. This young
chief, who is swoln with contemplation of his own power and glory, loves
one thing better than it all, and that is thy daughter."

"He, Conachar!" exclaimed Simon. "My runagate apprentice look up to my
daughter!"

"Alas!" said Clement, "how close sits our worldly pride, even as ivy
clings to the wall, and cannot be separated! Look up to thy daughter,
good Simon? Alas, no! The captain of Clan Quhele, great as he is, and
greater as he soon expects to be, looks down to the daughter of the
Perth burgess, and considers himself demeaned in doing so. But, to use
his own profane expression, Catharine is dearer to him than life here
and Heaven hereafter: he cannot live without her."

"Then he may die, if he lists," said Simon Glover, "for she is betrothed
to an honest burgess of Perth; and I would not break my word to make my
daughter bride to the Prince of Scotland."

"I thought it would be your answer," replied the monk; "I would, worthy
friend, thou couldst carry into thy spiritual concerns some part of that
daring and resolved spirit with which thou canst direct thy temporal
affairs."

"Hush thee--hush, Father Clement!" answered the glover; "when thou
fallest into that vein of argument, thy words savour of blazing tar, and
that is a scent I like not. As to Catharine, I must manage as I can, so
as not to displease the young dignitary; but well is it for me that she
is far beyond his reach."

"She must then be distant indeed," said the Carmelite [Carthusian].
"And now, brother Simon, since you think it perilous to own me and my
opinions, I must walk alone with my own doctrines and the dangers they
draw on me. But should your eye, less blinded than it now is by worldly
hopes and fears, ever turn a glance back on him who soon may be snatched
from you, remember, that by nought save a deep sense of the truth and
importance of the doctrine which he taught could Clement Blair have
learned to encounter, nay, to provoke, the animosity of the powerful and
inveterate, to alarm the fears of the jealous and timid, to walk in the
world as he belonged not to it, and to be accounted mad of men, that he
might, if possible, win souls to God. Heaven be my witness, that I would
comply in all lawful things to conciliate the love and sympathy of my
fellow creatures! It is no light thing to be shunned by the worthy as
an infected patient, to be persecuted by the Pharisees of the day as an
unbelieving heretic, to be regarded with horror at once and contempt by
the multitude, who consider me as a madman, who may be expected to turn
mischievous. But were all those evils multiplied an hundredfold, the
fire within must not be stifled, the voice which says within me 'Speak'
must receive obedience. Woe unto me if I preach not the Gospel, even
should I at length preach it from amidst the pile of flames!"

So spoke this bold witness, one of those whom Heaven raised up from time
to time to preserve amidst the most ignorant ages, and to carry down to
those which succeed them, a manifestation of unadulterated Christianity,
from the time of the Apostles to the age when, favoured by the invention
of printing, the Reformation broke out in full splendour. The selfish
policy of the glover was exposed in his own eyes; and he felt himself
contemptible as he saw the Carthusian turn from him in all the
hallowedness of resignation. He was even conscious of a momentary
inclination to follow the example of the preacher's philanthropy and
disinterested zeal, but it glanced like a flash of lightning through a
dark vault, where there lies nothing to catch the blaze; and he slowly
descended the hill in a direction different from that of the Carthusian,
forgetting him and his doctrines, and buried in anxious thoughts about
his child's fate and his own.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

     What want these outlaws conquerors should have
     But history's purchased page to call them great,
     A wider space, an ornamented grave?
     Their hopes were not less warm, their souls were full as brave.

     BYRON.


The funeral obsequies being over, the same flotilla which had proceeded
in solemn and sad array down the lake prepared to return with displayed
banners, and every demonstration of mirth and joy; for there was but
brief time to celebrate festivals when the awful conflict betwixt the
Clan Quhele and their most formidable rivals so nearly approached. It
had been agreed, therefore, that the funeral feast should be blended
with that usually given at the inauguration of the young chief.

Some objections were made to this arrangement, as containing an evil
omen. But, on the other hand, it had a species of recommendation, from
the habits and feelings of the Highlanders, who, to this day, are wont
to mingle a degree of solemn mirth with their mourning, and something
resembling melancholy with their mirth. The usual aversion to speak
or think of those who have been beloved and lost is less known to this
grave and enthusiastic race than it is to others. You hear not only the
young mention (as is everywhere usual) the merits and the character of
parents, who have, in the course of nature, predeceased them; but the
widowed partner speaks, in ordinary conversation, of the lost spouse,
and, what is still stranger, the parents allude frequently to the beauty
or valour of the child whom they have interred. The Scottish Highlanders
appear to regard the separation of friends by death as something less
absolute and complete than it is generally esteemed in other countries,
and converse of the dear connexions who have sought the grave before
them as if they had gone upon a long journey in which they themselves
must soon follow. The funeral feast, therefore, being a general custom
throughout Scotland, was not, in the opinion of those who were to share
it, unseemingly mingled, on the present occasion, with the festivities
which hailed the succession to the chieftainship.

The barge which had lately borne the dead to the grave now conveyed
the young MacIan to his new command and the minstrels sent forth their
gayest notes to gratulate Eachin's succession, as they had lately
sounded their most doleful dirges when carrying Gilchrist to his grave.
From the attendant flotilla rang notes of triumph and jubilee, instead
of those yells of lamentation which had so lately disturbed the echoes
of Loch Tay; and a thousand voices hailed the youthful chieftain as he
stood on the poop, armed at all points, in the flower of early manhood,
beauty, and activity, on the very spot where his father's corpse had so
lately been extended, and surrounded by triumphant friends, as that had
been by desolate mourners.

One boat kept closest of the flotilla to the honoured galley. Torquil
of the Oak, a grizzled giant, was steersman; and his eight sons, each
exceeding the ordinary stature of mankind, pulled the oars. Like some
powerful and favourite wolf hound, unloosed from his couples, and
frolicking around a liberal master, the boat of the foster brethren
passed the chieftain's barge, now on one side and now on another, and
even rowed around it, as if in extravagance of joy; while, at the same
time, with the jealous vigilance of the animal we have compared it to,
they made it dangerous for any other of the flotilla to approach so near
as themselves, from the risk of being run down by their impetuous
and reckless manoeuvres. Raised to an eminent rank in the clan by the
succession of their foster brother to the command of the Clan Quhele,
this was the tumultuous and almost terrible mode in which they testified
their peculiar share in their chief's triumph.

Far behind, and with different feelings, on the part of one at least of
the company, came the small boat in which, manned by the Booshalloch and
one of his sons, Simon Glover was a passenger.

"If we are bound for the head of the lake," said Simon to his friend,
"we shall hardly be there for hours."

But as he spoke the crew of the boat of the foster brethren, or
leichtach, on a signal from the chief's galley, lay on their oars until
the Booshalloch's boat came up, and throwing on board a rope of hides,
which Niel made fast to the head of his skiff, they stretched to their
oars once more, and, notwithstanding they had the small boat in tow,
swept through the lake with almost the same rapidity as before. The
skiff was tugged on with a velocity which seemed to hazard the pulling
her under water, or the separation of her head from her other timbers.

Simon Glover saw with anxiety the reckless fury of their course, and the
bows of the boat occasionally brought within an inch or two of the level
of the water; and though his friend, Niel Booshalloch, assured him it
was all done in especial honour, he heartily wished his voyage might
have a safe termination. It had so, and much sooner than he apprehended;
for the place of festivity was not four miles distant from the
sepulchral island, being chosen to suit the chieftain's course, which
lay to the southeast, so soon as the banquet should be concluded. A
bay on the southern side of Loch Tay presented a beautiful beach of
sparkling sand, on which the boats might land with ease, and a dry
meadow, covered with turf, verdant considering the season, behind and
around which rose high banks, fringed with copsewood, and displaying the
lavish preparations which had been made for the entertainment.

The Highlanders, well known for ready hatchet men, had constructed a
long arbour or silvan banqueting room, capable of receiving two hundred
men, while a number of smaller huts around seemed intended for sleeping
apartments. The uprights, the couples, and roof tree of the temporary
hall were composed of mountain pine, still covered with its bark. The
framework of the sides was of planks or spars of the same material,
closely interwoven with the leafy boughs of the fir and other
evergreens, which the neighbouring woods afforded, while the hills had
furnished plenty of heath to form the roof. Within this silvan palace
the most important personages present were invited to hold high
festival. Others of less note were to feast in various long sheds
constructed with less care; and tables of sod, or rough planks, placed
in the open air, were allotted to the numberless multitude. At a
distance were to be seen piles of glowing charcoal or blazing wood,
around which countless cooks toiled, bustled, and fretted, like so many
demons working in their native element. Pits, wrought in the hillside,
and lined with heated stones, served as ovens for stewing immense
quantities of beef, mutton, and venison; wooden spits supported sheep
and goats, which were roasted entire; others were cut into joints,
and seethed in caldrons made of the animal's own skins, sewed hastily
together and filled with water; while huge quantities of pike, trout,
salmon, and char were broiled with more ceremony on glowing embers. The
glover had seen many a Highland banquet, but never one the preparations
for which were on such a scale of barbarous profusion.

He had little time, however, to admire the scene around him for, as
soon as they landed on the beach, the Booshalloch observed with some
embarrassment, that, as they had not been bidden to the table of the
dais, to which he seemed to have expected an invitation, they had best
secure a place in one of the inferior bothies or booths; and was leading
the way in that direction, when he was stopped by one of the bodyguards,
seeming to act as master of ceremonies, who whispered something in his
ear.

"I thought so," said the herdsman, much relieved--"I thought neither the
stranger nor the man that has my charge would be left out at the high
table."

They were conducted accordingly into the ample lodge, within which were
long ranges of tables already mostly occupied by the guests, while those
who acted as domestics were placing upon them the abundant though rude
materials of the festival. The young chief, although he certainly saw
the glover and the herdsman enter, did not address any personal salute
to either, and their places were assigned them in a distant corner, far
beneath the salt, a huge piece of antique silver plate, the only article
of value that the table displayed, and which was regarded by the clan
as a species of palladium, only produced and used on the most solemn
occasions, such as the present.

The Booshalloch, somewhat discontented, muttered to Simon as he took his
place: "These are changed days, friend. His father, rest his soul, would
have spoken to us both; but these are bad manners which he has learned
among you Sassenachs in the Low Country."

To this remark the glover did not think it necessary to reply; instead
of which he adverted to the evergreens, and particularly to the skins
and other ornaments with which the interior of the bower was decorated.
The most remarkable part of these ornaments was a number of Highland
shirts of mail, with steel bonnets, battle axes, and two handed swords
to match, which hung around the upper part of the room, together with
targets highly and richly embossed. Each mail shirt was hung over a well
dressed stag's hide, which at once displayed the armour to advantage and
saved it from suffering by damp.

"These," whispered the Booshalloch, "are the arms of the chosen
champions of the Clan Quhele. They are twenty-nine in number, as you
see, Eachin himself being the thirtieth, who wears his armour today,
else had there been thirty. And he has not got such a good hauberk after
all as he should wear on Palm Sunday. These nine suits of harness, of
such large size, are for the leichtach, from whom so much is expected."

"And these goodly deer hides," said Simon, the spirit of his profession
awakening at the sight of the goods in which he traded--"think you the
chief will be disposed to chaffer for them? They are in demand for the
doublets which knights wear under their armour."

"Did I not pray you," said Niel Booshalloch, "to say nothing on that
subject?"

"It is the mail shirts I speak of," said Simon--"may I ask if any of
them were made by our celebrated Perth armourer, called Henry of the
Wynd?"

"Thou art more unlucky than before," said Niel, "that man's name is to
Eachin's temper like a whirlwind upon the lake; yet no man knows for
what cause."

"I can guess," thought our glover, but gave no utterance to the thought;
and, having twice lighted on unpleasant subjects of conversation, he
prepared to apply himself, like those around him, to his food, without
starting another topic.

We have said as much of the preparations as may lead the reader to
conclude that the festival, in respect of the quality of the food, was
of the most rude description, consisting chiefly of huge joints of meat,
which were consumed with little respect to the fasting season, although
several of the friars of the island convent graced and hallowed the
board by their presence. The platters were of wood, and so were the
hooped cogues or cups out of which the guests quaffed their liquor, as
also the broth or juice of the meat, which was held a delicacy. There
were also various preparations of milk which were highly esteemed, and
were eaten out of similar vessels. Bread was the scarcest article at the
banquet, but the glover and his patron Niel were served with two small
loaves expressly for their own use. In eating, as, indeed, was then the
case all over Britain, the guests used their knives called skenes, or
the large poniards named dirks, without troubling themselves by the
reflection that they might occasionally have served different or more
fatal purposes.

At the upper end of the table stood a vacant seat, elevated a step or
two above the floor. It was covered with a canopy of hollow boughs and
ivy, and there rested against it a sheathed sword and a folded banner.
This had been the seat of the deceased chieftain, and was left vacant
in honour of him. Eachin occupied a lower chair on the right hand of the
place of honour.

The reader would be greatly mistaken who should follow out this
description by supposing that the guests behaved like a herd of hungry
wolves, rushing upon a feast rarely offered to them. On the contrary,
the Clan Quhele conducted themselves with that species of courteous
reserve and attention to the wants of others which is often found in
primitive nations, especially such as are always in arms, because a
general observance of the rules of courtesy is necessary to prevent
quarrels, bloodshed, and death. The guests took the places assigned them
by Torquil of the Oak, who, acting as marischal taeh, i.e. sewer of
the mess, touched with a white wand, without speaking a word, the place
where each was to sit. Thus placed in order, the company patiently
waited for the portion assigned them, which was distributed among them
by the leichtach; the bravest men or more distinguished warriors of
the tribe being accommodated with a double mess, emphatically called
bieyfir, or the portion of a man. When the sewers themselves had seen
every one served, they resumed their places at the festival, and were
each served with one of these larger messes of food. Water was placed
within each man's reach, and a handful of soft moss served the purposes
of a table napkin, so that, as at an Eastern banquet, the hands were
washed as often as the mess was changed. For amusement, the bard recited
the praises of the deceased chief, and expressed the clan's confidence
in the blossoming virtues of his successor. The seannachie recited the
genealogy of the tribe, which they traced to the race of the Dalriads;
the harpers played within, while the war pipes cheered the multitude
without. The conversation among the guests was grave, subdued, and
civil; no jest was attempted beyond the bounds of a very gentle
pleasantry, calculated only to excite a passing smile. There were no
raised voices, no contentious arguments; and Simon Glover had heard a
hundred times more noise at a guild feast in Perth than was made on this
occasion by two hundred wild mountaineers.

Even the liquor itself did not seem to raise the festive party above the
same tone of decorous gravity. It was of various kinds. Wine appeared in
very small quantities, and was served out only to the principal guests,
among which honoured number Simon Glover was again included. The wine
and the two wheaten loaves were indeed the only marks of notice which he
received during the feast; but Niel Booshalloch, jealous of his master's
reputation for hospitality, failed not to enlarge on them as proofs
of high distinction. Distilled liquors, since so generally used in
the Highlands, were then comparatively unknown. The usquebaugh was
circulated in small quantities, and was highly flavoured with a
decoction of saffron and other herbs, so as to resemble a medicinal
potion rather than a festive cordial. Cider and mead were seen at the
entertainment, but ale, brewed in great quantities for the purpose, and
flowing round without restriction, was the liquor generally used, and
that was drunk with a moderation much less known among the more modern
Highlanders. A cup to the memory of the deceased chieftain was the first
pledge solemnly proclaimed after the banquet was finished, and a low
murmur of benedictions was heard from the company, while the monks
alone, uplifting their united voices, sung Requiem eternam dona. An
unusual silence followed, as if something extraordinary was expected,
when Eachin arose with a bold and manly, yet modest, grace, and ascended
the vacant seat or throne, saying with dignity and firmness:

"This seat and my father's inheritance I claim as my right--so prosper
me God and St. Barr!"

"How will you rule your father's children?" said an old man, the uncle
of the deceased.

"I will defend them with my father's sword, and distribute justice to
them under my father's banner."

The old man, with a trembling hand, unsheathed the ponderous weapon,
and, holding it by the blade, offered the hilt to the young chieftain's
grasp; at the same time Torquil of the Oak unfurled the pennon of the
tribe, and swung it repeatedly over Eachin's head, who, with singular
grace and dexterity, brandished the huge claymore as in its defence.
The guests raised a yelling shout to testify their acceptance of the
patriarchal chief who claimed their allegiance, nor was there any who,
in the graceful and agile youth before them, was disposed to recollect
the subject of sinister vaticinations. As he stood in glittering mail,
resting on the long sword, and acknowledging by gracious gestures the
acclamations which rent the air within, without, and around, Simon
Glover was tempted to doubt whether this majestic figure was that of the
same lad whom he had often treated with little ceremony, and began to
have some apprehension of the consequences of having done so. A
general burst of minstrelsy succeeded to the acclamations, and rock and
greenwood rang to harp and pipes, as lately to shout and yell of woe.

It would be tedious to pursue the progress of the inaugural feast, or
detail the pledges that were quaffed to former heroes of the clan, and
above all to the twenty-nine brave galloglasses who were to fight in the
approaching conflict, under the eye and leading of their young chief.
The bards, assuming in old times the prophetic character combined with
their own, ventured to assure them of the most distinguished victory,
and to predict the fury with which the blue falcon, the emblem of the
Clan Quhele, should rend to pieces the mountain cat, the well known
badge of the Clan Chattan.

It was approaching sunset when a bowl, called the grace cup, made of
oak, hooped with silver, was handed round the table as the signal of
dispersion, although it was left free to any who chose a longer carouse
to retreat to any of the outer bothies. As for Simon Glover, the
Booshalloch conducted him to a small hut, contrived, it would seem,
for the use of a single individual, where a bed of heath and moss was
arranged as well as the season would permit, and an ample supply of
such delicacies as the late feast afforded showed that all care had been
taken for the inhabitant's accommodation.

"Do not leave this hut," said the Booshalloch, taking leave of his
friend and protege: "this is your place of rest. But apartments are lost
on such a night of confusion, and if the badger leaves his hole the toad
will creep into it."

To Simon Glover this arrangement was by no means disagreeable. He had
been wearied by the noise of the day, and felt desirous of repose. After
eating, therefore, a morsel, which his appetite scarce required, and
drinking a cup of wine to expel the cold, he muttered his evening
prayer, wrapt himself in his cloak, and lay down on a couch which old
acquaintance had made familiar and easy to him. The hum and murmur,
and even the occasional shouts, of some of the festive multitude who
continued revelling without did not long interrupt his repose, and in
about ten minutes he was as fast asleep as if he had lain in his own bed
in Curfew Street.



CHAPTER XXIX.

     Still harping on my daughter.

     Hamlet.


Two hours before the black cock crew, Simon Glover was wakened by a well
known voice, which called him by name.

"What, Conachar!" he replied, as he started from sleep, "is the morning
so far advanced?" and, raising his eyes, the person of whom he was
dreaming stood before him; and at the same moment, the events of
yesterday rushing on his recollection, he saw with surprise that the
vision retained the form which sleep had assigned it, and it was not the
mail clad Highland chief, with claymore in hand, as he had seen him
the preceding night, but Conachar of Curfew Street, in his humble
apprentice's garb, holding in his hand a switch of oak. An apparition
would not more have surprised our Perth burgher. As he gazed with
wonder, the youth turned upon him a piece of lighted bog wood which he
carried in a lantern, and to his waking exclamation replied:

"Even so, father Simon: it is Conachar, come to renew our old
acquaintance, when our intercourse will attract least notice."

So saying, he sat down on a tressel which answered the purpose of
a chair, and placing the lantern beside him, proceeded in the most
friendly tone:

"I have tasted of thy good cheer many a day, father Simon; I trust thou
hast found no lack in my family?"

"None whatever, Eachin MacIan," answered the glover, for the simplicity
of the Celtic language and manners rejects all honorary titles; "it was
even too good for this fasting season, and much too good for me, since I
must be ashamed to think how hard you fared in Curfew Street."

"Even too well, to use your own word," said Conachar, "for the deserts
of an idle apprentice and for the wants of a young Highlander. But
yesterday, if there was, as I trust, enough of food, found you not, good
glover, some lack of courteous welcome? Excuse it not--I know you did
so. But I am young in authority with my people, and I must not too early
draw their attention to the period of my residence in the Lowlands,
which, however, I can never forget."

"I understand the cause entirely," said Simon; "and therefore it is
unwillingly, and as it were by force, that I have made so early a visit
hither."

"Hush, father--hush! It is well you are come to see some of my Highland
splendour while it yet sparkles. Return after Palm Sunday, and who knows
whom or what you may find in the territories we now possess! The
wildcat may have made his lodge where the banqueting bower of MacIan now
stands."

The young chief was silent, and pressed the top of the rod to his lips,
as if to guard against uttering more.

"There is no fear of that, Eachin," said Simon, in that vague way in
which lukewarm comforters endeavour to turn the reflections of their
friends from the consideration of inevitable danger.

"There is fear, and there is peril of utter ruin," answered Eachin, "and
there is positive certainty of great loss. I marvel my father consented
to this wily proposal of Albany. I would MacGillie Chattanach would
agree with me, and then, instead of wasting our best blood against
each other, we would go down together to Strathmore and kill and take
possession. I would rule at Perth and he at Dundee, and all the great
strath should be our own to the banks of the Firth of Tay. Such is the
policy I have caught from your old grey head, father Simon, when holding
a trencher at thy back, and listening to thy evening talk with Bailie
Craigdallie."

"The tongue is well called an unruly member," thought the glover.
"Here have I been holding a candle to the devil, to show him the way to
mischief."

But he only said aloud: "These plans come too late."

"Too late indeed!" answered Eachin. "The indentures of battle are signed
by our marks and seals, the burning hate of the Clan Quhele and Clan
Chattan is blown up to an inextinguishable flame by mutual insults and
boasts. Yes, the time is passed by. But to thine own affairs, father
Glover. It is religion that has brought thee hither, as I learn from
Niel Booshalloch. Surely, my experience of thy prudence did not lead
me to suspect thee of any quarrel with Mother Church. As for my old
acquaintance, Father Clement, he is one of those who hunt after the
crown of martyrdom, and think a stake, surrounded with blazing fagots,
better worth embracing than a willing bride. He is a very knight errant
in defence of his religious notions, and does battle wherever he comes.
He hath already a quarrel with the monks of Sibyl's Isle yonder about
some point of doctrine. Hast seen him?"

"I have," answered Simon; "but we spoke little together, the time being
pressing."

"He may have said that there is a third person--one more likely, I
think, to be a true fugitive for religion than either you, a shrewd
citizen, or he, a wrangling preacher--who would be right heartily
welcome to share our protection? Thou art dull, man, and wilt not guess
my meaning--thy daughter, Catharine."

These last words the young chief spoke in English; and he continued the
conversation in that language, as if apprehensive of being overheard,
and, indeed, as if under the sense of some involuntary hesitation.

"My daughter Catharine," said the glover, remembering what the
Carthusian had told him, "is well and safe."

"But where or with whom?" said the young chief. "And wherefore came she
not with you? Think you the Clan Quhele have no cailliachs as active as
old Dorothy, whose hand has warmed my haffits before now, to wait upon
the daughter of their chieftain's master?"

"Again I thank you," said the glover, "and doubt neither your power nor
your will to protect my daughter, as well as myself. But an honourable
lady, the friend of Sir Patrick Charteris, hath offered her a safe place
of refuge without the risk of a toilsome journey through a desolate and
distracted country."

"Oh, ay, Sir Patrick Charteris," said Eachin, in a more reserved and
distant tone; "he must be preferred to all men, without doubt. He is
your friend, I think?"

Simon Glover longed to punish this affectation of a boy who had been
scolded four times a day for running into the street to see Sir Patrick
Charteris ride past; but he checked his spirit of repartee, and simply
said:

"Sir Patrick Charteris has been provost of Perth for seven years, and it
is likely is so still, since the magistrates are elected, not in Lent,
but at St. Martinmas."

"Ah, father Glover," said the youth, in his kinder and more familiar
mode of address, "you are so used to see the sumptuous shows and
pageants of Perth, that you would but little relish our barbarous
festival in comparison. What didst thou think of our ceremonial of
yesterday?"

"It was noble and touching," said the glover; "and to me, who knew your
father, most especially so. When you rested on the sword and looked
around you, methought I saw mine old friend Gilchrist MacIan arisen from
the dead and renewed in years and in strength."

"I played my part there boldly, I trust; and showed little of that
paltry apprentice boy whom you used to--use just as he deserved?"

"Eachin resembles Conachar," said the glover, "no more than a salmon
resembles a gar, though men say they are the same fish in a different
state, or than a butterfly resembles a grub."

"Thinkest thou that, while I was taking upon me the power which all
women love, I would have been myself an object for a maiden's eye to
rest upon? To speak plain, what would Catharine have thought of me in
the ceremonial?"

"We approach the shallows now," thought Simon Glover, "and without nice
pilotage we drive right on shore."

"Most women like show, Eachin; but I think my daughter Catharine be an
exception. She would rejoice in the good fortune of her household friend
and playmate; but she would not value the splendid MacIan, captain of
Clan Quhele, more than the orphan Conachar."

"She is ever generous and disinterested," replied the young chief. "But
yourself, father, have seen the world for many more years than she has
done, and can better form a judgment what power and wealth do for those
who enjoy them. Think, and speak sincerely, what would be your own
thoughts if you saw your Catharine standing under yonder canopy, with
the command over an hundred hills, and the devoted obedience of ten
thousand vassals; and as the price of these advantages, her hand in that
of the man who loves her the best in the world?"

"Meaning in your own, Conachar?" said Simon.

"Ay, Conachar call me: I love the name, since it was by that I have been
known to Catharine."

"Sincerely, then," said the glover, endeavouring to give the least
offensive turn to his reply, "my inmost thought would be the earnest
wish that Catharine and I were safe in our humble booth in Curfew
Street, with Dorothy for our only vassal."

"And with poor Conachar also, I trust? You would not leave him to pine
away in solitary grandeur?"

"I would not," answered the glover, "wish so ill to the Clan Quhele,
mine ancient friends, as to deprive them, at the moment of emergency,
of a brave young chief, and that chief of the fame which he is about to
acquire at their head in the approaching conflict."

Eachin bit his lip to suppress his irritated feelings as he replied:
"Words--words--empty words, father Simon. You fear the Clan Quhele
more than you love them, and you suppose their indignation would be
formidable should their chief marry the daughter of a burgess of Perth."

"And if I do fear such an issue, Hector MacIan, have I not reason? How
have ill assorted marriages had issue in the house of MacCallanmore,
in that of the powerful MacLeans--nay, of the Lords of the Isles
themselves? What has ever come of them but divorce and exheredation,
sometimes worse fate, to the ambitious intruder? You could not marry my
child before a priest, and you could only wed her with your left
hand; and I--" he checked the strain of impetuosity which the subject
inspired, and concluded, "and I am an honest though humble burgher of
Perth, who would rather my child were the lawful and undoubted spouse of
a citizen in my own rank than the licensed concubine of a monarch."

"I will wed Catharine before the priest and before the world, before
the altar and before the black stones of Iona," said the impetuous young
man. "She is the love of my youth, and there is not a tie in religion or
honour but I will bind myself by them! I have sounded my people. If
we do but win this combat--and, with the hope of gaining Catharine, we
SHALL win it--my heart tells me so--I shall be so much lord over their
affections that, were I to take a bride from the almshouse, so it was
my pleasure, they would hail her as if she were a daughter of
MacCallanmore. But you reject my suit?" said Eachin, sternly.

"You put words of offence in my mouth," said the old man, "and may next
punish me for them, since I am wholly in your power. But with my consent
my daughter shall never wed save in her own degree. Her heart would
break amid the constant wars and scenes of bloodshed which connect
themselves with your lot. If you really love her, and recollect her
dread of strife and combat, you would not wish her to be subjected to
the train of military horrors in which you, like your father, must
needs be inevitably and eternally engaged. Choose a bride amongst the
daughters of the mountain chiefs, my son, or fiery Lowland nobles. You
are fair, young, rich, high born, and powerful, and will not woo in
vain. You will readily find one who will rejoice in your conquests, and
cheer you under defeat. To Catharine, the one would be as frightful
as the other. A warrior must wear a steel gauntlet: a glove of kidskin
would be torn to pieces in an hour."

A dark cloud passed over the face of the young chief, lately animated
with so much fire.

"Farewell," he said, "the only hope which could have lighted me to fame
or victory!"

He remained for a space silent, and intensely thoughtful, with downcast
eyes, a lowering brow, and folded arms. At length he raised his hands,
and said: "Father,--for such you have been to me--I am about to tell you
a secret. Reason and pride both advise me to be silent, but fate urges
me, and must be obeyed. I am about to lodge in you the deepest and
dearest secret that man ever confided to man. But beware--end this
conference how it will--beware how you ever breathe a syllable of what
I am now to trust to you; for know that, were you to do so in the most
remote corner of Scotland, I have ears to hear it even there, and a
hand and poniard to reach a traitor's bosom. I am--but the word will not
out!"

"Do not speak it then," said the prudent glover: "a secret is no longer
safe when it crosses the lips of him who owns it, and I desire not a
confidence so dangerous as you menace me with."

"Ay, but I must speak, and you must hear," said the youth. "In this age
of battle, father, you have yourself been a combatant?"

"Once only," replied Simon, "when the Southron assaulted the Fair City.
I was summoned to take my part in the defence, as my tenure required,
like that of other craftsmen, who are bound to keep watch and ward."

"And how felt you upon that matter?" inquired the young chief.

"What can that import to the present business?" said Simon, in some
surprise.

"Much, else I had not asked the question," answered. Eachin, in the tone
of haughtiness which from time to time he assumed.

"An old man is easily brought to speak of olden times," said Simon, not
unwilling, on an instant's reflection, to lead the conversation away
from the subject of his daughter, "and I must needs confess my feelings
were much short of the high, cheerful confidence, nay, the pleasure,
with which I have seen other men go to battle. My life and profession
were peaceful, and though I have not wanted the spirit of a man, when
the time demanded it, yet I have seldom slept worse than the night
before that onslaught. My ideas were harrowed by the tales we were
told--nothing short of the truth--about the Saxon archers: how they drew
shafts of a cloth yard length, and used bows a third longer than ours.
When I fell into a broken slumber, if but a straw in the mattress
pricked my side I started and waked, thinking an English arrow was
quivering in my body. In the morning, as I began for very weariness to
sink into some repose, I was waked by the tolling of the common bell,
which called us burghers to the walls; I never heard its sound peal so
like a passing knell before or since."

"Go on--what further chanced?" demanded Eachin.

"I did on my harness," said Simon, "such as it was; took my mother's
blessing, a high spirited woman, who spoke of my father's actions for
the honour of the Fair Town. This heartened me, and I felt still bolder
when I found myself ranked among the other crafts, all bowmen, for thou
knowest the Perth citizens have good skill in archery. We were dispersed
on the walls, several knights and squires in armour of proof being
mingled amongst us, who kept a bold countenance, confident perhaps in
their harness, and informed us, for our encouragement, that they would
cut down with their swords and axes any of those who should attempt to
quit their post. I was kindly assured of this myself by the old Kempe
of Kinfauns, as he was called, this good Sir Patrick's father, then our
provost. He was a grandson of the Red Rover, Tom of Longueville, and
a likely man to keep his word, which he addressed to me in especial,
because a night of much discomfort may have made me look paler than
usual; and, besides, I was but a lad."

"And did his exhortation add to your fear or your resolution?" said
Eachin, who seemed very attentive.

"To my resolution," answered Simon; "for I think nothing can make a
man so bold to face one danger at some distance in his front as the
knowledge of another close behind him, to push him forward. Well, I
mounted the walls in tolerable heart, and was placed with others on the
Spey Tower, being accounted a good bowman. But a very cold fit seized me
as I saw the English, in great order, with their archers in front,
and their men at arms behind, marching forward to the attack in strong
columns, three in number. They came on steadily, and some of us would
fain have shot at them; but it was strictly forbidden, and we were
obliged to remain motionless, sheltering ourselves behind the battlement
as we best might. As the Southron formed their long ranks into lines,
each man occupying his place as by magic, and preparing to cover
themselves by large shields, called pavesses, which they planted before
them, I again felt a strange breathlessness, and some desire to go home
for a glass of distilled waters. But as I looked aside, I saw the worthy
Kempe of Kinfauns bending a large crossbow, and I thought it pity he
should waste the bolt on a true hearted Scotsman, when so many English
were in presence; so I e'en staid where I was, being in a comfortable
angle, formed by two battlements. The English then strode forward, and
drew their bowstrings--not to the breast, as your Highland kerne do, but
to the ear--and sent off their volleys of swallow tails before we could
call on St. Andrew. I winked when I saw them haul up their tackle, and I
believe I started as the shafts began to rattle against the parapet.
But looking round me, and seeing none hurt but John Squallit, the town
crier, whose jaws were pierced through with a cloth yard shaft, I took
heart of grace, and shot in my turn with good will and good aim. A
little man I shot at, who had just peeped out from behind his target,
dropt with a shaft through his shoulder. The provost cried, 'Well
stitched, Simon Glover!' 'St. John, for his own town, my fellow
craftsmen!' shouted I, though I was then but an apprentice. And if you
will believe me, in the rest of the skirmish, which was ended by the
foes drawing off, I drew bowstring and loosed shaft as calmly as if
I had been shooting at butts instead of men's breasts. I gained
some credit, and I have ever afterwards thought that, in case of
necessity--for with me it had never been matter of choice--I should not
have lost it again. And this is all I can tell of warlike experience in
battle. Other dangers I have had, which I have endeavoured to avoid like
a wise man, or, when they were inevitable, I have faced them like a
true one. Upon other terms a man cannot live or hold up his head in
Scotland."

"I understand your tale," said Eachin; "but I shall find it difficult
to make you credit mine, knowing the race of which I am descended, and
especially that I am the son of him whom we have this day laid in the
tomb--well that he lies where he will never learn what you are now to
hear! Look, my father, the light which I bear grows short and pale, a
few minutes will extinguish it; but before it expires, the hideous tale
will be told. Father, I am--a COWARD! It is said at last, and the secret
of my disgrace is in keeping of another!"

The young man sunk back in a species of syncope, produced by the agony
of his mind as he made the fatal communication. The glover, moved as
well by fear as by compassion, applied himself to recall him to life,
and succeeded in doing so, but not in restoring him to composure. He hid
his face with his hands, and his tears flowed plentifully and bitterly.

"For Our Lady's sake, be composed," said the old man, "and recall the
vile word! I know you better than yourself: you are no coward, but only
too young and inexperienced, ay, and somewhat too quick of fancy, to
have the steady valour of a bearded man. I would hear no other man say
that of you, Conachar, without giving him the lie. You are no coward:
I have seen high sparks of spirit fly from you even on slight enough
provocation."

"High sparks of pride and passion!" said the unfortunate youth; "but
when saw you them supported by the resolution that should have backed
them? The sparks you speak of fell on my dastardly heart as on a piece
of ice which could catch fire from nothing: if my offended pride urged
me to strike, my weakness of mind prompted me the next moment to fly."

"Want of habit," said Simon; "it is by clambering over walls that youths
learn to scale precipices. Begin with slight feuds; exercise daily the
arms of your country in tourney with your followers."

"And what leisure is there for this?" exclaimed the young chief,
starting as if something horrid had occurred to his imagination. "How
many days are there betwixt this hour and Palm Sunday, and what is to
chance then? A list inclosed, from which no man can stir, more than the
poor bear who is chained to his stake. Sixty living men, the best
and fiercest--one alone excepted!--which Albyn can send down from her
mountains, all athirst for each other's blood, while a king and his
nobles, and shouting thousands besides, attend, as at a theatre, to
encourage their demoniac fury! Blows clang and blood flows, thicker,
faster, redder; they rush on each other like madmen, they tear each
other like wild beasts; the wounded are trodden to death amid the feet
of their companions! Blood ebbs, arms become weak; but there must be
no parley, no truce, no interruption, while any of the maimed wretches
remain alive! Here is no crouching behind battlements, no fighting with
missile weapons: all is hand to hand, till hands can no longer be raised
to maintain the ghastly conflict! If such a field is so horrible in
idea, what think you it will be in reality?"

The glover remained silent.

"I say again, what think you?"

"I can only pity you, Conachar," said Simon. "It is hard to be the
descendant of a lofty line--the son of a noble father--the leader by
birth of a gallant array, and yet to want, or think you want, for
still I trust the fault lies much in a quick fancy, that over estimates
danger--to want that dogged quality which is possessed by every game
cock that is worth a handful of corn, every hound that is worth a
mess of offal. But how chanced it that, with such a consciousness of
inability to fight in this battle, you proffered even now to share your
chiefdom with my daughter? Your power must depend on your fighting this
combat, and in that Catharine cannot help you."

"You mistake, old man," replied Eachin: "were Catharine to look kindly
on the earnest love I bear her, it would carry me against the front of
the enemies with the mettle of a war horse. Overwhelming as my sense
of weakness is, the feeling that Catharine looked on would give me
strength. Say yet--oh, say yet--she shall be mine if we gain the combat,
and not the Gow Chrom himself, whose heart is of a piece with his
anvil, ever went to battle so light as I shall do! One strong passion is
conquered by another."

"This is folly, Conachar. Cannot the recollection of your interest, your
honour, your kindred, do as much to stir your courage as the thoughts of
a brent browed lass? Fie upon you, man!"

"You tell me but what I have told myself, but it is in vain," replied
Eachin, with a sigh. "It is only whilst the timid stag is paired with
the doe that he is desperate and dangerous. Be it from constitution; be
it, as our Highland cailliachs will say, from the milk of the white
doe; be it from my peaceful education and the experience of your strict
restraint; be it, as you think, from an overheated fancy, which paints
danger yet more dangerous and ghastly than it is in reality, I cannot
tell. But I know my failing, and--yes, it must be said!--so sorely dread
that I cannot conquer it, that, could I have your consent to my wishes
on such terms, I would even here make a pause, renounce the rank I have
assumed, and retire into humble life."

"What, turn glover at last, Conachar?" said Simon. "This beats the
legend of St. Crispin. Nay--nay, your hand was not framed for that: you
shall spoil me no more doe skins."

"Jest not," said Eachin, "I am serious. If I cannot labour, I will bring
wealth enough to live without it. They will proclaim me recreant with
horn and war pipe. Let them do so. Catharine will love me the better
that I have preferred the paths of peace to those of bloodshed, and
Father Clement shall teach us to pity and forgive the world, which will
load us with reproaches that wound not. I shall be the happiest of men;
Catharine will enjoy all that unbounded affection can confer upon her,
and will be freed from apprehension of the sights and sounds of horror
which your ill assorted match would have prepared for her; and you,
father Glover, shall occupy your chimney corner, the happiest and most
honoured man that ever--"

"Hold, Eachin--I prithee, hold," said the glover; "the fir light, with
which this discourse must terminate, burns very low, and I would speak
a word in my turn, and plain dealing is best. Though it may vex,
or perhaps enrage, you, let me end these visions by saying at once:
Catharine can never be yours. A glove is the emblem of faith, and a
man of my craft should therefore less than any other break his own.
Catharine's hand is promised--promised to a man whom you may hate, but
whom you must honour--to Henry the armourer. The match is fitting by
degree, agreeable to their mutual wishes, and I have given my promise.
It is best to be plain at once; resent my refusal as you will--I am
wholly in your power. But nothing shall make me break my word."

The glover spoke thus decidedly, because he was aware from experience
that the very irritable disposition of his former apprentice yielded in
most cases to stern and decided resolution. Yet, recollecting where he
was, it was with some feelings of fear that he saw the dying flame leap
up and spread a flash of light on the visage of Eachin, which seemed
pale as the grave, while his eye rolled like that of a maniac in his
fever fit. The light instantly sunk down and died, and Simon felt a
momentary terror lest he should have to dispute for his life with
the youth, whom he knew to be capable of violent actions when highly
excited, however short a period his nature could support the measures
which his passion commenced. He was relieved by the voice of Eachin, who
muttered in a hoarse and altered tone:

"Let what we have spoken this night rest in silence for ever. If thou
bring'st it to light, thou wert better dig thine own grave."

Thus speaking, the door of the hut opened, admitting a gleam of
moonshine. The form of the retiring chief crossed it for an instant, the
hurdle was then closed, and the shieling left in darkness.

Simon Glover felt relieved when a conversation fraught with offence and
danger was thus peaceably terminated. But he remained deeply affected by
the condition of Hector MacIan, whom he had himself bred up.

"The poor child," said he, "to be called up to a place of eminence,
only to be hurled from it with contempt! What he told me I partly knew,
having often remarked that Conachar was more prone to quarrel than to
fight. But this overpowering faint heartedness, which neither shame
nor necessity can overcome, I, though no Sir William Wallace, cannot
conceive. And to propose himself for a husband to my daughter, as if
a bride were to find courage for herself and the bridegroom! No--no,
Catharine must wed a man to whom she may say, 'Husband, spare your
enemy'--not one in whose behalf she must cry, 'Generous enemy, spare my
husband!"

Tired out with these reflections, the old man at length fell asleep.
In the morning he was awakened by his friend the Booshalloch, who, with
something of a blank visage, proposed to him to return to his abode on
the meadow at the Ballough. He apologised that the chief could not see
Simon Glover that morning, being busied with things about the expected
combat; and that Eachin MacIan thought the residence at the Ballough
would be safest for Simon Glover's health, and had given charge that
every care should be taken for his protection and accommodation.

Niel Booshalloch dilated on these circumstances, to gloss over the
neglect implied in the chief's dismissing his visitor without a
particular audience.

"His father knew better," said the herdsman. "But where should he have
learned manners, poor thing, and bred up among your Perth burghers, who,
excepting yourself, neighbour Glover, who speak Gaelic as well as I do,
are a race incapable of civility?"

Simon Glover, it may be well believed, felt none of the want of respect
which his friend resented on his account. On the contrary, he greatly
preferred the quiet residence of the good herdsman to the tumultuous
hospitality of the daily festival of the chief, even if there had not
just passed an interview with Eachin upon a subject which it would be
most painful to revive.

To the Ballough, therefore, he quietly retreated, where, could he have
been secure of Catharine's safety, his leisure was spent pleasantly
enough. His amusement was sailing on the lake in a little skiff, which a
Highland boy managed, while the old man angled. He frequently landed
on the little island, where he mused over the tomb of his old friend
Gilchrist MacIan, and made friends with the monks, presenting the prior
with gloves of martens' fur, and the superior officers with each of them
a pair made from the skin of the wildcat. The cutting and stitching of
these little presents served to beguile the time after sunset, while
the family of the herdsman crowded around, admiring his address, and
listening to the tales and songs with which the old man had skill to
pass away a heavy evening.

It must be confessed that the cautious glover avoided the conversation
of Father Clement, whom he erroneously considered as rather the author
of his misfortunes than the guiltless sharer of them. "I will not," he
thought, "to please his fancies, lose the goodwill of these kind
monks, which may be one day useful to me. I have suffered enough by his
preachments already, I trow. Little the wiser and much the poorer they
have made me. No--no, Catharine and Clement may think as they will; but
I will take the first opportunity to sneak back like a rated hound at
the call of his master, submit to a plentiful course of haircloth and
whipcord, disburse a lusty mulct, and become whole with the church
again."

More than a fortnight had passed since the glover had arrived at
Ballough, and he began to wonder that he had not heard news of Catharine
or of Henry Wynd, to whom he concluded the provost had communicated the
plan and place of his retreat. He knew the stout smith dared not come
up into the Clan Quhele country, on account of various feuds with
the inhabitants, and with Eachin himself, while bearing the name of
Conachar; but yet the glover thought Henry might have found means to
send him a message, or a token, by some one of the various couriers who
passed and repassed between the court and the headquarters of the Clan
Quhele, in order to concert the terms of the impending combat, the
march of the parties to Perth, and other particulars requiring previous
adjustment. It was now the middle of March, and the fatal Palm Sunday
was fast approaching.

Whilst time was thus creeping on, the exiled glover had not even once
set eyes upon his former apprentice. The care that was taken to attend
to his wants and convenience in every respect showed that he was not
forgotten; but yet, when he heard the chieftain's horn ringing through
the woods, he usually made it a point to choose his walk in a different
direction. One morning, however, he found himself unexpectedly in
Eachin's close neighbourhood, with scarce leisure to avoid him, and thus
it happened.

As Simon strolled pensively through a little silvan glade, surrounded
on either side with tall forest trees, mixed with underwood, a white doe
broke from the thicket, closely pursued by two deer greyhounds, one
of which griped her haunch, the other her throat, and pulled her down
within half a furlong of the glover, who was something startled at the
suddenness of the incident. The ear and piercing blast of a horn, and
the baying of a slow hound, made Simon aware that the hunters were close
behind, and on the trace of the deer. Hallooing and the sound of
men running through the copse were heard close at hand. A moment's
recollection would have satisfied Simon that his best way was to stand
fast, or retire slowly, and leave it to Eachin to acknowledge his
presence or not, as he should see cause. But his desire of shunning the
young man had grown into a kind of instinct, and in the alarm of finding
him so near, Simon hid himself in a bush of hazels mixed with holly,
which altogether concealed him. He had hardly done so ere Eachin, rosy
with exercise, dashed from the thicket into the open glade, accompanied
by his foster father, Torquil of the Oak. The latter, with equal
strength and address, turned the struggling hind on her back, and
holding her forefeet in his right hand, while he knelt on her body,
offered his skene with the left to the young chief, that he might cut
the animal's throat.

"It may not be, Torquil; do thine office, and take the assay thyself. I
must not kill the likeness of my foster--"

This was spoken with a melancholy smile, while a tear at the same time
stood in the speaker's eye. Torquil stared at his young chief for an
instant, then drew his sharp wood knife across the creature's throat
with a cut so swift and steady that the weapon reached the backbone.
Then rising on his feet, and again fixing a long piercing look on his
chief, he said: "As much as I have done to that hind would I do to any
living man whose ears could have heard my dault (foster son) so much as
name a white doe, and couple the word with Hector's name!"

If Simon had no reason before to keep himself concealed, this speech of
Torquil furnished him with a pressing one.

"It cannot be concealed, father Torquil," said Eachin: "it will all out
to the broad day."

"What will out? what will to broad day?" asked Torquil in surprise.

"It is the fatal secret," thought Simon; "and now, if this huge privy
councillor cannot keep silence, I shall be made answerable, I suppose,
for Eachin's disgrace having been blown abroad."

Thinking thus anxiously, he availed himself at the same time of his
position to see as much as he could of what passed between the afflicted
chieftain and his confidant, impelled by that spirit of curiosity which
prompts us in the most momentous, as well as the most trivial, occasions
of life, and which is sometimes found to exist in company with great
personal fear.

As Torquil listened to what Eachin communicated, the young man sank
into his arms, and, supporting himself on his shoulder, concluded his
confession by a whisper into his ear. Torquil seemed to listen with such
amazement as to make him incapable of crediting his ears. As if to be
certain that it was Eachin who spoke, he gradually roused the youth from
his reclining posture, and, holding him up in some measure by a grasp on
his shoulder, fixed on him an eye that seemed enlarged, and at the same
time turned to stone, by the marvels he listened to. And so wild waxed
the old man's visage after he had heard the murmured communication,
that Simon Glover apprehended he would cast the youth from him as a
dishonoured thing, in which case he might have lighted among the very
copse in which he lay concealed, and occasioned his discovery in a
manner equally painful and dangerous. But the passions of Torquil,
who entertained for his foster child even a double portion of that
passionate fondness which always attends that connexion in the Highlands
took a different turn.

"I believe it not," he exclaimed; "it is false of thy father's child,
false of thy mother's son, falsest of my dault! I offer my gage to
heaven and hell, and will maintain the combat with him that shall call
it true. Thou hast been spellbound by an evil eye, my darling, and the
fainting which you call cowardice is the work of magic. I remember the
bat that struck the torch out on the hour that thou wert born--that hour
of grief and of joy. Cheer up, my beloved. Thou shalt with me to Iona,
and the good St. Columbus, with the whole choir of blessed saints and
angels, who ever favoured thy race, shall take from thee the heart of
the white doe and return that which they have stolen from thee."

Eachin listened, with a look as if he would fain have believed the words
of the comforter.

"But, Torquil," he said, "supposing this might avail us, the fatal day
approaches, and if I go to the lists, I dread me we shall be shamed."

"It cannot be--it shall not!" said Torquil. "Hell shall not prevail so
far: we will steep thy sword in holy water, place vervain, St. John's
Wort, and rowan tree in thy crest. We will surround thee, I and thy
eight brethren: thou shalt be safe as in a castle."

Again the youth helplessly uttered something, which, from the dejected
tone in which it was spoken, Simon could not understand, while Torquil's
deep tones in reply fell full and distinct upon his ear.

"Yes, there may be a chance of withdrawing thee from the conflict. Thou
art the youngest who is to draw blade. Now, hear me, and thou shalt know
what it is to have a foster father's love, and how far it exceeds the
love even of kinsmen. The youngest on the indenture of the Clan Chattan
is Ferquhard Day. His father slew mine, and the red blood is seething
hot between us; I looked to Palm Sunday as the term that should cool it.
But mark! Thou wouldst have thought that the blood in the veins of this
Ferquhard Day and in mine would not have mingled had they been put into
the same vessel, yet hath he cast the eyes of his love upon my only
daughter Eva, the fairest of our maidens. Think with what feelings I
heard the news. It was as if a wolf from the skirts of Farragon had
said, 'Give me thy child in wedlock, Torquil.' My child thought not
thus: she loves Ferquhard, and weeps away her colour and strength in
dread of the approaching battle. Let her give him but a sign of favour,
and well I know he will forget kith and kin, forsake the field, and fly
with her to the desert."

"He, the youngest of the champions of Clan Chattan, being absent, I, the
youngest of the Clan Quhele, may be excused from combat" said Eachin,
blushing at the mean chance of safety thus opened to him.

"See now, my chief;" said Torquil, "and judge my thoughts towards
thee: others might give thee their own lives and that of their sons--I
sacrifice to thee the honour of my house."

"My friend--my father," repeated the chief, folding Torquil to his
bosom, "what a base wretch am I that have a spirit dastardly enough to
avail myself of your sacrifice!"

"Speak not of that. Green woods have ears. Let us back to the camp, and
send our gillies for the venison. Back, dogs, and follow at heel."

The slowhound, or lyme dog, luckily for Simon, had drenched his nose in
the blood of the deer, else he might have found the glover's lair in the
thicket; but its more acute properties of scent being lost, it followed
tranquilly with the gazehounds.

When the hunters were out of sight and hearing, the glover arose,
greatly relieved by their departure, and began to move off in the
opposite direction as fast as his age permitted. His first reflection
was on the fidelity of the foster father.

"The wild mountain heart is faithful and true. Yonder man is more like
the giants in romaunts than a man of mould like ourselves; and yet
Christians might take an example from him for his lealty. A simple
contrivance this, though, to finger a man from off their enemies'
chequer, as if there would not be twenty of the wildcats ready to supply
his place."

Thus thought the glover, not aware that the strictest proclamations
were issued, prohibiting any of the two contending clans, their friends,
allies, and dependants, from coming within fifty miles of Perth, during
a week before and a week after the combat, which regulation was to be
enforced by armed men.

So soon as our friend Simon arrived at the habitation of the herdsman,
he found other news awaiting him. They were brought by Father Clement,
who came in a pilgrim's cloak, or dalmatic, ready to commence his return
to the southward, and desirous to take leave of his companion in exile,
or to accept him as a travelling companion.

"But what," said the citizen, "has so suddenly induced you to return
within the reach of danger?"

"Have you not heard," said Father Clement, "that, March and his English
allies having retired into England before the Earl of Douglas, the good
earl has applied himself to redress the evils of the commonwealth, and
hath written to the court letters desiring that the warrant for the High
Court of Commission against heresy be withdrawn, as a trouble to men's
consciences, that the nomination of Henry of Wardlaw to be prelate of
St. Andrews be referred to the Parliament, with sundry other things
pleasing to the Commons? Now, most of the nobles that are with the King
at Perth, and with them Sir Patrick Charteris, your worthy provost, have
declared for the proposals of the Douglas. The Duke of Albany had agreed
to them--whether from goodwill or policy I know not. The good King is
easily persuaded to mild and gentle courses. And thus are the jaw
teeth of the oppressors dashed to pieces in their sockets, and the prey
snatched from their ravening talons. Will you with me to the Lowlands,
or do you abide here a little space?"

Neil Booshalloch saved his friend the trouble of reply.

"He had the chief's authority," he said, "for saying that Simon Glover
should abide until the champions went down to the battle."

In this answer the citizen saw something not quite consistent with his
own perfect freedom of volition; but he cared little for it at the
time, as it furnished a good apology for not travelling along with the
clergyman.

"An exemplary man," he said to his friend Niel Booshalloch, as soon as
Father Clement had taken leave--"a great scholar and a great saint. It
is a pity almost he is no longer in danger to be burned, as his sermon
at the stake would convert thousands. O Niel Booshalloch, Father
Clement's pile would be a sweet savouring sacrifice and a beacon to
all decent Christians! But what would the burning of a borrel ignorant
burgess like me serve? Men offer not up old glove leather for incense,
nor are beacons fed with undressed hides, I trow. Sooth to speak, I have
too little learning and too much fear to get credit by the affair, and,
therefore, I should, in our homely phrase, have both the scathe and the
scorn."

"True for you," answered the herdsman.



CHAPTER XXX.


     We must return to the characters of our dramatic narrative whom we
     left at Perth, when we accompanied the glover and his fair daughter
     to Kinfauns, and from that hospitable mansion traced the course of
     Simon to Loch Tay; and the Prince, as the highest personage, claims
     our immediate attention.

This rash and inconsiderate young man endured with some impatience his
sequestered residence with the Lord High Constable, with whose company,
otherwise in every respect satisfactory, he became dissatisfied, from
no other reason than that he held in some degree the character of his
warder. Incensed against his uncle and displeased with his father, he
longed, not unnaturally, for the society of Sir John Ramorny, on whom he
had been so long accustomed to throw himself for amusement, and, though
he would have resented the imputation as an insult, for guidance and
direction. He therefore sent him a summons to attend him, providing his
health permitted; and directed him to come by water to a little pavilion
in the High Constable's garden, which, like that of Sir John's own
lodgings, ran down to the Tay. In renewing an intimacy so dangerous,
Rothsay only remembered that he had been Sir Join Ramorny's munificent
friend; while Sir John, on receiving the invitation, only recollected,
on his part, the capricious insults he had sustained from his patron,
the loss of his hand, and the lightness with which he had treated the
subject, and the readiness with which Rothsay had abandoned his cause in
the matter of the bonnet maker's slaughter. He laughed bitterly when he
read the Prince's billet.

"Eviot," he said, "man a stout boat with six trusty men--trusty men,
mark me--lose not a moment, and bid Dwining instantly come hither.

"Heaven smiles on us, my trusty friend," he said to the mediciner. "I
was but beating my brains how to get access to this fickle boy, and here
he sends to invite me."

"Hem! I see the matter very clearly," said Dwining. "Heaven smiles on
some untoward consequences--he! he! he!"

"No matter, the trap is ready; and it is baited, too, my friend, with
what would lure the boy from a sanctuary, though a troop with drawn
weapons waited him in the churchyard. Yet is it scarce necessary.
His own weariness of himself would have done the job. Get thy matters
ready--thou goest with us. Write to him, as I cannot, that we come
instantly to attend his commands, and do it clerkly. He reads well, and
that he owes to me."

"He will be your valiancie's debtor for more knowledge before he
dies--he! he! he! But is your bargain sure with the Duke of Albany?"

"Enough to gratify my ambition, thy avarice, and the revenge of both.
Aboard--aboard, and speedily; let Eviot throw in a few flasks of the
choicest wine, and some cold baked meats."

"But your arm, my lord, Sir John? Does it not pain you?"

"The throbbing of my heart silences the pain of my wound. It beats as it
would burst my bosom."

"Heaven forbid!" said Dwining; adding, in a low voice--"It would be a
strange sight if it should. I should like to dissect it, save that its
stony case would spoil my best instruments."

In a few minutes they were in the boat, while a speedy messenger carried
the note to the Prince.

Rothsay was seated with the Constable, after their noontide repast. He
was sullen and silent; and the earl had just asked whether it was his
pleasure that the table should be cleared, when a note, delivered to the
Prince, changed at once his aspect.

"As you will," he said. "I go to the pavilion in the garden--always
with permission of my Lord Constable--to receive my late master of the
horse."

"My lord!" said Lord Errol.

"Ay, my lord; must I ask permission twice?"

"No, surely, my lord," answered the Constable; "but has your Royal
Highness recollected that Sir John Ramorny--"

"Has not the plague, I hope?" replied the Duke of Rothsay. "Come, Errol,
you would play the surly turnkey, but it is not in your nature; farewell
for half an hour."

"A new folly!" said Errol, as the Prince, flinging open a lattice of
the ground parlour in which they sat, stept out into the garden--"a new
folly, to call back that villain to his counsels. But he is infatuated."

The Prince, in the mean time, looked back, and said hastily:

"Your lordship's good housekeeping will afford us a flask or two of
wine and a slight collation in the pavilion? I love the al fresco of the
river."

The Constable bowed, and gave the necessary orders; so that Sir John
found the materials of good cheer ready displayed, when, landing from
his barge, he entered the pavilion.

"It grieves my heart to see your Highness under restraint," said
Ramorny, with a well executed appearance of sympathy.

"That grief of thine will grieve mine," said the Prince. "I am sure here
has Errol, and a right true hearted lord he is, so tired me with grave
looks, and something like grave lessons, that he has driven me back to
thee, thou reprobate, from whom, as I expect nothing good, I may perhaps
obtain something entertaining. Yet, ere we say more, it was foul work,
that upon the Fastern's Even, Ramorny. I well hope thou gavest not aim
to it."

"On my honour, my lord, a simple mistake of the brute Bonthron. I did
hint to him that a dry beating would be due to the fellow by whom I had
lost a hand; and lo you, my knave makes a double mistake. He takes one
man for another, and instead of the baton he uses the axe."

"It is well that it went no farther. Small matter for the bonnet maker;
but I had never forgiven you had the armourer fallen--there is not his
match in Britain. But I hope they hanged the villain high enough?"

"If thirty feet might serve," replied Ramorny.

"Pah! no more of him," said Rothsay; "his wretched name makes the good
wine taste of blood. And what are the news in Perth, Ramorny? How stands
it with the bona robas and the galliards?"

"Little galliardise stirring, my lord," answered the knight. "All eyes
are turned to the motions of the Black Douglas, who comes with five
thousand chosen men to put us all to rights, as if he were bound for
another Otterburn. It is said he is to be lieutenant again. It is
certain many have declared for his faction."

"It is time, then, my feet were free," said Rothsay, "otherwise I may
find a worse warder than Errol."

"Ah, my lord! were you once away from this place, you might make as bold
a head as Douglas."

"Ramorny," said the Prince, gravely, "I have but a confused remembrance
of your once having proposed something horrible to me. Beware of such
counsel. I would be free--I would have my person at my own disposal; but
I will never levy arms against my father, nor those it pleases him to
trust."

"It was only for your Royal Highness's personal freedom that I was
presuming to speak," answered Ramorny. "Were I in your Grace's place,
I would get me into that good boat which hovers on the Tay, and drop
quietly down to Fife, where you have many friends, and make free to take
possession of Falkland. It is a royal castle; and though the King has
bestowed it in gift on your uncle, yet surely, even if the grant were
not subject to challenge, your Grace might make free with the residence
of so near a relative."

"He hath made free with mine," said the Duke, "as the stewartry of
Renfrew can tell. But stay, Ramorny--hold; did I not hear Errol say
that the Lady Marjory Douglas, whom they call Duchess of Rothsay, is
at Falkland? I would neither dwell with that lady nor insult her by
dislodging her."

"The lady was there, my lord," replied Ramorny; "I have sure advice that
she is gone to meet her father."

"Ha! to animate the Douglas against me? or perhaps to beg him to spare
me, providing I come on my knees to her bed, as pilgrims say the emirs
and amirals upon whom a Saracen soldan bestows a daughter in marriage
are bound to do? Ramorny, I will act by the Douglas's own saying, 'It
is better to hear the lark sing than the mouse squeak.' I will keep both
foot and hand from fetters."

"No place fitter than Falkland," replied Ramorny. "I have enough of good
yeomen to keep the place; and should your Highness wish to leave it, a
brief ride reaches the sea in three directions."

"You speak well. But we shall die of gloom yonder. Neither mirth, music,
nor maidens--ha!" said the heedless Prince.

"Pardon me, noble Duke; but, though the Lady Marjory Douglas be
departed, like an errant dame in romance, to implore succour of her
doughty sire, there is, I may say, a lovelier, I am sure a younger,
maiden, either presently at Falkland or who will soon be on the road
thither. Your Highness has not forgotten the Fair Maid of Perth?"

"Forget the prettiest wench in Scotland! No--any more than thou hast
forgotten the hand that thou hadst in the Curfew Street onslaught on St.
Valentine's Eve."

"The hand that I had! Your Highness would say, the hand that I lost. As
certain as I shall never regain it, Catharine Glover is, or will soon
be, at Falkland. I will not flatter your Highness by saying she
expects to meet you; in truth, she proposes to place herself under the
protection of the Lady Marjory."

"The little traitress," said the Prince--"she too to turn against me?
She deserves punishment, Ramorny."

"I trust your Grace will make her penance a gentle one," replied the
knight.

"Faith, I would have been her father confessor long ago, but I have ever
found her coy."

"Opportunity was lacking, my lord," replied Ramorny; "and time presses
even now."

"Nay, I am but too apt for a frolic; but my father--"

"He is personally safe," said Ramorny, "and as much at freedom as ever
he can be; while your Highness--"

"Must brook fetters, conjugal or literal--I know it. Yonder comes
Douglas, with his daughter in his hand, as haughty and as harsh featured
as himself, bating touches of age."

"And at Falkland sits in solitude the fairest wench in Scotland," said
Ramorny. "Here is penance and restraint, yonder is joy and freedom."

"Thou hast prevailed, most sage counsellor," replied Rothsay; "but mark
you, it shall be the last of my frolics."

"I trust so," replied Ramorny; "for, when at liberty, you may make a
good accommodation with your royal father."

"I will write to him, Ramorny. Get the writing materials. No, I cannot
put my thoughts in words--do thou write."

"Your Royal Highness forgets," said Ramorny, pointing to his mutilated
arm.

"Ah! that cursed hand of yours. What can we do?"

"So please your Highness," answered his counsellor, "if you would use
the hand of the mediciner, Dwining--he writes like a clerk."

"Hath he a hint of the circumstances? Is he possessed of them?"

"Fully," said Ramorny; and, stepping to the window, he called Dwining
from the boat.

He entered the presence of the Prince of Scotland, creeping as if he
trode upon eggs, with downcast eyes, and a frame that seemed shrunk up
by a sense of awe produced by the occasion.

"There, fellow, are writing materials. I will make trial of you; thou
know'st the case--place my conduct to my father in a fair light."

Dwining sat down, and in a few minutes wrote a letter, which he handed
to Sir John Ramorny.

"Why, the devil has aided thee, Dwining," said the knight. "Listen, my
dear lord. 'Respected father and liege sovereign--Know that important
considerations induce me to take my departure from this your court,
purposing to make my abode at Falkland, both as the seat of my dearest
uncle Albany, with whom I know your Majesty would desire me to use all
familiarity, and as the residence of one from whom I have been too
long estranged, and with whom I haste to exchange vows of the closest
affection from henceforward.'"

The Duke of Rothsay and Ramorny laughed aloud; and the physician,
who had listened to his own scroll as if it were a sentence of death,
encouraged by their applause, raised his eyes, uttered faintly his
chuckling note of "He! he!" and was again grave and silent, as if afraid
he had transgressed the bounds of reverent respect.

"Admirable!" said the Prince--"admirable! The old man will apply
all this to the Duchess, as they call her, of Rothsay. Dwining, thou
shouldst be a secretis to his Holiness the Pope, who sometimes, it is
said, wants a scribe that can make one word record two meanings. I will
subscribe it, and have the praise of the device."

"And now, my lord," said Ramorny, sealing the letter and leaving it
behind, "will you not to boat?"

"Not till my chamberlain attends with some clothes and necessaries, and
you may call my sewer also."

"My lord," said Ramorny, "time presses, and preparation will but excite
suspicion. Your officers will follow with the mails tomorrow. For
tonight, I trust my poor service may suffice to wait on you at table and
chamber."

"Nay, this time it is thou who forgets," said the Prince, touching the
wounded arm with his walking rod. "Recollect, man, thou canst neither
carve a capon nor tie a point--a goodly sewer or valet of the mouth!"

Ramorny grinned with rage and pain; for his wound, though in a way of
healing, was still highly sensitive, and even the pointing a finger
towards it made him tremble.

"Will your Highness now be pleased to take boat?"

"Not till I take leave of the Lord Constable. Rothsay must not slip
away, like a thief from a prison, from the house of Errol. Summon him
hither."

"My Lord Duke," said Ramorny, "it may be dangerous to our plan."

"To the devil with danger, thy plan, and thyself! I must and will act to
Errol as becomes us both."

The earl entered, agreeable to the Prince's summons.

"I gave you this trouble, my lord," said Rothsay, with the dignified
courtesy which he knew so well how to assume, "to thank you for your
hospitality and your good company. I can enjoy them no longer, as
pressing affairs call me to Falkland."

"My lord," said the Lord High Constable, "I trust your Grace remembers
that you are--under ward."

"How!--under ward? If I am a prisoner, speak plainly; if not, I will
take my freedom to depart."

"I would, my lord, your Highness would request his Majesty's permission
for this journey. There will be much displeasure."

"Mean you displeasure against yourself, my lord, or against me?"

"I have already said your Highness lies in ward here; but if you
determine to break it, I have no warrant--God forbid--to put force on
your inclinations. I can but entreat your Highness, for your own sake--"

"Of my own interest I am the best judge. Good evening to you, my lord."

The wilful Prince stepped into the boat with Dwining and Ramorny, and,
waiting for no other attendance, Eviot pushed off the vessel, which
descended the Tay rapidly by the assistance of sail and oar and of the
ebb tide.

For some space the Duke of Rothsay appeared silent and moody, nor did
his companions interrupt his reflections. He raised his head at length
and said: "My father loves a jest, and when all is over he will take
this frolic at no more serious rate than it deserves--a fit of youth,
with which he will deal as he has with others. Yonder, my masters, shows
the old hold of Kinfauns, frowning above the Tay. Now, tell me, John
Ramorny, how thou hast dealt to get the Fair Maid of Perth out of the
hands of yonder bull headed provost; for Errol told me it was rumoured
that she was under his protection."

"Truly she was, my lord, with the purpose of being transferred to the
patronage of the Duchess--I mean of the Lady Marjory of Douglas. Now,
this beetle headed provost, who is after all but a piece of blundering
valiancy, has, like most such, a retainer of some slyness and cunning,
whom he uses in all his dealings, and whose suggestions he generally
considers as his own ideas. Whenever I would possess myself of a
landward baron, I address myself to such a confidant, who, in the
present case, is called Kitt Henshaw, an old skipper upon the Tay,
and who, having in his time sailed as far as Campvere, holds with Sir
Patrick Charteris the respect due to one who has seen foreign countries.
This his agent I have made my own, and by his means have insinuated
various apologies in order to postpone the departure of Catharine for
Falkland."

"But to what good purpose?"

"I know not if it is wise to tell your Highness, lest you should
disapprove of my views. I meant the officers of the Commission for
inquiry into heretical opinions should have found the Fair Maid at
Kinfauns, for our beauty is a peevish, self willed swerver from the
church; and certes, I designed that the knight should have come in
for his share of the fines and confiscations that were about to be
inflicted. The monks were eager enough to be at him, seeing he hath had
frequent disputes with them about the salmon tithe."

"But wherefore wouldst thou have ruined the knight's fortunes, and
brought the beautiful young woman to the stake, perchance?"

"Pshaw, my Lord Duke! monks never burn pretty maidens. An old woman
might have been in some danger; and as for my Lord Provost, as they call
him, if they had clipped off some of his fat acres, it would have
been some atonement for the needless brave he put on me in St. John's
church."

"Methinks, John, it was but a base revenge," said Rothsay.

"Rest ye contented, my lord. He that cannot right himself by the hand
must use his head. Well, that chance was over by the tender hearted
Douglas's declaring in favour of tender conscience; and then, my lord,
old Henshaw found no further objections to carrying the Fair Maid
of Perth to Falkland, not to share the dulness of the Lady Marjory's
society, as Sir Patrick Charteris and she herself doth opine, but to
keep your Highness from tiring when we return from hunting in the park."

There was again a long pause, in which the Prince seemed to muse deeply.
At length he spoke. "Ramorny, I have a scruple in this matter; but if I
name it to thee, the devil of sophistry, with which thou art possessed,
will argue it out of me, as it has done many others. This girl is the
most beautiful, one excepted, whom I ever saw or knew; and I like her
the more that she bears some features of--Elizabeth of Dunbar. But she,
I mean Catharine Glover, is contracted, and presently to be wedded, to
Henry the armourer, a craftsman unequalled for skill, and a man at arms
yet unmatched in the barrace. To follow out this intrigue would do a
good fellow too much wrong."

"Your Highness will not expect me to be very solicitous of Henry Smith's
interest," said Ramorny, looking at his wounded arm.

"By St. Andrew with his shored cross, this disaster of thine is too much
harped upon, John Ramorny! Others are content with putting a finger
into every man's pie, but thou must thrust in thy whole gory hand. It is
done, and cannot be undone; let it be forgotten."

"Nay, my lord, you allude to it more frequently than I," answered the
knight--"in derision, it is true; while I--but I can be silent on the
subject if I cannot forget it."

"Well, then, I tell thee that I have scruple about this intrigue. Dost
thou remember, when we went in a frolic to hear Father Clement preach,
or rather to see this fair heretic, that he spoke as touchingly as a
minstrel about the rich man taking away the poor man's only ewe lamb?"

"A great matter, indeed," answered Sir John, "that this churl's wife's
eldest son should be fathered by the Prince of Scotland! How many earls
would covet the like fate for their fair countesses? and how many that
have had such good luck sleep not a grain the worse for it?"

"And if I might presume to speak," said the mediciner, "the ancient
laws of Scotland assigned such a privilege to every feudal lord over his
female vassals, though lack of spirit and love of money hath made many
exchange it for gold."

"I require no argument to urge me to be kind to a pretty woman; but this
Catharine has been ever cold to me," said the Prince.

"Nay, my lord," said Ramorny, "if, young, handsome, and a prince, you
know not how to make yourself acceptable to a fine woman, it is not for
me to say more."

"And if it were not far too great audacity in me to speak again, I would
say," quoth the leech, "that all Perth knows that the Gow Chrom never
was the maiden's choice, but fairly forced upon her by her father. I
know for certain that she refused him repeatedly."

"Nay, if thou canst assure us of that, the case is much altered," said
Rothsay. "Vulcan was a smith as well as Harry Wynd; he would needs wed
Venus, and our chronicles tell us what came of it."

"Then long may Lady Venus live and be worshipped," said Sir John
Ramorny, "and success to the gallant knight Mars who goes a-wooing to
her goddess-ship!"

The discourse took a gay and idle turn for a few minutes; but the Duke
of Rothsay soon dropped it. "I have left," he said, "yonder air of the
prison house behind me, and yet my spirits scarce revive. I feel that
drowsy, not unpleasing, yet melancholy mood that comes over us when
exhausted by exercise or satiated with pleasure. Some music now,
stealing on the ear, yet not loud enough to make us lift the eye, were a
treat for the gods."

"Your Grace has but to speak your wishes, and the nymphs of the Tay are
as favourable as the fair ones upon the shore. Hark! it is a lute."

"A lute!" said the Duke of Rothsay, listening; "it is, and rarely
touched. I should remember that dying fall. Steer towards the boat from
whence the music comes."

"It is old Henshaw," said Ramorny, "working up the stream. How,
skipper!"

The boatman answered the hail, and drew up alongside of the Prince's
barge.

"Oh, ho! my old friend!" said the Prince, recognising the figure as well
as the appointments of the French glee woman, Louise. "I think I owe
thee something for being the means of thy having a fright, at least,
upon St. Valentine's Day. Into this boat with thee, lute, puppy dog,
scrip and all; I will prefer thee to a lady's service who shall feed thy
very cur on capons and canary."

"I trust your Highness will consider--" said Ramorny.

"I will consider nothing but my pleasure, John. Pray, do thou be so
complying as to consider it also."

"Is it indeed to a lady's service you would promote me?" said the glee
maiden. "And where does she dwell?"

"At Falkland," answered the Prince.

"Oh, I have heard of that great lady!" said Louise; "and will you indeed
prefer me to your right royal consort's service?"

"I will, by my honour--whenever I receive her as such. Mark that
reservation, John," said he aside to Ramorny.

The persons who were in the boat caught up the tidings, and, concluding
a reconciliation was about to take place betwixt the royal couple,
exhorted Louise to profit by her good fortune, and add herself to the
Duchess of Rothsay's train. Several offered her some acknowledgment for
the exercise of her talents.

During this moment of delay, Ramorny whispered to Dwining: "Make in,
knave, with some objection. This addition is one too many. Rouse thy
wits, while I speak a word with Henshaw."

"If I might presume to speak," said Dwining, "as one who have made
my studies both in Spain and Arabia, I would say, my lord, that the
sickness has appeared in Edinburgh, and that there may be risk in
admitting this young wanderer into your Highness's vicinity."

"Ah! and what is it to thee," said Rothsay, "whether I choose to be
poisoned by the pestilence or the 'pothecary? Must thou, too, needs
thwart my humour?"

While the Prince thus silenced the remonstrances of Dwining, Sir John
Ramorny had snatched a moment to learn from Henshaw that the removal of
the Duchess of Rothsay from Falkland was still kept profoundly secret,
and that Catharine Glover would arrive there that evening or the
next morning, in expectation of being taken under the noble lady's
protection.

The Duke of Rothsay, deeply plunged in thought, received this intimation
so coldly, that Ramorny took the liberty of remonstrating. "This, my
lord," he said, "is playing the spoiled child of fortune. You wish for
liberty; it comes. You wish for beauty; it awaits you, with just so much
delay as to render the boon more precious. Even your slightest desires
seem a law to the Fates; for you desire music when it seems most
distant, and the lute and song are at your hand. These things, so sent,
should be enjoyed, else we are but like petted children, who break and
throw from them the toys they have wept themselves sick for."

"To enjoy pleasure, Ramorny," said the Prince, "a man should have
suffered pain, as it requires fasting to gain a good appetite. We, who
can have all for a wish, little enjoy that all when we have possessed
it. Seest thou yonder thick cloud, which is about to burst to rain? It
seems to stifle me--the waters look dark and lurid--the shores have lost
their beautiful form--"

"My lord, forgive your servant," said Ramorny. "You indulge a powerful
imagination, as an unskilful horseman permits a fiery steed to rear
until he falls back on his master and crushes him. I pray you shake off
this lethargy. Shall the glee maiden make some music?"

"Let her; but it must be melancholy: all mirth would at this moment jar
on my ear."

The maiden sung a melancholy dirge in Norman French; the words, of which
the following is an imitation, were united to a tune as doleful as they
are themselves:

     Yes, thou mayst sigh,
     And look once more at all around,
     At stream and bank, and sky and ground.
     Thy life its final course has found,
     And thou must die.

     Yes, lay thee down,
     And while thy struggling pulses flutter,
     Bid the grey monk his soul mass mutter,
     And the deep bell its death tone utter--
     Thy life is gone.

     Be not afraid.
     'Tis but a pang, and then a thrill,
     A fever fit, and then a chill,
     And then an end of human ill,
     For thou art dead.

The Prince made no observation on the music; and the maiden, at
Ramorny's beck, went on from time to time with her minstrel craft, until
the evening sunk down into rain, first soft and gentle, at length in
great quantities, and accompanied by a cold wind. There was neither
cloak nor covering for the Prince, and he sullenly rejected that which
Ramorny offered.

"It is not for Rothsay to wear your cast garments, Sir John; this melted
snow, which I feel pierce me to the very marrow, I am now encountering
by your fault. Why did you presume to put off the boat without my
servants and apparel?"

Ramorny did not attempt an exculpation; for he knew the Prince was in
one of those humours, when to enlarge upon a grievance was more pleasing
to him than to have his mouth stopped by any reasonable apology. In
sullen silence, or amid unsuppressed chiding, the boat arrived at the
fishing village of Newburgh. The party landed, and found horses in
readiness, which, indeed, Ramorny had long since provided for the
occasion. Their quality underwent the Prince's bitter sarcasm, expressed
to Ramorny sometimes by direct words, oftener by bitter gibes. At length
they were mounted and rode on through the closing night and the falling
rain, the Prince leading the way with reckless haste. The glee maiden,
mounted by his express order, attended them and well for her that,
accustomed to severe weather, and exercise both on foot and horseback,
she supported as firmly as the men the fatigues of the nocturnal ride.
Ramorny was compelled to keep at the Prince's rein, being under no small
anxiety lest, in his wayward fit, he might ride off from him entirely,
and, taking refuge in the house of some loyal baron, escape the snare
which was spread for him. He therefore suffered inexpressibly during the
ride, both in mind and in body.

At length the forest of Falkland received them, and a glimpse of the
moon showed the dark and huge tower, an appendage of royalty itself,
though granted for a season to the Duke of Albany. On a signal given the
drawbridge fell. Torches glared in the courtyard, menials attended,
and the Prince, assisted from horseback, was ushered into an apartment,
where Ramorny waited on him, together with Dwining, and entreated him
to take the leech's advice. The Duke of Rothsay repulsed the proposal,
haughtily ordered his bed to be prepared, and having stood for some time
shivering in his dank garments beside a large blazing fire, he retired
to his apartment without taking leave of anyone.

"You see the peevish humour of this childish boy, now," said Ramorny to
Dwining; "can you wonder that a servant who has done so much for him as
I have should be tired of such a master?"

"No, truly," said Dwining, "that and the promised earldom of Lindores
would shake any man's fidelity. But shall we commence with him this
evening? He has, if eye and cheek speak true, the foundation of a fever
within him, which will make our work easy while it will seem the effect
of nature."

"It is an opportunity lost," said Ramorny; "but we must delay our blow
till he has seen this beauty, Catharine Glover. She may be hereafter a
witness that she saw him in good health, and master of his own motions,
a brief space before--you understand me?"

Dwining nodded assent, and added:

"There is no time lost; for there is little difficulty in blighting a
flower exhausted from having been made to bloom too soon."



CHAPTER XXXI.

     Ah, me! in sooth he was a shameless wight,
     Sore given to revel and ungodly glee:
     Few earthly things found favour in his sight,
     Save concubines and carnal companie,
     And flaunting wassailers of high and low degree.

     BYRON.


With the next morning the humour of the Duke of Rothsay was changed.
He complained, indeed, of pain and fever, but they rather seemed to
stimulate than to overwhelm him. He was familiar with Ramorny, and
though he said nothing on the subject of the preceding night, it was
plain he remembered what he desired to obliterate from the memory of his
followers--the ill humour he had then displayed. He was civil to every
one, and jested with Ramorny on the subject of Catharine's arrival.

"How surprised will the pretty prude be at seeing herself in a family
of men, when she expects to be admitted amongst the hoods and pinners
of Dame Marjory's waiting women! Thou hast not many of the tender sex in
thy household, I take it, Ramorny?"

"Faith, none except the minstrel wench, but a household drudge or two
whom we may not dispense with. By the way, she is anxiously inquiring
after the mistress your Highness promised to prefer her to. Shall I
dismiss her, to hunt for her new mistress at leisure?"

"By no means, she will serve to amuse Catharine. And, hark you, were it
not well to receive that coy jillet with something of a mumming?"

"How mean you, my lord?"

"Thou art dull, man. We will not disappoint her, since she expects
to find the Duchess of Rothsay: I will be Duke and Duchess in my own
person."

"Still I do not comprehend."

"No one so dull as a wit," said the Prince, "when he does not hit off
the scent at once. My Duchess, as they call her, has been in as great a
hurry to run away from Falkland as I to come hither. We have both left
our apparel behind. There is as much female trumpery in the wardrobe
adjoining to my sleeping room as would equip a whole carnival. Look you,
I will play Dame Marjory, disposed on this day bed here with a mourning
veil and a wreath of willow, to show my forsaken plight; thou, John,
wilt look starch and stiff enough for her Galwegian maid of honour,
the Countess Hermigild; and Dwining shall present the old Hecate, her
nurse--only she hath more beard on her upper lip than Dwining on his
whole face, and skull to boot. He should have the commodity of a beard
to set her forth conformably. Get thy kitchen drudges, and what passable
pages thou hast with thee, to make my women of the bedroom. Hearest
thou? about it instantly."

Ramorny hasted into the anteroom, and told Dwining the Prince's device.

"Do thou look to humour the fool," he said; "I care not how little I see
him, knowing what is to be done."

"Trust all to me," said the physician, shrugging his shoulders. "What
sort of a butcher is he that can cut the lamb's throat, yet is afraid to
hear it bleat?"

"Tush, fear not my constancy: I cannot forget that he would have cast
me into the cloister with as little regard as if he threw away the
truncheon of a broken lance. Begone--yet stay; ere you go to arrange
this silly pageant, something must be settled to impose on the thick
witted Charteris. He is like enough, should he be left in the belief
that the Duchess of Rothsay is still here, and Catharine Glover in
attendance on her, to come down with offers of service, and the like,
when, as I need scarce tell thee, his presence would be inconvenient.
Indeed, this is the more likely, that some folks have given a warmer
name to the iron headed knight's great and tender patronage of this
damsel."

"With that hint, let me alone to deal with him. I will send him such a
letter, that for this month he shall hold himself as ready for a journey
to hell as to Falkland. Can you tell me the name of the Duchess's
confessor?"

"Waltheof, a grey friar."

"Enough--then here I start."

In a few minutes, for he was a clerk of rare celerity, Dwining finished
a letter, which he placed in Ramorny's hand.

"This is admirable, and would have made thy fortune with Rothsay. I
think I should have been too jealous to trust thee in his household,
save that his day is closed."

"Read it aloud," said Dwining, "that we may judge if it goes trippingly
off."

And Ramorny read as follows: "By command of our high and mighty Princess
Marjory, Duchess of Rothsay, and so forth, we Waltheof, unworthy brother
of the order of St. Francis, do thee, Sir Patrick Charteris, knight of
Kinfauns, to know, that her Highness marvels much at the temerity with
which you have sent to her presence a woman of whose fame she can judge
but lightly, seeing she hath made her abode, without any necessity,
for more than a week in thine own castle, without company of any other
female, saving menials; of which foul cohabitation the savour is gone
up through Fife, Angus, and Perthshire. Nevertheless, her Highness,
considering the ease as one of human frailty, hath not caused this
wanton one to be scourged with nettles, or otherwise to dree penance;
but, as two good brethren of the convent of Lindores, the Fathers
Thickskull and Dundermore, have been summoned up to the Highlands upon
an especial call, her Highness hath committed to their care this maiden
Catharine, with charge to convey her to her father, whom she states
to be residing beside Loch Tay, under whose protection she will find
a situation more fitting her qualities and habits than the Castle of
Falkland, while her Highness the Duchess of Rothsay abides there. She
hath charged the said reverend brothers so to deal with the young woman
as may give her a sense of the sin of incontinence, and she commendeth
thee to confession and penitence.--Signed, Waltheof, by command of an
high and mighty Princess"; and so forth.

When he had finished, "Excellent--excellent!" Ramorny exclaimed. "This
unexpected rebuff will drive Charteris mad! He hath been long making
a sort of homage to this lady, and to find himself suspected of
incontinence, when he was expecting the full credit of a charitable
action, will altogether confound him; and, as thou say'st, it will be
long enough ere he come hither to look after the damsel or do honour
to the dame. But away to thy pageant, while I prepare that which shall
close the pageant for ever."

It was an hour before noon, when Catharine, escorted by old Henshaw and
a groom of the Knight of Kinfauns, arrived before the lordly tower of
Falkland. The broad banner which was displayed from it bore the arms
of Rothsay, the servants who appeared wore the colours of the Prince's
household, all confirming the general belief that the Duchess still
resided there. Catharine's heart throbbed, for she had heard that
the Duchess had the pride as well as the high courage of the house
of Douglas, and felt uncertain touching the reception she was to
experience. On entering the castle, she observed that the train was
smaller than she had expected, but, as the Duchess lived in close
retirement, she was little surprised at this. In a species of anteroom
she was met by a little old woman, who seemed bent double with age, and
supported herself upon an ebony staff.

"Truly thou art welcome, fair daughter," said she, saluting Catharine,
"and, as I may say, to an afflicted house; and I trust (once more
saluting her) thou wilt be a consolation to my precious and right royal
daughter the Duchess. Sit thee down, my child, till I see whether my
lady be at leisure to receive thee. Ah, my child, thou art very lovely
indeed, if Our Lady hath given to thee a soul to match with so fair a
body."

With that the counterfeit old woman crept into the next apartment,
where she found Rothsay in the masquerading habit he had prepared, and
Ramorny, who had evaded taking part in the pageant, in his ordinary
attire.

"Thou art a precious rascal, sir doctor," said the Prince; "by my
honour, I think thou couldst find in thy heart to play out the whole
play thyself, lover's part and all."

"If it were to save your Highness trouble," said the leech, with his
usual subdued laugh.

"No--no," said Rothsay, "I never need thy help, man; and tell me now,
how look I, thus disposed on the couch--languishing and ladylike, ha?"

"Something too fine complexioned and soft featured for the Lady Marjory
of Douglas, if I may presume to say so," said the leech.

"Away, villain, and marshal in this fair frost piece--fear not she will
complain of my effeminacy; and thou, Ramorny, away also."

As the knight left the apartment by one door, the fictitious old woman
ushered in Catharine Glover by another. The room had been carefully
darkened to twilight, so that Catharine saw the apparently female figure
stretched on the couch without the least suspicion.

"Is that the maiden?" asked Rothsay, in a voice naturally sweet, and now
carefully modulated to a whispering tone. "Let her approach, Griselda,
and kiss our hand."

The supposed nurse led the trembling maiden forward to the side of the
couch, and signed to her to kneel. Catharine did so, and kissed with
much devotion and simplicity the gloved hand which the counterfeit
duchess extended to her.

"Be not afraid," said the same musical voice; "in me you only see a
melancholy example of the vanity of human greatness; happy those, my
child, whose rank places them beneath the storms of state."

While he spoke, he put his arms around her neck and drew her towards
him, as if to salute her in token of welcome. But the kiss was bestowed
with an earnestness which so much overacted the part of the fair
patroness, that Catharine, concluding the Duchess had lost her senses,
screamed aloud.

"Peace, fool! it is I--David of Rothsay."

Catharine looked around her; the nurse was gone, and the Duke tearing
off his veil, she saw herself in the power of a daring young libertine.

"Now be present with me, Heaven!" she said; "and Thou wilt, if I forsake
not myself."

As this resolution darted through her mind, she repressed her
disposition to scream, and, as far as she might, strove to conceal her
fear.

"The jest hath been played," she said, with as much firmness as she
could assume; "may I entreat that your Highness will now unhand me?" for
he still kept hold of her arm.

"Nay, my pretty captive, struggle not--why should you fear?"

"I do not struggle, my lord. As you are pleased to detain me, I will
not, by striving, provoke you to use me ill, and give pain to yourself,
when you have time to think."

"Why, thou traitress, thou hast held me captive for months," said the
Prince, "and wilt thou not let me hold thee for a moment?"

"This were gallantry, my lord, were it in the streets of Perth, where I
might listen or escape as I listed; it is tyranny here."

"And if I did let thee go, whither wouldst thou fly?" said Rothsay.
"The bridges are up, the portcullis down, and the men who follow me are
strangely deaf to a peevish maiden's squalls. Be kind, therefore, and
you shall know what it is to oblige a prince."

"Unloose me, then, my lord, and hear me appeal from thyself to thyself,
from Rothsay to the Prince of Scotland. I am the daughter of an humble
but honest citizen. I am, I may well nigh say, the spouse of a brave and
honest man. If I have given your Highness any encouragement for what you
have done, it has been unintentional. Thus forewarned, I entreat you to
forego your power over me, and suffer me to depart. Your Highness can
obtain nothing from me, save by means equally unworthy of knighthood or
manhood."

"You are bold, Catharine," said the Prince, "but neither as a knight
nor a man can I avoid accepting a defiance. I must teach you the risk of
such challenges."

While he spoke, he attempted to throw his arms again around her; but she
eluded his grasp, and proceeded in the same tone of firm decision.

"My strength, my lord, is as great to defend myself in an honourable
strife as yours can be to assail me with a most dishonourable purpose.
Do not shame yourself and me by putting it to the combat. You may stun
me with blows, or you may call aid to overpower me; but otherwise you
will fail of your purpose."

"What a brute you would make me!" said the Prince. "The force I would
use is no more than excuses women in yielding to their own weakness."

He sat down in some emotion.

"Then keep it," said Catharine, "for those women who desire such an
excuse. My resistance is that of the most determined mind which love
of honour and fear of shame ever inspired. Alas! my lord, could you
succeed, you would but break every bond between me and life, between
yourself and honour. I have been trained fraudulently here, by what
decoys I know not; but were I to go dishonoured hence, it would be to
denounce the destroyer of my happiness to every quarter of Europe.
I would take the palmer's staff in my hand, and wherever chivalry is
honoured, or the word Scotland has been heard, I would proclaim the heir
of a hundred kings, the son of the godly Robert Stuart, the heir of
the heroic Bruce, a truthless, faithless man, unworthy of the crown he
expects and of the spurs he wears. Every lady in wide Europe would hold
your name too foul for her lips; every worthy knight would hold you
a baffled, forsworn caitiff, false to the first vow of arms, the
protection of woman and the defence of the feeble."

Rothsay resumed his seat, and looked at her with a countenance in which
resentment was mingled with admiration. "You forget to whom you speak,
maiden. Know, the distinction I have offered you is one for which
hundreds whose trains you are born to bear would feel gratitude."

"Once more, my lord," resumed Catharine, "keep these favours for those
by whom they are prized; or rather reserve your time and your health
for other and nobler pursuits--for the defence of your country and
the happiness of your subjects. Alas, my lord, how willingly would an
exulting people receive you for their chief! How gladly would they close
around you, did you show desire to head them against the oppression of
the mighty, the violence of the lawless, the seduction of the vicious,
and the tyranny of the hypocrite!"

The Duke of Rothsay, whose virtuous feelings were as easily excited
as they were evanescent, was affected by the enthusiasm with which she
spoke. "Forgive me if I have alarmed you, maiden," he said "thou art
too noble minded to be the toy of passing pleasure, for which my mistake
destined thee; and I, even were thy birth worthy of thy noble spirit and
transcendent beauty, have no heart to give thee; for by the homage of
the heart only should such as thou be wooed. But my hopes have been
blighted, Catharine: the only woman I ever loved has been torn from me
in the very wantonness of policy, and a wife imposed on me whom I must
ever detest, even had she the loveliness and softness which alone can
render a woman amiable in my eyes. My health is fading even in early
youth; and all that is left for me is to snatch such flowers as the
short passage from life to the grave will now present. Look at my hectic
cheek; feel, if you will, my intermitting pulse; and pity me and excuse
me if I, whose rights as a prince and as a man have been trampled upon
and usurped, feel occasional indifference towards the rights of others,
and indulge a selfish desire to gratify the wish of the passing moment."

"Oh, my lord!" exclaimed Catharine, with the enthusiasm which belonged
to her character--"I will call you my dear lord, for dear must the heir
of Bruce be to every child of Scotland--let me not, I pray, hear you
speak thus! Your glorious ancestor endured exile, persecution, the night
of famine, and the day of unequal combat, to free his country; do you
practise the like self denial to free yourself. Tear yourself from those
who find their own way to greatness smoothed by feeding your follies.
Distrust yon dark Ramorny! You know it not, I am sure--you could not
know; but the wretch who could urge the daughter to courses of shame by
threatening the life of the aged father is capable of all that is vile,
all that is treacherous!"

"Did Ramorny do this?" said the Prince.

"He did indeed, my lord, and he dares not deny it."

"It shall be looked to," answered the Duke of Rothsay. "I have ceased
to love him; but he has suffered much for my sake, and I must see his
services honourably requited."

"His services! Oh, my lord, if chronicles speak true, such services
brought Troy to ruins and gave the infidels possession of Spain."

"Hush, maiden--speak within compass, I pray you," said the Prince,
rising up; "our conference ends here."

"Yet one word, my Lord Duke of Rothsay," said Catharine, with animation,
while her beautiful countenance resembled that of an admonitory angel.
"I cannot tell what impels me to speak thus boldly; but the fire burns
within me, and will break out. Leave this castle without an hour's
delay; the air is unwholesome for you. Dismiss this Ramorny before the
day is ten minutes older; his company is most dangerous."

"What reason have you for saying this?"

"None in especial," answered Catharine, abashed at her own
eagerness--"none, perhaps, excepting my fears for your safety."

"To vague fears the heir of Bruce must not listen. What, ho! who waits
without?"

Ramorny entered, and bowed low to the Duke and to the maiden, whom,
perhaps, he considered as likely to be preferred to the post of
favourite sultana, and therefore entitled to a courteous obeisance.

"Ramorny," said the Prince, "is there in the household any female of
reputation who is fit to wait on this young woman till we can send her
where she may desire to go?"

"I fear," replied Ramorny, "if it displease not your Highness to hear
the truth, your household is indifferently provided in that way; and
that, to speak the very verity, the glee maiden is the most decorous
amongst us."

"Let her wait upon this young person, then, since better may not be. And
take patience, maiden, for a few hours."

Catharine retired.

"So, my lord, part you so soon from the Fair Maid of Perth? This is,
indeed, the very wantonness of victory."

"There is neither victory nor defeat in the case," returned the Prince,
drily. "The girl loves me not; nor do I love her well enough to torment
myself concerning her scruples."

"The chaste Malcolm the Maiden revived in one of his descendants!" said
Ramorny.

"Favour me, sir, by a truce to your wit, or by choosing a different
subject for its career. It is noon, I believe, and you will oblige me by
commanding them to serve up dinner."

Ramorny left the room; but Rothsay thought he discovered a smile upon
his countenance, and to be the subject of this man's satire gave him no
ordinary degree of pain. He summoned, however, the knight to his table,
and even admitted Dwining to the same honour. The conversation was of
a lively and dissolute cast, a tone encouraged by the Prince, as if
designing to counterbalance the gravity of his morals in the morning,
which Ramorny, who was read in old chronicles, had the boldness to liken
to the continence of Scipio.

The banquet, nothwithstanding the Duke's indifferent health, was
protracted in idle wantonness far beyond the rules of temperance; and,
whether owing simply to the strength of the wine which he drank, or the
weakness of his constitution, or, as it is probable, because the last
wine which he quaffed had been adulterated by Dwining, it so happened
that the Prince, towards the end of the repast, fell into a lethargic
sleep, from which it seemed impossible to rouse him. Sir John Ramorny
and Dwining carried him to his chamber, accepting no other assistance
than that of another person, whom we will afterwards give name to.

Next morning, it was announced that the Prince was taken ill of
an infectious disorder; and, to prevent its spreading through the
household, no one was admitted to wait on him save his late master of
horse, the physician Dwining, and the domestic already mentioned; one of
whom seemed always to remain in the apartment, while the others observed
a degree of precaution respecting their intercourse with the rest of the
family, so strict as to maintain the belief that he was dangerously ill
of an infectious disorder.



CHAPTER XXXII.

     In winter's tedious nights, sit by the fire,
     With good old folks, and let them tell thee tales
     Of woeful ages, long ago betid:
     And, ere thou bid goodnight, to quit their grief,
     Tell thou the lamentable fall of me.

     King Richard II Act V. Scene I.


Far different had been the fate of the misguided heir of Scotland from
that which was publicly given out in the town of Falkland. His ambitious
uncle had determined on his death, as the means of removing the first
and most formidable barrier betwixt his own family and the throne.
James, the younger son of the King, was a mere boy, who might at more
leisure be easily set aside. Ramorny's views of aggrandisement, and the
resentment which he had latterly entertained against his masters made
him a willing agent in young Rothsay's destruction. Dwining's love of
gold, and his native malignity of disposition, rendered him equally
forward. It had been resolved, with the most calculating cruelty,
that all means which might leave behind marks of violence were to be
carefully avoided, and the extinction of life suffered to take place
of itself by privation of every kind acting upon a frail and impaired
constitution. The Prince of Scotland was not to be murdered, as Ramorny
had expressed himself on another occasion, he was only to cease to
exist. Rothsay's bedchamber in the Tower of Falkland was well adapted
for the execution of such a horrible project. A small, narrow staircase,
scarce known to exist, opened from thence by a trapdoor to the
subterranean dungeons of the castle, through a passage by which
the feudal lord was wont to visit, in private and in disguise, the
inhabitants of those miserable regions. By this staircase the villains
conveyed the insensible Prince to the lowest dungeon of the castle,
so deep in the bowels of the earth, that no cries or groans, it was
supposed, could possibly be heard, while the strength of its door and
fastenings must for a long time have defied force, even if the entrance
could have been discovered. Bonthron, who had been saved from the
gallows for the purpose, was the willing agent of Ramorny's unparalleled
cruelty to his misled and betrayed patron.

This wretch revisited the dungeon at the time when the Prince's lethargy
began to wear off, and when, awaking to sensation, he felt himself
deadly cold, unable to move, and oppressed with fetters, which scarce
permitted him to stir from the dank straw on which he was laid. His
first idea was that he was in a fearful dream, his next brought a
confused augury of the truth. He called, shouted, yelled at length in
frenzy but no assistance came, and he was only answered by the vaulted
roof of the dungeon. The agent of hell heard these agonizing screams,
and deliberately reckoned them against the taunts and reproaches with
which Rothsay had expressed his instinctive aversion to him. When,
exhausted and hopeless, the unhappy youth remained silent, the savage
resolved to present himself before the eyes of his prisoner. The locks
were drawn, the chain fell; the Prince raised himself as high as his
fetters permitted; a red glare, against which he was fain to shut his
eyes, streamed through the vault; and when he opened them again, it was
on the ghastly form of one whom he had reason to think dead. He sunk
back in horror.

"I am judged and condemned," he exclaimed, "and the most abhorred fiend
in the infernal regions is sent to torment me!"

"I live, my lord," said Bonthron; "and that you may live and enjoy life,
be pleased to sit up and eat your victuals."

"Free me from these irons," said the Prince, "release me from this
dungeon, and, dog as thou art, thou shalt be the richest man in
Scotland."

"If you would give me the weight of your shackles in gold," said
Bonthron, "I would rather see the iron on you than have the treasure
myself! But look up; you were wont to love delicate fare--behold how I
have catered for you."

The wretch, with fiendish glee, unfolded a piece of rawhide covering the
bundle which he bore under' his arm, and, passing the light to and fro
before it, showed the unhappy Prince a bull's head recently hewn from
the trunk, and known in Scotland as the certain signal of death. He
placed it at the foot of the bed, or rather lair, on which the Prince
lay.

"Be moderate in your food," he said; "it is like to be long ere thou
getst another meal."

"Tell me but one thing, wretch," said the Prince. "Does Ramorny know of
this practice?"

"How else hadst thou been decoyed hither? Poor woodcock, thou art
snared!" answered the murderer.

With these words, the door shut, the bolts resounded, and the unhappy
Prince was left to darkness, solitude, and misery. "Oh, my father!--my
prophetic father! The staff I leaned on has indeed proved a spear!"

We will not dwell on the subsequent hours, nay, days, of bodily agony
and mental despair.

But it was not the pleasure of Heaven that so great a crime should be
perpetrated with impunity.

Catharine Glover and the glee woman, neglected by the other inmates,
who seemed to be engaged with the tidings of the Prince's illness, were,
however, refused permission to leave the castle until it should be seen
how this alarming disease was to terminate, and whether it was actually
an infectious sickness. Forced on each other's society, the two desolate
women became companions, if not friends; and the union drew somewhat
closer when Catharine discovered that this was the same female minstrel
on whose account Henry Wynd had fallen under her displeasure. She now
heard his complete vindication, and listened with ardour to the praises
which Louise heaped on her gallant protector. On the other hand, the
minstrel, who felt the superiority of Catharine's station and character,
willingly dwelt upon a theme which seemed to please her, and recorded
her gratitude to the stout smith in the little song of "Bold and True,"
which was long a favourite in Scotland.

     Oh, bold and true,
     In bonnet blue,
     That fear or falsehood never knew,
     Whose heart was loyal to his word,
     Whose hand was faithful to his sword--
     Seek Europe wide from sea to sea,
     But bonny blue cap still for me!

     I've seen Almain's proud champions prance,
     Have seen the gallant knights of France,
     Unrivall'd with the sword and lance,
     Have seen the sons of England true,
     Wield the brown bill and bend the yew.
     Search France the fair, and England free,
     But bonny blue cap still for me!

In short, though Louise's disreputable occupation would have been in
other circumstances an objection to Catharine's voluntarily frequenting
her company, yet, forced together as they now were, she found her a
humble and accommodating companion.

They lived in this manner for four or five days, and, in order to avoid
as much as possible the gaze, and perhaps the incivility, of the menials
in the offices, they prepared their food in their own apartment. In the
absolutely necessary intercourse with domestics, Louise, more accustomed
to expedients, bolder by habit, and desirous to please Catharine,
willingly took on herself the trouble of getting from the pantler the
materials of their slender meal, and of arranging it with the dexterity
of her country.

The glee woman had been abroad for this purpose upon the sixth day, a
little before noon; and the desire of fresh air, or the hope to find
some sallad or pot herbs, or at least an early flower or two, with which
to deck their board, had carried her into the small garden appertaining
to the castle. She re-entered her apartment in the tower with a
countenance pale as ashes, and a frame which trembled like an aspen
leaf. Her terror instantly extended itself to Catharine, who could
hardly find words to ask what new misfortune had occurred.

"Is the Duke of Rothsay dead?"

"Worse! they are starving him alive."

"Madness, woman!"

"No--no--no--no!" said Louise, speaking under her breath, and huddling
her words so thick upon each other that Catharine could hardly catch
the sense. "I was seeking for flowers to dress your pottage, because
you said you loved them yesterday; my poor little dog, thrusting himself
into a thicket of yew and holly bushes that grow out of some old ruins
close to the castle wall, came back whining and howling. I crept forward
to see what might be the cause--and, oh! I heard a groaning as of one
in extreme pain, but so faint, that it seemed to arise out of the very
depth of the earth. At length, I found it proceeded from a small rent in
the wall, covered with ivy; and when I laid my ear close to the opening,
I could hear the Prince's voice distinctly say, 'It cannot now last
long'--and then it sunk away in something like a prayer."

"Gracious Heaven! did you speak to him?"

"I said, 'Is it you, my lord?' and the answer was, 'Who mocks me with
that title?' I asked him if I could help him, and he answered with a
voice I shall never forget, 'Food--food! I die of famine!' So I came
hither to tell you. What is to be done? Shall we alarm the house?"

"Alas! that were more likely to destroy than to aid," said Catharine.

"And what then shall we do?" said Louise.

"I know not yet," said Catharine, prompt and bold on occasions of
moment, though yielding to her companion in ingenuity of resource on
ordinary occasions: "I know not yet, but something we will do: the blood
of Bruce shall not die unaided."

So saying, she seized the small cruise which contained their soup, and
the meat of which it was made, wrapped some thin cakes which she had
baked into the fold of her plaid, and, beckoning her companion to follow
with a vessel of milk, also part of their provisions, she hastened
towards the garden.

"So, our fair vestal is stirring abroad?" said the only man she met, who
was one of the menials; but Catharine passed on without notice or reply,
and gained the little garden without farther interruption.

Louise indicated to her a heap of ruins, which, covered with underwood,
was close to the castle wall. It had probably been originally a
projection from the building; and the small fissure, which communicated
with the dungeon, contrived for air, had terminated within it. But the
aperture had been a little enlarged by decay, and admitted a dim ray of
light to its recesses, although it could not be observed by those who
visited the place with torchlight aids.

"Here is dead silence," said Catharine, after she had listened
attentively for a moment. "Heaven and earth, he is gone!"

"We must risk something," said her companion, and ran her fingers over
the strings of her guitar.

A sigh was the only answer from the depth of the dungeon. Catharine then
ventured to speak. "I am here, my lord--I am here, with food and drink."

"Ha! Ramorny! The jest comes too late; I am dying," was the answer.

"His brain is turned, and no wonder," thought Catharine; "but whilst
there is life, there may be hope."

"It is I, my lord, Catharine Glover. I have food, if I could pass it
safely to you."

"Heaven bless thee, maiden! I thought the pain was over, but it glows
again within me at the name of food."

"The food is here, but how--ah, how can I pass it to you? the chink
is so narrow, the wall is so thick! Yet there is a remedy--I have it.
Quick, Louise; cut me a willow bough, the tallest you can find."

The glee maiden obeyed, and, by means of a cleft in the top of the
wand, Catharine transmitted several morsels of the soft cakes, soaked in
broth, which served at once for food and for drink.

The unfortunate young man ate little, and with difficulty, but prayed
for a thousand blessings on the head of his comforter. "I had destined
thee to be the slave of my vices," he said, "and yet thou triest to
become the preserver of my life! But away, and save thyself."

"I will return with food as I shall see opportunity," said Catharine,
just as the glee maiden plucked her sleeve and desired her to be silent
and stand close.

Both crouched among the ruins, and they heard the voices of Ramorny and
the mediciner in close conversation.

"He is stronger than I thought," said the former, in a low, croaking
tone. "How long held out Dalwolsy, when the knight of Liddesdale
prisoned him in his castle of Hermitage?"

"For a fortnight," answered Dwining; "but he was a strong man, and had
some assistance by grain which fell from a granary above his prison
house."

"Were it not better end the matter more speedily? The Black Douglas
comes this way. He is not in Albany's secret. He will demand to see the
Prince, and all must be over ere he comes."

They passed on in their dark and fatal conversation.

"Now gain we the tower," said Catharine to her companion, when she saw
they had left the garden. "I had a plan of escape for myself; I will
turn it into one of rescue for the Prince. The dey woman enters the
castle about vesper time, and usually leaves her cloak in the passage as
she goes into the pantlers' office with the milk. Take thou the cloak,
muffle thyself close, and pass the warder boldly; he is usually drunken
at that hour, and thou wilt go as the dey woman unchallenged through
gate and along bridge, if thou bear thyself with confidence. Then away
to meet the Black Douglas; he is our nearest and only aid."

"But," said Louise, "is he not that terrible lord who threatened me with
shame and punishment?"

"Believe it," said Catharine, "such as thou or I never dwelt an hour in
the Douglas's memory, either for good or evil. Tell him that his son in
law, the Prince of Scotland dies--treacherously famished--in Falkland
Castle, and thou wilt merit not pardon only, but reward."

"I care not for reward," said Louise; "the deed will reward itself. But
methinks to stay is more dangerous than to go. Let me stay, then, and
nourish the unhappy Prince, and do you depart to bring help. If they
kill me before you return, I leave you my poor lute, and pray you to be
kind to my poor Charlot."

"No, Louise," replied Catharine, "you are a more privileged and
experienced wanderer than I--do you go; and if you find me dead on your
return, as may well chance, give my poor father this ring and a lock of
my hair, and say, Catharine died in endeavouring to save the blood of
Bruce. And give this other lock to Henry; say, Catharine thought of him
to the last, and that, if he has judged her too scrupulous touching the
blood of others, he will then know it was not because she valued her
own."

They sobbed in each other's arms, and the intervening hours till evening
were spent in endeavouring to devise some better mode of supplying the
captive with nourishment, and in the construction of a tube, composed
of hollow reeds, slipping into each other, by which liquids might be
conveyed to him. The bell of the village church of Falkland tolled to
vespers. The dey, or farm woman, entered with her pitchers to deliver
the milk for the family, and to hear and tell the news stirring. She had
scarcely entered the kitchen when the female minstrel, again throwing
herself in Catharine's arms, and assuring her of her unalterable
fidelity, crept in silence downstairs, the little dog under her arm. A
moment after, she was seen by the breathless Catharine, wrapt in the dey
woman's cloak, and walking composedly across the drawbridge.

"So," said the warder, "you return early tonight, May Bridget? Small
mirth towards in the hall--ha, wench! Sick times are sad times!"

"I have forgotten my tallies," said the ready witted French woman, "and
will return in the skimming of a bowie."

She went onward, avoiding the village of Falkland, and took a footpath
which led through the park. Catharine breathed freely, and blessed God
when she saw her lost in the distance. It was another anxious hour
for Catharine which occurred before the escape of the fugitive was
discovered. This happened so soon as the dey girl, having taken an hour
to perform a task which ten minutes might have accomplished, was about
to return, and discovered that some one had taken away her grey frieze
cloak. A strict search was set on foot; at length the women of the
house remembered the glee maiden, and ventured to suggest her as one not
unlikely to exchange an old cloak for a new one. The warder, strictly
questioned, averred he saw the dey woman depart immediately after
vespers; and on this being contradicted by the party herself, he could
suggest, as the only alternative, that it must needs have been the
devil.

As, however, the glee woman could not be found, the real circumstances
of the case were easily guessed at; and the steward went to inform Sir
John Ramorny and Dwining, who were now scarcely ever separate, of
the escape of one of their female captives. Everything awakens the
suspicions of the guilty. They looked on each other with faces of
dismay, and then went together to the humble apartment of Catharine,
that they might take her as much as possible by surprise while they
inquired into the facts attending Louise's disappearance.

"Where is your companion, young woman?" said Ramorny, in a tone of
austere gravity.

"I have no companion here," answered Catharine.

"Trifle not," replied the knight; "I mean the glee maiden, who lately
dwelt in this chamber with you."

"She is gone, they tell me," said Catharine--"gone about an hour since."

"And whither?" said Dwining.

"How," answered Catharine, "should I know which way a professed wanderer
may choose to travel? She was tired no doubt of a solitary life, so
different from the scenes of feasting and dancing which her trade leads
her to frequent. She is gone, and the only wonder is that she should
have stayed so long."

"This, then," said Ramorny, "is all you have to tell us?"

"All that I have to tell you, Sir John," answered Catharine, firmly;
"and if the Prince himself inquire, I can tell him no more."

"There is little danger of his again doing you the honour to speak to
you in person," said Ramorny, "even if Scotland should escape being
rendered miserable by the sad event of his decease."

"Is the Duke of Rothsay so very ill?" asked Catharine.

"No help, save in Heaven," answered Ramorny, looking upward.

"Then may there yet be help there," said Catharine, "if human aid prove
unavailing!"

"Amen!" said Ramorny, with the most determined gravity; while Dwining
adopted a face fit to echo the feeling, though it seemed to cost him
a painful struggle to suppress his sneering yet soft laugh of triumph,
which was peculiarly excited by anything having a religious tendency.

"And it is men--earthly men, and not incarnate devils, who thus appeal
to Heaven, while they are devouring by inches the life blood of their
hapless master!" muttered Catharine, as her two baffled inquisitors left
the apartment. "Why sleeps the thunder? But it will roll ere long, and
oh! may it be to preserve as well as to punish!"

The hour of dinner alone afforded a space when, all in the castle being
occupied with that meal, Catharine thought she had the best opportunity
of venturing to the breach in the wall, with the least chance of being
observed. In waiting for the hour, she observed some stir in the castle,
which had been silent as the grave ever since the seclusion of the Duke
of Rothsay. The portcullis was lowered and raised, and the creaking of
the machinery was intermingled with the tramp of horse, as men at arms
went out and returned with steeds hard ridden and covered with foam. She
observed, too, that such domestics as she casually saw from her window
were in arms. All this made her heart throb high, for it augured the
approach of rescue; and besides, the bustle left the little garden more
lonely than ever. At length the hour of noon arrived; she had taken care
to provide, under pretence of her own wishes, which the pantler seemed
disposed to indulge, such articles of food as could be the most easily
conveyed to the unhappy captive. She whispered to intimate her presence;
there was no answer; she spoke louder, still there was silence.

"He sleeps," she muttered these words half aloud, and with a shuddering
which was succeeded by a start and a scream, when a voice replied behind
her:

"Yes, he sleeps; but it is for ever."

She looked round. Sir John Ramorny stood behind her in complete armour,
but the visor of his helmet was up, and displayed a countenance more
resembling one about to die than to fight. He spoke with a grave tone,
something between that of a calm observer of an interesting event and of
one who is an agent and partaker in it.

"Catharine," he said, "all is true which I tell you. He is dead. You
have done your best for him; you can do no more."

"I will not--I cannot believe it," said Catharine. "Heaven be merciful
to me! it would make one doubt of Providence, to think so great a crime
has been accomplished."

"Doubt not of Providence, Catharine, though it has suffered the
profligate to fall by his own devices. Follow me; I have that to say
which concerns you. I say follow (for she hesitated), unless you prefer
being left to the mercies of the brute Bonthron and the mediciner
Henbane Dwining."

"I will follow you," said Catharine. "You cannot do more to me than you
are permitted."

He led the way into the tower, and mounted staircase after staircase and
ladder after ladder.

Catharine's resolution failed her. "I will follow no farther," she said.
"Whither would you lead me? If to my death, I can die here."

"Only to the battlements of the castle, fool," said Ramorny, throwing
wide a barred door which opened upon the vaulted roof of the castle,
where men were bending mangonels, as they called them (military engines,
that is, for throwing arrows or stones), getting ready crossbows, and
piling stones together. But the defenders did not exceed twenty in
number, and Catharine thought she could observe doubt and irresolution
amongst them.

"Catharine," said Ramorny, "I must not quit this station, which is
necessary for my defence; but I can speak with you here as well as
elsewhere."

"Say on," answered Catharine, "I am prepared to hear you."

"You have thrust yourself, Catharine, into a bloody secret. Have you the
firmness to keep it?"

"I do not understand you, Sir John," answered the maiden.

"Look you. I have slain--murdered, if you will--my late master, the Duke
of Rothsay. The spark of life which your kindness would have fed
was easily smothered. His last words called on his father. You are
faint--bear up--you have more to hear. You know the crime, but you know
not the provocation. See! this gauntlet is empty; I lost my right hand
in his cause, and when I was no longer fit to serve him, I was cast off
like a worn out hound, my loss ridiculed, and a cloister recommended,
instead of the halls and palaces in which I had my natural sphere! Think
on this--pity and assist me."

"In what manner can you require my assistance?" said the trembling
maiden; "I can neither repair your loss nor cancel your crime."

"Thou canst be silent, Catharine, on what thou hast seen and heard in
yonder thicket. It is but a brief oblivion I ask of you, whose word
will, I know, be listened to, whether you say such things were or were
not. That of your mountebank companion, the foreigner, none will hold
to be of a pin point's value. If you grant me this, I will take your
promise for my security, and throw the gate open to those who now
approach it. If you will not promise silence, I defend this castle till
every one perishes, and I fling you headlong from these battlements.
Ay, look at them--it is not a leap to be rashly braved. Seven courses of
stairs brought you up hither with fatigue and shortened breath; but you
shall go from the top to the bottom in briefer time than you can breathe
a sigh! Speak the word, fair maid; for you speak to one unwilling to
harm you, but determined in his purpose."

Catharine stood terrified, and without power of answering a man who
seemed so desperate; but she was saved the necessity of reply by the
approach of Dwining. He spoke with the same humble conges which at all
times distinguished his manner, and with his usual suppressed ironical
sneer, which gave that manner the lie.

"I do you wrong, noble sir, to intrude on your valiancie when engaged
with a fair damsel. But I come to ask a trifling question."

"Speak, tormentor!" said Ramorny; "ill news are sport to thee even when
they affect thyself, so that they concern others also."

"Hem!--he, he!--I only desired to know if your knighthood proposed the
chivalrous task of defending the castle with your single hand--I crave
pardon, I meant your single arm? The question is worth asking, for I
am good for little to aid the defence, unless you could prevail on the
besiegers to take physic--he, he, he!--and Bonthron is as drunk as ale
and strong waters can make him; and you, he, and I make up the whole
garrison who are disposed for resistance."

"How! Will the other dogs not fight?" said Ramorny.

"Never saw men who showed less stomach to the work," answered
Dwining--"never. But here come a brace of them. Venit extrema dies. He,
he, he!"

Eviot and his companion Buncle now approached, with sullen resolution
in their faces, like men who had made their minds up to resist that
authority which they had so long obeyed.

"How now!" said Ramorny, stepping forward to meet them. "Wherefore from
your posts? Why have you left the barbican, Eviot? And you other fellow,
did I not charge you to look to the mangonels?"

"We have something to tell you, Sir John Ramorny," answered Eviot. "We
will not fight in this quarrel."

"How--my own squires control me?" exclaimed Ramorny.

"We were your squires and pages, my lord, while you were master of the
Duke of Rothsay's household. It is bruited about the Duke no longer
lives; we desire to know the truth."

"What traitor dares spread such falsehoods?" said Ramorny.

"All who have gone out to skirt the forest, my lord, and I myself among
others, bring back the same news. The minstrel woman who left the castle
yesterday has spread the report everywhere that the Duke of Rothsay
is murdered, or at death's door. The Douglas comes on us with a strong
force--"

"And you, cowards, take advantage of an idle report to forsake your
master?" said Ramorny, indignantly.

"My lord," said Eviot, "let Buncle and myself see the Duke of Rothsay,
and receive his personal orders for defence of this castle, and if we do
not fight to the death in that quarrel, I will consent to be hanged on
its highest turret. But if he be gone by natural disease, we will yield
up the castle to the Earl of Douglas, who is, they say, the King's
lieutenant. Or if--which Heaven forefend!--the noble Prince has had
foul play, we will not involve ourselves in the guilt of using arms in
defence of the murderers, be they who they will."

"Eviot," said Ramorny, raising his mutilated arm, "had not that glove
been empty, thou hadst not lived to utter two words of this insolence."

"It is as it is," answered Evict, "and we do but our duty. I have
followed you long, my lord, but here I draw bridle."

"Farewell, then, and a curse light on all of you!" exclaimed the
incensed baron. "Let my horse be brought forth!"

"Our valiancie is about to run away," said the mediciner, who had crept
close to Catharine's side before she was aware. "Catharine, thou art a
superstitious fool, like most women; nevertheless thou hast some mind,
and I speak to thee as one of more understanding than the buffaloes
which are herding about us. These haughty barons who overstride the
world, what are they in the day of adversity? Chaff before the wind. Let
their sledge hammer hands or their column resembling legs have injury,
and bah! the men at arms are gone. Heart and courage is nothing to
them, lith and limb everything: give them animal strength, what are they
better than furious bulls; take that away, and your hero of chivalry
lies grovelling like the brute when he is hamstrung. Not so the sage;
while a grain of sense remains in a crushed or mutilated frame, his mind
shall be strong as ever. Catharine, this morning I was practising your
death; but methinks I now rejoice that you may survive to tell how the
poor mediciner, the pill gilder, the mortar pounder, the poison vender,
met his fate, in company with the gallant Knight of Ramorny, Baron in
possession and Earl of Lindores in expectation--God save his lordship!"

"Old man," said Catharine, "if thou be indeed so near the day of thy
deserved doom, other thoughts were far wholesomer than the vainglorious
ravings of a vain philosophy. Ask to see a holy man--"

"Yes," said Dwining, scornfully, "refer myself to a greasy monk, who
does not--he! he! he!--understand the barbarous Latin he repeats by
rote. Such would be a fitting counsellor to one who has studied both
in Spain and Arabia! No, Catharine, I will choose a confessor that is
pleasant to look upon, and you shall be honoured with the office. Now,
look yonder at his valiancie, his eyebrow drops with moisture, his lip
trembles with agony; for his valiancie--he! he! he!--is pleading for his
life with his late domestics, and has not eloquence enough to persuade
them to let him slip. See how the fibres of his face work as he implores
the ungrateful brutes, whom he has heaped with obligations, to permit
him to get such a start for his life as the hare has from the greyhounds
when men course her fairly. Look also at the sullen, downcast, dogged
faces with which, fluctuating between fear and shame, the domestic
traitors deny their lord this poor chance for his life. These things
thought themselves the superior of a man like me! and you, foolish
wench, think so meanly of your Deity as to suppose wretches like them
are the work of Omnipotence!"

"No! man of evil--no!" said Catharine, warmly; "the God I worship
created these men with the attributes to know and adore Him, to guard
and defend their fellow creatures, to practise holiness and virtue.
Their own vices, and the temptations of the Evil One, have made them
such as they now are. Oh, take the lesson home to thine own heart of
adamant! Heaven made thee wiser than thy fellows, gave thee eyes to look
into the secrets of nature, a sagacious heart, and a skilful hand; but
thy pride has poisoned all these fair gifts, and made an ungodly atheist
of one who might have been a Christian sage!"

"Atheist, say'st thou?" answered Dwining. "Perhaps I have doubts on that
matter--but they will be soon solved. Yonder comes one who will send
me, as he has done thousands, to the place where all mysteries shall be
cleared."

Catharine followed the mediciner's eye up one of the forest glades, and
beheld it occupied by a body of horsemen advancing at full gallop. In
the midst was a pennon displayed, which, though its bearings were not
visible to Catharine, was, by a murmur around, acknowledged as that of
the Black Douglas. They halted within arrow shot of the castle, and a
herald with two trumpets advanced up to the main portal, where, after a
loud flourish, he demanded admittance for the high and dreaded Archibald
Earl of Douglas, Lord Lieutenant of the King, and acting for the time
with the plenary authority of his Majesty; commanding, at the same time,
that the inmates of the castle should lay down their arms, all under
penalty of high treason.

"You hear?" said Eviot to Ramorny, who stood sullen and undecided. "Will
you give orders to render the castle, or must I?"

"No, villain!" interrupted the knight, "to the last I will command you.
Open the gates, drop the bridge, and render the castle to the Douglas."

"Now, that's what may be called a gallant exertion of free will," said
Dwining. "Just as if the pieces of brass that were screaming a minute
since should pretend to call those notes their own which are breathed
through them by a frowsy trumpeter."

"Wretched man!" said Catharine, "either be silent or turn thy thoughts
to the eternity on the brink of which thou art standing."

"And what is that to thee?" answered Dwining. "Thou canst not, wench,
help hearing what I say to thee, and thou wilt tell it again, for thy
sex cannot help that either. Perth and all Scotland shall know what a
man they have lost in Henbane Dwining!"

The clash of armour now announced that the newcomers had dismounted and
entered the castle, and were in the act of disarming the small garrison.
Earl Douglas himself appeared on the battlements, with a few of his
followers, and signed to them to take Ramorny and Dwining into custody.
Others dragged from some nook the stupefied Bonthron.

"It was to these three that the custody of the Prince was solely
committed daring his alleged illness?" said the Douglas, prosecuting an
inquiry which he had commenced in the hall of the castle.

"No other saw him, my lord," said Eviot, "though I offered my services."

"Conduct us to the Duke's apartment, and bring the prisoners with
us. Also should there be a female in the castle, if she hath not been
murdered or spirited away--the companion of the glee maiden who brought
the first alarm."

"She is here, my lord," said Eviot, bringing Catharine forward.

Her beauty and her agitation made some impression even upon the
impassible Earl.

"Fear nothing, maiden," he said; "thou hast deserved both praise and
reward. Tell to me, as thou wouldst confess to Heaven, the things thou
hast witnessed in this castle."

Few words served Catharine to unfold the dreadful story.

"It agrees," said the Douglas, "with the tale of the glee maiden, from
point to point. Now show us the Prince's apartment."

They passed to the room which the unhappy Duke of Rothsay had been
supposed to inhabit; but the key was not to be found, and the Earl could
only obtain entrance by forcing the door. On entering, the wasted and
squalid remains of the unhappy Prince were discovered, flung on the bed
as if in haste. The intention of the murderers had apparently been to
arrange the dead body so as to resemble a timely parted corpse, but they
had been disconcerted by the alarm occasioned by the escape of Louise.
Douglas looked on the body of the misguided youth, whose wild passions
and caprices had brought him to this fatal and premature catastrophe.

"I had wrongs to be redressed," he said; "but to see such a sight as
this banishes all remembrance of injury!"

"He! he! It should have been arranged," said Dwining, "more to your
omnipotence's pleasure; but you came suddenly on us, and hasty masters
make slovenly service."

Douglas seemed not to hear what his prisoner said, so closely did he
examine the wan and wasted features, and stiffened limbs, of the dead
body before him. Catharine, overcome by sickness and fainting, at length
obtained permission to retire from the dreadful scene, and, through
confusion of every description, found her way to her former apartment,
where she was locked in the arms of Louise, who had returned in the
interval.

The investigations of Douglas proceeded. The dying hand of the Prince
was found to be clenched upon a lock of hair, resembling, in colour and
texture, the coal black bristles of Bonthron. Thus, though famine had
begun the work, it would seem that Rothsay's death had been finally
accomplished by violence. The private stair to the dungeon, the keys of
which were found at the subaltern assassin's belt, the situation of the
vault, its communication with the external air by the fissure in the
walls, and the wretched lair of straw, with the fetters which remained
there, fully confirmed the story of Catharine and of the glee woman.

"We will not hesitate an instant," said the Douglas to his near kinsman,
the Lord Balveny, as soon as they returned from the dungeon. "Away with
the murderers! hang them over the battlements."

"But, my lord, some trial may be fitting," answered Balveny.

"To what purpose?" answered, Douglas. "I have taken them red hand; my
authority will stretch to instant execution. Yet stay--have we not some
Jedwood men in our troop?"

"Plenty of Turnbulls, Rutherfords, Ainslies, and so forth," said
Balveny.

"Call me an inquest of these together; they are all good men and true,
saving a little shifting for their living. Do you see to the execution
of these felons, while I hold a court in the great hall, and we'll try
whether the jury or the provost marshal do their work first; we will
have Jedwood justice--hang in haste and try at leisure."

"Yet stay, my lord," said Ramorny, "you may rue your haste--will you
grant me a word out of earshot?"

"Not for worlds!" said Douglas; "speak out what thou hast to say before
all that are here present."

"Know all; then," said Ramorny, aloud, "that this noble Earl had letters
from the Duke of Albany and myself, sent him by the hand of yon cowardly
deserter, Buncle--let him deny it if he dare--counselling the removal
of the Duke for a space from court, and his seclusion in this Castle of
Falkland."

"But not a word," replied Douglas, sternly smiling, "of his being flung
into a dungeon--famished--strangled. Away with the wretches, Balveny,
they pollute God's air too long!"

The prisoners were dragged off to the battlements. But while the means
of execution were in the act of being prepared, the apothecary expressed
so ardent a desire to see Catharine once more, and, as he said, for
the good of his soul, that the maiden, in hopes his obduracy might have
undergone some change even at the last hour, consented again to go
to the battlements, and face a scene which her heart recoiled from.
A single glance showed her Bonthron, sunk in total and drunken
insensibility; Ramorny, stripped of his armour, endeavouring in vain to
conceal fear, while he spoke with a priest, whose good offices he had
solicited; and Dwining, the same humble, obsequious looking, crouching
individual she had always known him. He held in his hand a little silver
pen, with which he had been writing on a scrap of parchment.

"Catharine," he said--"he, he, he!--I wish to speak to thee on the
nature of my religious faith."

"If such be thy intention, why lose time with me? Speak with this good
father."

"The good father," said Dwining, "is--he, he!--already a worshipper of
the deity whom I have served. I therefore prefer to give the altar of
mine idol a new worshipper in thee, Catharine. This scrap of parchment
will tell thee how to make your way into my chapel, where I have
worshipped so often in safety. I leave the images which it contains to
thee as a legacy, simply because I hate and contemn thee something less
than any of the absurd wretches whom I have hitherto been obliged to
call fellow creatures. And now away--or remain and see if the end of the
quacksalver belies his life."

"Our Lady forbid!" said Catharine.

"Nay," said the mediciner, "I have but a single word to say, and yonder
nobleman's valiancie may hear it if he will."

Lord Balveny approached, with some curiosity; for the undaunted
resolution of a man who never wielded sword or bore armour and was in
person a poor dwindled dwarf, had to him an air of something resembling
sorcery."

"You see this trifling implement," said the criminal, showing the
silver pen. "By means of this I can escape the power even of the Black
Douglas."

"Give him no ink nor paper," said Balveny, hastily, "he will draw a
spell."

"Not so, please your wisdom and valiancie--he, he, he!" said Dwining
with his usual chuckle, as he unscrewed the top of the pen, within which
was a piece of sponge or some such substance, no bigger than a pea.

"Now, mark this--" said the prisoner, and drew it between his lips.
The effect was instantaneous. He lay a dead corpse before them, the
contemptuous sneer still on his countenance.

Catharine shrieked and fled, seeking, by a hasty descent, an escape from
a sight so appalling. Lord Balveny was for a moment stupified, and then
exclaimed, "This may be glamour! hang him over the battlements, quick
or dead. If his foul spirit hath only withdrawn for a space, it shall
return to a body with a dislocated neck."

His commands were obeyed. Ramorny and Bonthron were then ordered for
execution. The last was hanged before he seemed quite to comprehend what
was designed to be done with him. Ramorny, pale as death, yet with
the same spirit of pride which had occasioned his ruin, pleaded his
knighthood, and demanded the privilege of dying by decapitation by the
sword, and not by the noose.

"The Douglas never alters his doom," said Balveny. "But thou shalt have
all thy rights. Send the cook hither with a cleaver."

The menial whom he called appeared at his summons.

"What shakest thou for, fellow?" said Balveny; "here, strike me this
man's gilt spurs from his heels with thy cleaver. And now, John Ramorny,
thou art no longer a knight, but a knave. To the halter with him,
provost marshal! hang him betwixt his companions, and higher than them
if it may be."

In a quarter of an hour afterwards, Balveny descended to tell the
Douglas that the criminals were executed.

"Then there is no further use in the trial," said the Earl. "How say
you, good men of inquest, were these men guilty of high treason--ay or
no?"

"Guilty," exclaimed the obsequious inquest, with edifying unanimity, "we
need no farther evidence."

"Sound trumpets, and to horse then, with our own train only; and let
each man keep silence on what has chanced here, until the proceedings
shall be laid before the King, which cannot conveniently be till the
battle of Palm Sunday shall be fought and ended. Select our attendants,
and tell each man who either goes with us or remains behind that he who
prates dies."

In a few minutes the Douglas was on horseback, with the followers
selected to attend his person. Expresses were sent to his daughter, the
widowed Duchess of Rothsay, directing her to take her course to Perth,
by the shores of Lochleven, without approaching Falkland, and committing
to her charge Catharine Glover and the glee woman, as persons whose
safety he tendered.

As they rode through the forest, they looked back, and beheld the three
bodies hanging, like specks darkening the walls of the old castle.

"The hand is punished," said Douglas, "but who shall arraign the head by
whose direction the act was done?"

"You mean the Duke of Albany?" said Balveny.

"I do, kinsman; and were I to listen to the dictates of my heart, I
would charge him with the deed, which I am certain he has authorised.
But there is no proof of it beyond strong suspicion, and Albany has
attached to himself the numerous friends of the house of Stuart, to
whom, indeed, the imbecility of the King and the ill regulated habits
of Rothsay left no other choice of a leader. Were I, therefore, to break
the bond which I have so lately formed with Albany, the consequence
must be civil war, an event ruinous to poor Scotland while threatened
by invasion from the activity of the Percy, backed by the treachery
of March. No, Balveny, the punishment of Albany must rest with Heaven,
which, in its own good time, will execute judgment on him and on his
house."



CHAPTER XXXIII.

     The hour is nigh: now hearts beat high;
     Each sword is sharpen'd well;
     And who dares die, who stoops to fly,
     Tomorrow's light shall tell.

     Sir Edwald.


We are now to recall to our reader's recollection, that Simon Glover and
his fair daughter had been hurried from their residence without having
time to announce to Henry Smith either their departure or the alarming
cause of it. When, therefore, the lover appeared in Curfew Street, on
the morning of their flight, instead of the hearty welcome of the honest
burgher, and the April reception, half joy half censure, which he had
been promised on the part of his lovely daughter, he received only the
astounding intelligence, that her father and she had set off early, on
the summons of a stranger, who had kept himself carefully muffled from
observation. To this, Dorothy, whose talents for forestalling evil, and
communicating her views of it, are known to the reader, chose to add,
that she had no doubt her master and young mistress were bound for the
Highlands, to avoid a visit which had been made since their departure by
two or three apparitors, who, in the name of a Commission appointed by
the King, had searched the house, put seals upon such places as were
supposed to contain papers, and left citations for father and daughter
to appear before the Court of Commission, on a day certain, under pain
of outlawry. All these alarming particulars Dorothy took care to state
in the gloomiest colours, and the only consolation which she afforded
the alarmed lover was, that her master had charged her to tell him to
reside quietly at Perth, and that he should soon hear news of them. This
checked the smith's first resolve, which was to follow them instantly to
the Highlands, and partake the fate which they might encounter.

But when he recollected his repeated feuds with divers of the Clan
Quhele, and particularly his personal quarrel with Conachar, who was now
raised to be a high chief, he could not but think, on reflection, that
his intrusion on their place of retirement was more likely to disturb
the safety which they might otherwise enjoy there than be of any service
to them. He was well acquainted with Simon's habitual intimacy with
the chief of the Clan Quhele, and justly augured that the glover would
obtain protection, which his own arrival might be likely to disturb,
while his personal prowess could little avail him in a quarrel with
a whole tribe of vindictive mountaineers. At the same time his heart
throbbed with indignation, when he thought of Catharine being within the
absolute power of young Conachar, whose rivalry he could not doubt, and
who had now so many means of urging his suit. What if the young chief
should make the safety of the father depend on the favour of the
daughter? He distrusted not Catharine's affections, but then her mode
of thinking was so disinterested, and her attachment to her father so
tender, that, if the love she bore her suitor was weighed against his
security, or perhaps his life, it was matter of deep and awful doubt
whether it might not be found light in the balance. Tormented by
thoughts on which we need not dwell, he resolved nevertheless to
remain at home, stifle his anxiety as he might, and await the promised
intelligence from the old man. It came, but it did not relieve his
concern.

Sir Patrick Charteris had not forgotten his promise to communicate to
the smith the plans of the fugitives. But, amid the bustle occasioned by
the movement of troops, he could not himself convey the intelligence.
He therefore entrusted to his agent, Kitt Henshaw, the task of making it
known. But this worthy person, as the reader knows, was in the interest
of Ramorny, whose business it was to conceal from every one, but
especially from a lover so active and daring as Henry, the real place of
Catharine's residence. Henshaw therefore announced to the anxious smith
that his friend the glover was secure in the Highlands; and though he
affected to be more reserved on the subject of Catharine, he said little
to contradict the belief that she as well as Simon shared the protection
of the Clan Quhele. But he reiterated, in the name of Sir Patrick,
assurances that father and daughter were both well, and that Henry would
best consult his own interest and their safety by remaining quiet and
waiting the course of events.

With an agonized heart, therefore, Henry Gow determined to remain quiet
till he had more certain intelligence, and employed himself in finishing
a shirt of mail, which he intended should be the best tempered and the
most finely polished that his skilful hands had ever executed. This
exercise of his craft pleased him better than any other occupation which
he could have adopted, and served as an apology for secluding himself
in his workshop, and shunning society, where the idle reports which were
daily circulated served only to perplex and disturb him. He resolved to
trust in the warm regard of Simon, the faith of his daughter, and the
friendship of the provost, who, having so highly commended his valour
in the combat with Bonthron, would never, he thought, desert him at this
extremity of his fortunes. Time, however, passed on day by day; and
it was not till Palm Sunday was near approaching, that Sir Patrick
Charteris, having entered the city to make some arrangements for the
ensuing combat, bethought himself of making a visit to the Smith of the
Wynd.

He entered his workshop with an air of sympathy unusual to him, and
which made Henry instantly augur that he brought bad news. The smith
caught the alarm, and the uplifted hammer was arrested in its descent
upon the heated iron, while the agitated arm that wielded it, strong
before as that of a giant, became so powerless, that it was with
difficulty Henry was able to place the weapon on the ground, instead of
dropping it from his hand.

"My poor Henry," said Sir Patrick, "I bring you but cold news; they are
uncertain, however, and, if true, they are such as a brave man like you
should not take too deeply to heart."

"In God's name, my lord," said Henry, "I trust you bring no evil news of
Simon Glover or his daughter?"

"Touching themselves," said Sir Patrick, "no: they are safe and well.
But as to thee, Henry, my tidings are more cold. Kitt Henshaw has, I
think, apprised thee that I had endeavoured to provide Catharine Glover
with a safe protection in the house of an honourable lady, the Duchess
of Rothsay. But she hath declined the charge, and Catharine hath been
sent to her father in the Highlands. What is worst is to come. Thou
mayest have heard that Gilchrist MacIan is dead, and that his son
Eachin, who was known in Perth as the apprentice of old Simon, by the
name of Conachar, is now the chief of Clan Quhele; and I heard from one
of my domestics that there is a strong rumour among the MacIans that the
young chief seeks the hand of Catharine in marriage. My domestic learned
this--as a secret, however--while in the Breadalbane country, on some
arrangements touching the ensuing combat. The thing is uncertain but,
Henry, it wears a face of likelihood."

"Did your lordship's servant see Simon Glover and his daughter?" said
Henry, struggling for breath, and coughing, to conceal from the provost
the excess of his agitation.

"He did not," said Sir Patrick; "the Highlanders seemed jealous, and
refused to permit him to speak to the old man, and he feared to alarm
them by asking to see Catharine. Besides, he talks no Gaelic, nor had
his informer much English, so there may be some mistake in the matter.
Nevertheless, there is such a report, and I thought it best to tell it
you. But you may be well assured that the wedding cannot go on till the
affair of Palm Sunday be over; and I advise you to take no step till we
learn the circumstances of the matter, for certainty is most desirable,
even when it is painful. Go you to the council house," he added, after a
pause, "to speak about the preparations for the lists in the North Inch?
You will be welcome there."

"No, my good lord."

"Well, Smith, I judge by your brief answer that you are discomposed with
this matter; but, after all, women are weathercocks, that is the truth
on't. Solomon and others have proved it before you."

And so Sir Patrick Charteris retired, fully convinced he had discharged
the office of a comforter in the most satisfactory manner.

With very different impressions did the unfortunate lover regard the
tidings and listen to the consoling commentary.

"The provost," he said bitterly to himself, "is an excellent man; marry,
he holds his knighthood so high, that, if he speaks nonsense, a poor man
must hold it sense, as he must praise dead ale if it be handed to him
in his lordship's silver flagon. How would all this sound in another
situation? Suppose I were rolling down the steep descent of the
Corrichie Dhu, and before I came to the edge of the rock, comes my Lord
Provost, and cries: 'Henry, there is a deep precipice, and I grieve to
say you are in the fair way of rolling over it. But be not downcast,
for Heaven may send a stone or a bush to stop your progress. However, I
thought it would be comfort to you to know the worst, which you will
be presently aware of. I do not know how many hundred feet deep the
precipice descends, but you may form a judgment when you are at the
bottom, for certainty is certainty. And hark ye! when come you to take
a game at bowls?' And this gossip is to serve instead of any friendly
attempt to save the poor wight's neck! When I think of this, I could go
mad, seize my hammer, and break and destroy all around me. But I will
be calm; and if this Highland kite, who calls himself a falcon, should
stoop at my turtle dove, he shall know whether a burgess of Perth can
draw a bow or not."

It was now the Thursday before the fated Palm Sunday, and the champions
on either side were expected to arrive the next day, that they might
have the interval of Saturday to rest, refresh themselves, and prepare
for the combat. Two or three of each of the contending parties were
detached to receive directions about the encampment of their little
band, and such other instructions as might be necessary to the proper
ordering of the field. Henry was not, therefore, surprised at seeing a
tall and powerful Highlander peering anxiously about the wynd in which
he lived, in the manner in which the natives of a wild country examine
the curiosities of one that is more civilized. The smith's heart rose
against the man on account of his country, to which our Perth burgher
bore a natural prejudice, and more especially as he observed the
individual wear the plaid peculiar to the Clan Quhele. The sprig of oak
leaves, worked in silk, intimated also that the individual was one
of those personal guards of young Eachin, upon whose exertions in the
future battle so much reliance was placed by those of their clan.

Having observed so much, Henry withdrew into his smithy, for the sight
of the man raised his passion; and, knowing that the Highlander came
plighted to a solemn combat, and could not be the subject of any
inferior quarrel, he was resolved at least to avoid friendly intercourse
with him. In a few minutes, however, the door of the smithy flew open,
and flattering in his tartans, which greatly magnified his actual size,
the Gael entered with the haughty step of a man conscious of a personal
dignity superior to anything which he is likely to meet with. He stood
looking around him, and seemed to expect to be received with courtesy
and regarded with wonder. But Henry had no sort of inclination to
indulge his vanity and kept hammering away at a breastplate which was
lying upon his anvil as if he were not aware of his visitor's presence.

"You are the Gow Chrom?" (the bandy legged smith), said the Highlander.

"Those that wish to be crook backed call me so," answered Henry.

"No offence meant," said the Highlander; "but her own self comes to buy
an armour."

"Her own self's bare shanks may trot hence with her," answered Henry; "I
have none to sell."

"If it was not within two days of Palm Sunday, herself would make you
sing another song," retorted the Gael.

"And being the day it is," said Henry, with the same contemptuous
indifference, "I pray you to stand out of my light."

"You are an uncivil person; but her own self is fir nan ord too; and she
knows the smith is fiery when the iron is hot."

"If her nainsell be hammer man herself, her nainsell may make her nain
harness," replied Henry.

"And so her nainsell would, and never fash you for the matter; but it
is said, Gow Chrom, that you sing and whistle tunes over the swords and
harnishes that you work, that have power to make the blades cut steel
links as if they were paper, and the plate and mail turn back steel
lances as if they were boddle prins?"

"They tell your ignorance any nonsense that Christian men refuse to
believe," said Henry. "I whistle at my work whatever comes uppermost,
like an honest craftsman, and commonly it is the Highlandman's 'Och hone
for Houghman stares!' My hammer goes naturally to that tune."

"Friend, it is but idle to spur a horse when his legs are ham shackled,"
said the Highlander, haughtily. "Her own self cannot fight even now, and
there is little gallantry in taunting her thus."

"By nails and hammer, you are right there," said the smith, altering his
tone. "But speak out at once, friend, what is it thou wouldst have of
me? I am in no humour for dallying."

"A hauberk for her chief, Eachin MacIan," said the Highlander.

"You are a hammer man, you say? Are you a judge of this?" said our
smith, producing from a chest the mail shirt on which he had been lately
employed.

The Gael handled it with a degree of admiration which had something of
envy in it. He looked curiously at every part of its texture, and at
length declared it the very best piece of armour that he had ever seen.

"A hundred cows and bullocks and a good drift of sheep would be e'en
ower cheap an offer," said the Highlandman, by way of tentative; "but
her nainsell will never bid thee less, come by them how she can."

"It is a fair proffer," replied Henry; "but gold nor gear will never buy
that harness. I want to try my own sword on my own armour, and I will
not give that mail coat to any one but who will face me for the best of
three blows and a thrust in the fair field; and it is your chief's upon
these terms."

"Hut, prut, man--take a drink and go to bed," said the Highlander, in
great scorn. "Are ye mad? Think ye the captain of the Clan Quhele will
be brawling and battling with a bit Perth burgess body like you? Whisht,
man, and hearken. Her nainsell will do ye mair credit than ever belonged
to your kin. She will fight you for the fair harness hersell."

"She must first show that she is my match," said Henry, with a grim
smile.

"How! I, one of Eachin MacIan's leichtach, and not your match!"

"You may try me, if you will. You say you are a fir nan ord. Do you know
how to cast a sledge hammer?"

"Ay, truly--ask the eagle if he can fly over Farragon."

"But before you strive with me, you must first try a cast with one of my
leichtach. Here, Dunter, stand forth for the honour of Perth! And now,
Highlandman, there stands a row of hammers; choose which you will, and
let us to the garden."

The Highlander whose name was Norman nan Ord, or Norman of the Hammer,
showed his title to the epithet by selecting the largest hammer of the
set, at which Henry smiled. Dunter, the stout journeyman of the smith,
made what was called a prodigious cast; but the Highlander, making a
desperate effort, threw beyond it by two or three feet, and looked with
an air of triumph to Henry, who again smiled in reply.

"Will you mend that?" said the Gael, offering our smith the hammer.

"Not with that child's toy," said Henry, "which has scarce weight to
fly against the wind. Jannekin, fetch me Sampson; or one of you help the
boy, for Sampson is somewhat ponderous."

The hammer now produced was half as heavy again as that which the
Highlander had selected as one of unusual weight. Norman stood
astonished; but he was still more so when Henry, taking his position,
swung the ponderous implement far behind his right haunch joint, and
dismissed it from his hand as if it had flown from a warlike engine. The
air groaned and whistled as the mass flew through it. Down at length it
came, and the iron head sunk a foot into the earth, a full yard beyond
the cast of Norman.

The Highlander, defeated and mortified, went to the spot where the
weapon lay, lifted it, poised it in his hand with great wonder, and
examined it closely, as if he expected to discover more in it than a
common hammer. He at length returned it to the owner with a melancholy
smile, shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head as the smith asked
him whether he would not mend his cast.

"Norman has lost too much at the sport already," he replied. "She has
lost her own name of the Hammerer. But does her own self, the Gow Chrom,
work at the anvil with that horse's load of iron?"

"You shall see, brother," said Henry, leading the way to the smithy.
"Dunter," he said, "rax me that bar from the furnace"; and uplifting
Sampson, as he called the monstrous hammer, he plied the metal with a
hundred strokes from right to left--now with the right hand, now with
the left, now with both, with so much strength at once and dexterity,
that he worked off a small but beautifully proportioned horseshoe in
half the time that an ordinary smith would have taken for the same
purpose, using a more manageable implement.

"Oigh--oigh!" said the Highlander, "and what for would you be fighting
with our young chief, who is far above your standard, though you were
the best smith ever wrought with wind and fire?"

"Hark you!" said Henry; "you seem a good fellow, and I'll tell you the
truth. Your master has wronged me, and I give him this harness freely
for the chance of fighting him myself."

"Nay, if he hath wronged you he must meet you," said the life guardsman.
"To do a man wrong takes the eagle's feather out of the chief's bonnet;
and were he the first in the Highlands, and to be sure so is Eachin,
he must fight the man he has wronged, or else a rose falls from his
chaplet."

"Will you move him to this," said Henry, "after the fight on Sunday?"

"Oh, her nainsell will do her best, if the hawks have not got her
nainsell's bones to pick; for you must know, brother, that Clan
Chattan's claws pierce rather deep."

"The armour is your chief's on that condition," said Henry; "but I will
disgrace him before king and court if he does not pay me the price."

"Deil a fear--deil a fear; I will bring him in to the barrace myself,"
said Norman, "assuredly."

"You will do me a pleasure," replied Henry; "and that you may remember
your promise, I will bestow on you this dirk. Look--if you hold it
truly, and can strike between the mail hood and the collar of your
enemy, the surgeon will be needless."

The Highlander was lavish in his expressions of gratitude, and took his
leave.

"I have given him the best mail harness I ever wrought," said the smith
to himself, rather repenting his liberality, "for the poor chance
that he will bring his chief into a fair field with me; and then let
Catharine be his who can win her fairly. But much I dread the youth will
find some evasion, unless he have such luck on Palm Sunday as may induce
him to try another combat. That is some hope, however; for I have often,
ere now, seen a raw young fellow shoot up after his first fight from a
dwarf into a giant queller."

Thus, with little hope, but with the most determined resolution, Henry
Smith awaited the time that should decide his fate. What made him augur
the worst was the silence both of the glover and of his daughter.

"They are ashamed," he said, "to confess the truth to me, and therefore
they are silent."

Upon the Friday at noon, the two bands of thirty men each, representing
the contending clans, arrived at the several points where they were to
halt for refreshments.

The Clan Quhele was entertained hospitably at the rich abbey of Scone,
while the provost regaled their rivals at his Castle of Kinfauns, the
utmost care being taken to treat both parties with the most punctilious
attention, and to afford neither an opportunity of complaining of
partiality. All points of etiquette were, in the mean while, discussed
and settled by the Lord High Constable Errol and the young Earl of
Crawford, the former acting on the part of the Clan Chattan and the
latter patronising the Clan Quhele. Messengers were passing continually
from the one earl to the other, and they held more than: six meetings
within thirty hours, before the ceremonial of the field could be exactly
arranged.

Meanwhile, in case of revival of ancient quarrel, many seeds of
which existed betwixt the burghers and their mountain neighbours, a
proclamation commanded the citizens not to approach within half a mile
of the place where the Highlanders were quartered; while on their part
the intended combatants were prohibited from approaching Perth without
special license. Troops were stationed to enforce this order, who did
their charge so scrupulously as to prevent Simon Glover himself, burgess
and citizen of Perth, from approaching the town, because he owned having
come thither at the same time with the champions of Eachin MacIan, and
wore a plaid around him of their check or pattern. This interruption
prevented Simon from seeking out Henry Wynd and possessing him with a
true knowledge of all that had happened since their separation, which
intercourse, had it taken place, must have materially altered the
catastrophe of our narrative.

On Saturday afternoon another arrival took place, which interested the
city almost as much as the preparations for the expected combat. This
was the approach of the Earl Douglas, who rode through the town with a
troop of only thirty horse, but all of whom were knights and gentlemen
of the first consequence. Men's eyes followed this dreaded peer as they
pursue the flight of an eagle through the clouds, unable to ken the
course of the bird of Jove yet silent, attentive, and as earnest in
observing him as if they could guess the object for which he sweeps
through the firmament; He rode slowly through the city, and passed out
at the northern gate. He next alighted at the Dominican convent and
desired to see the Duke of Albany. The Earl was introduced instantly,
and received by the Duke with a manner which was meant to be graceful
and conciliatory, but which could not conceal both art and inquietude.
When the first greetings were over, the Earl said with great gravity:
"I bring you melancholy news. Your Grace's royal nephew, the Duke of
Rothsay, is no more, and I fear hath perished by some foul practices."

"Practices!" said the Duke' in confusion--"what practices? Who dared
practise on the heir of the Scottish throne?"

"'Tis not for me to state how these doubts arise," said Douglas; "but
men say the eagle was killed with an arrow fledged from his own wing,
and the oak trunk rent by a wedge of the same wood."

"Earl of Douglas," said the Duke of Albany, "I am no reader of riddles."

"Nor am I a propounder of them," said Douglas, haughtily, "Your Grace
will find particulars in these papers worthy of perusal. I will go for
half an hour to the cloister garden, and then rejoin you."

"You go not to the King, my lord?" said Albany.

"No," answered Douglas; "I trust your Grace will agree with me that we
should conceal this great family misfortune from our sovereign till the
business of tomorrow be decided."

"I willingly agree," said Albany. "If the King heard of this loss, he
could not witness the combat; and if he appear not in person, these men
are likely to refuse to fight, and the whole work is cast loose. But
I pray you sit down, my lord, while I read these melancholy papers
respecting poor Rothsay."

He passed the papers through his hands, turning some over with a hasty
glance, and dwelling on others as if their contents had been of the
last importance. When he had spent nearly a quarter of an hour in this
manner, he raised his eyes, and said very gravely: "My lord, in these
most melancholy documents, it is yet a comfort to see nothing which can
renew the divisions in the King's councils, which were settled by the
last solemn agreement between your lordship and myself. My unhappy
nephew was by that agreement to be set aside, until time should send him
a graver judgment. He is now removed by Fate, and our purpose in that
matter is anticipated and rendered unnecessary."

"If your Grace," replied the Earl, "sees nothing to disturb the good
understanding which the tranquillity and safety of Scotland require
should exist between us, I am not so ill a friend of my country as to
look closely for such."

"I understand you, my Lord of Douglas," said Albany, eagerly. "You
hastily judged that I should be offended with your lordship for
exercising your powers of lieutenancy, and punishing the detestable
murderers within my territory of Falkland. Credit me, on the contrary, I
am obliged to your lordship for taking out of my hands the punishment of
these wretches, as it would have broken my heart even to have looked
on them. The Scottish Parliament will inquire, doubtless, into this
sacrilegious deed; and happy am I that the avenging sword has been
in the hand of a man so important as your lordship. Our communication
together, as your lordship must well recollect, bore only concerning a
proposed restraint of my unfortunate nephew until the advance of a year
or two had taught him discretion?"

"Such was certainly your Grace's purpose, as expressed to me," said the
Earl; "I can safely avouch it."

"Why, then, noble earl, we cannot be censured because villains, for
their own revengeful ends, appear to have engrafted a bloody termination
on our honest purpose?"

"The Parliament will judge it after their wisdom," said Douglas. "For my
part, my conscience acquits me."

"And mine assoilzies me," said the Duke with solemnity. "Now, my lord,
touching the custody of the boy James, who succeeds to his father's
claims of inheritance?"

"The King must decide it," said Douglas, impatient of the conference.
"I will consent to his residence anywhere save at Stirling, Doune, or
Falkland."

With that he left the apartment abruptly.

"He is gone," muttered the crafty Albany, "and he must be my ally, yet
feels himself disposed to be my mortal foe. No matter, Rothsay sleeps
with his fathers, James may follow in time, and then--a crown is the
recompense of my perplexities."



CHAPTER XXXIV.

     Thretty for thretty faucht in barreris,
     At Sanct Johnstoun on a day besyde the black freris.

     WYNTOUN.


Palm Sunday now dawned. At an earlier period of the Christian Church,
the use of any of the days of Passion Week for the purpose of combat
would have been accounted a profanity worthy of excommunication. The
Church of Rome, to her infinite honour, had decided that during the holy
season of Easter, when the redemption of man from his fallen state was
accomplished, the sword of war should be sheathed, and angry monarchs
should respect the season termed the Truce of God. The ferocious
violence of the latter wars betwixt Scotland and England had destroyed
all observance of this decent and religious Ordinance. Very often the
most solemn occasions were chosen by one party for an attack, because
they hoped to find the other engaged in religious duties and unprovided
for defence. Thus the truce, once considered as proper to the season,
had been discontinued; and it became not unusual even to select the
sacred festivals of the church for decision of the trial by combat, to
which this intended contest bore a considerable resemblance.

On the present occasion, however, the duties of the day were observed
with the usual solemnity, and the combatants themselves took share in
them. Bearing branches of yew in their hands, as the readiest substitute
for palm boughs, they marched respectively to the Dominican and
Carthusian convents, to hear High Mass, and, by a show at least of
devotion, to prepare themselves for the bloody strife of the day. Great
care had of course been taken that, during this march, they should not
even come within the sound of each other's bagpipes; for it was certain
that, like game cocks exchanging mutual notes of defiance, they would
have sought out and attacked each other before they arrived at the place
of combat.

The citizens of Perth crowded to see the unusual procession on the
streets, and thronged the churches where the two clans attended their
devotions, to witness their behaviour, and to form a judgment from
their appearance which was most likely to obtain the advantage in
the approaching conflict. Their demeanour in the church, although not
habitual frequenters of places of devotion, was perfectly decorous; and,
notwithstanding their wild and untamed dispositions, there were few of
the mountaineers who seemed affected either with curiosity or wonder.
They appeared to think it beneath their dignity of character to testify
either curiosity or surprise at many things which were probably then
presented to them for the first time.

On the issue of the combat, few even of the most competent judges dared
venture a prediction; although the great size of Torquil and his eight
stalwart sons induced some who professed themselves judges of the thewes
and sinews of men to incline to ascribe the advantage to the party of
the Clan Quhele. The opinion of the female sex was much decided by
the handsome form, noble countenance, and gallant demeanour of Eachin
MacIan. There were more than one who imagined they had recollection
of his features, but his splendid military attire rendered the humble
glover's apprentice unrecognisable in the young Highland chief, saving
by one person.

That person, as may well be supposed, was the Smith of the Wynd, who
had been the foremost in the crowd that thronged to see the gallant
champions of Clan Quhele. It was with mingled feelings of dislike,
jealousy, and something approaching to admiration that he saw the
glover's apprentice stripped of his mean slough, and blazing forth as a
chieftain, who, by his quick eye and gallant demeanour, the noble shape
of his brow and throat, his splendid arms and well proportioned limbs,
seemed well worthy to hold the foremost rank among men selected to live
or die for the honour of their race. The smith could hardly think that
he looked upon the same passionate boy whom he had brushed off as
he might a wasp that stung him, and, in mere compassion, forebore to
despatch by treading on him.

"He looks it gallantly with my noble hauberk," thus muttered Henry to
himself, "the best I ever wrought. Yet, if he and I stood together where
there was neither hand to help nor eye to see, by all that is blessed in
this holy church, the good harness should return to its owner! All that
I am worth would I give for three fair blows on his shoulders to undo my
own best work; but such happiness will never be mine. If he escape from
the conflict, it will be with so high a character for courage, that he
may well disdain to put his fortune, in its freshness, to the risk of
an encounter with a poor burgess like myself. He will fight by his
champion, and turn me over to my fellow craftsman the hammerer, when all
I can reap will be the pleasure of knocking a Highland bullock on the
head. If I could but see Simon Glover! I will to the other church in
quest of him, since for sure he must have come down from the Highlands."

The congregation was moving from the church of the Dominicans when the
smith formed this determination, which he endeavoured to carry into
speedy execution, by thrusting through the crowd as hastily as the
solemnity of the place and occasion would permit. In making his way
through the press, he was at one instant carried so close to Eachin
that their eyes encountered. The smith's hardy and embrowned countenance
coloured up like the heated iron on which he wrought, and retained
its dark red hue for several minutes. Eachin's features glowed with a
brighter blush of indignation, and a glance of fiery hatred was shot
from his eyes. But the sudden flush died away in ashy paleness, and his
gaze instantly avoided the unfriendly but steady look with which it was
encountered.

Torquil, whose eye never quitted his foster son, saw his emotion, and
looked anxiously around to discover the cause. But Henry was already
at a distance, and hastening on his way to the Carthusian convent. Here
also the religious service of the day was ended; and those who had so
lately borne palms in honour of the great event which brought peace
on earth and goodwill to the children of men were now streaming to
the place of combat--some prepared to take the lives of their fellow
creatures or to lose their own, others to view the deadly strife with
the savage delight which the heathens took in the contests of their
gladiators.

The crowd was so great that any other person might well have despaired
of making way through it. But the general deference entertained for
Henry of the Wynd, as the champion of Perth, and the universal sense of
his ability to force a passage, induced all to unite in yielding room
for him, so that he was presently quite close to the warriors of the
Clan Chattan. Their pipers marched at the head of their column. Next
followed the well known banner, displaying a mountain cat rampant, with
the appropriate caution, "Touch not the cat, but (i.e. without) the
glove." The chief followed with his two handed sword advanced, as if to
protect the emblem of the tribe. He was a man of middle stature, more
than fifty years old, but betraying neither in features nor form any
decay of strength or symptoms of age. His dark red close curled locks
were in part chequered by a few grizzled hairs, but his step and gesture
were as light in the dance, in the chase, or in the battle as if he had
not passed his thirtieth year. His grey eye gleamed with a wild light
expressive of valour and ferocity mingled; but wisdom and experience
dwelt on the expression of his forehead, eyebrows, and lips. The chosen
champions followed by two and two. There was a cast of anxiety on
several of their faces, for they had that morning discovered the absence
of one of their appointed number; and, in a contest so desperate as was
expected, the loss seemed a matter of importance to all save to their
high mettled chief, MacGillie Chattanach.

"Say nothing to the Saxons of his absence," said this bold leader, when
the diminution of his force was reported to him. "The false Lowland
tongues might say that one of Clan Chattan was a coward, and perhaps
that the rest favoured his escape, in order to have a pretence to avoid
the battle. I am sure that Ferquhard Day will be found in the ranks ere
we are ready for battle; or, if he should not, am not I man enough for
two of the Clan Quhele? or would we not fight them fifteen to thirty,
rather than lose the renown that this day will bring us?"

The tribe received the brave speech of their leader with applause, yet
there were anxious looks thrown out in hopes of espying the return of
the deserter; and perhaps the chief himself was the only one of the
determined band who was totally indifferent on the subject.

They marched on through the streets without seeing anything of Ferquhard
Day, who, many a mile beyond the mountains, was busied in receiving such
indemnification as successful love could bestow for the loss of honour.
MacGillie Chattanach marched on without seeming to observe the absence
of the deserter, and entered upon the North Inch, a beautiful and level
plain, closely adjacent to the city, and appropriated to the martial
exercises of the inhabitants.

The plain is washed on one side by the deep and swelling Tay. There was
erected within it a strong palisade, inclosing on three sides a space of
one hundred and fifty yards in length and seventy-four yards in width.
The fourth side of the lists was considered as sufficiently fenced
by the river. An amphitheatre for the accommodation of spectators
surrounded the palisade, leaving a large space free to be occupied by
armed men on foot and horseback, and for the more ordinary class of
spectators. At the extremity of the lists which was nearest to the city,
there was a range of elevated galleries for the King and his courtiers,
so highly decorated with rustic treillage, intermingled with gilded
ornaments, that the spot retains to this day the name of the Golden, or
Gilded, Arbour.

The mountain minstrelsy, which sounded the appropriate pibrochs or
battle tunes of the rival confederacies, was silent when they entered on
the Inch, for such was the order which had been given. Two stately but
aged warriors, each bearing the banner of his tribe, advanced to the
opposite extremities of the lists, and, pitching their standards into
the earth, prepared to be spectators of a fight in which they were not
to join. The pipers, who were also to be neutral in the strife, took
their places by their respective brattachs.

The multitude received both bands with the same general shout with which
on similar occasions they welcome those from whose exertion they expect
amusement, or what they term sport. The destined combatants returned
no answer to this greeting, but each party advanced to the opposite
extremities of the lists, where were entrances by which they were to be
admitted to the interior. A strong body of men at arms guarded either
access; and the Earl Marshal at the one and the Lord High Constable at
the other carefully examined each individual, to see whether he had the
appropriate arms, being steel cap, mail shirt, two handed sword, and
dagger. They also examined the numbers of each party; and great was the
alarm among the multitude when the Earl of Errol held up his hand and
cried: "Ho! The combat cannot proceed, for the Clan Chattan lack one of
their number."

"What reek of that?" said the young Earl of Crawford; "they should have
counted better ere they left home."

The Earl Marshal, however, agreed with the Constable that the fight
could not proceed until the inequality should be removed; and a general
apprehension was excited in the assembled multitude that, after all the
preparation, there would be no battle.

Of all present there were only two perhaps who rejoiced at the prospect
of the combat being adjourned, and these were the captain of the Clan
Quhele and the tender hearted King Robert. Meanwhile the two chiefs,
each attended by a special friend and adviser, met in the midst of the
lists, having, to assist them in determining what was to be done, the
Earl Marshal, the Lord High Constable, the Earl of Crawford, and Sir
Patrick Charteris. The chief of the Clan Chattan declared himself
willing and desirous of fighting upon the spot, without regard to the
disparity of numbers.

"That," said Torquil of the Oak, "Clan Quhele will never consent to.
You can never win honour from us with the sword, and you seek but a
subterfuge, that you may say when you are defeated, as you know you will
be, that it was for want of the number of your band fully counted out.
But I make a proposal: Ferquhard Day was the youngest of your band,
Eachin MacIan is the youngest of ours; we will set him aside in place of
the man who has fled from the combat."

"A most unjust and unequal proposal," exclaimed Toshach Beg, the second,
as he might be termed, of MacGillie Chattanach. "The life of the chief
is to the clan the breath of our nostrils, nor will we ever consent that
our chief shall be exposed to dangers which the captain of Clan Quhele
does not share."

Torquil saw with deep anxiety that his plan was about to fail when the
objection was made to Hector's being withdrawn from the battle, and
he was meditating how to support his proposal, when Eachin himself
interfered. His timidity, it must be observed, was not of that sordid
and selfish nature which induces those who are infected by it calmly
to submit to dishonour rather than risk danger. On the contrary, he was
morally brave, though constitutionally timid, and the shame of avoiding
the combat became at the moment more powerful than the fear of facing
it.

"I will not hear," he said, "of a scheme which will leave my sword
sheathed during this day's glorious combat. If I am young in arms, there
are enough of brave men around me whom I may imitate if I cannot equal."

He spoke these words in a spirit which imposed on Torquil, and perhaps
on the young chief himself.

"Now, God bless his noble heart!" said the foster father to himself.
"I was sure the foul spell would be broken through, and that the tardy
spirit which besieged him would fly at the sound of the pipe and the
first flutter of the brattach!"

"Hear me, Lord Marshal," said the Constable. "The hour of combat may not
be much longer postponed, for the day approaches to high noon. Let the
chief of Clan Chattan take the half hour which remains, to find, if he
can, a substitute for this deserter; if he cannot, let them fight as
they stand."

"Content I am," said the Marshal, "though, as none of his own clan are
nearer than fifty miles, I see not how MacGillis Chattanach is to find
an auxiliary."

"That is his business," said the High Constable; "but, if he offers a
high reward, there are enough of stout yeomen surrounding the lists,
who will be glad enough to stretch their limbs in such a game as is
expected. I myself, did my quality and charge permit, would blythely
take a turn of work amongst these wild fellows, and think it fame won."

They communicated their decision to the Highlanders, and the chief of
the Clan Chattan replied: "You have judged unpartially and nobly, my
lords, and I deem myself obliged to follow your direction. So make
proclamation, heralds, that, if any one will take his share with Clan
Chattan of the honours and chances of this day, he shall have present
payment of a gold crown, and liberty to fight to the death in my ranks."

"You are something chary of your treasure, chief," said the Earl
Marshal: "a gold crown is poor payment for such a campaign as is before
you."

"If there be any man willing to fight for honour," replied MacGillis
Chattanach, "the price will be enough; and I want not the service of a
fellow who draws his sword for gold alone."

The heralds had made their progress, moving half way round the lists,
stopping from time to time to make proclamation as they had been
directed, without the least apparent disposition on the part of any one
to accept of the proffered enlistment. Some sneered at the poverty of
the Highlanders, who set so mean a price upon such a desperate service.
Others affected resentment, that they should esteem the blood of
citizens so lightly. None showed the slightest intention to undertake
the task proposed, until the sound of the proclamation reached Henry of
the Wynd, as he stood without the barrier, speaking from time to time
with Baillie Craigdallie, or rather listening vaguely to what the
magistrate was saying to him.

"Ha! what proclaim they?" he cried out.

"A liberal offer on the part of MacGillie Chattanach," said the host of
the Griffin, "who proposes a gold crown to any one who will turn wildcat
for the day, and be killed a little in his service! That's all."

"How!" exclaimed the smith, eagerly, "do they make proclamation for a
man to fight against the Clan Quhele?"

"Ay, marry do they," said Griffin; "but I think they will find no such
fools in Perth."

He had hardly said the word, when he beheld the smith clear the barriers
at a single bound and alight in the lists, saying: "Here am I, sir
herald, Henry of the Wynd, willing to battle on the part of the Clan
Chattan."

A cry of admiration ran through the multitude, while the grave burghers,
not being able to conceive the slightest reason for Henry's behaviour,
concluded that his head must be absolutely turned with the love of
fighting. The provost was especially shocked.

"Thou art mad," he said, "Henry! Thou hast neither two handed sword nor
shirt of mail."

"Truly no," said Henry, "for I parted with a mail shirt, which I had
made for myself, to yonder gay chief of the Clan Quhele, who will soon
find on his shoulders with what sort of blows I clink my rivets! As for
two handed sword, why, this boy's brand will serve my turn till I can
master a heavier one."

"This must not be," said Errol. "Hark thee, armourer, by St. Mary, thou
shalt have my Milan hauberk and good Spanish sword."

"I thank your noble earlship, Sir Gilbert Hay, but the yoke with which
your brave ancestor turned the battle at Loncarty would serve my turn
well enough. I am little used to sword or harness that I have not
wrought myself, because I do not well know what blows the one will bear
out without being cracked or the other lay on without snapping."

The cry had in the mean while run through the multitude and passed into
the town, that the dauntless smith was about to fight without armour,
when, just as the fated hour was approaching, the shrill voice of a
female was heard screaming for passage through the crowd. The multitude
gave place to her importunity, and she advanced, breathless with haste
under the burden of a mail hauberk and a large two handed sword. The
widow of Oliver Proudfute was soon recognised, and the arms which she
bore were those of the smith himself, which, occupied by her husband on
the fatal evening when he was murdered, had been naturally conveyed
to his house with the dead body, and were now, by the exertions of
his grateful widow, brought to the lists at a moment when such proved
weapons were of the last consequence to their owner. Henry joyfully
received the well known arms, and the widow with trembling haste
assisted in putting them on, and then took leave of him, saying: "God
for the champion of the widow and orphan, and ill luck to all who come
before him!"

Confident at feeling himself in his well proved armour, Henry shook
himself as if to settle the steel shirt around him, and, unsheathing
the two handed sword, made it flourish over his head, cutting the air
through which it whistled in the form of the figure eight with an ease
and sleight of hand that proved how powerfully and skilfully he could
wield the ponderous weapon. The champions were now ordered to march
in their turns around the lists, crossing so as to avoid meeting each
other, and making obeisance as they passed the Golden Arbour where the
King was seated.

While this course was performing, most of the spectators were again
curiously comparing the stature, limbs, and sinews of the two parties,
and endeavouring to form a conjecture an to the probable issue of the
combat. The feud of a hundred years, with all its acts of aggression
and retaliation, was concentrated in the bosom of each combatant. Their
countenances seemed fiercely writhen into the wildest expression of
pride, hate, and a desperate purpose of fighting to the very last.

The spectators murmured a joyful applause, in high wrought expectation
of the bloody game. Wagers were offered and accepted both on the general
issue of the conflict and on the feats of particular champions. The
clear, frank, and elated look of Henry Smith rendered him a general
favourite among the spectators, and odds, to use the modern expression,
were taken that he would kill three of his opponents before he himself
fell.

Scarcely was the smith equipped for the combat, when the commands of the
chiefs ordered the champions into their places; and at the same moment
Henry heard the voice of Simon Glover issuing from the crowd, who were
now silent with expectation, and calling on him: "Harry Smith--Harry
Smith, what madness hath possessed thee?"

"Ay, he wishes to save his hopeful son in law that is, or is to be, from
the smith's handling," was Henry's first thought; his second was to turn
and speak with him; and his third, that he could on no pretext desert
the band which he had joined, or even seem desirous to delay the fight,
consistently with honour.

He turned himself, therefore, to the business of the hour. Both parties
were disposed by the respective chiefs in three lines, each containing
ten men. They were arranged with such intervals between each individual
as offered him scope to wield his sword, the blade of which was five
feet long, not including the handle. The second and third lines were
to come up as reserves, in case the first experienced disaster. On the
right of the array of Clan Quhele, the chief, Eachin MacIan, placed
himself in the second line betwixt two of his foster brothers. Four of
them occupied the right of the first line, whilst the father and
two others protected the rear of the beloved chieftain. Torquil, in
particular, kept close behind, for the purpose of covering him. Thus
Eachin stood in the centre of nine of the strongest men of his band,
having four especial defenders in front, one on each hand, and three in
his rear.

The line of the Clan Chattan was arranged in precisely the same order,
only that the chief occupied the centre of the middle rank, instead of
being on the extreme right. This induced Henry Smith, who saw in the
opposing bands only one enemy, and that was the unhappy Eachin, to
propose placing himself on the left of the front rank of the Clan
Chattan. But the leader disapproved of this arrangement; and having
reminded Henry that he owed him obedience, as having taken wages at his
hand, he commanded him to occupy the space in the third line immediately
behind himself--a post of honour, certainly, which Henry could not
decline, though he accepted of it with reluctance.

When the clans were thus drawn up opposed to each other, they intimated
their feudal animosity and their eagerness to engage by a wild scream,
which, uttered by the Clan Quhele, was answered and echoed back by
the Clan Chattan, the whole at the same time shaking their swords and
menacing each other, as if they meant to conquer the imagination of
their opponents ere they mingled in the actual strife.

At this trying moment, Torquil, who had never feared for himself, was
agitated with alarm on the part of his dault, yet consoled by observing
that he kept a determined posture, and that the few words which he spoke
to his clan were delivered boldly, and well calculated to animate them
to combat, as expressing his resolution to partake their fate in death
or victory. But there was no time for further observation. The trumpets
of the King sounded a charge, the bagpipes blew up their screaming and
maddening notes, and the combatants, starting forward in regular order,
and increasing their pace till they came to a smart run, met together
in the centre of the ground, as a furious land torrent encounters an
advancing tide.

For an instant or two the front lines, hewing at each other with their
long swords, seemed engaged in a succession of single combats; but the
second and third ranks soon came up on either side, actuated alike by
the eagerness of hatred and the thirst of honour, pressed through the
intervals, and rendered the scene a tumultuous chaos, over which the
huge swords rose and sunk, some still glittering, others streaming with
blood, appearing, from the wild rapidity with which they were swayed,
rather to be put in motion by some complicated machinery than to
be wielded by human hands. Some of the combatants, too much crowded
together to use those long weapons, had already betaken themselves to
their poniards, and endeavoured to get within the sword sweep of those
opposed to them. In the mean time, blood flowed fast, and the groans of
those who fell began to mingle with the cries of those who fought; for,
according to the manner of the Highlanders at all times, they could
hardly be said to shout, but to yell. Those of the spectators whose
eyes were best accustomed to such scenes of blood and confusion could
nevertheless discover no advantage yet acquired by either party. The
conflict swayed, indeed, at different intervals forwards or backwards,
but it was only in momentary superiority, which the party who acquired
it almost instantly lost by a corresponding exertion on the other side.
The wild notes of the pipers were still heard above the tumult, and
stimulated to farther exertions the fury of the combatants.

At once, however, and as if by mutual agreement, the instruments sounded
a retreat; it was expressed in wailing notes, which seemed to imply a
dirge for the fallen. The two parties disengaged themselves from each
other, to take breath for a few minutes. The eyes of the spectators
greedily surveyed the shattered array of the combatants as they drew
off from the contest, but found it still impossible to decide which had
sustained the greater loss. It seemed as if the Clan Chattan had lost
rather fewer men than their antagonists; but in compensation, the bloody
plaids and skirts of their party (for several on both sides had thrown
their mantles away) showed more wounded men than the Clan Quhele. About
twenty of both sides lay on the field dead or dying; and arms and legs
lopped off, heads cleft to the chin, slashes deep through the shoulder
into the breast, showed at once the fury of the combat, the ghastly
character of the weapons used, and the fatal strength of the arms which
wielded them. The chief of the Clan Chattan had behaved himself with
the most determined courage, and was slightly wounded. Eachin also had
fought with spirit, surrounded by his bodyguard. His sword was bloody,
his bearing bold and warlike; and he smiled when old Torquil, folding
him in his arms, loaded him with praises and with blessings.

The two chiefs, after allowing their followers to breathe for the space
of about ten minutes, again drew up in their files, diminished by nearly
one third of their original number. They now chose their ground nearer
to the river than that on which they had formerly encountered, which
was encumbered with the wounded and the slain. Some of the former were
observed, from time to time, to raise themselves to gain a glimpse of
the field, and sink back, most of them to die from the effusion of blood
which poured from the terrific gashes inflicted by the claymore.

Harry Smith was easily distinguished by his Lowland habit, as well as
his remaining on the spot where they had first encountered, where he
stood leaning on a sword beside a corpse, whose bonneted head, carried
to ten yards' distance from the body by the force of the blow which had
swept it off, exhibited the oak leaf, the appropriate ornament of the
bodyguard of Eachin MacIan. Since he slew this man, Henry had not struck
a blow, but had contented himself with warding off many that were dealt
at himself, and some which were aimed at the chief. MacGillie Chattanach
became alarmed, when, having given the signal that his men should again
draw together, he observed that his powerful recruit remained at a
distance from the ranks, and showed little disposition to join them.

"What ails thee, man?" said the chief. "Can so strong a body have a mean
and cowardly spirit? Come, and make in to the combat."

"You as good as called me hireling but now," replied Henry. "If I am
such," pointing to the headless corpse, "I have done enough for my day's
wage."

"He that serves me without counting his hours," replied the chief, "I
reward him without reckoning wages."

"Then," said the smith, "I fight as a volunteer, and in the post which
best likes me."

"All that is at your own discretion," replied MacGillis Chattanach, who
saw the prudence of humouring an auxiliary of such promise.

"It is enough," said Henry; and, shouldering his heavy weapon, he joined
the rest of the combatants with alacrity, and placed himself opposite to
the chief of the Clan Quhele.

It was then, for the first time, that Eachin showed some uncertainty.
He had long looked up to Henry as the best combatant which Perth and its
neighbourhood could bring into the lists. His hatred to him as a rival
was mingled with recollection of the ease with which he had once, though
unarmed, foiled his own sudden and desperate attack; and when he beheld
him with his eyes fixed in his direction, the dripping sword in his
hand, and obviously meditating an attack on him individually, his
courage fell, and he gave symptoms of wavering, which did not escape his
foster father.

It was lucky for Eachin that Torquil was incapable, from the formation
of his own temper, and that of those with whom he had lived, to conceive
the idea of one of his own tribe, much less of his chief and foster
son, being deficient in animal courage. Could he have imagined this, his
grief and rage might have driven him to the fierce extremity of taking
Eachin's life, to save him from staining his honour. But his mind
rejected the idea that his dault was a personal coward, as something
which was monstrous and unnatural. That he was under the influence of
enchantment was a solution which superstition had suggested, and he now
anxiously, but in a whisper, demanded of Hector: "Does the spell now
darken thy spirit, Eachin?"

"Yes, wretch that I am," answered the unhappy youth; "and yonder stands
the fell enchanter!"

"What!" exclaimed Torquil, "and you wear harness of his making? Norman,
miserable boy, why brought you that accursed mail?"

"If my arrow has flown astray, I can but shoot my life after it,"
answered Norman nan Ord. "Stand firm, you shall see me break the spell."

"Yes, stand firm," said Torquil. "He may be a fell enchanter; but my own
ear has heard, and my own tongue has told, that Eachin shall leave the
battle whole, free, and unwounded; let us see the Saxon wizard who can
gainsay that. He may be a strong man, but the fair forest of the oak
shall fall, stock and bough, ere he lay a finger on my dault. Ring
around him, my sons; bas air son Eachin!"

The sons of Torquil shouted back the words, which signify, "Death for
Hector."

Encouraged by their devotion, Eachin renewed his spirit, and called
boldly to the minstrels of his clan, "Seid suas" that is, "Strike up."

The wild pibroch again sounded the onset; but the two parties approached
each other more slowly than at first, as men who knew and respected
each other's valour. Henry Wynd, in his impatience to begin the contest,
advanced before the Clan Chattan and signed to Eachin to come on.
Norman, however, sprang forward to cover his foster brother, and there
was a general, though momentary, pause, as if both parties were willing
to obtain an omen of the fate of the day from the event of this duel.
The Highlander advanced, with his large sword uplifted, as in act to
strike; but, just as he came within sword's length, he dropt the long
and cumbrous weapon, leapt lightly over the smith's sword, as he fetched
a cut at him, drew his dagger, and, being thus within Henry's guard,
struck him with the weapon (his own gift) on the side of the throat,
directing the blow downwards into the chest, and calling aloud, at the
same time, "You taught me the stab!"

But Henry Wynd wore his own good hauberk, doubly defended with a lining
of tempered steel. Had he been less surely armed, his combats had been
ended for ever. Even as it was, he was slightly wounded.

"Fool!" he replied, striking Norman a blow with the pommel of his long
sword, which made him stagger backwards, "you were taught the thrust,
but not the parry"; and, fetching a blow at his antagonist, which cleft
his skull through the steel cap, he strode over the lifeless body to
engage the young chief, who now stood open before him.

But the sonorous voice of Torquil thundered out, "Far eil air son
Eachin!" (Another for Hector!) and the two brethren who flanked their
chief on each side thrust forward upon Henry, and, striking both at
once, compelled him to keep the defensive.

"Forward, race of the tiger cat!" cried MacGillie Chattanach. "Save the
brave Saxon; let these kites feel your talons!"

Already much wounded, the chief dragged himself up to the smith's
assistance, and cut down one of the leichtach, by whom he was assailed.
Henry's own good sword rid him of the other.

"Reist air son Eachin!" (Again for Hector!) shouted the faithful foster
father.

"Bas air son Eachin!" (Death for Hector!) answered two more of his
devoted sons, and opposed themselves to the fury of the smith and those
who had come to his aid; while Eachin, moving towards the left wing of
the battle, sought less formidable adversaries, and again, by some show
of valour, revived the sinking hopes of his followers. The two children
of the oak, who had covered, this movement, shared the fate of their
brethren; for the cry of the Clan Chattan chief had drawn to that part
of the field some of his bravest warriors. The sons of Torquil did not
fall unavenged, but left dreadful marks of their swords on the persons
of the dead and living. But the necessity of keeping their most
distinguished soldiers around the person of their chief told to
disadvantage on the general event of the combat; and so few were now
the number who remained fighting, that it was easy to see that the Clan
Chattan had fifteen of their number left, though most of them wounded,
and that of the Clan Quhele only about ten remained, of whom there were
four of the chief's bodyguard, including Torquil himself.

They fought and struggled on, however, and as their strength decayed,
their fury seemed to increase. Henry Wynd, now wounded in many places,
was still bent on breaking through, or exterminating, the band of bold
hearts who continued to fight around the object of his animosity.
But still the father's shout of "Another for Hector!" was cheerfully
answered by the fatal countersign, "Death for Hector!" and though the
Clan Quhele were now outnumbered, the combat seemed still dubious. It
was bodily lassitude alone that again compelled them to another pause.

The Clan Chattan were then observed to be twelve in number, but two or
three were scarce able to stand without leaning on their swords. Five
were left of the Clan Quhele; Torquil and his youngest son were of the
number, both slightly wounded. Eachin alone had, from the vigilance
used to intercept all blows levelled against his person, escaped without
injury. The rage of both parties had sunk, through exhaustion, into
sullen desperation. They walked staggering, as if in their sleep,
through the carcasses of the slain, and gazed on them, as if again to
animate their hatred towards their surviving enemies by viewing the
friends they had lost.

The multitude soon after beheld the survivors of the desperate conflict
drawing together to renew the exterminating feud on the banks of the
river, as the spot least slippery with blood, and less encumbered with
the bodies of the slain.

"For God's sake--for the sake of the mercy which we daily pray for,"
said the kind hearted old King to the Duke of Albany, "let this be
ended! Wherefore should these wretched rags and remnants of humanity be
suffered to complete their butchery? Surely they will now be ruled, and
accept of peace on moderate terms?"

"Compose yourself, my liege," said his brother. "These men are the pest
of the Lowlands. Both chiefs are still living; if they go back unharmed,
the whole day's work is cast away. Remember your promise to the council,
that you would not cry 'hold.'"

"You compel me to a great crime, Albany, both as a king, who should
protect his subjects, and as a Christian man, who respects the brother
of his faith."

"You judge wrong, my lord," said the Duke: "these are not loving
subjects, but disobedient rebels, as my Lord of Crawford can bear
witness; and they are still less Christian men, for the prior of the
Dominicans will vouch for me that they are more than half heathen."

The King sighed deeply. "You must work your pleasure, and are too wise
for me to contend with. I can but turn away and shut my eyes from the
sights and sounds of a carnage which makes me sicken. But well I know
that God will punish me even for witnessing this waste of human life."

"Sound, trumpets," said Albany; "their wounds will stiffen if they dally
longer."

While this was passing, Torquil was embracing and encouraging his young
chief.

"Resist the witchcraft but a few minutes longer! Be of good cheer, you
will come off without either scar or scratch, wem or wound. Be of good
cheer!"

"How can I be of good cheer," said Eachin, "while my brave kinsmen have
one by one died at my feet--died all for me, who could never deserve the
least of their kindness?"

"And for what were they born, save to die for their chief?" said
Torquil, composedly. "Why lament that the arrow returns not to the
quiver, providing it hit the mark? Cheer up yet. Here are Tormot and I
but little hurt, while the wildcats drag themselves through the plain
as if they were half throttled by the terriers. Yet one brave stand, and
the day shall be your own, though it may well be that you alone remain
alive. Minstrels, sound the gathering."

The pipers on both sides blew their charge, and the combatants again
mingled in battle, not indeed with the same strength, but with unabated
inveteracy. They were joined by those whose duty it was to have remained
neuter, but who now found themselves unable to do so. The two old
champions who bore the standards had gradually advanced from the
extremity of the lists, and now approached close to the immediate scene
of action. When they beheld the carnage more nearly, they were mutually
impelled by the desire to revenge their brethren, or not to survive
them. They attacked each other furiously with the lances to which the
standards were attached, closed after exchanging several deadly thrusts,
then grappled in close strife, still holding their banners, until at
length, in the eagerness of their conflict, they fell together into the
Tay, and were found drowned after the combat, closely locked in each
other's arms. The fury of battle, the frenzy of rage and despair,
infected next the minstrels. The two pipers, who, during the conflict,
had done their utmost to keep up the spirits of their brethren, now saw
the dispute well nigh terminated for want of men to support it. They
threw down their instruments, rushed desperately upon each other with
their daggers, and each being more intent on despatching his opponent
than in defending himself, the piper of Clan Quhele was almost instantly
slain and he of Clan Chattan mortally wounded. The last, nevertheless,
again grasped his instrument, and the pibroch of the clan yet poured
its expiring notes over the Clan Chattan, while the dying minstrel had
breath to inspire it. The instrument which he used, or at least that
part of it called the chanter, is preserved in the family of a Highland
chief to this day, and is much honoured under the name of the federan
dhu, or, "black chanter."'

Meanwhile, in the final charge, young Tormot, devoted, like his
brethren, by his father Torquil to the protection of his chief, had
been mortally wounded by the unsparing sword of the smith. The other
two remaining of the Clan Quhele had also fallen, and Torquil, with his
foster son and the wounded Tormot, forced to retreat before eight or ten
of the Clan Chattan, made a stand on the bank of the river, while their
enemies were making such exertions as their wounds would permit to come
up with them. Torquil had just reached the spot where he had resolved
to make the stand, when the young Tormot dropped and expired. His death
drew from his father the first and only sigh which he had breathed
throughout the eventful day.

"My son Tormot!" he said, "my youngest and dearest! But if I save
Hector, I save all. Now, my darling dault, I have done for thee all that
man may, excepting the last. Let me undo the clasps of that ill omened
armour, and do thou put on that of Tormot; it is light, and will fit
thee well. While you do so, I will rush on these crippled men, and make
what play with them I can. I trust I shall have but little to do, for
they are following each other like disabled steers. At least, darling of
my soul, if I am unable to save thee, I can show thee how a man should
die."

While Torquil thus spoke, he unloosed the clasps of the young chief's
hauberk, in the simple belief that he could thus break the meshes which
fear and necromancy had twined about his heart.

"My father--my father--my more than parent," said the unhappy Eachin,
"stay with me! With you by my side, I feel I can fight to the last."

"It is impossible," said Torquil. "I will stop them coming up, while you
put on the hauberk. God eternally bless thee, beloved of my soul!"

And then, brandishing his sword, Torquil of the Oak rushed forward
with the same fatal war cry which had so often sounded over that bloody
field, "Bas air son Eachin!" The words rung three times in a voice of
thunder; and each time that he cried his war shout he struck down one of
the Clan Chattan as he met them successively straggling towards him.

"Brave battle, hawk--well flown, falcon!" exclaimed the multitude,
as they witnessed exertions which seemed, even at this last hour, to
threaten a change of the fortunes of the day. Suddenly these cries were
hushed into silence, and succeeded by a clashing of swords so dreadful,
as if the whole conflict had recommenced in the person of Henry Wynd and
Torquil of the Oak. They cut, foined, hewed, and thrust as if they had
drawn their blades for the first time that day; and their inveteracy was
mutual, for Torquil recognised the foul wizard who, as he supposed, had
cast a spell over his child; and Henry saw before him the giant who,
during the whole conflict, had interrupted the purpose for which alone
he had joined the combatants--that of engaging in single combat with
Hector. They fought with an equality which, perhaps, would not have
existed, had not Henry, more wounded than his antagonist, been somewhat
deprived of his usual agility.

Meanwhile Eachin, finding himself alone, after a disorderly and vain
attempt to put on his foster brother's harness, became animated by an
emotion of shame and despair, and hurried forward to support his foster
father in the terrible struggle, ere some other of the Clan Chattan
should come up. When he was within five yards, and sternly determined
to take his share in the death fight, his foster father fell, cleft
from the collarbone well nigh to the heart, and murmuring with his last
breath, "Bas air son Eachin!" The unfortunate youth saw the fall of
his last friend, and at the same moment beheld the deadly enemy who had
hunted him through the whole field standing within sword's point of
him, and brandishing the huge weapon which had hewed its way to his
life through so many obstacles. Perhaps this was enough to bring his
constitutional timidity to its highest point; or perhaps he recollected
at the same moment that he was without defensive armour, and that a
line of enemies, halting indeed and crippled, but eager for revenge and
blood, were closely approaching. It is enough to say, that his heart
sickened, his eyes darkened, his ears tingled, his brain turned giddy,
all other considerations were lost in the apprehension of instant death;
and, drawing one ineffectual blow at the smith, he avoided that which
was aimed at him in return by bounding backward; and, ere the former
could recover his weapon, Eachin had plunged into the stream of the Tay.
A roar of contumely pursued him as he swam across the river, although,
perhaps, not a dozen of those who joined in it would have behaved
otherwise in the like circumstances. Henry looked after the fugitive in
silence and surprise, but could not speculate on the consequences of
his flight, on account of the faintness which seemed to overpower him
as soon as the animation of the contest had subsided. He sat down on
the grassy bank, and endeavoured to stanch such of his wounds as were
pouring fastest.

The victors had the general meed of gratulation. The Duke of Albany and
others went down to survey the field; and Henry Wynd was honoured with
particular notice.

"If thou wilt follow me, good fellow," said the Black Douglas, "I
will change thy leathern apron for a knight's girdle, and thy burgage
tenement for an hundred pound land to maintain thy rank withal."

"I thank you humbly, my lord," said the smith, dejectedly, "but I have
shed blood enough already, and Heaven has punished me by foiling the
only purpose for which I entered the combat."

"How, friend?" said Douglas. "Didst thou not fight for the Clan Chattan,
and have they not gained a glorious conquest?"

"I fought for my own hand," [meaning, I did such a thing for my own
pleasure, not for your profit] said the smith, indifferently; and the
expression is still proverbial in Scotland.

The good King Robert now came up on an ambling palfrey, having entered
the barriers for the purpose of causing the wounded to be looked after.

"My lord of Douglas," he said, "you vex the poor man with temporal
matters when it seems he may have short timer to consider those that
are spiritual. Has he no friends here who will bear him where his bodily
wounds and the health of his soul may be both cared for?"

"He hath as many friends as there are good men in Perth," said Sir
Patrick Charteris, "and I esteem myself one of the closest."

"A churl will savour of churl's kind," said the haughty Douglas, turning
his horse aside; "the proffer of knighthood from the sword of Douglas
had recalled him from death's door, had there been a drop of gentle
blood in his body."

Disregarding the taunt of the mighty earl, the Knight of Kinfauns
dismounted to take Henry in his arms, as he now sunk back from very
faintness. But he was prevented by Simon Glover, who, with other
burgesses of consideration, had now entered the barrace.

"Henry, my beloved son Henry!" said the old man. "Oh, what tempted you
to this fatal affray? Dying--speechless?"

"No--not speechless," said Henry. "Catharine--" He could utter no more.

"Catharine is well, I trust, and shall be thine--that is, if--"

"If she be safe, thou wouldst say, old man," said the Douglas, who,
though something affronted at Henry's rejection of his offer, was too
magnanimous not to interest himself in what was passing. "She is safe,
if Douglas's banner can protect her--safe, and shall be rich. Douglas
can give wealth to those who value it more than honour."

"For her safety, my lord, let the heartfelt thanks and blessings of a
father go with the noble Douglas. For wealth, we are rich enough. Gold
cannot restore my beloved son."

"A marvel!" said the Earl: "a churl refuses nobility, a citizen despises
gold!"

"Under your lordship's favour," said Sir Patrick, "I, who am knight
and noble, take license to say, that such a brave man as Henry Wynd may
reject honourable titles, such an honest man as this reverend citizen
may dispense with gold."

"You do well, Sir Patrick, to speak for your town, and I take no
offence," said the Douglas. "I force my bounty on no one. But," he
added, in a whisper to Albany, "your Grace must withdraw the King from
this bloody sight, for he must know that tonight which will ring over
broad Scotland when tomorrow dawns. This feud is ended. Yet even I
grieve that so many brave Scottishmen lie here slain, whose brands might
have decided a pitched field in their country's cause."

With dignity King Robert was withdrawn from the field, the tears running
down his aged cheeks and white beard, as he conjured all around him,
nobles and priests, that care should be taken for the bodies and souls
of the few wounded survivors, and honourable burial rendered to
the slain. The priests who were present answered zealously for both
services, and redeemed their pledge faithfully and piously.

Thus ended this celebrated conflict of the North Inch of Perth. Of
sixty-four brave men (the minstrels and standard bearers included)
who strode manfully to the fatal field, seven alone survived, who were
conveyed from thence in litters, in a case little different from the
dead and dying around them, and mingled with them in the sad procession
which conveyed them from the scene of their strife. Eachin alone had
left it void of wounds and void of honour.

It remains but to say, that not a man of the Clan Quhele survived the
bloody combat except the fugitive chief; and the consequence of the
defeat was the dissolution of their confederacy. The clans of which it
consisted are now only matter of conjecture to the antiquary, for, after
this eventful contest, they never assembled under the same banner. The
Clan Chattan, on the other hand, continued to increase and flourish; and
the best families of the Northern Highlands boast their descent from the
race of the Cat a Mountain.



CHAPTER XXXV.


While the King rode slowly back to the convent which he then occupied,
Albany, with a discomposed aspect and faltering voice, asked the Earl of
Douglas: "Will not your lordship, who saw this most melancholy scene at
Falkland, communicate the tidings to my unhappy brother?"

"Not for broad Scotland," said the Douglas. "I would sooner bare my
breast, within flight shot, as a butt to an hundred Tynedale bowmen. No,
by St. Bride of Douglas! I could but say I saw the ill fated youth dead.
How he came by his death, your Grace can perhaps better explain. Were it
not for the rebellion of March and the English war, I would speak my own
mind of it."

So saying, and making his obeisance to the King, the Earl rode off to
his own lodgings, leaving Albany to tell his tale as he best could.

"The rebellion and the English war!" said the Duke to himself. "Ay, and
thine own interest, haughty earl, which, imperious as thou art, thou
darest not separate from mine. Well, since the task falls on me, I must
and will discharge it."

He followed the King into his apartment. The King looked at him with
surprise after he had assumed his usual seat.

"Thy countenance is ghastly, Robin," said the King. "I would thou
wouldst think more deeply when blood is to be spilled, since its
consequences affect thee so powerfully. And yet, Robin, I love thee the
better that thy kind nature will sometimes show itself, even through thy
reflecting policy."

"I would to Heaven, my royal brother," said Albany, with a voice half
choked, "that the bloody field we have seen were the worst we had to see
or hear of this day. I should waste little sorrow on the wild kerne who
lie piled on it like carrion. But--" he paused.

"How!" exclaimed the King, in terror. "What new evil? Rothsay? It must
be--it is Rothsay! Speak out! What new folly has been done? What fresh
mischance?"

"My lord--my liege, folly and mischance are now ended with my hapless
nephew."

"He is dead!--he is dead!" screamed the agonized parent. "Albany, as
thy brother, I conjure thee! But no, I am thy brother no longer. As thy
king, dark and subtle man, I charge thee to tell the worst."

Albany faltered out: "The details are but imperfectly known to me; but
the certainty is, that my unhappy nephew was found dead in his apartment
last night from sudden illness--as I have heard."

"Oh, Rothsay!--Oh, my beloved David! Would to God I had died for thee,
my son--my son!"

So spoke, in the emphatic words of Scripture, the helpless and bereft
father, tearing his grey beard and hoary hair, while Albany, speechless
and conscience struck, did not venture to interrupt the tempest of his
grief. But the agony of the King's sorrow almost instantly changed to
fury--a mood so contrary to the gentleness and timidity of his nature,
that the remorse of Albany was drowned in his fear.

"And this is the end," said the King, "of thy moral saws and religious
maxims! But the besotted father who gave the son into thy hands--who
gave the innocent lamb to the butcher--is a king, and thou shalt know
it to thy cost. Shall the murderer stand in presence of his
brother--stained with the blood of that brother's son? No! What ho,
without there!--MacLouis!--Brandanes! Treachery! Murder! Take arms, if
you love the Stuart!"

MacLouis, with several of the guards, rushed into the apartment.

"Murder and treason!" exclaimed the miserable King. "Brandanes, your
noble Prince--" Here his grief and agitation interrupted for a moment
the fatal information it was his object to convey. At length he resumed
his broken speech: "An axe and a block instantly into the courtyard!
Arrest--" The word choked his utterance.

"Arrest whom, my noble liege?" said MacLouis, who, observing the King
influenced by a tide of passion so different from the gentleness of his
ordinary demeanour, almost conjectured that his brain had been disturbed
by the unusual horrors of the combat he had witnessed.

"Whom shall I arrest, my liege?" he replied. "Here is none but your
Grace's royal brother of Albany."

"Most true," said the King, his brief fit of vindictive passion
soon dying away. "Most true--none but Albany--none but my parent's
child--none but my brother. O God, enable me to quell the sinful passion
which glows in this bosom. Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis!"

MacLouis cast a look of wonder towards the Duke of Albany, who
endeavoured to hide his confusion under an affectation of deep sympathy,
and muttered to the officer: "The great misfortune has been too much for
his understanding."

"What misfortune, please your Grace?" replied MacLouis. "I have heard of
none."

"How! not heard of the death of my nephew Rothsay?"

"The Duke of Rothsay dead, my Lord of Albany?" exclaimed the faithful
Brandane, with the utmost horror and astonishment. "When, how, and
where?"

"Two days since--the manner as yet unknown--at Falkland."

MacLouis gazed at the Duke for an instant; then, with a kindling eye
and determined look, said to the King, who seemed deeply engaged in his
mental devotion: "My liege! a minute or two since you left a word--one
word--unspoken. Let it pass your lips, and your pleasure is law to your
Brandanes!"

"I was praying against temptation, MacLouis," said the heart broken
King, "and you bring it to me. Would you arm a madman with a
drawn weapon? But oh, Albany! my friend--my brother--my bosom
counsellor--how--how camest thou by the heart to do this?"

Albany, seeing that the King's mood was softening, replied with more
firmness than before: "My castle has no barrier against the power of
death. I have not deserved the foul suspicions which your Majesty's
words imply. I pardon them, from the distraction of a bereaved father.
But I am willing to swear by cross and altar, by my share in salvation,
by the souls of our royal parents--"

"Be silent, Robert!" said the King: "add not perjury to murder. And was
this all done to gain a step nearer to a crown and sceptre? Take them
to thee at once, man; and mayst thou feel as I have done, that they are
both of red hot iron! Oh, Rothsay--Rothsay! thou hast at least escaped
being a king!"

"My liege," said MacLouis, "let me remind you that the crown and sceptre
of Scotland are, when your Majesty ceases to bear them, the right of
Prince James, who succeeds to his brother's rights."

"True, MacLouis," said the King, eagerly, "and will succeed, poor child,
to his brother's perils! Thanks, MacLouis--thanks. You have reminded
me that I have still work upon earth. Get thy Brandanes under arms with
what speed thou canst. Let no man go with us whose truth is not known to
thee. None in especial who has trafficked with the Duke of Albany--that
man, I mean, who calls himself my brother--and order my litter to
be instantly prepared. We will to Dunbarton, MacLouis, or to Bute.
Precipices, and tides, and my Brandanes' hearts shall defend the child
till we can put oceans betwixt him and his cruel uncle's ambition.
Farewell, Robert of Albany--farewell for ever, thou hard hearted, bloody
man! Enjoy such share of power as the Douglas may permit thee. But seek
not to see my face again, far less to approach my remaining child; for,
that hour thou dost, my guards shall have orders to stab thee down with
their partizans! MacLouis, look it be so directed."

The Duke of Albany left the presence without attempting further
justification or reply.

What followed is matter of history. In the ensuing Parliament, the Duke
of Albany prevailed on that body to declare him innocent of the death
of Rothsay, while, at the same time, he showed his own sense of guilt by
taking out a remission or pardon for the offence. The unhappy and aged
monarch secluded himself in his Castle of Rothsay, in Bute, to mourn
over the son he had lost, and watch with feverish anxiety over the life
of him who remained. As the best step for the youthful James's security,
he sent him to France to receive his education at the court of the
reigning sovereign. But the vessel in which the Prince of Scotland
sailed was taken by an English cruiser, and, although there was a truce
for the moment betwixt the kingdoms, Henry IV ungenerously detained him
a prisoner. This last blow completely broke the heart of the unhappy
King Robert III. Vengeance followed, though with a slow pace, the
treachery and cruelty of his brother. Robert of Albany's own grey hairs
went, indeed, in peace to the grave, and he transferred the regency
which he had so foully acquired to his son Murdoch. But, nineteen years
after the death of the old King, James I returned to Scotland, and
Duke Murdoch of Albany, with his sons, was brought to the scaffold, in
expiation of his father's guilt and his own.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

     The honest heart that's free frae a'
     Intended fraud or guile,
     However Fortune kick the ba',
     Has aye some cause to smile.

     BURNS.


We now return to the Fair Maid of Perth, who had been sent from the
horrible scene at Falkland by order of the Douglas, to be placed under
the protection of his daughter, the now widowed Duchess of Rothsay. That
lady's temporary residence was a religious house called Campsie, the
ruins of which still occupy a striking situation on the Tay. It arose on
the summit of a precipitous rock, which descends on the princely river,
there rendered peculiarly remarkable by the cataract called Campsie
Linn, where its waters rush tumultuously over a range of basaltic
rock, which intercepts the current, like a dike erected by human hands.
Delighted with a site so romantic, the monks of the abbey of Cupar
reared a structure there, dedicated to an obscure saint, named St.
Hunnand, and hither they were wont themselves to retire for pleasure or
devotion. It had readily opened its gates to admit the noble lady who
was its present inmate, as the country was under the influence of
the powerful Lord Drummond, the ally of the Douglas. There the Earl's
letters were presented to the Duchess by the leader of the escort which
conducted Catharine and the glee maiden to Campsie. Whatever reason
she might have to complain of Rothsay, his horrible and unexpected end
greatly shocked the noble lady, and she spent the greater part of the
night in indulging her grief and in devotional exercises.

On the next morning, which was that of the memorable Palm Sunday, she
ordered Catharine Glover and the minstrel into her presence. The spirits
of both the young women had been much sunk and shaken by the dreadful
scenes in which they had so lately been engaged; and the outward
appearance of the Duchess Marjory was, like that of her father, more
calculated to inspire awe than confidence. She spoke with kindness,
however, though apparently in deep affliction, and learned from them
all which they had to tell concerning the fate of her erring and
inconsiderate husband. She appeared grateful for the efforts which
Catharine and the glee maiden had made, at their own extreme peril, to
save Rothsay from his horrible fate. She invited them to join in her
devotions; and at the hour of dinner gave them her hand to kiss, and
dismissed them to their own refection, assuring both, and Catharine in
particular, of her efficient protection, which should include, she said,
her father's, and be a wall around them both, so long as she herself
lived.

They retired from the presence of the widowed Princess, and partook of
a repast with her duennas and ladies, all of whom, amid their profound
sorrow, showed a character of stateliness which chilled the light heart
of the Frenchwoman, and imposed restraint even on the more serious
character of Catharine Glover. The friends, for so we may now term them,
were fain, therefore, to escape from the soci